Every so often it happens that a Game Master is handed a golden opportunity to inflict an obscene amount of carnage upon a campaign because of something that the players forgot all about. In their minds they haven’t forgotten anything, of course. But they have over time let certain things fall away from their focus to the point that they are never mentioned or spoken of. Even when these things could be of enormous use to them in whatever current predicament they find themselves in, they fail to mention it because in all actuality these things have been forgotten. And anything forgotten becomes a tool to use against them as the story goes forward.
I’ll have to use a hypothetical example because there are now a number of my current players that have caught on to the fact that I do a lot of “out loud” thinking on this blog. I put all sorts of clues in here as to what is going on in the story behind the scenes of their characters leading roles and to their credit that are beginning to make some headway in solving a few riddles that have been ignored for a number of months (or years). So here is the hypothetical thing that might be overlooked in a game. Lets say that a Game Master has given one of the players a magical something, we’ll call it the “Mystic Moopus” for our illustration, and the player takes great delight in the powers that the Mystic Moopus is able to grant them. The Mystic Moopus is something of a difficulty, though. Not only does it not function exactly as the player wants it to whenever the player tries to use it, but the Mystic Moopus seems to have a mind of its own and an agenda it doesn’t necessarily share with the player that supposedly controls it. It is a delightful device no denying it, but the confounded thing is frustratingly temperamental.
So the game rolls along, and the player with the Mystic Moopus flat out refuses to let any of the other players monkey with the device. It is after all their Mystic Moopus, not some sort of communal Mystic Moopus. You want a Mystic Moopus? Go get your own and stop breathing all over mine. I might not get it to work all of the time but it is still mine. All is fine and dandy because the Mystic Moopus is at least casually mentioned. Then the player that owns it decides for whatever reason to stop playing regularly. Then they stop altogether. They don’t play anymore and the Mystic Moopus stops being brought up. The other players all have their own issues and gradually the game drifts away from the Mystic Moopus being a part of the story at all.
Except that it is always a part of the story. Some folks knew immediately what potential the Mystic Moopus had. They saw it. They felt it. They rubbed their bony hands in evil glee as they watched the player characters forget all about the Mystic Moopus. They didn’t even have to sneak in and take it. The cursed thing was right there waiting to be picked up. Now in the hands of somebody fiendishly clever enough to understand its value it is properly cherished. The Mystic Moopus hums with energy and in the possession of a properly wicked and tirelessly scheming master it does what it was always intended to do. It is Mystically Moopussing the hell out of everything.
And right now my players are wondering what it is that they have neglected. What was left behind? What was once a part of the game on a regular basis and now hasn’t been mentioned for months? More distressingly if they realize what it is, can they determine who has it and what that might mean? A good villain never misses a chance to exploit an opponent’s mistake. And right now there are two beautiful fumbles beginning to ripen in this story. Stay tuned, dear readers. We’re about to introduce a new foil, back again for the first time on this stage…. *cue the ukulele*