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Annabel Ashcroft

Faerie [Aether]

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Annabel's writing advice: earning your power

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Ah yes, another writing blog on 'power'. It's not surprising considering the type of game this is. Power is just seeped in the FF14 story everywhere you look. In fact it is like this in most any non slice of life Anime you watch these days, as well as a lot of other tropes such as fantasy, superheroes, etc...

This blog though will deal with earning that power. This tends to be a rather big issue in power fantasy stories, rarely anyone really EARNS their power, they are just 'given' it rather lazily a lot of the time I might add. (Anime's, I am looking at YOU!) This really frustrates me. I hate, hate, HATE when characters are just given power, throw it around and don't RESPECT it. Power is RESPONSIBLE people! To have great power is to treat it with respect and use it wisely, NOT do stupid things with it!

Why this blog then? Well, I am currently reading 'Rhythm of War', and in it, it had a great example of someone EARNING their great power. Note, I am going to spoil the story, so if you plan to read it, you may want to skip this blog.

In the book, one of the main characters, Kaladin, finally achieves the 4th Ideal of being a Radiant. This is a huge deal in the book since it is very hard to achieve, there is only one other Radiant in the world who has done it. In doing this, Kaladin has unlocked some really awesome powers and has become a real bad ass.

BUT, he was not just GIVEN them. No Godlike being just went and said, "here, have these great powers just because...." The man went through hell and back and THEN some both physically and mentally to be able to consider himself worthy to say the words to unlock the 4th Ideal. Believe me, the man EARNED every bit of that power and that scene was absolutely thrilling to read when he finally achieved it.

(On a side note, Shallan is another one who went through utter hell to achieve the Radiant power she has. We finally learn her secret of why she is so messed up in the head in this book, and boy is it something.)

It was just sooooo refreshing to read that, to see someone who actually EARNED their power, understands the COST of it and respects that power in kind.

It is the same in real life. Don't you value something far more when you work and save up the money instead of being just GIVEN it? Of course you do. It means soooo much more to you because you worked for it.

Not earning their power is what bugs me sooooo much in a lot of stories, especially when the protagonist is young. When the main character is an adult it is more acceptable to see them powerful because you can attribute it to experience. Of course an adult can just as easily be GIVEN power, but age allows a sort of 'hand waving' with a paragraph or blurb saying they have trained for years and had schooling. That REALLY doesn't work with kids and teens, it really DOESN'T! But people do it anyway, over, and over, and OVER again! Sigh.

It's stupid in Anime, it's stupid in YA novels, and it will ALWAYS be stupid and nonsensical.

Unfortunately in FF14 this cannot be helped. We all know that Hydaelyn just gives you your power, 'chooses' you out of all her Echo's to be 'the One'. Sigh, well it is what it is and you 'work' with it when creating fan fiction, coming up with something half way plausible that works with your character idea.

But, there is another thing to consider and I am going to talk about it here since it kind of fits. I am not talking about power, but of skills and abilities. What your character DOES with their life, what they KNOW; and how it affects how they get perceived to other people.

Skills, abilities, levels, talent, it's all about the same. A person learns these things throughout their life. Some they improve and master, others they attempt and drop or neglect and let the ability fade in time. It's how real life works.

But in fiction this is less so, especially when it comes to games. This is true in both pen and paper RPG's as well as computer based games. In both, one chooses a class and with it comes groups of skills. You do things in said games and 'level' up, getting better in the skills you have chosen. It's a tried and true method and has been used for years and years in games of all kinds.

But.....this method comes with a negative, which tends to manifest it's ugly head when writing stories of characters you create; namely, an absence of time.

Think about it, Think about the many, MANY games you have played in the past. D&D, Pathfinder, GURPS, Traveler, WoW, Everquest, FF 9 and 14, the list goes on. Think of the characters you created, the classes you were, the skills you had, the levels you gained.

Now, think of the age of your character, yes...AGE! Think about that D&D character who started as a 1st level wizard at 18 years old. HOW old were they when they got to level 12, 15, 20? how old were they when they were able to cast high level spells? I would bet probably 18 or close to it. The same with any other class, fighter, monk, thief, cleric. All high level, masters of their craft and high ranking; all at ridiculously low ages for said skill levels.

It is the same way in games. Take FF14, you are a level 90 paladin, summoner, ninja, scholar, etc. Top of your class, highly skilled and talented; and your character description says you are 18 years old. No time has passed, no aging has been done in relation to all that your character has learned. You are a teen who has the skill level and experience of a 40+ adult who has worked his whole life to master his profession.

It is silly and stupid, but not really your fault. It's how these games are, how they need to be to keep players interested. Taking forever to get good is not fun game play; people want results! Gains! Achievements! And they want them fast! So it happens fast, and that 16-21 year old grows in power quickly, becoming an anime trope.

Can it be stopped? Yes, if you care to put in the effort to do it. Make a timeline for your character, a personal canon. Chart your characters achievements, decide how long each one took in their life and AGE them appropriately as how you see fit. This is pretty easy to do in computer games such as FF14, but not so much in Tabletop RPG's since you are playing with actual people in real life. The DM though could allow it in his campaign to give a more realistic feel to the characters.

I have done this with Annabel, having it be years since ARR started. I have not aged her as much as I SHOULD have for her abilities, but I have done it some. Honestly, I kind of handwave a bit as 'magic' reasons she has gotten good in a short time. I do want her to age, but not be in her 40's by the time all this is said and done. LOL

So there you go, some more things to think upon in creating and maintaining your characters. As I have said before, this kind of does not matter too much unless you are creating constant stories with them, ie: creating a timeline a journey per say. But even if you make a quick blurb for RP purposes, try to think about experience and earning what they have. Try to make it somewhat plausible if you can, it makes for a less silly, more believable character.



Comments (13)

Elril Moonweaver

Phoenix [Light]

Rhythm of War... I wanna get to reading that sometime in the future, I stopped reading halfway through Oathbringer, but man, seeing Kaladin forgive himself would probably make me freaking BAWL my eyes out.

That said I have a running theory that the ECHO itself is what makes the Warrior of Light so good at picking up so many jobs and be inherently good at all of them. To answer your question... 21. Elril entered Ul'dah at 21 years of age and finished his EW journey at 25.

Elril Moonweaver

Phoenix [Light]

That is not a lot of time to learn all Elril from the game knows, but given my running theory on the Echo being what makes him adept at picking up and mastering new jobs and skills, it kinna fits.

Annabel Ashcroft

Faerie [Aether]

Yeah, if you think Kal has it bad in Oathbringer, it gets FAR worse for him in Rhythm. Yeah, it's awesome when he finally accepts it all and is at peace with it. Oh, and his new powers are kickass! LOL And Shallan, oh boy, Shallan.....Her revelation of why she is so nuts is something too. In fact there are a LOT of surprise twists in this book which made me more than once go WTF? ;p

Annabel Ashcroft

Faerie [Aether]

See, you did about the same thing I did with Annabel. 'Magic reasons' why he got as good as he did so you did not age him TOO much. ;-)

That's not a bad thing per say. It's baked into the whole FF14 story, Echo power and all that, mght as well 'use' it. LOL

Even if it sadly allows for silly super powered and skilled teenagers. Bleh! That's why I said, TRY to age the characters some in the timeline. Make your own time canon, don't rely on the game's silly version of it.

Elril Moonweaver

Phoenix [Light]

I'm not actually taking my time cannon, if I were he'd only have just 6 months to learn everything and that's not realistic at all. 4 years I can handle until I start unfreezing his age and making him older than 25 as he is now.

Travanchette Augurelt

Zalera [Crystal]

Wow
How very insightful!
I experienced this for the first time when reading a series called
The Twelve Kingdoms.
Though in hindsight, that ended up being quite anime...
And not very earned...

So what do I know?

Sleepy Shepherd

Zalera [Crystal]

Very interesting take on developing a character within the world built by Final Fantasy XIV.
I think this is aaalso a surprisingly difficult issue to resolve simply due to the ambiguous nature of time in the game. Not only difficult for players, but even for the game's writers!

Much as I love Shadowbringers, it was clear that their time-bubble shenanigans had cornered them when they had to exposit (though I do think it was done with grace) how time passes differently between the shards.

Sleepy Shepherd

Zalera [Crystal]

That said, I like your solution to it. To eschew the given timeline in its entirety and establish your own.
I just couldn't fit that into my first comment.

These write-ups are always appreciated, Annabel. If not for their content, then for the perspective they provide. Thank you for all the effort you put into them!

Annabel Ashcroft

Faerie [Aether]

Good Lord, I don't know WHAT the hell happened to this blog to get so many views in such a short time, seriously! It shot up to over 350 in 8 hours.

I have seen it happen before with my blogs and I still will NEVER understand it! LOL

Annabel Ashcroft

Faerie [Aether]

Awww, thank you Sleepy, it's nice when people read them and appreciate the effort. ;-)

Yes, the ' time shenanigan's', is WELL known to the FF14 lore addicts. Seriously, like only such a short time has passed between ALL that has happened? It's total bull crap.

I think anyone who actually puts forth an effort to write fan fiction and establishes their own canon totally ignores it for a more sensible timeline. Plus also works out the whole age/ability thing to make some sense.

Annabel Ashcroft

Faerie [Aether]

LOL Travanchette. Yes, Power gain can be cool to read, but I think it's far more fun and thrilling when the characters actually EARN that power. Being just given it for little to no reason it kind of lame and makes the character not really appreciate what they have really.

And DON'T get me started on 'magic' wizard and witch stories in the real world, Talk about abusing their power and using it for DUMB things! UGH!

Adam Bodiford

Balmung [Crystal]

This is something I've thought about as well. My character first arrived in Eorzea back in 2015, which was my 1st blog post. So he should be about 25-26 by now, which is what his Bio says. So I'm good there. The problem is he hasn't done much in the last 7 years! :D I've taken, at times, year long breaks from the game, BUT, I always try to work in the time away IRL into my character's cannon, trying to imagine what HE was doing during that time or trying to explain *why* is was away for so long.

Adam Bodiford

Balmung [Crystal]

I agree that the character's timeline is very important and should make sense. For example, Did he join the Gladiator's Guild and then hit lvl 30 the very next day - even if IRL the blogs were written only a day apart (you know we've all done it)? I always try to go back and edit the dates on the Blog posts so they make sense and are as realistic as possible to help the character feel more alive.
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