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Article - 'It’s Good To Be Evil, Part 2: The Anti-Hero' by KaosTenshi

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 8, 2003

Blurb

Welcome to the world of RPG making, where men are men, women usually end up fixing their messes, the villains are evil and… the heroes are evil too? We’re not talking about just any heroes… We’re talking about the Anti-Heroes.

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As we discussed in Part 1 of It’s Good To Be Evil (didn’t know it would be a two-parter back then, did you? …Well neither did I.), villains are fun. Why are villains so fun, you ask? Because they’re evil, and evil is fun. Why is evil fun? …Well it just is, okay? It’s so much better than those goodie-two-shoes heroes, right? Well who says that your heroes have to be so squeaky-clean? Enter the Anti-Hero.



An Anti-Hero is a character that would normally be cast as a villain, but for some reason or another works their way into the plot as your hero… or at least the focus of the game. Usually they’re kept from being the villain by being ‘the lesser of two evils’, sometimes even only because of a tiny glimmer of morality that they have and the villain lacks. The Anti-Hero may even be the type to jump into traffic and snatch a small child from the path of a speeding truck, and deliver the child back to its mother’s arms, but he isn’t the type to hang around long enough to be thanked for it. Maybe some morals do tug at his heartstrings, but he’d do his best never to show it, and certainly never admit it.



What are some good examples of anti-heros? To be perfectly honest, there aren't that many... the examples that do exist are of badly-executed anti-heros. For instance, take Squall Leonheart of Final Fantasy 8. I cannot stress enough how badly the anti-hero style was executed with this character. His dull apathy for no apparent reason came off as just being irritating, and also contributed to a number of other faults in the game, such as the game's 'romance' coming off very forced and illogical.

Does this mean your anti-hero can't fall in love? Of course not! Just don't expect one to show up on their love's front doorstep spouting poetry and singing lovesongs.



However, out of the same game, you can take Seifer. Yes, perhaps he was manipulated as a knight to some degree, but he fits the anti-hero style far better than the character that Squaresoft had originally intended. He may have been considered evil by most, and even considered a real villain instead of just a mini-boss, but Seifer had a life all his own as he had his 'romantic dream' of being a scorceress's knight... and he didn't give a damn how many of his old schoolmates he had to cut down to protect his sorceress.



BE CAREFUL! Anti-Heros are becoming popular these days as characters, but you have to realize on thing... If you can't write an anti-hero well, then don't write them into your stories at all, or else your players will brush the character aside as being nothing more than a lame attempt. So give it a shot, and if you fail... go watch some Vampire Hunter D OAV or something to help you practice.