You can discuss this fantastic article by FancyOwl at his original post here!


Right, this has been a topic on my mind for awhile. In fact this is something that has followed me around for some time and I've had a lot of experiences with IC tragedies in my rp, both self-inflicted and those that occurred through the experiences and stories of my characters. And I'm not ashamed to admit that with the years I've been doing this the amount becomes quite staggering at times heh. I also figured I'd type this up because I said I would help this lil' community however I could and I do seem to have a pension for teaching and talking, so I'm quite curious to see if that is still the case, or if I just became too old (I hope not, I'm only 24) and should go sit in a room and stare out a window as I wave my cane about.

Across the plays, stories, movies and such that civilization created there have always been elements of 2 very powerful forces in any literature or cinematic art - tragedy and comedy. Heck I'm sure we can all name several movies that have brought on feelings of amusement and sorrow on some level.

So it seems only fitting to talk about these elements in RP. I know we've all, at least, heard of that one character whose family was killed by the evil empire/man in the alley at some point. Particularly in darker worlds, or in an MMO about warriors rising up to battle evil. It's a classic and it pops up everywhere. It's certainly a way to explain why our characters don't go to any family reunions for the holidays. But how does tragedy actually affect our stories and those who interact with them? How many of us have had characters where things just went bad at one point and it had a lasting affected them?

Unfortunately I've seen many times where roleplayers will shy away from tragedy because they feel it lessens the image/idea that their character is powerful and it still makes me kinda sad a little that people don't, instead, use that to further their stories. Granted tragedy doesn't always have to be the death of one's entire clan, or their parents. Not at all! Tragedy can be small such as they lost a bet, some cash in gambling, or worse a family heirloom. Yeah good luck explaining how you lost your Great-Great-Great-Great Grandma's wedding ring in a poker game.

But yes, tragedy is a good thing for storytellers because it can segway into other things, or down any number of roads. It provides you with a platform from which to build and for others to interact with you. A major part of one of my character's story, which I will talk about here, was derived from tragedy. Throughout his existence he kept getting his arse whooped by life and he carried that darkness in his heart. A romantic relationship with another of my characters was even seeded because of heartbreak and the loss (ironically). And shockingly enough tragedy can even make your character stronger. Of course the biggest trap some also fall in is too much tragedy and nothing else. While that does happen in life and sometimes it cannot be helped in rp (been there), it is rather stifling to carry that one mood. In those cases always remember that levity can happen in our darkest moments as well and think how your character feels being that way all the time around others and seeing how it affects them and use that even for your stories. Trust me levity/comedy is the best medicine for those situations and many others, so don't be afraid to make fun of yourselves and your characters.

Now I love giving examples and reading them from others in just about everything I do. And in that spirit I'll bring you all back to Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) and my character Azeul Aureav. This guy's life was nothing, but tragedy for quite a while and every time something good came about life and the game kinda just took a steel-toed boot to his crotch. He started off as a simple smuggler that occasionally did bounty hunting and whatever else put food on the table and credits in his pocket.

Eventually he did grow from that beginning, but not before a close friend of his and father figure died because of his actions. And when he finally did settle down and put up his blaster in favor of a simpler life, he was conditioned into a brutish force of nature and he killed a lot of good people, including his wife. Plus farther down the line he ended up having to kill his only son. But redemption did finally come to him by sacrificing himself to save one of his daughters that initially wanted his head on a platter. And people thought the Skywalkers had issues. Yeesh!

But with all these gave way to many possibilities for myself and the other players involved. And it was interesting to see Azeul stumbling about in total darkness and more so to watch how he finally got out of that tunnel and made something out of those horrible experiences. And in the end he was more powerful than he was before and wiser.

Now hopefully this brought something for the rest of you - whether ideas or just a fun read. In what way has tragedy shaped your character and your rp with them? How have the tragic events of others affected your character? Did any amount of good come out from these events like redemption or just saving a loved one?

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