Heroism and D&D

I read this interesting article over at Dungeon Mastering website about why we should be thankful for D&D.  I commented over there, but wanted to expand on what I said.  Here’s my comment,

They’re about heroics. They’ve emphasised this in the 4th edition, but the earliest editions were the same (they sort of lost their way a little at the end of 2nd Ed and partly in 3rd Ed). Want to be a hero of legend? What to be able to do heroic deeds? Want to be a force for good, a force for change, to do the right thing with a huge fanfair of trumpets in the background? Want to jump in a save the Prince in Distress or help the Princess reclaim her throne?

D&D is about being a hero, unrepentant righteous heroism. It’s a light in the dark, hope amidst despair. It doesn’t excuse itself, it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s the pulp fiction of roleplaying, for better or worse and it leaves you feeling good.

I guess this depends on the kind of person you are.  I know a lot of roleplayers who wanted to play the sneak, the liar, the bully, the bad guy.  They got a kick from it, a challenge, and that’s fine, I can live with that.  Some game settings thrive on that, and some thrive on trickery or deception.  Some game settings intentionally blur the line between good and bad, that’s how they’re designed to be played.

But D&D, in it’s original form and even more so in 4th edition is about being a hero or heroine.  It’s not about beating up folk and extorting treasure, it’s not about attempting to overthrow legitimate kingdoms and take them over, it’s not even about killing orcs for the sake of it.

It’s about smiting orcs because they are evil.  It’s about recovering treasure from the vaults of evil lizardmen.  It’s about rescuing the good people who need to be rescued and putting down the evil tyrants who took them in the first place.   The world is in peril, the forces of evil stand on the brink of victory, this is your chance.  To make a stand.  To be the light in the darkness.  To shine brightly, for however long it takes to drive back the storm.

Don’t muddy the waters with morals.

Be strong.  Stand firm.  The enemy is upon you.

Now is the time for heroes.