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Thread: Alternate Rule for Death and Resurrection

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Alternate Rule for Death and Resurrection

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    Hey, all. I was reading this thread over at the Wizards of the Coast forums, and it got me to thinking about another possible way to handle death and level loss. The problem with level loss is that from a player's perspective it is a very harsh penalty. From the DM chair, its a bit easier, since I am focusing on the larger picture, which is that over the long run all the characters are probably going to face the penalties of dying and loosing a level at one point or another, and things will even out on their own over time (especially since lower level characters get more experience for the same encounter). But, looking across the table at the player whose character just died, that serves as little consolation to them.

    Anyway, one of the posters brought up a system that he uses where the players don't de-level, but instead gain a negative level that stays with them until they have gained back the experience they lost. This way, they don't loose access to spells or special abilities they gained at that level. This is a pretty good idea, except that since they are the same level as they were before, it ends up being even more difficult to gain back the exp.

    So, here's my thought. What about this: The character gains a negative level after being raised, which works like a temporary level drain, so he would get a -1 penalty to skill roles, attacks, and saving throws. This would represent the character being in a weakened state for a while after being resurrected. He'd also have a new debt pool of the amount of experience he would have lost under the normal level loss rules, but this amount would not be subtracted from his normal experience. Instead, when the PC gains experience, he puts the experience he earned against his debt AND additionally he also applies the experience towards his normal xp total. Confused? Here's an example:
    • Ylin Firetree is 5th level with 12000 experience.
    • Ylin dies and is resurrected.
    • Ylin now has 1 negative level that cannot be recovered until he pays off his debt. If he had been 1st level, he'd loose a con point instead, just as the normal rules would have specified.
    • Even though he died, he is still a 5th level character with 12000 experience, but now he also has a separate 4000xp debt which must be paid off before his negative level will go away. (This is the amount he would have lost normally).
    • On the next adventure, the DM awards Ylin 3000xp. Ylin subtracts 3000xp from his debt, leaving him with 1000xp still to pay off. Additionally, Ylin adds 3000xp to his current XP total, taking his experience total from 12000 to 15000. Wohoo, he leveled! But, he still has a negative level, because he hasn't earned enough to erase his debt yet. Effectively, he's a 6th level character with 1 temporary negative level. But, he gets his extra spells and skill points, feat, etc.
    • In the following game, the DM awards 2000xp. Ylin applies 2000 to his debt, which eliminates it entirely, resetting his debt to 0. He also applies 2000 xp to his xp total, taking it to 17000. His negative level is gone now and he's not behind where he would have been if he hadn't died.
    So, the result is that the level loss still had a penalty, since Ylin did have to run around with a negative level for two gaming sessions, but he also didn't get behind at all and he should level to 7th at the same time as everyone else, presuming everyone is getting exp at the same rate.

    What do you think? Any good? Should there be a maximum number of accumulated negative levels using this system?

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    It looks like an interesting way to handle death. As a player I would prefer this method VS the losing a level, access to spells, etc.

    As far as the XP debt, maybe instead of applying the full amount of XP earned for the adventure towards the debt they only apply 1/2 the xp to the debt. After all death is supposed to be hard, no since in making easy to recover from.

    To go from your example above
    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    • On the next adventure, the DM awards Ylin 3000xp. Ylin subtracts 3000xp from his debt, leaving him with 1000xp still to pay off. Additionally, Ylin adds 3000xp to his current XP total, taking his experience total from 12000 to 15000. Wohoo, he leveled! But, he still has a negative level, because he hasn't earned enough to erase his debt yet. Effectively, he's a 6th level character with 1 temporary negative level. But, he gets his extra spells and skill points, feat, etc.
    • In the following game, the DM awards 2000xp. Ylin applies 2000 to his debt, which eliminates it entirely, resetting his debt to 0. He also applies 2000 xp to his xp total, taking it to 17000. His negative level is gone now and he's not behind where he would have been if he hadn't died.
    From the first bullet point. If the DM awards 3000 xp to Ylin, he only applies 1500 xp to his debt, but still adds 3000 xp to his current XP total. Leaving Ylin with 2500 xp in debt, and current total 15000 xp to allows him to level up.

    From t he second bullet point. The DM awards 2000 xp to Ylin, he only applies 1000 xp to his debt, but again adds 2000 xp to his current XP total. His deb is at 1500 xp, but his current XP total is at 17000.

    Just my thoughts,

    Mark

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    Based on casual estimation, using the 100% repayment level, the character would probably typically spend 2 sessions with a negative level. Depending on how lethal the typical game is, that might be too long or to short. In a game where death is very infrequent, 50% would probably be a good number. That means that the typical PC would sepend about 4 sessions with a negative level. But, if this penalty started to stack up from multiple deaths, repaying it could start to get very very painful.

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    Maybe that's okay. It would teach a character who might be dying from rushing into battle too quickly to stop and try to plan out some strategy. Or at least wait until everyone can catch up.

    Another thought I had was to constantly raise the price of Raise Dead. Maybe by a factor of how many times they died. This instead of XP loss. So one accidental death would not penalize you as much as the character who has been rezzed 10 times so is now paying ten times the cost. That might convince his friends not to rez him anymore.
    "I've seen the 'Exorcist' about a hundred and sixty-seven times, and it keeps getting funnier, every time I see it!

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    I could swear that I saw a similar discussion at EN World earlier this week. The poster in that discussion noted how much of a pain in the rear it is to actually have a character lose a level. You have to roll how many HP's are lost. You have to drop spells, etc. If it happens in a combat situation, the game literally stops for five minutes to resolve the level loss. Much easier to apply a negative level with some fixed penalties across the board. That way if the player loses two levels (or more -- gads!) it's easy to just apply them fast and be done with it. Further, a restoration wouldn't require nearly as much paperwork. Then you work off the debt over a period of time in some process like the one you note Farcaster.

    Personally, I'm fond of the idea. Better to have quick penalties to apply as "misc modifiers" and then work it off as you adventure with no further bookkeeping than to erase things and have to put them back later. A good way to find a system to model would be to look at any of the MMORPG's out there. Typically they don't take levels away, and instead give some sort of negative modifier that goes away either after a passage of time, or accumulation of exp.
    --
    Grimwell

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    Well I am a fan of normal level loss for dieing. One it can force the group to look for a true resarestion so there would be no lose or can just work out as it sucks to die. I have had one player how after losing a level multi class after the loss. He was a 4th level ranger, he dropped to third, and then when he went back up he took a level of fighter (for some reason). I think there is a game balances that losses a little without the full level loss. But that said I also think the neg level is a good idea and I will try it out in the next game that one of my PCs gets waked. Thank you for the great ideas.

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    I like the idea of gaining a negative level after resurection, mainly because whenever I die, or kill a player in one of my campaigns, the death is not caused by stupidity, but rather bad rolling. I've always been annoyed at having to relevel, and then catch up to the rest of the party. The negative level seems like a good solution, since it still hinders the player, but does not punish them for dying.

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    Sometimes they do die because of stupidity and or bad roll playing. When should you punish a PC for always running out into a fight when maybe they should hold back.
    I.E.
    In one game we had a dude that was playing a ranger(3.5) and we made camp. He wanted to scout ahead we are like cool. He came across a goblin camp or small village.They were have a ceremony to honor there king, the ranger decided he could put the whole camp down by sniping the king with his bow. Well he missed the goblins gave chase to him 60 of them, we are 3 rd level. He led them almost back to camp when he got caught and killed. now I think that a little one level lost is more then right for that kind of move. Well we just left him dead because we did not have the cash to bring him back. all well game life goes on. Like I said I think they are both good ideas maybe they should both be used depending on how or why the PC dies.

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    I'll have to admit that I have a ratio of about 100/1 characters on the dead/ressurected scale. Characters who die in my games tend to stay dead.
    --
    Grimwell

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    This system sounds pretty good, though I wonder how it would be percieved at the higher levels where a -1 penalty would seem trivial. But, on the flipside, if the person thinks it's trivial they may be the one dying multiple times and accrue more and more debt and penalties.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibson8088 View Post
    This system sounds pretty good, though I wonder how it would be percieved at the higher levels where a -1 penalty would seem trivial. But, on the flipside, if the person thinks it's trivial they may be the one dying multiple times and accrue more and more debt and penalties.
    At higher levels, death generally becomes trivial anyway as players just throw 25k at it and make it go away. The only problem I see with that is that it can leave the characters pretty poor, pretty quick (as you know).

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimwell View Post
    I'll have to admit that I have a ratio of about 100/1 characters on the dead/ressurected scale. Characters who die in my games tend to stay dead.
    I like that, really I do not have many PC die in my games either. In the last year and a half I have only one on person die and it was in a one shot run, not an ongoing game

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    This variant sounds almost exactly what I use for my Age of Worms game, listed here: http://dmkaruikage.proboards78.com/i...ead=1182920393

    It works well. The players enjoy it, as no one likes to de-level.

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    This variant sounds like City of Heroes debt setup to me. Or something similar.

    With that in mind, I still favor the whole loss of a level promotes the players from treating the game like a video game, no (or minor) death penalty only allows them the feel of immortality and thus no worry or concern for death.

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    I don't know, I don't consider still losing a level's worth of experience a 'minor' penalty. They still have to take just as long to get to the next level. The variant (at least, mine) is just so they don't need to bother de-leveling and then re-leveling just as quick. Death is still a big hassle, but this way it's at least somewhat better.

    And actually, with this way, they take a bit longer to level up then if they actually lost a level. If they did lose a level and go from 4th to 3rd, let's say, then they'd get XP as a 3rd level character. By staying at 4th, they get XP as a 4th level character, and take a bit longer to earn back that lost XP.

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