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grahamfr0

How do you kill a hero?

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I like the discussion of how to bring back a villian in another thread, and I want to flip it around. How do you kill a hero? I''m talking about midgame not at the end. The death of an ally or hero can be a powerful and emotional element to the story, but how can you kill off a character that the player likes and has been developing. For example, while playing FF7 I used Aeris frequently and obtained her final limit break. When she was killed (in one of the most shocking moments in CRPG history) I lost all of her abilities and all of the work I had put into leveling her up. So my question is: how can you kill a player character and not leave the player feeling that they have lost more than a friend? I have some ideas here, but I wanted to see what others think of this.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The spirit rises up from the dead body and now inhabits the rusty sword of the farmboy in the party. Suddenly, he''s got a really bad-ass weapon :-)

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Alastor, Ifrit, Sparda. Have them inhabit a weapon, as stated by the Anonymous Poster.

Or, have all their abilities transferred to another character. This would work better if you have two main heroes, or a hero and a secondary hero, and the secondary hero was the one who died.

You could have the secondary character sacrifice himself for something. For instance, you have your group fighting a major boss for something you desperately need, beit to get more powerful or a weapon or to save someone. The secondary would sacrifice himself for the betterment of the group.

Also, I''m glad my post could influence another. ^_~

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In Chrono Cross at one point the Hero switches places with the villain, including their elemental alignment, and you lose control of several previously allied characters. It''s not death, but it''s certainly an example of some of the investment you''ve put into the characters and their equipage being lost because of a change in the main character.

Personally I would just avoid killing playable characters in my stories, but if you particularly wanted to do it for some reason... hmm. I do like the spirit-into-a-weapon idea. If one of the other characters was the sibling or best friend of lover of the one who got killed, the survivor might suddenly become motivated to seek vengance and their motivation would make them a better fighter. Or the dying character might bless all the others, giving them some sort of stat bonuses.

A playable character''s death would also be an excellent thing for the player to be able to change when they play the game+, if your design has one; make them able to save the life they couldn''t the first time around, the player would feel really heroic after that. ^_^

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In Final Fantasy 5, this old guy in your party dies protecting you, and all his powers--including levels, etc.--are transferred to his granddaughter, who until then had been an NPC. The game continues, and the only thing that really changes, from a gameplay perspective, is the name and sprite for that character.

In one of the Highlander movies, Duncan McLeod is killed by his brother, Connor, for the express purpose of combining their power to beat another immortal. It''s dependent upon the metaphysic of the world, of course, but from a video game perspective, you get to mourn for a character while retaining all the experience and strength that he had amassed.

In many modern RPGs, characters cycle out of the party on a regular basis. In each instance, all skills they might have had are lost, and often it costs you whatever equipment they carried at the time. This can be irritating, but it''s not unforgivable. Killing someone is just a little more dramatic, is all.

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Let them feel like they''ve lost more than a friend. That will give your story more depth. That was a defining moment in FFVII, and fans would have it no other way. Sure when it happens you''re angry and annoyed and sad. This is what you''re trying to do in a story; evoke emotions.

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Don't ever kill your character off as a "sacrifice" while fighting a "huge boss" unless you make that boss truly unbeatable.

In SW:Knights of the Old Republic, you're on a ship fighting the lead Sith guy, Malak. Anyways, you fight him alone for a bit and before you hit zero HP, your light jedi companion Bastilla sacrifices herself to give you time to escape.

HOWEVER... If you've built your character right, you can actually just OWN Malak solo and when HE reaches 0 HP, Bastilla "sacrifices" herself. Its just really, really stupid to have a character "sacrifice" themself, when you're infact dominating the engagement.

[edited by - GroZZleR on December 13, 2003 3:21:20 PM]

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Of course, for all of this to have any meaning at all (as long as you retain the characters'' value to the party) you need the lost character to build a strong relationship not (only) to the rest of the party but actually to the player.

In Wing Commander 3 - one of the best storylines in non-RPGs IMHO -, Angel, a main character that was part of the game since part 1, dies. Even sooner, there is Spirits'' death in WC2. Both deaths were without any but the most momentary "mechanical" influence on the game itself but impacted the players personally due to the characters having been built up for an entire games'' storyline. On second thought, the Wing Commander games up to the fourth were very good at least in that regard.

If you look at the Freespace games, you have wingmen without personalities that die with an impact on the rest of the mission. You almost always lose an important element of finishing a mission when another friendly ship blows up, but you almost never have any hard feelings about it.

Personally, I think that the death of a party member, especially in a RPG, should be terminal with very rare exceptions. If you artificially try to reduce impact on game mechanics, you lose credibility which is important even in the most f***ed up worlds. Read the sentence "El''Drynn dies but his belongings are easily recovered and his abilities are furthermore available through his brother Rakor" and try to find the absolute horror of just having lost a friend.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
There are quite a few endings in KOTOR, and Bastilla does not have to sacrifice herself at all. It''s just you made some choices in the last level that made sacrifice herself. The first and second time I played the game, Bastilla did not sacrifice herself.

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well if the character not die properly this is not an emotional moment or shock, then the telling became soft, bad bad bad
the purpose of letting level up a character and kill him is to ceate a strong feeling, isn''t that a great trick?? but it have to make sense in the story (feel of a great loss) which is good for the meaning of therest of the story (the player must be rewards in some unexpected way for the loss, but not a replacement of the did character >>> too bad)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
be good
be evil
but do it WELL
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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