Saturday, July 4, 2009

On Revolutions and Monsters

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States...
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Contained in these two quotes from the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence are two appeals to God — something we often forget about. The American Revolution is an anomaly, not only because it succeeded, but because it didn't replace a tyrant with another one. Whether or not we claim that the men who signed the Declaration and later gathered to write the Constitution are Deists, Christians, or whatever, these men had a Biblical understanding of humanity. They understood that we are fallen, that we are subject to sin, and that without God any endeavor is doomed to failure. One need only look a few years after the American Revolution and see all of these things born out in France — tyranny was replaced with tyranny, people were seduced by power, all of the ideals upon which the Revolution was built were trampled under foot as an entire continent suffered.

Like many Americans, I am enamored by revolution, by the underdog, and by the struggle against tyranny. It is for this reason, I think, that I find myself going back again and again to the Githyanki and Githzerai and trying to find some way to put them into my games. Theirs is a deliciously cool back story that fires my imagination every time I think about it; however, it is also a story of tragedy. 

I love the fact that Githyanki and Githzerai are human — mutated from long exposure to the Mindflayers and by their own sin, but human nonetheless. This makes their tragedy more real and closer to home. As slaves seeking freedom from harsh masters (and those masters being Mindflayers is a huge bonus), I can't help but be sympathetic. This struggle, however, has a tragic undertow. They succeed in throwing off their slavery to the Mindflayers, only to fall into the slavery of their own sin. As Chaotic and Evil beings, the unity that they found under the leadership of Gith is rent asunder, and they are plunged into a vicious civil war. Worst of all, their sin and their war threaten the rest of humankind. This is brilliant stuff. 

Great villains see themselves as the heroes of their own stories. The Githyanki and Githzerai have this in spades. Not only does this add a wonderful flavor to any adventure in which they are involved, but it also means that they are redeemable. It gives the players an option not usually available — to try and save the monster.

From a Christian perspective, this is the story of humanity sans God — one repeated over and over again in revolutions throughout history. We are capable of great things — such as unity and freedom. However, because we are subjected to sin, all of our accomplishments will ultimately fail. Only in God can we find true freedom and unity. Only in Christ can we overcome sin.

On this 4th of July may we all appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and have a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence. Happy 4th.


Knightsky said...

In my C&C campaign, one of the subplots involve the PC's eventually needing to return to the astral plane to help the once-human revolutionaries overthrow the rule of the Mind Flayers.

I'm not certain, but I don't think they've clicked on the fact that the female leader of the revolutionaries is named 'Gith'.

Timeshadows said...


I just found your blog today, and have been enjoying it thoroughly.

While I appreciate the general thrust of the topic, may I ask where the Githzerai are more sinful than other Humans?
Is it your view, that because they dwell in Limbo/are Chaotic Neutral, that they are more sinful than other CN Humans?

FrDave said...


I never said they were more sinful than other humans (we all sin), but rather that as Chaotic Neutral that they have embraced sin as way of life. This is the way the Dungeon Master's Guide describes Chaotic Neutral:

This view of the cosmos holds that absolute freedom is necessary. Whether the individual exercising such freedom chooses to do good or evil is of no concern. After all, life itself is law and order, so death is a desirable end. Therefore, life can only be justified as a tool by which order is combatted, and in the end it too will pass into entropy.

The fact that good and evil are of no concern and that death itself is something desirable, demonstrates that the "absolute freedom" of Chaotic Neutrality is actually selfishness disguised as a philosophy. The Chaotic Neutral wants to be able to do anything they want, regardless of the consequences of their actions. Selfishness is in and of itself a sin — my needs, my desires, my anything is more important than those around me. Take a look at the 10 commandments. All of them require us to place others before ourselves.