Ask GV: Evil Eye for the Little Guy

Orchid Mantis Familiar Lan asks:

I don’t really want to be evil (unless eating hummingbirds and dragonflies is evil, then I’m all for it), but I do want to learn to be intimidating. I have read over your advice, and I have some of the same problems as the ferret and the peacock – I’m 3 inches long and I look like a pink flower. Everyone knows the more stick-like praying mantises and the devil’s mantises are courageous and fierce for their size (I have heard of cats being afraid of them, and there are legends of them taking on chariots!), but they are bigger and less frilly looking. I try to act tough, I comment on my provable conquests, and I use my abilities to hide and to do martial arts to my advantage. I ally myself with the biggest and fiercest apex predators I can find and try to learn their secrets of success. But still, people look at me and say I’m pretty or cute. They try to protect me from danger I could handle on my own, and they get mad when I try to eat the sparrows and lizards (or even cactus wrens and snakes, and no one likes them. weird people). Part of my problem is my super-human is writing my copy and she makes me come across as cute, even though she knows I could so take on the local cats. How do I come across as more than a hair accessory? How can I get people to see me as a stealthy chariot-fighting apex predator in my own right?

Dear Lan,

You don’t want to be evil? People have joined our ranks for far less than what you’ve described. Let me see what I can do, though.

It looks like your profile already eliminates two of the intimidation factors I mentioned in my previous post; you don’t have much room to go the bloodthirsty route, and the kind of villainous competence that gets most people shaking in their boots is much harder to achieve when you’re not interested in evil and stuck as a permanent attachment to a human-type creature.

It sounds, though, like you’ve got a good start on your attitude, though right now you’re starting to veer towards the Scrappy Doo end of the spectrum on aggressiveness. When you repeatedly boast of your skill, particularly in phrasings with the built-in presupposition that there are people who firmly believe you can’t do all the things you claim you can do, you sound like you’re trying to prove something. Instead, don’t let anyone catch you deliberately drawing attention to your skills, just have them and be confident in them. Which leads us to….

Movement and stillness. That’s going to be one of your key advantages. At your size, you’re already next to invisible anyway, and what with your being a mantis, I’m pretty sure you know the uses of not moving at all. So take advantage of it. Cultivate an air of perfect stillness; don’t react to anything with any more movement than you absolutely have to. Then, when you move, try to make sure it’s when nobody’s watching you.

Does your human-thing have access to any sort of fingernail or carapace paint? A little extra color could do wonders for your image. I’d recommend black and red, to contrast with your standard coloration, in mostly angular patterns—but you could probably get away with dark blue as well. Practice first before you let yourself be seen in public, though; there’s not much quite as infantilizing as a botched-up cosmetic job.

If that doesn’t help, we can revisit this issue later.

1 comment

  1. Shinali says:

    Lan’s reply:
    Hmm, I would look good in black and red (it was my first instar colors, after all), but I think I’d have a little trouble getting into her nail polish, apparently she knows where I am all the time (which is the real reason I’d rather not commit evil acts – she’s non-evil and that would be awkward). Normally only my human ever listens to me, but I can be more careful about boasting.
    I tried the movement and stillness thing in a conversation my human’s player was having, and I managed to really creep out the person she was talking to – I tried to just be places or have objects rather than using any motion verbs at all (I’m in a purely textual medium, so if you don’t do something people forget you exist, which has its upsides and downsides, as I am sure you well know).
    If I have any other questions in the implementation, I’ll be sure to ask.

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