Sunday, July 4, 2010

D&D and Roadside Picnic - an Epiphany

I'm splitting this off from my personal LiveJournal, so I'm going to post some duplicate entries here that were originally posted there. Here's the one I'm proudest of:

A successful D&D adventurer should have an outlook like that of the Stalkers in Roadside Picnic. This is what I aspire to in my games from now on.

The Zone, as the Strugatskys present it, is a place of terror and wonder. There is danger at literally every step. It is a place where an individual can find everything they want - maybe. If they are both exceptionally skilled and exceptionally lucky.

The bones of those who tried and failed litter the Zone. The echoes of the past, and the monstrosities of the present. There are wonders, there are unexplained mysteries, and there are horrors unimaginable. It is the Zone, full of terror and mystery, a crucible. It is not unlike The Dungeon.

And so those who thrive, in either place, require the same sort of paranoia, method, discipline, and nerve that the stalkers have. Their objective - wealth in a place of grave danger, where most who venture die - is the same. There are some who would use the treasures found to benefit others, and some who would use it for lucre.

Those who enter the Zone do it because, like Red and Buzzard, they don't fit into society, they are the loners, the wild ones. Or like Kirill and Arthur, because they have a cause which necessitates great risk. It's not a safe business where one does it just to make wealth. Death is nigh, and life is cheap.

"I understand what you've done here, Q, but I think the lesson could've been learned without the loss of 18 members of my crew."
"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed.
It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it's not for the timid."

-Q, "Q Who", ST: tNG

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