1. Serenade of Thorns (Masks, a New Generation, by Brendan Conway), the Weapon (playbook by Ennis R. Bashe), later the Transformed. Played for 23 sessions.
The Serenade of Thorns was a runaway from the Dreaming Heaven Choir, a strange cult who had given them the Serenade Implant – an alien device that would intertwine with their body – as an infant and used them as a violent tool. When I first played them, they were shy, unsure about themselves and their role in the world, and had a hard time connecting with others. That changed, and by the end, they were a moral compass, had made a lot of friends and some enemies, and started integrating fully with their Implant.
Serenade of Thorns was honest, and a badass, and afraid to hurt those they cared about, and I loved playing them completely. Just the right mix of teenage insecurities, guilt-ridden warrior and culturally puzzled outsider!
(I even wrote a backstory fan-fiction for them.)
2. Tiger-Eye (Hearts of Wulin, by Lowell Francis), the Rebel Outlaw. Played for 10 sessions.
Tiger-Eye was a rebel leader in a Water-Margin-inspired setting. At the beginning, he had to avenge his father and bring down the cruel Custodian Tian, later he had to confront the evil Emperor himself.
When I started playing Tiger-Eye, he was driven by honor and duty – so much so that he even sacrificed a woman he once loved to achieve his revenge. But after a series of grave and dramatic misunderstandings, he found love with an old friend and even understood that sometimes he had to stand back and let her take the spotlight.
Tiger-Eye was dramatic and driven and an occasional wise-ass, and it was absolutely great to go from broody Robin Hood to devoted lover.
3. Pasithea (Once Again, We Return, Patrick Knowles’ hack of Monsterhearts by Avery Alder), the Bedlam (playbook by Sawyer Rankin); inspired by the ‘The Wicked and The Divine’ comics by Kieron Gillen. Played for 5 sessions.
Pasithea was the Grace of Hallucinations and Altered Perceptions, and she was called into the body of Carvalin Davos by Luna for the Eternal’s own purposes. Together with the others who were called, Pasithea helped bring down the forces of the Sun and Moon and free Gaia from her oppressive parents. Mostly, though, she wanted to take drugs, have a good time, for her friends to be happy, and forget about painful reality completely. In the end, she let go of herself and turned into a hundred thousand butterflies.
Pasi was sweet, and so very sad, but she never wanted her friends to see the sadness. And they didn’t, but they found happiness for themselves, and that was enough for Pasi in the end. Still makes me tear up, that one.
Iamon was a grim and silent Monster Hunter in early medieval Britain who got involved with politics and various monsters in the town of Synhamm. Initially little more than a vagabond, he became a trusted (if not overly well-paid) adviser to Eorl Wicluf, and in the end, married a princess in exile.
It was fun playing this simple monster hunter who became more and more involved in politics, and – while not really ambitious – was proud enough to claim a place for himself. Even if he usually was a bit overwhelmed by his own success.
5. Sam Riles / Ursûl (DIE by Kieron Gillen), the Rage Knight. Played for 3 sessions (or one very long session)
Sam was a bossy little black girl who was talked into playing D&D when she came down with chicken pox at summer camp. Later, Sam became a passionate environmentalist, driven by the cause, never putting down roots. When Sam reconnected with the former summer camp kids, one of those kids made the whole group come physically into the Hollow World – that’s when Sam became Ursûl, the Rage Knight. Ursûl was not happy about being manipulated by the Master, and he didn’t let anything get into his way. When Sam / Ursûl and the others confronted the Master, they all decided (more or less willingly) to go back to the real world. There, Sam finally understood that he was transgender, and – in the epilogue – was shown to have started transitioning.
This was a very personal character – Sam’s rage really spoke to me, and Sam’s realization about his gender did as well (I’m not transgender, but I’m not a girl either). Also, the whole game was densely dramatic, and the stakes felt very real.
James was a widower and a practitioner of magic – not very much favored by his father because he tended to be very playful and whimsical with his spells, unlike his sister, the stalwart and serious Lydia. During the game, Lydia and James met her illegitimate child by a fairy prince, a capricious but helpful artist and various fairies, witches and cats.
The magic of this game was a lot of fun, and finding ways for James to both excel at his spells but be too unconventional with them was great fun. Also, I just love good-natured, bumbling uncles who find the strength to accept their own eccentricities, and that’s what James was.
7. Utri Dov’Sei (Star Riders, a hack of Michael J. Barford’s Stormriders, by Richard Rogers), a Jedi. Played for 2 sessions.
Utri was a Bothan, a cat-like sentient with pale golden fur and a cat’s attitude. She was known for her snarky comments more than for her Jedi wisdom; but Star Riders was a kid’s cartoon series, so snarky comments, many naps, and occasional speeches about friendship were exactly what you could expect.
Playing this funny cat Jedi was a blast, and I liked Utri’s whimsical peculiarities quite a lot. (So much, in fact, that I roped her into some Star Wars fanfic I wrote.)
8. Grask Tarvo (Witch Squadron, a hack of Jason Morningstar’s Night Witches, by Richard Rogers), a Sparrow misanthrope. Played for 3 sessions.
Grask Tarvo was a Weequay pilot with the Alliance to Restore the Republic – because he was not human, he had to serve with all the other aliens in a special Squadron who usually were the last to get any stuff, let alone good stuff. Grask mostly tried to make the best of things, wheeling and dealing more or less successfully, but later developed some attachment to his team mates.
I didn’t think I would like playing a misanthrope so much, but I had a lot of fun growsing and complaining about things. Also, slowly going from someone who is just out for himself to someone who actually cares about others was very cool.
9. Irjan Karjensen (Taverns of Aventuria, a hack of Simon Washbourne’s Barbarians of Lemuria, by Simon ‘korknadel’), a Rogue. Played for 1 session.
Irjan was a scoundrel, and together with his friend Robart, he had appropriated a tavern! Of course, the first guest involved him and Robart in a strange adventure that led to a luxury yacht, a sad captured merman (who Irjan promptly fell in love with) and the underwater domain of the marking. In the end, he helped to save a city, more by accident than by design.
Another rogue with a heart of gold! Irjan had a really fun dynamic with his best friend Robart; and the whole adventure felt like it had come from the good old times that never happened back them, but was happening here.
Falling Blaze had an amazing arc from being a young and unimportant princess who secretly dreamed of falling in love with a pirate queen to becoming the actual Empress and leader of the people.
I think she’s still dreaming of running away with a pirate queen.
11. Miru / Sunbeam (Masks, a New Generation, by Brendan Conway), the Outsider
Miru was a friendly alien of the Eska people (inspired by C. Valente’s Space Opera) who wanted to see of humans were nice at all. He met some nice ones, some not-so-nice ones, fell in love with a blue-haired boy and saved the misunderstood villain – the Anti-Sentai-Squid, leader of the Anti-Sentai-Squad – from planet Earth.
I might bring him back yet, he was so nice and sweet!
12. Lord Cedric Griffin, the Justice Phantom (Sense, Sensibility and Swordsmanship, a variant of Good Society, by Vee Hendro and Hayley Gordon), a Bounty Hunter careerist. Played for 4 sessions.
Rooftop shenanigans, mistaken identities, murder, revenge, a misguided sister, a villainous mother … and love with the Lancashire Lover at last! Cedric mostly didn’t really know what was going on, and who was doing what with whom, but he stubbornly stayed his course and tried to protect the people of London!
…. I don’t think he ever hunted a bounty, though.
Honorary mentions: CG-5713, “Quake” was my favorite character last year. I got to play him again this year, re-imagined as a Hard Case in a Bounty of the Week game (a hack of Michael Sands’ Monster of the Week by Richard Rogers), for two sessions. He nearly gave up his live to fight a Dark Force user, but was convinced to at least try and stay alive by a friend. I still like this gruff, sarcastic guy with the dark past he’s still trying to grow beyond.