Avoiding the Borderline Mary-Sue
It’s very, very rare that wander over to places like Warcraft Sues. I don’t really take much joy in snarking at other role-players―although there are some descriptions that are just atrociously bad, but I digress. Morbid curiosity kept me scrolling down until I come across a couple of posts that caught my interest. While most of the ones I saw on that community deal with Horde side players―Blood Elves in particular―I couldn’t help but see some fault with Ravine’s character and how I portrayed her with one of them I saw.
For the most part, I do my research on a given subject. I always background check on lore to make sure I’m not breaking any rules, as well as research on the things my character does, as well as the things that affect her. So far I’d like to say I’ve done a decent enough job at it, but there are times where I slip up. And sometimes I slip up on something huge and major that I don’t even notice it until I see someone else being made an example.
There was a discussion on how while a character had a number of scars on her neck, they did nothing detrimental to the character’s ability to perform simple tasks such as being able to communicate. There was also another discussion a few threads earlier about scarring, and being the terribly self-conscious person that I am, it automatically made me think back to Ravine. And then, the light bulb went on in my head.
“Oh shit. My character sounds like such-and-such. I need to fix this now.”
RP and research tend to go hand-in-hand when it comes to coming up with an interesting character. While you may have an idea on how you want to act or how they look, doing additional research in regards to behavior, and any drawbacks that the character may have in a result of their behavior or disfigurement, will make for a more interesting, engaging character in the long run. And as you keep evolving that character and changing how they look or act, remember this―research now, or be made a fool of later.
And if you learn something later that you probably should’ve found out at the start, well… changing things to reflect that will largely depend on how the time gap, and how much RP you’ve done between then and now. For Ravine, she currently has two glaring problems that need fixing: the scars on her neck area, and her left eye. And fixing some things may become a bit more trickier than others.
For example, Ravine had sustained some nasty neck scars from a very early RP episode in her warlocking career. She had some sharp fingernails dug deep enough into her skin, and those fingernails went down and raked across her skin. Having something like this done to your character is likely to make them mute, but well… she isn’t. While originally I decided that the scars weren’t near her voice box, thus ruling out the possibility of being unable to speak, it didn’t strike as right to me. But I can’t just go back and delete every scene of dialogue I’ve done in the 2 1/2 years I’ve played her since.
Possible Solution #1: Ret-con
Some people may say, “Whoa whoa. Pulling out the ret-con hammer already? Isn’t that a bit extreme?” Honestly, it’s really all in how you use it. “What if these scars weren’t made on X, but instead were at Y instead?” You’d not only save yourself from a major researching error on your part―but a possible headache as well in trying to readjust everything.
But there are some things that a ret-con can’t fix. Some things may play too large of a part of your character to change. Or that particular event may effect too many characters to warrant a change. Based around the events surrounding Ravine getting her eye replaced, the whole thing couldn’t be ret-conned. And I didn’t want it to be. So what can I do about that?
Possible Solutions #2: There’s No Better Time Like the Present
There’s nothing that says that an side-effect or affliction has to happen overnight. It could sudden happen to a character out of the blue a few months later. So, there’s nothing wrong with applying your knowledge a bit late. It could develop into some interesting RP down the road.
With the information super highway at our fingertips, there’s not excuse to be feigning ignorance. There are people out there. There are resources. Use them. Roleplaying is an art, so don’t be lazy about it.
Now here’s to hoping that I take my own advice in the future.
PS: Now, I’m pretty sure there are more ways to fix a character like this. But I’m not about to say something impractical like discussing this with people and possibly having their story changed because of it. But, if there are any ideas that you think that would work great, then let me know. That’s what the comments are there for after all.