Results 1 to 25 of 25
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Virginia
    Gender
    Male

    Default On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Hello All,

    The last few chapters have led me to come to a few conclusions that I would like to share with everyone. It comes from this premise, the trait of the character that represents the Lawful nature of his alignment is his strict adherence to the conventional rules of storytelling. It appears the Giant is trying to tell us something, not about D&D or the OOTS, but about the true nature of storytelling and the trials storytelling brings.

    What we have seen in these last chapters is a struggle between a Father and his two Sons. The struggle is, as each Son claims in his own turn, about controlling their own life, their own story.

    In the case of Nale is trying to escape the role his Father has laid out for him. Nale was to be a Spoiled prince, and a foil for his own group perhaps even what TV tropes calls 'The Starscream'. As long as Nale was both rebelling and then returning to Tarquin, Nale is fulfilling his intended role. At the point at which Nale crosses the rebel/return line into outright mutiny (to be his own villain in his own story, to stop with the evil opposites, and do what he wants to do) the Giant has Tarquin kill off the character. Why, well because power Tarquin can't control is no power at all, right? If Nale doesnt want to be in Tarquins story, then he doesn't belong in the same world as Tarquin.

    Elan is receiving the same treatment. Tarquin wants Elan to be the dashing hero that saves the day from the evil tyrant. He wants to tell the same old story that he is used to, the story everyone tells and everyone remembers. Whenever that story hits a snag (Roy is the hero), he corrects the situation. His rigid adherence to storytelling convention compels him to rewrite events to better suit his own preconceived notions of what a good story is. Interestingly enough, Elan tells off dad and doesn't get killed. The reason he is not killed is that Elan is doing what is narratively expected of him. He is following the rules and telling the villain he is wrong just as the Villain plays his "I know all the right answers" card.

    So what do we have now, a Father that represents conformity with the conventions of storytelling, and a son that represents experimentation with the form. One is still the offspring of the other; there are still elements of these conventions in Elan (the things he has in common with his father). And yet, there is a wide difference, Elan is not his father, he is someone very different.

    In the same way there are elements of the OOTS story as a whole which follow convention (and the Giant is reminded of this every time the boards start talking about the tropes) and others that are less conventional. It seems to me, then, that what is being exposed on these pages is the Giants own internal struggles with writing. It can be tricky for an author to fill pages with his own thoughts and ideas in a way that people will like, because, for all our attempts to deny it, we the crowd expect specific elements of a story to be there. When some elements of the "formula" are missing, we simply find the story unpalatable. The opposite is true, if the story is too much like the story we expect, its boring. The author is constantly faced with this dilemma of choosing between writing what is expected and making a boring story or writing something else and risk alienating his audience.

    So what do you all think, is the Giant giving us a glimpse of his own internal struggles with writing a great story, or is a cigar just a cigar?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ElfRogueGirl

    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Or maybe he just wanted to pointed out that even knowing TVTropes content by heart is not enough and doesn't prevent mistakes ?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    jhunter_d's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Prime Material Plane
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Chantelune View Post
    Or maybe he just wanted to pointed out that even knowing TVTropes content by heart is not enough and doesn't prevent mistakes ?
    The Giant does hate TVTropes…

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kish's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by jhunter_d View Post
    The Giant does hate TVTropes…
    As manifestations of forum Telephone Game go, I personally find that one preferable to "The Giant clearly reads TVTropes and bases much of/all of his comic on it."

    It's still Telephone Game, though.
    Spoiler
    Show
    "You are what you do. Choose again, and change." --Miles Vorkosigan

    "The really unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, or anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future. But the crimes they hope to prevent in the future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present--they are real." --Aral Vorkosigan

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    This, in a nutshell.
    Yes, exactly.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    It's a 7 paragraph post, only mentions TV Tropes itself once in passing.

    If I have time today, I'll respond more in full about the notion. But that said, I don't think this is a conscious decision of Rich to display his struggles in writing any more than any subconscious elements of anything anyone writes does.

    But I'm not about to speak for the guy.

    But there are other facets I'll try to address later.
    What shall we do to fill the empty spaces
    Where waves of hunger gnaw?

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Eulalios's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Steady Habit
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Given all the fourth-wall-breaking and other po-mo antics already in the strip, I will go for

    "Have Tarquin, Nale, and Elan provided meta-commentary on the continuing struggle between tradition, modernity, and post-modernity?"

    Yes. But that's not the entirety of their presence in the script.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    TvTropes merelly collects all preexistent, known tropes in its page. And catalogues them in Literature, Anime, Films, etc... giving several examples. However, even those examples are divided in Played Straight, Subverted, Lampshaded, etc... thus admiting they are never absolute rules, and authors can and must use them as they see fit; in Barbosa words "...more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules."
    ""Jeez, this dress! i look like a dominatrix""
    (self-loathing): ""Actually , you look like a sorceress or something""
    ""Hey, no need to get cruel""

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    TVTropes is to Storytelling what Alignment is to Morality.


    Well, except that reading TVTropes can make you LESS enthused to write a story in my experience. Alignment for me tends to get me jazzed about the possibilities.
    What shall we do to fill the empty spaces
    Where waves of hunger gnaw?

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by jhunter_d View Post
    The Giant does hate TVTropes…
    He's said nothing of the sort. He talks about TV Tropes as part of an interview with Geekademia (transcript here, section 4B). The problem is with people taking it too seriously, and getting so focused on the parts of the story they miss the whole. The other factor is that people think they can start predicting the story, and I don't think the Giant likes being thought of as predictable.
    Assistant Treasurer of the Haley fan club
    Crewman of the Bandana fan club

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    littlebum2002's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Yendor View Post
    He's said nothing of the sort. He talks about TV Tropes as part of an interview with Geekademia (transcript here, section 4B). The problem is with people taking it too seriously, and getting so focused on the parts of the story they miss the whole. The other factor is that people think they can start predicting the story, and I don't think the Giant likes being thought of as predictable.
    I agree. I think TV Tropes is great for entertainment purposes. I've squandered many a good afternoon trapped in a vortex of links on that site.

    The problem is when people stop treating it like an entertainment (like Wikiality) and more like a reliable source of information (like Wikipedia.)

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Ok, so:


    In the case of Nale is trying to escape the role his Father has laid out for him. Nale was to be a Spoiled prince, and a foil for his own group perhaps even what TV tropes calls 'The Starscream'. As long as Nale was both rebelling and then returning to Tarquin, Nale is fulfilling his intended role. At the point at which Nale crosses the rebel/return line into outright mutiny (to be his own villain in his own story, to stop with the evil opposites, and do what he wants to do) the Giant has Tarquin kill off the character. Why, well because power Tarquin can't control is no power at all, right? If Nale doesnt want to be in Tarquins story, then he doesn't belong in the same world as Tarquin.
    The thing I will note here is that I think Tarquin is too affable to kill off either of his sons BECAUSE they rebel. If they rebel to the degree Nale did I think he's content to just show his disappointment and let them go, figuring they'll be back some day. His sons would probably have to leave his presence to become their own men, but he'd let them go.

    But if they deny him AND start committing crimes, he'll renig his protection of them. But Tarquin is not Nale, as I've seen. He wouldn't put a bounty to kill his own son if they told him off and ran away. Maybe capture or return, but not kill. They'd have to start breaking the law like Nale was.


    Elan is receiving the same treatment. Tarquin wants Elan to be the dashing hero that saves the day from the evil tyrant. He wants to tell the same old story that he is used to, the story everyone tells and everyone remembers. Whenever that story hits a snag (Roy is the hero), he corrects the situation. His rigid adherence to storytelling convention compels him to rewrite events to better suit his own preconceived notions of what a good story is. Interestingly enough, Elan tells off dad and doesn't get killed. The reason he is not killed is that Elan is doing what is narratively expected of him. He is following the rules and telling the villain he is wrong just as the Villain plays his "I know all the right answers" card.
    I think it's the fact he's Tarquin's son that does that primarily. If Elan was Roy or anyone else, a dramatically pleasing hero in the face of Tarquin's villainy, he'd kill them. Being dramatically appropriate to the story Tarquin has in his mind gets his APPROVAL, but Tarquin's not about to kill his son with that as the prime reason. Again, denying him verbally will be the prime reason for removal of his protection. But if you then turn around and say you're obeying the law, I don't think he's quite SO petty as to then kill you anyway, not if you're his son. It's not Nale's speech to Tarquin alone that killed him: the speech removed the shield. The dagger was driven by Nale's action. True, not because Tarquin was close to Malack... I doubt we'll ever see Tarquin grieve even to the 'extent' Laurin did... but because killing Malack was an act he simply could not overlook, given Nale's antipathy. But he'd probably have overlooked lesser actions.


    In the same way there are elements of the OOTS story as a whole which follow convention (and the Giant is reminded of this every time the boards start talking about the tropes) and others that are less conventional. It seems to me, then, that what is being exposed on these pages is the Giants own internal struggles with writing. It can be tricky for an author to fill pages with his own thoughts and ideas in a way that people will like, because, for all our attempts to deny it, we the crowd expect specific elements of a story to be there. When some elements of the "formula" are missing, we simply find the story unpalatable. The opposite is true, if the story is too much like the story we expect, its boring. The author is constantly faced with this dilemma of choosing between writing what is expected and making a boring story or writing something else and risk alienating his audience.

    So what do you all think, is the Giant giving us a glimpse of his own internal struggles with writing a great story, or is a cigar just a cigar?

    It's not that a cigar is necessarily just a cigar, but... I THINK... it's more of a commentary on the reader's relationship with the story. As represented through Elan about how stories give us hope and freedom (although I'm thinking that narrative might be just beginning now: Elan's only just STARTING his retort to Tarquin's argument laid out so well in "Plotting Something") and through Tarquin, the reader's relationship to how narratives ensure our own collective doom: that yes, there's already a pre-existing villain living it up as the story begins, but ALSO that the entire conflict between hero and villain represents conflict that brings about pain and death for those connected and un-connected, and that the excitement of those stories affect how people view things in real life (thus the argument "there is no such thing as an anti-war film"... which I disagree with, though just to say that making a truly anti-war film is very, very hard).

    That is, the very thing that drives the story is violence and hardship and sacrifice. Even sex doesn't really drive a story in the same way. As long as that's art imitating life, that's ok, and that's more common with generations that have known those things. But for generations that HAVEN'T, there's a serious threat of the inverse applying... life imitating art... where people read and see these conflicts and think, even subconsciously, that what they see in the drama before them somehow represents what may happen to them in times to come or even what the event is like to live through at all. Like a child once may have read tales of bravery and heroics and signed up later on to fight in a war that landed them in the trenches of WWI.
    What shall we do to fill the empty spaces
    Where waves of hunger gnaw?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ElfRogueGirl

    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by faustin View Post
    TvTropes merelly collects all preexistent, known tropes in its page. And catalogues them in Literature, Anime, Films, etc... giving several examples. However, even those examples are divided in Played Straight, Subverted, Lampshaded, etc... thus admiting they are never absolute rules, and authors can and must use them as they see fit; in Barbosa words "...more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules."
    As said by others, the issue is not with TvTropes intent, (though I sometime feels that they try to force barely related examples into fitting a peculiar trope), but mostly with the way it is now commonly used to dissect a narrative while using TvTropes as a reference, as if everything a writer write (be it for novel, comics, movies and so on) is made with those tropes in mind and intentionally using them.

    As for myself, I like to enjoy a story without thinking every single line "oh, this is a trope ! Rich probably meant it that way !"

    Tarquin is interesting in that way he kind of reminds me of such readers that seems unable to think outside of tropes and simply accept the story for what it actually is, even when it goes against their pre-conception of the narrative structure (which often ends up with misplaced cry of Deus Ex Machina).

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Virginia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post
    Ok, so:

    The thing I will note here is that I think Tarquin is too affable to kill off either of his sons BECAUSE they rebel. If they rebel to the degree Nale did I think he's content to just show his disappointment and let them go, figuring they'll be back some day. His sons would probably have to leave his presence to become their own men, but he'd let them go.

    But if they deny him AND start committing crimes, he'll renig his protection of them. But Tarquin is not Nale, as I've seen. He wouldn't put a bounty to kill his own son if they told him off and ran away. Maybe capture or return, but not kill. They'd have to start breaking the law like Nale was.
    The thing is, he was ready to "smooth things over" with Laurin after Nale killed Malack up until the point at which Nale refused to return. And, we already know that the original Dead or Alive bounty was meaningless, because Tarquin didnt immediately kill/imprison Nale at the palace. He just wanted his son to come back. Refusing to sit in his chair may seem like the straw that broke the camels back, but it could just as likely be the only crime truly punishable by death in his mind. Look at the other example of his extreme brutality, burning the slaves that no longer wished to be slaves and escaped.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post

    I think it's the fact he's Tarquin's son that does that primarily. If Elan was Roy or anyone else, a dramatically pleasing hero in the face of Tarquin's villainy, he'd kill them. Being dramatically appropriate to the story Tarquin has in his mind gets his APPROVAL, but Tarquin's not about to kill his son with that as the prime reason. Again, denying him verbally will be the prime reason for removal of his protection. But if you then turn around and say you're obeying the law, I don't think he's quite SO petty as to then kill you anyway, not if you're his son. It's not Nale's speech to Tarquin alone that killed him: the speech removed the shield. The dagger was driven by Nale's action. True, not because Tarquin was close to Malack... I doubt we'll ever see Tarquin grieve even to the 'extent' Laurin did... but because killing Malack was an act he simply could not overlook, given Nale's antipathy. But he'd probably have overlooked lesser actions.
    Actually, when a Robin-hood type Hero told him off, Tarquin didn't kill him. Instead, Tarquin elevated him and advertised him by putting a large bounty on his head. The EoB has been silently capturing and imprisoning Ian Starshine for a while now. Now, Ian plays his freedom loving hero card in front of Tarquin, and Tarquin decides to play his arrogant villanous dictator card back. He doesn't have to do this, he narratively needs to do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post

    It's not that a cigar is necessarily just a cigar, but... I THINK... it's more of a commentary on the reader's relationship with the story. As represented through Elan about how stories give us hope and freedom (although I'm thinking that narrative might be just beginning now: Elan's only just STARTING his retort to Tarquin's argument laid out so well in "Plotting Something") and through Tarquin, the reader's relationship to how narratives ensure our own collective doom: that yes, there's already a pre-existing villain living it up as the story begins, but ALSO that the entire conflict between hero and villain represents conflict that brings about pain and death for those connected and un-connected, and that the excitement of those stories affect how people view things in real life (thus the argument "there is no such thing as an anti-war film"... which I disagree with, though just to say that making a truly anti-war film is very, very hard).

    That is, the very thing that drives the story is violence and hardship and sacrifice. Even sex doesn't really drive a story in the same way. As long as that's art imitating life, that's ok, and that's more common with generations that have known those things. But for generations that HAVEN'T, there's a serious threat of the inverse applying... life imitating art... where people read and see these conflicts and think, even subconsciously, that what they see in the drama before them somehow represents what may happen to them in times to come or even what the event is like to live through at all. Like a child once may have read tales of bravery and heroics and signed up later on to fight in a war that landed them in the trenches of WWI.
    Good point, i can see the element of commentary on the readers relationship with the authors story as well now, thanks.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Eulalios's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Steady Habit
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Tarquin, Nale, and Elan are (partly) about an interplay of three impulses or roles: Agency, Autonomy, and Authority. These are three of the themes that undergird the entire narrative structure of D&D, and are key to many of the disputes over "what is the right way to play."

    According to the currently dominant paradigm of post-fetal human emotional development, almost all of us go through a phase that's labeled "autonomy vs shame and doubt." It happens around ages two - four in normal children, and combines rebellion against authority with complete reliance on benefits obtainable only from the favor of authority. (name that character). In adulthood, people who have not transitioned from this phase are labeled as "troubled" or "problem employees." Because they are.

    A few years later in childhood (traditionally around ages six - ten, but in the United States and in the past couple of decades, closer to age twelve - fifteen) there is a phase where kids are (were) granted significantly greater freedom in their actions. For examples: going to a friend's house after school, rather than directly home; sleep overs; "I'm going out to play, Mom! See you at dinner!" / "Ok, call me if you're going to be late or need a pick up.". This is the beginning of "agency," when the child is able to direct at least portions of their day. This is also the beginning of personal responsibility, as the child must accept the consequences of their actions. _ Or not _ some people figure out how to evade the fall out of bad decisions, we label them with various names.

    Typically, folks are satisfied with the agency their culture allows them. However, some want more - most often, the ability to effect agency in the lives of others (authority).

    Society offers some accepted paths to authority, and some other paths that are known but despised. Being orderly, societies generally favor the "Right Hand Paths," in which authority is bought by obligation. (e.g. the General who personally inspects the troops, holds officers accountable for their soldiers' well-being, and answers to the orders of the Republic). "Left Hand Paths" are scorned despite the prestige they bring. (e.g. the Executive who ignores the employees' well-being, exacts ruinous pricing from the customers for private use, and shorts the shareholders).

    Elan seems to be following the Right Hand Path toward authority; his father claims to have followed the Left Hand Path, and has certainly done some very despicable things, but part of the only-now abated admiration may arise from our collective sense that he carried a lot of water to get where he got. Literally on the other hand, a lot of our scorn for Nale may come from his lack of seriousness about obligations.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    @OP: Interesting idea. I think you hit the nail on the head when you suggested that Tarquin's "lawful" evil actually means that he will follow the "laws" of the narrative. That would explain a couple of instances where his behavior wasn't exactly lawful, but very fitting for an evil overlord.

    I don't think the Giant wants to share his struggles, however. This isn't a struggle for him - he finally gets to cleverly overthrow some stupid conventions of the genre while making fun of them. I bet he loves it and that's why he's doing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    The Giant clearly reads TVTropes and bases much of/all of his comic on it.
    Really? I didn't know. Interesting, but a bit disappointing too.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kish's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Fearabbit View Post
    Really? I didn't know. Interesting, but a bit disappointing too.
    Ha ha very funny.
    Spoiler
    Show
    "You are what you do. Choose again, and change." --Miles Vorkosigan

    "The really unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, or anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future. But the crimes they hope to prevent in the future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present--they are real." --Aral Vorkosigan

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    This, in a nutshell.
    Yes, exactly.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    137ben does hate tvtropes.


    Now, I await to see what the forum telephone game turns that into!
    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    If Orcus was a nesting doll, that would certainly make the whole thing work smoother. When you cast a level 1 summoning spell, you summon the little Orcus from the middle, but when you cast Gate, you get the really big Orcus that holds all the small Orcuses.

    Extended Signature

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    Ha ha very funny.
    Oh come on, it had to be done.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ReaderAt2046's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by rbetieh View Post
    Hello All,

    The last few chapters have led me to come to a few conclusions that I would like to share with everyone. It comes from this premise, the trait of the character that represents the Lawful nature of his alignment is his strict adherence to the conventional rules of storytelling. It appears the Giant is trying to tell us something, not about D&D or the OOTS, but about the true nature of storytelling and the trials storytelling brings.

    What we have seen in these last chapters is a struggle between a Father and his two Sons. The struggle is, as each Son claims in his own turn, about controlling their own life, their own story.

    In the case of Nale is trying to escape the role his Father has laid out for him. Nale was to be a Spoiled prince, and a foil for his own group perhaps even what TV tropes calls 'The Starscream'. As long as Nale was both rebelling and then returning to Tarquin, Nale is fulfilling his intended role. At the point at which Nale crosses the rebel/return line into outright mutiny (to be his own villain in his own story, to stop with the evil opposites, and do what he wants to do) the Giant has Tarquin kill off the character. Why, well because power Tarquin can't control is no power at all, right? If Nale doesnt want to be in Tarquins story, then he doesn't belong in the same world as Tarquin.

    Elan is receiving the same treatment. Tarquin wants Elan to be the dashing hero that saves the day from the evil tyrant. He wants to tell the same old story that he is used to, the story everyone tells and everyone remembers. Whenever that story hits a snag (Roy is the hero), he corrects the situation. His rigid adherence to storytelling convention compels him to rewrite events to better suit his own preconceived notions of what a good story is. Interestingly enough, Elan tells off dad and doesn't get killed. The reason he is not killed is that Elan is doing what is narratively expected of him. He is following the rules and telling the villain he is wrong just as the Villain plays his "I know all the right answers" card.

    So what do we have now, a Father that represents conformity with the conventions of storytelling, and a son that represents experimentation with the form. One is still the offspring of the other; there are still elements of these conventions in Elan (the things he has in common with his father). And yet, there is a wide difference, Elan is not his father, he is someone very different.

    In the same way there are elements of the OOTS story as a whole which follow convention (and the Giant is reminded of this every time the boards start talking about the tropes) and others that are less conventional. It seems to me, then, that what is being exposed on these pages is the Giants own internal struggles with writing. It can be tricky for an author to fill pages with his own thoughts and ideas in a way that people will like, because, for all our attempts to deny it, we the crowd expect specific elements of a story to be there. When some elements of the "formula" are missing, we simply find the story unpalatable. The opposite is true, if the story is too much like the story we expect, its boring. The author is constantly faced with this dilemma of choosing between writing what is expected and making a boring story or writing something else and risk alienating his audience.

    So what do you all think, is the Giant giving us a glimpse of his own internal struggles with writing a great story, or is a cigar just a cigar?
    I think the problem isn't really that Elan is trying to break free of his role in the story and Tarquin is trying to force him into it. Tarquin and Elan both believe that Elan should follow his role in the story. What they don't agree on is what that story actually is.

    Tarquin bases his actions on the assumption that the primary story is a epic struggle between Elan and himself over the Western Continent, whereas Elan is trying to fit into a story about a struggle between Roy and Xykon over the whole world.
    Prince Fraternal of Pudding, Snuzzlepal, Feezy Squeez Lover, MP, Member of The Most Noble And Ancient Order Of St. George, King of Gae Parabolae.

    Lego Ergo Sum

    "Everyone's cute if you just look at them the right way"~Rebekah Patton Durham, Princess of Pudding.

    "If they have stats, we can kill them... I'd like to point out that we also have stats..." ~ PhoenixGuard09.

    Warhammer 40K: Where the faction that is a cross between the Inquisition and Space Nazis are the good guys.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    I think this is overstating Rich's "intent" with Tarquin a little, although the whole field of literary criticism is about reading more into works than the writer originally intended, so by all means continue.

    I think that Rich was thinking about Nale as Elan's opposite, wondering what a truly evil version of Elan would actually be like. And the evil version of Elan is someone who sees the narrative (the orcs will just capture us again) but uses it to his advantage.

    Once Rich had this basic concept, the other traits (other people are NPCs in my story) grew organically from the premise.

    Another way Rich is far better at storytelling than I'll ever be.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kobold

    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    I think there's a narrative similarity between Tarquin and Redcloak.

    The story of Redcloak reminds us that many fantasy classics are based on a sentiment we would normally call "racism", or worse. Killing insert-enemy-of-the-narrative-here because of their species - is an action that, in real life, most people would deplore, and yet in fantasy literature we generally cheer for it.

    Tarquin has an analogous role, for showing up another of the flaws in common fantasy classics. Evil empires constantly fall, but without regard for political realities. Some empires are not all that evil (cue "what have the Romans ever done for us?" sketch), particularly when compared with what came before or after them. And the plucky rebels, in destroying them, seldom take the time to put an alternative government in place to keep order during the "transitional period" (read: bloody anarchy) that invariably follows.

    Just as Redcloak makes us think more about the first of these tropes (Redcloak is an evil goblin, and he needs to be defeated, but if we oppose him because he's an evil goblin we're doing something badly wrong), so Tarquin challenges us on the second (Tarquin is an evil emperor, he needs to be defeated, but if we just defeat him and leave it at that, we'll be doing something else badly wrong).
    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by warrl View Post
    "They didn't change the alignment system, they just augmented its inherent weaknesses and limitations with a few gaping holes."
    "Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed." - G K Chesterton


  22. - Top - End - #22
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Fish's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Olympia, WA

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    First, I think TV Tropes is to literature what music theory is to music. It is 1) a list of what has been done before, 2) which work. It does not compel or circumscribe the act of writing; it observes that quality storytelling often falls into a certain groove. One gets into trouble when one assumes that the rules came first, or that the rules contain all possible ways to tell a story (or even all possible good ways). Obviously not, because new tropes are added all the time. This allows the Tropers to develop a world-weary air, sighing their dramatic Scarlett O'Hara sighs at the latest development and saying, "Everything is a trope! I could have told you that THAT would happen."

    Rich doesn't read TV Tropes, nor use it as a guideline for his story. Don't bank on every plot twist falling into a neat category. (See the quote in my sig.)

    Tarquin exists along with Ian, I feel, to explain and to develop the characters of Haley and Elan. In a way, each is the extreme end of the PCs' paths: Ian trusts nobody, and Tarquin believes everything is story. It is the same traits of the PCs, turned up to 11. To defeat them, the PCs must look into the funhouse mirror and see the parts of themselves that are ugly and unattractive, and learn from it. Nale was only ever an Evil Twin by the conventions of storytelling; Tarquin is the real Ur-Elan, the slave to story. Elan probably defeats him by growing past that need.
    Last edited by Fish; 2013-09-09 at 11:06 AM.
    The Giant says: Yes, I am aware TV Tropes exists as a website. ... No, I have never decided to do something in the comic because it was listed on TV Tropes. I don't use it as a checklist for ideas ... and I have never intentionally referenced it in any way.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Hixson, TN
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    I think Tarquin's obsession with story conventions is in many ways to show a dark mirror up to Elan's own. Elan is certainly aware of these things, and often acts accordingly. It's allowed him to be useful on more than one occasion, and only rarely has it steered him wrong. He has even deviated from it on occasion (as he did with telling Haley about Therkla) in order to do the right thing. Hence, he is someone mired in stories, but perhaps not a slave to them. His ongoing growth as a character is recognizing when his bardic training is helpful and when it isn't.

    Tarquin, on the other hand, considers all the world a story, and everyone merely players. For him, the goal is the master the story itself. He is only not a slave to the narrative if he is the main character, the most beloved, and the most popular. And he's quite successful at these things. He is calculating, powerful, cautious, and ruthless. He doesn't lose very often, either. Still, what we are coming to see he fails to grasp, as Elan seems to be attempting to learn, is that stories are living things. To stagnate, to be slave to convention, is to become a cliche, and that is to inevitably die without the admiration he seeks. I think this is where Elan will surpass his father. I don't quite know how he'll do it, but it seems the way for him to go.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Virginia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Tarquin has an analogous role, for showing up another of the flaws in common fantasy classics. Evil empires constantly fall, but without regard for political realities. Some empires are not all that evil (cue "what have the Romans ever done for us?" sketch), particularly when compared with what came before or after them. And the plucky rebels, in destroying them, seldom take the time to put an alternative government in place to keep order during the "transitional period" (read: bloody anarchy) that invariably follows.

    The issue with this, Veti, is that the Giant must first show us the before empire picture and after empire picture in before he could make such a statement. As of yet, he has given us a few lines of Tarquins analysis of the situation before he came to power, and while I am sure he believes what he says, it may not be an entirely accurate depiction. I doubt the after picture will materialize as well.

    You have to deal with the themes that have been exposed: family, tradition, order, freedom, rebellion, hierarchy. These are the recurring threads of the Western Continent arch, thus far. Even the Tsukiko interlude dealt with these, in a sense. If the Giant is trying to help us see the real world through his eyes, then what we are looking for is in the intertwining of these (and maybe others I have not yet caught) concepts.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    HalfOrcPirate

    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Eastern Iowa
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: On the character Tarquin and his Narrative purpose

    The main irony with Tarquin is that he considers himself to be the main antagonist of the story and has based his entire life around this, while he is actually just a sub villian. His purpose as I see it is to assist Elan's character development. First by showing him how powerful Elan's genre awareness can be, and second by showing him the weaknesses that goes along with it.

    He's the anti-Elan, far more than Nale ever was and by defeating him Elan will be forced to take a good look at his own weaknesses and learn how to overcome them making him a far more powerful character for the finale of the series.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •