I'm currently running a Hunter: The Reckoning chronicle, and I find myself in the unpleasant situation of having to decide just how ruthless a GM I want to be.
Being a World of Darkness game, I do my best to stay true to the Gothic/Punk/Horror aspects of the game, and being a game of hunters, I try to keep a degree of fatalism and lethality for characters. Hunting monsters is messy business regardless of whether or not you possess powers. So having a hunter die on the job is not unexpected, and a non-issue as far as I'm concerned.
That being said, I also don't want players losing characters session after session. I've taken a few measures (some suggested in the book, some not) to ensure that the players are reasonably protected from instant death. Namely, I've done away with players subtracting successes from damage rolls when ones come up and permitted them to soak lethal damage. I did these things because I felt that character death should be meaningful, and barring that, dramatic. I figured if they were dying every other session, they'd stop making good characters and lose interest in participating. I felt this was a healthy solution.
Here is my issue: A rookie player who made an Avenger thought it'd be a good idea to try to take on a poltergeist by his lonesome. He swears he was playing his character and I can't argue that as Avengers are the more gung-ho kill everything type of character. I also stated quite clearly during session one to beware playing too close to stereotypes, citing VERBATIM that just because a person is an Avenger doesn't mean that he/she must go toe to toe with every monster they lay eyes on, that an Avenger can and will fight smart. Bottom line, the player didn't die during the fight, but managed to rack up enough damage that the healing time will effectively make them useless for the rest of the chapter.
I've considered speeding up the healing process, but feel that would cheapen Defender and Redeemer edges by taking away the urgency that slow healing times bring to damage accumulation. I've brought in a higher level Redeemer NPC for healing purposes but the other cell members don't seem inclined to contact her (the Avenger pissed a few compatriots off).
These are my solutions:
A. Tell him to live with it. He made a decision that served him poorly and it will serve as a lesson both IC and OOC how dangerous hunting is. This will relegate him to a background role for the rest of the chapter or put him at high risk for character death if he insists on helping his fellows, but hey, them's the ropes.
B. Make a six dice pool roll using Intelligence and Medicine to represent the medical treatment his character is currently receiving. Every success will transform a lethal box into a bashing box and give him a chance to heal some of the damage faster and still be able to participate. However, he'll lose a permanent point of Appearence to represent the massive amounts of surgical scarring to repair all of the cuts (his damage was the result of fighting animated broken glass).
C. Heal all of his damage but put him in a separate scenario where he has a brief encounter with a future villain (which could lead to his early demise anyway). He'll get to participate, help potentially introduce a future storyline element, and still may potentially lose his character thus avoiding any ill feelings or insurrections from the gaming group should they feel I might be 'taking it easy' on him.
Comment or PM any suggestions you might have. I could use some outside perspective on this.