Wednesday, September 11, 2013

30 Day Challenge: Day 9 - Favorite character you haven't played

I GM a fair amount.  Therefore, it's probably actually quite a bit easier to pick a favorite character that I witnessed from another player than to pick one of mine.  I've had some real great ones.  I'm reminded of Eladkot, for instance--an unscrupulous, cowardly wizard who pursued knowledge best left undiscovered in my Pirates of the Mezzovian Main game--the D&D game which revamped my direction on the DARK•HERITAGE setting forever.  The characters had found an oracle, who said that her best work was done via anthropomancy.  Although this particular group of PCs weren't exactly anywhere close to heroic archetypes, even they balked at that.  But not Eladkot.  While he accepted the group's decision at the time, I got a private message from Eladkot's player between sessions, and we roleplayed out the notion of his character sneaking out that night, going to the slave market and buying the reediest, sickliest, and most importantly, cheapest halfling slave he could find, taking it to the oracle and having the slave slaughtered so the future could be read in his entrails.  (Needless to say, we didn't really roleplay out the details.)  I rolled up a number of predictions, and gave them to him via email.

When we got together for the next session, and he proudly proclaimed that he had new knowledge to help in the PCs quest, the interaction between the players was priceless.  They naturally very quickly cottoned on to what had happened.

Ricardo Murcièlago
That whole episode is actually one of a few short-list candidates for the next topic on the 30 day challenge; what's the craziest thing you've ever seen happen.  But I won't use it, since I just described it here.

Actually, that player has a history of having created a number of highly amusing characters.  I can't remember the character's name, but the tall, scrawny fella, who he described as looking like Disney's version of Ichabod Crane with a patchy, thin beard, who so related to dwarven culture that he believed he was a reincarnated dwarf who had lost his memory, was pretty darn amusing.

But no.  My favorite has got to be Ricardo and Lash.  Wait, that's two characters! you may be saying.  Well, sure.  But sometimes characters are nothing without their relation to another character.  Who is Abbott without Costello?  Who's Oscar without Felix?  Who's Moe without Larry and Curly?  Who's Tony Curtis without Jack Lemmon, or Rock Hudson without Tony Randall, or Bing Crosby without Bob Hope? (OK, those last three examples maybe don't work quite as well.)

Ricardo was a fantasy Don Juan--selfish, self-centered to a caricatured level, always more interested in whatever female company was in front of him than in anything else.  He was a male human swashbuckler (from Complete Warrior in build.)  His best friend was Lash, a fighter/rogue hobgoblin who's major frustrated goal in life was the acquisition, by hook or by crook of a ship, so he could have the piratical career he always dreamed of.  I did a little exercise prior to the start of the campaign in which all of the characters had to write very small little vignettes that put them in each other's past a bit.  Ricardo and Lash somehow quickly evolved into a long-running partnership of sorts.  They frequently hated each other and bickered like an old married couple, but in reality, they couldn't imagine life without each other.  Ricardo's distraction whenever a skirt was anywhere in sight frequently threw Lash's schemes into disaster, and Lash's preoccupation with his schemes frequently threw Ricardo's conquests into similar disaster.  The notion of these two bumbling con-men and hucksters who went through life inadvertently frustrating each other's goals, yet somehow unable to conceive of parting ways, resonated very quickly with me as the GM, both of the players of the characters, and for that matter, with the other characters in the group, who quickly allowed the two of them to ascend to a hilariously ineffective leadership role for the party overall.

You know how Jack Vance is often cited as being central to the formation of D&D?  Mostly, that's because of some superficial and obviously derivative similarities between the magic of the Dying Earth series and D&D.  In my game, however (which had no regular magic use at all, as a matter of fact) it was rather influential in the sense that Lash and Ricardo were like Cugel the Clever, a self-centered patsy who wandered from one misadventure to another, leaving disaster in his wake but not self-aware enough to realize it.  That was Lash and Ricardo to a T. 

Lash after being reincarnated as a gorilla
The wackiness of that particular game grew rapidly.  When a female demon-lord appeared in front of the characters in a harrowing, disturbing form that was emasculating to the characters--both figuratively and literally--Ricardo was unconscious.  She realized that her memory of the female human form was hazy and flawed and fixed it just in time for Ricardo to wake up, be instantly enamored of her, and swear his service to her in behalf of the entire group.  They couldn't stop him in time!  What a riot!  Ricardo nearly fainted again when the group quite angrily explained to him what he had done ("she had shark's teeth between her legs, Ricardo!")  Later, when the group had taken a number of casualties after visiting the Lost City of Naked Hotties Who Ride Dinosaurs Into Battle (otherwise known as Opar, although I don't think anyone ever asked) the demon-lord patroness reappeared to the group.  Sad to see Ricardo dead, whom she had become somewhat fond of, she reincarnated him into the body of one of the slain Naked Hotties (described as looking like a Fast Times era Phoebe Cates).  The infamous Don Juan reincarnated as a cute as a button little hottie was good for a laugh, and we got several sessions worth of amusement out of that.  Lash, on the other hand, had stormed off in anger while she was doing the magic that would reincarnate Ricardo.  Caught in the crossfire, his own consciousness was also torn from his body and reincarnated into that of a dead gorilla (long story; the Naked Hotties of the City of Naked Hotties were at war with sentient gorillas.)

Lash's player actually enjoyed being a gorilla more than being a hobgoblin, I'm sure.  After a while, both of them got their original bodies back, but I think the players were kinda reluctant about ending that chapter of their character arc.  They agreed that the joke was starting to get a little played out, but at the same time, they definitely enjoyed it while it lasted.

In an almost Seinfeld like conclusion to the campaign, the group inadvertently kicked off the apocalypse that would destroy the world they knew.  They wandered off blissfully unconcerned, whistling casually so nobody would think that it was their fault (metaphorically, not literally) and too self-centered to believe that the apocalapse would actually affect them personally.  After all, they were above such things.

We later tried to revive the characters for another campaign (in another setting, actually.)  Although it went reasonably well for a time, and we had some great moments, lightning couldn't strike the same place twice, and it wasn't quite the same.  Personal matters started to interfere and the participation of the players became a bit inconsistent... eventually, the campaign withered away with a whimper.  But the memory of the first great Ricardo and Lash campaign (no disrespect intended to the other PCs in the group, several of whom had some great moments of their own which may make the cut for the next post yet) is something that I'll have with me forever.

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