Following in the wake of developments from the last several weeks, is the idea of “normal” characters, as opposed to protagonists and antagonists. “Getting In Over Your Head,” is a place to start a discussion about the mechanical differences between characters you see on the street, and the characters you play.

Relevant tropes include “All of the Other Reindeer,” “Innocent Bystander,” and “Muggles,” which are all used to describe the normal person’s place in a narrative work. Also relevant to the discussion are tropes that describe the relationship normal characters have to the protagonist: “Dying Like Animals” and “Fighting For Survival.”

Now, I’ve been talking about the differences between “normal” people and “heroes” for a long time. It’s one of my long-term projects. There’s also the journey a normal person makes to become a hero, and whether or not it’s possible to make the journey back, not to mention where a hero can go from wherever they start as a hero.

Whether or not a hero can become a villain is a question of what made them a hero to begin with — is a hero defined by what they do, or are they defined by the culture that they champion? One is a more objective view, that there are universal virtues a hero may aspire to, and the other is a more cynical and/or subjective view.

Can a hero be born, or are they made? If they are born a hero, do they remain the hero forever, or can they “die” and become a villain? Heroes who are made face similar scrutiny. Is being a hero something that must be maintained? Can a believable balance be found between the cynical and idealistic views of heroes?

Is there such thing as a universal hero?

Generally speaking, I assume that “normal people” occupy a position somewhere between seventy and ninety percent of all characters in a setting. It depends on whether the “C” grade is “average,” or if normal people fall in the range of two to nineteen, with heroes and villains resulting from “natural twenties,” or ones.