Just recently, I performed something that is generally viewed as a no-no. I wrote an OC for Star Wars, who is a prodigy, to actually play in a game! Now, why is this a no-no?
First, most people I have met think Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation when they hear the word prodigy and many of those same people have told me that they can not stand Wesley Crusher. When I have asked them why they did not like the character, either they could not give me a reason or they said it was because he was so smart.
To me, 'the character wasn't dumb enough' is not a good enough reason to me not to write a Prodigy. No, I did not write this character with Wesley Crusher in mind and Tywyll Heliwr bares little resemblence to him.
Second, It is really hard to write a prodigy character who is not a Mary Sue.
So how would I avoid that second obstacle? I looked at prodigy characters and real life prodigies that people actually like.
Remember Quantum Leap?
Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett could do advanced calculus in his head at age 5 and by around age 24 had 6 to 7 Doctorate Degrees. Anyone who watched the program knows that Sam was not a perfect character, that he had flaws. The program was so well liked that you could not argue that people hated the main protagonist for being a prodigy. For all his brilliance, could he solve every problem on his own? No!
Remember Dougie Howser, M.D.?
Alright, this one was a comedy and there is going to be some exaggeration of things involved so everyone gets their laugh. Kind of the same thing with Big Bang Theory, which really exaggerates stereotypes. Anyways, Dougie is 14 years old when he completes Medical School. In the beginning, the other Doctors do not know what to make of Dougie or what to do with him, they think a joke has been played on them. At the same time, Dougie Howser is just trying to do his best to interact with his colleagues. This makes a good story.
Familiar with Numb3rs?
Dr. Charlie Eppes attended University at age 13 and graduated at 16 years old. Like Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett, he also has several Doctorates. Yes, the character is flawed and relating with others is sometimes difficult for the character but not impossible. In fact, part of the running storyline is Dr. Charlie Eppes's attempts to better relate socially with others.
I am curious to know, how many here hate the series 'Davinci's Demons'?
I've known some DMs to look like they wanted to run and hide at the thought of a player having a Polymath for a PC. I saw less of this reaction after White Wolf publishing put out there Storytelling game series, which changed the way table top and online gaming on M.U.S.H.es and M.O.O.s were played.
Games like AD&D and Star Wars changed over to the D20 system in an effort to compete with a character building system that did not encourage min maxing on character sheets using some system designed for strictly villian of the weak dungeon crawls, with the repetitive cycle of gaining more treasure, equipment and powers as the constant main goal.
White Wolf's D10 system still beats the pants off of the D20 system because you get rewarded for actually role playing your character and telling a story through play with others.
I actually blame West End Games and TSR for the whole 'No, no. Anything but a polymath in the hands of a player character!' attitude that DMs have had in the past.
But these Prodigy characters are all fictional people...
Dr. Charlie Eppes's character is based off of the real life Richard Feynmon.
Well, these are all male characters and your character is female...
Look up Hedy Lamarr. She is the reason why you can even be reading this journal entry today. Her work laid down the foundation for the whole internet.
Now, in my personal experience...
While attending University, I met Ilyana Mansfield. At the time, she was something like nine years old. She was only auditing classes because either the University would not allow her to take the credited classes or her family could not afford to do so. My experience with Ilyana Mansfield was not just one chance meeting in a University class. Ilyana Mansfield is a good friend of mine that I have known for years.
Also, I am above average intelligence. I believe that there should be great stories told about all kinds of people. That includes the really smart ones. This is not me arguing for Mary Sue characters. Mary Sue does not make for a great story. R.A. Salvatore's fans became annoyed when Drizzt d'urden always won his fights and never really got injured or died after more than six books. Finally, R.A. Salvatore had Artemis Entreri kill Drizzt in a fight for that very reason. R.A. Salvatore's fans were happier once Drizzt actually had to be taken to a temple to be resurrected!
But really smart people never make mistakes and never need any body else's help!
Have you seen Doctor Who?
'It is amazing how someone so brilliant can be so thick!'
"Oh! I am so thick! Why didn't I see it?!
----The Doctor, Doctor Who
Anyways, where was I? Oh, yes! My cardinal sin of creating a prodigy character. I looked at qualities and flaws of prodigies both fictional and real to help me come up with Tywyll Heliwr and I hope that she is a character that others will come to love. If not love, then at least love to hate.