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Thread: The Gorgon

  1. #1
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    I have always realized it, but some recent talk about the Gorgon has made me
    want to say something about it.

    Has anyone ever noticed just how strong a similarity there is between the
    Gorgon and Sauron of Middle Earth?

    They both once served powerful gods.

    They both live in a ring of mountains.

    They both want to conquer the world.

    To stand against them is almost certain death.

    Etc......

    I like the Gorgon as a villain better than Sauron though, because at least
    he can be defeated one on one (maybe). He also can be somewhat reasoned
    with as long as it suits his own ambition/desire to do so.

    I`ve just always marveled at how many authors copy the world of Middle-Earth
    without ever realizing it. Heck, when I was younger I did the exact same
    thing and truly didn`t realize it until one of my players mentioned it to
    me......and then I changed the entire campaign world. :-)

    Tony

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  2. #2
    Senior Member blitzmacher's Avatar
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    I`ve just always marveled at how many authors copy the world of Middle-Earth
    without ever realizing it.


    What's even more amazing is finding out where Tolkein got a lot of his material from.
    Cattle die and kinsmen die,
    thyself too soon must die,
    but one thing never, I ween, will die, --
    fair fame of one who has earned.
    HAVAMAL

  3. #3
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    Plagiarization is the highest form of praise!

    /Carl


    From: "blitzmacher" <brnetboard@BIRTHRIGHT.NET>


    > This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
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    > blitzmacher wrote:
    > I`ve just always marveled at how many authors copy the world of
    Middle-Earth
    > without ever realizing it.
    >
    >
    > What`s even more amazing is finding out where Tolkein got a lot of his
    material from.
    >
    >
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  4. #4
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    It's a pretty common villain archetype we're talking here, I think - let's call it the Sauron School of Archvillainy (SSA for short). Basically, it boils down to villains having a certain powerset, or being without obvious weaknesses, having access to any kind of resource necessary to crush their adversaries, and thus being hard to overcome - typical for top-level villains.

    Sauron and the Gorgon have already been mentioned - basically, they command both powerful magical and martial assets - they are, by rights, a terror that few or no people would be able to go up against and live - doing so is a heroic act indeed.

    Their backgrounds aside, I think that's the main similarity between these villains - and they're not alone, either.

    Doctor Doom of Marvel Comics, when you look away from the comic book medium, is a villain built in a similar mold - he's basically fallen from grace at some point, and he commands similar types of resources - material, technological, and magical. The main difference would be that Doctor Doom wasn't strictly tempted by an outside agency towards evil, but chose that path himself.

    Darth Vader, of Star Wars fame, who is himself based off Doctor Doom, is perhaps a bit more similar to Sauron again - he's been drawn towards evil, serving a more powerful evil force, and he commands vast resources, both personal and otherwise, leading vast armies, as well as commanding powerful technological devices and magic (the force).

    I'm pretty sure there's a lot of other archvillains that are similar to these four; a lot of the archvillains I've seen fall into the same trap of similarity to this common archetype. Another example would be the sorcerer-kings of Dark Sun, who were once tempted into evil, and, again, commands the same form of resource base. Birthright also holds a few other examples of basically the same archetypes - the Raven, Rhuobhe, the Serpent, the Magian - while they differ superficially in their motivations and agendas, they're basically the same type of character when dressed down.

    I guess the basic lesson is that in order for a character to be able to threaten an entire world, or be of a sufficient menace level, they need a certain level and type of resources in order to logically fulfill their function. A certain type of motivation is also required - there's not a lot of dragons around trying to take over the world, for some reason.

    I do think that archvillains that break with the basic SSA mold might make for more interesting characters - if they don't also fall into other molds, such as the Evil High Priest (which really is just another variation on SSA). Coming up with credible villains that aren't remarkably similar to existing and easily identifiable archetypes is very hard, though.

    Of course, on some levels, I think Birthright was always a way for TSR to produce a world that fell closer to Tolkien than their existing worlds, without being bludgeoned over copyright issues. There's a lot of other types of elements that make up Birthright, of course, but major aspects of it feels close to Tolkien without being identical.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

  5. #5
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    The difference between Sauron and all the other villains you quote is that
    he has such an obvious, yet hard-to-acheive achilles heel. This makes the
    struggle against him more of a moral stuggle than a heroic/military
    struggle. The commanders who march on the Gates or Mordor are quite frank
    about this - their entire operation is just a diversion.

    When Frodo wins, it is a personal, moral victory.

    I think this was very important to Tolkien, who made ethics (with avarice as
    the principial sin) the very center of his work.

    /Carl

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  6. #6
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    I must add that in Birthright. a military/martial victory is probably more
    interesting than amoral one, so I`m not trying to make the case for making
    the Gorgon more like Sauron!

    From: "Stephen Starfox" <stephen_starfox@YAHOO.SE>

    > The difference between Sauron and all the other villains you quote is that
    > he has such an obvious, yet hard-to-acheive achilles heel.

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  7. #7
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Birthright-L


    The difference between Sauron and all the other villains you quote is that
    he has such an obvious, yet hard-to-acheive achilles heel. This makes the
    struggle against him more of a moral stuggle than a heroic/military
    struggle. The commanders who march on the Gates or Mordor are quite frank
    about this - their entire operation is just a diversion.

    When Frodo wins, it is a personal, moral victory.

    I think this was very important to Tolkien, who made ethics (with avarice as
    the principial sin) the very center of his work.

    /Carl
    Frodo didn't win, he succumbed to the evil, Golem was the method for gaining Middle Earth its victory and Frodo's salvation.

    So it is back to the Epic theme of good versus evil absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Duane Eggert

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