For me it is Planescape. I wrote a long post about this several years back, but here’s the story. We have a pretty tight f2f group, with several of us having played together since the late 1980s. Barry was a main fixture of that group-- a cheerful, artistic, and weirdly outgoing guy. He was one of the few people in our group besides myself who actively searched out and read new games. Everyone else stuck with trad or just picked up supplements for old games.
In 2005 we wrapped up a big, multi-year Fantasy GURPS campaign. In the final session, Barry’s character sacrificed himself to shut a demon gate. He threw himself in to contain the magics and vanished into the void. It was awesome and wondrous. To decompress after that we did a few sessions of a M&M campaign that went pretty well. Then during the Xmas holidays Barry died. He wanted to make some extra cash and so he was bouncing at a local club. He helped break up a fight and then his heart gave out. It was a combination of genetic condition and not great eating habits. His brother would pass the same way several years later.
It hit us hard, and I’m not sure his best friend Kenny ever fully recovered. But we kept playing games, despite the challenge. Then I ran a Planescape campaign, my one and only D&D 3 game. I used The Black Company as an inspiration and our characters commanded a group of sellswords on the planes, based in Sigil. Kenny’s character came from the world of the Fantasy GURPS campaign and his backstory involved searching for Barry’s lost character. In the course of play, the group found him, saved him, and brought him back. It was weird, but it gave a certain closure to the loss for me and saved a character we’d strongly associated with him.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week with the passing of Paul. Until someone’s gone from a group, you don’t realize everything they bring: how they changed the dynamic, what stories they pushed for, and how much you enjoyed playing with them.
So yeah, Planescape.