About Time For Another…

Greetings all. This post is inspired by the fact that many of my friends and family have all successfully added several posts between now and my last post (which was a throw-away anyway). It is also inspired by the apparently somewhat alarming revelation of my geeky role-playing fandom. It was also brought by the number 3 and the letter A (Sesame Street? Get it… never mind). I am going to attempt to explain what I understand the position of my church, and Christianity in general, to be on role-playing and why I do it.

For the newly initiated, Role Playing Games (RPG) sprang from fantasy board games where the players moved little miniatures across a map and fought things like ogres and dragons. The very first RPG was called Dungeons And Dragons (D&D). D&D was a step up from the old board games in that instead of simply playing a piece of plastic that moved across the board, the players create characters with unique histories and personalities. The players then attempt to act in a manner that fits with their character’s peculiarities in response to various dangers that another player called a Dungeon Master (Or a Game Master or a Story Teller or something else like that) would devise. Thus one player controlled all the bad guys and non-heroic allies of the heroes (think Elrond or Galadriel from Lord of The Rings) while the other players all played the hero characters (think Aragorn or Legolas). Later games would either focus more or less on the combat or the improv acting aspects of the game.

At one point in time AdvancedD&D (It was still very new and basically the only RPG) became very big, and some people became very involved in playing the game. Some people became too involved in playing the game, and began doing things like shirking familial responsibilities, becoming more attached to a fantasy world than to reality, and so on. A leader of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints stated that members of the church should not play the game, but should rather avoid it. It should be noted though, that the statement referred solely to this game (which I have never played).

Now then, why do I, a good Latter-day Saint, play RPGs? It is somewhat complicated. It all started while I was about six. I roomed with my brother and the two of us were practically inseparable. We played games together and would often engage in make believe. We would often play outside with action figures or make believe walking around with swords and such with our older brother. The real stuff happened at nights though. After we were put to bed, my brother and I would often stay up for an hour or so playing make believe in our beds. This involved picking a story world (usually X-men or Ninja Turtles) and then we would divvy up the characters, and then we would talk about what happened describing things as we talked. At times we would talk as if we were the characters, other times we would share what our characters were doing. There were no figures, no visuals, no rules, only have a good time, tell a good story, and speak quietly enough that Mom and Dad would not be able to hear us. Incidentally, Mom used to say that my brother and I would hold conversations in our sleep, probably she just heard us role playing. Sorry Imma.

The next thing to come up came several years later when a new family moved into our ward, and the boys brought a strange new game on camp outs. It was a photocopied version of a Star Wars RPG. It was Star Wars, and I was hooked. I was not allowed to play at the time, because the book said for ages 12 and up, and because I was a kid brother and they are rarely allowed to participate in the things that older boys do. But I really wanted to play, badly. I thought of cool character ideas, and begged and begged. Finally on one camp out they said I could play. In the game the story had come to a point where the characters were stranded on Tatooine with a broken ship that none of them could pilot. So I was told I could play if I made a character that could both fix and fly the ship. So I did. Hook, line… and sink her. It was the exact same thing that my brother and I used to do anyway, only with rules, and in such a way that others would do it with us (I had tried explaining this game to school friends many times before with weird looks as the only fruit).

It took much longer for me to get into fantasy RPGs. This was primarily due to the fact that there is a scripture in the bible stating that everyone should flee from sorcery, witchcraft and the like. I did not desire to be involved with things that purported magic as a good thing. I had several arguments with siblings (read Avram) about whether or not magic is by its nature evil. The end result is that I still do not play people that use magic in RPGs, but I have accepted that magic is an important and even desirable part of a good fantasy story. I just like playing knights, not wizards.

My favorite RPGs today are Star Wars, a game called Legend Of the Five Rings (based on Japanese myths and legends), and a game called 7th Sea (based on swashbuckling stories like Captain Blood, Three Musketeers, etc). I like a wide variety of games due to my brother and his massive collection, but these three are my favorites.

So that is the what and the how of role playing for me. So know I am going to get into the why. There are several reasons. One of the biggest is that I love good stories. I have always loved to read, and it has always been a desire of mine to write good stories. I love fantasy. I grew up on Endor and spent my vacations in Narnia and Middle Earth. I wanted to be able to tell stories that were as good and as important to me as those books were. RPGs give the chance to make stories, and take on the part of mighty heroes that are seeking for higher things.

More importantly than simply story telling though, I play the games because they remind me of heroes, and carry echoes of things that I wish to remember. I believe in heroes. I think that David, Joshua, Moroni, Elijah, Moses, and many others like them were heroes. I think that in the modern day there is still a battle being waged between what is dark and what is light (no, not black and white, right and wrong). Telling the stories of heroes reminds me that I too long to be a hero, and that I long to be like the Greatest Hero. If we came from Gods presence and the gospel is a memory to us through the vale, perhaps the stories of heroes are one of the many tools that God uses to point us towards His Son.

At the end of the day, role playing for me reminds me of my desire to be good, and to be holy. I am certain that there are better ways to accomplish this task. I am also certain there are worse ones. For me this helps much more then sitting around watching men throw a ball around a field while fans call the fans of the other team dirty names best not repeated in public or private. I know that there is more to sports than that, but that is certainly an element of it. Role playing replaces sports for me. I care not whether Kobe Bryant is the best, or how close the game between Nadal and Fedderrer was. Those heroes were not fighting evil, only each other.

Again, I do want to say that I am not saying that organized sports is a bad thing. I just find it difficult when sports fans point out that role players killed themselves over their game, but forget to mention how many sports stars and fans have died through the years over their sports. Sports is not better to my mind, it is just accepted by the masses.

Role playing, like most things in this world, can be an obsession that causes people to do bad and stupid things. It can also be something that helps people achieve newer heights of virtue connection to the Highest. I role play because, for me, I think that it does help me to look for the land that was promised to us by Him, and to seek for goodness and true heroes.

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One Comment on “About Time For Another…”

  1. Inkling Says:

    Okay, after two months SOMEBODY should throw a comment up here.

    One great thing about RPGs is they are a living story; one of the greatest RPGs I ever played was run by a friend who was an aspiring novelist; it was nothing but a d6 (a six-sided die to the uninitiated) a sheet of notebook paper with one stat and a few possessions, and his brain; one of the worst was run by a former antagonist of mine who approached the game as a way to beat the other players. It all amounts to who is running the game, and what he or she bring to the table.

    Role playing games are a creative medium. There are games (or gamers) that are not uplifting or noble, just as there are novels, movies and music of the same ilk.

    As in life, it really about how you play the game.


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