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Character Builder and Character Death

 
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Will



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 395
Location: This Very Ring

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 10:21 am    Post subject: Character Builder and Character Death Reply with quote

Some thoughts I just had:

Character Builder. With a single mouse click[1], one can create a fully-specced-out nth-level character. While one would need a bit of time to review his powers and abilities before being able to jump right in and start playing him, the really time-consuming part of character creation is made nigh-instantaneous, as long as you're willing to let the computer make build choices for you. And most DMs (me and Nik, for sure) are cool about letting you re-spec your character later, if you hate the choices that have been made.

You could, in theory, in the middle of a game session, hop on a laptop, whip up a brand new PC, and be playing that new PC in that very same game session.

We'll still be attached to our characters, I'm sure, but I think character death just got a whole lot less scary. This is a good thing, I think.

This is one answer to the question of how to make character death sting less: make character creation quick and easy. Another answer is to make the character not be the only means by which a player can play. In other words, the character dies, but the player still has stuff to do. I wonder -- how could that be made to work in D&D? Preferably without requiring a whole crapload of full improvisation from a beleaguered DM?

[1] Okay, technically, you have to click a few more times to specify level, race, and class. I think. Oh, the horror...the horror...
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Glammo



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 453
Location: Finding paths and breakin' hearts

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tat is tru.


Backstory would be a bit minimal, but that's okay. My favorite characters (Glammo; Cuff; the Love Mage) came out of not trying too hard. But then again, those were for somewhat lighthearted games anyway.

HARDCORE ROLEPLAYING FTW!!!!


I wish WotC did this for 3.5e. Then no one would ever hate it. Ever. The end. Period.
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Lastman



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, backstory and development are the main reasons I like RPGs. Smashing things comes next.

In a worst-case scenario, throw-away characters become a means to test different applications of rules--which is my least favorite part of RPGs because I think they should be transparent and not the focus of the overall experience.

I like hypothetical solutions, but without firm grounding in a persona, it seems hollow: like a movie where you don't care what happens to the characters.

In the Conan RPG I almost died on several occasions because I was acting in accordance with my character's background and goals, and I wouldn't have minded if death happened as a result of RP. Some random instant death would have pissed me off though.

In the recent game, Bulab could have rushed those two dvergar and probably killed one before falling, but that would have been the act of young-Bulab. Veteran-Bulab still had the urge, but he knew the benefits of waiting for help.

Character Builder is the most useful RPG tool... OF ALL TIME.
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quakemonkey



Joined: 23 Oct 2006
Posts: 246
Location: at 4e's house, drinkin tea

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Making a new character is never what bothered me about dying. I just don't like losing characters I like, unless it's in some meaningful way (which is rare in rpgs). I kinda like making new characters from time to time as long as the game system doesn't suck. Mostly for me it's the down time you suffer waiting for the DM to get you back into the game, especially if the DM thinks they are some great novelist and you end up having to wait and wait until the game gets to an "appropriate" time in the "story" to introduce a new character. I've had to wait sessions in some groups for my replacement character to join the group. Talk about fun! Also losing a character I like sucks.

***edit***
The character builder is sweet though!
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Will



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 395
Location: This Very Ring

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about the second answer I mentioned? Any thoughts on how to make it happen? Note that it matters even if the party is going to have the character resurrected relatively soon.

I wrote:
Another answer is to make the character not be the only means by which a player can play. In other words, the character dies, but the player still has stuff to do. I wonder -- how could that be made to work in D&D? Preferably without requiring a whole crapload of full improvisation from a beleaguered DM?

Here's an off-the-cuff idea, without refinement or thought to balance: dead player-characters, using their strong spiritual ties to their friends and comrades, can grant them the use of their special abilities. The player of a dead PC can give action points, unspent healing surges, and uses of powers to surviving PCs during play.

?

Another, more complex idea might be to completely change the game for players of dead characters. Maybe there's a whole set of "ghost" or "dead-guy" abilities and powers that can be used while dead, or granted to surviving PCs by the deceased...
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Lastman



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, brainstorming...
- How about possession of one of the remaining PCs? No. Nevermind.
- Giving a remaining PC an action point or surge... eh. Not fun.
- This enters the realm of the ethereal plane, and from what I recall there's not much you can do there that will affect the prime material plane. We're talking Ghostwalk-type stuff here, and that's like a whole subgame you'd have to lay on the regular game.

- Do we have to do something once a PC is dead? Why don't you just have a secret rule where you only kill us if we do something that deviates from our character background (or alignment) or that is really, really stupid. I'm not talking about taking risks that are in character (like my Conan necro), but situations like "I'm not paying attention to the game so I'll just do whatever so I can get back to my iphone pron."

Yeah there's downtime if a char dies and it would suck to not have a turn for hours, but with a backup character and understanding re: immersion on everyone's part that we're there to play not spectate, backup chars would work.

So what if BackupFighter arrives out of nowhere and joins the party? I like that better than going to the mall for a rezz. Rezzing wrecks my immersion more than deus ex machina char introductions. When you think about it from a RP perspective, a rezz is asking a godlike entity for a big favor, so not all chars would be eligible. Who has that sort of spiritual capital? Few people would.

TANGENT: An all undead-PC game could be really cool.
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Will



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 395
Location: This Very Ring

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lastman wrote:
When you think about it from a RP perspective, a rezz is asking a godlike entity for a big favor, so not all chars would be eligible. Who has that sort of spiritual capital? Few people would.

And those few people would be PCs. Smile

Point taken, though. Honestly, it's probably not that big a deal. PCs have been dying in D&D for decades, and throughout multiple editions, and it's been all right. In fact, in recent editions, it seems outright rare. In 4e, it's harder than ever to outright die. I maybe looking for solutions to nonexistent problems.

But, hey, that's how I roll.

Another idea: expand the cast of the party to include a number of colorful, competent, and inactive (in the context of combat) NPCs. As an easy example, I could promote Splug to full PC-classed status, and keep him in the party as I have been lately -- he's around, and even maybe fighting in an abstract non-mechanical sense, but there's no mini on the board. He's not there the way the PCs are. But, if a PC falls and can't be returned to the game right away, boom -- Splug is promoted to full-blown PC, and the player of the deceased character gets to rock on goblin-style. At least until his normal PC can come back, or he rolls up a new character, or whatever. Or maybe he likes playing Splug so much that he makes it permanent.
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Lastman



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I get the feeling that Will is itching to kill someone.

Temp-Splug is a good idea.

When he kills all of us eventually, and we each have a character on the ethereal plane, maybe then we can play the all-ghost/undead game. Marvel Zombies leaps to mind.
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quakemonkey



Joined: 23 Oct 2006
Posts: 246
Location: at 4e's house, drinkin tea

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the best solution would be your suggestion of having "back up" NPCs waiting in the wings. I especially like this idea for boss fights since being knocked out of these fights really sucks, especially if it is early on.

I don't like the idea of making the possibility of death happening limited to only certain fights or situations. I also don't like the idea of death being used as a punishment or DM fiat. Not everyone thinks the same way and I don't think these options would work out all that well in actual play.

Mostly though, I really don't think death is all that bad the way it works now, as long as the DM gets you back into the game quickly. Having to sit out part of an encounter is annoying, but so are a lot of things : ) Ahhhhh, to smell all the flavors of life! Who could ask for more!

In D&D at least (especially 4e), bringing someone back from the dead does not involve asking a godlike entity for a big favor, it's just a 5th level ritual that anyone with the proper prerequisites can preform. It's more like communing with the fallen person's soul and asking them to return to their body. Even 3x really didn't require any special favor of a god. You just had to be able to cast divine spells. Which you could do without having to worship a specific god, you could just be committed to an ideal. I actually like this more anyway, so screw the gods and get me that spirit talkin ritual!

People dying in D&D, or having diseases, never made much sense anyway. Yea suspension of disbelief!!!!!!!!!

***edit***
or we could just do things the old Final Fantasy way, you don't die unless everyone dies, otherwise you just are unconscious until the fight is over or you make your death save (which we could call your unconsciousness save). Or if the DM is using a particularly nasty monster, he could say that it does kill ya rather than leaving you unconscious, kinda how 4e handles players killing stuff (the player who drops the monster decides if he kills it or leaves it unconscious).
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quakemonkey



Joined: 23 Oct 2006
Posts: 246
Location: at 4e's house, drinkin tea

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lastman wrote:
When he kills all of us eventually, and we each have a character on the ethereal plane, maybe then we can play the all-ghost/undead game. Marvel Zombies leaps to mind.

On June 15th there's gonna be an article on playing undeadish characters (some sorta new fangled race) called Reverants. Maybe that could be an option when the unthinkable happens : ( Oh dear!

ie: remove Half-elf sticker, apply Reverant sticker.
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Glammo



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 453
Location: Finding paths and breakin' hearts

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I saw that. That's what I was wondering as well.
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