Insights: Group Synergy

Any similarities to celebrities, book characters or small animals is completely coincidental.

When you are a group of rag tag adventurers hell bent on saving the world, you have to have Synergy. If your group is all the same the story is going to get stale. Sometimes you’ll have a group of people that are effectively the same role (think class in a Role-playing game) but their personalities vary drastically. An example of this would be king Arthur and his knights or the Three Musketeers Other times you may have a group of like-minded individuals but vary in what they specifically provide to the group.  If this doesn’t add up… well… see above.

I want to do both.

If you haven’t already seen it, there is an amazing website called TV Tropes. This is not a step by step guide on how you should write, but instead it is a catalog of existing media and recurring themes in all forms of media. I bring it up because I like to use it as both a form of passive entertainment and a resource to see what cliches I am guilty of lining up with.

Thankfully not all ‘Tropes’ are bad as this site calls them. But things people have seen already tends to make them boring, especially if it is executed poorly.

The main Party for Dimanagul is a 6 man group, including the Main Character, Derrek. While Derrek is effectively ‘useless’ as far as party dynamic he has strong moral fiber.  The situation he is in has proved to corrupt those before him, and the story is effectively his dealing with and attempting to avert this corruption. His lone ‘power’ is an informational one, and there for makes him a good candidate as the De facto leader of the group.  His knowledge as an architectural student actually comes more in handy than he would expect.

Naida serves a unique role in that class-wise, she fills the typical hero position. She’s a light armored swords(wo)man that effectively serves as Derrek’s personal bodyguard. She has a delicate balance between what is right and what she wants to do. Despite being a good person she has decidedly mercenary tendencies. If not for her dedication to Derrek she wouldn’t be in the group at all.

Tartagin has a very straightforward role on the party. He is the glue that holds them together.  In combat he’s little more than a novice.  Alongside Derrek, the priest’s power is one of information. He is uniquely capable of getting along with everyone in the party without fail, and manages to maintain the trust of his fellows even though he has as many skeletons lurking in his closet as any of them.  He is just uniquely aware of how to deal with them.

Zammela is almost the polar opposite to Tartagin in that she doesn’t click well with anyone in the party. She is undoubtedly useful in the fact she is the single most powerful magician alive, but it comes at a high cost. With the exception of Tartagin, everyone in the party becomes fed up or irritated with Zammela at one point or another due to her unreasonable streaks, but no one begins to questions her true worth.

Hush is the fifth party member and crosses paths with Derrek and the others in the first book. He joins early in the second book. Like Zammela, his faults are out in the open. He manages a firm split amongst the group as far as tolerance goes. He is formidable and resourceful and despite his loud mouth he’s a close second for the most level headed of the group. He is a natural leader but doesn’t get hung up on the title of being one. He is just as content to let someone else stand in the limelight.

Kristoph is the final party member and is introduced in the second book and joins in the third. He is charming and popular amongst the group save for two people, Derrek and Zammela. I thought it prudent to add a character Derrek outright doesn’t like. It’s for no other initial reason other than he rubs him the wrong way… or is it? He manages to be formidable without taking the airs of a solider. Unlike Naida and Hush Kristoph doesn’t enjoy fighting but is certainly good at it. He’d rather talk his way out of it.

From a gaming standpoint the Party looks like this:

Derrek – Hero – Single sword

Naida – Swordswoman – Longsword

Tartagin – Priest/Cleric – Long handled dagger

Zammela – Black Magician – Offensive magic

Hush – Archer/Mercenary – Long Bow

Kristoph – Rogue – Daggers / Throwing dagger set

It should be noted that the party lack two things from a traditional standpoint, a healer and a heavily armored party member.  This was done intentionally.  Tartagin’s presence as a priest that doesn’t heal is a bit of an in-joke with anyone familiar with role-playing games.   Without someone able to mend wounds effectively and quickly the party is very vulnerable.   And that’s the thing, everyone is vulnerable.   The presence of a healer removes (to a degree) the threat of a wound.   In a way it de-humanises the cast and makes them hard to relate to.   Everyone can relate to getting hurt however.  Like real life it doesn’t mean that someone that gets a paper-cut is on their way to meet the reaper.   It simply means death holds a stronger importance in this story.

The Characters of Dimanagul shine at their best when they are amongst each other.  I find it fun to have the ability to step into their shoes at any time and gauge their reactions.  Characters are the reason I enjoy writing so much, and I’ve put a lot of heart into these six.   Of course there are many others to meet in Geldbane, but you’re going to have to wait on that.

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