Sunday, 31 August 2014

Villainous Gloating

Ran woke up slowly. Ran did everything slowly. Not because he chose to but because it was difficult to think fast enough to do it any more quickly. 

"'Dgff?" His deep voice mashed the more delicate sounds of the word he was struggling to pronounce and rendered it a meaningless blurt of sound like a thirty stone kitten's first confused mewl.

The camp was empty. Gudguff's bed roll was missing and the fire had burned down to sad grey ashes. Ran stood and poked around in the rocky dirt looking for something to eat. His head bobbed as his gargantuan form shambled too and fro.

"Well, well, well." A voice rang out from the rocks surrounding the camp, it was laden with malice. Ran continued to scuffle around in the dirt.

"I said, well, well, well." The voice sounded a little more annoyed this time. Ran continued to look at the floor.

"Oi!" A crossbow bolt smashed into the dirt before Ran's slack face. "Are you thick?" 

Ran lurched to his feet and looked around. The boulders and rocky landscape all around was littered with the minions of the Dark Lord Sorebum. 

"'Dgff?" Several pebbles were dislodged by the subsonic rumbling of his voice. "Where you?"

The soldiery looked around in confusion. 

"What?"  Rathathathakkk looked to his sergeant in confusion.

"I don't have a bloody clue there, lad." Snagrot leant on a rock and held his crossbow loosely. He was a veteran of many Hero Confrontations. "Just stay back until I give you the nod, lad."

Captain Varunthadarek looked around at his men for a moment before giving the order to charge.

Ran was still trying to form the next question when he was hit by a wave of soldiers and disappeared in the scrum of bodies.

The dictionary defines Gloating as; Dwelling on one's own success or another's misfortune with smugness or malignant pleasure.
I'd say that was about right, with the possible exception that Gloating tends to happen shortly before the Gloater gets the surprise of their life as everything comes crashing down about their head.

What's wrong with a bit of gloating?
Well, aside from the fact that no one likes a sore winner, Gloating is often seen as a preserve of the villains. The problem is that Gloating is performed by victorious Heroes and their followers as well. It's half a step from a full on bout of The Monologues. 
Beyond that Gloating is totally unnecessary. If you are in a position to Gloat then you have probably won, or at least put yourself in such a position that your enemy winning is likely to be very unlikely. It smacks of arrogance and absurd overconfidence. 

Well, aren't those usually the hallmarks of a Villain? 
Now you come to mention it, yes, yes they are. But a good Villain isn't bound by the usual tropes and all the rest. A good Villain, whilst having some sort of flaw or Achilles Heel, will not be so obvious or easy to trick and confuse...if they were then they wouldn't really pose that much of a danger to the Hero, would they? 
 No, a good Villain wont Gloat until three weeks after the Hero is dead, and only once the Hero has started to go a bit squishy and stinky. 

Squishy and Stinky?
Well, why not? We are talking about a Villain, they might not want to Gloat but having a visible and smellable warning hanging around the place would be about right. make a good point.
Yes I do. I'm actually quite smart really. 

The Dangers Of Gloating.

  • It makes you looks like an arse.
  • You start thinking you've won before the fat lady has sung...AKA you might not have won.
  • Whilst Gloating you become distracted, often during a Final Confrontation things are confused and dangerous, not a good time to be distracted.
  • In not so rare cases Gloating can lead to Monologues, which are often badly written, overly dramatic and utterly, utterly useless.
  • Coming up with an appropriately ironic/witty gloating phrase is often beyond most Villains, reducing them to the level of gurning Henchmen or Witless sidekicks.
  • It  makes you look like an arse.
  • It gives the Hero that desperately needed, Last Burst of Strength/Rage/Courage to defeat the Villain.
  • It destroys any semblance of sympathy that the reader might have been building with the Villain in question (assuming they aren't totally inhuman).
  • Its just obvious that Gloating is the last act of someone about to fail. 
  • It makes you look. Like. An. Arse...Hole.
The Advantages of Gloating
  • None.
Where does the urge to Gloat come from?
From the spirit of all evil, which lurks in the minds of the doers of evil like a fart in a lift, waiting for its chance to have its moment and make the world a darker place. 

Captain Varunthadarek laughed and stared down at the tied up Ran. He rested with his hands on the pommel of his sword and cracked his neck.
Something in his stomach was urging him to brag a little. Just smile a little...go on... you know you want to... 
A couple of moments later he felt his face curling up into a smile. He drew breath and stared at the sweating and slightly bruised faces of his men. Words were welling up and he could feel a speech bubbling away in the base of his mind.
That's it. The little voice of evil seemed to be grinning to itself as it spoke, Captain Varunthadarek could imagine something rubbing its hands or claws together in glee. 
He shook his head slightly before speaking. 

"Is he definitely out?" The voice dried up and Varunthadarek thought he could hear an intake of breath and the slow gnashing of teeth. 
His men looked down and a wariness appeared between them suddenly, several of them gripped their weapons tighter, one brave or terminally stupid soldier moved forward and prodded Ran with his spear. The huge man suddenly rose up like a leviathan, lashing out with fists the size of bricks. 
Varunthadarek stepped back and let his men subdue the Hero once again. 

"Break his leg." He waited for the horrible snap and the scream of agony. One of his soldiers strayed too close and there was a drawn out scream as Ran did something horribly fatal to the man. 
Varunthadarek thought about it for a moment before speaking to his men again.

"Break his fingers as well." He listened to the embarrassed silence from the evil entity. He smiled as the Hero grunted and bellowed. It wasn't the smile of a Gloating man but rather the smile of a job well done. Once the Hero was properly bound with the Chains Of Binding they turned and headed for The Tower Of Extreme Discomfort.