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Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy: Read and Gain Advantage on All Wisdom Checks

Christopher Robichaud (Editor), William Irwin (Series Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-118-39762-6
240 pages
September 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy: Read and Gain Advantage on All Wisdom Checks (1118397622) cover image

Description

Do demons and devils have free will? Does justice exist in Menzoberranzan? What’s the morality involved with player characters casting necromancy and summoning spells?

Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy probes the rich terrain of philosophically compelling concepts and ideas that underlie Dungeons & Dragons, the legendary fantasy role-playing game that grew into a world-wide cultural phenomenon. A series of accessible essays reveals what the imaginary worlds of D&D can teach us about ethics, morality, metaphysics and more.

  • Illustrates a wide variety of philosophical concepts and ideas that arise in Dungeons & Dragons gameplay and presents them in an accessible and entertaining manner
  • Reveals how the strategies, tactics, improvisations, and role-play employed by D&D enthusiasts have startling parallels in the real world of philosophy
  • Explores a wide range of philosophical topics, including the nature of free will, the metaphysics of personal identity, the morality of crafting fictions, sex and gender issues in tabletop gameplay, and friendship and collaborative storytelling
  • Provides gamers with deep philosophical insights that can lead to a richer appreciation of D&D and any gaming experience
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Table of Contents

Abbreviations Used in the Text viii

Introduction: A Game Like No Other 1

Part I Lawful Good vs. Chaotic Evil 5

1 Sympathy for the Devils: Free Will and Dungeons & Dragons 7
Greg Littmann

2 Paragons and Knaves: Does Good Character Make for a Good Character? 23
J.K. Miles and Karington Hess

3 Is Anyone Actually Chaotic Evil?: A Playable Theory of Willful Wrongdoing 35
Neil Mussett

Part II So Did You Win? Philosophy and D&D Gameplay 61

4 Save vs. Death: Some Reflections on the Lifecycle of PCs 63
Christopher Robichaud

5 To My Other Self: Reflection and Existentialism in Dungeons & Dragons 72
Rob Crandall and Charles Taliaferro

6 Player-Character Is What You Are in the Dark: The Phenomenology of Immersion in Dungeons & Dragons 82
William J. White

Part III Crafting Worlds 93

7 Imagination and Creation: The Morality of Fiction in Dungeons & Dragons 95
Robert A. Delfino and Jerome C. Hillock

8 Dungeonmastery as Soulcraft 106
Ben Dyer

Part IV Foray into the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance 119

9 Menzoberranzan: A Perfect Unjust State 121
Matt Hummel

10 Who Is Raistlin Majere? 132
Kevin McCain

Part V The Ethics of Spellcasting 145

11 Expediency and Expendability: An Exhumation of the Morality of Necromancy 147
Matthew Jones and Ashley Brown

12 By Friendship or Force: Is it Ethical to Summon Animals to Fight by Your Side in Dungeons & Dragons? 163
Samantha Noll

Part VI Dungeons & Dragons out in the Real World 173

13 “Kill her, kill her! Oh God, I’m sorry!”: Spectating Dungeons & Dragons 175
Esther MacCallum-Stewart

14 Berserker in a Skirt: Sex and Gender in Dungeons & Dragons 189
Shannon M. Mussett

15 “Others play at dice”: Friendship and Dungeons & Dragons 202
Jeffery L. Nicholas

Contributors 217

Index 223

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Author Information

Christopher Robichaud is Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he teaches moral philosophy, political philosophy, and social epistemology. He has contributed to the Wiley Blackwell volumes Batman and Philosophy, Superman and Philosophy, Watchmen and Philosophy, X-Men and Philosophy, Heroes and Philosophy, Spider-Man and Philosophy, Iron Man and Philosophy, Avengers and Philosophy, True Blood and Philosophy, and Game of Thrones and Philosophy.

William Irwin (series editor) is Professor of Philosophy at King’s College. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as co-editor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen titles including House and Philosophy, Batman and Philosophy, and South Park and Philosophy.

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