A SYOC Horrorshow

So I submitted Havan to one SYOC story that had already filled up the main hero slots due to getting posted on a forum before the story actually aired. There were a bunch of consolation prize gym leader and elite four slots, except, weirdly, the gym leaders’ types, progression, and badges were already fixed in exacting detail.

Name: Havan D’Rath

Age: 58

Gender: M

Rank: Champion

Type Specialization: None

Room Design: His room is grand and lavish. Tapestries depicting ancient battles span the walls, and everything is speckled with gold. It’s almost like the throne room of a palace. In the back, a private cabinet contains odd but very rare knickknacks. A fine coating of dust lies over it.

Battle Strategy: He takes battling seriously and will do whatever it takes to win. He fights cautiously, relying on his opponent to slip up and give him an opening. He’s the sort of person who would spend hours setting up traps and stalling if it meant he could win in the end, no matter how boring that might be. (Big fan of Toxic.) He’s also good at strategies that involve obscure move and item combinations, since he has the time and resources to use them.

Appearance: Havan is of average height, with a stocky build. His eyes are a brilliant blue and he has platinum blond hair. He has an attractive, baby-like face and a charming smile. He pays attention to his appearance and usually looks very professional. For clothing, he likes the colors blue and white in his wardrobe. He favors regal, high-class attire and definitely has immaculate formal wear if he ever needs it. He wears a lapel pin or other marker representing his home country’s flag. However, he can be convinced to change into a more informal outfit if his high-class presentation bothers the people he hangs out with. He always aims to please!

Personality: Havan is the perfect knight in shining armor. He’s very kind, helpful, and charming to everyone he meets. He acts like the world is a grand play, with himself in center stage. He loves playing the hero, and he’ll always volunteer to help people with their problems, even if there’s only one person to see it.

This is not entirely genuine. Havan does this purely for his own benefit, because it’s fun and because he knows people give heroes what they want. He’s actually quite cynical, petty, and pragmatic beneath his veneer of respectability. But the really sad thing is, he honestly wants to be and believes he is a hero. He truly thinks that this is what a real hero is, and that all other heroes are motivated the same way. There’s nothing wrong with what he’s doing, because everyone’s doing it! Right? He’ll project all his vileness and all his insecurities onto other people: Who do they think they’re fooling, saying they’re doing this out of the goodness of their hearts? They want something. They’re just playing the long con. They’re just trying to wrap me around their finger. Don’t trust them. Don’t trust anyone.

Havan is extremely friendly and approachable. He’s quick to find out what makes people tick and how to get along with them. Even if he doesn’t like people personally, if he believes an alliance would be beneficial he’ll do whatever it takes to ingratiate himself with them. However, if he believes he has been wronged, his cordial facade will drop and he will become highly aggressive. Despite this, he will try to maintain a good image even when angry, and perform most of his confrontations out of the public eye.

Relatedly, Havan has excellent social skills, and is a great actor. He’ll keep negative thoughts to himself and will mediate conflicts to keep everything running smoothly. It shouldn’t be easy to see through him.

Havan’s not out to double-cross anyone, and will be perfectly fine with sharing the rewards from any heroic exploit. He might offer to trade for something he particularly wants, maybe even a little aggressively, but he’s very cordial and respectful in his interactions with others. If you double-cross him, though? God help you.

Havan is very driven. When he wants something, he will get it by any means possible. If unchecked, this can result in him becoming ruinously obsessed. If his goals are threatened or obstructed, he will become very displeased indeed.

Havan has a flair for the theatric, and probably studied poetry or theater in school. He tends to have a dramatic (at times overdramatic) way of speaking, especially when he can cast himself as a noble hero against a terrible villain. Even when he’s “out of character”, such as in private conversations, he’ll be very eloquent.

Havan does not like other people touching his stuff. He’s very possessive of his possessions, and hoards items he really should have gotten rid of by now, like minor potions he picked up on his first pokemon journey. If confronted on this, he’ll just say “But what if I need them later?”

History: Havan grew up on epic tales of heroes and their adventures. He noticed how neatly the stories always ended up, how everyone had nothing but praise for the heroes and they were always rewarded with wealth beyond measure, and decided he wanted to be like that too.

Havan was an only child with wealthy, doting parents; they told him he was destined for greatness, and he let it go to his head. He is determined to be the very best, like no one ever was. He could not accept playing second fiddle to anyone else. This drive and competitiveness took him far in life, eventually allowing him to ascend to the championship. For a time, he was happy. He thought he had reached the top.

And then he started hearing stories. Stories uncomfortably like the ones of his childhood that were all the more uncomfortable because he wasn’t in them. All over the world, children — ten-year-olds! — were taming gods and dismantling criminal empires as if it were nothing. As icing on the cake, they all won championships too. They were the names on everybody’s lips — international sensations! No one was talking about him anymore — he was just a has-been, yet another ordinary champion from yet another ordinary region. Those kids, they were going places! Did you hear that one of them caught the gods of time and space, and made them so tame they’d eat out of your hand? Wow!

It confirmed all the fears that had whispered at the edge of his subconscious all those years: This wasn’t good enough. *He* wasn’t good enough. He was good, but still just one of many. He was not the best. He was not the hero.

That was just unacceptable.

Havan came down from his ivory tower, and started taking a more active approach in things, traveling the region and thwarting criminals like he was a kid again. He even tagged along with upstart trainers sometimes, giving them the sage advice that there was more to life than pokemon training and that maybe they should settle down, preferably before they got to the championship and injured his pride even more. He also hoped he’d run into some legendary pokemon, but no such luck.

But now! Finally, an event of doubtless cosmic significance has occurred in the Frais region! This is his chance! He will be the vanguard, the chosen one, the hero of the story. No lucky brats will steal his thunder this time.

Romance: I have no restrictions on this, though I would pity the object of his affections.

Other: I’d like him to have direct involvement in the main plot if possible.

Pokemon:

SPECIES: delphox

NICKNAME: Adi

GENDER: F

ABILITY: Magician

MOVES: Mystical Fire, Shadow Ball, Psychic, Toxic

PERSONALITY/HISTORY: Starter. Unflinchingly loyal. Born and raised for battle, she’s highly skilled and intelligent, but this can make her come off as snobbish and aloof towards other pokemon.

SPECIES: swampert

NICKNAME: Cort

GENDER: M

ABILITY: Torrent

MOVES: Surf, Waterfall, Rock Smash, Strength

PERSONALITY/HISTORY: Resigned, and unflinchingly loyal. Doesn’t talk much. Caught early in Havan’s journey and used as an HM slave. Havan doesn’t like him as much as his other pokemon, as he’s not a pretty or heroic species, but Cort doesn’t mind.

SPECIES: braviary

NICKNAME: Zargos

GENDER: M

ABILITY: Defiant

MOVES: Fly, Brave Bird, Toxic, Aerial Ace

PERSONALITY/HISTORY: Obtained from an old, retired trainer when Havan was a young man. Usually laid-back, but gets pretty fired up for battle. He’s very proud of his Unovan heritage, and is disparaging and aggressive towards any who would insult the country’s honor.

SPECIES: gallade

NICKNAME: Lani

GENDER: F

ABILITY: Steadfast

MOVES: Wide Guard, Toxic, Close Combat, Zen Headbutt

PERSONALITY/HISTORY: Loud and boisterous, but very friendly. She pledges to protect anyone who needs her aid. She’s built like a boulder, and can withstand blows that would fell a lesser pokemon; however, she never had much interest in developing her psychic powers, and is much better at using standard fighting moves.

SPECIES: audino

NICKNAME: Santes

GENDER: F

ABILITY: Healer

MOVES: Heal Pulse, Helping Hand, Refresh, Thunderbolt

PERSONALITY/HISTORY: The most recent addition to the team. She’s extremely chipper and energetic, at times perhaps even “off the wall”. Somewhat impulsive. But she always helps those in need, and will get serious if someone is hurt. She’s very good at healing, and is also surprisingly good with the move Thunderbolt.

SPECIES: sylveon

NICKNAME: Sylvery

GENDER: F

ABILITY: Cute Charm

MOVES: Moonblast, Last Resort, Draining Kiss, Dig

PERSONALITY/HISTORY: Raised from an egg after Havan became champion. She used to adore Havan, but he stopped doting on her as soon as she evolved and he got what he wanted from her. She has never forgiven him for it, and tries to undermine him at every opportunity. Havan is oblivious to this, and is very confused why his star pokemon is so uncooperative. Otherwise, she’s extremely vicious and calculating when she has to be, but acts sweet and innocent by default. Gets along well with other pokemon and is genuinely friendly. She’s an extremely skilled fighter and will use whatever underhanded tactics she needs to win; she often pretends to be vulnerable and inexperienced to lull enemies into a false sense of security. She loves fighting creatively and thinks it’s hilarious to deceive her opponents this way, but Havan prefers her to fight professionally, to maintain his image as an upstanding member of society.

Disappointingly but unsurprisingly, they said he wouldn’t get much plot involvement, which kinda defeats the entire point of a character submission. I got fed up at that and pointed out that they’d be better off designing their own characters when they so obviously just want extras; as I should have expected given my track record, I went too far and set them off. What a glorious tantrum, though:

1h agoDo you think you’ll be using this character, then?
1h agoI don’t think he’d be involved in the plot as much, but he’ll definitely have some appearances. However, I think I will use him.

1h ago…How are you going to use him if he’s not going to be involved in the plot? His entire motivation is forcefully inserting himself into the plot. If he just stays at the fringes that’s out-of-character for him, and I presume will be pretty boring. If you don’t want an additional antagonist complicating things I understand, but I really don’t see what other use you could have for a champion character.

I have to be honest here: I legitimately do not understand why you’re crowdsourcing characters who seem to just be extras. Designing characters is a lot of work, especially given how stringent your guidelines are, and everyone wants their character to be special and important. It seems wasteful to encourage people to come up with full personalities and backstories if the characters are only going to get a few cameo appearances. Especially when you already have the types and order locked in, it really seems like you’d be better off designing your own characters.

18m agoFirstly, I’d like to say that I don’t appreciate your rudeness. I, also, don’t appreciate the way you criticized my story and writing style in your review as it made me feel completely dumb and incompetent. I understand you were just trying to help, but perhaps you should consider the diction and syntax in your sentences before you post them. You may think that you’re not being rude at all, but it’s just the vibe that I constantly get from you. However, I do understand your point.However, I never said that he wouldn’t be involved in the plot. I said that he wouldn’t be in the plot as much. I believe you said that you wanted him to have direct involvement in plot, IF POSSIBLE – implying that the chances of that happening aren’t as high, and if it could happen then it would. Also, I believe that I never said that the characters would just make cameo appearances. I said that they’d start out making cameo appearances.

(When we create a character, we tend to put a little bit of ourselves, don’t you agree? The fact that you wrote such a self-centered and self-involved character definitely says a lot.)

Secondly, Amerath’s Destiny created as much of the plot as we’ve got. I’m only helping her write out the story, because she asked me to. We made the decision to allow people to create OCs for Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, and the Champion because it’s what people requested it. We allowed it.

If you don’t like how we’re doing things, then perhaps this story isn’t for you. It might be best if you either withdraw your OC or be content with what you’ll get. Perhaps you’d be better off creating your own story.

They think I’m literally Havan. They think I’m literally the character I obviously proposed as a villain to be torn down. That is amazing. I can’t wait until someone inevitably decides I’m literally Chara.

If we do make a guide for “if you absolutely must do SYOC, at least do it properly”, it seems one of the things we’ll need to include is “Don’t be a control freak if you can’t handle drama.”

Oh, and for reference, here is the review that made them feel dumb and incompetent:

[the quicker you do what they say then the quick you can go out to play.]

“the quicker you can go out to play” is what you want here, I think.

[So, they’ve finally made their way to Frais, she mused.]

Mused means to think aloud; just “thought” would be fine here.

[after Arceus had gone into his slumber]
[Arceus was furious that a human would do such a thing]

How is Arceus doing anything if this is after it went into slumber?

[“Your welcome.”]

You want “you’re”. “Your” is the possessive.

[The footage was extremely, causing everything to appear as a blur.]

I think you dropped a word here.

The way you’re formatting the TV segments (all-italics behind line separators) seems a little strange. This makes it feel like they’re happening in a completely different world totally removed from everything going on, but it seems like Acacia is watching it in the lab.

I am pleased that you’ve made a female professor OC.

They blocked me when I tried offering to talk it out. So no, it’s not just the autocorrect paragraphs that are evil, some people just see typos as utter moral failings, apparently.

Seriously, someone needs to take these kids’ computers away for their own health.

[That’s really the tip of the iceberg here. Apparently anyone who submits is sure to get in, thus the reserve system, which may have some connection to the fact they think we’re all our characters and rejecting a submission would be rejecting a person. Then there’s the fact it’s not just the side characters that are strictly policed – the main cast have to be zodiac based, including zodiac personalities naturally, and the author knows there’s so little wiggle room allowed there that one of the questions is asking what other sign you want to hook up with – no need to wait and see what characters people actually submit!]

5 Comments

  1. illhousen says:

    Aww, I though this post was going to be an update on how your Charas are doing.

    And yeah, the idea that your characters are always based on you is weird and speaks of some culture thing. Probably the forum.

    Personally, I came into fanfiction circles from TRPG ones, and there generally was an understanding that characters people create speak of what they want to see in the story rather than of their own personalities. It helped that many people liked to experiment and try out characters outside of their comfort zone.

    In a SYOC kind of thing you’d think that attitude would only be stronger since you don’t even need to role-play the character and spend any amount of time inside their head after submission.

    1. Farla says:

      Internet freeform RP is definitely a very different beast.

      1. illhousen says:

        It actually wasn’t freeform. There was this forum that started as a fan translation/patch project for VtM Bloodlines and later evolved into general WoD forum. It hosted RPG sessions that attempted to be close to tabletop variant in basic structure. Party for each was limited to about five people, we had GMs actively narrating what was happening and advancing the story… It was kinda slow-going but pretty fun.

        Going into freeform forums was a bit of a culture shock, actually, since the experience is very different and not one I found to my liking.

        Though even then there was a general agreement that your character doesn’t necessary reflect on your personality. A lot of people liked to experiment with what they role-played.

  2. Keleri says:
    (When we create a character, we tend to put a little bit of ourselves, don’t you agree? The fact that you wrote such a self-centered and self-involved character definitely says a lot.)

    Ha! Well, the usual fodder for the SYOC stuff is people’s self-inserts, I imagine (it was for me when I was a teenager), so she’s probably assuming that you’re just mad that “your guy” isn’t accepted as a major player/main character  (as all the submitters on Blackbird did despite me telling them that many of the OCs would be cameos).

    But yeah, really exposes the SYOC racket as a grab for follows/reviews. I’m tempted to experiment with it for my next thing but make it clear that I’m /naming/ characters after reviewers. The characters are already set, but I’ll name them whatever, like The Adventure Zone podcast has been doing. Although that work is genuinely funny and would be succeeding without the “advertise us on twitter and we might put you in the game” dealio.

    1. Farla says:

      I’m tempted to experiment with it for my next thing but make it clear that I’m /naming/ characters after reviewers.

      That actually might work out really well. I’ve seem multiple ones with forms that don’t bother to include a personality section and people still apply. At most, they might get cranky if they aren’t allowed to pick physical description.

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