Thursday, May 22, 2008

Morgan (Warning: Not for kiddies)

It's not that this post contains material that isn't work-safe, it's just dealing with more dark/mature concepts than normal. Consider yourself warned and all that jazz. Anyways, the other day someone posted this on the /tg/ forum, along with some sketches:

Okay guys, help me make a character. Rogue/avenging executioner chick that crossdresses as she believes that all the traumatic events that happened to her were due to her being female. Among other things, she was given half a glasgow smile.

I'm having trouble coming up with a name and some general "behavioral" guidelines. I don't want to just be emo all the time, I don't play that archetype as a rule and am just dabbling with this particular character.

In response, I drew on an older villain concept of mine and combined it with this premise to create a concept that could work for a villian or antiheroine, depending on how you implement it. Out of personal preference, I opted to try and create a working psychological profile that stemmed from a background that was believable and traumatic while avoiding the cliche of sexual abuse.

Say she was a normal peasant girl, poor but loving family and all that. This all came to an abrupt end when cultists of Erythnul (or a similar deity CE deity of hate) broke in one night, brutally beating the parents and dragging the screaming, sobbing eight-year old girl into the night.

She was put into a cage, a two-meter cube of rough iron bars against one wall of a room that wasn't much larger. There was a small hole in the wall that ended in a shallow basin, for water and an occasional bit of raw meat or tough, stale bread. The room's only other feature was the door by which the cultists (always male) entered.

It was her only form human interaction, if you can call it that, and it was always the same. The cultists never said a word or opened the cage's door. Instead they howled bloody murder, wailing and screaming as they beat themselves against the bars or tore the skin off their arms as they forced them between the bars, inch by inch, hands grasping for her but never actually touching.

It was a ritual of sorts, one that most victims endure for about a week before retreating so deep into themselves that they never come out. But there are exceptions, and minds of children will bend where a more mature one might break. After a month, they began to open the door on occasion. The first time they did so she took off half the cultist's face before biting into his jugular. It would be the better part of a year before group of adventurers broke into warren and killed the cultists, rescuing what had once been a small child.

The adventurers took her to a holy temple, did what they could to heal her; but while magic could restore a measure of her mental functionality, there was nothing that could be done for her warped psyche. Eventually the girl was reunited with her family: A father that was now too weak to farm and worked charity jobs around the town to help feed the girl's younger sister.

The once-youthful man tried to raise his elder daughter well. He tried to restore some semblance of the bright, cheerful girl that had been taken away that night. And he truly did make progress; after a time the girl began to speak more often than she attacked or gave a terrible howl. After a time she began to ignore her little sister's existence entirely, rather than attacking the girl more and more viciously whenever the father was in a different room. But over the space of seven years, that's as far as the old man could get. That was when his child ran away, at the age of sixteen.

To elaborate on that psych profile: Put yourself in the child's shoes during her time in the cage. You have these people (all male, the start of that association) and whenever one's in the room he's always threatening her in a way that is extremely primal, extremely violent on both a physical and social level. Some part of her made a choice to fight back, rather than retreating past the point of no return; so she imitated the "strong" presence and made herself primal, made herself masculine, made herself violent in every sense of the word. Her perception of the world is based on the idea that everyone's going to have to make that choice just like she did- being weak and innocent means you'll be ground into nothing, being violent and manly is the only way to survive in this world. Her scars and smile are self-inflicted.

In the end, her worldview (from an objective outside analysis) is pretty simple. She believes there are two kinds of people in this world, men and women; and she doesn't equate sex with gender. Rather, her concept of gender and her concept of the choice between aggression and victimhood are one and the same. Of course, she wouldn't (possibly couldn't) really explain this distinction to others; for example, if someone expressed shock upon finding out that she was a "woman", she would take grave offense. In her mind, HE *is* a man. Because being a man means dominance through aggressive violence, not having a penis. That's why he wears men's clothing and talks like a man. When he insults a male pacifist monk by calling him a woman, he's also being completely serious. It's also why he tells people that his name is Morgan. There was a Mary, once, but she's long gone now.

The rest of the character, as mentioned above, is the implementation and will determine whether Morgan is a villain or antihero, CE or CG/N. As a villian, I see him as being constantly angry- agitated and on edge, never fully able to keep his feelings under control. Chewing his lip, speaking harshly to others in terse, blunt statements, cracking his knuckles or carving a line along her arm with a knife. . .the villanous Morgan will often break things as he speaks, whether objects or people. In the end, violence is just the way he interacts with the world. A happy young woman leading an idyllic life offends him on a fundamental level, the same as any overzealous paladin.

A good version of the character would share many of the above traits; after all, that's the definition of an antihero. But this version of Morgan, while retaining the misogyny and other flaws mentioned outside of the previous paragraph, is trying to overcome his violent impulses rather than clinging to them; to make the world a better place rather than simply guarding his own interests. He'll still harass passive women (or men), but he'll do it with the aim of strengthening them through adversity, showing them what he believes to be the true nature of the world.

I believe that's all the important details of the concept. Hope this proves useful!

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