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I already talked about the villain in fantasy, but what about the heroes?

Instead of focusing on the types of heroes I’ll talk about motivation(s). They come in different flavors, such as:

  1. Honor & Duty
  2. Can’t Fight Fate
  3. It’s Personal
  4. For the Greater Good

Honor and Duty means that it is the heroes job to be, well, heroic (or at least he thinks he is). Whether he is the Captain of the City Watch or the Crown Prince the hero call to adventure comes in the way of legal, familial or societal duty. Pretty mundane as motivations go and to the modern reader it may sound a bit thin but at least it gives a hero a reason to be in the story and a day job. Useful when you have a band of heroes and you need to inject some purpose to a secondary character.

Other heroes get their call via stone tablet or star sign. A long time ago (or last week on a Tuesday afternoon) somebody, somewhere predicted that The Chosen On will rise from the gibbering masses too save the day. Easy way to start your story. If anyone asks just show them the highlighted text. Usually the story then revolves around one of two things: can the hero live up to the hype (prophecy) or is that thing they said about him so many years ago is even worth listening too. Averted, subverted and play straight so many times, I’ve lost count.

Then there is the Mel Gibson favorite for when the hero refuses the call, make…it…personal! The villain razed the heroes village to the ground, killed his parents and kidnapped his significant other. Oh hells no! It’s on! Leads the hero onto a roaring rampage of revenge with the added bonus that the hero has nothing to hold him back.

And last but not least you have the true hero, the one that does what needs to be done, for the greater good. Restore Peace to the Land, usher an gleaming Utopia, that sort of thing. The hero is the epitome of altruism. Could be the way he was raised or that he is a fervent believer in a philosophy/religion that encourages that kind of thought. Paragons of absolute virtue seem a tad outdated in the cynical world we live in, but there is nothing stopping the author from playing up the darker side of this motivation.

So there you have it. Four common heroic motivations. I hope you found them useful.

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