The Seven-Sided Die

Grief, or The Rag Man

Posted Tuesday October 21, 2008 at 03:57 AM

It has been so rare in the past that I've been a player and not the GM that I sometimes have a hard time coming up with characters concepts that I'd enjoy playing for an extended time, rather than the one-off or occasionally-recurring characters that a GM usually needs to make. So, that's the only reason this idea is notable at all, and I wanted to write it down somewhere so that it wouldn't pass into my mental ether before I ever get a chance to use it.

A while ago I read with interest Jim Henley's Actual Play of a game with his kids set in the DC Animated Universe, which planted the seed. Greywulf has been on a huge Supers kick for the past while, throwing up fully-statted and CG-illustrated characters at an impressive rate. He got me interested enough in Mutants and Masterminds to read this great review of M&M 2nd Edition at RPGnet by Jacob X that sold me on the entire genre. (I've never been a Supers fan, but I like what I read there.)

So today Grief jumped into my brain and made the final connection between thinking about Supers roleplaying and actually wanting to play.

Grief is a tragic hero, maybe an anti-hero. His power is to make anyone relive their moment of greatest grief and pain magnified a hundredfold. It disables his opponents, stopping guards and thugs in their tracks, and (so he thinks) justly punishes criminals with the vulnerability that they exploit in others. The catch is that he experiences whatever memory he induces, too. He's become somewhat inured to it and isn't disabled by it anymore, but at what cost to his humanity?

Obviously that concept would work best in a noir or Punisher-style game where tortured anti-heroes are interesting. I haven't thought up much of his background, but there's scads of tormenting possibilities with an empath/telepath, let alone one who can also project and magnify what he perceives.

A variation on Grief I considered after the initial idea was the Rag Man, whose power also burns the memory from their mind as he induces and intensifies it to paralytic proportions. Lifting these horrible memories from their minds like an old rag and smoothing it over like a fresh linen, though, he permanently etches them into his own memory, accumulating a debt of grief and sorrow that might yet bury him. And what of those who realise what he's done and, despite the sadness of the memory, treasured it? His arch-nemesis might be only a relentless cop who knows his only memory of his dead daughter has been taken from him and who now has nothing the Rag Man can use against him. (A cookie for anyone who gets the reference in the name.)

I don't have a system in mind. Oddly, I think either might work in a game of Sorcerer, given that sort of humanity-testing internal conflict.

Comments (2)


Tuesday October 21, 2008 at 09:15 AM

I like.

Maybe he could be a transition character who starts as Grief then as his powers grow and take on a life of their own, he becomes The Rag Man, a more powerful entity. Like how Jean Grey became the Phoenix - more of a force of nature barely in control of the ability who continually saps and intensifies the memories of those around him.

Good concept!


Wednesday October 22, 2008 at 02:05 PM

Thanks! I like the idea of the Rag Man being a later development of Grief; I hadn't thought of that.

I think the Rag Man would be mostly unplayable anywhere near a Phoenix-like level of unpredictability and power. The threat of "going Phoenix" and losing control would make for an interesting plot arc, though, possibly turning him from a good(ish) guy into something that must be stopped at all costs.

That the threat to the world would be everyone losing all unhappy memories would even be a neat bit of commentary on the true value of "negative" memories.