Farewell, Old Friend
It is never easy to say goodbye but as most tabletop players know, character death is a part of the game. In my most recent game of Anima: Beyond Fantasy, the same campaign of Living Beyond Fantasy, one of these heroic adventurers met his end. This has not been the first character death of the campaign, and given my track record it will not be the last, but it was a very significant death. This was the character that had taken charge, led the others when no one else stood up to take the mantle of leadership. He was the one they all looked to for advise, knowledge into the occult, and to stand by their side at the worst of times. Loosing him was a significant hit to the foundation of the game thus far, and that is what made it so powerful.
Every character is important. When looking at the game as a story, each character is a person in his or her own right. They have hopes and dreams and feelings all there own, but every once in a while you come across a character that really makes the game come together. These are the characters you really relate to, even if they are not your own. These characters feel like the main characters in a novel or movie or television series. You know that, no matter what, they will always pull through. Then the unthinkable happens and you find out that even they are still mortal. What do you do next? Well, in some cases, I have seen the entire game fall apart at the death of a character. This is a worst-case scenario in my book. Why? Because the other characters are still there to take up the slack. Their story can still go on, and when it comes to world changing, emotionally charged events such as those the characters in my Anima game are currently dealing with, it cheapens the whole experience for both players and Gamemaster to have the game come to a sudden and unexpected end just because a single player character was cut down. This is likewise insulting to other players who have already lost characters and been forced to roll up new characters in the current game. “Why did we stop playing when his character died and not mine?” Sure, you might have your favorites, but that does not mean you can play favorites when it comes to the roll of the dice.
I have had many of my own characters die, and I have seen many, many more as a Gamemaster. Despite what players might think at times, we Gamemasters do not enjoy this. It is not fun to kill off characters. Our goal is to make an exciting adventure. A challenge that can be overcome. If we really wanted to kill off player characters, all we would have to do is close the book and say “rocks fall from the sky. Everyone dies,” but what fun is there in that?
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