Dragon: To Live Defeated

Virtually every combat scenario--and more than a few non-combat ones--traditionally ends when the heroes having beaten all the hit points out of their foes. Sometimes the players don't want to kill an opponent for one reason or other: it might be a guard just "doing his job", an innocent citizen acting under misinformation (or magical compulsion), or someone that they need information from but won't give it up without a fight. In past editions you'd have to taken a penalty for your troubles, but 4th Edition edition makes it as easy as declaring that you want to deal nonlethal damage.

This article provides you with some guidelines on dealing with opponents that you don't want to technically kill, though I have to say many of those are actually worse than death: a few let you do some mundane harm, such as crippling or blinding them. In a world where missing limbs can be regenerated, doesn't sound so bad. However, one lets you teleport them into a volcano, where they are continuously burned and heal for theoretically eternity. Others tread the middle ground, such as petrification, memory wipe, removal of any ability to communicate, or transforming them into a harmless animal.

The author makes it a point to restrict some of these methods for players with suitable powers and degrees of power, so don't expect fighters to turn defeated foes into toilets, or even low-level wizards to wipe all mention of the villain from history. Generally when my players decide to spare a villain, servant, or minion, they just kind of run him off or bring him to the authorities. On one occasion, they beat up some guards and then paid the other one to "take a week off". This article, if nothing else, should provide some inspiration to help players come up with more..."creative" methods.

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