((The RP XP with MJ #23))
“I still don’t feel right about it, master. She’s young and impressionable,” the Zabrak Padawan muttered as he joined his master at the bottom of the ship’s boarding ramp.
“You’ll get over it, Tarik. You’ll have to.” Master Kendris scratched the thatch of gray beard on his chin and surveyed Coruscant’s surroundings with a suspicious eye. “I know your feelings toward the smuggler. And you know the reason why such relations are forbidden by the Order.”
Anxious to get away from the losing argument of Yulel’s innocence and continuous attempts to hide his feelings for her, Tarik said, “Are you certain this is a safe place to be? I mean… Don’t you think the Jen’Hutis would be safer on Tython?”
His master’s response was unexpected considering their history. “Well… I think you’re actually right about that, Tarik.”
That’s when the young Zabrak noticed the private docking bay was even more private than it was moments ago. The refueling technicians, the mechanics, even the droids had vanished. “I have a bad feeling about this, master.”
Kendris nodded and ignited his lightsabers.
The whoop-whoop-whoop of two twirling blades came too quickly and neither Jedi could turn on the flash of crimson before it was too late. The spinning red lightsabers flew toward the Jedi, one high and one low. Kendris only had a split-second choice to make. He spun and dove, deflecting one of the blades with his own lightsaber to protect Tarik as the second boomeranged behind him and slashed deeply across his back.
“Nooo!” Tarik rushed forward and caught Kendris in his arms as the red blades retracted and returned to their black robed master, pulled by the Force into the Sith’s outstretched hands.
Kendris fumbled in the folds of his robes. “H-Here… Tarik…. take the Jen’Hutis… Take it.. and r-run…”
And then he was gone.
In all my years of RolePlaying I have killed off countless creations. Some PC, some NPC, but if their death fulfilled a greater part of a story and had meaning to other characters, so be it.
To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a term for the permanent cessation of an MMO character. I always thought that if I wanted to stop playing him I could just… well… stop playing him. I usually juggle so many RP characters and NPCs that I never think twice about the “one who would be missed.” But the fact is that there will always be someone who needs closure. Just because you’ve re-thought the character doesn’t mean other players’ characters won’t have a void to fill, especially if your RolePlay impacted or intersected with their own.
We’re not talking about a simple “respec” on an avatar because you don’t like his beard. We’re talking about a character with a personality no longer being there, replaced by someone else. You’ve been RPing with that male Twi’lek Jedi Knight all the way to Level 50 and you’re done. You’d rather run with a female Chiss agent because you’ve got more ideas for Imperial stories. The reason behind “permadeathing” a character can come from anywhere. Let’s take a morbid look at what it takes to zap your Zabrak or sack your Sith.
When BioWare unveiled the Legacy system, I had trouble with how I’d link all my characters on the server. I really didn’t see the Zabrak, Twi’lek and human as siblings, so it wasn’t a given that I could just slap the same last name on all of them. Then I had an idea. I thought about what “legacy” means, and how the definition could include something as broad as the passing down of teachings or ideals. A legacy is something shared over time.
And, in my case, it started with a death.
Prior to the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I had been running some Forum RP with my guildmates in an effort to start building some characterization. Sometimes we’d create NPCs to help each other grow: Apprentices for Lords, Hutts for Smugglers, even an entire enclave of Jedi Masters to decide the fate of a “fallen Sith.” Along the way, I created a Jedi Master who was a bit long in the tooth and short on his expectations of the Jedi Order. He wasn’t really a “Gray Jedi,” but he harbored a secret: an affair he had in his younger days that has haunted his conscience ever since. I grew to like his voice, his sense of humor, his sardonic approach to the Jedi and his no-nonsense approach to all things Force.
Meanwhile, a guildmate wanted a reason for his Padawan to fall to the Dark Side. His Padawan was without a master, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to bring in my Jedi to see what kinds of strings I could pull and possibly adversely influence this poor Padawan and angle her toward her Dark Destiny.
As my friend worked out the storyline he wanted for his fallen Padawan, I worked up the ire of my crotchety Jedi. The more I played him out in different FRP scenarios, the more I liked him. I even placed him near the top of my second tier of characters-I-want-to-create. He paralleled the “soul” of an NPC character I’d created in another MMO that became so popular he got a skin of his own.
My FRP partner in the fallen Padawan scenario came to me to kick around ideas for how his Padawan could fall. This happened about the same time BioWare released their rough sketch of the Legacy system. Then it hit me. What better way to honor the character of my Jedi than to put him at the top of a lasting legacy?
If the Jedi’s Padawan killed him — we figured “unintentionally” would be a good foundation for our scene vis-a-vis Anakin’s “What have I done?” lament over sealing Mace Windu’s fate in Revenge of the Sith (Oops. Spoiler) — that would be a simple solution to answer both our needs. I’d get my legacy out of a fallen master, and my friend would get his catalyst for throwing his Padawan to the k’lor’slugs of Korriban.
When it comes to permadeathing a character, you the player have no qualms. After all, this was your idea. You have bigger things in mind. Whether it’s a drastic redux, you need to tweak a few things, or — like me — you decided to sacrifice your child so that other, greater, lives may come of it, you’re feeling pretty good about it.
Depending how close your RP has been with other players’ characters, you may face some opposition to the idea. What if someone else’s character was falling in love with yours, depended on your character for support or training; or maybe your regular RP partner was on the verge of something great, an epic story the two of you would write together? Now this. The bomb drop. The end. The big tamale.
As with any other major change in an RP relationship (marriage, sexual relations, familial bonds, master-apprentice relationships), it’s good to talk it out Out Of Character beforehand. Who knows? Maybe your RP partners have an idea that will save your character’s life. Maybe they know something you don’t. Maybe they see something in your character that you hadn’t seen and maybe they’re right.
That’s depending, of course, on the reason for the permadeath to begin with. If you’re thumbing your nose at your former friends before jumping to a new server, or if you just found out the RP guild you joined is a cover for PvP group, OOC isn’t necessary (though I would caution you to make sure you’re not hurting any true friends in the process who might want to join you on the other server).
Once you have it settled, it’s time to go to that big lightsaber in the sky.
The simplest way to permadeath a character is to simply delete them between games. If someone asks you OOCly later on, “((Whatever happened to your bounty hunter?))” you can simply reply, “((Fell into a Sarlaac pit.))” There’s no acting, no choreography. It’s just an echo of a story, perhaps a legendary fall or even a freak accident.
In my situation, my partner and I are choreographing a duel between our characters and a Sith Lord (also played by my friend). FRP is an easy way to handle the scenario because you can completely work out the details in an OOC thread or via personal e-mail before you perform the action. All I want is for my character to die slowly enough to make one final statement. Other than that, it’ll be quick and only slightly painful. Which brings me to….
Don’t ham it up like a Gamorrean’s thigh. There’s no need to prolong the death scene or make it horrifyingly gruesome. A character’s death will be more memorable if they were memorable characters. The death scene isn’t the thing you should want your onlookers to remember. You’ll want them to miss your character when he or she is gone, to make them feel “real.” Look at Star Wars lore for two of the most perfect examples: Cleanly chopped in half (Darth Maul); fell into a Sarlaac pit (Boba Fett). (Oops! Spoilers.)
Yes, I know, both characters were “reborn” or “made not-dead” in oft-debated extended fiction (Bah! Spoilers again!) But think about why Uncle George gave the nod to their returns. Boba Fett, for example, was simply the “guy who delivered Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt.” What made him so special? Fans loved him, that’s what. The first appearance of the Mandalorian-style armor reminiscent of a knight, the fact that he was the only one employed by the Empire (freelance or otherwise) who talked back to Darth Vader without choking on his own Force (“He’s no good to me dead.”) The scalps hanging off his armor. A backpack rocket launcher! Ooh. Nerdgasm.
But seriously, it was the coolness of the characters or what they represented that made them memorable… and mourned.
And, as with popular “second string” Star Wars characters, they’re proof that permadeath may not be so perma after all. Just make sure that when your character dies they don’t do so by getting minced in a spice grinder.
MJ is the RP columnist and editor for swtor-life.com. You can follow him on twitter @MJswtor and you can write to him directly at swtorliferp(at)gmail.com. If you have any ideas, questions, thoughts or stories to share, send them his way. He’d love to hear them.
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