As the Broncos continue to march through the play-offs due in no small part to the faith-powered arm of Tim Tebow, I’m well aware that “the End of the World” is on a lot of folks’ minds. Hell, if Tebow finds a way to beat the Pats at Foxboro, many Denver residents may spontaneously Rapture.
[actually, I checked the numerological implications of Tebow just to see what exactly was going on there; turns out a lot of things point to his potential as a MAGICIAN. While I’m pretty sure Tim isn’t a closet occultist, most of the principles of real magic are based on BELIEF and VISUALIZATION, made possible by a mind disciplined by MEDITATION (which is, in many ways, the equivalent of passive, humble PRAYER). Possibly #16 is working real magic – what a Christian might call Biblical SORCERY – though without knowing it. The power of belief generated by his loyal fans doesn’t hurt much, either]
In all seriousness, I know that there’s been a lot of “2012 talk” buzzing around since the New Year: my wife told me there was an SNL skit based on the Mayan Tzolkin/2012 predictions, and even a local brewery (Tangletown in Green Lake) is offering a series of new Apocalyptic Beers over the next 12 months as we await The End. Oh, yeah…and I heard something about it on CNN the other day, too, when I was watching the Republican debate coverage.
The fact that people are talking about it…even if they are making light of it…tells me that the idea IS out there, and the possibility of the world getting snuffed is probably of at least minor concern nagging the back of some people’s minds. I figured I’d offer my two cents on the issue since I’ve been studying the subject since 1997 or so…longer than some of my blog readers have been playing Dungeons & Dragons.
#1: Sure, We Will All Die. It’s always possible a global disaster (meteor strike, solar eruption, global pole shift) might wipe out the planet. It’s also possible that something else might kill us, individually, and equally remove us from this life we enjoy and all our friends and loved ones. Don’t you people ever watch Spike TV’s “1000 Ways to Die?” Life is a precious, precious thing and both stronger and more fragile than what we generally assume. But it WILL eventually end for each of us (and for our loved ones, our spouses, our children, etc.) and tough as that is to come to grips with, it is the reality of our present, material existence. I’m not saying this to be a downer; I think that embracing our mortality can help us appreciate what we have Right Now…which is one of the best things we can do to live our lives with as much joy and love as possible.
#2: The Earth Will Probably Live. The Earth Changes that have been predicted by most prognosticators mainly spell doom for humanity, NOT the planet. From my studies, the most likely thing to happen is a shift/flip in the Earth’s axis which would devastate civilization, shift continents and oceans, and turn the planet upside down. But the planet (and life on the planet) will continue to exist, even if humanity does not. Should a man-made disaster (global warming, nuclear holocaust, bioengineered disease) cause the destruction of the race, life will STILL survive on the planet, and the planet will eventually recover and repopulate without the destructive interference of humans. And IF humans survive, there will still be a planet for those who are left. For those worried about the ecosphere, this planet will outlive us.
#3: Destruction May Be Avoidable. No, I’m not saying you should move to Montana or build a bomb shelter in your backyard. Most of my readings indicate that any Earth Changes that would cause the massive destruction of human society is directly linked to the actions and karma of the human race: a Cosmic Karmic House-Cleaning if you will. There is precedent in the mythic stories of our race (Noah and the Flood, the Great Deluge of Atlantis, etc.) where God or “the gods” were displeased and rained destruction down upon us…also, that individuals of righteous virtue were saved from death. Whether or not you want to survive and live in a post-apocalyptic world is a matter of debate (I’m not sure I do!), but if that’s your thing the universe is MORE likely to let you live if you have something positive to contribute to what will certainly be a “new world.” AND there is possibility (mentioned in some texts) that the universe will spare us the possible conflagration IF enough of us are on-board with the Universal Will and acting as contributors to the good of our fellow man. Living a “good life” (paying your taxes, treating people with respect, practicing unselfish kindness, etc.) is a start, but STANDING for an ideal, modeling it for others, NOT hiding your light, and CONTRIBUTING to the good of your community (however you can, based on your own individual ability…and, no, not just contributing judgment or “evangelizing,” I’m talking WORK)…that kind of POSITIVE ACTION is needed on a large scale (i.e. from multiple people) if we want to be a group worth saving. And if we’re NOT that…well, perhaps the universe will be better off without us. Try to see it from a universal (non-human-centric) point of view. How are we treating the Earth, really?
#4 Change Will Come Regardless. Whether we have wholesale destruction of the world we’ve built or a sea change in attitude towards our fellow humans and planet, changes WILL come eventually. We are constantly evolving as we journey through life: growing, changing, learning. Whether we do so slowly/gradually or quickly (often with great upheaval/upset to our normal routine) is USUALLY up to us; but sometimes the universe/God steps in and throws us a major Final Exam; whether it be an Ice Age or a World War. For the most part, these “disasters” (“natural” AND man-made, both) are caused by our own actions…karma, the law of cause and effect. And predictors seem to be pointing to the possibility of one of these “final exam moments” in the near future.
Only time will tell what shape such change will take. From an astrological perspective, 2012 looks to be a bumpy ride. Pluto and Uranus will square each other no less than half-a-dozen times this year, starting in June. Uranus is the planet that represents explosive upheaval, and when it interacts with planets it tends to cause upset in aid of cleaning up outmoded patterns and keeping things authentic. Pluto, on the other hand, is the planet that represents volcanic transformation and titanic shifts in consciousness as well as our deep-seated emotional attachments (some of which are left over from past lives). “Square” aspects in astrology are challenging interactions…they tend to be very uncomfortable and have lots of energy and planets in square alignment feel like they’re fighting each other. The coming squares between Pluto and Uranus promise dramatic changes for the entire planet as they are actually aspecting each other, not necessarily planets in individuals’ natal charts. But who knows how that dramatic change will show up? Maybe Ron Paul will cause a major rift in the Republican Party.
Now what does any of this have to do with 5th Edition D&D? Not much, as it’s doubtful anything will be released/published in 2012. However, it is possible that “dramatic changes/shifts of consciousness” will be occurring with the designers working on the latest version of the game. Even so, I’m not sure how much practical impact that will have in the development of the project. For one thing, the game (or rather, the brand) is still owned by Hasbro and as such its design and development is still deeply tied to the normal corporate profit-making requirements. The designers are soliciting feedback from individuals, but many of the young, internet-vocal folks ready to respond are likely to give info that moves 5E farther away from the game’s role-playing origins, developing instead social networking, smart-phone/IPad-style apps, and otherwise incorporating 21st century technology into the game…all wrapped in a new business model that still allows Hasbro to squeeze profit from the consumer (through monthly subscription and/or “collectible” aspects). Even when corporate executives give a rat’s ass about something their hands are tied by the business of business…pandering to share-holders and whatnot. The likelihood anyone will institute an “older approach” to gaming in the design/business model is pretty damn slim, in my opinion, as is the chance of older (“competing”) editions being made available as .pdfs. Far more probable is that the adaptation of certain “old school aesthetics” or even “retro-3rd edition-stylings” in an attempt to woo the OS fan base and Pathfinder players even while moving the game farther away from its original, simple, semi-ambiguous form for something slick and stream-lined and simplistic if “updated for a new century/generation.”
From my point of view, such updating is likely to be a less-than-good-thing (as incorporating technology only increases the likelihood of alienating/disconnecting folks from real human interaction). But, hey, we may all get buried under several tons of rock and water and lava long before that…and if we do the appearance of 5E is sure to be a moot point.
When PCs Act Morally
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