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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Energy Drain Poll!

It's come up in several forums, blogs and emails I get from people. Energy Draining is one of the deadliest forms of non-kill (outright at least) attack forms a monster possesses. As a Referee, I see it as a debilitating attack form that should be rightly feared (and one that there are few avenues of recourse for). I've heard from others that simply slam the ability as 'nerfing' a character, 'crippling' a character, that it's a Referee's way to 'beat' a party that is too powerful for him to handle (I think this one comes from someone disgruntled with his Referee, but I'm not sure as it's not from anyone in my own group).

Energy Draining has been a staple of D&D and it's clones and is something a select few creatures in Onn possess. I'm curious now what others think of the ability and how they handle it.

13 comments:

Flambeaux said...

Most of those criticisms of BtB AD&D Energy Drain only make sense if there is an adversarial relationship between players and DM. There shouldn't be.

James Bobb said...

While I tend to agree, I'm curious now how others handle it from a purely 'this is how we do it' point of view, but without an explanation of why. I just want the result, not the reasons.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Will use level drain attacks when appropriate.

James Bobb said...

I recieved this comment from a forum I frequent (the poster was having an issue with the word verification):

For some reason, there was no picture, just the words "Visual verification" above the comment form.
I was going to post "After a long discussion on Dragonsfoot, I changed the way I DM energy drain. I am now convinced that energy drain that drains levels of experience is technically a memory drain, not a life energy drain. Life energy is better represented by one's constitution. So energy drain now drains constitution points, not levels of experience, in our campaign."

Best Regards, Don

Geoffrey said...

I don't care for energy draining. I'm not hard-core opposed, but I just don't use it.

My D&D world of Carcosa doesn't have any sorts of creatures (or anything else) that drains levels. That wasn't a design goal. Instead, that's just the way it worked out.

When I play standard D&D, I almost never use undead (and when I do, it's typically skeletons).

Thus, energy drain simply never is an option in our games, and we don't miss it at all.

Matt Finch said...

I use pretty much all of them except the "negative level" approach. The seriously terrifying monsters have real level drain, but I like to have varied forms of challenges and fears to throw at the party.

So I didn't actually vote, because there was no "all or most of the above" answer. I think the relevant answer, though, is that yes, I do use the full-scale, lose-a-level type of drain in some cases.

Robert said...

ENERGY DRAINS:

When hit by a creature that energy drains you get a save. The save is CON based, CL is equal to HD of the creature. If you fail the save then you lose a level and HP loss is equal to your HD average plus your CON bonus, if any So if you are a fighter you lose 5+CON bonus in hit points.

Still, all is not lost. It takes creatures about 24 hours to fully digest your life energy in my games. So if you kill the creature, or creatures, who stole your life force within 24 hours of them doing so your life force will be released and will find its way back to your body. You must be within 10 feet of the creature when it is destroyed for this to happen automatically. For every 10 feet beyond 10 feet there is a cumulative -2 penalty to your CHA (or CON, whichever the CK decides is most appropriate and beneficial to the player) save for your life force to find and return to you.

So if you are 30 feet away when the creature is destroyed you must make a save at -4 to get your life force back. 10 feet or less no save is required.

Anonymous said...

I don't use one, but several method, that vary from one undead to the next. However, generally I tone down level draining as follows: in some case a saving throw might be allowed to negate the draining; often, one week of complete rest will get back one experience level, while one day+night of complete rest will get back one constitution point. As a GM I don't like to see PCs lose levels.

bighara said...

I use different approaches, depending on the type of creature. Some actually reduce XP and levels. Some drain a stat like STR or CON or INT. In all cases, such creatures are rare and meant to be truly terrifying.

Most cries of "unfair" seem -IME- to come from players who have not grasped the concept of RUN THE **** AWAY!! A foe that cannot be beaten in a stand-up fight is somehow wrong and if the encounter the setback of losing a level, they are being punished or crippled.

When running "old school fantasy" (my preferred style), I sometimes warn players at the start "Retreat is an option." After that, it's up to them.

Kurt said...

I've always used the "Level and XP" method. I've been giving thought to a number of XP based on the HD of the creature and damage done. Having read the comments, I like the idea that it effects CON as it's "Life Force".

Since day 1, way back in the 70s, I've hated level drain because unlike most other magical effects, didn't have a saving throw. For something so devastating, to not have a saving throw doesn't make sense and isn't consistent with the vast majority of the rest of the game.

James Bobb said...

While I still don't want to get into the whole 'why' behind reasonings, I think using the term 'life force' is a misnomer for what Constitution is. 'Life force' seems to be a mystical 'thing' not easily definable. Constitution though is a measurable amount of 'vitality' as it affects hit points per HD. So possibly, undead being the antithesis of life, destroys vitality. Just a random thought.

James Bobb said...

Another reply on a messageboard I frequent, on the 'other' vote...

Spinachcat wrote:
Instead, if an ED monster hits you, you take Cursed Damage, aka - 2D6 HPs that you can't heal until you get a Remove Curse on you and casters lose their current highest level spell. Thus, if a 6th level Wiz gets hit by a Vamp (ED x2), he suffers 4D6 Cursed HP loss and "burns" one 3rd level spell and one 2nd level spell.

grodog said...

I have players record their PC HD for rolled HP at each level, to cover the eventuality when they are energy drained. Energy drain's just a standard part of the game for me, like dragons having breath weapons and humanoids having witchdoctors and shamans.

My 9th MU in Frank Mentzer's GaryCon game (he was running R1 To the Aid of Falx) got drained by either a spectre or vampire (never did figure out which), and he lost 2 levels. That sucked (in particular because I hadn't cast my 5th level spell yet!), but them's the breaks....

Allan.