[I know a lot of Seahawks fans...including myself...were distressed at the passing play called on 2nd down at the end of the game that led to Butler's interception. However, it wasn't a terrible call to pass due to the time remaining in the game. The more egregious issues was the burning of time outs leading up to that play, the specific play-call itself, AND the execution of the play by the players. In this regard, it was much more of a "team fail" than the fault of a single offensive coordinator]
|Dark elves: smart, if sometimes underhanded.|
I've been thinking a lot about princes and princesses the last few days. Princesses especially. As the father of a small girl-child (she's nine months old), the amount of clothing and toys and books and whatnot aimed as little girls that is "princess-themed" is just...ugh. Ugh.
[Lego actually has a line of "girl-oriented" sets that are NOT princess themed and that explore a lot of cool female characters, but A) they're a bit old for either of my children at this point, and B) I've never been big into Lego. But I might go that way if the market looks the same five years from now. Those Monster High dolls are still "princesses," just ones of the horror variety]
In a way, I suppose, it's a triumph of creativity that people can continue to find ways to rehash the princess theme...Disney's made their bread and butter on variations of the princess film for decades.
[by the way, I know we all love Pixar, but out of their fourteen feature films we have exactly one with a female protagonist? That would be Merida of the film Brave...and, yes, she's a princess]
ANYway...while princesses and princes and their travails are well-known in fantasy fiction (fairy tales, film, literature), they don't appear all that much in RPGs...at least not as playable character types. Being a member of royalty? Not really an option in D&D. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of the "adventuring thing:" your characters are supposed to be poor folk (well, poorer folk) out seeking their fortunes in the wide, dangerous world. The player characters may aspire to join the ranks of nobility by achieving great wealth (and being granted lands and titles upon reaching sufficient level) but the chances they'll ever become royalty themselves are pretty slim.
Which, when you think about it, is pretty strange considering the wealth of fantasy and folklore involving this exact subject which (presumably) D&D and its ilk is somewhat drawn from. Whether you're talking about Perseus or Cinderella or King Arthur or Aragorn or Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper or Shrek, there's always someone changing their station from commoner/outsider to royal ruler. Changing one's station (for the better) is often the objective of the story or a driving force of the plot, generally through a combination of their own actions/decision-making and the (authorial) Hand of Destiny. More than half of the stories that make up the "Disney Princess" franchise incorporate one person (either the princess herself or her male love interest) being elevated to the ranks of royalty through marriage.
But that was the fairy tale. In the pre-modern era, there wasn't a whole lot one could do to change one's birth rank...social mobility was a lot more difficult and the amount of movement (up or down) much smaller. And to be in the echelons of the wealthy and pampered (I think nearly all humans, at one time or another have wished for the comfort that comes with money) being royalty...or at least nobility...was really the only way to go. Most wealth was derived from being a land-owner, something restricted to the upper ranks, and while one could (and did) go pillage a richer town or nation for an extra cash infusion, such actions were generally under the purview of those who could afford to hire a fighting force, i.e. the same royal/noble folks deriving money from their lands.
The premise of D&D certainly falls on the more "magical" end of the story spectrum (rather than the "historical"), providing a means of achieving wealth other than soaking the peasants and tenants for taxes: treasure-finding. But this idea...of finding and securing secret or hidden wealth...is pretty anachronistic. It is a 19th century concept, based in stories like Treasure Island and The Count of Monte Christo...stories in which characters were able to elevate their station by digging up sufficient hidden wealth (through their courage and ingenuity) that others were unable to do. In a way, it is allegorical of the increase in social mobility (or what we might call today "The American Dream") through "hard work." But that's not the standard fantasy fare associated with magic and fairies and dragons.
[even though one might find a pot of gold or golden goose or dragon hoard in an old fairy tale, it was usually only a means to an end...like using it to buy into the royal family (i.e. marrying the princess) and becoming royalty]
People might believe that "treasure-hunting" is as old as the colonization...that 16th century conquistadors were looting lost tombs and ancient temples for treasure. Such was not the case...what the Spanish engaged in was the same type of war and conquest that Europeans had waged against each other since before Roman times. The treasure being pulled from the New World was not "lost" or "secret" but booty and plunder of the same type the Templars brought back from the Middle East. It was wealth taken from living nations and living people, not gold secreted in hidden caves and subterranean passages.
No, the idea of discovering "non-owned treasure" like that from a buried pirate chest or being held by an illegitimate owner (dragons and monsters and brigands) is a 19th (and early 20th) century concept...it's Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, not Beowulf. It's a modern fairy tale placed in a pseudo-medieval setting, a strange juxtaposition upon reflection, and perhaps the reason I find the premise of D&D so at odds with my idea of what fantasy (in the fairy tale-esque sense) "should" be.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to catch-up on the most recent Downton Abbey episodes.
[sorry this took a couple days to post...school starts again on the 16th and I should have more time for blogging then]