Saturday, February 22, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Dervish (d100)

Here’s a Monster entry that hasn’t aged too well. It really shines a steady light on the whole “armchair history buff” roots of the hobby. Dervishes are quite obviously based on an over-simplification/misunderstanding of real-world counterparts, and when these kinds of clumsy stand-ins are used in this way, the reductive treatment has a high likelihood of only ending up troubling and insensitive. This is a true shame, because Lawful opponents can be a refreshing change of pace over more monolithic “Evil” and the pervasiveness of Chaotic foes.

I suppose if you need zealous Holy Warriors, then this entry can fit the bill. Curiously, you could simply substitute the more occidentally-inclined appellation “Crusader” here should your setting need something similar and run them without any modification. Stereotypes and tropes, sides of the same XP coin and all that.

The primary situation that encounters with Dervishes seem designed to scrutinize is the implication is that not all Lawful alignments are the same. World-building-wise the undertone is that there are factions/cultures that exist in the world that may have a different interpretation of Lawful behavior from the characters.

A run-in with Dervishes as written tries to facilitate exploring these differences through exaggeration and over-simplification. This is something the Good/Evil axis in later games seeks to unscramble but usually ends up muddling by only creating even more boilerplate behaviors. I do find it curious that the intended interaction seems to only really be possible thanks to the much-maligned Alignment Languages (I absolutely adore them…anything that puts words in the mouths of Monsters is awesome in my book, but that’s really something better saved for a future post).

Moral quandaries can be fun to pose to some players at some tables, but I don’t think they are as satisfying when they end up being as one-dimensional as these. But my goal remains to do a table for each Monster entry, distasteful warts and all:

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