Description: After his self-sacrifice Harry is faced with a choice, stay in limbo or play a RPG game about him. Enough to say that stories about a character that actually chose to stay in limbo would not be a popular one... Video-game fic.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Harry Potter related, except the 7 books on my shelf. I also don't own any rights to GURPS, I own a lot of game books of it tough. No profit is being made from this piece of fiction.
A.N.: The rules described on this story are an adaptation of Steve Jackson's GURPS system. It has lots of house rules and changes to adapt to HP and "video-game" setting.
A.N.2: This chapter has been Beta-ed by SupremeEntity11. All praise to him!
Harry Potter: The RPG
When Harry woke up, it was all dark. He was kind of disappointed, not that he would admit it, but who wouldn't be after all his hard work and sacrifice?
"So, this is the afterlife?" The boy in question said in a small voice.
Disappointing could not even begin to describe his feelings about the whole situation right now. He went to the forest and sacrificed himself for the good of the magical world, and now he was in a dark, silent place, not a single breeze or interesting smell to activate his senses. Nothing.
Suddenly the boy started to panic. What if this was it? What if that was all the afterlife has to offer? Sense deprivation for all eternity... The thought filled him with dread.
He tried walking around, but there was no floor to speak of, he was just floating in his own black void.
"So, what now?" His words felt around without the slightest hint of echo or response. There were no solid objects around for the sound to bounce off of, giving the impression of a huge wide open area.
Time passed, but without some kind of reference it was hard to tell how much of it. Not too long - Harry didn't think he could stand this weird experience for long without going insane - but long enough for his mind to conjure lots of crazy theories about Hell and damnation.
Then, something happened.
Suddenly there was a floor and Harry was standing on it. Feeling the floor beneath his feet was a relief so great that he fell on his hands and knees just in order to maximize his contact with the hard surface. The texture of the floor was some kind of rubbery surface, not smooth but not too soft either, not hot but a little warm. Before he could get bored with his very meticulous analysis of the ground, a light appeared.
It came in the form of a single beam creating a small circle on the ground. Under it Harry could see that the floor was black, but more interestingly, under the light was a single object, a wooden chair.
Almost in a trance, he followed the light to the chair. The chair didn't look particularly detailed, or comfortable, but the fact that he could see it and touch it was enough to sooth his mind. After a careful analysis, it was a just a chair on a black floor, Harry looked around trying to see anything else. Unfortunately only darkness waited beyond the reach of light.
After circling the chair a few times, the boy gave up on trying to understand the situation and simply gave up. Without further hesitation, he sat on it.
As soon as his butt touched the seat, an ominous voice came from everywhere, hitting him from all sides.
- Hello Harry.
Scared, the young man looked around trying to identify the source of the sound, but after seeing only darkness he answered in a small voice.
- Uh... Hello?
- Since I found you, do you want to play a game?
The absurdity of his situation did not escape the boy, he was in the afterlife, in a black void where apparently the only things that exist are a black rubbery floor, a chair, a beam of light and a deep odd otherworldly voice. The fact that the voice expected Harry to play a game with it, of all things, wasn't helping clarify anything at all.
- Huh... Where are we? Who are you? What's going on?
- I'm someone who wants to play a game. With you. Do you want to play with me?
If Harry was not so scared of everything he would be probably getting angry or at least frustrated. He didn't understand what was going on, so maybe he could bargain something with the mysterious voice owner?
- If I agree, will you answer my questions?
- Great, I like playing games. Ask your questions so we can play.
Harry took a deep breath, wait was he breathing? Before he was not, but now apparently there was air and he had been breathing all along. Surprised with the fact that he didn't notice his new found status as a breathing creature he momentarily forgot about questions and games.
- Ask your questions, one at a time, please.
Startled the boy once again focused on the task at hand.
- Yes... Okay. Where are we?
Immediately the voice answered with the same tone and lack of emotion.
- The void. The non-existence. The end of all things.
Harry had to stop and gape at that answer. Really, what could he answer to that? Where could he find words to describe the confusion he was feeling at that moment?
- If that was all, can we play a game now?
- Wait... Wait! But... but... How? Where? How, how did I get here?
- You didn't arrive here. You're nowhere right now.
The positive side of this conversation was that Harry was now so confused that he forgot to be afraid.
- I don't understand...
- Obviously. Can we play our game now?
Pressing his hands over his pants, wait he was wearing pants? How did he not notice that before? Was that music he was hearing? Very low-volume music? Shaking his head and focusing, the wizard raised his head and looked around.
- How did I end here? Wait, no, that's not it is it? I need to formulate better right?
- How you formulate your questions has a direct impact in how I answer them.
The young man didn't feel malice from the voice, just a sort of detachment. He felt that this person, or maybe a better definition would be being, had all the answers, and could probably supply it if he knew how to ask the right questions.
- Okay. I did not got here, because here is nowhere. So how I came to be at nowhere?
- You were destroyed.
- But how?
- You were hit with something you know as a killing curse.
Again Harry was speechless. He was stunned beyond words by that revelation. Did the killing curse have the power to remove something from reality or something? He never knew anything about it. He really didn't study the theory about the unforgivable, but this... This was really shocking.
- And now what?
- Now we play a game.
Agitated Harry rose from the chair. He walked around it and could feel his heart beating hard in his chest, his heart was beating now, he remembered checking it before and panicking at not finding anything. This place, this light and this chair, this voice was changing him in some way. He could feel again, and that was amazing and wonderful, but he wanted to understand something that was going on.
- And if I refuse?
- You said you would play if I answered your questions.
- But can't I change my mind?
- Are you changing your mind?
What was all this insanity? Who cares about a bloody game? Why was he even discussing this with an ethereal voice of all things? Is this Hell? Is this the afterlife? What the hell is the void and how can anyone be nowhere?
- I don't know what to do... I don't understand anything. I don't know what to ask. Just give me a little time.
Instead of sitting on the chair the young man sat on the floor, he felt very small and confused. Harry felt so tired, so exhausted, that he didn't have enough energy to gather his thoughts.
- You can have all the time you want. That's all you have, really. Time, endless amounts of it. Are you sure you don't want to play a game?
This voice and its stupid games.
- Who are you?
- I am no-one.
Harry chuckled nervously.
- So I'm nowhere talking to no-one.
- And no-one likes to play games.
- You are correct.
Harry obviously wasn't prepared to understand this kind of crazy talk right now.
- What the hell... Let's play your damn game them. Maybe I can arrange my thoughts meanwhile.
The darkness came and for a brief, terrifying, moment Harry though that he was back again in the void. But soon enough a book came into view. A somewhat big book, with black leather cover blocked his vision. It was a weird experience because there was no visible light source and even them Harry could see all the details with perfect clarity. His observations were made entirely pointless when he read the book title.
In bold, upper case, gold letters he could read without a doubt:
HARRY POTTER: THE GAME
Surprise didn't cover what the teenager was feeling at the moment. So this was the game the weird-voice-from-beyond wanted to play. A game about him! What a preposterous thing! He tried to argue, but he couldn't make himself be heard. He tried to move around, but he was apparently locked in place.
What now? He couldn't move, he couldn't scream and he couldn't even close his eyes. He was trapped in a nightmare without the option to wake up. All he could do was move forward and see what kind of sick and twisted game this was.
The book apparently understood his willingness to proceed and in response it opened to the first page, where it reads:
"Welcome to Harry Potter: The Game. In this game you play as the main character of the story: Harry Potter! This is your game manual and in it you can find all the necessary information for you to fully enjoy all aspects of this experience. The game system will now let you choose the relevant options that will be used during the remainder of your adventure."
After this short and completely useless small introduction a single question appeared in slightly larger letters.
"Do you want to enable the usage of the manual during your play?"
Internally our unfortunate and confused hero started to ponder what this question meant. Did he want to read the manual to the game? The game named after him? Of course he wanted to read it! If you are going to play a game you need to know the rules, right? As if it was capable of reading his mind, which in retrospect it probably could, the book showed more text.
"You have elected to enable the in game manual. As such, at any moment you desire, you can call up this prompt and have access to all the information it contains for future references. This prompt will not appear accidentally and the player must actively wish for it to activate it."
Unsure of what kind of game this was, and confused as hell Harry just stared at the opened page of the book. In response a new question formed.
"Do you wish to enable pause while at manual screen during your game-play?"
The young man simply didn't understand the question. If he could, he would be asking whoever created this whole situation that he needed more information and… And suddenly there was one more entry on the book.
"If you enable this option, every time you enter the manual screen you can look at all the information it contains, all the stats and every characteristics of your avatar and even allocate points for as long as you like without any time passing in the game world."
That was… helpful. Well, at least he could get some kind of interaction beyond yes and no questions out of this weird book. Well, if he was going to through this weird situation this 'pause while in manual screen' feature looked pretty useful. Well, enabled it is!
"You chose to enable pause while in manual screen. When you access your manual your game world will pause and you can read the info it contains at your leisure. Feel free to use this feature to better analyze your options during time critical moments during the game!"
Well, that was a plus at least, though Harry. The boy didn't know what kind of game he was going to play, but being able to take a break during tense moments to just think a little bit was a great asset. And then, another question popped before him.
"Do you want to enable save game and load game features?"
Again Harry was confused. What do these options even mean? Before he could grow frustrated the manual showed a little explanation.
"Save features allow you to store your progress in the game in a specific format that can be later restored by the load feature. For example, before an important decision you could save your game and see the outcome of the decision. If the outcome isn't pleasant you could load the saved game and choose a different outcome. "
Intrigued, Harry imagined what kind of game would allow such a thing. This certainly would be useful in a chess game against Ron. If he could just 'save' a game do something, and do other if it didn't work it would make things easier. Maybe he could win a match against his friend this way. Was this some kind of time turner? Well, enabling this would sure help. Imagine if his opponent in this game has this feature and he does not, he would be at an obvious disadvantage. Enabled it is.
"Save and load game enabled. You can access the save and load game menus when you access your manual. You can save your progress only at designated places."
Okay. Enabling the manual was really the right choice before. If he couldn't access the manual, this 'save and load' thing would be unusable.
"Do you want to enable auto-save?"
This game is getting weirder and weirder, though Harry. And, as expected more text appeared explaining this 'auto-save feature'.
"Auto-save will automatically save your in-game progress every time you enter or leave a building or a room (it depends where you are and the importance and size of the place). You can load this auto-save slot like any other save slot. This can help you if you don't save your game for a long time and then commit an action that you want undone. If you load an auto-save slot you could avoid losing a lot of progress."
What kind of game is this? His mind thought of gobstones, quidditch, chess, soccer, card games and even the board games some muggleborns brought to school. Not a single one was anything like this. He can enter buildings in the game? What… and then suddenly hit him. Dudley had games like this on his video-game, not that he ever had the opportunity to play them, but he saw his cousin play some times. It was very rare to see his fat relative playing them, he preferred the more violent straight forward ones, but he remembered some instances.
Well, it really doesn't matter at this point. He had never played the games himself and barely saw his cousin doing it. So, at the moment he chose to go ahead and enable this auto-save as well.
No further remarks on this one. Before Harry could think on why the page turned and new options appeared.
"Warning: The next option is very important and will dramatically change the way you experience the game. Choose carefully.
Select the game mode opttons:
The frustration of our hero rapidly rose to a whole new level. What does this all mean? Why is the first option grayed out? Why… Okay, more text.
"The option for Gritty Realism is automatically disabled when access to the manual during game-play is enabled."
Okay, that explains the different color, he couldn't choose it. Okay now what the other options means?
"In a simulation game the rules are considerable more complex and an effort is made to achieve a closer similarity to reality. Attributes and skills still exist and can be viewed but not manipulated in any way. The player has no input on point distribution and every skill, attribute, advantage and disadvantage needs to be acquired by events in game and time-consuming training. The questing system is entirely disabled. Several information screens are disabled on the manual and the player is encouraged to immerse as much as possible in the experience.
In an arcade game the player has a much larger input on his own avatar by allocation of earned Character Points. The Questing system is enabled, allowing the acquisition of said points. All information screens are available, including the reputation screen. The intelligence of the player is not limited by his avatar INT score and lack of skills. The game system is much more forgiving and adapts to sudden changes on the character sheet. This style of play is oriented to an easier, more fun experience. Exploits of the system exist and are considered part of the fun."
Shock and revulsion filled our protagonist after reading these paragraphs. Apparently 'the game' was some 'simulation' of his life. How cruel it is to take someone's life and turn it into some form of entertainment! And making the 'owner' of mentioned life play the game is even more cruel!
Refusing to select anything Harry started thinking about his options. What he could do? He wanted to scream and berate whoever created this insult. He wanted to go back to the void and demand more answers from the mysterious voice. He wanted… He didn't even know what he wanted.
He was just tired. He was still angry, of course, but he had apparently died due to a killing curse from Voldemort. This had sent him to some form of limbo where he didn't have anything to do other than think about his situation. This 'being' offered him the chance to play this game, this game about him, and that was it.
But what if this was all there is? The voice said that all he had was time, and since he had time they should play a game. What if that was all of the options he had? He really wanted to go back to the chair and ask more questions, but apparently now it was too late.
He could not come back to life and face Voldemort again. He apparently couldn't go back to the void now, not that he wanted only option he has is playing this game. A game about himself.
So would he? Would he play the game? Maybe quitting the game was an option, but then what? Back to the void? Back to interrogating the weird voice that has a lot of answers that he couldn't understand?
Maybe he should play the damn game. Maybe the distraction would keep him from going insane, or more so...
Decision made, Harry finally turned to the book. The question remained: Simulation or Arcade? How to choose this? In retrospect the decision was already made. He didn't want to play a simulation, he didn't want to immerse himself and forget for even a minute that this was a game. If he had to play this game, better remember at all times that this was in fact a game.
According to the text, the experience may even be fun... Right?
"Arcade mode selected."
The book closed itself and the black background started to gain focus and light. Looking around Harry noticed that he was apparently in his relatives' home at Privet Drive. Before he could even gasp in surprise his vision is once again filled with the image of the book. At the borders he could still see his aunt's house but the image appeared out of focus and more than a little blurred.
The book opened and the pages flipped very fast stopping at a page that he hadn't seen before.
"You have started your adventure! Your game has been auto-saved. It's recommended that you save your game in a new slot so that you can go back to the beginning in case you want to restart . You can resume your adventure now, access your saved games page, access your miscellaneous options page, access your character screen & inventory page, access your quest log page, access your reputation & relationship page, access your roll-log page or access your game manual content."
He read the passage but it did not register. He was too stunned to think at the moment. Good thing he was in a paused state or he would probably just faint right there.
After a few seconds, or maybe a couple of minutes, Harry finally restarted his brain. He was in a game where he apparently controls his own body in a replica of Number 4 Privet Drive. Now he could understand what the description meant when it referred to immersing yourself in the game. If this was realistic he could end up forgetting that this was all a game. To him that would be the ultimate betrayal of his real life.
Calming a little Harry ignored the book for a moment and willed it to close. It obeyed his silent command and disappeared from sight, returning the room to focus and its un-blurred state.
He was standing right in front of his cupboard, right in the middle of the house. He looked at his hands and became startled at the small and young appendages. He looked at his feet and noticed his battered and patched, second hand sneakers. He was also wearing his cousin's old, too large pants and t-shirt. He touched his face and removed his taped glasses looking at them closely in this strange situation.
Yep, the game brought him back to his pre-Hogwards years. Everything looked exactly as he remembered, it was scary how every detail was the same, even things he couldn't consciously remember were now on display.
Movement coming from the kitchen caused Harry to panic. He needed time to process all this before meeting anyone. Acting on instinct he brought back the manual.
"HARRY POTTER: THE GAME
1) SAVE AND LOAD PAGE
2) OPTIONS PAGE
3) CHARACTER & INVENTORY PAGE
4) QUEST LOG PAGE
5) REPUTATION & RELATIONSHIP PAGE
6) ROLL LOG PAGE
7) GAME MANUAL"
Fighting the panic Harry ignored the book for now and tried to think of what he would do as soon as he saw his aunt again. What to do? What to say? It was just a game right? Why does it have to look so real? Hadn't he selected arcade mode? Wasn't this supposed to be obviously a game and not realistic?
Harry took a long time to calm down. He still didn't have any clue as to what to do. But he decided that more information wouldn't be bad. Willing option 7 he watched with interest as the pages flipped and the book displayed his written words.