My previous two campaign summary posts kind of came to a head. My players got in a bit of a sticky situation due to some skill checks that cut them off from their larger group. That problem showed itself during the big fight because everybody went down. By normal standards, that should have been the end of the campaign. However, their role playing actions helped me feel a bit better about that not being the end. Thankfully for us 13th Age guys, there’s also rules to help us make the show go on.
13th Age has a couple of optional rules in it, the Lasting Wound rule is one of them. It almost serves as a TPK protection plan, which I actually really like. I’m a little prone to underestimating things from time to time and since my campaign is very story heavy, the rule concept works perfectly. Now I say the rule concept specifically because the mechanics of it don’t really suit my game style. Preferring a gritty type of game, getting rid of a lasting wound at full heal up seems like it’s a little to easy for me. I usually make it span over two or three of them. Moreover, I changed it to two times your level instead of plus. It gives it a bit of a sense of danger and adds a fear element. For someone like me who has fearless PC’s, it’s a little necessary.
Now back to my TPK a bit to bring this to light. Jessica’s character, Lisbeth had died. Flat out. Thankfully, we had a Paladin around that used his Icon Relationship with the Elf Queen to use the Bastion ability while he was unconscious to prevent that from actually happening. I was totally okay with this happening, otherwise it wouldn’t have. That said, it was important to have a consequence considering the circumstances, turning my gaze to the Lasting Wound rule. It felt a little to light for the situation, so I tweaked it and voila, we have my take on it.
The Meaningful Death rule almost isn’t optional, in my opinion. I love to create the big intricate stories; if I have a night where the random lizardmen encounter is a little too ballsy and the players are too pig-headed to run away, it’s not worth ending the campaign over. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences for that , and that’s why I use the Lasting Wound.
Using both of these rules in tandem help give the story an epic feeling, where perhaps destiny reigns supreme over all things. Having multiple big, bad villains throughout the campaign leaves enough room for character death in an epic and memorable way. This style of play lends itself extremely well to a group who is all on the same page. Killing a character because of the dice without a chance of back-stepping a bit is only fun when everybody has that expectation. For the death without forgiveness, leave it to the BBEG’s to make everyone’s lives miserable. If you play him up to be a real bastard, it’s even better if the dice favor you on that particular day. If not, it still creates a huge feeling of triumph and victory amongst your group, which is a win within itself.
On the flip side of things, if player’s are aware this is your philosophy and you have a dastardly little bunch of munchkins, maybe these rules aren’t the best to use. When I find that my players are exploiting something for the sake of exploiting it, well, no. That’s not happening. I’m definitely not a fan of the player attitude of “let’s see how much I can muck with things and make the GM angry.”
The Heavy Metal GM is not so nice when he’s angry.
Stay Metal \m/