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In Need of Hero: Commoners Need Not Apply.

Discussion in 'Original Fiction Discussion' started by Antivash, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. wolf550e

    wolf550e High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    The hero is awesome. So the reader asks himself, why am I not as awesome? And they get an answer: the hero is awesome because he has awesome genes. Now the reader doesn't feel bad about failing to conquer the world by age 33. This literary convention was established when believing in good breeding was popular. Post WWII, the concept became unpopular, and restricted to kennel clubs that produce very sickly dogs. But intelligence, health and beauty are partially hereditary. These contribute to success. It is possible to acknowledge this without thinking we should euthanize the less fortunate.
     
  2. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    That's true of anything. With enough skill, you could use anything as a plot device, violate any of the established rules of literature, and it could be good. That doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't codify the quality of a given concept.

    Personally, I find the "descended from royalty" schtick to be rather tired. I don't see anything inherently wrong with the concept, just that it's been done to death, especially since IRL we as a society have been moving away from the existence of royalty (especially the Mandate of Heaven style royalty that this trope abuses so often) for multiple centuries now.

    Also, my preferences tend to lean towards Peter-Parker-style "right guy at the right place at the right time" coincidences to serve as the Call to Action. It just strikes me as both less contrived and more organic than the alternative.
     
  3. redshell

    redshell Order Member

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    As has been stated before, making the protagonist royalty is a cop-out. Plain and simple. You can't think of any other way to make your character special, so they're descended from someone special. Why not have them be simply talented? Or just some guy who worked really hard to get to where he was?

    As an example, The Legend of Zelda. Link is, in every single game, just some guy who gets called upon to protect the realm. Fan theories abound about whether or not each Link is descended from another one, but as I recall blonde hair isn't exactly a rarity in Hyrule. Sure, it's uncommon, but it's not rare enough to give anyone pause.

    For another example, Nathan Drake. He's just some guy who hunts treasure and gets in way over his head all the time. Naughty Dog specifically created him to be an everyman. I'm not exactly sure about whether or not you guys follow the six-month or the one-year rule in regards to spoilers, so here it is.
    Also, we find out in Uncharted 3 that he's not actually descended from Sir Francis Drake, he's just using the guy's name to get ahead in life.
     
  4. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    This doesn't work very well in support of your argument. I mean, sure he's not descended from royalty, but each and every Link is still "the Chosen One" (by Fate, Time, the Gods, etc), which is functionally equivalent to having royal blood. They're special because the circumstances of their birth or whatever made them special.

    I don't disagree with you, just that example in particular.
     
  5. redshell

    redshell Order Member

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    I'll concede that point, and perhaps change it to another Nintendo example in Mario. The guy's a plumber. Granted, a plumber who is very skilled in saving the world, but he's still a plumber.

    The Fallout games are another great example of this. Jim Sawyer himself said that the Vault Dweller ended up going out into the wasteland because they drew straws.

    The Lone Wanderer is just a guy who's looking for his father and wants answers.

    The Courier was just a delivery boy who got shot over a package that put him in way over his head and got him mixed up in a bunch of politics between three different factions and a constantly-smiling robot.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012
  6. Rin

    Rin Oberstgruppenführer DLP Supporter

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    This thread reminds me of an idea I had for a story.

    In some land there's a secret society that runs everything from the shadows. When the reigning monarch ceases to be useful to them, suddenly various "prophets" appear throughout the land spouting some prophesy. Eventually, some Joe Everyman that they've groomed from birth just for this task is set off on a quest to fulfill the prophesy. The population is stirred up into a frothing, anti-current-regime mob and the "hero" manages to save the day throughout the land (well, really, the secret society creates problems for him to solve and makes him--and everyone else--think that he's the one who did it. The plucky love-interest (also unwittingly groomed from day one to fill that role) eventually gets thrust into the hero's adventures (by "pure chance," of course).

    As the hero becomes beloved throughout the land, he garners more and more support, and by the end of the story, he's able to depose the tyrant (read: the king who was no longer useful to the secret society). After his coronation, the new king and his queen are taken into a small side room during the celebrations and it's revealed that in fact he was never a hero at all, just a pawn of this huge conspiracy. Things only ever went his way because they made it happen--in fact, the problems they "solved" during their adventures were only ever instigated by said same conspiracy for him to solve.

    When the hero-king storms out of the room thinking that he'll summon his guards, the celebrations have ceased and every guard and politician in the room reveals the tattoo or some other mark showing them to be in on it. The king and his queen back up and collapse on their thrones and hand their heads low, knowing that their lives up until that point were just lies and that they were puppets. Nothing they set out to change, would, because this secret society wants nothing more than to maintain the status quo. They deposed a king who was actually trying to improve the lives of his people, and now they would either be puppets, or face a similar fate.

    Cynical debby-downer ending.
     
  7. wolf550e

    wolf550e High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    Shit is super hard to control. To ensure reasonable chance of success, the secret society must have lots of powerful members throughout the land. Then it is impossible to keep it secret. Chivalric orders and religious organizations have done things like that IRL, but they are not secret. Powerful people have always had private communication with each other to coordinate stuff [1], and were accused to controlling the world. But they don't really control the world, they only influence it a lot. Currently the "Illuminati" are the Bilderberg Group.

    1 - Think of negotiations between a multinational corporation, a bank underwriting their new business venture and selling the bonds, a government offering tax breaks for bringing thousands of jobs, local interests pro and against. Now consider media coverage that includes opinions given by competing multinationals, competing local governments, stock speculators and their shills. Take into account that efficient communications mediums did not exist, so verifiable up to date information was not available.
     
  8. Captain Trips

    Captain Trips High Inquisitor

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    Rin, I woud read the shit out of that story. It sounds awsome.
     
  9. Hashasheen

    Hashasheen Totally Sirius

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    So... the First Law Trilogy then?

    Go read the First Law trilogy. It hits you hard with a similiar premise in the last book.
     
  10. enembee

    enembee The Nicromancer Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Or don't bother considering it's just been totally spoiled for you :p
     
  11. OneSimpleIdea

    OneSimpleIdea Second Year

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    Yeah, I was thinking "damnit! there goes my incentive to read that series!" haha.
     
  12. mialbowy

    mialbowy Squib

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    A lot has been said about the hero benefiting from Noble Birth, but what about when he's the son of a tyrannical, hated regime trying to redeem his family's name while his father is still on the throne? Or, to generalise, simply a hero who has a reputation that counts against him.

    It seems like a good set up to have a only-this-guy-can-do-it person who is pushed hard in both physical and psychological ways for large amounts of solid character development, varied character interactions and intriguing plot.
     
  13. Rin

    Rin Oberstgruppenführer DLP Supporter

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    I'd like to preface this that if anything in this response sounds defensive, please don't take it as such. I am a little drunk and that is not my intention.

    Anyway, my original post was kept vague about "the land" because it would have to be up to the author what that meant, exactly. Does it mean a small kingdom? Does it mean an empire? Does it mean a modern nation-state?

    Second, in the back of my head the whole time, and again, something I kept intentionally vague, but sort of intended, was that the dominant religious institution is the "secret society". Obviously everyone knows who they are, but the "secret" part is that no one knows that they're the real governing body throughout "the land".

    I really wanted this idea to be a double punch at both organized religion, and the idea of the hero even really being a hero. The reader would follow the hero through his adventures and cheer him on, and then be devastated by the revelation just as much as the hero is.

    Two volumes might even be better. 1st: the hero defeats the "tyrant" and becomes the new king (then reveal). 2nd: the (now) King eventually grows enough of a spine to buck the authority of his masters only to discover himself painted as the new tyrant and a new hero gaining popularity and gathering the necessary forces/power to depose this king. So we get to see both sides of the cycle.

    The author could even choose to have a cynical end: the once hero is vanquished and the cycle completes to begin again; or, a more idealistic end: the former, vanquished king gets brought out of exile in secret and the current king discovers that his predicessor was, like him a hero who vanquished a king. Together, they use cunning and cloak-and-daggery to convince the current "hero" that he's being played, and the maqurade is exposed and everyone lives happily every after as the cycle has been broken (queue trillogy where the secret society rises from the ashes to begin the cycle anew because fuck you*).

    *Not you wolf550e, the reader.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  14. LittleChicago

    LittleChicago Death Eater DLP Supporter

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    i like the idea of the hero actually making a difference even when his very existence is supposed to ensure the status quo.

    Feels like things would be quite rushed and unstable, though, with a new king every five years or so... on the other hand, that kind of speaks to modern politics, doesn't it?
     
  15. Infidel

    Infidel Auror

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    By Vash
    In most cases, if the protagonist turns out to be royalty, his/her parents tend to have been the good, honest and kind King and Queen who were assassinated by the cruel, evil and heartless usurper.

    This validates the protagonists fight to gain what is rightfully theirs. Given how much we hate it when something of ours is taken from us by force, we tend to root for the aggrieved party. It also provides scale and a reason for the rest of the kingdom to rise with the protagonist against cruelty and oppression.

    Another reason might be that we all understand that humans as a species are not perfect. In fiction, the idea might be that royalty are those who are better than the the common people. The best example of this is of course in Lord of the Rings where those in whom the blood of Numenor flows strong (Aragorn, Faramir) are shown to be not just better warriors, but better people.
     
  16. LittleChicago

    LittleChicago Death Eater DLP Supporter

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    Can't find the video right now, but this makes me think of the Simpsons' take on David and Goliath, where Bart-as-David finally kills Goliath and tries to reclaim the throne, but it turns out Goliath actually improved things and no one wants Bart back.
     
  17. Jester

    Jester Sixth Year

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    I don't know why but I thought of the Chronicles of Prydain. I loved that shit as a kid. Was disappointed by how it turned out in the end though.
     
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