Remember that scale I was talking about earlier that ranged from "wargame" to "RPG" (with "hybrid" in between)? Well, in thinking about player character death...what I suppose might be called character attrition...I find myself feeling that letting the players' avatars die in droves is only cool when you move closer to that "wargame" portion of the spectrum.
Why? Well, for a few reasons (in no particular order):
- the farther you move towards the RPG side, the more detailed individual characters tend to be; thus the longer chargen takes (i.e. time needed to get a player "back in the game").
- wargames are more likely to have rules regarding reinforcements, hirelings/followers, and "seconds"; thus allowing the death to be "spread around" and taking the sting out of mortality
- the time and place for "resupplying" (i.e. bringing in replacement characters for the dead) can be much more haphazard or limited, the closer you get to the RPG side (especially when relationships with the setting and other PCs has to be set up at the beginning of the game).
- the more personal the character (i.e. the closer to the RPG side), the more you want your character's death to be impactful and/or "have meaning" rather than just being a poor shlub who fell on his own iron spike
Anyway, since all the games in this spectrum fall into the "fantasy adventure game" category, I'm just thinking that knowing how and what type of chardeath (is that already a portmanteau?) you want, can tell you where on the scale your design is falling...and vice versa I suppose (though that's less important than gameplay considerations, in my opinion).
Okay, the sick children have become a bit more worrisome. Later.