One of the things Andy asked me was if there was room in the system for getting into an extended combat with someone (or something) without necessarily killing them.
Please note that this post is only concerned with what happens when the PCs win a combat. Not when a monster or NPC wins.
So today I went back and checked out my notes. I had to remind myself why I wrote the rule that way in the first place. Honestly, I just couldn't remember. Here's why:
I don't want the PCs to ever fight the same monster or NPC twice in the same adventure.
I mean, it's cool if there's dozens of non-combat conflicts between the same characters, but despite being pretty tight, the combat system does take up a non-trivial amount of time. Therefore, choosing to use that system should be pretty important. Which coincides nicely with the idea that drawing your weapons on someone is pretty serious.
Have you ever played a D&D game where your characters got their collective asses kicked, but you escaped, got healed, and returned later to try it again? I bet you have. And I'm betting that the second combat was a bit of a let down. That's what I really want to avoid. I want each combat to be super-serious and properly climatic.
But yet, I wonder; Is there still room for something besides the eventual slaughter? Maybe.
To maintain the climatic seriousness I want from these combats, any non-lethal option must still result in the complete and utter defeat of the monster or NPC. I have a bit of an idea in my head about how a player may decide to opt out in favor of mercy.
"You know what? I'm gonna let this guy go if he promises to change his ways."
That might work. But I'll need a really strong guideline. I'm not willing to give up that climatic feel.