It happens a number of ways...
The orc's hot, spicy breath assaults you...but his bad taste in cuisine is not the final blow -- *that*'s the knife he's twisting in your guts...
Aha! Got it... now...was that the red wire or the blue wire? Hah! It's ALWAYS the Re----bl----BOOM!
Or, more likely...
What? You mean you actually pay POINTS for SWIMMING kill?
Oh, alright...that wasn't you. It could just have been the betrayal of the dice. Or not. It was probably your GM. They're paid with your misery, having worked for HOURS on that 27 room mansion only to have you defeat the zombi Queen out in the courtyard... sweating over arcane tables and twisty little charts that look alike... fuming because your single expenditure of a KARMA point took out that DRAGON...not that your GM holds a grudge or anything. No, GMs are noble and impartial.
Especially those who run Amber.
But that's besides the point. However it happened, your character (you know -- the one you originally modeled after that suave sword-slinging sweetheart) bit the big one. Met the man who makes it moot. Died the dreadful death. However you want to say it. Worse than that, all that time and experience is dead with it.
Or...maybe...there's something more.
The JNM(mnj) Staff, coupled with the students and teachers of Minion University want you to know no PC need be a character atheist. You have choices! You have a future! ... Void where prohibited by GM.
While not always the most popular choice, it does take away all the effort of living. And only in one game do you really have to worry about the Angst of what had come before. Some of your options include:
A favorite of the JNM(mnj) staff, there are many options for players who want to be dead...undead... (what's the difference? They can ALL wield guns.) You can start out as your classic Ghost. Ghosts are presented as dead people who still have a hook (or, in this case, a Relic) keeping them around for some unfinished business. Or some never-quite-handy exorcism. Ghosts are generally considered pro-human, having had a lot of human experience behind them... but that's not a RULE...just a habit.
Advantages of being a ghost? I assume you mean besides the obvious? You can scare people (literally to death, given the system.) You aren't very solid, and can't be hit by normal weapons. (Only abnormal ones... cold iron, the like.) Plus, there's no accounting for your past history. GM approving, you could have had the wildest, raunchiest time of your...past life.
All told, whatever specific dead you choose to be, Nightlife is a good place to be it; all your friends are dead, after all, and it gets you access to some of the most exclusive clubs in New York City.
So being a floating puff of extradimensional vapor doesn't really suit you? You want something with meat? The next set of post obitum potentials include what we here call "the infected".
Remember what we were saying about 'unfinished business'? Well, sometimes it isn't YOUR business that keeps you around. It's the infection... vampirism, of course, being the most obvious. Blood- (or energy-, or spirit-, or...) sucking magics, curses, and unusual illnesses that aren't done with your body once you are. What they leave of you is the question.
Going from our favourite to our most mocked...
Wraith (White Wolf)
...gets a lot of jeers for its ineffective approach. Now, we've seen some dumb ideas in the RPG industry... (we've bought a lot of 'em.) On the other hand, a game whose primary (so-called) appeal is being able to play a character whose experience proves that life sucks... but death sucks worse... just isn't going to work. (Now, don't get me wrong. They put a LOT of REALLY INTERESTING IDEAS into a game... with a lame concept.)
Alright, to be honest, there's a little more to the game than that. The writers have built an intriguing and challenging background with some of the most unusual opportunities to be found for characters (alive OR dead) in RPGs. It's just that...well, you're dead. And being dead in their depressing world isn't any better than being alive. After all, if you're alive... you can count yourself lucky you aren't dead.
AD&D...which is a registered trademark, by
the way, by TSR (and now owned by Wizards of the Coast)
is often forgotten, even though such a great number of its creatures are undead... often infectious undead at that. While we hold a soft spot in our blackened, corrosive hearts for the dracolich, we do laugh at the thought of vampire medusae.
We recommend the undead options to AD&D (which, by the way, is a registered trademark, of TSR (which is now owned by Wizards of the Coast)) Dungeon Masters, especially for players who want to try something "unusual". Why not balance that powerful artifact with, say, an appetite for goulash...or is that a ghoulish appetite?
Feng Shui (Daedalus
Your only really DEAD option in Feng Shui is to play a ghost. They're pretty basically ghosts - insubstantial is their major trait, and you also get a bit of Sorcery. Unfortunately, being insubstantial in Feng Shui isn't everything you might expect; you can walk through MOST walls with a bit of effort, but it doesn't help when people are whupping your butt. On the other hand, they also don't stick you with annoyances like not being able to whup THEIR butts.
Of course, we'd be doing the subject a disservice if we didn't mention Deadlands. Being dead in Deadlands is a bit of a mixed blessing. The major drawback is that if you want to do it right, they want you to buy another book, but they DO give you enough to work with in the main rules. You'll be called "Harrowed" there, and for good reason; once in a while, the GM gets to take over your character and play nasty tricks on your compadres. This is likely to make you an unpopular candidate when a posse's being formed, but has to be weighed against little details like your ability to take a hail of bullets and keep going, not to mention the potential for handy tricks like some NASTY claws and even Soul Eating. You can also pick up special abilities when something Important dies near you, which is an interesting addition. It is important to note, however, that the OPTION of being undead is an uncertain one without, again, picking up their supplement.
Paranoia (West End
...Has finally come out with undead, in their _Creatures of the Nightcycle_ adventure. Not to review it, but I have to throw in the comment that their background choice was obnoxious and the art is awful. However, it is a fun stab at the Vampire craze, with a few direct mockeries of the Storyteller take. As to playing one...it's Paranoia. Vampires are just as prone to malfunction as anything else.
Actually, for a number of the games with cybertech, we'd like to offer you a nasty, if amusing, option. (That's us -- nasty and amusing. All Hail Mortijingle!) What if the cybertech doesn't turn off with the cessation of brain function? Or, given the gritty worldview, I'm sure there's plenty of drugs that can ruin a dead person's day -- after all...the medical technology they have is exceptional. As is the corporate greed.
Of course, if you wanted to try that in a Steampunk universe, too...
Feng Shui (Daedalus
Entertainment, like we said)
Your obvious option for Not Quite Dead in Feng Shui is a life in the Netherworlds. (NOT the Nether Regions. We always like to make that distinction.) It's not QUITE like living...but it's not too much like being dead, either.
Slightly less obvious is the Abomination. Between being a monster and a cyborg, you can have some interesting power combinations, but probably qualify as `almost dead'...certainly inhuman. Or see if your GM will let you play a Mook - you get no powers, and fall like wheat to a scythe. Not quite what we meant by `not quite dead', but...certainly useless enough.
Underground, (from Mayfair
...Alas, has no undead, but wouldn't that make Tastee Ghoul think twice? (Sweeny's Old Fashioned! Three times through the grinder, and what goes down STAYS down!)
HoL ["Human Occupied Landfill" if for
some reason you DON'T know.] (Dirt Merchant
Games with Black Dog Studios off of White Wolf Games... a
Living on HoL is like being dead, except that it smells worse, and they can do worse things to you.
So, dem's the mort, then. (The other half is the jingles.) Next time your character is a bloody mess, his or her final life's breath being wasted in a fifteen minute soliloquy... think of us. Think "death can be fun!" and play on! Play on!
j n m ( m n j
"Armageddon means never having to say you're sorry."
-- unattributed because, well, frankly, no one's admitted to it