When a Contractor's Body is reduced below zero or they are otherwise killed, that's it from a systems and balance perspective. That Character is immediately dead and cannot take any more Actions or use any more Powers.
GMs may allow "dead" characters to speak a few final parting words to their teammates before they pass on. There is no better send-off than cradling someone in your arms and listening to their dying wish, their largest regret, or offering support as they slip from this life to the next.
It can be tempting to meta-game or justify a Contractor death away, but Harbingers consider dead characters to be losers not worth the effort, regardless of what the players want. Resurrection Powers, when allowed at all, involve hefty penalties and terrible costs.
No one wants their Characters to die. We put a lot of thought and inspiration into them. We've spent hours, days, perhaps weeks of our lives with them, thinking about them, breathing life into them. To see it snuffed out is a horrible thing. So why do we encourage it in The Contract?
Character death is a smelly fertilizer that gives birth to a lush garden Role-playing experiences.
Character death enriches the experience of The Contract in so many ways, it's difficult to enumerate them all.
- It increases the tension of all future encounters, knowing death is a real possibility. This is critical. Believable, elevated stakes are essential for creating a compelling story.
- Other Characters are changed by the loss of people they grew close to, and it shapes their behavior and attitudes in a multitude of interesting ways. They may grow hard and jaded, or they may become protective of a certain type of person, they may develop a hatred of a specific kind of creature, etc.
- Surviving Characters have stories to tell of lost companions.
- The dead's signature items (often highly desirable products of Gifts and Powers), enter circulation and become bargaining chips, things to steal, etc.
- In many cases, a death leads to more Character concept diversity. If all your Cell's Characters are starting to look like generic run-and-gun types, kill a couple of them for not anticipating a betrayal or failing to handle a situation in a deft way.
- Contractors who've achieved Seasoned and Veteran status have actually accomplished something. It says something more about them than "they sunk the hours into playing X sessions."
Think about some of your favorite stories in books, TV, Movies, etc. Likely the thing that sets them apart is your connection to the characters in marriage with real, believable stakes. Well let me tell you, if you're writing a story from scratch, getting readers to fall in love with characters is the hardest part. In The Contract (and other role-playing games) you get that for free. People care about their characters. All you have to do is kill one every once in a while, and you've got yourself a compelling story.
Plus, we make it easy. There are a number of incentives for killing characters and dying.
The Upsides of the Underworld
Coins of Charon
These are awarded when one of your Contractors dies in a Game. You may use a coin of Charon to start a new Contractor with a single Gift.
The Golden Ratio
If you act as the GM for a Game in which at least one Contractor dies and at least one Contractor achieves victory, you are given an Improvement that can be used to enhance an existing Power on one of your Contractors.
Death on the Website
You can declare the death of any Contractor you can edit via their Character sheet. They cannot be played in any Games while dead and will appear in the Graveyard. You can void a Character's death from the "Edit Obituary" page on the Character Sheet. Any Character who has had a death Voided will have a notice appear on their sheet informing prospective GMs of the Character's history. This is intended to help GMs vet online Characters.
Coins of Charon and Improvements from The Golden Ratio are also supported and are automatically allocated to Players and GMs as appropriate.