Marty Stu

meaning and definition

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    What is a Marty Stu?

    Marty Stu is a term used to describe a male character in fanfiction and roleplaying games (RPGs) who is portrayed as excessively ideal, lacking flaws, or unrealistically powerful, to the point where it undermines the game’s narrative credibility.

    Marty Stu characters are typically flawless, succeed at almost everything they attempt, and overshadow other characters.

    In text-based RPGs, this can manifest through narrative decisions, dialogue, and character interactions that highlight the Marty Stu’s superiority over others and the game setting.

    Marty Stu’s are not unique to text-based RPGs but are prevalent in many storytelling mediums.

    They are especially noticeable in games that emphasize roleplaying and character development, where balance and character flaws contribute significantly to the story’s depth and believability.

    Marty Stu FAQs

    What are some other names for Marty Stu?

    A Marty Stu is the male equivalent of a Mary Sue, which was the original term. Both terms describe characters that are overly idealized and lack realistic limitations. While Mary Sue typically refers to female characters, Marty Stu is used for male characters.

    Other names for Marty Stu include Larry Sue and Gary Sue.

    See: The Gary Sue character type explained.

    How can I avoid creating a Marty Stu character in my RPG?

    Avoid creating a Marty Stu by giving your character realistic flaws, challenges, and limitations. Ensure that they fail occasionally and learn from their mistakes. Make their skills and abilities fit within the game’s world and setting, and allow them to grow and develop through the game’s challenges.

    See: How to use a character arc roadmap in RP.

    Why are Marty Stu characters problematic in RPGs?

    Marty Stu characters can be problematic because they disrupt the game’s balance and undermine the collaborative storytelling aspect of RPGs. They can make other players feel insignificant or unnecessary and can lead to a less enjoyable experience for everyone involved. All characters need to have strengths and weaknesses to maintain engagement and interest.

    Can a Marty Stu ever be a positive aspect of a game?

    In some contexts, a Marty Stu character might serve a specific narrative purpose, such as embodying an ideal for other characters to aspire to. However, this should be handled carefully and typically works best in short-term scenarios or as non-player characters (NPCs) to avoid detracting from the player experience.

    How do I tell someone they’ve written a Marty Stu?

    For one thing, don’t use the term Marty Stu. If you think someone has written a Mary Sue character unintentionally, you can try is to start the conversation by telling them something you like (something positive) about the character. Then, suggest what would make that character even better. This can get your point across constructively and without putting the other person down.

    Myths about Marty Stu

    There are several myths about Marty Stu characters that can lead to misunderstandings:

    1. All powerful characters are Marty Stus: Not true. Characters can be powerful yet still have flaws, challenges, and limitations that prevent them from being Marty Stus.
    2. Marty Stus are only a problem in amateur writing: This is a misconception. Marty Stus can appear in any level of storytelling, from professional works to casual games. They can appear in screenplays, fanfiction, and RP.
    3. Adding a tragic backstory prevents a character from being a Marty Stu: Simply giving a character a sad past does not automatically give them depth or prevent them from being a Marty Stu if they lack realistic traits and challenges.

    Marty Stu examples

    • A character who never fails at any task, regardless of the difficulty or their experience level.
    • A character who instantly wins the trust and admiration of all other characters without effort or development.
    • A character who possesses an unrealistic combination of skills that are not justified within the game’s setting.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."