While last week I was extoling the virtues of permadeath in Rimworld, I have to admit that this mechanic isn’t really suitable for a lot of games, especially ones in which you sink a whole lot of time, effort, and even money. You know, like MMORPGs. Permadeath has always remained a very fringe ruleset for this genre, popping up most often in online ARPGs more than proper MMOs.
However, from time to time a game experiments with it, and this month we saw Dungeons and Dragons Online actually launch a “hardcore league” server that revolved around permadeath as a core feature. This didn’t come out of nowhere; DDO’s community has long had a reputation for embracing permadeath voluntarily as a sort of roleplay feature, and so I can understand why the devs would want to try this out for realskies.
The question for me was, is it really up my alley? Am I too caring of a carebear to swallow the inevitable bitter pill of death when it comes? At least I thought I’d try.
While some players were theorycrafting all sorts of ultra-survival builds, I just went with a tough race (Warforged) and a class (Artificer) that I knew. I figured that a pet, self-healing, and ranged attacks — plus trap-finding — would help keep me out of trouble for a while. That lasted until my very first dungeon.
So what happens on this server is that when a character dies, there is no resurrection or return — at least not on this shard. A death message for that character is broadcast server-wide and that character remains in limbo until mid-November, when the devs will allow players to transfer those characters and any progress made to the regular servers. So at least there is that safety net keeping you from feeling as though your time is completely wasted. Plus, there are special rewards if you can make it up to certain levels or run a wide enough array of dungeons.
SSG added a truly creepy mascot for this server named Mortality. He’s like a ghost-ram thing? All I know is that if I saw this loom out at me in a dark basement, I’d poop my pantaloons.
I haven’t exactly been the virtue of bravery on this server. I’ve only logged in a couple of nights to play it, although truth be told I’m on a bit of a DDO hiatus right now anyway. The first dungeon I ran on elite and almost got smoked in the boss battle as my health got halved right away. Let me tell you, there’s that instant fear that arises when you realize that a death means forever here, and I backpedaled and tried to heal as if my life depended on it.
I probably won’t even make it off of Korthos, and the fact that this is a class I already have doesn’t make me that attached to him anyway. I might just die to see what it’s like and then proudly wear the t-shirt saying that I rolled on a permadeath server and survived to tell the tale.