Life & Death by: Forged Chaos


by Ildefonse

This book contains information about life counters, death and unconsciousness. It also explains the concept of Perma Death (PD) and how this fits in the world of Trials of Ascension.

Perks of Perma Death

by Forged Chaos

First, what is perma-death as defined in Trials of Ascension? Your character is permanently removed from game play upon its 100th death. We allow 100 deaths to account for normal loss during game play as well as things that are out of your control such as lag, server mishaps and bugs. Each player will know how many more deaths their character can incur before their soul is too weak to return to the living. We have also implemented unconsciousness as a buffer between life and death, meaning in most cases if someone (or something) wants to kill your character, it will need to be a deliberate action after you've been rendered harmless.

The notion of perma-death in videos games is nothing new. Think of the days of the stand-up arcade games. You dropped in a quarter, and got 3 lives (sometimes more) to go as far as you could. When those lives were used up, your game was over and you had to drop in another quarter. I don't know about you but that sure sounds like perma-death to me. Many of today's single player games are no different. You use up the lives, health, hearts, whatever given and you start over.

The difference here is we're just putting it into a persistent world. The largest problem with doing so is getting gamers over the idea of loss. Unfortunately MMOs have trained gamers that loss is simply not an option and puts everyone on a happy one-way ladder of gain. We sometimes wonder if nobody else sees the problems with this approach. It's akin to turning on the kitchen faucet, plugging the drain, then wondering why you must continuously make your sink larger to hold all the water. Online games ensure their economies have drains to keep it balanced. Why isn't the same being done with player characters?

While the loss of a character might sting, the benefits to the player and the overall player-base are immense.

As a player, perma-death offers you a beginning, a middle, and an end to the story of each of your characters. Many players tend to grow bored of characters after awhile. It's because there is no closure to their character's story. It just goes on and on and on. Perma-death forces this closure which in turn encourages you to make the most of your character before he or she shuts their eyes for the last time. Lastly, let's not forget the heightened sense of danger that comes with the potential loss of your character. This mixed with the absence of a conning system will make even the most trivial encounter take on a whole new level of adrenaline and emotion. The chance of loss will even heighten the sense of awareness when traversing terrain. Recently Varl and I were sculpting a mountainous area and I positioned my character on the very edge of a large drop-off and it immediately came to mind -- would I get this close to the edge if it meant slipping and losing a life counter?

With the risk of perma-death, sacrifice and greatness can finally mean something. For example, in other MMOs, your group is losing a fight with a monster. The 'tank' yells for everyone to run as he sacrifices himself. He dies, does a corpse run, grabs all his gear and is back with the group in about a minute. Now imagine the same scenario in a game with perma-death. The tank yells for everyone to run and saves the group from certain death. As one of the survivors you look back at his corpse to see a light forming around it. The light slowly ascends into the sky marking his death as his last. He has perma-died saving you. Now that's sacrifice and greatness. Perma-death will certainly separate the talkers from the walkers, so to speak.

Beyond the benefits to individual players, the player-base as a whole will benefit from perma-death as well. It creates an always-changing ebb and flow of powerful characters. Sure, your character may spend some time "at the top" but perma-death will catch up with him sooner or later and you'll be forced to pass the torch to the next wave of up and coming characters. The constant influx of new characters created by perma-death will ensure items of all types and power will stay in demand, keeping the economic engine running at full strength. As developers, perma-death removes that pesky plug from the kitchen sink, stopping us from needing to make the sink larger all the time and instead lets us focus on making the journey through each of your characters lives all the more engaging, exhilarating, and exciting.

Hopefully we've demonstrated how beneficial perma-death can be for us all and have swayed you non-believers to at least giving it a shot when the time comes!


Do guards have life counters?

Yes, guards have life counters.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

What is perma-death?

When your character dies, it must make its way back to the land of the living. The journey back to life greatly taxes your character's soul. Sooner or later your character's soul is too weak to make the journey, instead deciding to leave the world of TerVarus forever.

Perma-death is a core feature of ToA that has rippling effects into just about every other feature of the game. It impacts how one will approach combat. It heightens the sense of danger when adventuring. It makes combat, or even just the threat of combat, more visceral knowing you could be the one one step closer to the end of your character's life.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

What happens when my character dies a normal death?

Your character's corpse is free for others to loot. Granted, looting is against the law in settlements so those doing so within its borders will be committing a crime.
When your character dies, its life counters will be reduced by one and a one minute timer will begin. Your character cannot resurrect until this timer ends. You can however move around in a spirit form as far and as much as you want. You will be limited as to what you can see while in spirit form. When the one minute timer ends, a resurrect button will appear and you can resurrect your character anytime after that by clicking said button.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Can we resurrect each other?

No. This may change once religion is introduced.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

How many times can my character die before it's gone forever?

Each character will have 100 life counters. (Note: the precise amount will be subject to beta testing.)

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

At this point in time we are giving each character a total of 100 life counters to begin with, this may change as we begin testing to see if it needs to be tweaked up or down. We want to give enough life counters to compensate for unforseen glitches such as power outages, lag death, and to ensure you have some time to experience and enjoy the game, but balance that by still making it a challenge to survive and have fun with those pulse-racing events!

Source: Forums (Loestri), 18-01-2013

When my character perma-dies, does anything that that character did affect my next character?

No. Each character starts with a clean slate and no one will be given any automatic indication that the new character is connected to the old one.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

How does unconsiousness work?

ToA will include unconsciousness, the state between life and death. Your character will fall unconscious when its hit points drop to 0 or below.
Each character will have an attribute called fortitude. One of many roles this attribute plays is to determine how deep into unconsciousness your character can go before it dies. For example, your character has a fortitude of 50, meaning he could go to -50 hit points before he dies.

While unconscious, you have no control over your character and others may loot and interrogate him as well as kill him. Your character will wake up when he reaches 1 hit point.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

On perma death and feedback from forum members

Perma death will not be for everyone, it will be a niche market for sure. We are good with this. There is a place in MMOs for games like WoW that cater to the whims of their players and there will be a place for ToA that doesn't. Not to say that we don't listen to your input and consider it in our final decisions, we have been doing that for many years and we are always amazed to see some of the discussions that have come about from this. Talk about some key information to draw your own conclusions by! You guys have given us some real headaches, and some really good ideas, many of which we have incorporated into the game. But getting back to perma death...we didn't make it the keystone of ToA lightly. Many hours of discussions, arguments, counter-arguments and just plain shouting matches have been the result of looking at every angle we could possibly look at perma death from. All in all we decided that to make a truly innovative, exciting, and challenging MMORPG, perma death needed to be in the core of the design.

So far I have agreed with everything that has been said in this thread but I must add the fact that perma death is a key element to keeping the game fresh and exciting for ALL players. It eliminates the high-end character bloat that has players who have reached the end-game state wondering what is next? When is the next "expansion" coming out so I can get to the next end-game, conquer the next big boss, obtain all the coolest new items, wear the latest styles, and last but not least....achieve all of the achievements available and once again wonder...."When is the next "expansion" coming out?"

If this is your idea of what an MMORPG should be then ToA is most likely not going to be the game for you. However, because you have taken the time to read my post I will give you some cudos for keeping an open mind about perma death to at least become informed and make up your own mind based on the facts of what perma death in ToA is all about. I salute you and wish you the best in on-line gaming. ;)

Source: Forums (Loestri), 16-09-2012

Where do you respawn?

For 1 minute after death, you are a spirit. You can move about freely (for the most part) but will not see all things (such as character chat). After the 1 minute is up, you'll be presented with a resurrect button. You can click it at straight away, ressing where you are, or you can remain in spirit form and move to a place where you feel better ressing. Make sense?

Source: Forums (Brax), 18-09-2012

We're not going to make you res right on top of your corpse. You're looking at a 200-300 meter radius from your corpse in which you can res.

Remember, it's your choice to try a corpse run or to move to a safe distance (in any direction by the way), res, and attempt to make your way back to a safe place.

It comes down to a simple question -- is your gear important enough to risk another life counter?

Source: Forums (Brax), 13-03-2013

Couldn't travelling in spirit form be abused?

You decide. ;)

Seriously, we've thought of that and if testing shows likewise, we'll probably put a maximum time before automatic resurrection.

Source: Forums (Brax), 18-09-2012

On perma death and experiences in Ultima Online

My first MMO was also UO. My largest memory came at my expense. I was in the outside area of one of our houses smithing when a red came ambling on by.

"Huh", I thought to myself, "He can't do anything to me." as he paced around for about 5 minutes or so. Then, completely unbeknownst to me, he starts casting a spell. Again, big deal, what would that do? He casts flame strike or meteor shower (forget the spell's name), an area damaging spell, and kills me on the edge of our house. Again, I think, big deal, so you killed me. My opinion changed when he came inside our locked house! You see, I didn't know this at the time, but if you were killed in one of those style houses and fell towards the edge of the railing, you could be looted from the outside! Yep, he just got my key, and proceeded to clean us out. I couldn't believe it.

After the sting of that huge loss wore off, I could laugh about it. I still laugh about it to this day. Yeah, it sucked at the time it happened, but it didn't ruin me to UO. I believe permadeath in TOA will be similar for many people. Yeah, it'll suck at first when you're killed and looted, but in the larger picture, each death will be a tiny part of your character's lives.

Source: Forums (Varl), 22-09-2012

It would still suck if you're down to your last LC and then your internet dies and you PD....

I'm sure we'll get a few of those as well, but there's not much we can do about that. We just have to hope players playing our game are well-informed and know and accept the risks fully that come with ToA and technology. And even after all that, we'll still get the screamers bemoaning the loss of their character due to lag, lightning or some other effect they know we should have had control over. ;)

Source: Forums (Varl), 03-11-2012

If an individual with an innovation hasn't given it to anybody or taken if from anybody when he perma dies, is the innovation lost forever?

Lost forever...well, sort of. It is lost for the length of time equal to the computer and the players use of their skills deem it necessary for it to return to the world. So yes, it is conceivable that you could gain an innovation, permadie, and no one would ever know (except for those closest to you that you shouted to that you just got one). Propagation and termination of innovations has an almost infinitesimal chance to be mutually exclusive. One will most likely happen before the other, unless one is phenomenally unlucky on levels I don't wish to ponder.

And yes, the acquisition of an innovation via skill use will stay off for as long as the character is alive, but propagation will nullify the impact of losing an innovation "forever" when a character permadies, because it'll still be in the game. So, the window of true permanent innovation loss to the entire player base is as I said: infinitesimally small.

Source: Forums (Varl), 03-11-2012

Do we need to eat/drink to stay alive? Do we have to keep warm/cool?

Without food and water your character will die. As your character's food or water levels deplete, he will begin to suffer stat atrophy. If either his food or water levels become completely depleted, he will die.

Temperature is also a factor. When your temperature moves beyond what your character deems comfortable, he will start to suffer. Continue in such conditions without addressing your character's needs and he will die. So, don't go running around the desert in plate armor or the arctic in nothing but your boxers.

Source: Forums (Brax), 28-11-2012

In what conditions will characters revive? Will they be weaker, or at full strength?

Full strength.

Source: Forums (Brax), 28-11-2012

What effect will wounds have on your character?

Wounds, which are permanent until the next death or treated by a skilled healer, debilitate your character, making him/her easier to kill. Reduced movement, reduced attack speeds, reduced hit point regain rate, etc.

Source: Forums (Brax), 29-11-2012

Elaboration about what happens after a normal death

When you die, all your stuff remains on your corpse for others to take. It doesn't magically get teleported to your newly resurrected body. You must wait one minute to resurrect. While you're waiting, you can move around in ghost form which limits what you can see. You will resurrect with the essential parts covered up, nothing in your inventory other than blessed items, and you'll be at 100% health and stamina.

This system isn't finalized either. We're tinkering with the idea of limiting how far you can travel in ghost form, making resurrection happen automatically at the one minute mark, etc.

As it stands now (always subject to change) the character will respawn wherever it is when you click the respawn button. If we implement the force-respawn, the character would resurrect wherever it is when the respawn timer expires.

Chances are, we would limit the travel distance a ghost could move over a timed forced-respawn.

Source: Forums (Brax), 07-12-2012

Will reviving be in the game?

I'm going to kill this thread faster than a dragon could eat a pixie but reviving in any form will be left to the religion parts of the design.

Source: Forums (Brax), 21-12-2012

Will there be a one life counter server?

Forget the in-game means to die; those will be prevalent enough. I'm still not sold on the idea of a one LC server due to technicalities that will kill you that's out of your control. That's the major reason why we're going with 100, because you can just never anticipate when some technical issue will kill you. I don't know about the rest of you, but to lose a character I've been working to keep alive for months due to a glitch, lag or some other technicality, is too hardcore for me. Like Dewru said, S&M. Bigtime. I've played Diablo hardcore too, and while I did enjoy them while they were alive, those deaths were not cause by technicalities.

Source: Forums (Varl), 24-12-2012

Will deaths due to lag etc. be corrected by GM staff?

That will not be the case. This is why you're given an ample amount of counters (100).

Source: Forums (Brax), 25-12-2012

Is there any chance you will scrap Perma Death?

Perma-death being the end of your character, in all regards, has been and always will be our stance. If that ever changes, it will be because I've been removed from the role as lead designer.

I'm not singling anyone out and I also know the thought of PD scares the crap out of some of you. All I can say is don't think of the game as an investment in your characters. Think of it as an investment in YOUR entertainment and the fun you'll have as your characters stories are unfolded with each play session.

Source: Forums (Brax), 25-12-2012

About inheritance and what happens to items on perma death

Smak: "Of course material things should not poof just because someone permadied, nor should their body, at least till decay takes hold. But these things should be planned out for in a will, or decided on by whoever or whatever community comes into posession of the items on your death."

Hmmm. I kinda like this idea. A temporary timer on a corpse's items identifying the owner of said items. This could allow for the idea of returning someone's gear for a reward or other settlement perks should the settlement be within timer distance. Of course, those that want the gear for themselves (greedy bastards!) will simply let the timer expire before attempting to do anything with the items. I'll bring this idea up.

Source: Forums (Varl), 25-12-2012

How will you prevent griefing and too much player killing?

I think Psi Kahn said it best:

"Interestingly, even though the game is open PvP, I would say most of the game's mechanics incentivize cooperation over ruthless player killing."

We also have a very clear understanding of the difference in playing a bad guy and being a bad guy and have many countermeasures in place to combat the latter. Basically, the life of a criminal will be tough, the life of a griefer will be short.

Source: Forums (Brax), 01-01-2013

Will the death counter be viewable somewhere?

Absolutely. We're not going to make you guess. We understand permanent death is going to be challenging enough for some people, so we don't want you to be on the edge of your seat every time you die, wondering if you're going to come back or not.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Why do you think perma death is a good feature?

It's the cycle of life. While you may enjoy your stay at the top of whatever particular mountain you've chosen to aspire to for a little while, eventually it'll end, whether it's due to your own choice to end a character (I'm going out my way...) or someone or something else does you in in-game, your game experience will be refreshed.

Brax: "Trials of Ascension -- we'll kill you and you'll love us for it"

Source: Forums (Varl), 15-01-2013

How come someone's reputation will automatically go down after a kill/attack? What about kills in the wIlderness?

The idea is, if the victim of an attack is able to resurrect, that he or she would then be able to inform the authorities of the assault/murder, thus the nick against your rep with the settlement to which the victim belongs. Obviously, if it's a permakill murder, the character won't be coming back to report anything, so I would think those would be crimes an attacker will be able to get away with, but they'll also be quite rare. Personally, I'd be okay with permadeaths being unreportable too.

Brax: When you kill someone, your reputation with the settlement your victim is a citizen of will be affected, regardless of where you kill them. If you killed the person within the borders of a settlement -- his, yours, anyones -- your rep with that settlement will also be affected.

Varl is talking about not affecting rep if your kill was the victim's last death (perma-death). This hasn't been decided yet.

Source: Forums (Varl), 18-01-2013

I don't die much in other games. Isn't 100 life counters too many?

Something to consider when using the "I don't die ... much" train of thought. ToA is not like those other games.

You get to keep your gear upon death in other games. You get the luxury of a 'conning' system in other games so you can selectively pick targets that you have a good chance of beating. You don't receive permanent wounds that last until another player heals it or until death in other games. You can chug 1,437 healing potions in other games to keep you alive during a fight. In other games you have almost zero chance of being hurt by someone even just a few levels below you. You don't die from heat, cold or lack of food or water in other games. You get to go to areas that are specifically built for your level in other games.

Source: Forums (Brax), 08-02-2013

Can a character go from a concious state to a dead state in one hit

Technically? Yes. Probable? No.

Let me set a scenario.

Your character has very low fortitude - let's say 20. This means you go unconscious when you reach 0 hp and you die when you reach -20 hp.

With that established, say you run into a giant while you're at full health - say 55hp. The giant swings his club (read: a tree trunk) at you and hits you for 80 damage. You just got one-hit killed.

Other scenarios:

- A catapult round lands directly on you.
- A mage incinerates you with a 10 mega-ton fireball.
- A pixie receives a glancing blow ... by a minotaur.

Source: Forums (Brax), 10-03-2013

Suppose you're in the wilderness, die and lose your gear. If you respawn there again, the risk you die again is much greater. Will there be a system in place to respawn elsewhere after you die?

The further away from your safe area you are (safe area being a very generic term - your house, your settlement, another friendly settlement, etc) the greater your risk.

I wouldn't hold your breath on the idea of insta-travel resurrecting.

Source: Forums (Brax), 12-03-2013

Will death of your character remove any diseases you may have had?

Death will remove any disease you have. Of course that doesn't mean you can't be reinfected, but maybe your immunity to that disease has increased making it harder to become infected? Oh the possibilities!!

Source: Forums (Brax), 26-04-2013

Can you potentially lose multiple life counters due to a disease?

There will be a certain amount of responsibility on the player not to go running back to an infected corpse to get loot, back or otherwise, and be re-infected. You will need to exercise a certain amount of caution. Just for the wont be us taking away your life counters, just providing you with opportunities to give them away.

Source: Forums (Loestri), 26-04-2013

Play smart and you shouldn't have too much to worry about. I am sure there will be healers in every major settlement so you should be able to find one when you need one.

Source: Forums (Loestri), 26-04-2013

Will we be able to view info about our perma dead characters?

You'll be able to view all your past characters along with some interesting info for each.

Source: Forums (Brax), 17-05-2013

What happens when my character perma-dies?

This is the fate of all who will play ToA.

We've talked about the topic of perma-death countless times but we haven't talked much about what happens afterwards. The "what now?" if you will. What exactly happens after your character has perma-died? Sure you must start a new character, we all know that, but what of the dearly departed? Can their legacy live on in TerVarus or does it fade away, lost to time? There's lots more that happens after your character perma-dies than what you might think.

First is the epitaph. All perma-dead characters can still be viewed at character selection along with (we are aiming for) a large amount of data on the character. Which regions of the world he visited, skill ranks achieved, how many rabbits raised, number of wounds received, and so on. In addition, we want to grab various screenshots of the character throughout his life that you can thumb through including each death and upon certain achievements like casting his first spell and more. None of this data will be available until the character perma-dies. We want you focused on your journey while your character is still alive, not the spreadsheets.

If your character made a worthy enough impact on TerVarus, for good or ill, his name will make it into the Monolith, an ever-growing record of TerVarus. The more your character achieves in his life, the higher his name will rise, ranging from a simple entry in a tome to a larger than life statue.

If your character has done enough in his life to merit a place towards the top of the monolith, chances are good that the GM staff may actually use your character's history to enrich the lore of the world. This is where it can get crazy! Maybe your character killed hundreds of travelers in the Whispering Wind Valley over his life time. Don't be surprised if you see him as a ghost haunting that location looking to take even more souls. Was your character known throughout TerVarus as being one of the best and most generous tailors? Maybe he will have a tailoring innovation named after him. The possibilities are mind-boggling!

If that's not enough, we'll add more to the soup once religion is released. Let's say your character was a devout priest that lived his whole life in the service of his god. Then one day you log in and notice your long-dead priest is able to be played again! Upon logging in, you're given a notice that your god has charged his most faithful with returning to TerVarus and ridding the world of a scourge. You have one life counter to kill as many of these scourge beasts as possible, allowing you to better your standing with your god even more! How cool would that be?!

Source: Forums, 02-01-2014

The End