The DM's Role as Apologist
1 November 2011
So I wrote earlier about using literary theme in your role as a DM. Today I want to expand on that topic and cover a topic that a lot of people have discussed but from a slightly different angle.
As the DM, you have the ability (and I would say, responsibility, but that might be a post for another time) toÂ be an apologist.
To begin, let’s define what I mean by an apologist. It is simply one who give a defense. It comes from a Greek term, apologia, and you usually see the term in a religious context. In that context, it means to give a defense for a tenet of faith. See where I’m going with this? A DM has an opportunity to say something meaningful at his table: to give a defense for a particular belief.
Also, what I’m proposing here is more for a DM and his home campaign. I’m assuming that the DM is playing with people that he actually likes (or at least tolerates) and probably has differing views from.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the DM has the ability to do this, right? We all have the ability to believe a certain way and communicate that to others. That’s something that most of us do without even thinking about it.
The DM is a story-teller; in that role, he tells a story that may entertain, may frighten, may uplift. At the crux of that is the literary theme I blogged about in an earlier post. Let’s take that and deepen it a bit. What if it’s not just a concept the DM finds interesting? What if it’s something the DM believes to be true, not just for his campaign, but also for the real world?
I hear the troller-coaster firing up already. What kind of nonsense are you talking?Â This is supposed to be fun, why would I want to get into serious topics at the game table?
It gives a way for people to see a topic more clearly since their bias is gone due to the new context. For example, a racist may leave his prejudice at the door if we’re talking about a tribe of orcs fighting against a tribe of goblins. Maybe a sexist will consider the important differences between male and female if two societies on opposite ends of the spectrum clash. In my opinion, the best science fiction and fantasy does this. It helps people shed their preconceptions and see important topics from a fresh perspective. Will this always be successful? Of course not. But I think it’s a noble goal.
This is something that’s been weighing on my mind for some time. How do we use the gaming table to affect change in the real world? I’m a proponent of one-on-one, relationship-building to affect change (the bottom-up approach). I think the DM has a wonderful opportunity here, and I encourage all of you out there to think about it.
What do think? Is the gaming table just for fun? Can we actually change things, one gaming group at a time, at the table?