View Full Version : How to play this?

2014-02-18, 11:57 AM
I need a little roleplaying advice. You see, my character has just found out her parents are dead.

The background to this, it's kind of a school for superheroes campaign. We all get invited to this prestigious school, and after the introduction get given what are effectively super powers, although as far as we know no super-heroes exist in the setting. So anyway, not all is quite as it seems, the school is evil and training super-soldiers for a vast government conspiracy that basically wants to 'purify' the earth by killing everyone they don't like. Anyways, our characters have escaped to join the resistance, and when my character asked the head of the resistance whether her parents would likely be okay, he explained that they'd probably have been killed for outliving their usefulness. Now obviously my character won't take this amazingly, but I'm trying to work out how to play it exactly.

My character background/personality are below, for what it helps. Also, all the characters are in the ~16 years old area.

Thank you in advance.

Despite being a bit insensitive and decidedly stubborn, Rachel basically means well. She tries to help when it matters, and generally sees the good side of people. While her academic results don't really show it, she's got a huge capacity for curiosity if she can get interested in something. Overall, she's a cheerful and friendly girl with an adventurous streak that more often than not gets her into trouble.

Rachel's an only child, the daughter of Jack and Victoria Anders. Both her parents work for a major pharmaceutical supplier, and tend to be away fairly often on business trips, meaning Rachel's pretty independent for her age. Although her she doesn't see them as often as other kids, Rachel still gets on well with her parents, and is rather sad that staying at the institute will mean seeing them even less than usual.

Red has never really excelled academically. School never really clicked for her and except for a certain flair for history she managed average grades at best. She's thought very little of what she'll do after school - that's ages away. She doesn't really miss her old school that much aside from her friends, who she's trying to stay in touch with.

2014-02-18, 12:08 PM
Does she believe it?
They said "probably" didn't they?
I get the feeling from you description that she is the kind of person who listens to her heart more than her head. Will she really just believe the educated guess or will she find out for herself? If they arenít dead then they are surely in danger!

They say that the first stage of grief is denial...

Red Fel
2014-02-18, 12:18 PM
One of the first questions is, "How did they die?" Obviously, if they were murdered in retaliation for her heroics, she would likely feel a profoundly crushing sense of guilt. If they were tortured first, even moreso.

But consider the alternatives. What if their death was accidental? Say, they were hit by a car driving home from the movies? Or worse, driving to the post office to send her a letter - which was found in the debris of the car? At least if they were murdered, she could subsume her grief into anger, and bury it while seeking revenge. But if the death was senseless? There's no vent for rage, only despair.

Consider also her age. People feel grief, as well as other emotions, differently at different ages. In our teenage years, many emotional states seem amplified - a bad day at school is the worst day ever, a good friend is a bestest best friend for life, an attractive student looks at you and suddenly it's love, true love, oh-emm-gee. These are exaggerations, of course; not every teenager goes through this. But if your character is like that, realize that her emotional extremes are going to make her grief that much more profound.

Additionally, after experiencing the grief of the loss of her parents, you can expect many of her emotional reactions to be muted. Some people respond to grief or trauma by shutting down emotionally; it's perfectly legitimate to have her respond almost mechanically for a time.

As an only child, and one who gets along reasonably well with her parents, it's understandable that she'd be profoundly impacted. Feeling lost, alone, or suddenly, incredibly vulnerable, is a reasonable response. Crushing, screaming despair or guilt, a desire to rush to be with them, also reasonable. Seething, burning rage, or cold, calculating desire for vengeance may also be applicable, depending on the character's temperament.

Consider the classic "five stages of loss" trope. First is denial, a refusal to acknowledge that the parents' death has happened. Next is anger, a desire to lash out or punish those responsible. Next is bargaining, the vain hope that by appealing to powerful people, or praying, or something, what's been done can be undone. Next is depression, a feeling of uselessness that comes with the knowledge that nothing can be done to change what has happened. Finally comes acceptance, recognizing that what's done is done. These five stages are a fairly common framework to be employed when dealing with a trauma like this in an RP setting.

Most of all, remember that this experience will change your character. Death is a powerful part of most major origin stories because of its transformative effects. It makes happy-go-lucky characters more serious, it gives dark loners a reason to embrace their loved ones, it gives selfish characters a realization that they need to be more responsible with their powers, and so on.

Now imagine this girl - a teenager, an only child, the center of her parents' world, who reluctantly left them behind to go to this school - has suddenly lost her anchor in the real world. Her family. Her home. It's all ruined now. Even if her material possessions and house are intact, can she go back to them and see memories everywhere? Even if her parents left her a fortune, can she spend a cent of it without remembering what it cost her? Her parents were the living symbol of the life she left behind when she went to super-school; that life is gone. What's left to her? Who?

Jay R
2014-02-18, 12:32 PM
This hero is now in the same situation as Batman. Obviously, then, she should turn grim and gritty, and become a dark, brooding hero.

This hero is now in the same situation as Superman. Obviously, then, she should turn to the light, and aim to become a symbol of truth, justice, freedom, and all the bright virtues.

2014-02-19, 05:27 AM
I don't think I understand why they're supposed to be dead. Is it because your character turned, or did it happen earlier? Either way, what exactly would either side have to gain by killing them?

On reflection, I'd be more inclined to suspect these Resistance types rather than the govt. After all, from the evil boss perspective, live family members are valuable leverage; dead ones are just a grudge. So if I were in your position, I'd become suspicious and moderately obsessed with finding out precisely who killed them. And as far as possible, I'D conduct this investigation without letting anyone, except possibly my very closest friends whom I've known since long before all this started, know what I'm doing or why.

2014-02-19, 06:14 PM
Really, you can play it any way you like. No two people react to (bad) news the same way, and there is no "right" way to express your character's reaction.

Based on what you described her relationship with her parents as, I could see her reaction being any number of responses.

Maybe she doesn't really care all that much- she will miss them, and is a little sad, but you said she didn't really see them much to begin with; she might even hold resentment towards them for not being home with her more while they were alive, or guilt that she went away (seeing them less than she already did) and now will never get to see them again.

Maybe she is emotionally crushed, taking responsibility for their deaths thinking that if only she were home with them, or if she had gone straight to her parents after escaping the school, they might still be alive.

Maybe she is somewhat glad, knowing that they would be put in danger at one point or another, and she is glad that it happened now, when she can properly grieve, rather than when the fate of the world depended on her performance.

Maybe her parents' deaths strengthens her resolve to defeat the evil menace.

Maybe it weakens her resolve, questioning if this is really the right thing to do- if everyone tries to fit in, no one else will get hurt.

Maybe she goes through the five stages of grief (and remember, they don't have to occur in any order).

Maybe she just feels one emotional response, getting stuck at one of the stages and never moving past it.

Maybe she represses her memory of her parents, or suppresses her emotions, burying it all away until the world is safe and she has more time to herself to cope.

Basically, trust your (story telling) instincts and go with whatever you are comfortable roleplaying, and what you feel your character would do. No one knows your character better than you.