[MUD-Dev] Limited character lifespans

Paul Schwanz pschwanz at comcast.net
Sun Feb 16 16:05:35 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Rayzam wrote:
> From: "Paul Cobb" <pcobb at zona.net>

>> I once had a character in an RPG that I had spent 6 months
>> playing. I had invested a ton of time in the character and at the
>> end of one of our big adventures, I had a choice to screw
>> everyone over and save myself or sacrifice myself and save the
>> team. They didn't know about this. I took the sacrifice and we've
>> been retelling the story for about 6 years now. (It's a long
>> story, I'm not going to relate it all here.)

>> This was definately my most memorable character yet, even though
>> I've had others that I've put years of time into.

> Yknow, I always hear these stories, and I've been privy to some
> myself.  I must say though, that often, after a character
> sacrifice, the new character isn't a starter. The new character
> starts off closer to the rest.  So in a level-context, if the
> level 10 character died in AD&D, bringing in a new level 1 is too
> great a power-differential. So the new character to replace the
> heroically dead one is often level 8 or 9.

Yes.  I often see the argument that the permanent death of a
character is an opportunity for exit.  Sure it is.  The end of a
subplot in a book is an opportunity for exit as well.  But this
doesn't mean we can never write a successful page-turner where a
subplot ends mid-story.  The important thing is to have at least one
other compelling plot to keep the reader wanting more.

If I could play a game where, while I am having fun with playing and
developing my main character, I can also be developing an NPC
character that is, say, his son, then I think it will be possible to
keep me interested in the game even though the first character may
die away.  Like sub-plots in a book, when my main character is
fading, the NPC character is growing in power and interest.  In a
way, this isn't too different from the context of replacing your
heroic dead character with one that is only a few levels behind
except that it makes the development of this secondary character
part of playing the main character.  In other words, I'd need to
accumulate wealth in order to send my son to various trade schools
where he could increase his skills.  I might need to see he is fed
well so that he'll grow up to be strong and intelligent.  There
might even be quests tied to my son's existence.  Suppose my son is
kidnapped and I must endeavor to rescue him.  (Even if I know he
won't be killed, in the meantime, he's not learning what he should
be in school.)  Maybe I need to protect him better so that he isn't
kidnapped in the first place.

Eventually, I'm really going to want to try out this character that
I've been developing.  In order to do so, I'll need to retire my old
character.  Death is one method for the old character to go out in a
blaze of glory.  I may very well get into a fight where I
"sacrifice" my life for the good of the group.  Now I have a great
story to tell; a reason to have a funeral, build a monument, or
otherwise explore the emotional poignancy of a character's death; a
good legacy to pass on; and a new character I'm dying (no pun
intended) to explore.  Why the heck would I quit playing the game at
this point?


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