Out of character interlude

I started this blog mostly as a lark and somewhat as a joke but I’m enjoying it at this point.  One thing I’ve realized (with apologies to whomever mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa) is that while writing based on D&D is mildly silly it’s kind of nice to have a structure of what your character actually can do.  Obviously to the zero people who ready this blog, are intimately familiar with D&D (Pathfinder really, but you know), and pay CLOSE attention to every detail I’m somewhat fast and loose with the minutia of how the rules would work but there’s a solid base there.

The thought that came across my mind is if I were writing a story about a super spy who’s a Muay Thai champion, motorcross enthusiast, classically trained chef I would be in a bit of a pickle because I don’t actually know anything about those things.  Could this character Muay Thai kick the door of a car off?  Who knows?  Not me for sure.  They say write what you know but that’s lame because most people don’t know anything interesting – and I know because I talked to a person once. 

Of course there’s the theory that as the author you can have the character do whatever you want or need them to do for the story you want to tell, but  I’m enjoying (in this format anyway) having some limitations.  Ela can’t fly halfway across the world and summon an army of Valkyries because the rules say she can’t.  That’s kind of nice.  I think it’s been shown many times over that people don’t create their best work when they have total freedom – having some boundaries to work within usually helps, even if eventually they end up ignoring them all once you get started. 

I don’t read so many comics anymore because I’m old and unhip but when I did one thing that often bugged me is the wildly inconsistent abilities of the protagonists.  There’s no way around that really, the Hulk has had 100s of different writers at this point, if not thousands – it’s not like there’s a Hulk Bible of EXACTLY how strong he is.  But it’s annoying when the abilities of the hero in question change to service the story – or when their abilities are “forgotten” in order to create drama.  One issue Captain American jumps out of a plane without a parachute and just lands fine because he’s awesome.  Next issue he’s “trapped” on the 15th floor of a building with no way down.  What changed?  A little bit of consistency is nice is my point. 

And while I like using the D&D framework it does make things a little wonky.  Ela isn’t totally helpless in combat just because she’s a 14th level character now and D&D is a linear deal whereas if I was just writing 100% off the cuff I’d probably never have her be any good at fighting.  And her social skills are all so high as the rules are written she should basically be able to convince anyone of anything.  But hey, pros and cons.    

2 thoughts on “Out of character interlude

  1. Getting older is no reason to stop reading comic books! I enjoy them in .CBR format these days, and there are a bunch of apps to choose from for viewing the files. I definitely agree with you about various “inconsistencies of convenience” in superhero stories, though… some of those can be pretty annoying indeed.

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