posted Thursday, January 29th 2009 by
None of the Above
“Man, this is weird,” comes the message from a player in my new campaign. “I’m reading this 4e optimisation thread and apparently the wizard I made is pretty close to optimal, even though I literally made every chargen decision based on ‘How much does this resemble Karl Marx?’”
Even with an all-new group of D&D newbies, my players never cease to amaze. “Karl” the first level wizard is a follower of Pelor, an honest deity popular with the common worker. You can’t tell this in combat, until he insists while looting the bodies that everyone gets an even share. “To each according to his need,” says Karl, “and from each according to his ability.”
He’s not the only one. The cleric decides that he is not just neutral aligned but a staunch defender of neutrality: a libertarian laissez-faire advocate. A protector of economic and personal freedom, the cleric believes in the right of individuals to band together voluntarily, own weapons, earn money however they want, and pay no tax on the proceeds. From someone who’s never played D&D, this ideology sounds remarkably appropriate.
Unfortunately, real-world government isn’t always such a great model for a Dungeons & Dragons group. What would D&D be like if the players followed real-world political ideologies?
Democracy: Everyone votes on major decisions: how to distribute treasure, which skills to learn, and which spells to cast. Players spend a third of their resources convincing each other to vote in their favour.
Monarchy: The DM tells everyone what to do. Players complain that they’re being railroaded, but are docked treasure until they stop complaining.
Anarchism: The players deliberately ignore the DM’s plot hooks. They roam around fighting random encounters until a dragon eats them and takes their stuff.
Socialism: The GM takes a quarter of everyone’s treasure and hands them healing potions. Players complain when they can never buy anything good.
Neoconservativism: All monsters are either good or evil, depending on what the GM wants the players to do. The GM is allowed to railroad players, as long as they don’t find out.
Feudalism: Roll 1d20. On any number up to 19, your character is a peasant and cannot level up. On a natural 20, he earns gold pieces from the other players but can only fight when the GM tells him to.
I’m sure I’ve left a few out, so I’ll leave you to fill in your own.