Death is Always in the Cards (Or Maybe it Isn't)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Let's talk about death, baby. It's become a hot-button subject since the launch of Pathfinder Adventures, where a legion of fans were presented with the choice of using a "permadeath" option or letting the fear of death fall by the wayside. There are lots of good reasons why death works the way it does in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, so three of us are providing you with three very different perspectives on the subject. Mike will talk about death in the home version of the physical card game, Nathan will talk about death in the digital game, and Tanis will talk about death in organized play.

Mike's Take: "Permadeath, All the Time"

The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is built on the principle that if you try to draw a card that isn't there, you've kicked the bucket, shuffled off your mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. You are an ex-character.

The rationale for this is simple: If the danger of death isn't there, the game breaks down. If you know you can't die, you don't fear the consequences of your actions. So you might embrace what us game designers call "degenerate behavior." For example, if you know you can't die, you might forgo that offer from Kyra to heal you, and get an extra exploration. That one exploration can matter a lot.

For example, you may know that I went in for knee surgery a little while back. So I resolved to play through all of the Obsidian game that was available, through Hook Mountain Massacre. And get this: My party failed to defeat Xanesha on the final card of the blessings deck two games in a row. If I wasn't worried about them dying, there's no way I'd get in that predicament. That's how the game is balanced.

The presumption built into the game is that you're playing a campaign, and losing a character is a massive deal. I lost two characters in the run-up to that Angel in the Tower double-failure. Sajan died during Attack on Sandpoint and Lini kicked it during Local Heroes. (Let me underscore that for emphasis: She died in Local Heroes.) So the new guys, Harsk and Kyra, didn't actually ever finish Burnt Offerings, and so they missed out on the adventure's feats. They turned out a little less buff because their predecessors offed it. Now, I could go back and do those early scenarios with Harsk and Kyra, but I'm running a story here. Also, this is a moot point, since Harsk and Kyra died too, in the last scenario of Hook Mountain Massacre. I knew we named it that for a reason. We won't be seeing those four again, any more than John Cleese will ever have a functional parrot.

Nathan's Take: "Digital Dice Are Unforgiving Enough"

Let me first state for the record: When my group plays the Adventure Card Game, death is real and not forgiven. Just ask our Ekkie player who died in WotR 1.4 and had to play her cousin Rekkie solo through the first 9 scenarios to catch up.

But when it came to Pathfinder Adventures, we decided to make death less than permanent by default. Is it because we are nice? Ummm... Nope! We did invent the Darkest Night Wildcard which costs you a card from the blessings deck each time you fail to acquire a boon (which should give you some indication of our generosity). Actually, it's quite the contrary, and doesn't have much to do with game difficulty at all.

It's all about how we save games! I wanted to preserve the sanctity of rolled dice and cards found in the location deck. As the guy who has reloaded the heck out of X-COM, Civilization, and Total War to get the rolls I wanted, I understand the temptation to cheese the system's random number generator. I even would go as far as to crash Elder Sign: Omens on purpose to reroll. Is that fun? There's a not very good argument that it is, but I knew that to preserve the importance of risk and choice in Pathfinder Adventures, we had to remove the concept of "Saved Games" that you load.

Instead, you play with a party or parties. Every time you confirm an action by rolling, drawing a card, or tapping the confirmation arrow, you've made a permanent decision that can't be reversed by any means.

Okay, fine. What does this have to do with death? Put simply, if you make a mistake at the game table, it's adjudicated by people who can determine how honest the mistake was. If you make a mistake in the digital game, like you swiped to roll when you weren't ready or you didn't realize it was Lem's turn and not Valeros' when you decide to take on the villain, there's no take-backs. And if you're just learning the game for the first time and you didn't quite understand the deck-to-life equation, you might put down the game for good.

Bottom line: If you are a new casual player, enjoy non-permadeath while learning the game! The rest of you don't really have an excuse to play anything but permadeath!

Tanis's Take: "I Like to Make You Suffer, But I Don't Like to Make You Quit"

In Adventure Card Guild games, the bulk of reported play that we're seeing is weekly or fortnightly games at local game stores and game days. I'm aiming to provide a fun experience that people will make part of their routine. And as Mike and Nathan have already said, it's hard to generate an exhilarating victory without the real possibility of death or loss.

In Season of the Shackles, I decided to run with the base game's rules on advancement and death. People enjoyed themselves, but missing a week at the store because your kid was sick or because you had a conflicting event would automatically put you behind the rest of your party. And if you died late in the season? You were never going to catch up to your friends again. Social contract voided, six months of fun washed away, and a bad taste left in your mouth. Not ideal.

I've been at a table where someone's playing Adventure 5 and a character dies, and it suuuuuucks. In the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, usually someone at a high-level table will have a way to access resurrection magic or some kind, whether via a cleric or druid at the table or via special access to some sort of life-restoring magic earned during play. In the Adventure Card Guild, you wouldn't want to depend on a cleric having a Raise Dead in her deck. So I added a metagame system that allows players to expend pretty valuable resources—die bumps—to resurrect a fallen comrade. Die bumps are earned when characters complete an adventure, and they can be used to modify a roll after it's been made. The party can collectively expend 3 die bumps to resurrect a character at the end of a scenario. There's still pain, and dying still sucks, but I'm glad we found a way to allow people to keep playing. Like Dory, we want you to just keep playing. (This is where Disney•Pixar pays me the big bucks for nudging you to go see Finding Dory.)

If you don't like those rules, you can always go by Selinker's Law: "It's organized play, son. When your character dies, you die too."

Mike Selinker and Tanis O'Connor
Adventure Card Game Designers

Nathan Davis
Pathfinder Adventures Designer
Obsidian Entertainment

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Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Pathfinder Adventures

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

This comes up so often. In fact, it just came up this week on BGG. Thanks for the insight.


In an RPG campaign, your party would be building up money and resources from their adventures. In the case of death (at least after the first few levels) they'd be able to bring your body back to town and have you raised from the dead. That's not an option in the card game rules, and is why in my home games we just assume the party can raise folks after the end of a scenario.

In Guild play, I expect most folks will save their die bumps in case of death, just like many folks save 16 Prestige Points in RPG PFS play.

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I've actually been playing through the digital game with permadeath off with this first set of characters... I don't want to end up getting frustrated by characters getting killed because I made a stupid mistake. After I get through the rest of the current scenarios on legendary (almost there!) then I plan to take a different group through the whole thing with permadeath on.


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While I appreciate the insight, I think it is only applicable for home games if you have enough time to play the game often enough.

In particular, we found permadeath to be too punishing in our home games. Everyone in my group does not have much time to play, so our home games have a similiar pace compared to the card guild.
Playing an adventure path for several months only to die would just split my group - since I own the game, there is no way for the others to replay their progress in case they die, so that would mean just stopping the adventure path altogether (after all, time spent replaying alone could just as well be used to play together, and time is scarce).

As a homebrew rule, in order to still have an incentive to not die, we impose a penalty of -1 for each die roled in the next scenario for a character that died. Most of the time when one of my players died, they saw some great boon they wanted in the following scenario and failed to acquire it due to this penalty, which made them regret their dying instantly and changed their behaviour to be more careful for the rest of the game.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I can't argue that I know better than Mike et al. but I'll say this: the current 'permadeath' rule doesn't seem to be supported by any real life experience I've had. No grown-up *I* know is sacrificing the hours they invested in their character development just because of a bad die roll (pun intended), and they don't see a shred of value in the supposed "weight of consequences* perma-death offers. They all still get a hit, according to different home rules, and most of them consider the scenario lost anyway and have to replay it, but a one replay is better than having to level a new hero, when the party is in AD5. Now, this may just be the specific gaming folks I'm surrounded with, but -again, in my experience and personal opinion- when most of the people need to house-rule an aspect of a game, maybe there's a problem there. Basically, *any* of the dozens of house-rules one this very forum would've been better (or at least more widely acceptable/used) - don't keep loot, banish random/most powerful card, get reset to AD#-2 deck, etc. - while still making players consider their tactics carefully or feeling the sting of death.

And honestly, the 'telling a story' argument falls flat when the game is based in property where cartwheeling your buddies corpses to the nearest temple for a quick Resurrection spell is par for the course.

PS: I won't even get into the subjects of solo-runs here, where for many characters and/or depending of boon drops, the villain encounters are still just completely at the mercy of the dice, hoping to consistently roll high above average.


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I take character death as a personal affront. It's plenty of a penalty for me that the character has died. In both the card game and the digital game, permadeath is a waste of my time. I don't have much time to spend gaming; I'm not going to spend it replaying scenarios because a character has died.

I don't think this skews my playstyle. I'm a conservative player, and my characters very rarely die. (In fact, in the card game I've never had a character death, outside of a solo Brigandoom scenario with experimental rules.)

I think Tanis' change to organized play is brilliant. Else, in my group, it's very likely we would simply lose the player if a player's character died in an advanced adventure.


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The only times where I've nearly died is when I've been rather careless (aka I didn't track my deck remains properly). I think I'm about as conservative as elcoderdude is because I don't like yolo explores, or 60% chances to win combats (<50% is right out for me). Aggressive explorers tend to use lots of blessings to explore rather than check enhancers.

Yes, I'd rather lose a scenario than to die.


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I would also rather lose scenarios than risk character death. Having played the RPG plenty, some method for "drag the body back to the priest in a bag of holding" would be nice to have in the card game.

I've thought of having everyone banish a card from their deck with the highest adventure deck number.

Seems like a good cost, though depending on the deck the cost could be nearly meaningless to sobbing about that fancy new weapon they have to sacrifice.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

It is allmost impossible to die in tabletop game, if you just stop plaing the scenario when you have only 10 cards in your deck. Just wait the blessing deck run out. Fortunately there is that posibility later...
But it Also means a lot of replays of the same scenarios because you don't take risks. In real rpg it would mean that situation will get worse and worse because the Main nemesis gets momentum, because the adventures Are so vimpy and don't try to stop him...
I like the organiced play burn you die bumps aproach a lot! If you die, it makes your life harder, but there is a way to continue fight if you have been ready to it. Also if you Are not ready to die "again" you have to play more safe and sound manner.


We've definitely had plenty of times where a character has got themselves to 1-card from death, and we've just stopped exploring to let the Blessing Deck run down.

To an extent, I think this can be justified narratively (stuff this, I'm going back to The Rusty Dragon...) but it is an interesting point about there not being a penalty for replaying scenarios.

Part of me thinks that the fact that you've got in that much of a mess, suggests it's hard enough already, although it could just be down to poor luck/decision making.

I've heard talk around here before (can't find the thread right now) of creating physical cards for the "wildcard" effects you get in the digital game - if we ever get to a stage where that's a reality (would love to see it as an official class-deck-style expansion, but Homebrew works just as well), we might try adding an extra Wildcard if playing through a scenario where we previously ran the clock down on purpose. I could see this working well in Runelords where the difficulty is at a sensible level to make tweaks.


We actually lost a player from our OP group due to an almost TPK. It was the last scenario of adventure 3 of SotS; Radillo and Heggal bit the dust (water?). Wrathack somehow made it out alive. But we never saw Heggal's player after that...

I don't play with Permadeath on. When someone dies it's normally because of a skirmish barrier (oh my god, I had three in a row last night; two zombie minions and a skeleton hoard. Seelah didn't have any weapons in hand and Lini ended up having to discard her entire hand).

The shame and disappointment of dying is enough for me. "I can't believe I let them die! Nooooo!" Especially since we haven't gotten to Raise Dead yet. :/


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I don't have a lot of sympathy for the permadeath mechanic.

We discussed it in my group before and decided that we don't have the time to replay scenarios and bring a character back up to speed, and starting something like AD6 with a character who has no decent boons or card feats would be a drag for the person playing.

In short, we're not looking to punish anyone for not playing "correctly" or just having plain bad luck. (caster vs flesh golem)

Even with that understanding that death would not be permanent we still avoided it as if it were an undesirable consequence. We stocked heal spells and were excited when better ones came up. Kyra and other healers sacrificed turns and cards to bring characters to good health. We didn't burn blessings for explores unless the blessings deck was getting thin or we knew we had means to bring them back from the discard pile.

We didn't develop "degenerate behavior", and I think assuming the worst of your audience is unintentionally insulting.

We still got understandably upset when casters encountered flesh golems in WotR and got one shotted. Even though those casters came back we still did not act agnostic-ally towards a character dying.

In short, we're still plenty averse to a character kicking the bucket.

The idea of having a consequence less severe than "start over" is very attractive though. For shackles I thought it would be appropriate to throw a pirate shade haunt into the deck of anyone who died and having it display for that character whenever drawn or revealed.

Having consequence cards like that is really appealing and I'd love to design something like that or see it implemented.

Something like:
Stitches reopened!
Bury this card and the next 1d4 cards in your deck.
When rebuilding your deck at the end of the scenario replace this card with another random consequence card.

So you never know how you'll be hampered but you will be hampered.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

In order to turn lemon in lemonade like would somehow say Vic once translated in French, we built a custom set of scenarios (one per scenario number) to actually achieve resurrection of a dead character, involving location like temple or wishing well but also some trip to the abyss and heaven. Depending how well you succeed, the character suffers more or less drawbacks for the rest of the adventure.

This is our old RPG DM reaction : if there is an issue with the rule, turn it into a nice (and fun!!!) idea of a new module.

We still have to nail that down but would be nice to have an official version of it.

Just an idea...

Pathfinder ACG Developer

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Without permadeath - or at least a very serious cost (I also proposed everyone banish 1 card of their highest AD!) - I'd never take Raise Dead in a deck. As it is, I still don't want it, but at least I'll plan around it.

I'm a lot happier with Breath of Life or Mythic Hierophant, though.


I've been playing PACG since a few months after the initial release of Runelords. I've gone through each AP at least 5 times with different combinations of characters (mostly 4 character solo runs, but I've played with other players in groups of 2-6). In all of that time, I've seen 2 characters die in Runelords.

0ne was Valeros after being hit with 2 different sirens at 2 different locations causing him to hand wipe on 2 consecutive turns. He would have survived the second hand wipe had he not had his final ally in the top 3 cards of his deck.

The other was Seoni on Approach to Thistletop. I was playing in a group with cursed dice. We were trying our 4th attempt at the scenario on a night where every goblin had it's difficulty increased by 4 and every combat check seem to fail by 1. We ended up playing more aggressively than we should have. Seoni died. We won on the last turn and let her come back at the end of the scenario because of how long it took us to beat the scenario.

Outside of those two deaths, I've seen 3 different characters die during the B scenarios of Wrath, though that says more about those scenarios than anything else.

Because death is so infrequent, especially among higher level characters, I tend to be in favor of ignoring permadeath and allowing characters to resurrect at the end of the scenario. I find the prospect of sitting out the rest of the scenario to be a big enough deterrent as it is. No need to spend hours upon hours replaying scenarios to catch up a player that was hit with poor luck.


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I think death is really supposed to be the thread to curtail too much risk taking. No one really wants you to have to start a new character, they just want you to have a consequence for stretching yourself too thin.

My thoughts on this have evolved over time. There are only a few times where death has actually occurred in groups I'm playing in/with.

The most recent was in organized play, just prior to the rules for resurrection. The character who died was also at the family tomb with two other characters, so all three died. Only Lem limped home that day. I wasn't actually at the table, it was the one next to me. But all 3 that died, while disappointed, set up new characters and continued on with Lem (who I guess went back to town and convinced 3 fools heroes to join him to replace his deceased friends).

The only other time was actually what Nathan mentions. In "home" play, someone made an honest mistake (this time I think it was Lem who died). I think it all came down to that they defeated the henchman, but the closing requirement cost them a card. We knew the next card was the henchman at the start of Lem's turn. If we'd paid close enough attention, Lem never would have explored, because there was no way he wouldn't die. It was easy enough to say "Let's undo that. You'd have never explored, since the only outcome was death." All the "known" information told us Lem was dead if he explored. We just hadn't paid enough attention to it (I think we were caught up in thinking we had the villain cornered). We let Lem live and ended up failing the scenario.

For me personally at this point, I think if my character dies, I would choose to start a new character. I'd probably give them the power and skill feats and then just build a starting deck. I'm comfortable with the game enough now, that I think I'd be closer to the "official" death rules. Plus, it would let me explore a new character.

For other players, I'd leave it up to that player. In a "home" game, if they wanted to start a new character, great. If they wanted to keep playing their "dead" character, we'd just work out some penalty (like failed scenario and maybe no deck improvement). But it would be up to them.

In an OP game, I'd do what ever I could for the other player. If they wanted resurrection, I'd offer as many die bumps as I could to help them.

Bottom line, I don't want anyone to stop playing.


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Hawkmoon269 wrote:
The most recent was in organized play, just prior to the rules for resurrection. The character who died was also at the family tomb with two other characters, so all three died. Only Lem limped home that day. I wasn't actually at the table, it was the one next to me. But all 3 that died, while disappointed, set up new characters and continued on with Lem (who I guess went back to town and convinced 3 fools heroes to join him to replace his deceased friends).

RIP Raz 1.0


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Mike - I love the Python homage, but I'm not a big fan of roguelikes.

For what it's worth, my group also does not use permadeath as it is just too punitive. Between work, family and other commitments, we only get to play every week or two on average. The idea of soloing a new character up through previous adventures is fairly ludicrous. If you have that much spare time, have at it, but... speed-solo grinding adventures doesn't sound very fun IMO.

There are effective and less-punitive ways to de-incentivize "degenerate behavior". As others before me have said, you can feel the cost without potentially trashing months of character investment and progress.

There are a few unofficial, house rule ideas on the forums, but I'd be happy to see some "official" alternatives from the developers.


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Frencois wrote:
In order to turn lemon in lemonade like would somehow say Vic once translated in French, we built a custom set of scenarios (one per scenario number) to actually achieve resurrection of a dead character, involving location like temple or wishing well but also some trip to the abyss and heaven. Depending how well you succeed, the character suffers more or less drawbacks for the rest of the adventure.

I think this is a fantastic idea! We did something similar after failing (badly) a WotR B scenario. Instead of restarting everything and going through the same frustrating game, we generated our own "Return to..." scenario using the same villain and some different locations. After it was done, we counted it as the previous failed scenario for advancement. Obviously house ruled, but it was a lot of fun! =)

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nomadicc wrote:
Frencois wrote:
In order to turn lemon in lemonade like would somehow say Vic once translated in French, we built a custom set of scenarios (one per scenario number) to actually achieve resurrection of a dead character, involving location like temple or wishing well but also some trip to the abyss and heaven. Depending how well you succeed, the character suffers more or less drawbacks for the rest of the adventure.
I think this is a fantastic idea! We did something similar after failing (badly) a WotR B scenario. Instead of restarting everything and going through the same frustrating game, we generated our own "Return to..." scenario using the same villain and some different locations. After it was done, we counted it as the previous failed scenario for advancement. Obviously house ruled, but it was a lot of fun! =)

I also REALLY like this. Perhaps while I'm waiting on Theryon to edit the cards I'm making for one of our current projects, I'll work on this as well!!


In my family's Wrath play through, my younger son's Harsk died due to failing against a henchman that caused a bunch of cards to be buried (can't remember exactly and it's not relevant to the discussion). We decided that he could restart a new character and that it could be Harsk if he wanted, but his deck would be built from scratch - so just Basic cards since we were in AD2. But we gave him the same feats that we already had. I think that the penalty of restarting a character with just Basic cards is threat enough to be worried about death, but not too onerous that you just give up if you die.


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ryanshowseason2 wrote:

Even with that understanding that death would not be permanent we still avoided it as if it were an undesirable consequence. We stocked heal spells and were excited when better ones came up. Kyra and other healers sacrificed turns and cards to bring characters to good health. We didn't burn blessings for explores unless the blessings deck was getting thin or we knew we had means to bring them back from the discard pile.

We didn't develop "degenerate behavior", and I think assuming the worst of your audience is unintentionally insulting.

This sums up my feelings pretty well.

No one likes to feel like they 'lost', regardless of the penalty. It's this intrinsic motivation that should primarily rather drive people's behaviour, rather that any extrinsic penalties. While the permadeath penalty could make some sense in a competitive multiplayer, in cooperative or single-player PACG it's just a little obnoxious, and feels like the designers are hanging over your shoulders, trying to make sure you "fear the consequence' and making sure you beahaviour doesn't 'degenrate' while you're trying to have fun with friends. Well, that doesn't really work for my group.


Frencois wrote:

In order to turn lemon in lemonade like would somehow say Vic once translated in French, we built a custom set of scenarios (one per scenario number) to actually achieve resurrection of a dead character, involving location like temple or wishing well but also some trip to the abyss and heaven. Depending how well you succeed, the character suffers more or less drawbacks for the rest of the adventure.

This is our old RPG DM reaction : if there is an issue with the rule, turn it into a nice (and fun!!!) idea of a new module.

We still have to nail that down but would be nice to have an official version of it.

Just an idea...

That's another awesome solution.

Perhaps stock the locations each with the most recently killed villains and henchmen to replace the monsters!

Because we just killed them so they are now angry at us in the afterlife heh.

Scarab Sages

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cartmanbeck wrote:
nomadicc wrote:
Frencois wrote:
In order to turn lemon in lemonade like would somehow say Vic once translated in French, we built a custom set of scenarios (one per scenario number) to actually achieve resurrection of a dead character, involving location like temple or wishing well but also some trip to the abyss and heaven. Depending how well you succeed, the character suffers more or less drawbacks for the rest of the adventure.
I think this is a fantastic idea! We did something similar after failing (badly) a WotR B scenario. Instead of restarting everything and going through the same frustrating game, we generated our own "Return to..." scenario using the same villain and some different locations. After it was done, we counted it as the previous failed scenario for advancement. Obviously house ruled, but it was a lot of fun! =)
I also REALLY like this. Perhaps while I'm waiting on Theryon to edit the cards I'm making for one of our current projects, I'll work on this as well!!

I also like this idea - resurrection is "free" if someone packs the Raise Dead card, and painful (but not sixteen-scenarios-painful) otherwise. A scenario included with the base set of every box that scales (a scenario card with the Veteran trait? that would be cool) that allows for resurrection of one character would be the most awesome thing ever.

The infamous Bel Air Massacre that Hawkmoon describes didn't stop the game, but everyone that died is a hard-core player that leveled up alternates. You and I have tried to make time to do that, but to no avail (maybe once I'm done school or something). But life's just too busy to allow for replaying an entire adventure deck. In an RPG, resurrection is always possible (albeit expensive, and likely out-of-reach for a low-level character), regardless of whether the party has a high-level cleric or not.


I've witnessed both sides of the d2 on this.

In Runelords one of my players died, and though I offered leniency he wanted to play by the official rules. But my group didn't want to replay all the scenarios to get him leveled, so he started with AD3 equipment on AD5, with no feats or role card. As Lem he could still buff the party, but was pretty useless on his own turns. He died again a few scenarios later and stopped coming to game night until we started S&S.

In Wrath I house-ruled that death meant choosing an unplayed character, but with full feats and an AD-minus-2 deck, and their previous deck is banished. It was met with full agreement. Most of my group still properly fear dying, more from losing the character they grew attached to than from losing their good cards. But one player grew bored of his and used the death rules as a "free" character swap twice. Definitely degenerate behavior, but it resulted in a no-longer-bored player and didn't affect the rest of us so it's not really a problem.

My opinion of the death rules are that they need to be there as a starting point even though most groups won't use them fully. Each group can house rule it down to the level that fits their time constraints and hardcore-ness. And for the rare but existing players who would whine at any level of punishment for dying, the other players can point to the rulebook and say, "Well at least it's not this harsh."

Grand Lodge

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Fendaso wrote:
But one player grew bored of his and used the death rules as a "free" character swap twice.

I did something like this... My fiancée's character died in a two-player game, and I wasn't that excited about playing Bekah, so I took her death as an opportunity to swap characters (Amaryllis!).

Of course, we ended up starting over...


Fendaso wrote:
one player grew bored of his and used the death rules as a "free" character swap twice.

I'd argue that maybe they should be able to just switch without the death rule then if they aren't having fun and think that the character is the problem.

There isn't much to be gained from forcing someone to play something they don't enjoy.

Not sure I'd call trying to enjoy oneself "degenerative behavior". But I guess it depends on how it's done.

If you just find monsters and let them hand wipe you until death then there is not net gain for the party and it doesn't sway the game in favor of the players.

If you're throwing blessings around at everything and using discard/bury abilities on every check until death it's another thing and the favor is swayed to the players.

But again if you just let them switch they wouldn't have to resort to either tactic to try and enjoy the game.

Which we've done on a few occasions in the RPG and this game, cause seriously why not?


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I have a 6 player RotR game going and a 3 player SotRu game going. We are not in an official OP game for the 3 man. For both games we have house ruled that if a player dies the scenario ends at that point and we do not get the possible upgraded cards.

Basically, we just start the scenario again with the cards we had the time before.

We had talked about purposefully failing (letting the blessings deck run out)and there being no penalty, so why is there such a harsh penalty for pushing to win and failing?

I have only had one death in either game and it was due to Seoni not keeping track of how many cards were in her deck while helping other players with blessings.

Since then, no issues. The house rule is in place and all my players are happy. Our 6 man game is 3 couples, so having a player die and either choosing to start over (not an option) or coming over and watching their spouse play while sitting on the sideline (not an option) does not really work for us.

Dark Archive

Bring in a new characer as per normal rules, but they can earn an additional feat that they would be missing after each scenario until caught up.

Kind of simulating that in D&D you get more xp if you're adventuring with a higher level party.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I feel like one of my biggest issues with the perma-death rule is that it is much more punishing on newer players than more experienced ones. When you're a new player, you aren't thinking necessarily about exactly how many cards are left in your deck, what banes could take cards off of your deck, and similar. You also don't think about stopping exploration and restarting the scenario just in case, since that doesn't feel natural for the game.

On the other hand, an experienced player, especially one with metagaming knowledge (ie they read all the cards when a new adventure is added, check the Villain before they're shuffled in, etc) will know exactly when they are risking death by exploring. Because of that, and because there's no penalty for failing a scenario, an experienced player pretty much never is at risk of permadeath.

For me, what this results in is a rule that actually encourages Ivory Tower thinking. If a player dies, they 'played wrong,' even if it seemed logical at the time. I feel like if a rule is designed to make a game harder, it should be equally punishing across all skill levels, so when a beginner fails, the response is more 'yeah, that happens, and it sucks,' rather than 'well, its because you suck.'


ryanshowseason2 wrote:

I'd argue that maybe they should be able to just switch without the death rule then if they aren't having fun and think that the character is the problem.

There isn't much to be gained from forcing someone to play something they don't enjoy.

I agree with you, if a player came to me saying "you know, I'm really not having fun playing this character" I wouldn't hesitate to let them switch with no penalty.

But in the situation that happened, he wouldn't have wanted to switch if it was seen as properly out of reach. The second time was even easier since he set precedent already, and he'll probably do it again before we're done, less out of not having fun and more just because he can. The grass is always greener for some people, especially once they see there is no fence.

But the bottom line is that everyone should be having fun so I won't stop him now. It's already a recurring joke that if our party came up against something we weren't suited for we could just stab him and make him regenerate Doctor Who style.

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