I’ve turned into an elitist gamer douchebag, and I can’t stop it. I can’t help it. I blame myself. Old age, grumpy cynicism, and absolute lack of faith in humanity, these are all of my flaws that contribute to my current gaming malaise if you will, when it comes to fantasy RPGs.
When it really comes down to it, I find that most adventuring groups are self-centered, greedy egomaniacs that are responsible for murder, mayhem and a healthy dose of destruction in the game. I know, I know, it’s just a game. It’s just a game. But I can’t deal with it on a regular basis. What I see these adventuring groups doing is displacing monsters from their homes whether they be old ruins or a dungeon created by a maniacal archmage. Something similar was echoed in the ol’ Dragon cartoon Wormy at some point I believe. Why do adventuring parties do this? The spilling of blood and the gaining of gold? I’ve seen this many a time; I’ve DMed a few adventures with this same premise. Sometimes it has the “there’s the evil bandit lord and his gang hiding in the catacombs” window dressing. And the poor little goblins and kobolds that are in the way betwixt the players and the bandits are slaughtered and their loot is taken. Why? Because they’re goddamn little shits and they need a blade or some magic missiles up their collective arse.
Adventuring parties pillage and destroy, because that’s what they do. And every player wants to kick some ass. Now I’ve no qualms about kicking a little ass, but to do it blatantly to rob a tomb for some quick cash or a magic weapon, I’m not feeling the urge anymore. Nor do I feel the urge, even though I love worldbuilding and DMing, to DM a module or adventure with that theme anymore.
There is too much crap going on in real life as humanity continues to fuck itself over in myriads of ways for me to be able to tolerate similar behavior in the fantasy RPGs. I can’t do it anymore.
Sure hobgoblins and goblins are evil, so why not take free license and slaughter them until the hills run red with their blood? The fact of the matter is, most fantasy RPGs are humanocentric, with mankind as the dominant, controlling force in the gaming universe. I’ve seen and read enough of mankind at its worst, so I no longer root for humanity. And this is my flaw.
I prefer to root for the critters. I’m on the side of the monsters in my worldbuilding now. I try to create monsters every bit as messy and complicated as the monsters we see in ourselves every day, whether it be in the news or otherwise. In fact, I make many of my critters have a better moral standing than the human realms of a homebrew campaign setting.
But the problem is, many players still have the “us vs. them” mentality when it comes to critters. Rather than negotiate or make some kind of compromise with a critter, players will choose to kill them outright simply because they’re a monstrous race. And I grew weary of GMing such PCs.
Now I know not every player is like this, I just wish I could find players that take a different approach to monsters at least some of the time. Rather than kill that enclave of goblins, how about reaching some kind of treaty or compromise with them? If the PCs want to kill something I can easily make up some greedy, asshole human merchant or corrupt military commander that is just begging to have a blade up his throat.
One thing that I really appreciate about Paizo is the fact that in many of their Adventure Paths there is the option to take the path less traveled; instead of killing and looting a critter there is an option to parley and reach a truce, and the PCs gain just as much experience as if they had killed the creature in the first place. Of course, the PCs don’t gain the loot, but hell, at least the option to parley is there. Here’s a novel idea, and one that is covered in Paizo’s most recent adventure, Rivers Run Red, how about befriending a critter instead of murdering it?
I enjoy creating campaigns where the bad guys are mostly human, because that’s what I’m comfortable with now. I see this happening as I type this rant.
Yes, its just a game. But hell, it comes to the point now where I need some of the shit I see in real life thrown into the game, and if it means humans being jerks and not the monsters a lot of the time, then so be it. And that’s the way I see it. Unfortunately, not many players are ready to jump on the bandwagon with me. And that’s cool, many of the guys I’ve gamed with in the past don’t need a dose of reality in their game. Hell, players game to escape from reality and all of the shit they have to put up with in when the go to work and what not.
But I can’t do it anymore. That dragon you encounter, he may be defending the forest from the rampant, voracious tree-cutting from a lumber cartel of humans that are hell bent on getting wood for their ever expanding borders. That rakshasa you see has just lost his daughter to some conniving human slavers who kidnapped its daughter and sold her off to some traveling circus. The human noble that is hiring you on some expedition to get some valuable artifact from some ancient ruins is a power hungry madman that rapes his servant girls on a weekly basis. Those little children that you rescued from the owlbear’s lair found one of its newborns and tortured it to death. I expose the ugliness of men in a campaign.
It’s up to the PCs to show the world humanity’s justice, mercy, kindness, goodness, virtue and honor. Unfortunately, not many PCs are up to that challenge nowadays. PCs motives for playing a game are twofold, power and booty (and I would argue that there are other motives, such as defiance of authority and destruction of property, now such things are warranted, especially if said authority is controlled by self-serving lobbyist groups, but I digress). Granted, I gain a measure of satisfaction of watching my character gain new abilities and feats but the whole money and booty gig doesn’t float my boat as it once did. This is just me. Nor do I wish to GM players that are solely in the game for the power creep.
I like designing dungeons that are now occupied by another adventuring group and their human/demi-human lackeys. You want to stamp out evil, self-serving jerks? You’ll find them in this tomb. Well, at least in some of them.
This is my elitist affliction. I like making campaigns that pose a moral challenge to the PCs, and the PCs rise up to meet it. Oh, if only I could find some PCs that are up for the task.
My problem is that the same things that appealed to me when playing the game in my youth are gone. Its replaced by the cynicism and jaded perspective of my old age.
Thus I leave you as one of those estranged, disenfranchised gamers who are in a tiny, tiny, tiny niche of the gaming community.
Sigh… Aye, it’s only a game, but it isn’t necessarily a game I always want to be playing. I can’t just game for the sake of gaming anymore. And I suppose there’s a bit of sadness to that, but as Kurt Vonnegut once said, “And so it goes.”