On Death and Tactics

by Psilax

*enters the room wearing Bandit armor and at the same time a shining gold plumed Triad helm, the clash of colors and style being almost unbearable to look at*

Ok. I wanted to say a few things on Death and Tactics based on my observances and experience.

First of all, the DM team here does not ever want to see PC’s die. It isn’t fun for us watching a PC getting killed, especially if it’s within a situation of our making. We have to guage these situations, and we have very specific rules and personal laws when it comes to it. I have spoken to the other DM’s about this topic as well.

NWN is different in the end from PnP. The pace is faster, and a DM is forced to guage relative party strength with what they are putting together. In PnP a DM could “fudge” the rolls and had very direct control over everything that happened. But we can’t and don’t. On that note though, PC’s in NWN have an advantage over those in PnP. Mobility and real time action/strategy. And the fact that this is a persistent world changes things even more. It adds a whole bunch of new dimensions to everything. Every PC becomes a self-sustained unit, and they have every opportunity to arm themselves and prepare themselves for battle and even to choose quite casually which quests they’ll go on and which ones they won’t. The personality and alignment of their character guides them.

Now moving on to more relevant talking (I know the above paragraph was incoherent at best). I have seen quite a few major PC deaths recently, some with a DM at the helm and some without. I think there is this dangerous assumption going on in the minds of some players that “as long as the DM is at the helm, I can’t die.” This mentality is not only grossly OOC, but frankly it’s false. If this was PnP, the assumption would have more merit. But it isn’t. It’s a persistent world, and there are larger storylines going on, larger than any one PC. Things are quicker yes, but as I pointed out above, a PC is more self-contained, and should constantly be improving and preparing themselves before they enter hostile situations. I know that two of the major deaths that happened in the last week or more were caused (admittedly by the players in question) by terrible tactical decisions. I don’t mean to actually refer to anyone in particular, and I won’t. But people need to become cognizant of their surroundings, and realize that a DM creates a situation and let’s it run more or less, and there is only so much they can do. This goes back to the storyline thing. Especially in a PW, if an extremely important NPC is involved in something, whether it be a negotiation or trying to kill you, whether the DM is possessing it or not, that NPC can’t just stop and stand there doing nothing until someone rethinks they’re tactics.

You’ve got to think quick. You’ve got to have those Barkskin potions and serious healing potions in your quickbar ready to drink the minute something tough starts to come after you. You have to guage a situation in your own mind and see whether it’s worthwhile to endanger your companions by trying to go after a powerful foe or if it’s more tactically sound to RUN. But when you do run, make sure it isn’t directly across the path of several enemies. You will instigate several attacks of opportunity that way. It seems to be a trend lately that alot of people are dying as indirect victims because they followed someone else into a dire situation, someone who was making bad tactical decisions, whether by mistake or even on purpose. Granted, it is within the personality and character of some PC’s to make bad choices, or destructive ones. That’s good RP’ing. But before venturing out with someone like that and accepting every order they give, a person has to ask themselves, would my character agree to this? Or am I being motivated by OOC reasons?

Some of the players I’ve seen are excellent at staying IC for everything. They treat every situation as though they were seeing it through their characters eyes and speaking with their characters voice. Other players are not. I’ll give a hypothetical example. A couple of friends are sitting around a fire in the Ranger Camp. A third person , a friend/acquaintance of the other two approaches them and says that they heard the screams of someone he knows coming from a Bugbear Camp. He asks them for their help in retriveing the corpse. Here is decision one: Do I go? Is it night? Would my character really want to help this person? Is this person friendly? Charismatic? A good leader? A bad one? Is this person a good strategist? Are they known to make bad and destructive decisions? Is this person cocky? Is this person even in their right mind currently? Based on my alignment and personality would I really do something like this? Do I know the person who’s corpse we’re getting? How well? Is that person friendly, good, etc…? Am I really prepared to follow this character into an insanely dangerous situation? Keep in mind, these decisions should all be made IC. The OOC thoughts, like “oooh a DM is involved so I’ll go because I foresee good xp/gold for me” should not enter your head. This is a RP server.

Let’s say the three of them do end up going down there to the Bugbear Camp. They kill some Bugbears and find the thing they were looking for (or don’t find it) in the middle of the Camp. Is it wise to stand there during the night talking? From an IC point of view, isn’t it dangerous, as Bugbear activity has been up lately, and other Bugbears would have heard the slaughter of their comrades and will now be on their way? It’s a bit dangerous standing in the dark in a dangerous area where dangerous foes could spawn at any moment.

Getting back on topic, as a DM, I have given free raises and/or stabilizations to people who died as a result of my own mistake, and so have the other DM’s. It happens rarely though. DM’s take alot of time carefully guaging every scenario of their creation. If a player dies as a result of their own mistake or a bad tactical decision, that’s how the cookie crumbles. I don’t like to see it, but it does happen. Also, this is a persistent world, and every region of it has its intricacies and dangers. If you go and start killing Lizardfolk, chances are you’ll get the attention of a powerful member of their race and get yourself hemmed in and killed. People need to be cognizant of where they’re taking their PC.

Another rule of thumb is always Travel in groups if you can. If you die alone somewhere in the wilderness, it’s true your body will eventually be salvaged but your items might be long gone. People have sticky fingers when it comes to finding a full item pack from a fresh corpse with noone around.

Oh, and concerning lag deaths. We have one definitive rule: we do not give free raises for them. They are too easy to exploit (as the avalanche of requests we get almost daily about “I lagged and died, raise me back to my original level” demonstrates). It’s unfortunate when it happens and its real, but we can’t give them to anyone or we’d have to give them to everyone. If for some reason your connection is very shaky one day, you should not take your character into any dangerous areas.

So I guess I’ll wrap it up there. Basically, while you’re in a safe environment, feel free to wear your clothes, drink that Elven wine, and laugh and talk and RP without any worries. That’s what the server is for, Role Playing!

But when you do venture out into the wilderness, make sure that armor is on, and your potions are at the ready and your weapon is drawn. Be alert and never hang around too long in a hostile area.

Faerun is a dangerous place.


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