Yeah, but he’d be so much cooler if . . .

I have this friend who is eleven years old. He’s a great kid. Really, he’s one of those kids you meet that make you want to have kids of your own. He’s that cool.

A few weeks ago I was bouncing some plot points off of him for my next novel, the Powerless sequel and when it came time to describe one of the characters and what his powers were this kid looks at me for a second and says, “Huh. Bet I could come up with someone cooler.”

Being one who is easily goaded and particularly susceptible to the taunts of eleven-year-olds I answered, “Bet you can’t!”

So he decided that he was up to the challenge and came up with the character Flame Lord (not the real name, I don’t want to steal his thunder in case the precocious and internet-savvy little tot has already trademarked the guy).

Whereas my character has the ability to manipulate small fires, Flame Lord has the power to control all fire everywhere. Also he can create fire. And nuclear blasts. Big ones. That could burn the earth to a crisp. I lose, story over.

In short, Flame Lord was cooler than my guy cause he was tougher. Infinity-plus-one tougher, to be exact.

If it were only so easy.

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2 Responses to “Yeah, but he’d be so much cooler if . . .”

  1. A few months back, a group of the adult-children were sitting down to come up with character concepts for a super pulpy Spirit of the Century game. Many ideas were tossed about, including the swordcane-toting “Daring Magpie” and Beau Brass… a kind of 1920s Swingband version of Buckaroo Banzai.

    We were all pretty proud of ourselves.

    But somewhere in the midst of things, one of the player’s daughters (who just turned seven) announced that she was going to play, too. (No asking permission for this one: she was going to join in and we were lucky to have her, by god.) In joining us, she would remind us what the true meaning of “awesome” really was.

    Ever the encouraging parent, her dad grabbed a blank sheet and had her sit down to start sketching out the basics of her character.

    “Who do you want to play?” he asked.

    “I want to play a girl who’s a ghost.” Her voice was matter of fact, covering just a hint of ‘oh boy oh boy’ excitement.

    This was, of course, the kind of awesome idea that kids and neophytes routinely come up with and long-time gamers never will, since we-as-genre-veterans been conditioned to think in terms of what you’re ‘supposed’ to play. This is also why Neil Gaiman consistently comes up with cooler character concepts than I ever will.

    “That’s great,” her dad said, “tell me a little more about her.”

    “Well, she can go through walls and stuff,” his daughter explained, “and she likes to scare people — even people she likes. She’s really good at that.”

    “Okay.”

    We all nod approval. She looks around the room, barely able to control her growing glee, not with our acceptance of her character, but with the REALLY COOLEST THING that she hadn’t shared yet.

    “Also…” her face splits into a proud smile. “She’s got a FLAMEthrower.”

  2. See? They are tricksy little buggers . . .

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