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Dragons, Elves, and Twenty-sided Dice – Oh My!

by | Andrew's Junk Drawer, Culture, Help

“The elf and the ranger stand guard while the wizard berates one of the halflings for knocking the pot over the edge and giving away your position, the dwarf and the prince stand up against the door waiting for the goblins to attack. One of the halflings checks to make sure his +5 Mithral chainmail is on, the third halfling stands frightened in the corner wishing he hadn’t given up gardening, while you, the last halfling, watch the wizard get ever more worried at the sound of approaching footsteps.

“The prince looks up, ‘Oh great,’ he states sarcastically, ‘they brought a cave troll.’

“Roll initiative.”

This is a scene from Peter Jackson‘s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in the Mines of Moria is adapted to Dungeons and Dragons terms from Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck‘s perspective. It appears so mundane, something we see in movies all the time. Furthermore, this is a standard scene from a dungeon crawl in Dungeons and Dragons. So the question is: why are people ranting on about “The  evils of Dungeons and Dragons”?

First and foremost, Dungeons and Dragons (hereafter referred to as D&D) is a role-playing imagination fantasy game. The key word being imagination. The game itself is not evil. It is a thing, and things are neither good nor evil. D&D is only as evil as a gun or a keyboard. A keyboard  was the tool to writing both Rome Sweet Home and Fifty Shades of Grey. One, the story of a theologian’s conversion, the other an unspeakable book of the author’s own dark passions. So D&D itself is not evil, nor did Gary Gygax  create it to be an instrument of evil.

D&D was created for everyone to be able to enjoy creating and playing in different worlds accomplishing great deeds of good, and, sometimes evil. However, these evil acts were not actually done in real life.

If someone plays an evil character, that does not make themselves evil; if a Dungeon Master creates an evil villain, he himself is not evil. Would one call George Lucas evil, even though he created some of the most despicable villains in cinema history? Obviously, villains exist in every good story, everyone from Darth Vader to Cruella DeVil. (Which means “cruel devil,” by the way.) Most people like 101 Dalmatians because of its good story line and because of Jasper and Horace. Villains exist in real life. Both evil and not.

Is Christopher Lee evil for playing Count Vlad Dracula multiple times in his career as an actor? Sir Lee is a well-known actor who helped other actors become great actors in Hollywood. He was always known for playing villains. And movies need bad guys or they would be mind-numbingly boring.

People who act as Hitler in movies are probably some of the bravest people on the planet. The director of a documentary about The Battle of the Bulge looks over at his lighting team and says “Hey, Bill, come over here, you look like Hitler without a mustache, care to get out of lighting and launch an acting career?”

A year later people point at Bill as he walks down a street in L.A. “It’s the guy who played Hitler!” That takes guts, I salute the actors who portrayed Hitler at least once in their lives.

Some actors make good villains, others good heroes, but would someone call Chris Evans a hero just because he played Captain America? Why should a player be called evil if he played Needluk the Necromancer? Playing at something is fine; God gave us imaginations for a reason, we should use them.

OK, so  if D&D itself isn’t evil, and the players themselves are not evil, what’s left to be evil?

Not much, the evil interactions that evil characters have need to remain that way, or else D&D will become even more boring than the first two chapters of The Hobbit. Which has no evil, just a bunch of dwarfs, a hobbit, a wizard, and tea and scones (yawn.) The game is meant to be an escape from reality into fantasy.

Also, their remains the polytheistic aspect of D&D. Multiple gods and goddesses that the player characters and non player characters can worship. Again, the key word being characters. The players themselves should not worship these gods. Especially since each god only has a three-sentence entry

It is all simple to play while staying virtuous, there is nothing evil about D&D, the people playing are not evil, and the situations in fantasy that involve demons and necromancers can be easily toned down to G. Sheesh, if it wasn’t for the heads being lobbed off, the game I’m playing with my brothers would be rated G.

Natural 20 on my diplomacy check.

Roll your twenty-sided die to hit…

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Andrew Cowles

Andrew Cowles

HOO™ Contributor | Director | Catechist

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