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Cast your buffs and protections *save game*

 

Cast your instadeath at the boss, fail

Boss casts instadeath on you, success

 

*reload*

 

 

Cast your instadeath at the boss, fail

Boss casts instadeath on you, success

 

 

*reload*

 

Cast your instadeath at the boss, fail

Boss casts instadeath on you, success

 

 

*reload*

 

Cast your instadeath at the boss, fail

Boss casts instadeath on you, success

 

 

*reload*

 

Cast your instadeath at the boss, fail

Boss casts instadeath on you, success

 

 

 

*reload*

 

Cast your instadeath at the boss, fail

Boss casts instadeath on you, success

 

 

*reload*

 

Cast your instadeath at the boss, success

 

Challenging battle over, hooray! Fulfillment! \o/

 

*save game*

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Insta death done right is like the boss fight in missing link dlc for deus ex HR. Much better than the grind em down battles in the original.

Well, developers apologized for boss battles in Deus Ex: HR. In fact, that is THE only time i ever heared developers apologized for something that annoyed the fans.

Even after horrible Tiberium Twilight fiasco, EA ketp telling that consumers are too short-shighted and unable to see the greatness of their game.

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Besides if you were an evil lord who could cast insta death spells wouldn't you just do that the first time our heroes show up to foil your evil plans?

And if you were the hero, seeking to rid the world of this powerful lord, wouldn't you approach that lord with the necessary protection from death spells?

 

If you enter the castle of a great lord with no clue at all about what he might do to you, or what you might need to defeat him, I say let him wipe you out. It's a good lesson :).

 

 

 

I see your point, and agree that you should expect this kind of thing from a wizard of a certain level of power.

 

I just still don't enjoy the frustrating portion of these types of spells. It adds to frustration and a needed save/load situation. I think this is especially true in a game where there will be perma death for party members. Even with buffs to protect from time to time your going to run into a insta death for a party member and then going to have to start over with a new party member.

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Unless it's made clear to the player ahead of time that something bad is coming, and the player is given the opportunity to prevent or interrupt it, it's unfair and will just result in save-scumming.

 

Compare, for example, those insanely hard Mario hacks or fan games like I Wannna be the Guy, they're blatantly unfair but you have unlimited opportunities to keep trying and to memorize the correct method to proceed. They give you a chance to learn and improve, but an unstoppable instant-death spell that kills you our your favorite companion permanently and is determined only by a hidden dice roll you have no control over (beyond the victim character's modifiers,) is just straight unfair.

 

Would anyone here really enjoy a one-save Ironman mode when enemy wizards just keep hitting your player character with instant death and you have to start the game over every time?

Edited by AGX-17
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As others have said, as long as there is some way to know when you will face an instant death mechanic and some way to defend yourself against it (that isn't dependent on a random roll) I have no problem with it. It could be difficult to implement though, since there will be limited options to revive fallen party members.

 

This issue isn't just limited to an 'instant death spell' either, I have played many games that used 'instant death' in one form or another, such as in Doom when you walked into a room, and the door shut behind you while springing a horde of monsters on your head. Another good one was Final Fantasy where you would fight a monster for 20 minutes, only to have it regenerate all its health and become invincible for 3 minutes once its health got low enough (you were supposed to save up all your best shots until right before this happened and kill it immediately). If it lacks any way for a player to be prepared, then it just becomes a trap where you will have to reload - and that's just plain annoying.

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  • 6 months later...

No. Save or die effects are really easy to abuse offensively (as a player) and they require either luck or hard counters to defend against as a player -- neither of which are very interesting, tactically.

PCs can be downed in a small number of hits (possibly one if the enemy is powerful enough), but that has less to do with luck and more to do with the raw power difference between the attacker and the defender.

 

Accuracy in PE, like the IE games, is determined primarily by character stats, not player skill. Hard counters in a single-player RPG are obnoxious, IMO

 

Because either you're prepped for them or you aren't. If you aren't, you reload and voila, you are. If you prepared save-or-die tactic that the enemy is immune to, you're hard countered through no fault of your own. If not, you steamroll the enemy.

Or you do what many players do, which is reload until the primary target fails its save and the entire tactical challenge of the fight is rendered trivial/pointless.

 

 

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The issue with save or die events is that they tend to dominate the play of D&D at higher levels. For a CRPG, the net result of that is a reload and do over after applying more scrolls and potions; not really much fun overall. So no, I'm not in favor of this.

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"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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I don't mind Instant Death Spells to be honest if done right.

In the IE Games: Imo, not done right
- Cast Instant Death Spell
- Enemy dies (or you, depending who is casting them)

- Nothing

What I'd like to see: [strength or Power Level] / (Weakness or Consequence or Penalties)
- [Channel Death Spell Power] / (For 30-60 seconds)
- [Cast Death Spell] / (Consequence)
- [Death Effect] / (Post-Consequence)

Consequence = Sacrifice important components or ingredients, sacrifice reputation
Post-Consequence = Soul-Sickness, Penalties, Narrative Effect

It could even have effects long term in the game, and a Wizard who would have welcomed you with a smile now smells the corruption in you as he can sense the foul forces you have called in the past.

Death Spell to me = Huge impact on the narrative
Death Spell to me = Not something trivial but something that strips life force itself, strips the soul essence. A Death Spell does not cut flesh or bone, it cuts the soul.

You might say that a sword to the face or a stab through the heart creates the same effect (or a Fireball spell that scorches someone to ashes), but to me it doesn't in a fantasy fictional world, a Death Spell by itself is something Forbidden and Banished. Something that is loathed and in a world where Mortality is a Big Business without any resurrection spells and Necromancy is mysterious/alienated I sense that a rare unique Death Spell could in fact be something that enriches the story as a whole. Something that could be used as a Narrative tool or something that the Player could get their hands on at a great cost.

Paragraph Broken down:
- P:E has "Mortality is a Big Business".
- Necromancy.
- No Resurrection Spells.
- My opinion: Death Spell (Singular) could enrich the narrative and have impact if rare & unique and comes at a great cost to use.

Tactically:
In a fight or encounter wherein you face someone with the Death Spell the encounter itself could be built around the protection of the caster (because he has to channel the spell for a while to cast it, ritualistic Death Spell in a sense) and it becomes a tactically engaging fight that you have to figure out. Yes, very much Save-or-Die if you don't manage to defeat it on the first try, but if you are capable of reading the game well at this point where it appears you would be able to defeat it. It would be a question of "Get to the guy who is channeling the Death Spell, interrupt him before he casts it".

A timed event encounter in other words, still with a risk of missing or being resisted. So let's take that into a calculation:

Scenario where Player resists the spell:
- Enemy channels Death Spell for 30-60 seconds.
- You fail to get to the Enemy in time and enemy casts Death Spell
- You resist it (50/50 gamble)
- He gets penalties/soul sickness or whatnot and can't cast it again until 30-60 seconds
- Begins to channel it again
- You manage to interrupt it

Scenario where Player interrupts the spell:
- Enemy channels Death Spell for 30-60 seconds
- You defeat all the defenses and get to the enemy and interrupts the spell

EDIT: In other words, a Death Spell in an environment such as P:E could be very interesting in my opinion (added with the components that are already in the game), but it would have to be very specific to the point where it becomes an encounter rather than an automatic ability you learn.

Edited by Osvir
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Instant death spells don't really bother me in principle because they make sense. People are squishy. Even tough, experienced and well prepared people are only mildly less squishy.

 

I think the biggest, and most legitimate, gripe I had with BG2 instant death spells is that, if you brought the party member back from some of them, they acted as though you had kicked them out of the party. That caused save reloading more than anything else for me.

 

"Dammit Jaheira -- yes, fine, I conspired with the beholder to sabotage our romance by making you fail your saving throw versus petrification. You caught me."

 

That aside, I don't think instant death spells are bad as long they fall into a hierarchy of counterable things. I don't even mind if the way to counter those spells isn't readily apparent in a first playthrough. If a game doesn't design at least a few encounters you're likely to lose on a first playthrough, when you least understand the game, it's given up a lot of its replayability through oversimplified combat. A death spell isn't so fundamentally different than a fighter who can stab you really hard, or a mage who casts a particularly devastating fireball. It's a peril that has to be neutralized, and it has its place on the spectrum of highly effective abilities. Micromanaging spell protections, armor, resistances, etc. are all part of what makes layered, interesting encounters.

 

What bothers most people, I think rightfully, is an encounter that over-relies on an instant death spell, especially one that the player is extremely constrained in effective counters. *cough* Kangaxx *cough* Too often, I've sat at the BG2 character screen trying to decide whether I feel like killing Kangaxx or not, and if I'd commit to the few classes/resources that could beat him. If any boss, even a side boss, requires such a specific set of skills and preparations that it alters the entire rest of the playthrough, that's overkill, and pretending too much to be a Final Fantasy game.

 

Encounters with dangerous enemies should be multi-faceted, not reductionistic, and instant death spells can contribute to that, as should an array of other highly dangerous abilities. They also need to logically follow from who and what you are fighting, meaning a clever, attentive player gets subtle hints (read: not npcs yelling, "OMG, durr, he's using the death ray!") that can make them more, but not completely, prepared for a fight. Along with that, I think major encounters should always preserve challenges of threat management -- the more you defend against one enemy ability, the more vulnerable you should be towards others. This balancing act is important to make sure the enemy is always dangerous -- bonus points if the enemy 'learns' during the fight, prioritizing abilities as it learns which don't work.

 

Lastly, I differ from some people who want players and monsters to have the same instant death spells/abilities at their disposal. Monsters and other enemies often represent unique, supernatural creatures radically unlike party members. I've never felt cheated that a dragon has fire breath, but my rogue didn't, or that an iron golem had poison gas, but my fighter didn't (barring eating a +3 burrito of gastric annihilation). Unusual abilities, especially ones to which the party has no analogues, make encounters more surprising. I think we can agree, though, that party members should have a wide array of interesting abilities, some of which should eventually be really powerful and awesome.

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Will PE feature "Instant Death" spells and abilities like Desintegration and Imprisonment from BG?. Or skills with similar function - maybe Headshot for handguns. Something with chance to kill PC instantly, unless he will be lucky to roll a saving throw?

 

 

 

No. Save or die effects are really easy to abuse offensively (as a player) and they require either luck or hard counters to defend against as a player -- neither of which are very interesting, tactically.

 

PCs can be downed in a small number of hits (possibly one if the enemy is powerful enough), but that has less to do with luck and more to do with the raw power difference between the attacker and the defender.

 

Accuracy in PE, like the IE games, is determined primarily by character stats, not player skill. Hard counters in a single-player RPG are obnoxious, IMO

 

Because either you're prepped for them or you aren't. If you aren't, you reload and voila, you are. If you prepared save-or-die tactic that the enemy is immune to, you're hard countered through no fault of your own. If not, you steamroll the enemy.

Or you do what many players do, which is reload until the primary target fails its save and the entire tactical challenge of the fight is rendered trivial/pointless.

Ugh... I was on the fence on this issue until I saw Sawyer's argument here. His answer worries me. Design decisions on a game feature should always be based on whether that feature makes the game *better*. They should not be based on trying to second-guess player behavior. The argument he's making is a dangerous slippery slope that has been responsible for the decline of the RPG genre.

 

It's this type of thinking that has seen the elimination of wonderful old school things in RPGs over the years, such as:

 

1) NPC perma-death (had to take that out because... you know... some players would just reload when it happens)

2) Random effect magic items. ie. Deck of Many Things; Wand of Wonder; Wish spells etc. (can't have those anymore. why? same reason... some players would just reload until they got the effect they wanted)

 

 

Eventually, this mindset lead to the removal of vital gameplay features like:

 

1) Having to prepare and memorize spells - because *some* players do not want to worry about... heaven forbid... trial and error... or picking the "wrong" spells on their first playthrough and having a tough time.

2) Missing in melee - Because some players can't stand watching their characters swinging at air... so lets remove this feature and replace it with illogical crap like automatic hits.

3) slow leveling - because players want their characters to become very powerful, very quickly, so lets give these ADD-suffering players what they want.

 

 

In the future, this mindset will eventually see the removal of Character classes - because some players want to be able to do everything all at once. And Branching narratives- for the same reason.

 

 

My question to Sawyer: What's wrong with Good Luck/Bad Luck in a game? Is it not a HUGE, and driving element in D&D --- a game system you spent much of your life playing and DM-ing? Is it not an existing factor even in real life combat?

Edited by Stun
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My question to Sawyer: What's wrong with Good Luck/Bad Luck in a game? Is it not a HUGE, and driving element in D&D --- a game system you spent much of your life playing and DM-ing? Is it not an existing factor even in real life combat?

 

Maybe you should re read the post.

 

This isn't D&D, it is a single player game with a save load feature.  95% of players who have truly bad luck reload their game.  Instant death nonsense does nothing but promote save scumming and meaningless busywork of prebuffs.

 

There is nothing fun or tactical about casting death ward before every fight, or not doing that then making a arbitrary dice roll and either passing or failing.  Casting "power word kill" takes no skill, no planning, no tactics.  It is just a cheap, boring, and uninspired mechanic.

 

PS: I did mention this before but....  D&D 4th edition removed all "save or die" mechanics from the game too.  So I wouldn't hold D&D up as your champion.

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I loved getting instantly killed by liches in BG2.  Wait, no I didn't.  But I'll admit though, it was kind of awesome killing a high level dragon with the implosing spell in NWN.

It's kind fun to use in a meta gaming kind of way, but otherwise, Save or Die spells are pretty cheap for the player and the opponent.  i won't miss them at all.

Edited by bonarbill
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This isn't D&D, it is a single player game with a save load feature.  95% of players who have truly bad luck reload their game.  Instant death nonsense does nothing but promote save scumming and meaningless busywork of prebuffs.

When we don't have a real argument, lets pull baseless statistics out of thin air. lol

 

Do you realize where this argument of yours leads? First off, RPGs (and all of the IE games save for PS:T) *force* you to reload when your main character dies anyway. And death doesn't have to come from an insta-death spell. You can die from any tough battle where the enemy manages to reduce your health to nothing. Therefore, lets make sure all fights are easy, so as to not promote "save scumming" and "meaningless" (lol) pre-buffing? That is what you are arguing. Literally. Absurd argument that it is.

 

 

There is nothing fun or tactical about casting death ward before every fight, or not doing that then making a arbitrary dice roll and either passing or failing.

Indeed, there's nothing fun about plannning and strategizing. NO fights should require you to prepare ahead of time. And there's no fun in relying on dice rolls. Every single one of the Infinity engine games (the games Obsidian name-dropped repeatedly to promote PE) had that as a *core* feature behind every element of combat. But... it's no fun!

 

 

 

Casting "power word kill" takes no skill, no planning, no tactics.

BS. On several levels.

 

First off, Power word Kill is a 9th level mage spell. It requires countless hours of playing, leveling and gameplay to even *get*. Second, Contrary to what you might think, a standard fireball cast by a 12th level wizard is actually more powerful. It will do more damage to more people at once and more types of enemies, whereas, Power word kill is limited to one mortal, living opponent who has just 60hp or less. Third, It is a spell, and like all spells, it can be interrupted, concentration can be broken. It takes exactly as much planning, skill and tactical focus as any other spell. In fact, I'd argue that it takes more skill and combat awareness than other spells, since you have to accurately assess how much health your target currently has, otherwise the spell will do nothing and is wasted.

 

 

It is just a cheap, boring, and uninspired mechanic.

No, it's not. It symbolizes power and achievement. Mages are glass cannons by definition. "squishy", as someone said earlier. They suffer lower armor ratings, more vunerability at close quarters, limited offensive ability (unlike melee classes who never run out of sword swings, Mages can run out of spells) The Trade off is that after suffering these limitations for the majority of the game, they eventually acquire a couple of elite, and highly feared spells that can turn the tide of a fight instantly. And even then, its not like they get to use these spells in every encounter. And it's not like every enemy is doomed no matter what. At that level, the monsters who will surely die from a finger of death will NOT be the bosses (for example). Instead, those bosses will, more often than not, Make their save...assuming they aren't already immune to death magic, or have magic resistance that must be overcome. Spells like Destruction, Distentigrate, Power word Kill and Death Spell are useful/reliable against the garden variety summons, other mages, and perhaps the careless, mindless tank type who's throwing all caution to the wind and trying to take out that mage.

 

 

PS: I did mention this before but....  D&D 4th edition removed all "save or die" mechanics from the game too.  So I wouldn't hold D&D up as your champion.

So?

 

Bottom line: Obsidian Named dropped the IE games. They CHOSE to remind us of those games and to offer us a chance to crowd fund a new game that will recapture the feel of those games. Those games weren't 4th Edition. This is not to say they need to use D&D rules, and MY point in mentioning D&D had nothing to do with that anyway. My point was to remind Sawyer of the very system he grew up playing. If he thinks the concept of Dice rolls influencing conflict resolution is bad, then one wonders why he stuck with such a system for so long.... as a DM.

Edited by Stun
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Just imagine this:

 

1 character in your party is a Wizard and has 5 AC and 20 hit points. Another is a Warrior with 40 AC and 100 hit points. So, you've spent time, effort, and resources making sure your Warrior is tougher, because you want him to run up to things and do awesome melee battle with them. So, this 1 enemy (we'll call him Insta-Slayer) slays your Wizard in 1 hit. He's faster than your Wizard, so there's not really any way to just tactically get your Wizard to "dodge" out of there. So, you say "Hmm, I'll send my tough Warrior to tackle this guy!" Boom. Your tough Warrior dies in one hit. But, wait... how much damage does that Insta-Slayer do? ALL OF IT! But, didn't my armor block a bit of his blow, at least? NOPE! EITHER YOU HAVE HIGH ENOUGH ARMOR VALUE TO BLOCK THE BLOW'S DAMAGE COMPLETELY, OR IT DEALS FULL DAMAGE!

 

But... that kind of goes against the mechanics of the entire rest of the game, plus this whole strategy thing. Oh, but wait! There's a "Protection from Insta-Slayer" spell! 8D! All you have to do (literally, this is all you can possibly do... your one option other than "die") is cast that on your people before you fight him, and his attacks will be useless!

 

That is literally reducing tactics to binary. Doesn't matter how you position yourself around Insta-Slayer, or who you send to attack him and who you don't. He kills, or you cast the protection spell and he doesn't. Strategy regarding this entity has been reduced to "make sure to cast this protection spell."

 

So... I'm gonna hafta agree with Josh here.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Just imagine this:

 

1 character in your party is a Wizard and has 5 AC and 20 hit points. Another is a Warrior with 40 AC and 100 hit points. So, you've spent time, effort, and resources making sure your Warrior is tougher, because you want him to run up to things and do awesome melee battle with them. So, this 1 enemy (we'll call him Insta-Slayer) slays your Wizard in 1 hit. He's faster than your Wizard, so there's not really any way to just tactically get your Wizard to "dodge" out of there. So, you say "Hmm, I'll send my tough Warrior to tackle this guy!" Boom. Your tough Warrior dies in one hit. But, wait... how much damage does that Insta-Slayer do? ALL OF IT! But, didn't my armor block a bit of his blow, at least? NOPE! EITHER YOU HAVE HIGH ENOUGH ARMOR VALUE TO BLOCK THE BLOW'S DAMAGE COMPLETELY, OR IT DEALS FULL DAMAGE!

You're not describing the flaws of 'Save-or-die' here. You're describing crappy game balance, or silly encounter design. Huge difference.

 

There isn't a single person on this thread who's advocating that only ONE side of a conflict should have access to insta-death powers. Instead, we're arguing that such spells/powers should be embedded into the game system itself and at higher levels, both the enemy and the player should have access to them.

 

This changes the dynamic of your example drastically. Because now when Big-bad-insta-slayer gets lucky with his Vorpal blade and kills Tough-warrior-bob, Squishy-Egbert-the-Mage can cast Disentigrate and even the score. Oh, and by the Way, ever heard of a dodge-based mechanic called Improved Evasion? Yeah, that combat skill.... lets you evade insta-death spells cast at you..... No pre-buffing/meta-gaming needed.

 

And it's not like this is anything radically new. AGAIN, BG2, Icewind Dale, and Icewind Dale 2 all had this system. Even BG1, a low level campaign, featured Basilisks who could petrify players.

Edited by Stun
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You're not describing the flaws of 'Save-or-die' here. You're describing crappy game balance, or silly encounter design. Huge difference.

 

Except that all instant death mechanics are silly/bad encounter design.

 

As for your comments trying to insinuate I don't want death in game I will say the same thing to you I did to someone complaining about character switching in forced dialogue.

 

Tactics and planning should determine who wins combat.  Does it suck this guy got his rogue and main character position swapped due to a forced dialogue.  Yes it does.  Is that even maybe bad encounter design?  I feel safe in saying... yeah it kind of is.  But he didn't lose the fight and get a reload because of that bad design.  It happened because he had sent his rogue literally 5 rooms ahead of his party and his party had no chance to get anywhere near the fight in time to save the main character.  That was his poor tactical planning, not the games bad design.  Even if the character swap hadn't happened he still would have lost a party member regardless.  He made a bad tactical choice by separating his party, he deserved to lose the encounter.

 

Just like a guy who enters a room, doesn't check for traps and sets off an explosion, doesn't check for stealthers and gets ambushed, and didn't bother using their melee to defend their ranged deserves to lose party members or whole combats too.  Bad play and weak tactics should lead to game over.

 

Instant death mechanics boil the entire combat action down to a yes/no dice roll logic check however.  Target have buff X (yes/no), no, random number gen (1-20), 7, target dies.

 

If you think anything about that logic check is tactical.... well I would love to play you in a 100 dollar stakes game of poker, winner takes all.  You better pray for dumb random luck to hand you a straight flush though.

 

Also some friendly advice, when you start a reply post with a weak personal insult it is sort of a clear indicator that it is actually you who has the losing argument and no salient points to make.

Edited by Karkarov
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You're not describing the flaws of 'Save-or-die' here. You're describing crappy game balance, or silly encounter design. Huge difference.

 

There isn't a single person on this thread who's advocating that only ONE side of a conflict should have access to insta-death powers. Instead, we're arguing that such spells/powers should be embedded into the game system itself and at higher levels, both the enemy and the player should have access to them.

Ohhhh, I forgot. As long as BOTH people get to use ultra-binary tactics, everything's okay. Don't wanna die to Disintegrate? Have really high resistance. Don't want to die to Insta-Murder? Make sure everyone in your party has Ludicrous Evasion, which required them all to take 5 Evasion Perks in a row for the last 15 levels in lieu of other interesting mixes of perks, which don't work because you're never not going to not-face Insta-Murder-wielding enemies.

 

My mistake. I stand corrected. Insta-death rolls are fun, and tactical combat doesn't require multiple factors at play. Just one at a time will suffice.

 

Emphatic sarcasm aside, the problem with insta-death checks is that they reduce combat from "let's prevent that enemy from effectively fighting us" to "let's prevent that enemy from fighting us." In normal tactical combat, you've got OODLES of factors you can adjust for. That guy does really high damage? You can mitigate it with armor, or send someone who has high HP to face him, and/or high evasion will help, too. You can even tag-team him with your whole party. It might be an elaborate, 5-minute fight, and when someone gets hit, you've got to back them off and switch their role and let someone else take over the frontlines. Rangers might slow him to make it more difficult for him to get near someone. Warriors might knock him away, or go all ultra-defensive with a shield and full plate, sacrificing offense for a significantly defensive stance. Or maybe they'll knock him around a lot with lots of knockback. Rogues might trap him, etc.

 

What do you do against an enemy Necromancer who has a "YOU DIE NOW" beam? Hey, Ranger, slow him! Oh, wait, he doesn't need to move to hit you with his ranged "YOU DIE NOW" beam. Hey, tank, knock him away! Oh, wait, he's not even trying to come close to you. Have fun getting to him before he INSTANTLY annihilates your Warrior, no matter what your armor or health or stance. The ONLY way to stop it is to kill him before he can cast it (which, wouldn't it be convenient if you ALWAYS only faced one insta-kill-wielding mage, maximum, per combat encounter?), or have ludicrously high resistance and get lucky on a roll.

 

There is no range of effectiveness. His spell isn't better or worse depending on your tactical choices. It just kills you, and you can have a CHANCE for it to do nothing. He's either the easiest foe in the world, or the hardest, all at the flip of a coin.

 

Simply put, such abilities turn combat into lockpicking. Do you have high enough resistance (lockpicking skill)? Well, then you can pick this lock and get past this door. Do you not? Well, you're stuck. Only, in this, everyone in your party needs high lockpicking, or they can't go through the door. The door being a figurative continuation of the game, as opposed to game over.

 

And, for what it's worth, rolls determine small outcomes regarding the clashing of smaller factors within the greater outcome of combat in classic RPG roll-based systems. Not entire combat outcomes. You don't send your Warrior at an enemy, and you roll "Warrior versus Mage" dice, and see who dies and who lives. You actually choose all the steps to get you to victory, and chance plays a small part in that. Got a Base Attack Bonus (in D&D rules) of 9? Well, now even if you roll a 10, you get 19, so chance plays MUCH less of a chance in your decisions to attempt a physical attack with that character. And, it STILL only determines whether or not you hit. Then, you deal damage, based on yet another modified roll.

 

That's why it's fun. Because it's tactical, and it reacts to your decisions, while simultaneously preventing them from being binary in effectiveness (they work awesomely, or do nothing). When random dice rolls start making things binary again, you've gone full circle and defeated the purpose of them entirely.

Edited by Lephys
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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OK, the both of you are arguing from the point of view that if a game puts in a few insta-death spells, then suddenly, all tactical combat is ruined, that it all goes out the window and encounters from then on turn into quick affairs where the first person to cast Wail of the Banshee wins, and tough luck for the helpless loser, who's entire, elaborate game plan has just been tossed aside in favor of the luck of the dice roll. Yes, Yes. Tragic. A deliberately frightening scenario that attempts to portray "save or die" as mutually exclusive to good tactical combat. But it is not. And that's NOT how any of the IE games ever played out, was it.

 

Nope, instead, in those games all the tactical gameplay and strategy still occured, even in fights where you or your opponent did get lucky and managed to score an insta-kill of one or two of the combatants on the battle field.

 

 

INCIDENTLY, before we get carried away in our zeal to argue that tactics are the *only* deciding factor in a fight, lets take a look at something J.E. Sawyer said in his Formspring post (above)

 

PCs can be downed in a small number of hits (possibly one if the enemy is powerful enough), but that has less to do with luck and more to do with the raw power difference between the attacker and the defender.

^personally, I support this completely. Do you? Your posts suggest you don't, since in a scenario like this (where the enemy can kill you in ONE HIT), tactics are not determining the result of the fight. Your "armor rating" or "choice of weapon" is not helping you. Nothing is. Why? because the Only deciding factor in this scenario is the sheer power difference between yourself and the enemy. Edited by Stun
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Nope, instead, in those games all the tactical gameplay and strategy still occured, even in fights where you or your opponent did get lucky and managed to score an insta-kill of one or two of the combatants on the battle field.

I didn't say it negates all tactical aspects of combat, whatsoever. Just that it adds in exclusively-binary gameplay. With other things (such as high damage, or high armor, or high movement speed, or fast attacks, status effects, etc.) in combat, there are oodles of methods available for dealing with those factors, specifically. With insta-death, there is only one method of dealing with it: You either go all-in and stop it, your you don't and it kills you. Sure, there's tactical combat, but at some point in the midst of tactical combat, you've got this bubble where you're dealing in binary. It's out-of-place, to be honest.

 

INCIDENTLY, before we get carried away in our zeal to argue that tactics are the *only* deciding factor in a fight, lets take a look at something J.E. Sawyer said in his Formspring post (above)

 

PCs can be downed in a small number of hits (possibly one if the enemy is powerful enough), but that has less to do with luck and more to do with the raw power difference between the attacker and the defender.

^personally, I support this completely. Do you? Your posts suggest you don't, since in a scenario like this (where the enemy can kill you in ONE HIT), tactics are not determining the result of the fight. Your "armor rating" or "choice of weapon" is not helping you. Nothing is. Why? because the Only deciding factor in this scenario is the sheer power difference between yourself and the enemy.

 

The key word there being "possibly." Based on factors, as in more than one. I.e., if the enemy is super powerful, he does some high, though finite, amount of damage. Therefore, if you send someone who is too weak in to slap him in the face, you die. Yet, you have other means of mitigating this ultra-powerful foe's attack. You have higher armor values on more heavily-armored characters you can send in, and you have spells that can temporarily absorb incoming damage, and spells that can weaken this foe, etc. Yet, he can still strike people, and, due to your efforts, still deal damage while failing to instantly kill someone.

 

Simply put, there are more than 2 outcomes with almost everything else in the game. But, with insta-death, there are only two. Having two options isn't exactly running the gamut of tactical possibility. To clarify, with insta-death abilities, the only factor you're dealing with is "did this strike me"? With non-insta-death abilities, you have "Who did this strike?," "how well did this strike me?", "How much damage did this deal?", "What was I doing at the time?", "What kind of armor did the person this struck have?", "What kind of ailments was the person who did the striking suffering at the time?", "How much health did the person who got struck have?", etc. None of that stuff matters with the insta-death spell. Hit = death. Miss = not-only-not-death-but-also-absolute-no-effect-at-all. That's all there is to it. I think we can agree that that sort of spits in the face of tactical combat, to an extent.

 

Also, I never said tactics were the "*only*" factor in a fight. I specifically stated that chance and rolls have their place. I just don't think their place is to determine between someone dying-no-matter-what, and someone living and suffering no effects whatsoever.

Edited by Lephys

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Nope, instead, in those games all the tactical gameplay and strategy still occured, even in fights where you or your opponent did get lucky and managed to score an insta-kill of one or two of the combatants on the battle field.

I didn't say it negates all tactical aspects of combat, whatsoever. Just that it adds in exclusively-binary gameplay. With other things (such as high damage, or high armor, or high movement speed, or fast attacks, status effects, etc.) in combat, there are oodles of methods available for dealing with those factors, specifically. With insta-death, there is only one method of dealing with it: You either go all-in and stop it, your you don't and it kills you.

 

That's... not true, there are just as many ways to deal with an instant death spell as there is to deal with, say, a mind effecting spell like Hold Person or Sleep.

 

You can:

 

1) Do what you mentioned above (swarm the offender and try to either take him out or disrupt his casting

2) Employ stealth or another form of battle field positioning so as not to be targetted

3) You can directly counter (Or Hard counter, as Sawyer puts it) by casting death ward, anti-magic shell, Volley, Spell Turning etc (the last three of which have multiple uses, and a mage with those spells is employing wise tactical game play by casting those spells ANYWAY, even if he's facing an opponent who doesn't have insta-death spells in his arsenal

4) You can passively defend. I mentioned this one to Sawyer on Formspring. The best defense against ANY magic is to improve your saving throws - Something every player should be doing anyway, via level up skills, magic armor, potions, temple blessings etc.

 

 

Sure, there's tactical combat, but at some point in the midst of tactical combat, you've got this bubble where you're dealing in binary. It's out-of-place, to be honest.

This is an RPG. You're dealing in Binary anyway, unless they do something silly with the mechanics, like completely eliminate the possibility of Failure. Take trap disarming, for example. You can't "sorta succeed" in disarming a trap. No. You either successfully disarm the trap, or you fail to disarm the trap. And if you want to argue that at least with Trap disarming, you can tactically increase your chances of succeeding, I'll argue that you can do the same thing with any save or die spell (see above)

 

 

^personally, I support this completely. Do you? Your posts suggest you don't, since in a scenario like this (where the enemy can kill you in ONE HIT), tactics are not determining the result of the fight. Your "armor rating" or "choice of weapon" is not helping you. Nothing is. Why? because the Only deciding factor in this scenario is the sheer power difference between yourself and the enemy.

The key word there being "possibly." Based on factors, as in more than one. I.e., if the enemy is super powerful, he does some high, though finite, amount of damage. Therefore, if you send someone who is too weak in to slap him in the face, you die. Yet, you have other means of mitigating this ultra-powerful foe's attack. You have higher armor values on more heavily-armored characters you can send in, and you have spells that can temporarily absorb incoming damage, and spells that can weaken this foe, etc. Yet, he can still strike people, and, due to your efforts, still deal damage while failing to instantly kill someone.

 

Sawyer neither says nor implies any of these caveats. No. He is LITERALLY arguing that insta death can occur, just that it won't be luck based, it will be based on extreme power differences. And power difference is just 1 factor, not many.

 

Also, I never said tactics were the "*only*" factor in a fight. I specifically stated that chance and rolls have their place. I just don't think their place is to determine between someone dying-no-matter-what, and someone living and suffering no effects whatsoever.

Likewise, I would never argue that a game should ONLY have save or die. Instead, the occasional save or die spell should exist, along with all the other wonderful stuff that you and others here are suggesting.

 

So I don't see the big problem. And again, I cite the Infinity engine games. They did both.

Edited by Stun
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That's... not true, there are just as many ways to deal with an instant death spell as there is to deal with, say, a mind effecting spell like Hold Person or Sleep.

 

You can:

 

1) Do what you mentioned above (swarm the offender and try to either take him out or disrupt his casting

2) Employ stealth or another form of battle field positioning so as not to be targetted

3) You can directly counter (Or Hard counter, as Sawyer puts it) by casting death ward, anti-magic shell, Volley, Spell Turning etc (the last three of which have multiple uses, and a mage with those spells is employing wise tactical game play by casting those spells ANYWAY, even if he's facing an opponent who doesn't have insta-death spells in his arsenal

4) You can passively defend. I mentioned this one to Sawyer on Formspring. The best defense against ANY magic is to improve your saving throws - Something every player should be doing anyway, via level up skills, magic armor, potions, temple blessings etc.

You're arguing sideways now. There are just as many ways to tackle "prevent that ability from ever hitting me," but that is the only option you have in tackling "not-dying to that ability." You cannot mitigate the effect of the ability by anything other than 100% or 0%. And the effect of the ability, itself, IS infinite or nothing. With a really strong foe, its attack simply deals a larger quantity of damage, and/or a specific type of damage. Therefore, you can choose to have character A take hits from that enemy (while delivering his own), to lower the damage output to a non-killing blow, as opposed to having person B take hits from that enemy and taking enough damage to cause their death. With an insta-kill ability, it throws all those factors out the window. Your health? Meaningless. Your armor? Meaningless.

 

Having combat reduced to "don't get hit or you die" is about as much fun as having it reduced to "don't let that thing within 20 feet of you or you die." Imagine your party just all running around, trying to stay out of a given radius, just to not die instantly, no matter what.

 

I'm just... not really sure how to emphasize this any more clearly. The whole point is the "no matter what" part. Everything else in combat matters what, even when you get hit, or are in the wrong place, or use the wrong person, etc. You can come out of it better or worse, while still coming out of it. With insta-kill, you just don't come out of it. It's literally the two most extreme points on the spectrum you can have: You literally suffer NO ill fate whatsoever (not even a low amount of damage that simply ends up being negated because of other factors at play), or you suffer the illest fate possible (death), completely removing that character from the tactical equation.

 

Imagine you're in a dialogue, and you say a certain thing to a certain someone, and instead of having to fight now as opposed to not-having to fight (a different outcome to the dialogue), your whole party just dies. You're not presented with "well now you get thrown in the dungeon and must go from there, as opposed to talking your way out of being thrown in the dungeon and progressing from a far better standing," etc. That would suck, would it not? Better yet, what if a dice roll determined whether or not you all instantly died and had to reload your game, even after choosing the best possible dialogue option. Yeah, that would suck.

 

This is an RPG. You're dealing in Binary anyway, unless they do something silly with the mechanics, like completely eliminate the possibility of Failure. Take trap disarming, for example. You can't "sorta succeed" in disarming a trap. No. You either successfully disarm the trap, or you fail to disarm the trap. And if you want to argue that at least with Trap disarming, you can tactically increase your chances of succeeding, I'll argue that you can do the same thing with any save or die spell (see above)

What happens when you fail at disarming a trap, though? Does the trap KILL you? No, you simply fail to alter the factors involved with traversing that trap-laden spot. Even after you disarm that trap, you still have to make your way down the hallway. There could be more traps, or enemies. You don't roll to see if you make it down the hallway or not. You roll for one thing at a time. Not to mention the perception check to see if you even DISCOVER the trap. There are many, many layers to the effects of a trap upon your party. If you see it but can't disarm it, you can potentially sneak around it. You're not FORCED to disarm it, OR ELSE.

 

Once again, with a hostile thing chucking insta-death at you, you're forced to respond. Again, you're missing the point I made. The point isn't that you can't apply the word "binary" to anything else in the game. The point is that you're dealing in binary within the combat system, which is supposed to be tactical. Binary and tactical are oil and water. Better yet, binary + chance and tactical are even worse.

 

Sawyer neither says nor implies any of these caveats. No. He is LITERALLY arguing that insta death can occur, just that it won't be luck based, it will be based on extreme power differences. And power difference is just 1 factor, not many.

Actually, the very fact that he goes from "small number of hits" to "possibly one" implies that he's referring to insta-death as a result of circumstance rather than insta-death as an absolute. "...if the enemy is powerful enough" is a condition. Just like "This thing will kill you in one hit, if you're not wearing any armor," or "if you stand around like an idiot," or "if you don't get away from it within 5 seconds when it starts glowing purple." That doesn't mean it's power is designed to produce instant death. It means that, given the right circumstances, there's nothing in the game to prevent something from happening to deal enough damage to a character in a single hit to kill that character.

 

Not that I know for a fact that's specifically what he was trying to say, but his wording (along with the context of his statement) does imply that.

 

Why would he say "No, save-or-die mechanics are not tactically interesting," then follow that with "But man, I sure love save-or-die mechanics! 8D"? I believe Josh Sawyer to be neither insane nor paradoxical.

 

Likewise, I would never argue that a game should ONLY have save or die. Instead, the occasional save or die spell should exist, along with all the other wonderful stuff that you and others here are suggesting.

*sigh*... Sideways yet again. My point wasn't that the quantity of save-or-die mechanics is a problem, so saying that "likewise" you wouldn't argue that a game should ONLY ever have save or die is completely beside the point here. My point is that save-or-die mechanics, by their sheer nature and existence in any quantity whatsoever are problematically extreme, and conflict with the tactical offering of the rest of combat.

 

I would never argue that something shouldn't be in a game if it were simply a matter of quantity moderation. "There are too many enemies in this area of a game due to balancing neglect, therefore WE SHOULD REMOVE ENEMIES FROM THE GAME!" So, please, if you'd like to argue how save-or-die isn't binary and doesn't provide the problems I've pointed out (and not invented with my imagination), then, by all means, go for it. I'm all ears, truly. I'm not convinced I can't be wrong. But, if I am, I do not yet know how. But, please stick with the context of statements. If you take my statements out of context (like with the quantity of save-or-die argument above), they're ALWAYS going to be "wrong." I can't cover all valid points in existence with one statement.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I have to say I think my view point has shifted a bit after coming back to this months later.  In a PnP game, where insta-kill spells don't prevent the game from continuing (even with a TPK you just roll up new characters and carry on) I'm all for them ... and I've used a power word kill more than once to great effect against my players and as a player myself.  In a single player CRPG with save and reload I do see how the mechanic can be kind of pointless.  

 

That doesn't mean I want the insta-death spells taken out exactly, but I can see the argument that such spells and effects encourage save scumming and "degenerate" play.

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I have to say I think my view point has shifted a bit after coming back to this months later.  In a PnP game, where insta-kill spells don't prevent the game from continuing (even with a TPK you just roll up new characters and carry on) I'm all for them ... and I've used a power word kill more than once to great effect against my players and as a player myself.  In a single player CRPG with save and reload I do see how the mechanic can be kind of pointless.  

 

That doesn't mean I want the insta-death spells taken out exactly, but I can see the argument that such spells and effects encourage save scumming and "degenerate" play.

 

I think that insta-kill spells can be entertaining if they don't become too common... Lothar from PS:T is a great example of that; during the dialogue, you get plenty of warning not to mess with him and not to underestimate his powers - if you still continue to push him, feeling sure in your immortality, he simply snaps a finger and you are permanently dead - game over, load latest save.

 

The first time I ever played this scene, I was somewhat annoyed that my oh-so-mighty-immortal could still just be swatted like a bug... but upon reflection, I realized that a) this was fully in line with the game's setting of a grim and dire world, and b) it meant that "my" immortality wasn't as final as it would at first appear.

And it really got my imagination going as to who this Lothar might be and how he came to be so powerful... all in all a very positive outcome from being insta-killed.

 

But, and this is a big one, this only works if there is some form of context to those insta-kill powers, some form of context to the people wielding this power... if just any old random encounter mage-gone-street thug could utter power words or use similarly devastating spells, it would quickly become - to me - a rather frustrating experience of being underpowered.

Edited by Homer Morisson
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You're arguing sideways now. There are just as many ways to tackle "prevent that ability from ever hitting me," but that is the only option you have in tackling "not-dying to that ability." You cannot mitigate the effect of the ability by anything other than 100% or 0%. And the effect of the ability, itself, IS infinite or nothing. Having combat reduced to "don't get hit or you die" is about as much fun as having it reduced to "don't let that thing within 20 feet of you or you die." Imagine your party just all running around, trying to stay out of a given radius, just to not die instantly, no matter what. I'm just... not really sure how to emphasize this any more clearly. The whole point is the "no matter what" part.

Riight. Can we reign in the disingenuous debating for a moment or two? Stop pretending that your beef is with the 100% or 0%, "no matter what!" nature of save or die, when what you REALLY dislike is... lethal combat. Combat that forces you to fear the death of your characters. Tell it like it is. Because many of us here actually have passing knowledge of decent spell systems, where you have spells like Hold Person, Power word Stun, Dire charm, Sleep, Flesh to stone, etc. All of which are ALSO Un-mitigateable, 100% or 0%, no matter what spells. They just won't kill you. For example, If you save against a stun spell, you're home free. If you Fail your save, that's it. Your character is out of commission. Completely taken out of the combat encounter, through no tactical fault of your own (other than the fact that you didn't prepare ahead of time to protect against it.) Ditto with all the others.

 

But you don't have a problem with any of those. Do you. Nope, you just have a problem with the ones that can kill you. So the OBVIOUS conclusion here is: You don't want lethal combat. You want something like Pokemon or Dragon Age, where combat is forgiving, non-lethal, and apolegetic. Again, tell it like it is.

 

 

 

Everything else in combat matters what, even when you get hit, or are in the wrong place, or use the wrong person, etc.

NOPE. If I Maze or Deep Slumber your Fighter, I have just instantly taken him out of combat....no matter what. You no longer control him. You can no longer use him. Whatever 'gameplan' or "tactics" you had involving him have just been flushed down the crapper. And it doesn't make a lick of difference how tactical you were before I cast that spell. If I cast that spell on your Fighter, and he fails his saving throw, he's just as good as dead, and will remain that way for the rest of the encounter (assuming my party doesn't decide to take advantage of his disabled state and KILL HIM AS HE LAYS THERE, DEFENSELESS.) But that's life. Excuse me, that's an accurate simulation of the perils of any real combat: sometimes you get unlucky and the best laid plans of mice and men fail at the blink of an eye. Suck it up princess, as the saying goes.

 

 

But like I said before, your only beef is with Tough combat where death is actually a possibility. You're simply Trying to mask this fact by putting up feeble fluff arguments to try and make boring, predictable, non-exciting, non-lethal, combat sound like some sort of 'logical' improvement to how things were in the Icewind dales and the BG games. The mechanics behind Save-or-die are Exactly the same as the ones behind save-or-be-disabled... and there's no way around this bottom line.

Edited by Stun
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