Be honest now. Raise your hand if you knew that Thief had the Variant Sailor: Pirate background. Anyone? No one? I think we alluded to it back in “Diva,” and I’m pretty sure we had this sweet-ass Pirate Queen Thief print available on our store for a while. It hasn’t really come up too often in the main comic though. But in my experience, that’s pretty par-for-the-course with most characters.

In a world where games die out due to GM burnout, lack of interest, or RPG horror story before Session 10, there are some elements of your backstory that just won’t see the light of day. It can be frustrating when you’ve loaded your dude down with hooks only to watch the game go in another direction, but I think that learning to accept that with good grace is the mark of a good gamer.

To continue with today’s example, Thief’s long-standing feud with Swash and Buckle has been her primary motivation since character-gen (never mind that Swash and Buckle were just recently invented thanks to a Patreon poll). It’s a compelling and very-original revenge plot ripe for high-seas hijinks. However, the Heroes’ many misadventures never quite took them back to the pirate campaign Thief hoped to play.

In situations like this, it’s easy to shout, “Session Zero could have fixed this!” and lay the blame on miscommunication. But I think this issue is more common than you might think. Every warlock that never meets her patron, every orphan that never finds his true parentage, and all those on-the-lam charlatans that never have a reckoning with the law fall into this category. I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault. It just means that the campaign went elsewhere and focused on other things. Maybe some bounty hunters tracked you down. Maybe another party member had pressing family business. Maybe you fell in love. Sure it’s not the swashbuckling storyline you had in mind, but chances are that other players had to make some compromises as well.

More importantly though, even if the campaign failed to pick up on one of your pet character hooks, that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt yourself to the game as the story progresses. After all, part of the excitement of RPGs lies in discovering what happens next. If one of your plot hooks never comes to fruition, that just might be the cost of doing business.

And so, as Thief’s traitorous former first mates sail off beyond the horizon, we are left to contemplate the question of the day! Have you ever had a major character hook get left on the table? Do you regret not getting to play out a certain piece of a your backstory, or did it all work out OK in the end? Tell us all about your most under-utilized character hooks down in the comments!


EARN BONUS LOOT! Check out the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. We’ve got a sketch feed full of Laurel’s original concept art. We’ve got early access to comics. There’s physical schwag, personalized art, and a monthly vote to see which class gets featured in the comic next. And perhaps my personal favorite, we’ve been hard at work bringing a bimonthly NSFW Handbook of Erotic Fantasy comic to the world! So come one come all. Hurry while supplies of hot elf chicks lasts!