Friday, May 23, 2014

Put Enough Combat In And Someone Will Die

Heya folks. Bit of a busy week this week here with there being four posts and all, but I wanted to get this down while it was fresh in my head.

See, I've been planning my L5R game out and well, the circumstances of the game have made it abundantly clear to me that really it is just a matter of time before someone - and by someone I mean a PC - dies in the game. Mostly this is just playing the game of averages. Throw enough dice at your PCs and eventually one is going to hit. Hit enough times and eventually the PC will drop. When the story-arc you are running has a lot of "the PCs are on the front line in a war against the forces of darkness" and well, combat is going to happen a lot and that means a whole ton of dice are being thrown at the PCs.

I don't think I'm afraid of this. At the same time, I don't know if there is anyone in the group I want to see die. They all have their parts to play and role to factor in, and yet none of them are so important or so placed that the arc couldn't survive losing them.

It gets worse when I look over the group because the characters I see as most likely to die are also the ones with the most story potential. They're the ones whose flame is burning super bright, but because of that they also put themselves at risk. Being at risk when the dice are coming can be dangerous.

So yeah, I think it's just a matter of time before someone bites it. Of the six PCs in my game I could even probably tell you which three are at the most risk and which one will probably be the first to go down. I suppose in the next few weeks I'll find out if I'm right.


  1. Since the L5R exploding dice mechanic pretty much means a PC could go down at any time, I think one could make the case that the system could use a function, seen in some games, to give PCs a certain # of lives. Say, where a player would permanently lose a Void point to have somehow barely survived.

    How do you guys handle the possibility A.L.? Do you keep backup characters ready to go?

    1. As a member of the game in question, I'll step in on the second question first. For the most part we don't, from our experience most players when they have a second character in hand start losing focus on the first character, and have a less full investment in the character. Part of how we handle it is trying to fight smart instead of rushing in (aside from Brash characters like mine). The other thing is, most of us can make a new character with a good back story between games easily enough, and as a group we enjoy just being there for the rest of game even if we die early on. A.L. often will hand off an NPC, or have us handle opposition rolls for the rest of the session to help with the just sitting there problem.

      As for the certain number of lives, the most we do is some of us, or even full generations of characters will have Great Destiny which says if you'd die you instead are at 1 wound once per session. Generally death is an important part of the game though as a feeling of risk is important for victories to really feel special. In our group there can be story based barters that happen as well depending on the situation, and A.L. is a better one to discuss that since he created that system and it works well.

    2. Belated thanks Coureton for the thorough answer. Good stuff.