Monday, February 8, 2010 - 6:52 PM

HRGH should be an acronym for a particular state of mind. Something disgruntled, vaguely annoyed and very pernicious, perhaps.

At this point, I know I don't happen to have a lot of readers, but I do apologize to those I have for the radio silence. Considering that you are all certainly here for fine reading and not to hear some regurgitation of an-all-too-ordinary life, I'll leave out the details and just say that my brain has been utterly exhausted for anything other than writing that I'd never post here.

No, seriously, it is that bad. Or unpolished. Whichever.

Anyway, I thought I might share some thoughts I tripped across while planning my next leg of DnD. As the reputation of the characters continues to grow, so do the misconceptions and assumptions. While considering just what one nation or other might think of these people, I realized that this facet of becoming a hero is rarely touched on... at least, in my experience. In your so-called classic fantasy tale, the heroes are recognized for doing some great and vast thing, and everybody thinks they are wonderful. Occasionally, there's some opposition (usually in the form of a political contender or some other unscrupulous sort), but that's generally all until the Next Evil Guy shows up. Some people at this point may mention Game of Thrones about now, but that is NOT a classic fantasy novel. In fact, wonderful though the world and characterizations are, there really isn't anything happening on the same scale as your classic 'save the world from great Evil' story.

Now, I run my DnD games as something fairly gritty, and I stay away from a lot of the tropes present in what people usually call High Fantasy. This is largely because I find High Fantasy stories to be predictable, trite and ... uninteresting. I like happy endings, of course, but the usual High Fantasy tale reads like everything is staged and stilted. I always feel like the heroes didn't really earn it. This is especially true in just about any story with a Prophecy in it. There's a whiff of predestination in prophecy stories that makes you wonder why the poor villains bother in the first place. It isn't any wonder that, given what people expect from fantasy, most fantasy novels don't spend a lot of time considering the problems of being suddenly very popular.

My players realized how much weight their characters had in the campaign world last session, and they've started to discover what that means. Word does get around, and at this point, thousands of people who have never actually met the characters know who they are and something about what they've done. Now, they are dealing with racial stereotypes and cultural expectations. People are attempting to gain their support for political causes, as well as involve them in various ventures. People want to be seen with them because they are famous. Some of the characters have recently suffered a slew of marriage offers, and the priest had to deal with an intensely talented but extremely annoying method actor who wanted to 'get a feel for' who he was. They've discovered that some people don't actually care so much about their heroic deeds. These people just want to make use of the fame and fortune.

This, and some work on With Iron, got me thinking about the villain side of the fame coin. Just as there would be some who don't believe the heroes have actually done all they say, there would certainly be some who think of the famous villain as misunderstood or wronged or even heroic, depending on how they view the villain's activities. Imagine the startlement of a band of heroes attempting to apprehend some unpleasant killer when they encounter a peasant village who refuses to tell them where the killer is. "Because of him, all the bandits are dead. He saved us," they say.

Perspective is a clever, clever thing.


At February 14, 2010 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting tie-in of "human recombinant growth hormone" to player character/party development. Also gets you on the first page of a Google search for "HRGH".


At February 16, 2010 2:25 PM, Blogger C Hanson said...

"most fantasy novels don't spend a lot of time considering the problems of being suddenly very popular"

Intentionally or unintentionally, maybe it's for reader identification with the hero? Most people who read a lot of fantasy books aren't in the popular crowd. Most fantasy books, if they consider the newfound popularity at all, seem to emphasize the downside to celebrity, where people become jealous of the hero, rather than trying to be in good with him.


At February 17, 2010 6:23 PM, Blogger MCHossman said...

Well, fame can be played in which ever direction you and your players are interested in taking it in. It also is affected by the world that you have working in the background.

During Medieval Europe fame and fortune and reputation was frequently based on where one was from. Venecians were this way, and Milanese were that way, etc. If you are playing with characters that are from different areas then I suppose you have to determine if their current setting has 'adopted' them enough for them to be considered one of the 'homeboys'.

Also look at individual historical figures and see how their fame and reputation existed at the time. Babe Ruth was idolized while he was living and playing baseball, the press covered up his dalliances and his drinking wasn't considered noteworthy. So for someone to come out and speak against the Babe then they would most probably be taken a beating too (which could provide you with an interesting RP scenario).

On a side note, Villains, in this case would probably seen as Heroes by the 'opposing' side. Their 'virtues' being twisted into their 'horrors' by their victims and adversaries.

Anyways, good to see an entry!


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