Main Logo Too Big For Them Thar Boots
Contents When the good get ugly, by Paul Ditta

It started off innocently enough. It was a Shadowrun game. Nick, my best friend, was the GM. This didn't affect his judgment as our group are all close friends of 15 years +. I decided on a Street Samurai - I'd watched Trancers just once too often.

I called him Jack Deth. Fuck off. You've done worse.

I consider myself to be something of a real role-player. The stats are important, but I like to create characters, the sort that are remembered for years afterward. They don't necessarily have to be realistic - Jack certainly wasn't - they just have to be complete, fleshed out, and in this case, utterly badass.

Jack grew with the creating. He had a deep bass voice, the sort that you only develop over years of dedicated filterless cigarette smoking and regular sandpapering of the oesophageal wall. He was cyber to the max, he had the look, and he had the attitude. If I had to draw a picture, imagine Duke Nukem, but without the femininity.

So far, so good. Jack had the gear: his favoured Remington Roomsweeper and his state of the art combat armour for the hard on head to head. He also had a bike and, looking back, this is where it all started to go wrong.

We got carried away. To a bog standard Harley, we added armour, souped up the engine and added bike mounted cannon and rocket launchers. Unfortunately we also added an onboard computer. Can you see where this is going yet?

Nick fell in love with JD almost as much as I did. The bike became semi-sentient. I added a remote call mechanism, so that if I got into a spot of bother, I could call on the bike, Judge Dredd Lawmaster stylee. The damn thing was my faithful companion, my closest friend. The others in the group weren't allowed to go near him.

Once the Deth-bike combo got going it was all over. Suddenly the character was so cool, Nick didn't want to fuck him over. It came to a head when Jack faced down a Dragon, single handedly. It had to stop. As a character Deth was cool. As a member of a team, he was fast becoming too big for his boots.

So what do you do? One of your players has created a memorable character with a style and attitude that fits the game and you find that over the course of the campaign you've lost your impartiality. You don't want the character to fail and since you're God, guess what? He doesn't.

Nick had the perfect solution. He realised that Jack was unbalancing the game. He saw the mistakes, the bike was too damn powerful, and Jack was in danger of overwhelming the team.

The problem was that he couldn't suddenly start curtailing Jack. The precedents had been set. He didn't want to kill Jack, as that would be unfair. I hadn't misbehaved, after all. I'd merely played the character to the limit and Nick had encouraged this and allowed Jack to become the monster he was. So he did what every good gamesmaster should do once in a while.

He fucked Jack over, mercilessly.

Nick arranged for Jack to piss off a Yakuza boss. This would cause even Deth to be concerned. The Yakuza sent an assassin after Deth with instructions to do him over by inches.

The assassin started by slaughtering Jacks contacts, moving up the scale to close friends and NPC allies. He left teasing messages, screwed up Jack's assignments, tortured and murdered anyone who assisted Jack.

He goaded and played until, at last, I got the chance to get my hands on the slimy little bastard. Nick played it to perfection. Jack was so incensed he ran straight into a trap and Nick delivered the coup de grace.

He blew up the fucking bike.

Not only the bike, but also most of Jack with it. Bye bye bike. Bye bye custom cyberware. Hello Salford Home for the Permanently Short of Limbs. Jack was stripped of virtually everything except his attitude and then rebuilt, still cool, but toned down. Not indestructible anymore, just meaner (He was missing the love of his life after all).

What does this tale tell us? Not a fat lot. But it passed the time.
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Copyright 2001 Paul Ditta

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