Content of the article: "Bad Argument for Death"
"Without the risk of death, what is the point of the game?"
I see that argument so often. It's gone so stale. I think people just repeat it to repeat it without giving it any thought. People also take it to mean 'always have death on the table for every fight' and that is ridiculous.
If people roll up to a game expecting fun like Indiana Jones, Princess Bride, or Pirates of the Caribbean and they're constantly handed Dark Souls, it becomes exhausting. What's the point of the game? Fun? Escape? Solving the problem? Getting to the Lost Ark before the Bad Guys do? Avenging Your Father's Death? Saving Elizabeth from Undead Pirates?
You can answer the question: 'what is the point?' a thousand ways. And the best answers center on PC motives (which becomes harder if they keep dying)
I know some groups love death-heavy games. That can also be fun. But it's not everyone's gig and I'm tired of people here acting like it should be.
It is not game-breaking to have the bad guy capture / enslave or lord-over the PCs instead of having a TPK. It's not meta to have the players role up new PCs for a couple of weeks and have them enter the TPK dungeon just at the right moment to save the main cast of PCs.
"But they'll see the hand of the DM and that is bad meta!"
No it's not. The DM hand is seen everywhere. It's polite as players to ignore it. We see it in the actions enemies take. Let's get real, Should Inigo Montoya have come back from that mortal wound in order to beat Count Rugen (who took his time taunting him?) No one cries about how unrealistic that is. Westley comes back because he was only 'mostly dead'. That's amazing and funny story-telling! And it would have been a pointless story without that. The undead pirates didn't kill Will right away because they needed his blood for a ritual (realistically, they could have killed and kept some blood, but that would have been bad story telling.)
We're telling fantasy stories grounded in how characters behave. People don't behave optimally, realistically. PCs make mistakes. It should follow that sometimes, the bad guys make mistakes too; not having all the information, having poor aim because they were attacked after a night of heavy drinking, underestimating the PCs, having desires other than 'kill everything'.
It is possible. You can have strategic and engaging combat and then flip the script after one or more players lose in order to challenge players with something like an escape or psychological-choice-drama, or an ingredients quest to make a chocolate-coated miracle pill because the miracle worker has a grudge against the BBEG and is willing to do this for you.
You don't have to keep slapping down the players with deadly combats, just for the sake of making it deadly.
- When was a time you did something the DM didn’t expect and it completely derailed the story but it was a reasonable action.
- Objective Evil and Why it’s Important in Storytelling
- GGG, Lets Talk About On-Death Effects
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