Thursday, February 23, 2017
My Favored Enemy: SJW Gamers
A recent post by a twitter-bud got me thinking...maybe you should read his post first here.
I think the post can be boiled down to this: A new player had a moral/ethical problem choosing a 'favored enemy'.
Pardon me, what?
I'm really confused. I remember (vaguely) my first foray into D&D-land, and at no time did I have an issue killing the monsters, sentient or otherwise. I was never, ever concerned that I might be 'ruining a family' or 'killing someones mom' or 'terrorizing a community' when it came to orcs, goblins, kobolds, giants, ogres, or any other sentient race of creatures who would eat me as soon as look at me.
Is this a generational reaction to the game? Maybe. I grew up playing Cops-n-Robbers, Cowboys-n-Indians, and hide the belt (if you don't know this one, ask me). There were good guys, there were bad guys, and there was a belt...and everyone knew who the bad guys (and belt) were. Robbers were bad, and we didn't question the morality of shooting them dead on the spot. It was a game. We all knew it was a game, and we knew our roles.
I am in no way advocating that in the real world, or at least the world most of us agree is the real one, that we shouldn't evaluate a situation and use our moral compass to guide us in making the correct decision (which is not, BTW, the same for everyone). D&D and other role playing games are not, in any way, shape, or form the real world. We are, as young people and as adults, playing a game in a mythical, made-up, fairy-tale land where the roles are once again very clear cut with regard to monsters. Sure, there are plenty of times where the DM uses enemies/opponents that are not so simple to discern, but that's not what i'm talking about here.
Now I know that some person reading this is thinking, "Nope! Wrong!! Many times I've negotiated with a sentient creature of evil alignment to come to a reasonable agreement where both parties were satisfied. Learning to cooperate and find alternate, less violent resolution to problems is a big part of TTRPGs." I know, I know. I get it, I've been there, and I've done that, but in NO WAY is that, or should that be, the norm. If it was, I would have thrown my dice at some annoying DM who wanted me to broker a deal with every ogre and troll my character met, and I would have found some other hobby to enjoy.
What does it say about folks who are just starting to play, right now learning the game, rolling up new characters when a question like the one in the blog post linked above becomes the focus of the session? Are these the people who got 'participation trophies' just for showing up at soccer? In games, there are winners and losers. In D&D you've essentially 'lost' the game if your character dies. Did you still have fun? Yep. The game isn't over, you can roll up another character and keep playing, but that character that died, he lost. If there is no PC death, then there is no risk...and without risk it's no longer a game, it's a story.
...and without enemies to defeat, there is no opponent.
Why the fuck does anyone, ANYONE, care about the feelings of a fictional orc? This seems absurd. If you have such a concern I think you may have chosen the wrong game to play. No one dies in Tiddlywinks (except for my cousin Steve, who caught one in the eye...it was a horrible day I'll not soon forget), maybe that is the game for you.
"Pardon me Mr. Goblin, but I really would like that pile of gems and gold you have. Perhaps you'd like to share some, or all, of it with me? In return I promise to leave you and your very nice family live in peace. I know I've chosen you as a favored enemy, but there's no reason we can't get along as long as you're willing to give up all that loot you stole from the surrounding villagers. What's that? You'd like share some of that fresh human stew your lovely wife prepared for dinner? That's so kind of you, but I'm Vegan you see..no flesh for me, human or otherwise. Pardon? Yes, I do miss bacon. I appreciate that she's using only organic human flesh but I really must refuse."
The initial blog post makes a good point about exploring alternative moralities, and that these sort of games are good for that. I agree, 100%. There are many opportunities to enjoy role-playing behavior that would never be acceptable in the real world. Also, there are no orcs in the real world, though arguably there do seem to be some monsters.
So yeah, pick a favored enemy. It's ok to hate (and attack) some foul, fetid, cave-dwelling creature whose only desires are driven by greed, hatred, and the extinction of any species not its own. They are fictional monsters...MONSTERS. Historically their lot in life is to be slain, so pick up your sword, axe, or bow and get to killin'!
Don't forget the loot...burning is optional...