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Canon: © Anne Bishop
Board's Plot: Blood Rites
Points Scheme: Mother Night
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Established February 2010
by Jamie, Gina & Bowie.

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Mary Sue and Gary Stu in Blood Rites

xx Mary Sue and Gary Stu in Blood Rites
Jan 26, 12, 11:00:38 AM by Tal
As role players, what draws us to writing is our love of reading and the need to create characters of our own making, set them in a world and see them thrive.  We tell ourselves that some of these characters are “us” more than others, but in reality we know that all of our characters exhibit some of our personality traits.  In the end, we’re not just writing a character, we’re becoming that character and living through that character in a world that exists in our imagination. As role players, we take pride in affecting the world in which we have created characters, changing events, creating situations, and we watch to see how others respond to those situations. Our joy comes from playing the game, and here, as in all games, everyone gets a fair share of advantages and flaws; everyone wins and loses in balance… except Mary Sue and Gary Stu. 

Mary and Gary do not play fairly. Who are Mary and Gary? In the world of Blood Rites, we are given examples of these notorious creatures right from canon and though they work fine inside their own story, there  are reasons why both Jaenelle Angelline and Daemon Sadi would be horrible to play against, thus making them a Mary Sue and a Gary Stu respectively.

Jaenelle Angelline was Witch. She started her game off with a full set of uncut jewels of every color, as well as thirteen Black Birthrights and to top it all off, three castes.  Daemon Sadi was a natural Black Widow, absolutely beautiful, had a Black Offering, and was long lived.  The decks were stacked in their favor from the beginning.  Neither Jaenelle nor Daemon (let’s just call them Mary and Gary) had any flaws or faults that acted as significant obstacles in anything they wanted.

In a sense, there really was no reason for them to change.  But in a roleplaying environment, one of the ways in which we measure RP and the game itself is in the way characters change and evolve.  This is what people do in reality too and that is why as role players it becomes so important to us in telling the stories that we do.

So how then, do we avoid making these characters that no one wants to play with? There are aspects that both Jaenelle and Daemon exhibited that are typical of Mary’s and Gary’s.  Compiled, is a list of some examples as to what makes a character so obnoxious, as to be deserving of the name Mary and Gary. 

The Mary Sue is a perpetual victim.   Mary is generally abused as a child, often sexually, or raped by someone who doesn’t know just how special she is. As she grows up there are people who feel the need to victimize her, generally in some sexual way and often by the people who are closest to her. 
  • Jaenelle is sent to live at Briarwood as a child.
  • She’s raped at 10 years old.
  • She’s raped again when she goes to Little Terreille and drugged.
  • Daemon was used as a sex slave for centuries.

The Mary Sue is always perfect.  Mary is everything you could want in a woman, just as Gary is everything you want in a man. Their quintessentially genderized nature is only eclipsed by their incredible innocence(for a woman) or by their sexual prowess (for a man).  They are both incredibly kind and horribly dangerous. They are kind to strangers, beloved by animals and adored by all who meet them. (Except the villain of course.)
  • Jaenelle never slept with any man except for Daemon.
  • Her kindness extended even to the grandmother who put her in Briarwood but the depth of her vengeance was felt by the Briarwood men for generations.
  • Daemon’s sexuality is the scary too hot to handle type. He literally roasted women in their beds.

A Mary Sue is sometimes tragic .  Despite their being so special and someone you’re supposed  adore at first glance, somehow Mary and Gary keep suffering.  They carry the unmendable  wounds of their lives like trophies, contrasting their perfection with ultimate tragedy and pain that they could only go on from, picking up whatever tattered remains of their once perfect selves still exist.
  • Jaenelle creates a witchstorm that breaks her body and nearly kills her and then when she comes back from it, she’s never able to have kids and seems too skinny and too fragile.
  • Daemon betrays everyone in his entire family and then is ostracized by the entire First Circle for what he’s done.
  • The woman Daemon’s waited his entire life for is destroyed in her own witchstorm and he’s left alone again! After living almost 2000 years as a virgin in his wait for her.

Mary’s and Gary’s are almost boring characters.  Characters we consider exciting are those that don’t have answers come easily to them. When we can see the character as being realistic and realistically needing to overcome their internal obstacles in order to gain the goal we want for them, then they become exciting. Cassidy only discovered the treasure because she stayed when she wanted to go. She founded a new territory because she was afraid of war and had low self-esteem. Our characters finding new ways of doing things are how we find them exciting. When a character reverts to the same exact way of defeating anything they come across, they are no longer exciting.
  • Jaenelle’s way of stopping “the war” wasn’t to deal with Hekata and Dorothea but to slam the entire realms with her raw power, something she does over and over again in the books.
  • Daemon’s response to getting his father out of the witch’s hands who were lighter jeweled than him was to seduce his father…

Overdone and overpowered. Mary’s and Gary’s are known for having a lot more power than they actually need.  Often this need for excessive raw power is done because the writer needs a reason to overcome whatever obstacles she has in mind for the character and instead of creatively creating solutions, she falls back on raw power.  While raw power is attractive, it  often renders a villain useless, thus destabilizing the entire story. Every answer could be found at the bottom of a character’s abyss.  When the use of this raw power becomes an easy answer, it undermines what could amount to a brilliant story.
  • Jaenelle didn’t need to figure out a constructive end to the war, she just used her raw power.
  • Daemon didn’t figure out a way to get out of his ring of obedience, he used raw power.
  • Jaenelle didn’t need to be a healer, there was no story arc where she as a healer was imperative and could not have been replaced.
  • Daemon never used the power of his Black jewel even when he should have, thus rendering it superfluous. 

Mary Sue is always cliché and this is a big part of what makes her so obnoxious.  Often Mary Sues can be summarized in easy clichés.  The poor girl who no one loved as she was growing up.  The rich girl who didn’t let her wealth go to her head. The ugly duckling, who doesn’t know how beautiful she is.  Although many of the stories we know and love are clichéd, they often have their own twists or details that change the story enough to make it new.  When a Sue is clichéd, her story is done badly with often very typical outcomes.  No one wants to play when they already know the outcome of the story.
  • Daemon is a rogue who can turn anyone on (including his family members) but can’t be turned on by anyone except his true love.
  • Jaenelle was the stereotypical “mama bear”, uncaring if something horrible was done to her  but the second someone breaks the nail of someone she cares about, then it’s all out war.

If there’s someone special or exceptional in the story, you can be assured you’ve found your Sue.  Mary and Gary are always the exceptions to the rule.  If the law of gravity says you can’t fly, you can be assured that Mary can do it. If people aren’t allowed to read, Mary Sue can do it.  Mary Sue can do anything and usually all at once. She’s a wonderful fighter, but she’s also the smartest verbal debater you’ll find.  She’s the fastest runner, she’s a secret dancer, and she knows or sees things no one else can.  Although everyone in a story is special in some way, Mary Sue is special in every way.  When you say you can do something, Mary Sue is the one saying she can do it better.
  • Jaenelle was apparently SO good at Eyrien fighting that she was able to go toe to toe with Lucivar.
  • Jaenelle was SO good at healing she was able to repair Lucivar’s wings that were damaged beyond repair.
  • Jaenelle was so good at shadows she was able to create them in Hell in living color!
  • Daemon was so dangerous, he was actually a Black Widow.
  • Daemon is so rich, he can afford to finance an entire territory.

And most importantly, a Mary Sue is always a version of wish fulfillment.  Everyone wants to be perfect, beautiful, smart and exceptional.  In a part of our minds, we all want to be the hero of our own stories.  When it comes to roleplaying though, a real writer will tell you that their characters are their own people with probably more flaws than you could count.  A person who is writing because they want to escape reality and simply be perfect in fiction where they can’t be in real life, will write a Mary Sue and become incredibly attached to this perfect creature with a tragic past. 
  • It wasn’t enough for Anne Bishop to write three books about Jaenelle and Daemon, she needed to have them in their own mini-plot in Shadow Queen and in Shalador’s Lady.
  • That wasn’t enough either, Bishop had to keep going with Dreams Made Flesh and Twilight’s Dawn.

If the character is too much, or if you feel too personal about the character, it might be evidence that you’re going down the path of the Mary Sue.  And while to you the character is wonderful, truly someone you would like to know and be, remember that this is in part, why no one else would want to play with him or her.  No one should be perfect and no one should be flawless. The world is made up of real people and to play a good game, we strive to make our RP reflect exactly that.

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xx Re: Mary Sue and Gary Stu in Blood Rites (Reply 1)
Jan 26, 12, 11:27:28 AM by Jamie
Thanks so much for sharing this, Tal.

I think the connections you made between the concepts of Mary and Gary with the Black Jewels Series really benefits us and paints it in a clear light.
xx Re: Mary Sue and Gary Stu in Blood Rites (Reply 2)
Jan 27, 12, 11:38:19 PM by Dany
I agree with this so much I looked for the -like- button.
xx Re: Mary Sue and Gary Stu in Blood Rites (Reply 3)
Mar 31, 12, 02:34:32 PM by Songtress
I re-read this, and its inspired me-- not to walk down the path of a Mary Sue.
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