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Ask Josh: The Fantasies of Our Lives

by / 0 Comments / 27 View / July 8, 2015

So, I deal with all these people posting about how they “deserve better” and that people should treat them a certain way because of who they are or where they’ve been, but I kind of take offense to that. So what do you think about people who feel this weird sense of entitlement? I’ve run into a lot of “I’ve been through x trauma while you just went through y trauma, so you wouldn’t understand” kind of situations. The whole soldier/civilian thing comes to mind more often than not. Am I the only one put off by these hyper-aggressive and often hypocritical statements from my friends? Shouldn’t it be a level playing field?
-Gabriel, Killeen

It depends actually. Are those people merely bemoaning the fact that their lives aren’t idyllic and don’t always make for nice news feeds? No one really achieves that of course. “Deserving better” isn’t the best way to express discontent either; no one is guaranteed happiness, unfortunately. I do think people deserve a modicum of respect and dignity, however, and maybe your friends aren’t getting that?

I absolutely treat people a certain way based on my history with them and what they’ve been through. Going beyond the in-jokes and mannerisms that I’m used to with certain people, I also consider their temperaments and their sore spots. Some people I know need to be treated delicately in order for my messaging to come across effectively, others more bluntly.  It’s more important to me that people receive the ideas I communicate to them than how I actually express them. I also recognize that while I have empathy, it can only get me so far; I’ll never really understand what it’s like to be some people, so I try not to speak their authority.

I’m not entirely sure how entitled your friends are. If they’re going to whine about their superficial wants, discomforts and inconveniences, then they’re babies and you should probably drop truth bombs on them, if not cut them out of your life entirely. Regarding the “soldier/civilian thing,” if you really know soldiers who act holier than thou, then you should probably ignore them and try to exert the least amount of energy doing so. Seriously, elitism isn’t worthwhile. However, if you have friends who have become despondent, then you want to get them to articulate why, if you actually value those friendships. But the playing field, as you put it, was never level to begin with. People are often the victims of their own circumstances.

When are you and Josh going to do D&D again?
-Albert, Belton

Oh! Uh, well, when we have time. I’m pretty busy with my two jobs and extracurricular activities at the moment, while Yearwood just landed a new gig. But let me take the opportunity to talk about that wonderful game here! You didn’t get the chance to play with us last time, but that was a modern urban campaign I was game mastering (or GM’ing) based on, of all things, The Wire with a little House of Cards, Sherlock, and a few cyberpunk elements thrown in. That lasted a few sessions before real life ensued. Here are a few notes to help ensure your tabletop roleplaying experience won’t succumb to this!

As a player, even a new one, just try not to stress it. You only really need to bring your imagination and your dice. Have a very strong sense of who the character you want to play is, and let the background you create for them inform your behavior and actions. My own GM character for this was a gonzo political blogger who moonlighted as the de facto head of militant activists. Yearwood played a homeless girl who beat people up with MUSIC. Dre was an MMA fighter caught up in a murder mystery.

Don’t sweat the convoluted mechanics of combat, since your GM and/or the more experienced players at the table should be guiding you through this. Try not to think of the game as having to memorize a college textbook of abstract rules as much as it’s just a round robin storytelling and playacting session. I’m a more combat-light, roleplay friendly GM as it turns out. Don’t overthink this, or you will burn out. As a GM, you’re responsible for a lot of prep work. However, if you actually enjoy being inside of your head and are confident that your imagination is entertaining enough to hold the attention of a small group of friends and friends-of-friends (no bigger than four, maybe five), then you should be fine.