Death: The Final Frontier

Back when Age of Conan was in the pre-release stage — you might recall this as a happier time for all — they were touting how their mature and savage game was going to boast all these incredible, hit you in the face features that’d never been seen before.  Out of all of their new shinies on display, one really attracted my attention.

I recall reading an article where a dev was talking about the negative aspect of spellcasting, and how, when you die, there was a chance you might be cast into hell, or somesuch.  At that point, you would have to fight your way out a small level to be ressurected in the larger game world.

Now, it’s been a while and my facts on this may be fuzzy, and I don’t think this actually made it into the game (AoC players, please correct me on this), but I really, really loved the idea of this twist on a death penalty.  It took a rather mundane drawback of a time penalty and turned it into something cool, something that fit in with the game world and lore.  You had to earn your right to be rezzed, and I could see that it would make you somewhat apprehensive of dying.

So what if a future developer picks up this concept and runs with it?  It could be potentially awesome.  What if there are multiple “death stages”, of which you’d go to a random one on dying?  What if there are special unlocks and quests that can only be completed in this realm?

Would a death realm be too frustrating to the average player who’d just want to get back into the “real” game and play, or would it add immersion to the experience and a significant weight to dying?

10 thoughts on “Death: The Final Frontier

  1. Meridian 59 had a single underworld level. On death, you spawned into the underworld, with several portals leading back to living-world locations. Rather than going back to a single “bind point,” you could emerge in most cities. Of course, with M59’s steep death penalty, this wasn’t a convenient travel method.

    Of note to your post, though, is that the underworld contained a “node” which would permanently increase your max mana. Finding and activating this node made death a lot more interesting.

  2. It’s a very interesting concept, but one where I can see a lot of players not liking since it hurts getting back into critical situations like raids, PVP, or even looting a kill where you happened to die.

    What you could do is to allow the player an instant rez but with a severe penalty, perhaps in a similar manner to WoWs durability and stats debuffs. Then the player could opt to fight their way out of hell with no debuffs and maybe a bonus or two, or take the quick way out with the associated penalties if they have too (or are just plain lazy :-D.)

    I reckon I’d be up for such a system.

  3. I think it could be cool the first 278 times you died, but it might get a little monotonous after that.

  4. Hooray! Someone mentioned Meridian 59 so I don’t have to. I think it’s an interesting setup, but the fact that your items dropped at your corpse and could degrade quickly made it so that most people were interested in getting back to where they died, not wandering around the underworld.

    In a lot of text MUDs I played in college, there were sometimes special areas you went to. A few LPMUDs I played had a room you were stuck in while a little scene played out with you meeting death. Kind of humorous more than a part of gameplay. One game a friend worked on (that I don’t think ever saw the light of day) was going to have a special underworld that you had to be sacrificed by another player to enter.

    The big problem is obligations, I guess. If you’re crawling a dungeon and get thrown into the underworld, that could kind of suck leaving the other players in a lurch. Interesting to think how we could spice up an otherwise boring game mechanic, though.

  5. No, that feature never made it into AoC. In fact, the death penalty they ended up with was pathetic and quite easy to disregard entirely.

  6. I think a death realm would be incredibly frustrating as I could just imagine it holding entire groups back during dungeon crawls as their only healer has to try and escape from hell 😀

  7. And dying 278 times is pretty much what I hate about MMOs nowadays. Back in the day when death meant something, you’d make sure to be around people that knew how to play their character – not this BS you get nowadays
    ‘oh well we wiped again, lets try it again, hey! wait why are you all leaving?’

    On the point of after-death: I’d take the death-plane like WoW but instead of simply walking back to your corpse, you’d be at your corpse fending off a few soultakers (more/stronger the higher the chlvl) that are trying to pry your soul from your char.

  8. it would hurt grouping and add depth I think. Other group members might want to die just to join you if it was too well done, or they might just get annoyed. For a solo player though I can’t see any problems.

  9. That’s actually a really bloody awesome idea– as for raid problems, if the raid is instanced, it wouldn’t be too difficult to reduce/remove the chance of being booted to an underworld plane if you die in an instance. But I think that it would be very awesome to have a few different death mechanic options in an mmo… or perhaps I have been playing too much Baroque.

  10. Huh I can’t believe nobody mentioned Legend of Kesmai; every time you died you suffered erosion of your stats and if you died often enough this could end up rather debilitating. To fix this, you could basically suicide yourself and enter the Underworld where you would go through a series of quests in order to recover yourself back to your full glory. Once you got the hang of it you were only in there for an hour or so, but the first time I did it the whole procedure was pretty nerve-wracking and interesting.

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