Nov 23, 2009
This episode Erik Woodbury and I are talking about character death
and how that affects the players in the game and the story
ramifications. This was inspired by an article
from Judd Karlman on the Burning Wheel forums.
Hosts: Sean Nittner and Erik Woodbury
[00:27] Intro to the Show. My celebration of holiday
cheer. Our thoughts on how to make Character death more
satisfying in game.
[01:44] What’s up Justin? I mean an intro to Erik
[02:38] Judd’s post. A discussion took place on both his
LiveJournal here: http://judd-sonofbert.livejournal.com/462520.html
and the Burning Wheel forum thread here:
[03:00] An excerpt from Judd’s post.
[03:55] Putting Erik on the spot. Characters of his that have
[04:44] What character death means to Sean? The end of player
agency in the story.
[05:11] Agency is the ultimate currency in any RPG. Doing
stuff is what makes it fun.
[05:35] Erik recalls his character’s “death”
[07:00] An unfinished story is incredibly frustrating
[07:11] The “crap” death – a meaningless, unexpected, and one
that doesn’t advance the story.
[07:50] What about games where death isn’t permanent? Resurrection,
Cloning, etc. Satisfying in games that address it in the
fiction. In other games though, Death becomes cheap.
[09:45] We’re not advocating pulling punches though. Death is
a powerful effect on the game.
[10:01] The “crap” death though leaves a player feeling
cheated. Roll or die situations are way to binary.
Worse the confrontation is meaningless.
[10:40] Sean’s mini rant on PCs that rush headlong into violence in
games where death is very setting appropriate.
[12:33] For the death to be satisfying, it’s got to be meaningful
to the players. The “good” death. My death meant
[13:10] A TPK minus one. Awesome Deaths where everyone
sacrificed themselves to make something happen that was needed in
[14:50] Dying and feeling like you achieved something that doesn’t
make you lose agency. Something changed specifically BECAUSE
your character died.
[16:00] What to do after death? Balancing a new character.
Re-integrating with the existing group.
[17:57] Characters die and then sometimes players will keep trying
to tell their story. Gaming after death? OOTS (http://www.giantitp.com/
) does it,
but does it work in an RPG?
[19:35] Find a way to wrap up the character’s story. Allow for
player narration and story crafting. Man we like the word
[21:04] Song of Ice and Fire books, the last three (of four books)
are all about a single character’s death.
[21:38] Total Party Kills (TPK). This can be awesome, but
most of the time it means there has been a breakdown in
[24:02] A mis-designed encounter on the GMs part. When
challenging becomes overwhelming. This is largely affected by
[25:07] How does character death vary in one-shot games vs.
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