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Monthly Archives: April 2009

So, the Big Bad has set up shop in the entropic Kingdom of Doom and now his armies march across the plains to enslave all of mankind.

Wait, what?

Where did all these guys came from?

And why are they marching across the plains to enslave all that is good?

What is their motivation?

The Answer: because Evil Lies in the Heart of Men!

Let me count the ways:

  1. Fear: Now the obvious way fear works as a motivator is that the minions would be afraid of their leader. But what if they are afraid of something or someone else? A neighboring country, a minority (or majority) within their own borders, a race of people (or in fantasy/sci-fi a species). Their leader could promise them that he will lead them over victory against their oppressors (real or imagined) if they follow him.
  2. Greed: Until fairly recently conquering armies got to plunder their enemies territory. Soldiers shared in the booty of coin, art and slaves. Going on campaign might be worth it for a poor peasant if the rewards merit them.
  3. Tribal loyalties: Us vs. Them. Morality may be defined not acts but by who is doing them (and who is in the receiving end of said acts). If the target is anyone not part of the group/tribe then they do not deserve the same consideration as members of the tribe. You shall not kill or steal from your clansmen, but that would not stop you from doing the same to others who are not within that select group.
  4. Ideology/Philosophy/Religion: People show a willingness to lower their cognitive dissonance in the service of  metal constructs such as an ideology/philosophy/religion. What they would normally recoil from doing by themselves they are ready to do in the service of a set of beliefs. They are willing to accept and support acts that would repulse them if directed at them. Works well when mixed with a charismatic leader who exploits fear and tribal loyalties.
  5. Vengeance/Playing the Victim: A variant of fear induced loyalty. The core of the villain’s army is made of people who have being historically abused, butchered or regularly invaded and enslaved. They got good reasons to be pissed and now the bad guy (at least to us) promises them a chance at revenge. Can generally lead to an endless cycle of violence where the acts of one side set offs a chain reaction of victimization/revenge, especially when you add a strong dose of tribalism.
  6. Altruism/Utopia/Golden Age: Tends to be a variant or the logical result of following a given set of beliefs. The world as the followers of the villain see it is lost, there is no hope except to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. Yes, a few misguided souls will protest, but the greater good demands unwavering action in the face of existential moral decay. Questions are not allowed. They are at best unwanted distractions and at worse a base betrayal of the Truth that awaits at the end of the journey. Hallowed are the Ori!
  7. Conscription: Service is the law, citizen! Worked for armies and navies for centuries. Still used by some military forces (child soldiers are common among rebel groups in parts of the world, mostly Africa). Even the U.S. has the selective service. Simply put, it is the LAW. The sovereign has the right to assemble an army for the defense of the realm and we all know that the best defense is a good offense. The Romans complemented their forces with auxiliaries from recently conquered lands and the Turks created an elite military force made up of slaves. Add a promise of treasure from conquered territories and you got yourself an army.

This is not an exhaustive list (by far) but it should give you a hosts of real world/logical reasons why would anyone follow/commit acts that are by definition EVIL. Better than “the pay is good” or “I was just made that way”.

That’s all for now.

(H/T To Marian, Again 😀 )

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My contribution to Teaser Tuesday. This is an old character write-up in short story form:

I have trouble sleeping ever since the war. I use music to relax. Most music will do. I just fire up my laptop or MP3 player and let it cycle through the playlist. I donned my wireless earphones and lay down on the hammock.

Carry on my wayward son

There’ll be peace when you are done

Lay your weary head to rest

Don’t you cry no more.

It only takes seconds before I dose off….

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high

Sometimes I am conscious of dreaming, that is I know I am dreaming. Like right now I am traveling through a dark wood. I hear a howling. A dog, maybe a wolf. I think I see a figure darting between the trees, a shadow moving fast.

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I’m dreaming
I can hear them say

I reach a clearing. There I see a man, a giant of a man wearing Norse armor. Opposite him a large Wolf, a monster, jet black fur that swallows what little light that shines upon the clearing from the half moon above.

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

The Warrior charges the beast. They grapple in a vicious embrace. The Wolf tries to bite and claw away from the Warrior’s hold, to no avail. Then I hear chains in the distance. The Wolf howls and whimpers, trying to run away, but the Warrior holds fast.

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, well
It surely means that I don’t know

From beyond the clearing’s edge, chains shoot out like bullets, wrapping themselves around the great black beast. Like tentacles they bind the head and legs of the great Wolf. At that moment the Wolf bites down, vice like on the Warrior’s left hand, but he does not flinch. He throws the beast down and with his good hand wraps the chains around the muzzle. The beast lets go as it dragged into the darkness. The Warrior’s stands alone in the clearing. He then takes his sword from his scabbard, a long flat blade and with a single stroke cuts away the mangled piece of flesh that was once his hand.

The Warrior’s turns around, toward me. I know that face.

Dad…

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune
But I hear the voices say

The Warrior’s tosses his sword at my feet. The scene changes. The forest becomes a vast plain, filled with broken bodies and weapons. The sounds of battle fill the air. I look around and I see my grandfather looking down at me with his one good eye, perched above me, bird like on a huge boulder.

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

I see winged figures filling the sky, grey ethereal shadows moving swiftly across the grey sky. My grandfather points at the sword resting at my feet. I pick it up Runes move and rearrange across the flat side of the blade. I know these runes, each one spelled out one name after another, Hrunting, Durandal, Joyeuse, Curtana, Tyrfing, Dainleif.

Swords of power, weapons of heroes, pick up the sword and welcome your Fate!

Carry on, you will always remember

Carry on, nothing equals the splendor

The center lights around your vanity

But surely heaven waits for you

At that moment a man armed with spear and shield, attacks. I parry his attack, but his spear lances my side. I tumble away and I feel something wrap around the stump that on my left arm. I rise to face my attacker, a shining golden gauntlet sits comfortably where my own hand used to be. The enemy attacks again. This time I strike his shield with the gauntlet and it shatters into pieces. Stunned my enemy steps back, but it I who is now the hunter. A swift stroke under his chin cuts his throat open. He falls among the detritus that litters the battlefield. At that moment I step back, time slowing down around me. A musket shot flies inches from my face. I turn to the sound of the guns and I see a line of redcoats preparing to fire. I leap forward.. I land among them, slashing and punching my way through their ranks. As the last one falls I snap his musket like a twig.

Then a light that shines brighter than the sun itself blinds me.

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry (don’t you cry no more)

Surtur!

A giant, some 30ft tall, his hands and head wreathed in fire, steps forward to do battle. I shout an ancient battle cry and charge him….

I wake up and rip my earphones from my head, nearly breaking them in the process. I never felt more….alive! Then the tapping on my window, those damned crows again. But this time it comes from my grandfather old studio. The crow is perched atop an old bookcase. I try to shoo away the pest, I stumble and crash into the bookcase. That’s when I notice that what I thought was the bottom drawer was in fact a small trunk. I pull it out and open it. Inside I find…a sword and a gauntlet.

Could they be….


This book has wars, mass murder, high caliber ammunition blasting heads open and zombies but no sex.

Say what now?

You mean to tell me you have no problems with eviscerated bodies, gigantic explosions and blood sucking vampires but you can’t write a decent sex scene?

Is this book for ages 5 and up?

Listen to me, very carefully:

OBEY THE NARRATIVE IMPERATIVE!

In other words, if the story calls for a sex scene, write a sex scene. Even if you’re not writing a torrid Harlequin book, it is only natural that the adults in your story, if they have hormones and functioning sexual organs would want to use them, preferably with each other.

Also sex comes in many guises, not all of them pleasant. The horrors of sexual assault, the bliss (real, imagined or feigned) of first teenage coitus, or the lackluster once a week romp in the sheets of past middle aged married couples.

As long as you are writing what the story requires and to the right audience you will do fine. After all they haven’t plastered ratings on book covers yet. Besides, if you want your books sales to go to the roof, getting a few thousand request for book banning at the local library (or a good old fashion book burning) will work wonders.

Remember boys and girls, people are still having sex!

Were in:

The first villain (MC) meet(s) is the weakest, and the last is the strongest. In theory, as the heroes get strong enough to defeat their current enemy, a new enemy will emerge that forces them to reach another skill level.

A very common trope found at the heart of most comic books, action based TV series, RPGs and games (with a level system).  Serves as a plot extender of sorts. If you met the final Boss in the first chapter then it would be a short story not a novel.

From the villain point of you sending his strongest henchman to finish off the hero (if he even knows that he exists) might not be the logical first choice. First off if a disposable minion can do the job, why not send them, especially if they have a good track record. Also it would be easy to follow the trail back from the henchman back to the Big Boss, especially if the henchman is captured and made to talk.

For the writer the Algorithm of Evil helps in several ways:

  • Keeps the Big Boss hidden until it is time to reveal him
  • Allows the hero to grow through experience without the villain suffering from villain decay
  • Keeps the fights interesting. After all if the hero gets to strong compared to his rivals then they offer no challenge to him and the tension slacks to nothing.
  • Allows for a bit of detective work on the part of the heroes/MC(s). They have to go through the low(er) level mooks just to figure out who the Big Boss is.

When done right it proves the old adage that there is “always someone stronger”. Of course you may end up with something like Bleach or Dragon Ball type anime were an endless parade of more insanely powerful enemies come along to fight the already insanely godlike heroes (also common in certain high powered superhero comics like Superman).

I found myself doing the exact same thing in SuD but hopefully I avoided the pitfalls by:

  • Teaming up the MC with other heroes. Thus while the hero does get stronger, he certainly can’t fight all the bad guys by himself.
  • Brain over brawn: Both heroes and villains use more than raw muscle to survive. In fact the villains prefer not to get their hands dirty unless they can help it and the hero will certainly use other means to achieve his goals if they are at hand. Even within a fight sequence, the hero tends to use tactics and strength in equal measure.
  • Even mooks can hurt you. Just because you can dispatch a horde of X type of opponents doesn’t mean that they are still not a risk. If they score a hit or two, the hero will get hurt.

Well, I hope that I can navigate the waters of this trope safely and end up with a fun story at the end.

H/T to Marian for introducing me to the TV Tropes Wiki which served as an inspiration for this post.

Stealing an idea from Amy I present to you a teaser from my current project. And yes, the character name sounds familiar, but I borrowed it from a wiki.

You can read more about SuD here:

flame___the_envoys_by_anikakinka

Trinity Dance Club, Boston,  Massachusetts, U.S, November 16, 01:34hrs

Blue flames warmed her hands as she danced to the music. She bent and twisted to the electronic rhythm.  The motes of light burned afterimages into the retinas of surrounding onlookers.  Senses, dulled by sound and intoxicating substances, could not see the truth behind the images.  She didn’t care. As the tempo changed so did the color of the flames, from cool blue to a furious red and then to bright white. The girl extended her arms, palms outward. The motes jumped from her hands and broke into smaller flames swirling around her like disembodied candlelight.

The lights on the dance floor went out. The music slowed down  to a slow somber tone. The beats matched the palpitations of the crowd. The only source of illumination came from the pinpoints of light around the girl. They glowed a faint orange and pulsed to the beat.

Inside his booth, the DJ smiled as he slowed the music an unnerving crawl. Then he punched up the volume and switched on the giant screens surrounding the dance floor.  Geometric shapes moved in sync with the heightened beat. The flames spun faster around the girl as her body gyrated to the pulsating music. The mix reached a crescendo and then transitioned to another song.

Her eyes opened, flashing an intense amber, while the fires evaporated. Applause broke around her. She smiled and made her way to the bar. The bartender handed her a frosty bottle of water and winked at her.  Amy thought that Mario was cute but he went through girlfriends far to fast for her taste. Sure, she found it hard not to melt when he flashed those pearly whites firmly anchored on those incredible dimples but so did half the girls at the bar even those who planned to go home with their girlfriends.

But he was not on the many tonight or for that matter any time in the foreseeable future. They hooked up in the past and he performance to date was nothing to complain about. He certainly played the strong silent type well. But he was looking for the girl he could bring home to Mama and she was not it.

Poor kid! Talk about looking in the wrong place.

If some other girl wanted to sit at the end of bar waiting for his shift to be over, nursing her free drinks and guarding her man from the pack, that was not her problem.  Her front pant pocket vibrated. She pulled the cell phone out and looked at the screen.

Briefing- D.C. 08:00hrs sharp

P.S. Business Attire- Mason

So much for sleeping in on a Saturday. Amy waved goodbye to Mario on her way out the front door. She didn’t bother with a coat even though the snow fell thick and heavy around her.  She put the hood up to protect her hair from the falling flakes. As she walked back to her apartment she left steaming puddles in the ankle deep snow.

*Local Time

—-

If you wondered what song she was dancing too, here it is.