When I met my first DM he had already been in the game for some time and had played a single character the entire time. The name now escapes me but his 18th level does not.
I had watched as this Mage had created some of the most astounding uses of magic I would ever see in the game.
And one day he dropped by my home and said he had decided it was time to retire the character and he wanted me to run the session. He wanted me to challenge him one last time.
Even though we never could get everybody together to play all the time this time everyone and their family turned out. There were more observers than players and I had never seen that before. To say I was shook is putting it mildly.
So I put together the absolute best thing I could muster. A battle that he might not survive. I told him that much and he said he was fine with that...he was going out on his feet one way or another.
He stopped mid-way and dismissed the party who had accompanied him to the bottom level of a death dealing dungeon, thanking them for their support but not wishing for them to die he told them to turn back and live to fight another day.
Everyone thought it was the end. The tension in that room was incredible.
His suspicions were confirmed when he entered the lair of Tiamat.
The battle raged. He was so close to dying when he finally managed to send her back to her own plane, away from the human settlements that she and her minions had terrorized for far too long, that he was almost to weak to make it back to the surface.
People actually applauded. I had never been in a game session like this and I would never see the likes of it again.
I had not just planned up to the battle, but beyond. His reception into the Emperor's court, the recitation of his deeds before the court, the deeding of castle and land for the services he had performed. The ceremonies lasted as long as the build up. I had written it for success or failure (trust me, the funeral scene would have been something to behold-but I am happy it worked out the way it did).
I have never seen so many people emotionally affected by something as simple as a role playing game. His wife actually cried. I'm not kidding. He had built this character for years. He had survived so much that he had become a fixture, an anchor, that new players looked to as how they wanted to play the game.
There are other stories that I will share, but that one is my favorite.
If you have a story to share please do so. I can't speak for others, but for me it's not about how cool your dice are or how many books you can buy or what system you play. It's about stories. It's our primal instinct finding traction in the modern world where story telling is disappearing.
It's why I will be a gamer until the day I die.