Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Complicated the Rules = Lesser Expectation of Character Death?

I think I've touched on this before, but I find it interesting at the moment, as I'm reading a Pathfinder adventure with the idea of porting it over to ACKS or S&W Complete for my own use. It caught my eye, as a reviewer referred to it as "deadly" and "an old school dungeon crawl", but then seemed to be turned off to it in large part for those very reasons.

Does Pathfinder not mesh well with old school dungeon crawls? Is the risk of character death in a rule system that encourages players to plan out their skills and feats in advance too great for the "Oh Shit! Run!" style of play?

I really dug the Pathfinder Beginner Box. It kept the complications down and did a great job in presenting the system. I'd actually play the Pathfinder Beginner Box. My Pathfinder Rulebook? It's a great value, but it's going into storage with the rest of my Pathfinder goodies to make room for the OSR stuff that I actually use. Pathfinder is just too much for me. Too heavy. Too complicated.

I really wish there was a Pathfinder Basic or Light version that was compatible wit all of the great Pathfinder adventures without all the unnecessary system weight. Okay, the weight may be necessary for some people, but it's not for my taste ;)

As for the adventure I'm reading? So far it seems like a perfect fit for my style of gaming. Which isn't Pathfinder...


  1. They do seem to go hand-in-hand but I don't think there is a causal relationship. After all, 'HP is Hit Dice + Constitution Score' is a simple rule but will decrease the death rate for low-level characters rather significantly.

    However, with it taking, say an hour (or more?) to create a character, character death is a major hassle even without allowing for player attachment to something they've put so much work into. Unless a back-up character is ready the player is out of the game for a while. Opportunities to introduce the new character may be missed. After all, who hasn't had a character introduced in the aftermath of a fight?

    "What ho! I heard the battle and thought I might be of assistance."

    A character that takes 5-10 minutes to generate is unlikely to interrupt the flow of the game. It might even be done and ready to go before the fight in which it died is over.

  2. @BV - I'm only about a 1/3 through reading the adventure at this point (so far it stands up to what I'd expect from and OSR styled adventure). If I review it, the review in question will be linked. If you really need to know, PM me and i'll send you a link. ;)

    @SAROE - agreed, the time sink the generate can be an issue, but should the safety net always be laid out, even with character gen being a game unto itself nearly?

  3. I think it clearly follows that the more the player has to invest creative thought during chargen, the less they'll accept character death as a normal part of the game. I think it's also clear that a complicated ruleset that offers many options to players will require them to invest that creative energy. Therefore...

  4. I mostly DM 3ed/PF games. I use many old school styles. My players know that the can not expect to "win" every encounter and that CR are not fitted to group level. PC deaths occur mostly in lower levels. in higher levels the Players spend a lot for Gold healing and get really cautious in encounters. PC deaths without ressurection do occur though.

  5. I play a more old school themed Pathfinder campaign. We have 72 sessions and 19 PC deaths so far (plus two dead animal companions and one lost in a teleport trap). We use 3d6 in order (two sets, choose one), so the pcs are more often than not with some low scores you wouldn't find with point buy... oh, and slow progressions feels very old school, the highest level character after over a year of play is a 5th level halfling rogue...
    and, yes, character generation is a little cumbersome, but with practice it works a lot faster... hehe. And most of the times you don't have to think too long what class to play, because of scores, wich speeds it up as well.

  6. I played through the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Kingmaker, and it cost me 5 separate Characters. Death was a big part of that campaign.


  7. I'm GMing Pathfinder's Kingmaker RAW, and it can be quite deadly. The PCs have survived so far, only because of good roleplaying and a willingness to run away and return with henchman/npcs.

    As far as Character Generation, I've invested in Hero Lab and that makes the process a whole lot quicker. It helps that my Players don't really care about min/maxing either.

  8. I really think I would enjoy Pathfinder more if I the time to devote to it. It seems really fun.
    Simpler games are just much easier to prep for, though.
    That being said, you may find this interesting. This gentleman has converted a lot of stuff from core Pathfinder and even Omega World to the Beginner's Box. I haven't read through it all, but it seems pretty solid.

  9. Oops. Here's the link Heh heh.



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