Wednesday, November 7, 2012

D&D is the Search for the American Dream


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In other words, heavily armed strangers ought to be allowed to wander the countryside, look for ruins to explore, monsters to kill, and treasures to loot.  I don't need a white picket fence and a backyard barbecue, I just want to get to name level, build a castle, and attract 5-50 followers.

On Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, they talked a bit about historical role playing and why people choose to play in fantasy settings instead of the real world; this loose paraphrase of their convesation sums it up for me:  "People want to play in a historical setting like the dark ages, but they don't want serfs, they don't want an all powerful Church dictating the rhythms of daily life, they don't want any social constraints on free movement and agency.  They want to play Vikings and still let that one guy in the group be a ninja.  They want the wild west, with swords."

It summarizes quite well why I mentally come back to the Age of Sail as the consummate historical era for gaming, even though D&D's technological sweet spot is hundreds of years earlier.  It's why my current game is built around free-wheeling Vikings.

The past is a nice place to pretend to visit, but we wouldn't really want to live there.