Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Last Ino Story

When you're running a campaign, sometimes an NPC doesn't fit into the overall plot you had. Sometimes an NPC is poorly conceived. Sometimes you give the NPC a goal that, hey, he acheives.

On the other hand, sometimes you have a player who had a memorable character, but the player had to drop out of the campaign or wanted to play something else.

What happens to those old characters?

While on the road, Usagi and Gen are haunted by a premonition of death in the form of an owl. The owl almost seems to have a keen intellict and a mocking nature that upsets Gen. It haunts them through the whole story. In some ways, the owl is a character in and of itself. The idea of superstion is highly in use here and it's a common theme for Usagi, and indeed for 'primitive' socieities that want to provide their own structure and order to the unknown.

The owl's vision of death comes true when Usagi and Gen, on a narrow ledge, are set upon by bandits with bows. Clever shots, the duo are forced ohit directly under them and climb up hoping not to fall to their deaths. The use of the environment an enemy is clear here. A few skill checks or dramatic naration would do the job.

After Usagi and Gen make quick work of the bandits, they get drenched and seek shelter from an abandoned building. When they get to the building, a character familiar to readers, but not to Usagi and Gen is there trying to kill the duo ronin. They quickly disarm her and learn that their old comrade Ino is here, injured to the point of death by the bandits, a deep arrow wound that's infected.

The duo go through several stages in helping Ino, with Gen chasing and trying to fight off the owl and its vision of death.

While Ino lives, he doesn't know why the duo saved him and the owl? It meets a gruseome end of it's own completing it's vision of death.

Giving the players some closure on an old character or a character that they know of can provide some glimpses to how the rest of the setting works when not in use by the players. At the same time, at least in this case, by not simply killing off Ino, Stan is able to go back to the character if the need ever arises. This gives him the best of both worlds.

Try to give the NPCs a good send off, even in retirement. Make it something that the players talk about after the game session.