Tuesday, October 13, 2015

But Don't You Care About the Orc's Feelings?

The other night I was following some incoming traffic to the blog when I found a new forum that I hadn't explored before. It seems that several of the people there were taking exception to the idea that I don't believe that orcs are black people and that all the other monstrous creatures are just stand-ins for the various minorities found in the United States. To them it was manifestly true and my refusal to look deeper beyond the thinly veiled exterior of these creatures was inexcusable. Some people just love to project their issues on the rest of us.

Here's the truth of the matter: Dungeons & Dragons is a game of heroic fantasies and that means something other than a repetition of the real world and it's troubles in our games.
". . . Heroic fantasies are laid in an imaginary world - either long ago, or far into the future, or on another planet - where magic works, supernatural beings abound, and machinery does not exist. An adult fairy tale of this kind provides pure escape fiction. In such a world, gleaming cities raise their silver spires against the stars; sorcerers cast sinister spells from subterranean lairs; baleful spirits stalk crumbling ruins of immemorial antiquity; primeval monster crash through jungle thickets; and the fate of kingdoms is balanced on the blades of broadswords brandished by heroes of preternatural strength and valor. Men are mighty, women are beautiful, problems are simple, life is adventurous, and nobody has ever heard of inflation, the petroleum shortage, or atmospheric pollution . . . In other words, heroic fantasy sings of a world not as it is, but as it ought to be. Its aim is to entertain, not display the author's cleverness, nor to uplift the reader, nor to expose the shortcomings of the world we live in . . ." (Sprague de Camp, ix - x).
The world is simple in Dungeons & Dragons. The bad guys are bad because they are. It isn't a question of what terrible thing happened to them when they were children; or where their parents when wrong in raising them; or what their psychological underpinnings are: they're just terrible people. It's not that complicated. The monsters are evil because we're the good guys and fuck 'em because they're not us. 

Kane on the Golden Sea by Frank Frazetta
Look, I'll answer all the questions that get brought up most every time that I post something like this. 
  • We kill dragons and monsters because that's what heroes do.
  • We rescue princes and ride unicorns that shit rainbows because it's awesome.
  • We dive into our treasure piles like Scrooge McDuck because that's what sounds like a lot of fun. 
  • We play gay, straight, trans-gendered and every race that we want because fuck anyone who thinks that there's a restriction on our imaginations.
  • We have monks because Kung-fu movies are the shit and we don't give a damn about your culturally appropriate classes.
  • We spout catch phrases because Arnold Schwarzenegger made it cool and everyone wants that experience (haven't you watched Hot Fuzz?).
  • We do every stupidly exciting idea that pops into our heads and laugh our asses off when the dice comes up with a one because it's fun and that's why we're playing Dungeons & Dragons to begin with, Holmes.
  • We go into dungeons, underground cavers, forbidden tombs, mad scientists' lairs, vile sorcerers' towers, and every other unthinkable place because Doc Savage, James Bond, Doctor Who, Conan, and the Avengers said it was cool and we've been reading their books and watching their movies our whole lives.
  • We spout catch phrases from our favorite movies because their our favorites. Stop judging us for liking things you smug, hipster bastards.
  • We max our abilities because it's fun.
  • We gimp our characters because Man Rider is damned champion and everyone needs to have a character that fun in their lives. 
  • We argue about editions because it's the internet and we're all insecure about a hobby that is about as cool as stamp collecting. 
  • We make up rules because it's fun and our groups enjoy them.
Now that that's settled let's go play some D&D.



Works Cited

Sprague de Camp, L. Conan and the Spider God. Bantam Books. 1980. PRINT. pgs. ix - x

26 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Reverend Adam, how goes it brother?

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    2. It goes...in surprising, and interesting ways.

      After what I thought/felt was a pretty strong month of blogging in September, real life has got me waaay too preoccupied to even try this October.

      Much news is on the way.

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    3. I hope that news involves lots of money, sex, and all kinds of groovy things for you, Holmes.

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  2. If this were Facebook, I would lament that I have but one Like to give. Well-said!

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  3. Given the image, you left out the parts about making pacts with sea-demons, leading pirate fleets, betraying your allies, double-crossing your enemies, and BURNING CITIES!

    But otherwise, right on.

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  4. At my table, we fight evil because we are the good guys.

    As Keyser Soze said in the movie The Usual Suspects, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn't exist." Those who deny the existence of evil are working for him.

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    Replies
    1. Warren - heartily agree!

      Also I'm gonna be the annoying pedant who points out the Usual Suspects actually took that line from a 19th Century French poet:

      https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Charles_Baudelaire#cite_ref-1

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    2. PC Bushi, thank you so much for bringing that to light! I knew that the quote was older than the movie but had no idea it was Baudelaire.

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  5. Did you mean these Avengers or those Avengers? It makes a huge difference ;-)

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    Replies
    1. I mean all the Avengers (British, comic, and Disney movie mega-franchise).

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  6. You're spot on but, when I first read the title, I thought, "Yes! I do care." My first AD&D character back in the early Eighties was a half-Orc and I've played a lot of half-Orcs & Orcs since then across multiple game systems and genres so I probably give them (and other humanoids) more depth as a GM out of habit.

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    Replies
    1. Would ogre have worked better, do you think?

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    2. No, Orc was definitely the right choice for the point you were making. Besides, I ran two half-ogres back in those days too. I've always leaned towards monsters when the system would allow it. I've played trolls in MERP & Palladium and run Oni & Balrog in Tunnels & Trolls although I prefer the half-something monstrous because those types of characters straddle the line between human & monster, civilization & wilderness, etc.

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    3. Trolls in Palladium? Dude I so want that experience!

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    4. They are fun. Palladium's trolls don't regenerate so they are more like D&D ogres with intellects comparable to humans.

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  7. Ironically, those fuckers are the racists for looking at orcs and seeing blacks!

    "You're killing orcs? That's racist! They're really black people."
    "How?"
    "Well...they're stupid... and violent...uh oh, wait a minute..."
    "Dumbass."

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  8. Well said! The days of Conan were Golden, indeed; characters could be interesting without having invariably to be colored some shade of grey.

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