|Posted by Ember on July 28, 2017 at 12:05 AM|
Hello everyone! This past July on the site has been full of ups and downs, from the excitement of a two-leg attack on a rabbit warren in SunClan territory to the frustration of a Webs glitch that prevented everyone from posting or even staying logged in. August will hopefully have all off the excitement and none of the glitches, but we’ll see how it goes. Registrations are scheduled to remain open. However, the moderators will be handling rule enforcement and taking the lead on organizing the plot from July 29th-August 11th as I will be out of the country and my activity will be sporadic at best.
The series of Monthly Meows comparing the canon series to this roleplay will continue next month, in the meantime we have a guide from Kingfish on how to write hero or villain characters. Thank you so much, King, for writing this monthly meow! If any of you would like to submit your own monthly meow, check out the Member Submitted Monthly Meows Blog Entry.
Making a hero or a villain is actually harder than it sounds. You can't make them perfectly good or pure evil or else they aren't believable. Good guys that are too good are often called "Mary Sue" or "Gary Stu", meaning that they are so perfect and so good that virtually everyone hates them. Likewise, a villain that is just evil is boring, and people don't often care; the villains become very forgettable.
So, how do you go about making a believable villain or hero?
The first step is to take time to make them a backstory. Now, these don't have to be long, complicated novels that make your character super-duper deep, (in fact, Ember gets annoyed when character descriptions go over about 500 words) they just need to be something that gives your character a base. As an example, I will be creating two characters: Redfire, the hero, and Swordtongue, a villain.
In Redfire's case, he is a hero, and needs to therefore be good, and in the same way, Swordtongue needs to be bad in order to be a villain. Here, I will show you do's and don'ts for making back stories…
1. Dark Backstories
If you want a hero who understands loss and pain, or want to create a villain in general, they need a dark and tragic backstory, right?
Heroes don't necessarily have to suffer to understand suffering. Nor do villains need a deep dark reason to be evil. For example:
DON'T: Redfire was born without a father around, because his father was killed during a white out by a ravenous gang of evil cats. Then when he was just a kit, his mother took him to DawnClan, where he was left to grow up. But his mother could not hold on. She was too weak from caring for him during the Leaf-Bare that she died of starvation shortly after giving him to the clan. Then, when he was an apprentice, he was bullied by the other apprentices because he was freakishly large, but unintimidating, and they beat him up a lot. He bears scars over his cheek from one incident with an apprentice. Now, he cares for orphaned kits , and vows to make sure no cat feels like they don't have a family.
Blah, it's just too much, isn't it? His whole backstory is sad, and therefore, you would think he'd put on a black cape and mask, claim that he's Batman, and brood about his life.
DO: Redfire grew up in a gang and only knew how to fend for himself and fight off other gang members who might want a bite of his meal. But, after running into his friend Bubblestream one day while on a hunt, he snuck away and met her more frequently. When she told him of her clan, he became curious about them, and after much convincing, he finally came into camp one day to meet the clan. The leader of MoonClan seemed interested and even intrigued by him, and soon, Redfire was accepted into the clan. He felt like family with the clan, instead of like another individual in a group, and he decided to stay.
But the thing that that most inspired him to remain with them was all of the kits without fathers. In the gang, his father was around, but not as a father- just another gang member; his mother was one of many queens who cared for him and the other kits in his gang, forcing him to compete for her undivided attention. He now feels a fatherly connection to MoonClan’s kits and apprentices, and wants to show them what it would be like to have a father. He spends his days mentoring them and treating them with love like a father would.
Much more interesting! Now Redfire isn't just a tragic character. While he does have a little heart ache- his father not treating him like a father would, and his mother not having time for him- he isn't made up of sad stories. He also still had a reasonably bright and personal story that many people could probably identify with in one way or another.
Now, to make a villain.
DON'T: Swordtongue was abused by an owner when he was a young kittypet. He got hit with bottles and was kicked by his owner, and then he thrown from a car, and left to die. Then, he was taken in by a gang that only thrashed him on a daily basis. He was nearly killed until one day he finally killed the leader of the gang. Ever since, he felt an undying hatred for everyone.
He's not very well rounded, and he just sounds cheesy. So, how do we fix that?
DO: Swordtongue was raised in SunClan, and as he grew older, he realized he did not approve of the leadership style. Time after time, he waited for things to change, but instead the leaders in succession did nothing better than the ones preceding them. Finally one day, he decided that he had had enough with it. That was the day his friend Rabbitchaser was promoted to deputy. Determined not to watch his clan fail again, Swordtongue persuaded Rabbitchaser to make bolder decisions than the leader, Wrenstar, and force her hand by starting more border skirmishes, invading other clans, and taking prey from the surrounding territories; perhaps then SunClan could be perceived as a strong clan. Then, he convinced Rabbitchaser to do the unthinkable: kill Wrenstar. The assassination didn’t work; Swordtongue warned Wrenstar in time and Rabbitchaser was exiled. Finding no one else to turn to, Wrenstar named Swortdtongue deputy. Now he just has to figure out how to control Wrenstar and change his clan for the better...
This backstory sounds more convincing, and his motive for being evil is simply not liking the way the clan is run, and is now taking things into his own hands... er, paws...
Also notice that Swordtongue is not in NightClan like most villains. While, yes, villains are allowed to come from evil origins such as a gang or NightClan, making a villain in a less suited clan makes them stand out more. An example of this is Weepingstar, who came from MoonClan. MoonClan is a good clan, right? Thus, he is memorable not only for his actions, but also for his clan of origin.
2. Creating a Disposition and Weaknesses
Dispositions and weaknesses are another way to round your character. After all, no one is flawless, and everyone has his or her own vice.
DON'T: As a hero, Redfire is a kind tom and all he ever does is be nice to people. He loves everyone, and with a love a strong as his, he feels the need to protect everyone, and would even die at the drop of a hat for his friends. Red believes in being nice to everyone, no matter what they've done to you.
Redfire is just too good. He has no real personality. While it’s not bad that he’s good, his goodness borders on cringe-worthy. No one can relate to him and without conflict, a roleplay just isn’t interesting! Here’s how to fix it:
DO: Redfire is a kind cat, and he truly loves his clan mates. But, for as much as he loves them, he fears death, and cannot bring himself to truly put his own life on the line for his clan mates. He hates that he is that way, but when he looks death in the face, he turns back, too afraid of what might happen, or rather, what may not happen after he passes.He also has anger issues. While he is kind, if someone makes him angry, it takes a lot to calm him down. Red once took his anger too far and hurt Bubblestream. While he has has since tried to conceal his rage, it still plagues him. On top of that, he has a hard time with "turning the other cheek"; he prefers revenge. Letting go is too hard.
So, now Redfire is still good in his core, but he also has vengeance problems and a fear of death that keeps him from being sacrificial and following a basic tenet of The Warrior Code.
One method I use to making a good guy is to make your ideal hero, and then add struggles to him. These can become very minor ones like laziness, or can be as serious as an addiction of sorts. When I say addictions, this doesn’t mean they have to be into catnip all the time. This could be things like enjoys getting into arguments or fights, or eats non-stop. Remember that on this site, the role play must remain PG or less.
Now, for villains...
DON'T: Swordtongue is a hateful, evil cat. He hates everyone, and is insane. Blood is his favorite flavor of ice cream, and he bathes in the guts of his slain victims. He has never loved anyone, and has no interest in anyone but himself.
*Yawn* All he does is hate. No one really cares. So how do you fix it?
DO: Swordtongue is a very mild tom cat. Slow talking, relaxed and often cool-headed, he rarely over-reacts to anything, but instead studies the problem and proceeds to handle it as he sees fit. Around friends and she-cats, he's charming, always friendly and- if he can say so-the life of the party; it would seem many cats very well like him.
But while he's kind to their faces, he holds no one closer than arm's length. After all, he says, “trust is like willingly putting your head on the executioner's block and not expecting to get killed.” With his little trust, he also has severe punishments for those who betray him or his views. Anyone who turns his back on the clan, he sees as death-worthy; cats who are too cowardly to fight in a battle and do their share to protect the clan deserve to be publicly shamed and beaten if not killed for their treachery. If someone makes an attempt on his life or reputation, he quietly executes. All of this out of the sight of others. And he seems to have no exceptions; not warriors, not queens, not apprentices.
But that's where is mercilessness stops. As cruel as he can be, he physically cannot make himself kill a kit. He won't even kill it if it is unborn inside a queen. Swordtongue isn't sure why, though it could be to blame for the fact that he's always wanted a mate and kits, but has been so mistrusting that he couldn't ever have that. If he couldn't have kits, why should he make kits suffer because of it?
Swordtongue seems kinds of scary now, and also kind of relatable. The key to a good villain is to make them almost good, minus the fact that they are okay with murder/blackmail/other means of evil. Remember: mental illness in villains is a very hard way of playing. While I’m sure most other players will let you get away with making a character with a mental disease, playing them correctly must be a priority. Research the illness first before you make an “insane” villain and strive to make your portrayal respectful to those who suffer from the disease.
3. Lusting for Blood/Always Doing the Right Thing
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: no one is purely evil or purely good.
For an example, Redfire and Swordtongue will demonstrate a scene. At a gathering, Swordtongue hears Snowstar claim that MoonClan is thriving, but has neglected to tell the other clans that DawnClan has taken some of their territory, and are now suffering from the loss. Finding him weak, Swordtongue decides to talk to a MoonClan warrior, Redfire. Swordtongue believes that Snowstar’s demise would not only benefit MoonClan, but also give SunClan an opportunity to ally with, if not take over, MoonClan in their time of need.
DON'T: Redfire shook his head. "No, Swordtongue! I would never kill Snowstar; he's been a good leader, and I could never betray him like that!" he spat. "And if you want him dead so bad, then you'll have to fight me!"
Okay, not bad, honestly, but not all heroes just do the right thing, and it's very interesting to make heroes struggle to do the right thing.
DO: Redfire looked at Swordtongue with confused eyes. Kill Snowstar? But, why?
"Why would you, of all cats, want Snowstar dead?" He asked. When Swordtongue explained that Snowstar had betrayed his own clan by letting DawnClan take that sliver of territory by the moor, the one place that held the most prey, without even fighting for it, Redfire tilted his head. Sword was right, Snowstar had done nothing to keep DawnClan from taking MoonClan’s food source, and now they are starving. He flicked an ear.
"It... would be easier to kill him... And MoonClan might be better off..." His yellow eyes rose to Swordtongue again. "But what about Warblerfeathers? If she becomes leader..."
"She would form an alliance with SunClan to stand against DawnClan, and we would both get along just fine; no one would stab the other in the back, and no one would leave their clan in the dust for their own skin."
Red blinked. "Yes...." His eyes widened again. "But, no! I'm a loyal warrior of MoonClan; I can't kill him!"
"Then you leave your clan to starve just like Snowstar is doing." Swordtongue looked up at the waning full moon. "Good night, Redfire; I do hope your clan doesn't die off by the time leaf-fall is over." And with that, the gray tabby tom walked away.
Now, for Swordtongue's side of this...
DON'T: "He must die!" whispered Swordtongue to himself. He hated Snowstar. He always seemed so high and mighty, and he was a MoonClanner, now a sworn enemy. His claws itched at the frosty ground, and he swept his tongue over his right fang. He could already taste Snowstar's blood in his mouth. If only no one would kill him, he would jump up on high rock and tear his throat out! How could he let DawnClan take away other clans’ territories?
He only seems crazy. Calculated killers are often scarier and work better in the context of a medium-sized roleplay, such as this one.
DO: "Pathetic, cowardly excuse for a leader..." muttered Swordtongue. He hated Snowstar. Ever since the leader gave up the moor to DawnClan, Sword had seen him as weak. He'd rather be killed for decimating an enemy clan than let his own clan starve. And now Snowstar had the gall to stand in front of the four clans and claim that he was not a force to be reckoned with? DawnClan's newest territorial addition was proof enough that he was a liar!
Sword flicked his tail back and forth. As much as he disliked the other clans, it wasn't fair that MoonClan was dying without cause. Leaf-Fall made hunting hard, and without their hunting ground, they would die in a famine. If MoonClan was to live, Snowstar had to resign or…
...Die. His blue eyes lifted to the leader once more.
"Is that how MoonClan can survive...?" He looked down toward his paws as the faintest shadow of a grin flickered at the corners of his lips. "Then you'd better start praying, sir; they might not spare you while you're alive."
He looked over at the congregation of MoonClan. If he just started with one warrior... Maybe he could turn the entire clan on Snowstar...
Here, Swordtongue seems slightly concerned for MoonClan, but he also wants all of MoonClan to kill their leader. Thus, he's still a villain, but he's not just blood lusting.
Of course, these are not absolutes. All of the examples above have their own flaws. Play with your characters, but do remember to keep some of these tips in mind to keep your stories interesting.
Foxkit, Lionkit, Falconkit, Riverkit, Moonkit, Jaykit, Snowkit, Flamingkit, Enchantingkit, Breezekit, Firekit, Dark-kit, Candlekit, Mammothkit: Early August
Amberkit, Pinekit, Cometkit, Wispkit, Ivykit, Rainkit: Late August
Glidingpaw, Beetlepaw, Shadepaw, Ghostpaw, Stillpaw, Ravenpaw: Early August
Blackpaw, Moltedpaw, Flowerpaw, Coalpaw, Teutonicpaw, Hysteriapaw, Dicepaw, Splatterpaw, Twistedpaw, Milkypaw, Quietpaw, Cloakedpaw, Triumphpaw: Mid August
Mauka: Late August
Medicine Cats: Doepaw (Early August)
Deaths: Kendrick, Dawnfire, Silentcrusader, Blazestripe
Nettlekit: Early August
Nightkit: Mid August
Stormkit, Ashkit: Late August
Mistpaw, Summitpaw, Pheasantpaw, Shadepaw: Early August
Duckpaw, Baredpaw, Goldenpaw, Dovepaw, Cougarpaw, Wolfpaw, Coyotepaw: Mid August
Foxpaw: Late August
Medicine Cats: Sorrelpaw (Early August), Smallpaw (Early August)
Elders: Decimus CV, Threekings
Brindlekit, Cloudkit, Rock-kit, Tumblekit, Icekit, Mintkit: Early August
Dawnkit, Deliverance, Honeykit, Dusk-kit, Vanishingkit, Sparrowkit, Whitekit, Greykit, Pumpkinkit: Mid August
Xenokit: Late August
Flightpaw, Cinderpaw, Lusterpaw, Monarchpaw, Moorpaw, Ma’at, Ashenpaw: Early August
Returning Moon, Coyote: Late August
Medicine Cats: Maplepaw
Elders: Doehunter, Gorsepelt
Deaths: Sedgefoot, Coalnose, Bramblefrost, Tungstenwolf
Queenkit: Mid August
Jaykit, Goldenkit, Birchkit: Late August
Temptationpaw: Early August
Owlpaw, Icepaw: Mid August
Tiger: Late August
Categories: Monthly Meows