Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Time Traveller's Wife

I saw The Time Traveller's Wife recently. I thought it was a good film. I'm hard pressed to decide if it was sci-fi, drama, or romance. But it was intelligent and well written. And it got me thinking. I recently wrote a post about playing characters with attachments to other characters. Never mind the story potential that exists simply in a character with uncontrollable psi powers (in case you don't know, the male lead in the Time Traveller's Wife is a timeporter, but can't control when he ports, or to what destination, or for how long), this plot made me consider the idea of running totally mundane characters who have to deal with their relationships with people who are always off doing something dangerous.

Just think of how many people are married to soldiers in active military duty. It's a hard life, but certainly it can be interesting to examine the dynamics of their relationship. Think about the scores of women who were constantly afraid that their husband would die in World War II. What about the drama of a joyful reunion when the soldiers returned home? Or even worse, the misery of a family who received a telegram informing them that their husband/son/father would never return home? Surely there's some story possibilities in these sorts of relationships?
Now multiply that times the woman who's married to a superhero. Marvel is one of the few places I'm aware of where this sort of dynamic has been touched on, in that Spider-Man developed a relationship to a mundane, and even eventually married her. I've seen a number of relationship develop between supers (Cyclops and Jean Grey, as one example, or even Disney's The Incredibles), but not many between superheroes and normals. Superman's relation to Lois Lane never even went really all that far, at least not of which I'm aware.

Anyway. I think it's an interesting idea for a game. Maybe play the wife (or, if we want to break the mould a little more, the husband) of a powerful secret agent who's always being sent on dangerous missions in enemy territory. Or the father of a superhero who constantly fights against powerful villains. Maybe your character is the child of a vampire who's trying to avoid a group of vampire hunters.

If you've never read Neil Gaiman's Stardust, I recommend that you do (the film version isn't nearly as good; it lost a lot of the essential Gaiman quality in being translated to the big screen -- and for that matter, if you do read it, be sure to get a copy that has the beautiful illustrations by Charles Vess). It's the story of a young man, Tristram Thorn, who is the offspring of a mortal man and a faerie woman. He is raised ignorant of his heritage until he makes a rash promise and is obligated to travel to the realm of faerie. It is there that he meets his mother for the first time, and even then, doesn't realise that she's his mother until some time later.

The story is wonderful in itself, but think of the potential for games if we tweaked the premise slightly. The main character is the child of a human/fae pairing, and his mother has left him with his father in the "real" world before returning to faerie. The two worlds only ever meet once every seven years, for one day, and it is on that day that the child gets to visit with his mother. Imagine the story potential!

Anyway, I think that's an interesting idea. Maybe someone can make a game out of this. If you do, I'd love to hear about it! But until next time, I will simply say,

Game on!

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