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A Guide to Dealing With RPG Character Death


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10 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Atton Rand

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 10:29 AM

Having had to deal with some feelings that came from being in this position, I was thinking it would be useful to make some kind of guide to how to deal with RPG character deaths. I won't bore you with the details of what happened... let's just say that I was too stupid to clearly understand what was going on, wrote myself into a corner, and didn't realize until it was too late to do anything, then before I knew it my PC was dead and there was nothing I could do.

 

I'm probably not the only one who's had to deal with this type of problem. Every now and then, one player blunders too much and gets stuck. Then the host has to make a tough call on whether the situation qualifies as one that can only be resolved by Deus Ex Machina. If they decide it is, then that character is dead and not much can be done. I can say from experience that it's not easy for the player affected by this choice, especially if they were emotionally invested in the character in question. When I lost my PC, I experienced feelings of anger, frustration. I remember it felt like everything was against me. It's not an easy thing to deal with, especially when it happened early on (as in the first few pages) because of extreme foolishness on my part and an inability to realize the mistakes I was making. 

 

Still, I found a few techniques for dealing with the problem, and I was thinking it could be worthwhile to share some of what I did in the hopes that it may be useful to other players. So here are some things I've found useful in dealing with those feelings. Here is a straight forward list of steps I took to deal with my situation, and I'm hoping will be useful to other players.

 

  1. One thing I've found is that, as angry as you may feel when it happens, it's important to control yourself as much as possible. If you try to take out your anger on anyone you'll only make things worse.
  2. Talking to either the host or the person who performed the action is a good move move. However, you need to make sure you can stay calm enough to have a civil conversation. While there's nothing wrong with sharing your own feelings, try to listen to what the other person has to say. This is not to say that you'll agree with everything they write. However, it will offer some context on why things happened the way they did, and they may even offer some valid points. 
  3. Once you've calmed down enough to think clearly, talk with some of the other players in the RPG. Share everything if you can on what you've felt. They should be fairly understanding.
  4. Once you've gotten a lot of your frustrations out, start trying to figure out what went wrong. This is a good time to ask for feedback, mainly because other players can offer information and perspectives that may not have been obvious to you. For instance, it may turn out your character made a very different impression from what you intended, or perhaps there was important information or details you missed or misunderstood. While this won't bring back your PC, it is still useful to know in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

 

Now of course this process is not exactly an instant cure for any anger you may experience. It does take time, and it requires an extensive effort at self-control. However, I have found that when a PC is killed, the best thing you can do is try to stay calm, talk to whoever you can, and do what you can to understand why it happened.

 

Also, one other technique I've used is to turn those feelings to your advantage. This involves channeling your anger into the RPG itself through a new PC. An easy way to do this is to give your new PC a revenge quest (presumably directed against the rival PC who performed the action). While there's no guarantee that they will get their revenge (it does after all count on several variables, including whether the two PCs even meet) it does provide a good starting point and allows you to work some of what you're feeling into the story itself.

 

I'm hoping this is useful to anyone reading this. If anyone else has techniques of their own, feel free to share them.


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#2 Offline 25K When?

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 11:31 AM

Also, one other technique I've used is to turn those feelings to your advantage. This involves channeling your anger into the RPG itself through a new PC. An easy way to do this is to give your new PC a revenge quest (presumably directed against the rival PC who performed the action). While there's no guarantee that they will get their revenge (it does after all count on several variables, including whether the two PCs even meet) it does provide a good starting point and allows you to work some of what you're feeling into the story itself.

A character should never be merely a weapon to be leveraged against those who have slighted you. Writing is the conveyor of one's emotions, true, but to write a character, a person that should have their dreams and motivations, as a tool to lash out against what you think is wrong, is truly pitiful.

 

Characters die. They will die again and again and again.

 

You will be angered. You will be disappointed. You will despair.

 

But you should never allow it to control you so much.

 

It just does not matter.


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#3 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 11:40 AM

 

Also, one other technique I've used is to turn those feelings to your advantage. This involves channeling your anger into the RPG itself through a new PC. An easy way to do this is to give your new PC a revenge quest (presumably directed against the rival PC who performed the action). While there's no guarantee that they will get their revenge (it does after all count on several variables, including whether the two PCs even meet) it does provide a good starting point and allows you to work some of what you're feeling into the story itself.

A character should never be merely a weapon to be leveraged against those who have slighted you. Writing is the conveyor of one's emotions, true, but to write a character, a person that should have their dreams and motivations, as a tool to lash out against what you think is wrong, is truly pitiful.

 

Characters die. They will die again and again and again.

 

You will be angered. You will be disappointed. You will despair.

 

But you should never allow it to control you so much.

 

It just does not matter.

 

To add onto this - willingly letting outside sources fuel writing, especially in a case such as this, simply serves to make your writing worse. It can make sense to have people have grudges in-character over actions, but... there also has to be a point.

 

If you willingly channel anger into posting because of something like characters dying, however, all that will really accomplish, is bringing down the RPG's mood in general - and if you have multiple people doing that same thing... it could just wind up killing the RPG's quality too.


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#4 Offline Rache

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 12:08 PM

I was debating whether to respond to this, but...

 

Yeah.

 

The revenge character thing is terrible advice.

 

Not only does it make the character a hollow puppet for taking out your frustrations, not only does it mean you're letting a personal grudge influence your writing, but you're still making everything about the dead character.

 

And to be quite honest, no one in the RPG will appreciate that. When your character dies via summary execution due to gross incompetence, the best thing you can do is move on. Distance yourself from them. Try to make your next character an avoidance of every mistake you made with the dead one.

 

Otherwise, you end up ambushing a plot-relevant character and delivering a rant about vengeance that sounds like it came from the villain of a low-budget Saturday morning cartoon.


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#5 Offline Padishah Mehmet II

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 12:26 PM

You genuinely concern me sometimes.


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#6 Offline Atton Rand

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 12:27 PM

Really? Nobody seemed to complain when I introduced Layna Arkada as a means of continuing her story and I hadn't exactly been discreet regarding her revenge story. Perhaps I should make some inquiries and consider losing her.


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#7 Offline Rache

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 12:32 PM

To be honest, I had better things to do than complain about what characters you were making and for what reasons.

 

Doesn't mean I didn't cringe a little though.


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We will remember - Skies may fade and stars may wane; we won't forget

And your light shines bright - yes so much brighter shine on

We will remember - Until the skies will fall we won't forget

We will remember

We all shall follow doom


#8 Offline Padishah Mehmet II

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 12:35 PM

To be honest, I had better things to do than complain about what characters you were making and for what reasons.

 

Doesn't mean I didn't cringe a little though.

"a little"


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#9 Offline 25K When?

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 12:41 PM

You're really not helping your reputation at all with this entire thing.

 

Your character died. Whoop de whoop. Most people have had characters die before. Whether because it was unavoidable or because of their own mistakes, it's happened.

 

And they've come to terms with it in their own ways. Usually quickly.

 

People usually don't make a pointless thread about their character dying over a month after the fact.

 

You screwed up. Your character died. Move on.

 

Maybe you have, but right now this thread makes you look really salty.


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#10 Offline Atton Rand

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 12:50 PM

Okay then, I'm sorry for thinking that maybe there were others who had the same problem and that I could help them.


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#11 Offline Monika

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Posted Jul 13 2016 - 01:32 PM

Okay then, I'm sorry for thinking that maybe there were others who had the same problem and that I could help them.

 

 

this just felt appropriate for some reason. =3 

 

But on a serious note, I've had plenty of my own characters die in the past. Usually I wanted them to die because I was tired of them, but regardless I got over their deaths pretty quickly. 

 

At the end of the day a rpg is just a game, if your character dies it dies, make a new one and move on. Simple as that. 


Edited by D.Va, Jul 13 2016 - 01:33 PM.

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