I am currently running an LotFP adventure using D&D Next, the amazing Better than any man. In SevenSidedDie' s great answer to a previous post of mine he touched upon philosophical differences between OSR-inspired adventures and 4e-era ones. However, there is still one big difference that I am unsure how to handle:
Save or Die effects.
On one hand, I like the danger of the Giant Wasp's sting or a poison needle trap with save vs. Poison or die. I feel it's great that the world is really dangerous, and that a bit of bad luck after a bad decision or two can actually kill you.
On the other hand, my players are invested in their characters, wrote fascinating backstories and fill them with life. I don't want to force them to 'roll 6x3d6', to build a new character after a save or die effect. At the moment, they are still too low level to be able to afford resurrection.
So my (conflicting) goals are to
- Keep character death an actual threat (not like in 4e), and have (some) save-or-dies.
- But also to give my players a chance to continue playing with the character they are invested in.
Death should be a punishment not to be taken lightly, but not one so bad that they are forever behind, or that it sucks the joy out of the game for them.
Do you know any good ways to achieve these goals?
As requested in the comments, here's what I've tried before:
- Friendly cleric in close-by village / Friendly celestial in Sigil: Made death too trivial, and also made the party travel back often
- Sacrifices: Evil party needed to sacrifice an innocent to resurrect. Fun, but changed the focus of the campaign and the party too much. Only works with evil parties.
- Required sacrifice of a level-appropriate magic items that the character had used long enough to infuse it with some of his/her essence: Won't work in the current campaign because of lack of magic items (magic items are rare and unique, not like 4e off-the-shelf magic items).