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GM_Michael

Increasing Lethality / Long Term effects...

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After running FFG Star Wars for a year and half, I was thinking to run something more grim and tactical. I have been looking at the D&D 4E Dark Sun materials and will probably run a 4E heroic tier Dark Sun game -  But even as I prep for a D&D game, part of me is thinking abut how I would deal with a Genesys darker fantasy where character death should be a more frequent.  I thought I would throw the few ideas I had in my head

1)  Critical hits in excess of a character's Brawn or Willpower could be a condition that results in death (Especially after maxing a character's wounds or strain)

2) Total Critical hits on a character exceed the "Impossible" level (6 levels of critical - so  3 Average, 2 Hard, One Daunting+1 Average, etc)

3) Taking a note from D&D characters could enter a death spiral at their wound threshold is reached and must roll a number of successes based on their brawn or willpower before 3 failures are rolled.

 

What ideas do you have to increase character lethality? how would you expound on / improve / or dismiss the ideas I present above?

MB

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7 minutes ago, GM_Michael said:

 

After running FFG Star Wars for a year and half, I was thinking to run something more grim and tactical. I have been looking at the D&D 4E Dark Sun materials and will probably run a 4E heroic tier Dark Sun game -  But even as I prep for a D&D game, part of me is thinking abut how I would deal with a Genesys darker fantasy where character death should be a more frequent.  I thought I would throw the few ideas I had in my head

1)  Critical hits in excess of a character's Brawn or Willpower could be a condition that results in death (Especially after maxing a character's wounds or strain)

2) Total Critical hits on a character exceed the "Impossible" level (6 levels of critical - so  3 Average, 2 Hard, One Daunting+1 Average, etc)

3) Taking a note from D&D characters could enter a death spiral at their wound threshold is reached and must roll a number of successes based on their brawn or willpower before 3 failures are rolled.

 

What ideas do you have to increase character lethality? how would you expound on / improve / or dismiss the ideas I present above?

MB

1)  That would have to be critical hits that occur after wound or strain thresholds are exceeded.  Otherwise no one could play a low Brawn character.  But if the situation is so dire that the enemy can afford to keep hitting a downed player, a TPK is probably on the way anyway.

2)  I don't really understand what this one is.

3)  Again, this is really rough on a low brawn or willpower character.

How about ruling out in-combat healing? 

Or making everyone take a crit every round their wounds exceed their wound threshold?  This can be avoided if another character is giving first aid as an action each round.

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My best advice would be to talk to your group. Ask them if they think the game should be more lethal ? Make sure they are having fun and are in acceptance with a more lethal combat. 

With that said i think you should explore other ways to make your combat more tactical that does not involve crits or deaths. Use your environment and take a look at designing threats and encounters in a way that can be more tactical. 

If nothing else stops your murder hobo pc's go for the strainpool. Alot of times your pc powerfull abilities and defenses comes with a strain cost. 
Have some good narrative skill challenges leading up to a combat so maybe they start at half pool or something.

Like @TheSapient suggested maybe make a out of combat healing rule. Having a divine caster healing up all critical and wounds potentially strain to after combat takes something out of that dark element you seek. Make sure to apply lots of strain on such a healer and remember they suffer 2 strain per spell after the spell check is resolved so they cant heal the strain suffered from the same casting. 

Also per raw if i remember correctly each time your pc drop to 0 they suffer a critical hit. So if they drop to 0 crit em, if they get healed to 5 wounds drop em again and crit em +10 and so on etc. gets fun after a while :)   

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I'm in the same boat as @2P51, every time I can crit I do…unless there's a real good reason not to.

But if you want a more lethal game, you only need two things:

  1. Lower crit rating
  2. Add Vicious to (almost) all weapons

The first will mean more crits while the second means each crit hurts that much more. There's no need to add convoluted rules when the existing rules work great for what you want to do!

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There is one change you could make that would slot into existing rules and systems without causing much trouble, or nessessitate adding stuff to each and every weapon.

 

You should consider rewriting the standard critical injury table into something more lethal, perhaps with death becoming a possibility at a roll of 101 or more. 

 

You would have to spend the time to make the new table, but after that work there won’t be any weird rules or janky gear to worry about later. 

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7 hours ago, ardoyle said:

You should consider rewriting the standard critical injury table into something more lethal, perhaps with death becoming a possibility at a roll of 101 or more.

You would have to spend the time to make the new table, but after that work there won’t be any weird rules or janky gear to worry about later. 

I have considered this. There are some categories you could leave out and others you could combine. I would consider making the "Bleeding Out" critical a lager range for dramatic effect.

I think achieving a certain number of critical wounds resulting in death was part of WFRP 3.  I have the game, but never played it.

From my Star Ware Experience I have had several PC's with 4 critical wounds being attacked with a vicious weapon and results were never worse than a temporary loss of of an extremity. That was great for Star Wars - but I don't think it would be great for Dark Sun. I don't want to be a total killer GM, but if you are trying for a grim dark setting, PC death should happen every once in a while.

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12 minutes ago, Archellus said:

Why? 

If you are giving the impression that characters LIVES are on the line, then those lives need to be able to be lost. If PC death never occurs, the threat of it starts to ring hollow, and the feeling that any scenario is fraught with the ultimate danger passes from game play. That feeling is something that I think should be part of a darker setting.

I am a player in a weekly game group, and in the course of several years of gaming only once has a character died, and even that character was able to be returned to life. Our group has no fear of PC death, even while playing 1st level D&D characters. While combats are exciting there is a certain lack of nervousness or fear for my characters. While it works in the setting our GM provides, that is not the feeling I am trying to evoke with my current explorations into the Dark Sun style universe...

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4 hours ago, GM_Michael said:

If you are giving the impression that characters LIVES are on the line, then those lives need to be able to be lost. If PC death never occurs, the threat of it starts to ring hollow, and the feeling that any scenario is fraught with the ultimate danger passes from game play. That feeling is something that I think should be part of a darker setting.

I am a player in a weekly game group, and in the course of several years of gaming only once has a character died, and even that character was able to be returned to life. Our group has no fear of PC death, even while playing 1st level D&D characters. While combats are exciting there is a certain lack of nervousness or fear for my characters. While it works in the setting our GM provides, that is not the feeling I am trying to evoke with my current explorations into the Dark Sun style universe...

I get your problem. But imo your group has no fear of death is the problem not the mechanics :) 

But there are other ways to portray dark grim then having a fast and steady rule that someone MUST die - The other side of the coin in a super adversarial group is that your players becomes extremely careful and well boring or feel like they must power max their characters in order to survive. 

Have a talk in the group dont do this as a surprise make sure all players know that this game will be intense and have hard threaths to deal with. Get them excited about being hacked limb from limb. 

In darksun there are other themes then death. There is slavery and the fight for resources. Instead of dying your pc could be captured in slavery. They could be left for dead in the desert only to wake up entangled in blood drinking vines having to fight painfully to get free only to face the wilderness without their equipment and supplies and then maybe... they die if your merciful. 

Anyways i understand your problem but like a few other said just pile crits on em and pull no punches have them fear those yellow die as you scream in victory every time a crit is rolled. Death is to merciful for such vile pc make em suffer :P there are so many fun critical rolls on the way to 151+ would be boring to rewrite the tabel. 

If you need to houserule something i would again suggest you limit the heal magic action if your using magic to once per week for each critical injury like medicine p. 116 GCRB

"A character may attempt one Medicine check
per week per Critical Injury. p 116"

And as other suggested make sure all monsters in Athas has viscous. 

Dark sun is a great setting. I ran it back in 2nd edition ad&d and again in pathfinder with some conversion still have the original box set. Would love to try it in Genesys seems great for it. Which setting and age will you play in ? 

 

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The original Dark Sun came out while I was very busy in college (I am really telegraphing my age here, aren't I? - I pretty much missed playing any of the 2nd edition settings - I had a preference for Runequest and Call of Cthulhu and even GURPS during that time)

ANYWAYS, I picked up the 4th edition D&D books recently. I know 4th ed gets a bad wrap - but it is a fun tactical game even with all its flaws. The only time presented in the 4E books is right after Tyr becomes a free city so that is where I will set my game, rather than try and get mote material for other eras. Most likely characters will begin in Tyr, but as I read the city descriptions I am drawn to Nibenay as a interesting city.

As I start now I will be running the game as a D&D 4E Heroic Tier game, but am making notes and looking at the fan made conversion and may in the future attempt to run a Genesys version of the game in players are up for it....

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If FFG ever does an Arkham Horror setting, character death and/or madness must be a thing, I guess. That does not help you as I assume the potential book is a looong way down the road.

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