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Mind Games

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, July 24, 2021

Sometimes the arch villain of the story is the one pulling all the strings in the background, and the protagonists don't know about them until the endgame.

And other times, the arch villain gets to clash with a protagonist (or an opposing character) that is also a mastermind pulling strings in the background.

If this happens, everyone else may become pawns in a game of chess between these two. A grand-scale mindgame ensues where the two duke it out from the background, using other characters and situations as their weapons or proxies.

In a duel like this, the villain of course comes across as a villain, but the hero (or ‘good guy’ character) may come across as less heroic. That is because whoever comes across as manipulating others loses some of the sincerity and directness that audiences generally associate with good characters.

It may also mean that the ‘good guy’ character also has a creed of ‘end justifying the means’ or a very cynical, even cruel streak which always comes in shades of gray. In these cases, the plot often gets a suspense along the lines of who will outsmart who but also how far the ‘good guy’ is willing to go to win. It may even be a ‘corruption arc’ for the ‘good guy’.

The good guy being morally ambiguous isn't necessarily the case. There can be mind games played when the ‘good guy’ player has a very clear set of morals and lines drawn; often to their detriment if the villain/opponent in the mind games is aware and uses those morals against them. The plot in this case may build suspense on who will outsmart who but also how the ‘good guy’ will manage to outmaneuver the villain without giving up their morals or crossing their lines.

Do you have masterminds in your stories? Where do they fall on the villain/hero spectrum and how good are they?

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usedbooks at 4:07PM, July 24, 2021

My story has a mystery boss. But also a few master manipulators I greatly enjoy writing. One is pretty ambiguous. He has his own set of ethics and does a good job controlling situations. My best good guys are spontaneous and chaotic. Sometimes they have a better handle on things than it appears, but usually, they are just relying on luck (which fails them quite a bit).

Corruption at 2:33AM, July 24, 2021

Masterminds are often schemers, and the kind I like of both are those who can plan long term, yet make the most of the chances they get. Some can't seem to adapt well to unexpected things, and other just improvise as they go. I like ones that can do both. Do they need an endgame? No. Some could do it just for laughs. I plan on making a forum based RPG where characters start with the same power as weak Demi-Gods getting followers and eventually leaving as Gods. Catch is, it was arranged to sort out souls of the dead, the more powerful beings have their own massive powers drained to get them the same levels of other, and it prevents other people from causing massive problems in other attempts at Godhood. Also, it turns out this Godhood they get a bit of only works in a small multiverse the creator is making for them. Imagine getting 1000 Voldimorts, Jokers, Sinisters, Satans and other such being into one place, and telling them there is only 20 opens and they can kill each other.

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