I once read a short SF/F story on the blog of a Stack Exchange member, which I'd like to find again. (If you are the person with that blog, please do answer this question!)

It was basically a big joke about plot armour (warning: TVTropes link). There are several characters involved in a battle, bravely holding their own against vast numbers of enemy soldiers. It looks like they're going to be overwhelmed and slaughtered, but eventually one of them figures out (by examining the language used - their speech is always described by longer verbs than just "say") that they are the main characters in a badly-written short story. She deduces that they cannot possibly be killed, because of plot armour.

Then, their foes overwhelm them and cut their throats one by one.

It was definitely either science fiction or fantasy, and probably fantasy. I think the characters were using magic to shield themselves from the enemy soldiers, but it's possible they were actually using some sort of scientific plasma shield. The whole battle may have taken place in outer space, or at least up in the air, but I'm not sure about that part. I haven't managed to track it down by Googling - can anyone else find this story?

  • It's not what you're looking for, but it reminds me of John Scalzi's Redshirts.
    – Joe L.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


I found it! The story is this one, entitled simply Plot Armour, by Patrick Stevens. Here's the start and end of the story itself:

Jim, third-in-command of the Watchers, ducked behind the Warlord’s force-field, desperately trying to catch his breath in the face of an inexorable onslaught. His attackers, the hundred-strong members of the Hourglass Collective, had never been defeated in pitched battle. As testament to their ability, two thousand of the finest troops the Watchers had to offer stood motionless around him, suspended in time; even now, even with five of the most experienced Watchers still fighting, the Hourglass forces were calmly and efficiently slitting the throats of the frozen soldiers. Skilled in cultivating terror, they were working in from afar, and it looked to Jim as though he would have to endure another half-hour of helplessness before they got to him at last. Jim and the Warlord had only survived this far by virtue of an accidental and uncontrollable burst of power from the Founder of the Watchers, released at a fortuitous moment to counter the time-suspension channelled by the Hourglass. That had given the Warlord time to protect five people, before the Founder had collapsed.


“OK. This will be a shock to you both, Warlord, Jim, but we’re in a story. We’re fictional. This situation we’re in makes no sense at all. We had no backstory until I explicitly requested it, and it took a little while to come to us. And no-one seems to be capable of just saying something! Every time, we’re ordering, or clarifying, or reeling things off, but never saying! We are fictional, and our author is not particularly competent to boot. That gives us a way out of our conveniently dramatic Dire Straits.

“Author! We’re three of the most powerful members of the Watchers, and we’ve been the entire focus of this short story. There are no other plausible protagonists. You must find a way for us to survive, or else the story ends and you will have wasted all this time on another creative endeavour that came to nothing!”

The Hourglass were approaching faster now, provoked by Christine’s loud outburst. Only thirty feet away, then twenty, then ten.

The front runner drew a dagger, and slit Jim’s throat, then the Warlord’s, then Christine’s.

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