This post is a bit tongue in cheek, as I realize it doesn't matter, but it's something that came up when I was running my Under the Hillfort Ruins game a couple weeks back (and I'm just getting to blog about it now).
In my game the other night, Jeremy was looking for a character he had already rolled up to play, and grabbed one he had used in Justin's Vaults of Ur game. Dean also had used a character he has used a few times before in different game systems, most memorably to me in Justin's "Panoply Sector" Stars Without Number game. The thing is, in other games both of these PCs had died.
Now, don't get me wrong. I was running a play test. I didn't really care where the PCs had been used before, or if they were "still alive" or not. For a play test, it just isn't an issue. But during the course of play, Jeremy mentioned that his fighter, Danyael, should level up because he already had 1000xp from Ur. I reminded him that Danyael had died in Ur (partially my fault, Thidrek ran away rather than risking paralyzation at the hands of ghouls after Danyael and another PC had gone down). So does the character still get to keep its XP for use in other games after death in one campaign?
It made me think about the whole FLAILSNAILS conventions a bit. I'd considered in the past the fact that anyone could show up to a game with a character at level X, with magic items A, B and C, and who's to know if that PC actually earned that or not? Of course, the FLAILSNAILS Conventions give the DM power to nerf anything egregious in any way they wish (all ability scores are 18 and you have a Staff of Wizardry at level 2? Well, you're suffering from a curse in this realm, and you find the staff is nonfunctional at the moment).
Now, I'm not arguing that there should be a FLAILSNAILS police or anything, but shouldn't what happens to a character actually matter? Even if it's just taking your favorite character to another game as a one-shot, if good things happen you wouldn't ret-con them into not happening. Why should we ignore the bad just because we can? Is that cheating to just pretend your character didn't die, or didn't lose their best magic sword to a rust monster, or whatever?
Is this cheating? Should it be discouraged?
Or is it a case of "What happens in Greyhawk stays in Greyhawk"?