Faces of Role-Playing
This "parental exclusion" mechanism could be thought of as a move of symbolic liberation, but more often than not, this background plot serves to explain a psychological burden or flaw (typically emotional insecurity or general distrust) that the character currently bears. What's interesting is that both elements tend to sever relationships (both past and future).
Emotionally, she dumped every feeling she could and buried it in a mental graveyard that, every night, she would methodically dig up and force herself to relive the moments to teach mental toughness … Poor girl thought she was the cause of every death, including the destruction of her home village due to an orc invasion caused by drought. She never did find out that everyone made it out safely. [Neverwinter Nights, F, 23]
Having basically lost everything she ever loved on that day, she sunk into a deep depression, eventually turning to alchoholism and morally dubious mercenary work in a sort of 'passive aggressive' attempt to get herself killed. [WoW, M, 24]
Herjolf is a human mercenary. His mother was a whore, his father a mercenary. As he was 12 years old, his mother died of disease and his father took care of him, taking him with him to the army he was currently employed. Herjolf learned fighting as a craft. He took part in many battles, that earned him quite a score of scars. To forget the horrible things he saw in battle he has begun drinking. [DAoC, F, 36]
When players are asked about common tropes or character types they see, the Tragic is indeed the most well-described type, however, it is also the type that is thought to be most banal due to its prevalence.
Entirely too many people seem to want to turn having a tragic past into some kind of contest ('Orcs killed my mother' 'Oh yeah? Demons killed my whole family!' 'Oh yeah? I never HAD a family' 'Arthas ninja'd my thorium!') which is not only obnoxious but also kinda dumb; very few people like to deal with tragedy by using it as a bludgeon against others. [WoW, M, 24]
Unfortunately, there are only so many lead female and head hero roles to go around, and comically, there are only so many parents, siblings, lovers and pets that can be murdered to give some future heroic figure a motivation to become great. [AO, F, 40]
We will return to this theme later on when we talk about drama queens among role-players in the etiquette article, but for now we'll move on to the next character type.
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