Posted by aahabershaw
When I first developed my fantasy world of Alandar, I spent a number of years trying to write novels set there. I had a good main character (Tyvian Reldamar) and a lot of the setting down, but I hadn’t yet stumbled upon a story that worked. Eventually, since I liked the world so much, I converted Wick’s Roll and Keep system to handle a game set in Alandar and I began a campaign. That’s when I met Finn Cadogan.
Finn, played by my friend Serpico, was the son of a mercenary company captain and man of honor, Tam Cadogan. Tam had gone missing when Finn was a young man, and the only link Finn had to his father was the family’s intelligent, magical sword, Banner. Little did any of my players realize, this was but the first part of a vast conspiracy that had Finn ultimately at its heart, though he never truly realized it.
The thing, though, that made Finn Cadogan great was the commitment with which Serpico played him. Finn was trying to put back together the mercenary company that had once been his family legacy. He’d promised farmboys and smith’s apprentices and common laborers that if they signed with him, he’d lead them to glory and wealth. Finn (and Serpico) took that promise very seriously, and much of the dramatic capital in the early campaign were Finn’s struggles as he found his footing, lost men to battle and disease and even desertion, and struggled with his father’s legacy (as reported by the sword Banner on every possible occasion). For Finn, there was forever the struggle of being an honorable man in a dishonorable profession, and Serpico played it to the core. It made for simply wonderful moments of both triumph and sadness and, even though Finn’s end was a tragic one, he did achieve what he set out to do–he restored his father’s honor, he brought wealth and triumph to his men, and he was remembered as a great hero. He, though, was too honorable to see what plots evil men wove around him and, in the end, he died to suit their needs. He died, however, an honorable man unstained by the wickedness around him.
Having a player commit to a character on an emotional level is not something you, as a GM, can force to happen. When it does happen, though, you wind up with some wonderful drama if you only decide to tap into it. I knew Serpico cared about Finn and about his men, so I squeezed him when I could so that the victory, when it came, was all the more sweet. Finn, along with Conrad Varner and Landar Marik, became cornerstones of Alandar’s past. Though I have changed who they were and what they did a fair amount, I have let those characters shape Alandar into the world it is now, thirty years since Finn’s death. It has, in a sense, given me my story. That, my friends, is a true gift, and much of the credit must be laid at the feet of my friend Serpico and the character he loved.