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4/26/2014 9:57 pm  #1


1st Level Mortality Rate

The XP ratio thread reminded me that I also have some data on first level mortality rates that might be of interest. This originally came up at K&KA in response to the question: "What is a "standard" rate of 1st level mortality? Should 1st level PCs expect to die in your game?" So, what do you guys think?

Here's some data on where I shook out, which I gathered from my White Dragon Run AD&D game campaign journal. This is a list of all PCs and whether they died at first level.

1. ligedog: Tavro the half-elf fighter thief (level 1)
2. ligedog: Hroniss the human cleric (level 1) - DECEASED (slain by orcs)
3. capitalbill: Maghnus the human magic-user (level 1) - DECEASED (slain by orcs)
4. capitalbill: Hobbes the human fighter (level 1) - DECEASED (slain by orcs)
5. ligedog: Hurl the human fighter (level 1) - DECEASED (killed by spider poison)
6. capitalbill: Paxton the human magic-user (level 1)
7. capitalbill: Brother David the human cleric (level 1)
8. ligedog: Malthus the halfling fighter (level 1)
9. fridgeghiz: Foldgarb the human cleric (level 1)
10. fenriswolf: Willam the human fighter (level 1)
11. fenriswolf: Phinaeus the Charlatan half-elf thief/magic-user (level 1)
12. fridgeghiz: Mokred the Pure, paladin (level 1)
13. capitalbill: Asgeirr the elven fighter (level 1)
14. Dread: Ari the human druid (level 1)
15. Dread: Dray the half-elf thief (level 1) – DECEASED (blown up by a fireball trap)
16. Dread: Landar the human ranger (level 1)
17. arras: Oswyn the human fighter, (level 1)
18. arras: Ergo the human illusionist, (level 1) – DECEASED (incinerated by a fireball)
19. capitalbill: The Magnificent Maximillian (AKA Mag Max) the gnome illusionist (level 1)
20. capitalbill: Crusty McGirk the dwarf fighter/thief (level 1)
21. fridge: Groll the human fighter (level 1)
22. fridge: Frobe the human monk (level 1)
23. Mike: York the half-elf magic-user (DECEASED - impaled by a spiked ceiling trap)
24. Mike: Gavin the half-elf cleric (level 1)

So, of our level one PCs over a two year period, seven of twenty-four (29.1%) never made it to level two. This is potentially misleading though if taken at face value, because I found that PCs were more likely to die if a) the player had just joined my game and was still learning my and the group's idiosyncracies and b) if a lower-level PC joined a higher-level party. Now, in the case of the latter, those that didn't get wiped out moved up fast, so there was some give and take on that front, which my guys enjoyed. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm not really a killer referee or anything, heheh.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

4/27/2014 5:05 am  #2


Re: 1st Level Mortality Rate

Chainsaw wrote:

So, of our level one PCs over a two year period, seven of twenty-four (29.1%) never made it to level two.

Interesting data!  I actually would have expected it to be the other way around, though.  (About a third survive level 1, rather than a third dying at level 1.)

I don't really have any meaningful data to contribute.  I ran my first session of ASSH yesterday and I think it may have also been the first TPK I've ever run...  Six out of six PCs failed to survive to see session 2, never mind level 2.

 

4/27/2014 9:32 am  #3


Re: 1st Level Mortality Rate

nDervish wrote:

Interesting data!  I actually would have expected it to be the other way around, though.  (About a third survive level 1, rather than a third dying at level 1.)

I say it's due to Chainsaw's excellent players!

I kid, I kid.


I do think it's telling that the vast majority of the deaths occurred shortly after each player began. Hroniss, Maghnus, and Hobbes were all slain by an orc war party on their way to to the dungeon in our first session (near TPK by the first random encounter of the game, gotta love it!). And Dray, Ergo, and York were killed within a couple of sessions of their players joining us. So, it looks like there was only one fatality, Hurl, that occurred after the player had adapted to the game (well, there also was Lil Wayne, Paxton's weasel familiar who got disintegrated).

 

4/27/2014 10:06 am  #4


Re: 1st Level Mortality Rate

capitalbill wrote:

nDervish wrote:

Interesting data!  I actually would have expected it to be the other way around, though.  (About a third survive level 1, rather than a third dying at level 1.)

I say it's due to Chainsaw's excellent players!

I kid, I kid.

I do think it's telling that the vast majority of the deaths occurred shortly after each player began. Hroniss, Maghnus, and Hobbes were all slain by an orc war party on their way to to the dungeon in our first session (near TPK by the first random encounter of the game, gotta love it!). And Dray, Ergo, and York were killed within a couple of sessions of their players joining us. So, it looks like there was only one fatality, Hurl, that occurred after the player had adapted to the game (well, there also was Lil Wayne, Paxton's weasel familiar who got disintegrated).

Nothing like a 75% death rate in the first random encounter on the way to the dungeon in the first session of a campaign. This cat means business! You know what they say, Bill: The lands west of the run are littered with the bodies of adventurers such as yourselves.   

Probably just coincidence that that was my first time refereeing in 15 years, right? Anyway, it ended up as a good story (win!) and set a nice tone for the campaign.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

4/27/2014 10:09 am  #5


Re: 1st Level Mortality Rate

Chainsaw wrote:

The XP ratio thread reminded me that I also have some data on first level mortality rates that might be of interest. This originally came up at K&KA in response to the question: "What is a "standard" rate of 1st level mortality? Should 1st level PCs expect to die in your game?" So, what do you guys think?

Here's some data on where I shook out, which I gathered from my White Dragon Run AD&D game campaign journal. This is a list of all PCs and whether they died at first level.

1. ligedog: Tavro the half-elf fighter thief (level 1)
2. ligedog: Hroniss the human cleric (level 1) - DECEASED (slain by orcs)
3. capitalbill: Maghnus the human magic-user (level 1) - DECEASED (slain by orcs)
4. capitalbill: Hobbes the human fighter (level 1) - DECEASED (slain by orcs)
5. ligedog: Hurl the human fighter (level 1) - DECEASED (killed by spider poison)
6. capitalbill: Paxton the human magic-user (level 1)
7. capitalbill: Brother David the human cleric (level 1)
8. ligedog: Malthus the halfling fighter (level 1)
9. fridgeghiz: Foldgarb the human cleric (level 1)
10. fenriswolf: Willam the human fighter (level 1)
11. fenriswolf: Phinaeus the Charlatan half-elf thief/magic-user (level 1)
12. fridgeghiz: Mokred the Pure, paladin (level 1)
13. capitalbill: Asgeirr the elven fighter (level 1)
14. Dread: Ari the human druid (level 1)
15. Dread: Dray the half-elf thief (level 1) – DECEASED (blown up by a fireball trap)
16. Dread: Landar the human ranger (level 1)
17. arras: Oswyn the human fighter, (level 1)
18. arras: Ergo the human illusionist, (level 1) – DECEASED (incinerated by a fireball)
19. capitalbill: The Magnificent Maximillian (AKA Mag Max) the gnome illusionist (level 1)
20. capitalbill: Crusty McGirk the dwarf fighter/thief (level 1)
21. fridge: Groll the human fighter (level 1)
22. fridge: Frobe the human monk (level 1)
23. Mike: York the half-elf magic-user (DECEASED - impaled by a spiked ceiling trap)
24. Mike: Gavin the half-elf cleric (level 1)

So, of our level one PCs over a two year period, seven of twenty-four (29.1%) never made it to level two. This is potentially misleading though if taken at face value, because I found that PCs were more likely to die if a) the player had just joined my game and was still learning my and the group's idiosyncracies and b) if a lower-level PC joined a higher-level party. Now, in the case of the latter, those that didn't get wiped out moved up fast, so there was some give and take on that front, which my guys enjoyed. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm not really a killer referee or anything, heheh.

This is great stuff!  I wish I was this organized!  I have run ASSH for over a year now and have only had a couple deaths.  This is directly related to my great players and that I have a different system for hit points. 

Players begin with their CON in HP and only increases as their normal rolls for HP surpass this number.  I did this on purpose to give the characters greater survivability.  I know, I know I'm a pushover.
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

4/27/2014 10:25 am  #6


Re: 1st Level Mortality Rate

I think that character lethality has to go hand-in-hand with the type of players involved. Back in high school we had pretty standard character types and I felt like I could kill off characters and my players would just shrug it off and start new ones. My current group, however, spends a lot more time angsting over "persona" and the like and really doesn't deal with character death well at all. Different times, different players, different philosophy.


Marv / Finarvyn
DCC playtester (2011), S&W WhiteBox Author (2009), C&C playtester (2003), Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976. OD&D Player since 1975
 

4/27/2014 10:55 am  #7


Re: 1st Level Mortality Rate

nDervish wrote:

Chainsaw wrote:

So, of our level one PCs over a two year period, seven of twenty-four (29.1%) never made it to level two.

Interesting data!  I actually would have expected it to be the other way around, though.  (About a third survive level 1, rather than a third dying at level 1.)

I don't really have any meaningful data to contribute.  I ran my first session of ASSH yesterday and I think it may have also been the first TPK I've ever run...  Six out of six PCs failed to survive to see session 2, never mind level 2.

I would have expected a higher percentage of deaths as well, interesting. I would say that the referee's style will differentiate the results between DMs. Like has been said though, once players learn that style they will know how best to play a game under that DM.

My players know that I don't pull to many punches, but still I don't think I have a ton of character deaths in my game, I'm just not afraid to. That said, I don't run too many level 1 games...the last one (Ghul's The Lamias Heart)  with 2 of 3 characters dead.


ravengodgames.blogspot.com ~ cartography, writing, game design
Author, Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess
 

4/27/2014 2:50 pm  #8


Re: 1st Level Mortality Rate

AS&SH is pretty forgiving, deathwise. My players' characters (or "PCs," if you will) have spent an absolutely inordinate amount of time with negative HPs, but only two have actually died, and one of those was ... suicide? For knowledge? I blame Ghul, actually. It was Rats in the Walls. Campaign journal coming!

I love my players. They never kick. They just reach for dice or an already rolled up character and wait for a chance to bring it in. But I think I'm more used to 2/3 dying at 1st level and we're now seeing more like 1/3.

Then again, they are currently camping *in the middle* of Rats in the Walls, so all these figures might have to be updated with a larger sample size.

I love this topic, though. I don't think they think of me as a "killer DM"; I certainly don't. I just think the made-up world is a very dangerous place and it's best not to get too attached.

One of my players won't even use a character sheet until his character hits 4th level. Given that he was the "knowledge suicide," the planet thanks him for his conservation efforts.

 

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