Monday, August 31, 2015

Read the Books. For Efs Sake, Read the Effing Books.

JB of B/X Blackrazor has a curious way of setting my teeth on edge, even when he's pointing out thinking that is not his own.  A fair part of my visceral reactions, I know, result from JB feeling that I need something like the linked comment pointed out to me . . . in the same way that I need someone reminding me that some people think it's a good idea to take young girls in their care and turn them into sex slaves.

It isn't that knowing these things isn't important or that I have any reason to remain ignorant.  But shit.  Really?

". . . there's this pervasive idea that goblins and other humanoids aren't quite as organized as humans where it comes to this practical selection process . . . it goes a long ways towards explaining why the (often larger, tougher) tool-making humanoids haven't become the dominant species on the fantasy planet."

I guess, on the surface, this looks like a good argument.  Except that the 1977 Monster Manual, published before most people having this "pervasive idea" were born, describes an orc tribe as possessing swords, battleaxes and polearms (which I suppose some will argue were just 'lying around,' which fails to explain why peasant rebellions led by 'organized' humans rarely possessed such items), at least half the time possessing two weapons (that's a fair bit of weapons' training for the disorganized), a social structure of a chief with body-guards, guards, leaders and assistants (sure, disorganized), ditches, ramparts, palisade walls, guard towers, gates, catapults, ballistae, tribal standards, the institution of slavery, the ability to speak five languages and being accomplished as tunnelers and miners.  I recognize that a lot of gamers are dead-brained idiots, but quite a lot of these things required a rather considerable social structure to be designed in 'organized' human culture.  Funny how the extremely sophisticated cultures of the Incas and the Aztecs never got around to building siege weapons.  Oh well, I guess they were too organized.

I'm sorry to let the ordinary suppositioner about history know this, but virtually every 'organized' advancement made by human culture was invented by one small group once upon a time, and then stolen by everyone else.  I'm not just describing things like designing a fishing boat or making a sword, no.  As I argued with my technology posts once upon a time, things like polytheism, priesthood, alphabet and music are profoundly affecting technological revolutions as well, requiring insight and considerable cultural development:

"We hear music, we feel a sense of wellbeing, which in turn we relate to the order of the universe, which deludes us into thinking we can do whatever we want and that we have nothing to fear."

How does this relate to social order?  We put up a standard, a flag, in front of men and we march them into battle, promoting in them the belief that they are fighting for king, god, home, whatever - exactly what the orc in the original text feels when they fight at +1 on hit dice and morale, right there on page 76 of the Monster Manual.

If the pervasive idea that JB describes has it's source, it's that the spreaders of said idea did not fucking read the books!  Which puts them right up there with people who think kids have to wait an hour after eating before going swimming or people who believe Obama is a Muslim because 'Hussein' has an Islamic derivation.  My name has a Russian Orthodox derivation and before that a Varangian Viking derivation, which obviously says I should write "norse celtic" on the government census when it comes around.  Except, of course, that the same people who recognize 'Hussein' have never heard of 'Smolensk,' except as the city in Russia vaguely connected with WWII, don't know about my various heritages because they haven't read those fucking books either.

Is it a good idea to let me know that there are impressively ignorant, grab ass fools in the world spreading dumbfuck explanations for concepts of which they haven't a clue?  Well, yeah.  Except that I got told this some 41 years ago, at the age of 9, and I have quite a few sources all over the net and the media reminding me of this far too many times every day.  So I don't really need another reminder.  They come pretty steady.

Should JB not have commented?  Oh hell no.  I like it when he comments.  He gets me going, and that's always a good thing.  And he did trash Tolkein in his comment, which suitably pointed out the dim-witted pretentious self-important white-guilted Brit that suffuses every nook and cranny of those texts.  I always appreciate that.

It is only that I get the same itch that the reader felt upon learning that an ex-employee from a Roanoke news station twittered a picture of his hand holding the pistol that killed a woman reporter and her cameraman during a live news broadcast:  oh, for fuck's sake . . .


JB said...

I'm such a jerk.
; )

I can't help it, but occasionally I really do get a big grin out of your posts. "Impressively ignorant, grab ass fools." It makes me snicker just writing it.

With so many terrible things in the real world, I'm glad we have such little things to rant about. Truly. Read the effing books...whole-heartily agree, man.

[I know this comment might be misinterpreted. It is meant sincerely, not as sarcasm or snakiness]

Alexis Smolensk said...

The fact that you might be sarcastic, JB, never actually occurred to me. Though I was attempted to say, "the slightest thought hadn't even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind" - but I thought you might see THAT as sarcastic.