Posted on : 23-03-2012 | By : Rodney | In : General
Tags: Christianity, evil, God, good, myth, religion, Role-playing, RPG, story, versus
Boden raised his holy symbol high above his head, calling down a searing beam of light into the valley below. The seething mass of living dead bodies recoiled, flailing their arms in an attempt to shield themselves from the holy light and backing away from their victims.
“Evil will not triumph this day!” Boden muttered under his breath.
The story of the battle of good versus evil is as old as time yet as engaging and important as always. We love the hero and we want him or her to win, and in their victory we learn something of ourselves: heroism, humility, honour, whatever it may be. You see, the story of the battle of good versus evil is our own story. It is tied to our existence and as important as the air we breathe.
For good to exist, at least in a story, there must be the opposite force. In any good story there is evil. In real life there may be two parties with opposing views, neither one necessarily evil or good per say, just not agreeing with each other. In a story like Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings, David and Goliath, Gladiator, and the Matrix, there is an evil that the hero must overcome, and by the darkness of evil we see the light of the “good” hero all the more brightly.
Because of the evil enemy, role-playing books are usually full of all types of monster, demon, devil and horror. They are the darkness that players want to defeat. Role-playing sometimes gets a bad rap from many religious organizations because of this evil content. It’s probably not surprising, even though there are Christian role-players out there, like myself. But in stories, we realize the need for that evil oppressor, the mad villain or the terrible dragon. Without Sauron, the Hobbits would have never left for Bree, Rohan would never have come to the defended of the White Tree and JRR Tolkien would not be as famous a story teller as he is today.
Edit: I came across a great post from Christian blogger Berin Kinsman that supports what I’m saying, so I’m plugging that in here:
Nearly everyone I know that’s involved in the roleplaying hobby, whether they play in fantasy settings, superheroes, horror, espionage, and any of the myriad styles and genres, typically engage in basic good-versus-evil stories. Even the folks I know who play games where they play monsters enjoy wrestling with and exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas and the angsts and drama. It is social, it is creative, but it is fiction. There is, on some level, a degree of redeeming social value to go along with the escapism.
The story of good versus evil teaches us a lot about our real selves. It teaches us, I think, that we want goodness and peace, we dislike oppression or unfairness, and we realize that peace doesn’t come from inaction but that often people had to die for freedom. As a South African it’s easy to think back on how activists like Mahatma Gandhi worked for freedom, through personal effort, suffering and hardship.
I think a wise GM looks at his campaign…
…and asks “what are we (the PC’s) fighting for?” It may, in a small part, be to defeat the tyrant, push back evil from the land or put the dead to rest, but what is the higher cause? Even if a new, more powerful set of armour motivates most of your players onto their next quest, I think you’ll find a deep hunger for the good to win out against evil. It’s part of what makes us human.