Medievia Mudslinger

December 2nd, 2001

Mudslinger Writer's Guide - Part VIII- By Excrucior

The Final Frontier

Death is an interesting problem facing the budding author. Not in real life, of course, but in the game. How do you deal with it within the confines of believability and keeping the reader's tension? This could have been lumped together with the differences between player and character terminology in the last section, but there's a lot more within this aspect than is first apparent.

Simply put, the death system in Medievia doesn't lend itself well to a successful author. You've spent thirty paragraphs building up to the grand climax where your hero enters a duel with the main enemy of your piece. "I know," you think, "I'll have the bad guy kill him and I get another final confrontation!" This is an extreme example, but it serves the purpose for this demonstration.

Think about the above situation logically. If the hero dies, how can you rationalize that he goes to the altar, has a ten minute coffee break, and then comes back to life? Firstly, it's a game system element so it shouldn't be used. Secondly, you can't really justify it as it destroys any tension you may have built up for the reader. Sure, he gets another crack at the bad guy, but if he fails next time - so what? He can have another go, and another go, and another go until he wins. Life should be treated as precious and not something that can be regained easily. Something that a character obtains easily is not valued as highly by the reader.

Logic also rears its nasty head when you turn the card over - why doesn't the character's foe pop off to the altar for a quick resurrection as well? After all, if you have a system where death isn't final then you're going to have to explain away why it's only for certain people. To come up with some sort of convincing justification there would take a lot longer than the text we'd like you to come up with.

It's a similar story for resurrection. I've had many a tale where the party meet a nasty beast, or even the final beast of the adventure, and one or more of them fall before it. The survivors finish off the enemy and they just whip out their trusty Gems of Souls and... Hey Presto we have a full form again! Again, it dilutes the impact of when someone actually dies. How should you deal with this? One solution would be not to kill someone - have them gravely wounded but just hanging on until a cleric arrives. Too corny? Have them properly die, if you prefer. A little pathos never hurt anyone at the end of a tale - it can contrast nicely with the joy felt by the victors.

Then consider the aspects of LPK, NPK and CPK. How can you define these areas to the reader in terms that are believable? I've seen terms such as "Where the god's writ does not run" for CPK - trust me when I say that a god's writ runs everywhere. This is a prime example of just explaining things away by invoking the gods at every opportunity. Avoid it.

Can you justify not being able to kill someone in Castle Square but having them as a prime target in the Xezadha Cathedral? I couldn't do it convincingly. How could you explain away the fact that when someone gets killed in a NPK area they appear outside it extremely wounded? Compare that to killing someone in CPK and having them dead on the ground instead. Can you justify this to the readers? I couldn't. I take a step or two down the corridor and suddenly someone can kill when they couldn't where I was before? Not likely.

How could you deal with this convincingly? The simple answer is to ignore it. Don't try and define an area as anything. Just don't have people attacking or threatening it in known lawful areas - or even having them attacking. Why not? People are cheerfully walking around with swords and axes and brimming with magic - why can they not attack? If you handle the tale correctly you should not need to worry about such aspects - just ignore it. Don't write yourself into a situation where you have to work around it.

You could mention things like the town of Riverton being busy so you couldn't attack fellow player X there, but underground in the mines it's a different story - dark and few people around. Of course you could wait till nightfall and attack them in the town - but then player X would be safely ensconced in a tavern and watched over by an observant innkeeper. This does get a touch lame, however, because people will know what you are trying to do - at this point they'll be thinking on the lines you don't want them to and all can be lost.

We've dealt with one of the final endings, next issue we'll look at the beginnings. Introductions and how to do them.

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