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Author Topic: Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?  (Read 6807 times)

Ratman_tf

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #60 on: October 28, 2019, 07:12:13 PM »
Quote from: Shasarak;1112222
If you dont get upset when you character dies then it just means you probably did not really buy into the character in the first place, like when my Thimble goes to Jail in Monopoly.

He was framed!
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SavageSchemer

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #61 on: October 28, 2019, 07:22:22 PM »
One of the things I've permanently stolen from Jaws of the Six Serpents is the idea of "danger levels". For those who haven't seen this, they are:

  • Drama - unlikely to suffer any lasting harm, and consequences are removed / cleared quickly.
  • Risk - lasting harm is still unlikely, but consequences, called scars, are permanent and will trouble the character for the rest of their days.
  • Doom - the character's story ends - whether by death or some other final and irrevocable fate.

In general bar fights are going to be Dramatic. Getting jumped by back-alley thugs is Risk and going up against major villains is Doom. Any time the danger level increases, it immediately factors into the risk analysis of the players. Everyone knows what's on the table, and if the players decide to proceed into a higher Danger Level encounter, they're doing so with everyone on the same page about the potential outcomes.
The more clichéd my group plays their characters, the better. I don't want Deep Drama™ and Real Acting™ in the precious few hours away from my family and job. I want cheap thrills, constant action, involved-but-not-super-complex plots, and cheesy but lovable characters.
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Omega

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #62 on: October 28, 2019, 08:05:42 PM »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1112214
Well, if everyone is a poor peasant then who is going to be a high level enough character to challenge PCs. There probably won't be any other wizards for hundreds of miles.


AD&D Conan. No non-NPC spellcasters. No non-human PCs and effectively none as NPCs. Low magic and no clerics. D&D pared down to the bones nearly. And works really well.
Whereas in TSR Conan PCs can eventually pick up magic. But magic near invariably has a price. Usually a loss of sanity, sometimes a permanent loss of health just to cast some spells.

Or in Dragon Storm which I designed a few cards for. The PCs start out usually as farmers and peasants totally unaware and unprepared for what is about to happen to them. You might luck out and get  an ex necro apprentice or hidden shaman. But even they are in the same boat. Just possibly actually aware of the true nature of the situation.

Omega

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #63 on: October 28, 2019, 08:15:57 PM »
I think most normal players are ok with losing a character. But are NOT ok with arbitrary deaths of characters. This was something that BX stressed. There should allways be a way out, slim as that may be. Unless it is obviously impossible or certain death. And there should be alternatives, slim as those may be too.

Can the PC run across the rocks floating in the molten lava and make it to the other side? Yes. But they will take alot of damage and may have to make some DEX or % checks to not misstep and die instantly. Can they jump in the lava and swim across? no. Is there a ledge or some other way to bypass the lava lake? Look around and see what you discover. And so on.

Shasarak

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #64 on: October 28, 2019, 08:24:26 PM »
Quote from: Ratman_tf;1112226
He was framed!

Didnt even get a Save.  What a Gyp!
There will be poor always,
pathetically struggling,
look at the good things you've got! -  Jesus

Psikerlord

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #65 on: October 28, 2019, 08:36:07 PM »
Quote from: Crusader X;1112019
OSRs are lethal, but not every OSR game is equally lethal.  I like how The Black Hack 2e handles things - when a PC drops to 0 hit points, a d6 is rolled, but there is only a 1 in 6 chance of actual death.  But the other options include things such as being maimed, disfigured, etc.  So its not as lethal as, say, D&D B/X, but players still need to be very cautious as there are definitely consequences to dropping to 0 HP.  I think this range of consequences is more fun than just constant death.


I agree with this. I actually dont like for example BX deadliness of auto dead at zero hp. I find that TOO deadly. I like to see a save or something else at zero hp to see if you're dead. And if not dead, I like an injury table of some kind. Without this kind of genuine danger in the game, I find it too boring (looking at you, 5e).
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Psikerlord

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #66 on: October 28, 2019, 08:51:48 PM »
Quote from: Graytung;1112108
Coming from someone who ran a sandbox west-marches campaign that saw the death of over 60 player characters, including 3 TPKs, I can agree that buy in is important, but more important is how the campaign is set up in the first place.

...

You can set expectations all you want, and follow through with those expectations by having characters die. I even told new players that they should not write character backgrounds, because everyone was an adventurer and their goal was finding treasure and discovering the world... Players should be dealing with the problems as they come upon them, not turning up to a campaign with a laundry list already. Regardless, some players are just going to take death badly, in fact most players do. You can try and coach players into seeing the game past a character's death, but ultimately it's up to them how they decide they want to play... I can only recommend that when the dmreferee sets up an OSR style game and they want it to be deadly (and i believe it should), they need to find a way to disassociate the story from the players in a way that the players can still alter and interact with the story, but they do not become the story. I'd recommend a more episodic approach to adventure design, or a vast mega-dungeon environment. The goal isn't clear to begin with, and may just be to get rich. Later, the players can create their own goals based on what they discover, but even then, these personal goals should not be the primary focus, rather the world that exists around the players should be, and the player's goals stem from the world. With this approach, it's much easier to slot in different characters week to week.

If you set up a campaign where players have to write a long backstory, and goals from the start, then you're setting them up for disappointment and later when you need to insert a new player character into such a group, it is harder to do so. Players are limited to the types of characters they can bring to the already existing story.

100% this. Players coming to the table with long histories and pre-made enemies and all that jazz arent expecting a dangerous game. They're expecting 5e. If you want a dangerous campaign - where gameplay actually matters as opposed to playing out a story by the numbers - you need to set that tone from character creation, and use the right system for the job.
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ElBorak

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #67 on: October 28, 2019, 11:23:32 PM »
Quote from: ffilz;1112176
But it's also key that smart play actually WILL make a difference. If the GM cuts off all the smart play attempts, players will realize they really can't win. And then the death toll loses appeal.
This is crucial, the DM should not be sabotaging the game.

It is a must that your players have a good grasp on the difference between fantasy and reality, those who don't should not play rpgs. Now while I can understand someone being bummed if their 8th level character gets killed through no fault of their own, anyone who throws a fit over the death of a low level character in an rpg, should not be playing an rpg. Lethality is a feature of rpgs, not a bug. If characters die in your game as a result of bad player decisions, then you are doing it right. When you look at new players, if they are good their character death rate goes down quickly as they learn how to play. If their death rate does not go down, then they are not learning from experience.  I post the definition of insanity on the wall in large print. I also have another sign posted right beside it that says, "Stop the insanity!!!!!! Stop dying!!!!"  Sometimes when a player's characters are dying for the same reason repeatedly and the player is complaining I just point to the wall.

Sacrificial Lamb

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #68 on: October 28, 2019, 11:49:45 PM »
Quote from: Omega;1112232
AD&D Conan. No non-NPC spellcasters. No non-human PCs and effectively none as NPCs. Low magic and no clerics. D&D pared down to the bones nearly. And works really well.
Whereas in TSR Conan PCs can eventually pick up magic. But magic near invariably has a price. Usually a loss of sanity, sometimes a permanent loss of health just to cast some spells.

Or in Dragon Storm which I designed a few cards for. The PCs start out usually as farmers and peasants totally unaware and unprepared for what is about to happen to them. You might luck out and get  an ex necro apprentice or hidden shaman. But even they are in the same boat. Just possibly actually aware of the true nature of the situation.

Pelias the Socerer was one of the pregenerated player characters in the "Conan Against Darkness!" AD&D adventure module. TSR statted him up as a multiclassed 10th-level Magic-User/6th-level Illusionist. :)

Ratman_tf

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #69 on: October 29, 2019, 12:26:57 AM »
Quote from: ElBorak;1112269
It is a must that your players have a good grasp on the difference between fantasy and reality, those who don't should not play rpgs.

All rpgs? Characters can't die in Toon.
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Opaopajr

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #70 on: October 29, 2019, 12:41:46 AM »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1112214
Well, if everyone is a poor peasant then who is going to be a high level enough character to challenge PCs. There probably won't be any other wizards for hundreds of miles.


That still does not have a contradiction for me. Sounds like you are conflating NPC Level with High/Low Fantasy spectrum. You can still have high levels in Low Fantasy settings. :) Your PC will just never know if that lowly NPC farmer is "Farmer, lvl 9: Bucket of Meat Points, ProWrestler Champion against Bully PCs, Deliverer of the People's Elbow."
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Omega

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #71 on: October 29, 2019, 03:53:10 AM »
Quote from: Sacrificial Lamb;1112276
Pelias the Socerer was one of the pregenerated player characters in the "Conan Against Darkness!" AD&D adventure module. TSR statted him up as a multiclassed 10th-level Magic-User/6th-level Illusionist. :)


Nice try but you fail trolling as usual.
Apparently several noticed that and jabbed TSR for such a supposed flub. But was pointed out. Pelias is the exception. And is from one of the Conan books where he is a rarity there too. Scarlet Citadel I believe. The only other I can think of is Zelata. Though have not read the story she appears in. Just noted she got her own figure in the Conan Board game. Normal PCs can not be magic users normally in AD&D Conan.

Omega

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #72 on: October 29, 2019, 03:54:46 AM »
Quote from: Ratman_tf;1112287
All rpgs? Characters can't die in Toon.


Toon and a couple of others like Crushed for d20 and some other RPGs.

Spinachcat

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #73 on: October 29, 2019, 04:39:02 AM »
Quote from: Opaopajr;1112206
(currently enduring a blackout, so only brief check and responses here. California is having a vicious case of wind. :eek: )

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Quote from: Shasarak;1112222
If you dont get upset when you character dies then it just means you probably did not really buy into the character in the first place, like when my Thimble goes to Jail in Monopoly.

I buy into all my characters, but I don't get upset when they die because it's a damn game!

It's "Oh crap, Dwaleern One-Tooth is dead! Damn, I liked him. Oh well, time to roll up a new dude", but NOT "Fuck the GM, fuck you to hell! I'm not playing this game anymore unless you change it to my needs!"

It's doubly dumb to get upset about PC death in D&D because access to Raise Dead is pretty basic to most settings. While you might not raise a 1st level PC, it's common to raise a 3rd level one.

Sacrificial Lamb

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Is the deadliness of OSR games fun?
« Reply #74 on: October 29, 2019, 05:09:37 AM »
Quote from: Omega;1112304
Nice try but you fail trolling as usual.
Apparently several noticed that and jabbed TSR for such a supposed flub. But was pointed out. Pelias is the exception. And is from one of the Conan books where he is a rarity there too. Scarlet Citadel I believe. The only other I can think of is Zelata. Though have not read the story she appears in. Just noted she got her own figure in the Conan Board game. Normal PCs can not be magic users normally in AD&D Conan.


It wasn't really a "flub". Spellcasters do exist in Conan's world, even if they aren't particularly common (or moral). You said "no non-NPC spellcasters", but there was an actual pregenerated player character spellcaster in that Conan adventure module.......and the spellcaster in question was even reasonably high-level. I know this, because I have that adventure module.

I can say that, because it's true.......and trolling isn't even necessary. :)