Everyone has at least one of those characters. You know, the comic relief that somehow ends up outshining the entire story, becoming a force to be reckoned with. This is one of those stories. A tale of how the party druid, who could hardly find his own feet ended up becoming one of the most powerful magic users in our homebrew world. This is the Legend of Kevin.
He’s actually an interesting case study for characters that don’t have backstory. Kevin is how characters with no backstory should be played: relatively loose and being open to changes at the drop of a hat. The story can be easily led by these characters, as well as the characters easily being led themselves. In fact, we’ve even talked about him before.
However, the biggest reason why I feel compelled to share Kevin’s story: he’s ridiculous and I love it.
Disclaimer: This story has some fantasy drug use.
Creation of Kevin
Now Kevin had humble beginnings. One night our very own Logan ended up coming to his first game night, without knowing it. In fact, no one knew he was coming. It was a bit of a surprise for everyone, so we rushed to build him a character and get to playing. Thus Kevin was born.
Being built on the spot, Kevin’s background was a bit… sparse. In fact, it didn’t exist. Where Kevin existed 5 minutes ago, let alone 5 years ago were a mystery to Logan, as much as it was Kevin. Why? Well, in reality, it’s because Logan just came up with the concept only moments before, there was no time to plan. But how was this explained in game?
Without hesitation Logan said “Well, he grows his own Magic Mushrooms, so his history’s a bit hazy.” Perfect. We’ve got a nature-based version of Tommy Chong with a pet tiger cub named “Peaches”. I mean, he’s even uttered the phrase “Kevin’s not here man”. This is good. This is something I can work with. Needless to say, Kevin fell pretty hard into the comic relief character.
The (Retroactive) Birth of Peaches
Now, most of Kevin’s greatest moments happened when an NPC and him conversed. For the most part, I was the GM of this campaign. However, in some cases another player would take the reins for a session or two. During this time I played a teleportation mage known as “Bloo”. It was during one of these sessions that Kevin’s next breakthrough occurred.
While chasing down the villain of the session, an underling lit the forest on fire, and Kevin just freaked out. The rest of the party was trying to calm him down, i mean, they had magic on their side and have seen worse in their adventures already. That’s when Logan found an opening.
“Have you ever died in a fire before man? It’s awful”
Wait, what? Say that again? You died in a fire?
“Yeah man. Twice. The first time, Peaches saved me. He used to be, like, a peach tree. My favorite one actually. Then the fire came when I was napping, then I woke up after the fire, and there was Peaches, the tiger, instead of a tree… man.”
Boom. Mike drop. In one explanation, Kevin now had the best background story in the group. This is the real strength of characters with little backstory, it can be conveniently written in with what you’re doing now. In writing, having no background until it’s convenient and relevant is just poor storytelling. Tabletop RPG’s, however, it leads to huge advancements in character development. It’s done in one moment, when it has the most impact, his history is written.
Moving forward another couple of months, I was once again a player in the same campaign. We needed to cross a ravine. As a teleportation based mage, easy peasy. I rolled my check and got a Nat 20! The game master had a brilliant idea at that point. Not only do I teleport everyone across the ravine, but I accidentally brought an extra person along. And of course this person was none other than Charon, Ferryman to the afterlife. Everyone was absolutely terrified.
Well, everyone except Kevin, who just started up with “Hey, nice ring man. Want to trade for it?” And trade they did. No fuss. We went our separate ways, leaving Charon determining the best way for him to return home.
Many more sessions passed before Kevin let slip something that Logan had planned for a while. The ring speaks to him while he sleeps. Wait, what kind of spooky magic is that? As it turns out, not that spooky at all as the stone embedded in the ring was actually a sending stone to Charon. Before bed each night, Kevin was talking to Charon, eventually lending themselves to become incredibly close. Close enough that Charon would eventually do favors for Kevin. Including returning the souls of those that have recently passed on to their rightful bodies before they crossed over to the next plane of existence. In short, they became besties.
The Brotherhood of Kevin
Now, Kevin has escaped death a few times prior to this point with instant resurrections, which is a rare form of magic in this homebrew world, but not impossible. It’s an incredibly powerful form of magic that calls the soul back to the body before they even show up in Charon’s queue, and needless to say, it is rather difficult to pull off. Kevin, however, became something of a miracle worker. Being able to recall those that have recently deceased up to a few days? That was absolutely unheard of.
By the time our next campaign rolled around, it flashed forward a couple of years in the same world. Druids and mages flocked from all around the world to embrace the teachings of Kevin, to learn his secrets. Orders and ranks were created to await orders from the magnificence that is Kevin, leaning on his every command. If only they could find him.
Of course Kevin was more lost himself than any one of his followers. He would frequently cross paths with them, completely oblivious to the following that he had cultivated. What everyone expected to learn from him was his true resurrection magic, where in reality he just played a weekly poker game with Charon and a few old party members. Occasionally Charon would owe Kevin for his losses, or would just do him a solid. Any member of the Brotherhood that found out this secret was immediately disillusioned quietly leaving their post, or ridiculed when trying to spread the truth only to be outcast from the organization.
Final Notes: The Grim Reaper
With weekly poker games between Kevin, the old party, and Charon it was only a matter of time until the anthropomorphic personification of Death himself showed up at the table. Getting to this step took many in year games, and actually, many out of game years as well. As you may have heard, Death has an affinity for games. He doesn’t lose at them. But he can be distracted by a certain member of our group.
Kevin: Like, here man, try these. You’ll see some cool purple elephants.
Death: Kevin, I’ve already ingested some of your arcane fungus. Yet, I still cannot see these ‘magnificent violet pachyderms’ you keep referring to. Are you sure I’ve followed the proper procedure?
Kevin: You’re doing fine, my dude. It’ll kick in and blow your mind!
Death: Many have tried, but I’m fairly certain that my skull is indestructible.
Kevin: Ha, no man. It will, like, let you understand the universe.
Death: I still fail to understand how this is going to expand my conceptualization of the universe beyond my current comprehension. I have what is likely the best understanding of the planes of existence at this point in time.
Kevin: It’ll like… expand your horizons.
Death: I’ve seen the horizon multiple times. It doesn’t grow in size, you just move closer to the farthest visible point.
Kevin: Whoa man, now you’re blowing my mind.
This man, right up there, is regarded as one of the most magical heroes to ever have existed. Some claim he’s an immortal that has always existed. Others say he’s a god, taking holiday in the world of Mitica. His closest friends regard him as the most incredibly lucky idiot they’ve ever met.