Criticism is not persecution.
The western culture has a tendency to treat everything that disagrees with individual taste as a 'persecution' of that taste - as if an argument, "X is bad" is obviously equal to "Everyone who does X is a reprehensible criminal who should be shot and killed at sunrise." This is a very Western attitude. It spawns from the cultural bias of several cultures that arose in the 15th and 16th centuries who were being persecuted, who then took every resistance to their extreme. It has also proven to be a great way to spin media, as people in this culture are more afraid of words than ideas ... and a word like 'persecuted' is a beauty. It conjures such lovely, abusive images, such templates of vile hatred and irrational, cold destruction, that it serves to sober an otherwise narcoleptic reader, causing them to sit up and take notice.
But persecution is not criticism.
Persecution is a systematic mistreatment of a specific individual or group, based upon the infliction of suffering, harassment, isolation and imprisonment. It is the spreading of fear for the purpose of imposing one's own will upon all those who listen. Persecution is produced by fear mixed with a desire for power.
Criticism is a corrective exercise. It is an effort not merely to find fault, but to suggest room for improvement, with the expectation that persons will accept and understand that growth and re-invention are key.
Often, criticism will seem abusive. Yesterday, on this blog, I wrote a post that was as creatively vindictive as I could manage. I wrote that playing the Red Box set was equivalent to playing a children's game. I presented that point with derision and mocking. I did so in order to juxtapose my perception of the Red Box set with the praise for same, in order to instigate a dialogue. I have no intention to systematically abuse those who play the Red Box set, nor to inflict further harassment, nor to spread any fear about playing with that system.
I do wish to wake people up as to what's possible. I do wish to compel the gentle readers of this blog to recognize that the adoption of a simplistic version of D&D will do nothing to advance your value nor your potential as a DM. This blog exists in order to spread knowledge, ideas and a philosophy of D&D. The Red Box set is anathema to that philosophy.
I read quite often that the more complicated versions of D&D - including 2.0, 3.0/3.5 and 4.0 - are difficult, confusing, labyrinthine and counteractive to ease of play. Yes, they are difficult. Yes, initially, they can be confusing. It is true that, to an uninitiated reader, or a reader who refuses to initiate themselves, the various books and rules can seem labyrinthine. But it is NOT true that these things undermine the ease or the practicality of playing the game. To demonstrate this, I will produce a metaphor.
Sie trinkt deinen Apfelsaft.
The above is German. And 46 days ago, I would have had no idea what the hell that meant. None at all. And yet, somehow, it is possible to learn the language. It is possible for anyone to learn it. Two things are necessary: the will and the means.
I have wanted to learn German for a long time, and recently someone produced the means. A means which happened to coincide with my will. And here is the result:
I am quite proud of this achievement. The little flame symbol on the right with the 46 beside it represents the number of consecutive days that I have completed a lesson or practice sequence in the Duolingo system. I discovered this system on my birthday, September 15th, and I have not missed a single day since. Today is the 46th day since my birthday, inclusive of my birthday.
I would not say I am finding German to be easy. I am crap at languages, I have always been crap at languages, and it has taken some will to dig in and adapt myself to the system. Duolingo teaches language the way it is taught to children. There are no lists of masculine, feminine or neuter nouns. There is no memorization or explanation of irregular verbs, or irregular pronouns. The language is learned by reading it and reproducing it, until one simply recognizes that it is "das Pferd" and not "die Pferd." For me personally, determiners in particular are frustrating as hell. But it doesn't matter. I'm not in a class, where a Prof is impatient with my progress. I'm not working with a program that insists I learn at a pre-arranged speed. I have all the time I like to practice whatever aspect of the language that I like, for as long as I like, and I comfort myself with the knowledge that German children have years and years to learn the language. There's no reason I should expect to produce miracles of knowledge in six weeks.
And still, I know a surprising amount of German now.
Is German difficult? Fucking A. It is confusing and labyrinthine? For me, so far, it sure gawddamn is. Is German ultimately counteractive to ease of communication?
Well obviously not. Germans have no more trouble communicating with one another than the reader does in this language.
COMPLEXITY does not equal impracticality.
In fact, I'd like to argue that in far more ways than I need to describe, complexity improves practicality.
This system that I am using right now, this collection of language, requires a considerable comprehension of words and ideas in order for it to work effectively ... and it took both the writer and the reader a couple of lifetimes to get to the point where what I say strikes home in a particular way. Striking home is the important element here. In order to do it, the requirement is that we BOTH understand what the rules are. We must both understand the meaning of every ... single ... word ... and we must both understand them in the exact ... same ... way. Otherwise it is impossible to get the sense of what I'm saying.
It's not enough that the words that have been created cover just the simple basics of life. The 172 words in German that I've learned thus far won't do! 10,000 words won't do. They won't let me understand Goethe and Nietsche, they won't let me discuss medicine, politics and history - hell, they wouldn't be enough to allow me to discuss the manufacture of coffee. To precisely explain anything, I need all the words I can manage ... and my comprehension and value in the world depends both upon my ability to use those words and my ability to understand someone else using them.
DMs like the Red Box set because it is easy to run ... but it fails in so many regards. It has no rules for any of the things a party might want to do OUTSIDE the precepts of the simplistic game. If I want to establish a fortification, tax peasants, find some bitches, have one of them give birth, raise a child, determine its stats at age 9, train that child, create a treaty with another state by which my child and the stateman's child marry, expand trade, expand the intellectual comprehension of my citizens, plant crops, shear sheep, suffer the weather, sail a boat, drive a dog team, improve my nutrition, avoid disease, etc., etc., THERE ARE NO RULES.
This means that, over and over, any time I get 'weird' in the game, I must return again and again to the defacto judgement of one person, the DM, who has already made it clear that he or she would rather run a simple game by using simple rules. How can I expect to have an impartial decision made by such a person, about something that person hasn't bothered to consider might be important?
I can't. The decision won't be impartial. It will be guided by an individual who has selfishly chosen his or her system for no other reason than that it is simple, and therefore not a lot of work. Using the argument that their "choice" is as reasonable as any other choice. Further supported by the fiction that "difficulty destroys play."
It's all bunk. It's laziness dressed up as libertarian self-righteousness. It's the sign of a BAD world, run by people for whom BAD is the standard, who expect you, the player, to conform to that standard because it conveniences them.
Dump it. Get into a better world. Run a better world. And let's stop pretending that this Pretense of Simplicity is anything more than pretense.