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Jinnambex
08-20-2016, 01:28 PM
I searched for old threads on this topic, but couldn't seem to find one (I'm sure I missed it so I apologize).

What are everyone's thoughts on the "Dark Lord"?

I know if done well, it can still be pulled off.

I also know that people are always looking for new and unique plots.

My novel is tolkienesque, but I feel like it is unique enough to be able to do well in the market (my book is in its third draft).

I have a Dark Lord, but he is never called that. I am trying to "humanize" him however, to make him more of a gray character because I know that that is something that people are looking for as well in up and coming fantasies.

Just wanted to get some more peoples thoughts. I can only scour the internet for so long before I start to overthink my villain and convince myself that he is cliche (I really don't think he is, but there are times sadly).

SillyLittleTwit
08-20-2016, 03:03 PM
You don't need to make a Dark Lord "grey" or "human" just because. Stephen Donaldson's Lord Foul is an extremely thorough exploration of a Dark Lord figure, who has absolutely no redeeming features.

Remember that there are plenty of different takes:

(1) Morgoth. Tolkien's original Dark Lord: a Satanic figure who rebels against God.

(2) Sauron. The manipulative cunning control-freak.

I'd actually advise hunting down Tolkien's essay where he contrasts the respective motivations of Morgoth and Sauron - the two are very different. You can find the essay in Morgoth's Ring (the tenth volume of The History of Middle-earth series).

(3) Donaldson's Lord Foul. Evil as corruption.

(4) Williams' Ineluki. A tragic figure who went off the deep end trying to save his people.

And so on.

Jinnambex
08-20-2016, 03:13 PM
This is true I suppose. I have done research for the different motivations of Sauron and Morgoth. I love the dark lord trope, but what I guess I was saying is that a bad thing? What are peoples opinions about the dark lord trope in newly published fantasy? Is it what readers still want these days? I know I like it, but that doesn't mean everyone else does.

SillyLittleTwit
08-20-2016, 04:17 PM
Of course it isn't a bad thing. You just have to sit down and nut out what evil actually is - put a bit of thought into it (just having a bloke in spiky black armour plotting to take over the world won't cut it).

Aggy B.
08-20-2016, 04:31 PM
I've got a Dark Lord figure in the Epic Not Fantasy. He was a part of a severely classist society that had a thing happen that made him mostly immortal (no magic, just tech, and he can be killed, but only with great difficulty). He used that as an opportunity to put himself in a position where he was the one giving orders. (His character contrasts with my secondary protag who has a similar physical advantage but rather than trying to be the one giving orders, he tries to remove the need for folks going off to fight in the first place.) But the villain's motivation is not particularly complicated, although his bad actions are rooted in a sympathetic cause (not wanting to be a tool for the elite).

I also agree that you don't have to have villains that are grey or more "human", but I do think folks generally want a reason behind the villain's action that seems believable. In some cases even something like "If I can't be in control I'll destroy the world so that no one else can have what I don't," is sufficient. And sometimes you want something more complex like "These people aren't smart enough to make their own decisions, but I know what's best so I will force everyone to do what is right."

Teinz
08-20-2016, 04:59 PM
snip I know I like it, but that doesn't mean everyone else does.

You like it, so write it. Other people's approval is luxery.

Jinnambex
08-20-2016, 05:38 PM
I am working out my main villain's fall to evil right now. I have always just said he was slowly corrupted by a desire for power, but now I am actually writing out the events that led him to become the monster he is now. It's fun, but challenging, especially because I am dealing with angelic beings. That always complicates things.

Kjbartolotta
08-20-2016, 11:32 PM
I love the Dark Lord trope, provided it's a good dark lord. Way I look at it, you could be a competent medieval/renaissance/early modern monarch (think Charles V or Peter the Great) with a taste for black spiky armor, and if you run afoul of the good guys that's how everyone is gonna remember you. Nothing wrong with making your villains evil, as long as they're not eeevil.

nossmf
08-21-2016, 02:42 AM
Make sure your dark lord has a reason, a motivation. It can be malignant (I want the world to hurt like I do) or beneficent (I can make the world better for everybody, why can't anybody else see it my way?).

StuToYou
08-21-2016, 03:05 AM
Baddies make stories goodies.

rwm4768
08-21-2016, 03:59 AM
This is one of the tropes I like playing with. It's fun to set a character up as a dark lord figure and then completely subvert the reader's expectations. Above all, I like to create villain figures with complex motivations.

MonsterTamer
08-21-2016, 05:41 AM
I don't think you can go wrong with an overpowered evil overlord.

blacbird
08-21-2016, 10:53 AM
Why are the villains always "Lords"?

caw

Albedo
08-21-2016, 11:08 AM
Why are the villains always "Lords"?

caw

"Dark Marquis" hasn't really got the same ring.

Helix
08-21-2016, 11:10 AM
Why are the villains always "Lords"?

caw

Women can't be villains, blac. We all know that.

*attempts to clamp hands over Servalan's ears*

*dies painfully*

Helix
08-21-2016, 11:13 AM
"Dark Marquis" hasn't really got the same ring.

That's just peerage snobbery.

blacbird
08-21-2016, 11:30 AM
"Dark Marquis" hasn't really got the same ring.

Yeah, but why can't they be businessmen with weird haircuts . . .




Oh . . . .



Never mind.

caw

JinxKing
08-21-2016, 11:39 AM
There's a 'dark lord' character in Shadows of Ourselves who I tried to bring a lot of moral ambiguity to. He's not so much evil as he is deliriously paranoid.

I think dark lord types can still be fascinating and honestly quite frightening, if done right. It has to be done within a certain framework, though. We can't all pull off a heartless, evil for the sake of being evil type like Voldemort, and I think audiences definitely want more of a challenge these days. At the moment sympathetic villains are very big.

Personally I think it's a lot easier to avoid talking down to your reader if you don't hold back on acknowledging the dark lord's humanity. Real people also tend to be a lot scarier than cartoonish bad guys with nothing to lose. Make your villain as desperate and vulnerable as your hero, and now you're cooking with fire.

ETA: Rainbow Rowell subverted this trope really interestingly in her book Carry On, and Leigh Bardugo does especially cool things with it in the Grisha Trilogy by turning her main character's love interest into the dark lord of the series.

Kjbartolotta
08-22-2016, 12:14 AM
BTW, anyone here read Dark Lord of Derkholm. Probably one of the most unusual, if surprisingly effective, dark lords is history. It's interesting in to take into account the motives of Big Bad #1 himself, Sauron, in this discussion. I think some qualities that make him so interesting is the vaguely gnostic and Blakean qualities here, he's not a human but rather a minor demiurge, sort of a failed creator character with aspirations towards science and order, as well as being one of only two characters with a 'modern' sensibility. I see many dark lord characters this way, as I said in my earlier post they can potentially be the only people really concerned about progress (and perhaps, the hypocrisy and injustice of the old order). SillyLittleTwit mentioned Ineluki as well, another fav of mine who goes the opposite direction, his obsession with past glories drive him down the path to evil.

Finally, no Dark Ladies? Anyone ever read the Black Company? Cause if the Lady don't fit the Dark Lord trope I don't know who does.

rwm4768
08-22-2016, 02:05 AM
Does all the development of Sauron come in the Silmarillion? In LoTR, I found him to be one of the most one-dimensional villains I've ever read.

E.F.B.
08-22-2016, 02:25 AM
Does all the development of Sauron come in the Silmarillion? In LoTR, I found him to be one of the most one-dimensional villains I've ever read.
Yeah, basically. Short version: Sauron was a Maia named "Marion" until he was seduced by Morgoth, fell, became Morgoth's lieutenant and was renamed Sauron. He could shape shift into different nasty things including, but not limited to, a wolf or vampire. He killed my most favorite elf king, Finrod, (among others), darn him. After Morgoth was defeated Sauron started trying to do his own evil stuff. He took the name Annatar in the Second Age, deceived some elves, and had the rings of power made while he forged The One Ring in secret. He ended up corrupting the Numenorians and causing their downfall and the sinking of the island of Numenor. (He went down with the island, btw, but then came back.) IIRC, his defeat during the Last Alliance where Isuldur ended up in possession of The Ring was the one where Sauron lost his ability to manifest as anything but a giant fire-eye. In the Third Age, in the background while all the stuff in The Hobbit was going on, Sauron came back as the Necromancer in the old abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur, but the White Council attacked him and he fled to Mordor where he stayed until the Ring was destroyed and he was defeated.

Long version: You're going to have to go read the book. ;)

/end of geek-knowledge-dump *drops mic*

SillyLittleTwit
08-22-2016, 02:57 AM
Sauron in The Lord of the Rings (omitting The Silmarillion) is an interesting case, since apart from Pippin's flashback communication he is off-screen for the entire book. Apparently, Tolkien was worried people would sympathise with him in the sort of Milton's Satan way (the common view of Milton scholarship at the time).

What you therefore see is a character always in the (literal) background shadows: you see his works, but not him. Apart from references to his Ring-making or his manipulation of the Numenoreans, he is more backdrop than conventional character (as Morgoth later on becomes too - the Dark Lord is there, but he takes a backseat to the Beleriand action).

SillyLittleTwit
08-22-2016, 02:59 AM
Yeah, basically. Short version: Sauron was a Maia named "Marion" until he was seduced by Morgoth, fell, became Morgoth's lieutenant and was renamed Sauron. He could shape shift into different nasty things including, but not limited to, a wolf or vampire. He killed my most favorite elf king, Finrod, (among others), darn him. After Morgoth was defeated Sauron started trying to do his own evil stuff. He took the name Annatar in the Second Age, deceived some elves, and had the rings of power made while he forged The One Ring in secret. He ended up corrupting the Numenorians and causing their downfall and the sinking of the island of Numenor. (He went down with the island, btw, but then came back.) IIRC, his defeat during the Last Alliance where Isuldur ended up in possession of The Ring was the one where Sauron lost his ability to manifest as anything but a giant fire-eye. In the Third Age, in the background while all the stuff in The Hobbit was going on, Sauron came back as the Necromancer in the old abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur, but the White Council attacked him and he fled to Mordor where he stayed until the Ring was destroyed and he was defeated.

Long version: You're going to have to go read the book. ;)

/end of geek-knowledge-dump *drops mic*

That's Peter Jackson's version. Tolkien makes it clear that Sauron did have a physical form in the book (how else can Gollum tell of the missing finger?).

E.F.B.
08-22-2016, 03:18 AM
Aaah, okay. I have only (so far) read the whole trilogy once and didn't remember Gollum telling about the missing finger. Gotta do a re-read soon. :)

williemeikle
08-22-2016, 03:30 AM
Why are the villains always "Lords"?

caw

Because Dark Count can lead to inappropriate spelling mistakes.

nossmf
08-22-2016, 05:43 AM
Also because Dark Peon just doesn't have the same ring...

badducky
09-16-2016, 05:43 PM
I always thought of it as a cyclical thing. Like, any group or cabal that remains in power long enough will be corrupted by the power and the needs of state, no matter their ideals. In politics, as an example, whenever a political structure holds power, it tends to begin as a revolutionary impulse to counter the corruption of the elite. It becomes the elite; it becomes corrupt. The corruption builds until it cannot be borne by the people. The revolutionary heroes rise up and overthrow, or at least attempt to overthrow, the elites.

The dark lords I've met in life did not know they were evil. They believed they were doing good for their company, their country, etc. They liked perks. Who doesn't like perks? They help their friends. What kind of monster doesn't help their friends?

The dark lords are cyclical.

The great innovation of American-style democracy, and parliamentarian systems, is that the revolutions that come to throw out the corrupt dark lords rarely involve bloodshed.

Samsonet
09-16-2016, 07:51 PM
I've always been a sucker for a dark lord who knows they're the bad guy but finds it too much fun to stop.

mirandashell
09-16-2016, 08:52 PM
Dark Plumber doesn't really do it either. Dark Butcher could be good though. If you're into gruesome.

rwm4768
09-17-2016, 04:29 AM
Why can't you have Dark Lords in fantasy? They happen in reality. Just look at one of our presidential candidates... ;)

Or, more seriously, you could look at brutal dictators throughout history.

nossmf
09-17-2016, 08:50 AM
Look no further than some football coaches...

H.G.Aguilar
09-25-2016, 12:26 PM
I'm trying not to make my villain call people "fools" before he kills them, at least not more than once. But it's so perfect for a super powerful evil dude. Couldn't think of anything more appropriate.

HPhatecraft
10-10-2016, 01:41 AM
I for one am tired of the "dark lord" cliche, and the cliche of an absolutely evil villain in general. Every "evil lord" in world history had some kind of redeeming value to their followers, otherwise they would have no followers. When you have crazy control freaks who just want to rule the world and make everything ugly because...BECAUSE NOVEL (i.e., Sauron) it becomes a laughing stock.

I can see an absolutely, irredeemably evil character as a destroyer (the Joker in the Dark Knight) or an alien evil that is just so at odds with life as we know it can only be described as absolutely evil (Cthulhu) but the mustache twisting villain in castle Dark Skull plotting to rule the world BECAUSE NOVEL should really be retired.


The question to ask is this: can the villain stand alone as a character? Are they so multi-dimensional that they can have their own working story without the protagonist? If so, then you have a solid antagonist. For example: Magneto had his own comic book for awhile. Why? Because he was that awesome and multifaceted that he could hold his own for his own stories without the X-Men. That is why he was voted the best comic book villain time and time again. And he had such a force of personality and ideas it made sense that people would follow him.

Ultimately, a "lord" is one who is followed. And a "dark lord" would have to provide something for his or her followers, be it an idea, financial incentive, or promise of glory or something to keep them loyal. This is why I am of the unpopular opinion that Emperor Palpatine was one of the worse villains of all time. Why follow him? What does he do for his followers? At least Stalin won WWII and did develop the country. We never see what makes people want to follow Palpatine.


Give the readers are reason to see why the "evil lord" is followed by his people and some thing that makes him or her redeemable in the eyes of their followers. Otherwise, you have a caricature and not a real antagonist.

Cobalt Jade
10-10-2016, 03:53 AM
I'm trying not to make my villain call people "fools" before he kills them, at least not more than once.

That's the earmark of a truly great Dark Lord. Not only will he kill you, he'll bring you back to life just to kill you again!

PeteMC
10-10-2016, 01:06 PM
We never see what makes people want to follow Palpatine.


Palpatine works because he took over and then subverted an existing power structure, so that by the time he declared himself Emperor the populace didn't have any choice but to follow him (I think anyway, I'm not a Star Wars expert).

Whether all "evil" dictators believe themselves to be doing good is probably debatable, but then they don't have to. They DO have make the populace think that they are, or at least that they are protecting them from Something Worse, whatever that may be.

SillyLittleTwit
10-10-2016, 04:09 PM
I for one am tired of the "dark lord" cliche, and the cliche of an absolutely evil villain in general. Every "evil lord" in world history had some kind of redeeming value to their followers, otherwise they would have no followers. When you have crazy control freaks who just want to rule the world and make everything ugly because...BECAUSE NOVEL (i.e., Sauron) it becomes a laughing stock.


Sauron's control comes from various sources:

(1) Evident mind-control powers vis-a-vis the Orcs. See what happens after the destruction of the Ring.
(2) The Nine Rings give him absolute control over the Ringwraiths.
(3) Inherited loyalty - he was Morgoth's Lieutenant.
(4) Numenor's vast and brutal colonial Empire meant there were plenty of people in Middle-earth with in-built grudges. See how Saruman uses the Dunlendings against Rohan.
(5) Millennia of propaganda - he is a God-King, after all, and never suffers old age or disease.
(6) In addition to (1), he was the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. You don't turn on a guy with that sort of creepy sorcery in his CV.
(7) He has a track record of manipulating others, either by promise of immortality (Ar-Pharazon), power (the Nine Rings), wealth (the Seven Rings), or knowledge and power (Saruman). Or just messing with people (Denethor).
(8) Generalised torture, oppression, and a habit of feeding people to a giant spider for fun.

Comparing Sauron to historical figures rather overlooks the fact that he isn't designed off a historical figure. He's essentially a Fallen Angel in Tolkienian cosmology, and the right-hand of Satan himself.

nossmf
10-11-2016, 01:48 AM
Palpatine didn't start off by declaring himself Emperor. He started first WITHIN the system, using subtle threats and promises of power/riches to rise higher and higher. When he got close to the top he covertly began a war which threatened the existence of the galaxy, casting the other senators into fear and uncertainty of what to do. He had a plan, he provided a strong focus the others could look to, they became sheep following his leadership to save themselves.

Once in place as the political top-dog he used the continuing war to change the power structure to insulate himself against anybody else trying to take power away from him once the crisis ended. Combined with subtle assassinations to eliminate his most potent threats, under the guise of "casualties of war" he systematically whittled down the ability of anybody to take him on politically. After he used the military to assassinate the Jedi, he'd also taken out anybody who could take him on militarily.

Over the next two decades he continued to tighten the reigns of control, until by the time Luke turned 18 at the start of Episode IV he felt confident enough in his absolute authority to eliminate any semblance of the old ways ("he has dissolved the Imperial Senate") and declare himself Emperor, completely convinced nobody could do anything about it.

So Palpatine didn't become the Emperor over night, it took him decades to reach that height.

Layla Nahar
10-11-2016, 02:10 AM
I think Kerrigor/Rogerik in "Sabriel" counts as a Dark Lord. & he was just bad - I would say in here & now terms a psychopath who was willing to kill his mother (and sister, too, was it?) in order to have access and control of the magic in his world.

Filigree
10-11-2016, 08:26 AM
I have a chaotically wicked alien dude in one of my WIPs, who is basically a copy of Sauron mixed with Tanith Lee's Hazrond: a second in command who feels betrayed by his Master's slide into goodness and light, and wants a rematch. The same WIP has a human Dark Tycoon who excuses any horror or personal indulgence with 'for the good of humanity'. Trouble is, he is dead-on right about humanity in peril.

PeteMC
10-11-2016, 08:16 PM
The same WIP has a human Dark Tycoon who excuses any horror or personal indulgence with 'for the good of humanity'. Trouble is, he is dead-on right about humanity in peril.

This is also the rationale behind the Imperium of Man in Warhammer 40k. It's the most oppressive, hideous, bloody regime imaginable, but it's still so much better than the alternative.

Kjbartolotta
10-11-2016, 11:54 PM
Lord of Opium, the sequel to Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion, while not a perfect sequel, takes a very good look at what happens when a perfectly nice, empathetic young individual has to become a dark lord in his own right. Or, more accurately, a drug kingpin, but in this instance there's not much oxygen between the two.

jjdebenedictis
10-12-2016, 10:37 PM
Any discussion about Palpatine should come with a disclaimer that we're analyzing a character that was created and executed by a really terrible writer, and any analysis we give will probably be more thought out than the character itself.

Er...RYFW?

Might be better to focus on the obvious weaknesses displayed in the writing, not the person behind the art. :)

snafu1056
10-14-2016, 03:19 AM
Ooooh alright. Sorry George Lucas.

herefortheride
10-23-2016, 12:22 PM
And you fools fell for my master plan (insert maniac cackle) = )

llawrence
10-26-2016, 09:18 AM
I try to think of the things that could have made me turn evil.


I have one twisted old dark sorcerer who just wants to be left alone, and would do any evil thing to keep from being bothered.


I have another dark character who suffers from extreme jealousy and thinks she was denied her rightful place as a princess.


Neither is a dark lord, but both would be one if they could.

snafu1056
10-26-2016, 01:58 PM
I guess the reason fantasy villains are always evil, powerful people is because it makes the stakes more epic. An evil king or wizard is in a position to wreak more havoc. I'm sure a psychotic fishmonger could do plenty of damage in his own way too, but he would lack gravitas that people demand from fantasy villains. If you dont like dark lords one way to avoid them is to not write "epic" fantasy. I think there's definitely a place for "small-scale" fantasy where the threat isn't some looming apocalyptic evil, but just the machinations of one petty jerk.

nossmf
10-26-2016, 07:02 PM
You just described the typical D&D campaign. When characters are low-level, they must face off against the town bully and his two best friends; as the characters grow in power and abilities, the threats they face grow commensurately larger, until the high-level characters get to face the world-devouring monster and save the entire universe.

PeteMC
10-27-2016, 02:42 AM
It's not necessarily a D&D thing, it's just a different type of storytelling.

Look at Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold, which is IMO his best book to date.

Yes the great magical struggle is happening in the background, but the story is basically about a woman getting her own back on the bastard who killed her brother and threw her down a mountain. It's one woman's tale of ruthless, bloody revenge at all costs, but she was a mercenary and he was the noble who employed her, not a dark lord, and no one in that book is claiming to be the good guy.

It's magnificent.

Simpson17866
10-27-2016, 07:29 PM
I think it would make more sense if the character is expressly characterized as loving The Great Villains of history and wanting to be remembered as such.

Like how Richard Ramirez would torture everybody in a family who's house he broke into, murder most of them, but then leave one survivor to tell the world that this was the work of "The Nightstalker." Somebody like that with magical powers could absolutely double down on the most villainous imagery that s/he could find.

Kjbartolotta
10-27-2016, 08:19 PM
Third time I'm chiming in on this thread, but I just wanna say I'm going through all the books in the Exalted game setting, and, boy howdy, is that ever a repository for notable Dark Lords!

High marks go to the Scarlet Empress (ruthless and expedient, but evil? Who knows!), the Deathlords (a rogue's gallery of powerful necro-dumbasses that would put Cobra Commander to shame), the Yozis in general (broken gods, fascinating and dysfunctional in so many ways), and the Ebon Dragon in particular (the closest thing to evil incarnate in this setting, but even he has an agenda that makes sense).

SillyLittleTwit
11-20-2016, 08:08 AM
My essay on the viability of this trope:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/fixing-dark-lords/

MythMonger
11-20-2016, 11:00 PM
My essay on the viability of this trope:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/fixing-dark-lords/

That was interesting.

Can't remember the last time I saw the word "eucatastrophe" :)

RX-79G
11-21-2016, 10:12 AM
Without launching into dissertation level navel gazing, but it seems like the "Dark Lord(e)" is the classic counter to Western collective egalitarianism. "Good guys", in our cultural tradition, are the men and women who set aside their differences and individually choose to form a team to oppose the evil tyrant. There is little difference between the Fellowship and the 300 Spartans. Regardless of the truth, Xerxes army is remembered as either slaves in thrall or mercenaries - little different than Sauron's orcs and Corsairs.

How much is the dark lord just the necessary result of our Western concept that anyone is brave enough to face evil, but only strong enough when they trust their fellows to fight at their side? When I think of heroes that truly operate in complete isolation, I keep coming up with such extreme anti-heroes that their victory is hard to understand. "Miller's Crossing" comes to mind. Is there a Baggins, Skywalker or Potter that isn't just the tip of a collective spear?

We were fortunate that WWII was started by tyrannical dark lords. It worked out perfectly for the US to alley itself, reformat our economy, and then befriend our formerly enthralled enemies when all the Saurons were defeated.


The Dark Lord exists in large measure because the alternatives are so unpalatable. If your enemy army is "worthy", but not controlled by a tyrant, then the whole enemy horde are individually evil and the only way to fully defeat them is genocide.

Alternately, you can have a solitary protagonist fighting a loner bad guy, but then it looks like a face off between two friendless assholes. It doesn't look very heroic if the protagonist can't get anyone on his side, and the antagonist doesn't seem very powerful or scary if he can neither raise a gang nor attract the attention of more than the one protagonist.

johnsolomon
11-29-2016, 03:43 PM
Finally, no Dark Ladies? Anyone ever read the Black Company? Cause if the Lady don't fit the Dark Lord trope I don't know who does.

I'm still a fan of Dark Lords/Dark Ladies and the Lady from the Black Company is one of my favourites. That isn't to say I LIKE her (or any of her underlings, or even the Black Company) but I enjoyed her character.

At the end of the day, a Dark Lord is just a powerful villain who casts a shadow over most of the story world... I don't think it can ever be overdone, just done badly.

SillyLittleTwit
12-24-2016, 09:03 AM
As a follow-up to my essay on the viability of Dark Lords, here's another one that looks at how they keep their underlings in line:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/why-serve-the-dark-lord/

MisterV
01-01-2017, 04:39 AM
I love a good Dark Lord story. I have one in my story. But, in his time, there were plenty of other Dark Lords - called Dark Ones.

Also don't forget Robert Jordan's playing around with the Dark One concept. Personally, I think the Dark One is a convenient scapegoat. Evil is all around us... a "dark lord" or whathaveyou is not the cause. We merely interpret it that way. In a way, it's a philosophical explanation. Hey, that makes fantasy reading a method of learning philosophy. College required fantasy novels, here we come!

R.T James
01-06-2017, 07:54 AM
I enjoy the dark lord trop, I do see it as a very way to rally up some troops and go tally ho.

But I do enjoy the fact my MC has this constant fear in his mind he will become this trop if he gains power.
He's won wars, destroyed nations and killed millions of people over a very long time, but this was all to stop a large enemy from committing genocide on the land.

He refuses any form of power given to him. He refuses because he knows what he'll do with it. Because first thing first he'll make their nation a crater and accept full responsibility of the wars that arise next, even if he needs to bend the knee of his best friend.

I do find the motivations of villains fun to study. Especially those with powers that are stronger than that of the heroes.

Signed,

Mr. James

anakhouri79
01-09-2017, 02:11 AM
Sometimes when I read The Dark Lord and then you find out his mommy never loved him or some tragic thing happened in his past (as a way to explain his evilness) I roll my eyes.

SPOILER


Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is the first one that springs to mind. Sometimes you can save the world with love, I guess, but usually you also need an enchanted sword or at least a shotgun. Sure, multi-faceted characters are great, but sometimes it's just works to go Full Baddie.

MisterV
01-09-2017, 03:08 AM
Sometimes when I read The Dark Lord and then you find out his mommy never loved him or some tragic thing happened in his past (as a way to explain his evilness) I roll my eyes.

SPOILER


Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is the first one that springs to mind. Sometimes you can save the world with love, I guess, but usually you also need an enchanted sword or at least a shotgun. Sure, multi-faceted characters are great, but sometimes it's just works to go Full Baddie.

I'll have to respectfully disagree with you.

Nearly everyone has a reason to do what they do. Maybe it's a simple motivation, like your evil antagonist wants total power. Lots of people want total power and try as hard as possible to get it. Some have a misguided way of thinking about how the world should be run, and try to impose their will above all others. Some are just basic greedy bastards and wants lots of money, toys, and power because, well, that's cool. And there is a lot of psychological backgrounding there.

If the Dark Lord's mommy HAD loved him, maybe he'd be a little different. Studies have shown that when the parent is absent or expressionless or disinterested in their child for even a few minutes causes the baby to start getting "worried." The baby attempts to get attention, to fix the perceived problem, and eventually gives up. If the parent reengages with them, the baby pouts for a bit and resumes normal activity. Also, this was a study, not my experience - I don't have kids, so I have to go off what I read.

The summary here is that bad parenting really can screw just about anyone up. That doesn't mean that's what's going to make them evil, but it could be part of the problem.

ANother inherent flaw in the whole "dark lord" trope is that a lot of times, the character is pure, distilled evil. Unfortunately, it's what the author thinks if pure, distilled evil. What's evil? Sure, wanting to destroy the entire world is pretty evil, but does he/she think so? Most baddies don't think they're bad. Some probably admit they're not being helpful. Most people can't do what they think is actually wrong - it's not possible. They're using rationalization and / or they've been programmed with psychology from bad experience. Maybe that causes the person to hate humanity and wants to wipe everything from the planet because it's a curse. He's saving everyone from the horror of being alive, dammit!

That's just a few things I thought I'd throw out there, from the way I see things. I'm not saying I'm right or wrong, but there's always a definite reason behind why someone does something - even if it's just basic pettiness.

ManWithTheMetalArm
01-09-2017, 10:00 AM
Probably one of the best examples of the "Dark Lord" trope besides Sauron is Dark Seid. To him, the universe is in a state of complete and utter chaos, a nasty, random place where conflict between the different intelligent lifeforms is not only possible, but inevitable. He wants to bring order to the universe, and to do that, he must wipe out all life in the universe. You can see his side, of course, that conflict while always happen, but that's kind of life in a nutshell, so you hate him for it. And, the most important thing, Dark Seid does not see himself as "evil"; to him, he's doing the universe a favor by eliminating life and starting all over again, this time with him in charge.

deafblindmute
01-14-2017, 11:41 PM
I often find that the Dark Lord is less interesting than his henchmen. More often, Saurumon is more fondly remembered than Sauron (And Sauron to Morgoth). Gollum is just a human wretch, yet attracts more pity and sympathy than some of the heroes.

Personally, I like my characters to seem tragic and sympathetic. Especially dark lords. I always feel the best dark lords are either slightly alone, desperate, or have some higher purpose. That, or are so self-centered and greedy that, in actuality, they are sort of pathetic on some level.

DocBad
01-16-2017, 07:07 PM
Sometimes I like it when authors psychologize their "dark lords", but I think that sometimes that falls hard into the omniscience thing (sorry, I don't know all the technical jargon yet, still learning ;) ). What I mean is, how likely is it that a peasant boy from the countryside or a haggard old soldier who want to save the world are gonna read the dark lord's diary? I personally find fiction that is written without that feeling of omniscience much more engaging, mysterious, and exciting. And since it's the hero whose side we're on, why should we know all about the bad guy either? Experiencing the dark lord the way the protagonist does, through rumors, stories, bearing witness to the atrocities that make them so dark and lordy in the first place - that's how I like my bad guys. Otherwise, they're just another character. That's just my two cents, but I'm a doof, so... grain of salt, haha.

deafblindmute
01-16-2017, 08:45 PM
Sometimes I like it when authors psychologize their "dark lords", but I think that sometimes that falls hard into the omniscience thing (sorry, I don't know all the technical jargon yet, still learning ;) ). What I mean is, how likely is it that a peasant boy from the countryside or a haggard old soldier who want to save the world are gonna read the dark lord's diary? I personally find fiction that is written without that feeling of omniscience much more engaging, mysterious, and exciting. And since it's the hero whose side we're on, why should we know all about the bad guy either? Experiencing the dark lord the way the protagonist does, through rumors, stories, bearing witness to the atrocities that make them so dark and lordy in the first place - that's how I like my bad guys. Otherwise, they're just another character. That's just my two cents, but I'm a doof, so... grain of salt, haha.
Well, personally, when writing fantasy I prefer to go for multiple perspectives. If it's just low fantasy, then I'll let the characters' actions speak for themselves. Bad guys do bad things, and the hero sees that. Still, I like to have their motive and back story in mind while writing said character, so that way their actions have a rhyme or reason to them, even of the PoV character doesn't see.

rwm4768
01-17-2017, 03:33 AM
Sometimes I like it when authors psychologize their "dark lords", but I think that sometimes that falls hard into the omniscience thing (sorry, I don't know all the technical jargon yet, still learning ;) ). What I mean is, how likely is it that a peasant boy from the countryside or a haggard old soldier who want to save the world are gonna read the dark lord's diary? I personally find fiction that is written without that feeling of omniscience much more engaging, mysterious, and exciting. And since it's the hero whose side we're on, why should we know all about the bad guy either? Experiencing the dark lord the way the protagonist does, through rumors, stories, bearing witness to the atrocities that make them so dark and lordy in the first place - that's how I like my bad guys. Otherwise, they're just another character. That's just my two cents, but I'm a doof, so... grain of salt, haha.

In one of my series, I actually write scenes from the "dark lord's" point of view. As it turns out, he's not really the dark lord you think he is at first. There's something even worse out there.

phantom000
01-22-2017, 08:29 AM
People talk about Sauron and Palpatine, I wonder how Unicron from The Transformers: The Movie fits this trope.

I have an idea for a twist, the Dark Lord as a kind of mantel that a person has to take up for the greater good, or something. Imagine if Elsa, from Disney's Frozen, was not evil but let everyone think she was this evil Queen/sorceress because it was keeping Arendelle safe. Their enemies did not invade the kingdom because they were scared of her. Or maybe in Beauty and The Beast where he felt had to become 'the beast' because fear of him kept society in check, a kind of balance of power.

TimidSuitor
02-03-2017, 08:43 AM
In a Wuxia novel I just read there's a "dark lord" whose symbolic color is white, and characters who met him praised how pure he's. He just wanted to be the strongest, and that alone causes many problem. I think that's interesting take on this trope.

SillyLittleTwit
02-05-2017, 06:51 AM
In a Wuxia novel I just read there's a "dark lord" whose symbolic color is white,

IIRC, white is the traditional Asian colour of death.

jkeene
02-05-2017, 07:28 AM
The Dark Lord trope is useful, I like think. I'd love to read a good fantasy with a well done dark lord trope. I have actually spent a lot of time thinking how I would one like the Wheel of Time since that dark lord was interesting but the final reveal of his true character kind of ruined it for me.

writbeyondmeasure
02-05-2017, 04:39 PM
"There is no good or evil. There is only power." -Lord Voldemort
I'm still kind of annoyed with Voldemort's death in the Harry Potter movies i.e. super magical, skin peeling like burning paper. In the books Voldy begins as this evil, all powerful, dark wizard who doesn't seem human. Throughout the books we slowly learn about his past and how he goes from being the charming and handsome Head Boy of Hogwarts to the Dark Lord. Then he dies with "mundane finality" as a man. It was symbolic that he died like a mere mortal because one of his motivations was that he liked to be different (as a child he was annoyed because Tom the barman had the same name as him) and he wanted to be immortal. He is also flawed and his own flaw contributes to his downfall.

Anyway, my point is: I don't mind the Dark Lord trope so long as the villain still has motivations and flaws. Voldemort is a scary villain but he is also an interesting character IMO. I personally find characters who are evil just because its fun boring.

snafu1056
02-06-2017, 10:47 AM
In a Wuxia novel I just read there's a "dark lord" whose symbolic color is white, and characters who met him praised how pure he's. He just wanted to be the strongest, and that alone causes many problem. I think that's interesting take on this trope.

I think some of that also goes back to Manicheism, a middle eastern religion that existed in China at different periods but never got mainstream approval and was viewed with suspicion by many. It's often used as the template for evil/foreign cults in Chinese stories. Manichean priests wore white and considered white their holy color. They were also obsessed with the idea of purity. Manicheism is all about light forces vs dark forces (a very D&D type religion), so yeah, the color white, light, purity, etc. were all associated with them. Also a lot of Wuxia stories are set during periods when Manicheism existed in China, so it makes sense.