Man, the weirdest thoughts pop into your head while you’re scrubbing every bathroom in the house.
I’ve known for a while now that I don’t tend to write characters who are deeply broken inside. On the whole, while the people in my books have their problems, those problems are more side notes in a tune that is generally well-adjusted. To the point where I’ve thought for a while now that this is something I should maybe push myself on more.
Then it occurred to me: I don’t seem to write such characters very often, but I have been known to play them in games.
A few case studies . . . we won’t even start with Ree. Ree’s problems weren’t just psychological, they were metaphysical, in a way that isn’t just Changeling-based but dependent on certain individualized quirks of that game. Let’s just say that dealing with fear by deciding the world’s just fucked anyway (and then helping to tear it down) is a bad plan. Allegra was of necessity broken to begin with — that’s a prerequisite for characters in Mummy — but being reborn fixed her, as it does in that game. Michael’s death broke her very badly, though, in that “he died because you couldn’t defend him/you should have died defending him” cue self-loathing kind of way. Ash was physically marked as a freak, so took the “hey! you’re a Slayer! congrats!” thing very, very badly; she felt like the victim of curveballs in a game she never signed up for. Catherine managed the feat of possessing a superiority complex and an inferiority complex at the same time, coupled with a tendency to lose her human cognitive abilities when she felt too seriously threatened. Oh, yeah, and the loss of identity that went with being too good of a shapeshifter. Sess was scared of everything that came within a hundred feet of her, and very nearly incapable of non-spastic conversation. Odette/Fionnuala . . . I’m not even going to count her, since kitsunealyc is the one who decided crossbreeding “Swan Lake” with “Donkeyskin” was a good idea.
Lessa might be the most stable, functional, well-adjusted character I’ve played in a while.
I wonder why the difference. The major thought that occurs to me is, when I’m playing in a game, I’m only working on one character instead of a whole cast. I can focus on the quirks and dysfuctions of that single person more intensively. Also, maybe it’s that as a writer or GM I can generate plot out of situations and external threats, whereas from a player position I really only have that one character to work with.
I can’t even remember how this thought occurred to me. But it made me realize I do create characters with internal breakage — just not so much in fiction.
Which is encouraging. It means I know how; now I just need to apply it.