So things happen in game life that we can’t count on. Sometimes people have to suddenly cancel their accounts, sometimes there are disagreements between players that we can’t anticipate, sometimes people decide they’d rather do other things than roleplay with their game time. How do we pick our characters up and recover from that? How do we press forward?
The easiest answer is, of course, to continue roleplaying with other people and see what happens. That isn’t without its complications, though, especially if there is a lack of insight on what the other character/rp’er is planning. If they aren’t forthcoming with details or ideas, how do you move ahead? Having been in this situation a couple times with my six trillion alts, I’ve been able to try a few approaches, and here’s what has worked for me.
A) Keep things vague. If the character is in a relationship and the relationship is just over thanks to non-IC fuckery, it’s all right to just say “It’s done” and leave it at that. If people pry for details, don’t give any. “I don’t think that’s any of your business” is a perfectly legitimate answer. Being vague also ensures that you’re not godmodding someone else’s character. I don’t think anything could be/would be more awkward than if your RP partner went away and you said they died in a fiery inferno only for them to re-up their subscription months later and go “HAY U GUYZ, I’M HEER LOLS!”
B) Get into your character’s head and try to figure out what makes them tick. So someone left them, do they man up and suck it up and pretend nothing happened? Do they get depressed? Do they get caustic? Play with this. It’s not ideal that story arcs are left flailing, but that doesn’t mean your character doesn’t /feel/ things about it, and revisiting their headspace may give you a platform to relaunch him or her.
C) Rely on your other friends to help you gain focus. If you really are feeling like you have no direction with your character, it’s okay to say “Hey Buddy, Hey Pal, Hey Friend, is there anything Shecky The Warrior King can do with you? I’m having a hard time with him lately and could really use a story.” Most folks are reasonable, and real friends will be happy to help you.
D) It’s okay to take a break and refocus. If you are too worked up over a bad split, if you aren’t feeling the character, if you aren’t sure what to do because an rp partner is gone, it’s all right to take some time to think about it. Come up with an IC reason for your character to be by him or herself and when you’re feeling better about things, forge ahead.
E) Retconning. It’s the least ideal suggestion, but if things just went too far and you don’t think any of it’s workable, retcon aspects of the character or relationship. If it makes you happiest to pretend a lot of it was a big bad dream, or that your character believes it was, talk to other players around you, explain, and retcon away.
I’m sure there are other suggestions out there on how to work through the unexpected loss of an rp relationship, and I’d be happy for folks to chime in with comments! One thing I will add before I go: before you resort to any of this, sometimes an email to your absentia rp partner will do you wonders. If you still have a working relationship with the other player, they’re just incommunicado thanks to school or work or real life things, reaching out to them and asking can solve everything. They may tell you that their character is away or dead, missing or lost. If you’re comfortable with their explanation, it may save you a lot of trouble and uncertainty.