A new Mary Sue test:

Total posts: [334]
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51 MadassAlex18th Sep 2011 12:17:50 AM from the Middle Ages.
I am vexed!
Would a machete count? By construction, it's more of a huge knife than a sword, but its use is quite similar. It's a less practical option than a gun, but it probably wouldn't be penalised for being out-of-place.

In addition, there's other modern contexts to take into account. For instance, myself. I don't walk around with a sword, but at the same time, the martial arts that inform my swordsmanship allow me to use improvised objects in much the same manner. So while the weapon is out of place, does that also apply to the skills? Or using an actual sword in a desperate situation?

A lot of people really don't know about the sword/gun division, anyway. In my experience, people tend to think that guns sort of instantly outed close combat weapons, or did so over a very short period of time. In reality, it took about 400 years; that's a huge degree of overlap that few audience members or authors really understand.

While something like using a sword in a 20th century onward military scenario would point towards Sueishness, there's a whole lot of approximations to consider, as well as general audience ignorance* .

edited 18th Sep '11 12:18:04 AM by MadassAlex

Also known as Katz
IMO, a machete gets a pass because it's very utilitarian. You can use it for bushwhacking, cutting things, or whatever—reasons to have one around in addition to its self-defense value. Most swords, in contrast, wouldn't be practical for those things and might get damaged.

You seem to all understand what I'm getting at with the question; what would be a better way to phrase it? I don't want to say "uses a sword in a modern-day or future setting," but "uses a sword in a setting where it's impractical" or "uses a sword for no good reason" is too open-ended and ambiguous.
53 MadassAlex18th Sep 2011 12:42:55 AM from the Middle Ages.
I am vexed!
"Uses a sword in a post-industrial setting, or where it would otherwise be impractical"?
54 Wolf106618th Sep 2011 01:34:35 AM from New Zealand , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Typin' strangely
Going by the news, machetes are usually used on unarmed people rather than used in sword fighting against another person armed with a machete or sword. Those who wield them as weapons tend not to train with them and just go with the "hack at someone with the sharp bit" approach - a nastier version of a length of pipe or a baseball bat.

Not to say it isn't dangerous - a number of people here, including a judge, have been seriously injured.

Trouble with swords in this day and age is that it's hard to justify having one as so few people outside of Historical Martial Arts groups actually know how to use one so you won't have any people to fight against - it's not like everyone's wandering around with a sword strapped to their hip these days and you have to carry one in case some bolshy shit decides to pick a fight with you.

So who is the character going to use the sword against? Unarmed people? Enemies that "just happen" to be trained in sword fighting, and "just happen" to chivalrously use only swords in fights despite modern firearms being concealable and lethally accurate over greater distances? People with guns?

Against a modern gun a sword is virtually useless - largely because anyone with an IQ greater than that of a chimp is going to see you're wearing a sword and threaten you from a safe distance with a firearm (if not shoot you outright).

Characters using swords in a modern setting comes across as contrived, ludicrous and extremely Sueish. I've yet to see any "justification" for them having swords that does not come across as complete bollocks.

I get that swords are cool and I wish like hell there was a decent local Historical European Martial Arts club nearby - I'd be signing up like a shot. But I wouldn't be wandering around the street expecting to get into a sword fight with some random enemy.

True, you could, in a pinch use a pool cue or similar if someone's coming at you with a beer bottle (you'd want to be justified in using a weapon) but that's not what the question asks.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
55 MadassAlex18th Sep 2011 02:43:41 AM from the Middle Ages.
I am vexed!

I know it's not technically what it asks, but as a swordsman, I can tell you that a sword is worse than useless without an appropriate martial art to back it up. So having a sword in fiction is equivalent to having some amount of skill unless otherwise noted. An untrained swordsman can expect to cut themselves just as much, if not more, than the person they're fighting. The skills and the weapon are, in all practical senses, inseparable insofar as a character could be called a "swordsman". It's usually special cases where a character has a sword and a plot point includes them being unable to use it.

Otherwise, I can see swords being useful post-apocalypse or otherwise after industrial breakdown. Without industry, modern ammunition could no longer be produced in any significant quantity. A few years of maddened warfare, all the ammo goes kaput, alternative methods have to be found. More primitive firearms, crossbows and bows would probably fill the void very quickly — and, of course, close combat weapons of all kinds. Although this isn't "reality", it seems reasonable enough.

The essential thing to note is that time hasn't dulled the edges of other weapons. Something like a sword isn't practical in warfare, and not necessarily in self-defense in gun-heavy countries, but in other cases an approximation is the best thing available. For instance, in Australia, truly combat-effective guns are illegal for civilians to own. It's a part of what inspired me, personally, to take up swordsmanship. Against John Thug on the street, an umbrella or lucky metal pipe makes a fine sword, especially in the case of John Thug having his own improvised weapon of some kind.

Also, there's certainly machete fighting arts around. Particularly in South East Asia, if my memory recalls. In especially dense terrain, a light close combat weapon is more immediately practical, be that a knife, bludgeon, machete or whatever you choose.

In short, it comes down to what "having a sword" implies in a fictional sense. Plenty of people today own swords without having the capacity to fight with them, but fiction is different. If you have a sword, that's almost evidence of the ability to use it. So while running around with it is almost a uniformly bad idea, a character, say, having one at home can be a nod towards their skills.

This isn't an argument for the question being removed, just for the record. But what count as "impractical" isn't that clear-cut is all.

edited 18th Sep '11 2:51:30 AM by MadassAlex

56 annebeeche18th Sep 2011 06:28:22 AM from by the long tidal river
watching down on us
60. Does the story treat your character's goals and problems as far more important than anyone else's?
  • a. As far more important than larger threats?

Okay, what if your story is told by an incredibly selfish protagonist who thinks her personal problems are more important than anyone else's?

She's writing the story, so naturally the story does treat her goals and problems that way, but it's not something I agree with.

edited 18th Sep '11 6:29:22 AM by annebeeche

Banned entirely for telling FE that he was being rude and not contributing to the discussion.
I shall watch down from the goon heavens.
57 MrAHR18th Sep 2011 07:21:15 AM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I don't think I have any mary sues (yeah, I've got an ego in that area, shoot me), but a lot of my characters always score high, lets see...


Section 1:

  1. 5

1 point

Section 2:

  1. 7

  2. 8

  3. 10

  4. 11

  5. 12

  6. 16

  7. 19

Points: 14

Total: 15

Section 3:

  1. 21

  2. 23

  3. 24

  4. 28

  5. 28a

  6. 32

  7. 33

  8. 33a

  9. 34

  10. 34a

Points: 20

Total: 35

Section 3a:

  1. 36(2)

  2. 36b

  3. 38(2)

  4. 39 (2)

  5. 44 (1)

  6. 47 (2)

  7. 50 (2)

Points: 13

Total: 48

Section 4

  1. 52 (sorta, I guess. Prophecies are a dime a dozen)

  2. 54

  3. 54a

  4. 64 (comparatively)

Points: 12

Total: 60

Section 5:

  1. 68

  2. 68a

  3. 71

  4. 77

Points: 12

Total: 72

Section 6:

  1. 91

  2. 91b

  3. 92

  4. 92a

  5. 93

  6. 93a

Points: -10

Total: 62

40-100: Your character is definitely in Mary Sue territory. He or she may have a tragic past that gets a little too much focus. In addition to having a lot of cool traits that may not always make sense, he or she often gets special treatment. The story revolves around him or her, rarely letting other characters do anything important, and other people love him or her and let him or her get away with things that other characters couldn't. This character needs a significant overhaul to make him or her more believable.

Eenteresting. It would have been much higher if I had included the "died and come back" points, which happens much later, after the story ends, but I figured I'd just focus on the main story.

But yeah, his backstory is "part of team of super powerful assassins, that went downhill when a few went rogue and tried to kill the others, and basically succeeded."

So yeah, you get a lot of sue points for that. Especially when you have to depict the lot as depraved and detached from reality.

edited 18th Sep '11 7:23:23 AM by MrAHR

I ran a real Mary Sue through there, a superpowered wish-fulfillment character I made at age six or so. She scored an 86, and probably would have scored higher if she'd had any kind of love interest. So, the quiz appears to work well enough at spotting extreme cases of Sueism.
59 KyleJacobs18th Sep 2011 10:03:52 AM from DC - Southern efficiency, Northern charm , Relationship Status: One True Dodecahedron
Using the Remus cast:
  • Ryan:
    • Section 1: +2 points
    • Section 2: +8 points
    • Section 3: +4 points
    • Section 4: +6 points
    • Section 5: +3 points
    • Section 6: -6 points
    • Total: 17 points

  • Jason:
    • Section 1: +5 points
    • Section 2: +12 points
    • Section 3: +1 point
    • Section 4: +3 points
    • Section 5: +3 points
    • Section 6: -14 points (!)
    • Total: 10 points

  • Nicole:
    • Section 1: +1
    • Section 2: +8
    • Section 3: +7
    • Section 4: +6
    • Section 5: +3
    • Section 6: -16
    • Total: 9
Hmm... ran a character that is supposed to be suish.

Author Avatars: 0
Woobies: 0
Awesomeness: 6
Setting-Specific Uniqueness: 0
World Wraping: 3
Reactions and Consequences: 0
De-Suifiers: -6

Total: 3

I'm surprised that "being an expert in many fields" earns only two points, actually. (Only if there is a good reason, yes, but still.)
For stress testing, let's see how the blatantly sueish version of Alice from my first rough drafts measures up...

  • Section 1 - 0
  • Section 2 - 18
  • Section 3 - 8
  • Section 3a - 4
  • Section 4 - 15
  • Section 5 - 24
  • Section 6 - -10

For a grand total of 59. Man, I had some crazy rough drafts. And Alice's present version for comparison.

  • Section 1 - 0
  • Section 2 - 4
  • Section 3 - 4
  • Section 3a - 0
  • Section 4 - 6
  • Section 5 - 3
  • Section 6 - -20 (note: shouldn't lightly played sociopathy be on the list of things that don't count for question 90? I didn't count it, anyways.)

For a grand total of... -3? Well, she is a despised villain, but that actually seems a bit low for a master assassin. Perhaps under question 66, a sub-question for "if they don't like him or her, do they at least begrudgingly respect him or her?" Later I might try Edmund Clark Jr., who is supposed to score high (being The Ace).

edited 18th Sep '11 11:13:43 AM by KillerClowns

My character is pretty high up there (28 on the universal test). But I think that that number should be tempered by the fact that it's a Next Gen Fic that's explicitly using the grand-/great grandchildren of canon characters (so obviously, they're related to canon characters), and since the canon characters are dead (after 100 years, they would be), of course the OC's have to solve the problems without their help. So, probably some sue-ish tendencies, but I'm hesitant to really use any stock test to measure that.
See ALL the stars!
89. Does your character have a physical handicap that interferes with his or her life? (If your character has a physical handicap that doesn't interfere in any way, add one point instead of subtracting two.)
What about "This is the future and all the consequences have been mitigated?"
Da Rules excuse all the inaccuracy in the world. Listen to them, not me.
Right. I'm going to be doing something a bit different with Edmund: because me and Sigmund (the in-universe story-teller for anything relating to him) differ, the score will go Sigmund/Myself.

  • Section 1 - 5/0
  • Section 2 - 10/10
  • Section 3 - 18/20
  • Section 3a - 1/1
  • Section 4 - 26/23
  • Section 5 - 30/24
  • Section 6 - -3/-11

With a final score of 87 from Sigmund's perspective, and 67 from my own (while still pretending everything Sigmund says is true). This is actually what I was aiming for: it's clear that Sigmund is an Unreliable Narrator about his grandfather, who was, in reality, a truly brilliant but deeply flawed and troubled man to whom Sigmund has ascribed every trait he wishes he himself had, creating an impossible standard for himself to live up to.

edited 18th Sep '11 11:36:23 AM by KillerClowns

Also known as Katz
I've yet to see any "justification" for them having swords that does not come across as complete bollocks.

Incidentally, I've got a sword user who can teleport. How would that be for a justification? (He'd still get the points on the test, of course.)

Otherwise, I can see swords being useful post-apocalypse or otherwise after industrial breakdown.

That's the sort of reason I'm hesitant to say "present or future". Maybe "in a setting where higher-tech weapons have rendered them impractical?" But that's really clumsy.
Also known as Katz
What about "This is the future and all the consequences have been mitigated?"

That's a good question. Clearly it's better than just writing a blind character who happens to act just like a sighted character, but it still smacks of wanting to give a character a trait without dealing with the consequences. So I don't know.
67 USAF71318th Sep 2011 12:18:48 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
How about "Does your character use a sword for no other reason than 'just because it's cool?'"
I am now known as Flyboy.
68 JHM18th Sep 2011 12:53:06 PM from Neither Here Nor There , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Thunder, Perfect Mind
As a matter of principle, I tend to run Ianto through these things first. While a pretty well-rounded, interesting character, he has a number of features that, in the hands of another author, could easily lend themselves to hardcore Sue-ness.

He scored an even 17. I think that this bodes well.

Now, to my most blatantly overpowered non-Eldritch Abomination characters, Gregorius Sixtus and Evan the Grey.

The former scored about 30, the latter around 24. Interesting.

edited 18th Sep '11 12:53:35 PM by JHM

69 Morven18th Sep 2011 04:54:50 PM from Seattle, WA, USA
Questions 28 and 29 are numbered in reverse.

I discovered this because I was html-izing the posts to see if I could create a form for it.
A brighter future for a darker age.
Author in waiting
However, skip any question that there's a good in-story reason for.

I'm not sure this is the right phrase, as someone said above "Everyone likes her because she is very likeable!" could easily be used as an in-story justification. I think a better phrase would be something along the lines of "A character cannot be used to justify themselves."

edited 18th Sep '11 6:51:11 PM by TheEmeraldDragon

I am a nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect.
71 Rainbow18th Sep 2011 07:13:16 PM , Relationship Status: Puppy love
@Dark Confidant: Yes, that's one of the things that I personally like about this test (being a fan of Next-Gen Fic). This test does seem to focus more on what the character does to the story rather than specific traits, which is more my idea of what a Mary Sue is.

edited 18th Sep '11 7:20:14 PM by Rainbow

72 Teraus18th Sep 2011 07:32:01 PM from The Origin of Dreams
Awesome Lightning Mantra
I can see how a sword can be more useful than a gun, even in a futuristic setting. I have an extremely fast character who can deal a lot more damage with swords than with guns. For him, they are just much more practical and accurate.

edited 18th Sep '11 8:07:35 PM by Teraus

"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
73 Wolf106618th Sep 2011 08:44:40 PM from New Zealand , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Typin' strangely
The question remains: who would your character use a sword against? Unless there are other characters also skilled with swords running about for some reason it devolves to "swords vs guns" which the average person does not buy (why don't they just shoot him before he gets close?) or "swords vs unarmed (or improv-armed) opponents" which is not exactly "heroic".
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
74 USAF71318th Sep 2011 08:54:02 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Supers versus supers?

Who says the guns will work?
I am now known as Flyboy.
Also known as Katz
Morven: That rocks. My Java Script skills are weak. Wait till we've got a more finished version, though.

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