1. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Senior Member

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    I want my character to look scary

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mikmaxs, Feb 11, 2017.

    This is for a specific scene: One of my characters (A sorceress, but one who isn't very skilled) is trying to bluff her way through a dangerous situation by convincing everyone around her that she could kill them all at a whim.
    To build on this idea, she's going to do a few things to sort of cheat the situation. Her magic staff, for example, will be enchanted to glow really brightly and blow wind around. When she first enters the area she needs to get through, she'd going to quietly break the hinges with an easy spell, then blow the door down with a big, intimidating spell that looks a lot more scary than it really is.

    Other than that, though... How do I make her look as intimidating as possible? The setting is a fusion of American westerns and European fantasy, so those are the two visual pools that I can draw from. She has access to anything that could reasonably be bought from a store or fashioned from readily available supplies. It doesn't have to be functional, just scary/badass/cool looking.
     
  2. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    A Glasgow smiles always creeps me out.
     
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  3. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    Have you thought about how she carries herself as she does this?

    If her goal is to intimidate, an easy way to do so is to carry herself in a way to make those around her feel small in comparison to her. Her facial expression and her words should reflect this combined with using her wits to make things seem bigger than they are.
     
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  4. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I would look to something physical she can do to break people's perception of her, something maybe non-magical but might appear magical to the unitiated to make her seem more powerful and dangerous. Something like being able to rap her staff against someone's chest and give them a big static electric shock would be perfect here. Something like that to back up whatever cosmetic steps she takes. Someone tries to call her bluff and she seemingly makes him recoil away with a gesture, that to a random person looks like her saying 'there's more where that came from sonnie' when really there isn't. Things like that you only have to do once; just something that makes people reevaluate her. Could be something non-magical (literally static electricity) or could be alchemical or just something cunning that she does (think street magic or sleight of hand) to break that initial perception and it'll take her a long way.
     
  5. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Senior Member

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    The biggest thing I'm planning for this is the 'Blow the door off its hinges' thing and the 'Glowy magic staff' thing. It'll appear to be a massive magical blast, but in fact it's a relatively minor one, and then it'll appear like she's charging up some massive power when in fact she's just turning on a glowstick.

    I'm more at a loss for what cosmetic details to try.

    Sure, but I don't want her to be permanently maimed.
     
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  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    ;) Illusion of a Glasgow Smile?
     
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  7. FireWater

    FireWater Senior Member

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    Specific tattoos that have are associated with (in your story's world) intimidating things? Kind of like how tear-drop shaped tattoos mean you killed someone in prison.
     
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  8. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with the notion of tattoos, or even just the illusion of them.

    Perhaps she creates the illusion of something that serves as her pet that would do a lot of damage if it were real?
     
  9. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Could you go literally "cosmetic," so she makes herself up to put herself into the Uncanny Valley? You know, so she looks almost but not quite human or real?
     
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  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Well it would help if she has been through some traumatic shit.
    That would help in giving her a hard cold gaze. :p

    Perhaps she could wear some sort of mask that instills intimidation?
    Or maybe a nasty scar, or severe burns on her face?
    Paint her face to look like a skull?
    Pale look of death perhaps?

    Not much I can do with a goody twoshoes type character.

    Zipper Face1.jpg Zipper face.jpg
     
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  11. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    I guess it really depends on who the 'everyone around her' is.

    If there are any accomplished wizards and spell casters or veterans who've face them, then the task is going to be more difficult.

    If it's just average folk, aware of, but not skilled in magics, then I would think showy would do. Also, if someone was injured 'incidentally' in her show of force, and she is uncaring of it...that could be intimidating. Not giving people time to think and process would be to her best advantage.
     
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  12. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Senior Member

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    Facepaint souped up with a bit of magic to make her eyes glow, possibly with extra runes that don't really mean anything? Short of having a talented makeup artist on hand to make her super creepy or disfigured, it's the best I can think of under the circumstances.
     
  13. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In one of the Black Company books, they were trying to fool people into thinking that one of the characters who wasn't a magician (whatever it was called in that universe) was something big and scary so they cast a couple of spells on him. One made his shadow flicker and not always match his movements (like in the movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula"), and the other, IIRC, was an illusion of himself, cast directly over himself. In other words, anyone with any magical sensitivity would see that he was wearing some sort of a (to coin a phrase) cloaking field, but not be able to see what was hidden beneath it, because the real answer was the same thing as what was presented. With two lightweight illusion spells, they made it look like he was a monstrous mega Dark Lord Demon camouflaged as just some guy.

     
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  14. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    The book I'm reading right now has a sorceress covered in tattoos that move on their own. There's a lot you can do with illusions: you could make her voice deeper/resonate; make her eyes glow; make her appear to grow in size like Gandalf did in the first LotR movie (in Bilbo's house, during the party). You could add eyeshadow to make her eyes deeper/darker (this, along with some face powder/make-up, would make her appear more skeletal).
     
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  15. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    You may want to make your character intentionally ambiguously described. Mentioning tattoos and guessing to their meaning, but not specifically placing them. Allow the actual description of the character vary depending on what the reader imagines from your Impressionism.

    I tend to find myself more interested in monsters I get only glimpses of. My two cents.
     
  16. iRoppa

    iRoppa Member

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    Could she make the air colder. Not to freeze anyone solid, but so anyone in the area will feel it, be able to see their breath? What if she can manipulate shadows? I'd have her making it appear that there were 'other things' in the area that no one really catches a good look at. Or maybe shadowy claws from the bottom of her robe (if she's wearing one?!) that make it appear something is trying to claw it's way out. Also, Gandalf! In the LOTR films, when he shouts at Bilbo for accusing him of being a thief. That would make me stop dead in my tracks.
     
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  17. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Senior Member

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    This is all super helpful, guys and gals, thanks. I can't use all of it, but it's given me a few ideas that I think I'll be able to incorporate.
     
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