Writing is hard

by David Meadows 15. March 2020 01:42

Today's game was emotionally hard for me to run. When I plotted the current storyline some months ago, I knew I had to play out one scene that, well, every time I rehearsed the dialogue to myself I just broke down.

I'm not sure if people who don't play RPGs realise how attached you can get to a character.

One of the very first characters I created for the original Strikeforce game was Astra. Originally a villain, then as I developed her background I realised she worked better as a hero, and eventually she joined Strikeforce and grew into a better person than I ever could have planned for. Grew from a timid and unsure teenage girl coerced into crime, into a strong, confident, and capable woman.

Maybe it sounds stupid to talk like this about a fictional character--particularly one that I had created myself--but I was so proud of her. And I guess I loved her, as much as you can love a fictional character.

The current phase of the game is set in 1975, it's a prequel story set 12 years before the original Strikeforce story. 

So the current crop of player-run heroes are gathered at Wang's shop in San Francisco's Chinatown, in 1975, to discuss their plan to take down the local crime boss (which is the main plot of the current game). The characters don't know Wang, even though the players do. Wang is a minor character in the Strikeforce story, and I hope the players think that I've introduced the younger version of him here to tell his background story as an "easter egg" for the players, irrelevant to the actual plot. But I'm not telling Wang's story. I'm telling Astra's.

Wang sells cheap souvenirs to American tourists. There are three of them in the shop right now, a young couple and their four-year-old daughter. While the player-characters watch (but don't intervene, because it's nothing to do with their plot, it's just a side scene I'm playing out for the players' benefit), the girl asks her father to buy her a colourful paper lantern for $5. Her father tells her it's over-priced rubbish and refuses. The girl is upset.

And then Wang, who I've spent the last couple of weeks establishing as a short-tempered, self-absorbed, money-grabbing con-man, inexplicably kneels down and hands the girl a lantern. And says--

--and this is the dialogue that kills me, and you won't understand it unless you know the history of Strikeforce, and Wang, and especially Astra, and I think I hold it together so my friends don't notice, I *think* I say it without my voice cracking--

"For you, little girl, it will never cost five dollars."

And Astra leaves the shop with her parents, and minutes later there's huge smashing noise outside, and the heroes rush out to find both parents dead in a car crash.

I've just orphaned my favourite character.

Because that's already part of her history, it was established when I first introduced her all those years ago. But knowing it has happened is different to describing it happening.

It's so different.

It's so hard.

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Comments (1) -

David United Kingdom
3/15/2020 2:08:28 AM #

For background, Astra has appeared in several chapters of the Strikeforce story published so far, but the scene in the middle of this chapter is probably most pertinent:

http://dmheroes.co.uk/strikeforce/sf-21.pdf

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About this blog

The Heroes Universe is an ongoing work of fiction, conceived and chiefly plotted by David Meadows, with help from a group of friends, over a 30-year period.

I am slowly documenting the Universe on this web site.

This blog is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of that history.

If you're new here, the series of posts listed below will explain what it's all about. I hope...

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