I am not my characters. This is a disclaimer I’ve had to give voice to in the gaming community for years. I roll up a character for a particular tabletop or LARP game, one who is perhaps a little weird, or kind of an asshole or just out and out evil, then I jump in and play the part to the best of my ability. What often happens is those who haven’t spent any time speaking to me outside of the game assume that this identity is my own and treat me accordingly. People that would possibly have ended up as good friends if they had met me in different circumstances would do their best to avoid me both in game and out.
This form of typecasting is an annoyance for a lot of gamers, especially for the better role players who do appreciate the variety of character options available to them, and often results in some degree of interpersonal conflict. Any gamer who plays a conflict oriented character usually does so for the enjoyment of the in game social and political interactions that those character types get involved in. It is (usually) not some twisted desire to be the villain in real life. It’s simply a matter of providing good storytelling opportunities. Often times it’s the evil bastards that get the most involved in the plot while the nice guy characters usually end up sitting on the sidelines.
Since showing my first work to a few people I’ve found that I have to again make the same disclaimer. The vampires in my book are evil bastards of one kind or another and predators in every sense of the word. Is it because I have some secret desire to be one of those bastards in real life, to treat people like toys to be used and discarded when I’m through with them? Not at all. It’s all about the storytelling potential those evil bastards represent. If every character in a particular story was a fluffy nice guy that got along with everybody in every social situation that wouldn’t make for very interesting fiction. Nobody wants to read a 300 page story of everybody playing nice. They’d be bored to death. The rude, heartless, evil, sadistic bastards are there because it’s good for the story and that’s all there is to it.
What else I’ve noticed from a few of my readers is an occurrence of this misunderstanding in a slightly different way. The main male character of The Games of Master Rule is a quiet, keep out of trouble kind of guy; honest, polite, chivalrous and a complete pushover. There are also a couple instances of secondary characters who exhibit similar behavior. They’re shy, lacking in confidence or outright whipped into obedience. I’m finding myself having to make the same old protests about these characters as I used to about my evil gaming characters. These guys aren’t me any more than any other character I write or act out in a game are. Sure there may be little pieces of me within them, that’s really unavoidable with any character I write, but it’s a fairly small fragment of their personality as a whole. These characters are the way they are not because I couldn’t resist putting myself into the story to act out some fantasy but because, for a couple different reasons, it made the most sense for the plot.
The first is that these are the kinds of people that vampires would most likely pick on. Think of any other predator and how they hunt. A wolf doesn’t chase down the biggest and fastest deer, the one that he has the least hope of catching. He goes for the stray at the back; the smallest, the slowest or the most injured one. The wolf hunts whatever prey will provide the easiest meal and I see no reason why vampires should be any different. Why take a risk on a dangerous meal when the safer choice is just as delicious?
The other reason why these people are the way they are is because of the influence of the vampires themselves. Vampires are traditionally very powerful and manipulative creatures, able to play with people’s thoughts and emotions, and they use this power to break people down. What once might have been an average person will under the control of a vampire become obedient, submissive, loyal, weak and probably head over heels in supernaturally induced love. Basically they turn people into pets that will serve their interests in the same manner that we have guard dogs or hunting falcons serve ours.
Perhaps after I’ve written a few more works, with a greater variety of characters, then I won’t have to deal with this kind of typecasting anymore. In the meantime, I suppose it’s an annoyance I’ll just have to live with.