Last night, I was lucky enough to get to the Eagles/Giants football game in Philly. I'm a huge football fan, and a diehard Philly fan. For what it's worth, I consider the NFL to be much closer to real life than rpgs. Strategery and emotion all wrapped up into one big padded ball. Anyway, the Eagles had come to a Defining Moment in the season. They had all the talent in the world, and they just needed to put it together. It was the 4th quarter, the Eagles had miraculously kept pace with the Giants on the scoreboard (even though the game looked a lot more imbalanced on the field), and they had the ball down by 5 points with 2 minutes to go.
The Eagles lost in the worst possible way. The play calls were terrible, and the execution on the field was worse. If they had won, it would've probably propelled them straight into the playoffs and in a race with the Giants for first place in the division. Everyone in the stadium knew this. We knew, as these plays were happening, that we were in a Defining Moment. In fact, it was the moment the team was built for - the moment to score points quickly with a devastating aeriel attack (fyi the Eagles are only capable of scoring quickly - they can't sustain long drives - but it sure is pretty when they do hit their groove).
But in this defining moment, the Eagles weren't good enough. Sports blue balls. Compared to rpgs, real life blue balls.
(Transition to rpgs)
I often see the same type of character come up in games. Not of a certain alignment, and not a certain skill set, but of a certain trajectory. The character has all the talent in the world but just doesn't seem to be so awesome. The player thinks, "That's cool, the time of my character, Aquaman, just hasn't come. But when the GM plops me in some water, Aquaman is going to tear shit up."
Finally, halfway through the campaign, the party ends up on water, fighting the pivotal battle of the campaign thus far that will change the course of the the campaign one way or another. The battle is tight as it draws to its conclusion, it's a miracle the party isn't fish bait by now, and Aquaman only has one half of his magic power beads left. The player knows his time has come, and it will be epic indeed. He dumps all his magic power beads into his Mighty Seahorse Punch, gets his mad bonuses, and rolls the dice...
Only to come up short. In water. In the Defining Moment of the campaign.
On any other day, I'd turn this into a question about GMing, rolling with the punches, or the virtue of enjoying failure. But after last night's game, I can only say that it truly sucks to be Aquaman.