I was thinking the other day about how characters who fail make interesting stories. There already have been lots of posts across the Internet about having low stats and failed rolls and how that makes a game interesting. But I want to do beyond that. I’m talking about big time failure here.
So this goes way back when Curse of Strahd originally came out and I was still interested in 5E and its general direction. I was playing a Sorcerer and, being a lazy grognard, I really didn’t have that much background or character concept in my head at the time. I wanted to play a Sorcerer. But a few sessions into the campaign after our first contact with Strahd, an insane idea popped into my head. My character’s goal was to kill Strahd and take over Barovia for themselves.
Are you done laughing? Yes, I knew as player that was never going to happen. I knew that the character’s grand scheme would never come to fruition. At best, the character would end up in shallow, unmarked grave. At worse, well, it is Curse of Strahd. So use your imagination. But I’ll tell you this. It was fun!
My character was driven to gather more arcane power. I’d do anything to screw up Strahd’s plan. And I wasn’t above occasionally taking the “ends justify the means” morality. My character might have been driven by self interest, and an evil genius type plan that was doomed to failure but it did make the campaign interesting. Oddly, it was the other players who clued into what I was doing before the DM did.
Unfortunately, like many campaigns, we never finished it. I never got to see what sort grisly death was in store for my character. But that journey along the way was worth it. Tragic and possibly foolish death was what was in store for the character but that story to the end was filled with crazy plans, daring actions, and a pretty interesting story. If the character died. So what?