Dealing with Death

" 'Tis only a fle—well, maybe not..."

Death.

Not too many people touch on this subject in RP settings, and for good reason.  Not many people would consider killing off their beloved character.  There’s always something ahead on the horizon—always something to do.  If anything, at least there’ll be a new enemy that’ll threaten the life of all living things on Azeroth, and death is a surefire way to throw all those glorious plans of stopping the next big baddie out the window.  Most people would consider placing their character into retirement before killing them.

But sometimes—even after thinking about it and weighing the alternatives—the idea comes back, and we’re okay with it.   It’s not so much that we don’t care about our characters—usually, it’s quite the opposite.  But, I strongly believe that characters are the driving vehicle for good storytelling.  And that a story isn’t made for them, but they create a story through their actions.  Even motifs such as death have their place in stories, if deemed appropriate.

So, your mind might be set with this, but where do you start?  Putting down your own character can be a tricky business.  Remember that RP is a social activity—and in turn, other people will be affected by your decision.  But, there are ways to go about it without activating the drama-llama bomb.

1) Communicate!

I know I’ve reiterated this before, but I cannot stress enough how important communication is with your RP group. I would classify character deaths as a major event, so let people know that it happened ASAP, or may happen so they can adjust accordingly—especially if it’s with a character you’ve been interacting with for an extended amount of time.

2) Consult with your local villain (or hero)

If you don’t have a plan on how to do it yet, you may want to open the OOC channels with your residential bad guy (or good guy if you’re looking to off your villainous character). Toss some story ideas back and forth, or you might be lucky and they might have a plan already. Chances are that they’ll be more than happy to oblige, after confirming that you’re sure about going through with it.

3) Treating death with respect.

With a few exceptions, RPers should treat death the same way that we do in real life. For one, death is permanent—none of this “saved by the Spirit Healer”, or “a priest/druid/shaman/paladin tossing out resurrections like it’s candy” nonsense. I believe that it not only makes a mockery of death, but it takes away the impact that it’d have on the story. If you want the glory of dying, then you’ll have to accept the other consequences that come with it. It’s not to say that resurrections and preemptive measures against death (ie: soulstones) don’t have their place, but death shouldn’t be treated as a cheap plot device.

Some may view character deaths as a way to gain attention.  But, it can be so much more than that.  Done right, death can leave a powerful impact on those around them—sometimes even unto their killer.  Some may even go as far as to strike a chord with the players sitting behind their keyboards—which I believe is the highest compliment that you can get as an RPer.  Play it smart, and you can avoid that ‘death is cheap’ stigma and let them go out with a bang.

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~ by compassstudies on April 6, 2010.

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