Thursday, March 19, 2015

The characters who become a part of you

Every gamer has their favorite characters--the ones we tell war stories about for years, even decades, after we stop playing them. We invest a great deal of thought and emotion into creating and playing these beloved characters, and we take pride and joy in what we accomplish with them. It's only natural for them to stick around in our heads like old friends.

In some cases, we may even end up with part of those alternate personae hardwired into our own psyches. I associate many pieces of music with certain characters, in some cases because the lyrics resonate with the hero's story, or because I used the song to get into his or her head space before game. Whenever I hear one of those works being played, I relive part of that character's history.

One of my past characters is particularly notorious for waking up and talking to me when these mental associations get triggered. Patricia "Trick" Tillinghast was one of my two primary characters in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer series that I played in from 2005 to 2009--and later returned to in a play-by-post continuation of the game from 2012-2014. She was a skilled drummer, so while I was playing her, I trained my ear to pay closer attention to the drum line of any music I listened to. This habit became permanently ingrained, and still influences my tastes in music. Now, whenever I hear a really cool piece of percussion, my brain always chimes in with thoughts like, "Wow, Trick would love this!" or "I can see her learning to play that."

Now add that to the songs that remind me of her personality and her in-game history--Meredith Brooks's "Bitch" was her personal anthem for most of her career, and I still can't hear a P!nk song without being reminded of Trick's angst-ridden love life--and I end up with a very noisy, opinionated, old friend who pops in for a chat on a regular basis.

At this point, it seems highly unlikely that I'll ever get to play her again and be able to channel some of that head-noise into any form of game. She would certainly lose too much of her identity if I took her out of the context of that Buffy game to play her elsewhere (for one thing, she finally got to become a Slayer near the end). Which is too bad, because despite all the spectacular messes she made and the frequent headaches she gave both me and the GMs, she may very well be the character I've had the most fun playing in all my 30+ years of experience with RPGs.


  1. I totally understand what you are talking about!
    I have had similar internal realizations.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Timothy! I hope you enjoy the other columns here, too.