View Full Version : Revising the Death Penalty

10-25-2007, 02:17 PM
Ever since this was brought up in the -10 penalty/Abbot discussion thread, I've thought about it quite a bit. At first, I fell into the -1 penalty to all saves (cumulative) on dying camp. Then I decided I wasn't giving this enough thought really and decided to look at the issue a bit more deeply. Here's what I came up with.

Current Status: The death penalty imposed gives you an amount of negative xp. This xp is not subtracted from your total, rather, it is a separate number that must be recouped before normal xp gain can be resumed. XP Penalty can be minimized in taverns, during normal play or upon logout.

Problems with the Current System: The Death Penalty is an outdated mechanism. First, it punishes higher-level game play moreso than lower-level. For capped toons, which make up the bulk of endgame content users, it is a triviality most of the time. You would have to die approximately 38 times without a Raise Dead to start getting a negative level. For levels 1-10, I've found it's a non-problem (your mileage might vary). 11-14 (non-capped) is harder but very doable.

Second, there is double dipping in the system. In DDO you get a -20% XP penalty for re-entering a quest. Assuming you release out for any reason, you not only take a non-raised XP debt but you also take a -20% hit to XP. This could even be called triple punishment since running back to a quest / where you died is not all that easy most of the time.

How Do Other MMOs Do It?: I can only speak with experience from a couple of MMOs. Some MMOs give you XP debt, like DDO does. Some give you Item Durability Damage on death, say, 5%. Some give you a temporary reduction in abilities for an amount of time. Some make you run to your corpse to retrieve your stuff. There is usually a combination of all of these things in most MMOs. By far, the least harsh death penalty I've seen is DDO's.

How does D&D PNP do it?: Death is just a state in D&D. The real "penalty" comes when you are attempted to be raised or resurrected. The Raise Dead (5th) and Resurrection (7th) spells come with their own penalties. Raise Dead, without copying the entire text into the thread, basically does what it does now. It gets a character up to "barely living". In addition, it costs a relatively large amount of money (at least 5,000 gp) and makes them lose some prepared spells (basically spell points in DDO). Resurrection is in similar vein but causes the target to get up with no loss of HP or prepared spells. It costs 10,000 gp.

So why am I not a fan of -1 stats after thinking about it? First, it's a quick solution to a pretty connected problem. By connected, I mean, connected to every quest and every person in the game. This isn't a fix to Von 4 that gets the Bloodrage Symbiont to drop. This affects everyone, no matter what they're doing. This means this issue should be taken seriously, out of the context of endgame raids, to every playable level and quest in the game.

Second, -1 stats temporarily has no basis in D&D. Sure, stat damage does but that's curable. The current system, XP loss, has some basis in D&D, where you lose a level most of the time for dying. -1 stats is not a negative level, it's not disabled, it's not fatigued and it's not helpless. It's just arbitrary.

Third, it's cumulative. Yes, yes, the XP loss is cumulative too, but unless you go below your current level's XP in debt, this does not affect you much. But -1 to all stats (cumulatively) once you reach the 3 or 4 death range is a pretty big hit. In lower level quests, this means 20 strength fighters drop down 10-30 HPs, -2 attack and damage, -2 saves, etc. This would essentially make a quest you have invested 1-2 hours in undoable. You would have to finish out (barring you didn't find a shrine), rest up and take a 20% loss to XP when you got back in. Combined with an XP penalty, this is very harsh and a big turnoff if you can't get something done right the first time.

So what would I recommend? Well, I could start by process of elimination. I don't think many people would like item damage this late in an MMO. Item durability serves two purposes: one it gets people to drain their cash by repairing items (helps the economy with inflation I think but not an expert) and two, it helps the economy move by stimulating the need for players to continue getting items instead of sitting on them. However, DDO doesn't really do the second well; I've personally only had one item get below 50% max durability (trapblast goggles) and it hasn't broken yet. So I think this re-definition of DDO's core systems would be a big PR hit and wouldn't work very well at all anyway. Corpse runs are pretty much out of the question too, this is not something the system could handle easily.

So this pretty much leaves temporary debuffs and XP hits. Both things together I believe would make the best system. In keeping with the true spirit of the game, why not give 1 negative level when you die? And not negative levels that can be cured by Restoration and the like, but only ones that can be cured at Res shrines. Let's say resting can cure one negative level or a tavern tick can. I would also say these levels stack but for every 5 levels. Say, 1-5 you can have 0 negative levels max (no accrual of death negative levels). 6-10 you can have 1 max. 11-15 2 max. 16+ 3 max.

As an added bonus, I would say Resurrection makes it so when you res, you can have your negative level cap - 1 negative level. So a 14th level fighter with 1 death negative level already, would Resurrect with 1. But a 15th level fighter with 0 death negative levels, would then get 1. A 16th level fighter would get 0 negative levels from Ressurecting with 2, but get 1 with 1 and so on. This would add a major difference in casting these two spells (other than the HP component). For the XP component of this, the current debt system is about right but with lowering on the high end, due to the difference in raise mechanics.

This new way of doing things cures some of the problems with the old system. It fits more to D&D standards. It lessens the double dipping by making high end content not so punishing when it comes to XP debt (note: I don't believe double dipping can ever really be solved; again, it's highly connected: the -20%/-40%/-50% mechanic has already been in play too long and too many quests written with it in mind). It gives higher-level character a dynamic which doesn't allow death to be easily recoverable at higher levels but not so punishing that they would recall out of a quest for every death. It uses known mechanics to dispense debuffs (read: easier to program).

And that's all I got to say about that.

10-25-2007, 04:04 PM
Well lets further this. What exactly is a negative level in DDO terms? Is it -1 to all skills, -1 to hit, -1 to all saves, and -10 hp?

Also, I would like to see the XP hits lessened, and your caps for how many death-induced negative levels you can carry. I think having -5 to all skills, saves, tohit, and -50 HP isn't unreasonable for someone that has died 5+ times in a dungeon without shrining.

Otherwise, I think it's a good start. The negative level mechanics are already ingame and we already know the devs have some control over what effects stay and go entering a quest, exiting a quest, and resting. Also, we know they have control over what debuffs we are hit with on death.

So I'm all for a system like you propose Tot...with just a little more tweaking.

10-25-2007, 05:36 PM
Would it act just like a negative level.. Yeah, it caps out at 4 for 16-20.

10-25-2007, 06:28 PM
3-4 deaths in a single quest should begin to have an impact. If they could code a negative level in that behaves like actual level lose in D&D then I'd be happy with that to. True Ressurection shouldn't have that negative level loss when the game reaches that spell level too.

10-25-2007, 07:00 PM
1) Death in DDO is not death in PnP. Is not. Will not. Can not, be as the game is currently coded. You might want a death that is more like PnP, and for that play PnP is my non-snarky advice in that case.

2) A penalty should penalize without harming game play. While many, including some developers, don't like the current system, it does not harm the PERFORMANCE of the character, it just delays character advancement.

I prefer the current system as it exists to a negative penalty to stats, level, or character performance.