#13: Art of the Anti-Hero

#2
unnecessary cruelty, murder, and insanity
To borrow a tv trope, this sounds more like a heroic sociopath than an anti-hero. It never seemed to me that what I consider anti-heroes engaged in unneccessary violence. They did what they thought they had to do, not what they, or anyone else, wanted them to do.

And while I think they can think of themselves as selfish, I think there are anti-heros that would say they do what they do not out of greed, but out of a sense of doing a bad thing for a greater good, or doing something horrible so others will not have the need. Would that be a selfless anti-hero?

Is Batman predominately a hero, or an anti-hero? Is Conan an anti-hero or simply a protagonist? Is Venom an anti-hero or a sociopath?
 

Tark

Da ork dats muckin about.
#3
To borrow a tv trope, this sounds more like a heroic sociopath than an anti-hero. It never seemed to me that what I consider anti-heroes engaged in unneccessary violence. They did what they thought they had to do, not what they, or anyone else, wanted them to do.

And while I think they can think of themselves as selfish, I think there are anti-heros that would say they do what they do not out of greed, but out of a sense of doing a bad thing for a greater good, or doing something horrible so others will not have the need. Would that be a selfless anti-hero?

Is Batman predominately a hero, or an anti-hero? Is Conan an anti-hero or simply a protagonist? Is Venom an anti-hero or a sociopath?

We all have out own definitions for what makes an anti-hero. The answer to all three of those is yes, they're all anti-heroes. Though these days venom is most definitely a psychopath.


I'd like to encourage more discussion on this given the shortness of the articles length.
 

smascrns

New member
Banned
#4
We all have out own definitions for what makes an anti-hero. The answer to all three of those is yes, they're all anti-heroes.
I don't know about Venom but I don't consider Conan an anti-hero. He is clearly a hero, not an anti-hero, even if he is a hero in the vain of Ulisses instead of an hero in the vain of Aquiles. On the other hand, Solomon Kane is much closer to an anti-hero, specially in his adventures in America and Europe (his african adventures are another matter).

On the other hand, Batman, Spiderman, even Superman, are a little more complex. They are both heroes and anti-heroes. They are heroes in their super persona, and anti-heroes in their common man persona. It's this contrast between two conflicting realities that gives so many shades to 4 colour characters, and makes them interesting. Without this supers would be a dead genre by now, and would not have survived for almost 80 years. Contrast this with the pulp heroes of the 20s and 30s. They lacked the complexity of superheroes, so they went out of fashion as soon as society changed and reality moved much farther away than the fiction they presented.
 
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Storn

Registered User
Validated User
#5
I thought the article was... okay.

It didn't dovetail back to gaming enough for me. Sure, it is fine to suggest the Anti-Hero as a concept... but the article didn't do any of the really hard work that is going to have to happen at the table.

How do you deal with 4 or 5 Anti-Heroes in the same game?

How do you deal with 1 Anti-Hero among others of a more "civilized" outlook in the same game?

The article didn't push far enough.
 

Tark

Da ork dats muckin about.
#6
I thought the article was... okay.

It didn't dovetail back to gaming enough for me. Sure, it is fine to suggest the Anti-Hero as a concept... but the article didn't do any of the really hard work that is going to have to happen at the table.

How do you deal with 4 or 5 Anti-Heroes in the same game?

How do you deal with 1 Anti-Hero among others of a more "civilized" outlook in the same game?

The article didn't push far enough.

I'll be the first to admit it's definitely not my strongest work. That's why I'm trying to encourage discussion so more ideas get tossed about.

As far as those two questions go though I've already discussed mixing a villain with good guys in the Sheeps and Wolves article series, the same logic can be applied to anti-heroes as well.

As far as the first question that sounds more like a problem that a GM should handle in their own way. I make a point of trying not to tell people how to run their game. I'll give advice if I feel it's a particularly sticky or awkward point, but otherwise I maintain a policy of letting people play their own games however they choose.
 

Storn

Registered User
Validated User
#7
I'll be the first to admit it's definitely not my strongest work. That's why I'm trying to encourage discussion so more ideas get tossed about.

As far as those two questions go though I've already discussed mixing a villain with good guys in the Sheeps and Wolves article series, the same logic can be applied to anti-heroes as well.

As far as the first question that sounds more like a problem that a GM should handle in their own way. I make a point of trying not to tell people how to run their game. I'll give advice if I feel it's a particularly sticky or awkward point, but otherwise I maintain a policy of letting people play their own games however they choose.
Sorry, that is a bit of a cop-out IMO. Here is what I came up with in about 5 mins of thinking about this.

Look, Elric has Moonglum...who is a sidekick archtype, certainly a cool sidekick... but definitely 2nd banana.

The Shadow has his little network of sidekicks. If your group can handle that in terms of egos... then that is one solution.

Glen Cook's The Black Company is a mercenary group of a bunch of anti-heroes... the military structure gives a place for these guys to band together (out of habit, out of survival--political & militarily)

The anime Black Lagoon has a bunch of misfits who take on odd jobs as mercs and they don't particularly get along, but there is some kind of dysfunctional family structure that bonds them together.

Pointing out pitfalls of anti-heroes at the table is NOT telling folks how to run their games... it is giving them something to think about, really options, which is the opposite of telling them how to run their games.

And if you wanna reference a past article, do so! I didn't read that article, so how am I to know? Sorry man, sloppy work.
 

Tark

Da ork dats muckin about.
#8
If that's how you feel, that's how you feel. I'll revisit this at some point when I have time to actually sit down and give it a proper look. Any criticism you give pales in comparison to my own psychological bullying though more constructive.

Me: "There, done. Now I can get on with one of the other five projects I have."

Sub-conscious: "Done? You're never done. Don't feed me that bullshit."

Me: "I-I'm done. See it has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion."

Sub-conscious: "You call that a body? It's thin and rotting, like your sex life."

Me: "Hey now no need to get that involved I'm just so busy these days and I have to get a job and-"

Sub-Conscious: "waah waah waah excuses excuses always excuses." *kicks depression center*

Me: *sniff* "Stop that."

Sub-Conscious: *kicks* "Or what? You can't even use a comma properly bitch."


That's on a good day.
 
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#9
We all have out own definitions for what makes an anti-hero. The answer to all three of those is yes, they're all anti-heroes. Though these days venom is most definitely a psychopath.


I'd like to encourage more discussion on this given the shortness of the articles length.
I agree. It is my take on the archetype. I am curious, though, what do you believe is the cut-off between hero/anti-hero/villain? And, to borrow another trope (I love that site), do you believe there is room for the anti-villain?

Also, do you have any advice on a mixed group? In my experience, if the group is not very careful in how they play, it can really destroy group cohesion. One of my worst experiences role-playing was in a mixed Star Wars group. It turned cut-throat and the group would have disintegrated, save for massive deus ex machina.
 
#10
Overall it was pretty good but I think you left out two important things.

1) A link or summary of the literary definition of the anti hero.

2) The most important ting about an anti-hero, he has to be someone you like or relate to. Pitch Black would have been a poor movie if Riddick had not been charming in his evil, and too many people who write anti-heroes forget that.

and lets add

3) Porter from Payback. That is an anti-hero!
 
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