In more than a few of the LARPs I staff/play, there have been some very poignant player exits. These have involved a variety of circumstances, including player deaths and players electing to go "off-screen" in dramatic and meaningful ways. Exiting, as a player, is a topic unto itself-- how do you do it? Why do you do it? When do you do it? These are excellent questions (and, if the fodder feeds you, discuss), however, I'm more interested in the people left behind.
I recently wrote on the end of plot arcs. This generated some excellent comments-- many of the notes included that narrative resolutions can leave players disconnected and/or sad. Accordingly, it falls on staff (and the players themselves) to provide ways for those players to get re-involved. The exit of PC characters poses a similar, though more complicated, problem. Since my last quest on this topic was directed at staffers, this is directed at PCs.
Imagine, for a moment, you are in the climatic moment of whatever battle in whatever realm you frequent. Suddenly, one of your friends-- perhaps your closest friend and confidant-- does something heroic, unforeseen, and, ultimately, final: the player impacts the game in such a way that takes them permanently off-screen. Your friend, as a PC, has made their exit.
Take another situation-- a teammate, in a difficult and hard-won battle, is struck down, and, unexpectedly, fails to resurrect. The teammate's IG death is final, and they will no longer appear, fighting alongside you.
Or a slightly more complicated situation: your favorite teammate has OoG reasons that prevent them from playing. They have a new baby, a new job, or need to leave the country. Logistically, they have decided to quit the game, and the character is making an off-screen exit. In any case, neither you nor your character will see them IG.
Farewells, in whatever form they take, are inevitable and sometimes necessary. IG, player-exits can motivate narrative and heighten drama. OoG exits are necessary and productive for a variety of reasons. However, those absent certainly leave a hole: both IG and OoG, people feels the absence of friends and comrades. As a player, how do you deal with farewells from players to whom you are emotionally attached? How do you RP the drama of loss without making the game upsetting? How do you create new relationships that are equally meaningful? How do you commemorate players who have left the stage?
As always, your comments are appreciated.
p.s. Mirror, Mirror players-- I see a lot of enthusiasm floating around the netscape. If anyone is interested in doing some collaborative MM stuff, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are enough people interested, mayhaps we can do something fun before the first event.