Sharden over on http://15minutesofwow.wordpress.com/ posted a really interesting topic.
"How do you think dying in an MMO should affect the characters? In WoW we have a relatively insignificant repair cost from durability for a PVE death and no consequence for dying to another player. Do you think this is enough, too much, or needing improvement? Tie-ins to related MMO's or multiplayer games and what sort of repricussion there is for failure there can be a good way to explain your thoughts."
Their post about it can be found here.
In the first game I played you faced two penalties. The MuD would drop EVERYTHING in your inventory to the ground, and you would be teleported back to the temple where the priests had resurrected you. That means a run back to get your stuff, quite possibly naked if you didn't hit a shop and buy some junk to just wear. It worked well to prevent you from feeling no risk yet presenting no lasting damage unless someone came by and took your stuff.
In Everquest you lost experience and so I never got to level 10. Additionally servers had different rules such as your corpse being lootable by other players..in pvp they could loot one item from you, just gold, etc.
Then came Starwars Galaxies, no exp penalty but your items suffered durability damage like in many single player games and a hike back from the cloning center. But this had two important differences. All items were player crafted. That super special weapon had someones sweat and work on the other end of its production not a random loot table. You cuold NEVER repair full durability loss. A master craftsman with master tools at best could (if i remember right) do 90% so eventually your gear had 1 durability and you replaced it no matter how precious it was or how amazing the stats.
Everquest 2 you had to repair stuff when it got damaged and....meh you didnt notice anything other than a long run.
Now World of Warcraft is based off the many variants of Dungeons and Dragons games refined to a weaponized formula. But they often make mistakes, one of them is with making death more and more trivial. When you had a minute or two corpse run it wasn't a great solution but it did give weight to death. Now there's a spirit healer a few steps away from each quest hub....not that their all coded properly so you go to them when you die yet.
The less seriously you take playing your character the more inclined douchebags are to be 'Its just a game yo!" and pull whole rooms of monsters and splatter groups. See constant pugging pains for more details there.
So, whats the best solution to my mind? Make gear slowly wither and die. This makes items more important. no more 'I don't want to fight that guy I have everything he drops' because getting a spare tanking sword would be very useful. It would mean some painful moments when that legendary can't be used any more in combat but some accommodation might be made. Say in the form of a gold sink to raise durability maximums? There's a lot of extra gold floating around that would pull from the economy.
You would not believe how hard it is to find any pictures of broken gear so I will just have to leave you with this.