Monday, 28 May 2012

The Point of No Return

D&D exists on a kind of permanent cultural event horizon and this is a good thing.

Listening to this podcast, Satine Pheonix is asked why D&D still carries with it the stereotype of being populated by mouth breathing asocial weirdo's. She says 'because it's kind of true'*

The game has rules, this attracts people for whom rules are important. Because they need the game the way other players do not then they obsess over it and come to dominate it. because they are more willing to spend money on it the become the most easily capitalised part of the market. They then shape the kind of game that is produced over successive editions, making the game more like themselves.

It also inspires a number of very interesting and innovative people at the same time.

So the game is always being sucked into the black hole of crippled nerdery and being destroyed. It is also continually in a state of being rescued by the other nerds. So it orbits, kind of, like a doomed moon around a black hole.

The reason this is good has something to do with Charles Fort and with why Forteanism is a good thing.

Fort is outside the system. he ranges himself against neither faith nor doubt, only orthodoxy. He's also tangled up with some really odd stuff. Because he is so outside the system he is almost impossible to build a structure around. Even more than Anarchism, he's impossible to pin down. Because at least Anarchism is cool, and will get you laid, and you can be sure that everyone believes the same thing. In a room full of Forteans you have no idea who believes what. There can be no power structure.

All good things have two qualities to them. The thing itself, and the structures we build around them.

We chase things like beauty, meaning, truth and honour because they are good in themselves. But because they have inner value they become a route to social, political, cultural or financial power. 

Because people who really really like power are dicks, and they shape the structure then the structures around all these things, which are meant to protect the important things with inner meaning, always end up being corrupt.

This is upsetting for almost everyone involved.

But this can never ever happen to D&D because it is already half-crippled by its damaged relationship with its fiercest adherents. 

It's orbiting a black hole, that makes it poor real estate for people who like power. That means it maintains a strange, fractured kind of purity. You are free playing D&D, free despite the damaged freaks that sometimes  surround you. Free, in part, because of them.

(It's like the perfect intellectual salon, one that never gets taken over by boring dilettantes because they will never turn up.)

*I think thats what she says, I haven't replayed it. Sorry if I got it wrong.

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