It’s been a long time since I made a post (well, technically it’s been a very short time indeed, but ye ken well what I mean). And I want to keep writing, but I just haven’t had the inspiration (work, life, balance). But! Arnold K. makes a post (http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2017/04/death-trauma-and-retirement-im-gettin.html), and I riff on it, since it’s on a theme near-and-dear.
I want something that fits into 5e seamlessly, but retains Arnold’s “characters suffer until they wig out”. So, rules changes:
- You make your first death save on being reduced to 0 hp (not upon starting your turn at 0 hp), and on this and any other death save, a critical failure rolls incurs a lingering injury (DMG 272). A very process oriented GM might roll on that anyway to narrate which type of injury was stuck (for consistency) and limit one lingering injury per doleful blow, but we’re all smart people here, we’ll figure it out.
- While death saves do clear as soon as you stand up, record the number of failed death saves (“doom”) anyway — each time you fail a death save, acquire 1 temporary doom point.
- Whenever you fail a death save, you may choose to succeed by making the doom point you took a permanent, instead of temporary, doom point. This includes negating a critical failure leading to permanent injury.
- Once per session when you take a long rest, make a death saving throw against a DC of your doom points. If you fail by more than 5, you retire; if you otherwise fail, you gain 1 permanent doom point. In either case, your temporary doom points clear. Be generous with advantage and disadvantage on this saving throw — on a quest, advantage! In an area which your character would regard as idyllic? Perhaps you stay.
- In any case, you may ignore a failure on #4 if you have fewer doom points than your proficiency bonus, and you can clear one permanent doom point as a personal quest reward (re-committing to the cause). Things like the geas or atonement spells are probably implicated.
Character replacement: Characters begin at the “campaign set point”, then level every session until they’re back to equal. The set point is a kind of arbitrary number, but “the bottom of the current campaign tier” isn’t a crazy rule of thumb.
However, when you retire, your (old) character’s wealth that they take with them determines 1) what kind of story you get to tell about their circumstances and 2) your new character’s placement in life.
Your new character gets xp equal to the campaign set point + 1 xp per gp exfiltrated in this way, to a maximum of the current party level. The old character retires with the given amount of cash, and lives an appropriate lifestyle — divide the taken cash by 5000, figure out what cost of living that can support, and that’s what they’re doing. Even if they don’t keep it themselves (perhaps they become a hermit or a monk?), the act of removing that cash from the economy helps to figure out their long-term results. As a rule of thumb, a score on this lower than their proficiency bonus (as a cost of living) results in them looking back on their time as an adventurer with distaste.
Dead characters’ cash feeds forward into the next character’s XP in exactly the same fashion.
TBD: Penalty for dead character’s cash-for-XP?