When it comes to low-rules systems there’s an elephant in the room: how does character death work when there are no hit points, calls or classes?
There’s been a recent increase in the amount of no- or low-rules systems across the UK, with none of the traditional death or injury mechanics we’re used to in more standard UK LARP. Without a bleed count or hit points, all you can do is react to the blows you take and roleplay the hell out of an injury. How badly you end up being wounded is entirely your choice, as is your reaction (although, I find falling over works in almost all circumstances).
Character death, then, is also a choice. In these systems, only you can decide whether or not a blow lands heavily enough to knock you out or is roleplayed enough to consist of a killing blow. I assume you’re now thinking to yourself that every character inevitably lives forever; nobody really wants to lose a character, especially after they’ve invested heavily in both time and kit.
However, one of the only rules found in these games are the most important ones; ‘react to everything’ and ‘don’t take the piss’. Taken a blow to the arm? Maybe it’s broken, but it’s most likely not fatal. Six close-range musket shots in the back? You’re dead. Really.
The tricky part comes when the interaction could go either way. A major wound could theoretically be fixed if you’re lucky or it could spell your end. At times like these, the choice becomes more difficult. Regardless of how realistic it may or may not be, think about how your reaction will look and feel. Is it more immersive to die quietly in a bush where nobody gets any real roleplay, or should you heroically stagger back to safety to be healed? What is going to be cool for yourself and the other players? The standard fest-LARP death (in the middle of the night on the way to the toilets, or with twenty other players in a heap) is really a bit dull for both you and those around you. Make it memorable when you are roleplaying death.
In the end, character death is entirely up to the player in these systems. There are some guidelines, and some systems have elements that may control your decision somewhat, but otherwise it will be down to you. You’d be surprised how much more honest it feels when it isn’t a matter of mentally counting down for a bleed count. Just remember: Don’t take the piss, and make sure it’s awesome.