Archive for the ‘Gaming’ category

In Which The Author Rants

June 5, 2008

This blogpost is going to be something of a rant. I generally speaking attempt to avoid ranting too much in blogposts. Part of this is because many of the things that people rant about are either: 1. Too stupid to take a second thought about, or 2. Too important to discuss in polite company. But this just subject happens to have bothered me enough to keep me occupied while still being of little enough import that I think I can rant about it.

This has something to do with the blogpost written by my beloved brother, which you can read about here. To sum up quickly and much less elegantly, I believe that the purpose of fantasy is to recall the mind to real greatness. There is a yearning and a longing for a land higher and holier. There is a desire for heroes who are truly heroic. As a Christian I believe that all these longings are echoes of the desire to understand God, to be like Him, and to dwell where He is. Thus fantasy, myths, legends, etc. all seem to have common themes. They are all telling the same story of heroism that is the true story of Christ.

Now comes the stretch. I role-play for the exact same reason as reading fantasy. Several of my friends have made fun of me in the past for always playing paladins, knights, Jedi, or whatever the equivalent form in every RPG (Role Playing Game) that I play. The simple fact is that it is mostly true. The furthest I have ever strayed from playing a holy, faith-filled warrior of virtue was when I played a drunken cop who believed in doing the right thing but simply messed up too often (based on Same Vimes). Whenever I start a new role-playing game, the first thing I usually do is research to find out what the greatest good in that imaginary world is. Then I design a character that is a member of that order. In some games there are no such orders, so I pick the best god, or simply make a character with a strong personal code of ethics. There is not a single character that I have ever played or designed for a RPG that has not followed this same basic pattern.

I play RPGs because I want to be a hero. Every character I have ever designed has been something of a Mary-Sue. My mind is drawn back to that terrible old LDS film Saturday’s Warrior, in which a young artist sings about the pictures he draws and about the kind of man he would like to be. Cheesy. Very cheesy. I never claimed that I was not a cheesy person. I like the song, and I have always empathized with it. In fact part of my love for drawing came from that film. If anyone has ever looked through my sketchbooks they would find that most of my drawings are the faces of strong-jawed men with bright eyes looking upward and off into the distance. My art and the characters I make in a game are reflections of what I want to become. All my characters usually are designed with certain flaws and strengths that I feel I possess blown into heroic proportions. The characters I play are usually what I wish I would be like in that mythic situation.

The problem that inspired this rant came from my most recent RPG campaign. The GM (Game Master) is a good friend of mine who was GMing for the first time. We were playing D&D 3.5, which is not my favorite game, but when done right is enjoyable enough. The GM was doing a pretty good job. I had fun every time, and was usually excited when the day came to play again. There was one player that I had issues with. He was a friend I have known for a little while, we were even members of a Club together at BYU. I knew before the game started that I was not fond of his role-playing style, but I was willing to work with him. I always felt that was part of the game, working with the other players to have a good time. So I tried hard not to be rude, even when his character was being secretive and slipping notes to the GM all the time. He was playing a sneaky character, and I figured that he was just trying to enhance the whole experience.

Well, just the other day the GM told me that the game was canceled. Two of the players had moved away, and a third would not be able to make it anymore. Then the GM went on to tell me everything that was going to happen. That sneaky player was playing an evil assassin who was plotting to kill my character for the right to be initiated into a Vampire Guild. A player was plotting to kill another player’s character. In fact the player had already made one or two attempts at my characters life (while I was not at the game session because of work). The game ended before he could make another attempt. The GM also went on to tell me that he was planning on immediately killing the assassin character afterwards, so I feel somewhat vindicated, but still a little upset.

To me that simply breaks the whole idea of role-playing. I can understand the desire to play a Han Solo sort of character. Good guys with edges are an important part to any good story. What would fantasy be without characters like Boromir, Edmund, Wolverine, or Ulysses? Peoples is peoples, and shady characters add depth and reality to the world. It is fun to play the heroes with rough edges. I generally do not enjoy it, but I can understand the desire. Those characters are still members of the team, and are still striving for something good. Anti-heroes are still heroes at the end of the day, no matter how reluctant. Playing villains though, that I do not get. I do not understand why anyone would want to put themselves into the shoes of someone who thinks evilly. GM’s have to do it to a degree, but the purpose of that is to inspire the heroes onto to greatness in overcoming the foe. Playing an evil character serves no other purpose than selfishly getting enjoyment at the expense of others. While society does say that there is no other way to get enjoyment, as a Christian I have to disagree. Heroes are those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others, or simply their wants for the desires of another.

I guess it all boils down to the fact that there is ugliness in the world, but I do not need to pretend to be ugly. Yes there are people out there who are horrible, but I feel no need to take on the aspect of being horrible to have a good time. In fact I strongly feel that I should not take on that aspect lest I should find that I enjoy it, and lest I should offend or hurt one of my brothers or sisters. I role-play to celebrate what is good in life, and to help in some small way make me into a better person.

So that is my rant. Perhaps many of you readers will consider this one too to be insignificant. But if you have gotten this far I thank you for taking your time to read an attempt to understand what is bothering me. It is a little thing, but so too is a paper cut, and those can be really annoying sometimes. Again, thank you, and until next time, adieu.