Topic: Death Moves

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  reV 5 years, 9 months ago.

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    In most pen and paper roleplaying games characters die. It is something unfortunate, for players often bond with their characters, but it is a neccesity to make the world feel real and threatening. While Darkest Dungeon isn’t a pen and paper roleplaying game as such, there are quite a lot of similiarties to what I’d consider ‘classic’ dungeon delving, as I may have previously touched upon.
    (Queue the shameless self promotion:

    But the subject of character legacy is an intresting one to me. It is a way to make it feel like deaths matter, however sour they may be. Sure your beloved Howard got disembowled by that sea witch, but his sacrifice bought his friends time to finish their cancellation ritual. It is that sort of silver lining that ties the death of characters into a larger picture, and make it seem like it mattered after all, that they didn’t just die, but that they made a differnce! I am ofcourse happy to see something along the lines of that in Darkest Dungeon, namely the graveyard/memorial.

    But the pen and paper setting Grim World ( built upon this, by the introduction of something called Death Moves. These would be large scale events that characters would perform to shape the world through their deaths. For instance the shaman, a character communing with spirits and binding them in mundane items to store and use their powers, upon his death he would become an artifact. I find the rulebook text sufficiently quotable for the sake of describing this event:

    “You knew this time would come, that your body could not last forever. As for your spirit, it has only one more task. When you die, all of your existing totems shatter and release the spirits held within. A chrysalis of spiritual energy begins forming near your body. Random objects from the environment and pieces of broken totem fly into the cocoon. Finally, the spiritual maelstrom dissipates. There on the ground is your totemic legacy: an artifact of great power. Work with the GM to create a powerful magic item. It could be an amulet, or spear, or any type of object. Its magical effects should be related to what you desired or stood for in life. Let this be your heirloom, Shaman, your spirit’s endowment to future generations.” – Grim World, Shaman Playbook

    To me as a GM, this seems like an incredibly good way to make deaths matter. You get to keep the lethality of the world, and yet your characters final moment will never seem pointless. And they will help you shape what is to come. To return to my point; from what I could gather from developer diaries, you have this at the brink of death mode where a character gets to survive a killing blow with one health so that they’d get to make one final stand. But, unless I’ve misunderstood something gravely, a character may survive on this brink of death.

    But have you ever considered doing something along the lines of the above death move, although probably slightly more limited since adventurers are in so large supply, in Darkest Dungeon? I could easily imagen an Occultist rupturing unleashing some inner feral horror upon your enemies, or a plague doctor in an all-or-nothing moment throwing/drinking that special something she has been working on.



    As much as i like the idea to make a character’s death more meaningful, i think i doesn’t fit to well in the Darkest Dungeon. The reason for that is, that every character is an archetype. These characters are what you want them to. You pretty much are the one who defines their value. I think it would not only take away the unique feeling that every character is different with the fact, that every jester, plague doctor. etc has the same death move, but also would make the game harder to balance. Death moves could be exploited, since they should be something meaningful and hence something powerful, which can lead to some strange and unwanted parties with characters only based on good death moves. Therefore in my opinion it is not the best idea to implement a mechanic that could lead people to let their characters die in certain situations, because it gives you a strong advantages at that point, since that is absolutely not what the devs want.

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