Followup on my post about permanent death - changing expectations on players
As I have developed my thoughts on players being able to reject permanent death after a combat is over, I have been thinking more. Recently in our Arcana Evolved campaign, a PC was hit with energy drain and gained negative levels. Now the PCs were right around the corner from an NPC Greenbond who could have restored him, and even without that, in the context of my ability to reject permanent death and extending it to rejecting any permanent disability, the PC could have been restored without using PC resources.
However, the PC Greenbond had the ability to restore and I required them to use the spell slot. Since then, I have since stated that if a PC could cast raise dead, that I would require the PC to use the spell slot rather than just rejecting the death. Is this unfair? Is this changing the rules on the PCs?
My assertion is that it is fair. What is going on here is that when the PCs increase in power, more is expected of them. Low level PCs aren't expected not to die, but high level PCs are expected to be a bit more careful. Granting the high level PC resources to respond to death (or any other lingering effect including ability score damage, level drain, etc.) just means the players are now challenged to manage their resources a bit more carefully. This does not break gamist ability to step on up, in fact it enhances it.
Many games have basic and advanced rules. This is a good thing. It allows players to incrementally learn a more complex game than they might otherwise be able to learn. Handicaps (for example in Go) are a similar thing. One the player understands the basic game, then the gloves can be taken off and they can play the real thing.
This idea can be extended to RPGs, but instead of starting a new campaign when the players gain expertise, we can simply have rules that kick in at certain power points in character development.
In Cold Iron, I usually don't use fatigue in low level combat. Partly because it's not much fun for a low level character to suddenly find they are suffering fatigue penalties because they took a small injury and the combat has taken 5 or 6 rounds so far. Bringing fatigue in when PCs have enough hit point and fatigue capacity to last most battles makes sense from this same perspective of demanding more from the players at higher levels.
What examples do you have from, or could you apply to, your own gaming?