He was a good boy. From his first appearance, Patches the Unkicked reminded us all that Evil too can have friends. He was just a little dog, but Patches had a big heart, and it loved Antipaladin most of all. Patches was well-trained. He was protective. He made friends easily, and he worked tirelessly to keep his master safe. All the way to the end, Patches the Unkicked was a good boy. What more can be said of any dog?

This sort of moment may be unusual for The Handbook of Heroes, but it’s not unusual for the gaming table. All it takes is one big crit. One failed save. One miscalculation. And suddenly the madcap adventure takes a turn into tragedy.

If you’ve ever been part of such a moment, you know how the energy in the room can shift. Shock gives way to frantic suggestions. Do you have anything on your spell list? Can you get to him in time? And as the group collectively realizes that the worst has happened, and that nothing in the inventory or the rulebook can make a difference, the quiet comes around. The GM has no help to offer. Someone mutters a curse beneath their breath. There’s a pewter mini lying on its side on a vinyl mat, and a thousand possible storylines narrow down to only one. “Whose turn is it?” someone asks. The game goes on.

These characters that we know and love are conjured things. They’re born of bad accents, random chance, and laser printers. And no one but a handful of close friends huddled in a basement rec room or the shared imaginary of a VTT knows who they were. Like Prospero’s spirits, they fade and fray with time and memory, disappearing into fond reminiscence and you-had-to-be-there.

So now, before the wicked spirit of Demon Queen can escape into that portal, I propose we pause beside the fallen form of a fictional dog. Let’s memorialize all those heroes who died in our own campaigns. If you have a fallen companion, mentor, or long-lost-love in your own campaign journal, write their epitaph. Tell us what deeds they did in life, and why they mattered to you. Because once upon a time, my own wizard lost his best friend. And every loyal heart deserves its own memorial.


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