The Obnoxiousness of Fantasy Characters

Fantasy characters are dicks. In fiction, in D&D adventures, anywhere "adventurer" is available as a life choice, people are dicks. You see it all the time. Main character meets Douchebag McAsshole and DMcA immediately starts talking down to him. I'm a wizard. I'm a barbarian. I don't bow before anyone. I don't show any semblance of etiquette that lets me function in a social environment. Blah blah blah.

With so many dangers in the world (waking gods, monsters, demagogues) and everyone seemingly armed to the teeth, how do these people not get left for dead on the side of the road?

Only in fantasy can "Hello" be answered with a recitation of all the reasons why DMcA is better than you and how you're not even worth the time he took reciting his better qualities, and then the two of you can go on a quest together. Together you go over to the tavern where DMcA insults the tavern keeper's food and beer and finds out he's the brother of the merchant DMcA threatened to kill if he didn't receive a 50% discount on some bauble he wanted to buy earlier that day. He gets the best food, drink, and women in the house and everyone steers clear of him because anyone that large of a douchebag must be powerful and could kill them all and DMcA can kill an entire tavern full of people without repercussions in fantasy because anyone that goes into law enforcement is a complete tool unless he's a hero in which case he's gone on a quest and unavailable to teach DMcA a fucking lesson.

Never once does the tavern keeper throw DMcA out, send a scullion for the cops, and join with the rest of the patrons to show DMcA what happens when one person is a dick to an entire town. Main character is then either tarred and feathered for having shared a drink with DMcA or gets to watch while DMcA is thrown down a well and collectively pissed on by a dozen men who have been drinking all night.

Because of this, I am incredibly sensitive about characters, specifically how they react to one another. I could speculate why so many characters are written this way, and I would touch on those points you would expect me to touch on (social deficiencies of the writer, attitude norming of the genre over the course of decades of DMcAs). This morning working on JH, I took Jehovah in a direction I never planned on taking him. At first I thought it was a mistake. It wasn't a "DOUCHE RAGE!" moment, but a tangential angle. I'm cautious to have characters get angry for much the same reason. The exaggerated Hulk reaction is a second-place finisher to the character as a dick thing.


If people lost their temper that often in real life, we'd all live in an episode of Buffy.

Losing time is usually representative of some kind of mental ailment, a la "Primal Fear" (Ed Norton, Richard Gere). But it can happen in great moments of stress, car accidents and the like. Today, Rae stated Jehovah's greatest fear (being abandoned again) and said she would do everything she could to make sure it happened.

Where do you go after that? In a setting where you kill a person for a pair of shoes, how does one remain calm? The obvious answer is one doesn't. But I didn't want a Hulk smash scene either. Jehovah needs Rae and any conclusion to such a situation would be dissatisfying to say the least. And in fact, given the POV of the story, I don't believe Jehovah would remember anything that happened.

So he doesn't. Rae launches her attack on Louisiana Avenue and he comes back to his senses on Maryland Avenue, alone and totally confused how he got there.

This is a risky move. At this point in the novel Jehovah has killed nine people and there will be more to come. This could be the last trick to make him appear a sociopath instead of an empathetic main character. My gut instinct was to backpeddle. Just don't have Rae say what she said and his reaction becomes unnecessary. But given their own relationship and the truths Rae revealed to him, this was the appropriate result. And the more I think about it, the more I think Jehovah's reaction is appropriate as well. The trick is that it's balanced with his experiences up above on the platform, something that won't be coming for awhile. I gotta keep the reader reading to get to that point and he balances himself out.

So in the end, this is a good but tough decision. And even if the reader decides that Jehovah is too much of a killer, at least he's not a Douchebag McAsshole. I really hate that character.