Gray Wardens and Alternate Penalties

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Re: Gray Wardens and Alternate Penalties

Postby shonuff » Wed May 16, 2012 9:12 pm

Lynata wrote:
shonuff wrote:The Joining isn't supposed to be that fatal, though. Alistair is surprised, after all that 2 died in the Warden's Joining, and 5 of 6 survive during Awakening.
Well, going by the infobox in Set 2, the survival rate is only about 25%-33%, meaning that in average two out of three or three out of four prospective Wardens die. That's quite fatal.

This is also how I remember it from the games; I don't recall Duncan giving an "oshit"-face or Alistair believing so many deaths to be uncommon. Of course my memory regarding such details isn't entirely reliable, but Alistair could just as well have been told a pile of shit considering they still wanted him to drink. And I do not mean malicious lies - but everything can be played down when it comes to morale.


Alistair makes a comment that only one died at his Joining, which implies that it shouldn't be 2/3. And again, even if you discount Oghren for being overly awesome, the vast majority survive the Joining in Awakening. The Wardens only enlist those who they think will succeed, although I don't know what their criteria is for that.

Lynata wrote:
shonuff wrote:I thought the RAW was a roll of some sort. Of course, everything can be house-ruled.
You're right on this; I misremembered. :oops:

That said, the RAW is still rather generous - it's a 2.77% chance the player might die.
So it probably boils down to whether you think whether your players should at least be a little afraid of their characters or not. Unlike combat situations, which may have a much higher fatality risk yet, a Joining is decided in but a single roll. In my opinion, this in itself serves to underline the gravity of this decision, though.


It's perma-death on 1 roll... and much like the abomination magical mishap, it is completely anti-climactic. Become famous enough that you catch a Grey Warden's eye? Check. Go on a long, involved quest to prove your worthiness to the Grey Wardens? Check. Go on another quest to gather the specific components to complete the Joining ritual? Check. Roll a certain number on a die? Nope, then you die -- reroll your character.

Becoming a Grey Warden, to me, is a narrative issue. It should either be allowed by the GM (provided proper questing is done first) or not. IMO, PC perma-death should not be decided on a single roll of the dice.
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Re: Gray Wardens and Alternate Penalties

Postby Lynata » Thu May 17, 2012 6:58 am

shonuff wrote:Alistair makes a comment that only one died at his Joining, which implies that it shouldn't be 2/3. And again, even if you discount Oghren for being overly awesome, the vast majority survive the Joining in Awakening. The Wardens only enlist those who they think will succeed, although I don't know what their criteria is for that.
Alistair's Joining may well have been a case of good fortune - in theory, you could well have five Joinings in a row with no deaths whatsoever; the quota average will simply be balanced elsewhere by other people.

Awakening I count as a flawed example in that the developers were obviously interested in you as the player not having to complete the game all by yourself or with random NPCs you'd have to pick up after losing the vast majority of your original party, or spending lots of resources on making new characters just because of the Joining whilst still trolling those players who would've preferred the others.

In the end, I tend to put more faith in general descriptions about the common case, not individual instances which may be exceptions from a rule - especially once we start talking about anything a player character was involved in. ;)
This is something I picked up in other franchises, though, where it served me well to reconcile certain events with the bigger picture.
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Re: Gray Wardens and Alternate Penalties

Postby Ghostdanser » Thu May 17, 2012 8:10 am

I posted a link a link to the Bioware forum over in the Darkspawn Taint thread and the info might be applicable here:

viewtopic.php?f=33&t=9679&start=25

Basically what I got out of David Gaider's comments was that in order to become a Grey Warden one has to essentially overdose on taint. It is not so much the quantity of the tainted blood, so much as the concentration of the taint in the blood. Run-of-the-mill darkspawn blood must be magically enhanced in order to get the necessary level of taint required in order for the Ritual of Joining to have a chance of success. Archdemon blood evidently has the necessary concetration of taint without requiring magic...of course it is also pretty rare prior to a blight. One could make the case though that the use of Archdemon blood greatly decreases the chance of dying during the Joining.

I would suggest that if you are running a pre-blight scenario and don't want to deal with the chance of a character dying on a roll of the dice then (if following the DAO storyline) you could have the players recover a phylactery of Archdemon blood along with the ancient treaties...if using Flemeth she would have the phylactery along with the treaties...one can only imagine the "price" she might exact for providing the vial to the pc's. Flemeth probably knows what the chance of surviving the ritual is without Archdemon blood, so while giving the pc's the treaties is necessary for her agenda, giving the pc's a vial of Archdemon blood is quite another matter, they may survive without it but they may not either, so you have to weigh how important the pc's are to Flemeth's plans...still I imagine she would want something in return...perhaps a future favor...unspecified...with no option to say no... >:D
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Re: Gray Wardens and Alternate Penalties

Postby Loswaith » Thu May 17, 2012 5:30 pm

DA:O is a special case in of itself, Daveth is realy the only one that failed the joining due to the taint (though knowing Daveth any number of other things could of been running through his system), while Jory failed because he lost his nerve (causing Duncan to kill him, and showing the side in that the wardens arent all beneficent), so there is no telling if he would have survived the taint dose or not.

So realy DA:O is not a good example of the lethality of the situation, though is at least a reasonable one for dramatic prose.
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Re: Gray Wardens and Alternate Penalties

Postby shonuff » Fri May 18, 2012 5:17 am

Lynata wrote: Alistair's Joining may well have been a case of good fortune - in theory, you could well have five Joinings in a row with no deaths whatsoever; the quota average will simply be balanced elsewhere by other people.

Awakening I count as a flawed example in that the developers were obviously interested in you as the player not having to complete the game all by yourself or with random NPCs you'd have to pick up after losing the vast majority of your original party, or spending lots of resources on making new characters just because of the Joining whilst still trolling those players who would've preferred the others.

In the end, I tend to put more faith in general descriptions about the common case, not individual instances which may be exceptions from a rule - especially once we start talking about anything a player character was involved in. ;)
This is something I picked up in other franchises, though, where it served me well to reconcile certain events with the bigger picture.


Alistair's Joining could be an anomaly, true. However, as Loswaith points out, only Daveth failed because of the taint. So, from the 5 known Joinings, there are 4 deaths. Awakening could be a flawed example like you suggest, or it could be more the standard -- we just don't know. However, I don't believe that it can be discounted because it is both canon and the largest known statistic.

Joining Spoilers below:

So, from DA:O we have Alistair, the Warden, Loghain, and at least one other person surviving (from Alistair's wording of how his ritual happened) vs. Daveth, Jory, and the unnamed death.

From Awakening, we have Oghren, Velahnna, Sigrun, Nathaniel, and Anders surviving vs. Mhaira. You could count Nathaniel's grandfather in the not surviving tally, but nothing is really known about his fate.

And in DA2, you have Carver or Bethany surviving and no known fatalities.

So at least 9 surviving vs. 4 deaths, and Jory is of questionable worth of inclusion because he doesn't die from the taint. Alistair's unknown fatality can probably be assumed to be taint-related, as Jory would have most likely completed the ritual had Daveth not died first, IMO.

End Joining Spoilers

Now, if the Joining were administered to everyone, then the statistics might be skewed more. Duncan, for example, doesn't recruit Soris from the City Elf origin because he thinks Soris will fail.

And even with a low save-or-die chance, a chance of death is still a chance of death... and that means you could have a total party wipe on drinking the juice. Possible? Sure, the Joining is potentially fatal. However, it also seems like the crappiest way to end a campaign and for DA to go back in its box in the corner.
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