When are you considered dead?

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
foxbait7733
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When are you considered dead?

Post by foxbait7733 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:52 pm

Our group has been having a discussion about when a character is considered dead.

Basically, the question boils down to whether or not you are dead as soon as your damage reaches or exceeds your death rating or if your character is offically dead only after the period of time that a Last Chance Salve could have taken effect (I think it's one hour per toughness step, so after seven hours if your toughness step is seven).

Is a character dead (no breathing, heart has stopped, no brain activity) if their damage taken is above their death rating but a number of hours equal to their toughness step has not passed yet?

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etherial
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by etherial » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:17 pm

foxbait7733 wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:52 pm
Our group has been having a discussion about when a character is considered dead.

Basically, the question boils down to whether or not you are dead as soon as your damage reaches or exceeds your death rating or if your character is offically dead only after the period of time that a Last Chance Salve could have taken effect (I think it's one hour per toughness step, so after seven hours if your toughness step is seven).

Is a character dead (no breathing, heart has stopped, no brain activity) if their damage taken is above their death rating but a number of hours equal to their toughness step has not passed yet?
FASA Games, on ED4PG37, wrote:When your Current Damage equals or exceeds your character's Death Rating, he dies.
FASA Games, on ED4PG380, wrote:Unless the character has a Talent such as Life Check, or is quickly tended to by another character with a healing aid, such as a Last Chance Salve, the character is dead.
FASA Games, on ED4PG423, wrote:A last chance salve can be applied to a character who has been dead for a number of hours no greater than the higher of his Toughness or Willpower Steps.
So the rules do contradict slightly. A character must already be dead in order for you to attempt a Last Chance Salve, but a Last Chance Salve can prevent death. I propose we consider a character that has hit their Death Rating to be "mostly dead". The character then stays "mostly dead" (but still partially alive) for several hours.

Lifesight, Physician, etc. will register a character as "mostly dead" as soon as they hit their Death Rating. There's no real way to scan for brain activity, so the game mechanics have no say on the subject, but one can presume that breathing and heartbeat stop immediately. In an age of magic, it's totally cool for heart, brain, and lungs to be "mostly dead" one minute and "completely alive" the next due to magical intervention.

foxbait7733
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by foxbait7733 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:11 pm

Those contradictions are the exact reason we were having the discussion in the first place. I chose to read the second quote from ED4PG380 as saying that, unless Life Check or Last Chance are applied, the character would be dead [with no mechanical option for players to revive you].

Being "mostly death" doesn't make sense to me if your heart isn't beating and you're not breathing for six hours. You're dead at that point, assuming that Earthdawn follows the physical constructs of our reality, except where noted (like magic that brings you back from the dead). I've always found that fantasy works best when it either makes sense and follows rational reasoning or it doesn't purely because of fantastical phenomena. The idea of "mostly dead" neither fits with either of those two qualifiers nor is it detailed anywhere in the rules.

It makes me wonder why the rules don't just say straight out that you're dead when your damage goes above your Death Rating and then allow for more specific rules (like Last Chance or Life Check) to override that general rule with their specificity instead of muddying the waters with the "Unless..." qualifier.

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etherial
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by etherial » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:25 pm

foxbait7733 wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:11 pm
Being "mostly death" doesn't make sense to me if your heart isn't beating and you're not breathing for six hours. You're dead at that point, assuming that Earthdawn follows the physical constructs of our reality, except where noted (like magic that brings you back from the dead). I've always found that fantasy works best when it either makes sense and follows rational reasoning or it doesn't purely because of fantastical phenomena. The idea of "mostly dead" neither fits with either of those two qualifiers nor is it detailed anywhere in the rules.
Your character has a magical pattern. Your character has a spirit. These two things are wholly irreconcilable with our mechanistic definitions of death.
foxbait7733 wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:11 pm
It makes me wonder why the rules don't just say straight out that you're dead when your damage goes above your Death Rating and then allow for more specific rules (like Last Chance or Life Check) to override that general rule with their specificity instead of muddying the waters with the "Unless..." qualifier.
Because Game Developers rarely have the time to make sure every sentence relating to a specific topic across several editions of books stay consistent. ED4PG380 could be easily reworded as "The character is dead and will stay dead unless the character has a Talent such as Life Check, or is quickly tended to by another character with a healing aid, such as a Last Chance Salve.", solving this quandary entirely.

Telarus
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by Telarus » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:03 pm

The character is dead, and things that target dead things will work on it.

The character's spirit & pattern integrity are stable until Toughness Step hours after death (I.E. it takes that long for one of Death-the-Named-Spirit's underlings to collect the personality/whatever part of the Pattern lives on in the afterlife and take it away). Certain magics work within this time-period.

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The Undying
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by The Undying » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:36 am

Tel's got it. When you hit your Death Rating, you're dead; there's no half/part/semi dead. However, there are certain magics that can be use on the dead as long as they are administered within a certain amount of time. Trying to categorize that time window as "semi-dead" just invites more questions.

If you want to scaffold on some more real world stuff, I can't seem the harm in it. Someone want to try to make a physician test on someone that JUST died? I'd allow it: it's nowhere in the game yet, but if it helps tell a better story, sure!

I feel like there was discussion on this topic on the current forum a year or two ago, I'll have to see if I can find it.

Calamrin
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by Calamrin » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:19 pm

all this mostly dead makes me smile and think of the Princess Bride)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbE8E1ez97M

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etherial
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by etherial » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:22 pm

Calamrin wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:19 pm
all this mostly dead makes me smile and think of the Princess Bride)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbE8E1ez97M
I was beginning to feel quite alone on that front...

foxbait7733
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by foxbait7733 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:03 pm

Can the body continue to take damage after it is dead? And, if so, does it take damage from suffocation and/or bleeding?

Telarus
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Re: When are you considered dead?

Post by Telarus » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:26 pm

Oooh, that's a good question. I would say yes to external damage. No to suffocation. Bleeding is weird, and probably a GM call.

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