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