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The Middle of the Road
[08/20/2002] [The Isolated Knight]

This weekend, I found myself doing something completely out of character... I enjoyed a ditch battle. Yes, yes, I know. I should hand in my card as a founding member of the East Coast Roleplayers Association and start being a muscle-minded tank brain who forgets about classes and just ditches all day. But you know what? I wonít. And the reason for this is the very good quest we had afterwards. Yes, people had to do double or triple duty as monsters. But we utilized every bit of our rather small park and the classes were made to use their abilities to the fullest. I played a War Healer for the very first time, and I think Iíve found it rather addictive.

So, in a sense, I guess Iíve finally found some balance, that Golconda between the Roleplayer and the Ditcher that very few ever seem to seek or achieve.

On the one hand, you have the people who like to fight. Nothing wrong with that, and the better I get at it and as people who are decent fighters themselves start complimenting me on my ability the more I find I enjoy a good warm-up ditch. But on the other hand, I also enjoy the in-character interaction between myself and another character. My party was able to avoid a fight with two Minotaurs and their Corrosion Beast pet. Sure, I tried to teach them about extending a line of credit. But the parley was fun and it kept us from whittling down the team before we faced the Manticore that was circling above.

Iíve got a few theories as to why the Hardcore Ditchers donít like class battles. The first is, of course, that they just don't enjoy it. No theory there, a simple statement of fact. But another reason might be that the class games they were in were poorly run or badly planned. This can turn anyone off a decent game. Maybe they fought in relatively few class battles in the past and they donít know how to interact, defeat or utilize the classes they oppose or have on their team.

To be honest, the last one is primary in my thinking right now because a lot of lands only ditch all day. Maybe they came out as Joe Newbie, took a look at the Rulebook and picked a class, like maybe Monk. Then some old-time ditcher said to them, ďAh, classes suck, itís all about the fightingĒ. Thatíd put a pretty big impression on a person who has this notion that weíre a Live Action Role Playing organization. Why else would we choose persona names, create histories for them with heraldry and give out noble titles?

On the other hand...

Role players are thought to be pretty geeky. Some speak in accents that arenít their own and come up with outrageous histories. How many people have you run across, dear reader, which have claimed to be either a half-dragon or descended from a dragon in your travels? Far too many, Iím sure. Or what about Crown Princes of far-off lands whose father wanted them to marry the ugliest woman in the shire, but he fled to a life at sea where he was made the captain despite having no skills as a seaman and then fought off an entire horde of Orcs single-handedly with only one arm because he was wounded? Iíve met just one regular guy persona. No grandiose made-up titles or unbelievable stupid persona history that even L. Ron Hubbard on one of his worst drinking shags couldnít make up. He was just a plain and simple guy named John the Farmer. Thatís it. And with his choice of persona name, he shamed many who have come up with elaborate family trees for non-existent people.

But, thereís middle ground. Both sides of the ďTo roleplay or not to roleplayĒ question have a problem with garb. Iíve seen a lot of high-level people not wear any sort of garb outside the minimum required belt or sash. One kid I knew wore t-shirts and jeans every week, and after being called down on it, he said, ďBut Iím a Techno-mage. Iím from the future.Ē I think we basically ignored the garb rule for him entirely. We require garb, but we donít enforce it. Some people say itís their persona, others canít be bothered because all of the A&S shit gets in the way of the ditch battle.

So, after all these years, I think I understand the stick-jock mentality as much as I understand the roleplayer mentality... both sides of the same game that have their own merits. I prefer to remain a roleplayer, but that doesnít mean I don't like to fight. It means I prefer to use my brain to figure ways out of things instead of always giving the other team my first dead. The middle ground has to be found in everyone, or else the game stagnates worse than it is and it will die, leaving only small pockets of people who enjoy a good fight as much as they enjoy a good mystery to solve.

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