Characters & Archtypes

Game characters are often memorable for the player, be that in a good or a bad way. These characters can have varying influences and personalities to them that make them unique figures that contribute to the plot of the game in a natural way. But characters often are also created from pre-existing archtypes that have emerged within the medium. These archtypes include characters such as the chivalrous knight, the silver tongued rogue, and the awkward goof ball who miraculously saves the day. While the idea of archtypes is often viewed negatively where characters are concerned, many memorable characters have come from them.

In the examples I listed earlier there is a character that is world famous that fits one of them. This character is none other than Mario and the archtype is that of the awkward goof ball who saves the day. Mario is a short, italian plumber who must race his way across various areas full of danger to rescue Princess Peach from Browser. He jumps around making goofy sounds, eating mushrooms, collecting coins, and wearing various outfits that make him look like a raccoon or a frog. His look as a character is rather awkward as well since he has a pot belly and wears this thick mustache. Nothing about Mario is anything you would remotely call normal or heroic, and yet such an awkward and goofy character saves the day. He is no less memorable for people because of this.

The next example of a character that fulfills an archtype is that of Link from the Legend of Zelda. The archtype that Link was created from is that of the young hero. He travels around the world helping out strangers with their problems as he seeks to right the world and return it back a state of peace. For most of the Zelda games, Link is having to save a princess (usually Zelda) from the dark forces that have taken her captive (usually Ganon). It is not a complicated story and Link is not a very complicated character because of this, but he is one of the most famous game characters of all time. Much merchandise exists for people to collect because they can not get enough of this character.

The last example of a character fulfilling an archtype is that of Bellemont from the Castlevania series. Bellemont is a knight who is on a crusade to enact vengeance upon evil forces that took his loved one from him. The archtype that he fulfills is not as clear at first if you look at his status of being a knight. One would imagine he is a chivalrous knight yet he doesn’t act like one at all. He indiscriminately murders demons and spirits throughout the game. It is when you look at his motivations that his archtype becomes clear. Bellemont is a seeker of vengeance who is only concerned with fulfilling his desire for revenge. Many castlevania games featuring Bellemont as the main character have come out, and even more fan created content. It proves that a character based off of an archtype, even an obscure one, is able to become memorable to people.

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Brothers: A Game of Beauty

The game Brothers is a masterpiece of a game. The story revolves around a pair of brothers that have lost their mother and are trying to find this mystical healing water to save their father’s life. The two travel through their world by solving environmental puzzles and escaping enemies together, because it is the only way that the problems can be solved. This unique characteristic of the game even impacts the mechanics of the game. The player controls both of the brothers at the same time. Each brother can be moved individually or together which leads to a connection with both brothers. The game makes you responsible for their lives in this way that other games are not able to.

The biggest aspect to the game that makes it such a masterpiece however is the constant symbolism throughout the game. There are few moments that the player is not being shown a symbol or some form of metaphor. The opening scene of the game starts with the youngest brother sitting at a grave overlooking the sea with a large willow tree shading it. The gravestone has a rose etched into it, which you see following a short cutscene of the mother drowning during a storm and the younger brother unable to save her. This image of the rose becomes important throughout the rest of the game as it connects the mother with flowers. Flowers are littered throughout the game in the background and are meant to serve as a reminder for the player as well as the brothers that the mother is still watching over her sons. This idea of the mother being the flowers is supported during the two moments when the mother’s spirit interacts with the youngest brother in life or death situation to provide him with emotional support so that he can push through his troubles.

Another symbol that is common throughout the game is that of gates. The endings of each of the various areas always has a gate that must be past through to proceed. Gates have always been symbols of death throughout history. The idea is that a person passing through a gate represents the soul passing on to the afterlife. This symbol is important to the plot as the mother begins the game dead and the father is dying. At first it represents the two of them but eventually the player learns that the gate actually represents the older brother as he dies on the next to last level of the game. As you pass through each gate the game is foreshadowing for you the ultimate fate of the older brother and reminding the player that everyone eventually dies.

The last symbol that is important to the game is that of butterflies and moths. During the daytime portions of the game butterflies periodically flutter around and at nighttime moths do the same. They pass by the front of your screen instead of the background like the flowers. They represent transformation and metamorphosis. Because of this symbolism they foreshadow the fate of the younger brother as he has to learn how to take care of himself following the death of his older brother.

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Conflict: 13th Warrior

Conflict is an important part of any plot. Books, movies, and video games all require conflict in order for the plot to move forward. It can be expressed in both an external fashion, such as a war raging or a plague running rampant, or an internal fashion, such as the protagonist facing their own mortality or being faced with their fear of spiders. No matter what type of conflict that it is, it will always be present. This fact is no less true for the movie 13th Warrior. Based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton, the movie follows the exploits of Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan as he finds himself aiding a group of norsemen in their quest to repel an ancient evil. Needless to say, there is no shortage of conflict to be seen within the movie.

The first conflict that arises in the movie takes place in Ahmed explaining his exile. He was a poet and courted a married woman. This woman happened to be the wife of the Caliph of Baghdad, and so he was exiled under the title of an ambassador to northern barbarians. In this we see Ahmed’s internal conflict as he comes to terms with his new position. He had lived a fairly comfortable life as a poet before this point but now finds himself seeking out a group of people considered to be savage and barbaric. The reputation of these people is so bad that the sight of their sails causes a group of turkish raiders attacking the caravan he was traveling with to flee. The caravan itself flees as well instead of taking the chance the norsemen will be hostile. Ahmed struggles for a moment when he learns of who they are, but ultimately embraces his role as an ambassador. So goes to greet these people despite knowing nothing about them and not having a full grasp of what his new role even entails. This moment of internal conflict is what pushes the protagonist to seek out the norsemen instead of flee from them, and there by advancing the plot forward.

Following Ahmed’s internal conflict, the movie moves onto the external conflict. Ahmed must travels with the norsemen north towards their homelands to deal with a serious problem. Ahmed comes to understand the group of warriors he is with, part of which also involves him teaching himself how to speak and understand their language. This bit of external conflict is just the first of many and shows us the cultural differences between him and his companions. Once they arrive at the kingdom in trouble, we are presented with two conflicts. The people are being plagued by an ancient threat and the son of the lord is suspicious of them. The son of the lord works against them and presents them with a series of problems. These problems included a lack of their aid when they fought with the main antagonist of the movie for the first time and then preventing as much resistance towards their plans to help the town as possible. This conflict is meant to show us more about the culture of the norsemen in the movie, but also leads to an explanation as to why the kingdom was having so many issues. The only capable young men in the kingdom left were under the prince’s command and not protecting the people. This is what lead to our protagonist and his norse companions arriving and so was needed for the plot over all.

The other external conflict is that of the Wendol. The Wendol are a group of men who pretend to be bears and attack the people of the kingdom whenever the mist covers the land. Several battles occur between the 13 Warriors and the Wendol. In the end, few of the warriors are left but the Wendol have been defeated. This opposition is the main conflict of the plot and actually works towards resolving Ahmed’s internal conflict as well. Each battle pushes the Warriors close and close to solving the riddle of who the Wendol really were, and finally defeating them in one last battle. These conflicts helped Ahmed to also connect with and learn more about his norse companions. He ended up coming to terms with who he was following his exile and he learned how to truly embrace his new role as an ambassador. Without the external conflict of the Wendol, Ahmed never would have overcome his internal conflict we saw at the beginning of the movie.

In the end the external conflict of the plot is what resolved the internal conflict at the beginning. It shows just how connected the plot was with the conflict of the movie as well.

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Chapter 2: Wise words

Berrin had gotten out of his bed, gotten it made, dressed into the standard gray uniform of the scholar students that was made of pants and tunic of soft, light wool naturally dyed a light gray by the sheep it had been sheered from, put on his soft leather shoes, grabbed his satchel full of books and his writing box that contained all his writing tools, and then looked around his room to see what else might need to be done. His hazel eyes settled upon his tidy bed made out of red ceder. The smell of the ceder wood that his bed was made out of made his room smell of ceder heavily at all times. The bed had a single pillow at the head and the rest was covered in a woolen blanket that was mostly the same color of gray as his clothing with squares of different colors seemingly sown in randomly into it. His gaze moved from his bed to his small fireplace. The fireplace had nothing more then a small pile of ash left over from the fire going the evening before. A servant would come to clean it out, so his gaze moved away from it to his writing desk. The desk was simple in design as it offered only a place to sit, write, and set down his books. The desk and it’s chair were made of the same ceder as the bed. He turned his attention to the door as he finished examining the places that would require attention and left out of it.

Berrin sat at one of many long benches made of heavy oak in a large, open room with a bowl of potato stew, a slice of dark rye bread, and a wooden cup full of water in front of him. The bench he sat at was empty aside from him and the rest of the benches were in much the same state. He had gotten to breakfast earlier then most other students came, as well as earlier then he usually arrived himself normally. He quietly sat there staring at his food as the savory smells continually drifted up to his nose. His normally lightly tanned skin was still as pale as it was the moment he had woken up from the strange dream. His eyes had the beginnings of dark bags under them and would no doubt be easily noticeable by noon. His curly auburn hair was more unruly than normal for him seeing as he liked to tie it back into a short pony tail. His entire body showed the signs of how drained he still felt since waking. He could not even bring himself to take a bite of his food despite how tempting it was being for his stomach that had started to growl in hunger lowly.

Berrin continued to sit there quietly staring at his food when he heard the sounds of footsteps coming in his direction. He didn’t pay the steps any mind as they made their steady way towards him. His eyes were focused on the stew in front of him only, but not actually seeing it. He was so lost in thought that he didn’t even notice when the steps had stopped right behind him. The silence grew stronger the longer it went on. It soon got to the point however that even Berrin noticed it and finally looked away from the stew. As he did, he heard a throat being cleared behind him.

As Berrin turned to look at who made the noise, an almost deep voice spoken in a soft tone said, ” Scholar in training Berrin, are you unwell? You are very pale.”

Before his eyes even made it to the one speaking to him, Berrin knew who was behind him. His eye confirmed the average height, lean figure in a black woolen robe, bald head, and hard, middle aged face of his guardian. He said after having to take a moment to focus on what had been said to him, ” Greetings Professor Garde. I am fine. I just did not sleep well last night.”

Professor looked him over quickly with his sharp, brown eye before he said, ” Did you stay up reading over a tome you borrowed from the library once more? Or is this because of something else?”

Berrin looked at him for a moment before he replied, ” I did stay up reading over a tome again…” He looked away from the commanding gaze of his guardian and finished saying, ” But this is because of something else.”

Professor Garde said without more then a moments pause to pass, ” And what might it have been?”

Berrin said with his voice as drained of energy as he felt, ” I had a strange dream last night. A very strange dream. I would call it a nightmare, but it did not frighten me… I do not think.”

Professor Garde looked at Berrin for several moments without saying a word. He finally said after Berrin shifted his weight in his chair slightly, ” I suggest you go visit Professor Halan and see if she can give you something to help you stay awake. I will leave it up to her judgement on if you shall be exempt from your studies for today or not. Be sure to watch your health. Bad dreams some times arrive before a fever. Now finish your food so it does not go to waste and get going to see Professor Halan.”

Berrin did not have to do more then nod before his guardian was back on his steady way to the location he original was walking to. He watched the black robed form of the man he knew better then to question walk away for a moment before he finally moved to eat his food. He did not know where the strange dream had come from, but he was too drained mentally and physically right now to think about anything other then doing what his guardian said.

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Chapter 1: Whispering Shadows

The shadows danced around in the darkness of the night. They were as twisted and strange in their appearance as they were numerous. There was a group of shadows that resembled a group of men with large, wicked grins on their faces. Their eyes had an impish look to them that seemed to beg to be asked what secrets they knew about their neighbors. A shadow next to them looked like a small black cat that was as skinny as it was small. It seemed to be silently meowing for food from the shadowy men that they would never give to it. A shadow of a child sitting was near the cat. The child’s eyes seemed to shed tears from their hopeless sorrow at knowing no one was coming to give them love. A shadow of a woman facing away from the child was giving a pleading smile to the shadow of a lustful looking man. As the woman begged from him, the man’s hand seemed to be half raised as a sadistic smile accompanied his lustful eyes. A shadow of another man stood behind the lustful shadow man. The second man was holding a knife high and ready to strike the shadow of the first man as a look of rage filled him.

The shadows suddenly changed as a non-existent wind blew through them. The shadow of the angry man suddenly drove it’s knife into the back of the lustful shadow with a vengeful smile. The lustful shadow look went to terror as the knife drove into his back. The female shadow seemed to scream in horror as the child looked up with nothing but apathy and detachment.  The cat bite the leg of the nearest figure in the group of shadows. As the bitten man seemed to yell out in anger and raise his other foot to kick the cat, the others were split evenly between two reactions. Half were focused on the bitten man and looked to be laughing at his misfortune, and the other half were openly shocked at the sight of the lustful man being stabbed. As quickly as the shadows had shifted into this new step of their dance, they shifted back again. They continued to move back and forth between the two rhythmically to unheard music.

As the shadows held their tragic play, a lone shadow stood apart from them and seemed to watch it all. The solitary shadow was that of a large, cloaked figure. A hood seemed to be pulled over it’s head, hiding whatever could be taken from under. It stood silently as everything played out, showing as much interest as a stone does the wind. The figure remained as stoic and lifeless as if it were a normal shadow, aside from a feeling as if the shadow was moving its head to look in another direction when not being looked upon.

This was the feeling a young man got as he stood in the middle of the darkness that played the stage for the shadows’ drama. He watched it repeat itself endlessly with his hazel eyes. His curly, auburn hair standing still as the windless moments passed. It was impossible to tell how large or tall he was in the deceptive light around him. His lightly tanned skin felt more and more chilled the longer he watched.

The eerie scene was soon overshadowed for the young man as he began to hear a faint noise. The noise might as well have not have been there, but he couldn’t seem to stop noticing it. As he would turn his attention to it however, it would stop and then continue again as he turned his attention back to the shadows. Again and again the noise came and went, and each time it began to grow slightly louder. After an unmeasurable amount of time had past, he was finally able to make out the noise. It was someone or something whispering lowly, perhaps trying to be understood or perhaps to tease it’s listeners.

” Who is there? Who is speaking to me and what do you want?” The young man said in a half whisper, fright barely noticeable in his tone.

” Do you see? Do you hear?” An inhuman voice said in a whisper so soft, it was might as well have not been there.

” What? You want me to see and hear something?” The young man asked in a more sure voice this time, the fright still lingering on despite his efforts.

” Yes. The shadows and the voices. You can. Congratulations Berrin.” The inhuman voice said again in a whisper that was louder  then before. ” So here is a question, who am I? Can you guess? Can you understand?”

” Who you are? How do you know my name?” Berrin asked in a calmer voice then he felt.

” Why don’t you take a guess and figure it out for yourself?” The inhuman voice whispered before it began to laugh softly to itself in amusement.

” Why would I know? How could I know?” Berrin said in responce to the inhuman voice, his face serious and firm. ” You are nothing for all I know of you.”

” Close, and on the first try. You are a smart one, are you not?” The inhuman voice said in an amused whisper. ” But we both knew that already. We know you are smart, and something more. You know it, but do not acknowledge it. A true shame. A shame until you are forced to acknowledge it. Soon enough, well for us. It might be soon or long for you. Time is such a relative thing.”

” You are speaking nonsense. I am not special, even if I am smart.” Berrin said with a slight frown on his face. ” Time is time. It moves on the same no matter what you say about it.”

” See? Smart and special. You do grasp these kinds of things quickly. A shame it is not so for all of you humans. A shame, but irrelevant in the end.” The inhuman voice said with a feeling of it smiling in it’s whispered tone. ” Our time is at an end it seems though. Look forward to our next encounter Berrin. It will be interesting, very interesting.”

” Again? Why would I look forward to being here again?” Berrin said as the frown deepened. ” You speak so much nonsense!”

As soon as Berrin finished speaking, he found his eyes opening up to view the familiar scene of wooden roof of his room. His body felt restless as he took a moment to allow his mind to comprehend what had just happened. He felt more drained of energy then he had when he had gone to sleep. He could remember every moment of his strange dream. He sat there waiting for it to quickly vanish from his memory, pleading for it to, but it refused to yield its place in his memory like every other dream before it. He soon gave up on it fading away and set about on getting out of his bed, thankful for the first time for the comfort of a normal, every day habit.

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Greetings Reader

 Greetings reader and welcome to Burchwood Stories! I hope this humble collection of stories is enough to entertain you and give you a brief breath of air in the flow of the river of life. A little more poetic then I meant for this to be, but doesn’t make it such a bad thing. I will be writing stories here for you, so please feel free to enjoy them to your heart’s desire. Thank you for taking a glance my way!

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