Perhaps I’d better start by saying that if you are playing a character then it could be a very annoying thing. After all investing in developing how you are going to play that character, not to mention the equipment and props you may have acquired along the way; means that losing that character could be anything from annoying to traumatic.

But is it a good thing?

Death to paraphrase a certain song brings on many changes.

  • For the player affected it means they have to rethink things.
  • For the group playing the event it means they have to appraise their approach in the scenario. Do they now need to be more cautious – or even more aggressive.
  • Does the notion of revenge now come into play and how does that alter the outcome.
  • For players with characters that were close to the fallen how do they now play things. Do they need to show loss, remorse, anger or anyone of a number of things. Do those players now change their characters point of view or make bad decisions because of the death?
  • Should funereal rites be performed and what impact does that has?

I bring this topic up because – dependant upon the larp there is a wide disparity on the chances of losing a character. On some events if your character survives you should consider yourself a lucky winner. On other events you can go through a cycle of injuries and near death experiences and come out the other side unscathed. There is no singular larp metric on your chance of survival.

This to me is correct. Larps represent different types of fiction or simulations of reality. The probability of dying is not going to be the same at all times.

What does worry me is that perhaps characters survive for the wrong reasons. If this is the case then I’d like to suggest to players and organisers that death in a game is not a bad thing. It can be a trigger for plot and character development.

Poor reasons for avoiding character loss can be things like

  • Not wanting to upset a player that is massively invested in the character
  • Not wanting to lose a character that could be instrumental to a ┬ácertain scenario outcome
  • Not knowing what to with a player who no longer has a character.
  • Maintaining a status quo that feels like it is working and not wanting to move to an unknown future.

I’m sure there are many other reasons to. This article isn’t here to list all of these or to guide you through possible strategies in dealing with the end of a character. Instead all I ask is that if death in larp is avoided – then perhaps you are missing out on a good thing. A thing that has impact and consequences that can make the larp more involving.



The photograph in this article comes from Flickr user: Marc Cooper. You can learn more about this image here.

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