Well, crap. Zundar the Barbarian just got wasted by that revenant…guess it’s time to write up a new character…

But what if Zundar and his companions are victorious. What if they’ve bested the Great Evil, or freed the realm from the clutches of whomever, or killed the dragon and saved the day? What if, after three years and however many levels, Zundar and crew aren’t that interesting anymore? They’re a bit too powerful to be fully challenged, or their story arc has been described — what now? Do you play them some more, but the heart is gone. Like watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull there’s just no point to the next go ’round.

We all love our characters. They’re often not just our creations, or an avatar to run through a computer generated RPG, but a real character that you or your mates can believe in. We enjoy watching their antics. Some people love an archetype so much they play the same damned character in every game, regardless of genre. But sometimes, they’ve played their part. The story is over, or the magic is gone. You got bored. Maybe you just want to try something new.

Old soldiers never die, they just fade away… General Douglas MacArthur famously uttered this phrase, and it’s often true. Your character has survived multiple encounters and is getting older. Slower. All the wounds sustained start to ache all the time. If they’re lucky, they got wealthy or powerful. Time to put the sword down.

Retirement is a good way to happily ever after your character. They won. Better yet, they can occasionally be revisited as a bit player in the game — maybe they have a bit of information, or there’s a reunion, or you need a small favor (like a place to hide out)…you can have the ol’ boy show up for a cameo for a night. Or perhaps there’s only one person for the job…just this one last time. (Look at all of Stallone’s old characters…)

Success has its own problems… You finally got a kingdom of your own, defeats the evil empire, got all the money and success your stomach can handle…but keeping it, that’s another thing. All of a sudden, instead of slaying monsters or fighting bad guys, you are locked into the day-to-day minutiae of running a city or nation or planet. Remember when you had all that free time when you were walking six months to a volcano to get rid of an evil ring? Wouldn’t you love to give it all up…but you have a family, and responsibilities — you’re a grown up now! — you can just traipse off on an adventure. But here’s a list of a few of my old contacts…

They took my hand!!! Instead of getting everything you wanted, maybe the character was so tashed up that it made sense they would loose a limb, or some bodily functionality. Who needs a cripple when you’re fighting to save the world as we know it? The sad fellow that you still visit from time to time to remind you of the good ol’ days and to give the players a reminder of their characters’ mortality (or that there is a fate worse than death…)

Join me! Another good way is to have your character switch sides. Maybe the Dark Side has captured their imagination, maybe they were tempted by power, or maybe there was some ideological shift that put you at odds with the others. In this case, it’s usually better to pass the character off to the GM, but it can be made to work where the player continues to play the character in concert with the GM as opposition to the others.