Conservative Settings

The old school settings initially presented in the Dungeons and Dragons oeuvre fit well within the conservative worldview (i.e., the one based on actual human interaction).  Saint Gygax, blessed be his name, wisely recommended the DM plonk characters down into a vaguely medieval and largely feudal analog of Western Europe, but one in which the bonds that tie men together have begun to break down such that armed bandits haunt the roads and prowl the unpatrolled areas between them.  Armed bandits are pretty much the only humans capable of surviving the creatures great and small and mythic and hungry that lair in the thickets outside the walls of civilization.

nothingThe characters start at the bottom of a brutal meritocracy, and have to fight, claw, and clever their way up the ladder of success.  Some may start with an edge in the form of better stats or more gold, but the numbers largely even out, and play a much smaller role than player brains, planning, and the accurate assessment of risk.  After setting out into the dangerous wilds, pushing back the dark (and returning with its gold), the characters returned to one of the points of light of a civilization built by men and kept safe from the hordes by high walls and strong arms.

Somewhere around the mid-80s, the shared understanding of the world started to shift.  From a plausible faux-feudal European setting, the zeitgeist of the default culture became a faux-modern suburban thinking.   Your characters didn’t serve a local lord or apprentice to a cranky old wizard, they were middle class blokes.  Unlike the staid butcher or baker, their day job was going out and killing things.  They wandered around, shopping at the local mall reskinned as a medieval bazaar, stayed in hotels reskinned as taverns and inns, and they started respecting other cultures – even those of the orcs and squid faced brain-eaters.  The deep animosity between dwarves and elves mellowed into a friendly rivalry where each respected the other’s culture, alien as it might be.

It might seem odd to suggest that modelling your fantasy world on middle-class America is inconsistent with conservative principles.  After all, a modern world reskinned in fantasy trapping gives the players more liberty and freedom to do what they will – it’s downright libertarian!

The problem with that line of thinking is the assumption that conservatives are free wheeling anarchists who reject all authority and responsibility.  While they fight the ever encroaching control represented by one authority (the Federal government), they recognize the necessity for civil institutions in general.  While they reject responsibilities thrust on them by cold and uncaring bureaucrats, they embrace the responsibilities chosen as a part of civic life, family life, and religious belief.  Alternatively, conservatives understand that bad choices – crime, womanizing, and spitting in the face of authority – have real consequences.

“I should be able to do what I want, with no repercussions,” is a liberal mindset.  “I have rights that carry responsibilities along with them,” is a conservative mindset.  The former is a lazy and modern take on fantasy gaming.  The latter is a more difficult and traditional take on fantasy gaming.

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About The Alt-Right DM

At long last, a tall cool drink of alt-right water in the midst of a liberal and cuckservative desert. Inspired by the need for soldiers in the Culture War, E. Reagan Wright volunteered to stand up to the forces of progressivism before they complete their takeover of the once energetic, diverse and just plain fun hobby of role-playing games. A lone voice in the digital wilderness preaching to that quiet, right-wing remnant that has languished in the cold for years. E. Reagan Wright loves his Mom, guns, apple pie, football, and calling that lesser game by its rightful name - soccer.
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One Response to Conservative Settings

  1. Cirsova says:

    Part of this is a result of the shift away from three point alignment. By introducing a good/evil axis, ironically, the game removed good and evil from the equation by injecting the potential for cultural relativism. In Orc culture, evil would be good and vice versa, for example.

    Before, on the other hand, Law and Chaos represented the old medieval Christian paradigm of Christendom vs. Fey. Whether good or evil, those who were part of a functional society would’ve been on the side of law, while those who could live on either side comfortably (farmers or hunters for instance) could straddle the lines of neutrality. Chaos was not evil but rather antithesis to civilization. Localised, it can exist in balance with Law, but when an external/foreign example of one comes into contact with the other (goblin hordes on the frontier moving toward civilization or a crusader sect setting up an abbey on the edge of civilization), it leads to conflict. Chaos could be the Feywild, who cannot be lawful, as they do not have immortal souls to swear upon, or Pagan warriors who have active disregard for the institutions of Law in Christendom and threaten them with sword and fire. The relationship of Law – Neutral – Chaos in practical implied game terms would be something like Abbey/castle – farmers/hunters – vikings/fairies. Fairies may or may not get on with the farmers and hunters and the occasional stray from the castle or abbey, but they would not be welcome by the Church nor would they welcome a churchman in their woods. Vikings likely as not will torch the farms and abbeys/castles of the lands they invade, but would get on well with the farmers and hunters of their own lands, though they would be wary of the cities where the practice of viking may be preached against..

    By introducing the good/evil axis, you run into questions like “But the Vikings aren’t evil to other vikings and they’re beloved at home by their own people and farmers and thanes and would therefore be lawful and good, right?” and thereby make the alignment system useless.

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