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Why a Setting with a Message Creates Peak Escapism

This somehow isn’t a popular opinion, but I like when there’s a message in my tabletop roleplaying. I like settings and adventures to be about something. Let me allegorically fight for a cause. Allow me to express my values through a fictional character. Help me to vicariously deal with real-world issues in the form of escapist entertainment.

I stay off of nerd social media because I got tired of the whole “stop using the thing you created to push your political agenda” crap. As if art hasn’t always been political. It wouldn’t surprise me if we someday learned that the Lascaux cave paintings in France turned out to be some sort of prehistoric protest graffiti.

“Oh no, creators are using comics and games and novels and TV shows and movie and photographs and illustrations and plays and music and (takes a deep breath) so on to express their thoughts and feelings about the world around them! Say it isn’t so!  If I have to learn about the lived experiences of people different than me, I might die!”

“Wait, people of color are writing about race issues! Women are writing about women’s issues! LGBTQ+ people are writing about LGBTQ+ issues! Health care workers are writing about health care issues! Puerto Ricans are writing about Puerto Rican issues! Where will this madness end! Other people existing is an attack on my existence!”

I say this with all of the politeness and professionalism I can muster: Just shut up already.

More voices means more people at the table, literally and metaphorically. It’s a big table with plenty of room for everyone. The problem is when there isn’t any room in hearts and minds for diverse opinions, representation, and new ideas. P

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Why a Setting with a Message Creates Peak Escapism

RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.