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Old 10-11-2018, 11:09 PM   #21
Tenchi2a
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Default Re: Killing PCs

It all depends on the players.
I don't go out of my way to kill PC and if there is a plot reason for it, the player would have agreed before I do it.
As for bad dice it would depend on if the player put themselves into the position that the dice roll was needed or if it was part of the adventure gone wrong. If the first then "here is a new character sheet" if the second I will probably fudge the dice.
Now I also don't go out of my way to save stupid PC. If they throw themselves on a live grenade or try to single man a brute squad they just die.
Overall, I would say don't go gunning for the PCs, but also don't let them try to game the system or take advantage of you either.
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Old 10-12-2018, 08:23 AM   #22
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Default Re: Killing PCs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Hey, it was an improvement over 3e orcs -- they shifted from a d12(x3) weapon to a 2d4(18-20/x2) weapon.
Yeah. When I was running D&D3.0 a 3rd level ranger with nice high Con got one-shotted by an Orc because he flubbed his Spot check and then took a critical from a bog-standard Orc with the issue great axe. Bam! Dead.

The change in D&D3.5 was sensible, though as they changed the standard stat spread for monsters from 10-11 in all stats to 13,12,11,10,8 it wasn't as much help as it might've been, as 1d12+3 (x3) to 2d4+4 (18-20/x2) only really saves 3rd+ level frontline types from being one-shotted. D&D3.x Orcs were pretty rough on low-level PCs, I found. For bigger PCs, Ogres were pretty scary, too - same sort of glass-cannon effect. And then there were Trolls. Everything's fine, and then one gets a hit with both claws and suddenly someone gets torn in half.
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Old 10-12-2018, 09:52 AM   #23
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Default Re: Killing PCs

Orcs should be kinda rough on low level PCs due to similar CRs -> character levels, but the CR system is hinkey and spiky [1] monsters are just difficult no matter what.

The general "rule" is that reduced randomness favors players, and increased randomness favors monsters. Random crits and random hitlocations hurt PCs more - if you blow a monsters leg off or get a 3x damage random crit to its skull, well, the GM has more orcs where that one came from. The GM doesn't even have the "penalty" of having to go through character creation or xeroxing a sheet or anything. Similarly, when Og Random Orc fumbles and drops his axe on his foot, it's just funny.

Players may really like dealing out critical hits and hitting brains, but they don't like critical failures, being the victim of a critical hit, or the frustration of failing multiple attacks... only to finally land a minimum damage attack and have it all soaked by DR.

I don't rescue players from ridiculous ideas, but I will warn them. Repeatedly. In game and out. I will give players enough rope to hang their PCs, but only while giving them the Health And Safety Lecture about the risks of tying nooses and wearing them like neckties.

That one time my players decided to investigate corpses being dug up and eaten in the graveyard. At night. Without a light source. Without a cleric or paladin. Without even Holy Water. They then cast Light on a Dull Grey Ioun Stone (a rock that orbits your head like your own personal Moon), walked into the middle of the graveyard, and had a loud argument, with no guard posted.

I'd questioned their plan repeatedly. I rolled to see if the ghouls heard them. I gave them some Per checks to smell ghoul stink and plenty of Perception checks to hear the ghouls sneaking up on them, but they'd built a low Wis party (... matched the players).

I'd also questioned a party where everyone had low Wis.

We gamed out the fight, because that gave them a chance to try and rescue themselves. Didn't work.

I don't go out of my way to kill PCs, but natural selection is a thing in my games.

[1] As in monsters where you chart their damage from turn to turn and it's this stable line until it suddenly spikes and you get 42 damage on the Beguiler. For example. Not as in porcupines [2]

[2] I do lament the lack of Dire Porcupines in D&D. They could have had them shoot quills as in the myth, because it's not like Dire Porcupines make any sense anyways.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:12 AM   #24
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Default Re: Killing PCs

When I'm the GM, I don't intentionally make obstacles that are too powerful for the PCs. There should be some risk of failure, but failure shouldn't be fatal unless the players' dice rolls are really bad AND the opposition actually wants to kill them.

I go out of my way to avoid situations where "correctly roleplaying the character" is likely ending with a dead PC. If the players are actively seeking out such situations, I remind them of the danger, pointing to the risky disadvantages. I'm inclined to disallow disadvantages that I know can be fatal. I think it's cruel to put the players in situations where "correctly roleplaying the character" will get them killed (unless they're trying to have the PCs commit suicide-by-cop or something similar).

It must be said that I generally lead light-hearted campaigns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pestigor View Post
On the other hand, If I spent a half an hour painstakingly creating a character from scratch and while pouring over optional rules only to have it die from dumb luck or random chance...I'd be pretty put out and not very likely to make another character with that amount of care again.
Half an hour??!? That's impressive. I can make a minor (but fully statted) NPC in that time, two if I hurry, but for a major NPC or a PC, I'd use at least an hour, and that's not counting time spent on backstory and other untangibles. For a PC, I would also spend an hour or two on tweaking (including poring over optional rules). But then again, I'm the type who can write dozens of pages worth of backstory for a PC.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:14 AM   #25
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
So, I was wondering, when do you kill PCs? Is it just random luck, consequences for in game actions, or planned fatalities?
The first two, but especially the second. If PCs undertake risky actions, then the dice might favor them. Don't like it? Stay at home so you only need to roll dice for disease checks.

The third should never be done. I usually won't fudge things (I think I've done so once in this campaign, because it was late in the session and the player didn't quite get that these were Trolls, not some little buggers from Land of the Lost), but by adventuring, they risk death. I not-so-subtly let them know that running is always an option.

Character death is more of an issue in GURPS than in some other games due to the complexity of character creation. If I run B/X D&D, I'm much more likely to kill a character since it only takes a few minutes to make a new one.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:16 AM   #26
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by coronatiger View Post
When I'm the GM, I don't intentionally make obstacles that are too powerful for the PCs. There should be some risk of failure, but failure shouldn't be fatal unless the players' dice rolls are really bad AND the opposition actually wants to kill them.
Here's where I differ. I routinely make obstacles that are too powerful for the PCs. They can run, and adventure elsewhere, and maybe come back when they're more powerful or have some way of defeating the obstacles.
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:47 AM   #27
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Default Re: Killing PCs

Quote:
Originally Posted by coronatiger View Post
When I'm the GM, I don't intentionally make obstacles that are too powerful for the PCs. There should be some risk of failure, but failure shouldn't be fatal unless the players' dice rolls are really bad AND the opposition actually wants to kill them.

I go out of my way to avoid situations where "correctly roleplaying the character" is likely ending with a dead PC. If the players are actively seeking out such situations, I remind them of the danger, pointing to the risky disadvantages. I'm inclined to disallow disadvantages that I know can be fatal. I think it's cruel to put the players in situations where "correctly roleplaying the character" will get them killed (unless they're trying to have the PCs commit suicide-by-cop or something similar).
There's a difference between "likely" and "possible," though. As I've said, in a quarter century or more of running RPGs (actually, over 40 years, but I adopted my current approach, using published rules, distributing prospectuses, and running campaigns of finite lengths, in the early 1990s), I think I've had only around three PC deaths. On the other hand, any time I run a combat, there is a nonzero probability of death. It may be small, but it concentrates the players' minds wonderfully. It's like adding that tiny pinch of spice to a dish.

And not only death! When I ran a campaign about French students of the smallsword in the early 1800s, I had one scene where three of the students had gone to the theater and were on their way home, and they noticed that they were being followed by a couple of scruffy looking characters, and that up ahead there was a big fellow sort of standing and waiting. So the male member of the group (this class had two women out of six—a country noble's daughter and an actress wanting to play warrior heroines more authentically) decided to be heroic, and ran full tilt at the big guy, sword at ready. This was a Move and Attack, and he missed his roll; the big guy, armed with a substantial club, made a wild swing as he passed, hit his leg, and knocked him down, after which he was out of the action with a broken leg, and the two women had to defend themselves. (They chose to close in on the big guy before the other two caught up with him, and handily disabled him, after which the other two decided the situation had gone south and disappeared into the night.)

I've always remembered the player's comment after they found a surgeon and some rolls were made: "Bad Leg AND Addicted to Laudanum? Sweet!"

Anyway, (a) the player decided that the situation was one where combat was needed, despite the risks (instead of trying to run, or bluff, or put up with the loss of their purses), and (b) the character was roleplayed as someone reckless going for the bold, high-risk move. I thought and still think that real danger was appropriate and indeed that its presence made the choice to fight more dramatic. And there's not that much difference between a risk of death and a risk of permanent crippling, in terms of dramatic logic.
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:16 PM   #28
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Default Re: Killing PCs

It depends greatly upon the game:

My players have learned that if I say "realistic combat" at the beginning of a campaign, they should avoid combat like sane people do in real life.

In "heroic" or "4-color" games, it takes an act of great stupidity or immense sacrifice for a PC to actually go down.

Things have to make sense for the tone of the game. I am not a slave to the dice or my pre-planning or the stats on the table. My players trust me to come up with a coherent narrative, and keep to the appropriate tropes for a given game.
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:25 PM   #29
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

I tend to favor realistic combat in my games, and my old players became very worried whenever their missions included dealing with enemy snipers (my old players learned to optimize their characters based off my optimized NPCs). A 250 point sniper is a terrifying opponent, especially right after a sniper bullet kills one allied NPC and critically wounds another one.
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Old 10-12-2018, 02:15 PM   #30
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Default Re: Killing PCs

I don't try to kill PCs, but I do try to set up encounters that have some danger.

I would only do a "planned fatality" if a player wanted to change character and we both thought that killing the previous one would be cool and appropriate.
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