Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Beasts and Saints and Funny Shaped Dice

This post, in a fairly haphazard fashion, marks the beginning of what will probably prove to be a semi-regular blog concerned with the most important things in my life: my faith, my work... and Dungeons & Dragons. The intersection between theology and faith on the one hand, and a game which was virulently protested by the evangelical Christian right on the other, is a whole fascinating topic in itself; but one I’ll leave for another day. (The occasional religious antagonism – for want of a better term – on some D&D blogs is another thing I’d like to talk about; not to criticise them, more to help me understand.)

Seeing as I’m due to start a new job as a university chaplain, and am in the process of finishing a PhD in Theology and Ethics, my faith and my work are pretty closely intertwined right now. But what about D&D? I plan to talk in more detail in future posts about my own playing experiences, the campaign world I’m currently DM’ing in, and the group I DM for (which, probably unusually for a group DM’ed by a Methodist theologian, is made up of six atheist and agnostic chemists). I love D&D as a game – as escapism, competition, communal story-telling, and what have you – but I also love thinking about the various ideologies and worldviews which have contributed to the game over the years, and which bring their own interpretations to the game today. (For example, I’m planning on writing something about exegeting someone’s political beliefs from how they interpret D&D’s (in)famous Law-Chaos/Good-Evil alignment system).

Anyway, that’s enough preamble, and more than enough flame-bait. Next up: the first post proper, where talk briefly about the theology of Stanley Hauerwas and try to relate it to the OSR’s* laudable love for random tables. I know, right?

P.S. The blog title, “Beasts and Saints,” comes from the name of a lovely little collection of myths about the early Christian monks – known as the Desert Fathers (and Mothers) – and the supernatural relationships they were said to enjoy with all sorts of wild animals and strange desert creatures. The idea of a small group of people, wandering into the wilderness to confront whatever awaits them there, is very D&D, I think – even if they’re journeying for reasons more to do with spirituality, and less to do with making money, than your average PC.

*For readers who might not be familiar with D&D, I’ll be adding explanations of any new acronyms at the end of my posts here. For example:

D&D – come on, seriously?
DM – Dungeon Master. The person who acts as referee for the game. Might also be referred to as GM (Game Master), or some variant thereof if you’re playing a D&D hack which needs to demonstrate how very different it is to D&D.
OSR – Old School Renaissance/Revival/Rules/Rwhatever you like, really

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