A Samwise Gamgee Game


#41

I personally knew someone who wanted to create a story like this, but he gave up when he failed to plan a cohesive plot. He stopped when he failed to create line on what the protagonist could do before they took over the story from the meant-to-be-Heroes. Perhaps you might want to plan this thing through first.

Also, sometimes I find stories where the POV was from a classically supporting character in anime and manga. Forgot which one, I’ll try looking it up again


#42

I haven’t read that one recently, but I suspect that it does not open with the Jawa noting that this is not going to succeed and he will die and then he does it anyways because this will slow the stormtroopers down by five seconds and there is some tiny possibility that will matter. I mean, it’s not impossible to make that story work, but when I’ve seen it work it’s usually very short. If it is not very short it is about convincing the soldiers that’s worth their lives.

Otherwise, the Gaunts Ghosts series does this and there’s a very poignient moment in Necropolis when the hive’s gates go up and a tank formation is trapped outside, and they rally and stand their ground and for thirty minutes they fight against the overwhelming Chaos forces and then they’re overrun and die because the enemy forces are from a city of hundreds of millions of people and literally all of them are in the incoming army. This is covered in one page. The series is about people like those people, but when they go on a desperate and hopeless final charge it’s to buy time for the rest of the army to evacuate. One of the books ends with its viewpoint characters going and doing just that.

They are not in the next book because if they didn’t die in the allotted timeframe they died when the orbiting fleet opened fire and atomized the entire battlefield and every enemy soldier who’d been drawn in by the fighting. That part of the story is not a book-long story.

That’s a pretty big subgenre. I know one where the plot is a VRMMO plot and it’s from the perspective of a crafter, but the thing is mostly the MC sits and watches their party members fight bosses because their build isn’t suited to it. When there’s an exception it is invariably a plan that requires using lots and lots of consumable items crafted for this purpose. Like most recently riding a unicorn to lure the Lightning Horse new boss mob while burning up limited-use magic defense items to block lighting bolts. Then the classic protagonist finished setting up and the boss mob was lured into the kill zone and then it went from 70% hp to 0% hp because the only limits on her damage output are how long she has to prep and how much mana she can expend. Immediately after her “cool girls don’t look at dying boss mobs” splash image she thanks the crafter for handing her a ton of mana potions.

The other thing is, the story the classic protagonist is central to isn’t the only thing that’s happening and there’s a lot of time spent on messing with crafting mechanics and what I jokingly call the Crafting Mafia because its leaders explained their role by basically just describing the concept of a price-fixing cartel and the protagonist did not notice. And basically every time this plot advances my summary involves the phrase Crafting Mafia because it is exactly what the Mafia would do to resolve this plot point. I would love to have the classic protagonist’s story too, but that story would not spend much time on her interactions with the Crafting Mafia triumvirate because her role in that story is she buys things and sometimes they need something rare and she goes and beats up raid bosses until it drops.


#43

I don’t really care about being powerful necessarily, and I definitely don’t mind playing games where my character is in a subordinate role as such - but I would not enjoy a game where my character is so mediocre/weak that they have no real relevance to events.

“Scared peasant conscript” as opposed to mighty archmage might be interesting. A mediocre Jedi could be interesting. A common soldier as in ordinary infantryman who may not even make sergeant could be interesting too.

But a person whose story is “They shot at an AT-AT and failed to stop it and the AT-AT shot them and they died.” doesn’t really adapt to being the subject of a game driven by choices very well, IMO.


#44

Also, while you can make the story work, generally in situations that end like that it’s just a “Bolivian Army Ending”* because once the audience knows they’re going to shoot at the AT-AT and fail to stop it and then the AT-AT will shoot them and they will die, they can pretty much take it from there.

That is why the Star Wars games let you be a snowspeeder pilot who trips up AT-ATs and isn’t Luke over and over and over, but I don’t know if they’ve literally ever let you play a foot soldier in the battle of Hoth. You do get to command the rebels at the battle of Hoth in a couple of the grand strategy games, though, because that way you can actually see you’ve accomplished something when you send people to shoot at AT-ATs and then die. Heck, Warcraft 3 basically does that in the last couple minutes of the last mission, because when the countdown timer hits like two minutes Archimonde figures out he’s just totally invincible and just starts walking to the World Tree and killing everything in his path. Throw your strongest heroes and all your soldiers and your walking tree buildings at him and you’ll maybe slow him down for thirty seconds. And when you start doing this the timer is at 00:17 and it’s counting down to victory.

I think the first time I won the timer hit zero when Archimonde was literally twenty feet away from the World Tree stepping over the wreckage of my last attack tree.

*I only know this secondhand, but I’m told the source is the movie Butch Cassidy and The Sundance kid, which ends with the heroes surrounded by the Bolivian Army, so the two of them opt to charge out and fight the Bolivian Army. And you don’t see what happens next because you know what happens next.


#45

Not necessarily specifically apropos of Gamgee games, but I wouldn’t say a Bolivian Army Ending per se is a bad thing, thinking about it.

It’d have to be built up to so you still have some sense that something other than being a target happened first, but it could be done with a strong enough story, I think.

You’d need where “We choose death/to stand and fight!” would be something, naturally.


#46

**Advantages to not Being the Focal Point: **To add to the Gamgee focus, sometimes, even a lot of the time, I think writers place the protagonist at the centre of the plot in contrived ways.
Guy Gavriel Kay and Haruki Murakami are two authors of mine that will let major plot points occur without the hero directly impacting.

  1. When done right, it adds a lot of suspense, it makes the reader feel like a deus ex machina is less likely.
  2. It also can make world building far more mysterious.
    A Gandalf narrated Lord of the Rings would be far more boring.

#47

Oh, sure, if you go over to the character deaths thread check out my post where I talk about Dan Abnett for the one from His Last Command.

The point is that generally it’s a Bolivian Army Ending for a reason. Even when it’s not the end of the work, usually you get a post-battle record of their heroism and if it’s a modern setting about the posthumanous metals of honor they earned, and if it’s Warhammer 40k then the Bell Of Lost Souls tolls to commemorate them.

Heck, Battlefleet Gothic Armada was building up to one at the end (it is intended you know this is coming; it’s the Gothic War story and players are expected to know how it ends while they probably don’t know how it starts) when Abaddon has three Blackstone Fortresses and they’re charging up to obliterate a heavily populated solar system, and in the course of the battle you defeat most of his fleet but can’t stop them from commencing the firing sequence to combine their energy into a single beam, and so your character, supreme commander of Battlefleet Gothic, gives the order to retreat, and that’s when one of your battleship captains has his day.

He tells you to cancel that order and he orders his ship to steer directly into the path of the beam at full power, and then he gives a speech to his crew. As his shield start to flare, he concludes it:

“For the Emperor Of Mankind! AND FOR THE BATTLEFLEET GOTHIC!”

And this works; it prevents the Blackstone Fortresses from firing and due to some arcane Archeotech principle not even your Tech-Priests understand this backlashes into the Blackstone Fortresses and shuts them down permanently.

And then the ending cutscene goes over to Holy Terra where they’re adding the names of all those who died in the Gothic War to the list of honored war dead, and that captain’s name is right at the top.

This gets into deeper literary theory, but there’s a distinction between being the viewpoint character and being the main character. Sam is, for the period after Shelob poisons Frodo until Sam gives Frodo the Ring, both.

Much of that is in the narration. It is all in how you explain things. Like how Worm has Glastig Ulaine, who knows a lot and regularly explains things and yet this does not generally result in people she’s talking to becoming more enlightened:

In Interlude 16.z but it's not very informative

When Glaistig Uaine spoke, her voice was eerie, a broken ensemble of a dozen people speaking in sync. “ Beware, Marquis. You will pay a thousandfold times for your arrogance when the armies of the faerie rouse and gather for the last war.

“Rest assured, Glaistig Uaine, you’re scary enough on your own,” Marquis replied, smiling, “I don’t need a whole army of your kind chasing me down.”

There will be no chasing, for they are already in position to strike you down the moment they wake, three hundred years hence. You’re nothing more than the dream of the faerie. I can see it, so vivacious, so creative in its movements, even in slumber. I think it might have been an artist. I want it for my collection.

He was glad Amelia didn’t challenge the ‘three hundred years’ thing and the notion that they would still be alive then. The ‘faerie’ didn’t react kindly to such.

“You’ve said as much before, noble Faerie,” he said, “Rest assured, you can have me when I’m dead. In the meantime, I will keep your warning well in mind.”

Your daughter, too. Your faerie is kin to the one that sleeps inside the girl. I have no doubt this Amelia is a healer, but that’s only a facet of her true strength. I have decided I will not bargain with you, Marquis.

The important context you need to know is that this is a superhero setting and it’s a meeting of the six cell block leaders in basically Arkham if literally no one ever escaped and Glastig Ulaine is one of the six. Also that I have spoiler-tagged information that identifies a character known from elsewhere and I haven’t tagged anything else because no, what she is saying is not any clearer in context.

I could read Glastig Ulaine narrate sitting around watching other people do things basically forever.


#48

Oh, aye. But all stories have to end sooner or later anyway.

As far as complaining about not wanting to be cannon fodder, there are ways to present even the Imperial Guard as not counting as cannon fodder in this sense.

Abnett has done multiple examples of it.

Still, as far as talking choicescript games, I think one really has to build up to this being worth it.


#49

I feel like the dichotomy between “all-powerful superhero who bends steel beams with their bare hands” and “useless schlub with zero skills and no personal merit” is starting to derail this thread. You don’t have to make a character the least powerful person in their world in order to keep them from being the most powerful. Just like a character doesn’t have to be either Bruce Wayne rich or a Dickensian orphan. There is middle ground, and quite a lot of it.

And besides, aren’t these so-called heroes supposed to be protecting the weak and the innocent? That doesn’t work too well if they think anyone even a little bit weaker than them is totally worthless.


#50

Amen.

Sam is an excellent example of the whole premise of “not The Hero, but still cool and interesting.” in a lot of ways, this is one of them too - he’s strong and skilled enough to make a difference, but boy howdy is he not the invulnerable superhero who singlehandedly saves the day even when his courage and faith mean a lot.


#51

I, um, wrote a post less than an hour ago in another thread where I talked about the ending to His Last Command. It is a Bolivian Army Ending, straight up, and there is a reason for that.