Friday, March 2, 2012

[LotFP] Character dies... my solution

My style of gamemastering is about adventures and characters. My player is focused on her character. If character dies adventure dies with it. You can roll new character and continue with small briefing but my player wouldn't like that.

Tough, someone might think. But that's the way it is.

Starting LotFP I was a bit nervous of character death. My player is not that interested in fantasy adventuring (weird or not) so I was afraid that if her character dies she looses interest. Tough you might think but I want to play weird adventures.

So I had to find a solution.

When character should be dead something happens. Here's an example from Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back (I hope copyright people don't take the video off, but it's the "wumpa" scene where Luke Skywalker looses consciousness (character dies rules wise).

The idea is when you die, something bad happens. Luke is captured in monsters cave in a really bad shape. He manages to escape but is in low hit points.

When character should die according to the rules story doesn't have to end. You get a little side-quest or additional scene. In top of that there should be a penalty for dying. Decreasing level is too much trouble so I decided character doesn't loose levels but looses ½ of his experience points.

I also use rules for negative hit points (Death and Dismemberment chart by Trollsmyth) where you might even loose your limb! I will blog about that later. (Note! Negative hit points are modifier to roll. For example from a hit dealing damage what decreases hit points to -5 roll 2d6-5 and then check the chart. More negative HP you have more serious the blow is! If you had -5 hit points already and suffer 2 damage you are at -7 and roll 2d6-7 this time and consult the chart!)

So if you are level 7 (1000 xp per level for simplicity) and had 7500 xp when you "resurrect" from the dead (resurrect is wrong term, but survive as in above video example) you only have 3750 xp left. I think that is reasonable penalty. If you are stupid (or unlucky) to die a lot your level progression is slowed down a lot.

This might be wimpy for TRVE KVLT OSR MASTERS but it's a good solution for our needs. Sue me for being wimpy Referee.


0levelinhuman said...

I really love this side quest idea as a solution to character death. I'm not sure why the OSR crowd are quite so wedded to the idea of butchering dozens of PCs every session... Sure, there should be a consequence to character death and I like the idea that bad decisions and bad luck will be punished, yet endlessly having to dice-up new characters and insert them in some cack-handed fashion into whatever mega-dungeon they are in seems clunky and too gamey for my tastes. That's not to say that no PCs should ever die, but if all a player does is sigh, pick up the dice and start again then it seems that there's very little difference between having your PC die and losing a life in sonic the hedgehog... which would be a shame.

Saying that I think losing a level as part of the consequence isn't too much hassle... or even having to start afresh from 1st level but with the same PC... I do think however that the unlikely resurrection/escape should be limited in a multi-player game. Maybe only one 'life' or fate point per player and only one fate point can be played in any given scene/encounter or session, so it wouldn't become too ludicrous. I can imagine players drawing lots after a TPK to see who lives to fight another day...

Of course, the choice to play a PC's only fate point should be there choice. Some may opt for a heroic death and a fresh start. And I definitely agree that it should involve a mini-quest, the outcome of which should not be assured...

Unknown said...

It most definately is challenge gaming. I don't say there is no roleplaying but for me more important is the story and characters (blame World of Darkness if you will, but that's the way I've played almost every single game past 10 years).

Adventure and challenge based dungeoning is good if you don't play regularly. When you get together to play once a month there's no time for drama.

But if you can loose several characters during a session and just roll new one those characters are no characters but pawns. Naturally the characters who survive several sessions and gain several levels grow personality. So newbie characters are nobodies and more experienced become real characters (this explanation is from Nuurori's and his friends' Natural 20/Space Jerusalem game (

Yeah, that same PC thing after dying wouldn't be that bad. I know you don't need to go through all the introducing (hi I am random dude just happening to be here, can I join your party stranger). Fate points could be used and are used in some games but somehow I feel that is cheating. You die but don't die. Too easy.

You have great thoughts.