Posted by: Jess Riley | November 16, 2008

Hero Moments

First of all, I’d like to apologise for the lack of posting lately; what with work and NaNoWriMo, among other things, I’ve not had a lot of chances to sit down and post.

But now, I want to make a post along the same lines as my past ventures into fear and anger. We’ve talked about what terrifies your character, what sends them into a rage – but what brings out their best side? What makes them want to do good in the world, make the world around them a better place?

I know what you might be thinking, because I was thinking much the same thing at first: hold on, if I’m playing a badass Forsaken warrior* with virtually nothing in the way of emotion, is he even going to have a thing that makes him want to do good and improve the world?

Well, to be honest, this comes down to whether you consider the Forsaken even capable of emotion; however, I think it’s clear that any character who does have emotion and does have a conscience will have some kind of hero inside that will drive them to want to improve the world some way. To put another way, if they’re human enough for anger and fear, they’re human enough to want to do good in some way. It might be buried very deep under walls of self-protection, but it will be in there, somewhere.

So, what is it?

It comes up a lot in superhero stories – often there’ll be something that has happened to the hero to make him/her want to go out and do good in the world (although it sometimes seems to overlap with an anger thing when it comes to revenge as a motive). At the extreme end, we have superheroes who dedicate their lives to saving the world, or at least one small part of it (With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility style), or the soldier who throws himself on a hand grenade to save everyone else around him. At the more minor end, we have someone who stands up for others when they’re being belittled, or who can’t help but drop a few coins into any charity bucket they see.

In World of Warcraft, people are generally equipped to put themselves anywhere on the scale if they really want to – one of the features of World of Warcraft, as we’ve pointed out before, is that characters even start out being so much more skilled than we are in real life. A well-equipped level 70 – 80 character is a formidable force on par with Batman (alright, alright, I take it back, no one’s as awesome as Batman; somewhere not far from there, though), when it all comes down to it. And after all, it’s practically in a paladin’s job description to devote their lives to saving others – it’s not that much of a stretch to suggest that someone might become a paladin because their hero moment is about saving other people.

We can do the other end of the scale, too, easily enough. Whether your character’s hero bit is standing up for the less fortunate, or perhaps they’re a soft touch for animals or children, you can work this into the game. Maybe they seem like an emotionless hardass for the vast majority of the year, but during Children’s Week every year they spend the whole time in the company of the orphans, showing them the sights, and just couldn’t be happier, or spend their off hours sitting at the orphanage and trying not to shed a tear as they watch the poor souls running around.

Interacting with hunters and their pets, or other characters and their mini-pets, can get across the idea that what really drives a character is their love of and desire to always protect animals. Are they outraged by using a pet in battle? Likely to chide and scold someone for not treating their mini-pet with enough kindness and love? Might they even attempt to ‘rescue’ a mistreated mini-pet in order to restore some goodness to its life (this could be a great way to describe getting a new mini-pet, and an awesome plot to run with another PC if you can arrange it)?

Basically, just let your imagination run wild. It’s not like you don’t have the opportunity. What makes your character just need to act the hero?

*Fun fact: my favourite three races are all Undead.

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