Humans aren't chess pieces, they do after all have free will — to some degree — but a good player can still use them. In fact, playing humans is harder. Or maybe I should say it simply requires different skills.
Chessmasters tug at their strings of influence, patiently move their pieces into places that often seem harmless or pointless until the trap is closed, and get innocent Unwitting Pawns
) to do all the heavy lifting. The best will also have layers upon layers of misdirection and backup plans
in case some unexpected hero appears to gum up the works
Chessmasters can sometimes be on the side of good
, but if so they'll almost certainly be the Anti-Hero
(the Pragmatic Hero
variation) at best or the Well-Intentioned Extremist
at worst, as it's very hard to plan a Chessmaster scheme that doesn't sacrifice a few pawns along the way
. Heroic Chessmasters are very often introduced as a Mysterious Employer
. The Svengali
, in acting for the (supposed) good of his protégés, will often be this (and if he isn't, he'll pretend).
Chessmasters can occasionally be The Strategist
, although given the volatility of war, most Strategists will only ply their schemes one campaign at a time, with an emphasis on short-term goals (and an eye towards all possible future contingencies). The Game Master
may be a Chessmaster also, but many of them prefer to give their orders more directly. Many chessmasters are Villains With Good Publicity
, but they can also be someone no one has ever heard of
. Almost all Ancient Conspiracies
are led by a collective of chessmasters
, silently working toward their goals over generations. Chessmasters also tend to be overconfident
and usually panic
when their "perfect" plans fail
. The exception to this is when Magnificent Bastard
and Chessmaster overlap, since a Magnificent Bastard
is quite good at rebounding from defeat
. Fond of a Battle of Wits
Of course, actual chess
ability is implied, and some Chessmasters take it literally
, mapping their plans out with an actual chessboard, occasionally with pieces shaped like the main characters. Don't ask how this works, or where they get pieces
. This is most likely a result of Smart People Play Chess
. Compare the Manipulative Bastard
who tends to be more personal and controlling in her/his manipulations. Compare/contrast Opportunistic Bastard
Chessmasters are usually (but not always) non-physical and unsuitable for action
due to age, infirm, or simply being a thinker, not a fighter.
If the chessmaster is the villain, when the hero defeats them it's usually via the one move they didn't plan for.
Not to be confused with The Chessmaster, a long-running series of chess videogames.