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House rule WIP: The Last Stand

 
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Edgeworth
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Joined: 01 Oct 2007
Posts: 190
Location: Kouvola, Finland

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:59 am    Post subject: House rule WIP: The Last Stand Reply with quote

Couple of my players have a problem with dying: it's often anti-climatic and shatters the planned character arc. They suggested some sort of mechanic for that heroic last stand which redeems the character or make his death more bittersweet than dull.

So I came up with this (we play DLR): when a hero dies, either from Inc table or bleeding out results, the player may use a single Fate Chip to enter the Last Stand. While in the last stand, the hero may act normally and cannot be Shaken, but every wound he doesn't soak causes a permanent injury.

How long the character has to live depends on the Fate Chip used for the last stand. White=1round, Red=2rounds, Blue=3rounds, Legend=until end of combat.

I'm mainly looking for a way to add the character history to the moment and make it really special.

All comments and suggestions are welcome!
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ValhallaGH
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Joined: 25 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

... #1eek13 He died with a Fate Chip left? Confused

Laughing #1yelrotflmao #1yelrotflmao #1yelrotflmao #1yelrotflmao #1yelrotflmao #1yelrotflmao

#smack How do you die and still have a Fate Chip left?
Also, as a dead man, why does he care about permanent wounds? If he has bad enough luck that he'll be dead even with a fate chip left then there is no way he's coming back harrowed, so wounds are purely cosmetic.


Dying does suck. Which is why smart characters avoid it (with plans and tactics). But, sometimes it happens. Generally, in my games, PCs are actually killed by nameless Extras - random pistol fire, a soldier with a rifle, a walkin' dead's claw, or some other standard and boring hazard.
There are two default methods available to make a character's death more interesting and meaningful. One is to give them chips when they drop, decreasing the likelihood of death. The other is to be descriptive; make the scene feel meaningful, even though the character is being killed by a nameless extra. Give it a dramatic flair that gets to the players and really drives home the tragedy / loss / heroism / danger / whatever of the scene.

The next thing to consider is how often death occurs. If it is too often for your group then you can tweak the Incapacitation rules to make death less likely. If it's just one player that keeps having characters shot out from under him then one (or more!) of three things is wrong: build, tactics, or luck.
Build issues are the easiest to fix. Increase the toughness of the next character, especially with edges like Nerves of Steel and Hard to Kill. Vigor, Spirit, and edges that help with survival, including Luck, Great Luck, Elan, and Fast Healer.
Tactical issues are more endemic. They stem from a player that has bad ideas - this can be caused by ignorance, miscommunication, or stupidity. Talking things over, especially with a clear analysis of what he did wrong during the last death or the fight that left him horribly wounded, can help a lot. Using suboptimal tactics from the foes can also help.
Luck is pretty much immutable, but greater generosity with chips can help a lot. Toss in Elan and the penalty-removing edges and you can go a long way toward mitigating a particular player's terrible dice luck.


Good luck, and I hope some of that helped.
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"Not against a Servitor."
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Janibala
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usually when you go to inc table, you are out of chips or use what is left on the vigor roll. This would work if the death is something like "BAM, 89 damage!", and there is no way to soak them all. Of course, a kind Marshal could give a chip to use, but then the mechanic would not need chips.

I think it should be automatic (Player/GM choice of course, not everyone want to go down fighting and some damage is just not possible to survive). Something like 1 round per rank/grit. Or if randomness is wanted 1+1d4 rounds.

I like the "can not be shaken" part. It would suck to just be shaken the last rounds of your death. Maybe the wound penalties should be ignored too, or give the player 1 random chip per round. Might be a big bonus, but hey, your beloved character is dying and he knows it. The mechanic would be more or less useless, if your few rounds is just missing, coughing and stumbling on your own feet. A bit more realistic of course, but I imagine more like a "heroic death" kind of scenario.

If I remember correctly, Warhammer 40k RPG had something like this.
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GranFalloon
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Joined: 21 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rather than using this rule when a character dies, you could use something like it when they're incapacitated. Make the Incapacitation one degree more serious, but the character can continue to fight for however long (I dunno, base it on a Vigor or Spirit roll or something). So a Dead character is still dead. There should be some chance of his brains just being blown out. In most cases, a character wouldn't take this option. After all, that bum leg becomes permanent, or that nasty wound becomes mortal. But if you're the last badass standing between your group and certain doom, maybe you should go for it...
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AlienMasters
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Allowing actions beyond death can't be a regular occurrence or it becomes mundane, so your idea of applying a cost to it in some way seems sound. How about allowing a trait test (Spirit?) to give them a chance to take some heroic final actions. Here's a couple snippets from my homebrew setting that directly address player death, where the players are all Goblins, and there is an additional Trait for tribal honor call 'Moghai':

Snipped from Setting Rules: For The Tribe (Replacement characters are made at Novice, unless they died upholding the Moghai tribal code of honor. In that case new characters are made just one less advance than the previous character)

Snipped from explanation of New 'Moghai' Trait: When a Goblin Wildcard dies, they can make a Moghai Trait test (modified by wounds) to take one immediate final action. On a raise they may move and speak a final sentence when they take their final action. After this is resolved, all Moghai Points earned or lost in their death are calculated and the Moghai Rank is updated if necessary. Note that dying in a shameful honorless way results in a loss of all Moghai. The final Moghai Rank, if any, transfers to the next PC of that player. Any extra Moghai Points are lost.

Hopefully there's something in there for you to steal!
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Edgeworth
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Joined: 01 Oct 2007
Posts: 190
Location: Kouvola, Finland

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback. Guess I should've brought up some Designer Notes of my own in the OP, but I'll try to clarify some of the reasons why I'm considering using this kind of a mechanic and what I'm trying to achieve. (Hey, I was on a phone when I started this topic, give a man a break!)

ValhallaGH wrote:
How do you die and still have a Fate Chip left?

To phrase the question better: Using the Last Stand Setting Rule, why would a character have a Fate Chip after a failed Vigor roll for the Inc. Table or after a failed Vigor roll in Bleeding Out?

Answer: Player Choice. You are down. You have rolled Vigor for the Inc. Table and have got a disappointing -1. You have just one Fate Chip left, which you can spend and try to get a success, but your Vigor die being a d6, you don't feel too confident in your die rolling skills. You know you are done for, so you might as well go out with style.

Or if you feel that you've got all you can get from the character, and retirement isn't an option, you can hoard your chips and use them while in the Last Stand.

Using a Fate Chip to get the Last Stand instead of trying to stabilize is a character-driven, player-made decision. The player decides if it's the time for the character to live to fight another day or go out all guns blazing.

Quote:
Also, as a dead man, why does he care about permanent wounds?

1) If out in the open and fired upon, he gets worse by every hit but just won't go down.
2) If he comes back Harrowed, he'll feel those Attribute losses and broken legs.

Quote:
If he has bad enough luck that he'll be dead even with a fate chip left then there is no way he's coming back harrowed

As long as he has his noggin' and somewhat usable body, yes, there is a way. A Manitou doesn't care if that stray bullet hit straight into the heart or if you didn't "Fate hard enough". This isn't really the topic here, but I'm curious what's your logic behind that statement?

Quote:
There are two default methods available to make a character's death more interesting and meaningful. One is to give them chips when they drop, decreasing the likelihood of death. The other is to be descriptive; make the scene feel meaningful

I think that giving out Chips after they drop rewards carelessness. If I give out Chips when they're dropped, it's just a free Soak Roll, which makes playing smart, using enviroment and tactics, that much less useful.

Being descriptive is the thing I do, and plan to do even if using the Last Stand, when the character dies without a Fate Chip left for the Last Stand. The problem here isn't the dying, my players know the tactics, they know the builds. The problem is that when the character dies, the player feels like they didn't get to finish their character's story arc. As I said in the OP (although too briefly), I'm mainly looking a way to "summarize" the character, his ambitions, loved ones, regrets, while fighting a fight he knows he won't survive. And then dying.

Quote:
The next thing to consider is how often death occurs.

Just to be perfectly clear, this has nothing to do with surviving. This thread is all about death. Glorified death and a glorified end for the character.


Janibala wrote:
I think it should be automatic

Absolutely not. I don't want to give you guys a free pass to shoot everything in sight just because your character is dying. I want it to be special, not everyday occurrance.

I do like the thought of using Grit to some extend to determine the lenght of The Last Stand. Although I'm having suspicions about your intentions, since yours is the only character with Grit of six Wink

Janibala wrote:
Maybe the wound penalties should be ignored too, or give the player 1 random chip per round. Might be a big bonus, but hey, your beloved character is dying and he knows it. The mechanic would be more or less useless, if your few rounds is just missing, coughing and stumbling on your own feet. A bit more realistic of course, but I imagine more like a "heroic death" kind of scenario.


I'm more or less settled with that once you're in the Last Stand, normal wound penalties apply and you won't be getting any free Chips. The goal here isn't to make every Last Stand heroic thriumphs. The goal is to make them heroic efforts. From storytelling perspective, it's just as appealling to make the hero trying and failing as it is having him trying and succeeding. After all, Rocky didn't win.


AlienMasters wrote:
Allowing actions beyond death can't be a regular occurrence or it becomes mundane, so your idea of applying a cost to it in some way seems sound. How about allowing a trait test (Spirit?) to give them a chance to take some heroic final actions.


I'm more inclined to use a Chip as a cost to make it more of a choice for the player than another roll upon death.


So, hopefully it's a bit clearer what and why I'm thinking here. The basic gist is:
1) A Setting Rule which allows characters to finish their story and go out with a bang.
2) I want it to be chosen by the player, not being a chance occurrance.

I'm pretty sure that the outline I had is close to what I'm looking for, but I'm open to suggestions. Things I have in consideration:

1) Using Grit to determine the lenght of the Last Stand (maybe as in the OP, but add ½Grit, rounded down, in rounds?)
2) If the combat is done while the character is in the Last Stand, he'll live long enough to share his last words with his companions.
3) Using a variation of the Interlude Table to add character history to the death (maybe he has to reference his past every round in a visible/hearable way according to his Action Card or drop dead/not get Chips

Right, this is all that comes up in my mind. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bed that needs some sleeping.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edgeworth wrote:
Quote:
If he has bad enough luck that he'll be dead even with a fate chip left then there is no way he's coming back harrowed

As long as he has his noggin' and somewhat usable body, yes, there is a way. A Manitou doesn't care if that stray bullet hit straight into the heart or if you didn't "Fate hard enough". This isn't really the topic here, but I'm curious what's your logic behind that statement?

Coming back harrowed requires either Plot (Marshal says it happens) or Luck. 1 to 6 in 54 levels of luck, since you have to draw cards to see if you come back. 3.7% to roughly 21.2% chance of coming back harrowed (for a Legendary character with True Grit). If the player's luck is so terrible that he can't make the 30.5% roll to be Incapacitated and stable (d6 Vigor, Wild Card, no edges to increase survival, still has a 30.5% chance to get a 4+ total on Incapacitation), then his luck is terrible enough that he's not going to get that card and come back harrowed.

Thus, permanent injuries are meaningless, because the character is going straight into the ground.

Quote:
So, hopefully it's a bit clearer what and why I'm thinking here. The basic gist is:
1) A Setting Rule which allows characters to finish their story and go out with a bang.
2) I want it to be chosen by the player, not being a chance occurrance.

1) Your idea doesn't do that. They get to finish a fight; a single combat is not (usually) the character's story, development, or purpose. It's a combat that was unlucky.
A violent and bloody death is no who your character was; it's not what your character was about, nor what he dreamed of (unless it was Wink ); it doesn't tell us how he mattered to the world.
2) What happens when the player chooses to do a Last Stand, but ran out of fate chips two rounds earlier? How is that not a chance occurrence?

My suggestion: Change the requirements of Damned to "Requirements: Wild Card, Novice".
If they want story insurance, they can spend an edge to guarantee the chance to finish their character's story. If they don't want that then the player has made a choice to let the dice fall as they may.
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"Not against a Servitor."
"... We're all gonna die."
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Edgeworth
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Joined: 01 Oct 2007
Posts: 190
Location: Kouvola, Finland

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ValhallaGH wrote:
1) Your idea doesn't do that. They get to finish a fight; a single combat is not (usually) the character's story, development, or purpose. It's a combat that was unlucky.
A violent and bloody death is no who your character was; it's not what your character was about, nor what he dreamed of (unless it was Wink ); it doesn't tell us how he mattered to the world.

Exactly. As it stands (pun not intended), The Last Stand is just a way to keep fighting for a few rounds. Designing such Setting Rules isn't hard. The reason why this is still a Work-In-Progress is that it lacks an important part of the concept: making those last rounds the character's swan song and giving him an end worthy of a main character. Not only combat-wise, but narrative-wise too. That is what I haven't been able to figure out and the reason why I wanted to tap on this forum's collective wisdom.

Quote:
2) What happens when the player chooses to do a Last Stand, but ran out of fate chips two rounds earlier? How is that not a chance occurrence?

Using your last Fate Chip is a choice. We are very conscious of our Chips. I'm also pretty generous with giving them anyway.

Quote:
My suggestion: Change the requirements of Damned to "Requirements: Wild Card, Novice".

Encouraging players to make Harrowed characters isn't really what I'm after. As I said earlier, I don't look for a way to have characters survive the combat, I'm looking for a way to end their stories in unexpected circumstances. Because death is random.

I have some ideas (as using a variation of the Interlude Table) but don't have the time to write them up just now.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edgeworth wrote:
I'm looking for a way to end their stories in unexpected circumstances.

Unless their story is largely internal, there is no way to have both random character deaths and a way to wrap-up their stories.
Inner monologues, epiphanies, and dying words are doable. Fulfilling those tasks of vengeance, justice, or other action simply can't happen in a random battle.

That's why I suggested the changed to Damned. If the character dies, the edge kicks in and lets him have more time to finish his wholly external task. And adds in the heroic struggle against an internal monster, just to spice up the rest of the story.
If the journey is internal then the character can live or die, as the dice dictate, and not bother with the edge. Deathbed revelations and last words of repentance are fairly common tropes; allowing them in a game is pretty simple most of the time.
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"Not against a Servitor."
"... We're all gonna die."
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