Some thoughts on D&D gamehacks

November 4, 2007

Thinking about it a bit more, I realize I have a lot of things setup to prevent character death.

This isn’t about “precious characters” as much as it is about precious gametime.

Think of it this way- time spent -not- playing is not fun.  Time you spend unconcious losing hitpoints, time you spend building a new character, time you spend trying to figure out how to best use this new character in conjunction with the other charcters, etc.

If you get knocked out of a fight and it takes another 15- 20 minutes to finish, you’ve been punished enough- hence my pulp death rules- character death is still possible, just less likely and less of waste of time- you don’t spend the nest 5 rounds hoping someone heals you before you bleed out.

See, in previous editions, character building was pretty quick (not to mention, you probably were rolling with a war band, so lose a character? Just take another of out 20 odd people in the dungeon).  Here, character building doesn’t even necessarily speed up as you gain expertise, because the more you know, the further ahead you think with your build.

It’s not so much that characters die, it’s that they die so easily and usually spark a TPK which, pretty much means a game reset- all the prep the players did is now wasted, the GM can toss away any plot based encounters or has to retool them, etc.  Early on in play, at low levels, players might not even know enough to figure out what they did wrong, making it a high learning curve early in.  15 minutes of tactics to 45 minutes of character building is a poor ratio (even if you’re expert and pop a character together in 10-20 minutes, that’s still a bad ratio).

In comparison, videogames usually take just seconds before you’re back in play, usually with the opportunity to try the same challenge from different angles, to develop tactics.   Even boardgames don’t have as much downtime/setup between play to play.

Though I understand the joy of building in D&D is like building mechs in Armored Core or decks in Magic the Gathering, at the same point, the foundation of play is play…  Right now character death actually hurts play more than it helps

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