A gallery of villains

June 26, 2013

I have a couple more essays in mind, but I’d also like to post more creative writing. In my last character design exercise, I wrote up a few heroes. How about I try a bunch of villains?

As always, good villains aren’t “just plain villains,” but have personality and give support to the story. The point of the story is “Too much light leads to blindness.” A quote from many places, sure, but in this case from Cayenne Chris Conroy’s radio play The Account: A Tale of the Waking World (which starts here). With the “light” theme, it sounds like we’re talking crusaders of some sort, thus I’ll describe a medieval army led by various officers. In terms of character geometry, this will be three two-dimensional “officer” characters. I was thinking of including a group of one-dimensional “soldier” characters, but that might be more fun for some other time.

It could have fantastic elements or it could not: neither really matters to the point. Perhaps it takes place in Generica. Upon reflection, I see that “blindness” themes were already present in my first writing exercise, so I’ll be sure to push in different directions for the current one.

The officers will all share the “self-righteous” trait, but, to create complexity, the second trait will be selected at random by using RANDOM.ORG to count down a list (in addition to choosing a random gender). As of now, the list is 72 elements long, consisting of everything Dave Kosak said and everything I’ve used (or even hinted) so far. Then somehow I’ll make these traits fit into the story!

Two-dimensional character. Male, powerless.

Two-dimensional character. Female, protective.

Two-dimensional character. Female, obsessive.

I don’t know why I felt like naming all of them after nonlinear visual phenomena (see below), but sometimes these things happen. Again, if you are interested in anything I post and want to use it somewhere (such as in a tabletop gaming session), just ask me. I like to know where my children are.

2-D character: Lieutenant Angle.
Traits: Self-righteous, powerless.
Description: A man who has lived too long in his armor, which is now worn and has seen repair after repair.
Dialogue: Written – “The campaign has begun, and it will be ruination for the one who fails. We must show the world that what we do is right and that this shields us from the arrows of those who reject our truth. The cause has brought us so far; can it bring us to the end? Surely, I will be there to see the end either way.”
Intro – “Ah, there is no release from battle! To arms!”
Fight – “My place is the front line; I may never retreat.”
Fight – “Strike me down if you dare, but the cause runs without me!”

2-D character: Lieutenant Bend.
Traits: Self-righteous, protective.
Description: An armed and armored woman, never far from full battle-readiness. She walks with a straight back.
Dialogue: Written – “I walked among the troops today after Lt. C. performed her inspection. Many are nervous to be on campaign at last. This I can understand. What I cannot tolerate is the question ‘And who do we face?’ What matters it? Lt. A. knows that we put all to the sword if our Generals see the need. I must steel our troops to face the shock of battle.”
Intro – “Be warned, the enemy comes upon us!”
Fight – “I shall not let you harm those who bring truth!”
Fight – “Why do you struggle? Why seek to destroy our cause?”

2-D character: Lieutenant Crook.
Traits: Self-righteous, obsessive.
Description: An officer identifiable by a rattling sound: one mailed fist holds various symbols on chains, always clenched tightly.
Dialogue: Written – “Inspection revealed the usual thousand small ways our army is unprepared. The hearts are the worst: countless men and women failing to reaffirm their belief before bed, before rise, before battle. Hah, why do they even answer when I ask, if they know their answer is wrong?!”
Intro – “Strike, soldiers, and let the cause move you!”
Fight – “You are not worthy of the glory we shall know.”
Fight – “Prove yourself! Prove you can stand before our truth!”

. . . As should be clear, I didn’t know going into this exercise what the format of the dialogue pieces would be. In this case, first I intended to do single lines, then I thought personality would be better revealed in a cutscene, and then at last I realized I needed a full paragraph to really establish how each officer differed.

These dialogue pieces I label “written” are intended to be discovered by the player, perhaps on a desk in a raided camp, adding flavor to the scene. Personal logs and so on are the same useful device for establishing character as, say, “character notes” in a play or roleplaying aides in a pencil-and-paper session. Everything fits in its place: a writer does not expect an active videogame player to sit through a multi-page speech, so the lengthier content goes into “downtime” like in written material. When “on the air,” things must be more brief.

In the future, I believe I will try a different sort of group with more “soldier”-level characters (as noted above), and see how they turn out with little “airtime” to express personality.

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