Sunday, November 10, 2013

13 Ways to Get Out of a Fantasy Army Without Deserting

A friend was recently stuck in her novel and asked me how someone could get out of the army without deserting. Being a great friend, I dropped everything and started IMing her with every dumb idea I could come up with. For anyone who's stuck in such a plot, here are thirteen totally viable and not at all suspicious ways to get out of a Fantasy army:

1. The war ends, demand for troops drops, and the Powers That Be release people to return to farming/etc. Presto! But I sense this doesn’t solve your problem. How about…

2. Nepotism or favors, such as knowing the colonel is diddling his mother, and blackmailing him for discharge.

3. You die! And now you’re a ghost, utterly free from duty to military service. Being a ghost is a good start for many kinds of plots.

4. You are reassigned to something like reconstruction, no longer in active military service while still technically drawing a salary. Also, congratulations on drawing a salary in the Fantasy military!

5. Injury that causes them to be given an honorable discharge but doesn’t turn you into a ghost. You’ve got spunk but you don't have arms anymore, and we're in a very stab-based economy.

6. Hardship discharge for something like trouble at home, such as half your family dying. You can come home to discover they’re ghosts, if your author is into that sort of thing.

7. Paperwork error. "You were supposed to serve another seven years, but they stamped in the wrong place." It happened in more feudal armies than you’d expect.

8. We don't know how to break this to you, but you're awful luck. As the main character, you are doubtless still alive, but being a novel with war, many others are not. Through whatever system of logic the author finds funny, we now suspect you are a walking Bermuda Triangle. Well walk your ass back home. We'd kill you, but then the executioner would be cursed too.

9. Identical twin takes your place! What a sport.

10. Fox demon takes your place because his mom says he needs to learn how to be human. You go off and have the plot of the novel. He shows up near the denouement, a changed man, now a very ranty pacifist who can't believe humans do such-and-such to each other when they only live blah blah yeah.

11. Your entire battalion is wiped out by a surprise meteor! You are the only survivor. Having no one to immediately answer to, and being shellshocked, you decide "fuck this," and go to the coast to open a sea food restaurant.

12. You get drunk and go bowling with bearded gnomes. You pass out for a little while You wake up to find your shrew wife dead, your daughter an adult and grateful to see you again, and everyone is very high on someone called "Washington."

13. You fall through a magic closet and into a realm of witches, satyrs and very pious lions.

Have any plot troubles in your current work in progress? Maybe I'll come up with thirteen ways to fix that next week. Prod me in the comments!


  1. Those are really creative, John! Messing up the paperwork is very plausible. Although the ghost one would be a lot of fun!

  2. Stab-based economy is the name of my next band! Thank you - I need a laugh today and this is fabulous. Also, looking forward to ranty fox demon showing up in SOMENE'S book please!

  3. I like the ghost suggestion. You also sound like me when my writing partner asks me for help. First, I goof off and suggest silly things, then I eventually start being serious and try to help.

  4. #5 is my favorite but these are all great. :D

  5. #7 is a very real scenario. And I suspect as common today as it was in feudal times - probably more common because there are far more people with some claims (weak) to literacy.
    Just the same, I like the ghosts...

  6. Nice! You could drug your superior officer and force them to give you an honorable discharge. They won't remember any of it afterward, and with a big battalion they probably won't even remember you existed.

    The Warrior Muse

  7. I notice that ghosts was sort of a theme... are you trying to urge them into the next wave of fandom once this weird zombie craze is over?

  8. Number 11 was my favorite by far, though I appreciate the Rip Van Winkle reference.


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