I didn’t have a name for this until yesterday.

I read the Airstrike Impossible trope, and realized what it was I was struggling with in Bliss Stage that I knew didn’t exist in D&D.

When a task overwhelms a character in D&D, they often die — this may be monsters, a trap, or whatever. The world of D&D is perilous but you ultimately answer the question of whether the characters will overcome the challenge. Individual encounters are less about “will” they win, and more about “how.”

And yet, Bliss Stage is somehow more perilous. Why?

Partly, I think it’s because the dynamic is reversed. How the characters succeed (or fail) isn’t answered except when a Pilot dies or Bliss-es out. It’s on a per-encounter basis that you discover whether they will succeed.

And I think this is because the characters largely tend to survive encounters, at least in the beginning. The game is practically built around developing relationships, so it’s assumed characters will survive initially.

Even if the Pilot “abandoned safety” in every encounter of their very first mission, it would take six encounters to kill them by the numbers.


How is any of this significant?

In Bliss Stage, virtually every mission the Pilots embark on is a suicide mission. No one comes out of a mission completely unscathed — but there wouldn’t be a game if everyone simply died, so other effects must come into play.

However in D&D, any encounter might feasibly result in the death of an unlucky PC — this is more likely in some editions of the game than others — and while special circumstances may exist, the main way to die is by running out of hp.

There two main ways to die in Bliss Stage, so there’s this complex relationship between life and death, and the characters in the game. And relationships only seem to get more complicated the longer I think about them.

What am I saying doesn’t exist in D&D?

The Impossible Mission. The Suicide Mission. The subsequent fallout — because the question of how you succeed is answered during encounters, consequences are immediately known and available to you. “Did you die?”

“Not today.”