Please, as soon as this hit the internet, you knew I was going to talk about it, right? It's about Dungeons & Dragons as well as the Olympic Gods; how can I resist? For those not curious enough to click the link, it leads to a wonderful post by Pthelms about Ares being the patron Theos of the tabletop role-playing game.

I think there is an overabundance of Pagans playing D&D, simply because it's one of the earliest places you can shout out 'I worship a whole pantheon of Gods', and no one will look at you funny. All their characters do, after all.

In one of my very early posts, I wrote about how much I learned about (polytheistic) religious life through playing Dungeons and Dragons. If I had never started playing D&D, I doubt I would be where I am in my religious path. I owe that game and its creators a lot. More than I probably am aware of myself.

At any rate, I have studied the Dungeons and Dragons version of the olympic pantheon (page 99 and on), and it makes a lot of sense. It's a simplified, 'Olympos for dummies', version of the pantheon and while it leaves out hundreds of Theoi, it gets the job done of conveying the gist of the characters of the Deathless ones.

Players of any game, but tabletop RPG's especially, will know that the dice are fickle, and any trick that has had effect in the past to influence its roll in a positive way will be used time and time again in case of an important roll of the dice. For us, that usually involved reserving one D20 for Very Important Rolls and keeping that one in our bras 'till the time came to use it. Don't knock it until you try it, we've brought down Dragons with those dices.

A little while ago, I posed a question to my readers: which Theoi would oversee the modern marvels? The 'would' got a lot of flack over at PaganSquare because it people who had never read my blog assumed I don't really believe in the Theoi. That's not why the 'would' is in there; the 'would' is in there because it's hubris to assume anything for the Theoi, and I'm not getting into a UPG war over the patronage of the internet, thank you very much. At any rate, Pthelms' post on D&D gives me a chance to examine my Dungeons and Dragons experiences in relation to the Theoi.

I like Ares as the creator of D&D--and I'm sure He relishes in the battles--but I'm pretty sure that Athena would be a far more likely candidate for the creation of D&D. Just look at the amount of rules involved in the game, the tactical combat with its flanking rules and twelve step program to grapple someone. Ares would bring the passion a player can feel about the game; the fear and excitement that comes from running into an air mephit at level one and knowing--by heart--what its stats are. The absolute horror when running smack square into a black dragon when you didn't get to finish your fifteen rounds of magickal boosting. That's Ares' domain.

I can probably tie any of the Olympians to the game; Hestia when you all come together to play, Aphrodite when characters fall in love, Athena when large scale battles are planned, Hermes when the dices fall, Zeus when quests are given and accomplished, Apollon when you write your SITREP or play a bard who writes his own songs or poetry about the adventure, Demeter who takes care of the munchies, Artemis when you slay a foe in honest battle, Hera when your party becomes in sync, etc.

Especially back in the day, my focus was on Athena, and I've sent quite a few prayers Her way for guidance on game situations which seemed unsolvable. I channeled Her for a lot of my party leader characters, and I swear that without Her guidance, I would have gotten a good few characters killed. Yet, when the time for planning was over, and the dices came out, it was Hermes I prayed to. The trickster God with the ability to make or break a roll. I still do. The air mephit example above? That's a recent one where I got a critical roll after praying to Hermes. It saved our in-game lives.

The Theoi are everywhere you allow Them to be. I hope that They look down upon our D&D games like a modern day, less lethal, Troy. They get to pick sides and watch us squirm as They make or break our luck. I hope They inspire Dungeon Masters to challenge players, and then come through for us when all hope is lost. That's how I play my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, and it's part of the reason why I love--and miss--it so very much.

*Hestia symbol taken from: Wizards of the Coast