Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet. I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month. If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31). I’ve already missed a few days, so this is a make-up blog.
This story has a lot of background to it, but I’m just going to include the essentials for the sake of time. Today, one of my players managed to pull a .5 Henderson on my campaign, completely screwing up my plans for his character and making me end the session early to figure out how to proceed.
This character is a female human (possibly half-elf just because the suggestion makes the player mad and because it fit with my story idea, though it ended up not working out as you’ll see in this blog) named Keres. Keres was a lawful neutral-tending lawful evil member of The Order of Holy Judgment, a group that essentially functioned as the judges in Judge Dredd but with magic and stuff. Then I killed her and resurrected her as an unwilling servant of the gods. Her player (a guy, just for clarification) gave me very little backstory other than that she was missing an eye and that she carried a picture of the man that cut her eye out so she could exercise revenge if she ever saw him again. The group’s previous adventure led to the world’s capitol city being captured by the BBEG and the group seeking refuge in the Elven kingdom of Mourning Winds (this is a homebrew setting). Today’s session began with the group arriving at Mourning Winds, but on the ride there they talked with an NPC. Keres asked if Varris Zosime was still governor there. I decided to go along with it and had the NPC reply yes.
Keres then said, “Yes, well, brother always was a somewhat of an unlikable person. I’m a bit surprised his been in office so long actually…” This caught me off guard, but I decided to go with it. The NPC as well as another PC shared my surprise that the governor was Keres’ brother, and Keres said “Indeed, as was my father before him.”
This did not conflict with my existing story, so I didn’t try to contradict Keres. However, I added that her brother was currently visiting their mother’s grave, adding my own aspect to the family. However, Keres one-upped me, saying that she died shortly after Keres was adopted so she didn’t know her very well. It was then that an idea clicked into my head.
An important detail to note about this homebrew world is the state of the Elves. A mysterious plague had spread through the species, leaving all but a few sterile. Therefore, the Elves passed laws requiring all fertile Elves to go to “camps” where they would be forced to breed to sustain their species.
I had a group of elves greet Keres and tell her that her father had summoned her. They said that he was sick, but not seriously so. Keres followed, as well as another PC for no apparent reason, and Keres entered her father’s house alone while the other PC almost choked to death on lozenges. Keres found her father wrinkled and decrepit, like an aged human despite being an ageless Elf. He told her that he was dying, and that he had a secret to tell her. Keres was adopted at the age of three, but what she was never told was that her adoptive parents were also her biological parents. They hid their pregnancy and delivered Keres to an orphanage as an infant then adopted her a few years later to avert suspicion. If the elves knew that they were fertile, they would have been sent to the camps, so they lied in order to be a family. Her father then said that his condition was worsening, and that it was hereditary.
I was supremely happy with the way this session was going. I provided conflict, character development, and a future challenge to overcome. Then Keres pulled half a Henderson.
“I looked into myself, a couple years ago you know. There was another girl in the orphanage that was called Keres that was about my age, there was apparently an accident that killed her a day before I was brought in. Since I didn’t have a name when they brought me they made me her changeling.” As I read that, my smile faded. My entire character arc for Keres crumbled, and before I could think of a way to repair it the players moved on. When I finally came up with a way to repair the situation, another hour had already passed, and I decided that I was above retconning.
Her father’s eyes grew wide and he said, “That makes sense, then. My condition is hereditary. If you truly were my daughter, then you would have symptoms of it already.”
I did manage to salvage the situation a little. I provided at least some future motivation by saying that her adoptive brother was affected by the hereditary disease. Her father begged her to help him find a cure, and she agreed. After managing this, I ended the session because all my plans revolved around her being sick.
And that’s how one of my players pulled half a Henderson and essentially cured cancer with words.