It’s absolutely amazing how much time Real Life™ takes up. Between loosing my grandfather, getting married, moving house, and getting kiddo to and from school everyday on a now (thankfully temporary) 40 minute each way commute, life as pretty much eaten up my time for the last couple of months.
Which got me thinking: our PCs have lives, too. I’m sure I’m not the only GM who’s had PCs fall in love and get married. While no characters in any of my games have given birth, I’m sure I’ll run across that before my gaming career is over, too. And death, both PC and NPC is an ever-present risk.
But how often do players (through their characters) take time to mark these events? Every society in the world has special rituals and events to honor these major life changes. Yet in our games, they often get glossed over as “down time” and largely ignored. This is passing up a great roleplaying opportunity.
Wouldn’t it be a great change of pace from a regular game session to actually roleplay through a wedding (particularly if two of the PCs are getting married), a funeral or wake, the birth of a child? It would take some extra preparation on the part of the GM–designing the ritual for example. But you could find descriptions of the particular ceremony in question on line and use that, changing it as needed to fit your game. You’d want to make sure every PC had a part in the ceremony, true.
There are a couple of ways you could approach this, as well. First off, if the ceremony is taking place in the PC’s own culture, you could pass out information the characters would know about the ceremony a week or two ahead of time. Or you could arrange it so the PCs end up having the ceremony in an unknown culture and leave the PCs to bumble along as best they can on their own. Along those lines, a PC could even find themselves married without their knowing it (remember Daniel in the Stargate movie?). Sure, it’s cliche, but if it’s something that happens once every couple of campaigns or so, it never really looses it’s punch. It’s definitely something that should be an extremely rare event, or your players will get really jaded, really fast. (“I’m married again? What’s she look like this time?”).
You could even make it a really special session by making the ceremony a live-action event, even if your group doesn’t normally do live-action. You could have everyone dress the part of their characters and have an in-character party. Depending on your game’s setting and your players’ ambitions, you could even serve food that your characters would have eaten in the game world (or as close to it as possible). You can find all kinds of interesting food by searching on-line for various ethnic recipes and there are a number of sites on-line with medieval and Renaissance European recipes.
Have any of you ever roleplayed a life-changing event in your PCs lives? How did it go and what did you do? Do tell!.