I am running a homebrewed RPG cobbled together from bits of systems like VtM, D&D, Pathfinder, etc. (that's not the problem, it works for us). Our campaign includes player-versus-player conflict, including death, and death is always possible. We talked about this before we started and agreed as a group.
We current have a problem with death and resurrection making a lethal PvP conflict tedious and pointless. The problem is that one PC can assassinate another, but the assassinated PC has the ability to come back to life pretty easily.
If a murder victim can just come back from death without penalty, we feel it cheapens the efforts of the assassinating PC.
How can we make such an assassination success meaningful?
We have considered giving the killed PC some penalty (like you come back but with mental alienation, a phobia, etc). But we don't think that really helps the main problem that they came back to life.
We thought about the character coming back with amnesia — losing everything gained up to that point, like deleting every relationship with another PC, every quest you did, and so on, becoming a blank sheet with just your skill/abilities. But that still puts a lot of responsibility for “forgetting” information on the player and I don't have so much faith in the players to do that fairly and consistently, and not meta-game with information their PC is supposed to have forgotten.
So I'm wondering, how do we make meaningful the assassination of a PC who can just come back to life? How do we make a death meaningful so that the player of the killed PC doesn't just feel “No problem, I'll be back in five days” and instead feels “Oh no, this is a problem I care about.”
Note that being killed by an NPC doesn't give us the same problems — we're OK with an NPC's efforts being wasted.
For example of the kind of pointless loop we want to avoid:
- King Arthur kills Mordred.
- After five days Mordred rises from the dead.
- King Arthur kills Mordred again.
- After five days Mordred rises from the dead, again
- And it goes over and over and over in an infinite loop.
This loop sucks because it's a waste time killing him, and he comes back without any lasting effects. The assassination is just erased.
Changing the resurrection system isn't an option. I just want to avoid having coming back from death after being killed by another PC becoming like a quick ride on a merry-go-round.