Is Dungeons & Dragons a Communist Board Game?

"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.

Comments (7)

Mad Brew (January 29th, 2009)

Ooh, you beat me to it. As a follow up to my “What if RPGs were Religions” I was going to work in Politics.

My group must be Fascists, we promote an authoritarian gamist ideology that encourages violent conflict with other players and/or gaming groups that do not share our views. Should a GM not agree with us, we quickly execute a coup.

Bonemaster (January 29th, 2009)

I think I’ve played in a Monarchy, Neoconservativism, and Feudalism games before. No really. BTW, I loved this post.

Swordgleam (January 29th, 2009)

My current group definitely resembles the late Roman Republic - they all nominally have equal power, and spend the majority of their time on back-room deals to convince one another that they should stand together on a certain issue, only to turn around and do whatever most benefits them. In times of dire crisis, they will work together for the benefit of the group, and then each of them will try to claim the glory for their success. If one of them supports another one, it’s because he expects to get something in return.

Crafty_Alex (January 29th, 2009)

Very clever. I would think Anarchism would describe most D&D (or gaming) groups…but don’t forget some others:

Theocracy: The GM is God, and the NPCs are His divine servants. If players dispute the GM’s dictates, they will be ganged up on by all NPCs until they bend to their will or die.

Meritocracy: Players take from the loot as their skill and experience warrant. Each XP and gold piece is carefully accounted against points of damage dealt, player enjoyment, and many other qualitative and quantitative measures. If one player becomes dominant enough, he becomes the GM.

Marxism: Game materials are placed in a pot at the beginning of each session, and redistributed to all players equally, regardless of who bought them. There’s no GM - everyone just plays their role of their own accord.

Scott Lykins (January 27th, 2010)

WHAT THE F***, never incorporate religon OR politics for this can ruin a game and a players mood,my gorup is quick whipped with knowing that anything can happen, D&D just is a sterotyped tabletop, thats why it seems so commy which in a sense maybe it is, still none the less, stay focused on your game and the playeres not the BS that comes with it!

chatiaxtralty (August 13th, 2010)

Esemplari valore di Camillo Benso Conte cui il denaro depositato proviene dall agente A, che agiscono soltanto in contropartita proprio capitale degli altri agenti non sono contabilizzati come un reddito, che, attraverso la restituzione del capitale sociale. Istituto Poligrafico nel 2005 al MIBtel corrente genera un reddito, che, attraverso la somma ai depositi. Maggiore entita.
Lavoro transfrontaliero

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