Game Mechanic Suggestion: Death's Door

Reason for this Suggestion:

In one of his recent videos MurderUnicorn talked about the addition of the deserters camp.
His valid point of criticism was the sheer deadliness of this place with half a dozen soldiers firing assault rifle salvos in your direction and the impossibility to make this a worthwhile endeavor.
With NPCs using their guns in an appropriate (and deadly) way, you need endgame armor to even try fighting such enemies and by then, every loot you could find there is already worthless.
This makes the new location, and anything similar to it, frustrating for newer players, while experienced players will probably just avoid it altogether, which would be a shame because these new areas are really well done and should be explored.
The problem with firearms in enemy hands is already massive and will only grow in the future with a more fleshed out AI and more places, where NPCs can appear.
Even in the current state, a NPC with a gun is far more dangerous than even the strongest zombie.
Of course firearms could be nerfed to the ground and beyond to make them less deadly to player characters but that does not really fit the game.

One part of a possible solution for this problem could be a cover system to make firefights more survivable.
Another one would be the addition of a game mechanic for “Death’s Door”.

Description of the mechanic:

When a character would die by lethal damage, they reach Death’s Door instead.
This affects player characters and all NPCs with names (allied, neutral or hostile).
They fall to the ground unconscious and are treated more or less like a dead body.
Enemies won’t attackt them as long as there is another valid target around.
When reaching Death’s Door, a counter is started at 100, lowered by 1 each turn.
Every damage the unconscious character suffers is subtracted from this counter as well (for example stray bullets or AoE-attacks). They would be safe behind decent cover though.
When the counter reaches 0, the character dies like they woud in the current state of the game.

While on Death’s Door, a character can be stabilized by an ally using decent medical equipment.
This stops the death counter and enables a rescue and subsequent healing of the fallen, which should probably take a significant amount of time and resources while the unconscious character is completely helpless.

If the player character is on Death’s Door, the player can take control of an ally like normal but with the additional chance of rescuing their original character if they are fast enough.

Purpose of this mechanic:

Death’s Door would make high risk battles a lot more encouraging and fun.
While not making firearms any less dangerous, the possibility of recovering the player character or fallen allies would make exploring dangerous parts of the game a lot less suicidal.
Of course this mechanic would only make a difference for players with at least one ally at their side, a lone wolf would just be ripped to shreds by their enemies when they don’t find anyone else around to fight.

Another welcome byproduct of this mechanic would be the elimination of most one-shot kills.
These are annoying in every permadeath-game, especially when they are not really your fault.
With Death’s Door in place, deadly traps like landmines and hard boss battles in the future would be much more bearable and fun, because a single misstep would not mean the end any more if you prepared yourself and brought some friends.
It would also help tremendously with keeping NPCs alive, when they behave in a more … erratic way (like they do sometimes).

Other interesting parts of this mechanic:

  • The possibility to end fights with enemy NPCs without killing one another:
    Stabilizing would also work on enemy NPCs, so they could be captured, healed and interrogated / recruited / experimented on with lots of mutagens, ect.
    I see a lot of interesting quest potential in this idea!
    (You could probably also make amends for angering a friendly NPC without outright killing them, which might come in handy for some players).

  • The player character could be caught by an enemy faction:
    Some enemies (raiders, mi-go) would probably be more interested in capturing and enslaving a survivor than just killing them.
    Being ambushed by NPC bandits on the road and waking up in a slave compound could be an interesting part of a story, much more intersting and satisfying than just being shot.
    Of course, when you fail at escaping, the bandits might be much less charitable than before.

  • Death’s Door would only work with normal damage (attacks, blood loss, falling from medium heights, car accidents, telefragging) and temperature effects, NOT with starvation, dehydration, jumping from a skyscraper roof or getting caught in the explosion of a mininuke.

In my opinion this game mechanic would add a lot of fun (and drama) to the game without sacrificing the deadly reality of gunfights and surviving in an apocalypse. While exploring would still be dangerous, it would be much more worthwhile when facing enemies with high damage attacks without the protection of upgraded power armor.
The tactical decision to fight an uphill battle to the bitter end in the hope to rescue your fallen comrades is something that could make one of the more frustrating parts of the game into one of the most exciting ones.
Players should want to visit these new NPC locations, like for example the deserters camp, and not avoiding them like hell because they don’t want to risk their character.

The death counter could probably be linked to another game statistic as well. It could be combined with the blood loss mechanic but considering that a character shot to Death’s Door would alreday be bleeding like a fountain, this would probably not work.

This game mechanic would need a system to change the player character not only on death, because when the original player character enters Death’s Door and is rescued, the player might want to switch back to them when the healing process is completed.
Considering that switching characters is already possible ingame, I think this would be a rather easy adjustment.

This is only the first draft of an idea, so please discuss and improve it if you want!


I absolutely love this idea, and if I could make an additional/Alteration. How about if the PC/NPC takes massive DMG, ( something like an addition 50% Dmg over their Max health or more) it could be an outright death. These sources would most likely be what you already named, but could also include unlucky crits when already close to death. I absolutely agree with the ability to be captured and expermented on by the Migo, that could also solve the problem that someones else explained about them in another thread!

Not to mention the possibility of mutations caused by these experiments.:upside_down_face:

Its a neat proposal, but a lot of elements of it run fairly hard the general design goal (IE No Protagonist/Plot Armor) and are only at best ancillary compatible with the general wound system that’s being planned. I say Ancillary, because with the wound system, the idea of surviving 6-8 gunshot wounds to the torso becomes theoretically viable with extreme luck, if not medically likely. The time you have to deal with the situation and save them depends on the wounds - Thrown into a wall by a hulk? You’ve got time, but need medical attention for probable internal bleeding. You just took a bullet to a major artery and are rapidly bleeding out? You’ve got thirty seconds to staunch that before you bleed out, hope you brought a quick access IFAK.

The idea of switching to an NPC on incapacitation instead of pure death has appeal, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that, within reason - If I pass out from pain or blood loss, being temporarily given control of my backup would be nice. Not sure if that fits with the general plans for NPC succession/replacement, but the alternative would be smarter NPC’s capable of salvaging the situation and saving your ass. I’d prefer that solution tbh, but the simpler one already has all its pieces in place. In many situations, you’ll just drop dead and get to switch anyway.

As for scripted events on death like being captured, no idea what the take is. I personally dislike this, feels too gamey - A capture by the extradimensional entities is just a death with a fancy skin, and a capture by the bandits and raiders makes no sense - What are they going to do with a slave, feed it food they don’t have?

Not sold on the pitch overall, it feels like its introducing an arbitrary system that doesn’t really have any sensible foundation, rather than fixing the actual underlying issues - it just creates another underlying issue that now needs to be balanced with content - If players suddenly can survive an ambush point blank from a shotgun npc because they have a friend to swap to nearby, I gotta turn up the encounter lethality to threaten the whole group, otherwise the encounter loses its teeth. Paradoxically, we increase the lethality of the game to account for excessive survivability.

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That’s a good idea!

I don’t think my proposal reaches into the area of plot armor. All characters (player, ally and enemy) are still very much capable of dying, you just have a limited time to save them.
Considering the bounds of reality this should still be within reason.
It is a bit more “gamey” for sure but not really more than surviving being thrown through one or several walls by a hulk and still being able to move.

If I remember correctly, the blob is already affecting every human survivor even in not-yet-zombie form (Faster wound healing and similar effects).
This could be taken as justification for just a little more resilience than you could expect from a normal everyday person.
Death’s Door is meant to prevent death by bad luck, not by dumb decissions, and only if you prepared the required resources (decent medical equipment and someone still alive to use it). It’s not intended to be a magical rescue button.

The mi-go towers are already able to be breached (it’s hard but possible). This is even a challenge scenario in the game right now, so this is just the step before that.
Of course not every defeat of a player would lead to just awakening in a random slave quarter, it should only happen rarely (and against the right type of enemies) and give the surviving allies a chance to rescue their mate before they are killed / eaten / boiled or whatever mi-go do with their prisoners (this means of course you have to attack a mi-go tower, a really dangerous place, with less people than you would normally have and with a time limit. That will probably lead to even more deaths).

Human bandits have a really good reason to not kill everyone they come across but rather capturing them: Interrogation
Where did their prisoner come from?
How many people are there with them?
Do they have food? A base? How well armed are they? Do they have any traps around their base?
A lot of things a prisoner could tell them, while a corpse can not!
Slavery and working someone to death is of course another option that seems rather realistic from what I have found in the game already while playing (some of these things might be related to mods though).
A ransom (in food / weapons / ammunition / medicine) would be another good reason to keep someone alive.

There were some arguments about NPC bandit ambushes and similar events that I remember and they always ended with the same conclusion: They would be far too deadly (Even before the AI-Patch that lets NPCs use their guns even more)!
That’s the reason there are no enemy snipers in the game and no real bandit attacks.
It would just end the game if you are not clad in power armor (the present form of “plot armor”).
With Death’s Door, a point blank shotgunblast would still be exactly as devastating as before, but now there would be a chance to see anything after it besides a “You Died” - Screen.
The same goes for landmines (they were cut across the board for exactly this reason).
I think the game would be still as challanging as now, just a bit less dependent on luck and avoiding the really dangerous places.

Thank you very much for your feedback!
The new wound system looks interesting and maybe could be used to accomplish a bit more “survivability” in some parts of the game (or decreasing it at the same time in other parts).
I think both systems could work together when Death’s Door is more seen like “passing out from pain” (very realistic) and not as “destiny / magic / god keeps you safe from dying” (not so realistic).

Having read the basics of the upcoming wound-system (thanks for the link Profugo!), I got a few ideas for improvement.

Kevin’s plan to make wounds more of a “cascading effect” (lower impact when rested, bigger impact when already wounded and tired) instead of hard numbers counting towards death could lead to interesting ways of controlling the escalation of combat.
With this, you could reduce the amount of critical / hard hits that a character would suffer at the beginning of a gunfight (a target with high stamina is moving and dodging better and is therefore more difficult to hit). This would reduce the overwhelming damage spikes that automatic firearms are capable of in the current system and improve balance a fair bit!

Additionally, the main factors of the wound system could be used as a really organic way for the Death’s Door mechanic: pain, bloodloss and overall number of wounds.

Fighting to the last breath like a berserker and then just falling dead to the ground (as it often happens in normal hp-systems) might me metal, but it is rather unrealistic.

I think it is much more realistic to assume that a lot of people would pass out from painshock and fatigue before they die (which would give the player or their allies a small time window to rescue them).
So, instead of having an abstract number of hp that lead to a character’s death when they run out, a badly wounded fighter should just pass out when the combined effect of pain, bloodloss and suffered injuries goes too high.
In this unconscious state they would no longer be treated as a valid target by enemies, if there are other available targets around, and could be rescued as I described above. The death timer in this new system can probably just be linked to the remaining blood of the victim or being influenced by things like breathing, internal wounds, ect.

I think this is a really elegant solution for controlling the threat of a fight without making them easier or unfair. After all, you have to win the ongoing battle decisively to be able to stabilize your fallen comrades.
If you are overrun or have to flee, all unconscious characters die anyway and nothing changes.
To reward the player for efficient fighting by letting them rescue their characters should open up a lot of tactical (and dramatic) possibilities.

Of course this would only be possible if all vital organs of the character are still in a half-functioning state!

The game RimWorld does a really good job at keeping gunfights challenging but fair. It uses a similar system (characters passing out from pain and bloodloss) and while deaths are still possible at any time, it never feels random or unfair. I think CDDA could use such a system in great ways for telling it’s storries.

A surviving character should be earned as well as a dead one!

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