Name: Egan Mospru
Campaign: The Eight Arms and the Deed of Taiyun Gao
I’ve done a lot of talking about characters I liked. Let’s mix things up a little.
Egan was definitely the best character in his campaign. His competition was a barbarian who thought he was the living embodiment of the will of the god of mindless destruction; a summoner who though he was Russian despite having exactly none of the traits or culture relevant to the setting’s version of Russia; the summoner’s half-demon, half-alien, half-insect flavorless tangle of stats designed for maximum damage; and J. Jonah Jameson if he was an archer and also a bard. Egan, a fairly straightforward gnome, would have been an ordinary character in an ordinary campaign, but in this one he was a delight.
The big issue I had with Egan was his background. The campaign setting was still in flux, and I didn’t want to come down too hard on player backstory because I wanted to fill things out a bit. But Egan’s backstory was that he was one of the last survivors of a gnomish kingdom underneath the city where the first Eight Arms campaign had taken place, a kingdom that had recently lost a
land cave land war with drow. It was challenging to reconcile with the facts that gnomes already had a country, the players had already explored under the city, and nobody aboveground had ever heard of either kingdom.
This is where the really interesting stuff happened, in that Egan’s player and I talked things over and determined that this was the backstory Egan’s father had told him. That didn’t meant it was true. With that we opened up a wide array of potential stories, as we could explore what actually was where, who told what about what events, and how much was lost to time or deliberately covered up. It’s one of the few times I had to give a hard “no” to a character backstory, but it worked better when we gave it a “yes, but” instead. The “yes, but” basically invalidated it on the same level as a “no”, but whatever.
Unfortunately we never got to explore that, at least not with Egan himself. Near the end of the campaign he died, one of the few characters deaths about which I feel bad. We did manage to bring him back as a vampire, which normally is really neat. Since we were in an east-Asian pastiche, he became a hopping vampire. And hopping vampires have half the speed of their base creature. Egan became a rogue who could only move at ten feet per round via pogo stick. He didn’t deserve that.