|Penn V Edgar 3. These men spent 64 minutes and 14 seconds|
doing this to one another.
While I might not have been the biggest Penn supporter over the years, his presence in the sport is undeniable. His was a persona writ large all over the sport of mixed martial arts for most of the last fifteen years. His name was so ubiquitous that even my wife, who politely nods and feigns interest when I talk about the sport, could point him out in a crowd and stopped reading to watch his fights when he came on. Even though I was never a huge fan of his, I was always ready to watch him fight. His record, like many of the old guard fighters is a mundane looking 16-10-2, but those are just numbers. A deeper look at his opponent list is a veritable Who's Who of other important names in the sport. Virtually every one of his fights was an EVENT.
|Mmm. Tastes like chicken.|
What does this have to do with gaming? Well, Penn's career reminds me a lot of a role-playing character's. Especially a beloved character, one who has progressed through a truly amazing campaign. Penn career was one of awesome battles with truly worthy opponents, much like a PC. Unlike a PC, however, Penn's abilities began to deteriorate with age. Penn's last seven fights consisted of one win, one (dubiously judged) draw, and five losses. While some role-playing games have some makeshift rules for character stats slipping as they age, does anyone ever really use them? As a result, a player character could conceivably go on forever, or until the GM finally runs the encounter that kills 'em.
Neither of those things seems like a truly fitting end for a legendary character. I have made variations of this point before both in conversation and even with the Wagon Train analogy in an earlier post. Still, I think it is important enough to consider again. Even the most beloved player character comes to a point where there are only one of two above scenarios that can play out. Either the GM cannot create a situation to challenge the PC, or the GM creates the situation that kills the (beloved, remember the beloved part) character.
Or, like Penn, the beloved legendary PC can retire. In both the cage and at the game table, that retirement makes room, potentially, for the next legend to stake his claim.