Dungeons and Dragons

“Somebody said they threw their copy of Dungeons and Dragons into the fire, and it screamed.  It’s a game!  The magic spells in it are as real as the gold.  Try retiring on that stuff.” – Gary Gygax

OK, you got me… I have a confession to make…  I played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid.  I bought the lead figures, Monster Manual books I and II, I even sprung for Fiend Folio – and then I went off adventuring.

“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” – George Eliot

Full confession – I went on to play a similar game in college with a group of fraternity brothers (I’m still not sure why you assassinated my Duelist Vaughn!).  It’s all true – so as cool as I like to think I am, in truth I’m a bit of a dweeb… no regrets though – those were some fun adventures!

 “Christ.  Seven years of college down the drain.  Might as well join the fucking Peace Corps.” – Bluto, Animal House

It’s been over 20 years, but it all came back recently.  You see, my kids were unpacking an old ammunition box I had stored away in the garage and, you guessed it, it was packed full of Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia.  There it was… after all these years.  Character sheets from when my brother and I used to play… the 20 sided die… even some lead figures (a few beautifully painted by my brother – or so we thought back then).

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Kids these days (mine anyway) don’t want to play board games or adventure games – they prefer the Wii, the Kindle, the Xbox.  I tried to play XBox with my kids but was killed in less than a minute.

“I just moved into the world of Xbox Live. And I’ve discovered that everyone on the Internet is a lot better than me. I spent half an hour the other day designing a boxer, and I got knocked out twice in the first round.” – Daniel Radcliffe

In any case, for my kids “Minecraft” is the latest craze.  In “Minecraft,” you play a character, try to find gold and other precious ores so that you can buy armor, weapons, and other items that can help you… then you fight off wolves, creepers, pig men and then… hey, wait!  I know why kids love this game!  And so I figured, what the hell?  Open the box kids, role some dice, and let’s play Dungeons and Dragons!

“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.” – Bill Cosby

Although the game ended in fighting, crying, and a disbanded group of adventurers, it was an awesome and enlightening experience.  My oldest son chose to be a thief, my daughter picked magic-user, and I knew my youngest was a fighter.  We didn’t get too far before my daughter realized that her older brother wasn’t sharing all of the treasure – I explained to her that he is a thief, if you want him to sneak into the cave and see what’s there before your unarmored magic-user enters, you should probably expect him to pocket a few items… And that’s when all hell broke loose.

“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas A. Edison

Helping the kids to create a character caused me to have one of those “introspection” moments… I was explaining to the kids that they needed to pick an Alignment.  They could be Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic…  “What does that mean?” they asked, and I tried to do my best:  A “Lawful” character believes that a society very much benefits from state laws, penalties, courts, police, fines – they believe that a society without laws will allow the evil people to thrive and take over… On the other hand, a “Chaotic” character might well believe the law, courts, and fines from the state to be the very evil that has been and is continuing to thrive, offering that people would be better off if they were more allowed to be themselves… And of course, a “Neutral” character is in the middle.  Same thing goes for Evil, Good, and Neutral I told them.  Anyway, in the process I asked myself, “What is my alignment?”

“I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.” – Mark Twain

I would love to hear your alignment… and then, what you think ours should be?  As for me, I think that the Good Ole USA, the Us over here in America, I think ours is Neutral Good.  As I see it, that’s our alignment, at least what I believe it is supposed to be.  I think this is why I get so frustrated with politics – in particular, our two party system of Red vs. Blue.  We are given a false premise, as if the alignment question were binary.  Do you want to be Chaotic or Lawful, which one is it?  And we’re supposed to be Neutral there – Neutral Good.

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Freire

The discussion then is hampered by the parties implying Evil to the Chaotic or Lawful question, framing it now as:  Do you think there should be no Laws or Regulations in your society, every man should just be out for himself, and he should be allowed to hurt his neighbor, exploit his workers, and damage the environment however he wants?  Or do you think that the State should set up vast tax laws and regulations, create extensive oversight committees, inspection requirements, bureaus, and then ensure the “proper” redistribution of wealth from the working to the unemployed and elderly?  Tell me, what alignment do you want Us to be?  You can hear more debates on the television if you’d like.

“Debate is the death of conversation.” – Kitty O’Neill Collins

But I don’t want Us to be Lawful or Chaotic, nor do I think Us Evil.  I think We are Neutral and Good… and they won’t let me vote for that.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yours in Faith.


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