All Of The Other Reindeer
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They used to laugh and call him names.

Basic Information

All of the Other Reindeer is a Characterization Trope where one character, typically either the hero or the villain of the story, is an outcast that gets continuously insulted, left out, or even tormented by other characters.

In the case of a villain, this wretched treatment explains why they are now planning to enslave and/or destroy the community and/or world.

In the case of a hero, they typically have to put up with it either nobly or with a bit of angst brooding, until the day when their glowing nose or super-strength proves to be just the thing the community needs to survive some catastrophe. In episodic programming, this sort of thing tends to repeat itself in storyline after storyline, with the hero being abused, saving the day and getting temporary praise, and then being abused again starting next session.

Related Tropes:



Game and Story Use

  • In general, very few Players like being the one who gets tormented. The few Method Actor types who do will probably communicate it to the GM and include some comment about it in their character background if they're interested. So as GM, my advice is don't force this on your players.
  • Works plenty fine for an NPC though. The trick is, communicating it to the players in a way that's entertaining. Simply telling them "he's evil because the community didn't respect him" will probably not move anyone. In a long-term campaign, you've got time to show it "on screen" and even foreshadow the character development.
    • Let's say your campaign is planned for at least three adventures, all of which involve at least a scene or two in the same [[[Royal Court]]. So during adventures 1 & 2, you include scenes where some courtier whose a bit of a buffoon gets ridiculed by the court. You use him as a pathetic comic relief, or to illustrate to the players that the Royal Court is a socially dangerous place where one political misstep can reduce a nobleman to an outcast. Either way, when you later pull that same NPC out to be the Big Bad Evil Guy in adventure # 3, the players will nod their heads and understand.
      • PCs tend to be somewhat Genre Savvy, though, and may either intervene to help the poor slob, or may just intuit that he'll be trouble later and try to head it off. One of the best ways to deal with this is to make sure the future villain is not yet a villain during these early scenes. That way, if the PCs handle it poorly, they'll be the reason he turns evil. If instead they actually handle it gracefully and help him out, then he may grow soft on them or try to include them in his future scheme, allowing for a social solution to the eventual plotline. And if they decide to just preemptively kill him, well, there's always the vengeful son out to clear his father's name.
  • Works well for an unreliable allied NPC. Especially for the really powerful NPCs that you don't want to overuse because overshadowing the PCs is never any fun. The PCs could have an ally whom they can coax out of retirement when they need him, but who won't just ride in to save the day without them asking for help. The reason being that the community he'd be saving was never kind to him, and he's not nearly as heroic or forgiving as the PCs. In this way the NPC is there as a safety valve in case the PCs get in over their heads, but he's not an active participant unless the players want him to be, and the trope justifies such behavior.
  • Seen from the other perspective, the trope may also be useful for introducing an NPC mid-campaign that you want the PCs to hate from the start. The new NPC walks in, and you tell the player of the PC with the lowest Strength score that he recognizes this guy as being one of the bullies who used to pick on that PC when he was a kid. Now you've established a little bit of defining backstory for the PC, and provided an immediate dislike of the NPC you're introducing. Wins all around.
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