Thursday, November 29, 2012

Once More Egalitarianism Takes The Stage

One of the things about spending all your time writing, and NOT working on D&D, and NOT playing D&D half as much as you were, because you've recently put a campaign on hiatus and made time for yourself to do other things, is that you're NOT hitting new problems having to do with D&D and therefore you have less to write about on your D&D blog.

Nevertheless, some things are more important than posting.  I mean, I'm not the sort to suddenly decide to close this blog, since I love writing posts, I love watching the numbers jump right after I toss another bit of phlegm out there and I enjoy the scarce comments I receive from people who generally seem to like me.  It's only that, in times like this, when I think to myself, "Aha, write a post!"  I find myself contemplating the nature of man, or why politicians are not burned in effigy more often for supporting crap companies like Hostess, or why women in general need more backbone, and why they don't stop behaving in the sort of flimsy way their mothers did.

And these things, sadly, don't always express themselves well in D&D.

For example, last week I wrote about egalitarianism and history, which received good comments but one notable one in which the fellow, with good intentions, tried to say that this particular philosophy of egalitarianism only applied to legal things, and was therefore not a philosophy by which people tried to live their lives.  In other words, yes we should have laws for those things, saying people are equal, etc., so no one is left behind, but by god we shouldn't believe in that shit ... I mean really!  There is a difference between what lawyers say and the truth.

I thought and thought about writing a post in response to that, but it was hard to justify a wild diatribe against the sort of liberal bullshit where we pay lip service to an ideal we can't possibly believe in, while actually pretending that this is a blog about D&D.  It is at this point that a day, and then another day, and finally another day goes by and I'm writing nothing of any particular importance except to throw up funny pictures of women in really hot smocks immolating hapless bastards from the inside with fire wands.

I think my point from the previous post about egalitarianism was to point out that pre-Locke, and all that shit about human beings being, you know, human and such, and owing it to one another not to be heartless bastards, was the beginning of what we would think of as the beginning of thinking that human rights are important, as opposed to some previous time in history when generally people did not.  This is a terribly hard thing to get one's head around, unless one actually believes that human rights are a load of codswallop - but really, how many multi-millionaires are reading this blog besides that guy at the Alexandrian?  (I know he is, I can feel his hot breath on my neck).

I was extrapolating from this change in intellectually-driven human inter-relations to suggest that in a D&D world, people wouldn't feel very kind and sweet and inclined to help women being beat up and raped randomly on the street - thank you Butch for your support.  From this extrapolation, I suppose I had some silly point to make about modern humans pretending to live in such an age feeling free enough to eschew the teachings of Rousseau and Voltaire - which, let's admit, the majority of you haven't read anyway and don't know from Dr. Who, or where the fuck all this consideration for your fellow man propaganda came from - and thus go hog-wild butchering and slaughtering the weak-kneed whoresons of their mother's loins in Conan-like glee.  In other words, to enjoy the flagrant streams of shameful fantasy where it comes to things that don't exist anyway being obliterated from existence.

I would say I rather failed at that, but then I sort of knew I was going to fail, since I'd written a thousand words about Juvenal and had gotten caught in a trap I wasn't going to get out of without another seven thousand words and let's face it, I had other kinds of writing to do plus the problem of earning daily bread.

So ... here we are.  Human beings.  Decent now, not so decent then.  That was the point.  And yet, this being the impetus of this particular prose, I have to express some doubt about how decent human beings actually are.

See, in watching one of those things where a British TV Star of small fame in North America offers an educated opinion about something, I found myself faced with the bit of truth that poor David Mitchell isn't quite grasping in his rant about the importance of human beings at least having the tiniest concept of preserving their own lives.  That being, humans are just gawd-awful stupid about such things.  I'm going to assume you can stretch your will to be able to listen to an intelligent man's desperate pleading with the human race for three minutes flat - the length of the video - so that you will understand when I say that there have been vast numbers of human beings completely capable of letting themselves die after discovering that the roof is on fire.  This is something that is usually lost on those who, being intelligent, fundamentally believe that by speaking in a given language, and putting words clearly together in a manner which one would normally assume would allow others to understand that language, they will be understood.  It just isn't so.  Language is particularly difficult to grasp, particularly by the willfully stupid - and for that, read those who have gotten this far in the paragraph without hitting the link beginning it.

Half the reason why certain D&D players must make statements like, "Whatever is fun for you and yours in the right way" is the level of exhaustion they have felt whenever they have tried to explain, even for three minutes flat, that there is another, better way to play the game, drink to the point of inebriation, preserve the planet, what have you.  It isn't that they truly feel forgiving of the other crap games people play, it is only that they've recognized that people are fucking stupid, and that they won't get it no matter how many times the words are spoken in the proper order for three year olds to understand, and anyway it doesn't matter, for even though we don't believe the words when we say them, its important that the words are out there to express the totally insincere egalitarianism that everyone is equal, even if we know they're not.

So poor David Mitchell and the race he's part of that's going to starve when the crops dry out, and poor us for trying to improve a game where the egalitarian bullshit that supports everyone being able to play as equals is more important that everyone be able to play, you know, well.

You know what, fuck chess books.  Fuck their exercises and suggestions and their efforts to help you win the games you play, becuase whatever is fun for you is the right way to play chess.  Fuck just absolutely everyone who ever tries to do anything better, because you know what, better just fucking sucks, it just makes me feel like I'm not as good as you are.

And that makes me hate you, you fucking pretentious bastard.


Tom Wensvoort said...

[P.S.: Ah, food and religion. What simple creatures we are.]

Relax, Alex. He is not worth the kaboom. We had indeed hoped for another D&D post, but I understand from my own GM/DM experience (limited though sufficient) that sometimes things are more important.

Suppose if I would be a master chef, just having spent the past six hours making a beautiful delicious five star king's meal for someone and this someone then telling me: "You could've just picked up some kahuna burgers 'round the corner instead...". I wouldn't exactly dedicate an additional thirty expensive minutes, or more, writing a post about why he's wrong. I'd say they were in for one heck of a ride in stead. Come on in, let us show you around. Either that, or I'd put on my plate boots. (Please excuse the pun.)

Then again, enlightenment is not for everyone. We'd help ourselves, and ironically them too, by not preaching to the converted. It's minutes that could've been spent teaching your disciples how to be a better DM. (Alright alright, now I am just poking my head into the mouth of whatever animal symbolizes Alexis. Maybe a D&D-specific animal to represent the whole D&D thing. We could come up with one and have one of our readers put an interpretation of it on DeviantArt.)

I am not sure if I can speak for everyone, so I wont. But you're my role model, man. My chef. I am hungry and foolish, and I will patiently wait and persistently return to the Tao as often as I'll have to.


Alexis said...


My name is 'Alexis.' Right there on the blog. Not hard to find.

Writing a post, any post, is never 30 minutes wasted. I write like you breathe, sir ... and I love to tear. So two strikes against you. You spend your time as you like, but in my space, quietly know and accept that I think it is time well spent, and that pundits arriving here to tell me what they'd do or wouldn't do with time isn't appreciated.

I've spent enough time teaching people how to be a better DM that I can be respected for spending MORE time doing whatever I like.

Now, all that said. Thank you. There is no third strike, and when you hit the ball with the last swing the two strikes before don't really count, now do they. Beware of having me for a role-model, though. Galatea already ripped my head off for that.

Arduin said...

Goddamn but I am a Mitchell fan.

Alexis, I'm fairly certain I know the answer, but have you ever considered writing a big, honking, comprehensive manual of all things DMing?

Quite frankly, I can't think of anyone in the industry, even among those developers whose heads I -don't- imagine as firmly lodged betwixt their buttocks, whom I would rather read from.

Hell, I subscribed, so you already know I'm gullible enough to pay for something you've shown us how to do freely.

Reading this blog has, and continues to be, an education.

So, thanks Prof.

Tom Wensvoort said...

For that sir Arduin I recommend the 10,000 word post. I find it matches exquisitely with a glass of mild, sweet creativity and a platter of fridge brilliance. :)

Arduin said...

No no, I've seen the 10k post. I love the 10k post. The damn thing's excerpts now begin roughly 30% of new posts: it's got that much meat on it. It is a shining beacon of why this blog is the hands-down best on roleplay, period.

When I said write, I meant publish. I meant an enormous golden tome the acolytes of Tao would place upon a pulpit somewhere, to cite chapter and verse when teaching/learning the art of the Masters.

I'm fairly certain Alexis would have started doing it already if he imagined there was any benefit to doing so rather than continuing to share freely here.

Th' man's only got so much time to go around, after all.

I just wanted to plant the mental seed, so that in five/ten years he might immortalize the best bits of wisdom in a handy POD hardcover.

Alexis said...

Well, to be strictly honest ...

I was thinking I might be able to get something in print by June.

Arduin said...

I wondered why a heraldic chorus of angels has been trumpeting out of my web browser!

Looking forward to it, Alexis.

Scarbrow said...

"I was thinking I might be able to get something in print by June."

Hear, hear! Hooray!

I sincerely hope there will be some means to order it from overseas.

Alexis said...

I would print it in the same way we printed my wife's book, Scarbrow.