basilmemories: (Scholarly pursuits.)
basilmemories ([personal profile] basilmemories) wrote2010-11-15 02:58 pm

Rp death and Valuable Lessons.

It’s a sign that things are starting to feel better when I can devote my time to things like, say, bitching about Minecraft’s fluid mechanics and rp events instead of how much pain I’m in. Thankfully codeine is a wonderful thing, and a lot of the discomfort I’m feeling today is coming from the effing heat.

But let’s talk about roleplaying and death!

Now death is one of those sticky things in online rp. In a traditional tabletop setting it’s a nasty thing, but one that people can expect to happen from time to time. When it does happen there’s a sense of loss for your character, but generally you start rolling up a new one in the same session. However message board roleplay isn’t like that. Permanent death in a game means either continuing on in some undead state, or having to drop/reapp the character. There’s a few games out there that have this rule (like St. Ed, which I pretty much dropped for various reasons), but if anything it comes off as a deterrent to play the game. Who wants to reapp a character every time he dies? Apping can be anywhere from a disgustingly simple task to something like CFUD where aping means giving yourself an ulcer out of worry for about a month.

But the matter of how large death is affects how much free reign the “evil” characters get to have. Lets face it, the non-hero characters of the world have a hard time compared to the good guys. The heroes of any given rp will announce a villain or morally gray character on sight, not unlike a meerkat scout when they see something nasty coming their way. This makes it hard for a Villain to be a Villain unless they’re either subtle, or the Good Guys of the rp are about as smart as a sack of wet dung. Now add onto that a situation where death has a harsh penalty and you’ve got a lot of characters opting out of Bad Thing situations… and frustrated villain characters/players. On the other hand, when you have a situation where death just doesn’t take, shanking someone to death just doesn’t have that same spark anymore. In addition characters might start to laugh at your modplots because they’re not afraid of dying. Ohhh noooo, they could die for five whole minutes, what on earth will they do?

So things like the current cfud plot happen. Where death is permanent for a week and villains get part of their effectiveness back. While this is nice in theory, events like this and “you can’t play X for Y number of days” death penalties have some major drawbacks that need to be watched.

Firstly you have to realize that it takes the right kind of victim for this kind of thing. If I threw in Kuhn, one of my backburners, well it’s just more like a death-induced hiatus. You need a semi-active or active character, someone who’s disappearance from the game would make an impact, no matter how small. Secondly, you need someone who has enough connections that someone will react to said void. My only other character was Zhores and while it was fun to kill him off, none of the people he knows opted in to the event or would notice he was gone. So the effort feels a bit wasted. The alternative would to have the victims haunt the rp, but we’re getting to that.

Another issue is that you have to watch the timing on the event and the posts that go up. If anything I’d say that this event has been like the oft-maligned mingle posts in a lot of ways. “Okay we’re out for the week! Everybody MURDER.” This means the victim only gets to jump one post, and they’d better make sure it’s the one they want. Also then they… don’t get to do anything for the rest of the week. In CFUD’s case this meant that if the victim didn’t have anybody who would make a fuss about them, they also didn’t really get anything out of all the death posts that followed their untimely demise. In addition for me at least, all the non-death-related posts that have happened this week are the ones I wanted to throw Zhores into for awhile, so the fact that it’s been over a week makes me a bit frustrated in that “OH COME ON! End already event! I’m missing some awesome here!” way. So yes, if one says that the event is going to end in a week, PLEASE make sure the event ends in a week. Otherwise the player finds themselves wondering if they could be getting more out of said event, and how.

Which brings me to the next point. The nasty thing about death in real life is that there’s no scientifically proven method to tell if there’s anything that resembles an afterlife. That’s part of what makes it such a hard hitter. In rp however it leads to a catch 22. If there’s something for the victims to do, via haunting or the like, it takes away from the permanency of death. However on the other hand, not having hauntings leads to situations like mine where I find myself twiddling my thumbs and wondering if the moment of sheer awesome was worth all the moments of “man I wish I could be playing him in that post”.

So what I guess I’m saying is that death consequences in an rp can be a great thing, but it needs to be balanced. If it’s part of the worldset then there should be places for the newly-dead to play or be able to affect the game somehow, and if it’s an event it needs to either be kept on a strict schedule or have options for the dead characters. In my opinion a haunting would have been awesome for Zhores. There’s so much about the restless dead in Russian mythology that I could have gone hog wild, and I’d say nearly all of it fits within camp’s worldset. So idonno people, I’m most likely making a big deal out of nothing. But in general I’d say that most rp’s need to fine-tune their death mechanics a bit.