Prealpha 3′s Death Penalties

As I mentioned earlier, I want to experiment with variable death penalties, where players can choose how punitive they want it to be. This lets players who want a “scarier” game have one, without forcing it on people. I don’t expect most players to use these harsher death penalties (I probably won’t myself!), but I think a fair number of people would like this feature, based on comments from earlier blog posts.

There are rewards for choosing to make it more punitive, but the rewards aren’t intended to fully compensate for the penalty (otherwise that would become the “right” way to play and people would feel pushed into doing it). Instead, the rewards are just a perk. The real point is that the game is more dangerous for you, so you aren’t bored. And also bragging rights: your death penalty will show up when people view you.

So I brainstormed a list and I’m going to implement them for the next pre alpha. To make it easy to test them, you’ll be able to change your death penalty in town at any time, for free. (But in the final game, switching involves a quest of some sort, probably on a timer.)

The problem is, I have too many penalties! I don’t want to overwhelm people with choices; I think 4 is the max. So here’s my list, but note that I don’t have room for all of them. What do you think of these, and would you use any of them?

Normal Penalty: when you die, you are sent back to the zone’s graveyard.

Casual Mode: when you die, if it’s your first death in an hour, you respawn right where you were. If you’ve already died too recently, you are sent back to the zone’s graveyard like normal. You earn -10% XP from killing monsters.

Hardcore Mode: when you die, you are sent back to the zone’s graveyard. Approximately 25% of your belongings don’t come with you, however. They remain in a special box at the scene of your death. If you click the box within the next 2-3 hours, you get your stuff back. You earn +5% XP from killing monsters.

Extreme Mode: when you die, ALL of your stuff goes into a box at your death site, and you are sent back to the graveyard. You earn +8% XP from killing monsters.

Ultra-Extreme Mode: when you die, all your stuff goes into a box, PLUS one of your active combat skills is permanently lowered by 1-10 points (randomly chosen). You earn +12% XP from killing monsters.

PermaDeath Mode: when you die, you can’t respawn. Your items explode out in a shower so that other people nearby can pick them up. You can continue to log in and chat as a corpse (useful for e.g. organizing guild transitions), but you’ll always remain a corpse at the spot you died. (With possible “bribery option”: I will un-die you if you send me $50 via PayPal. Your stuff will still be gone, though.) You earn +15% XP from killing monsters.

So there you have it. Way too many options, got to remove 2 or 3 of these. What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

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30 Responses to Prealpha 3′s Death Penalties

  1. Polynices says:

    Seems to me that if there’s an XP bonus many MMO players will feel “forced” to take that option even if they hate that penalty and then blame you when they die and are unhappy with the outcome. It might be reasonable to just let that happen but maybe not.

  2. Sungazer says:

    Neat options, I’d nix’ casual and extreme. Normal seems like the standard affair that most would go for, Hardcore looks very ACish minus the exp boost and Ultra-extreme looks like it would be a cool option for a challenge. Permadeath could just be labeled Hardcore, like the mode in that game that shall not be named, *cough* d3 *cough*, that sort of a challenge should be for bragging rights though… no need for +exp. Just my thoughts. Love reading your stuff man, keep up the good work!

  3. Felix says:

    I vote for Casual, Hardcore, Ultra-extreme, Permadeath, with Hardcore the default. Or maybe make the default a combination of Casual and Hardcore.

    Dropping some percent of your inventory is an interesting break in the monotony of death. And maybe Ultra-extreme should drop all but one or two items.

    Anyone wanting a non-default challenge should be willing to take a stats hit on death, and I suspect the death penalty could be harsher, like it might be viable to have some penalty that makes the character effectively unusable after 9 or so deaths.

  4. Brad says:

    Can’t you just modify Hardcore, Extreme and Ultra-Extreme modes into a single mode that has a difficulty slider?

    So that would leave you with Normal, Casual, Harcore(Variable) and Permadeath.

  5. Doone says:

    I don’t think I get it. What is your death penalty’s purpose to overall gameplay experience? This all looks terribly arbitrary. I think any player in any mode will feel the same. Especially when you throw randomness in there (losing 1-10 skill points?). These all seem arbitrary, like you’re just making it up and that none of it has an intended purpose.

    Torchlight 2 is a recent example of this sort of death mechanic in play. It’s clear the game wants to penalize dying, but allows the player to judge the circumstances of their death and decide their punishment. In all the options you lose gold, unless you chose to respawn in town, losing all your progress in that dungeon, but paying nothing. In all 3 choices the penalty is clear as well as the intent. Death sets you back, but it doesn’t destroy you, annoy you, or discourage. The point is to be a penalty to encourage smarter/skillful gameplay.

    Standard MMOs like WoW just make you run back, make you repair your gear, and possibly kill all the respawns depending on where you are. The point is for death to be a set-back, albeit minimal.

    What is your death penalty aiming to do?

    Why are casual mode players receiving a harsher XP penalty than the hardcore? That seems backward unless I’m not understanding -10% XP.

    What bragging rights? No one — like NO ONE — *likes* dying and players enjoy bragging about triumph in adversity or a great adventure, not how bad they got owned by a death penalty. Am I missing something here? Let me know, but I don’t see anything here I’d feel was brag worthy. I think the context of death is missing here to give this any meaning.

    I’m definitely interested to know how this mechanic serves the overall gameplay experience. Thanks for all the posts you guys do during development :)

  6. Siobhann says:

    – Casual/Normal – Respawning in-place sometimes is nice, especially if your graveyards are spaced out to discourage multiple-death zerging. I wouldn’t want to see a -XP% penalty. Casual players are often “casual” because of limited gametime and are likely not going to be interested in grinding out an extra 10% XP. Then you push a casual player who is grind-averse into an equipment loss bracket, only sometimes they have to quit the game abruptly (to go care for a child for example) and lose their stuff.
    – Hardcore – Sounds more fun than fighting back on a naked character.
    – Extreme/Ultra – May as well lower a skill if you opt for the aggravation of fighting your way back on a naked character.
    – Permadeath – You are asking for trouble if you revive dead characters for $50. The emails will read “Your lag spike was a ploy to get my $50 and I’m going to sue you.”

  7. Eric says:

    Polynices – I was aiming to make them small enough that it didn’t trigger that. 5% XP from monsters in exchange for dropping things on death is probably not an overall benefit in terms of leveling time, unless you’re doing extremely safe (read: boring and non-optimal) leveling. Do you think there’s any point at which the “I must have bonus XP” thing doesn’t kick in for you?

    Doone – I’ve done a few posts about the death system before on the blog, which can give you a lot more background, but the short version: the point of death is to show “you screwed up”, so the default death penalty is a time sink and nothing else — you have to run back to where you were. Modern gamers tend not to react well to harsher penalties, and quite understandably so. However, the response to my blog posts about death indicated some players would like a “scarier” game experience. One way to make the game overall more dangerous is to increase the death penalty. Letting people pick the death penalty lets people opt in to this harder experience.

    As for bragging rights, this is actually a key reason players are likely to pick this sort of option. (The xp bonuses are just a perk, and maybe a misguided one.) This way they can show off that they are “hardcore” and are playing a harder game than “normals.” When I talk to people about this mechanic, if they’re interested in using a hardcore mode at all, they’ve always wanted to be able to show off this fact. It’s not about how bad you got owned by the death system, it’s about how amazing you are for succeeding even against tougher odds than normal.

  8. Lolin says:

    Being new on the scene, I would have to ask if the game is going to have open world pvp. And if so, one on one or factions? In UO factions has a temporary skill reduction on death that takes you out of play for a period of time. Also on my shard we can choose one item that will not stay on our corpse when we die. ON other shards they can buy insuruance to keep all thier items when they die. What this results in is that on my shard we go with armor and items that are more replacable and this boosts the player economy. And the playing field is somewhat more balanced. Just throwing that out there. As for me personally, I could not do perma death as I suck, even on a good day. On a tired day after work, I need a casual experience. HOwever, I am interested in the idea of being able to switch back and forth. I could see some players, both pve and pvp would love having the rep of being permadeath mode for x-amount of time. Oh and about casual respawning you where you are….whatever killed you might still be there. In Rift you have the option of walking away a bit before you respawn. I liked that. I like the idea of various XP bonuses for death penalties too. And for holidays. And about any time actually lol. Sorry this post is so irratic, I am very disorganized. JUst look in my inventory some time. :P

  9. Lolin says:

    Oh! What about a really long, tedius and boring ghost quest to get your life back?

  10. Kriss says:

    Just because I’ve been thinking this through recently for another game so I’m going to adapt where my head currently is for your situation :)

    How about two modes, normal and hardcore, normal is well normal with nothing lost just a mild respawn annoyance.

    hardcore irrevocably degrades equipment slightly (1%?) on each death, as an incentive bonus to play like this, all your equipment also functions significantly better in this mode.

    Above all I like the idea of noobs getting gifted hand me downs from other players. Epic weapons, that are now almost worn to a nub, maybe even with a history of all of its previous owners deaths :)

  11. Anon says:

    Get rid of Casual and Ultra-Extreme. The Normal penalty is casual enough and Ultra Extreme just seems to encourage grinding to get your skills back.

  12. Xhi says:

    Losing items is a big deal, so having the box disappear in 2-3 hours is extreme. I don’t know how close you are placing graveyards, but in some MMOs it can take 30-40 minutes just to run to your body since you often have to fight on the way. If you then die a time or two trying to get back your body, which is likely since you died in that area already, you lose everything on the first body. This type of setup has also led to people getting scammed because they give other people the right to loot their body due to their own inability to retrieve it, and then the “helpers” keep the items.

    EQ1 gave you 24 hours way back when I played, and that wasn’t always enough if you needed to find other people to help reach your stuff (when you only play in the middle of the night when populations are low). That isn’t even including if you die because your internet goes out, and by the time you can log back in its all gone. I think one of the MMOs with corpses only ran the timer if you were logged in, but I am not sure.

    I like the idea of being able to lose xp (active combat skill perma lowered), but don’t like that you have it tied to losing items.

    Instead of having pre-set “modes” to pick from, have you considered just assigning a reward/penalty to each death choice you are offering and letting players pick and choose? For instance:
    - A) Rez at body once per hour = -10% xp gain from monster kills
    - B) Leave 25% of items in box at death site = +3% xp gain from kills (stacks with c)
    - C) Leave 75% of items at death site = +5% xp gain from kills (stacks with b)
    - D) Items at death site are lootable by everyone = If b, c, and d are enabled gain title “Gladiator”
    - E) Lose 1 point off highest active combat skill on death = +4% xp gain from kills
    - F) Unable to revive after death, only chat enabled = +3% xp gain from kills

    This would sort of fit in with having multiple systems that can be combined for emergent gameplay. For instance if I hate corpse runs then I could just choose options A and E for revive at corpse once per hour with perma skill loss and a total of -4% xp gain from kills. The % amounts in my example were just chosen to come close to the numbers you were using in your modes.

    I do like the idea of needing to reach my corpse for some reward or penalty removal, but not at the risk of permanent item loss. Skill points/xp can always be ground back up, but a rare item might never be found again.

    Maybe the option to have the items be “broken” or “lost,” but still present in inventory until corpse is retrieved? This would make a 2-3 hour corpse work well since after 3 hours the items would just become useable again in your inventory if you had not “retrieved” them earlier.

    This way when you screw up bad exploring and fall into a hole in the ground and find yourself at the bottom of a dungeon many levels too high, you can just take a break for the night, or do some crafting for a couple hours, rather than ragequitting because you lost every item permanently. I saw exactly this happen in EQ1 (both in Blackburrow and Kurn’s Tower if I remember right), but fortunately it let me learn from others’ mistakes rather than my own.

    AC1′s setup of allowing you to protect your good items with high gold “death items” also worked well at giving the danger of item loss, without the massive penalty of a single mistake.

    Wow this got long, I will stop rambling now. =)

  13. Xhi says:

    Oops, my math skills failed. My example should have said:

    For instance if I hate corpse runs then I could just choose options A and E for revive at corpse once per hour with perma skill loss and a total of -6% xp gain from kills.

  14. Cloo says:

    The best death penalty is simply that you lose your dungeon progress. When you’re deep in a dungeon, you feel special, and take extra precaution to not die.

    So I’d just have bigger dungeons, with sections that are hard to get to and have big rewards. And only two modes: Normal and Permadeath.

  15. Neofit says:

    This second $50 bill doesn’t have the power to give me my stuff back then? ;)

    Now seriously, why do people want to limit other people’s death penalty options? The more the merrier, no? All these options besides Normal and Casual are for other people and do not concern me, I don’t see how I can recommend to remove this and that. Having options ranging from “less than WoW”, WoW, AC1, EQ1 and Salem can only be good for the game imho.

    Personally I’d choose Casual if only for the exp penalty. I lost intereste in LOTRO when they increased the exp gain so that my level 40ish toons started gaining 1-2 levels a day. Same with STO, and a dev there even answered my post on the issue saying that they were now expecting people to go from 1 to max level in 3 weeks. I don’t know how leveling up will work in PG, but seeing the current trend in MMOs I am glad to see a “gain less exp” option.

  16. Lolin says:

    oh! whatever you go with, if there is a chance of losing everything, we need some sort of storage option. The way I survive on my UO shard is to have sets of gear ready to go. It still hurts to lose what was on your corpse, but its not dehabilitating. Besides I may not make it back to my corpse if I I am not geared. Don’t get me wrong, I want a penalty. But being thrown back to square one because of a death deep in enemy territory is a game stopper.

  17. Lolin says:

    Are we going to be able to craft armor and weapons and sell to players? As well as loot? That brings a new dynamic to the issue of losing gear.

  18. I would like a mix of the permadeath option with the curses you have. Being stuck as a cow and adapting to life as a cow was great fun, what if you had an option of being stuck as a ghost?

    Perhaps make normal and permadeath(or ghost death if you like the idea) as the two default options and leveling up your deathxp can reveal more options?

  19. Eric says:

    Hmm, thinking about it, a couple other potentially fun ideas come to mind:

    - Unrespawnable: this is like perma-death, you can’t respawn. But other players can come along and resurrect you with a special item. This is the only way you can play again. (Downside: imagine the dead screaming in chat 24/7 for a rez…)

    - Ghost: as Anthony mentioned, a ghost mode might be fun. Once you die, you become a Ghost permanently. (Maybe there’s a very difficult cure, maybe not.) Ghosts have severe restrictions like the animal curses, but also have their own advancement and abilities.

  20. Kujo says:

    The death penalties affect a lot of gameplay, but the penalties and rewards only affect levelling. That’s especially bad if players spend most of their time at an xp cap like in other mmos.

    Normal & Casual: Wow gives you these two as one option: when you appear at the graveyard, you’re a ghost and can choose to reincarnate on the spot or run back to your body. Shaman can stand where they died once an hour or so. Always respawning right where you died is a disaster, though. While levelling, where I died is usually a dangerous place to stand up. A free rez during boss fights can be pretty powerful.

    Hardcore: Ah, AC1. Are you envisioning something like the Master’s Robes, too? How about the ability to grant other people permission to see/use your box? I like the idea of a harder death mechanic that can be tactically mitigated by people who really know the game. That’s what a hard core mode is in most games these days.

    Extreme mode : We’ve seen this in Ultima Online and EQ1. It’s definitely very punishing for any character that needs their gear to get back to their body. Seems like lycanthropes and stealth would have a pretty big advantage here.

    Ultra-Extreme Mode: Might as well be permadeath if there’s no way to undo the skill reduction.

    Permadeath & Unrespawnable: On the one hand, I can see people drawn to this as an alternate gameplay style. You say the game has a plot reason that most player characters are “Normal”, so it makes sense that some players would be just like the NPCs. I can envision a few high-plot quests that can only be completed by permadeath characters to really add to the prestige. On the other hand, it seems so dangerous when an internet burp or game bug can wipe out so much work. Would you be able to detect if someone is grief-killed? Some of those situations are all but guaranteed rage quits, and that’s bad. I think I’m in favor of the Unrespawnable flavor. It should be a part of the game for NPCs, too; believably demanding such that it’s rare. My initial thinking is it must be a levelled alt of the dead character and the alt should have to permanently die to pull it off. Perhaps you’re occasionally “haunted” by the character that gave their life for you.

    Ghost : Being a ghost in UO was amusing for about 5 minutes. OoooOoOOOO. Making it be a permament choice, akin to werewolf, is certainly right up the theme of this game. I could see all sorts of undeath mechanics for Unrespawnable characters. But it would be the same work as a new class, so probably outside the scope of this discussion. Otherwise, being a ghost is a “just” part of the other death mechanics. Wow has quests that can only be done as a ghost.

    ConclusionI would vote for merging normal and casual into one “Normal”, then having Hardcore and Unrespawnable as the full set of options.

  21. Jason says:

    Rift has an option where if you choose to respawn where you corpse is located you get 10 seconds to move to a safer position nearby. You also have a radius around your corpse if you choose to run back that lets you grab it so you don’t have to be on top of it before respawning.

    Hardcore/Perma might be something to consider for your alternative paths – Lycanthropes, Ghosts, Cows, etc. Making them hardcore might help make them more rare. Otherwise you may end up with a large percentage of your population being non-Regular character types. Which may sound fun in theory, but might make it hard for other (particularly new) players to enjoy the game if they can’t find folks to group or interact with.

  22. Jezebeau says:

    I’m a fan of the Hardcore penalty, because Asheron’s Call had my favourite death penalty (except, perhaps, for the vitae loss). 25% seems pretty extreme, though, particularly if poor luck could result in half your equipped items disappearing in an area you just found out is well above your fully-geared capability.

    Extreme doesn’t really add anything distinct and could probably be dropped, and I agree that having to do 11% more grinding is a problem for casual gamers, and is unlikely to offset the time saved, since they don’t require corpse runs.

    I like the Ghost idea. Perhaps makes you intangible during the day, and if you die during the night you don’t respawn until the next sunset?

    Would permadeath characters have an alternate path for unlocking necromancy?

  23. Mouse says:

    Bragging rights should be the only ‘perk’ necessary. No incentive other than bragging and you’ll cut way down on potential mental anguish.

    Make Normal your default. Players can upgrade to your Extreme level in town. Upgrading is semi-permanent. If you have for-pay features in addition to subscription (strongly recommended for F2P games – if someone really wants to pay you more, don’t stop them), having a downgrade-to-Normal item available. Additionally you can upgrade to Permadeath – with your same wiggle-room of high $ cost to posthumously revoke (a great idea and even if expensive it will no doubt be used and appreciated by someone).

    For Permadeath it may be advisable to require a waiting period. Set that you want to flag, X time (24 hrs?) must pass, then confirm again before it will engage. You don’t want to lose a subscriber because, in example, they were inebriated and made an unwise choice they later regret.

    I agree Extreme should have longer to recover their chest. Also this time should be tied to the account – chest is just a flag on the items that they’re unavailable, at a geolocation, with a timer counting down only while the account is online. If timer hits zero, poof. If player reaches geolocation, ta-da.

    Really the major worry with any such system is hacked accounts. Whatever process you implement for restoring lost/sold equipment when an account is hacked should also be available to de-Extreme and restore any death lost equipment should an account be grief-hacked, such as upgraded to Extreme/Permadeath and suicided.

    Sideways related – new to your blog and just caught up on all your previous posts. Regarding death penalties in general, you may offer characters resurrection spells with their own penalties. Longish cooldown and if accepted you get temporary stat loss. So if you die on a boss deep in a dungeon, your two partners can fight their way out to the graveyard as you fight back in, or they can choose to resurrect you on the spot, knowing your stats will be down for some period. Allows decisions of ‘Will fighting out/in take longer than waiting out the debuff?’ or ‘We can’t 2man it, but we could do it with Bob down 10% stats.’ And you’ve always got the option of the sesquipedalian Word of Power to rez everyone, everywhere, simultaneously (ooops, did that affect dead mobs, too?).

  24. Ken says:

    I would leave out the casual level because I wouldn’t expect people to accept -10% exp. I also would leave out the Extreme mode because it’s not much different between the modes it’s between.

  25. Jethro Larson says:

    For some reason I really like the pay-to-respawn option. I don’t think I’d pick it, but it’d be an interesting pitfall for those that are really hardcore. They opted-in and they have to support the game to undo their fail. Sounds like win to me.

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  27. Curtis says:

    Ah yes the death penalty. We have discussed this before and you know where I stand Eric. Personally I like the idea of three modes and one built into the games boss/situations.

    Here is what I am thinking.

    Normal – Average player will choose this

    Hardcore – Old fans of AC *like me* will choose this (I personally believe that if you only wanted 2 modes make this normal and Extreme becomes Hardcore and call it a day)

    Extreme – Those who want the bragging rights of being truly EPIC go this *I would want this once I got feel of game via Hardcore*

    Perma-Death: Utilize a Re-Birth system that allows a player to risk Perma-Death at whatever % chance upon death when against specific bosses and or dungeons. Casual players will steer clear of these, but the most EPIC players will seek the glory and loot within and even in death will become a *JR* so to speak of the fallen character. If this happens the new character starts off with perks. Perhaps lets say the max lvl is 50 and the hardcap for a stat is 100 at 50. What if you Re-Birth and lvl back to 50? Could you perhaps slightly surpass this cap? Perhaps their are hidden items and gear in the world that no one can wield due to base stats unable to get high enough to meet wield reqs…or can they? Now players have a reason to want to fight want to be hardcore want to even Perma-Die to re-lvl. But to stop people from ALLAH!!!! To keep gaining said stat boost you could always set stipulations. So many Re-Births per character, or you must make it to max lvl again before you can Re-Birth again through death. Or they simply walk over to that evil place and the character refuses to go in due to what happened to his ancestor. I am sure in your epic programming mind you can think of many ways to shape this yourself.

    In conclusion, I would start off on hardcore and once comfortable would want to transition to Extreme for the bragging rights and sheer epicness. Then I would wish to cap my character and instead of simply making another character, I would be interested in facing the deadliest challenges which could kill me. Then I would falter and die but come to find out that through Re-Birth and more time invested in this game I could wield the un-wieldable and return for vengeance against that boss for the final pleasure of doing what my ancestor could not. (And if possible wield my Dread Knight powers to smash all the other players beneath me! Of course as you said this is not your intention…someday maybe lol.)

    I am confident you will come up with something that works, just remember to many different modes segregates the player base that much more. Since your player base is planned to be niche it is best to utilize only 2 modes and if can come up with cool way to use the Perm-Death feature then throw it in for us crazy folks. Best of luck!

  28. Markus says:

    If you decide to implement the Ghost option, make it so that players skilled in Necromancy can manipulate them. For example, a Necromancer playing through a dungeon can summon (player-controlled) ghosts to aid him/her in combat. These deceased players would be teleported to the Necromancer’s current location, and could help kill monsters for their master. You could make it so that by fulfilling their summoner’s bidding, a ghost can free themselves of their curse and once more rejoin the world of the living (or some other form of ghost-related progression). Perhaps there would even be some way for ghosts to turn on their summoner, so that if the Necromancer happens to summon a particularly malevolent spirit, it can actually impede his/her combat efforts. Alas, such are the risks one takes when meddling with the undead…

    That South Park episode where people keep summoning the pissed-off ghost of Biggie Smalls comes to mind. :)

  29. Steve says:

    Regarding PermaDeath:

    I haven’t been following how exactly your world is built so don’t know how this would possible fit in if you found it interesting enough to consider.

    Rather than PermaPermaDeath you could make it perma in so far as it is extremely difficult to resurrect a player. One example would be when a character dies another character could carry their body (taking up a significant amount of bag space etc) which would be very slow and tedious with no mounts/quick travels, and put severe penalties on combat skills, to some sort of a temple and pay a large sum of money to a priest to perform the resurrection. Similarly, a player could go to a temple and hire a priest for a lot of money and do an escort quest to get the priest to the dead player.

    It would be interesting to see the interactions between players who are alive and dead to negotiate a resurrection. If the dead player was unlucky enough to not be able to convince anyone to help they would essentially be permanently dead, especially if there was some kind of real world time limit on when a resurrection would work. I would be concerned with this combined with PvP and just general griefing where say a group of players would just let one of the group die to grab that person’s gear and leave them.

  30. bubble says:

    I think it’s important to keep the cost-benefit so people mostly only pick the more punishing options because they like it.

    Permadeath:
    I play like this a lot in single player games mainly to see how far i can get before i die. The other variation i play is one death per level as that provides a buffer when i play too long or too late and get careless / sleepy.

    However ideally what i’d like is:

    1) Standard:
    respawn at nearest unlocked bindpoint (i prefer bindpoints to graveyards as i like the idea of unlocking the various bindpoints in a zone with a quest each).

    2) Hardcore: exp bonus, respawn at nearest unlocked bindpoint, painful exp loss on death, one randomly chosen worn item is broken and lost (particularly unique or special items may be exempted from this completely or be repairable but only with some special hard to get gem or something). This mode should be calculated such that it pays *if* you have less than n deaths per level so something like +20% exp bonus but lose 5% or 10% per death.

    3) Permadeath
    with legacy points

    3b?) Partial Permadeath
    one free death per level (penalty as hardcore), second death is permanent, reduced legacy points

    Where legacy points are based on max level reached and maybe other stuff like fame achieved etc (reduced by number of deaths if it’s the partial model) and legacy points can be spent on a new character to buy perks based on the new character being the reincarnated soul of the old one or, if the same race/species, a descendent with a mixture of perks and a tomb / inheritance containing some of the old character’s gear.

    (the different choices would need to have color-coded names so group-mates knew the hardcore / perma people will run at the first sign of dying.)

    (even on hardcore / standard i’d like each character’s record to show level before first death and total number of deaths as a kind of high score meta game and a running record of the highest / lowest among all my characters on the character screen.)

    ####

    The other option i like the idea of is standard being the default but you can make a choice with individual missions e.g. you get a quest to a cave and when you enter the cave you get to choose standard, hardcore or permadeath.

    standard:
    same as above

    hardcore:
    large exp penalty and item lost for each death but double exp if succeed with no deaths

    perma:
    death, reward is titles, each perma mission survived gives a title