Story Development: Antagonists and Non-Binary Children (What Do Their Aunts/Uncles Call Them)

Greetings, everyone!

I’m in the process on working on my game (plotting and planning and all that fun stuff), and, at this moment, I’m calling it Lovely Minds. The story revolves around a younger MC who has a sixth sense and the possible issues said “sixth sense” brings to the table. Readers can play as a female, male, or a non-binary character.

However, I do have two things I’d like to discuss.


The Player Character has a deceased uncle they were very close too. Part of the story has flashbacks where the child is involved. As a girl or boy, things are clear to me. However, as a non-binary character, would the child, in their childhood, be referred to as a boy or girl (as they’re kids, still) or would they already be addressed in a gender-neutral manner (such as an aunt or uncle calling them a ‘nibling’ instead of nephew or niece)? How early does one decide to go by a gender-neutral term?

I know that, when it comes to gender-neutral terms, things like ‘sibling’ and ‘grandchild’ are used in place of sister/brother/grandson/granddaughter. Or, for an adult, the title of officer instead of policeman or policewoman is acceptable. But the only thing I’ve found that might be used by an aunt or uncle is ‘nibling,’ and I’m not even sure that’s correct.

Hence me being here, asking all you wonderful people who have been where I am now - up at 3:30AM wondering what an aunt (or uncle) would call their siblings’ non-binary child. Also, any terms other family members may use would be welcome.

Last question. The antagonist of the story - what makes an antagonist as a character (and villain) stick out to you. What makes you love them and hate them? The antagonist I’m working on, he’s a real work of art.

I do hope an interesting discussion can spawn from this. I am, without a doubt, curious about the idea of ‘nibling’ and what people think of it (in general - from both perspectives, at that).

Thanks in advance, everyone!


A note: I changed the category to #game-development:writing-and-content so the discussion can be focused about the addressing of NB family-member. If you have a working story demo, feel free to put it in #hosted-games:works-in-progress.


I hadn’t realized I had it in the other category. My bad!

I was reading the Writing & Content section, though I did open up the post tab in the other one while I was reading up on a few things over there. I suppose it carried over? As for a demo? At this moment, no. I’ll put up the first chapter once I get it done, to get an idea on how people may react to it, but that’s a while off. However, thank you for moving it over for me.

A few non binary people I know use “nibling”. I call my non binary sibling my sibling when talking about them in the third person (as evidenced in that sentence!).


Alright, so nibling actually is used. That’s a relief. If you don’t mind me asking, how old was your sibling when they started going by a non-binary perspective?

It seems that @HannahPS has already answered your first question, but still, here’s my take.

Well, according to Wiktionary;

The child of one’s sibling or of one’s sibling-in-law (in other words, one’s niece or nephew), especially in the plural or as a gender-neutral term.

So, your definition is not wrong per se, BUUUT

Okay, so you mentioned that the PC has an uncle or aunt that they were particularly close to? So, they can refer to them simply by their name, or they can just call them “child”. If you want to make them seem really close, you can put in a special nickname that only the uncle/aunt use. That way, at least in my opinion, you would be able to entirely avoid the use of “nibling”, if you wish so.

But “nibling” is still fine, if you incline towards it.

But then again, I’m not a nb and I’m not a proper English speaker, so I’m unfortunately aware of the finer details. If I’ve said something wrong, please do correct me and if I’ve unintentionally offended someone, please forgive me for my words.


That’s certainly a good idea. I, myself, am not a NB individual (nor do I know anyone around me who is, for that matter), so I do like to get the input of others on such matters. A special nickname between the two would be good, but perhaps the parents may use nibling or something else similar when discussing the NB character with the uncle/aunt.

Thanks for your input!

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As I understand it, some non-binary people don’t mind or identify with certain/all gendered terms and so their Aunt or Uncle still may refer to them as “niece/nephew”. Of course, these terms and/or “nibling” may feel odd or uncomfortable to others. There’s a wide spectrum. So, if it were me, I’d consider two options. Either going with @moonfungus’s nickname idea which was wonderful, or depending on how you want the flashback to play out, writing into the flashback a choice of how they were or how they preferred to be called by their Uncle back then (and) if they were already identifying openly as non-binary. It could serve to both fix your issue and be a little something special to non-binary paths which wouldn’t come up if they were playing as a cis character to acknowledge identity more than interchangeable pronouns. That overt acknowledgement vs. every path is the same with different pronouns conversation comes up sometimes in the forum anyways.


I find a villain relatable and tragic/interesting if you give them a motive or philosophy any one can understand or have and have them apply it to the extreme or just slightly incorrectly try to achieve it and do a war crime, like blow up a planet.

I also love to hate villains who have an admirable trait that’s been perverted or is being drowned out by a (few) character flaw(s) .


Just saw this. I really need to work on my attention span😅

To me, the “best” villains are the ones that are “situational” or “perspective” villains. People who would be heroes or wouldn’t be a main factor at all in other situations or from a different perspective, but assume the role of BBEG due to some shitty circumstances, being misunderstood or just for being in the wrong side of the conflict.

Best examples? Darth Vader from Star Wars or Loghain Mac Tir from DA:O.

That does mean that I end up feeling more of a connection to the villain than the MC (looking at you Luke)

Or, basically what @A-M-A said😂


what does your villain want or crave? (love? glory? recognition? control?) what’s the most socially acceptable way to go about getting it? what’s the most socially reprehensible way to get it? where do they fall on that spectrum? and are they competent and effective at achieving it? how do they respond to failure? success? do they care about seeming villainous or do they not give a fuck?

that’s what i look for in a compelling antagonist :blush:

also, i really like @moonfungus and @anon21485497 thoughts on gender neutral niece/nephew substitutions


Blowing up a planet is a slightly extreme circumstance, eh? :laughing: :joy:

I do agree that I love an antagonist with some admirable traits. They grab your attention and don’t let go - especially when they’re showing off that trait while doing something bad!

Every villain is the hero of their own story. If a story was written from the antagonist’s POV, then the main character we play would be the villain. I mean, seriously, how many people wake up each morning and think, 'Today, I’m going to take over the planet. Why? Because I’m evil!

In most circumstances, a villain is a product of his history.

That’s a good starting block for developing a villain, that’s for sure! A lot of those questions are one I ask as I’m designing an antagonist (or even the protagonist, some of the time), as it helps them come to life.

On another note, what do you all think about villains who are evil without reason? Sometimes they pop up in stories - evil for evil’s sake. Personally, even the ones who are “evil-incarnate” need a reason behind it. In those cases, it’s usually a case of balancing the forces of good and evil…like ancient entities from a long time ago fucking up someone’s mind and the person going batshit crazy as a result.


Sauron, in the movies at least, is mostly presented as “evil dark lord because wah.” Yet, LotR is p good movie. However, for Borderlands 3, Calypso twins are worse than Borderlands 2’s Jack. The twins are “we’re the bad guys, too bad,” bland antagonist. You have no reason to fight them except for NPC telling you to do so. On the opposite, Jack wants to build an advanced, peaceful, administrated utopia and you’re a bandit merc that want to shooty shooty bang bang. Jack hates you for playing the shooty shooty bang bang game.

So, what’s the focus of your game? If the villain only takes a backseat, you don’t really need such a complex antagonist, TBH. A simple “dark lord to rule the world” is simple and not hampering the pace. Additional backstory for such antagonist is just a bonus.


i would love… to hear what people think “evil’s sake” is. i say that because i think much of the time antagonists who are evil without reason actually have one very simple reason: enjoyment. they enjoy causing pain or suffering, or people’s reactions to such things amuse them. and i do find those kinds of villains interesting–as long as they’ve got some level of compelling charisma to them, whether that be pure intimidation and ruthlessness or undeniable charm and style.

a villain who is just cruel and evil for their own amusement but who is also dull and boring is maybe the most horrible thing i can imagine as an antagonist. pure evil villains like that need some level of depth to them. by depth, i definitely don’t mean they need a sob story that justifies their sadism, though. enjoyment of cruelty doesn’t really have many true justifications (because the majority of the time, ppl coming up in similar circumstances don’t become sadists) so i’d much rather just accept that some villains are just… y’know. they like hurting people! think Dark Knight’s Joker. we never get his personal history but he’s still an incredible cruel, ruthless villain. (and i’m no comic buff of any measure, but i’m p sure that’s at the core of what makes the Joker a great villain, right?) some men just want to watch the world burn and all that

@Szaal ugh, you nailed it with the BL2 and BL3 villain comparisons. to have to go from Handsome Jack to the Calypsos… what a disappointment. the twins are a great example of my least favorite kind of villains: bad 'cause it’s fun but no personality or authenticity to speak of. and really just a proxy for very lazy social commentary :nauseated_face: they could have actually done an interesting take on Pandora finally having an organized cult, but then they tacked on the pathetic influencer angle… ugh, i weep. goddamn, i’m mad just thinking about them :laughing: i usually love antagonist twins!!! i’m literally writing a pair of my own :weary:

When you have someone evil for evils sake they’re less a personality, even if they’re human, and more a force of nature.

Dark lord burns your village, kills your loved ones and leaves you traumatized with survivor’s guilt? Go stop him. Meet new people, make new friend and grow as a person, becoming more than a person defined by such an horrible event, even it is still a part of you.

These types of villains and stories can(emphasis on can, not will) work, in my opinion, because you can replace the villain with something like a freak storm or end times approaching and it could still work.

Why? Because ultimately people like to see strugle and triumph, it’s the basis of a lot of stories. Or they like to cry to a tragedy. Depends on the tone.

You could also give them a personality before or after, and they’re great when done right, but I’ve found this type of villain to be hit or miss type of deal. It’s like killing them or introducing someone new in act 3.

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Having a force-of-nature villain that represents the inevitability of tragic loss and the unfairness of a cold and uncaring universe is definitely not a bad thing at all. That’s just … the reality we live in.

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Flip that on it’s head for one moment.

I think if you want to write an evil character who’s evil for no reason at all, go for it. Same thing I think about characters who are good for the sake of being good… without any reason at all. There doesn’t need to be a reason why a character is X or Y. It can provide depth, sure, but that depends on how the author executes that depth… which can either be great or bland.


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