I want to present ten things I learned about evil from D&D. By D&D I mean “Dungeons & Dragons.” And by “Dungeons & Dragons” I really mean “Pathfinder.”
Number One: Evil Disrupts A Narrative. And by narrative I mean this “three-part structure” is my simplest way that I define a narrative. It is a story with three parts.
Number Two: Evil Breaks Up Parties.
Number Three: Seeing Things As Good Versus Evil Creates Information. Because creating categories of things and splicing things into categories inherently creates information. And this is kind of a data science concept that I’m applying here. But looking at everything as either good or evil creates something new to learn constantly. Everything can be constantly evaluated in the here and now. And so it’s constantly generating information. For we’re often forced to choose good in real life- I believe- and also in the game world. For functional and mundane reasons just to make the narrative “go.” But I feel like we’re forced to choose good a lot-in my opinion- kind of just for no reason. Kind of just because it makes things work.
Number Five: Evil Tends To Dominate A Narrative. In general, it tends to kind of dominate. And in the terms of a “three-part narrative” it tends to really dominate that last part of the narrative. Really changes that third act. And I think for that reason it can be seen as disruptive.
Number Six: Good Versus Evil Often Creates The Deus Ex Machina Scenario. Which is such a common motif in film. It’s one of the reasons I really don’t like a lot of contemporary films is because they rely so heavily on this rather dull motif. They don’t make it that interesting. But deus ex machina is kind of a lazy way to apply a game theory rule-breaking idea (i.e., the most generalizable single way to “beat any game” is to “break the rules”). The god from the machine (or literally the crane) comes down and sorts things out when you don’t know where else to go with your narrative.
Number Seven: Evil Elicits Negative Emotions, Perhaps Automatically. Evil elicits disgust on an automatic level, I wonder? That’s just sort of getting into deep thought territory here.
Number Eight: Does Evil Have A Necessarily “Individualistic Function?” Evil breaks up parties. Evil breaks up the functional relationship structure holding people together. So is evil necessarily a lone wolf type of phenomenon? I am not sure but my D&D experience makes me think perhaps it is.
Number Nine: If Evil Isn’t Real, Are Humans Just Animals Consuming One Another? The act of eating, consuming another person would no longer be evil for “just animals.” That’s just kind of deep thought territory full-on right there.
Number Ten: If Good Is Real Does It Work To Destroy Evil Necessarily? Is good versus evil this process- that if it becomes inactive or inert- it doesn’t exist anymore?
You know I’m getting a little abstract here. But that’s the only way I could comfort and reassure myself is to say, “Look, if good is real then won’t it ultimately work against evil?” Isn’t that all we really have?
So these are my thoughts on evil from my fun times doing some tabletop role-playing games.