Reverb Gamers 2012, #20

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REVERB GAMERS 2012, #20: What was the most memorable character death you’ve ever experienced? What makes it stick with you? (Courtesy of Atlas Games. Visit us them

Since I usually play in very story/character-driven games, there aren’t a whole lot of deaths and when characters do die it’s always dramatically appropriate, and therefore memorable, but I’ll stick to the one that’s freshest in my mind. At GenCon last year, Leighton Connor and Josh Burnett came up with the idea of running a huge crossover game that tied in elements from all (or at least most) of the various game settings Hex had published or was working on. Several months later, we managed to get most of the crew together at Leighton’s house in Cincinnati, where we basically played and entire campaign (with Josh, Leighton, and myself as GMs) over the course of a single weekend.

The basic premise was that Stardust the Super Wizard (a public domain character that appeared in Leopard Women of Venus) had decided to destroy all of creation. To keep this from happening, heroes from different realities were being recruited (by Jesus, who traveled the songlines between dimensions (a concept from Hobomancer) on the Platonic ideal of a train) to collect powerful artifacts (Stagger Lee’s Hat, The Blade O’ O’ The Blade from Qerth, etc.) in order to defeat Stardust. One of the characters, played by Josh, was a Laser Pony (whose name is right on the tip of my tongue), who of course stood out even in a group that included Sindbad, a cyborg mercenary, a hobomancer, a half-jinn member for Edison Force, an occult detective, a sword and sorcery warrior, a leopard woman, and others.

Near the end of the game, the train engine broke down due to damage it had sustained from demon attacks while it was parked in Hell*. We still had to get to 24th Century Venus in order to stop Stardust, and the group eventually figured out a way to power the train that involved the pony running on a treadmill and firing her laser into the power source (or something–for details you’d have to ask Doc Science!**). The exertion, of course, killed her right as we got to Venus, but she died so that her friends could save the world.

With the possible of exception of the battle against the Chasm Queen’s Demons at the beginning of the game, the pony character had largely been played for laughs, with her child-like innocence contrasting against the other, more worldly characters. Also, Josh’s high-pitched pony voice made everything the character said kind of funny. The death scene, however, was played entirely straight (though with Josh still using the pony voice). The juxtaposition of a magical cartoon pony showing grim determination to do what had to be done and ultimately sacrificing herself for the group was a mixture of funny, perfectly dramatically appropriate, and somehow strangely poignant, which combined to make it very, very memorable.

*The Hell section of the game included one of my favorite scenes: Johnny Cash, Demon Hunter speeding through Hell behind the wheel of the Bluesmobile (which had Gabriel’s trumpet wired into the horn and Geronimo’s skull as a hood ornament) in order to confront Stagger Lee to the crossroads and steal his hat.

**His legal name.


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