Question 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?
Some things that happened, at various levels of impactful to the character or player, some of them with little or no context that I may or may not expand on later.
The amazing amount of world upending twist that was applied prior to the utterance of a single word: “Before?”
A bunch of werewolves intend to murder-rampage through a small American town in search of one of their own, my Vampire character holds them off by saying: “Give us the night, and you can have the dawn.”
The end of the 1st edition AD&D scenario Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth in which Drenzla (in our version) the vampire daughter of Iggwilv, charmed my character Nilok (simpler times) and then got kidnapped. Which led to a ten year long epic campaign of search and attempted rescue, with Nilok—the Slayer—lone warrior, blighted and tormented, dead and reborn, dragging friend and foe alike to endless conflict and ruin. And they all lived happily ever after.
First sessions of Fiasco and Apocalypse World, both of which introduced me to new ways that games could be played. Featuring, in no particular order, the Judas Organism, a character called Snow, the less-favoured daughter, Goblin Throne & Skull Gazebo, “I never betrayed you”, a talking sword, a dark fate.
A bunch of soldiers, crossing the desert, encounter another apparently friendly group heading the other way. Everybody is lying, everyone is tense, no-one wants to start shooting or everybody dies. We part as wary allies. Who were those guys?
Thirty plus years of in jokes for which you had to be there.
First session of D&D I ever ran, which taught me to read the map properly because I wasn’t paying attention and described an underground cavern with a tree in it. Although to be honest, it was so cool I kept that location as is.
Walker shooting Eddie because he wouldn’t stop mind-beaming people.
Every time the players do something I’m not expecting. Every single time. Like I’ve twenty pages on the watch house and guards, and a two line throw away about that market on the edge of the city. I guess we’re going to the market…
In a very early superhero game—mid-80s I’m guessing—I had a character called Jack Cambion (part human, part demon, all dissolute playboy arcanist), who had to run up several flights of hotel stairs and down a long, long corridor to save a close friend from a bomb. He made it just in time. And then he had a heart attack. Playing out that scene was just tension ramped to unbelievable heights. And it probably helped me to the realisation that killing player characters is unnecessary if the players are fully engaged with the game world, which is something I still believe to be true.
Once upon a time there was a man called Mister Marlowe, who had a very good memory but (just in case) he made sure to write down everything in very small writing, on the walls of his secret Glasgow lair. Then one day, Marlowe (with the best of intentions) may have upset some people, or rats, let’s not tarry with specifics, and in return these people, or rats, made Marlowe lose his memory. Never fear, thought Marlowe, I’ve got it written down. Except he hadn’t, because the rats, or people, had chewed the writings off the walls. Marlowe remembers nothing. Which might be for the best, to be honest.
“There’s more to life than stainless steel and looking cool.”
A recent Lamentations of the Flame Princess game at Halloween that swept the characters (and the players), through a kaleidoscope of gaming moments from the past: old characters, old scenes in new ways, seeing how it all turned out, where it may have all gone wrong. That was several decades’ worth of game events in a neat little bundle. It definitely had an impact.