Good morning, afternoon or evening!
I am Mark from Amazing Gaming Productions, the creator of Tales from Trinity City and the author of Webtastic Stories.
I am offering ARC copies of Webtastic Stories if you are interested in reading a dark parody of the Internet.
Today’s blog is all about the Story Arc of Negative Character Arcs.
Negative Character Arcs are the opposite of Positive Character Arcs, so they have many mirrored similarities.
Like in PCA, the antagonist is a mirror of the truth the story is telling.
Whether it is the deceptive power of the dark side and Palpatine in Star Wars, Micah’s betrayal of the Van Der Linde gang and O’Driscols in Red Dead Redemption, or Vermillion Masquerade in Kamen America.
The Reapers represent everything that is wrong with the Mass Effect universe. They are a hyper-advanced force that pushed the Galaxy into cycles of extinction, all in the name to give all races a chance to grow and develop (talk about hypocrites).
With my slightly changed backstory of Mass Effect (I would make a fantastic developmental editor, btw), I changed the theme of Mass Effect to the exploitation of weaker races vs true galactic unity.
The Keepers created the AI to prevent the Leviathan from exploiting their race. The AI prioritized synthetic solutions over organic solutions against Levithan because synthetics are immune to mind control. Synthetics may be hackable (but it ensured that would be very difficult), but hacking is not as permanent as organic mind control.
Instructed to keep their genetics intact, the AI created harvesters that reaped the Leviathan and made the first Reaper, Harbinger.
After that, the galactic cycle of advanced races exploiting less advanced species always reared its ugly head. The AI decided it would be best to reap every single race that did this. The cycle was born – the AI would prevent the advanced races from exploiting the developing races by reaping them.
The same cycle happened before the events of Mass Effect 1. The council races used the Krogan to hunt the Rachni into extinction. Then Krogan were almost sterilized to end the Krogan Rebellions. Later, the Geth was created and exploited by the Quarians. These events alerted Sovereign, who attempted to start the extinction.
Nothing had changed until Shepard.
At the beginning of Mass Effect, Sovereign has finally figured out what was happening and why the extinction order did not work.
With its minion, Saren Artenious, it was ready to attack the Citadel with the Heretics and wipe out all galactic life. It needed to ensure the Galaxy would be free from the advanced races exploiting less advanced races.
Shepard investigates and disrupts its plans, fights and kills Saren and the Citadel and Human Alliance fleets to destroy the Reaper before it could open up the relay to dark space.
The first plan of the Reapers was uncovered and halted by Commander Shepard. Time for solution B.
Within a month, Harbinger directed the conquered Protheans – the Collectors – to start harvesting human colonies to create a replacement for Sovereign.
The Collectors fought the original Normandy and killed Commander Shepard, seeking to prevent Shepard from defeating their plans. The Reapers were curious enough to want the body of Shepard. They wanted to see how an Organic was able to defeat them.
Cerberus gets Shepard’s body and brings him back to life through the help of Liara T’soni – one of their companions.
Shepard wakes up two years later, and they learn that The Collectors are harvesting entire human colonies.
Shepard recruits the right specialists, gains their loyalty (players’ choice), discovers what is happening, and ends the Collectors’ threat to the Galaxy, delaying the Reaper’s plans.
The Systems Alliance grounds Shepard after the mission to Aratoht ended badly because Shepard destroyed a mass relay and the system to prevent the Reapers from using the Alpha Relay. In six months, the Reapers, who need to harvest this cycle because it exploits the weaker races for their benefit, finally arrive at Earth.
Reluctantly, Shepard leaves Earth – rallies the races and faces the Reapers to take the Earth Back. Except in a Pure Renegade run for Shepard, who focuses on Earth and the System Alliance’s concerns.
Shepard unifies (or does not – again, this is the players’ choice) all the races against the Reapers. This cycle has learned from the mistakes of the past. All races are equal, and the Reapers are the advanced race that exploits all the other races.
The AI accepts that and offers Shepard three choices – destroy the Reapers, control the Reapers, or synthesis.
In this story, the theme of the advanced exploits the weak vs Galatic unity, the Reapers become hypocrites to their programming by following their programming. They became the powerful faction exploiting the developing races to create new Reapers; to prevent the advanced races from enslaving the developing races.
When you create an antagonist for your negative character arc, make sure you make one that compels the MC to greater depths of self-deception.
Anakin was seduced from the truth by Palpatine.
Shepard refused to work with the council races and became even more desperate in their attempts to destroy the Reapers, dooming the Earth and plunging the Galaxy into a dark age – because the Reapers followed their programming, which violated their original purpose.
Arthur Fleck realized how much society did not care about him and accepted the dark truth he was the Joker, a homicidal schizophrenic maniac.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope it has inspired your thoughts about negative character arcs – tragic stories that teach important lessons.
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Have a great day, guys!