The Saving Throw
Most Dramatic Gaming Moments Dec. 1, 2005
These are the moments of true drama, where the players were truly drawn into the game.

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Leaving the Pack
featured on Dec. 1, 2005 contributed by The Wyldflame

   My group and I have been playing Werewolf: The Apocalypse from White Wolf Publishing for the last dozen years or so. In this game you take the role of the Garou (werewolves), who work in packs fighting a losing battle to perserve Gaia (the Earth) from the "hell bent on destroying everything" entity known as the Wyrm.

What you need to know
   The story here involves characters my players had been using for over six years; a pack known as The Silent Howl. The Silent Howl, a group of "freelancers" working out of New Orleans, consists of the Alpha (leader) Sekhmet-Rain-Maker, Sage-Wind-Over-Mountain, Rahn-Runs-Like-Legless-Dogs, Rune Alterone, and Renoa Kest.

At the time of this tale I was (as I usually am) the Storyteller (or gamemaster) and was ending my time as Storyteller so I could actually be a player for a while, letting Sage's player take over the Storyteller duties. With him taking over something would have to be done about his character Sage. For years I had used creative (though legitimate) excuses to keep my character (Sekhmet) out of the action. He and I collaborated for all of an hour before the idea came to us. I'll spare you the more boring details and get to the goods from here...

The Story
   Sekhmet is a noted messenger, leaving him to travel the world and sometimes take some rather brutal jobs in order to gain and pay back favors. Fortunately, he has the rest of his pack to call on for backup. This time around, Sage stayed behind, deep in meditation while the rest of the pack was sent to New Mexico to help track down a legendary artifact and the group who went missing searching for it in the first place. After a long search and a longer, exhaustive battle, the group was victorious. Returning bloody and broken with the prize in hand and hopes of renown and glory in their hearts, they are met by a fellow messenger. He delivers a handwritten note with a wax seal (actually written and sealed before the game). Sekhmet opened it, and as Sekhmet's player, I begin to read aloud, my voice trembling slightly as I did so (despite the fact that Sage's player and I penned it just hours earlier). It read:

To my dearest friends,

Words are a poor medium of expression for the thoughts that I must convey.
These are times when we must make a choice, for better or for worse, and walk on.
When one must tread a new path, not because the old footsteps have grown cold, but because the nature of the journey has changed.

It is with a heavy heart and shaking hand I pen this, but alas... I wax on pleasantries.

My friends, my family, I must depart. It pains me so, my heart is a-flutter. I go now to my people. Where, I cannot say, but know that I revel with thoughts of you all. Things must be done, but I have also with me the hope that they will be...for when they are, to all of you I shall return.

But that is later, this is now. The pack must carry on. Though my body is afar, my spirit is near, and I shall watch over as best I can. And so now...

Rahn, your journey has just begun, stay true to your path.

Rune, you shall become a great warrior, should you ever master your tongue.

Renoa, find yourself and you will find there is light in us all.

Sekhmet, have trust in my absence as you had trust in my presence, faith shall guide you.

My love...forever...

   When I had finished, one could hear a pin drop in the room. What was just moments before a lighthearted moment in a game we loved was now an aching wound. As I looked up I saw their glazed eyes. These were four grown men and a grown woman trying desperately not to cry in front of each other. It was hardly the first time, nor the last time, that we and our characters have become one. That day, our characters had lost not only a good friend, but part of themselves. That loss echoed in all of us for that night and the powerful victory meant nothing next to what was lost. We played on and continue to do so even today, but that moment has forever lived on in our memories. As a final note, the letter hangs on my wall to this day.

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