Tough Traveling: Disguises
The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan of Review Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in (and inspired by) The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information.
This week’s tour topic is: Disguises
Hiding in plain site? Put on a disguise. Often used to sneak into the evil lair. For best results brain a guard and steal his; no one is tracking these things.
How do you hide a dragon in plain sight? You let them take on human form, of course. Ember and Dante hill are just gorgeous 16 year olds, hanging out at the beach for the summer with friends, right? Nope! They are actually young dragons, stationed there to learn how to blend in with society. Conveeenient!
You know who are really great at disguises? Gods. Like all the gods in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. And poor, naive Shadow, gets to meet just about all of them as he travels the United States.
Mystique (X-Men) and Voodoo (formerly WildC.A.T.S.)
Disguises? Well that’s pretty easy to cover when shapeshifting is your mutant power.
How do you lure the great Steelheart into a trap? By pretending to be an even more epic Epic than he is, complete with all the technology necessary to mimic super powers.
Lots of people with mutant powers stroll around Northcott’s future, and many of them are willing to face death in the Arena for a chance at some big cash. Matthew Moxon is one of them. Or rather, he’s pretending to be, because he really, really needs that money…
Sneak into the lair of the deadly Mord Sith, a group of women who have been conditioned to a life of pain and misandry, you say? The Seeker of Truth and the Mother Confessor are up to the task!
Moon is an orphan with no clue about his origins. He’s spent his life hiding his shapeshifting abilities from the various cultures he settles with, especially since his true form resembles that of a feared enemy.
When a group of adventurers wind up dead at the local bar, the usual suspects of non-playable characters decide to forego their typical roles and take up the quests the dead adventures have left behind.
Myles is the handsomest creepster you’ll probably ever meet. He’s one of the magical beings in Weber’s series whose ability is mind manipulation. One of his favorite tricks is using those abilities to disguise himself and others, often making himself appear as trusted allies to others in order to get access to information, move around in places he shouldn’t be, and of course, to get in close to people… One character even complains about him making her look like a teenaged boy after he tells her to stop gawking at herself as a boy. LOL!
Jezebel Jet (Batman R.I.P. by Grant Morrison)
Jezebel’s is a former model and now the leader of an African country. While these are her true professions, she uses them to the best of her ability to get close to Batman as a undercover agent for the Black Glove who tasks her with making him fall in love with her. This does and doesn’t work out for her in the end. He does reveal an insane amount of secrets to her including his Bat persona and takes her back to the Bat Cave, but this is Batman we’re talking about. He’s not the called the world’s greatest detective for nothing.
Bob Arctor (A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick)
In PKD’s dystopian story, Bob Arctor, a cop, is tasked with finding out who supplies a deadly narcotic known as Substance D (also called Death) that has some very disturbing affects on the brain. How does Bob plan to find the source? Well, he’s going undercover as a drug user. To say that’s an interesting experience is an understatement.
Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket)
Count Olaf is the distant cousin of the Baudelaire children who becomes their caretaker after their parents die. He wants their inheritance. However, he’s foiled and the children are taken from him, and he begins a very dogged chase to get them back by assuming many disguises to ruin every opportunity they have at happiness.
Cullen (The Stranded by Mike Carey)
Cullen starts this book as a “sleeper,” a humanoid alien refugee with powers whose memories have been manipulated so he forgets who he is. His powers allow him to absorb the feelings, persona, and powers of others to disguise his presence, a power that he’s inadvertently continued to use even as a sleeper, which makes him difficult to find in a crowd or remember when the bad guys come looking for him and other sleepers. However, since he works as an investment banker while he’s “sleep,” his inadvertent use of his powers help him to connect to people and make them believe they have things in common, that he’s one of them, which makes him an excellent banker to his colleagues’ chagrin. (Note: This comic is hard to find.)
The Fables (Fables by Bill Willingham)
In Fables, fairy tale land is real, but has been taken over by an entity known as Adversary. The Fables, which includes names such as the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, flee to modern day New York. Those who don’t normally look human have to pay to keep up a glamour. Otherwise, they’re shipped off to what’s known as The Farm. The Fables are policed in part by Bigby Wolf (The Big Bad Wolf) who has mostly atoned for his past, but can sometimes be pushed to reveal his true form.