I am my own journey, or something…
The Return of TTRPG
About a million years ago, I played D&D, or should I say AD&D (Advanced). And then, for another million years, I didn’t play D&D. Now I’m doing it again. Will this 3rd Chapter last another million years? Yes. Yes, it will.
Dungeons & Dragons (commonly abbreviated as D&D or DnD) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). It has been published by Wizards of the Coast (now a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 1997. The game was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the 1971 game Chainmail serving as the initial rule system. D&D’s publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.
D&D departs from traditional wargaming by allowing each player to create their own character to play instead of a military formation. These characters embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. A Dungeon Master (DM) serves as the game’s referee and storyteller, while maintaining the setting in which the adventures occur, and playing the role of the inhabitants of the game world. The characters form a party and they interact with the setting’s inhabitants and each other. Together they solve dilemmas, engage in battles, explore, and gather treasure and knowledge. In the process, the characters earn experience points (XP) in order to rise in levels, and become increasingly powerful over a series of separate gaming sessions.
The early success of D&D led to a proliferation of similar game systems. Despite the competition, D&D has remained the market leader in the role-playing game industry. In 1977, the game was split into two branches: the relatively rules-light game system of basic Dungeons & Dragons, and the more structured, rules-heavy game system of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as AD&D). AD&D 2nd Edition was published in 1989. In 2000, a new system was released as D&D 3rd edition, continuing the edition numbering from AD&D; a revised version 3.5 was released in June 2003. These 3rd edition rules formed the basis of the d20 System, which is available under the Open Game License (OGL) for use by other publishers. D&D 4th edition was released in June 2008. The 5th edition of D&D, the most recent, was released during the second half of 2014.
In 2004, D&D remained the best-known, and best-selling, role-playing game in the US, with an estimated 20 million people having played the game, and more than US$1 billion in book and equipment sales worldwide. The year 2017 had “the most number of players in its history—12 million to 15 million in North America alone”. D&D 5th edition sales “were up 41 percent in 2017 from the year before, and soared another 52 percent in 2018, the game’s biggest sales year yet”. The game has been supplemented by many pre-made adventures, as well as commercial campaign settings suitable for use by regular gaming groups. D&D is known beyond the game itself for other D&D-branded products, references in popular culture, and some of the controversies that have surrounded it, particularly a moral panic in the 1980s falsely linking it to Satanism and suicide. The game has won multiple awards and has been translated into many languages.
I find the Stoics intriguing.
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness, or blessedness) is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.
A Little Something from Ryan Holiday
Stoic person Ryan Holiday says:
Having thought about this, and trying to get them all straight for my own practice, here are 50 rules from the Stoics, gathered from their immense body of work across two thousand years. These rules functioned, then, as now, as guides to what the ancients called “the good life.” Hopefully some of them will illuminate your own path.
- Focus on what you can control.
- You control how you respond to things.
- Ask yourself, “Is this essential?”
- Meditate on your mortality every day.
- Value time more than money/possessions.
- You are the product of your habits.
- Remember you have the power to have no opinion.
- Own the morning.
- Put yourself up for review (Interrogate yourself).
- Don’t suffer imagined troubles.
- Try to see the good in people.
- Never be overheard complaining…even to yourself.
- Two ears, one mouth…for a reason (Zeno)
- There is always something you can do.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Live as if you’ve died and come back (every minute is bonus time).
- “The best revenge is not to be like that.” Marcus Aurelius
- Be strict with yourself and tolerant with others.
- Put every impression, emotion, to the test before acting on it.
- Learn something from everyone.
- Focus on process, not outcomes.
- Define what success means to you.
- Find a way to love everything that happens (Amor fati).
- Seek out challenges.
- Don’t follow the mob.
- Grab the “smooth handle.”
- Every person is an opportunity for kindness (Seneca)
- Say no (a lot).
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Find one thing that makes you wiser every day.
- What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee (Marcus Aurelius)
- Don’t judge other people.
- Study the lives of the greats.
- Forgive, forgive, forgive.
- Make a little progress each day.
- Prepare for life’s inevitable setbacks (premeditatio malorum)
- Look for the poetry in ordinary things.
- To do wrong to one, is to do wrong to yourself. (sympatheia)
- Always choose “Alive Time.”
- Associate only with people that make you better.
- If someone offends you, realize you are complicit in taking offense.
- Fate behaves as she pleases…do not forget this.
- Possessions are yours only in trust.
- Don’t make your problems worse by bemoaning them.
- Accept success without arrogance, handle failure with indifference.
- Courage. Temperance. Justice. Wisdom. (Always).
- The obstacle is the way.
- Ego is the enemy.
- Stillness is the key.
I’ll leave you with the one rule that captures all the rules. It comes from Epictetus: “Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
The Meditations is divided into 12 books that chronicle different periods of Aurelius’ life. Each book is not in chronological order and it was written for no one but himself. The style of writing that permeates the text is one that is simplified, straightforward, and perhaps reflecting Aurelius’ Stoic perspective on the text.
A central theme to Meditations is the importance of analyzing one’s judgment of self and others and developing a cosmic perspective:
You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgment, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite.
Aurelius advocates finding one’s place in the universe and sees that everything came from nature, and so everything shall return to it in due time. Another strong theme is of maintaining focus and to be without distraction all the while maintaining strong ethical principles such as “Being a good man.”
His Stoic ideas often involve avoiding indulgence in sensory affections, a skill which will free a man from the pains and pleasures of the material world. He claims that the only way a man can be harmed by others is to allow his reaction to overpower him. An order or logos permeates existence. Rationality and clear-mindedness allow one to live in harmony with the logos. This allows one to rise above faulty perceptions of “good” and “bad”—things out of your control like fame and health are (unlike things in your control) irrelevant and neither good nor bad.