Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Dying Once makes it more likely to Die again

I've played a few RPG games, and in some of them I've died. And in others I've died and come back to life.

When this happens either you are slightly worse off (mechanically) after death, or you paid some (mechanical) price. Either way, your resources are down compared to your non-dying compatriots.

And being slightly worse off means that... you are more likely to die again. You don't have the resources or abilities compared to before, and if you, with better resources, died before, what chance do you have now that you are worse off?

(Note that this lack of resource isn't necessarily permanent, although the conditions whereby you regain those resources back can have different degrees of difficulty.)

In D&D 4e, there are many options to not die, and dying really needs the dice to go against you. When you come back, you need to reach "three milestones", where a milestone is two encounters without an extended rest (ie overnight sleep). When you are doing two encounters per session, that's a long time to get back to where you were. That's really annoying.

In Deathwatch ( / Warhammer 40K), dying is a lot easier with far less bad dice rolls to kill you. I failed to hit, they hit twice, bam, one round / first round, dead. And it cost me a Fate Point to not die. Fate Points allow rerolls, boosts to skills, etc. I started with three, and now down to two. That's a lot of options cut off for me. I can get Fate Points back, but it depends on heroics and the GM. I could be down for a while.

But... should this mean there should be no penalty for dying? That depends on the lethality of the game and what resources death/avoiding death should cost. As a player, it's easy to say "the penalty should be lessened", but at least it should be more balanced. Basically, dying once should not make it more likely you'll die again... and yet, it does.


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