I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Sunday, January 12, 2020

100 Magic Weapons + some thoughts on random tables

Here is my new book:


It is... well, exactly what it says on the tin. You can get it here.

Here are some examples you can use whether you get the book or not (roll 1d12):

  1. Sword of Bloodlust. This magic sword does not communicate, but moans obscenely whenever it slays a creature. It screams in pleasure if the victim is humanoid. Its blade is thin, sharp and sinuous.
  2. Flail of Judgement. This heavy spiked flail deals radiant damage against evil creatures, but will explode in your hands if turned against the innocent, leaving the target unharmed.
  3. Spider Arrows. These arrows have spider engraved in their tips. When you hit your target, the spiders become alive, burrowing out and causing additional damage.
  4. Whip of Disfigurement. This spiked whip leaves nasty scars in its victims. These scars cannot be healed by regeneration or healing and last for at least one month, barring some powerful magic.
  5. Sickle of Reaping. If you slay a living creature with this rusty, dented sickle, its blood will become food for the earth, making nearby plants grow faster, stronger… and stranger. They may grow exquisite flowers that are useful for creating alchemical potions.
  6. Greatclub of Ice-breaking. This massive club with icy shards turns things to ice before breaking them. It deals cold damage (massive damage to inanimate objects such as iron, leather, wood, etc.). It is extremely cold and cannot be held without protection for more than one minute without causing damage to you.
  7. Spear of Imprisonment. A creature slain by this ebony spear has its soul trapped within, in a grey plane of loneliness. If the spear is broken, all the souls are freed.
  8. Sword of Hellfire. This massive ebony sword shines as if it fire and lava burned within its blade, but it creates no light around it. It reeks of sulfur and leaves nasty burns (fire damage). A slain enemy boils from the inside until its eyes pop out.
  9. Axe of Genocide. This twisted double-bitted axe deals additional damage against a specific type of creature. You become angry and murderous when this type of creature is nearby.
10.  Sword of Mercilessness. When this sharp, bright sword is unsheathed, you gain additional courage and vigor (e.g., one temporary HP per level). If you stop fighting before all enemies are slain or defeated (but not merely surrendered), the blade will break in a thousand shards, hurting you in the process.
11.     Daggers of exotic dancing. These two daggers with obscenely-shaped handles seem to fight by themselves when wielded in a pair. If you miss an attack with the left hand, you can immediately make a “free” attack with the right hand. If you roll a natural 1, they cut you (half damage). In any case, it feels good.
  1. Sword of Plane-cutting. This thin but heavy sword, which glows in colors that resemble the aurora borealis, can cut open a portal to a random plane out of thin air (once a day). In addition, a critical hit deals necrotic damage as parts of the target seem to become nothingness when cut.
Anyway, I wrote this book while considering the following question.

Most books on my Dark Fantasy line have tables that are terse and a bit vague. For example, my dark fantasy characters could give an NPC like this:

NameOdo
Background: barbarian
Skill: thievery
Fighting style: bow
Armor: chain
Equipment style: Spiked
Flaw: lust
Motivation: Pride (family)
AppearanceFlamboyant

Etc.

As you can see, this isn't a finished character. The results require some rationalizing, maybe even changing. A flamboyant barbarian with chain armor and spikes? Not the first thing I'd think of. However, I find that making sense of this stuff is FUN.

On the other hand, if you need an NPC on the fly, you might not have time to roll all these dice. What's worse, you might think I'm leaving half the work for you. The finished work would look like this:

Odo is a barbarian. He looks thin, tall, and has strong muscles. He is stealthy and fights with a bow that matches his height. He wears chain armor and spike pauldrons. While travelling through cilivilezd land to womanize (his favorite hobby), he acquired a flamboyant look, dying his long hairs and beard a bright blue, and wearing multiple precious rings. He fights for the honor of his family, although his family forgot about him years ago, when he left his clan. One day he hopes to come back rich and famous.

As you can see, this entry is a lot more detailed and ready to use. It is also a bit more interesting... It is the kind of thing I adopted in this new book. 

The downside is that, while you can make a million different characters with Dark Fantasy Characters, you "only" get 100 magic weapons in the new book, but they are all ready to use.

Well, I tried both things, and I think I'll probably continue doing both.

In any case, I'm curious to know: which method do you prefer? Terse and varied? Detailed and ready to use? Or something in between? Any good examples of either method you can think of?

Friday, January 10, 2020

Tossing 2 cents to "The Witcher"

The Witcher is the new popular fantasy series from Netflix. Here is my 2c: if you play D&D, you should at least try it. It has good (sometimes very good) acting, good (sometimes great) production values, and it is FULL of cool ideas and plots you can use for your games.

Want more detail? Here we go.


The first season uses a lot of material from the first book, which I reviewed here. In short, it is a decent "Conan in Middle Earth", with elements of sword and sorcery in an epic setting (but read my review before reading on). There are a few too many modern ("Poughkeepsie") elements, which spoils the "fantasy" feel a bit more than they did in Game of Thrones (I hate comparing it to GoT since the stories are completely different, but as TV series they have a similar audience).

There are two F words that are thrown around liberally, and the second one is "Fate", so there is a nice contrast here: on one hand, the Witcher is gritty and cynical (legends are false, institutions are unreliable, kings are immoral, etc.), but on the other hand the characters are bound by the laws of destiny.

Also, for the dark fantasy part... Well, the world of The Witcher is dark. There are prejudices, oppression, lies, and monsters (human or otherwise). However, the witcher himself is pretty much a decent guy when compared to Conan or Elric, for example. So, not much moral ambiguity there. Still, some of the other characters bring enough shades of gray to the palette.

This seasons mixes episodic tales with no obvious connections (Conan) to an underlining epic narrative (Tolkien). And... it works. Kinda. The show seems to always be a couple of steps from being great. 

The first few episodes are confusing, and NOT because of the parallel narratives. Some scenes are just under-explained (seemingly reeling on information that is to be found in the books, in the first episode). Other times, the tone is a bit off, lacking the proper gravitas or exaggerating it and becoming a bit cringey ("the time of blood and thunder is coming yadda yadda" is repeated with deep voices a few times). We have some moments of Harry Potter-style wizard classes, and some moments of pure soap opera latter on (lots of "true love" talking in this dark fantasy...). 

Fortunately, the ending of the season, while a bit drawn out (especially in the last episode), explains most loose threads in a satisfying manner (the penultimate episode was great), and redeems lots of things that seemed unnecessary at first. In fact, by the end the show sold me on the idea of "Fate" in the series, something I thought would be hard to do.

There are a couple of things I'd like to highlight.

There is lots of deconstructionism of fantasy tropes - knights, monsters, and dragons are not necessarily what you think they are. And it works. The "postmodern" discussion of "false narratives" in episode 2 is very well done. If you thought "Toss a coin to your Witcher" has silly lyrics about putting elves on shelves, you'll soon realize it is meant to sound farcical. The humor also works well.

Another thing is about Henry Cavill's performance as the main character, Geralt of Rivia. Everyone seems to agree he looks and plays the part of tough guy with great success (and great biceps). However, there is more to it than that. His face is always portraying annoyance, mild anger, and, perhaps most of all, fatalism, like he is the only guy who can see things are (obviously) going south soon. Witchers are supposed to feel no emotion (although that, too, might be a lie - how could we know?), and Geralt as a character is obviously smarter and more cynical than the rest, but also a benevolent character with a strict moral code. Because of that, Cavill's acting, with few facial expressions and fewer words, fits perfectly. I didn't think I would be convinced by a Conan-like character... but I was.

The show, however, is far form perfect. Like I said, a few changes to the plot and dialogue would make things a lot better. The tone is too light at times, and there are scenes that feel a bit like "vanilla" fantasy, with wizards are artillery and "healers" that are just doctors with pointy ears. Some characters seem to get gravely wounded/endangered, just to be saved by plot armor. There are awesome ideas that are left underdeveloped. 

Like the book, the show seems to lack a certain depth - I hope we see this depth in future seasons, although I'm not sure how the show will avoid a dramatic "hero saves the world" plot as it moves on.

In short, I like this show and I'll certainly continue watching when second season comes. It is a lot less impressive that GoT's first seasons and a lot better than the latter seasons. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a cool fantasy show or good ideas for your D&D games. It MIGHT be one of the best D&D-like series we ever get.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

The tarrasque is now a weakling [5e]

You know the tarrasque, right? D&Ds famous version of the Godzilla? Or something like that.

The legendary tarrasque, for there is fortunately only one known to exist, is the most dreaded monster native to the Prime Material plane.

The text is from the Monstrous Manual (2e). The one in the 5e MM is similar, although a bit less flavorful:

The legendary tarrasque is possibly the most dreaded monster of the Material Plane. It is widely believed that only one of these creatures exists, though no one can predict where and when it will strike.

The text is not the only thing that is weaker.

Of course, the tarrasque is still impressive in 5e. 676 HP, immunity to non-magical weapons, legendary resistance and legendary actions, challenge 30... But it pales in comparison to older editions.

I'll use 2e as an example because I like the Monstrous Manual, but it is basically the same as 1e. In 3e, the tarrasque is still VERY strong, maybe even more than 2e.

For example:

[2e] The mere sight of the tarrasque causes creatures with less than 3 levels or Hit Dice to be paralyzed with fright (no saving throw) until it is out of their vision. Creatures of 3 or more levels or Hit Dice flee in panic, although those of 7 or more levels or Hit Dice that manage to succeed with a saving throw vs. paralyzation are not affected (though they often still decide to run away).
[5e] Frightful Presence: Each creature of the tarrasque’s choice within 120 feet of it and aware of it must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the tarrasque is within line of sight, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the tarrasque’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.

As you can see, creatures with less than 7 HD had NO CHANCE against the tarrasque's MERE SIGHT... Now, 2 out of 10 peasants will be immune to its fear from 24 hours, and the rest will recover quickly...

[2e] a savage bite (5d10 points of damage plus acts as a sword of sharpness, severing a limb on a natural attack roll of 18 or better)
[5e] Swallow: The tarrasque makes one bite attack against a Large or smaller creature it is grappling. If the attack hits, the target takes the bite’s damage, the target is swallowed, and the grapple ends. While swallowed, the creature is blinded and restrained, it has total cover against attacks and other effects outside the tarrasque, and it takes 56 (16d6) acid damage at the start of each of the tarrasque’s turns. If the tarrasque takes 60 damage or more on a single turn from a creature inside it, the tarrasque must succeed on a DC 20 Constitution saving throw at the end of that turn or regurgitate all swallowed creatures, which fall prone in a space within 10 feet of the tarrasque. If the tarrasque dies, a swallowed creature is no longer restrained by it and can escape from the corpse by using 30 feet of movement, exiting prone.

Eh... 5e is good enough, but has lots of extra words and a bit less flavor.

Anyway, there are a few things that bother me about the 5e tarrasque... for example, it seems like a decent number of archers with +1 bows and the Sharpshooter feat could take down "possibly the most dreaded monster of the Material Plane". They just have to keep the distance.

I blame bounded accuracy...

But anyway, the thing I miss the most is this:

[2e] ... it regenerates lost hit points at a rate of 1 hit point per round... Slaying of the tarrasque is said to be possible only if the monster is reduced to -30 or fewer hit points and a wish is then used. Otherwise, even the slightest piece of the tarrasque can regenerate and restore the monster completely. Legend says that a great treasure can be extracted from the tarrasque’s carapace. The upper portion, treated with acid and then heated in a furnace, is thought to yield gems (10d10 diamonds of 1,000 gp base value each). The underbelly material, mixed with the creature’s blood and adamantite, is said to produce a metal that can be forged by master dwarven blacksmiths into 1d4 shields of +5 enchantment.

The tarrasque lost its regeneration in 4e.

Anyway, this spawned the concept of "The city built around the tarrasque", the best thing that came out of RPGNet as far as I can remember.

The concept has been expanded further in reddit, etc.:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/2rtwn3/the_city_built_around_the_tarrasque/

So basically you the a city built around an imprisoned tarrasque*, using its regenerating parts for all kinds of stuff.

(*Or, as I prefer it, the semi-dead, hallucinating carcass of the tarrasque).

Source.
So many good ideas spawned from this awesome concept.

Imagine the Tarrasque buried under a castle ... Maybe not everyone knows it is there, except some cultist, butchers... The city has small eathquakes from time to time, the nobles have discreet mutations, there are too many trolls in the area etc.

And PCs enter the picture without knowing what's going on. They may be invited to some of the nobility's peculiar banquets, where they serve the traditional meat dishes... Maybe they can take part in the invasion of this evil city (perhaps an expanding empire that has suddenly become too big to rule), unaware of the tarrasque's presence.

Picture the PCs discovering the monster AFTER they have defeated the city. How can they they maintain the shackles after the gaolers and butchers are gone?

Or maybe the other way around - the characters are hired to defend a city that will be attacked by bandits and savages (who, supposedly, covet the riches within).

[BTW, I wrote a one page adventure with a similar premise a while ago, maybe you can use it as inspiration].

In short, the saddest thing about the 5e tarrasque is not its diminished power, but the fact that it became a bit blander, and ignored one of the best monster stories created by D&D famdom.

As always... I really like 5e, but old school D&D is hard to beat.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

2020 is here, what do YOU need?

Happy new years folks!

Welcome to the year of the double-crit!


If you've been reading this blog, you might have seem my last post, with my plans and ideas for 2020.

In this post, I'm looking for suggestions.

(And if you already commented on that post, thank you! I am writing this down!)

Why, do you ask? Well, I enjoy writing, but I also enjoy being read. It's way better than writing for myself. I enjoy the feedback, the exchange of ideas, etc.

There are some things that I have to write, and I'll write them regardless of readers. Others are stuff I'm interested in, but there are so many possibilities heard that I'd rather focus on whatever people want to read about.

Of course, there is also lots of stuff that I am just not interested in. I am probably not the guy to create new spells for 5e, for example. Now, if you want a new spell system...

Anyways, here are the questions I wanted to ask you. What do YOU prefer? What do YOU want to read about? I'll keep my eye on this post for the entire year of 2020, so drop by in any moment to leave a comment.

Here are some dichotomies to think about... and choose from, if you will.

Blogging x Publishing

I'll do both, but I'm curious: are the readers of this blog interested in the stuff I publish? Do you like to see some of the ideas discussed here in an organized, finished manner? Or do you prefer the back and forth of brainstorming, discussing ideas, etc.? Maybe both?

Blogging is a lot easier than publishing. The advantage of publishing is that I can finally finish stuff... make choices an compromises instead of just coming up with ideas. And present my ideas in a condensed and polished manner for me and others to use. Harder than blogging, yes - but, I think, more useful in many ways.

There is another issue... Since we lost G+, I don't entirely thrust this anymore. Blogger could be gone tomorrow, and backing everything pu is a hassle. Now, about my books, I have backups up in multiple places... they aren't going anywhere.

OSR x 5e

Nowadays, I play only D&D and derivatives. My favorite editions are Basic (B/X, RC) and 5e. There are some similarities, but not always. Like many, I want a version of 5e that is closer to Basic. Something simpler, less convoluted. 

Dark Fantasy Basic does something like that, but it is more OSR than 5e, and has some 3.5x thrown in.

Are you interested in OSR stuff? 5e stuff? Or a mix of both?

Print x PDF

I have never published anything in print, and I have no experience with that. Some people have been asking me for print versions.

Even if you are not interested in my stuff, I'd like to know if you prefer print books or PDFs.

Art x Writing

Most of my small PDFs are pretty plain: a good cover and no interior art. Easy to print and to use, which suits me. 

Now, "big" books are a different matter. Without art, they become big wall of texts, and this is tiresome to the eyes. DFB has lots of (public domain) art because I wanted it to look a certain way. I'm sure I could do something similar with layout, etc., but again, I'm not an artist.

Manual of Arms has SOME art, providing illustration for new weapons (saber, falchion, etc.).

I could introduce more art to my small books, but I'm not sure how useful this is (and this means extra work, of course). What do you think?

Crunch x Fluff

I discuss mechanics quite a lot in this blog. Analyzing existing systems, creating house rules, etc. Its been quite a while since I gave you monsters, settings, etc. Here are a few examples: 1, 2, 3, 4. Would you like to see more of that? Or an adventure (based on this)?

In any case, I'll keep publishing random tables to generate monsters, settings, adventures, etc.

There are other types of content that I do not usually post... Do you like reviews? Posts about actual games I've run, like these two? Non-RPG book reviews like these three posts? Let me know!

One last thing: Curse of Strahd

I am in the final stages of running Curse of Strahd. I have a LOT to say about this module. However, this would only interest people that also want to run it - I assume the number is small. If you're interested in this, let me know!

Anyway...

This is what I've got for now. One of the most difficult things about writing is getting feedback - so I'll appreciate any feedback you can throw my way. Of course, if you enjoy reading my stuff, here is a good chance of tilting me towards stuff you're interested in. Thank you! 

I hope you have an awesome 2020! 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Some RPG plans por 2020

I know, the best-laid plans of mice and men and yadda yadda. I didn't succeed in everything I wanted in 2019, but I wrote some RPG stuff that made me happy.

And 2020 is the year of the double critical, so I'll stay optimistic!

RPG-wise, what I want to do in 2020 is publish a few books. Some are already written, some are just vague ideas at this point, and some are in the middle.

ALL are related to the stuff I write in this blog, mostly because this is the stuff that is on my mind.

Here is what I've got so far.

Dark Fantasy series

I have two more books for my Dark Fantasy series: settings and magic items

I also wrote a book with 100 magical weapons for Dark Fantasy. I like the result. If people like it, I might make a few more (have a few ideas for armor and other magic items).

I am planning to have these three books out before the end of the third trimester.

I'm very, very tempted to write a Dark Fantasy Cyclopedia of sorts. That would include ALL the stuff I have plus a few things from the Teratogenicon (see below). And I want to revise and update a few things from Dark Fantasy Basic. If I do this, I think I'd like to have a print version to use at my table.

This might be lots of work, so maybe I'll leave it for last.

UPDATE [2020]:

Teratogenicon

The Teratogenicon is written. Now I've got some revising to do. The art (by Rick Troula) is not finished yet, but it is looking GREAT so far.

I think we might get this finished before July.

I really like this project, and I want it to be huge. However, I'm not sure if everyone feels like me about monsters. In short: that they should be more varied and interesting, and that this is more important than stat blocks.

Anyway, this is happening regardless. I really hope you like it. If lots of people want it, there might be a print version.


UPDATE [2020]:

Fifth Edition stuff

I have been thinking a lot about 5e lately. I feel I could create an easier, faster version of 5e without losing anything significant. I think I could reduce the relevant parts of 5e to about 100-200 pages. It looks like hard work, but I have the SRD to work with. I dunno. There are a few good books on the market that do that already.

My manual of arms book didn't get much traction, reviews, comments, etc. I'm unsure about making one for armor (and stunts, options, etc.).

There is no date for that so far.

UPDATE [2020]:

Setting stuff

I have a few settings in mind, but nothing is written. Well, some ideas were added to the Teratogenicon and Dark Fantasy Settings, but a have no "setting book" yet. 

I feel a bit silly about inventing names for places, races, people... I don't even USE published settings as written, I added stuff from multiple places, and my books are like that, more suggestions than hard rules, so not sure how useful it would be for other people.

Anyway, I am curious about creating a gonzo, post-apocalyptic setting from this and this. And maybe this and this. In short, my own version of Dark Sun.

There are other ideas too, maybe I'll test the waters a little before I dive in.

There is no date for that so far.

UPDATE [2020]:

Stay tuned!

Here is my idea if you want to keep track of this stuff. I'll update THIS post during the entire year, giving you links as these things come out. See how I wrote "UPDATE [2020]" under each topic? Yeah, I plan to use these blank spaces as soon as I can.

If I fail, well, feel free to call me out in the comments!

Also, I'm writing a second post about my "2020 RPG resolutions" in a couple of days, specifically to ask what would YOU like me to do

Do you want more blogging or more publishing? Do you want OSR, 5e, or both? Lots of arts, lots os writing, or both? Print or PDF? Let me know in the next post... Or, if you can't wait, let me know right here!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

D&D sells you fish, but won't teach you to fish [Part I]

"Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime"... Or so the saying goes.

So, here is the thing. D&D (and pathfinder, etc.) is selling you fish. Classes, races, spells, etc.

Take the 5e PHB, for example. Tons of great stuff. You buy the game, make some choices, and you get a character, and you're ready to play. Not much effort needed. I really like this book.

Same for the Monster Manual. You get a big list of monsters. Find the monster you need, and you're ready to go.

Modules are basically the same thing. You buy more races, monsters, adventures, spells, etc. There is not much material on creating your classes, races, monsters, etc. These should be on the DMG.

And this is great - I love monster manuals, I love cool adventures, and I really like the 5e PHB. The DMG... is a bit disappointing, but we'll get there.

First, the problem with the PHB. While races, classes and feats are cool, there is an obvious point buy mechanic behind them. I ranted about it here. It goes more or less like this:

A feat will give you SIX POINTS.
An ability score increase costs 3.
A skill costs 2.
Expertise costs 4.
Languages, tools or fighting styles cost 1 [NOT the same as a skill!].
A couple of cantrips cost 1.
Saving throw proficiency costs 3 .
Etc.


I mentioned feats, but there is also a "hidden" point buy for races and class features. And that is the entire problem: they never tell you the numbers, making your job of creating races, classes and feats harder.

Of course you can "reverse engineer" this stuff, but it discourages you from creating your own stuff.

Worse, it sometimes seems to mislead the reader on these issues. For example, while skills are obviously better than tools - which is reflected on races, backgrounds, etc., - the "skilled" feat treats them as if they had equal value. Same with saving throws - some are obviously better than others, but the book never mentions it explicitly.

The DMG should fix it - but it doesn't.

While the first chapters of the book are pretty good (with some caveats) to great (see below), the parts about the rules do not explain how this "point buy" rules actually work, even though it hints at it. For example, it says "fire" resistance is more or less equivalent to "necrotic" and "radiant" resistance combined, without measuring it... and failing to mention it while discussing new spells!

The new spells part, BTW, is not that bad... just short and full of useless advice such as:

"If a spell is so good that a caster would want to use it all the time, it might be too powerful for its level."

Or guidelines that are so vague that they have no utility at all:

"A long duration or large area can make up for a lesser effect, depending on the spell."

How long? How large? How lesser? Which spells?

This vagueness is not necessary - you can extrapolate good guidelines from the sorcerer, for example. But, again, they seem to discourage you from creating your own stuff.

The DMG is also bad when messing with other rules. The rules on "damage severity by level" (page 249) treats 1st level PCs as if they had the same HP as 4th level PCs without discussing the issues, for example.  The automatic success rules (page 239) can create baffling effects - for example, a PC with Strength 19 might have 50% chance of battering down a door, while Strength 20 will give you an automatic success (shouldn't be there some middle ground there?). And so on.

Now look at this insightful advice on how to find if a task is easy, moderate or hard:

Then ask yourself, "Is this task's difficulty easy, moderate, or hard?"

It sounds like some kind of joke, but this is what the DMG actually say (without addressing that in most adventures there are a lot of DC 12 and DC 13 tasks).

The part about creating monsters is, well... good enough, I guess. Probably deserves a post of its own. Here is something to get you started.

The interesting thing is that the DMG is great when discussing other issues.

The NPC tables are awesome, and the magic items generation is just FANTASTIC. Even the tables on creating adventures is great. Same for settings (although occasionally a bit boring).

These do not only teach how to fish, but provide with hook and line to create your own stuff!

In fact, there is so much awesome stuff in the DMG that I almost feel bad for criticizing it.

But anyway - I feel there is this strange tendency towards avoiding teaching people how to fish, for fer of not being able to sell fish anymore. Which is silly, IMO. In reality, there will ALWAYS be more people willing to buy fish than to do the fishing themselves.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Sacrifice (D&D 5e) - are you WILLING to DIE?

Here is an idea I mentioned a few times, in improved form, and in one single post.

In short, it is this: if you want to fight to death, you can fight past 0 HP, but it is dangerous.

The table below is inspired by a similar one in Dark Fantasy Basic.


Here is how it goes: 

When you drop to 0 Hit Points (and are not killed outright, as per the usual rules), you do not necessarily fall unconscious.

Instead, you can choose to fight on if you're willing to fight to the death.

In theory, the player should consider his characters motivations, bonds, etc., but in practice its his choice (with some justification required).

If he choose to fall unconscious, that's all that happens for now.

If he choose to fight on, he immediately makes a death saving throw.

Death Saving Throws
Whenever you start Your Turn with 0 Hit Points, you must make a Special saving throw, called a death saving throw, to determine whether you creep closer to death or hang onto life. Unlike other Saving Throws, this one isn’t tied to any ability score. You are in the hands of fate now, aided only by Spells and features that improve your chances of succeeding on a saving throw.

Roll a d20: If the roll is 10 or higher, you succeed. Otherwise, you fail. A success or failure has no effect by itself. On your third success, you become stable (see below). On your third failure, you die. The successes and failures don’t need to be consecutive; keep track of both until you collect three of a kind. The number of both is reset to zero when you regain any Hit Points or become stable.

Rolling 1 or 20: When you make a death saving throw and roll a 1 on The D20, roll on the table below. If you roll a 20 on The D20, you regain 1 hit point.

Death's door table:
1 - This counts as two failed death saving throws, instead of one.
2 - Gain one level of exhaustion.
3 - Permanent scar.
4 - Temporary disability.
5 - Permanent disability.
6 - Falls unconscious.
(7, 8, 9... - etc...)

You get the idea.

BTW, while you have 0 HP, once per turn you can ignore one source of damage (up to 10% of your maximum HP), unless it is a critical hit (see this post). [another alternative would be getting temporary HP due to Adrenalin...]

What's the point?

Letting PCs choose if they remain fighting after mortally wounded is dramatically appropriated... and just plain cool. Sacrifice suits dark fantasy even better than random death, IMO, and it is obviously more suited to epic fantasy too.

Notice they can still die if they choose unconsciousness, but it is a bit less likely. Unless the adversaries go out of their way to kill a fallen character, he might survive anything but a few bad die rolls or a total party kill. An unconscious characters can also be ransomed, etc.

It is cool for the players, too. They get to choose when to put their characters lives on the line. In practice, I've seem players get a bit more mindful of their battles, taking responsibility in their own hands.
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