Death: Penalty or Pleasure?
By Niborea

“Birds chirping high above and the rustle of leaves can be heard as I emerge from the tunnel that leads to the safety of home. My long robe sways slightly as the breeze catches the hem. I causously make my way down the hill to a well worn path. A slight buzzing can be heard, turning to my right I find a huge wasp.

Murmuring the incantation the wasp begins to choke. Angrily he begins to sting me, using my staff I begin to beat upon it until it falls lifeless to the ground. Victory! “Thwap” “Ouch! “Thawp” Turning I find myself face to face with an angry orc. My palms begin to sweat as I try to murmur the incantation, without success. In a few well placed blows he has me battered and beaten upon the grass, life slipping away.”

My first encounter with death in Everquest left me with sweating palms and an adrenaline rush.  It was a quick and painless death as I had just begun my adventure as a high elf enchanter. My corpse was easy enough to find, just down the hill from the gates of Felwithe and the loss of exp minimal. But in the battle itself leading up to that death, not knowing what the consequences could be, had me hooked.

As my characters gained levels, the consequences for death grew as well. The experience lost grew more costly as well as the time involved gaining ones corpse back, since you were generally farther away from the safety of home.

There has been a lot of controversy on the OVF on what the death penalty should be. Experience loss, experience debt, the ability to lose a level with experience loss, no level loss, having to recover items and corpse, having your items “soul bound”, resurrections replacing a percentage of experience or not.

Let’s break it down into the different elements for ease of discussion.

Experience:  Experience debt, while to me not as desirable as experience loss, with enough bite to it will still give the player a real sense of consequence for ones actions.
To me this is very important and what I felt was missing from the other MMO’s I’ve tried. None of them gave me a sense that my actions would have enough negative consequences, which in turn lessens the experience of adventure I feel in a game. I don’t want to be handed everything I go out to find or hunt. I want the fight to make me sit up straighter in my chair, hands sweating, while I try and use my skills to make sure I’m not beaten to a pulp.


Losing a level: The ability to lose ones level upon enough experience loss was sometimes humorous, often times frustrating. The one thing I disliked about this element was that the skills and spell system was tied to your level.  Gaining an ability or spell upon leveling then having it taken away did not make sense from a storyline point of view and often times made it very frustrating for the player. Although we had a few humorous moments at the expense of a rather inept player in guild when she repeatedly lost the same level, within a few days time. With Sigil’s approach to more rewards/spells/abilities given at various intervals this type of situation can be avoided.

“Rusty sword in hand, chilled from the lack of proper clothing I rushed forward through the tall grasses, searching left and right. Glancing up I notice the tall tree with the crooked branch, it must be around here somewhere. “

Corpse recovery:  Some of my most memorable moments are being on corpse recoveries, whether it was my own or someone else’s. I believe having to go back to recover ones possessions after death gave the sense of value, beyond the monetary, to those items.
I believe it also helps with the community. There were many times that people would go out of their way to help another either locate their corpse or recover it. There were many times I myself would heed the call to help someone fight their way down into a dungeon to recover their corpse. It helped develop the sense of community and many friends were made along the way.
I truly disliked the other MMO’s I tried that had me popping up with everything intact, like nothing happened. I did not have to reach out to anyone in the community.
I like that Sigil is keeping the corpse recovery system and the idea of having multiple sets of armor will help accomplish that alone for some but shouldn’t diminish the need for a strong community to step in and help from time to time.

Resurrection: In the beginning of my time in Everquest resurrections or rezzes were helpful when you were a good distance from your bind point but were not used primarily for experience recovery like they are today. In the early days there were several times a hunting partner would drag my corpse to a cleric nearby for a rez so that I would not have to make the 30min travel back, the experience recovered was very minimal.

Today in Everquest travel time has become instant and the experience recovery with rezzes have become something that makes death trivial. Even if you can not get your corpse you just pay an NPC at the guild hall to retrieve it for you and then a cleric can rez you, nothing lost but a minimal amount of time.
I was glad to hear Brad talk of Sigil’s approach to resurrections; no experience will be recovered with them, just the ability to save some travel time.

In conclusion I’m pretty pleased with Sigil’s approach to death in Vanguard. It will be enough that it gives an appreciation for life, knowing death will sting, as it should.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.