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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default how much tragedy is too much?

    A while back, I was reading over somebody's notes on a campaign and I noticed that one of the major villains of the campaign had "tragic hero turned villain" written next to his basic description.

    After having read through it, I discovered that this villain has had the following things happen to him:

    1. family was killed in brutal fashion before his eyes
    2. exiled to a foreign land because of his heritage
    3. was never quite accepted in this foriegn land
    4. despite him being a foreigner, manages to eventually establish himself as a man of great importance there.
    5. #4, however, only sets up so that he would eventually fall as the people of the land eventually turns on him and tortures him to death
    6. comes back to life as an unholy version of his formal self
    7. meets the PCs, who proceeds to stop his evil schemes at every turn
    8. the PCs figure out that he has a daughter
    9. PCs ask daughter to help
    10. daughter helps, but eventually gets killed (by the villain himself, no less) after an altercation
    11. villain realizes he just killed his daughter
    12. destroys himself and everything within a 1/2 mile radius in a blaze of glory.

    call me skeptical, but that just felt a LITTLE over the top. So now, we have to ask ourselves, at what point can you over do tragedy?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    It's entirely a matter of taste. If you want a comedic game, then obviously you have to use tragedy very sparingly. As for your example above, I would have no problems with participating in such a campaign, though I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    I think it really depends on your campaign. If evil in the campaign is eating babies and kicking puppy's, then this might well be an appropriate amount of tragedy.

    Other than that... I think that with removing #5 and replacing it by a 'normal death', or deliberate suicide to become undead would make it a lot less over the top.

    Also, I see no point indicating he is a hero turned villain in here. That might also influence how well it works.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    Wow, that backstory IS a little over the top (but only a little...). Some of it seems to have happened during the campaign, and I'm curious just how much of it. I've got a whole cast of characters with histories piled high with tragedy, but most of it happens in-game (on or off screen), rather than just in the backstory.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    yeah, I guess that would be true. The feel I was getting from the notes he put up gave the impression that the campaign was SUPPOSED to be pretty serious with few light hearted moments.

    But at the same time, I've also read some notes in there about the NPCs that I can't help but think "mary sue" every time it pops up. (From NPCs who ALSO have really tragic backgrounds)

    It's like, reading about Peter Parker's life but instead of just Peter Parker being the only that gets screwed over constantly, it happens to I'd say close to half of the major recurring NPCs.

    meh, I guess my campaigns have always been far more slap stick

    edit:

    everything past 7 happened during the game. though, the last two items happened mostly off screen.
    Last edited by elliott20; 2007-10-23 at 01:48 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Snadgeros's Avatar

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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    I'd stop it by number 6 there. I mean, seriously, this guy is just pulling every cliched "tortured soul" routine in the book! It's one thing if your family was killed and you were exiled from your homeland, that seems to be quite common in RPGs. It's another thing entirely when you then make your NEW homeland shun you and you come back as some uber-emo villain.

    I mean come on! What's the guy's motive for being evil? He's just really sad and upset because of his tragic past so now he's being all pissy about it! Give him a better reason than THAT! And while you'e at it, cut out all of the backstory cliches.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Zentei View Post
    It's entirely a matter of taste. If you want a comedic game, then obviously you have to use tragedy very sparingly. As for your example above, I would have no problems with participating in such a campaign, though I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea.
    It's interesting that you should put it like that, because I'd actually think it would fit in better in a comedic campaign. If that much concentrated, over-the-top tragedy appeared in a normal game I'd find it difficult to take seriously.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Miles Invictus's Avatar

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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    It does have a "pity me!" sort of vibe to it, though it'd be great if that was the villain's personal account, rather than the objective truth. He'd be a better character -- and his life would be closer to the classical meaning of tragic -- if he somehow caused most of the bad things that have happened to him, but is totally unable to see his role in those events.

    I don't think there's a set point where you can have too much tragedy. It takes work, though, to make lots of tragedy seem realistic. It's hard to believe that the OP's villain had all of that bad stuff happen by chance. But if he himself is somehow responsible for his suffering -- such as through a personality flaw, or by earning the enmity of a powerful entity -- then it becomes less of a cliche.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    horseboy's Avatar

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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    Yeah, that's not tragedy, that's total farce. I know if it happened at a table I was at my eyes would be rolling around #5 or so. Especially if I as a player had to sit through some horrible and itself tragically long fit of exposition to have to find out all this. Then I'd bring the villain many fine cheeses to go with all of his wine.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Jack Mann's Avatar

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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Zentei View Post
    It's entirely a matter of taste. If you want a comedic game, then obviously you have to use tragedy very sparingly. As for your example above, I would have no problems with participating in such a campaign, though I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea.
    Kami and horse have it right. You don't use tragedy sparingly in comedy, you pour it in. Comedy is just tragedy to excess, wearing a funny hat.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    I guess this then begs the question, what is the right touch?

    This particular GM has always had a thing for larger than life characters. We enjoyed his game for sheer overwhelming cheese factor but we've always felt it hard to take some of his characters seriously because we felt it was too much for us.

    This last game where all this happened I never got to take part in on account of my personal life having too much but I got to read some notes. maybe it was just his personal writing style...

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: how much tragedy is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Mann View Post
    Kami and horse have it right. You don't use tragedy sparingly in comedy, you pour it in. Comedy is just tragedy to excess, wearing a funny hat.
    Fair enough. Or at least, such comedy exists.

    Regardless, the point remains that it is entirely a matter of taste how much tragedy is "too much"; and that it depends on what kind of campaign you are going for.

    I reckon it also matters how it is executed and delivered.
    Last edited by Lord Zentei; 2007-10-24 at 08:34 AM.
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