Friday, January 19, 2018

Excerpt - Star Wars Roleplay: "Trial by Fire"

Back by request, here's a little more of Cailen and Teek's adventures. In case you missed the excerpt from the Star Wars-based roleplay my friend Kaze and I did, here's a link.

Once again, I played Cailen Ukiir, a sarcastic and self-conscious Jedi-in-Training; while Kaze created and wrote the rest of the cast, including Cailen's master, Teek, a Force-sensitive Jawa.

Warning: Contains some language not appropriate for little eyes.

Bahariya Oasis, Egypt by Anirban Chatterjee on Unsplash

[After arriving on the desert planet of Tatooine, Cailen Ukiir must make use of the skills he's learned from his Jawa master, Teek. A merchant in the town of Anchorhead offers the parched young Jedi-in-Training drinking water in exchange for taking care of the extortionists who have been harassing local traders.]

Cailen swallowed the lump in his throat--which hurt. He desperately needed that water.

He cast about, looking around for anyone that seemed thuggish in hopes of locating the extortionists quickly.

When he made it to the other side of Anchorhead, he felt the heat taking its toll on him. This was going to be a long, long mission.

The stall vendors were away from their wares, forming a line in front of armed aliens. The merchants were holding sacks in their hands. Probably money to pay for "protection."

"There, there!" Teek said, hopping off of Cailen's back. "Good luck! May the Force be with you!"

Cailen spun to his master. "W-wait! Aren't you--"

Oh, what's the point?

Cailen dragged himself over toward the head of the line.

"Keep the credits coming, hehe," one of the aliens said.

"Heat's terrible, but this is an easy job," another said.

"Hey, look at this," the last one said, pointing at Cailen.

"Haven't seen you around here before. Move along, if you know what's good for ya," the leader said, the one taking the credits.

Cailen took a deep breath, facing the leader. All right. You've seen this done before. Just... focus on their energy. Focus on their minds... and clear your own...

"You don't want to collect the credits today," he murmured in his monotone "focusing" voice.

"Um...pretty sure I want to collect credits today. Hell, if I could collect credits every day, that'd be a dream come true."

Cailen focused a little harder. "You want to collect tomorrow instead."

"Are you freaking serious, guy?" the leader says. "You're like 12 pounds. You seriously think you can intimidate us like that? Boys, I think this Miraluka needs some... reconditioning. Take him around to the alley and have a little talk."

"Youuuu... would rather not beat me up in an alley?"

He didn't think it was working.

"Alright, kid, shut up. Let's have a little talk while the boss works," one of them says, reaching for Cailen's arm.


Cailen shoved out his hand, Force-Pushing the thug who was grabbing at him.

"Wha- AHHHH!" the thug screamed as he was pushed into a stall, breaking it.

"Jedi!" the leader yelled. "We got a Jedi! Blasters out, blasters out!"

Two more aliens appeared. Each of them had blaster rifles out. The vendors panicked and began scrambling for cover.

"Don't move, Jedi or we'll start blasting you!"

"Uh oh..." Master Teek's voice rang in Cailen's head, speaking to him telepathically. "Nice try, Cailen. Looks like you'll need a bit more work. Remain calm. Take out your lightsaber."

REMAIN CALM?! Cailen shot back. I couldn't even deflect training droids' blaster-fire ten minutes ago! WHERE ARE YOU?!

Cailen did, however, have the presence of mind to actually take out his lightsaber and activate it.

"Shhhh...there is no Emotion, only Peace. There is no Chaos, there is Harmony. You wanted to learn lightsaber forms, right? Well, now is a great time to learn it. Take a deep breath and assume the Soresu stance that I showed you. Try to reason with them if you can, but remain in that stance."

Cailen didn't have much time to argue. He adjusted his body to the Soresu stance (as well as he could remember it). "I'm n-not looking for a fight..." he began, but he was hardly even convincing himself of standing down.

"You try to burrow into my head with your Force magic crap and you tell me you don't want to fight!? You're on the wrong side of the galaxy, Jedi. Now, if you don't want to die, you should drop the lightsaber and everything you have."

Well, that's not an option. Cailen tightened his grip on the lightsaber. "You should leave these people alone," he warned, his voice dropping a little lower and surprising even himself.

Calm... Focus... He took a deep breath through his nose. The air was hot and very, very dry.

"We have five blasters and there's just one of you. I think we'll be fine. Last chance, Jedi: drop everything and walk away."

"Good, you are calm. Soresu is about tight motion and expending little energy. Stay where you are. Keep calm and trust yourself to the Force. Let it guide your reflexes. Imagine yourself in the eye of a storm. You are the center, calm and undisturbed, while everything else is the damaging storm."

With another deep breath, Cailen could almost feel the Force like a light breeze, flowing around and through him and his attackers. He didn't even hear the thug's ultimatum.

"Alright, open fire! Open fire!" the lead thug yelled, and then the blaster bolts started coming.

"Trust in the Force! Let it guide your hands!" Teek yelled as the bolts came flying.

Cailen only deflected two of the bolts, but the other three still missed him. These guys seemed to be pretty bad shots.

"Keep firing!" the leader yelled.

"Good, but you must get better fast! This form is about protection. Imagine that you have others with you in this eye of the storm. Will you let them get shot? You must protect them! Create an impenetrable shield! Wear out your foe with your relentless defense!"

Cailen grunted as one of the bolts hit him in the leg. Worrying about protecting others was just breaking his concentration!

The thugs fired again.

Cailen deflected the bolts, one after the other, in rapid succession. Maybe the pressure did help. Don't think about it. Just trust in the Force!

"He can't stop all the shots! Unload on him!"

It... almost felt as if Cailen's body was moving on its own now. Certainly faster than he ever had. With the slightest flick of his wrists, blaster bolts bounced back left and right. Not only did they not hit him... they struck each thug's blaster, destroying all of the enemies’ weapons.

Cailen gaped in disbelief. Did... Did I just...?

"Did...did he just..." the leader said, looking at the charred remains of his blaster. "Oh crap...okay, let's not be hasty now, Jedi! We can...we can talk about this!"

Cailen was still a little in shock, so it took him a second to realize what the leader had said. "Oh! Yes, well, um... I hope you've all learned your lessons! Now, go away!" He shifted the lightsaber to one hand, making a shooing motion with the other.

"Alright, alright! Let's get out of here before he changes his mind!" the leader said, and they all took off.

"Thanks, Jedi," a vendor said. They all began to come out of their hiding spots. "They've been extorting us for three months now, and the Republic troops haven't done a thing about it!"

"Oh... N-no, it was nothing, please don't thank me," Cailen retracted his lightsaber, glancing around sheepishly at the small crowd. "I really didn't do much..."

After each of them shook Cailen's hand, they moved away to go fix up their wares. Consumers began to pour through as well with the thugs gone. Suddenly, Cailen found himself in a full marketplace again.

Master Teek sneaked up behind him and climbed onto Cailen's back. "Good work," he said, holding a hand up to Cailen for a high-five.

Cailen felt like he had to be smiling as brightly as a star. He gladly smacked Master Teek's hand.

And suddenly the heat hit him like a speeder to the head.

"Weeeee should probably return to that merchant and get the water now," Cailen wheezed as he swayed on his feet.

Adapted from writing by Kaze and me (Jeannette Jonic). Used with permission.

Star Wars and all related names and terms property of LucasFilm and Walt Disney Studios. And, unfortunately, I am not affiliated with them.

From Him, To Him

Friday, January 12, 2018

Type Casting: Riza Hawkeye

Sometimes fictional characters feel just as real as the people you interact with daily. One thing that really makes a character stand out is a fully-fleshed, well-developed personality.

In fact, some characters are so well-written that they seem life-like. But how well do good writers craft these characters? How would these "realistic" characters stand up to real-life personality typing?

Welcome to Type Casting.

Type Casting:

Personality Typing Your Favorite Characters

We're going to start with Riza Hawkeye of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood fame.

The remainder of this post will contain spoilers for

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

You have been warned.

The "better half" of Colonel Roy Mustang, Riza is every bit as calculating and thoughtful as the colonel. Even in situations where the colonel may be tempted to lose his head, Riza's there to draw him back from the brink. They're a power couple built on familiarity and mutual trust.

So what exactly makes this Lieutenant tick? We're going to find out using the Enneagram, a personality typing system based on "core" drives and principal fears.

By Enneagram standards, Riza is a One, also known as "The Reformer." The Enneagram sums up this type with a few key words including "principled," "self-controlled," and "perfectionistic."1

Enneagram Ones are renowned for pursuing what they deem is "the right thing to do." They are often controlled by their powerful sense of ethics and justice. However, this leads to their greatest weaknesses: fear of making the wrong decisions and fear of falling to their baser instincts.2

On the surface, this may not seem much like our straight-faced Lieutenant, but let's look a little deeper.

Ones are all about serving a higher cause: many Ones are philanthropists or revolutionaries. Enneagram Institute lists Gandhi or Joan of Arc as classic Ones; they are people who see a need and struggle for a cause.3

Riza's personal "cause" is to keep Colonel Mustang safe, even from himself. This is her main goal and number-one drive. Her loyalty is so secure, she's even willing to fulfill his wishes and end his life before he can go down a path of no return.

The only thing Riza cares about almost as much as Mustang is her sense of morality. We see this priority most clearly when a fellow soldier, Kimblee, confronts her during the Ishvalan War. Riza is horrified when Kimblee suggests she enjoys killing as a sniper. YouTube video essayist Aleczandxr points out that despite how mortified Riza seems, there's an implication Kimblee may be right; Riza may find some satisfaction in "doing a good job" killing people.4

This destroys Riza; she becomes so guilt-ridden she begs Mustang to burn an alchemical tattoo on her back so no one else can use its Flame Alchemy to hurt people again.

Why such an extreme reaction? Riza is terrified she may have contradicted her sense of morality. Has she fallen prey to bloodlust, to the senseless murdering of innocents? In the end, the only thing that helps her move forward is recentering on the reason she went to war in the first place: to follow Mustang, to protect him.

This is textbook One behavior. As Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson put it in their book The Wisdom of the Enneagram:
[T]hey... feel that they have to justify their actions to themselves... This orientation causes Ones to spend a lot of time thinking about the consequences of their actions, as well as about how to keep from acting contrary to their convictions... Ones are actually activists who are searching for an acceptable rationale for what they feel they must do.5
But there are other parallels between Enneagram Ones and Riza Hawkeye, as well.

Ones are often incredibly organized and almost perfectionistic in their efficiency. They're "people of practical action--they wish to be useful in the best sense of the word..."6

This description fits Riza to a T. She's constantly making herself useful, helping Mustang however she can.

But this very drive to be "useful" leads to Ones' greatest struggle: their potentially crippling perfectionism. Ones can be incredibly harsh toward perceived imperfections or inconsistencies in productivity: either in others or themselves.7

Much like how Riza disdainfully comments that Mustang is "useless" in the rain.

Ones also struggle to connect with their inner feelings, since they consider themselves highly logical, methodical, "head-people." This leaves many Ones unprepared for handling their emotions in a healthy way.8

Perhaps this is why Riza has a difficult time expressing her feelings for Mustang.

It may come as quite a shock when the normally "highly self- controlled [sic], even rigid"9 Ones suddenly become moody and irrational"10 when under duress. But the fact is that Ones have just as powerful emotions as any other personality type; in fact, to a One, "[i]t seems to them that they are sitting on a cauldron of passions and desires, and they had better 'keep the lid on' lest they and everyone else around them regret it."11

Much like what happens when Riza believes the Colonel is dead.

Despite all these struggles, if Ones learn to accept their flaws and acknowledge their feelings, they can become truly powerful, inspiring people:

"[E]xtraordinarily wise and discerning. By accepting what is, they... [know] the best action to take in each moment. Humane, inspiring, and hopeful: the truth will be heard...

"Conscientious with strong personal convictions: they have an intense sense of right and wrong, personal religious and moral values. [They] wish to be rational, reasonable, self-disciplined, mature, [and] moderate in all things."12

Sounds like Riza Hawkeye to me.

Notes and References:
  1. Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (New York City, NY: Random House Publishing Group, 1999), 99-100, quoted in “1 – THE REFORMER [sic],” The Enneagram Institute, 2017, accessed January 1, 2018.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Aleczandxr, “Solf J. Kimblee – The Psychopathic Realist (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood [sic),” YouTube video, 15:57, October 20, 2017.
  5. Riso and Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 99-100.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
All photos are screenshots taken off Netflix and are the property of Aniplex of America 2009-2010. Used under US "Fair Use" laws.

Riza Hawkeye, Colonel Mustang, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and all related terms are the property of Aniplex of America. And I am not affiliated with them.

From Him, To Him