Funny old world. A paladin falls, an antipaladin rises, and BBEG pays his contractors. I guess there’s no figuring some people.

While Demon Queen rages impotently from whatever corner of the multiverse she’s been shunted off to, what do you say the rest of us talk about the real conflict at work here? Namely, resurrection magic, and whether it takes all the teeth out of consequences.

Now it’s no secret that I dislike permadeath. I said as much way back when. But I’d be lying if I said the esteemed opposition didn’t make some good points.

If you’ve ever player a roguelike video game, you know that the threat of losing all your precious progress changes the feel of play. Same deal with those hard-won blood echoes over in Bloodbourne or your high-tier gear in Minecraft. When you stand to permanently lose something, there’s an attendant tension that you just don’t get from an easy replay from a convenient checkpoint.

On the TRPG side, it’s tough to argue that emotions aren’t running higher when permadeath is on the line. Each downed PC is a crisis moment; every save vs death is harrowing. While I have no doubt that Inquisitor might tell us that RP consequences remain, they are qualitatively different. The feels-bad of needing to pay for a rez or the shame of letting your dude get temporarily-dead are still consequential, but they don’t have the same sting of, “Sorry, but you have to roll a new guy.”

For me, the question is whether that extra tension is worth the cost. Watching a character arc get cut off in its prime is no one’s idea of a good time. And even if you happen to think “that risk is what makes it worthwhile” in a vacuum, it’s impossible to know whether the calculus will change when the pivotal moment arrives. Even more significant for GMs, it’s tough to know whether your players will have a change of heart about permadeath when it actually happens to them. Tension is all well and good, but I’ve heard more than one story of players getting discouraged and quitting when their precious PC caught a case of dead. That’s why I tend to play it catch as catch can in my own games.

What about the rest of you guys though? Do you have a policy in place for permadeath and resurrection magic? Or do you opt for a fast and loose style, reconsidering how to approach the problem with each unique character death and story beat? Sound off with your own takes on the revolving door o’ death down in the comments!


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