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Author Topic: When does a creature actually die?  (Read 595 times)

Stelladog

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When does a creature actually die?
« on: August 05, 2022, 08:46:56 pm »

I've been playing DF for a while now in both fortress and adventurer mode, but something I can't seem to figure out is what determines when a creature reaches the state of "death". A couple things seem to do it, the head or neck being cloven asunder / flying off in an arc being the main guaranteed way to finish something, but in all other cases it seems like things just accrue an absolutely enormous amount of damage without going down. Even injuries I would expect to instantly end a fight (like being stabbed through a lung, deeply slashed in the stomach, or severing a bunch of motor nerves in the arms/spine) don't seem to substantively impact a creature in combat. Its clear that things will eventually die from accrued damage and things like blood loss, but there doesn't seem to be a way to predict when this will happen.

What's the deal with all this? Am I simply imagining things? Is there any way to determine when blood loss will prove fatal? Actual mechanical descriptions as well as anecdotal evidence are welcome
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DrCyano

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2022, 09:16:18 pm »

Iím no expert in the mechanics of the simulation, but things like pierced organs are lethal, just not immediately. Besides blood loss, thereís also an oxygen calculation (pierced lung causes drowning, I think).

I agree that closing the gap between defeated and dead can take way too long, especially when fighting big beasties.
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delphonso

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2022, 09:54:26 pm »

From what I remember from the raws, blood loss, suffocation and destroying the brain are three main ways to die (probably some more I'm forgetting)

Destroying the brain, as you pointed out, works pretty quickly. Smashing the skull through the brain or cutting off the head.

Suffocation I think is just a set amount of time. Looks to be around 200 ticks (judging by how long it took all of my adventurers to drown). Damaging lungs also contributes to this, but it takes much longer (assuming some percentage of function).

Bleeding out, on the other hand, seems to be related to body size, so can take a very long time for say, a wereelephant. I expect some amount of body size is reduced when limbs are taken, thus pushing them over into 'bled to death', but the game seems to consider this 'struck down'.

Not scientific evidence-based opinions here, just preliminary observations.

Ziusudra

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2022, 10:06:30 pm »

Even injuries I would expect to instantly end a fight (like being stabbed through a lung, deeply slashed in the stomach, or severing a bunch of motor nerves in the arms/spine) don't seem to substantively impact a creature in combat.
That's mostly not true. Those will all hav an effect. A stabbed lung can cause winded status which slows speed and possibly causes eventual suffocation; wounds to the lower body cause nausea which lowers combat effectiveness; severing arm nerves will disable the grasping ability causing them to drop their weapon or shield; severing the lower spine will disable their stance causing them to fall to the ground and suffer combat penalties; severing the upper spine will disable grasps, stance, and lead to suffocation.

Of course, all of this depends on the creatures fighting, some don't need to breathe, feel pain, nausea, etc.

As for blood, the game tracks the blood volume of each creature, though I don't know at what point(s) that has any effect.

Another consideration is that a single physics frame in adventurer mode is only half a second and that most actions don't take many frames to occur, so you can do a lot in the time it take for these effects to occur.
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Stelladog

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2022, 10:48:40 pm »

Hm, makes sense. I guess I just need to adjust my notion of what constitutes a reasonable amount of time to bleed out in.

Still, I would expect pain to play a bigger role and cause combatants to give up (or give in to the pain, as the game log says) even when they can still fight, but that hasn't been my experience either - I've seen enemies "give in to pain" and then immediately go back to fighting, sometimes many times in a single fight. Not sure what the deal with that one is either.

Follow up questions, then: is there any way to tell (in game or otherwise, like a utility or dfhack plugin) how close a creature is to bleeding out, and whats the deal with pain?
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Telgin

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2022, 10:57:14 pm »

I know you can access the blood volume through DFHack's Lua interface for sure, but it's been so many years now I don't remember exactly how to get it.  Interestingly, blood works essentially like HP in Dwarf Fortress.  Creatures are fine as long as the have > 0 blood left, and die as soon as they hit 0.  Well, ordinary organic creatures work that way.

There's probably a way to get the bleeding rate from it too, but that may be a complex data structure based on each individual wound.  I found it easier to just look at the value, step, look again and figure out the bleeding rate that way.
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Ziusudra

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2022, 11:07:08 pm »

If you look at the creature and view their inventory, there are various statuses they can hav like pale, faint, etc. If you look further at their description I think it mentions if they're bleeding, and has different adjectives depending on how much.

When they giv into pain that means they fainted, but they'll wake up eventually, and re-enter the fight. I've never seen any giv into pain and "immediately go back to fighting".
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Stelladog

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2022, 12:07:46 am »

When they giv (sic) into pain that means they fainted, but they'll wake up eventually, and re-enter the fight. I've never seen any giv into pain and "immediately go back to fighting".

Ooohhh, okay. I thought that giving in to pain was more of a psychological "giving up on the fight", not just passing out. That's why it was so weird to me that they'd rejoin at all, having already "given up". Thanks, I think I get it now
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Miuramir

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2022, 11:06:26 am »

Just a quick note to point out that in the real world, it's fairly difficult to kill a human in less than around 10 seconds other than "massive damage to the head and upper spine".  Basically, you only have two physically realistic causes of fairly sudden death: the brain runs out of the chemicals it needs to function (oxygen, glucose, etc.), vs the brain being massively disrupted by physical or energy trauma. 

IIRC modern military field stations have something like a 98% survival rate if the patient reaches them with blood still circulating to the brain, including via CPR in the helicopter.  From a fiction standpoint, even decapitation doesn't kill the head (brain) instantly, which is relevant in situations involving cyberware, magic, curses, divine intervention, etc. where the head can still do things you don't want even if the body isn't connected anymore. 

Loss of consciousness in around 5-10 seconds tends to be used as the benchmark for "brain suddenly deprived of oxygen"; decapitation, vacuum exposure, ripping the heart out of someone's chest, etc. where you don't even get the benefit of the remaining oxygen circulating in the blood.  (As compared to breath holding, for instance, which can go on considerably longer.  Note that it's basically impossible to hold your breath in a vacuum, and the lungs start acting in reverse, to pull oxygen *out* of your blood.)  Even then, permanent death doesn't occur until some later point, fairly ill-defined but probably tens of seconds more. 

Of course, sufficient shock trauma can render those transition seconds un-useful for the target.  If you're trying to kill someone so fast that they can't respond, and don't have available means to just blow their head off, blunt trauma to the head will probably have them stunned / concussed until the rest of the damage catches up to them. 

In short, when you're talking about a game like old D&D or fortress mode DF, where an action is tens of seconds to a minute or few, "instant" death is fairly easy.  Once you get into games like GURPS or adventure mode DF, with second-by-second action, it's really hard to kill someone instantly. 
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Kat

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2022, 06:06:15 am »

Instant death can be caused by:
destroying the brain in some way - blows to the head crushing or splitting the skull
disconnecting the head from the body - blows to the head or neck resulting in decapitation
separating upper and lower body - generally blows from very sharp weapons splitting the creature in two

Some creatures though cannot be instant killed easily, such as sponges that only have a single body part.

Fatal wounds that are not instantly fatal can be caused by:
severed arteries - for creatures that have blood
destroyed lungs - for creatures that breathe

again, some creatures can't be fatally wounded, as they don't have to breathe or don't have blood.
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delphonso

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2022, 06:29:35 am »

I was just doing some arena testing and for the first time saw someone (a louse man) be killed by being thrown into a wall (by a cyclops). It said something along the lines of 'louse man 1 has collided with an object and has died.'

Stelladog

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2022, 03:29:49 am »

Yeah, I've seen something like that too - one time a blind cave ogre made it's way up into the fortress, grabbed a woodcutter, and threw them against a wall so hard they exploded.
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ZM5

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2022, 08:47:41 am »

I was just doing some arena testing and for the first time saw someone (a louse man) be killed by being thrown into a wall (by a cyclops). It said something along the lines of 'louse man 1 has collided with an object and has died.'
Falling down far enough also may cause the creature to be "blown apart" from the impact - instant death with most limbs also coming off - perhaps being thrown hard enough into something would cause a similar effect.

Kat

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Re: When does a creature actually die?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2022, 02:47:03 pm »

I was just doing some arena testing and for the first time saw someone (a louse man) be killed by being thrown into a wall (by a cyclops). It said something along the lines of 'louse man 1 has collided with an object and has died.'
Falling down far enough also may cause the creature to be "blown apart" from the impact - instant death with most limbs also coming off - perhaps being thrown hard enough into something would cause a similar effect.

"slams into an obstacle" is a combat message that can happen. And yeah, falling onto a hard surface from enough height, can cause creatures to explode into small chunks. Softer surfaces require a higher fall distance.
In previous versions of DF, my drow fortresses had a tower built for that exact purpose. 15 z-levels tall, with a hollow centre, and goblin prisoners were hauled to the top, then pitted into the centre. Gruesome.
Also faerie bridges. A single tile wide, but elevated 15 z-levels off the ground, with weapon traps with training weapons in them. Goblin lords would dodge the trap... into thin air...
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