Greetings ladies, gents and others! I'm N, an old user of this site who I'm certain many of you don't quite know. Since I happen to have a sickly need for attention, I want to ensure that everyone knows who I am so I often make blogs like this one to share my opinion on a variety of things related to the Bleachverse as well as offering guides.
Today I will be giving you a guide which I hope will help at least some of you. Today I'm gonna talk about what I've chosen to dub "The Nanami Principle".
Before I begin, I will be providing a little bit of background for why I've chosen this name. The Nanami Principle is based upon the character of the same name from Katanagatari. She was born immensely powerful, so powerful in fact, that her own body couldn't handle it, and for that reason she was always sick, weak and in excruciating agony. It was believed she wouldn't live past infanthood. Following her birth, she spent several days between life and death, screaming all the time, with others hoping that she would just die, so that her suffering would come to an end. Despite this, she survived, and this became the reality for her every single day for the remainder of her life.
As she grew up, Nanami's poise, composure and skill were all perfect. Her ability to understand the martial arts, and the ways of battle were so profound that whenever she would gaze upon a technique, she would deduce it's nature immediately and learn it for herself by completely comprehending it. By the second time she looked, she would've completely mastered everything there was to know about the technique in question. Along with the ability to combine it flawlessly with her already existing repertoire of skills. However ultimately, whatever she could learn from watching others was in every way inferior to what she already knew. Because when you've reached perfection, as Mayuri put it, that's basically it. There's nothing left to do, nothing you need to improve on, anything added can only serve to dilute that perfection.
Nanami knew this perfectly well, and that was the precise reason she left her home and began travelling the world to learn the techniques and skills of others. Not to empower herself, that was impossible. But to become weaker, hoping that in doing so, she could ease the incredible agony she had to live with every single day and night, as well as a weak hope of living longer. As she knew, that although her great power kept her alive, it only prolonged the ineviteable. She would waste away and die a pitiful death, destroyed by her own power.
She was correct, she worked to learn every technique she ever saw, and with each new addition to her arsenal, she became weaker and weaker. She diluted her own perfection more and more, all with the goal of surviving one more day, one more week, and one more month. This is what the Nanami Principle is based on. That for each new ability you add to a character that is already more or less complete, you're destroying something in the process unless you manage to piece it all together properly. Unrelated abilities are quite commonplace among many character articles, including some of the most well-known characters on the site. Many let themselves be "inspired" by animes like Naruto and find ways to place the most famous techniques from that series onto their character because they seem cool. The most common subjects being the Susanoo, Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu techniques. Which are added at random because of their apparent power.
That concludes my preface, time to get started on the matter at hand.
There are a few common reasons why someone feel like "spicing" their character up a bit by adding questionable abilities and random techniques. The most common reason is that a surprising amount of users believe that strong techniques automatically equal powerful characters. This is entirely untrue, and I would've loved to explain why, but then I could risk getting off the rail. I'll however state that it has much more to do with the roleplayer behind the character, than the characters themselves. But now to provide a more detailed explanation.
Microfocusing: Oh lookie! More personal words! Microfocusing is a term I've chosen to help me talk about situations where one roleplayer gets their ass handed to them on a silver platter along with a glass of nice chianti. The losers immediate response is often to think about why their character lost the battle. Rarely will a roleplayer ever take the time to examine themselves for possible errors, nor will they attribute it to someone's superior skill. No, for most roleplayers, particularly the newer ones, the root of the problem always lies in the characters. Often they will attribute the victory solely to the fancy powers of their opponent, and believing themselves profoundly inspired by their loss they will begin to "improve" their character. This form of improvement, fuelled by a damaged ego, usually entails adding a slew of new abilities and powers, which possess next to no connection to the characters core. Most of them conveniently "fine-tuned" to provide "natural" counters to the biggest problem techniques of their recently elected nemesis. So that next time they roleplay against that character, they can use their special powers to win. In the end all of these powers tend to be used only once at most, and then never again, they were created with the express purpose of solving a specific problem relating to a specific type of technique or spell. If any of your characters have any such abilities, then remove them immediately, they have no place on the article if they're only meant to be deus ex machina for difficult situations.
An example of this would be if a Hakuda specialist got his/her ass handed to them by a water user, and in order to ensure that it wouldn't happen again, the author decided to pull an ice power out of their bum to specifically counter other water techniques in the future. The random ice ability has nothing to do with Hakuda and exists there only to provide an easy escape plan in case their character for some reason finds themselves challenged. We tend to lose a lot of fights, as is only human, and to reflect this, certain less experienced roleplayers soon find that they have over a dozen different microfocusing abilities intended to evade a specific kind of threat. And in combat, they find themselves relying more on their gradually expanded "cheat sheet" than the actual specialty stated in the article itself.
Fan Squeeling: I made another term! I can do this shit too! Anyway, Fan Squeeling is a very common occurrence that happens to the best of us. Have you ever found yourself watching an anime or reading a manga, and then one of the characters suddenly whips out a very unique and interesting superpower which you think is absolutely fabulous? Suddenly, you can think of nothing else than how fantastically awesome that ability is. In a sudden blaze of "inspiration" you take this ability, rewords it somewhat and slaps it onto your main roleplaying character. Maybe with a questionable explanation attached. You don't really think about whether or not it works with your characters intended core, you're more concerned about mimicking your favorite character. These incidents happen fairly often and it's common to want to "improve" your main character as much as possible so soon you can find that a character that previously specialized in swordsmanship suddenly has various Kamehameha techniques, the ability to form a Susanoo ribcage and an assortment of others powers from various animes and video games. Much like the Microfocus problem, this serves to taint the character and ruin the flow of their article. At best, the user understands that these additions has nothing at all to do with the character and continues staying true to their character, albeit with the addition of a few additional abilities that they never use and only take up space and confuse the reader. At worst, they become so buried in these new gadgets that their entire character concept is deformed and destroyed in the process, leaving little more than a fancy pile of random powers behind.
What to do
To avoid the Nanami Principle, the first step is to read your ability section and any other relevant sections. Such as the personality, history or equipment sections where there are elements which do not fit the core of the character you've made, or are intending to make. Read each section carefully, and while you're at it, look at the spelling and grammar as well.
Each time you find something that you think might detract from your intents. Remove it immediately. If you find something that you happen to like a lot on this character, but which doesn't quite fit in either, you should definitely remove that. This is a process referred to in literary circles as "Kill your Darlings" - this is excellent advice overall, and it mostly concerns sentences and paragraphs which you are particularly pleased about. But which might, as this, detract from the larger picture.
But that's the easy way. There are ways to work with even the most unfitting ability in your characters arsenal. The answer is very simple, make it so that it is no longer unfitting. Though I will warn you, this process is much more comprehensive than merely adding another section in their history section describing and hows and whys of why this is connected to them. No, what you actually would need to do, would be to change the ability or technique in a way so fundamental that you can tie it in with their primary specialization. This is not a matter of changing the core to make room for the new addition, this is a matter of changing the new addition in such a way that it works besides and makes sense in comparison to the core.
An example would be if you specialized in fire techniques, but had a Kamehameha technique at the side. Complete with blue light and matching hand movements. Naturally, this would strike us as an oddity. But what if, instead of a typical blue energy beam attack, it was changed to be a technique that compressed and tempered a tremendous amount of heat among the users hands, and unleashed it in a scarlet beam of immense heat and force, sort of like a concentrated lance of flame. Hopefully this should give you an idea about what I'm talking about. Suddenly you've turned an alien into a native, you're happy and content because you got to keep a technique and stay true to your character at the same time. In advance, you're quite welcome.
The best way to deal with the Nanami Principle is to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. It's not really that big a deal, it simply requires you being a bit more critical of your own actions, which is a talent that's well worth the trouble to acquire. Whenever you feel like adding something relevant to your characters abilities, cool down, take a breath and ask yourself the following questions.
- What's the point of adding this? This is a matter of what adding a specific technique or ability would actually accomplish. It's unlikely that a fighter would create several techniques for the exact same purpose, so if the purpose of an attack is to provide a cost-efficient way of pressuring your opponent and you already have something similar, make a choice between one or the other. That reduces clutter and ensure your character doesn't suffer from the Nanami Principle.
- How would this impact the choices I've made with my character thus far? This question is an interesting one. Let's assume you're making a fragile speedster archetype, in essence a character that's extremely agile and quick on their feet, but who suffers from low durability and endurance. Then suddenly you add a technique that surrounds them within many layers of hard stone which not only serves to increase their durability and resistance to damage by a wide margin, but it also drastically reduces their speed. Such a technique, though interesting is ultimately completely at odds with the character concept, and it has to go.
- Why am I adding this? This is the critical step, as it forms the bulk of why many people start to fall victim to the Nanami Principle. As role players and writers, we are all stricken by vanity and tend to be somewhat narcissistic. When our egos are bruised because we lost a roleplay, we immediately look for ways to best the character. When you find that your fire-specialist loses against the water-specialist, that's only the natural order of weaknesses and strengths. But even so, your adrenaline is still pumping and you need a way to "counter" them, fast. Suddenly your character has pulled an ice technique out of their arse, which stands at complete odds to their fire alignment. This question is to understand your own motivation. You must be honest with yourself though, if you attempt to brush yourself off then you won't get anywhere. Learn to put your reasons before your desires.
While this guide is quite short, I do sincerely hope some of you can draw something from it and take the advice given to heart. I think you'd be doing yourself quite the favor. Also, know that everyone tends to do this to varying degrees, even esteemed role players, heck, I myself had a pretty nasty case of this a while back.
When I joined this wiki a few years ago, there was a roleplay in which another user completely demolished my character. My character was exclusively water-based, and this character had the ability to manipulate, control and create crystals out of thin air. As well as crystalize any liquid imaginable. As expected, he had an immense advantage, and proceeded to make each of my attacks worthless. I reacted in an immature way and called him out on it on his talk page. From that point on, it became a goal for me to best THAT specific character with the same character that had gotten his ass kicked. I experimented with ways to destroy crystals, and suddenly my characters abilities went from pure water to magma, fluid reishi and nitrogen, with the ability to use sound-based Kido on top of that. I eventually gave him immense physical strength too. Before you ask, yes, in the end, my character managed to defeat his nemesis in a rematch, but his abilities had detracted so immensely from my intended direction that he was no more fun anymore. He won by using his tremendous physical strength, his prowess of Kido, and every other talent than his intended speciality. He never once made use of his trademark. And for the purpose of the fight itself, he was a completely different character. With neither a head nor a tail.
And that concludes this blog.