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Stat Death

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if (terse)
desc += "stupidity";
else if (_species_is_undead(race))
desc += "Forgot to exist";
desc += "Forgot to breathe";

A rule where death occurs as a result of a primary stat being reduced to 0. Your extremely out-of-shape Wizard tried out an unidentified -5 ring of strength? His bones and organs are crushed under his own weight. Your profoundly stupid fighter got his Intelligence sapped by a Mind Flayer? He forgets how to breathe. And woe to the hero whose Dexterity falls to 0, who suddenly slips on a banana peel and breaks his neck.


Stat death is used in RPGs to counteract extreme Min-Maxing. Players who fail to invest in their Dump Stat face extreme risk of embarrassing and anti-climactic death.

Has nothing to do with rendering The Grim Reaper subject to the Lord British Postulate.


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     Table Top Games  

  • In older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, zero Constitution is fatal. Zero in Strength or Dexterity means you're physically helpless and immobile, but you can still use some mental or magic powers. Zero in any mental stat means you're comatose and drooling. (In 4th edition, stat damage is no longer possible.)
  • In GURPS you die if aging causes any stat to drop to zero. If some other force drops a stat to zero you're rendered all but helpless.
  • In Mutants & Masterminds, Constitution drain won't kill you outright unless you would have been drained below zero, but landing at 0 will still put you in a very bad way.
  • Variants in Magic: The Gathering:
    • If a creature has 0 Toughness then it dies. No, you can't regenerate it; no, being Indestructible won't save it. Creatures simply can't exist if they don't have positive toughness. The same clearly doesn't apply to Power.
    • A player loses the game if they need to draw a card and there are none left in their Library. As the Library represents the player's mind, with many cards that disturb it implying cracks in sanity, this can be thought of as the player finally succumbing to madness from intelligence draining.
  • This is the way damage works in Traveller, where the only damage is to your physical statistics - if two of your physical stats hit zero, you're helpless; when the third joins them, you die.
  • In most games in the New World of Darkness having your Stamina brought to zero causes you to swiftly weaken and die of illness in days. Similarly, if your Karma Meter (Humanity for vampires/Prometheans, Morality for mortals, etc.) hits zero, the character becomes a monster, either literally (vampires) or figuratively (most everything else). They may not die, but they become unplayable.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a rule that states: "If a model's Strength or Toughness are ever reduced to zero, it is immediately removed as a casualty." Though in practice this is a very, very rare occurrence. Other stats (apart from Wounds, obviously) can be reduced to zero without penalty, though that usually means the model will be very easy to kill if attacked.
  • Exalted: An interesting case where there is a long-winded explanation about this sort of demise, and nothing to do with your Stamina having just been reduced to 0. All sapient beings possess five graces: Heart (Willpower), Sword (Valor), Ring (Temperance), Cup (Compassion), and Staff (Conviction). If your Heart grace is reduced to 0, you simply cease to be something that matters. You're even less transient than the dream of a creature made of dreams. This is not something that Creation-born have to worry about, but they can still have Stat Death if all their other graces are reduced to 0, which is usually the result of being soul-ravished by the aforementioned dream-creature.
  • Can generally happen in games where aging is represented by the periodical lowering of attributes. At least one edition of RuneQuest even spells out that yes, it's possible to "ugly away" by Charisma dropping to 0 from old age.
  • Inverted in Dark Heresy and its spinoffs. Two of your character's stats are Insanity and Corruption; if either of them ever reaches 100, the very least that will happen is the character is unfit for use by a player. 100 Corruption in particular usually means becoming either a lesser daemon or a Chaos Spawn.
  • Ars Magica: Inverted with the rules for aging. Middle-aged characters start to make annual dice rolls to avoid life-threatening maladies; they also get a new "Decreptiude" ability score that increases over time. At Decrepitude 5, the character is on their deathbed and beyond the reach of mortal magic to save.

     Video Games  

  • Dungeon Crawl which, as shown above, has specific cases in the source code for KILLED_BY_STUPIDITY, KILLED_BY_WEAKNESS, and KILLED_BY_CLUMSINESS.
    • Although this has now been removed in recent versions, though if your stats drop to zero you are probably going to get eaten by the first enemy that comes by...
  • In NetHack, if your intelligence drops to zero, you die of "brainlessness", and not even an Amulet of Life Saving will save you, you are Deader Than Dead. This mostly happens because of Mind Flayers, which drain your intelligence by eating your brains.
  • In Arx Fatalis, max health is calculated by formula "Max health = 2*Constitution*(Your Level +1)", meaning that simply leveling up gives you enough health, even if your Constitution is at absolute minimum of 6, and making CN a Dump Stat. However, Hilarity Ensues if a lich randomly decides to cast a Curse spell, decreasing all your stats by 10 - which, according to the above formula, means instant death for anyone with CN below 11.
  • One of the lesser-appreciated mechanics of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is the fact that running out of MP incapacitates your characters just as well as running out of HP: however, enemies are also subject to this, you gain enough MP that this isn't a huge issue against most common enemies and a good number of special attacks also cost HP to use.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, some enemies—thankfully not the player characters—are subject to this. Certain creatures (like Ultima Weapon and the monsters in the Cultist's Tower) are made of magic, and thus will die instantly if their MP is exhausted. This is why the game gives you the Rasp spell.
  • Characters in Darklands are incapacitated when their endurance is reduced to 0 and killed if their strength is reduced to 0.
  • Zigzagged in the first two Fallout games: under normal circumstances, stat loss cannot drop any primary stat below 1 (or 2 if the stat in question is boosted by a trait). However, if the stat loss is caused by radiation sickness and it would drop any primary stat to 0 or negative, the player character keels over instantly, even if they haven't actually reached deadly dose yet.

     Board Games  
  • In Betrayal at House on the Hill, if any of a character's four stats are reduced to the skull at the bottom of its counter and the haunt is in effect, that character dies.


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