That’s right, I love Ryder so much, he gets his own post. I accidentally went and developed him more than all the other new kids combined. Oh well. When inspiration strikes, you just have to roll with it. :P
Ryder Lynn, The Drafty Dodgeballer - A fun-loving Air Nomad drifter who seems to view life as a game. Dresses in dark, stormy greys, and always carries a rubber ball. Fighting style can be described as ‘dodgeball on crack.’ Uses airbending to bounce, spin, curve, boost, and blast his ball in all directions, beaning baddies with dizzying force while acrobatically avoiding their blows. Never uses his bending directly against other people; only on himself or the ball. To him, even fighting is a game with rules (and a score!).
Ryder wanders from town to town, playing with the locals and getting by however he can. He is largely adrift and directionless until he meets and befriends Jake.
More info and plot details below the cut.
In the world of the New Kids, Ryder is by and large the comic relief. Unlike Sokka and his Sokk-asm, Ryder’s weapon of choice is on-purpose pratfalls and jokes at his own expense. He wants to make people laugh so he can laugh with them. He’s supportive, friendly and playful- he’ll play any game with anyone, anytime and anywhere. He has fun win or lose, and is obsessed with fair play to a fault. If he thinks his opponent is severely outmatched, he will handicap himself to give them a better shot. To Jake’s frustration, this applies even when Ryder is supposed to be fighting for his life.
While everyone else largely wears their issues on their sleeves (especially broody Jake), Ryder honestly doesn’t seem to have any issues. He’s just the Guy Who’s There for Everybody Else. Sure, he’s got his quirks. He has a bit of trouble taking things seriously, and he’s constantly fucking around with his ball, often at the expense of people’s patience and property, but that’s just Ryder being Ryder. His friends are convinced that he’s the most well-adjusted and happy of them all.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. You don’t get many homeless 15-year-old Air Nomads roaming the Earth Kingdom because of how happy and well-adjusted they are. But Ryder can’t just up and tell his friends about his problems.
Because for him, talking about his problems could very quickly turn into being forced to relive them in the worst possible way.
Ryder is a former child soldier, complete with full-suite Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and all it entails. His clan was one of the smallest fighting in the Air Nomad Civil War, so desperate for soldiers that they expected everyone who could fight to do so. With bending, children can be just as dangerous as adults, so Ryder and several other kids wound up drafted. Ryder served in the war from his 8th birthday until his entire unit was wiped out at 12. Four years of war, death, killing, and horror, capped off with a massacre where all of Ryder’s friends died in front of him while he survived only because of blind luck.
In the battle’s aftermath, Ryder wandered through the Earth Kingdom in a haze, unable to even process what happened, until one day he stumbled upon a bunch of kids playing kickball. The kids invited him to join, and he was too shell-shocked to tell them no. To his surprise, he actually enjoyed playing with them. He lost himself in the rush, the adrenaline, the sheer unbridled fun of it all. The game made him so happy, he actually started crying when it was over. The kids tried to comfort him, but he just cried harder and harder until someone shoved a ball in his hands to give him something to focus on.
It worked. Playing with the ball calmed him down, so the kids let him keep it, and Ryder’s had it ever since. For three years, he’s wandered the Earth Kingdom, using games and his ball to keep the nightmares, mood swings, and flashbacks at bay.
See, games Ryder can handle. Games are neat. Games have rules, everyone follows them and everyone has fun. Games don’t have to be taken seriously, games can’t hurt you and if you don’t like them you can just stop playing. As long as Ryder frames his life as a game, he feels like he can handle it.
Deep down, however, he knows he’s lying to himself. He’s been playing this ‘game’ for three years, but all the horror and trauma is still waiting in the wings of his mind, fresh as the day it happened. He can’t keep playing forever. One day, the game has to end. One day, he will have to face what happened to him at that final battle, and he doesn’t know if he’s strong enough to live through it a second time.
No one gets lucky twice.
- Ryder is willing to share his ball under most circumstances, but you have to ask first. Trying to take it without permission is a great way to get Ryder to stop talking to you for a little while.
- You can tell Ryder’s current emotional state by watching what he does with his ball when he’s idle. Casually spinning or tossing it: he’s fine. Bouncing it off his hands and feet: he’s anxious. Floating it around with bending: he’s upset and trying to distract himself. Punching or kicking it off of walls: he’s angry. Quietly holding it with both hands and a blank expression: he is about to go critical. Help him.
- Environmental triggers for Ryder’s PTSD include sky bison roars, dark, overcast skies without rain, and bursts of sharp, cold wind.
- A triggered episode generally starts with a strong sense of fear and dread, eventually escalating into audio hallucinations and sometimes (though rarely) progressing to a full-on dissociative flashback. If he catches it in time, Ryder can stop the progression by playing with his ball and/or getting away from his triggers. The further along in the progression he gets, the longer it takes to for him to calm down afterwards.
- This shouldn’t need to be said, but Ryder’s PTSD doesn’t make him ‘unhinged’ or dangerous. An episode might cause him to be snappish or rude without meaning to, but even in the midst of a full flashback, Ryder is ten times more likely to collapse into a quivering mess of tears and panic than to attack or hurt anyone.
- Ryder is genuinely upbeat despite his trauma. Just because the world has done horrible things to him does not mean Ryder thinks the world is horrible.
- Ryder hasn’t seen or spoken to his family or clan since the battle. Partly because of survivor’s guilt, and partly because of anger and resentment at them for forcing him and his friends to fight in a war they didn’t even understand.
- His clan actually surrendered right after that battle. Ryder’s unit was mostly children, so learning of their wholesale slaughter broke the clan’s spirit and made them realize how pointless the war was. They peacefully surrendered to the Stormbringers, who forced them to swear allegiance and then left them alone. Remorseful and ashamed, the entire clan came together to construct a memorial to the ‘Little Lost Ones’ so they would always be remembered. The memorial consists of the names of all the fallen children, and a mural showing all of them playing together in a field of flowers. Ryder’s name is there with all his friends, and his smiling young face is depicted prominently in the mural. His clan believes him dead.
- Ryder’s parents mourn his loss to this day. His mother wants nothing more than to hold him, his father wants to fall on his knees and beg his forgiveness for not standing against their clan when they wanted to enlist him. Both of them just wish they could see him one more time to tell him how much they love him.
- Ryder is meant to be a subversion of the Badass Child Soldier trope. All his useful skills (including combat) come from constantly dicking around with his ball. He’d be just as effective if he were a particularly dedicated athlete— all his military service gave him is crippling emotional trauma.
- Ryder’s nickname is a play on Draft Dodger, someone who avoids mandatory military service. It’s an ironic nickname, as that’s exactly what Ryder didn’t (and couldn’t) do.
- Ryder is literally a homeless veteran, a real thing in the real world that is kind of a real problem. There are over 50,000 homeless veterans in the United States.
- This version of Ryder was more or less inspired entirely by the throwaway line about Ryder flunking out of military school in canon.
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- darkfeanix said: Now I’m very sad that we’ll never get to see this, because I feel like I could read an entire fic just about Ryder’s journey. I really love your ideas for him in this verse.
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- existenceofnight said: ugh, I love this concept character for Ryder so much. It’s sooo good. I just want to see your characters thrive in their environments dude! But take your time and have fun with it :D
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