Sunday, August 6, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: Day 7

7th) What was your most impactful RPG session?

I'm not entirely sure what the folks at RPG Brigade mean by "impactful" here, so I'm going to interpret that very loosely as "What RPG session had the most dramatic effect on you or your character?"

The first answer that comes to mind actually involves two of the innumerable online role-playing threads that my Buffy/Angel group did between regular tabletop sessions. (This is the same campaign that I mentioned on Day 1.)

The original campaign spawned a spinoff series, in which I played Patricia "Trick" Tillinghast, the younger cousin of my hero from the main series. Trick was a normal human who found out that her new best friend was a Slayer. She promptly put her skills as a fencer to help Candace train and hunt demons. Years of dedication to her sport made Trick roughly Candace's equal with a sword, but she lacked a Slayer's strength and stamina. This frustrated her to no end, so when she was given an opportunity to become a Maenad, a champion of the god Dionysus, she jumped at the chance without hesitation. At first, she was thrilled with her new abilities, and even agreed to a further initiation for additional tantric powers. However, Trick was always a bit of a wild child, and becoming a Maenad exacerbated those flaws of character--and worse, she used her new status as an excuse for her own bad behavior. As a result, her relationships with her friends and family suffered--and when she realized just how much of a narcissistic bastard Dionysus really was, that relationship quickly went south, too.

Dionysus wasn't the only god who had interests in Shadowgard, and wasn't even the first one Trick met. The Raven Totem, who went by the name Jonathan Poe in his guise as a local nightclub owner, had been introduced early on as a trickster ally to the local heroes. He and Trick appreciated each other's quirky senses of humor, so had hit it off well from the start. In fact, Poe would have likely chosen her as his champion in Shadowgard if he hadn't already empowered one of the other series' heroes before meeting her. And by the time that Totem Warrior died in battle, creating a vacancy, Trick had entered Dionysus's service. Still, they remained good friends--and that relationship was one of the few that Trick didn't wreck as her life got more and more miserable.

Now we get to the episodes that had the most impact on Trick's career.

As a trickster god, Poe had some limited power to change reality temporarily--for the space of a single day--which he occasionally used as a prank that taught the recipient a lesson. (Body swaps and sex changes were some of his favorites.) He took pity on Trick's predicament, and tried to change reality so that he had actually claimed her as champion before Dionysus could. This stunt backfired dramatically--Trick ended up as a bisexual male champion of Puck (another trickster she had encountered in the past, and was on decent terms with). Trick immediately tracked down Poe at his club to demand an explanation, then after he gave it, she really let him have a piece of her mind. However, Poe couldn't undo the change without Puck's assent, so Trick had to negotiate with the fairy to release her. She had discovered during her tantrum at Poe that his regard for her had left him very sensitive to her moods, to the point of this whole fiasco (and her reaction to it) leaving him with a galloping migraine. Trick managed to quite politely and cleverly persuade Puck that he didn't really want to have her mad at him, too, and the spell was undone: She was a Maenad again.

Trick's success at extricating herself from that mess gave her the confidence to confront Dionysus and tell him that she was through being his champion. The god replied, with infuriating smugness, that she had no choice in the matter--she's drunk his wine, so she was a Maenad. Trick snapped, drew the sword that Dionysus had given her when she became his champion a year before, and lunged for him--she preferred to die, if need be, rather than serve him any longer.  Dionysus simply vanished and reappeared a short distance away, but her sheer audacity in attacking him had impressed him--it reminded him of the old fighting spirit that had drawn him to her in the first place. He relented, giving her a choice in order to be rid of her Maenad's blood--either drink his wine again to burn it away, or bleed it away with a knife. For Trick, the wine embodied her of all her bad choices over the past year. Besides, she was a warrior at heart, so she chose the blade. She had intended to make a shallow cut, but the wound bled far more profusely than she expected, and she soon passed out. When she came to, the god was gone; she was alone in the woods, and dangerously weak from blood loss. She was also deliriously happy to no longer answer to a god. When some of the local demons stumbled across her in this state, she actually started laughing uncontrollably. (Fortunately, another local spirit ally chased them off and got her safely out of the woods.)

Trick would soon find out that she wasn't completely free of all the effects of her time as a Maenad. Being connected to the mystical world always leaves a mark, and she started having psychic visions. Because she was merely human now, they took a physical toll on her. (Compare Cordelia after she received Doyle's parting gift on Angel.) But how Trick dealt with that new problem is another story...

Trick Tillinghast, by Tim Emrick (2006)

1 comment:

  1. If the game--and Trick--had survived this long, today (8/8/2017) would be her 29th birthday. I had "cast" her as Eva Amurri, so she'd look something like this today. (The linked photo is from Eva's blog, Happily Eva After.)