Kill The Stupid People
If you’re doing it right, eventually a character will either die or come very, very close to it and there is no resurrection spell in most modern games.
Why do I use the phrase, “if you’re doing it right”? Because firearms are lethal instruments of destruction and even the best body armor is only so good, especially if someone is shot in the head. Add in high explosives, drugs and genetically tailored disease, lasers and anything else people have invented to kill their own and modern games are deadly pit traps of technology. If you’re playing Shadowrun or other “Reece’s Cup” game, and the ways to die outnumber the people in the party by orders of magnitude.
Definition “Reece’s Cup Game” – Any game that mixes disparate genres, also known as putting your chocolate in my peanut butter games.
Characters won’t die all the time. Armor in these games is good but one of the hallmarks of a good modern game design is that the armor isn’t as good as the methods of mayhem it’s designed to protect against. Tailored nanobots in the bloodstream, stimpacks, slap patches, carbon-laced bone structures – these are all going to contribute to the ability of the characters to survive random carnage. And they still won’t keep up entirely.
What do you do about it?
Well, first, decide if you care. Your campaign might be very lethal and nasty in which case, feel free to go read someone else’s ramblings because the rest of this article is pretty pointless to you.
If you do care, consider how often is it ok for characters to die? If they never die, or never can die, you’re going to lose a lot of that “on the edge” feel that makes modern games what they are.
I kill stupid characters. Always. There is no excuse for stupidity in a dark future. Stupid people are subject to the Darwin Effect and are removed from the gene pool as soon as possible.
Killing them all the time is going to introduce frustration and anger. Even dark games where players expect character death can end up feeling pretty hopeless if someone dies and has to reroll every single gaming session.
Cyberpunk 2020 has a rule that if 10 points of damage is done to a limb in one attack, the limb is lost. The best helmet is 20 armor points. A good, unmodified gun does 6d6 damage. Headshots, which are pretty easy to pull off if done right, double the damage before armor is applied. An average roll for a headshot will kill a character. Imagine armor piercing rounds now…
I find that killing off stupidity strikes a very sweet balance. The party feels the death is justified and doesn’t get frustrated with it. Players stay on their toes and play smart, knowing death is riiiiiight around that corner waiting for them.
They can feel it like an enemy who’s stalking them relentlessly……