Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

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The Disgruntled Poet
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Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:25 pm

Hello all,

Been running my DCC game since December and on Session 13, coming up. Having a great time.

One situation has arisen that gives me pause. As we all know, Luck can be burned to give a character a chance to alter a life-or-death roll. I assume this would include the "roll-the-body" over luck checks to see if a character has truly died or not.

But the thief of course recovers luck, so he/she essentially becomes very hard to kill, since he can often burn luck temporarily to thwart death.

Obviously, there are other ways the thief (and all characters) can die. And even if they do manage to survive, they lose ability points, etc. But am I missing something? I could not find anything preventing the thief burning luck to aid him in the "Recovering the Body" rule. (p.93)

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by NJPDX » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:45 pm

The Disgruntled Poet wrote:Hello all,

Been running my DCC game since December and on Session 13, coming up. Having a great time.

One situation has arisen that gives me pause. As we all know, Luck can be burned to give a character a chance to alter a life-or-death roll. I assume this would include the "roll-the-body" over luck checks to see if a character has truly died or not.

But the thief of course recovers luck, so he/she essentially becomes very hard to kill, since he can often burn luck temporarily to thwart death.

Obviously, there are other ways the thief (and all characters) can die. And even if they do manage to survive, they lose ability points, etc. But am I missing something? I could not find anything preventing the thief burning luck to aid him in the "Recovering the Body" rule. (p.93)
I'm fairly new to DCC, so maybe I'm completely misreading the rules, but my understanding was that you are trying to roll under your luck score ... so if you burn luck to add points to your roll ins't that just a zero sum game?

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:51 pm

NJPDX wrote:
The Disgruntled Poet wrote:Hello all,

Been running my DCC game since December and on Session 13, coming up. Having a great time.

One situation has arisen that gives me pause. As we all know, Luck can be burned to give a character a chance to alter a life-or-death roll. I assume this would include the "roll-the-body" over luck checks to see if a character has truly died or not.

But the thief of course recovers luck, so he/she essentially becomes very hard to kill, since he can often burn luck temporarily to thwart death.

Obviously, there are other ways the thief (and all characters) can die. And even if they do manage to survive, they lose ability points, etc. But am I missing something? I could not find anything preventing the thief burning luck to aid him in the "Recovering the Body" rule. (p.93)
I'm fairly new to DCC, so maybe I'm completely misreading the rules, but my understanding was that you are trying to roll under your luck score ... so if you burn luck to add points to your roll ins't that just a zero sum game?
ha! You may be right. I am not reading it that literally, i.e., ONLY to add. I have treated them as modifiers, so also able to adjust down for luck rolls. You may be right.. perhaps they were never intended to modify for the "Recover the Body" rule...? That's why I asked! Is the rule meant to be ONLY for additions?

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:53 pm

NJPDX wrote:
The Disgruntled Poet wrote:Hello all,

Been running my DCC game since December and on Session 13, coming up. Having a great time.

One situation has arisen that gives me pause. As we all know, Luck can be burned to give a character a chance to alter a life-or-death roll. I assume this would include the "roll-the-body" over luck checks to see if a character has truly died or not.

But the thief of course recovers luck, so he/she essentially becomes very hard to kill, since he can often burn luck temporarily to thwart death.

Obviously, there are other ways the thief (and all characters) can die. And even if they do manage to survive, they lose ability points, etc. But am I missing something? I could not find anything preventing the thief burning luck to aid him in the "Recovering the Body" rule. (p.93)
I'm fairly new to DCC, so maybe I'm completely misreading the rules, but my understanding was that you are trying to roll under your luck score ... so if you burn luck to add points to your roll ins't that just a zero sum game?
I just re-read p.19 where it refers to burning luck points to get a "bonus", but in the example, calls it a "modifier".. so that's somewhat ambiguous to me. Perhaps because of my AD&D experience, where AC bonuses meant your Armor Class went down :D

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by NJPDX » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:59 pm

Here's the text for "Luck Check" on p. 19
Characters can make Luck checks to attempt feats that succeed based on Luck alone. The judge will provide the specifics of any attempt, but the attempt is usually resolved by rolling equal to or less than the character’s Luck score on 1d20.
Let's say you have a character with a luck score of 10. So even if you burned six points to get a bonus of +6 on your die roll (a subtraction to the roll in this case) you'd have to beat a 4.

In any case I can see why people might get confused, especially when the "burn luck" entry specifically mentions surviving "life-or-death" situations, which doesn't sound too far off from describing the roll-the-body mechanic.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:07 pm

NJPDX wrote:Here's the text for "Luck Check" on p. 19
Characters can make Luck checks to attempt feats that succeed based on Luck alone. The judge will provide the specifics of any attempt, but the attempt is usually resolved by rolling equal to or less than the character’s Luck score on 1d20.
Let's say you have a character with a luck score of 10. So even if you burned six points to get a bonus of +6 on your die roll (a subtraction to the roll in this case) you'd have to beat a 4.

In any case I can see why people might get confused, especially when the "burn luck" entry specifically mentions surviving "life-or-death" situations, which doesn't sound too far off from describing the roll-the-body mechanic.
The way I have understood it and applied it is: Taking the same example you give above, the bonus subtracts from your die roll, just as you say. Thus a character with a Luck score of 10, can roll even up to a 16, and his "bonus" will subtract 6 from his roll (16-6 = 10) so that his modified roll is equal to or less than his luck score (in this case 10).

Not saying this is right, mind you, just how I have applied it. I tend to be fairly generous as a GM, so .. for better or worse, that's my bias! :D

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by NJPDX » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:28 pm

The Disgruntled Poet wrote: The way I have understood it and applied it is: Taking the same example you give above, the bonus subtracts from your die roll, just as you say. Thus a character with a Luck score of 10, can roll even up to a 16, and his "bonus" will subtract 6 from his roll (16-6 = 10) so that his modified roll is equal to or less than his luck score (in this case 10).

Not saying this is right, mind you, just how I have applied it. I tend to be fairly generous as a GM, so .. for better or worse, that's my bias! :D
Honestly, you should rule it however you like, but I have to ask where did the 6 burned luck points go to in your example above? Burning luck implies that the attribute goes down and those points go into the dice.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:53 am

NJPDX wrote:
The Disgruntled Poet wrote: The way I have understood it and applied it is: Taking the same example you give above, the bonus subtracts from your die roll, just as you say. Thus a character with a Luck score of 10, can roll even up to a 16, and his "bonus" will subtract 6 from his roll (16-6 = 10) so that his modified roll is equal to or less than his luck score (in this case 10).

Not saying this is right, mind you, just how I have applied it. I tend to be fairly generous as a GM, so .. for better or worse, that's my bias! :D
Honestly, you should rule it however you like, but I have to ask where did the 6 burned luck points go to in your example above? Burning luck implies that the attribute goes down and those points go into the dice.
I'll try to be more clear using the same example:

Character's luck is 10. He needs a 10 or lower to make his luck roll.

He rolls a 16 on the die for the recover-the-body to work.

He has nothing to lose, so the character burns 6 luck.

6 points of burnt luck are used to modify his roll from 16 to 10 (the target number)

His Luck score goes from 10 to 4.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by cjoepar » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:03 am

NJPDX wrote: ...
I'm fairly new to DCC, so maybe I'm completely misreading the rules, but my understanding was that you are trying to roll under your luck score ... so if you burn luck to add points to your roll ins't that just a zero sum game?
Yes you're right, it's pretty straightforward, really: as you burn LUCK, your LUCK score goes down, so you have to roll under a correspondingly lower number. This is true for any character, since anyone can burn their own LUCK to modify a roll.

But for Thieves it's a little different, since they use a luck die. So even at low levels they can get 3 or 4 to 1 as they burn LUCK. This does make them hard to kill, assuming they haven't already depleted their LUCK earlier in the adventure. Especially if there's also a Hobbit in the party...

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by cthulhudarren » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:15 am

The Disgruntled Poet wrote:
NJPDX wrote:
The Disgruntled Poet wrote:

I'll try to be more clear using the same example:

Character's luck is 10. He needs a 10 or lower to make his luck roll.

He rolls a 16 on the die for the recover-the-body to work.

He has nothing to lose, so the character burns 6 luck.

6 points of burnt luck are used to modify his roll from 16 to 10 (the target number)

His Luck score goes from 10 to 4.
I agree with this.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by Rostranor » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:18 am

This not my understanding of the rule. If the character spends 6 points the target number to roll under is now 4, it does not stay the same at 10.

In my game since the luck score itself is being tested its an unmodified d20 roll to roll under your luck attribute in order to recover the body.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by Raven_Crowking » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:19 am

Rostranor wrote:This not my understanding of the rule. If the character spends 6 points the target number to roll under is now 4, it does not stay the same at 10.
I agree with this.

This does mean that Thieves and Halflings are more likely to make the roll, as they can get "value added" by spending Luck, and the Lucky Halfling being on hand when you are rolled over is always a good thing.
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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by themightyeroc » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:25 am

I run recover the body rolls as an unmodified roll against current Luck at time of death. So if you burned yourself down to a current Luck of 3, then you gotta roll 3 or less on a D20 to be recovered. My players love it as it makes them choose how brave or cowardly they run their guys.

Also my players have a motto: "If you have to make a recover the body roll, you didn't burn enough Luck earlier!"

I am currently at 17 dead PC's in an almost year long campaign.

As always, roll it how it works best for you and your group!
Ah well, who wants to live forever? DIE!
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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:21 am

themightyeroc wrote:I run recover the body rolls as an unmodified roll against current Luck at time of death. So if you burned yourself down to a current Luck of 3, then you gotta roll 3 or less on a D20 to be recovered. My players love it as it makes them choose how brave or cowardly they run their guys.

Also my players have a motto: "If you have to make a recover the body roll, you didn't burn enough Luck earlier!"

I am currently at 17 dead PC's in an almost year long campaign.

As always, roll it how it works best for you and your group!
Thanks everyone for your input. I appreciate the quick responses. I think my group is going to keep it the way we're doing it, but I'll call the rules question out with your thoughts and put it to a vote. As I'm wrapping up this campaign shortly, the break will give me a chance to re-set the expectations too.

Cheers and game on! (Maybe see some of you in Indy next week!)

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by Skyscraper » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:31 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:
Rostranor wrote:This not my understanding of the rule. If the character spends 6 points the target number to roll under is now 4, it does not stay the same at 10.
I agree with this.

This does mean that Thieves and Halflings are more likely to make the roll, as they can get "value added" by spending Luck, and the Lucky Halfling being on hand when you are rolled over is always a good thing.
Those two posts are also my understanding of the rule.

The order in which things occur is

1) roll d20
2) burn luck and immediately decrease your luck score accordingly
3) add the points from burnt luck to the roll
4) compare to the target value to evaluate success

So if you spend luck to your recover the body roll, when you compare to a target value at step (4), your luck score (which is the target value in this case) has already decreased in step (2). For anyone but a thief, this is consequently useless.

If however you use this method:
The Disgruntled Poet wrote: Character's luck is 10. He needs a 10 or lower to make his luck roll.

He rolls a 16 on the die for the recover-the-body to work.

He has nothing to lose, so the character burns 6 luck.

6 points of burnt luck are used to modify his roll from 16 to 10 (the target number)

His Luck score goes from 10 to 4.
then you are essentially doing:

1) roll d20
2) burn luck but do not decrease your luck score yet
3) add the points from burnt luck to the roll
4) compare to the target value to evaluate success
5) decrease your luck score from the burnt luck

This method would allow one to postpone suffering the effects of burnt luck until the new step (5). I.e. you burn you luck, your luck score remains temporarily unaffected, and only after having benefitted from this burnt luck does the point burn actually kick in.
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Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:32 pm

Skyscraper wrote: This method would allow one to postpone suffering the effects of burnt luck until the new step (5). I.e. you burn you luck, your luck score remains temporarily unaffected, and only after having benefitted from this burnt luck does the point burn actually kick in.
The first method doesn't make much sense. I mean, I understand the literal interpretation of the rule. But as the first poster responded, it would never make sense to burn luck if it lowered your target because you'd be chasing a target that you couldn't effectively reach. So in a sense, this interpretation is saying, "No, you can't do it."-- at least for all practical purposes.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by GnomeBoy » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:37 pm

The Disgruntled Poet wrote:...So in a sense, this interpretation is saying, "No, you can't do it."-- at least for all practical purposes.
And I think that is exactly his point -- there is room to interpret the rule as meaning that burning your Luck to help your roll-under-Luck roll is a waste of time -- unless you are a Thief or a Halfling.
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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by NJPDX » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:34 pm

The Disgruntled Poet wrote:
Skyscraper wrote: This method would allow one to postpone suffering the effects of burnt luck until the new step (5). I.e. you burn you luck, your luck score remains temporarily unaffected, and only after having benefitted from this burnt luck does the point burn actually kick in.
The first method doesn't make much sense. I mean, I understand the literal interpretation of the rule. But as the first poster responded, it would never make sense to burn luck if it lowered your target because you'd be chasing a target that you couldn't effectively reach. So in a sense, this interpretation is saying, "No, you can't do it."-- at least for all practical purposes.
As I said above, I think you should use whatever ruling you and your group thinks is the most fun and fair.

The bolded part seems to be by design, if death is as easy to cheat as taking a temporary luck penalty to have an 80% chance (or higher) of waking up after getting your skull cracked or your guts emptied on to the floor, then the fear of death would be almost completely removed from the game.and that doesn't feel like a game inspired by OSR sensibilities.

Personally, I remember (with fondness) the meat-grinder approach in early D&D and AD&D 1st edition, where death was common. The fact that players get any chance at all to cheat death in DCC RPG; with a chance that is maybe hovering around 50% (assuming an average Luck roll of 9 or 10) seems pretty generous to me. raising that chance to 70% or 80% (or whatever) doesn't really fit the spirit of the game from my perspective ... but it's your game, so it doesn't really matter what I like. :)

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:52 pm

NJPDX wrote:
The Disgruntled Poet wrote:
Skyscraper wrote: Personally, I remember (with fondness) the meat-grinder approach in early D&D and AD&D 1st edition, where death was common. The fact that players get any chance at all to cheat death in DCC RPG; with a chance that is maybe hovering around 50% (assuming an average Luck roll of 9 or 10) seems pretty generous to me. raising that chance to 70% or 80% (or whatever) doesn't really fit the spirit of the game from my perspective ... but it's your game, so it doesn't really matter what I like. :)
I could definitely be a little more merciless but it's not just my game-- it's my players' game too. And they don't have those gleeful memories of AD&D meatgrinders. So I am thinking my choices are to continue bastardizing things somewhat or to use DCC more for my sadistic (heh) one-shots and use something a little less deadly for long-term campaigns. I probably really need a group more oriented toward DCC.. not just to GM, but also to play.. I've run 14+ sessions of DCC but only played one online game!

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by NJPDX » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:28 pm

I think accepting player death is about frame of mind. In my experience a lot of younger players cut their teeth on D&D 3.x and MMOs where dying is either uncommon (by rule and mechanic in modern tabletop RPGs) or at worst a minor inconvenience (in MMOs). There also seems to be a lot of emphasis on deterministic "storytelling" in RPG gaming these days, with massive plots and character driven narratives that break down if a character is removed from the "story." So from that perspective it makes dying almost anathema - something that seems unfair and harmful to fun.

But back in the day it there was more interest in exploration and taking great risks for great rewards. Sure lots of 1st and 2nd level characters died, but for those that got to third or fourth level you really started to see survival rates go up; mostly this was because you had more hit points and were generally harder to hit, so you could probe and test a monster or encounter a little bit more before deciding if it was time to turn tail and run. And that was where the storytelling came in, there was real pride in getting a character to a certain level because it meant you had enjoyed a lot of luck and were probably pretty clever, or at least shrewd in the kinds of risks you tackled.

I don't know which camp your players fall into, but it's kind of a pity if they never get to experience that old style of game and find enjoyment in it. That's not to say that a judge should unfairly chew players up and spit them out (superior play should provide a pathway for success) but for me at least I was never more bored as a player when I realized that it was almost impossible for me to die in the 4e game I played in for about six months and subsequently quit three years ago.

So after that long-winded, rambling, diatribe I'll just conclude by saying, "follow your bliss."

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by The Disgruntled Poet » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:52 am

NJPDX wrote:...
I don't know which camp your players fall into, but it's kind of a pity if they never get to experience that old style of game and find enjoyment in it. That's not to say that a judge should unfairly chew players up and spit them out (superior play should provide a pathway for success) but for me at least I was never more bored as a player when I realized that it was almost impossible for me to die in the 4e game I played in for about six months and subsequently quit three years ago.

So after that long-winded, rambling, diatribe I'll just conclude by saying, "follow your bliss."
I appreciate everyone's open-mindedness on the subject. I'm going to really talk about the campaign tomorrow and this rules clarification will be a good way to talk about the different styles of play and expectations.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by Skyscraper » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:42 am

The Disgruntled Poet wrote:
Skyscraper wrote: This method would allow one to postpone suffering the effects of burnt luck until the new step (5). I.e. you burn you luck, your luck score remains temporarily unaffected, and only after having benefitted from this burnt luck does the point burn actually kick in.
The first method doesn't make much sense. I mean, I understand the literal interpretation of the rule. But as the first poster responded, it would never make sense to burn luck if it lowered your target because you'd be chasing a target that you couldn't effectively reach. So in a sense, this interpretation is saying, "No, you can't do it."-- at least for all practical purposes.
I indeed think that the rule is "no, you can't do it " (for all practical purposes).

If it was otherwise, the rule would make no sense to me, for reasons states by others in this thread.

I also think that the other interpretation is not supported by the rules.

But this is not a mathematical game, it's a game where you want a certain feel, and if allowing luck burn to avoid death is concordant with your own feel of the game, go for it!
Maledict Brothbreath, level 4 warrior, STR 16 (+2) AGI 7 (-1) STA 12 PER 9 INT 10 LUCK 15 (+1), AC: 16 Refl: +1 Fort: +2 Will: +1; lawful; Armor of the Lion and Lily's Blade.

Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.

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Re: Question: Thieves, Luck & Death

Post by smathis » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:51 am

My group hasn't used the "Recovering the Body" rules in a long time. But when we did, we allowed for Luck to be spent on the roll and adjusted Luck after the roll. So there wasn't a zero-sum effect. It worked fine.

At NTRPG, Michael Curtis didn't allow Luck to be spent on Recovering the Body rolls. Which worked fine too.

It's pretty much however a group wants to play.

In TATG, the rules that replace "Recovering the Body" are a little different. More like a Luck "skill check" than rolling against a ability score's current rating. This allows characters to burn Luck on the roll if they need to without these sorts of questions. Most characters can burn 2-3 points of Luck without bumping their modifier down -1.

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