Sunday, January 8, 2012

The trickster archetype

Happy new year one and all!  Here's to 2012, the year the Zetas land.  I'm going to start the year by talking about my favourite archetype.
Classic hero archetype

Stories are full of archetypes - the hero archetype, the mentor archetype  and the classic villain archetype are three common archetypes.  However, there are many more archetypes that make up a story and they do not just extend to characters.  They also extend to the stories themselves.

Archetypes are needed for stories.  However, some archetypes have more depth than others.  To me, one of the most varied, complicated and entertaining archetype is the trickster archetype.

Reynard the fox.
A classic trickster
Why do I like the trickster so much?  Every trickster is different.  Evryone knows that the hero is going to overcome a great struggle and beat the bad guy and that the mentor is old and will teach the hero stuff before dying and possibly coming back.  The main villain twirls his moustache and kidnaps the hero's girlfriend.  We've all heard it a million times.  However, when we get to a trickster, we don't know whether they could be hero or villain, or help either side at random or just do what the hell they like for a laugh.  The trickster's modus operandi is also very varied and ranges from acting impulsively with no regard for social norms to playing the other characters like pawns.

Anansi - a trickster from
West African mythology

Likewise, stories with tricksters as the main characters are always the most entertaining as the resolution of the conflict is very varied.  It may end with humanity obtaining new gifts, the death of a god or the trickster learning a lesson as a result of his own foolish acts.

The Doctor has characteristics
of a trickster.  

The things that tricksters have in common is that they like to cause upheaval in the established order of things and embraces new ideas to society.  The results of this are varied but normally those in power in society do not appreciate a tricksters unpredictable influence and so the trickster makes a lot of enemies.  However, this doesn't stop the trickster.

He gets his own RPG!

There are three more parts in this series which I will post in the upcoming months.In part two, I will talk about some specific trickster characters.  Part three is about some RPG races that would be considered trickster races.  The last part of the series is about the Riddling Reaver - the most infamous trickster character in gamebooks.

For further reading, have a look at these links:

That's all folks!
The Trickster (TVTropes)

The Trickster (Wikipedia)

A list of tricksters (TVTropes)

A list of tricksters (Wikipedia)

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