Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Improvement Comes Through a Concerted Effort, Not Through Happenstance

I'm often trying to find new ways to improve myself - not in a self-help, get rich quick way, but in a concerted effort to become the sort of person I dreamed about being when I was a child up on top of that mountain. When I was little I wanted to be one of the smartest people in the world and for a long time I valued "book intelligence" as the paramount of human achievement. 

So I read, a lot.

There were days where I would spend every waking moment reading the words of great men and fooling myself into believing that because I read them we were on the same level. Yet for all my pompous, self-congratulatory preening I wasn't on their level. Yes I could read the Theory of Relativity and understand it but so can every high school graduate. We've internalized that knowledge and made it a part of our everyday understanding of reality so it isn't a great intellectual hurtle anymore; because I read it I would say to myself, and anyone foolish enough to listen to me, "I have read the Theory of Relativity and understood it. I'm a god damned genius, son!"

I allowed myself to operate under the delusion that reading the works of great men and understanding them meant that I was great too because I was not. I was a small and shallow echo of their thoughts and of what I would become later in life.  At that time though I was struggling to find a depth within myself that eluded me and so I latched on to the vastness I saw in antiquity and clung to it even though it was drowning me. It would take me years of growth before I understood that while reading the thoughts of these great men was a good stepping stone to my own greatness, it wasn't a stopping point

For years I labored under the delusion that in order to be great myself I had to parrot the thoughts and words of antiquity. I was so committed to the idea that I actually became a philosophy major. I spent countless hours reading the works of some of the greatest minds to ever come out of Asia and Europe; yet no matter how much I read I was left unfulfilled. Why? Because I wasn't thinking for myself.

See if you're not pushing yourself to become more than you were, and you're just parroting the words of those who came before, then you're not really doing anything but pissing in the wind.  I came to that conclusion before I started playing Dungeons and Dragons. So when I started running my dungeons and wilderness encounters I never realized that there was a 'set way' to do things. I didn't realize that boxed text and read aloud text weren't supposed to be ignored on principal. Hell I didn't even realize that going left would let you avoid the most dangerous monsters.

I filled my dungeons up with the creatures that I wanted to see. Goblins, Trolls, Owlbears, Grell, and Lizardmen populated my first dungeons because I love those monsters. I never threw a single magic item from the registered list because I thought those items were the sort of trite noise you saw in children's novels that embarrassed you when you were an adult. So imagine my surprise when I first started reading blogs back in 2008 and found people arguing about which monsters to realistically populate their worlds with.
As you're well aware the Tiger Nomads are only found in the Northern Mountains, so it's clear to me that you've fucked up your table by placing them in the Hepmonaland jungles!

I'm still find it hard to understand people who complain about this faithlessness with the realism of Dungeons and Dragons. I mean, it's a game. A game that literally tells you that if you don't like a rule that you don't have to follow it. So why the fuck are you making grandiose statements about boxed text or about the creatures used in an adventure not being realistic?

Like the man said, "If you don't like it, don't use it. No skin off my teeth."


  1. To be honest I read your blog because I get to live a life that I never did, in that I tried D&D twice in high school (and liked it) but it never got off the ground as the other party members weren't committed. I enjoy reading the adventures that others have that I missed out on, that I do still wish I had. Reality is that life moves on, I've since moved away and am not in a place in my life where I can simply walk into a game store and join a game. So I look upon these fantastical tales with a somewhat jaded view in that, it's impossible to place rules on a fantasy world. Let's be honest, it's make believe so why can't you tailor it to the way you want it to be.

    It's make believe, fuck'em if they can't take a joke.

    1. "It's make believe, fuck'em if they can't take a joke."

      I think I'm going to make that a bumper sticker!

    2. I recommend Myth-Weavers.Com if you want to play and don't have a group locally. I ran a game using Play-By-Post for over four years, and it was HIGHLY satisfying. Really, it only stopped because I decided to start writing for my kids instead of writing for my gaming group. But it was still a really great experience.

    3. Gonna check that out this weekend. By the way Charlie, if you make a killing on those stickers, I don't want any royalties just a lil head nod this direction. ;)


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