Locked In

I am the control function on the impossible. I am the release valve. There are very, very few things in this world that exist at my level of destructive potential and stubbornness. For every single heroine and hero who may teeter on the edge of a precipice, over an edge of ‘too far,’ there is a dreadful heat that lurks beneath, and that is me.

You are on thin fucking ice, my friends, and I will be under you when it breaks.

I play a character in a superhero roleplaying community, the last remaining parts of City of Heroes with which I have any contact. His name is Lock, which is short for Lachlann Piers, and his registered hero identity is Cearmaid. Lock is easily the most powerful character I’ve ever played, even in youthful stupid self-insert fantasy writings that I never let anyone see. Working class, vicious, powerful beyond all reason, and unfailingly moral and judgmental, Lock is probably one of my favourite characters I’ve ever played.

I think the thing that makes Lock so satisfying to play was his unchallenged nature. When dealing with roleplayers, there really is no real way to ‘win’ a fight, beyond convincing everyone you should win. You can convince people to let you win because it will be a better story; you can convince people to let you win because you have written too excellent a win; or you convince people to let you win because you are part of the community, and there is a give and take, an ebb and flow, that winning or losing is something that can be negotiated. You can’t just hit people with bigger numbers, given by some power levelling, or grinding, or any of that. You win a fight because everyone involved, to some degree, wants you to win that fight.

For the most part, people did not challenge Lock. Lock represented a sort of monstrous threat, the likes of which nothing in the game could make happen. There was no ‘apocalyptically flatten city blocks’ power set. He was something beyond what the game could offer, and therefore, that threat, that power, that character, was all in how I played him, and how I convinced people to share in his existence. The power of him, the danger of him, was such that he did not engage in smaller affairs, because doing so would destroy more than it fixed. Time to time, though, the flash of that greater presence flashed through – and my, it seemed intimidating to imagine that, as a person, walking around.

There’s the other side of that, though. Some nights, when I need to feel good about myself, I look at the people who would argue with Lock. The people who did stand against him, who argued his ethics and his morality with him. Those people I can admire. Then I look at those people who acknowledged his existence, and fled from confrontations with him. Sometimes, I wonder to myself, if that was part of the strength of him, or of me: Was I able to convince people around me that they could not win if they took Lock on?

Mostly, I know the reality is pettier: People would not bother arguing with me. People are there to have fun.

But it’s fun to think of.

It’s funny to consider further: Despite almost two years of constant activity in a RP community, there is, I think one character who has ever seen Lock fight.

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