The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Unemployed Fighter

One of my favorite poems is The Quest by Rudyard Kipling. The first stanza goes like this.

The knight came home from the quest,
Muddied and sore he came.
Battered of shield and crest,
Bannerless, bruised and lame.
Fighting we take no shame,
Better is man for a fall.
Merrily borne, the bugle-horn
Answered the warder's call:—
"Here is my lance to mend (Haro!),
Here is my horse to be shot!
Ay, they were strong, and the fight was long;
But I paid as good as I got!"

I am old enough to remember how the press and public treated soldiers returning from the War in Vietnam. I went into the service after Vietnam. There were three returning soldiers in my platoon during Advanced Individual Training (AIT). All three were drafted to go to Vietnam. The fought and left the service. They had difficulties adjusting to civilian life. It is not unusual for a sergeant in the Army to sign for equipment worth more than a million dollars. A tank commander is usually a sergeant or higher. They sign for the tank and all its associated equipment. That is worth much more than a million dollars. In civilian life, you need to be an executive in a company to sign for equipment worth that much.

In the military, you learn to respect the rank. You may think your officer is dumb, but you must respect his rank. In civilian life, it is common for workers to be disrespectful to their supervisor. In the military, if you disrespect a sergeant you will end up in jail. When I was in the Army, I remember what happened to an arrogant druggie. The sergeant ordered the druggie to clean up a mess. The druggie said something like, "Hell no!" The sergeant informed the private he was insubordinate and would face charges. The druggie took a swing at the sergeant. The sergeant knew there were witnesses who would back up the fact the druggie took the first swing. The sergeant proceeded to beat the shit out the druggie. Then the sergeant drug the druggie up to the company headquarters to face charges. The military teaches you must respect the rank and position, even if you do not respect the person holding the rank or position. That was the reason three Vietnam draftees reenlisted and were in my platoon. Civilian employers did not trust them with valuable equipment. Workers did not respect their position of authority.

How does this relate to role-playing games? In the Original Dungeons and Dragons book, "Men and Magic", page 16 lists the names for the levels of a fighter. A first level fighter is a veteran. This means OD&D assumes a first level fighter has some military experience. In the medieval period, only soldiers received training in the use of swords and armor.

This explains why characters become adventurers. There is an old song, "How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm?" After you have seen a bit of the world, do you really want to go back to the farm? Some do. Others find the rural life style lacking.

I thing I find missing in many fantasy role-playing games is a plausible history for fighters. Where did they learn to use weapons and armor? Swords and armor were never cheap. Where did the fighters get their initial equipment?

In the poem is The Quest by Rudyard Kipling the knight comes home bannerless, bruised, and lame. His horse is hurt so badly it needs to be put shot to put it out of its misery. Today, we have soldiers returning. I hear some saying, "the quest was in vain." Kipling say it best in the last stanza.

"My shame ye count and know.
Ye say the quest is vain.
Ye have not seen my foe.
Ye have not told his slain.
Surely he fights again, again;
But when ye prove his line,
There shall come to your aid my broken blade
In the last, lost fight of mine!
And here is my lance to mend (Haro!),
And here is my horse to be shot!
Ay, they were strong, and the fight was long;
But I paid as good as I got!"