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Author Topic: Character Closure, Resolution, and Permadeath  (Read 9207 times)


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Character Closure, Resolution, and Permadeath
« on: January 13, 2010, 05:16:55 PM »

Character Closure, Resolution, and Peramadeath

Most good stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. Characters are developed through story conflict, traditionally between a protagonist and antagonist, which usually necessitates some form of resolution. Resolution occurs when a particular conflict or problem in a story has been solved; temporary or otherwise. In some conflicts, the preservation or goal of a character may seemingly require the destruction of another character who poses some liability or threat. Some form of resolution, a solving of this character’s problem, needs to be a real possibility.

While not every character on PoTm will necessarily have closure, it is necessary for the integrity of the setting and our shared narrative for closure to occur on occasion. Our purpose here is to be clear on how PoTm’s Dm-team views and handles character closure so that everyone has a basic understanding and appreciation for what is often a challenging process for both players and dms.

The most popular term is ‘permadeath’, but the term can be misleading. It denotes an absolute termination of a character, and as such, could seem as an OOC barrier, when that is not the case. What determines whether a character is alive and present in the world is the narrative and IC mechanisms. As you are the main narrator of your character's story, it is naturally up to you to decide if you want the story of your character to finish for good - what can be called a 'closure.' No others can decide this for you. However, adherence to narrative and IC mechanisms sometimes prevents you from deciding whether your character is alive or present in the world. Other characters may be preventing your character from being raised or resurrected, or DM decided events could have put your character in places or situations where returning to the world and alive just isn't immediately possible. With the latter, sometimes it might not ever become possible, so it practically becomes the same as a 'closure.' But more on that in the following.

Character Ownership and Shared Narrative

You had an idea for a character and you put creativity and time into that character’s development. It is understandable and expected that we will become attached to our characters. However, in a persistent world in which we share a narrative with other player characters, along with a dm team which has the responsibility of animating the setting with all that entails, we cannot have complete control over our character’s future and fate. That unknown host of variables which can unpredictably influence our character’s story is a benefit unique to role playing. The Dm-staff recognizes and appreciates the investment players put into their character’s stories, especially with those characters that are acknowledged for benefiting the overall shared narrative-the stories of others. Decisions to bring a character closure are never made lightly. However, such decisions sometimes must be made for the benefit of the shared narrative and integrity of the setting. Every participant in a shared narrative, which is what takes place every time you log in to role play, needs to accept and be open to consequences. It is certainly fine to discuss the merit or problems of certain consequences, but we need to each make a conscious effort to detach ourselves from our characters.

The Ideal

Ideally, when a character receives closure it will be with the consent of the player. Ideal character closures have and do occur at PoTm. When a player recognizes that a perfect ending of the character’s closure is possible, they sometimes grab at the opportunity. This often occurs when players trust one another. In such situations, dm involvement is not necessary. And if a dm does get involved, their purpose is to spice up that character’s final scene to both honor the player and their character’s story.

What if a player isn’t ready or happy with the potential closure?

A player might have difficulty with closure no matter what. Some players might want their characters to continue without regard for their character’s actions and the natural and plausible consequence for those actions. Sometimes trust is not established among players on opposite sides of a story conflict. In situations where a player is against the closure of one of their characters, the best that can be done by the dm-team is to treat each particular situation with fairness. In some situations, closure needs to happen if we are going to preserve the integrity of the setting and shared narrative. These situations are often not cut and dry. Such situations require the dm team paying close attention to the specifics of that character’s story and how that character effects and fits in with the dynamic shared narrative.  If you like the idea of your character being able to effect the environment and other characters, then you need to accept that the setting and others will also shape your character. You cannot expect to have the power to influence the setting and others, without accepting the reciprocal effect.

However, while we each need to remain open to the possibility of character closure, there are sometimes reasons why a character’s story should continue. Out of respect for the time and creativity put in your character, your voice should weigh into the potential closure of said character. We recommend that each of us takes the time to imagine the most fitting closure for our character’s story. The dm-team has the obligation to enforce closure with or without a player’s consent in some circumstances, but each player deserves to have that character’s closure be one that honors the themes explored in that character’s story.

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« Last Edit: January 13, 2010, 05:19:11 PM by Iconoclast »