Hi, good morning.
I have some NPC which death prophecy is "paints".
I have thought about some case of kill possibilities for him, that's not really the problem.
The big problem is : what if my NPC is not dead (because the "killing" attack was a sword, not at all related to paints) ? Is he:
- OK without injure?
- heavy wounded?
ON the game, i stated he was incapacited (because he tooks 4 killings attacks in a round.. ^^ yeah the magi are brutes).
Then, what if the players, using his incapacitation, come to burn and to cut the body? I stated he can't be burn at the point to be killed, so i heavy wounded him for the fire.
For the cutting part of the "we want to kill our enemy!!!" process, i stated they can't because if cuting his throat or his legs etc, would bring him to death.
But, that was on the moment.
What about RAW? What would you have done?
"Paints" would be infeasible as a death prophecy in my saga. It is not prophecy-like in style. For me a death prophecy takes the form of a statement, not a word. Something like "thou shall only fear wolves" or "When the earth rumbles thou shall know the meaning of death". "Paints" does not fall into that category at all.
Still, you have allows it, so let's work with it
No, I would say that the sword will not kill him. it can still chop his army cleanly, though. Death prophecy does not mean invulnerability. You can be crippled, for example. Per the RAW you do only need to grant that he does not die. Apart from that he can suffer all kinds of ignominies as usual.
If he is dismembered you can state "and the blood painted his whole body" and be done with it. Still it looks extremely un-mythic to me, but hey. Where are those sidekicks that are used to save the dude's ass when you need a dramatic "I shall return!!" scene?
besides, when was the last time that you obviously demonic-ridden murderous magi confessed their sins? I would be clapping with my ears in glee if I was a demon witnessing the scene.
The question is not whether you approve/agree with "paints", but what happens if the PC would have been "killed" but not according to the death prophecy?
Depends, but the PC is definitely not "OK without injury"! It's not an immunity, it's about "Death". I'd put them as incapacitated, and possibly with additional Flaws.
The prophecy is not that they can't get maimed. If they tried to chop him into little bits, something would happen to prevent his obvious death - OR, he'd miraculously revive.
(As SG, you should look ahead and avoid those situations.)
First of all, don't get a death profecy person into a situation where he'll surely die in some random fashion.
It all depends on how high-fantasy your game is, but I'll just toss in my 10 cents of fairy/magic/creative/insane ideas:
You say that his death profecy has something to do with paint. He might very well be part of the essence of imagination. So when your players cut him down with their mighty blades, the blood and gore splashing around. His blood also sprays onto the clothes of one of the players.
The blood doesn't rinse off, when somebody tries to clean it, it suddenly gets others colours aswell. It behaves a bit like ... paint. Over time the clothes come to resemble the clothes of this particular NPC. If another person wears the clothes, he will eventually change into that NPC.
bit of a strange way to handle a death profecy, but you might like it.
There is a painting of this NPC in his castle (or whatever home he's got). As long as the players don't destroy that painting, the nasty NPC step out of the painting at the next full moon after his apparent demise.
this solution also twists the death profecy. it makes a sort of special being of you NPC.
If you want your NPC to be a 'normal' human, you shouldn't let him get into the way of harm. 4 killing blows (probably in a single round) means that the NPC is not strong enough. And you probably haven't cheated early enough. Now you have to clean up the mess, which is very hard to do without making it look like a major Deus ex Machina.
Arguably, a Deus ex Machina is exactly what you want: part of the charm of an NPC death prophecy is that it should make the players wonder what the hell it is that makes this guy always get away with what he does, so that in the end, they can use his death prophecy against him.
You should probably prevent your players burning and shredding him to pieces, rather than ruling it 'just doesn't kill him,' which is indeed a bit lame. Paris' ideas are cool, but your solution should depend on the nature of the death prophecy, which might require something less intrusive.
You could offer your players a reason why they do not want to kill the guy. Either because they learn it has very nasty consequences (lethal magic in a watching ward, angering BeÃ«lzebub, you name it), or because it's beneficial to them not to kill him (they can trade him for whatever it is they've wanted for years, he pees raw Vis). If they're sensitive to that kind of thing you could let somebody they trust and appreciate beg for mercy on his behalf.
Alternatively you could use a distraction to buy him some time, so that he can get away with outside help. Surely some things require more direct attention than your helpless npc?
Exactly. Have a severe rainstorm kick up as soon as they start the fire, or a giant magnet on an invisible flying boat grab up all the swords. Maybe it turns out the guy was only someone else in disguise. Or some larger problem, like a really angry dragon, distracts them, or some other supernatural entity saves them for some reason. (Literally god from the machine.)
Deus ex machina... it's not a thing i like. It's like "OH its an important NPC, you cannot kill it now, you need to achieve the game to final battle him"
It reminds me too much the RPG game where for any (bad) reasons, the big bad guy flee and the main characters let him do.
I like my PC's to be smarts and kill the NPC when he flees, discuss (you know the "i do a long talk during the heroes watch me speaking without fire..." syndrom, etc.
I'm open to "big NPC" being killed before i expected.
But there, if they cannot kill him (because it was the first time they saw my NPC, a criminal hunt by the noble near the covenant, and ignore the death prophecy), they have emprisonned him during at least 1 year... and he swore to take his revenge .
They have faced him against, doing a earthwave which emprisonned him under a hill but he took 2 seasons to find the secret exit.
(And that's why i like my NPC, because he failed two times, but get more angry each time and search and find some way to be invincible against the PC's weapons... which takes times!).