When I was 14, my father took me along hunting with him, which I saw as an unsure opportunity for a city boy. He had grown up in small towns, where guns were common, but I had never had a gun in my hands before. Being the man he was, he gave me some stern advice, some practical education. Recognizing the dangers involved, I listened – and felt very hesitant about actually firing the weapon.
It was a 12 gauge shot-gun, an Ithaca-made pump-action, and I put it to my shoulder and squeezed the trigger as told. And though I tried to have it set into my shoulder, I nevertheless smacked myself in the chin with the action block. And I thought to myself, don’t do that again. Experience.
For my first season, most of the shots I took were, in my father’s words, “fired in anger.” We hunted largely for upland birds, pheasants, grouse, partridge, and it was not until my second season that I successfully hit something. Raising the gun, leading the bird, pulling the trigger at the exact moment – those were intellectual processes. I had to learn how not to react emotionally to the effort, but to ‘think’ the shot through. Experience.
By the time I was 21, I could drop two Hungarian partridge out of a single flock, or covey, using the same pump-action shotgun I grew very familiar with. A Hungarian partridge is about the size of a quail – so, not very big you understand. I would say I had ‘risen a level’ in terms of my skill at hunting.
My training consisted of being able to hunt five days a year, since I couldn’t go out every weekend during the fall. In all, in my life, I’ve hunted perhaps 35 times. My total ‘training’ from my father consisted mostly of doing what he did, and shooting when he shot. The real experience came not from what he told me, but from the mistakes I made.
So yes, I gained experience from killing. And as I improved, I never had to pay any money for anything, except for ammunition and for travel. I did not have to ‘return to train’ with my father, or any other ‘master.’ Although I haven’t hunted in 20 years, if I were to return to it, I wouldn’t have to ‘train’ to improve myself. I’d just have to go out and do it.
Remember – in D&D, there is a distinction made between a fighter ‘training’ and a fighter going out and killing. I can’t figure out where that distinction lies. And if the fighter has gained his experience to get his second level, then he HAS killed, and therefore he HAS trained – what sense does it make for him to go find some stranger and give money? The training isn’t in swinging the weapon at straw dummies, which is only the effort to desensitize the practitioner to violence. Once that desensitization has taken hold, ‘training’ is WORTHLESS.
I don’t see how the logic falls down where it comes to thieves, or magicians, or bards, or any other class.
And here I find myself drawn to making other examples, having nothing to do with me, but a great deal to do with history ... where somehow, a great many people seemed to advance themselves greatly through ‘doing,’ without finding any need to return to any master for any further ‘training.’
Alexander the Great, for instance, who crossed the Bosporus into the Persian Empire at the age of 18, who conquered half the known world and who certainly must have taken enough experience from the effort to have risen a dozen levels ... does not seem to have listened to his tutors. Or Cortez, who by hook or by crook brought about the demise of Mexico – did he then return to Cuba or Spain for training? Did Genghis Khan, or Timur, or Akbar?
Perhaps we do not like the conqueror example. What of Michaelangelo, then ... when he broke himself in the pursuit of his goals, who surely gained experience from his efforts – who do you think he would have gone to for training? To some unknown person who was more creative, more skilled ... but whom we’ve never heard of? What of Ponce de Leon ... did he not go up a single level in all his travels? Where did he go for training? Who would have trained Confucius, or Siddhartha, or Zarathustra? Did Jesus or Socrates, or Erasmus or Abelard, have to break from their teaching to get taught?
The argument is that at second level, you are taught by the student of, say, Abelard ... but at what level do we decide when you must have Abelard himself, and at what level do you become Abelard? And if you do not ‘train’ when you have reached that level, why is it the hit points and spells gained them do not require training, when they always did before? How is the dividing line ever logical, and not invented upon prejudice?
I do not see where the training argument is ‘realistic.’ I know of no profession where success at the profession requires schooling ... once the profession is obtained, school is left behind. It is only in this modern, technology-driven existence that an educational ‘half-life’ is even conceived. It has no place in a medieval setting.
Training. Is. Bullshit.