Turns out I have something to say. Perhaps my ‘extended break’ will not be as long as I thought. Maybe I’ll just have to take it later…
Awhile ago I made a post where I suggested I would discuss my experience with Dungeons and Dragons. Finally I have been able to link it to my autistic experience, and I figure it’s best to open with that before I decide to go off the rails.
It begins with this: Real life is either boring or depressing.
Real life is boring. Everybody goes about their business and nobody talks about anything particularly interesting. People focus on what they are doing at the moment, and I suppose it makes sense that people would do this. All the same, I find it boring when the only thing people want to discuss is what is going on at the moment.
Real life is depressing. Events in the world today fill me cynicism, and I find that the way people try to solve these problems is laughable. It’s as if they either have no idea how the world works and come up with simple solutions that are obviously wrong, or that they are okay with the way things are going and maliciously come up with ineffectual solutions that don’t actually solve anything.
Especially regarding the latter, I’m left to ponder “what can I do?” At this moment, the answer is nothing. I can only develop my skills and accomplish my own personal goals, hoping that things hold together until it is time for me to do something.
In the mean time, I can always retreat into worlds of my own creation. This is where Dungeons and Dragons comes in to play. To be honest, I only started playing Dungeons and Dragons about 3 years ago even though I have been creating worlds in my head all of my life. However, I have been interested in playing it for a long time, starting from the time I found a World of Warcraft themed Sword and Sorcery book.
Since high school, I have constructed a massive world of sword and sorcery. It began with the story of a teenager and his friends growing up and adventuring around a world that I generated as I went. Over time, I created and developed 13 human nations and their governments. I created the world and its history. I developed the world’s religions, pantheons and gods. I also developed the worlds magic and the way that it works. Recently I even made a rather in-depth map for the world. This was all done before I DMed my first game of Dungeons and Dragons, but by having players explore the land I was able to come up with new ideas and bring the world to life.
Hidden in the world are my ideas, sprinkled here and there. Take for instance the kingdom that I will refer to as The Mirrored Kingdom (in order to protect my identity behind the oeruli mask). According to those who live outside, the Mirrored Kingdom is filled with vile sorcerers, worshippers of evil gods, and only the scummiest of rogues and thieves. Its people are known for dabbling in forbidden arts such as necromancy and blood magic. The outside world views the Mirrored Kingdom with suspicion and disgust, and often they wonder how it is even possible for such a society to exist.
So I decided that the players should have to go to the heart of the Mirrored Kingdom, where I hope they discovered that the descriptions they were given of the nation were highly exaggerated. The people of the Mirrored Kingdom are typically lawful in nature. They uphold the laws of their realm and regard their society with high esteem. It is true that the people of the Mirrored Kingdom are very familiar with the use of blood magic, and that they allow the worship of evil gods. However, it is also clear that they do their research. Their nation formed from the discovery that blood magic was not inherently evil, that it is just another tool to be wielded for either good or evil purposes.
Dungeons and Dragons allowed me to further flesh out the kingdom. Surrounding the city is a haunted, dead forest referred to as the Eastern Woods (again, the name is changed, but only slightly). Once the region was a lively forest swamp, but after a ritual gone awry it was reduced into a dead forest. The ghosts of the ritualists haunt the forest, making it dangerous for people to cross through. It is called the Eastern Woods because the ritual was cast in the eastern half of the forest and spread towards the west.
Adding this region into the world, I also created a monastic order called the Eastern Guard, which dedicates itself to safely guiding people through the forest. They are also working on finding a way to remove the haunt from the forest so that it will be safe for travellers and so that life may once again thrive.
The Mirrored Kingdom allows me to consider the concepts of group ideology and group-think.
What is a group? A group is collection of individuals who are working together or have common beliefs. What happens when two groups disagree with each other? Well, it depends on the disagreement. Let’s suppose that the disagreement is fundamental in nature? Then it is possible that the groups will demonize each other. When we demonize people, we forget their humanity, and when we forget their humanity, anything goes.
But again, what is a group? A group is a collection of individuals who are working together or have common beliefs. Groups are filled with people. When in a discussion or debate with another person, do not forget that they are human. When you mischaracterize others and forget their humanity, you miss out on the true picture behind the person’s beliefs or group association. Perhaps they agree with you on more than you realize. Perhaps they are open to having their minds changed.
Sure I am not necessarily perfect either. I make judgments as quickly as anyone (if not faster), but when I am having a discussion with someone in person, I manage to be patient and understanding. Changing someone’s mind requires that you keep to the facts, but it also requires that you be patient enough to reach the person whose mind you are trying to change. It requires that you be willing to understand how they reached that position. You cannot assume to know how someone reached the position they are in unless you are comfortable with being wrong.
Should I run a game of Dungeons and Dragons, and should I have a party of adventurers travel to the Mirrored Kingdom, I hope for two things. I hope that they walk in expecting the worst of the people of this realm, but I also hope that they walk out with their original expectations shattered. The moral is to suspend judgment until you understand the whole picture, to be willing to have your mind changed.
But of course, that is one of 13 Kingdoms. Each Kingdom has its own set of ideas sprinkled in. Perhaps I will discuss them later.