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Friday, March 07, 2008

In Memoriam

As Soapy pointed out yesterday, a legend has passed away. Gary Gygax is commemorated, in cartoon form, here. Nice to see the Order of the Stick make room for a Gygax appearance, and wax sentimental for a minute. Tucked away in my closet, I too have a little box filled with mysterious red translucent dice.

I tend to plot people (especially politicians) on the alignment graph that is integral to Dungeons and Dragons. The graph works a lot like the Pirate/Ninja, Monkey/Robot meme. But in this case, one axis represents the continuum from Good (usually defined as self-sacrificing or concerned for the well-being of the downtrodden) to Evil (usually defined as greedy/cruel.) The second axis spans the range from Chaotic (random, unpredictable) to Lawful (planned, organized and systematic.) The grid looks like this:

The most effective villains in D&D were Lawful Evil... they were the Dick Cheneys of the land... ruthless robber barons and devils of the Nine Hells. Lawful Good characters were usually prissy paladin types like John Edwards. John McCain is Neutral Good. He isn't quite lawful, but clearly isn't chaotic either. His limp "maverick" status places him in neutral-land. And while some would argue that he's more evil than good... that's only because you're missing one of the true shortfalls of "Good" types. In D&D terms, Good spends an awful lot of time smiting Evil. McCain's willingness to engage in perpetual war doesn't make him evil... just slightly deluded.

Barack is Lawful Neutral. Neutrality on the Good/Evil continuum often comes with perspective and wisdom... so this is not a bad thing. Hillary is more true neutral. She's much like Obama, but probably willing to bend the rules a bit more, sliding her from Lawful into the Neutral zone.

Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are Chaotic Evil. They don't care who they hurt. They are all about self-aggrandisement. They have no true allegiances, only temporary alliances with those that will help them line their pockets. They are the random monsters most often found on the end of a paladin's spear. They are the trolls/goblins/kobolds/bugbears of the world.

Gygax and company also introduced another brilliant grid... this time juxtaposing Race and Class. Existing in the Tolkien high fantasy realm, race could mean Human, Gnome, Dwarf, Hobbit (called Halflings), or Elf... and, since the game has evolved into dizzying levels of complexity, you also get to choose whether you are wood elf, a high elf, a dark elf, etc. Class refers to your occupation. Are you a grunt: a dimwitted barbarian with a big axe like Conan? Are you an aspiring mage like Harry Potter? Or perhaps a sneaky shadowy type like the Gray Mouser. It's harder to pinpoint the race and class of various politicians. But I'm going to call McCain a dwarven fighter (high constitution, sense of honor, general thickheadedness... although real dwarves would mock his total lack of manly facial hair.) Huckaby is a hobbit ranger. Hillary is a human wizard (intelligent, untrustworthy, usually up to things that leave the rest of us scratching our heads.) And Obama is a high elf cleric (stiff and sanctimonious at times, but generally well-meaning.)



At 3/07/2008 02:46:00 PM, Blogger Walaka said...

Oooh, ooh, do me next!

At 3/07/2008 02:51:00 PM, Blogger Walaka said...

Also, if I understand your explanation well enough, maybe:

Pirate = Evil
Ninja = Good
Monkey = Chaos
Robot = Lawful

So, Cheney is a Robot Pirate and Limbaugh is a Money Pirate. Edwards is a Robot Ninja and Nader is a Monkey Ninja.


Anyway, nice post.

At 3/07/2008 06:12:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Given your barrel chested constitution and fondness for technological innovation, you're surely a dwarf. I'm going to say you just barely qualify as lawful good in your alignment. And your class is Bard. Not in the musical sense perhaps... but in the storytelling, jack-of-all-trades kind of way. A bit of a dabbler in mysticism, innovation, and arcane knowledge. Interest in flashy combat styles. A tiny hint of the mischievous.

At 3/07/2008 11:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice blog John. I learned a lot in two paragraphs about things I had only heard about. Now, me me!! Which quadrant is mine?


At 3/08/2008 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Ned said...

Maybe you should set up some sort of stall at the next street event and sell readings?

At 3/08/2008 10:56:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Pamela, I'm going to put you in the True Neutral camp. That's a quadrant known more for life experience and perspective than for idealism. But neutral shouldn't be confused with uniform gray. It's often an ornate and striking tangle of black AND white.

At 3/10/2008 10:34:00 PM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

I think Hillary is actually half-orc.


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