Recent events have got me thinking about character death.
Generally, in any computer game, CRPGs included, the player character losing a fight and dying doesn't really happen. Sure, the blood splattered corpse drops to rhe floor, everything fades to black and the game ends (unless, of course, another party memeber survived, in which case everyone's fine), but then, it's five minutes earlier and the fight goes differently, or the decision to get into the fight doesn't get made.
There are exceptions. One that springs immmediately to mind is the Mount and Blade series, in which named characters -including the player- never die at all, but, in a 'lucky characters from Game of Thrones' kind of way find themselves either imprisoned in a castle or dragged around the map by their captors until, by game engine randomiser fiat, they are either ransomed or manage to escape, at which point they find themselves stripped of their finest gear, most of their gold, and with no army at their backs but the memory of the pile of corpses they spent so long gathering and training up.
What I'm not aware of is any CRPG where death is permanent, as in, gen up a new character and start again. And I can see why, being forced to plough through the whole plot again from start to finish because of a miss-click or slightly off decision in the final boss fight would be a massively offputting experience, especially after a couple of runs through on a game with enough content to be worth buying.
I think I might be more interested in a well balanced MMO if it included such a mechanic (though I'm told that doesn't sell), but it would have to be a one with persistant world plot, as opposed to the general run of lazily built single player game with roughly the same sequence of quests for every character but you can only play online.
Another approach might be something along the lines of the standard party based get-out and the Mount and Blade approach that makes death final, but unlikely. It would certainly make more cautious play advisable, but it might add real intensity to the game, especially if the roleplaying experience is solid enough that you care about the character, not only their stats and kit, but who you're playing, and their relationships with NPCs. Loath as I am to quote metal all over this blog, perhaps Marilyn Manson has something to say about roleplaying when he sings "without the threat of death, there's no reason to live at all."