Impractical Applications (The Cuckoo and the Warbler)

So there’s this character in one of the games I play in.

He’s the scariest thing in a fight out of the entire party—or at least, the most reliably scary, as the others tend to need circumstances or teammates’ assistance to be truly devastating. Has a knack for answering most of the questions. Often seen or alluded to getting in offstage or semi-offstage Moments with one of the party NPCs. Divine messenger for an animal buddy, trusted by the NPC, and did I mention he’s nobility? I’d be irritated enough if he were a PC, but the fact that he isn’t is insult to injury. The fact that he’s a cuckoo protagonist is beyond question.

What makes it interesting, though, is that there are two party-satellite NPCs in this group, and only one of them comes across this way—and the one who doesn’t come across this way is also the one with an overdose of Destiny. Even I tend to look at it and go “what in blazes happened here?”

I think one of the things that helps the other one is that, in general, he’s likable. He had to be, in order to be added to the group after it was already formed. Granted, he gets some ribbing for one of the most bizarre paladin codes I’ve ever seen (attacking some sort of monstrous vermin from behind was a no-go in one session, but in another the guy went straight for smacking a stunned (unconscious? It’s been a while) foe when said foe had a more dangerous buddy who was pretty close to threatening one of the PCs. Lampshades were hung). He generally lets other people provide and implement the plan. The cuckoo, on the other hand, has been with the group from the beginning, and suggesting (or dictating) strategy pretty much the entire time. And, partly because he started out less powerful than the group and partly because his build is less broken, he doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that could probably bowl through the opposition if it weren’t polite to let the teammates get a hit in—and he doesn’t have abilities that let him screw up the advantage he provides to at least one of his teammates, so he doesn’t use those sorts of abilities and fry his own tactical applications. He seems like he’s earned the notice of the currently-applicable divinities—being the Lone Good One in a group that’s being played as almost invariably evil does tend to stand out—while the cuckoo hasn’t been doing much that the rest of the party isn’t already doing.

So when we here that the non-cuckoo appears to have some sort of dark destiny, the first response is “Hey, what can we do to interfere with this?” If he wants to take the leadership of our enemies and subvert the snot out of them, we decide that helping with it would be the most awesome plot arc ever and start designing political posters and plotting our hypothetical campaigns. The cuckoo, on the other hand… about ten minutes of every trip home after game is spent on “Okay, can you think of a good way to quietly stand back and let our enemies take him out?”

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