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 Afterlife Express

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Prisma*Illya
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PostSubject: Afterlife Express   Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:13 pm

Afterlife Express


Character deaths are important, whether or not that character had a large impact in the story or not. When a character is killed, people know things are serious. However, the way character deaths are handled is of vital importance if you want people to perceive them properly.

First, don't make death pointless. If you have an rp where characters are getting killed left and right like lambs to the slaughter, it lessens the weight each death carries. People expect it by default, and it ruins any emotional importance or shock factor. Deaths shouldn't just be something you hand out; even when it becomes necessary to kill someone because of inactivity or just plain annoyance, you can still use this to your advantage. If you would like to display just how dangerous your villain should be, make this doomed character cross their path so you can display their awesome might. Or if you're feeling particularly kind, make them die a martyr's death so other's can escape the reaper's clutches. Even characters that are hated or annoying can be given respect if they manage to die in the right way, and it gives more material for living characters to work with, such as feelings of gratitude, remorse, or righteous anger.

This is a lot easier, of course, with NPCs than with playable characters, since you can often plan these deaths out ahead of time, even making them integral to the plot. When handled correctly, character deaths will always make an impact on an important event. If a character is given a name, a background, and any kind of development, they should never be dying a random, casual death. Always try to instill some meaning, whether to show that no one is safe and anyone can die, to give development to another character, or to further the overall plot.

Now, in some cases rps require deaths in order to work, usually in the case of apocalyptic or survival contest settings. This can be a conundrum, as killing off your player's characters usually entails killing off your character participation. There are a few ways you can deal with this:

1. The shearing method

Allow characters to start with multiple characters. I would recommend two, or perhaps three. This way, it's possible to kill off players without forcing them out of the rp. It has a poignent effect on the player, as they feel like their security net is slipping as they lose a character, then perhaps another. It makes each death feel more weighted. The only word of caution to this method is to make sure that players are given a chance to develop their characters, or the deaths will have little impact. This is naturally more difficult with an increased number of characters under the player's control, so think carefully on this.

2. The "death is cheap" method

Another possible way is to let players start with one character and simply let them make a new character when they're killed off. This allows you to kill off characters without losing participation, as people can always come back. The downside here is that each character death is given very little weight or impact. Player's don't care as much that they lost a character, since they can just go make another one. This discourages putting in the time to make deep character backgrounds and develop characters.

3. The merciless method

Lastly, you can just not really care about your participants and hold true to the theme of your rp, mercilessly killing off characters and participants alike. The advantage here is that the rp has the most authentic feel, and that you have a pretty big set. I salute you, cause I feel way too guilty doing that. The disadvantage is the fairly obvious decrease in activity as you narrow your rpers down, but if you're working with a good crowd, this doesn't necessarily have to happen. It also carries the risk of sending participants off to look for other rps and lowers your permanent participant ranks. Hey, if you feel it's worth it for the effect, go for it.

Now from a player's perspective, it's a lot more subjective. If you're planning to kill off your character, you really want to look at their journey of development. I would really suggest not voluntarily killing off your character unless they have fully worked through their flaws, or if the death would achieve the ultimate overcoming of those weaknesses. I know for me, it's always hard to kill off one of my characters, but sometimes it's essential. Try to make sure to show in those final moments how the character has matured to this point and how those around him and the events transpiring this have affected him. When you kill off a character, always try to avoid leaving any lose ends. Maybe I just put too much life into my characters, but I can't think of ending them without some resolution.
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