On the heels of the previous posts, another bit of our long-running game. Not a play report or monster stat blocks this time, but a way out of a tricky situation.
The Patient One was defeated, and not everyone was left standing. Dead were two of the three characters who’ve been present since the start of the campaign, in fact. It would have been a fitting end, giving their lives to defeat the ancient evil against which they’ve struggled throughout their adventuring careers , players agreed, but the campaign wasn’t yet over! At the same time, having the PCs throw money at the problem and simply cast Raise Dead wasn’t much of an option either. And, having discussed this with the players for some time, it was clear that they weren’t interested in playing any of the existing NPCs. To them, the story of the game has always been about the story of their three characters. How do we acknowledge the sacrifice of the characters, yet enable the players to continue playing them? We don’t. Not quite, anyway. Here’s what I came up with.
Their mortal bodies were destroyed, and their souls have gone on to their just reward in the divine dominion of their patron goddess. But! Faithful servants of the gods can still serve them – as angels. Outsiders, in 3ed’s terminology. They could still come back and continue their work. There was only the minor matter of shedding the remains of their mortality. And both of them were already technically immortal, transformed by their Epic Destinies. So this fundamental transformation would be mostly about acknowledging what was already happening to them, and bringing it out in the light. I presented them with a list of choices, each printed on a small piece of paper:
- Your voice. Clear and strong, like a clarion call.
- Your face. Marble perfection, pure and lifeless.
- Your taste. Goddess is your sustenance.
- Your flesh, your blood, your bones. Light is your flesh, faith is your blood, will is your bones.
- Your sex. Free of distractions.
- Your childhood memories. What came before matters not.
- Your doubt. You know Her will.
- Your sleep. Duty is eternal.
- Your …(write your sacrifice).
Things to lose. Mortality to burn away. And burn it did – having picked 3 each, they’ve been given a cup and matches. Theatrics never hurt. Mortal qualities turning to ashes gives the process finality. The proceedings would have been much more somber had one of the players ever lit up a camp fire before, but I digress.
Many of these options are actually small boons, though mostly of roleplaying variety. They are also of varying severity, letting the players pick whatever changes they’re comfortable with. Even so, there was a lot of hand wringing and lip biting. Which to me was the greatest indication of success. These characters may have been there from the start, but they’re no longer the same. They’ve been fundamentally changed by their experiences. And isn’t that what roleplaying is about?