Friday, September 7, 2012

When a Player Gets it Right

Not surprisingly, I run a few Shaintar campaigns. One of those campaigns - possibly the most popular one I run - is entitled "Days of Crimson and Fire," and it's based on the mercenary company, Harrigan's Heroes, that is based out of the scrappy little Wildlands barony of Drenmar.

(By the way, my apologies for the site being somewhat out of date. I have been a bit busy lately...)

I love my players. Each and every one of them brings something very special to the table, and their commitment to enhancing the shared story means a great deal to me.

I don't think any one of them would fault me, however, for pointing out the rather exceptional contributions of one Susan Knowles. She's an incredibly talented artist and gifted creator (you should really check out the webcomics she's doing, including the one she does with her husband, Lee).

"Sooz" is one of those players who fully immerses herself into a world. She commits fully to the greater story being told, yet she does all she can to empower me as a GM to more completely integrate her character's personal story into the greater whole. She doesn't just toss some ideas out and hope I pick them up and do something with them; she goes to great lengths to develop her ideas and present them in a fleshed-out manner, giving me plenty to go on as I plan to involve those ideas into the campaign.

I'm not saying everyone has to go to such efforts to get me to make an effort on their behalf; most folks don't have the time to do that much "homework" between game sessions. I understand that, and I greatly appreciate whenever a player makes any effort at all, and I greatly appreciate whatever they can do.

However, that doesn't stop me from showing off Sooz's efforts as exemplary and the kind of thing to aspire to as a player. The following is material she recently sent me about the main villain of her character's back story. It bears pointing out that Obdulia is blind, and it's Finian's doing. Changbet once worked with Finian, and now serves as Obdulia's guardian and guide in penance for his past.

Here's a great picture of Obdulia and Changbet -

And here's the latest from Susan about Finian - 

It's been over a decade since Finian Freeman escaped the justice of Contessa la Caracola.  The interruption of his ritual and the disruption of his island kingdom upset him greatly, but not as much as the betrayal by Changbet and the loss of his subjects.  Swearing revenge, he recovered what followers he could and vanished again into the vast sea to quietly gather power and knowledge.  No longer trusting of the settled life, he made his group nomadic, eventually capturing a ship as their base.  In addition to more followers, he sought out other places with temples like the one from his former home, looking for ways to increase his own power.

Since then, he's amassed a decent-sized cult, made up chiefly of former galley slaves from ships he and his followers raided.  Known as the Freed Men, they make their living from piracy, robbery, and similar activities, mainly targeted at the more unsavory groups like the Red Store.  While he takes pains to keep his subjects together and maintain his delusion of heroism, Finian has been working to find and punish the man who led to his original downfall, and is moving inland, having gotten word that he's been spotted near Erimar.

Human, former Freelander, 30-ish

- Finian was enslaved as a youth.  He was a victim of many, many jokes about being a Freelander slave, leading to a sort of bloody-minded pride about his heritage.  His memories of his homeland are scanty, but he tries his hardest to be a True Freelander in appearance.

- He's very attractive and extremely charismatic, as well as being a charming and witty person, and he knows it.  He can spin bullshit into gold and keep the illusion up for years.

- He believes himself destined to be a great saviour and leader, and conducts himself with regal poise.  He identifies with the fable of the commoner king, raised in poverty but elevated by his deeds and followers to nobility.

- His views are very polarized: since he's the hero in his mind, anyone against him is a villain. In addition, his self image can't take the blame for any problems or bad decisions; everything is always someone else's fault.

- In contrast to his delusions, his feelings toward people are possessive and controlling, not loving.  He cannot recognize this, and believes that he's just so much wiser than they are that he knows what's best for them.  He thinks nothing of guilt trips or assigning unhealthy tests of loyalty, and will mete out severe punishments toward those who disobey.  The worst betrayers are hunted down and zombied; that way, they can never leave him again.

- Along with his hoarding of people, he hoards treasures, and is obsessed with amassing wealth and status symbols.

I'd like very much to have him a recurring villain and/or big boss; while his chief objective is Changbet, he is likely to disrupt trade and cause other troubles.  Plus, y'know, Darkness.  Possibly he could cause some trouble surrounding the Big Wedding? :D

Please LMK if I need to offer any further detail or anything.  I'm also working on a picture, which I'll send once I'm done.

She finished the picture, by the way -

So, yeah.

Way to go, Sooz!


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