Thursday, 4 October 2012

Revisting Character Mortality.

Pendragon can be a very dangerous game. On one hand, it's supposed to be a generational game, where the loss of a character means you move down the family tree and start playing the next one. On the other hand, it is unlikely that a beginning character will produce a 21 year old heir any time in the first twenty-five years, given the rules on childbirth and infant mortality.

It is also a game where healing from sustained injuries can take a long time. In a game where characters have 24-32 hit points on average most characters heal 2-3 hit points a week (every Sunday morning). Long convalescences are rare in fantasy RPGs, but they're certainly part of the "tropes" of an Arthurian game.

In a recent adventure one of the characters, Sir Carwyn, was struck by a giant. Where giants normally do about 9d6 damage, this was a critical success, effectively 18d6 damage, minus about 16 points for armour and shield.

Although not technically "instantly dead" the character was beyond saving, and would perish that evening.

What was remarkable was the bonhomie the player approached the situation with. The quest the players' character were on was his -- rescuing Sir Carwyn's sister from the giant. But he accepted it, and immediately engaged in the process of making a new character.

In this day and age I find that this attitude is perfect for the "OSR" movement. To paraphrase the Gospel of Odie, the player was content to gamble with his character's fortune, even when the result ended in that character's fatality.

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