Monday, August 18, 2014

The Season Finale -- Character Arcs and other things

Firefly ended today and I'm almost as devastated as when the show itself got cancelled. I know that I will see my friends in future campaigns and we'll continue to have lots of fun. But it is just the knowledge of putting that character sheet away for the final time that can be just as sad as seeing your favorite show ending.

I felt the session ended well. Each character got to close up their character arc and it ended with a kiss. What could be bad about that? Q got to save at least one of his academy friends, carrying on the lessons Jack taught him. He got to protect his captain. And Ira and he finally worked together putting behind their Academy days.

There are very few games I played to completion and when I mean that, I mean completion in that my character grew, being shaped by his or her experiences, and by the end, they were a different person. I am not talking about having everything tied up in a neat little bow. I'm okay with my character riding off into the sunset certain their story continues, but this is just the last we see of it.

There is something satisfying of coming to this point. There is only one character I ever played in a roleplaying game from level 1 to level 20. There is something just so satisfying of reaching the end of the array and erasing that 19 and replacing it with a 20. This character was a half-elf sorcerer named Rhys. He started with 4 hit points and one hit could have easily killed him. By the end of the game, he could rain down fire from the skies and that just happened to be only raw power.

Rhys as a character grew up. He began the campaign as a snarky, young man who sought for social change and he grew into a kind person who wanted nothing more than a quiet existence with his family. He sought revolution through knowledge rather than blunt force. Of course, it took a detour down a path of evil to get to that point but yes. Rhys's ending was him opening up a magic school and I am sure he became that world's Dumbledore-- even though that didn't play out at the table.

Not all my characters had happy endings. My vampire character's thirst for knowledge caused him to lose memories to acquire rituals. It never played out in game but we all knew that in the future, there would be a day in which Claude would forget all his human memories...

I guess what I am saying here with this entry after meandering a bit is just that I love games with closure. It doesn't have to be perfect Harry Potter epilogue-like closure in which everything has a bow on top. But I can feel satisfied putting that character sheet away to know my character developed into something different from where he or she started. I look at tabletopping as, yes, a medium in which you kick kobolds around and such but also as a social activity in which we share a story. And for a good story, you need that development and closure is always good.

Thanks, Ed, for sticking through to the end. I look forward to your next game when I pass the baton back to you after I finish my own game. Running a game after you is like going on stage after Sinatra. :P The fact we all had some difficulty choosing which episode we liked and some even just going for the weakest (but still pretty good) instead really says something about your abilities as a GM. :)

5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons is coming out and a friend of mine is running a campaign. I am crazy excited for it. I'll be playing a Bard. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. 4 Bards = 1 Useful Character. That formula was on the white board in the UMF TGC forever. But I can make it work! Shaera is here to entertain.

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