Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 18

Previous: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 17

Now I know I said the great figures were named from now on, but there is one notable exception, The Hero. The Hero is like everyone’s favorite folk hero, but larger. Greek mythology gives a decent comparison. Theseus is the local hero for Athens. Agamemnon and Jason are the heroes for Argos. Odysseus is the hero for Ithaca. You get the idea. Every Greek city had a local hero. The Hero of Gurutama is like that, but he is the local hero for everyone. And not how Hercules is the national Greek hero. I mean that almost every city on Gurutama has a myth about how The Hero visited them and learned so and so skill or slayed so and so monster.

Every society claims The Hero as their figure. The dwarves say The Hero was a dwarf. Najarns say he was Najarn. Elves say she was an elf. Rana say she was a rana. And if you’ve caught on at this point, patriarchal societies say he was a man while matriarchal societies say she was a woman.

One thing is clear in each culture’s tales about The Hero is that s/he is an enemy of evil. S/he journeys the world and then goes to back to Najar with a rana sword to defeat a great evil there. That much is true, but all other information on The Hero is in dispute. Whether a particular myth is true or not will be up to the DM that is in charge at that time.

563 NA: The dwarven host issued forth from Syluk and crashed upon the walls of the Holy City of Najar in the largest battle in history. The dwarves suffered under the arrows of the Najar and their strategies seemed to be constantly given over to the enemy. The dwarven army attempted to storm the city, but they were repelled. The retreat to Syluk, at first organized, turned into a rout due to constant guerilla attacks in the night. The army scattered into the mountains. Many dwarves were captured and enslaved. Others escaped and small dwarven communities sprouted up within the Red Peaks.

564 NA: From the carnage a Hero was born. His initial years were sculpted by Najaran passion and the growing philosophy of dwarven mechanization that had seeped into the Empire during the dwarven occupation and integration. He drifted for decades throughout the continents of the known world. From the mighty Tiers of Golden Mach to the heights of Cui-Xoloc, the young man studied under sages and common men, learning mastery over all. And from his travels he gained incredible insight on the true plight of the Najar under the rule of their Black Emperor.

603 NA: On the misty shores of the Tonsil, the rana forged a legendary sword for the young Hero, and at last he returned to his home, the Holy City and the seat of the Demon-God.

No one is certain what happened in the crypts below the fiery mountain, or if The Hero vanquished Navillus or died in the attempt. But silence sunk into the place in his wake, and the doors to the holy crypts were sealed. If The Hero returned, he did so without his sword, and he refused to speak of what transpired in the caverns. Regardless, all felt the Dark God’s influence shrinking away. The city of Najar nervously breathed in the freshness of the world…

The dwarves of Syluk rejoiced at the victory of the Hero over the Prince of Gorgoth.

619 NA: The grez learned the ways of siege warfare. They prepared ice catapults, glacier towers, and icicle rams in the frozen north for an invasion that had long been brewing. The polar ice extended over the land connecting Ksilartlu to the Red Peaks and Najar. The Great Volcano of Najar fell dormant and blizzards and ice covered the ancient crater. The grez sent all their strength to take over the city and kill all the inhabitants. Many died in the battle, including, some say, the Hero. Those who were not slain froze into terrible ice sculptures made by grez magic. The world cowered in fear. None knew what to do in response.

-Mister Ed

Next: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 19

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

I played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with my friends last night. We’ve been playing for over ten years together. We started when we were all homeschooled by our parents during what would’ve been elementary school. After we all split apart for college we ended up playing through Skype for a little bit and later through a cool web application called Roll20. I love playing D&D with my friends because the game is capable of almost anything in the fantasy genre. We can slay dragons, run away from orcs, obtain powerful magic weapons, destroy those weapons if they turn out to be evil, sail the sea as pirates, etc. It’s a whole lot of fun.

Although D&D is great for me, it has a history of being misunderstood. I’d like to clear up a few of those misconceptions with this blog post. I’ll talk more about my own experiences with D&D in forthcoming posts.

D&D started off as a spinoff from board game simulations of wars or war games. Risk is the most popular one that many people have heard of, but there are hundreds of others. A few of the other big ones include Axis and Allies, Diplomacy, and Small World. War games are pretty simple at their heart. You get a set of pieces and you use them to simulate a battle. The rules might tell you how to simulate the D-Day Battle for Omaha Beach, but nothing’s stopping you from using those same pieces to simulate the Battle of the Bulge. My friends and I did the same thing with green army men when we were kids. We’d separate them out into teams and have little skirmishes on the living room floor. Occasionally an air strike would be called in and we’d drop a red foam ball on the troops. Whichever army men got knocked over were casualties.

At some point two war gamers, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, decided they were tired of only doing simulations of real battles. They wanted to simulate the same battles that happened in the high fantasy books they read. Battles with swords, dragons, and magic instead of guns, artillery, and aerial bombardments. Gygax and Arneson worked on a set of rules for several years until D&D was released on January 26th 1974 (I know the exact date because I’m on an email list that informed me of the 40th anniversary a couple weeks ago). The game featured heavy influences from the Lord of the Rings books which were popular at the time. My dad was one of the first people to start playing D&D. There were 1,000 games made in the first printing run in 1974 and my dad snagged one of them. He played throughout college and passed the habit on to me and my friends.

D&D gained a poor reputation in the 70’s and early 80’s. This was largely due to Christian groups viewing it as a form of devil worship just as similar groups burn Harry Potter books today. D&D reached its peek negative reputation with the suicide attempts of James Egbert in 1979 and 1980. Egbert played D&D and newspapers all over the nation sensationalized his death. The media claimed that he had killed himself because his character had died in the game. Everyone overlooked that Egbert was severely depressed. His story was “adapted” into a book and later a movie staring Tom Hanks called Mazes and Monsters. These negative stories of devil worship and suicide piled on with more accurate stereotypes of pimply nerds without social skills playing the game in basements. D&D was, and still is to some extent, something that people are embarrassed to admit they play. I didn’t tell my wife until a month or two after we’d started dating because I was afraid she’d judge me for it. As an inside observer, I’m unsure how much of this reputation has gone away or not.

So that’s the history of D&D, but what exactly is it? Well, it’s a roleplaying game similar to video games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Fable.

D&D has many key differences from video games though. In video games the player is often restricted to only one character and may never change who that character is (there are exceptions in video games, but as a general rule this stands). In D&D the player can be whoever they want.

Video games decide actions based on programmed random number generators. D&D uses dice, a low-tech version of the same thing.

Video games have amazing graphics. D&D relies heavily on imagination to visualize the events taking place. If you’re lucky, you get fancy miniatures to play with like this one that I painted.

A metal mini glued to a plastic base that I painted myself.
A metal mini glued to a plastic base that I painted myself.

Video games have one plot. If you play the video game again you will be taking essentially the same actions once again. D&D has as many plots as you can imagine. And if you use the same plot, you don’t have to resolve it the same way. If the plot was a bank robbery you could do it with a shotgun the first time or with a hacking program the second time.

Video games have restrictions that seem illogical. The ones that annoy me the most are when my character can’t jump or walk up small slopes. The game does this to keep you on the set path/plot that the designers created. In D&D you can go anywhere. A gorge isn’t necessarily an impassable obstacle to your character in D&D if s/he can jump really or fly over it.

And most importantly, D&D is always played with your friends. You and your friends can go on great adventures and explore new lands just like Bilbo, Conan, Harry Potter, or any other fantasy character you can name. It’s a great way for adults to use their imagination just like when they were kids pretending to be heroes.

More D&D posts to come in the future!

-Mister Ed