Every scene in every game I’ve run or played in has been pretty fucking awesome. But sure, I’ll humor you with a most memorable encounter, but we’ll to go way, way back to unearth one of the earliest ones.
We’re running AD&D 2nd Edition. Because we were playing in the Before Times, we were doing all the stupid things gamers did back then like passing SUPER SEKRIT NOETS to the GM or crap like telling players to leave the room because of a mistrust in the player/character knowledge divide.
Go stand in the hallway.
No fun for you until we call you back.
The party is at a ruined temple (crumbling, falling apart, loose masonry) that some bad guys had been using as a campsite. There’s a sniper with a crossbow on the roof of the temple that takes cover and is forgotten about during the grand battle that occurs. Everyone is fightin’ and killing them that needs a’killin’, except the thief, who circles around the battle’s fringes, looting the corpses of the fallen. He eventually winds up in the back of the temple, and is about to enter, when the player realizes a few things his character doesn’t, like:
- The rest of the party was in the room on the other side of the door.
- They were still in “combat mode”, ready to attack anyone that came in.
- All the bad guys inside the temple were dead.
- Inside the building, there was a tapestry covering the door he was about to come through.
So he calls out, “Don’t shoot guys! It’s just me!”
But he forgot something.
- There is a bandit on the roof of the building.
“Don’t shoot guys!”
A shadow suddenly passes over you.
“I look up.”
A gargoyle is falling right down on top of you!
“I dodge out of the way.” (picks up dice)
No. No you don’t.
The rest of the campaign, he grasped the separation between player and character knowledge.
Please, sir, may I have another this year?
Sure thing, urchin.
In that CthulhuTech/Shadowrun game, my character was an average Joe. He’s the type of guy that the neighbors would describe as seeming “like such a nice man” when the FBI starts digging up the bodies from his backyard garden. Here, let me tell you about my character: There’s an adventure for Shadowrun 2nd Edition called “Missing Blood”, where a young woman is taken in by a cult that transforms her into an alien creature — an ant queen. During the mission, the runners come across a private investigator that was to find the woman. Thing is, the P. I. was a hopeless romantic and fell in love with the girl from her videos, her voicemail, her social media. She was the gal of his dreams. Runners leave him, assault the base, find the girl horribly transformed, complete their objective, and then… they can go back to the P. I. and tell him what happened to her or leave him to continue his obsessive quest for the missing woman.
My character was based on that P. I., but in his background, he went with the runners, found the girl, and — still in love with her — managed to whip up a magical stasis to keep her unchanging, ever-hopeful that there’s a cure.1
So Daniel has her locked up in his basement. She’s been there for several years.
When this comes out, on a drive with one of the other players’ character, the other runner realized exactly what this meant. The girl’s parents, friends, relatives — they don’t know what happened to her. She’s still on the books as a missing person. Hold on a sec — if Daniel took her when she was cocooned, the girl doesn’t even know who Daniel is. He’s doing all this, claiming she’s his wife, and… Daniel has a kidnapped girl locked up in his basement and nobody knows if she’s alive, dead, or has turned into a monster.
Everyone suddenly realizes that Daniel, the most stable one of the group, is so much more fucked up than anyone else on the team.
“So,” the other runner cautiously began. “Where did you two go on your first date?”
That moment of realization — that Daniel’s “wife” doesn’t even know Daniel at all — was fantastic.
- There’s no cure. [↩]