Death Mechanics in Old School

Death Mechanics in Old School
Death Mechanics in Old School

Changelog (19/02/2020):

We've made some more changes based on your feedback. Thank you for your support.
  • In a non-PvP death, items with broken versions (such as fire capes, avernic defenders and Barbarian Assault hats) will now go to your gravestone without breaking. The fee for retrieving them from a gravestone or from Death's Office would be considerably less than the repair cost would have been.
  • In a PvP death, such broken items currently drop 75% of their repair cost to the PKer. We'd like to raise this to 100%.
  • As Iron players remain concerned about being expected to pay high fees, we propose a 50% fee reduction for Gravestones and Death's office for standard and hard-core Iron accounts. This is in addition to creating Death's Coffer, which would help such players get the GE value of their items.
    We have not used the suggestion of basing it on alchemy prices because those seldom reflect the worth of an item, or its difficulty to re-obtain.
    UIM are not affected by these fees anyway.
Changelog (14/02/2020):

We're keeping an eye on your feedback on this topic, and we expect to continue adjusting the proposed designs after the weekend before the survey opens.
  • The fees for permanent item-reclaiming chests, including Torfinn, the Theatre of Blood, the Volcanic Mine and all other such situations, will be left unchanged - except for Zulrah, which will be given a fee only for non-UIM players with a kill-count over 50. UIM and players who'd not killed it 50 times would still get their items back there for free.
  • Iron players expressed concern over how they'd get the cash to pay fees. We'd like to propose, as part of Death's Office, a means of sacrificing unwanted items to pay for these fees - which would be open to non-Iron accounts too, and would act as an item sink for the game. It's called Death's Coffer.
  • We proposed moving your existing grave if you died a second time. As the first grave could only exist for up to 15 mins anyway, we no longer feel that any significant abuse should arise from people setting one up in a safe place before going anywhere dangerous, so we've removed this bit.
  • Ornate items will tend to be protected without breaking/disassembling in a non-PvP death.
  • The blog now clarifies that in the event of a non-PvP death, items locked to you by a Trouver parchment will keep their (l) status, rather than requiring you to pay for another Trouver parchment to re-protect them.
Introduction

Back in 2015, when the game worlds had less protection from malicious attacks than they do now, we made some unpolled changes to item behaviour on death. These were only ever intended to be temporary, but we've allowed them to remain for a long time. Now we would like to get on with addressing this as we promised before.

After the last time we spoke about it, we ran a survey to see how players felt, and we've adapted this version of the design around the feedback. It cannot possibly please everyone - after all, people can see a vested interest in keeping their deaths as safe as possible - but we think it will be better for the game in the long term if we restore more risk to death. And many players have been supportive of this aim.

We know that currently the game worlds aren't guaranteed to offer you good connections, so players have wondered why we don't wait until everything's 'fixed'. To be brutally honest that's not a guarantee we could ever make. Even with all the protections that have been added since 2015, 'fixed' would still only mean that we've not yet found any problems.

However, five years is a long time for a change that was promised as temporary, and it's understandable that some players have become impatient - especially as there are new options available to us now, including making graves work cross-world, that players have generally supported in discussions. Even if the outcome of this process is to leave the existing behaviour unchanged, we'd at least like to offer some options.


Key changes from the previous version
  • A major point of feedback last time was that most Ultimate Ironmen (UIM) have designed their activities around the current death mechanics. We'll therefore aim to leave them unchanged as far as possible, whereby their items will sit on the ground for an hour on whichever world they died on, with no fee involved in reclaiming them.
  • The survey found that almost all players like the idea of items dropping outside instanced areas if you died in one, and for the timer to count down only while you're online. However, opinions were mixed regarding the how high the reclamation fee should be, even though most players do agree that the game needs cash sinks and item sinks. We'll therefore provide more details about it in this version of the blog - and, as covered above, this won't affect UIM anyway.
  • How the last version handled repeated deaths - as in, where a player dies and drops items, then dies again and drops more items before reclaiming the first batch - was unsatisfactory.
  • If you died in a mapped area, we'll mark the grave on your world map. We'll also show your remaining retrieval time counting down on the gameframe, so that you know how long you've got left before the items are lost.


Core mechanics for natural causes

This whole section does not apply to Ultimate Iron accounts - please see below for more details on UIM.

When you die to 'natural causes', such as monster attacks or anything that's not PvP, a Gravestone will appear on the ground near where you died.

Most tradeable items that you're carrying or wearing will appear on it, and can be reclaimed by clicking on the Gravestone within a time limit. You'll keep your three most valuable items (or none if you're skulled), plus one extra, if you've enabled the Protect Item prayer - those items will move to your inventory, and will not go into the Gravestone.

Untradeable items will uncharge if they have a mechanic for doing so. For example a charged trident would become uncharged (with its retrievable contents moving to the Gravestone). However, items that can break will be moved to your gravestone without breaking; similarly, ornate items (equivalent cosmetic upgrades) would remain in their ornate form.

Where is your Gravestone?

Unlike the current situation, where items appear only in the game world where you died and are lost if the game reboots, your Gravestone would appear on whatever game world you log into. Plus, it would still hold onto your items even if the game reboots. Some limits apply:
  • If you die on a PvP world, you can only loot your Gravestone on PvP worlds. This means that you can't retrieve your items in complete safety on a non-PvP world.
    We're aware that you'd have an incentive to travel via a safe world, even if you had to return to the PvP world to loot the Gravestone. It's not ideal, but we don't think that's a deal-breaker for the whole concept - especially as a PvP death would have been treated differently.
  • Similarly, if you die on a Deadman world, you would only be able to loot your Gravestone on equivalent Deadman worlds. This is a moot point at the moment since there's only one Deadman world.
  • A member who dies in a members-only area and runs out of membership credit would not be able to return to the members-only area to visit their Gravestone unless they got more membership credit. That may sound harsh, but it's always been the case - we've emphasised it here only because the flexible timers of the Gravestones (see below) mean there's more time during which a player could run out of credit while their Gravestone's waiting for them.
The Gravestone's position will usually be within a few maptiles of the spot where you died, so you'll easily find it. There are, however, some exceptions:
  • If you're in an 'instanced' area that doesn't have its own item reclamation feature, such as Torfinn's chest at Vorkath or Petrified Pete at the Volcanic Mine, your Gravestone will spawn outside the instanced area, so you'll be able to access it. This has considerably less risk than the current situation, where items drop on the ground inside the instance where you can never return to retrieve them.
  • If you're in one of the four God Wars Dungeon boss rooms, re-entering those within the permitted time would be unusually hard. As a special exception we're willing to move your Gravestone out of those boss rooms, since the total duration of a Gravestone would be lower than you currently have. This can be polled.
  • If you're in a place that does have something like Torfinn's chest or Petrified Pete, that chest/NPC will continue working as it currently does.
    This means that your items will stay in it indefinitely, and you'll pay a fee to reclaim them, like you already do.
    The fee would be the same as it is now. You can also use your Death's Coffer fund to pay the fee (see below).
  • If you're fighting Zulrah, Priestess Zul-Gwenwynig will gather your items and hold onto them indefinitely, as she currently does. However, she'll henceforth give them back via the chest menu used by Torfinn and the other situations.
    Players who've not killed Zulrah much will get her services for free. Players who have a Zulrah kill-count of 50 or above will be asked to pay 100,000 coins (matching what is charged at Vorkath).
    As mentioned above, this does not apply to Ultimate Iron accounts. They will continue to reclaim their items from the priestess for free, without use of that chest menu.
We've not forgotten that Gravestones in the other RuneScape occasionally lost items prematurely if lots of players' graves appeared in a small area, since the game couldn't handle so many items on the ground together. This mostly occurred outside major boss instances, such as the QBD, due to the number of deaths around launch day. For Old School RuneScape, we'd use a very different form of code to implement this update, so we'd not be at risk of that particular bug.

How long does your Gravestone last?

Following our unpolled changes from 2015, items sit on the ground for 60 minutes - unless the world reboots, or too many other items spawn in the area. That 60 minutes is real time, so if you couldn't reconnect to that game world within the hour, you'd be out of luck. This would be especially galling if the connection trouble had also caused your death.

These Gravestones would stay for 15 minutes, but the timer would count down only while you were online, and the Gravestone would not be wiped by a world rebooting. So if you couldn't reconnect to that game world immediately, you'd be free to try other equivalent worlds, or wait as long as you liked before trying again - the timer would stay paused as long as you were offline.

The new duration may sound harsh for players who've become accustomed to having 60 minutes, but it'd be balanced by the time counting down only while you're online, the system working in instanced areas, and protecting you across a reboot etc. We also mentioned above that we could move Gravestones to the outside of the four GWD boss rooms, since they're relatively challenging to re-enter quickly.
(Note: ecumenical keys do exist, but are hard to obtain. We believe this change would not remove all value from those, since it's still helpful to be able to enter the boss rooms quickly.)

We're aware that players sometimes get a dropped connection causing the game to think they've reconnected, but they actually haven't - in these instances we would aim to detect this and pause the timer.

How do you get your items back from a Gravestone?

Click on it! It'll present a display of its contents, like the chests you'll have seen at Torfinn and other such facilities. The menu lets you see what's in there, unlock access to the items by paying any fee, and discard anything you'd rather not take. Discarding items could reduce the fee since there'd be less remaining in the grave. Even if you didn't pay the fee, we'd still let you take any item that's too low in value to affect the fee.

Having paid, a single click would move items back to your inventory.


The illustration shows the current item retrieval screen used by Petrified Pete.


Unlike menus such as Torfinn's display, the Gravestone's display would be able to stay open during combat, and be moved around the screen for your convenience like the World Map can for desktop users.

How much is the fee for the new Gravestones?

Not as much as some have expected. We've used fees of up to 100k coins for various instanced boss rooms and similar high-end challenges, and that's the kind of scale we're looking at here. Here it would depend on the GE value of the item (or its equivalent for items that don't go on the GE), with a discount for Iron accounts.
  • Items with a value under 100k coins have no fee. You'd be able to take those immediately, even if the grave also contained items for which a fee was required. That should cover food, potions, generic tools and lower-level kit - especially items used by newer players.
  • Items with a value between 100k and 1m coins will be charged at 1k coins per item.
  • Items with a value between 1m and 10m coins will be charged at 10k coins per item.
  • Items with a value of 10m coins or above will be charged at 100k coins per item.
  • The total fee will be capped at 500k coins. In practice, most load-outs shouldn't reach that amount, especially after 3+1 items have been protected.
  • For Iron accounts, including Hard Core Iron accounts, the total fee would now be reduced by 50%, to reflect the relative difficulty of that mode.
For example, consider a ranger who keeps three protected items, and drops the following items to their Gravestone:
  • Armadyl helmet - adds 10k to the fee.
  • Armadyl chestplate - adds 100k to the fee.
  • Armadyl chainskirt - adds 100k to the fee.
  • Barrows gloves - no fee due to low value of item.
  • Pile of Zulrah scales - no fee due to low value of individual items.
  • Total fee: 210k coins for a standard player, reduced to 105k for an Iron account or Hard Core Iron account.
The fee could be taken from Death's Coffer (see below), or directly from the Bank, or from money already in the Gravestone, avoiding problems for players who forget to bring cash. The 'Items Kept on Death' screen will show how much the fee will be. This means players will know before embarking on a trip, so they'd know in advance whether they could afford it. If the player wanted to reduce their fee by discarding individual items from the Gravestone before paying the remaining fee, they would be able to do so.

Some feel this scale of fee to be too low, though over time it would gradually drain a lot of coins without walloping any individual player too hard for every single death. Furthermore, this isn't expected to be the only cash sink added to the game this year.

How are different items treated? What about supplies I wanted to keep on the floor?

It depends on how the item currently behaves on death.
  • First let's look at supplies - food and potions. Players like to use repeated deaths to create piles of supplies in a boss area, for later use.
    When you die, they'd go to your Gravestone like normal items do. If you now die again, the food & potions already in your Gravestone would be dropped to the floor in that place, visible only to you, so that you could use them as a supply pile.
    We'd like to choose a duration for this based on how long the Gravestone had existed, most likely around an hour (in-game time). But this supply pile would act like anything else on the ground, i.e. it'd be lost if the world reboots, and it wouldn't appear on other worlds. This isn't how other items would act if you died again - it's a special exception we're offering for food and potions to preserve the existing behaviour for players.
     
  • Some items can turn into something else on death, such as the Armadyl Godsword (or) losing its '(or)' and Barrows kit breaking.
    These would not break or lose their '(or)' status. The breakable items would move to your gravestone to be retrieved from there, whereas the items with cosmetic upgrades would remain in your inventory or remain equipped, thus giving the upgrade an extra perk.
     
  • Some items turn into cash on death, such as the anchor.
    These would be sent to the Gravestone (without turning into cash).
     
  • Some untradeable items break, such as fire capes.
    These would move to your Gravestone, but will not break.
     
  • Items locked to you by a Trouver Parchment would remain in your inventory or remain equipped without breaking or losing their (l) status.
     
  • In deep Wilderness, most untradeable items are turned into a small quantity of cash, even on a PvM death (i.e. where no player was credited for killing you). This would still apply.
    One change is that the rule governing 'untradeable items that break' would now take priority over this rule. Thus a fire cape in a PvM death in deep Wilderness would now break but stay in your inventory, or stay equipped, rather than being turned into a small pile of coins. However, an untradeable item that does not have a broken version would still turn into coins, as before. This change is proposed because the order of these two checks seemed wrong in PvP, and we'd like to offer to change it - preferably while keeping it consistent for PvM deaths.
     
  • Some items are destroyed, especially quest-related items. These would still be destroyed as they always have been, and would not go into your Gravestone at all.
What if I die again before looting my Gravestone?

Your Gravestone will keep its existing contents, apart from food and potions, which would be dropped on the ground to form a supply pile as described above. Anything you're losing in your new death will be added to the existing Gravestone.

Graves can't have infinite capacity, though. If you keep dying over and over again, resulting in more than 100 stacks of items being held in the Gravestone, the game will have to delete some stuff to make room for the items you're dropping on your most recent death. It will aim to pick the lowest-value junk it can find in there. It's worth remembering that the game can't hold unlimited stacks of items on the ground in one place, so the existing system isn't exactly guaranteeing the protection of your items either.

The grave's location would generally remain unchanged, so that you can't teleport your existing grave to your respawn point for your convenience by killing your character again in that place. The duration of the Gravestone will be reset, giving you a fresh 15 minutes to make your way to it.

In a previous draft of this blog, we raised a concern about players setting up a grave in a safe place, before going somewhere dangerous, so that their items would be sent to the safe place for easy retrieval. However, we no longer feel that to be practical for players to abuse, since it could only exist for 15 minutes, so we have removed that section of the blog.

What about the permanent death-drop holders like Torfinn?

At present, there are various chests and NPCs that hold onto dropped items permanently if you die in their areas. Torfinn and the other Dragon Slayer II chest charge 100k coins, as does the Theatre of Blood, while the Fremennik Exiles quest and Grotesque Guardians charge 50k coins and Priestess Zul-Gwenwynig is currently free. Petrified Pete charges 150 numulites.

These fees would remain unchanged, and the features will continue operating as they always have done - with the exception of Zulrah. That boss is quite lucrative, so we would like to introduce some risk for players who die there. However, we would like to avoid impacting players who have yet to learn its mechanics:
  • Players who've not killed Zulrah much will get the retrieval services of Priestess Zul-Gwenwynig for free.
  • Players who have a Zulrah kill-count of 50 or above will be asked to pay 100,000 coins (matching what is charged at Vorkath).
  • As mentioned above, this does not apply to Ultimate Iron accounts. They will continue to reclaim their items from the priestess for free, in the same way that they have before.


How is it different in PvP?
This section doesn't apply to Ultimate Iron accounts.

This applies if another player got kill-credit for your death, such as in the Wilderness or a PvP world.

For any items that aren't given to the PKer, most of the Gravestone's behaviour still applies after a PvP death. For clarity, we'll detail the behaviour of special items here:
  • For supplies - food and potions, these tend to be tradeable, so the PKer should receive them in their loot pile.
    Any untradeable items would go to the Gravestone, acting as described above.
     
  • Some items can turn into something else on death, such as the Armadyl Godsword (or) losing its '(or)' and Barrows kit breaking.
    These will tend to degrade/uncharge if they have a mechanic for doing so. For example, Barrows kit would break (and drop to the PKer), a charged trident would become uncharged (with the tradeable contents dropped to the PKer too), and the Armadyl Godsword (or) would have its '(or)' removed (with the sword and ornate kit dropped to the PKer). For charged items like blowpipes, they would uncharge as they currently do, with the tradeable items dropped to the PKer, and any untradeable items sent to the Gravestone.
     
  • Some items turn into cash on death, such as the anchor. This cash would be dropped to the PKer.
     
  • Items that have been protected by a Trouver parchment are turned into their non-Trouver version, which stays in the dying player's inventory (preserving the existing behaviour) rather than going to the Gravestone.
    The PKer receives some coins based on how much Perdu would have charged to protect it.
     
  • Some untradeable items break, such as fire capes.
    Coins, equivalent to 100% of the repair cost, would be dropped to the PKer. (For comparison, the game currently gives only 75%.) The broken version would be kept in the player's inventory (preserving the existing behaviour) rather than going to the Gravestone.
     
  • In deep Wilderness, most untradeable items are turned into a small quantity of cash, which is dropped to the PKer.
    One change is that the rule governing 'untradeable items that break' would now take priority over this rule. Thus, a fire cape in a PvP death in deep Wilderness would now break, dropping more coins for the PKer, rather than being turned into a very small pile of coins. However, an untradeable item that does not have a broken version would still turn into that small pile of coins for the PKer, as before. This change is proposed because it seems likely to be more rewarding for the PKer in most cases.
     
  • Some items are destroyed, especially quest-related items. These would still be destroyed, and would not go into your Gravestone at all.


Core mechanics for Ultimate Iron accounts dying to natural causes

This won't change much. Your tradeable items will drop on the ground where you died:
  • They'll stay there for an hour, ticking down whether or not you're logged in.
  • They'll appear only on the world where you died. If the world reboots, they'll be lost.
Your untradeable items will also stay in your inventory or stay equipped, without degrading or breaking unless you died to a PKer.
One change is that the rule governing 'untradeable items that break' would now take priority over the 'untradeable items turn to cash in deep Wilderness' rule, as described for non-UIM accounts above. This means that those specific items would actually become safer in deep Wilderness - unless you died to a PKer.

Another change we'd like to offer to UIM is for instanced areas that don't have a retrieval option like Torfinn's. This is very common in quests such as Shadow of the Storm and Recipe for Disaster. There's something of the sort for the Kraken boss too. At the moment, items tend to be dropped in the instanced area, and there is absolutely no way of retrieving them. As part of this update, we'd like to offer to move the items out of those instances, so that they'll drop on the ground in the standard game world for an hour.

They'll be vulnerable to deletion if too many other items are dropped nearby, since the game can't keep unlimited items on the ground forever. However, that's still a better chance for retrieval than if they'd dropped inside the instanced area. We don't think this is too much 'easyscape' for the Ultimate Iron mode, but we can drop the change if it's unacceptable to the players of that mode.

As mentioned above, while we would like to add a fee and a chest retrieval menu to Priestess Zul-Gwenwynig, this change would not affect Ultimate Iron accounts. They would remain able to use her as they currently do. For other chests that already have fees, no change would take place.



How is it different for Ultimate Iron accounts in PvP?

This applies if another player got kill-credit for your death, such as in the Wilderness or a PvP world.

This would mostly be the same as if a non-UIM died to a PKer (described above), but any item that would go to a Gravestone for a non-UIM would instead just drop to the ground if a UIM dropped it.

  • They'll stay there for an hour, ticking down whether or not you're logged in.
  • They'll appear only on the world where you died. If the world reboots, they'll be lost.
One change is that the rule governing 'untradeable items that break' would now take priority over the 'untradeable items turn to cash in deep Wilderness' rule, as described for non-UIM accounts above. This means that the PKer would likely receive more money, and the UIM would still have their broken item instead of nothing.



Alternative approach: Death's Office
As this is being proposed as an extension to Gravestones, which do not apply to UIM, this section does not apply to UIM either.


It's been suggested that we use an approach like in RS3, where items can be retrieved from a central hub (Death's Office) without any significant time limit. While delivering everything to a convenient place like that is substantial reduction in the Old School game's risk, we can do it if that's what players really want - though we'd expect to raise the fees considerably to reflect the convenience and practically unlimited duration.

This could be combined with the Gravestones from above. The design for Gravestones expected that unretrieved items would be deleted if you failed to reach the Gravestone in time. Instead of that, we could send them to Death's Office when the Gravestone expires, where you'd have unlimited time to buy them back off him.

To reflect the convenience and safety of this, Death would charge a fraction of the item's GE value (or equivalent) for any item costing 100k coins or above. He would not charge for lower-value items, and he would allow players to reclaim those without payment of any owed fees.
For standard players, the fraction would be 5%; for Iron and Hard Core Iron accounts it would be 2.5%.

Death's Office would be accessed via mausoleums added near the main respawn points, such as in Lumbridge Graveyard, a White Knight crypt, Edgeville's coffin area, Seers' Village Graveyard and Prifddinas.



Death's Coffer

This idea arose from a player suggestion, and we think it has potential as an item sink for the game. Unwanted items could be sacrificed to Death, who would put 105% of their GE value into a coffer for you.

This coffer would be used to pay your Gravestone fees and other item retrieval fees (except for the Volcanic Mine where the fee is in numulites rather than coins). You'd never be able to withdraw the money from the coffer, not in any circumstances. Even on a dangerous death in Deadman Mode, the money would stay in your coffer rather than being transferred as coins to your killer.

Any player would be entitled to use Death's Coffer to pay down their item retrival fees, though it may be of particular use to Iron players, who cannot convert their unwanted items into cash so easily.

As we would prefer the item sink effect not to be used on cheap junk, nor on untradeable stuff, Death would only accept tradeable items with a GE value of 10,000 coins or above. That would include most rune items.



Survey

To guide our next steps, we'll be reviewing your feedback about the design pitched here to help identify improvements and loopholes. After that we'll open a survey in the in-game poll booths to gauge whether you'd still prefer something like the behaviour in the Old School era, or something like what RS3 has, or something in between.

Which of these approaches would you prefer for death mechanics across the game?
1: Items drop where you died for 2 mins. No fee is charged to retrieve them.
This is very similar to the original Old School version dating from before our temporary change. It would be an effective item sink, but we understand players may find it too harsh.
2: Items go to a Gravestone where you died for 15 mins, and are then lost. A small fee is charged for valuable items, payable from Death's Coffer.
This is the version detailed in this blog. It would be a slight cash and item sink, and is a compromise between other approaches.
3: Items go to a Gravestone where you died for 15 mins, where a small fee is charged for valuable items, then move to Death's office indefinitely with a much higher fee, all payable from Death's Coffer.
This is based on what RS3 offers.
4: Something else.

When it comes to protecting the game's economy, we sometimes have to make decisions that players wouldn't vote for - we learned that quickly after Old School came out. So we can't promise to go with the most popular outcome from this survey, but we'd nevertheless like to know which direction most players would prefer. Please bear in mind that the timer used to be two minutes, and the extension to its current behaviour was not a polled change!


Discuss this proposal on our official forums, the community-led 2007Scape Reddit, or the community-led OSRS Discord in the #gameupdate channel. For reference on the above content, check out the official Wiki.

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