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Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Godfather Death, and the Fairy Godmother - Fairy Tales, and Role Playing Games with Godparents

In the world of fairy tales it is not uncommon for the protagonist to have an interesting godfather or godmother. The best known of these is the fairy godmother variant, a creature of great power the godmother would provide her godchild with great gifts as they needed it in life. Lesser known but for the purposes of RPG's perhaps more important are the godparents from "The God Father" and " The Godfather Death," for in these two stories the godparents are the devil and death himself (respectively). In both these stories the father resolves to ask the first person he meets on the street to be the child's godfather. "The Godfather Death" is in many ways the more interesting of these two stories, first because it develops the relationship between Death and his godson more then most any other fairy tale, and second because although the father has resolved to ask the first one he sees to be godfather he passes over god and the devil for he believes that both of these discriminate against the poor. Upon meeting death however he is happy for death treats all people equally, taking them as it is their turn to die.

Within role playing games we can take from this the idea that a person could indeed on rare occasions choose a godparent for their child, no matter what the parents normal disadvantages. It would be interesting to play a character with a godparent who provided them with some great gift, but who in return made demands that would be difficult to keep. In the case of the Godfather Death, the person knew how to stop Death from taking someone, but was told never to do this if Death stood at the persons head. However realizing that Death loved him the godson chose to ignore this, for he loved those who where dying. In role playing games this may not be as much of a challenge for the players for although their characters might be attached to someone the player may not be. Unless the player is able to more honestly play their character. And then what is it death might demand in return for the sparing of someone's life.

To take this idea a step further the godfather in an RPG could be an evil god, who waits until long after the character is good to provide him with his gift. Imagine the conflict of being caught between a godfather one has grown to love and the ideology and beliefs that the character holds dear. Again such conflicts require a good role player; however there is real value in such stories, for it is such conflicts that make fantasy so interesting. For within fantasy the conflict is itself invented and so is able to question much more deeply the reality in which we live just as fairy tales are.

Ty Hulse is helping to develop dragonsmeet.net as center for role playing games, where you can learn about the impact of fairy tales on RPG's, and about creating fantasy worlds for your role playing games.

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