Monday, August 31, 2020

Through the Spyglass

The purpose of this blog has always been a mystery—other than being a depository for my general rpg musings. Awhile ago I had the idea to take this blog in a different direction, but describing that direction with words escaped me until now. I think the best way to explain it would be to unpack the new blog title.

Through the Spyglass. The reference is two-part.

The first part is Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass.In the sequel to Alice's Adventure in Wonderland we see the titular character return to a fantastical land and experience her most popular adventures. What I want to draw attention to with this new title is how Alice enters this new world. She steps through a mirror; and, the world beyond is like a reflection of the real world. This act of entering a fantasy world by stepping through a mirror is symbolic of sitting down to play rpgs.

In sitting down at the table, getting on discord, or logging in to Roll20 we take that conscientious step into a world that is a fantastical reflection of our own and we embark on adventures that we will remember long after the game has ended.

Another curious thing I want to draw attention to by making this allusion is the mirror. The fantasy worlds we explore through rpgs are reflections of our own world, but mirrors can be two-way. Just as life has many lessons to offer, I believe that rpgs have lessons to offer as well. A part of the new direction I want to take this blog in is exploring those lessons.

The second part is a reference to a classic D&Dism. The spyglass has been in D&D since the early days of 2nd edition and was no doubt added as a joke when players complained about being unable to see distant threats. 

I say joke because the spyglass costs 1,000gp and mechanically does nothing. It is, as the 2e phb says, "more of an oddity than a useful item." Perhaps it's a joke or perhaps there's some deeper meaning at play that the designers intended, but the truth of the spyglass' origin eludes me.

Since all D&D blogs must have names with puns, I chose spyglass because it played well with the first reference. But perhaps the spyglass will function as the lens of understanding as I move onward with this blog.