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motivation for moving beyond your writing habits: thewritingcafe: Anonymous asked you:I checked the tags page, but you…

motivation for moving beyond your writing habits: thewritingcafe: Anonymous asked you:I checked the tags page, but you…

Welcome to Fuck Yeah Character Development: Anonymous Asks: Fighting and Urban Fantasy

Welcome to Fuck Yeah Character Development: Anonymous Asks: Fighting and Urban Fantasy

Anonymous Asks: Fighting and Urban Fantasy

Hi! I’m trying to decide the most appropriate fighting style for a character I’m writing. It’s a fantasy setting and this character is training to fight supernatural creatures since she was young. She’s now 16, tall and skinny, and training is a big part of her life. She fights with a katana-like sword, but I’m also looking for a character skilled in unarmed combat. Which styles should I be looking for? Sorry for the silly question, I didn’t know who else to ask =X
Anonymous

This is really going to depend on the setting you’ve built, and what she’s hunting, but here are a few things to think about:

A lot of real martial arts deal with the idea that you’re fighting something that is roughly, physiologically equivalent to yourself. That is to say, you’re fighting other people. There’s no martial art in the world that will help you fight a grizzly bear or a lion in hand to hand combat.

When you’re talking about monsters in a fantasy world, you’re often talking about things that are bigger, tougher and stronger than humans. That can be almost anything, from a minotaur, to a vampire. The basic assumptions about hand to hand combat don’t apply.

Swords are kind of similar; the sword isn’t a hunting weapon, it’s a weapon designed for killing humans. This works in some contexts, against some monsters, if your character is hunting creatures that used to be human, or are roughly humanoid (like an orc or goblin), then it might still be applicable.

But, if your character is fighting monsters considerably larger than her, like, say, werewolves (of the 9ft tall, bipedal, snarling, deathbeast variety); a sword or hand to hand will get her killed. It’s bigger than her, stronger than her, and it has a significant advantage at ripping people apart in close range.

Against something like that, she’s better off at range, with a crossbow or a gun. If she needs to use a melee weapon, then I’d suggest a spear; it isn’t a perfect solution, but she’s got a better chance of tearing something up with a spear at close range without being disemboweled, than she does with a sword.

Whatever she is using, she’s probably going to have to tailor her combat tactics to what she’s dealing with at the moment. If she’s facing off against werewolves, she’s going to need to switch out to a crossbow and spear, (and remember, Silver is a very soft metal, it’s why it was used for cutlery and not combat, so she’ll need a steel weapon AND a silver plated one, if that’s something she’s dealing with regularly) when she’s dealing with vampires, she’ll need to be carrying gear to deal with their weaknesses, whatever those happen to be.

-Starke

Regarding the ask on fighting the supernatural with a katana: C’mon. It’s fantasy land. The martial artists will have adapted to their surroundings. I would suggest saying instead that the writer should focus on how vulnerable the character is, which affects her fighting style. She’ll have to learn to be quicker, how to use her long reach, and how to find the weakest point. I don’t know what styles that’d imply, so that’s what I’d google.

If there’s one thing I find utterly irritating in supernatural fiction, it’s the Buffy approach of beat everything until it drops. Look if your character is fighting monsters then there has to be a legitimate reason in story for why the locals can’t just punch them to death and need your character’s services. They need to be about more than just fighting, they have to be smart in how they approach each situation. Or they’re dead. Monsters in supernatural fiction are usually better, tougher, faster, and stronger.

That’s half the fun.

But, for a character who is ultimately human (we assumed her character is human) that means they have to be careful and that also means the writer needs to make sacrifices to create a believable setting. If fantasy meant that we could do whatever we wanted with no limitations or rules, then the stories we told would be very dull.

It’s important to remember that fights in your story aren’t about proving what your character can do. They’re about showing how well your character can adapt to challenge and change. Fights we build around a protagonists opponent, by getting to know the mooks and the monsters, their strengths, their weaknesses, and what they bring to the table are inherently better for our protagonists in the long run and better for the story in the short run.

When dealing with opponents that are inherently inhuman or superhuman with supernatural characteristics that enhance their strength, their speed, there’s no amount natural skill improvement that may help in that situation. A 9ft tall snarling deathbeast of a werewolf will rip through a normal human in seconds, they will rip through a trained martial artist in seconds, and they will snap a normal iron katana in two, no matter how well it’s forged, assuming the katana can even penetrate their body. If the katana is a mystical sword or silver-plated with an iron core, we may have something. But that still brings the character into the strike range of a monster that has much greater reach and speed than they do (assuming they are a normal human) with many more weapons at their disposal than the protagonist’s single sword. A single swipe of the claws could be lethal, if the werewolf bite is infectious in this setting, then they’re risking becoming the monster they chase by going mano-a-mano with it. Especially when there may be saner and more practical solutions available.

The best characters in this genre in stories like The Witcher, Nightwatch, and Hellboy know how to plan ahead, how to prep for what they’re dealing with, and change up their strategy when it’s not working. They work within the setting limits, the rules the author has set up for dealing with the monsters, and they fight smart.

It keeps the tension going.

-Michi

Hi! I’m trying to decide the most appropriate fighting style for a character I’m writing. It’s a fantasy setting and this character is training to fight supernatural creatures since she was young. She’s now 16, tall and skinny, and training is a big part of her life. She fights with a katana-like sword, but I’m also looking for a character skilled in unarmed combat. Which styles should I be looking for? Sorry for the silly question, I didn’t know who else to ask =X

This is really going to depend on the setting you’ve built, and what she’s hunting, but here are a few things to think about:

A lot of real martial arts deal with the idea that you’re fighting something that is roughly, physiologically equivalent to yourself. That is to say, you’re fighting other people. There’s no martial art in the world that will help you fight a grizzly bear or a lion in hand to hand combat.

When you’re talking about monsters in a fantasy world, you’re often talking about things that are bigger, tougher and stronger than humans. That can be almost anything, from a minotaur, to a vampire. The basic assumptions about hand to hand combat don’t apply.

Swords are kind of similar; the sword isn’t a hunting weapon, it’s a weapon designed for killing humans. This works in some contexts, against some monsters, if your character is hunting creatures that used to be human, or are roughly humanoid (like an orc or goblin), then it might still be applicable.

But, if your character is fighting monsters considerably larger than her, like, say, werewolves (of the 9ft tall, bipedal, snarling, deathbeast variety); a sword or hand to hand will get her killed. It’s bigger than her, stronger than her, and it has a significant advantage at ripping people apart in close range.

Against something like that, she’s better off at range, with a crossbow or a gun. If she needs to use a melee weapon, then I’d suggest a spear; it isn’t a perfect solution, but she’s got a better chance of tearing something up with a spear at close range without being disemboweled, than she does with a sword.

Whatever she is using, she’s probably going to have to tailor her combat tactics to what she’s dealing with at the moment. If she’s facing off against werewolves, she’s going to need to switch out to a crossbow and spear, (and remember, Silver is a very soft metal, it’s why it was used for cutlery and not combat, so she’ll need a steel weapon AND a silver plated one, if that’s something she’s dealing with regularly) when she’s dealing with vampires, she’ll need to be carrying gear to deal with their weaknesses, whatever those happen to be.

-Starke