PETS AND COMPANIONS
Perhaps its a topic I should submit to Ginger’s WISH. I’ve gotten to thinking about it lately, because for the first time in years,
I am without a pet or companion. When I lived in the house of TGFKAB, she had a dog and a cat. Back home, with only a few short breaks, I’ve had pets continuously, notably two beloved cats, one of which recently and tragically had to be put to sleep.
Yes, it makes me sad. I miss having a pet around, period, but my lease forbids it. I’m not sure I can even have something like a goldfish, but even that would be an improvement. I guess its just loneliness, as well as that void which an animal companion can fill.
This brings me to an actual RPG topic! Companions/pets for role playing characters. Too often, they are point batteries, used to gain additional powers for the character. Munchkins are notorious for this.
On the other hand, if actualized and envisioned, some companions not only become an integral part of their character’s concepts, but take on the aspects of a character in their own right. I submit, as a player, my character Hadrian, whose companion Dora has proven, in con games and in Strange Bedfellows (Hadrian is one of the NPC cousins) that she is a person of her own mind, and Hadrian would not be the same without her. The very original concept of Hadrian, back in the mists of time (a topic for another time) did not have Dora, but every iteration of him since has included and developed the Wyvernet. Her original concept was a variation on the Jhereg from the Steven Brust Vlad Taltos novels, but, especially in SimAmber’s game, I developed the Wyvernets into a unique species.
As far as players in my games, very few have any sort of companions whatsoever. The most notable are Brieanne, who of course as Julian’s daughter not only has a horse of her own, but two hellhounds. The hellhounds have personality, though, and I fondly recall a scene where they ran amok through the castle like overexuberant children, causing chaos in their wake. They are not just for protective purposes. The other is good Arref, and Bhangbadea’s companion, Bishop. The species that Bishop (who outwardly looks much like a cat) is was developed in Arref’s universe, and the significance of such has only touched on Strange Bedfellows. Briefly, the felinoid species is/was a race of dimensional travellers who have lost some of that wanderlust, and perhaps some of the ability as well.
Bishop has independent plans, goals, and ideas, and both the player and I feel comfortable in writing “for” Bishop and that helps to keep him from being a simple deposit of points and powers. If you can’t tell already, I dislike companions which really have zero role playing potential whatsoever. Personality for Pets!
As far as my own current RPG characters, I only have two really active characters at the moment. Marcus, from Bridgette’s Age of Retribution does not have a pet or companion. However, there was made mention of ‘shadowcats’ appearing on Kolvir following the recent Patternfall War, and it was mentioned in discussion between a few player characters that such a creature might suit my sorcerer’s temperment pretty well as a companion. Marcus does have a “cat-person” sort of personality.
Cadmus, on the other hand, in Deb’s Rites of Passage, I see much more as a “dog person” although he hasn’t had time to have a pet, either. He’s much more physically active and capable than Marcus (even if he is a spell-slinger, too), and him running around with a hound in a park is definitely something I could envision.