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A long, strange trip....




     What can I say, now that it's nearly over, other than that this wasn't how I expected things to be? I hadn't played in a lengthy campaign since the summer of 1994, and even that was only a summer's worth of Spelljamming across the universe with a too-large gang of college friends. This promised from the start to be different, if only because I'd never read comics and didn't really have any idea of how things might work in a superheroic universe. Hence, Sasha.
    Among other things, this campaign has been a exquisite lesson in the cooperative nature of role-playing; the fact is that, whatever plans one might have, whatever one might think one knows about how things work, even for one's own character, it can all be changed at the actions of the other players, let alone the GM. The story which follows is one character's odyssey, and how some of those changes came about.
    She was a fish out of water from the beginning, and that was quite deliberate. Because I as a player was somewhat ignorant of the way the universe might work, I constructed a character who incorporated that; she had discovered her powers at the late age of 32, had a previously well-established career, and was in no way part of what might be called heroic culture, although she was possessed of a strong sense of duty.
    During the course of character creation I rolled relatively poorly on powers, and felt constrained to keep the weakness: Social Handicap. I was initially baffled as to what would fill this space, but eventually decided that a striking resemblance to a known villain would do the job. Brian thought about it for a moment and said, "I can work with that,"® and we went on with the game.
    For the first couple of months, nothing happened that seemed to have anything to do with the weakness I had chosen for her. I occasionally wondered if it was ever going to show up, but didn't spend much thought on it. Then the bottom dropped out of her life with the shocking revelation (for both her and me) that she was in fact that villain's clone, that there were other clones out there, and she was part of some sinister plot she had never imagined existed, due to the fact that her memories had been tampered with. Oh, and her entire life previous? Never happened.
    I could hardly complain; it all fit perfectly, and suddenly I had a very interesting subplot all my own to deal with, one which eventually worked to tie much of the campaign together into a cohesive whole. So that was my first experience of how the GM can change one's plans. Shortly thereafter, I experienced how other players can do the same.
    Sasha was, quite naturally, shaken by finding out all these things about herself, and even more so by the things which remained stubbornly secret. I had at that point privately planned that she would probably take some time away from the team, maybe just a couple of weeks, and get her head back together somewhat. Dave preempted me, however, by decided to briefly retire the overly aggressive Phoenix Talon in favor of a new character; my duty-abiding heroine could hardly leave Boston with just one protector, so she shelved her own plans and stuck around.
    Then two months passed, somewhat inexplicably. I never asked Brian about the gap; I suppose I should have, but instead just figured out a way to work around it. If two months had passed and, as it appeared, nothing much had happened on any front, there had to be a good reason for it. I decided to do more than I had originally planned to with Sasha's emotional state. Rather than recovering herself fairly quickly, she had spent those two months in a state of depression, avoided her own problems rather than trying to face them, and generally done all she could to distract herself-not hard, given that for two months the team had only two members. She became even more withdrawn than usual, paranoid and ultimately without hope for her future.
    This laid the groundwork for all sorts of interpersonal problems between her and another character and some of the regular NPCs, and also for the character's future development. It more or less solidified the way she was going to interact with her past and her creators going forward as circumstances forced her to confont them and her own feelings. All good stuff, in retrospect, but again, totally unplanned.
    Starlight has traveled a long way since we began this campaign, and so have all of us. While I never thought it would end up this way, I can't say I regret a single moment of it, and I'm already looking forward to picking up her character sheet again next year when we swing into Part II.
    What, you thought this was over, or something?
    Enough of this, on with the story.


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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson