Roleplaying games are a great deal of fun, are they not? All the power gaming, twinking, and gimmick builds that are so hilariously fun to think about, but end up dying out as soon as you get your next pack of Mountain Dew to fuel your ADHD thinking machine. But we don’t care about those when we lose them do we? No, we do not. Because having a character like that live past a few levels is a burden. It gets in the way of the next gimmick. They are not worth talking about or thinking about.
This is about the people we have lost along the way. The characters that seemed to have lives of their own. Those characters that end up having lovers, family, friends, rivals, enemies, and maybe even a couple children running around. Those ones where you actually get upset because you know there is a very bad choice to be made in this situation, but that’s the choice would make. When they have a living personality that conflicts even with your own or with what is right in the moment. Those characters that mean so much that when they die, you have to tear the sheet up in a moment of anger and rage. Then minutes later you come to the frantic anguish filled desire to try to tape the sheet back together again. But it doesn’t matter, it won’t matter. No amount of tape is going to bring back that adventure, that story, that life experience.
But, at least in my experience, it’s not the loss of my own characters that hurts the most. It’s the loss of the people we played with instead. Those sometimes irritating people you partied with, and went on those adventures with. Those people we have met, and while they may be fake, they last in your mind longer than the memories created by those so called real friends of yours. Those grand adventures that leave you feeling the suffering of loss as well.
There are some losses that linger for me many years later. Friends I will never get back, adventures I will never see again, worlds long lost.
It’s not just our games that do this. Sure, with D&D, Vampire, mage, Star Trek, Mass Effect, or what ever games you play can build some amazing things. It’s books and games too. If you are a lover of stories, and you actually consider it a hobby, then certainly there have been times when you come to the end of a book and you feel like an emotional wreck for a little while. Because the adventure is over. You have poured your soul and emotion into the story and the characters. Now the adventure is over, you will never be able to travel with them the same way ever again.
Characters are lost.
Sometimes it has nothing to do with the game, but it’s third party factors.
The loss of a family member outside of the game can kill your desire for a game.
Perhaps your favorite book series comes to an end becamse some jackass behind a desk up in an office decides the product line is turning 2% less of a profit than they would like, so they kill an entire product line and everything tied to it. P
erhaps a player leaves a game, and them being missing changes how everyone else behaves resulting in that chemistry dying off.
One of the contributors to a story just stops putting in any effort, and everyone else has to drag them alone pretending the story isn’t burning down around them until finally it does…
I was motivated to write this post while sitting and thinking about a couple games I have that are dying. There is no longer any passion for the characters. people are just going through the motions because it’s expected of them. We used to be really excited about our characters and we would get together an hour before the game to talk about our characters. We would spend many hours during the week talking about them. But these days for a couple of the games people show up at the last minute, go through the motions, try to rush towards success, and no longer care as much about the lives they live. I also recently had a Mask game that end under because one of the players could not be bothered to keep up with the schedule or show up on time.
Try not to let your characters die any sooner than they have to. But when they do, make sure it hurts you and everyone around you. Make them a person everyone will build connections with. Love, friendship, rivalries. Even hatred and frustration can be a powerful emotion that will create a vacuum when the target of those emotions are gone. Play the character that will be remembered years after the game is gone. Be that lingering smirk on someones face years later.
Goodbye, Jessie. You will be missed.