Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How Cheap Is Life?

In RPGs life tends to be cheap. In some games you get character advancement based on how many creatures you kill, so it encourages players to slaughter things in droves. I like to think of Shadowrun as a more thought provoking type of game than those sorts.

Character death is often cheap as well, either you can just get a spell to bring you back, burn an edge to "survive the scene," or just make a new character. In dark future games, life is viewed as cheap because that's part of the setting.

However, each character is different, much like each person is different. Its really easy to fall into the convention of the stone faced killer that can slaughter people and go out for dinner right after. What does death mean to your character? How do they process the idea that through their actions, or inaction they have caused the life of another being to end?

If death has no sting for a character, does life also have no meaning? What drives a character that is so inured to suffering that they've divorced themselves so far of human empathy that the destruction of another being isn't even a blip on their mental radar?

For the past 11 years more or less, I had a cat that was a constant companion. I couldn't go anywhere without him following me. He got terribly sick and was wasting away as I watched, I had to have him put down.

 I used to think I was a hardened heart, I've had family members pass that the news was little more than an inconvenient telephone call. However, for the past few days all that's been on my mind is the passing of my cat.

 It got me thinking, have I been cheating my characters by treating the world as a series of cardboard cutouts? Do I lessen them as 'real people' by giving them a "I've seen worse" blase attitude? I might need to re-think future characters and re-connect them with life, because if death has no meaning, how can they really ever have the spark of life in them?