Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thor's Day Trope - Anti-Heroes

Operative with no name. Lawful Evil personified. The perfect Anti-Villain
Anti Heroes....a phenomenon mostly from the Iron Age of comics. The Anti-Hero is most often represented in gaming by characters wanting to play evil characters. It can be done, I have done it, but in All D&D type games with alignments, it is best done with Lawful Evil. Most often when players want to play evil it's because just want to be selfish aholes. My all-time favorite Lawful Evil characters is the operative from Serenity. Evil, but for the right reasons, to make the verse a better place.

Chaotic Good and Neutral Good make the best anti-heroes. The buck the rules to do the right thing. Harry Dresden is an anti-hero, and one of my favorites. Punisher is an anti-hero, a sociopathic, murdering anti-hero in fact. This pretty much falls into the realms of most gamers, the ones who have no qualms about killing captives, because "THEY'RE EVIL"...we CAN'T let them go. Killing monsters on sight, because they're irrevocably evil, Paladins even try to get away with this line of reasoning, then when the Paladin loses his powers, the player often complains about it. (Then why did you play a Paladin?) I will cover Lawful Stupid next week. 

In an evil campaign the biggest problem is motivating the characters, they're evil, so you can't motivate the characters with rescue missions, do the right thing, damsel in distress, child in distress or any other heroic act. In the case of an evil campaign, you need to let the characters basically run rampant in the world, and let the rest of the world become the enemy.

The Anti Hero Trope from TVTopes.org says this:

Anti-Hero
"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right."— Salvor HardinFoundation
An Archetypal Character who is almost as common in modern fiction as the Ideal Hero, an antihero is a protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero. (S)he may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely apathetic. More often an antihero is just an amoral misfit. While heroes are typically conventional, anti-heroes, depending on the circumstances, may be preconventional (in a "good" society), postconventional (if the government is "evil") or even unconventional. Not to be confused with Big Bad, who is the opponent of Heroes (or Anti-Heroes, in that matter).
Most are far to the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
Other common attributes are: rarely speaking, being a loner, either extreme celibacy or extreme promiscuityfather issues, occasional Bad Dreams and flashbacks relating to a Dark and Troubled Pastthat can take many forms depending on the Anti-Hero in question; and being able to tell the story of their life through any Nick Cave song. Some won't Save the Villain, but they will Shoot the Dog, and they will not hesitate to kill anyone who threatens them.
Other characters may try to impress upon them the value of more traditional heroic values through The Power of Friendship, but these lessons tend to bounce more often than stick.
What amoral antiheroes learn, if they learn anything at all over the course of the story, is that an existence devoid of absolute values offers a lot of isolation. Which may be to their liking. Don't You Dare Pity Me! is common, and gratitude may be repulsed with Think Nothing of it (just to get them to leave him alone.)
Antiheroes often crop up in deconstructions of traditionally heroic genres. As the strugglingimperfect protagonist begins to gain more respect and sympathy than the impressive-but-impossible-to-relate-to invincible superhero, "anti" heroes have come to be admired as a perfectly valid type of hero in their own right.
Sometimes, they are not the "star" (protagonist), but serve as The Rival or Worthy Opponent of theprotagonist and inevitably steal the spotlight. If they are part of a Five-Man Band, they will most certainly be The Lancer.
The term is used more loosely today than it used to be, at least on This Wiki. In one definition of the word, the appeal of an antihero is that he or she is often very literally a hero: Namely; he or she does heroic deeds. But whereas Superman, Wonder Woman, Hercules, and many other conventional heroes have both the physical and moral capabilities to do it, an antihero almost never has both.
Antiheroes are spread all over the alignment chart, tending toward Neutral types.
Traditionally, in literary analysis, the meaning of antihero was effectively the opposite of the now common usage, lacking the elements that make a hero "cool" rather than the elements that make them "good". Willy Loman and Shinji are archetypes of this form.
See also Nineties AntiheroSociopathic HeroFemme Fatale. Compare Anti-Villain.