I don't care to go into details - there are a lot of them and I could rattle on for a few thousand words trying to get the reader up to speed, but that would accomplish very little since the emotion of playing would be lost.
These are players who began in my world in late 2005. They are running the same characters they began at first level. They have crawled their way through a very difficult, sparse experience system that has enabled them to where they are now hovering around 275K in experience. Today they shrug off blows of 20, 30 damage, but they remember when it took only a few little hits to put them on the edge of death. They remember when the druid Pikel, now with 91 hit points, always needed saving. They remember when the mage Garalzapan would enter combat and go down with one hit. They remember when it took an 18 to hit something, when they would miss and miss before getting knocked unconscious.
Their characters are a mass of memories. Memories of dozens of humiliating combats, of staggering through cold weather after a near escape, of collapsing and literally dying of pneumonia, of begging for help from people much stronger than they were . . . and now they are those people, doing the work themselves and needing help from no one.
These are characters that have been painstakingly crafted, infused with purpose, struggling with the unknown, searching and puzzling out the things going on with the world and steadily getting a handle on what's happening.
Last night, I made a series of reveals to the party in the form of an NPC the party has been trying to find for an actual year of gaming. I revealed information I conceived of in 2007 that I have never, ever told anyone. Other things that I have keeping to myself for three and four years. Secrets locked inside my head to explain why THIS GUY has hiding and what THIS THING is actually for. Secrets telling WHO they're up against and why they've already MESSED UP where it comes to killing him. Secrets that made the party laugh and shout at the absurdity, curse, pound the table in excitement and finally applaud.
Maybe in other worlds there a people who do not experience the transforming lives of their characters, their creations - for I consider these characters to be works of living art that the players are building through years of play. It does not matter that the player may be the only person to truly enjoy the character to its full degree or that knowledge of the character does not reach out beyond the party. These works of art are real to them, adored and LOVED.
The reader doesn't understand this? Has the reader ever made anything? Does the reader have a novel that they've tried to write, that they still have in a folder somewhere? Does the reader have a thing they made for their father or mother? Does the reader even remotely understand sentimentality?
Now suppose I break into your house and the only thing I do is burn that thing. It's worthless, right? It's stupid that you still keep it, right? I mean, anyone who would love a silly thing that isn't valuble to anyone else, that person must be pretty fucked up, eh?
Yeah. It does matter, doesn't it? Even if no one else cares, YOU care. You love that damn thing, even if you get a little embarrassed at the idea of showing anyone else.
But some people . . . fuck, some people.
I got this comment earlier today to a silly joke I posted about player-vs-player:
"Something that puzzles me about this blog is the intense dislike of PvP you seem to have, not just as a poor gameplay mechanic, but to the point of animosity towards players who enjoy it. It just doesn't match the vast majority of my experience playing and running, or what I've heard on other blogs and message boards . . . In the course of standard campaigns, PvP has been a very rare occurrence and hasn't seemed to ruin the game for anyone."
There's more, asking me why I have such a bug up my ass about this. The reader says he's confused; he doesn't want to start an argument.
Well, it punched my button. And methodically I set out to rip the guy a new asshole. Because his innocence was almost worse than his ignorance.
Yeah. What's the big deal? So what if I destroy something that belongs to someone else? How is that wrong?
I know what the 'vast majority' is thinking. You're not that invested in your characters. You don't care that much. When you kill the character of another player, they don't seem to care very much either.
Does this not express how pathetically sad these worlds must be? And how vacuous? These are participants that are so far down the evolutionary trail they can't muster the least sentimentality about something they've made. How can these people have any fun if they are so dead inside they can't . . . feel something about their characters?
Worse, they can't understand how someone else can have feelings. If someone at my table raised a sword against one of my characters, believe me, the battle wouldn't be carried out with dice. I wouldn't have to intervene. My players would rise as a body and toss that fucker out the door.
Believe me, if that isn't the game you're running, you should WISH you were. If your game doesn't work like this, and you still think that yours is a good game . . .?
You wouldn't recognize a good game if it kicked your reproductive junk through your windpipe.