Gameplay consequences of avatars or characters dying.
Games often provide dangerous environments for the avatars, characters, and units that players control. This may cause them to be eliminated from gameplay and thereby make players suffer losses in the possible actions they can do, and can even result in them losing the entire games. However, games can also provide other explicit Death Consequences, e.g. losing points. These Death Consequences can also replace the elimination as main effect of dying, e.g. making avatars respawn at a different location and with any equipment either lost or remaining at the point of death.
Deaths of characters in Tabletop Roleplaying Games generally require players to create new characters. However, several games have ways of countering this, e.g. Dungeons & Dragons have resurrection spells, but these require expensive materials and reduce attributes or levels.
Early Computer Games had no real Death Consequences but instead had a limited number of lives available (NetHack and Rogue are exceptions). This has however generally been replaced with either in various ways allowing players unlimited amount of tries to complete games or having specific Death Consequences. For example, the Team Fortress, Quake, and Unreal Tournament series let killed avatars respawn soon after being killed but without previously gained weapons and armor. The Battlefield series does the same but also reduces the number of tickets from the team that suffered a death. Minecraft respawns players' avatar at the same location every time but gives them a chance to recover lost equipment if they can get back to the location of the death within certain time limits. Players whose characters die in Massively Multiplayer Online Games can usually also recover their loss gear but in Eve Online and Ultima Online other players can steal it; it cannot be stolen in World of Warcraft but instead a penalty to the durability of all gear is applied.
The indie game Deaths saves the location of the ten latest deaths of all play sessions in the world. Corpses are placed at these locations and are needed to overcome some of the problems in the game - this shows an example were Death Consequence can be positive.
Using the pattern
Death Consequences for those that die are typically instantiated typically done through Ability Losses, Decreased Abilities, enforced Downtime, or reduced Scores. Ability Losses and Decreased Abilities can be given easy diegetic explanations in games using Equipment such as Armor, Tools, and Weapons by making players lose these when their Avatars or Characters die. Reducing Character Levels, Experience Points, and/or Money for players is also common, but may be more difficult to explain diegetically. In games with Lives, it is quite natural for obvious reasons that Life Penalties are part of Death Consequences.
A specific design issue exists when Death Consequences are linked to Avatars. This is that Spawning of the Avatars needs to be done to reintroduce them into the Game Worlds, but how this is done can affect both Player and Team Balance as well as affect the severity of Equipment lost but placed in the Game Worlds.
In contrast, Death Consequences for those killing somebody or something may be increased Scores (players' Scores may simply be the number of deaths they have caused), Experience Points, or Loot. The possibility for Loot is of course tied into what happens to the Equipment of those that die. This is assuming that the killings should result in Rewards, something that may not be the case if the cause of death was Friendly Fire. Scores can also modulate Death Consequences in that they can first be presented (or added up) after a player has died, which can be a version of End State Scoring.
Death Consequences are difficult to enforce in games that allow players to engage in Save-Load Cycles. For Multiplayer Games, the point of death is a natural point for switching places in games with Hotseating; this adds the additional Penalty of Downtime to that player.
Permadeath are Death Consequences that directly lead to Player Elimination and Game Over through Game Termination Penalties. For this reason, this subtype of Death Consequences is not compatible with Lives even if the main pattern is.
Death Consequences do not inherently need to conflict with Thematic Consistency, it only does so if the dead come back to life, e.g. through Spawning, without an appropriate diegetic explanation such as a resurrection spell.
Death Consequences are typically ways of packaging Penalties related to Player Killing or the loss of Lives of Avatars or Characters. While they may cause Ability Losses or Decreased Abilities generally, they can as a special case create Temporary Abilities when Equipment providing New Abilities are lost when deaths occur. They may of course also provide various forms of Rewards to those that cause the deaths, but this may be reversed if they are caused by Friendly Fire.
Can Be Instantiated By
Can Be Modulated By
Possible Closure Effects
Potentially Conflicting With
New pattern created in this wiki.
Karl Bergström, Marcus Antonsson