March 19, 2004

WISH 89: Character Death

Ginger announces that #100 will be the last WISH, and appropriately, for #89 talks about the end...for player characters.

How do you handle character death, as a player and/or GM? What makes a good death or a bad death? Have you ever had a character die? What happened?

I don't like to kill characters off when I GM.

I am not sure why. Killing off characters, especially permanently, is a singular and often an act that you cannot turn back the clock upon. So I do it with extreme reluctance and prejudice.

I can't say that I've had a PC face a "noble death" in any game that I've run. I imagine that it would be possible in a one-shot game, or a game that was coming to a conclusion. But even then, usually when games end, I like to think that the game might continue in a Heinleinian Number of the Beast sense somewhere.

Now with that said...
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The only time I killed off a PC in Strange Bedfellows while they were a PC involves the story of Antar the "crazy chaosian".

Antar was the archetype of the PC who acted foolishly. And an example of how reluctant I am to actually kill off a PC. Antar, in the course of his brief SB existence, managed to do some really stupid things.

Item: In Amber, naively trusting a sorcerer who puts a glamour on him. Upon reaching the Castle, he impulsively acts on this glamour, including a half-baked and half-cocked lunge at Random. He wound up banished out of Amber for that stunt.

Item: In the midst of walking the Logrus, he mouths off to the Serpent. Said Serpent does not kill him, but in an inspired move, strips him of his Logrus and takes an eye. (Symbology!). Said eye will NEVER regenerate back without extreme measures. Thus, Antar decides to visit the best shapeshifters IMC, the infamous Lessimans.

Item: After making nice with the Lessimans and becoming an agent for them, he decides to return to the Courts (against all advice). Against all advice, he proceeds to infiltrate SuhuyWays.

In the words of Gimli "And after that, it gets even better!". He decides to disguise himself...as Suhuy himself. This does not go over well when the real Suhuy shows up. He is captured and imprisoned and by this time I had enough.

So he was given to the Serpent and destroyed. I explained to the player that Antar had crossed too many lines and acted far too idiotically to merit survival. And that was the end of him.

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As far as a PC of my own, the most notable death I've suffered as a PC was one which infuriated me. In a game whose GM doesn't seem to be on the Net anymore, I played a version of Hadrian, my Prince of DuMarque, Trump Artist. Much of his development came from this game, both he, his bonded Wyvernet Dora and his shadow.

The GM at one point decided to end the game. Or possibly continue it in a sequel. So, suddenly, the universe began to disintegrate around Hadrian.

I did not post a response quickly, and was admonished that he "might have survived" if I had done so. Hadrian had been, in effect, erased from existence and from possibility of survival.

From what I understand the sequel never really got off the ground. But this arbitrary sudden destruction of the universe infuriated me. I liked Hadrian, a lot. I didn't like the way his story ended.

At this time, about a year and change into Strange Bedfellows, a gentleman by the name of Arref was coming into the game with a new PC by the name of Bhangbadea. And then it occurred to me I could have my cake and eat it too, and solve the question of how best to introduce her to the game.

So, I imported Hadrian, Dora and DuMarque into SB, lock, stock and barrel. I put him unsure about his Amber heritage, yet still a Trump Artist with a taste for shadow travel, fun and adventure. And interoduced him on camera as having come to Ersia to seek aid from the sorceress...

Hadrian has had an interesting NPC career in SB since, with an unexpected revelation as to his parentage and other fun. The bad taste of his death is completely washed away.


Posted by Jvstin at March 19, 2004 10:19 AM