A Samwise Gamgee Game


#1

I don’t literally mean a game about Samwise Gamgee. That would require expensive licensing. I’m referring to something that author Robin Hobb once said about her first Fitz trilogy, that they were books about “the Sam Gamgees of the word”, meaning the protagonist of the story was a catalyst for major world events, but not the one enacting them in person.

What would it mean to write a choice game from the POV of a Samwise character? It could be the fairy godmother instead of the princess. It could be the lancer instead of the hero. The parent instead of the heroic teen savior of the world. Honestly, the options are pretty much unlimited. Take any supporting cast member of any archetypal story, and if they’re not a villain, mentor, or love interest, they could be this.

On the one hand, some players might roll their eyes and pass the game up. What do you mean? I don’t get to play the hero? I have to be stuck as this loser second-stringer instead? On the other hand, it gives you great flexibility and an interesting perspective shift. You could still be a part of a major, earth-shattering plot, but also get to shift the balance and show it a little bit more from the vole’s eye perspective. And it would allow you to humanize your protagonist, without sacrificing that sense of awe that the classically epic heroes have.

Of course, these days heroes can be literally anything, so maybe the only really relevant choice for a Sam Gamgee game is whether Sam, in the end, is willing to stay the sidekick or determined to claim a role as the true hero of the story.

And now, a quick poll:

  • I’d love to play a game from the POV of a traditional sidekick character.
  • I might like a sidekick POV, it depends on the genre.
  • Actually, I think I’ve already played something quite like that.
  • Actually, I’m writing something like that right now.
  • No, I think I’d still prefer to play the grand hero.

0 voters


#2

Well, Robin Hobb’s Farseer and Tawney Man trilogy books are my personal favourite fantasy novels of time, so it’s a definite yes from me. I think that having the protagonist as the “hero” kind of sets the story on a path that it can’t really divert from. The protagonist HAS to defeat the forces of evil. The protagonist HAS to fulfill the ancient prophecy. The protagonist HAS to become king and marry the beautiful princess, ect. Having a protagonist that’s not the all important hero who needs to save the world means that you never know what’s going to happen next. :blush:


#3

I chose “it depends on genre” just because there are some genres I have very little interest in playing. I think this could be a really interesting (more interesting?) perspective on those, but I’d have to be…sold on it more, I guess. e.g. I’m not super into superhero games, but sidekick/henchman/reporter-with-no-connection-to-the-plot could be a more interesting take on that, for me.


#4

The Eagle’s Heir had a premise quite similar to what you’re talking about here–I think it had less of a traditional “big hero go save world” narrative than what the first post implies, but the MC is the guy standing next to the big important person, instead of being it themselves.


#5

I don’t wanna be robin to Batman . :unamused:

that said…playing sidekick…and making the player be one isn’t easy . Take GW2 , you dont play the hero . You are the (helper) to the great Heroes . I was so bored…I keep the game installed just cose I’m too lazy to reinstall it lol .

I mean , the idea is interesting…but haven’t seen well made so far .

‘oh look ! you are not nobody! you are a mini-hero to the Big hero! the Big hero couldn’t have made it this far without your tedious help! So be proud!’’

Me: Grrr…I get to do all the dirty work and the hero steal the spotlight…now I know why some hero turn to the dark side!

'‘now now…go get that bucket , saving the world is a Big hero job !’ …

:sweat_smile:


#6

Huh. So far I’d say opinions are mixed, but generally positive. I’m a little surprised. I’m used to thinking that people prefer escapist power fantasies.


#7

I’m not necessarily writing a sidekick story as the player will still have some sort of control to the plot, but they’re definitely not the key character to the ongoing events; you’re not the chosen one, the knight in shining armor, nor the damsel in distress.

It’s more like someone steals the spotlight, or you can steal the spotlight, or even you can avoid it altogether.


#8

I think the Eagle’s Heir was quite like that? Of course, I wouldn’t mind playing another like it at all…


#9

I’m working on something similar, on and off.

I’d definitely play a story like that too! It happens quite often that the side characters interest me more than the protagonist so it’d be great to see those characters get some much deserved appreciation. :slightly_smiling_face:


#10

Sounds interesting, will it be more of a Marvel type sidekick, or a fairytale type of sidekick? Although I’m more of a superhero person, I chose I’d love to play because I would really like to see how the plot works.

I think you can still control the plot as a sidekick because you have a story yourself. It’s an interesting perspective and i think you could really give it a try.


#11

I think getting the story from the Sidekick, with the story of the “hero” in the background cold be a wonderful thing. When you see the little things that lead to something big, must be quite cool. I would love to read that.


#12

Oh, I didn’t mean that the protagonist should be irrelevant to the plot, or passive in any way. I meant more in a “not my circus, not my prophecy” sort of way.


#13

I think Tally Ho is something like that, the butler helping the master :slight_smile:

and @MeltingPenguins 's Curious Cuisine take the role of parents too


#14

Tally Ho is a great example, actually.


#15

This reminds me of Loren the Amazon Princess from Winter Wolves. In that game Loren is the hero but the player is just a slave who supports Loren.
And I agree The Eagles Heir and Tally Ho would be great CoG examples for this, but I would be definitely interested in more games where I don’t play the hero just the sidekick.
Also I think it would be extra interesting if there were a point in the game where the MC considers if what they’ve done so far is right or is there a better way and the MC could become a villain or an antihero… Kinda like in Fallen Hero.

Edit: A bit off topic another interesting idea would be imo that the MC is a villains sidekick and then realises that what they’ve done so far is wrong and they would become kind of the hero? Or at least the antihero (if I got the definition right, they have moral compass but that still wouldn’t make them entirely heroic) now that is something I can’t come up with CoG/HG examples for.


#16

I agree, there are examples out there that do work very well as its often a case that you don’t know everything about what’s going on and you’re kind of getting swept along for the ride and working out how best to deal with situations as they occur. Loren’s a good game example, and works surprising well given the genre which usually has the PC as the main protagonist.

I’ve only just started watching it (so maybe it’ll change) but Dirk Gently looks like it’ll be in this genre as well, where the mc is getting dragged into things which are being controlled by other people that seem to have the backing of some sort of cosmic power. (I really hope they don’t do the cliche thing where the mc is really someone super special as it’s refreshing to see the POV of someone without superpowers trying to cope as an “assistant”)

Anyway, all for it. I like seeing games that are a change from the normal power fantasies occasionally for something completely different :slight_smile:


#17

A lot depends on what the hero would be doing vs. what the player’s character would be doing, I think.

If Tally Ho! was about the player’s character as that position for someone who didn’t need to be helped out of trouble, it would feel very different.

Having a classic epic hero as the hero raises the question no what exactly their Sam figure is even for besides that Great Heroes have followers. There could be fun games there, but I’d definitely draw a line between “the player’s character isn’t the dominant figure, but has a valuable and useful role in helping the hero” and “the player’s character isn’t the dominant figure, and really the hero can pretty much take care of most things they need to face without you if it comes down to it, it’s just more convenient to have a second pair of hands or the like”.

I mean, from the hero’s perspective someone who makes their tea, organizes their paperwork, and so on might be very much appreciated and it might not be a bad thing for “you, the commoner who has a role in a noble household” in-setting - but it’s not necessarily as fun to play someone like that.

Picking that as an example just because butlers and batmen (in the military sense) are on my brain.


#18

If we take a cue from the original flavor Sam Gamgee, their main role would be in moral support. I mean, Sam’s role in the books is flat out not just about things like cooking rabbit and making sure they have rope. Not that I’m sneezing at either food or rope, but wonderful necessities for the adventurer type. But moral support is definitely what I’d characterize as Sam’s indispensable role.


#19

Hm. Tough choice. But ultimately a yes. Because new ideas should be appreciated. Not a big fan of Robin Hobb. But verry much enjoyed Fool’s Errand. Mid teer quality for me at least. It depends on how the story goes.

If it goes something like “oh hey guys, do you remember that red head from choice of games that built me a new orc blade so I could kill the big badie? Ok, good. Now let’s move on to my pretty face and how amazing I am”

Gaaah!! Nerve recking😶. No just no!

I like the more “obi wan kenobi you’re my only hope” type of sidekick story. And then when Al things are said and done, for fries sake maybe be appreciateD for my efforts. Not swept under the rugs.


#20

Yeah. I’m on the fence on if I’d play something based on the original Sam (as in, someone somehow getting the rights to do an actual Middle Earth game), but it would be more appealing than if his role was only the rabbits and rope.

There’s a lot of room for this to be explored, but I’d have to see by individual game to be more than cautiously supportive as far as my own tastes go.

Good to have it brought up for discussion though.