Alright, first thing I shall say is that a good 90% of my actual serious roleplaying is through text. I began in ye olden days when I found an awesome UO shard and went nuts on it, and learned from that experience that some of the most rewarding character developments don't come from stats.
Meanwhile, in the real world, I couldn't get into a serious game if I tried- we'd invariably end up fucking around in some what that'd probably end up in the old tabletop gaming stories thread. Not to say that I don't enjoy this, because I really do, but it's pretty much just fluff.
Third, I will say that Openrpg, or at least IRC roleplaying has come almost naturally to me, due to previous experiences. That, and the fact that it's not as easy to feel silly when speaking for your often quirky character.
Of course, all this introduction is to speak of games or campaigns where you actually have some sort of emotional investment in the character. Not in the "NO! NOT BLACKLEAF!" kind of way, but rather in the way that the PC's have interpersonal relationships with eachother, where they have their own motives for things beyond the next treasure cache they find. Which, of course, paves the way for mindfuckery of the highest order with a good DM.
In UO this is something that came easily. My character made long-lasting friendships, became a respected noble, married, became famous for making a last stand on the walls of one of the cities before it fell, and quetly retired with a daughter and family. Said character was a "ranger" by profession, but in reality could barely hold up in a fight, yet it was probably one of the best characters I've ever written and played.
Of course, the experience I'm speaking of is a much different beast. Just last night in my weekly D&D game, the DM dropped a massive bomb on the group, which has left the group in a "ressurection-ship"-like state of limbo since he decided to take a two week break. When he began the campaign, he said that it would be a "Total mindfuck". I had no idea...
It began in a small tavern in Breland, per usual. Myself, a Valenar Duskblade- a repentant war-criminal turned mercenary with a concience (I'd like to thank Litejedi for pointing out that episode of the day of mourning), a gnomish cleric, a dumb-as-a-brick warforged and a Bard playing part-time prostitute.
Per usual, again, we're recruited on the spot to retrieve a small artifact back from a band of bugbears, easy enough. We retrieve it and bring it to it's destination in Starilaskur where we're hired again as bodyguards for two new PC's, a rather unhappy looking rogue, and an Artificer who's pretending to be a great archaologist. In truth, they were hired by House Orien to transport the artifact we retrieved and bring it to the mournland and use it in some sort of ritual.
After several misadventures, one of which includes our warforged losing his head, we make it to the area. But as our party realizes that we were being manipulated for some dark scheme (Gatekeepers trying to stop us was a big hint), we (Spectacularly) fail to stop the Artificer in his ritual, himself never the wiser.
When we awake, we find ourselves in Sigil. The Cleric runs off after "killing" our bard for trying to protect the artificer, whom she suspected was in on the whole thing.
Or what used to be sigil, rather. The DM said OOCly that by all accounts, this shouldn't be possible, Eberron shouldn't
be part of the same multiverse. But, as we eventually found out, things were much more fucked up than they seemed at first. The Lady has been gone for some fifty years, all of the old factions have disappeared, only to be replaced by smaller, more militaristic factions in a large urban war for what remained of the city. Death no longer functioned as it should, people would resurrect after an hour in whatever shape they were, be that mostly intact, or gods help them if they weren't (we found more than a few defiled or dismembered corpses waking up screaming to the best of their ability).
Of course, we had found out that things were this way due to one of the DM's previous campaigns, in which a few of the players were present. The most likely culprit being the T I M E P A R A D O X created by a dwarf travelling back in time to live with himself.
But, to the point, through all of this, the characters became closer, and deeper. The Artificer realized the gravity of what he had done, the possiblility, or the probability of him unleashing something
onto Eberron. The duskblade begins a very strange relationship with the bard, while the rogue, who to noone's suprise turned out to be a changeling, stews in the background. Everyone begins to come to grips with the idea that there is no easy way back home, even if there is one, and are recruited by the only faction that doesn't have an obviously dark motive.
Which is run by a doppleganger. Go figure.
We then realize that we are in the middle of what's basically a cold war between the factions. Each jockeying for a better position. Sure, we have work to do, going here, killing these, all for our faction, while we try to figure out our lot.
And then it all comes to a head. We're sent to find out why the foundry (yes, that
foundry), now in the hands of a faction lead by devils, is suddenly active after decades of silence. This, coupled with the mysterious and disturbing appearance of a Warforged being sold in an auction causes concern, and a bit of hope. The Bard investigates, and finds out that someone she despises is behind this- a Karrnathi priest. We find our way inside, only to be faced with long catwalks over a deep black pit. As luck would have it, everyone makes it across, just barely, but the bard falls into the darkness. Everyone goes nuts, but the Rogue is the only one who had the guts to tie himself to jump down after her. Eventually, we find ourselves, the bard is strangely unharmed by the fall, but we chalk that up to good luck, and continue onward, through a portal into baator, wherein we find a crapload of warforged, and our Karrnathi friend, who seems to be a vampire. A vampire with a spiked chain.
We quickly put the beatdown on, almost suprisingly so, and have the vampire in a position where he begs for his life. He offers us a way back to Ebberon, but as the bard is about to take his hand, he spontaneously combusts
. Naturally, we take this to assume that he was planning to betray us, by killing the one he hated most, but his spell backfired.
At this time, we are exhausted. The leader of our faction gives us a week's downtime. The rogue takes the opportunity to come to grips with his feelings for the bard (to be fair, this was more of a "why am I left out of the love triangle!", but it was handled very well), who seems to reciprocate the feelings.
One week later, the bomb drops. We find our leader dead in his room. Dead permanently
, as it had remained there undisturbed for days. All of the evidence in the room points to one source: the devils at the foundry. We see the soldiers of the faction gathering outside, preparing to march in one last desperate attack, whether we went with them or not.
Left with little choice, our only real ally in sigil dead, we march with them. My character takes the moment to finally get over a dark part of his past, and leads the army, giving a pre-battle oratory worthy of Tolkien, and lead the army off.
Despite my best countermeasures, we are ambushed within charging distance of the foundry, a wall of fire erected behind us, Yugloths of varying sizes streaming out of buildings before us. Trapped, we do what we can to make our men hold. The battle goes badly, outnumbered two-to-one, and flanked by what seemed to be the majority of what was one of the major neutral factions- turned to undead. But, we make the best of it, I lead a final, desperate cavalry charge, exploiting a weak centre along with the other PC's and a handfull of NPC knights. We make it to the foundry gates, only to be confronted by a warforged titan.
Unexpectedly, the titan charges into THEIR lines. We consider it a case of convenient friendly fire and try to bring the battle onto our side again. Unfortunately, it is all for nought, as the footmen are cut down by the dozens. I order a hasty retreat with whatever cavalry I can and try to regroup inside the Foundry.
And then the bomb drops.
We're confronted by a liche, flanked by a pair of Ultroloths. He orders us off our horses, and does something most unexpected. Everyone in the party, save the rogue, fail their will saves, and are paralyzed. He congratulates our bard on a job well done, and offers us a place with his faction, who are trying to elevate Geryon back into his place as lord of the fifth. The bard suddenly shapeshifts into something else, similar to her previous form, but with a fiendish stature, and the real bard is brought to us. She'd been tortured, she looked terrible.
This is a person who, upon being killed and then raised, went "I've always wanted to experience that." This is a person who never flinched even at the most horrific of sights. Now she was bloodied, scarred, and crying for help from the Duskblade. Naturally, my character was filled with an unholy rage, and the rogue had realized that for an entire week, he had fallen in love with a fake. For an entire week, we had been duped; she had been replaced during the fall, she was willed
to fall, and her copy had set all this in motion, killed the faction leader, knowing that we would follow the army here, if only for revenge. For an entire week, the real one had been tortured non-stop into accepting their ultimatum.
The rogue, on the other hand, was offered something a bit better. Apparently, the fake's feelings for him are, for lack of a better word considering we're talking about a denizen of the lower planes, as real as they can get. However, being downright pissed at being deceived so, charges the double. Doing so causes her to lose concentration, and the party is released. The Duskblade's first reflex is to run
(Swift expeditious retreat!) straight to the bard and try to carry her off, while the others run off.
Here, we are introduced to the most inconvenient Deus Ex Machina possible; Illithids. The rogue is utterly broken, emotionally. My Duskblade is cradling his near-dead love, who was just robbed of one of the things that mattered most to her (her looks). We're brought to the illithid stronghold, under "protective custody"; we're apparently too important to brain-suck straight away. And that's when it ends.
Two fucking weeks.