I’m not paranoid* but Corporate keeps messing with me, which is weird because I’m not even sure they’re a real company. Every time I try to write a post that isn’t a list some dude in a Minecraft t-shirt, making airplane noises, shows up and serves me with a “cease and desist” order. Additionally, and I’m not quite sure but I think the Fantastic Corporate Team at Higher Level Games™, might be helpfully editing my work. It’s killing me inside.
Speaking of imminent death; for those of you who don’t know; death is a unilateral occurrence in role-playing, comic books, and real life. As both a reader and a player, I can see death is an important part of the narrative/game, and there are some remarkable similarities to how it plays out in both mediums.
1) “I never saw it coming…”
I once had a GM state, very eloquently, during an intensely fun session of D&D, that “[in-game] death should hurt” or it means nothing. While a death of a key character in comics can be used to signify the intensity and seriousness of a situation for the reader, it often highlights the emotional attachment that both writers and readers have for well-established and beloved characters. I have found that the same is no less true for my gaming and unfortunately influences how I play. I become attached to my characters on a personal level and even though I attempt to minimize my metagaming, it changes how I manage in-game risk. I want my favorites to live to fight another day; I want them to vanquish their foes, I WANT THEM TO LIVE FOREVER... but circle of life and all that crap. Anyways, I never see it coming.
2) “Oh man, that guy was awesome!”
Often when I’m playing with my crew, something in game will elicit an, “Oh man! Do you remember when [insert character name here]?” The truly great characters we remember are those that have gone out guns blazing (or in muffled whimpers), their names and deeds etched into a lasting communal game narrative. In comic books I call this ‘Epic Heroics’. These deaths are so significant comic geeks still discuss the success of their execution years later. Whether it was Nightcrawler’s final sacrifice in X-Force #26 or my friend’s PC Augustine’s (that guy was so badass) last stand in the Ravenloft domain of Har’Akir, people talk about it. The difference is while in comics the discussion lasts a month, among role-players this goes on for decades. Alternately, going with a whimper can immortalize you as well; first edition D&D traps can facilitate the majority of these amazing yet embarrassing recollections.
3) “Yes, I know.”
No one stays dead in comic books. Well, depending on the game this is true in gaming as well. A little ‘Gentle Repose’, a little ‘Raise Dead’ and you’re back in the mix. Not your thing? Well, necromancy has a bad rap. Sometimes you can be back faster than a speeding bullet, and sometimes not so much. Even if your character bit the dust playing Shadowrun in a Feral City with no light at the end of the tunnel, no worries. Like comic book characters, players just keep coming back to the table for new storylines. Sure banging out a new sheet 2 hours into a marathon weekend of gaming is annoying after developing a character for 4 years but things change. As a player I’m working on accepting character death more readily so that I can move on to try new archetypes in a single campaign. One man’s bad roll is the same man’s opportunity.
Death: the great mystery, except in my downtime. It’s inevitable, I can’t read or play with any interest without it. If there is no chance of loss, then why? It’s an essential element and honestly, the more I think about it the more I’m beginning to believe some of us aren’t going to make it out of here alive.
*Yes he is. -VP Quinn
About Ryan: So I try to read about 50 comics a week, depending on my ability to pay the power bill. I try to read as much new and independent works as my tried and trusted favorites, and I’ve been doing this for years. Thus, I can roughly say that I am pretty decent at comicology, however I hold no formal degree. Luckily, degrees are no substitute for common sense and that’s how I got this gig. Read about his thoughts on how comic books can enrich your role-playing here.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.