Trope Time: A Wizard Did It

6 Feb

I was gonna initially call these TRIP Reports — Tropes In RP — thinking myself terribly clever.  Then I came to write my post and realized that that is not how we spell “trip,” Jeni.  Derp.  Also, protip: writing a post that references is a surefire way to lose several hours. That said, let’s talk arepeas!

Fuckin' wizards, how do they work?

For the uninitiated, is the best time waster ever.  They take tropes, being “devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations,” and apply them to popular media.  Well.  Popular, unpopular, obscure, bad.  I can lose a whole day like this, mostly coming across tropes that I recognize from RP.  If I don’t recognize them, more often than not something will strike me as something I can use later on.

This is one of the most useful and most trite devices I’ve come across: when faced with a difficult situation, simply use the easiest way out of it possible.  A Wizard Did It.

  • Plot hole?  Mysterious wizard motivations explain all!
  • Continuity issues?  Wizards can time travel, bitches!
  • Characters becoming pests?  Wizard-induced amnesia!

My personal pet peeve example of this trope comes to us from Lost.  Lost, with its insane number of “Hey, this would be cool, let’s have mysterious crazy shit happen and uh…yeah well later, explanations will come later” issues.  When you don’t understand what’s happening, just tell yourself: “the island did it”.

I see this happening a lot in RP.  There’s the good, the bad, and the drastic.

The bad is clear enough.  You’ve all met the RPer with the absurdist backstory that’ justified as the Bronze Flight did it. Or those with the most insane plots imaginable, described away in a single sentence.


A witch doctor did it! ...why, WHY though.

This can be abused terribly. When you have a license to pretty much write anything, shit can get real absurd real quick.  It’s dangerous.

There’s the flip side, too.  On the good front, the exact same trope can be used to actually help things along:

The developers for World of Warcraft have stated multiple times that they are more interested in making game play fun than specifically following established mythology. As a result, much of the story established in the RTS Warcraft games has been retconned in World of Warcraft to better fit certain gameplay mechanics. The popular explanation on message boards from both players and moderators is, of course, “a wizard did it”.

This usage of it is more a suspension of disbelief than the forceful breaking thereof.  RP is, ultimately, just another game.  I’m about as hardxcore RP as you’re gonna find, and I say that actually having fun comes far, far before character integrity and plotline continuity.  If it’s not fun, and you can’t think of a way to fix it?  Why, my friend, allow me to introduce you to some wizards.  I hear they will be happy to help!

The drastic, though, is ugly.  It’s a hack-job fix to a much broader, overreaching problem.  Maybe friendships deteriorate OOCly.  Maybe someone suddenly has to leave.  When circumstances outside of your control leave you in a situation where you’re staring down decisions that your character would never, ever make?

Yeah.  A wizard can do that, too.  And better yet?  Your character doesn’t need an elaborate explanation.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  Seven little words can absolve you from having to deal with it forever: “I don’t want to talk about it.”  Or that, in whatever apostrophe-laden accent you insist on foisting upon your hapless guild members.  A wizard did it, it’s in the past, and now you’re completely free to get back to the business of actually having fun.

It’s a brute force fix, but it might just be able to salvage your character, your storyline, or your sanity.


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