Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You're Not a Fucking Hero


I must confess, some of this post was inspired by a post by JM, master of "Call of the Dungeon," which I shall get around to adding to my links when I am not quite as lazy as this.

His post is about NPCs as heroes and the player characters who are compelled to love them, among other pertinent issues. I would like to make a slightly different point.

None of my players is a "hero" in any sense of the word. Being in my campaign, and having really no requirements on their person to DO anything beyond what they have a mind to, most of their personal motivation tends to be towards A) wealth and B) gaining another level...A being somewhat helpful in acquiring B.

As a DM, I am supposed to be A) appalled and B) bored. I'm not, actually. There are so many interesting ways to frustrate a party's interest in either of their goals that I am rarely bored. As for being appalled, I have no idea why. Is not the goal in Monopoly to gain wealth and land and wipe out your competitors? Isn't that the goal in life? I don't see the problem.

I have been running campaigns since 1980, and I have had my basic philosophy about being a DM since pretty much day one...though it took years to hone it to a fine edge. I don't want to tell players what to do. I understood from the beginning that my role as DM was referee. A referee does not play the game. He or she does not tell players how to play the game. That is why there are different words to define the different roles involved.

I have never known a single player to express any desire whatsoever to forsake either wealth or experience in favor of making an NPC's life more rich and full...that is, to risk death to free a village. I have met a few players who were prepared to forsake wealth and experience in order to be an enormous jackass, mocking both the game and the other players, and they have been ejected from my campaigns as necessary. But really, I don't think it fills anyone's heart to know that somewhere, in someone's imagination, there are a bunch of make believe people living happier lives, although I had to sacrifice my sixteenth level paladin to make it so.

What a bunch of fucking HOOEY that mindset is.

There are those who play obstensibly towards such goals. Because they are FORCED to, by DMs who think in terms of story lines and who doggedly drive their players through campaign after campaign with carrots and sticks. And because it is well recognized that a player would be royally pissed off should his paladin die for some bullshit paper village, such DMs are absolutely required to ensure that when a player dies (if ever), it only happens outside the door of some enormous carrot...*cough, cough*...I mean treasure.

Such players in such campaigns are not heroes either. They are pawns, slaves, dupes, addicts (how else do you explain their willingness to continue in such campaigns?) and woefully uninformed. But they're not "heroes." They are not self-sacrificing themselves for anything.

This whole fucking hero perception of the game is a deep, sickening disease, one that has single-handedly created 4e and which distorts hopelessly the majority of the participants not just in D&D, but all RPGs. The rise of the mythology of the hero has kept step with the same social disease which says that none of us are allowed to live for ourselves except in terms of how we pretend to live for the sakes of other people. Oh, we can gather treasure and get powerful, but we have to do it on the sly, we can't just slaughter for pleasure...we must pay lip service to the greater good.

WHAT is this fucking social religion doing in my D&D game? And what is the greater good in a fantasy setting, except the myopically programmed vision of a DM who can't think for himself, but must follow the never ending deluge of shit texts poured out from the mind of corporate games designers?

No heroes, please. Let's all be pillagers, like the game intended.

9 comments:

Alexis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MR. RAGE said...

ENGAGING CRUISE CONTROL CAPTAIN

CRUISE CONTROL ENGAGED

LOOK AT THE TAG SIR

HE IS COMPARING YOUR METHOD OF GAMING TO A SOULLESS CARROT-ON-A-STICK GRINDFEST WHERE THERE IS ONLY ARTIFICIAL SENSES OF ACCOMPLISHMENT IN LIEU OF ANY SORT OF PERSONAL EXPANSION OR NOURISHMENT

BUT THE REAL JOKE IS THAT WORLD OF WARCRAFT IS PROBABLY MORE ENJOYABLE

Derp said...

SCREW YOU ALEXIS CLEARLY YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT FOR THIS AUTHOR'S SWEAT BLOOD TEARS AND FECES, WHICH HE PUTS INTO EACH AND EVERY POST HE CAREFULLY AND METICULOUSLY CRAFTS FOR THE PUBLIC CONSUMPTION ON THE INTERNET

YOU ARE A HARLOT OF THE HIGHEST CALIBER SIR

GOOD DAY

01-25 Ettin said...

Whoops!

Okay, so let's just go ahead and clear this up: I disagreed with a lot of your points, and this is how I decided to rib it. (Lazily, perhaps, but hey!) I hoped the image and the tag would help, but I could probably have been more obvious.

A lesser crime, perhaps, but hey.


Also, to anyone reading this thing (I believe the number can be counted on two hands now) who doesn't know already, the original post is over here.

Also, real gentlemen still use punctuation when their cruise control is on.

Derp said...

FUCK YOUR PUNCTUATION, YOU'RE NOT MY REAL DAD

Anonymous said...

"Alexis said...
Hey asshole. Plagiarism."

Plagiarism?

Or pillaging?

HAR HAR

coyotecom said...

lol satyrism.

Heretics Anonymous said...

Hilarity of the highest order. I laughed really hard. I should check you blog more than once every 4 months, huh?

Anonymous said...

ur doin it wrong