Author Topic: Inquisitor Mary Sue  (Read 1132 times)

Offline Inquisitor Thaken

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Inquisitor Mary Sue
« on: October 30, 2016, 01:18:17 PM »
DEFINITELY NOT TRYING TO START A FLAME WAR!!!

I just thought this was cute, and applicable to the old Inquisitor controversy about Munchkin characters.

Inquisitor was designed for the player who wanted to do two things:

1. Model/resculpt figures to match a character concept;

and

2. Create an interesting character concept that would fit in with skirmish games and have enough plot hooks to contribute to the ongoing epic.

Example:

Gaius Gray: Veteran of the Third Nightfall Sector Pacification Campaign  (57 Ready Reckoner Points)

A former ensign on the frigate King's Victory, Gaius had been assigned to Naval Security and participated in several boarding actions in the campaign.  A good fighter and dead-shot with a laspistol, he had been decorated for valor when he led his team into the ship's ninth-lateral engine room, slain an ork mechboy, and held off two others while his assigned tech adepts defused a plasma bomb that would have crippled the ship.

His career took a turn for the worse, however, when he was trapped by a cracked bulkhead in the ship's galley while the area depressurized.  He certainly would -and should- have died, but, suffering intense torture to his lungs, suddenly began to experience strange visions.  Afterward, he remembered nothing else, and awoke in the ship's sick-bay, to see the medics looking at him with troubled eyes, and faintly hearing the repeated word, "Witch..."

Gaius deserted his ship not long after, as odd incidents began to plague him.  Turning to drink and robbery at the Imperial Void Station where he jumped ship, Gaius was soon arrested by the Inquisition on charges of desertion and witchcraft, and placed under intense and uncomfortable scrutiny by Inquisitor Thaken, who sentenced him to execution, and then immediately issued an order holding that sentence in abeyance as long as the former ensign proved of use to the Imperium.

Former-ensign Gaius Gray is a confused man.  He saw his upcoming execution almost as a possible redemption of honor, and now views Inquisitor Thaken with both distaste and distrust.  He attempts to serve loyally to redeem himself, but he obviously has something of a death-wish, which his developing psychic powers do nothing to improve.  Thaken uses him as something of an all-in weapon and blunt instrument, knowing that the man's now morose nature can lead to suicidal behavior .



However, because it was designed for this type of character, and there were no hard-and-fast rules for character creation, we often ended up with something like this, instead:



Flex Badassius: Space Marine's Space Marine (43 Ready Reckoner Points)

Flex was an Adeptus Astartes of the First Founding, who didn't become a Primarch only because of an error by the Adeptus Mechanicus, who foolishly switched his test tube with that of Magnus the Red.  Owing to his morally superior nature, however, Flex takes it all in stride, and is actually happier not being a Primarch (even though Magnus was a degenerate idiot) knowing that this allows him to concentrate on his true forte: doing astounding and kick-butt things.

After he single-handedly, and armed only with a broken bayonet, destroyed the entire Kreepeeghuul star system in the Eye of Terror and its Council of One Hundred Nineteen Dark and Evil Daemon Princes, Flex was raised to the rank of "The Emperor's Best Pal", and now has access to all items in the rulebook, along with a prototype battleship in which to carry them.  Owing to his near-Primarch nature, he also has all skills and psychic abilities in the rulebook, and the special ability of being able to incorporate all new skills, abilities and artifacts as they get added into the game system.

Lastly (for now) Flex also has the ability of "Total Awesomeness", which causes all enemies to lose their first turn in combat, as, even though he's the most dangerous opponent on any battlefield, he's just so perfect that even daemons and Tyranids have to adjust to the idea of trying to kill him.

Okay.  How many of you have, at one point or another, had issues with Mary Sue characters?  What's more, how many of you have had issues with players who designed Mary Sue characters, all the while not realizing they were Mary Sue characters?

« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 01:24:39 PM by Inquisitor Thaken »

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2016, 03:15:09 AM »
Okay.  How many of you have, at one point or another, had issues with Mary Sue characters?  What's more, how many of you have had issues with players who designed Mary Sue characters, all the while not realizing they were Mary Sue characters?
It depends a little on how you define Mary Sue.

It's a vague term that's a difficult concept to pin down, but talking in general (rather than just about Inquisitor characters) I would generally think of the fundamental core of a Mary Sue character as a plot central character (to the point that they often invalidate other protagonists) who the author seems to think can do no wrong and expects the audience to like unconditionally.

That does often include being irrelevantly overskilled, but you can get Mary Sues who have been deliberately written as completely clumsy or socially awkward (So "No, they're not a Mary Sue, look") yet somehow everyone loves them (or, at least, the characters that don't like them tend to be portrayed very unsympathetically) and the entire world revolves around them nonetheless. Similarly, while exotic backstories, appearance or origin in order to make them "more special" are common, they're not necessarily an indicator.

Take Superman as an example. He's not normally what I would consider a Mary Sue, despite being intelligent, hugely powerful and literally alien. He does make mistakes, does have to pay for them and isn't always portrayed to be in the right.

That said, it depends on the depiction. Some of the parts of something like Superman II do border on Mary Sue. Take the diner scenes; yes, the guy he fights is supposed to be an absolute jerk, but Clark starting a fight with him, and then intentionally and vindictively going back at a later time (after he's got his powers back) so he can win the fight  - it's not righteous, even if the film portrayed it that way.

~~~~~

Still, one way or another, yes, I've had issues with Mary Sue characters. (To be honest, I've written a few myself*, but I first played Inquisitor more than half my lifetime ago). Whether I still do - probably not. It was far more of a problem when the game was young, and people involved with it now generally get the point of the game much better.

* It's possible some people would argue that some of my current characters are Mary Sues... and well, I'd disagree, but I can perhaps see how some of them might fall within some peoples' definitions.
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Offline Inquisitor Thaken

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2016, 03:31:21 AM »
Okay.  How many of you have, at one point or another, had issues with Mary Sue characters?  What's more, how many of you have had issues with players who designed Mary Sue characters, all the while not realizing they were Mary Sue characters?
It depends a little on how you define Mary Sue.

It's a vague term that's a difficult concept to pin down

Overpowered and too cool for words are, I think, a pretty good start on a definition.  I think good ole' Kal-El pretty much fits the bill.  Even when his school-boy-scoutish nature is pointed out, as  by Batman on occasion, or more darkly, but Luthor, we still have to recognize that Lex can only tie Superman's hands because the Man of Steel's superhuman morality allows Lex to do so.

However, I don't know that this is a bad thing, and the public seems to agree.  Just witness the numbers of die-hard Superman fans.

In the end, a fictional character who is plot-central at least verges on the Mary Sue-ish just for that reason, or at least on the Heinlein Man.

But is that a bad thing?  Does every hero have to be an anti-hero?

Offline mcjomar

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2016, 08:56:25 AM »
For my money the best superman was the late 90s live action "The New Adventures of Superman", as while he had all the powers, he was tied down by moral codes, laws, responsibilities, family, love, and a bunch of people who were scared of him or didn't like him (in some cases, sort of reasonably). It toned down the hints of Sue in him, and made him believable and vaguely relatable (in as much as a superpowered alien can be, but as he had adoptive parents, that helped a bit).

For my part I always try to ask "Is it necessary to the character?" or "okay so I modelled this, now how do I explain it, or give this person suitable flaws for it to be both reasonably balanced, and honestly believable/realistic?" in both cases, in as much as it can be applied to the 40k universe. At least when making a real character.

I'll occasionally make a joke character who is unadulterated Sue - see: my post about characters from the Deathstalker novels which would blatantly would be Sue type characters when applied in Inquisitor, even when you take the character flaws into account, or the old Inquisitor Sherlock Obiwan Clousseau, when converting his RT stats and sheer abilities/equipment into Inquisitor parlance.
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Offline Inquisitor Thaken

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2016, 12:58:43 AM »
I'll occasionally make a joke character who is unadulterated Sue - see: my post about characters from the Deathstalker novels which would blatantly would be Sue type characters when applied in Inquisitor, even when you take the character flaws into account, or the old Inquisitor Sherlock Obiwan Clousseau, when converting his RT stats and sheer abilities/equipment into Inquisitor parlance.

Ah, the good ole' days!  Inquisitor Clouseau!  Kweethul Gristlegut!  Jokaero!  Malal!  Sigh.

Offline jediknight129

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2016, 04:23:19 PM »
The original definition of Mary sue as I understood it from fanfiction was a self insertion character/essentially writing you into a game/book and to an extent I think we are all guilty of at least basing a character on us at times.

I mean I'm currently playing someone who is essentially me in an RPG now and you could argue she falls into the other areas (godlike powers) but when your in an freeform rpg about the gods on earth as human avatars trying to win a bet godlike powers kinda come with the territory and Shes limited by the character flaws from her preawakened upbringing (panic attacks, stress, struggling to cope with people/large groups) so whilst partly a self insertion she fails the perfect/allpowerful test especially as she is and has interacted with people nornally/isndeveloping normal relationships vs the everyone loves her type character.

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2016, 07:04:06 PM »
Even when his school-boy-scoutish nature is pointed out, as  by Batman on occasion, or more darkly, but Luthor, we still have to recognize that Lex can only tie Superman's hands because the Man of Steel's superhuman morality allows Lex to do so.
For me, that kind of thing makes him less-Sueish. His moral code has consequences that are frequently explored as part of the plot, meaning he's not just a travesty of wish-fulfilment.

This is something a lot of video games with moral choices fail to properly explore - the player's choices (either "good" or "bad") seldom later come back and bite them in the butt.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about morality meters deliberately screwing  players over by punishing them for not going all out one way or the other* (not maxing out the meter tends to mean not getting access to powerful conversation choices or abilities). This is more about letting the evil-doer live (despite having just slaughtered a number of far more innocent minions) and them never later coming back with another army or a new plan.

* If you're going to have a morality meter, I feel something like Fallout New Vegas is a good example. There's upsides to being any of Good, Evil or Neutral, so it doesn't force you to go one way or the other, and what's often more important is your reputation with individual factions (which can heavily impact the plot). I mean, I still went with a good character, but I didn't ever feel forced into it.

I know the devs did cut an encounter in the game where you would have been attacked by someone you'd shown mercy to - but frankly it would have been fairly silly. Rescuing said jerk often involves the main character beating the living snot out of a small army, so I think he might think twice about trying to kill you (again).


Quote
But is that a bad thing?  Does every hero have to be an anti-hero?
Being an anti-hero can actually be worse for Sueism. A pure and good Sue at least makes sense for the plot to portray sympathetically, and for the other characters to respond to favourably. A complete arsehole does not.

Flaws do not necessarily rescue a Sue, not if they don't have realistic consequences.

I'll occasionally make a joke character who is unadulterated Sue
I tend to make my parody characters more on the serious/subtle side, trying to keep them viable.

A character like Jax Lynn started as a poke at the concept of plot armour. While a lot of my characters have had interventions of sheer luck, heroic determination or superlative medical technology when they've "died", Jax sidesteps that by just being explicitly immortal in universe. Not unkillable mind, but her regeneration is more than capable of bringing her back from the dead, given a few hours (although that's a lot longer than her non-fatal wounds take to heal).

Jax is one of my characters who I wouldn't be that surprised to hear someone call a Mary Sue. She's immortal, ageless, strong and agile, is intelligent with excellent memory (although she is ill-educated, as of her "current day" version, so has a fairly low Sg), and has a tail, as well as unusual colouration of skin, eyes and hair (said hair is also abnormally long).

However, this all comes from just one central principle - she has a mutation that causes her cells to replicate and repair far faster and more accurately than a normal human. As such, she can push herself somewhat harder physically, can form and rebuild neural connections with extreme speed and accuracy, and her various abnormal physical features are other elements of her mutation (her colouration is somewhere between albinism and vitiligo).

And I do explore the various implications and drawbacks of these things, as well as try to rein in some of the normal immortality clichés.
Indeed, some of the seeming positives of her character are actually intended to be liabilities in the plot. Being able to regenerate her brain tissue and memories, for example, means that her immortality remains a trust issue - she's not a loose end that an Inquisitor can tie up by shooting her in the head or mind-scrubbing her.

The original definition of Mary sue as I understood it from fanfiction was a self insertion character/essentially writing you into a game/book
The original Mary Sue was a satire of unrealistic fan-fic characters in Star Trek fanfiction. It wasn't specifically about self-insert characters (although many such characters were indeed such wish-fulfilment author proxies).
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Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
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Offline jediknight129

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2016, 11:19:01 PM »
True but within fanfic at least the definitions evolved somewhat and according to purists Verda would be a Mary sue because I'm using her to help explore and deal with some of the problems I have in a setting that doesnt have real world repercussions (the panic attacks, anxiety and general skittishness/on edge around men especially those I either dont know at all or dont know we'll enough to be sure they are actually the decent people they appear to be) 

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2016, 02:04:26 AM »
Well, for me, that's part of why that definition doesn't work. "Mary Sue" is a perjorative term, but author proxies can be a very positive tool in that way.

And, to an extent, write what you know. For example, Inquisitor Skoll's background as an apprentice gunsmith is to an extent based on my own interest in airgun construction. (Skoll is emphatically not "Me in WH40K" though. I don't agree with his ethics; he's often consequentialist and, if sufficiently angered, highly vindictive).

Anyway, for me, a Mary Sue is a character who is unreasonably or implausibly favoured by the story. (That, at least, is the best summary I've been able to come up with over the last few days).
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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Offline jediknight129

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2016, 11:46:32 PM »
Doesnt that label allot of kids book protagonists as Mary sues though? I feel that's too broad really. Um bing thick here what do you mean by consequentialist.

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2016, 03:02:41 AM »
Doesnt that label allot of kids book protagonists as Mary sues though?
Some perhaps, but most children's books I can think of make the protagonist work for their success, and often include moral lessons about consequences. The story doesn't just give them everything on a silver platter.

The idea of a Mary Sue is somewhat subjective anyway. I'm just generally summarising it as the way that the story interacts with them, rather than necessarily their own power level or inspiration.

Quote
Um bing thick here what do you mean by consequentialist.
Consequentialism is most famously summed up in the phrase "The end justifies the means". While that's a fairly common philosophy amongst the Inquisition (to some degree or another), and Skoll isn't exactly an extreme case, it's not a view I personally share.
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

GW's =I= articles

Offline jediknight129

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Re: Inquisitor Mary Sue
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2016, 01:41:36 AM »
Never heard it referred to as that but that makes sense. Im more used to hearing that labeled as utilitarianism. Having done some reading I now have ideas for an inquisitor of the Istavaanian school of thought. A utilitarian based around the idea of negative utilitarianism where what is right is determined by the level of suffering involved. Thanks Marco.

As for the moral lesson and earning it thing I get what you mean but there's a fair few out there where the hero/protagonist is unreasonably favoured by some virtue that makes them able to succeed despite the odds.

I dont think its the most common view of inquistors though otherwise Tyrus eouldnt be described as the outlier that he is however its probably the ethical system that describes the radical factions such as the one I can never remember the name of who think chaos artefacts are too dangerous to use but are such powerful weapons that in 'pure' hands (read: Theirs) they can be used to great effect.