Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tortured Heroes with Berserk and the Goon!

Most of the material I've mentioned has been taken from books. These are, for the most part, books I've read this year and am in the process of reading. Part of my Appendix N kick is to read material I don't normally read, read material that is older and may be at the genesis of modern fantasy fiction, and to read books I've had piled on my shelves for years that is simply taking up space.

However, there are a wide variety of resources to draw material from.

At the blog site, B/X Blackrazor, he's mentioning 'tortured heroes'. His definition is a little tight for some, but for the characters I'm going to talk about, it probably fits.

First, let's look at Guts.

He could probably fit most people's definitions. From the cover alone, you may not be able to tell, but his left arm is mostly mechanical. An unfeeling piece of metal. His body is riddle with scars. His right eye is gone. In addition, he has a brand on his neck that reacts to the presence of the supernatural.

In and of itself, these elements make for strong descriptor elements. They make him a memorable character based on description. In Hero, he'd have distinctive features as a disadvantage.

However, his scars and wounds are not the only distinctive things about him. His sword is huge. One of the dreaded blades like those found in Final Fantasy VII used by Cloud and his ranged weapon is a reapeating cross bow mounted on his mechanical arm. These are also distinctive weapons. They are useful in terms of making a character stand out.

In the first volume, and beware, the spoilers are going to start hot and heavy here. If you're interested in the idea of Berserk, check out Dark Horse Comics here for a preview and more descriptions.

The series starts off with Guts in the act of lovemaking on the side of the road. Sounds a little weird right? But then it gets stranger as the woman turns into a massive demon only to fall prey to Guts who apparently knew what she was all along.

So for Game Masters out there, remember, things aren't always what they seem. Most often shapechangers fall into the demon, magic user, or creature with innate ability to transform into something else. In this case, the apostales as their called, have a normal guise and a demonic guise where their full strength in in power.

Guts encounters some hard times and eventually gets to the goal of fighting what he's there to do so. But in the process, many of the townfolk are killed. Guts notes that you can't worry about the ants beneath your feet or you'll never be able to walk.

I've mentioned before that sometimes characters are so powerful that their mere presence can cause issues. A standard encounter for a character of Guts level is indeed enough to decimate the town.

Guts has some similiar elements though to another character that also comes out of the Dark Horse stable. This time however, instead of manga, we get comics collected into Graphic Novels featuring the man known as the Goon! For those interested in learning more about this character, check out Dark Horse here!

Perhaps not obvious from the cover, the Goon also suffers physical injuries. What's more, he's a man with a 'hard' personality whose concerns are generally only for his corner of the world and his friends. Or are they? Perhaps the tortured hero with a conscious would be a better descriptor for the Goon.

The Goon lives in a world where zombies, pulp super science and other elements walk hand in hand with pulp noir action and is broad enough to have a crossover not only with Hellboy, but with the old boys from Metallocalypse.

In looking at tortured characters, figure out what makes them tortured. If it's just a single element that they could easily solve, why are they still tortured after that? If it's just a case of angst, move on!