Friday, August 4, 2017

The Masterpiece: Red Mage

In the arena of logic, I fight unarmed.

Red Mage is insane.  Well, at times he's more lucid than others, but usually he's the one to most likely go above and beyond any form of sanity and logic.

The reason is that he is meant to represent the gamer, the rpg addict that attempts to squeeze out the most from the game, often by gaming the system itself.  The phrase "min-maxer" is used for this idea, maxing out certain powers while minimizing the penalties.

Which when playing, say, Dungeons and Dragons, is probably just fine.  There are a set of rules that govern the play order, powers, abilities and whatnot.  In a comic that is a "real" world, stuff like this gets really silly really fast.  At one point Red Mage rolls a pair of dice in order to escape being dropped into a pool of acid.  The dice fell in the pool of acid.

All of this allows Red Mage to do completely insane things that are only logical if you come at it from a game perspective.  It does, however, generates some rather ethical and moral issues.  When the character manages to do something so horrible that even Black Mage, the avatar of evil, is disturbed by it, it might be a bit too far.

The scary thing is, about half the time, his plans work.  The other half the time, though, it's completely stupid.  To the point that other characters, typically Thief, have to drag him back to reality.  Which is pretty temporary in most cases.

Ultimately, Red Mage came to know, um, everything, and while his plans for dealing with Sarda were still crazy, they were at the point where nothing less than crazy would work.  And it DID work.  Until it didn't, but that's part of the joke.

And a joke is what Red Mage is, well a joke dispenser anyway.  Whether he's rolling dice or attempting to generate quests to earn XP to level up, it's all about being him being at his most ridiculous.  The few times he seems rather lucid are often because other characters are being at their most insane, such as the Dwarven Genocide where he wanted to talk because he wanted XP while Thief and Black Mage wanted to kill and destroy.

In the end, Red Mage was a joke engine, there to make relatively normal, if silly, encounters into complete madness.  He doesn't have much of an arc, limited to his conflict with Black Mage near the end of the comic.  There is a hint of some morality there, he does teleport White Mage out just prior to that fight, and after the events of the comic, but his actions in the rest of the comic shows he often overrides his morality in the name of gaming the universe, and from there, the jokes come naturally.

Next time, god.  Kind of.  Sort of.  You'll see.