How to Deathroll
One of the more essential mechanics, players do occasionally have to Deathroll… in Deathroll. It’s kind of a big deal.
(Scroll to the bottom of the page for a full list of all updates to Deathroll since 01/31/17.)
For many months now I have toyed with the idea of what a Deathroll might look like in-game. I had a pretty good idea that the Deathroll was going to be something you had to perform during Character Creation for over a year now, but I didn’t see an initial overlap into the core gameplay until a few days ago.
I realized that the way a survivor’s life is threatened during Character Creation could also be mirrored into the actual gameplay pretty easily. Before I explain anything, let’s take a look at the Deathroll Table you’ll need to be rolling from in these most unfortunate of circumstances.
As you can see, there are really no great outcomes here. If you are about to Deathroll, your survivor should essentially have died already from the damage they are receiving.
By some miracle they don’t expire, the survivor’s body will still have suffered greatly as they struggled to remain alive.
During play, this is also one of the very few rolls that are taken against the system itself, not the GM. The GM has no input on the fate of a Deathroll test besides reducing your survivor’s vitality to and/or pass 0, triggering the Deathroll. During Character Creation it is far easier to Deathroll though. A loss of Vitality is not possible or required to perform a Deathroll during Character Creation as it is during play. One simply just has to roll/fail particularly unlucky events.
This example shown is of the (unfinished) Upbringing portion of the Soldier’s Character Creation tables. Rolling either a 12 or 2 sends the survivor straight to the Deathroll Table, while rolling a 10 or 4 gives the player an opportunity to pass a test to avoid the potential Deathroll instead.
There is a bit of an opportunity that can really go a long way when designing Character Creation and that’s tutorialization. If the rolling the must occur during Character Creation is in-line with the rolling that takes place during actual play, you can create a “training area” of sorts. This is why it was critical to ensure the Deathroll table could seamlessly cross over between the two.
Exertion Cards are allowed during a Deathroll, in both Character Creation and play.
During Character Creation and play alike, players may use their Exertion Cards to increase the likelihood of passing a test. This concept is so fundamental to the design of Deathroll that I wanted to incorporate it into as many different systems as possible.
(On a side note, I decided to make a standard deck of playing cards the default way to play Exertion Cards. Check the update list down bellow for a few more details.)
If players are scared about their character dying, they will likely keep some of their better Exertion Cards to use on a Deathroll.
The 4-card and 5-card are the highest valued and often the last to be used, only when things have become dire for the player.
In situations where a player decides they wish to kill their survivor off during Character Creation (or during play in rare instances), they would likely not use any Exertion to increase their odds of actually obtaining the Death outcome. Let’s take a look at that table one more time before moving on.
If a player does desire to kill their character off and fails to do so, rolling too high, you can see the ways in which their character is debilitated even further. They could receive a nasty Quirk like Severed Arm or have several Abilities reduced in value. This makes the decision to kill your character off a difficult one. If they somehow manage to survive all these attempts on their life in Character Creation specifically, the player will have to navigate using an incredibly “unlucky” survivor.
If you wish to keep your guy/gall alive, even rolling the Wounded outcome can be debilitating. Having to discard all of your Exertion Cards could mean the next Deathroll is a fatal one.
Having to discard all of your Exertion Cards during Character Creation can be especially dangerous considering how underdeveloped the survivor’s Abilities are in their unfinished state. Players will find that Exertion Cards are nearly the only way out of a severe Deathroll in the early tables of Character Creation, when their survivor is especially weak.
Although the two areas a player can Deathroll differ slightly, the crossover between the two should be more or less understood by the players as they exit Character Creation and start to play the game for the very first time. This philosophy of introducing mechanics through “mini games” of sorts will permeate as much of the initial handling of the player book as possible.
It’s a little early to call this one, but I’m getting a strong feeling about this mechanic. It needs to stand out as the one thing the players will dread above all else and I think it executes that objective nicely.
See you guys next week with a little more on Character Creation.
- Removed [Adventure Cards].
- Removed [Card Draw] upon passing Epic Tests.
- Removed [Skill Saving] through the use of Exertion Cards.
- Allowed [Exertion Cards] to be played using a standard deck of cards.
- Begun design on a [Exertion Card] peripheral.
- Begun design on the [Tactician Card], or “joker”.
- Removed [Dynamic Map System].
- Added the [Deathroll] mechanic.
- Begun work on a [Skill-to-Talent] mechanic.
- Begun work redesigning [Character Creation Tables].
- Removed all old [Character Classes].
- Begun work on the 6 core [Character Classes]… more to come on that soon.
- Begun work on the [Solider Creation Table].
- Removed [Talents]… for now.
- Begun work redesigning [Character Progression].
- Redesigned the rolling system to better incorporate [Skills].
- Redesigned [Epic Tests].
- Reworked [Successes] to incorporate more than either a roll of a 5 or 6.
- Begun work on [Errors].