Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspiration Point: Face -> Heel Turn Villain

Inspiration for stories and games is everywhere around you. In this series, I'm going to point out some specific examples of things that have inspired me for stories, or have given me ideas for characters. For today's sample, I want to talk about a song I was recently exposed to, and the villain that sprung to mind as I listened to the song. So, pull up a chair, and let's talk about Kanye West's song 'Power'.

As a note, the following post contains song lyrics that use explicit language. Be warned, adult content beyond this point.

I'm not sure about you, but when I listen to music, I listen for the lyrics. Even if a song has a bad sound, I'll like it if I enjoy the lyrics. Enjoying the lyrics for me means something that gives me ideas. As such, even though I'm not a huge fan of rap (and definitely not of Kanye West's rapping), this song really grabbed me.

Now, before we begin, it will probably work better if you hear the song (embedded below) and take a look at the lyrics (click here).

Die A Hero Or...
For me, this song brings to mind that famous line from Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight." Namely, this one: you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. That is the character I see from this song. This person, your villain for the campaign, was a hero - or at least started off that way. They saw something wrong with the world, and set out to fix it. In the process, they became corrupted by the power they themselves were accumulating. Now, they are the ones in power, and they are trying to make the world right, but in the process they are also committing wrongs. The small people get hurt in the interests of the bigger picture, and that is what the new group of heroes is going up against it.

Where Do I See That?
So, where am I seeing this? Well, I'll be blunt, part of it is cherry picking. So, let's start with the refrain.

No one man should have all that power
The clocks tickin' I just count the hours
Stop trippin', I'm tripping off the power

This is the basic structure of the story. Someone who set off to stop a dictator, because -as said- no one should have that much power. In the process though, the "hero" starts to trip off the power they themselves are accumulating. That is the basic structure only though.

The system broken, the schools closed, the prisons open
We ain't got nothing to lose motherfucker, we rollin'
In this white man world we the ones chosen
So goodnight cruel world I see you in the mornin'
Ha? I see you in the mornin'
This is way too much, I need a moment

This further cements that basic view. The top line (and this is from near the beginning of the song) that the person in question originally set out to try and fix the world, because, well, they had nothing to lose.

The song then transitions to the 'hero' as the new leader beginning to lose his/her way:

Fuck SNL and the whole cast
Tell them Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass
More specifically they can kiss my ass hole

SNL doesn't necessarily translate very well, until you consider that SNL is full of comedians, jesters if you will, who are poking fun and pointing out flaws as a problem in society. The response? You don't understand, kiss my ass, I've got this stuff covered. This verse than continues with further criticism of those critiquing him.

Honestly, I don't feel like posting the whole verse that starts with "Colin Powers, Austin Powers" so here are some excerpts:

Lost in translation with a whole fuckin' nation
They say I was the abomination of Obama's nation
At the end of the day goddamn it I'm killin' this shit
I know damn well ya'll feelin this shit
How you doin? I'm surviving
I got the power make your life so excited

This is the beginning of the end of this character's arc. They're the full on bad guy now. Perhaps they still feel they're doing right and good. Either way, at this point they can flat out be the antagonist. For whatever good intentions they had once upon a time, they're all gone now. Which works out great, since the rest of the song involves their death and after (with the heroes having killed them to end their story)

Now this will be a beautiful death
I'm jumping out the window
letting everything go

You got the power to let power go

A fun twist for the end of your story is having the villain reform in death and see the error of the ways. Their story ends giving a warning to the PCs (or new heroes) to not follow their path. Effectively, to break the quote that we started off with.

Unless, you have a different way to take it?

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