Immersive Reasons for Player Caution
Immersive reasons that I don't want my PC to die are due to the inherent nature of Role-Playing. As a player in a RPG, I become emotionally invested in my character, an adventure, or the game-world. Some examples of Immersive Reasons are:
- I like this character
- I identify with this character and his desire to survive
- This character and I have been through a lot together
- I want the mission to succeed, and PC death interferes with that
External Reasons for Player Caution
External reasons that I don't want my PC to die are not inherent to the act of Role-Playing. These can be Systemic i.e. caused by the way a particular RPG system is set-up. They can also be quite personal. Some examples of External Reasons are:
- It took me a lot of time/effort to create this character
- It took me a long time/XP to make such a powerful character
- If my PC dies, the other PCs will take his stuff and my new PC won't have cool stuff
- If my PC dies then I feel like I'm "losing" relative to the other players
I would like to claim that Immersive Reasons are good for the game, while External reasons are bad for it. Immersive Reasons draw players into the gameworld, while External Reasons draw them out. If your game decisions/game-world is being shaped by External Reasons, then you are doing it wrong.
So to a certain degree, you can reduce External Reasons for Player Caution with changes to the game system. DCC reduces creation effort with it's host of PC generators. The Polish Resistance game I ran had slow/limited character advancement. However, the effect of these sorts of changes on player psychology is limited. Also, there may be factors other than player caution that supersede these considerations, such as wanting to use a familiar system, or players who want room for considerable advancement.
So the more holistic solution to this problem is behavioural. Players should try to focus on becoming immersed in the game and try not to consider External Reasons that they want their PCs to survive. This may be difficult since it requires a certain degree of self-awareness. At the same time, I'm not the first one to say "don't be a Powergamer" or "you're Metagaming".
So to all my fellow players out, don't forget:
...to live in fear...That's what it is to be a slave...