Saturday, October 7, 2017

Choice: The Sorting Hat (Random Thought)

Time for a bit of a ramble.  I love the idea of the sorting hat in Harry Potter, but not in that it chooses which house you belong in.  The amazing facet of Hogwarts, and any setting with its own distinct houses, guilds, factions or whatever, is how those let the audience choose what they want to align with.

Legend of the Five Rings seem crafted just for that, same as Game of Thrones.  People love having a faction they feel aligned with.  The audience chooses a faction or group that aligns with their own personality.  They get to personalize the setting a bit more.

But here's a dealio: the idea that the Sorting Hat is a choice, and not something up to chance.  No, my headcanon is that everyone who goes to Hogwarts gets to choose.

The idea that it's chance seems less interesting.  If the Sorting Hat itself asks each student which house they want to be in, that seems boring.  It picks the two most relevant houses, and the student chooses which.  Either conscious or unconsciously- the nature of the choice is another rant.  The student chooses which house they want to be, not the one they "belong to."

This is the most basic empowerment I can think of.  The option to choose which faction, which house you belong to.  In a lot of these settings, you can't choose to be in another house.  A character belongs to a house or guild or clan based on their birth.  Chance decides for them where they go.

Interesting storytelling isn't pure choice, of course.  But "facing the odds" isn't as true as a blend of chance and choice.  The fantasy of being able to choose who you want to be is what fiction (novels, tabletop rpgs, what-have-you) can be best for.  Choose who you want to be.  Align with who you want to align with.  Follow whatever house best suits you.