In the World of Darkness series of pen-and-paper role-playing games, when your character dies there's no coming back. According to a panel run by the developers at last weekend's Grand Masquerade, permadeath will carry over to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game as well.
MMO players are not used to permadeath. Generally when you die you respawn somewhere else, often with some sort of temporary penalty applied to your character's statistics. World of Darkness is not your normal MMO. According to a summary of the topics touched on at the panel (since verified with CCP), it's more of a virtual LARP -- live action role-playing game -- than any other MMO offering out there.
What does that mean? It means role-playing is enforced, with certain limited powers in play for other players to enforce it. It means a good portion of the drama in the game will be player created and fuelled. White Wolf, the creators of Vampire: The Masquerade and subsidiary of CCP, want to encourage players to amuse themselves, as the average MMO fan will consume content faster than they can write it. Players will hold positions of power in their respective clans and cities -- players will be princes and primogen, roles that will require role-playing savvy and leadership skills.
And it also means that players can die. Each new player in the game starts as a human and must be embraced by a vampire in order to gain power (for now vampires are the focus of the game). CCP has confirmed to Kotaku that permadeath is being considered as a possibility for both human and vampire characters, though the latter can also fall into a state of damage-induced torpor which enables them to recover from grievous injuries.
It'll be interesting to see how players treat their characters and each other when the option of losing that character forever becomes a possibility. It could wind up being the friendliest group of vampires you ever did meet.
Hit up the link below for a full roundup of panel-related news.
World of Darkness MMO Panel Summary [World of Darkness Forums]