[Home]ScriptImmunity

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The miraculous ability of characters in certain types of fiction to avoid having anything bad happen to them, even when the surroundings would seem to demand it. A defining characteristic of MarySues. Literally, immunity from the dangers of the script: when you find yourself saying "but we know they get out of this scrape, because they're a main character and we're not at the end yet", you've got a case of ScriptImmunity on your hands.

It's also been pointed out that GundamWing (like a number of bad military dramas) has the main characters injected with ScriptImmunity serum. They claim that it's some superpowered alloy that keeps their GiantFightingRobot from taking any damage from hundreds of enemy CannonFodder? mechs; but as soon as a main character hops into a generic mobile suit, it suddenly gains the shielding of a Gundam.

A similar trait is the far-too-common way that characters can sit and have a meaningful discussion in the middle of a battle zone / meteor shower, and all the enemies shooting at them continue to miss until they're finished.
It's beter handled by CrossCutting?, true.  I think it's mainly an animation limit - with a bit more cash they could quite easily be fighting and talking.  But with the BattleStarGalactica? style CutScenes? in GundamWing, you're out of luck.  --Vitenka

What about the kind of thing where the main character can never make a bad/wrong decision? Does that count? Is that common? I don't read much fanfiction and can't think of a non-fanfic example offhand (but then I am supposed to be working.. :) - SunKitten



AlexChurchill writes: ScriptImmunity irritates me. If characters are getting into a risky situation, I don't demand that you kill them; but I do demand that they be subject to the same laws as the surrounding characters. When a main character survives an attack that we've earlier seen kill an incidental character, you'd better have a very good reason, or you've just lost all SuspensionOfDisbelief.
Conversely, willingness on the part of an author to let bad things happen to main characters, if the characters act in a way to make those bad things likely, can be a powerful tool for building believability and involvement. I'm not saying be sure to kill a main character every story, but don't start from the assumption that it can't happen.
Vitenka ripostes: If you kill off 'my favorite chracter' then you've just lost me from your audience, I won't buy the sequels.  So yes, it really is something that cannot happen (within genre blah blah) - and it's just another thing you have to work around.
I don't get why people do it anyway. Inflicting pain (mental, emotional, spiritual or physical) on your characters is so much fun ;) - SunKitten (evil? me? Bring on the Angst?! ;)
Sadly, however, Angst? and ScriptImmunity aren't incompatible, as demonstrated by GundamWing... --AC
That's true - I suppose I was commenting less on that sort of thing and more on the Mary-Sue 'not having anything bad happen to them.' At least the GundamWing characters do get captured, beaten up, etc. That's a more bearable ScriptImmunity than nothing-bad-ever-happens (can't think of examples of that other than fanfiction..) - SunKitten


Certain types of RPGs are one context where ScriptImmunity is not necessarily a bad thing, because the players have invested time and emotion into their characters, and you want them to spend more time RolePlaying than in CharacterGeneration?. But even there, it's preferable to have some explanation for why the PCs can survive things that bit characters can't, once again for the sake of preserving SuspensionOfDisbelief.
That's usually called "PCGlow" - I'll add a slight variant to this, which is when it's the script itself which gives the immunity.  That is, when main characters tend not to end up in 'risky' situations with out a carefully planned exit.  Although, that could be interpreted as just being very good at hiding the immunity... --Vitenka
As long as you've got a good in-character reason for them avoiding the risky situations, that's all fine. I'm not saying it can't happen, just make damn sure you've got a watertight reason within the fictional universe why this character won't suffer the same consequences other less-major characters would. --AC
Slight misunderstanding there - I meant that the choices the characters make, whatever those choices are (unless they go deliberately suicidal) end up leading them into situations which aren't unescapably deadly.  So the script avoids stressing the realism/immersion by avoiding situations where it would become obvious that the characters are immortal.  --Vitenka
ArsMagica (4th ed.) formalised a limited form of ScriptImmunity with the virtue "destiny" (or whatever it was called), where a character could in effect do any number of stupid things and yet, somehow, survive (note - it doesn't protect everyone else that the character cares about, and doesn't necessarily stop them suffering physically or even losing body parts - "survive" is a pretty wide definition).  The idea was, however, that all of that bulletproofing would be called due at some point in the future, when the character's manifest destiny would unfold, usually about the same time as the Angst? really starts to hit home.  In effect the character is mortgaged to the GM's major story arc, over which the player has no real control.  The virtue is of no use, however, if the story arc payback is never called.  Used properly, it can be a very good tactic for serious RolePlaying opportunities.  Used badly, this just annoys all the other players in a game.  --Jumlian




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