Give Me Character Options or Give me Death

I get excited when I look at all of my tabletop role-playing books on their shelf. I have a collection of D&D 4e and 5e books, as well as a few Pathfinder books and a lonely copy of Call of Cthulhu. I have opened my copy of Pathfinder’s Ultimate Magic a total of about four times in the past year, but I swear that every time I look at that shelf I feel a wave of passion at the mere fact that it exists and that I possess it.

If you have never seen the Core Rulebook for Pathfinder, it is an utter tome of a manual, packed to the gills with Race, Class, and Magic options, as well as a number of feats, skills, and the basic rules. With it, you could make a thousand unique adventurers out of just the 7 Races and 11 Classes. But, even though that’s the case, it doesn’t give me that complete satisfaction that the rest of my resource books do.

Dnd Books

That is because I want options. All of the options. I want ways to bend my character outside of anything the core rules would describe. I want to make a character that nobody has ever thought of before and that nobody ever will. I want to gear my characters with the weirdest crap that Ultimate Equipment has in stock, and then more.

Continue reading “Give Me Character Options or Give me Death”

The Final Notebook

I love notebooks. Every kind of notebook. Spiral notebooks. Leatherbound journals. Memo pads. I like thinks that I can write on a lot. A LOT.

It always gives me such a rush when I get to finish a notebook for class. When I get to see the inky scrawl across every page. There is an investment in that notebook. I spent time on that notebook. I poured my work into its pages and now it has served me well. That being said, I have never once finished a non-academic notebook. That is probably because I have too many of them.

 

Lots of NotebooksThis is about a third of them that I brought to school with me.  Continue reading “The Final Notebook”

Haikyu!!, Oikawa and Human Limitation

Haikyu!! is a sports anime about volleyball. It follows two high school students, Tobio and Hinata, as they strive to raise their team back to it’s formal glory and qualify for the championships. There are a million things to love about this series, from it’s madcap cast of characters, to the realistic portrayal of both victory and defeat. If you are looking for a general recommendation, Haikyu!! is a 10/10.

One of my favorite things about the series is that there is always a sense that the main characters can (and do) lose. Every opposing team is given a reasonable amount of exposition explaining, and often times showing in condensed detail, the pedigree that allows them to stand before the main characters. However, as the stakes are raised and the consequences of are heightened, it gets harder and harder to picture the team losing it all. Enter Oikawa.

Oikawa2

Oikawa is the setter for a team called Aoba Johsai. He went to the same middle school as Tobio and played alongside him. He has all the properties of a likable side-character, set up to be knocked down like a bowling pin by the unstoppable force of the main characters.

There is one scene, however, that turns the audience’s expectations on their heads. It occurs during the second to last episode of Season 2. It is the last game of the set. The score is 24-24, a deuce, and the first team to win two points in a row is the victor and moves on. There is the usual internal dialogue between all of the main characters about how much they want to win, and how much work they put into getting here. But then there is a flashback.

Oikawa stands in front of a former coach, frustrated that he will never be considered better than Tobio because he is not a “genius”. Then the coach turns to him and says”

“Have you found the limit of your abilities even though your technique, body, and mentality aren’t complete? Rather than despairing and giving up because you’re not a genius, believe that your strength is not limited to this and continue on the path right in front of you.”

This was a game-changer. This simple flashback gave more context than entire episode of training ever would. We have seen Oikawa’s reliability on the field. We have seen that he has sharpened all of the tools of his craft. He loves volleyball. He has done everything that he can. But…

Oikawa

He loses.

With all of his tenacity. With all of his training. With all of the effort shown throughout the game and every badass save that he managed to make he still loses in the end.

This is a hard pill to swallow. Is the show telling us that effort will never overcome genius? No. Because Oikawa still hasn’t found his limit yet.

Jean-Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.” Oikawa is not weak because he lost, and Haikyu!! goes out of its way to show you this.

Oikawa is one of the best players to be shown in the series. He is respected, both by his own team and everybody he plays against. There is no doubt that he has every right to the championship, and the audience knows that. He serves as an inspiration and a hurdle for the main characters.

Haikyu!! is ultimately a show about achieving one’s dreams through hard work. It is not always possible to attain a dream that is outside of your control. Winning a championship is not due to individual effort alone. You could write a masterpiece and still not make any bestseller lists. Dreams must be something that can be obtained through the will of an individual. Oikawa didn’t win the match. But, because of the effort that he put in, he got to play in it.

Marketable Art

A Youtuber by the name of Digibro made a video a few days ago talking about how, in creative careers, those who pursue art nearly always fail, while those who have gimmicks thrive. Art is created through a mixture of inspiration and talent, cultivated over years of practice. A gimmick, by its dictionary definition, is a device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.

Some artists who write novels do thrive, like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and arguably George R.R. Martin. However, for every Kurt Vonnegut there is a Stephenie Meyer. The author of Twilight had never even written a short story before the publication of her multi-million dollar saga, according to The Times.

The Gimmick

This got me thinking. I was wandering through Target the other day looking for socks when I stopped, as one does, in front of the book aisle. Lining the shelf was a row of romance paperbacks, shiny and fresh, each displaying on their cover a picture of a rugged half-dressed cowboy. ‘Some writer has really found their niche’, I thought to myself, until I looked closer and realized that each book had a different author and publishing company.

It wasn’t necessarily a shock to me that “Country Romance” is a sub-genre, but I didn’t expect to see the same Tim McGraw lookin’ white 20-something on the cover of every single novel. That was the gimmick.

Country Love

Trends are fairly noticeable when it comes to Young Adult Fiction. From the publication of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in 2008, to the end of the Divergent trilogy in 2013, the flavor of the week was teenage death games with a dystopian twist. Before that, it was Wizards, Witches, and Werewolves with a side of teen romance.

The Market

As someone who considers themselves a writer and is currently living on a campus of young hopefuls hoping to make their pipe dream of becoming an Author/Youtuber/Radio star/Anchor a reality, this is a thought worth consideration. Is it worth giving up true art in favor of a gimmick, at least for a while to establish oneself?

The answer is unclear. Everyone wants to make a career out of things that they like to do. For some, being able to sustain themselves writing cheesy cowboy thrillers is a dream come true, even if they someday wish to publish a fantasy saga to rival The Lord of the Rings. For others, seeing their art squashed by publishers in favor of a gimmick they are good at is crushing.

My Two Cents

I just want to create something that people enjoy. I have no higher aspirations for my art, only a drive to be good at what I do. If I write a series of generic superhero thrillers that people love and read, then I will be happy being able to sustain myself doing something that I really enjoy.

 

 

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