Dungeons and Dragons in Real Life
photo by Saudalf
I was a D&D junkie.
Actually, I lied. I was never obsessed with playing the games, but was more of a fantasy genre fan. The few games I did play were fun, but they ultimately gave way to way “cooler” computer games like, um…Telengard and Infocom text-based games like Zork.
Some five or 10 years later, I found myself playing games like Baldur’s Gate — now there was a RPG game!
Anyway, these days, with the popularity of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Harry Potter, I wanted to talk about one aspect that all role-playing games seem to share.
Whether on paper or on a computer game, determining your character’s attributes was always one of the first things you do. The attributes describe the various skills and abilities of your character. In D&D, the attributes are:
- Strength – physical strength, comes in handy when you’re a Fighter
- Dexterity – hand-eye coordination, adroitness, etc., requirements for a Thief
- Intelligence – learning and retaining knowledge, critical thinking, crucial to spell-casting Wizards
- Wisdom – ability to make good decisions, common sense, comprehension, usually tied to spiritualism in D&D, represented by Clerics
- Constitution – physical endurance, health, toughness, enabling survival
- Charisma – level of personality, attractiveness, persuasiveness, almost a throw-away attribute when I played, but seems to be utilized more in computer RPGs.
How high certain attributes were helped determine the way a character makes his or her way through the role-playing world.
For instance, strength is the ability that allows one to prevail in physical combat. A character belonging to the Fighter class must possess a high degree of strength. A thief must possess a high degree of dexterity in order to ply his “trade”, and to dodge projectile weapons.
In the end, the application of attributes in the D&D gameplay can be seen as a extremely souped-up version of “rock, paper, scissors”. Add in (modifiable) randomness from dice rolls, a basic plot, and some imagination, and many hours can be whiled away.
Alignment in D&D describes a character’s morality in nine possible ways:
- Lawful Good
- Neutral Good
- Chaotic Good
- Lawful Neutral
- Chaotic Neutral
- Lawful Evil
- Neutral Evil
- Chaotic Evil
There are two axes to alignment: Good — Neutral — Evil, and Lawful — Neutral — Chaotic
Good implies altruism, respect for life, sacrifice for others, etc., while Evil is the opposite. Lawful implies abiding law and order, while Chaotic means total freedom, anarchy.
How Attributes Apply in the Real World
In the games, your characters would have attributes that are higher than normal mortals, with a score of 9 as average, all the way up to 18. Different attributes would be higher depending on the class of character, e.g. fighter, wizard, thief, etc. Spells and magical items might boost any one of the attributes beyond 18, or even curse a character and “permanently” lower an attribute.
Let’s see how it would work with people in the real world:
- Police Officers and Firefighters – they ideally fall into the Lawful Good alignment. Inspectors would need high Intelligence to solve crimes, while your city’s Bravest need good Strength and Constitution scores to fight fires.
- Politicians – They would have high Charisma scores in order to get elected, and perhaps even some Intelligence, although it seems like sometimes that’s an afterthought. JFK, Ronald Reagan, even the “Governator” all have high Charisma. Not surprisingly, a couple were actors! Some politicians will be Lawful, but some are Chaotic. Despotic dictators would have a Chaotic Evil alignment. Many politicians, it would seem, have low Wisdom.
- Elite Athletes – Depending on the sports, we would expect to see high attribute levels in Strength, Dexterity and/or Constitution. In the NFL, linemen would have high Strength, while receivers have high Dexterity, etc. Someone like Terrell Owens would have high Dexterity and Constitution, but his show-y antics and brash personality indicates low Wisdom, while his disregard and disrespect for many indicate a Chaotic Neutral alignment.
- Scientists – Some of the best thinkers in the world would have high intelligence scores, such as Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin. Stephen Hawking also comes to mind, but he would also have a lower Charisma score.
- Actors and other Celebrities – these usually have high Charisma. In the case of Britney or Lindsey, their recent personal problems show low Wisdom, as well as a shift to Chaotic Neutral alignment.
- “Psychics”, TV Evangelists, and the like – they all exhibit high Charisma as well, with the ability to read, persuade and influence people, especially people who have lower Intelligence and Wisdom.
- Bloggers – good bloggers would also have high Intelligence, and perhaps Wisdom, in order to build and maintain an ongoing blog with remarkable content. By the nature of the medium, they could have average physical Charisma and still be very successful.
Charisma Important in Real Life
While in the games I played, Charisma was never that big of a deal. My characters usually used all the other skills to get through the game, and when I was divvying out points from my allotted pool to each attribute, I would usually not give any to Charisma (unless I wanted to be a Paladin).
In real life, however, it would seem that having high Charisma helps a lot. As we can see, many profession depends on it. Indeed, Charisma is one of the things that gets you job prospects such as by networking with friends, and then even through the job interview process itself. If a supervisor had to choose between two equally skilled competent workers to promote, she would probably choose the one with higher Charisma (ability to get along with others, to talk, to be a team player, etc.)
Of course, we also need our Intelligence and Wisdom, and depending on the job, Strength, Dexterity and Constitution in varying degrees. And we all have these attributes, and can work on improving many of them.
I just find it interesting to start looking at people in the way sometimes, just as a little exercise in character analysis, and a little bit for fun.