01
Aug
19

Recurring and Returning Characters

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a little prickle of excitement when a familiar name turns up in a bit of media I’ve been following. Whether it’s a callback to a random character in an earlier game, or the full fledged arrival of a beloved character thought long lost, I enjoy greeting my old fictional friends again after some time away.

But there’s two ways to do that, and I’m kind of curious about how folks think about them. There’s the recurring character, who keeps popping up and is either implied or explicitly stated to be the same individual; Stephen King’s Randall Flagg/Walter O’Dim would be a good example of this, even though he himself is not always aware of it (his incarnation in The Stand, for example, is lacking much of his memory.) Flagg is Flagg is Flagg, and most devoted readers are happy to see the Walkin’ Dude whenever his boots start clocking down the deserted halls of whatever haunted locale King has thrust him into. Well, maybe not happy, precisely, given that his appearance usually foretells gloom and doom for our heroes, but at least we know and love to hate him.

The other way is when a base concept and handful of character traits accompany a name, but it’s not intended to be the same individual and there may be drastic differences and contradictions between assorted portrayals. I can’t think of a good famous example off the top of my head – blame the meds, they’re always mucking with the memory – so I’ll use one of my own.

The Reverend Deuteronomy Jones, also known as Rev’rend Dewey, Reverend Billy Joe Bob James Deuteronomy Jones (with the first four names being shuffled about randomly for comedic effect) or just “The Rev,” has been a character lurking in my mind for literal decades.

What’s always the same about him? He’s a religious sort, obviously. Larger-than-life personality. A bit of an extremist, for whatever time and place he’s dropped into. His rough appearance – thick dark hair, white suit jacket over all black clothing, too much jewelry, obnoxious and oversized crucifix somewhere on his person, somehow able to turn nearly any conversation into proof that an individual is an evil, evil sinner. Sometimes his belief is genuine, sometimes it’s part of the show, but he’s always well steeped and educated in religious matters, regardless of the flavor, and willing to twist them for his own purposes.

Dewey has been used as a character in a Vampire: The Masquerade game (as a Panders pack priest and Infernalist), in a Vampire: The Dark Ages game that evolved into a Dark Ages Vampire game (as a Setite itinerant monk), in a Demon: The Fallen game (as a Lammasu huckster and tent revivalist), in a Beast: The Primordial game (as a monster of pride and desire, “educating” humans on the dangers of belief and how important the phrase “be careful what you wish for” can be), a television personality (his original incarnation, where he was a comedic character poking fun at television evangelists and faith healers), the antagonist of a short story (where a demonic variant rounds up people who should have died and puts them to work in his traveling tent show to find either damnation or redemption), the protagonist of another short story (essentially the same as the previous, except from Dewey’s perspective, which plays it as though this is his divinely ordained task, and is ultimately for the greater good) and back to television personality (sort of; working on a YouTube series with him, that’s somewhere between his original television self and his Beast: The Primordial version.)

They’re all separate people – except for the two short story incarnations, which may be the same one, though its not explicitly stated – but all of them are still Dewey.

Is that okay? Is it weird to ask if that’s okay? Is it a lack of imagination, an overabundance of imagination, or just the creative process at work as one keeps hammering at something until it’s what you actually want? I have no bloody idea, but I’m interested to hear your opinions.

If any of you out there would like to weigh in, I’d love to hear it. Do you prefer recurring characters, or repeating ones? Are you happy to see a familiar face, or prefer to see only new ones? Why? Let us know down below!

As a reminder, as most of you know, my health isn’t great. I’m doing what I can, trying to keep as active as possible, and slowly forcing myself back to the keyboard when I can. I’m hoping to manage at least posting something every day for the month of August. We’ll see how that goes. But to keep up, I can use some help; medical bills are unpleasant, surgery is apparently necessary, and the landlord doesn’t worry about the lung tissue in their carpet when the money isn’t in their account. I have a couple of places you can help out, if you’re of a mind; if you like my stuff and want to help keep me doing it, you can either pledge to my Patreon, or drop a dime in the bucket over at GoFundMe. If you can help, it’s greatly appreciated and helpful. If you can’t, that’s okay, too. No worries, no pressure. If you can drop a like, a share, or a follow, that helps, too. And if you don’t think I’m worth any of that, I don’t blame you; no hard feelings. But please consider it.

Until next time, folks.

KA Spiral no signature

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