Misused (new crowner 12/2/13): Necessary Drawback

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Could we just... not have Death anymore?
UPDATE (11/30): This post is updated as frequently as I remember. The post will see some rare rewrites, but is primarily used to inform new and returning readers what our current points of discussion and agreed resolutions are.

This issue came from the YKTTW discussion of a new trope: Master of All

Iím not here to argue that the trope name is generating misuse. Iím claiming that the relationship between this, and similar tropes, have been poorly defined, leading to a misuse in definitions. The group Iím referring to are Generalist Characters.

Generalist Character Tropes:

Related; Specialist Character Tropes:

Related; Competitive Balance, An Adventurer Is You, Necessary Drawback

A specialist character is someone who is very good at one thing, sometimes more than one. In contrast, a generalist character is someone who is does many or all things.

Game characters (videogame and tabletop, sports is excluded) use statistics to determine how well they can perform various skills. Competitive Balance is used to limit how powerful a character can be, in total. Non-game characters tend to not have statistics, but also have varying levels of skill. Some are specialized, like a Chef or Lawyer, while others are generalist, like the Handyman.

What I'm seeing a problem with is how those four factors overlap. We have Jack Of All Trades which describes the non-game characters, claiming that Master Of None is a subtrope for a generalist who is bad at everything, and Renaissance Man is the subtrope for a generalist who is great at everything. The gaming counterpart is supposed to be Jack Of All Stats.

Jack Of All Stats references Master Of None as a gaming trope, and is identified as such under it's own definition. Joke Character is completely ignored, and Lightning Bruiser is assumed to have high statistics in everything, not just the three stats (speed, health, damage) that it claims in it's own definition. When Master of All was launched, Lightning Bruiser was switched out for the new trope. The point of MOA is to cover the idea of the ďgreat in everythingĒ from the gameplay standpoint.

What I think should happen: Jack-of-All-Stats should be rewritten to mirror Jack-of-All-Trades. Jack-of-All-Trades remains the trope and supertrope for generalist characters from a story perspective. Renaissance Man is the subtrope for characters who are great in many fields. Master of None is the subtrope for characters who are bad in many fields, without a specialty. Jack-of-All-Stats is the trope and supertrope for generalist characters from a gameplay perspective. Master of All is the subtrope for characters who have high stats in most areas. Joke Character is the subtrope for characters whose highest stat still isnít good enough for them to be balanced.

Resolved issues:
  • The whole thing is kind of an inconsistent cluster!@#$ right now, which is why we're trying to settle on consistent definitions so that we can apply them.
    • Because of that, there's a new crowner asking what definitions are required for the tropes. No names are associated yet. First we will determine which definitions we need, because the names have been through several definitions, and are often confused, because it is a clusterfu##.
  • Specialist character tropes are being redefined to account for two stats; One really good, One really bad. The crowner is in support of this.
  • We are working on resolving the issues with the specialist tropes first because that is where the bulk of the work is.

Discussion points: {updated based on discussion}
  • We are organizing the tropes under two banners, tentatively titles Statistical Specialists and Statistical Generalists.
    • What tropes already have pages that we are missing because we haven't organized them under a super trope?
  • What is the relationship between Master of None and Joke Character?
  • How do these classifications treat "tropes vs. stat combinations"?
  • Defense Stats: how many hits, or how how hard to hit?
  • Attack Stats: how many hits, or how hard to hit?
  • We have brief descriptions of each specialist trope at Sandbox.Stat Characters

edited 30th Nov '13 11:16:26 AM by crazysamaritan

2 StarSword7th Aug 2013 02:22:26 PM from somewhere in deep space , Relationship Status: In denial
You are of Bajor.
[up]Regarding the ??? and Paper Ram: Both of those were launched prematurely and kicked back to YKTTW. The ??? has the current working title Titanium Peashooter but there's a question of whether it's already covered by Stone Wall. (The gist of the question: Stone Wall's description talks only about toughness-based defense and does not mention evasion-based defense, but people keep saying it covers the latter.)

edited 7th Aug '13 2:23:59 PM by StarSword

3 StarSword7th Aug 2013 02:27:33 PM from somewhere in deep space , Relationship Status: In denial
You are of Bajor.
Also: These all fall under the umbrella of Competitive Balance. I have the impression they were created haphazardly piecemeal instead of as one project.
I made two threads dealing with Competitive Balance and Lightning Bruiser a while back. We decided that Fragile Speedster, Glass Cannon, etc. were not to be listed under Competitive Balance and instead under Necessary Drawback, so that Necessary Drawback would be listed as a method by which characters are balanced in gameplay. Necessary Drawback is something that applies to gameplay and not to gameplay while Competitive Balance only applies to gameplay.

As for Master of All, maybe it would be clearer if it was Master Of All Stats instead.

edited 7th Aug '13 2:35:43 PM by WaxingName

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Could we just... not have Death anymore?
Perhaps, but the core of the problem is that the generalists tropes have not incorporated newer trope definitions when they've been made.
Yeah, this whole family of tropes shows up in TRS every once in a while. They really are so interlinked that the need to be dealt with as a group, rather than individually — but I'm not sure TRS is the right venue for that. Maybe a Long Term Project thread is necessary?
7 Larkmarn7th Aug 2013 07:08:16 PM , Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
Seems likely.

Part of the problem with the new ones getting prematurely launched is that they change the definition of the other ones retroactively. Paper Ram, for example, changed Glass Cannon's definition from "Powerful, but can't take a hit" to "Powerful, can't take a hit, and slow."

Also its name is awful, but ah well. Despite being unlaunched, it still has a bunch of wicks so looks like we're stuck with it.
Could we just... not have Death anymore?
^^ I don't think that the task is long/perpetual. I asked where I should deal with this, and the two options presented to me in Ask The Tropers was Trope Talk and Trope Repair Shop. Since TT looks more like asking for clarification than redefining trope roles, I thought this was a better solution.

But I agree; this isn't about one trope, it is about making each trope clearly relate.

^ and I wasn't sure which came first, chicken or egg, but the tropes that came later lack the earlier tropes. I've got a few more ideas to toss to the crowd, but not tonight. Cya later.
I recall another TRS thread from quite a while back where we decided that part of the problem was that relatively few of the tropes in question actually address all three of the offense/defense/speed trifecta — most address either one that they focus on without mentioning the other two, or one that they focus on at the expense of one of the others. A Glass Cannon, for example, has high offense and low defense, but is generally silent on the subject of speed. Problems arise when people try to pigeonhole a trope into one of every possible permutation of high or low offense, defense, and speed. Not all tropes fit neatly into that, and not all permutations of that is actually a trope (can anyone honestly think of an example of something with high speed, high defense, and low offense?).

So here's what I think we need to do:
  • First off, we need to decide the scope of what we're going to work on. I think we should focus primarily on the various offense/defense/speed stats — ignoring the stuff that's about skills (Jack-of-All-Trades, Renaissance Man, etc) for now. But we need to get a comprehensive list of what tropes, exactly, we're dealing with.
  • Secondly, we need to decide how we're going to organize these. They're obviously closely related, but we need to hammer out what those relationships are. We should probably make a new supertrope for the whole thing — we tried making Competitive Balance the supertrope once, but that didn't really pan out, because Competitive Balance is a trope about balancing playable characters against each other, not stats exclusively.
  • Once we have the tropes we're working on and how they're related to each other, then we need to hammer down exact definitions for all of them. Is Fragile Speedster just "character that specializes in speed" or specifically "character who specializes in speed at the cost of defense"? Is Mighty Glacier high attack/low speed, or high attack/high defense/low speed? This will happen at more or less the same time as the organizing step, but they are two separate things, so I'm listing them separately.
  • Lots and lots of scutwork. Rewriting descriptions, purging examples, and checking wicks.
10 SeptimusHeap8th Aug 2013 12:30:53 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
The problem with these Competitive Balance, Necessary Drawback and co. tropes is that they are simultaneously tropes in their own right and parts of a Character Alignment/Five-Man Band trope relationship. These things often stand in contrast with each other.

Also, back when Jack-of-All-Stats was getting renamed from The Mario, there was a discussion about its relationship with Renaissance Man.
Yeah, that's why I'm saying that we need to identify everything in the wider trope family and then deal with them as a group. We've been dealing with them individually for years at this point, and they keep coming back into TRS, which suggests that we aren't actually fixing their problems — so time to bite the bullet and work on them as a whole instead of piecemeal.

As far as Jack-of-All-Stats vs Renaissance Man, I think the distinction is pretty clear. The former is about stats, in the gameplay-mechanics sense, while the the latter is about skills, in the narrative sense.
I'm not sure that Joke Character really belongs in the generalist hierarchy. The defining element is that he's intentionally weak, not that he's a generalist vs. specialist.

To keep things straight, it might be useful to create two new supertropes: The Generalist and The Specialist. The Generalist should probably have no examples because theoretically everything should be covered by subtropes: The Specialist could have a section for examples not covered by subtropes.

@crazysamaritan, in that last paragraph, did you mean to say,

"What I think should happen: Jack Of All Stats should be rewritten to mirror Jack Of All Trades. Jack Of All Trades remains the trope and supertrope for generalist characters from a story perspective."


As for story vs. gameplay distinctions, it would require a major overhaul to make Master of None into a story-centric trope, and it would leave a pretty big hole in the gameplay side. Characters like Gogo in FFVI fit very nicely into Master of None as it stands, but wouldn't really fit under Joke Character because they're not USELESS, just not very good at any one thing.

OTOH, I'm struggling to think of how we could formulate a story equivalent for Master of None to slot into the story generalist trifecta and coming up blank.
Master of None is definitely a gameplay trope. Jack-of-All-Stats is "decent at everything, great at nothing", Lightning Bruiser is "great at everything", and Master of None is "mediocre at everything, decent at nothing". The story-side equivalents are Jack-of-All-Trades for "decent at everything" and Renaissance Man for "great at everything" — there's no "mediocre at everything" story equivalent, because "well, I can try, but I won't be very good" doesn't really seem tropable.
As an aside, this thread could probably have been titled "Misused: Lightning Bruiser" specifically because that one is so often used to mean "good at everything" when it's a particularly bad fit for that use: the trope name, description, and examples all specify exactly three things: speed, strength, defense. It's a fine trope in and of itself, it just doesn't fit in the generalist hierarchy, at least not in the way people seem to want to use it.

That's part of what I was trying to correct by introducing Master of All.
Could we just... not have Death anymore?
Joke Character - we say intentionally, but we don't require Word of God, do we? Without that, how can we determine the difference between a Joke and a Master of None?

Mediocre - I do not think it means what you think it means. Mediocre is good/average/decent. It is the level defined as acceptable. What we're looking for in terms of generalist for the story is probably The Load. The character with no specialties and no benefit to the heroes.

Working on the whole group instead of piecemeal - glad you agree :)

Organizing - I think we already have tropes we can use as super tropes to refer to the groups. Necessary Drawback seems like a good starting point for the specialist characters of gameplay, although if we can come up with a definition for a super trope of all specialist characters, I wouldn't object. Since Jack-of-All-Trades is the narrative super trope for generalist characters, I want Jack-of-All-Stats to be the super trope to the gameplay generalists.

edited 8th Aug '13 9:37:26 PM by crazysamaritan

I think it's usually pretty easy to identify a true Joke Character without relying on an explicit Word of God. Nobody looks at Dan Hibiki and says, wow, this is the coolest guy ever, how did they screw up and make him so weak? Typically their weakness is informed by the lore (in games that have any) or other non-gameplay character traits. Arguably, Joke Character could be considered a subtrope of Master of None based on those non-gameplay traits.

I'm liking the inclusion of The Load as the low end of the non-gameplay generalist hierarchy.

The down side to using Necessary Drawback as the specialist supertrope is that the Jack-of-All-Stats fits under it: his Necessary Drawback is that he's never quite as good as a dedicated specialist at any one thing.

On the other hand, as I'm looking through that and Competitive Balance, one of the problems may be that we have too MANY supertropes, not too few, and I'm hesitant to add more to the kerfuffle. It might be better to use Necessary Drawback as the supertrope for everything, and add Master of All as an aversion and Master of None as a subversion or inversion.

The more that I look at Jack-of-All-Stats, the more I think you're right that it works well as a supertrope to Master of All and Master of None. If we're defining it (as listed in the first line of the description) as a character "who does not specialize, and explicitly so," then it's the generalist status that primarily defines the trope, and the "jack" status is secondary. So Master of All and Master of None are clearly subtropes.

Also, I wonder if it would help clarify things if we defined Master of All more strictly as a gameplay trope, and limited non-game examples to those that include some kind of metafictional ranking or stats (as in the Squirrel Girl example). This could better distinguish it from story tropes like Renaissance Man and The Ace.

...on the other hand, if we did that then we'd have to do the same for Jack-of-All-Stats and Master of None, and their non-game sections seem to be doing fine despite overlap with Jack-of-All-Trades and The Load, so maybe that would be overkill.
[up][up][up]I don't think Necessary Drawback is something we should be looking at in this thread at all. We should be focusing specifically on the character-stat-comparison tropes, or else we'll be trying to change half the wiki. Tropes like Competitive Balance and Necessary Drawback are related, but not actually about the various stat archetypes — so we should ignore them for now.

edited 9th Aug '13 7:01:50 PM by NativeJovian

Could we just... not have Death anymore?
So what do you think the trope grouping the specialist characters should be, Jovian?

Master of All - That's where I was headed at the end of your ykttw. Get that one explicitly defined, and relate it to the other tropes.

Joke Character - yes, without definitive information, and I'll accept In-Universe Loser status as definitive, it is different from Master of None by.... being primarily Fighting characters? I'm guessing no one tried comparing the two earlier. I do think they are redundant.

Lethal Joke Character - is a valid sub trope to either, where something not in the stats makes the character useful.

Magikarp Power - is another, where the character gets a boost to their stats that makes them effective, but not necessarily a generalist when they get it.
I think we need to make some new supertropes. Something like this:

We may or may not need more specialist subtropes, but we'll need to determine exactly what we're defining those various tropes as, first.
21 StarSword12th Aug 2013 09:03:57 AM from somewhere in deep space , Relationship Status: In denial
You are of Bajor.

I'm liking this. The one odd trope out in this system would be Lightning Bruiser, because it clearly belongs somewhere in the hierarchy, but it's a generalist as often as it is a specialist (depending on whether there are statistical factors beyond strength / defense / speed, such as range or magic). It might be worth listing it under BOTH Statistical Generalist and Statistical Specialist with a note explaining that it's a special case and individual examples may fit best under one or the other.

Personally, I'd argue against adding further specialist tropes right now unless anyone can think of any obvious omissions. The big standard archetypes are fairly well represented already. I think our focus should be sifting through the existing specialist tropes and making sure they're tight and well-defined with no misused examples.

I think Paper Ram in particular could use some work. It's got kind of a lousy name, and the description is slightly convoluted. It's got a bullet-point list of subtypes, but if there's a difference between the Dodger and the Raider I don't see what it is.

edited 13th Aug '13 8:28:26 AM by hbi2k

23 StarSword13th Aug 2013 08:29:34 AM from somewhere in deep space , Relationship Status: In denial
You are of Bajor.
Possibly a third "special cases" category would be required for Lightning Bruiser and stats-based Joke Character and Lethal Joke Character.

As for Paper Ram, don't go by what's on the trope page. It was unlaunched due to having only one hat when it was made, but not cut.

And I still think that "tough because it can dodge hits and take hits, but lousy on the offensive" (the YKTTW currently titled Titanium Peashooter) is a valid trope.

edited 13th Aug '13 8:32:53 AM by StarSword

While we're thinking about it, let's see if we can make a complete list of subtropes for each supertrope.

Statistical Archetypes:

Anything I'm missing?

edited 14th Aug '13 9:08:47 AM by hbi2k

If we do wind up making a "special cases" category, I vote we just include it as a folder under Statistical Archetypes rather than creating a third supertrope.

The more I think about it, the more problematic I think that including Joke Character and Lethal Joke Character on the hierarchy is, because they're not strictly stats-related tropes the way the others are. It might be sufficient just to note them as related tropes under Master of None.

In any case, I think we DO need to define the relationship between Joke Character and Master of None, because right now they barely reference each other at all, and they're obviously related in some way.

edited 13th Aug '13 8:49:50 AM by hbi2k

Page Action: Necessary Drawback
28th Nov '13 7:55:40 PM
What would be the best way to fix the page?
At issue:
The specialized character tropes have problems evidenced by wick checks stretching back to over three years ago. The problem, it is always agreed, is a shifting definition.

What is misuse in one year is correct use the next, and often TRS threads are unresolved or end with a redefinition that does nothing to solve the issue. The mixed definitions have appeared in the definitions of other tropes, making it almost impossible to tell what any one trope should be defined as anymore. Everyone has their own opinions, of course.

The question that is always missing from crowners, however, is "How many specific tropes do we need?". So, the options below are listing NONE of the current trope names. Instead, we are voting on definitions we need to keep.

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