So, I had been a vetran DnD player for around 4 years before taking a small break at University. In my final year, I found a DM and decided to hop back into the magical world yet again.
Up stepped Bartholomew Archer, a Half-Elven Bard who ran away from home and a neglectful father who was ashamed to have spawned a hafling, and his sole intention was to be famous. Every time he introduced himself to a person (this began at the PC introductions) he would increase his name by one for each person (starting at Bartholomew Archer, then Bartholomew Von Archer, then Bartholomew Von Duke Archer, you get the picture), but all this followed the question "Do you know who I am?". His sole intention was fame, nothing more and nothing less, he wanted to be a name heard all around the land just as a massive "shove it" to his dad.
For reference, the group was a Dragonborn Rouge, a Human Fighter, a Genasi Warlock, a Tiefling Bard (who was introduced later) and a Dwarf Cleric. All had different interactions with Bart, but all felt he was apart of the family (even if Bart had tried to get the party named "Bartholomew Archer and his Travelling Dancing Brigade).
The campaign begins and the shennangins of Bart already begin, testing the patience of a local tavern owner in order to play songs and not really caring if he's annoying folk, but rather just performing to perform. He would have his moments with his performances, but that's another story.
I had missed a session, and the group had gone into a cave that was a magical plane of existance (our 1st Dungeon Crawl and I had missed the start) so the group were described as Bart sprinted through the cave to catch up with them, and upon returning to them, I see the regular group and a new addition: a three day old Kobold, currently tied on a string.
The group had saved this creature from being eaten, and had decided to keep it around for comic relief, so as the only Bard (currently) I had decided to take it to add to my act. He started life off as a balloon, as we had cast levitate on it, and our first sight of his capabilities was when he got his head stuck in a grate that summoned a fog monster. Despite this, I had a soft spot for the guy, and this was the start of a huge character arc.
We discovered he called himself Saarg, and had no home to his own, so Bart offered him his bag, and slowly began teaching him common, having fun intimate moments with the creature at each rest through the cave, and I'll admit in person I was falling for the NPC (our DM was VERY good at playing characters which helped) and Saarg became integral to the group, even if he wasn't effective.
Towards the end of the cave, we had to fight two Griffens, and this is where the party saw a motivation change in Bart. Prior to this, I had abused Thunder Clap, which usually hurt everyone bar me and had downed a party member before (it was a running joke that anytime someone annoyed Bart, he'd lift up his lute ready to cast and cause a scene) but in this fight, he thought about Saarg. He hid him in his bag, and used everything else to help apart from that one cantrip, to the partys amazement. After we took them down, Bart collected a few feathers and made a small hat for Saarg, which he loved, I had truly taken to the Saarg as my own.
Outside of the cave, we ran into a Changling called Nassa, who worked for an organisation called the Tower. He wished to inspect Saarg more, and ask him questions (as he had an interest in these magic caves) so cast Comprehend Language around us all to talk to Saarg. Now, nothing of interest actually came from Saarg, however I took this as an opportunity. At the table, I asked "does anyone have a pen and paper?" to which, someone obliged, and I began crafting a note for the DM. I hand it over, he reads it, and laughs and looks at me and goes "is this real?" to which I confirm, and I hand it to Saarg. Now, in game, Bart shows Saarg a piece of paper he had hastinly written on over a rock and it read the following:- "Bart Adpots Saarg (Meaning We Family)" and as Saarg reads, Bart mimes the action of family he had taught Saarg (a hug and arms across the chest after) and the DM rolls to see if Saarg understands. Natural 20. So I now have my own little family, myself and a (at the time) 5 Day Old Kobold.
We venture towards a major city called Bimont, as we were tasked with delivering cargo and myself and Saarg interact more, I make him a small instrument out of a arrow and a string, teach him to play it and continue to teach him Common. By this point, everyone in the party loved Saarg, but none more than me, I'd actively track his HP in combat, make sure I always body blocked him, fed him etc. he was, in all senses of the word, my son. But Bart grew to wanting to teach, he wanted his son and others disadvantage to have the access to Bard Colleges available to everyone else, and from here on out his motivations wasn't to be a famous Bard, but rather be a famous Bard College founder.
When we arrive at Bimont, we do a few story shenanigans which leads us to a magic shop ran by Aunty Anne, who asks us "what is your groups name? every good group has a name!" and we spend a SOLID 10-15 Minutes out of game debating this, till we come up with the ingenious idea. Bart steps up, and declares "we, are Sigma Saarg". Yes, we named ourselves after the Kobold. Anne and Bart end up talking about the wellbeing of Saarg, and its here I cry for the 1st time at the table. "Are you sure adventuring is the right place for Saarg?" Anne said, almost embracing Bart in game, and our DM looking at me break down at the table. I didn't want to lose Saarg, but everything was going to get harder, I knew this. After a lot of roleplay (through tears for me) I agree to leave Saarg with Anne, on the condition that I can come visit whenever I want, and take him back as soon as my adventuring is done, which Anne agreed. So, I have one last interaction with Saarg, promising to him that I'll come back with more stories of his dad to tell him, of all our adventures and didn't want him to think I was leaving forever, and I go "Daddy loves Saarg" and Im already tearing up a this point, to which our DM goes "Saarg… L…Loves….Da…Daddy" and I lose it, and cry for the 2nd time at the table.
Few days pass in game, and I accidentally miss another sessions, during which the party finds themselves in a graveyard chasing down a Necromancer (this was a job I had warned against). Bart joins them, and almost immediatly an encounter starts against Shadows. Now, being a vetran, I knew about the Shadow's Strength Steal, and I was worried. Bart couldn't die, he has a son to live for. As the fight goes on, my strength drops to 3 and Bart begins to feel faint, ready to lose conciousness. The party manages to dispell the shadows, and Bart exclaims "Screw the money, Im going". The party debates for around 10 minutes again, do we leave the job? But I was adamant, whatever they do is on them, but I am leaving. I was geniuenly worried for the character, for Saarg, who could tell his son that his dad died, even in a game?
The group decides to leave, but our way is blocked at the end by a magic wall, to which Bart, using the last of his strength, uses his Ring of Counter Spell, to dispell the wall for a short time and the group darts through, triggering a poison trap. We all (almost) pass, and nobody dies, fortunately. But I was annoyed, I wanted Bart to survive, had warned against this specific job and it had almost got him killed, so when we arrive back at Aunty Anne's, I demand in character "do not put me with them. I dont want to see them right now." Anne obligies, put me upstairs and fixes everyone up. Then Anne comes to me.
She sees how upset I am, and we begin to talk. "I just dont know what would happen to Saarg, and it scares me." I proclaimed, and the conversation was fairly one-sided for a time, with Bart expressing that he's only doing this for the coin to make enough to open his college and give Saarg the best life he could, not himself, he just wanted to survive for Saarg. After listening to all this, Anne goes "my child, maybe this life of an adventurer isn't for you then?" to which I cry for a 2nd time at the table. Anne then describes how Bart can live at hers, work in the shop she runs and make coin that way, her and Saarg under one roof, not risking their life, and can find a lot in Bimont to open their college when they're ready, whilst Anne helps teach Saarg with Barts help.
We call a break, and I now have 10 minutes to think over "am I ready to give up Bart?" and everyone comes hugs me, seeing how emotinal I am over the prospect. When I stop crying, I come back to the table, and ask "can I do some 1-on-1 for a bit?" (our DM was very good with this, and the table was happy for it to happen). So, I sit down, and I go "lets close off Barts affairs." And thus the retirement process begins, we go to the man we'd been working with (called Mr.Bones who was a shady underdark boss) and promised not to say a single word of his work, and leave on a handshake. The rest of the solo session is effectively me doing the same for others we work with, but also planning a little party for the group to come back to. The DM then grabs everyone back, and says "you've all been invited to the Golden Canary" a pub we've used before. When they arrive, they see myself and Anne walk in, I buy everyone their preffered drink and a steak dinner, and go "my friends, we have built many a great story, however, this is where my part in it ends." and we spend the next 5 or so minutes just having a laugh and reminiscing over Bart's role in the party to this point. After the drinks are had and the food is ate (in game) I go to leave, but one of our party members (the Gneasi, who Bart had not always seen eye-to-eye with) buys 1 last round and goes "a toast! to Bartholomew Archer!" and each member effectively says their own personal goodbye to Bart, and the last scene is just Bart walking out, an arm drapped round him from Anne, ready to live a calm, slow life.
The group do still see Bart, but he no longer adventures at all, and we retired the character in good fashion, holding an real life funeral for the character in a sense, and we all said our last piece and lit the character sheet on fire to say farewell, to the best Bard to ever live, Bartholomew Archer.