We die together

edited February 2008 in Story Games
I have an issue with character death. I don't like it. This isn't always true, but most games seem to gloss right over "how to keep the game fun for players with dead characters".

For party games, I was thinking of death as something that could only happen when everyone dies, that way the game ends, and no one is left out. The idea is, when a character dies, they miraculously survive. In D&D terms, they stay at zero hit points; they're out of the fight, but they can be patched up/healed afterwards. However, when the number of deaths equals the number of members in the party, that death creates the TPK.

In a five member party, that means five deaths. I was thinking any combination would do it. So, that could mean each member dies once, or it could mean member one dies four times, member two dies once, and the other members never die.

As to how to bring in the TPK, I think that would depend a lot on context and what the players want. Preferably something cool, but I figure it would be narrated rather than rolled. So if you die to being overrun by a Goblin army, you don't play out that battle, you either go out Angel season five style (the character's last words to each other before they face certain doom and then fade to black), or you simply do it in flashes (you know like those scenes in movies where everyone dies and they show flashes in slow motion as the good guys get cut down (like Buffy and friends in The Wish)).

EDIT: A math error.


  • I like the idea of some aggregate number, and if one guy uses them all it is no different than five individual deaths. There's something really fun and cool about facing your doom together, back to back, and taking an honor guard to hell with you. For extra sauce let the players define, before play, what that final scene is going to be like. Maybe that's the first thing you game! Everything else will lead to and amplify the importance of those final moments.
  • This makes me want to relate a story from near the end of a year-long Savage Worlds game.

    The party has been hacking through this dungeon. One of them is near death from a spider bite, and the others have all taken more hits than is healthy. There is an insane number of orcs after them, they're running, and they take a wrong turn into a dead end. They get the door to the room barred, and they're stuck in there, fifty orcs outside howling for their blood.

    And there's this long moment. We've been playing this game for a long time. We know and love these characters. What's more, we know there is exactly zero chance of them surviving this. The characters all look at each other. They lay the dying barbarian down, and say some comforting words. They unlimber their weapons, count arrows, and vow to sell their lives dearly. Then they unbar the door, and let them come.

    They fought like demons. The fighter was holding them in the doorway, knowing that any round in which he didn't kill all the orcs in front of him, they'd be overrun. The archer was picking off strays over his shoulder. Finally, inevitably, the orcs pushed through the doorway. The archer ran out of arrows. He used his last to shoot an orc in the neck, and took its mace. Back to back, they fought to the last.
  • edited February 2008
    Simon, that is so awesome, I can hardly stand it. And I don't mean it in the rocking-out way (well, maybe a little). That's just a powerful and wonderful story that makes me a little proud to be a gamer right now. I don't know... that just really hit me.
  • Chris, I like that. The early part, about continuing with 0 HP, reminds me of the Toon way of doing things: when you reach 0 HP, you Fall Down, take two minutes out of play and rejoin the game.

  • Ryan Stoughton, this might do well to reinforce camaraderie. The players need to work together or they are all FUBARed.
  • I'd call it the Lunar Effect.

    I know there are plenty of other videogame RPGs that use that approach, but that is the one that first came to my mind.

    It is funny, you know... How everyone is at 1 hp after any fight they were knocked down...
Sign In or Register to comment.