Yup. I don't own Skyrim. My 15 minutes of being relevant is over, at least until SWTOR releases.
With that, and having worn myself out in the beta this week, I decided to load up an old favorite of mine: Monster Rancher 2. Many moons ago I played the hell out of that game. Never won the final tournament, but I enjoyed the whole raising and combining monsters gig, as well as stealing every CD in the house to see what monsters I would get. My favorite was the pile of goo in camo colors and a bandana you got from the Metal Gear Solid disc.
I rediscovered this game in college, specifically after my roommate decided to play Playstation games while drunk. He ended up making his monster run away after non-stop shooting range practices.
Liquor fueled escapades aren't what this post is about though. My recent thoughts about Salem and permadeath have put the idea of temporary versus permanent progression into my mind. For example, in MR2 the monster you raise only lives for a certain amount of time. Before they pass, you can freeze them and combine them with another monster. If both are sufficiently leveled, you get one that has far better stats than a normal one. Despite this, you still have to train them from youth to adulthood again. You suffer a setback for sure, but it is one that allows you to progress further than you could originally.
Which is why I think developers should capitalize on a reincarnation system in a permadeath styled game. Let's use League of Legends as an example. Each time you enter a match you need to level your hero once again, but the more matches you play the more points you get, and you can spend those on permanent upgrades to your Summoner, which affects every hero you play. Why not apply that to an MMORPG? You have a Soul, which serves as your permanent progression. Equipment and Gold are not carried by this soul, because as everyone knows, you can't take it with you when you die. Yes, you with the gold plated hubcaps. But your actions in "life" can improve your next life.
Gurgthok is an orcish rogue. He is not a very good rogue, because rogues need to be sneaky and Gurgthok is built like a linebacker. Despite this, he gets by on brute force alone and manages to get up to level 15 before he is bludgeoned to death by a group of enemies he over-pulled. Because he wasted his life points, a system used to revive in the field like a normal MMO, he must return as a new character. His life experience brought him a good deal of points to spend on his soul, as well as a few to put into the stats of his new character. Now an axe-swinging Barbarian, Gurgthok has never been happier. He and his axe are married and have three children together.
Souls can serve as a measure of what you have accomplished in your (potentially) many lives and what you can bring to your next character. Perhaps you unlock a trait you can apply to new character, thereby increasing exp gain, or strength, or giving a future class proficiency in something they would not normally have been proficient in. Design it less like a tree and more like a store, where players can pick and choose their own rewards, and add in some unlockable ones by completing special or challenging tasks in the game, and you are in business.
With these changes, raiding and daily quests can be nearly eliminated in favor of a crafting and exploration based game world. Everything is more dangerous now that you can permanently die, yet you still have a measure of progression while doing so. This eliminates one of the major drawbacks of permadeath. I did say one, not all. It would still not be a system for everybody. But I think it would make an excellent compromise.