Worldbuilding: Holding Onto the Sunlight

In the Korean alternate history drama The Scholar who Walks the Night, there’s one completely unexplained artifact: the black robe passed down by the Guardian Hae-seo to Kim Sung-yeol as the (unwillingly recruited) new Guardian vampire. A subtly shimmering translucent black silk that allows a vampiric wearer to walk in sunlight without, y’know, crispifying into ashes.

We never get an explanation for how it exists. Gwi, the enemy vampire, didn’t even know about the robe until much later; he seems to have thought the old Guardian could just do that, walk in the sun when other vampires couldn’t. And unlike many similar plot devices in other stories, the black robe is neither threatened with destruction nor forever lost at a plot-critical moment.

But it is critical, from the very start of the show. Because while Kim Sung-yeol gets dragged into undeath kicking and screaming, including bloodlust and other odd vulnerabilities, he never loses one very basic connection with humanity.

He can walk in the sunlight. He can, if he chooses, keep the same diurnal schedule as every other normal human being.

This is a critically underrated detail. One I think a lot of modern viewers, used to artificial lighting 24/7, may miss. Human beings are vision-oriented. We need to see. Prior to modern lighting, when the sun went down, a lot of life stopped.

A vampire bound to the darkness would be cut off from the mainstream of human life. The only people they’d generally see and interact with would be those rich enough to have light sources and not drop into bed exhausted at the end of the day… or terrified ordinary people all too likely to start at the hint of anything supernatural. Not a good basis for keeping old human relationships going or building new ones.

Kim Sung-yeol gets to keep the light. He gets to keep interacting with normal people, every day, so long as he’s careful about it. He can have allies. Neighbors. Friends.

When you’re a bloodsucking vampire locked in a life-or-death struggle for the soul of your country for over 120 years with another vampire who’s got three centuries of experience on you, friends are important. Not just as allies; although his friends do end up being critical allies, absolutely vital to finally defeating Gwi. But because to keep fighting, Kim Sung-yeol needs hope. He needs someone to care about him. He needs people.

Heroes need light. They go into the darkness, they face the most awful evils – but they do it knowing there is light at the end.

When you write your story, make sure you have light.

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20 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: Holding Onto the Sunlight

      1. I know. And I wish I could read it. But it’s in Korean. Drat it all. And I simply do not have enough time on the internet to read things in translation on websites.

        Two factors involved in this.

        1) When I’m on the computer, I’m generally working – typing, researching, blog updating, etc.

        2) Sensory… stuff. Electronic devices are noisy. I need quiet time away from the sound or things get bad.

        If there were an English translation, I’d be all over it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Looks like at least the first 60 chapters are translated.
        I’ve seen it hosted on a couple sites, but I’m not sure who the original translators are.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Oooh… if someone really wants to have modern nice vampires…that could be a route.

    24/7 light being possible, so you can keep that human connection more easily.

    Which would be a way to have both horrifically evil vampires in the past, and a Good Guy Vampire, especially if they’re strong but not insanely strong. (Lower feeding requirements and such.) Probably work best for a science-based vampirism, possibly with an eye to mental illness as a format.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Now I’m imagining something like Cultivation Chat Room.

      A bunch of old monster vampires that can’t stand to socialize, but got set up with internet.

      Bathory says: Wait, there’s blood *types* now? Who came up with that!?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I totally imagine supernatural internet chat rooms to be like some of the Min/Max Video Game Mechanic chat rooms I’m a part of… complete with guides for how to play every class, people using math to figure out the best way to play the class and then a whole bunch of “general” topic threads for everything else.

        And at least *some* of the people in there are just general gamer nerds who are completely human and have no idea the people talking can actually do that stuff…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. One of the “scrub the serial numbers off” ideas that I really want to use is basically… the X-Men, but more realistic.

        There would so totally be super hero fanboys going in depth on all the powers and ways to get creative.

        (Part of why I haven’t is that My Hero Academia figured that out, too, and the main character is an elevated fanboy who still occasionally goes all blue-screen-calculating before he pulls out a totally fan-engineering type use for powers; he also fills the roll of Fishlegs in How To Train Your Dragon [animated], with his rattling off the D&D book description of whatever they’re seeing.)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. You should check out the WebToon UnOrdinary. It has a similar set-up of “everyone has superpowers” as My Hero Academia… but without superheroes being an actual industry. It’s a very realistic take on “person doesn’t have super-powers and then figures out he had really OP ones later on” and how that can go… really badly given how everyone was treating him before he found that out.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ve had some false starts to super heroes, IN SPACE!!!

        It seems to me that the command crew of a Star Trek show’s ship, between late TOS and Voyager, is a bit of a super hero team.

        I’m pretty sure that it is possible to have more conventional super hero teams in the same universe as such a starship crew, /and/ have the starship crew make sense in the context of a navy that isn’t all, or even mostly, supers.

        I tend to have dozens of ideas that I’m pretty sure are possible, /without/ being able to see how to implement, or figure out to conclusively test possibility.

        Like

      5. The Omega-verse fics would be something a bunch of were-wolves started as a joke and then got picked up on by the non-supernatural community. Much to the supernatural community’s concern…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Something that i always find interesting to explore- what happens when the Light for the Hero is a false one?

    Companions that decide to seal the hero together with the monstrous demon lord that shrugged everything thrown at it like it was nothing- to save the world by sacrificing the hero.

    Or when the princess that the hero fallen in love with, knows that he will need her support to not break at the big battle against the evil, but doesn’t really love the hero back- does she tell him the demoralizing truth, or lie to him to give renewed strength and hope, and falsely say that she love the hero, too?

    in Dragon Age, before battling the Archdemon and its armies, you get to decide if the traitor is to be executed, or forced to join the Grey Wardens, the order that sworn to fight against the blight, and forswear all title, wealth and etc, for that purpose – an act that will make the bastard brother of the betrayed king leave your party, and refuse to fight alongside you.

    What happens, when the hero’s friend lies, and gives a false light, to save the hero from despair?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can maybe remember a time in my life when that would have sounded like an interesting idea to explore.

      Currently, my experiences make such a mental state sound profoundly alien.

      I very nearly made a request for advice finding stories, somewhere, that would have explicitly included something like “I do not want the people the MC trusted in their prior life to betray them in their new life.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I grew up on, among other things, Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite.

        As a kid, I interpreted it as ‘look at how a plucky kid can manage difficult situations’, and found it inspirational.

        As an adult, I had a little broader view.

        Child Soldier stories are maybe still the sort of thing I have an interest in.

        ATM, there are pretty hard limits how much I want to be exposed to characters with no regard for human life.

        If all these current taste issues mean I write fluff, I write fluff.

        Like

  3. Terrible idea, blame things like stress and sleep. Isn’t a pun, but brain thinks so.

    What if vampires reacted to Glowies, in addition to sunlight?

    “Hi! I’m totally a for real person and a life long conservative Republican. I think we need to send the Feds a strong message of ‘No More Wacos’ by destroying a building full of young children.”

    *Vampire burst into flames.*

    “No. Take that shit elsewhere. The most appalling thing about Waco was the destruction of a room full of young children. Destroying more rooms full of young children is magnifying the evil, not minimizing it, and not even mitigating it.”

    “Purity testing hater, who wants us to lose, and is pointlessly afraid that useful tactics will “make us morally the same as what we oppose”, stupid stupid poopyhead.”

    “Look, human behavior is not mathematics and especially does not contain inverse operations.

    This isn’t a case where getting a touchdown for the Denver Broncos is the opposite of getting a touchdown for the Dallas Cowboys in a Broncos versus Cowboys game.

    Real world situations don’t perfectly map to numbers, and you can’t treat ‘adding a one’ as ‘subtracting a negative one’, or any other such simplification.

    The objective reality is different goals are served by different tactics. Creating fear or misery to win is criminal or communist logic. It makes sense to them, because for many of them, inflicting suffering is really a major part of what drives them.

    Traditional American society was created by pursuit of traditional American goals, like minding your own business, and reciprocating when your neighbors acted peacefully towards you. Trying to live the insane terrorist lifestyle or the wannabe bandit king lifestyle is not the way towards a future society similar to the old American society.

    Okay, the modern opposition may well be savages, who we can as peacefully coexist with as we could the pre-surrender Imperial Japanese. the Aztec Triple Alliance, or the Comanche.

    Talking about the ‘need’ to murder /every/ teacher pisses off the guy with a daughter who is a relatively good teacher, and a decent human being. Maybe also the guy whose mom was a teacher, and who would have been appalled at current schools.

    Talking about the ‘need’ to murder every federal LEO pisses of the lady married to a guy, who is absolutely doing licit things, and is moral enough not to be drawn into the nonsense. Talking about murdering the kids of LEOs will really get her angry.

    Saying that stuff about university students does not impress even the university students who think that far too many modern universities have too much insane bullshit, and who think that they personally have lost a bunch of ‘conservative’ ‘points’ just by being at a university, and by not making a bunch of noise complaining.

    No matter which wide net you cast for supporters of the opposition regime, you will include people who are a) serious regime opponents b) have people who love them dearly, /know/ that they are /not/ leftists in need of being killed, and who you might possibly need for whatever coalition that you are trying to put together.

    Spit out the black pill, forget everything that the left has told you, and think it out properly from first principles.”

    “tl;dr. You butthead, butthead, super butthead, not a real conservative, actively wants the left to win, doesn’t care about how super left the young people* are…”

    Anyway, we’ve all seen how this stuff goes. Forum is /not/ going to be survivable for a vampire until the glowies get boring enough to be worth banning.

    *allegedly.

    Liked by 1 person

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