The Role of Death - Do We Need It?
Death, or the Boogeyman, or whatever your antagonizing force is called, is the role taken up by the Game Master. They are the ones who put forward the challenges that our Survivors must face, and inevitably the authors of their gruesome demise. It is Death who arbitrates and oversees decisionmaking in the game, after all. Who ensures that rules are followed, that order is observed.
But does the game need a Game Master?
Arguably, no. Death and all their antagonism can be taken up by the collective table, their role divided between fellow players who can put forward suggestions of how best to torment each other’s characters. After all, since the object of this game is not truly to overcome obstacles but to tell an engaging story and enjoy the downfall of one’s characters, there is no need for a truly fair neutral power. That being said, this sort of approach requires everyone to set very strict boundaries and maintain them with each other. Last thing you want is to feel like you’re ganging up on other players.
It’s a role that could even, in some respects, be simulated by an Oracle system or series of tables. A list of scenario prompts for the situations to overcome, which you respond to through audio or written journalling. Or scrapbooking. Or puppets. The point is that so long as players are responsible and imaginative.
However, I will say that there is something special about a specific player taking on the “antagonist’s” role. It means they lack the favoritism that those playing Survivors may have, and may be more willing to go HARD when it comes to making sure when folks die, they die.
Also, come on - who wouldn’t want the opportunity to call themselves capital D Death at the table?