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Author Topic: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion  (Read 5006 times)

Grey

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Author's note:
I've been tinkering with this for over two weeks, ever since the idea came to me, I name this a provisional article because it's more to frame the format and focus I want to use in future articles, specifically what makes a character what they are, their purpose, their use and how that interacts with the setting. In this vein constructive criticism is more than welcome.
The initial idea in using Victor was because he was such a significant character with a great deal of material he would be an easy place to start.
I also can't help but feel that this article is simultaneously too long, rushed, repetitive, lacks detail and took too much time, so it's probably best to focus criticisms on the previously mentioned goals.
At the same time I'd like to see what debate happens as a result of this article, so if you want to treated like the other "X of the Week" articles feel free.
The next article is tentatively slated to be on Hanse Davion and will be a refinement based on having written this article and suggestions resulting from this one.
Now, enjoy. :)

Who: Victor Ian Steiner-Davion
What: Firstborn son of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner
Heir Apparent Federated Commonwealth
   Kommandant, 12th Donegal Guards, AFFC
   Kommandant, 10th Lyran Guards, AFFC
   Archon-Prince, Federated Commonwealth
   Precentor Martial, ComGuards, ComStar
   Commanding General, Republic of the Sphere Armed Forces
   Paladin, Republic of the Sphere
When: 12 April 3030 – 26 November 3134 (age: 104)
Weapon of Choice:    Victor Class BattleMech, 9B or 9K/D depending on writing.
Dire Wolf/Daishi Class OmniMech, A or Prometheus personalised configuration, again depending on writing.

Detailed biography can be found here:
http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Victor_Steiner-Davion

No other character has quite the publication history of Victor Steiner-Davion. He has been a main character in many of the novels, appeared in several others in support roles and as a plot device, as well as appearances, mentions, and in-universe author of sourcebooks and historicals. In this capacity he has been a dominant figure in the BattleTech Universe by virtue of sheer presence.

Indeed, looking over his lifespan, over a century, it could be said that he has lived through almost all the major events of the modern game setting, and brushed past a few more. Born at the end of the Fourth Succession War, the war that first brought real change to the setting, living through the revival of Star League technology, the Clan Invasion, Blakist Jihad and the founding of the Republic of the Sphere to die at the opening of the Dark Age, we are just beginning to enter a period without Victor’s presence that isn’t retroactive such as the Amaris Coup or Reunification War.

Thus it can be said that Victor bookends much of the active setting.

He is also a character caught in a contradiction: the need to be a heroic pulp sci-fi hero in a grim, chaotically neutral setting.

For better or worse Victor is based partly on a sort of template Stackpole uses for characters. Typically Michael Stackpole uses a character that is short, blonde, green eyed, left handed and has, if not father issues exactly, then a close or slightly fixated relationship with their father.

We can see these traits in the perspective characters of the Blood of Kerensky trilogy, Phelan has green eyes, Kai has the father thing, Shin Yodama is left handed while Victor gets short and blonde.

Some would say that using a template for characters is cheating or lazy writing, I however disagree, Stackpole uses these very basic traits as a starting point for characters, sometimes letting them inform the person they are or develop into, sometimes doing so for other characters, rarely letting these characteristics inform the plot.

So using this shorthand Michael Stackpole creates what starts as a fairly stock heroic character. Victor is moral, ethical, heroic, willing to dash off and fight the enemy at the drop of a hat and to fit the setting is very good at all things military.

Another trait of the pulp hero is that one is frequently the underdog. How do you make a Prince an underdog? You kick him. Hard. And often.

This is relatively easy as the larger plot of the setting is not within any one writer’s control. This is a dark, grim setting where the ruthless prosper, war is a constant and no one faction is allowed to be too good or win too much. Victor’s character collides with this head on.

On the one hand Victor needs to be the stock standard pulp sci-fi hero: good, moral, dashing and brilliant. On the other is the need to fit him into a setting where no one is all that good, moral or dashing, and so his brilliance is compromised. This contradiction, character and setting, brilliance and stupidity, makes Victor a subject of much debate. Quite simply how can someone who so many sourcebooks claim is a military genius have such blindingly simple stupid moments, and how can he continue to survive, prosper or even be considered an elder statesman by the Republic era?

As annoying as it may be the simple answer is the story arc, which demands these moments of stupidity as much as the glory.

Conversely he is also cursed with being a protagonist hero and thus getting into and out of scrapes most characters with a few paragraphs in a sourcebook wouldn’t survive, making him seem unrealistic even as events propel him forward and even promote him. Again, as a pulp hero he can’t be allowed to simply fade away.

The ‘Mechs Victor has used are somewhat indicative of his character, aside from a few test rides, or joyrides depending on your interpretation, in a Grand Dragon Victor is associated with his namesake, or what is possibly the most deadly Assault class design in the game, in short “Hero Rides”, because they’re the fanciest, deadliest things around.

Both designs are blunt instruments. There’s no finesse or interesting tricks to any of them, the Victor gets in close, blasts away, jumps out, or further in to more advantageous position. The A/Prometheus advances slowly until the enemy is dead, or backs out slowly until the enemy is dead. Subtlety isn’t really an Assault ‘Mech thing.

In either configuration the Dire Wolf is precisely what you want to put your main character in if you’re going to throw or have them walk into the fire and you want some sort of serious chance of them walking out again. Especially since Victor while a noted strategist and tactician, is not the best ‘MechWarrior.

True, he’s running around with the likes of Kai Allard-Liao and Phelan Kell, so if you’re average compared to them you’re still somewhere over the 90th percentile and at least a veteran or lower level elite warrior. This is also a feature of a pulp sci-fi hero, their skills are usually a little bit below other characters in their circle, partly to justify the continued presence of these other characters, also because perfectly skilled characters are boring as protagonists.

Like it or not he has been the main perspective character through the fiction being either a major or the main POV character more often than any other individual. Events as seen from his perspective have been the best way of giving readers a broad view of things as his positions and ranks have allowed him access to intelligence and information few others would.

This is also why his mistakes seem particularly foolish and have very dire consequences. It’s easy to call them that from a reader’s perspective, we are far more omnipresent than any character and can see events unfold in ways they cannot precisely because of characters like Victor.

Between these factors, from a writing perspective, Victor can’t ever catch a break. Being such a central character, in the telling of the tales as well as within the setting, if he does do the smart thing there goes much of the conflict.

For example: Joshua Marik. When the boy dies if Victor does the smart thing, the thing his mother would have done but his father possibly not, and not follow the failed example of Maximillian Liao by replacing the child with a double and instead tells Thomas Marik the treatments simply failed, has the body escorted back into League Space with honours, possibly personally it is quite likely that Thomas would have continued to honour the agreement made with Hanse. Worst case scenario the refit kits stop flowing, not a good thing but a far lesser problem than what developed.

In-universe Victor weighed his options and not seeing the League-Capellan invasion as a possibility decided the risk was worth it.

But if he had been smart? No invasion, no resurgent Confederation, no physical impetus for Katherine to secede. This leads to no Chaos March for the Blakists to get a foothold, no St Ives war, no FedCom Civil War, this changes the Jihad and has myriad roll on effects.

Could events have transpired in another way? Certainly. But this ties all the events to our heroic protagonist, why when you have a perfectly good character you can kick about and knock over the dominos at the same time?

And it has to be addressed that Victor is a “good guy”. Sadly this is in a setting that is supposed to be morally ambiguous, periodically hostile and as a perspective character has to be just dim enough to have things explained to him, and therefore the audience, without being so stupid you wonder how he manages to sit upright that his chair doesn’t have safety rails (insert height joke here) it’s hard to get a balance where his victories don’t seemed forced and his woes self-inflicted.

He’s the main character in a setting that has never been terribly daring with its characters because its main aim is to show off a rich, interesting universe. Painting the larger picture requires smaller elements to suffer.

Could this have been done with rich, interesting characters as well? Sure, but again, that wasn’t the aim. Authors like Stackpole were constricted, for better or worse, but the larger setting plot elements. Victor could have ridden off and destroyed the Clans single handedly when they invaded in good pulp fashion, but it would absolutely not fit with the setting, and would run counter to the company game requirements, i.e.: the elimination of a major antagonistic faction with new toys as soon as they arrived.

Could he have been less foolish in running a nation? Sure, but he was never written as being terribly good at politics as a means of getting him to make those plot evolving mistakes, and as pointed out if he didn’t make those mistakes then other events don’t happen.

In short Victor is inadvertently the whipping boy for the setting. He has to be just interesting and engaging enough that we want to read about what he’s doing but not so brilliant that he can see the twists and turns coming, that would be an altogether different character with a different purpose.

Wrangler

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #1 on: 12 January 2015, 09:00:58 »
I like this, Grey. 

Giving the basics, getting into the details people could miss while they're absorbed with the novels that were published about the character.

Stackpole was Victor's creator, most of the time person guiding the character through the year until the Twilight of the Clans, which was last books he wrote for him until first Dark Age Novel, Ghost Wars and the short story of him meeting Devlin Stone in 25 Years of Art & Fiction, "Well Met In The Future".

I generally liked the character, but he had tough decisions make.  I didn't like how the character was didn't like being in charge of the FedCom, he was soldier first.  He was fast learner, but i guess not quick enough to handle political crisis and dealing with a "deadly" sibling who wanted it all for her self.   Galen Cox was their keep him on the right path, but it wasn't easy.  The conflict with Northwind Highlanders and losing the planet to the Chaos March due to his own people's mistreatment of the people and clan of the Northwind for example.

I won't hold game fiat against Victor, if the FedCom had to break up for sake of plot, then he has little control over it and it's not going to make sense to readers why he let all go.

Loren Coleman wrote second half of his life, frankly did him justice.  He wasn't as bad as in the later years of Stackpole's writing for the character.  He had his down points, losing Omi to his insane jealous/power-hungry sister and Isis pulling him up from the boot straps get him to soldier on with the FedCom Civil War's end.  Arguably my favorite time reading about Victor, him doing what he does best.

His later years as Paladin, General of Armies, still dabbling with private spy organization which to this day isn't well known but we saw signs of by the time we see Gavin Davion-Marik in Sword of Sedition/Fortress Republic (novels).

Like him or not Victor was linchpin that held the universe together though it's key moments in the mid-to late 31st Century.

I'm not entirely sure if there will ever be a character that will hold this kind of influence in the Battletech universe.  Devlin stone perhaps, but he didn't do as much as Victor did and there just not enough impact in comparison to the old published/printed novels verse source books.
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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #2 on: 12 January 2015, 11:43:58 »
I think you did a good job describing the unfortunate consequences of balancing Victor as an imperfect protagonist and the need to push the story of the setting forward.  This results in the love and hate so many fans have for him as a primary character: he needs to be really good at a lot of things to play the hero, and he needs to be really dumb at others so the metaplot can advance.  Thus he gets a rap as either a Mary Sue or a class-A moron.  My personal opinion of him is echoed by a sidebar from the FCCW sourcebook, a quote from the 23rd Arcturan Guards commander:

Quote
All he does is jump in his 'Mech and lead his men out to destroy something. . . Just point him at something and tell him to kill it.  He's good at that. . . [But] Everything he does has to be a damn committee decision. . . I swear, he's more concerned with everyone's feelings than he is about making the right decision.


And it is the very conundrum of Victor's existence that makes me believe that a setting's primary protagonist should not be one of the movers-and-shakers at the highest levels of government.  If your pulp hero is more concerned about tactical decisions and office politics than he is with grand strategy and international relations, there's less crap you have to lay at his feet in the service of the metaplot.
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noisenerd

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #3 on: 12 January 2015, 16:48:55 »
I also can't help but feel that this article is simultaneously too long, rushed, repetitive, lacks detail and took too much time...

I would think it very difficult with such a storied character to write a detailed article that isn't also a long one. I think you did a good job here though... as someone who has much catching up to do when it comes to BTU "history", this gave me a better idea of what kind of character he is without spoiling any of the story. I'd say that's worth something.

I definitely look forward to the next one!

Rtifs

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #4 on: 12 January 2015, 17:08:56 »
I like this concept and format, though it won't work for all characters - especially minor ones.  I’d ask for an additional section on the character’s in-universe legacy.  For example VSD squandered Hanse’s legacy and is almost single handedly responsible for the undoing of everything his parents spent their lives building.  The Fedcom broke up, the 4th succession war gains were lost, etc.  Most of this due to his lack of caring to preserve the realm (IMHO).

imperator

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #5 on: 12 January 2015, 22:23:42 »
I also approve this format. Please keep writing about the characters. They where what got me to love the setting.
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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #6 on: 12 January 2015, 23:36:04 »
Hmmm, I liked it but I, personally, wouldn't have minded more of an in-universe type perspective on things first. Explaining things to us from a reader's perspective at times and than going back into the universe reasons makes for a bit of a mix up that felt somewhat odd to me.

With most of the vehicle articles(ones that I can remember anyway), people tended to write about things from how people might see it from inside the universe(company policy, design by committee, favorite pilots etc) but than we almost always get a tabletop type discussion afterward to make things a bit more game like since this is about a table top game after all.

For characters, I wouldn't mind having a lengthy discussion on in-universe accomplishments first, their personal reasoning for doing said accomplishments and than maybe a switch to out of universe perspective. I really did like the Michael Stackpole reasoning that you put in there for Victor.
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Grey

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #7 on: 13 January 2015, 04:57:10 »
Okay, so what I'm getting is that the basic format is good, I think it can work on minor characters, though it will of course be shorter when I get to the likes of General Amos Furlong or others with even less history, but I think it can work for some of them, we'll have to see.

I was wondering about how much historical detail to go into, older articles easily got bogged down with the bigger characters, and I don't want to lazily pad things out with smaller ones. But I'll give it a go, try focusing on major events, this is a work in progress after all.

And I like the idea of covering what the characters look like from within the setting, it's actually a good angle and I wish I'd thought of it.

I'll try applying these ideas to the next one.

Wrangler

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #8 on: 13 January 2015, 11:17:02 »
There alot digging involved with the characters in the old House Books verse later sources like Historical: Reunification Wars.

I had to do project when I wrote up from the olde sources, which was fine. But as i got into the new sources, its like major decisions made to change canon for some reason.  Like Deborah Cameron's mother and grand father were drunks, yet their behavior lead to Deborah reviving the Hegemony.   However the canon was changed in the Reunification War book on her grandfather Theodore Cameron, become the diplomat who laided foundation friend ship with the Free Worlds League.  His only fame was he lead a Battle Group of Warships and ambushed FWL fleet posed to invade the hegemony.

Deborah's motivation to become Diplomat revived the Hegemony in decline due to neglect is muddled due to her grandfather suddenly not dying of pneumonia in part due to partying on Thorin.

There alot of mine fields in the character profiles, researchers need read all the sources to get big picture and what use to be.
« Last Edit: 13 January 2015, 13:32:13 by Wrangler »
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Stormlion1

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #9 on: 13 January 2015, 13:24:22 »
Interesting work, a good way of doing it without getting into whether you like or hate a character but gives you the basis behind the character.
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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #10 on: 14 January 2015, 02:12:16 »
My wife liked Victor Davion enough to name our first child after him... so there is that.

the biggest character flaw in VSD I always loved is the one I identify with personally.  He is his own worst critic when he makes foolhardy mistakes and he obsesses over his failures, both real and perceived.  This is best seen in how he assumes (False) responsibility for the deaths of his mother and Omni Kurita, in one case drowning himself in the investigation despite not having any real forensic or intelligence experience, and in the other darn near throwing the entire war effort he was running out the window, leaving it to Morgan Kell and Galen Cox while he sulked and ran.

As a warrior however, Victor can be prone to moments of brilliance.  cussing out a Ninja and saying people in his family take some killing before decapitating him is one of my all time favorite non mech moments, and of course telling some poo for brains O-2 in an artillery battery that he signs the paychecks, so he better get artillery support was ballsy to the point of admiration.

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Grey

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #11 on: 14 January 2015, 03:29:11 »
There alot digging involved with the characters in the old House Books verse later sources like Historical: Reunification Wars.


Yes, just starting on Hanse Davion and already running into this, I believe the trope is Characterisation Marches On, or perhaps the setting.

We see a lot of this when discussing the Succession Wars and the relevant historicals have peaked my interest because they will undoubtably show the decline in technology (something that has been hinted at in some books like the more recent Sword and the Dragon I think it was, where the original Fox's Teeth founding members and 'Mechs were discussed), whereas the original House Books implied that the tech largely just went away and never delved into it, in part because the tech and rules simply didn't exist at that point in the game.

Naturally this affects characters as well, another reason why I chose Hanse second because it gave me whole other aspects of characterisation to explore.

Grey

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #12 on: 14 January 2015, 03:34:58 »
My wife liked Victor Davion enough to name our first child after him... so there is that.

the biggest character flaw in VSD I always loved is the one I identify with personally.  He is his own worst critic when he makes foolhardy mistakes and he obsesses over his failures, both real and perceived.  This is best seen in how he assumes (False) responsibility for the deaths of his mother and Omni Kurita, in one case drowning himself in the investigation despite not having any real forensic or intelligence experience, and in the other darn near throwing the entire war effort he was running out the window, leaving it to Morgan Kell and Galen Cox while he sulked and ran.

As a warrior however, Victor can be prone to moments of brilliance.  cussing out a Ninja and saying people in his family take some killing before decapitating him is one of my all time favorite non mech moments, and of course telling some poo for brains O-2 in an artillery battery that he signs the paychecks, so he better get artillery support was ballsy to the point of admiration.

You're not wrong, but it occurs to me that these are elements I could have elaborated on from an in-universe perspective. On the one hand those are gusty moves, on the other the artillery support could be seen as abusing his connections, or rather his lineage, to get his way.

And the obsessiveness is something I could have covered as additional character flaws that were necessary for balance and to give reason for the stupidity he had to display.

Another late thought is that I could have compared him in the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy to the rest of the series because the introduction of his sister Katherine played a part in disrupting the character. While the Clans and even other Houses were clear and external threats she was the internal one he did not consider until too late and constantly underestimated because she operated on a different level. Might cover some of that with Hanse as a legacy thing.

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #13 on: 14 January 2015, 04:13:24 »
I really, *really* dislike VSD. I understand that the way his character reacts is all plot driven by TPTB in Fasa/Catalyst but dear god... is he whiny or what. I can understand he doesn't want to be in charge of everything and just be a normal person, but he refuses to make the important calls until its way too late to do anything but screw it right up. Either he should have (in universe if plot wasn't an issue) stepped down and became a normal-ish person or just sucked it up and made a go of ruling. He's all very "oh woe is me" and "my life is a disaster". His life is a disaster because he makes universally bad decisions.

Falls in love with the daughter of the realms sworn enemy (errr... look how that ended for Romeo and Juliet).
Puts his biggest enemy in charge of his realm whilst he's off fighting the good fight (and his young untried sister in charge of the other bit of the realm) against the Smoke Jaguars (he should've been at home and sent soldiers to do that job... not fight them himself, he has way bigger, more important things to do like running the FedCom and setting up the SL).
Fails to notice what the hell is going on in the FCCW and time and time again, mismanages the whole thing and makes it a lot worse than it ever had to be cause he wouldn't get his head in the game. Millions died whilst he was moping.
Steps down from the FedSuns at their time of need when he's just won (if such a thing is possible) and takes off leaving everyone going... wtf
Joins ComStar and right royally screws that one up, costing them a huge portion of their army in defections to the Blakists and then screws up the CS Navy with Case White (which he didn't have the decency to bite it cause his ship was late).

I could go on and on and on. He's a piss poor leader, a half decent(ish) soldier and wont either get out of the hotseat and put someone half decent in charge or "man up" and take control properly. He is irresponsible, incompetent and a thoroughly "wet" character.

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #14 on: 15 January 2015, 00:03:23 »
You're not wrong, but it occurs to me that these are elements I could have elaborated on from an in-universe perspective. On the one hand those are gusty moves, on the other the artillery support could be seen as abusing his connections, or rather his lineage, to get his way.

And the obsessiveness is something I could have covered as additional character flaws that were necessary for balance and to give reason for the stupidity he had to display.

Another late thought is that I could have compared him in the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy to the rest of the series because the introduction of his sister Katherine played a part in disrupting the character. While the Clans and even other Houses were clear and external threats she was the internal one he did not consider until too late and constantly underestimated because she operated on a different level. Might cover some of that with Hanse as a legacy thing.

The Artilly incident specifically was a tactical necessity as VSD's unit WAS pinned down and needed an ass extraction.  insert your blue blood jokes here but when the heir to your nations throne is on the line you bloody well save him, even if it means diverting fire to do it.

The one thing that, in my opinion, we also see from VSD is a character who as time goes on matures.  when he gets out of the Nagelrig he is a 20+ Year old brat who is semi resentful of the blessings his status has given him at birth and tries to shake em off.  He is more worried about his legacy and place then the reality of his situation, as we saw on his first combat assignment.  By time he got past the shock of his mothers death though, and actually had to assume the mantle of responsibility placed on him, he grew up.  lets remember in Twilight of the clans he admitted that the Joshua Marik case was a colossal mistake, but he learned from it.

he held back a chance at revenge at Marik/Halas even though he was handed it on a silver platter, and he also did not go gunning right after his Sister even though he wanted to and from a reader perspective would have been justified in it.

His biggest fault after the death of his mother was that he continuously, hilariously, underestimated just how ruthless his own sister was.  It really spells everything out that Katherine was quite literally the sole source of Victor's misery, costing him his mother, his lover, two nations, and several friends.
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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #15 on: 15 January 2015, 01:53:04 »
I like the idea of approaching characters from a writers perspective.

I do like the fact that Stackpole tried injecting humility into two of his biggest characters post Hanse Davion and Justin Allard, Victor knew his flaws and was never one to seek power. The only thing that makes him a magnet for fan hate is that the character was born into power and no one likes it when the guy in charge screws up.  When Kai screws up, he losses his mech. Victor screws up, Chaos March.





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Rtifs

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #16 on: 15 January 2015, 15:23:48 »
Victor’s biggest flaw was that, at least to a degree, he was what his father wanted him to be.  Hanse had no illusions about being First Lord of a resurrected Star League.  He spent his life building the Steiner-Davion dynasty and giving it the tools to become First Lord.

Victor fit the job description of budding First Lord to a T.  He was the coalition builder, and above the fights and rivalries of the successor states.  He falls in love with the daughter of the ruler of his nation’s greatest enemy. 

His big flaw was that he approached ruling the Fedcom this way.  The job was too small for him, and he didn’t approach problems by asking “what’s good for my realm,” but by asking “what is good for the IS?" - the IS being his true realm.  Resulting in the series of “mistakes” that led to the breakup of the Fedcom.  But they aren’t really mistakes if you understand that he was above the problems of any one Successor State, looking down on them from on-high. 

Eventually, he dumped the Fedcom and joined Comstar so he could run the neutral, international, egalitarian faction.  The result was a complete collapse of the Fedcom and eventually Comstar.  But not to worry, when a new neutral, international, egalitarian faction appeared, he joined it and stayed there to his dying day. 

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #17 on: 15 January 2015, 15:32:21 »
Victor in the sourcebook fiction and Victor in Stackpole's novels are entirely different characters.  The former is a politically-inept warrior prince who deals with betrayal and conflict in the only ways he knows how.  The latter has very few flaws beyond Hamlet-esque "Woe is me" internal monologues while he blasts every 'Mech he comes across in his personalized Clan Assault Omni.
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False Son

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #18 on: 15 January 2015, 15:41:05 »
I like the idea of approaching characters from a writers perspective.

This approach may not work for historical characters.  It helps that Victor is the biggest character in the clan invasion storyline written by a prolific writer who openly works in black/white characterization.  I'm not insulting anyone.  Just saying the ability for us to dig up this perspective with other characters is more limited.  And I for one am not content with FASA era novel characters.

Victor’s biggest flaw was that, at least to a degree, he was what his father wanted him to be.  Hanse had no illusions about being First Lord of a resurrected Star League.  He spent his life building the Steiner-Davion dynasty and giving it the tools to become First Lord.

This clashes with the fact that Victor was raised on Tharkad primarily by his mother.  If Hanse really was preparing him for such a specific future it would appear odd that he would trust his heir to the Lyran court and the infamously inept officers of the LCAF's Nagelring.
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SteelRaven

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #19 on: 15 January 2015, 22:32:10 »
Funny thing is; people focus on Victors plot driven errors so much, everyone seems to forget Kathren created many of the problem.

Victor is Charlie Brown, Kathrine is Lucy and it's some how Victors fault that Kathrine pulls the football away.
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2ndAcr

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #20 on: 15 January 2015, 23:28:35 »
 Personally I always liked Victor. Gotta agree that he focused way too much on what is good for the IS over the Fedcom. I sure did wish many a time that he would just flat out shoot his sister and be done with her, especially after he got the proof she killed their mother. He did make a bunch of blunders though.

 I would have preferred if he would have just sent Joshua back to the FWL with a escort instead of using a double. Would have prevented or at least stalled the breakup.

 After the Clans were halted at Tukyiad, would have really loved to see him go back and finish off the Cappies, or at least shoot Sun Tzu right in the face.

 I can understand the weary of war excuse for not confronting Katherine after Bulldog though. Poor guy was basically at war for 20+ years almost non stop. Just the thought of then inflicting war upon ones own people, would cause pause to a sane leader.

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #21 on: 15 January 2015, 23:40:04 »
Hah, here comes the hate already...fun... 8)

Victor, imo, was great one on one with people and great for the whole IS but not great with one single realm.

He consistently made good friends who backed him up when needed and he also knew instinctively when to do things that would be good for the IS as a whole and not for himself or even his realm.

And that...to me was his biggest flaw and why he failed as a leader of the FedCom, FedSuns etc. In many ways, he was from neither the Lyran side nor the Davion side and didn't understand any of them or their motivations. He always thought of the good of the IS first but not his own personal realm and I think the Clan Invasion shaped that part of his thinking as well. He had never fought the Capellans or the Dracs or the Leaguers and so weren't shaped by the natural hatred and distrust that other people were brought up into or learned during the wars.

Also, basic public perception did get a back seat with him while his sister deftly wielded it better than even Hanse did in his heyday.

And while he didn't do great as Comstar's military leader, he did have Gavin Dow ordering him around and messing things up. Victor even wrote one time about how he thought Case White was a bad idea and they needed to concentrate elsewhere but he got overridden by Dow. If the boss says go...you go.
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Nahuris

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #22 on: 16 January 2015, 05:03:45 »
I have always viewed Victor as the tragic whipping boy for the storyline....... yes, he made a lot of mistakes, because the story needed him to make them. He also gets a LOT of blame for Katherine... who, honestly is a sociopath of extreme degree. Seriously, as someone who has taken both psychology and criminal investigation courses, she is a classic narcissistic sociopathic serial killler / mass murderer. Given 2 or 3 more years, and things would have started crashing around her, anyways..... the FedCom Civil War would have happened...... it just happened that Victor did try to keep a moral limit on the fighting.
And that is where Victor really has his issue..... he is a good guy, in a universe of villains and vigilantes. Most of the other leaders are either bad, insane, evil, or selfish and narcissistic. Thomas Marik is an impostor, and knows that he is an impostor....... Theodore shows that he is still running a very tight police state, with how fast the media black out was done, when Omi died... and that he was willing to black out news, just to protect an ally. Sun Tzu speaks for himself..... and Katherine........
Victor was the good guy, looking to the best interest of all people, while surrounded by peers that could not manage to look past their own realms. And while this made him the BEST choice for the General of the Star League, it did make him inadequate as a house leader.... he wasn't able to put his realm above others, and is judged for his inability to compete in an arena, that frankly, he was above.

Did he make mistakes.... yes, but as noted, he HAD to make those mistakes, or the story would not have gone the way it needed to go......
As Precentor of Comstar, he had the opportunity to turn Katherine's media manipulation back on her...... but that would not have created the impetus that was needed for other events.....

Does this make Victor a good character..... hard to tell, but it does make him the necessary character.... to maintain the needs for the universe to support the tabletop wargame aspect, Victor had to be what he was.

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #23 on: 16 January 2015, 14:10:56 »
The thing is with Victor's character is yes he would've made a good First Lord/ SL Commanding General, putting the good of the IS above petty house politics but he wasn't in that role. He was head of a (well two) houses and that should've been his first and only priority. He put those priorities to the side to be a "better man for all humanity" which is all noble and all that but ultimately not in his job description.

He should've done what needed to be done re booting the clans in the arse and then killing Katherine (oh make it look like an accident or whatever), not falling for Omi unless it made strategic sense and furthered the primacy of House Steiner Davion, outted "Thomas Marik" to forment rebellion in the FWL and screw ComStar/WoB/House Marik and last but not least go kick ten colours of sh*t out of SunTzu. Finish the job Hanse only half did and remove a very real threat from the FedCom and by extension the IS in general.

Alas such things are pipe dreams cause TPTB moved everything :)

Grey

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #24 on: 17 January 2015, 04:29:47 »
This approach may not work for historical characters.  It helps that Victor is the biggest character in the clan invasion storyline written by a prolific writer who openly works in black/white characterization.  I'm not insulting anyone.  Just saying the ability for us to dig up this perspective with other characters is more limited.  And I for one am not content with FASA era novel characters.

True, sourcebook characters, the old House Book characters who had a page worth of background before being mentioned as dead in an Era Report, key personalities mentioned in Field Manual unit write ups, they're all going to need different approaches.

My feelings at this point is that even the minor characters add flavour to the setting somehow, even it is just a little added depth to a faction. I can see some of these becoming repetitive, but it's still an aspect that I think needs to be explored.

Just realised that means the onus is entirely on me. Oh boy, pressure. :D

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #25 on: 18 January 2015, 00:25:53 »
It occurred to me recently that a contemporary version of Victor, and in a stronger fictional medium, would be the Starks from A Game of Thrones.

Ned Stark for an honour before reason stance, it could be argued that while Victor was very good at connecting with people it was because he was honourable, and they were attracted to that rather than he understood them, creating a blind stop towards enemies.

And Rob Stark for being very successful on the battlefield but very heart over head and only getting political ramifications of his actions when it's too late.

Of course the key difference is that Ned and Rob were planned with these flaws in mind and they were incorporated into the plot, rather than having the characters conform to the plot.

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #26 on: 19 January 2015, 05:58:13 »
I understand where people are coming from when they say "Victor did x because the plot required him to" - and it's obviously stupid to blame that on the character. I'm not even blaming Stackpole or whoever else wrote a novel featuring Victor, because as far as I understand it they got told "Make this happen, and if it doesn't make sense figure it out". So I do blame FASA/FanPro/whoever else. If you need to make the main character an idiot to tell your story, tell a different story.

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #27 on: 19 January 2015, 06:42:14 »
They simplified it, events like the multiple Skye revolts and the Lyran Succession had allot of moving parts with allot more people evolved than Victor and Kathrine but that would evolve allot more characters and a much higher page count. CGL and Battlecorp loves revisiting pass eras to flush out the characters and events but FASA was all about progressing the story. Not a bad thing but they glossed over allot making it Victor vs Kathrine while continuing the Teddy vs Black Dragon, Marik vs Marik and Clan vs Clan stories.       
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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #28 on: 19 January 2015, 07:19:16 »
I understand where people are coming from when they say "Victor did x because the plot required him to" - and it's obviously stupid to blame that on the character. I'm not even blaming Stackpole or whoever else wrote a novel featuring Victor, because as far as I understand it they got told "Make this happen, and if it doesn't make sense figure it out". So I do blame FASA/FanPro/whoever else. If you need to make the main character an idiot to tell your story, tell a different story.

Or at least (perhaps) make it that the antagonists are smarter, or shrewder.

For instance, while someone might have a lot of school smarts, street smarts can pass one by.

Or maybe a better one would be the great general Hannibal, who was a tactical genius, but was outlasted by Rome. (With a little help from Carthage not giving Hannibal all the materials he needed, especially siege equipment.)

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Re: (Provisional) Character of the Week: Victor Steiner-Davion
« Reply #29 on: 19 January 2015, 10:20:49 »
They simplified it, events like the multiple Skye revolts and the Lyran Succession had allot of moving parts with allot more people evolved than Victor and Kathrine but that would evolve allot more characters and a much higher page count. CGL and Battlecorp loves revisiting pass eras to flush out the characters and events but FASA was all about progressing the story. Not a bad thing but they glossed over allot making it Victor vs Kathrine while continuing the Teddy vs Black Dragon, Marik vs Marik and Clan vs Clan stories.     

Um, the groundwork for all of the events leading up to the Lyran Succession was laid in the 3025 era.  Katherine understood that the Archon, unlike any other head of state has to maintain a close relationship with the Lyran press.  She also knew that Archons that annoy the LCAF get replaced.  Archons have been assassinated/deposed more than any other head of state and the Lyran population tends to accept the replacement Archon without much fuss.  It has been that way since Robert Marsden.  Victor was not the media darling his mother had been.  He took it for granted that he was Archon-Prince.  When the clans came in and smashed the AFFC the blame was shifted to him not caring enough.  Classic Lyran military excuse making.  The established Lyran officers were all too happy to blame it on Victor and back Katherine.  It is a page right out of the Alister Marsden-Steiner affair.  All of the details are there.  It may not be outright stated "hey, this is part of a long tradition" but it is.
« Last Edit: 19 January 2015, 10:33:48 by False Son »
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