This week’s #ifthiswereaTTRPG post comes from another favorite Disney movie of mine: Hercules.
Much of the beginning and middle of Hercules is dedicated to Hercules’ quest to become a “true hero” so he can regain his lost godhood. A journey of self-discovery, Hercules battles monsters and demi-gods alike throughout the Greek world, gaining fame, fortune, and adoration but finds himself no closer to rejoining Mount Olympus.
That is until, Hercules is confronted with a choice set before him by Hades: attempt to save Meg’s soul from the Underworld’s clutches and surely die himself, leaving his soul in Hades’ clutches for eternity or accept his love is lost forever. This moment of decision-making is the subject of today’s #ifthiswereaTTRPG post.
ifthiswereaTTRPG, the GM would have the villain Hades cruelly taunt Hercules as Meg’s soul leaves her body and travels with Charon down into the Underworld. The GM would essentially be using Hades’ power of persuasion to goad Hercules to go after Meg thinking that he’s about to get a nice two-for-one in getting both Meg and Hercules’ souls.
The player playing Hercules actually doesn’t need to be persuaded and, despite the successful persuade roll by Hades, flies off at lightning speed toward the Underworld. Naturally, the GM puts forth a number of difficultly-of-travel checks (the River Styx and Cerberus) which Hercules is able to pass with flying colors despite their difficulty.
Now standing before the pool of souls, Hercules stares down and sees Meg’s soul being sucked into the infinite vortex. Hades once again has a successful persuade roll to goad Hercules to jump in after her; but this is Hercules’ “True Hero” moment: his willingness to sacrifice his life for another. In mid-air Hades offers the final taunt: Hercules will surely die in the pool no matter what.
The player playing Hercules would actually have to make three successful rolls:
- Resist Fear at knowing he is about to die
- The physical act of swimming to Meg’s soul as he’s rapidly aging
- The final, epic leap to make it to Meg
One by one, the player playing Hercules passes each of these rolls thrilling the table with their epic bravery and sacrifice. As Hercules makes the last successful roll, thus freeing Meg’s soul, the GM successfully rolls to kill him. But of course, the Sisters of Fate, when they go to cut the thread, find it to be invincible: Hercules has ascended to godhood by becoming a true hero.
A great lesson by the GM, providing a story where the players have to sacrifice everything in order to “win.” Great stuff!