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Old 10-30-2019, 06:30 PM   #11
Michael Cule
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Default Re: Tragic endings

The self sacrificing endings aren't tragic properly speaking.

They're sad but they're heroic. The protagonists live up to the best that is in them unlike a tragic protagonist who lives up to the worst and is destroyed by it.

That's even rarer in RPGs.
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Old 10-30-2019, 08:07 PM   #12
Varyon
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Default Re: Tragic endings

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
The self sacrificing endings aren't tragic properly speaking.

They're sad but they're heroic. The protagonists live up to the best that is in them unlike a tragic protagonist who lives up to the worst and is destroyed by it.

That's even rarer in RPGs.
If using an overly-strict definition of "tragedy" (in which you're basically restricting it to Greek tragedies, IIRC), sure, but I don't see much point in doing that. I don't think Romeo and Juliet was about the titular characters living up to the worst, but it's still a tragedy. Pyrrha's death in RWBY is hard to describe as anything but tragic, and would certainly match this thread (if it had been in a campaign instead of a show... and not planned literally from the introduction of the character), but was very much the character in question living up to the best they could (which wasn't quite enough, hence the whole dying thing).

I've had a few tragic endings for characters, but they were either negated later (resurrection magic) or were so forced by the GM (well, Storyteller, as the group I played Vampire: The Masquerade with apparently thought every campaign had to end with everyone dying) they don't really count. I've actually sort-of tried to do various flavors of "heroic sacrifice" in a few campaigns, but for some reason when I do my dice luck goes from horrible to actually fairly good. Some of the examples in this thread are really good though, arguably better than happy endings would have been in those situations (and as I generally prefer happy endings, that's saying quite a bit).
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Old 10-30-2019, 08:39 PM   #13
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Tragic endings

I've had a few tragic endings, but they were mostly dumb TPKs, not grand stories.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:31 AM   #14
Michael Cule
 
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Default Re: Tragic endings

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
If using an overly-strict definition of "tragedy" (in which you're basically restricting it to Greek tragedies, IIRC), sure, but I don't see much point in doing that.
And Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries and Ibsen and some of his.

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I don't think Romeo and Juliet was about the titular characters living up to the worst, but it's still a tragedy.
Here I must disagree with you (and with Shakespeare): R&J isn't a tragedy. It's what we literary types call 'an idiot plot' which only works because everybody involved is an idiot. Especially Friar Laurence.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:49 AM   #15
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Default Re: Tragic endings

It's nonetheless an overly-restrictive definition of tragic/tragedy. Note in the linked Oxford definitions of those two words, the first definition (which is generally the most common) of each is the way they are being used in this thread, while you are restricting things to the second, and arguably just a (large) subset of the second.
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Old 10-31-2019, 12:31 PM   #16
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Default Re: Tragic endings

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
And Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries and Ibsen and some of his.



Here I must disagree with you (and with Shakespeare): R&J isn't a tragedy. It's what we literary types call 'an idiot plot' which only works because everybody involved is an idiot. Especially Friar Laurence.
Funny, but all my lit instructors have classified it as a tragedy.

That it's an idiot plot is irrelevant to the boolean greek definition...
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Old 10-31-2019, 02:42 PM   #17
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Tragic endings

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
Here I must disagree with you (and with Shakespeare): R&J isn't a tragedy. It's what we literary types call 'an idiot plot' which only works because everybody involved is an idiot. Especially Friar Laurence.
A lot of tragedy is dependent on people acting like idiots. And honestly, "acting like idiots" and "living up to the worst" aren't all that distinct concepts, I would say most Greek tragedies involve people acting like idiots too.
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Old 10-31-2019, 04:14 PM   #18
sgtcallistan
 
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Default Re: Tragic endings

The uses of Geas / Gesa and Destiny disadvantages as in GURPS Celtic Myth handle this quite well on a character / individual level.

A prophetic dream the night before meeting the woman my character would love and have a child with was mostly forgotten, but was written down to be referred to by the GM.

Sometimes the dream's details, when they happened, reminded me as the player, but I couldn't recall for certain what they meant.

It all came true, not in the way they'd guessed, and it also fitted with the woman's death geas, her being a warrior, she knew how she would die.

My own character's geas 'never send her away' was the last part to come true, done to keep her safe, but fating her to die.

This was very good GM'ing, and tough to play, and needed a level of trust as well.

Similar effects can be had by playing to the conventions of the Wuxia genre, I've found.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:21 PM   #19
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: Tragic endings

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
And Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries and Ibsen and some of his.



Here I must disagree with you (and with Shakespeare): R&J isn't a tragedy. It's what we literary types call 'an idiot plot' which only works because everybody involved is an idiot. Especially Friar Laurence.
R&J is that way intentionally. It's actually along the lines of what we would now call a deconstruction, of the tropes and fantasies of romantic (in the sexual sense) fiction (i.e. romance novels, romantic comedies, etc.).
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:23 PM   #20
Johnny1A.2
 
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A lot of tragedy is dependent on people acting like idiots. And honestly, "acting like idiots" and "living up to the worst" aren't all that distinct concepts, I would say most Greek tragedies involve people acting like idiots too.
Of course, everybody acts like an idiot at some point in their life...if that point happens to coincide with a critical moment, or several people happen to fall into it at once...tragedies happen.

The best tragedy has the idiotic behavior arise naturally from some specific character flaw or bad choice, rather than random foolishness.
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