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Death


This is a tricky issue that I think the module has done a poor job of handling for a very long time. Outside of hurt pride its often meaningless, unless you're alone on the server and die.

I'm speaking both mechanically and the way characters address it:

quote:


1) Dying outside of DMed events:

More often than not when someone dies in a dungeon, its often arranged for "someone" to come along, find them, and raise them - be they a stranger, best friend, or worst enemy. I don't agree with this but its the human instinct to help.

Sometimes you have bad luck, but my personal philosophy is that monster hunting should be fun, engaging, and dangerous. I've been trying to tailor dungeons where they take 30 minutes, are high reward, but risk loss. A skin of your teeth fight with Arges where you blow all your supplies is a lot cooler than mashing werewolves ad infinitum until you're 15th.

2) Dying within DMed events:

Everyone has raise scrolls. That's fine, and it eats gold. Often if the party runs out the DM will just raise dead players anyway. And if the party wipes, the DM usually has no idea what to do and raises everyone under the pretense they were left for dead.

Maybe this has story consequences, not usually. Often the DM either feels bad because the party was ill-equipped to handle an enemy.

3) When NPCs die:

I've seen players using raise dead scrolls on commoners. You can, right? Who wouldn't blow 1500g to bring back the soldiers they couldn't save? Nonetheless it really does make it meaningless when this can be done - since being raised is supposed to be a harrowing experience and, really, only "special people" - adventurers, should be able to make it back.

4) Corpse Bugs

Our corpse system is a lot nicer than the old one but raise dead doesn't always work. A DM can always mediate this. The fact that this is inconsistant tells me there needs to be a very small gap between the consequence for raise dead and respawning: Maybe raise dead should be just an extra, rather than an essential?



What this all tells me is that death means very little, and is treated inconsistently. Besides hurt pride, and not looking like a hero, there's no HUGE incentive not to die.

What are the pros of this setup?
-Relaxed server environment.
-No one really gets banged up over losing, because there's not much to lose.

What are the cons?
-Heroic last stands aren't heroic. You have nothing to lose when you throw yourself in the path of an oncoming dragon, except the chance to show off how strong you are.
-There are no skin-of-your-teeth, heart-pounding fights where you're drinking over last cure light wounds potion, and throwing every last scroll of ray of frost at the enemy in order to win. NWN is old but engine combat can still be exciting and strategic.
-We're playing in a dark setting. You've all seen this. Our treatment of death is very in-congruent with how the world is supposed to be.

Long story story: I think there's some value in not wanting to die. I just want to make people not want to die without inducing frustration. My thought was a small penalty for being resurrected. Enough that you might consider sipping an invisibility potion to dart out of harm's way. Nothing large. But enough to make you think twice. If that entails tweaking spawns so there's less one-shotting and true-sight I'd be game.

This is a world where being greedy and cowardly bring success, and where being GOOD is a true challenge.

I'm certainly welcome to other suggestions.


Last edited by Numos, 5/16/2013, 11:40 pm


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Numos: Shapeshifting wizard
Taevis Bentham: Woodsman
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Sabella Profile
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Re: Death


I'll have to think about any mechanics suggestions.

In the meanwhile, may I suggest a slight lore tweak to at least handle NPC vs player death and raising?

I think player characters should be "blessed" in some way via lore that makes it much less of a prospect to raise them versus the normal people of the world. Exactly what form this lore takes is up to you. But it would be used to RPly excuse why players don't die and NPCs often permanently do.
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ASlapForJoffrey Profile
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Re: Death


A helpful division can be placed between story-death and mechanical-death.

Mechanical death should in my eyes come with a penalty such as lost loot/xp so that doing dungeons can have that edge of mechanical fun, but impermanent consequence in terms of your character's story-driven narratives.

Story-death is much more meaningful as it means a permanent or extremely harsh penalty to your PC due to the result of some kind of in-character decision or obstacle past "the other guy rolled many 20's" or "I didn't spam the heal potion slot quickly enough". A story based death should be more fulfilling in the payoff for the character(s) involved and doesn't really refer much to discussions about dungeon balance and so on.

Mechanical death needs more definitive penalties, but on the flipside some dungeons are murder for PCs not built up to scratch for whatever reason. The line between harsh and draconic is a fine one, but mechanical penalties for death should never get in the way of the immersion of rp and story going on in a quest (for instace if the only way to raise someone on a common quest was to drag their corpse back to a temple then it'd be very jarring for RP as the 10 minute stroll back to town would be spent with said playeri n the fugue likely communicating in ooc tells to pass the time).

On the other hand, mechanical prowess circumventing story-death can be a problem. This is the npc-death referred to in the OP, I think. They're dead for a story reason, to create incentive to exploit/help those in a plight. It's a narrative obstacle that isn't meant to be overcome via a stack of 99 raising scrolls, instead with coercion/persuasion/resourcefulness/despair as per the personality of the character, giving them a change to grow and change.

This divide I feel needs to be in place also makes me hesitant to endorse liberal PvP rules on any roleplay server as it allows for the one with the most numbers to triumph in spite of any prior decision-making, effort put into developing rivalries, etc... At its worst it's essentially pitting mechanics against roleplay, in a situation where only mechanics can win. Granted mechanical stats are an aspect of all characters but it's a poor reductionism to say that that fact alone legitimizes most types of PvP.


Digressions aside, the death penalties should be a little harder but this won't be enough to give back mechanical tension to battles. Consumables need to become more valuable/rare as a commodity (everyone has easy access to massive stacks of powerful curative potions for example), gear that provides enduring stats such as DR, regeneration, vampiric regeneration, saves and AC bonuses should be difficult to acquire at high tiers and/or come with significant mechanical drawbacks when approaching high numbers (A +4 amulet of natural armor might stunt will saves by -3 or something).

Increasing dramatic tension in dm-less dungeons needs to be approached both directly and indirectly, through manipulation of loot and monster capabilities alongside balancing xp/gold incentives.

Increasing dramatic tension in story-driven dungeons and activities is at DM discretion, but reducing the expectation of things like NPC-raises is a must. The world should ideally feel evitable (the PCs being there and choosing to do one thing rather than another thing actually makes a tangible difference) while not being over-malleable (PCs slaughtering their way through absurdly powerful spawns because of their uber-gear and inexhaustable supply of consumables, or +12-all-stats attribute roles in RP).

It's tough!

---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
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theintrepidgnome Profile
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Re: Death


Permadeath can always be self-imposed, too.

---
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Calchas Blaesus: A mad seer.
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Aero Silver Profile
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Re: Death


quote:

theintrepidgnome wrote:

Permadeath can always be self-imposed, too.

Or by agreement between players or player/DM.
Also, there is a chance to skip town, to travel elsewhere, to go into hiding, etc.



---
Snacks are of course incredibly important to the roleplaying experience. Being part of a balanced diet, it's essential to have representatives of all four basic food groups: sugar, salt, fat, and caffeine. ~Irregulars - January 02, 2011.
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Totems Profile
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Re: Death


*vomits up an essay on death systems*

ASlapForJoffrey makes a lot of good points about the difference between story and mechanical death. I think it's difficult to make the world truly scary for the player if that player knows how to use consumables or build a strong build. NWN, at its base, is a very easy system to manipulate.

As for NPCs and PCs, I am 100% behind establishing that PCs are unique in their ability to be ressurected.

I've always approached death penalties with the idea of 'lost time' when it's an EXP/gold/whatever loss. If you lose 100xp per level, how long does it take to gain back what is lost? If I lose 500 on my level 5 character, it might take me 20~ minutes. If I lose 2000 on my level 20 character, it might take me several days of play (as EXP would require DM events or boss EXP). I'm not actually a big fan of this system as it makes death a big pain from a mechanical standpoint but doesn't really drive home any in character loss. At the same time, it's really hard to give an in character rationale to little yellow numbers.

For the sake of argument here are some pros and cons of other death systems I've seen. Maybe something new can be taken from the pros of those;

Death Tokens
Each character starts with 10 tokens, each respawn (but not raise dead) takes away a token. DMs give tokens out at the end of story quests to characters who contributes. When you are out of tokens, you cannot be raised and are permadead.

Pros:
-Characters who stick around for a long time are ones who leave a lasting impact on the world.
-Characters who level up rapidly by bashing monsters move slowly towards permadeath.
-Characters aren't immortal.

Cons:
-This can quickly lead to a problem of 'the DMs Favourites are immortal.'
-People tend to lose several tokens in the lower levels and then hoard them in the higher when they see them counting down.
-It can't be fairly implemented in an existing server.

EXP debt
Instead of EXP loss, you pay a 'debt' in a % of EXP gained until you debt is paid.

Pros:
-No level loss from death
-You don't stop gaining, you just move slower after death.

Cons:
-Doesn't convey any in character consequences for respawn.
-We don't gain enough EXP on this server from monster kills to see it really put to use.

EXP stop
For a number of minutes after respawn, EXP cannot be gained from monster kills.

Pros:
-Intended to encourage people to RP after a respawn and not go back into killing, thus giving people a 'down time' to recover.
-No level loss.

Cons:
-We don't gain enough EXP from monster kills post 15 to make this worth it.
-People can just afk it off.

Permadeath

Pros:
-Death is scary.
-Combat is scary.
-RP environment totally changes.

Cons:
-RP environment totally changes.
-You die, that's it. There's no revival or respawn.
-Doesn't differentiate between story death and mechanical death.
-Lag, not spamming potions fast enough, not building a bard/blackguard/fighter or fighter/bard/rdd or wizard, leads to more deaths than story or PVP ever will.
-DMs accidently killing characters by overestimating what they can handle get a lot of hate.

---

Quite frankly, I don't favour any of those systems as a good match for Andrune

I think if we want to make death and combat scary again, ramping up the difficulty isn't going to gain that. Our server is crazy out of balance in favour of casters, or sword-mages, and I'd hate to see people all roll the same cookie cutter powerful builds for the sake of survival. Making EXP/gold easier to gain while also making it easier to lose is a good way to approach this, and making an effort to give some in character consequences to the respawn button would be cool.

Maybe the Bone Witch keeps track of your debts to her, and if viewable by DMs, could be the basis for one shot events.

Last edited by Totems, 5/19/2013, 3:08 pm


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Characters:
Isania Jalitana- The Huntress (and Mistress Egofantastic.)
Calisto - Gryphonrider
Nyx Talonbite- Amazon Crystal Champion of Death By Snu Snu
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Lanthar Profile
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Re: Death


Myth Drannor had a good XP system.
There was different ways you could get xp from dungeons, from crafting, from scriped quests.

So if you needed 10 000 xp from one lvl to another you could get maybe 5000 from dungeons 1000 from scripted quests 1000 from crafting and the rest you had to get from DM events wich could be 3000 in this case.
if you died you lost from your dungeon (killing spawns) XP.

Being over 21 makes it realy hard for some to stay at that lvl, especialy us EU players who can't stay up for most events unless we have a day off the day after and that way our DM xp is very valueble. i maybe get 500 XP a month. unless i stay up very late nights and play. and if i die once a month i will be on -600 in xp progress.

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theintrepidgnome Profile
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Re: Death


I wonna do an essay too!

One idea is exponential XP loss.

Whenever a character dies, XP is tacked on to their respawn loss. So their first death will result in them losing 100xp, their second will result in losing 200xp, their third in 300xp, etc... A PC who dies fifteen times will lose 1,500xp.

This might seem a little low, but the idea is that a death will never "go away." It can never be undone. So when you've acquired another 100xp on your penalty, it's there to stay - and you can only acquire more down the track.

Additionally, clerics are able to resurrect somebody without a direct penalty to xp. The exponential gain still exists, but no XP is stripped from the PC upon being resurrected. Instead, it costs the cleric PC a lot of GP to represent the consumption of a diamond as per the PnP component for the spell and to create a still-costly escape from paying XP.

Pros.
- Death becomes progressively more worrying.
- This system can be adapted so that one death results in two or three hundred experience points on death.
- Forgiving-ish to new players; they'd only be losing a couple hundred xp, but they'll pay for carelessness down the track.

Cons.
- Death at low levels has a permanent effect.
- Scripting can be tricky (can work through a token system).
- Can't be introduced fairly with high level PCs already existing.

---

quote:

Myth Drannor had a good XP system.
... the rest you had to get from DM events wich could be 3000 in this case.



quote:

especialy us EU players who can't stay up for most events unless we have a day off the day after and that way our DM xp is very valueble. i maybe get 500 XP a month.



This is a fault in the system; players outside of popular timezones will not progress without staying home from work or whatever. Further, although I'm not saying anything about Andrune's DM team in particular, it just opens a floodgate to a lot of DM favoritism, exploitation and the "progression starvation" of disliked/stigmatised players. It is a fundamentally unfair system and shouldn't have existed outside of PnP.

Observe Cormyr and the Dalelands; players outside of popular US timezones would often be at the very least five or six levels behind players within those timezones who started their characters at the same time and invested the same amount of hours. After DMing on that server for a couple months, I realized that a lot of the DMs there, like on Myth Drannor, were only dumping XP on the PCs they thought "deserved it" because of the "quality of their roleplay;" subjective perspectives biased by exposure and taste, much like who would end up in their events. Which, again, may not be wholly applicable to Andrune.

Relevant to the death system: combat XP stopped mattering on Myth Drannor and Cormyr and the Dalelands because, effectively, it became just a time sink. The only XP that really mattered was the DM XP, which was ever-illusive due to the human aspect of the DMs. A system like this wouldn't work on Andrune because it doesn't work anywhere. :P

Edit: My overall point being that XP progress should be relatively close for all players on a server. Introducing the element of dependency on a DM guarantees this will not be the case, not necessarily because DMs are people too and people have tastes, but because DMs also have jobs and lives outside of the game to maintain.
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On the subject of death being fair: it's my personal opinion that it won't ever be, simply because the death of a character is nuanced and case-by-case. If systemised, I'm certain permadying or dying for hefty penalties will leave a bad taste in just about anybody's mouth. Especially due to the nature of Neverwinter Nights being what it is: buggy and laggy.

I personally think that death outside of DM events shouldn't be weighed so heavily. The severity is decided by players; the best way to make death scary is simply for people to roleplay that it is. Maybe reward roleplaying that death is a shaking, bracing experience from the DM client. Having out rewards for positive, quality roleplay (when it doesn't set an unfair advantage/have an associated roadblock) is always a cool thing, right?

In DM events, so long as players are aware of the risk beforehand and allowed to step out of the event, permadeath should be thrown around enough to make it a considerable possibility. That allows for the DM to determine what's reasonable, the PC to take a fair screenshot and for witnesses in the form of other players to be called on if a case is disputed.

Last edited by theintrepidgnome, 5/19/2013, 6:47 pm


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Calchas Blaesus: A mad seer.
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Ruby Pyralis Profile
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Re: Death


I think that we're over-complicating things, the truth of the matter is that we are playing a video game where our avatars occasionally go below -10HP. The reason does not matter, we are here to role play because we like to, and NwN's system just happens to be a convenient interface for the stories we like to tell. Making all these complex systems to help instill fears in players is counter-productive for an encouraging and collaborative story-telling experience, we are the authors of our characters and we decide when/if they die. Period. I don't think I will ever EVER think it is acceptable to force character death on anyone, let alone through a game's mechanics.

Looking past perma-death, the only other consequence for dying is purely mechanical and merely impedes our ability to get fancier, more powerful spells or abilities in the combat system (which is inherently imperfect). Why should we fuss about the rate levels are gained as much as we do? Look at Vera, for instance (sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, Joffrey), I have never seen her avatar out grinding dungeons and, because the player lives in New Zealand, DM events are scarce. Despite this, Vera is an excellently RPed character whose actions have caused more of a stir than many characters which are higher level than her. Her player has done a great job telling Vera's story and we don't look at her character level to determine her worth. Making character death more "scary" or "real" won't matter for anyone who RPs well because they already play their character accordingly.

tl;dr: Experience is just a number and farting around with the death system will not enhance RP.

---
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Brìghde: The coolest druid you'll meet today.
Nomeli: Rainbow princess!
Evendlyn: I'll see you cut asunder!
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Sabella Profile
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Re: Death


I agree with Ruby, and I would also suggest that having stiff death penalties will just stop players from taking risks and being adventurous. Personally, I don't even think there should be an XP loss for death. Maybe a cooldown period with stat penalties just to keep people from immediately rejoining the fray if they choose to respawn instead of waiting for a raise.

The only server I've ever felt "fear" during boss battles was Bonds of Blood. I'll describe what that results in. When I was there, because of the boss battles, the flavor build of the time was bard/RDD/PM minotaurs. So, dancing, half dead, half dragon minotaurs.

There was no player consideration of character builds on Bonds of Blood because they weren't survivable. The harder you make a server, the stiffer the penalties for death, the more you can expect tricked out power builds to compensate until the inevitable: players all using a handful of similarly built characters and RPing them as something completely unrelated to their classes.

My only mechanics suggestions would be a stat penalty cooldown, reduction or removal of XP loss or at the very least an inability to lose a level due to death (BoB at least did this, you could never lose enough XP to lose a level), but more important than any of that is just how we RP it.

Absent the "blessed PC" lore tweak, currently I don't RP death and raising as dying at all. I RP it as near death. As if I would have died had the spell not stopped the bleeding out. Respawn? By some miracle my near dead body was found by a wondering adventuring do-gooder.

You can completely negate the frivolity of cheating death by the way you view it and the language you use.

Last edited by Sabella, 5/20/2013, 5:39 am
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