A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in literary criticism and particularly in fan fiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors or readers. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as "Mary Sues" is that they are too ostentatious for the audience's taste, or that the author seems to favor the character too highly. The author may seem to push how exceptional and wonderful the "Mary Sue" character is on his or her audience, sometimes leading the audience to dislike or even resent the character fairly quickly; such a character could be described as an "author's pet".
"Mary Sues" can be either male or female, but male characters are often dubbed "Gary Stu", "Marty Stu", or similar names. While the label "Mary Sue" itself originates from a parody of this type of character, most characters labeled "Mary Sues" by readers are not intended by authors as such.
The origins of Mary Sue Prime are typically traced back to 1973, when a writer named Paula Smith published a story called "A Trekkie's Tale" in the second issue of a fanzine called Menagerie. "A Trekkie's Tale" was a wry commentary on the pure and perfect fan characters and self-inserts who plagued fanfiction, particularly Star Trek fanfiction, even then. The protagonist of "A Trekkie's Tale" was a fifteen-year-old lieutenant named Mary Sue, who was entrusted with the Enterprise while Kirk went to "get some coffee" for the two of them. She quickly formed a bond with Spock for her "flawless logic," and revealed herself to be a fellow half-Vulcan. After rescuing the crew from disaster, Mary Sue fell ill and died while every significant male on board wept for the loss of her beauty and bravery.
An expanded description more specific to WoW
- Taken from Mary Sues section of Guide to Roleplaying.
One main risk in creating a character is creating a Mary Sue. There are many definitions of a Mary Sue (Mary Sue definition at Wikipedia might help give you a better idea). A Mary Sue is basically a character made with more idealization than logic, so perfect you want to kill them or try to steal the spotlight with their drama. Mary Sue has what we'd all like in a real person - niceness, a wide range of skills, charm, attractiveness - but not a fictional one.
Mary Sues are usually kind, righteous, have a heart-string-yanking past, more skills than they should and are prone to godmoddling. They might be propped up with 'interesting' traits, such as having a 'curse' which only serves to enhance their abilities, a lineage involving a canon character or a hybridism of different species.
Mary Sues or their traits tend to annoy other roleplayers by being cliché (most people have seen and heard of the sons and daughters of Illidan or half-demon/demon-possessed people), impossible lore-wise (vampires do not exist in Azeroth. San'layn are the closest option, but they are exceedingly rare), attention-grabbing (a character that was beaten up by their whole family that is still happy and cheery, but occasionally cries on the shoulder of a handsome stranger about it) or just plain over-the-top (a character that is part demon, part Naaru and part goldish with laser eyes). These kind of characters are highly disliked, so you should strive to avoid them if you don't want eyes rolled at you.
- DO NOT make a half-vampire son/daughter of Illidan. It's been done to death, impossible lore-wise, and no one can pull this off without being blacklisted, unless of course your character fries up in the sun and tells no one of their relation. No seriously, it just isn't going to work. Don't have a character with a relation to lore figures, unless of course it is commonplace for their species.
- Don´t tell everyone you see your 20 pages long background. How you would act in real life? Example:
- "Ah, death knight? I don't know if we should accept you to our group..."
- "Yes I understand, but the Warchief promised fair treatment to death knights, I see that I was too optimistic..."
- Not like this:
- "Ah, death knight? I don't know if we should accept you to our group..."
- "You call me death knight? I was valiant knight of Lordaeron and my parents were good people. I just got to bad company and Cult of the Damned were recruiting people..."
- You can have a character with an angst-filled past, skills and beauty that isn't necessarily a Mary Sue, just cliché. Watch how you roleplay them. Don't dodge everything, don't use your angst past as an excuse for your actions and only tell close friends your secrets.
- Give your character flaws. No one is perfect. Embarrassing habits, disabilities and the occasional cruelty can make for a much more interesting character.
- Stick to your character's flaws. Don't suddenly wipe away their arachnophobia when they go to the Ghostlands and get jumped by a crypt fiend, or else your character's flaws won't count.
- No character in logic would brag about being the secret lovechild of Illidan or some other big villain. It would be like saying "I'm the secret son of Hitler!". No one likes Illidan. Hardly anyone would believe you. Characters would think you were crazy, and you'd have no proof of such relation.
- Let your character make mistakes. Don't blame all wrong-doings on 'I couldn't control myself' or 'My rainbow dog named Pockleberry died last Tuesday and I've been feeling very upset'. Someone who admits they were wrong and doesn't try to make it look like they were right all along is much more believable and noble.
- The world does not revolve around your character. No character will ever be the center of all roleplayer's attention, everyone's friend, the biggest hero of all time and only the enemy of two-dimensional villains. Trying to grab everyone's attention by speaking of your drama will only do the opposite.
- Even a mean character can be a Mary Sue villain if everything goes their way. Signs of such a Sue are a mass murderer that never got caught, having an angst past or vengeance to try and excuse their actions or being unfairly unbeatable.
- Avoid having a hybrid character, or at least make them believable avatar-wise.
- Let your character fail every once in a while. Don't make them invincible. Just because someone types 'Picklejuice swings an iron bar at her' instead of 'Picklejuice smashes the elf's brains with an iron bar' doesn't mean you get to dodge it all the time. Someone trying an attack doesn't necessarily mean it missed.
- A better way to roleplay is to give attention rather than try to draw it to your character. Instead of trying to draw attention from the crowd with your rainbow eyes or that pet scuttling about your bag, go and strike up a conversation with another character.
- Watch you don't commit deus ex machina. It can become annoying to other roleplayers if you continue to use magic, some plot you made up on the spot in the situation or otherwise to escape a predicament. If your character beat up someone and now has said-person's big brother coming after them, don't run, face the consequences.
- Mary Sue quiz, if you get negative, stop roleplaying Arthas: http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm
- If you happen to be a Mary Sue and don't want to change then don't get involved in roleplaying, your character will probably anger them but so they don't break the mood, they'll hide it. If they come after you later with a dagger then that person is probably roleplaying a maniac.