Alternative Death Rules for ICRPG



A little late to the game on this one but I run games for a school and we have to tip toe around death a bit and can’t have the kids PC die. So once they are dropped to 0 the rules apply as normal and they can be revived and healed by the usual means but once their death die runs out I’ve changed it so they cant be revived by any means during the encounter (potions,medicine check, food,magic). Once the encounter is over we try to find some thematic downside to being ko’d like a broken weapon, some coins fell out as you hit the ground or half speed/one action per round until properly healed (half health or over). It keeps things simple but also puts some pressure on the party to keep each other up or revive them in time. Thoughts?


That’s a good way to handle it for kids. :slight_smile:


Well guys, after actually getting some time in as a player, my thoughts on the matter have changed. Actual Play is the best!

I don’t think the first problem is actually a problem at all. When a player goes down they are still in the game, they just have a different role. Now they are coaching and encouraging the other heroes, while still having a vested interest in their hero. It gives them a bit of a break from the action as well, which can be nice.

When the hero goes down, that is the emergency state for the Team, not the player. This is a team game, and I seem to have lost that when thinking about the Death rules. I think expanding the thinking to the Team level instead of the individual Hero level is quite useful.

And the second problem of HP Scrubbing, or heroes being revived constantly without ramifications is easy to solve. I think the best way to have a memorable and meaningful moment when a hero goes down is for them to immediately lose a piece of loot. This ties right into the progression of the game anyway, and I think solves the second problem quite nicely.

To summarize, Hank is brilliant. It just took me a while to see it. Death rules like normal, but when a hero goes down, they immediately lose a piece of Loot of their choice. That’s what I am going to be doing from now on, anyway.



Good on you for reevaluating your previous ideas, it’s sometimes hard to do.

As for losing an item on going down, that would certainly up the ante.


Love that this thread about dying keeps making a death save! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I do think dying in ICRPG works good as is. It forces tough decisions for those still standing . . . Stay on target or spend a turn trying to save a party member.

That said, @Drake discussion does have me thinking that it could cool to let a dying character get an action while dying BUT reduced to 1/2 distance move with HARD attempts. AND if you opt to do this, your death timer drops an additional time on that turn.

It could make for some real heroic actions.


I dig that. I personally wouldn’t make it automatic, but it inspires me to consider having enemies have a chance of “looting” a piece of loot from a downed PC as their action.


Wow this is really good! Love the gamble


So. THIS is what we came up with after reading your post.


Ooh, you know how I love those negative tags, Magnus!


Hell yeah. More like Warscar Tags!


“Heroic Gamble” is a cool term. I dig it!

Love the pixel guy taking a nap next to the KO description. heh I love your FF vibe!

Instead of killing off PCs, bringing them back with a permanent complication tag or otherwise is a great option. The sweet skirmish game Frostgrave does this (as I’m sure others). If your leader goes down in a game you roll for a chance of being permanently injured. It has a table of injury posibilities that could easily be transfered to ICRPG.

You can have lots of fun thinking stuff up. The archer gets his hand smashed in such a way he can no longer use a bow and must compinsate with other weapons perhaps using STR instead of DEX. A wizard has his jaw damaged thus negatively affecting his casting. We could go all day w/ cool stuff.


It’s all our own personalized sprites, and Lu-Tze the guy taking a nap that is his acutal KO sprite


I wonder if a fun alternative wouldn’t be to think about HP as your character’s guard? It’s their upraised shield, their weapon set to parry blows, ducking and weaving.

0 HP isn’t dead or dying. It’s dropped defenses. When that happens, your character can opt to fall back, removing themselves from the front line fighting and rolling a hard roll each round to regenerate a single hit point. They get to opt each round if they want to move back up and help in the fight. It’s all the player’s option. In fact, really I’d be cool if anyone wanted to fall back and roll to regain HP if they were worried–regardless of how many HP they had left. They’re considered to be out of the fight, trying to steel themselves and catch their breath.

What if they decide to keep fighting with no guard? Well that’s on them, but the results can be gory.

If they get hit, you roll a d4.
1 = Decapitated. Instant death.
2 = Body blow. You drop, are incapacitated and will die in 1d4 rounds.
3 = Leg hit. You drop, can only crawl at the equivalent of 1 square/hex on a map and suffer the effects of being prone. Blood loss will take you in 1d6 rounds.
4 = Arm hit. Damage you deal is cut in half and you cannot use two handed weapons. Blood loss will take you in 1d8 rounds.

Magical healing will make this right and restore half the number of hit points as it would were you not maimed. Nonmagical healing is possible depending on the flavor of the campaign and may require anything from special expendable supplies, full round actions, hard healing checks or the like–or not, but they merely shut down the dying clock and do nothing to restore functionality. That requires magic, high technology, or hospice.


Or potentially that a piece of gear was broken by whatever the attack was that dropped the character–a shield or helmet split by a powerful blow, maybe a tome ruined by being soaked in your blood.


I don’t know that that’s a terrible way to go for any group–not just kids. I like the idea of treating 0 HP as being Defeated, not necessarily Killed. That gives DMs a whole lot of narrative wiggle room. Maybe the trauma and fear drives a PC insane? Maybe they’re knocked cold? Maybe they’re so exhausted they can’t fight anymore and have to retreat? If you make the concession that HP don’t necessarily correspond to lethal wounds as a way of justifying high level characters having crazy amounts of HP, you can use that same concession to make it so running out of those points doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dying. It just means you lose somehow, and can make whatever narrative hay from that you want.


Well zero already isn’t killed it’s just downed. And gm’s can already do whatever they want at that point.


The entire body of TTRPGs have spent a lot of ink and energy on dealing with this issue. From resurrection spells, to death saves, to “-10 HP is death” and more: the mechanics of each system have to implement some way to support “you’re down, but not dead.” How this gets actually implemented into the narrative at the table is different, and can be confusing and complex.

I don’t like a one-size-fits-all rule, because the context of the situation, the threat, and the character(s) all matter, and can greatly influence player (and GM) decision making. In some contexts and conflicts, I can totally imagine zero HP being “all your defenses are down, you’re totally exposed, but still standing upright: what do you do?” Similarly, I can see it being “one character is bleeding out, unconscious on the floor. What does the party do?”

As Hank opined recently, the characters are the star of the show, and all the rules contortions around death and dying are a way to take away just a little bit of the risk of loss of the main character(s) so that the story can keep going.

Use whatever works best for your table, for your players, and for your situations. In my current game, there is no magic so there are no resurrection (or even healing) spells. There are currently no resurrection chambers or mobile med units, so getting hurt is a big deal. But I don’t want the story to end with character death, so zero HP is “unconscious, bleeding out” (or whatever, based on injury). This also works for the NPCs: an NPC at zero HP is out, but not dead. It’s up to the players to decide if they’ll deliver that coup d’état, or if they leave them to expire (or be saved by other NPCs). But this might not work at your table!

I love seeing all the discussion on this thread, because it’s giving me more ideas about things to try in different situations. Keep it up!


Thank you and well said. It has allowed for a lot of creative ways to ‘lose’ and keep going. I make it just bad enough so they avoid it, but (mostly since its kids) not bad enough where they don’t want to keep playing.


I think I can take some of the points away from this. I was wondering what to do for the kids game. But like Hank said, i wouldn’t want it to feel too overpowered.

I have struggled in portraying this for the kids. I mean, one of them are reduced to 0, so they think they are dead, then they sit there for the next 6 rounds going “I need a heal, or I’ll have to roll a new character!” So I need to show them that just getting to 0 doesn’t mean they are dead. Maybe I could say they can move at half speed in those 6 rounds, like they are crawling away bleeding.


I mean… it’s a tad gruesome but perhaps that dropping to 0 just means you’re confused, shaken… your leg could perhaps be broken, at most? Or maybe dropping to 0 is an automatic grapple by the villain?