22 March 2012

Pen and Paper: Casualties among PCs part 2 - Blaze of Glory

In the last post I talked about me as a GM killing player characters because that'll teach 'em. This time I'll tell you about my own PCs that, despite my guidance, didn't live to see the end of an adventure. It's not often that Player-Characters in a traditional pen & paper role-playing-game die. This is due to some technical limitations (creating a new character takes some time - if my guy in Rogue Survivor dies, I hit some keys and get a new one started, if my character in Vampire dies, I need to make up a new background-story and allocated points for half an hour), as well as emotional reasons (getting invested in a character takes time, being invested in a character means you don't want them to die unless it really fits their story - either way you want to spend time with your creation). Over the years I have played about two dozen characters in pen & paper RPGs, most of them in longer campaigns, and only four of them have died. These are their stories.

My first casualty of a PC was the second character I ever made. I had just joined the RPG-club of my university, which hosts games over the course of a semester on an alternating weekly schedule. This meant that after 9th grade I was, for the first time, playing two RPGs, Vampire: The Masquerade and Space 1889. Both GMs had radically differing styles of play and both characters I made were characters I really enjoyed to play. The character in question is Parker, my vampire of choice. Parkers stats came straight from the pages of the Brujah-sourcebook, where he himself was a rip-off/homage on the one/two main character/s from Fight Club. The guy drawn in the book even looked like a mixture of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, including a suitcase full of soap bars being part of his starting-equipment. Parker was the anarchist of the group and, needless to say, had a fondness of explosives of all kind.

A lot of down-time during the campaign was filled by me "making soap", as opposed to my team-mates hunting for human prey. Parker was a good guy at heart, trying to keep his humanity and still sending his mother cards for her birthday and christmas so she wouldn't worry. It was a long-winded campaign which more often than not saw problems resolved with large amounts of fertilizer-based explosives rather than intrigue or actual combat. A building full of Sabbat vampires? Rigg it up so the roof blows up - during the mid-day. The GM had introduced the campaign with the words "The beginning and the end of the campaign are set, what's in between is up to you", which I never really liked. As a player, I believe that the end of a story should never be set in stone, as a character, Parker had a huge problem with any sort of authority. Together we sabotaged the GMs ending in favor of a more glorious one: It all came down to a big showdown in a crypt under the city, the treacherous elders of the Camarilla and their Sabbat friends meeting up to resurrect Lilith, a potent super-vampire to rule the Earth with. As the GM later told us, he had planned for the sarcophagus of Lilith to open up and all of the bad guys falling apart, like that one scene in Indiana Jones. We had hidden ourselves behind the Sarcophagus and were in a standoff-situation with a bunch of vastly superior enemies but we had gotten there before them and Parker had done his thing and rigged up the entire chamber with explosives. So when the GM said "They open the sarcophagus and there is a bright light" I said "of course there is a bright light, I just pushed the button.". Total Party Wipeout. All the bad guys dead too. Still, it was a good ending to the story, with the PCs sacrificing themselves to save the world, while also ridding it of quite a large number of evil vampires.

The only bad thing about that one was that, as a group of players, we never found the same excellent group-dynamics with new characters again, eventually abandoning the group and even the entire World of Darkness. It was a glorious finale, busting the story and all of our enemies. They're also my only PvP kills to date, I guess.

Part 2 following up tomorrow!

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