I had a discussion about this with one of my players today.
He said that once he found out that the kid couldn't die, he didn't feel that the game threatened him.
However, I told him, that just because the kid can't die, doesn't mean it can't end up in so much trouble in everyday life that it can be removed from play.
My example was this: Imagine that you keep getting arrested as a kid. Or that you keep behaving badly, sneaking out, doing bad deeds, getting other parents calling about mischief you've done. Eventually, the parents will question whether this school, or even area is good for you.
Ending up in hospital or being the catalyst for bad things over time (bullying etc) might force your parents' hands and they will root up and move.
If you're 15, you can even be punished within the justice system. But even when you're younger than that, if you keep ending up in trouble, this might be reflected upon your parents and you could end up in foster care.
All of these scenarios, derived from your actions in the mysteries, have the consequence that your kid is taken out-of-play.
Even if death is not on line.
Hurt. Social exclusion. Doubt. Splintered family. Parents loosing their jobs.
It can all lead to you being pulled away from Boulder, the Mälar islands or where you have chosen to place this.
I think the problem for experienced roleplayers is that we have played a lot of games where death is pretty much the ONLY real threat that keeps our characters in check. And that we're used to having characters with full agency. Here however, the kids don't have that. Their threats – their "end of the world" are things we as adults would consider mundane, or even necessary – but for them, it's devastating.
As a GM, I think, if you focus on that – you can sell the very real threat of losing your kid to the unyielding society.
After that, he was much more in line with how to feel and how to behave with his "kid".
He felt there was a price to pay for failure. Even though it's not death.
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