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Dhruin November 20th, 2008 05:46

RPGWatch - New Poll
Time for a new poll.
What death system do you prefer? Do you like NWN2's "Everyone's a medic" system (see below) or did Baldur's Gate's "Traditional permanent death" system get it right in the first place? Lucky Day has put together a list of death systems that have been used for us to consider. We have limited space for the poll options, so you'll need this list to interpret the choices names.
  • Traditional permanent death - player must load a previous save
  • Hardcore mode - permanent death, player must restart the game
  • Miraculous resurrection - player returned to start point
  • Japanese miracle - returned to previous check point (player may only save at these points)
  • Waiting for a miracle - player can wait for the heat to clear before respawning at the place they died
  • Everyone's a medic - permanent death only when last party member is dead (playable party or NPC)
  • Casper system - player can only interact as a ghost until restored to the land of the living
  • Hybrid/Cocktail - low levels character are too weak and its too expensive to rez (effectively making it perma death at level 1) or high level, where taking the next step in the evolution of your character comes at a cost (effectively God Mode)
You can have any of these with various penalties such as wait times, stat adjustments, permanent injury or experience or level drops, player must walk back to start to continue and so on.

Make your vote on the right and feel free to add comments on your own experiences, preferences or ideas for a better way to handle death.
More information.

guenthar November 20th, 2008 05:46

There was an idea for an mmorpg that was being made a long time ago but never was completed called Archaean. The idea is that if you died you would choose to either become a ghost or go to purgatory where you could choose to go on a series of quests to get brought back to life. I think a simular situation would be good where you go to purgatory and in order to come back you would have to prove yourself worthy. Along with this you would have a save/load system where you can only save when quitting. Maybe even make it more difficult to prove your worth the more you die after a certain level.

kadeton November 20th, 2008 06:27

I think that the most satisfying method by far was Planescape: Torment's method: miraculous resurrection, but with the resurrection method woven into the story so that it made sense. Of course, that's a fairly unique example, but I really like it when otherwise-silly game mechanics like respawning are justified and integrated into the story.

GhanBuriGhan November 20th, 2008 09:48

In single player character games traditional permanent death is fine with me - I am used to it, and though I see the weaknesses and problems it creates for designers, It is still my preference. I hate savepoints (fine for arcade games, but disliked in RPGs, and almost senseless in freeroaming RPGs). Other options like ghost mode, purgatory adventures, resurrection at a special place (or runestone a la Spellforce), etc. can certainly work occasionally, but only within specific designs - I don't see them as a real alternative for "save anywhere" on a broad basis.
For party based games, I can also live with the "every one's a medic system" as long as the mechanic has some basis and justification in the gameworld (high level spells, resurrection at temples, etc.) I didn't like it in KotoR where everyone just got up after the fight - maybe sensible gameplay wise, but too silly for my personal taste.
Hardcore mode can be a fun challenge, but it should be exactly that - a mode, an option you select when starting a new game.

An option thats missing IMHO is "no death" - I am thinking of the Mount & Blade mechanic here where its a hardcore mode (save on exit) but you never die, but may be captured, loosing army and wealth. It actually works very well in the sense that the penalty, really keeps you on your toes, judging your own strength before comitting to a fight, but where building back up is not so unforgiving that you get frustrated. I could see this working for some CRPG designs as well.

drum November 20th, 2008 10:04

I hated it in the older games when you had to carry the corpses and pay ridiculous amounts of money or even use very rare items for ressurection. This was so tedious that I always reloaded instead. So I really don't remember ever using resurrection in Baldurs Gate or other Infinity Engine games at all.
Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy system - the one that takes you to the last checkpoint with money penalty and only one character barely alive and freely available resurrections (usually a bit expensive in the beginning of the game) - is much better for me, it's punishing but not forcing me to reload - it's forcing me to take more care instead. "Everyone's a Medic" is perfectly fine with me too as it fits the whole experience of modern "cinematographic" games best.

Hardcore permadeath of roguelikes and permadeath-until-reloaded of tactical games are kind of another story, it's a part of the genre.

JonNik November 20th, 2008 10:06


Originally Posted by Dhruin (Post 104249)
[*]Casper system - player can only interact as a ghost until restored to the land of the living

Hmm, was this actually implemented in any games we know ?
Can't think of one off the top of my head…

Anyway, Traditional permanent death is the only satisfying option for me,
though Iron man modes are nice to have around for those with the necessary
free time and masochistic tendencies (been there…. a loong time ago).

titus November 20th, 2008 10:46

WOW has such a casper system, you are a ghost if you die and you need to wlak back to your body

JonNik November 20th, 2008 12:37


Originally Posted by titus (Post 104264)
WOW has such a casper system, you are a ghost if you die and you need to wlak back to your body

Ahh silly me. Haven't played a MMO in my life, but now that you mention it I am
certain that I've heard of this before… Thanks.

Keldryn November 20th, 2008 21:02

I mostly prefer the "Everyone's a medic" system. I think that Betrayal At Krondor was the first CRPG that I experienced this system with. Previous games that I'd played usually had a long journey back to a town/church and an expensive resurrection spell to revive lost party members. Reloading was often a more palatable option. Wasteland was one of the few exceptions, and one had to be careful not to leave an area with a dead character in the party.

I hate "hardcore mode" games where you have to start over from the beginning again. My time is too valuable for that kind of nonsense.

When you can save your game before doing something and then just reload if you don't like the results, then the game design really should take this into consideration. "Traditional death" isn't a huge penalty if all you have to do is reload a saved game and replay the last 15 minutes. If a party member dies -- even if resurrection doesn't incur any permanent penalties -- it's still often quicker and easier to just reload. Thus, "everyone's a medic" works for me.

The Ultima games (before VIII) resurrected you back at Lord British's castle (or other safe location) upon death, and that generally made sense in the fiction of the game world. In VI and VII you could die and get resurrected and then discover that a party member had died and his or her body was still where you had died -- if you were lucky; sometimes it would just disappear and then you were screwed. That was annoying.

A "Casper system" would be cool if it were worked into the game's fiction. Any system that takes into account the fact that most players will just reload the last saved game if resurrection is too expensive, too inconvenient, or incurs too great a penalty would be preferable to a "traditional death" system, in my opinion.

As stated above, Planescape: Torment did a good job with this.

I always wanted to create an RPG where upon death your spirit went to the netherworld and you had to complete a quest or strike a bargain to return to the world of the living -- or perhaps you were simply allowed to leave because your destiny was unfulfilled. Dead companions would also go to the netherworld and you would have to perform a task or bargain with the guardians to return them to life.

The interesting part is that there could be characters you could recruit or quests that you could perform only if you died and went to the netherworld, and there could be a few "branches" where if you died during a climactic battle you would get a special event in the land of the dead that you could only get if you died during that specific encounter. For example, if you died while fighting a powerful dragon that was threatening a town, you would meet a powerful potential companion who only appears as a result of losing that battle. When you return to the mortal realm, the dragon has wiped out the town but you have gained a unique ally and have had a dramatically different game experience.

That's what I'd do if I were making a CRPG (I am a designer on a game, but it's not an RPG).

Lucky Day November 21st, 2008 02:05

UO used the Casper system well IMO. Since the news thread is likely to fall off and the main poll thread will stick around for awhile I've commented on it there.


We have three or four threads going about this and I wanted to respond there.

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