Wednesday, May 16, 2018

An Experiment With Characters

Okay, this post might get long-winded or confusing at points. If you're already familiar with Kingdom Hearts II (the game or the manga based on it), feel free to skip this section. Myself, I've read the first two volumes of the manga, but not played the game; I did try playing the first one, but without much success or enjoyment. Yesterday, though, thinking about it gave me an idea.

One of my longtime friends has also been a player in my games (off and on) since 2011; she was there when I first ran two characters from the Dungeons & Dragons movie through "The Sewers of Sumdall", a Fast Play Game included as a PDF file on the movie's DVD release. More relevant is a character she created at the third session of my Duemerus campaign, Elia. Elia started off as a thief when the campaign was running on the B/X engine; when we converted to AD&D, 2nd Edition, she accepted my offer to let characters change to a different class within the same group, and converted Elia into a bard.

She enjoyed playing Elia, who was the first PC to reach 2nd level; alas, the character died in the "Prison of the Dead" (an incident detailed in this post) shortly after attaining that rank. Being a rational human being who understands that she doesn't always win, she made a new character rather than throwing a tantrum and leaving; the new character was Elia's older sister Damera.

Fast-forward a little under two years, to the twentieth session of the campaign. At this point, it had been converted again to the Basic Fantasy rules. The pertinent "action" actually took place after the adventure proper; the details are unimportant, save that Damera learned that Elia's body was in suspended animation, and if she could find a cleric powerful enough to cast the raise dead spell, Elia could be returned to life. (Though I framed it as motivation for Damera, it's really more of a motivation for her player, who had grown quite attached to the character.)

Now, in the wake of most of the players in that campaign quitting or moving away, I've decided to let it rest. I still have the world I created, but perhaps it's time to start fresh, with new characters in a different place (fortunately, I have several "starting areas" on the map that I can stock in short order). If my friend still hopes to play Elia again, maybe I'll let her... when she least expects it.

For now, though, she'll make a new character. Let's call this hypothetical character "Roberta". Assuming that the other players show her level of commitment to the game, they go on some thrilling adventures. Maybe she gets rather attached to Roberta, particularly if she gets to 2nd level (or even higher).

And then...

Just like Roxas did, Roberta learns that she was never supposed to exist - that she's only a fragment of Elia's soul that somehow attained sentience and built a life for herself. Roberta (actually, her player) is faced with a hard choice: in order to bring Elia back into the world, Roberta must cease to exist. Her memories and things she's learned (read: her XP total) will become a part of Elia's identity, but Roberta will lose her individual existence, and all evidence that she ever existed will be erased from the universe.

* * * *

Potential problems with this:
  1. Elia/Roberta's player might feel like I'm enacting Sophie's Choice on her in fantasy form. Which, I kind of would be, except that neither character might be fully dead in a philosophical sense. "Roberta will live on in our hearts," and all that.
  2. The other players might feel like I'm giving her a massive spotlight moment for no reason. I would be, but the reason could easily be dismissed as a kind of nepotism.
  3. The other players might also have gotten attached to Roberta. And now they have to pretend like she never existed, in favor of some stupid curly-haired flutist? Give me a break, Fuzzy!
Having listed those problems, I'm interested to see what any feedback on this might be. Have you ever tried anything like this yourself? Are there additional problems that I haven't thought of?

Now with 20% fewer buckles and zippers!
(D&D 3rd Edition fans, take note.)

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