OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Way With Worlds: Heroes and Villains – Dark Mary Sues

This was originally posted by Steven Savage on his blog, but has allowed me to republish it here as I think it’s useful for roleplayers! This is part of Steven’s Way With Worlds series of articles. -David

Looking through glass

NOTE: I am addressing Mary Sues in this column, which often involves questions of definition. As Mary Sues (and the male counterpart Gary Stu) are often a continuum, I wanted to clarify my defintion. My definition is of an “author’s pet” – a character who gets vastly preferential treatment by the author in a way that distorts the story. Thus I am discussing them entirely in the negative. Read More


How to tell a Mary Sue to stop Mary Suing

Self-insert comicIt’s a common problem, someone joins your game with a character that’s far too overpowered, or way too “awesome” (or so the writer says). They’re a Mary Sue (Or a Marty Stu, or whatever – there’s actually loads of names for the same thing. Click here for an article explaining the different different types). Read More


Tib’s OW 101 | Benefits of the Bad Guy, When The Hero Is Too Much #BadGuysWithBenefits

tumblr_ktna2fMosM1qa02x4o1_400Bad guys, the antagonist, the villain, the creep, always the loser. No matter what it may be a super hero or hero in general always has a bad guy to fight. We all love playing the hero, the guy who gets the girl or the girl who gets the guys because we love to feel good. A bad guy is a major part in roleplaying but sometimes we forget that and we just want to play the good guy.  We hate Mary Sue’s and Gary Stu’s right? Now imagine if there was no Lex Luthor, no Joker, no Green Goblin. A story of a hero would be pointless, the hero would have no bad to fight and everything would be just hunky dory, putting that super hero out of a job. You see that picture of Batman? On the outside, he hates the Joker. But, on the inside, he knows he needs him. This will give you a couple of tips and insight on a good balance with good and evil and why the bad guy is important. Read More


Mary Sue Deconstructed

multiple facepalmsWe’ve talked about Mary Sues a lot in the RP community. That’s because we always have to deal with them as they infiltrate our ranks as Jedi or Starfleet officers, or any other field you want to name. For the most part we’ve gotten used to spotting Sues, but that’s because the Sues have a tendency to draw attention to their status as such.

What if I told you, there were far more Sues out there? And some characters who are clearly the offspring of Mary Sue.

In order to tell who a Hidden Sue is, very careful attention is needed, and there’s a fundamental premise we have to accept, even if we hate it. Read More


Mary Sue: Defeating The Beast


We’ve had a lot of discussion here on the blog about Mary Sue and her many tentacles of slimy perfection and personality as realistic as Wayne Rooney discussing fine art over a bottle of vintage ruby port whilst listening to classical. It’s a beast we all want to avoid meeting or even worse, creating. So how do we do this?

This Roleplaying Focus is about just that with I have affectionately dubbed Mary Sue: Defeating The Beast. Read More


What does a Mary Sue mean to you?

Bloody Mary-Sues

We’ve posted a few articles about Mary Sue characters in roleplaying games (you can see them here), but what exactly is a Mary Sue? There’s obviously the story of the very first Mary Sue character, but the term means different things to different people.

There was a discussion about this on RPG-Directory this week, which was quite enlightening, and here are the highlights: Read More


Mary Sue or not Mary Sue

Mary sue characters discussing their eyes change colorMary Sue; the name is immortalized in a song and in literature, but they aren’t the same person. So, my friend, you want to write a book, short story, or merely participate in a play by E-mail online roleplaying game and need a character. This article is going to tell you how to avoid a trap even the best authors can fall into called Mary Sue.

It can be seen by some as a wish fulfilment of the author to live vicariously through the character while having no noticeable flaws or having flaws that don’t make sense, either physically or mentally. Read More


9 Reasons why Baby Doll from Sucker Punch is a Mary Sue

Poster for the film Sucker Punch

The film Sucker Punch is a fantasy feast for your eyes. A girl is locked away in a mental asylum by her abusive stepfather where she repeatedly retreats to a fantastical world in her imagination where she and four other female inmates battle monsters, soldiers, dragons, and robots. I couldn’t help watch the film without thinking of the main character (called ‘Baby Doll’) of a Mary Sue character. Here’s my reasons why.

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The many different types of Mary Sue

Mary Sues in multiple genres

Mary Sue characters are common in roleplaying and fanfiction, especially if the writer is an amateur and doesn’t yet know the error of their ways. Mary Sue characters are perfect in every way, they’re written so that everyone likes them, they’re smart, incredibly beautiful, incredibly useful, and can do just about anything. They don’t have any character flaws so can tackle any situation in their stride. After a while this behaviour becomes very boring and we’re reminded why decent stories have characters with just the right amount of interesting traits to add realism.

We call these types of characters “Mary Sue” after a Star Trek parody of a fanfiction story (see here for the origins of Mary Sue), but it’s not just females that make Mary Sues, the same annoying qualities can be given to males.

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Make sure your character acts their age

Child Trekkies

When you’re creating a new character you need to think about their age. Are they young or old? There are many different ways characters will act depending on their age, so it’s crucial you get it right for your character to be realistic.

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