Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

Hello, I am Randomguy, a harem-genre novelist who thought it might be interesting to hear a bit about the reader’s (or other author’s) view on harem endings, and perhaps some of the issues I could avoid. My stories typically take place in fantasy-based worlds (surprised?), so there is a bit of freedom politically/culturally, though real-world harem-ending possibilities may become helpful in the future, so feel free to offer up any suggestions you may have.
I am aware of the numerous moral issues surrounding harems, so adamant disagreements, logical paradoxes/flaws, and even full-on insults (please keep the latter limited to me since I’m the one who brought up the topic, and I’d rather avoid unnecessary arguing) are also greatly encouraged.

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

I enjoy harem endings in fiction where any pretenses of morality and connection between the characters have been abandoned from the beginning, anything else will suspend my sense of disbelief, the type of protagonist is key for this, an aromantic villain protagonist or a narcissistic playboy/womanizer protagonist are two ways.

It's all about having a harem without the protagonist feeling any deep connection to them.

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

I have a few theoretical situations I’m toying with, and though most of them are pretty “out there”, I’ve got one or two that I think may work in a decently realistic setting (I’m using the word “realistic” loosely).

One I’ve been toying with is where the MC deeply cares about the heroines, but does NOT have to split his heart into groups in order to love all of them all equally. I don’t really have much experience with real-life harems, so I based this idea off of the “Philia” love, which is how one would love a family member or friend, which I have experienced thanks to my ridiculously massive family. I can’t speak for everyone since most people have different experiences, but I love each and every member of my family very differently, though none really surpass each other in “how much” I love them.
What I mean is, rather than loving each girl with an equal portion of his heart, the MC will love all of them with all of his heart. However, this method can only be truly successful if the harem end includes all the girls, since missing even one would absolutely crush the MC, and make everyone unhappy. I don’t know, it might work, or it might not.

Err... I have two other realistic possibilities, but I can’t reveal them yet.

There is pretty much an infinite number of possibilities in the more ridiculous harems that throw sanity and logic to the wind, such as a super love potion, or an overpowered MC’s ridiculous capacity for love. One could even literally split the MC’s heart into equal pieces and give one to each heroine for absorbtion.

Disagreements/flaws I missed/other suggestions are greatly encouraged, so please tell me if I’m wrong, or where I could improve, or even that I’m right. Thanks for replying!

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

Everyone dies, no characters no problems.

But seriously, if you already set on a harem ending you should focus on the relations between girls, that's what a lot of bad harems ignore or just gloss over. In Mushoku tensei and Sevens when there is a new girl the rest is like "Grow a pair and accept her." Really makes a difference between a character and a collectable. In the end it's about relationship between all of the characters, can be done right or wrong but let's not pretend they will just get along for MC's sake.

Or else it's School Days ending.

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

Another author joins in here...excuse me but I will be in some in-depth review. 

Okay here is a thing a Harem existed since humanity first evolves from Monkeys. You are strong/powerful your get many wives. Sometimes it is a arrange marriage. Sometimes they are hostage or POW (Ghenghis Khan).

Historically, it often ends in disaster. Human by nature is the power-hungry bastards who love backstabbing each other. Look at Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon. At least Henry VIII bother to divorce Cath but assuming he could take them both as wives... imagine the bloodbath. Even then the complexity of the setting and the character make it an utter disaster to joggled more than two wives in a story. You had to make a bloody mindmap to do it. 

Wooing women is not a problem for most MC--keeping them relevant and maintaining the said relationship is... well look exhibit W1: MGA and its criminal Chu Feng... I lost count as the girl who fell for him but not that its matter because he kept getting new ones. Or in some cases, the plot was recycled to death multiple time with exhibit W2: ATG, just how many the girl and the MC have to be parted and get together and parted again for the battle to commence. Or the relationship has no dept namely Exhibit W3: Dragon marked war god. Or the crowning king of unfaithful MC who plot kept forcing him to went behind his legal wife back for a dip and generally suck as parents exhibit W4: Chaotic Sword God.

Or they could suffer W5: Heavenly Jewel Change...a natural consequence of Harem to death by your wives.

Most author, like certain Joe Quesada who was behind the tragedy that is spiderman's love life and the title we shall not name, are coward Bachelor who did not do any research into family maintenance and thus rather have their character remains forever in mid-twenties rather than got them to start a family and have kids. The current Spiderverse movies present Exhibit M1: the late thirties wrecked that is main continuity Peter Parker... current spiderman was what would be an unresolved romantic harem ending... a mess juggling from one love interest to another in a vain effort for the author to look hip while playing old trick to the point the dead horse was unrecognizable pieces of body parts which will eventually end in the sad wreck that is the overeating and depress later-thirty Peter Parker shown in the aforementioned exhibit.

Any author who does the above should sign up to cook raw meat for Gordon Ramsey and suffered the action's natural consequence.

But it could be done! Bring me to exhibit L1: Date A Live and exhibit L2: Highschool DXD. In both cases, the bloody Harem worked because everyone in both exhibits knows what they are signing up too and are more or less family in all but blood at that point. And thus, each member was played more like a family member than a lover, this makes the intercharacter relationship easily justifiable. The fact that the cast and world were consistent meant that the author didn't have to abandon a character for a hundred chapters when the new girls are introduced. The key was a dynamic and interesting girl and their interaction with each other and the male lead...truly a work of geniuses. 

Or if you want to go above and beyond...bring me to exhibit L3: Magika no Kenshi to Shoukan Maou. 

Yes, I am writing this in caps because it actually worked. Unlike L1 and L2, L3's protagonist was not Harem Seeker by choice. He was a highly decent guy and is not the washy indecisive human-like exhibit M1. It displayed a relatable and naturally habitable familial system of Romance found in L1 and L2 in a school-like system but its true genius is that it avoids the exhibit W(s) pitfall by integrating maintaining and getting that relationship working into a power-up.

This meant that no love-interest could be shallow. No waifu could be one-note cardboard cut out. The MC had to understand the girl, seduce her, maintain said a relationship or he got rag-dolled by much more powerful enemies. If he seduces an enemy it was because he naturally understands how they work and manage to get them into the 'family'. It was not forced...there are bloody meters to say otherwise...understanding a girl and using their power is a bloody goal and plot point. Given that each girl in the Harem represent his said power bringing them into the setting was a bloody requirement so no bus dropping. But the brilliant is that the novel actually has conflict and theme to play with the harem, pulling the history of each girl to a new bloody height--this conflict managed to lift the romance and battle aspect beyond even L1 and L2 in term of character Depth

So that's my answer. It's hard but could be done with creativity and understanding of the setting and systems that pushed relationship to progress and resolved itself

And please anyone please review my novel...Sad


Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

I'm one of those that will eventually kill them all eventually, whether I publicly execute them (in historical settings) or if in a futuristic setting I turn them all into Vampires. It could go either way for Steampunk Magitech fiction.

Which is why I generally look up the most traditional method of execution for the 1800s for any given European region. Luckily, beheading (by guillotine usually, but sometimes ax) seems to be mainly confined to France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, and certain Nordic countries. But hanging was unfortunately fairly common across the globe.

Curiously after early 1800s (other than France) beheading seems to be largely unheard of in Romance language countries. Just an interesting historical tidbit.

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

Maintaining a harem is ridiculously hard without a strong foundation... or a weak foundation that can be shattered and remolded into a strong one. Killing off the heroines is almost a gauranteed good ending if you’re into tragedy (or just hate the heroines for some reason), but finding a happy harem ending that doesn’t involve heartbreak and/or an unavoidable selfish choice is quite a challenge.

I feel like the antihero MCs are the most realistic, since they often don’t really give a damn about anything outside of their own interests, and small kindnesses makes each girl feels special (it doesn’t require much to maintain). However (just as a thought), would it be reasonably possible to build a long-term love with several people within just one novel? I have no idea.

Though, I do happen to have a new thought

Build a strong relationship on the ashes of a weak one. In this, one would start with a typical harem, as well as harem progression (i.e. MC fights & she falls desperately in love), but when a genuine problem arises where the MC doesn’t triumph over the odds and her mental image of a knight in shining armor is obliterated, she can finally start to fall in love. Not desperately in love, where her heart aches every time he’s out of sight, but love for him who stayed to pick up the pieces of... whatever broke. Just being there, even when it isn’t a romantic situation, and nothing noteable happens to either of them shows that he enjoys her company, especially if it’s an introverted/loner MC.

Thanks for replying!

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

As I see it, all harems boil down to two basic routes:

  • All-in on wish fulfillment. The girls all get along perfectly with one another and stay together with the guy because he's Just That Great. Polygamously ever after, the end.

  • Reality comes calling. Two key points here: people get into (and out of) relationships in order to fulfill needs; and the only one sure thing you get from involving two or more people together is politics. Sure, Mary might join Joe's harem initially because she falls in love with him and thinks she can put up with the other girls. But how long does the blush stay on that rose? Is it worth putting up with Sue's machinations to remain as Joe's favorite? A harem doesn't necessarily need to devolve into back-stabbing, but it absolutely must acknowledge the internal politics at work if it wants to actually attempt to map out an ending that is somewhat believable.

If you're going for the former, then congratulations! Focus solely on your protagonist and just forget about the details.

For the latter, the key is trying to get into the girl's heads. What do they do when the man of the harem isn't around? What are their individual cost/benefit analyses (these don't have to be logical, or even consciously understood by the characters; but everyone does them)? Realistically how a harem will end has very little to do with how the man thinks, and very much to do with the internal politics of the harem that he probably never even sees.

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

A lot of harems are presented as male wish-fulfilment - they're basically one guy with multiple girlfriends/proto-girlfriends, and this results in, at worst, vague squabbling, rather than an unholy clusterfuck of nightmarish social drama and hatred.  Some are kinda-sorta poly-relationships, except all centred on the male, so it's basically a guy dating multiple girls simultaneously, rather than (as poly relationships tend to be) a group of people dating each other in varying relationships of differing intensities, where some of the 'outer' elements can be bridges into other polycules centered around someone else, rather than everything being centered around one person.  

For more political arrangements, things get a lot more interesting - some people will only be there for political reasons, they don't really care about the people involved on an individual level, i.e. they want a relationship with 'the king' to promote their own beliefs, they don't really care that the king is actually a person.  Some people will find that they have to start getting political - sure, they're the king's childhood friend and now one of his brides, but that means they have influence, so even if they want to stay apolitical, that's going to be really, really hard, as everyone will try and influence them.  There's also going to be a lot of politicking between the harem members - some will have power in their own right as a noble, or heir of somewhere or whatever, some will have purely whatever power they've grabbed themselves, considerations like 'mother of the heir' can become vital (the Chinese imperial court did things like this at some points).  

Re: Harem end practicality and/or execution

Harem stories always have really weak endings because you either know who the option is from the very beginning, or maybe it comes down to a love triangle and then a bunch of characters that only exist for side gags. 

Three ways to go about a harem ending that aren't awful in my eyes, and these three are very rarely done:

  1. Protagonist ends up with nobody, and part of their character arc is about realizing that the romance options are not worth it, or that they aren't feasible. E.g., in the famous isekai litrpg "I'm a Warrior Monk, But Why Are All These Girls So Cute?!", the titular monk knows that he can't be with anyone romantically, and accepting that allows him to move past the harem. Alternatively, the reason why the protagonist is attached to all these characters is because of some underlying flaw. In the slice-of-life drama "My Six Girlfriends," the protagonist leads a depressed life mourning the loss of her longtime lover, and eventually realizes that pursuing any of these potential relationships is not the right way to go.

  2. Protagonist ends up with everyone and it becomes a giant orgy between fifteen characters or something.

  3. The author literally goes onto number generator and picks the ending based on chance.

Any other way, and it has a major chance of sucking.

(those two examples were fake, I'm sorry)
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