Molly Grue

So, I wanted to write more about mechanical failure and storytelling today. Then I heard a song I had to share.

No Happy Endings

https://fawm.org/songs/90857/

by Mikey Mason

The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle is one of the best fantasy novels ever. It’s also an amazing movie (though be careful not to watch the edited edition). But the greatest thing about The Last Unicorn is one of the characters… Molly Grue.

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If you haven’t read the book – or seen the movie – it’s hard to explain Molly Grue. But she is my favorite character of all time. I have loved her since I was 8 years old. I didn’t even understand why I latched on to her that young… But she always stayed with me. Through the years, I always thought about Molly Grue.

She inspired a game mechanic in my Legends of Ryllia game – called Spark – just by being who she was and making me realize that I could’t replicate her place in the story without it. So, to try and explain her – just a little – and pay homage to this great character… here’s what I wrote about her when I made the game.

The inspiration for the Spark trait comes from my favorite character – Molly Grue – from Peter S. Beagle’s, The Last Unicorn. Molly isn’t especially pretty, or young, or even all that happy. She is downtrodden but defiant, full of spit-and-vinegar and secretly, underneath it all, she has a beautiful soul. Molly is plain-spoken and honest and when she speaks, her words have a way of cutting right to the heart of a scene. Beagle, the author, gives her a freedom and insight in the story that allows her to say things to the evil king that would have gotten any other hero killed for their insolence. In game, her Spark trait grants her a unique perspective – as well as the leeway to voice it – when speaking to other characters.

And Molly Grue is more than that. She is slyly wise, devoted, and the product of a hard life. She is loyal and strong-willed. The story couldn’t have been told without Molly Grue. In gaming terms, she defies the min-max inevitability of RPG-as-math-problem. She can’t stack all the bonuses that normally go into improving social abilities. She can be a hard woman to like. But she has a gift of speaking truth – and not just to power. Like Aragorn declaring himself the true King before the Riders of Rohan – hers is a magic that defies stats or magic powers.

She’s Molly Grue. She’s a legend.

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