Apr. 14th, 2009 10:31 pm
wizzardly: Or so will I (Don't stop smiling)
[personal profile] wizzardly

SERIES: The Discworld (book series)
CHRONOLOGY: At the end of Interesting Times, the fifth book in Rincewind's series.
CLASS: Reluctant Hero
HOUSING: Heropa Individual Housing
PROFESSION: Assistant Librarian at Nonah Public Library

"'I suppose I can't complain. I've had a good life. Well, quite good.' He hesitated. 'Well, not all that good. I suppose most people would call it pretty awful.' He considered it further. 'I would,' he added, half to himself.'" - Rincewind, Sourcery

The Discworld is literally a flat disc of a world. More importantly, it is a flat disc of a world which is carried upon the backs of four elephants, who are in turn carried upon the back of a giant turtle moving through space. It is a world of baffling, magical absurdity, at times an uncanny reflection of our own world, but mostly a setting so outlandish that when it's said that the gods of the Discworld have a habit of "going 'round to atheists' houses and smashing their windows", it's meant literally.

Rincewind is a native to Ankh-Morpork, the mercantile capital of the Disc, and spent most of his life in the famed Unseen University, the Circle Sea's magical college for wizards. Little is known of his time before becoming a student there. According to Rincewind, his mother ran away before he was born. Disregarding the medical improbability of this claim (although he does firmly believe it, and given that it's Discworld it could absolutely be possible), it's true that Rincewind had no involvement with either of his parents in his early life. The only family he makes any mention of is a brief reference to hearing stories from his grandfather, whom one has to assume briefly raised the boy until he could be sent to start training as a wizard.

Rincewind's school life is mostly not worth noting except for how poor of a magical student he was. The exception is a singular event, which involved him opening the Octavo, the most magical book in existence, on a bet. As a result, one of the Eight Great Spells of the Creator removed itself from the pages and lodged itself in the wizard's head. This event ultimately lands him, in addition to being kicked out of school, in a position to run into the Disc's first tourist, Twoflower, an event which serves as the catalyst for the whirlwind of unwanted, life-threatening adventures that Rincewind's life becomes in the series.

After helping to save the Disc from annihilation - a story which involved accompanying Twoflower around the Disc (and, at one point, off the side of it), and defeating a power-mad wizard named Trymon by keeping him from harnessing the power of the Octavo by instead saying the spells himself, Rincewind is let back into the Unseen University as an Assistant Librarian. He's paid for this position only in food and lodging, but greatly enjoys it for the relative peace and safety it affords. [Events detailed in The Color of Magic & The Light Fantastic]

As is his perpetual story, this peace doesn't last, and he ends up being required to save the world again from another ambitious magic user, this time a young sorcerer influenced by his own possessed staff who captures the gods and subsequently risks the Disc being overrun by a host of nightmares from the Dungeon Dimensions, a Lovecraftian half-world full of horrors. Rincewind not only manages to save the Disc, but also willingly sacrifices himself to save the child when the two are plunged into the Dimensions. Rincewind stays behind, armed with a half-brick in a sock, to give the boy time to escape even though it means he'll be sealed inside. [Events detailed in Sourcery]

Rincewind is rescued from this many years later (although he doesn't age in this time) only by being accidentally summoned by a young, ill-practiced demonologist, and subsequently bound to do the boy's bidding. This plays out as a mesh of both Faust and Dante's Inferno, and requires Rincewind to visit the creation of the universe (which, time-travel being what it is, he may have also unwittingly helped start), an ancient war which parallels the Battle of Troy (and gets to meet one of his ancestors, who we would know as Odysseus), and ultimately Hell, which he has to escape using little but his wits and tenacity. [Events detailed in Faust Eric]

Interesting Times]]

"'We need a plan,' said Nijel.
'We could try running again,' said Rincewind.
'That doesn’t solve anything!'
'Solves most things,' said Rincewind." -Sourcery

Rincewind is, above all, a survivor. He'd be the first to admit that he's a failure at most everything, unreliable, yellow with cowardice to the core of him and, quite frankly, a rat, but miraculously he manages to face (or run away from, considering on how annoying his conscience wants to be and whether there are people forcing him to remain) hundreds of different dangers and always come out relatively unscathed. He's saved the Disc from certain peril at least twice, though usually with great reluctance. Rincewind's idea of a wonderful life consists of long, glorious stretches of boredom. He considers adventure to be a synonym for danger, and heroism a synonym for mental illness. He firmly believes there's no cause worth dying for, valuing his life even above his own pride and freedom. The trouble is that he's the Chosen of the Lady, a Discworld goddess and the anthropomorphic personification of luck (both good and bad), which also earns him the reliable enmity of Fate, her regular opponent. Combine that with a knack for getting dragged into situations he'd have been better off left out of, often against his own wishes, and one can see how he's managed to have been captured, chased and almost killed a hundred times over. He's been everywhere from the Rim (the edge of the Discworld) to Death's Domain, and has had danger stare him in the back of the head loads of times. (Being this uniquely well traveled actually gains him the title of Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography, later in the series.)

While a failure at magic, Rincewind has built his identity around his status as a wizard. He does have the basic prerequisites - he can both sense and see magic, and when he dies Death himself will come to claim him, rather than sending one of his lackeys - and is actually fairly knowledgeable both on the nature of Discworld magic and on organisms, events, and items associated with it. He maintains that his inability to do even simple magic is the result of once having one of the Eight Great Spells of the Creator lodged in his mind, but even before this event (and following the spell's departure) Rincewind has shown no magical aptitude; he's simply without talent for it. Dwelling for too long on this thought can make him irritable, and secretly he harbors the thought (or more accurately, the hope) that somewhere there's something greater than magic, a more orderly way of doing things, as magic on the Disc is a messy, chaotic thing. (When pressed upon this belief in The Color of Magic, he offers the idea of harnessing lightning, which we would know in our world to be electricity, but on the Disc is known to be the spears hurled by fighting thunder giants, making his belief an absurd one.) Still, while Rincewind has once or twice expressed envy of the great mages in history, he firmly believes his inability to do magic doesn't detract from his status as a wizard. He's even got it written on his hat (although it's spelled incorrectly), which he keeps on his head at all times, and feels distinctly uncomfortable without. This is one of his few points of pride-- Rincewind takes great offense if anyone suggests that he's not a wizard, or that he could simply stop being one if he wished. "A wizard isn't what you do," he once said. "It's what you are. If I wasn't a wizard, I wouldn't be anything".

Being terrible at magic doesn't make Rincewind without talent altogether, however. His main skills involve an ability to detect danger normally only found in small rodents, and an aptitude for running that an Olympian would envy, but also has a talent for languages. It's explicitly stated that Rincewind can "scream for mercy in nineteen languages, and just scream in another forty-four", and is hired (re: press-ganged) as a translator/guide to the Disc's first tourist in The Color of Magic. He can pick up the essentials of a foreign language quickly, and fluency only slightly less quickly, which is helpful when one has the unfortunate habit of having to visit various dangerous countries against one's will. Despite being a terrible student (and sometimes slow on the uptake - one of the running gags is that he often confuses certain vocabulary for other words), Rincewind is also actually fairly well-read, with a sharp memory and a quick ability to link together relevant information. On the whole he's a clever bastard in a pinch, quick-witted and difficult to deceive (if only in part because he's paranoid of the intentions of most everyone around him). He's one of the few characters in the series to show both intelligence and a good deal of common sense, and while not prone to theoretical or imaginative thinking outside of survival situations, he's often the source of accidental wisdom.

When faced with danger, Rincewind's first choice is always to run. Running is so vital to the wizard that it's nearly become a philosophical credo on which to live by. Failing that he'll do whatever he has to in order to get out. His fighting style is described as: "Without skill or fairness or tactics but with a great deal of whirlwind effort. The strategy was to prevent an opponent getting enough time to realize that in fact Rincewind wasn't a very good or strong fighter, and it often worked." Some of his most notable combat experiences involve pretending to cast a spell on someone long enough to kick them in the groin, and going up against an extremely powerful sorcerer with only a half-brick in a sock. Rincewind is a rat, but even rats fight in a corner, and he has no concept of fighting clean or fair (indeed, he would find the idea utterly idiotic). Rincewind is a coward at the heart of him, but he takes that distinction as a point of pride, as he generally finds heroes to be dumb, vain, and homicidally insane.

The wizard is quick to lie and quick to cheat, and can be a downright cruel and snarky bastard when the mood strikes, but these roguish traits arise more from a survival sense than out of any genuine underhandedness. For example, when the wizard considers robbing Twoflower the first time he meets him, he fantasizes about using the money only to secure a safe, obscure, and comfortable existence. Truthfully, he's a man of little greed or ambition and - while he would be loathe to admit it - a surprising amount of caring and kindness. After failed attempts to put it back in the ocean, Rincewind once even tries to talk what he believes to be a suicidal fish into looking on the bright side of life (a situation made all the more ironic considering he's easily the Disc's most pessimistic resident). Several times throughout the series he goes against his own rules regarding heroic acts to be rather heroic indeed, coming to the aid of others at the expense of his own safety and despite truly massive amounts of terror. At Rincewind's core he's still a good person, and it's not unheard of for his irritatingly resilient conscience to send him back into dangers that he'd really rather have run from. ...It just doesn't happen often.

"He was no good at anything else. Wizardry was the only refuge. Well, actually he was no good at wizardry either, but at least he was definitively no good at it. He’d always felt he had a right to exist as a wizard in the same way that you couldn’t do proper maths without the number 0, which wasn’t a number at all but, if it went away, would leave a lot of larger numbers looking bloody stupid." - Interesting Times

Magic Sight (canon)
In addition to rods and cones, wizards of the Disc are born with the ability to see Octarine, the color of magic (said to be the most astonishing color in the spectrum - Rincewind thinks it looks a sort of greenish-purple). This means he can differentiate enchanted objects or people from those which are not, see spells that have been set, or tell when a person is particularly magically imbued.

UPDATE: Rincewind is now also able to see that an imPort's power has been placed on someone (such as an enchantment, a geas, extended hypnotism, or psychic/empathic links). This will appear to his vision as an octarine lock symbol on the imPort's person. He will have no way to identify what power was used, or which imPort used it.

The Luggage (canon)
Rincewind is perpetually followed by a magic chest known as The Luggage. It's shaped like a large, normal wooden chest, but has hundreds of tiny pink human-shaped feet and (sometimes) flips its lid to reveal a large mahogany-colored tongue and a lot of white teeth. I say only sometimes, because The Luggage is made of sapient pearwood, which grants it a small number of abilities. Firstly, it's multi-dimensional. Dirty laundry can go in and the next time you open it, you'll have clean laundry. Or, it can eat someone, and the next time you open it... you'll still have clean laundry. Or perhaps a nice bowl of fruit. A person could put as many things as they want inside The Luggage and it will never be full. In addition to being incredibly durable and impervious to magic, The Luggage is enchanted so that it will follow its master anywhere. And that means anywhere. Hell, space, other dimensions, whatever. Though it can't talk, The Luggage usually gets its messages very clearly across, seeming to stare/glare/glance without eyes and be very menacing while doing so. Its personality has been described as a cross between loyal dog and homicidal maniac. It likes, for example, to terrorize bar patrons into feeding it chips, and doesn't hesitate to bite/eat/trample people who try to harm its master. [I've also made a Luggage FAQ page]

Human Lock-pick
While technically a wizard, Rincewind has no magical ability of his own, and is in fact described as being "the magical equivalent to the number zero". I would therefore like to say that his arrival has granted him the singular ability to ~magically~ undo locks. This ability would come with two caveats. Firstly, to undo a lock Rincewind would need to be able to both see it and touch it with his fingers. Secondly, there would need to be the desire to pick the lock, so that simply handling or brushing up against one wouldn't necessarily result in its opening. The sort of "locks" that Rincewind could undo wouldn't necessarily need to be physical, and could include, for example, a fingerprint/eye reader, a password prompter on a computer screen, or a magical seal, so long as he can still see these things and touch them. As always, any use of his powers in this manner against the locks of others would require player permission first.

"Multiple exclamation marks," [Rincewind] went on, shaking his head, "are a sure sign of a diseased mind." - Faust Eric

It is worth noting that every living being on the Disc has an hourglass representing one's life from birth until death, and which is kept track of by Death, anthropomorphized as a skeletal grim reaper. These hourglasses are called life-timers, and Rincewind's is described as resembling "something created by a glassblower with the hiccups in a time machine", which is most likely as a result of his constant mishaps involving magic, the nature of reality, and his various visits to alternate dimensions. Death actually finds this enough of a curiosity to declare Rincewind as his "hobby", and keeps the wizard's life-timer (which is so complicated and changeable that sometimes his sand can be observed as flowing backwards) on his desk. As a result, even Death himself is unaware of just how old Rincewind is supposed to be or when he will die, but holds a private theory that as everything in the Discworld universe has an opposite (such as matter and antimatter), Rincewind is the counterpart to the theory of the Eternal Champion (the embodiment of the immortal heroic spirit reborn in times of greatest need), making the wizard the immortal antihero spirit, or Eternal Coward.

Of course, this is just Death's personal hypothesis.


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