Thursday, April 20, 2006

Theoden Had The Right Idea

You may remember a while ago I wrote a post on how in all Fantasy based media, the hero is always an unprepared, untrained farmboy, who is sent to kill the evil sorcerer, despite the fact that the King has legions of highly trained troops.

(You can read Thou Art Barry, The Chosen One here)

Well, last night, when I was playing Zelda again, something else struck me.

Think of the usual Fantasy set up. You have:

The Hero

The Sidekick

The Villain

The Wise and Noble King

The Legions of Terror

The Legions of Justice

The Wise Advisor

The People.

Now, here’s the stupid bit I don’t get.

All of these stories are based around saving ‘The People’ from the Villain’s evil.


I mean…they’re crap! They don’t do anything! Their job in any work of Fantasy Based fiction is to complain every step of the way about ‘nothing being done’…and then run away screaming while the Orcs burn their homes and carve them up.

They’re the fantasy equivalent of soaking your house in gasoline, putting a match to it to ‘see what happens’, then blaming the fire department for the destruction of your home because they didn’t arrive quickly enough.

Take, for example, the opening blurb to “The Legend of Zelda : The Windwaker.”

…Then, a shadow began to spread across the land. The people waited for ‘The Hero of Time’, believing he would come back to save them.

The Hero never appeared

The People could do nothing but pray.

Pray? Bloody Pray?!? Here’s an idea! Go grab yourself a sword! You’re the people for Christ’s sake! There’s bloody thousands of you!

I mean, if a foul shadow was falling across the lands I lived in, I’d have two choices:

1) Get together with a few buddies and say “Errrm, see this foul shadow thingie, that’s like, falling across our lands? D’you think we should do something about it?”

2) Say: “Remember that ancient legend about that hero bloke? Let’s not worry, I’m sure he’ll magically appear and save us all. I’m not bloody going out. It’s raining! Are you mad?”

As far as I can see it, here’s the deal. You can either fight, maybe win, but probably get killed…or you can sit on your ass, wait for the Orc housewarming party to turn up (and by house warming, I mean a flaming arrow delivered to the thatch on the top of your house)… do nothing, and probably get killed.

Either way you’ve got a good chance of being disemboweled by a passing Orc, but at least one way you’ll be doing something to stop them…even if your only contribution is tiring one of them out slightly, by making them expend the energy it takes to cleave your head off.

The other thing is that the Legions of Justice ride out into battle to protect the people. If they fail, the people get slaughtered.

Why not bring ‘The People’ along for the battle, tripling the size of your army in a single stroke, giving you a much better chance of winning…and if you lose the battle, ‘The People’ would have been slaughtered anyway!

It just makes sense.

…and, in short, ‘The People’ are crap.

Use ‘em as cannon fodder, or give them a useful job, like human shields for the real soldiers to hide behind. That’ll teach the whiny bastards.

It’s at times like this, you’ve really go to hand it to Tolkien. At the Battle of Helms Deep, when King Theoden of Rohan was facing the destruction of his entire people, what did he say?

“Round up every able bodied man and strong lad, and lead them to the wall.”

Now that’s effective leadership.

Of course, he made one crucial mistake, and left the women behind the hide in the caves.

Women can fight dammit! Have none of these men ever had a Mother-in-Law?

Imagine that, 50,000 Mothers-in-Law, all standing in a line, giving the entire opposing army that look.

They’d win without ever having to draw a sword!

That’s how any battle can be won. Put all the women in the front, ride up and down your lines on horseback, and during your motivational speech, the one designed to make people forget they’re likely to soon be on the pointy end of a few thousand swords, say:

“Look upon the faces of your enemy! These evil Orcs have burned our homes, salted our farmlands, and murdered our kin. Even worse, they said that your chainmail does make your butts look fat! And that Color livery is really unflattering! And that those boots definitely don’t go with those swords, and that have you never learned to accessorize?


1 comment:

Kato said...

One of the things I enjoyed in the game Fable was that you could play good or evil. I did both, but when I played evil, I decided to exploit the populace as much as possible. Every town I went into I kept sneaking off with people and killing them, thus making their homes come up for sale. I would then buy all the homes in town and rent them out to the populace. I was a very, very evil landlord. There was no reward or anything in it (I didn't gain any extra points or solve any quests as a result of it) I just really liked the idea of finally getting back at the worthless whiny townsfolk.