Friday, November 29, 2013

The Reverse Death Spiral... again.

A thread over on rpgnet got me thinking about the old 'death spiral' in gaming again. They were talking a lot about using the 'reverse death spiral' where the characters get bonuses, instead of penalties, as they get near death. Basically the character is fighting harder to try and stay alive, the adrenaline is really pumping and their motivation is growing.

One person even mentioned wounds as armor. Which I sort of used in my old freeform system I made once upon a time. In my system there were different levels of wounds once one of the lower damage levels got filled up it took bigger hits to hurt the character. You could also use a flat increase to the armor type or whatever, depending upon the system.

One issue that got brought up with the reverse death spiral is that players may start keeping their players 'on edge' or constantly wounded. Never using that healing potion, lower level healing spells, etc, just to constantly get the bonus. It was pointed out this was done in the City of Heroes MMORPG with one of their classes turning them into a 'walking wounded' class.

My solution for it was this. The bonuses are only in affect during the fight in which the damage was taken. Once that fight is over the adrenaline stops flowing, the aches really begin and the blood loss starts to build up. So they are back to no bonus for the next encounter and maybe only a few hit points left so not much of a chance to build a bonus then. Therefore it becomes important to keep healed up between fights.

Heck you could even turn the reverse into a normal death spiral after the fight. Which is what I would most likely do.


  1. It kinda sounds like an MMO thing... various versions of Meat Shields who need to take damage to generate some resource to power their abilities. Such damage is usually all gone by the next fight.
    Anyway, yeah, I wouldn't let any such bonuses carry over... or allow things like having friends stab a PC a bit to get him ready for battle.

    1. I think on the tabletop most folks are using it for that action movie/anime style of fights where people get beat down until the end. Then they suddenly fight back with a burst of energy and ability for the come from behind win. Which I can see the lure of that as it sounds like great fun when it happens.

      I do agree that having a friend cause the injury shouldn't do anything, nor should self inflicted wounds unless there is some sort of prebattle ritual involved. Like the practice of whipping ones back as a practice of a special order or something along that line.