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What's Your Opinion on Edgelords/Edgier Characters?


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4 hours ago, TwoDee said:

Oh boy it's a highminded and largely undirected macro-level discussion about a common character archetype regarding its place in roleplay etiquette, you know you kids shouldn't leave dese tings lying around, they're like fukkin catnip to @TwoDee ova there and before ya know it he'll crowbar his way into the thread to write some kinda fukkin dissertation and nobody wants-

-OH NO, HE'S HERE

Okay everybody stay calm, if we don't voice innocous opinions that nobody could reasonably take exception to, he won't be able to make some kinda hyperbolic, iconoclastic opening statement that's needlessly confrontational-

 

 

Originality isn't real, and anyone who tells you that their character is 'truly original' just has too much of an ego or too little self-awareness to tell you what inspirations they brought in.  Humans are mimics: we learn by doing, and we tell stories by iterating on the stories we've experienced, not by magically conjuring fully-formed characters from The Story Hole.

 

In 2011, the worst human being that I personally knew - by two metrics, morality and hygiene - decided that I should watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica, an anime about cute girls being tricked by an eldritch horror into fighting against other eldritch horrors in a cosmic war.  He decided that I would like it based on two selling points: the first was "it's got lesbians in," which isn't pertinent to this discussion but paints a good portrait of where the man's priorities lay.  The second was "it subverts all the genre tropes of the Magical Girl anime genre."

 

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I later spoke to my long-term partner who was, independently, also trying to get me to watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica at the time.  The Worst Human's recommendation annoyed her deeply, not as an enthusiast of the Magical Girl genre, but merely because she'd watched a few different Magical Girl anime over the course of her life and found his take to be insultingly reductive.

 

She insisted that Worst Human's statement that Madoka Magica 'subverted the genre' by being dark Cosmic Horror showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the breadth and scope of the genre.  She used as examples for her counterargument seminal genre works such as - and I do apologize for spoiling decades-old Magical Girl plotlines here - Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which delves into cosmic horror headfuck territory in its Book of Darkness storyline, and Princess Tutu, which revolves around a doomed protagonist who is consciously aware that she is a narrative construction and will cease to exist, functionally dying in every way that it is possible to die, at the culmination of her storyline.  These are heady horror themes presented as part and parcel to earlier genre works... that Worst Human was attempting to sell to me as being badass, iconoclastic takedowns of a genre that he clearly only understood on an aesthetic level.

 

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a good anime.  I liked it a lot.  But it is not, in any special sense, Original, and attempting to sell it as such belies a fundamental problem that a lot of us creatives have with conflating originality 1:1 for quality.  "Madoka Magica is Good, ergo surely it must be Original!  I know this because works that are Not Original, are categorically Bad!"

 

Which brings us back to the Edgelord, a character archetype defined by both "badass iconoclastic genre takedowns" and "only being understood on an aesthetic level."

 

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For the sake of ease, let's define Edgelord in in-character terms: an Edgelord is an antiheroic or antivillainous character archetype distinguished by excessive violence, personal drama/trauma, and a look that is intentionally evocative of 'villain' norms regardless of where the character falls on the morality spectrum.

 

The Edgelord is, itself, a 'totAl GeNrE sUbVeRsIoN' that actually fits extremely well within the boundaries of its genre.  The Edgelord is a challenge to the status quo of comics; true-blue heroes, blood-red villains, a crisp-lined art style and morality-tale format so mind-numbingly simple you could mistake them for a Congressman's mediocre adult children on legacy scholarships.  Attaching villain demarcators to an antihero or antivillain plays with that.  To paraphrase and build off of @teamtrin an ensemble cast, Batman works because he is a foil for Superman.  The Punisher works because he's a foil for Spider-Man and, later, Daredevil.  Spawn worked because he was a refutation of, essentially, the entire mainstream comics industry at the time of his creation.  A lot of people like to shit on traumatized-badass antiheroes and antivillains now because they became so oversaturated that they began to drown out straight-laced heroes in comics throughout the 90s and early aughts, but I reiterate that there truly is nothing new under the sun.  It's very silly to me to see fans (and roleplayers!) blame a fictitious character archetype for failure to engage when the fault always lies with the author, the actual human being attempting to court your eyeballs.

 

By and large, though, the Edgelord works as a conceit, it works as a foil, it's an iconic character type that comes prepackaged with a convenient and immediate understanding of what this character is about, in the same way that it's a lot easier to get into pickup RP with a square-jawed flying brick or an all-caps MAD SCIENTIST than with abstract, esoteric concepts less grounded in the genre of our shared space.  A lot of the protest against the archetype in the contemporary roleplay community is a sort of collective strawmanning, where everyone implicitly agrees that because trenchcoats and katanas got super popular in April 1999, dark character archetypes are now Lame And In Fact Cringe, despite those themes being popular because they're resonant.  Currently, the aesthetic trend leans away from Edgy, and that means there's a strong peer pressure not to use those hallmarks because they're out-of-fashion, in the same way that classic spandex was out-of-fashion when the Edgelord reigned supreme.

 

Notice the apologetics that @Siouxsie has to go into in the third post of this thread to justify using red and black and the /Dark powerset, or @jkwak going "I make fun of edgelords (but also I play them)" in the eighth.  Notice how @TaleFromYourPocket has to frame their hypothetical edgelord character's angst as having a social-commentary polemic before people here will accept it as valid.  These are players who clearly enjoy the aesthetic of darkness, but understand that there is a social pressure on Everlasting to not indulge in that aesthetic without qualification or - in the middle case - performing the necessary mockery of that aesthetic to satisfy the community's expectations.

 

I say, if you want to play the character, then let your Edgelord flag fly.  Give your giant sword a name like "Slaymaster" and then lick it whenever it cuts your enemies, because you're also a vampire.  Cover your body in tacticool greebles even though they serve no purpose, just because they look bad-fucking-ass.  Lecture heroes about why they're weak and feeble, and lecture villains about... also why they're weak and feeble.  Tell me about your family, who died tragically because they were assassins and also you were an assassin and actually it was you who killed your family in an assassin duel.  "Originality" is meaningless if people won't engage with, understand, or care about your fifty pages of exhaustively realized backstory.  Long live the archetype!

 

Archavi.jpg.9afaeb1c22398dec4008d7fc2d0e173e.jpg

 

I finish by linking a story from the New Praetorians Initiative Discord about one of the most fun exchanges I've ever had in City of Heroes, and it was because I pulled myself out of that 'I don't like what the community doesn't like' mindset long enough to really let an Edgelord player pull out all the stops to perform edginess at me.  Sure, I found it more silly in its hyperbole than legitimately shocking, but that had a value all its own and I invite everyone here to really make the effort to engage with characters they find 'cringey' on a more regular basis because there are diamonds in that rough.

 

For the record, I got a coworker to watch Madoka Magika by selling it as Stephen King does Sailor Moon. 😂 

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3 minutes ago, Krimson said:

For the record, I got a coworker to watch Madoka Magika by selling it as Stephen King does Sailor Moon. 😂 

 

Interestingly, I've pitched Shiki as "Salem's Lot but with the amount of effort King put into The Stand or Dark Tower instead of phoning it in."

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The purple-tinted edgelord squees in delight, "Senpai noticed me!"

 

There was nothing for us to fear about that, @TwoDee.  It was a hilarious take on the topic.  Despite my somewhat exaggerated concerns about societal pressure, I mostly don't give a flip about how my characters are perceived or how others make theirs.  (Yet secretly I must because when I do get the rare tell about my bio I'm giddy for hours.)  I'm only bothered if it's backed up by a personality that would grate regardless of the color of their spandex.

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I'd like to preface this by noting that after growing up in the Land of Labels, I'm not a fan of labels at all. Ever since I was a kid, the moment I was told that a person was a [insert type of human of a specific "type" here], I was dumb enough to ask questions like "What makes them this horrible thing that should be shunned?" and worse, I asked the labelled person in particular. "Why do people say you're an X?"

 

I have to say, it makes for some great answers! The one answer that I specifically find myself seeking while reading this thread  is "How many definitions of 'Edgelord' are there, and what do I think one is?" 

 

Well, none of you seem to agree with my answer. Is it a character with a ten page background? Is it a character who throws their perceived IC power around? Is it a dark and broody character? A violent character? And it seems like people have as many different definitions for this word as...there are characters. Hmm... So, essentially, my mental image of certain SWTOR characters under a specific faction type that felt free to walk into public spaces and declare their superiority while tramping on the RP of everyone around them to demand attention jumped to mind, but when I thought about it more, I realized that the 'Ignore' function and my automatic use of it when running across someone who disrupted my enjoyment took a lot less time than....well, reading this thread. 

 

However, the definitions I see here are much broader and more inclusive of "people who don't RP like we think they should", which is disturbing for me. 

 

I have characters with dark/tragic backstories. I love the superhero tragic origin stories too much not to embrace them. I prefer characters with rich, complex backstories that explain to me the -why- of who they are. I don't just want to justify a personality quirk, but I want to figure out what parts of nature and nurture created this personality, what drives them, how they would see the world around them. Pretty sure at least one of them would pass the "Edgelord" test simply by fitting the stated "dark and broody" or "ten page character description".  

 

I am trying to figure myself (and those around me in real life) out, I recognize how little of myself I actually share with Joe Schmoe Public I just met when I was standing at the bus stop. Chances are, no one will learn these stories but me, and I'm okay with that. I just want to understand why this character is the way they are and what I like about them. So, that cocky rogue-like chick that I play when I feel tapped into the snarky person living in my head? I need a reason for -her- to be snarky, so I build the story to explain to -myself- why she's like that, and if it never comes out, it never comes out. It's who the character is that's important. 

 

A friend of mine in another RP group I was in once challenged me to make a character that I would get along with irl, and it changed the way I saw RP significantly. I took an existing character with an (undisclosed) background that would have brought bleeding hearts to tears! A genuine runaway kid who grew up on the streets. Practically no one heard that backstory, and my character presented it with all the bravado someone with a background like that would speak of it: with her own spin on it, she acknowledged it if it came up and immediately dismissed it without thought or described it in a much more idyllic way (what she wished it had been, if you will), because I decided that was where she had been, but she was GOING somewhere. I honestly had no idea where she was going, but I let that past inform her interests, her desires, her relationships - not with the telling, but with the question "How does that inform who she is now?" I made her someone -I- would like to know, which made her someone others wanted to know, and the secret was that -she- wanted to be someone who was liked and respected and had come from a background that didn't lend to any of that. She became very popular and loved, because she was genuine, had talents and flaws, expressed self doubt, was -not- everyone's ideal and was okay with that. The idea of her being an Edgelord would bring guffaws from my guildmates at the time. Yet, she -had- a tragic backstory, was prone to depression, and her history was tragic. 

 

So, uh...I guess I wanted to say I feel like this is a poorly defined term that represents "someone who doesn't rp in a way I like" for a lot of folks, and I would like to repeat what was said above: You do you. Write what you enjoy writing. Play what you want to play. More power to you! 

 

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9 hours ago, teamtr said:

EDIT: All this talk about magical girl anime is bringing back memories. Have you guys watched Revolutionary Girl Utena? You should watch that if you haven't. My favorite anime of all time, hands-down.

If only we got series story with movie designs, alas....

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19 hours ago, Triumphant said:

I don't really know what the definition of the phrase is.  To me, it sounds like someone trying to make a character like Frank Castle/The Punisher, but they just come off sounding like an moody teenager with superpowers.  🤷‍♂️

That's pretty much it, yes.

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I guess, after reading the replies in this topic, it could be said that the "Edgelord" is merely one more trope in a genre that is perhaps the tropiest of all genres.  Comic books are often an inherently ridiculous medium, so perhaps it's unfair of us to view characters with melodramatic, over-the-top personalities with contempt.

 

Hopefully, we can bring something new and interesting to these old tropes when we do use them- or at least not overrepresent one particular trope, so that it doesn't become ubiquitous to the point of blandness.  Cat-girls come to mind here, more than Edgelords (for me, at least), as I see so many of them in-game and they often have a fairly generic personality and appearance that I have seen a thousand, thousand times in numerous anime.

 

On the other hand, I have played my share of batman/superman/spiderman/captain america clones, which are perhaps as regurgitated in the American Comic scene as cat-girls are in the manga, so who am I to judge?  Whatever one plays, if they play the part with dedication and skill, that is worth appreciating (and acknowledging). 

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*plops into a comfy chair and settles right in.* Alright, so dark/edgelord styled characters eh? I can't say I have a whole lot to say about them as a character concept, but I can say I've had a lot of experiences with them over the years. Tragic character backgrounds tend to temper a type of attitude and sometimes it goes a bit further than it really has to, just to push the point that HEY this character has a bad ass story, yall should check ME out. *shakes their head and shrugs.* I kind of treat every character the same on introductions, give them a chance to impress, or create an impression of themselves on mine as one would greet others and create a positive or negative impression during that introductory meetup. 

 

I knew players of Drizzt Do'rden, Wolverine, Leon S Kennedy, Allucard, the original Brom Stokers version of Dracula to name just a few. The only one out of the bunch that was played over the top, was Leon, and Allucard, but Allucard was generally overplayed when he was "Unleashed" anyway by Hellsing in the series, so it really fit in and made sense of the character concept as a whole. I rather enjoy darker characters, hell, can even say they draw me out like a moth to flame, they just fascinate the hell out of me as a player, but most of my characters tend to be dancing on the edges of dark and hero/sage types, simply cause it fits me, and my many personalities. (And yes I said many. D.I.D. is something I live with, and I allow my alters their freedom to roll what they feel most attuned to which has me *peers at their roster and sighs heavily* at about 20 characters now?) 

 

As long as the character doesn't godmode, or break others lore and backstories, I have zero issues with dark and edgelord characters, as long as they play respectful of others character creations and backstories too. 

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Not to discount any of the other impactful contributions from other community members in this thread, but I just want to express special kudos to three of you:
 
@teamtr:  Thank you for this thread.  Thank you!
@TwoDee:  Might I be able to do anything to encourage you to post more often?  On a few occasions now you've been able to encapsulate thoughts I've had much more efficiently than I could (particularly some key points in that recruitment thread from June).  More, please.
@Kelri Irris:  Big round of applause for you too!
  
My personal view is kind of a combination of the three of yours.  I think if I were to try to add anything further, then I might be crossing the line in to "overshare" territory.  I'll do it, but only if enough people actually want to see that sort of thing.

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13 hours ago, GraspingVileTerror said:

Might I be able to do anything to encourage you to post more often?  On a few occasions now you've been able to encapsulate thoughts I've had much more efficiently than I could (particularly some key points in that recruitment thread from June).  More, please.

 

Me having things to say is contingent on the level of discourse of the forums!  I can't exactly pull incisive hot takes out of my ass, I need proper foreplay to go off on my screeds 😉

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There's nothing really wrong with dark/edgy/angsty characters and concepts themselves, with the right player they can be fantastic. A lot of the stigma of "Edgelord" characters comes less from the character themselves, but the how and why their player presents them. I always saw it as primarily being a craving for attention, and lack of self awareness that separates an Edgelord from somebody that just wants to RP a darker character theme. An edgelord is typically just following what they feel is "really cool and badass" and think it will get others to look at them and go "wow, they're really cool and badass!"

 

But to be honest, I don't think there's anything really wrong with that either, as a lot of the time these more edgelord-y characters are just young and/or less experienced roleplayers. Not all the time, all generalizations are false after all, but I've found that to be the most common, especially when myself and just about everyone I know behaved the same sort of way when they were young and new to the idea of roleplaying. I almost see it as a rite of passage at this point, for roleplayers to go through that attention seeking edgelord phase when they first start out. With that in mind, when I see an "edgelord" character I try not to think "Ugh how annoying, /ignore" or go out of my way to avoid them.

 

Nobody improves at roleplaying by getting ignored and excluded.

 

If we're talking the other definitions of "edgelord" that aren't exclusive to roleplayers however, like people that try to be intentionally offensive and controversial? That kind can go far, FAR away and not come back.

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On 8/7/2021 at 2:14 AM, TwoDee said:

anyone who tells you that their character is 'truly original' just has too much of an ego or too little self-awareness to tell you what inspirations they brought in

 

I mean okay, fair. But can you please show me the other sexy lightbulb man from the mirror dimension?

 

Hops on the back of a Shulkie-as-Mad Scientiest inspired character and they vault away into the sunset.

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On 8/6/2021 at 1:14 PM, TwoDee said:

I finish by linking a story from the New Praetorians Initiative Discord about one of the most fun exchanges I've ever had in City of Heroes, and it was because I pulled myself out of that 'I don't like what the community doesn't like' mindset long enough to really let an Edgelord player pull out all the stops to perform edginess at me.

 

First off, Actionette must meet Corpse Candle some day and just unload with Doctor Who references.

 

But yeah, having the right character for the moment helps when you're being treated to a full blown theatrical production like that.  Wish I had been there.  😆

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Starwave  Wolfhound  Actionette  Nightlight

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  • 1 month later

I like characters with relatively serious-toned concepts and backstories.   I don't concern myself overmuch with pigeonholes such as 'edgelord'; frankly, I'm only vaguely confident that I know what one is by definition.   

 

Suffice to say that I vastly prefer X-Men to Power Puff Girls.    I like grit in my fantasy and I like realistic topics, and takes on topics, rather than cartoonified unrealism.

 

I prefer content that is made for mature audiences, and I don't mean porny.   No punches pulled, no censorship given, no apologies made stuff happening and no hiding from the full-fat consequences that follow.


That doesn't, in my mind at least, mean 'edgy' at all.   I just really hate saturday morning cartoon motifs where there aren't any real consequences for anything, nobody's ever seriously affected, nothing meaningful ever changes and none of the characters are ever at risk of being changed by their experiences.

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender = good, in my book.   The characters change, grow, learn things, get scared, overcome fears and are heavily affected in very plausible ways by their experiences.   Overall, still very light-hearted and not what I'd call edgy/edgelordy fiction on the whole, but very much ticking all the most important boxes for characterization and development.

 

So, I really don't mind an edgelord character... provided that's part of their development and not the static be-all, end-all never-changes state of that character.    

 

It seems like a transitional state to me; a character that's having a tough time dealing or understanding or whatever is facing internal struggles, isn't coping well, behaves in a manner I'd call edgy.    People don't usually stay in that mode forever.  Might be there for years or for an otherwise long while, but not forever.

 

I want to see characters be affected by their own choices.  I want to see the consequences of their circumstances have a lasting effect on them whether those effects are positive, negative or circumstantial mixes thereof.  

 

That's the realism and verisimilitude I value and desire.  I'm not interested in characters, for myself or otherwise, that seem to me like they belong in a saturday morning cartoon that basically resets at the end of every episode.

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1 hour ago, Uruare said:

I like characters with relatively serious-toned concepts and backstories.   I don't concern myself overmuch with pigeonholes such as 'edgelord'; frankly, I'm only vaguely confident that I know what one is by definition.   

 



That's a good position to have.   The term can be ambiguous or overused, (like "mary-sue") and adopted to mean anything that's beyond your tastes in a particular direction.   I have to admit I looked up urban dictionary when the question came up, as I had my own understanding based on how I'd seen it used online, but wasn't sure it was being used correctly, and you can even see there that various posters draw slightly different extremes.

Someone very much into the "powerpuff girls" type of superheroing might very well draw the limit of what they see as "edgelord" differently than what someone who's a fan of... say... "Invincible."  

For what its worth, I wouldn't take what you describe there as "edgelord" at all, but I don't pretend to be the norm.   I consider "edgelord" to be a negative player attribute, not a negative player-character attribute.   I have no issues RP'ing encounters with a character that's dark and edgy and provoking to the point of dysfunction with my character,  but I have little patience for a PLAYER who seems hellbent on doing the same to other players and just shields his behavior from criticism saying he's "roleplaying."

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They can be really weird to play with. I had one tell my character it was better she die when I was like 'remember the flower patch also gives you more stamina!'

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To me it depends on the Intention of the character.

"Dark and Edgy" is fine for a concept and fine to play as/though.

If it's used as an excuse to do things that are generally over the top and "EVIL!" then.. maybe just think of an actual reason why a less edgy person would do this thing... and consider if you want to play though it properly with the consequences or if you jut want it because it's "Cool".

I tend to respect the former more than the latter.

 

Edgelords tend to be used as an excuse. Like playing as a Chaotic Neutral in DnD.

There is nothing wrong with the ascetic and that, there can be something wrong with playing them for the wrong reasons.

 

Edit to Clarify: If your playing an Edgelord to explore the Darker side of things and look into the consequences of those actions.. Then your all good. If your playing them to be a douchebag... You can be a douchebag as anyone/anything.

Edited by RickmanUK
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At the end of the day, a person will play what they want to play.

The stereotypical edgelord is often fun (either in trolling or in seriousness usually) for the person.

They can be fun to bounce off of, or entirely taxing to deal with. 

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I generally mock the tragic darkity dark orphany death doom backstories, but that's because in my superhero bios, I tend to mock everything. My only goal, like Roger Rabbit, is to make people laugh. I have one character who clearly wants to have a tragic backstory. This is Skyvixen:

 

Quote

 Jillian Channing's almost-tragic backstory is full of the usual heartbreaking calamities that most heroes have. She wasn't an orphan, but she once met somebody who knew one. Her parents weren't killed in any kind of tragic accident for which she swore revenge, but they were kind of mean, a little bit. They wouldn't let Jillian have more than $100,000 in plastic surgery or buy her that Bugatti she always wanted, or let her list her career path as "take selfies on Instagram." That's tragic, right? So she decided to show the world what she could do, and at the same time build up her social media brand and maybe launch a line of fragrances and hair products. She became Skyvixen, defender of the unkempt masses who do not have the money for mousse or personal trainers. As long as the masses look good on camera.  

 

And I have a dark/dark Defender who can't figure out how to be dark, Carmen Astra:

Quote

 

Carmen Astra doesn't think of herself as a superheroine. She thinks of herself as a gritty reboot of the original. The old Carmen was too saccharine, too polite, and never got into trouble. The new Carmen wears clothes her mother wouldn't approve of and wears darker clothing and far too much mascara. The old Carmen liked soppy things like kittens and unicorns and Orlando Bloom. The new Carmen likes bats and black lace and kittens and ... wait, uh ... DARK kittens that ... man, being goth is hard.


 

 

When it comes to RPing with people, I generally don't like any RPer who feels the need to be at center stage, with a spotlight, for every single interaction. Your backstory may be dark and gritty and "real," whatever that means in a world where alien meteors turn ordinary citizens into jelly people of doom, but that doesn't mean your character's personal tragedy makes you the Main Character in everyone else's story. I didn't sign on to be a cameo in your Darkity Dark Drama starring You. Or, for that matter, to be a cameo in a Sob Story Drama starring You. I got over that when I was 9. Remember how there was always that one kid who wanted to be an Alien That Nobody Understood and would run away, so all the other kids would chase him and try to make him feel better? Yeah, don't be that. It's my opinion that we should plan our RP backstories so it can integrate with that of other players, so we can sometimes be a cameo in their piece.

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1A yonk is a very long time.

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  • 5 weeks later
On 8/5/2021 at 12:05 PM, Krimson said:

Dark and Edgy was great when I was 14 and consuming Elric novels like air. At 49... The grimdorks don't impress.


People think Elric is edgy? Man I always thought he was like a tragic figure but I never thought of him as edgy. Now his WoW copycat Arthas? Edgelord all the way.

Edited by Optimum_Man

You pay to play, having fun is ok, kill Skuls or kill Crey, hunt at night or in the day, black or white or shades of gray, play it your way, we have no say.

 

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Spent enough damn time (I.E. too much) in the company of Cam Vamps back in the day. Characters are never Edgelords. Players are.

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9 hours ago, Optimum_Man said:

People think Elric is edgy? Man I always thought he was like a tragic figure but I never thought of him as ashy. Now his WoW copycat Arthas? Edgelord all the way.

 

I also never really thought of Elric as 'edgy', except in the context of him being a physical weakling, aligned with chaos, with a soul-sucking sword. At a meta level, all of Melniboné was a sort edgelord spin on Tolkien's faerie.

 

Yyrkoon was the Edgelord.

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I tend to be more opinionated about RP when playing in a different setting.  But the super-hero genre lends itself to tropy archetypes and over-the-top personalities so, in this case, I think any flavor of edgelord (or any other trope) can pretty much fit in just fine.

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