It was late in the campaign. I was playing a bombastic sort of PC t̶o̶t̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶r̶i̶p̶p̶e̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶f̶ ̶o̶f̶ based loosely on Dr. Orpheus. I’d been struck permanently blind by an evil cleric.

“Nooooo! Mine eyes! Tell me true: have we emerged victorious?”

“Yeah. The cultists are dead.”

“By the black river that flows betwixt here the hereafter… We live to tell the tale!”

“Sure man. Whatever. You want us to take you to a temple or something?”

“Pray do.”

Up to that point in the campaign, I’d been a decidedly neutral sort of PC. I’d cast animate dead enough times to raise a few eyebrows, and had a near-miss with a paladin that took exception to my methods. I figured that I was being generally heroic enough to keep from slipping into full-on Evil, but the question of animating dead had been a quiet presence throughout the campaign. I guess my GM was paying attention to that character arc, because the closest temple belonged to the campaign’s death goddess. She wasn’t much of a fan of undeath.

“Why should I restore your sight?” asked the temple priestess. “You who commit such blasphemy deserve no blessing from the Lady of Graves.”

I’ll spare you the drawn-out conversation that followed. You’ve probably seen threads like it elsewhere, along with the super-interesting and very-original idea of using undead labor for the common good. Suffice it to say that Kant, utilitarianism, and Star Trek quotes all made it into a lineup of Greatest Hits from Philosophy 101.  In retrospect, it wasn’t a very interesting conversation. The rest of the table was getting antsy to move on to the next adventure, but I was super into-it. It was a spotlight moment. Major drama! Here was a chance for my character to make a Moral Decision.

“Very well. Henceforth I shall forswear the use of such fell magics.”

“Then open your eyes,” said the priestess.

My GM described the miraculous process of my vision coming back. The first sight I saw was of the temple’s magnificent stained glass windows, and in-character, it was a moving religions experience. It was also the moment where my own self-importance met the rest of the table’s irreverence.

“Ye gods!” I cried. “When I first came here, I was truly blind. But now—”

“Dude, are you really quoting ‘Amazing Grace’ right now?”

And thus my balloon was burst. There’s a reason that I identify with Wizard. I’m not too salty about it though, because I think I was going just a tad too hard on the philosophizing. You see, even though RPGs can theoretically handle any subject matter, I think that you’ve got to be careful when you’re going in for the heavy topics. It’s incredibly difficult to be deep and meaningful on the spur of the moment, and doubly so when the rest of the table just wants to stab the next monster.

In the typical D&D-style adventure game, I think it pays to go for introspection and profundity retroactively. Write a blog post. Do a bit of in-character journaling. At the table, make your character moment quick and painless, and definitely keep the Philosophy 101 stuff to five minutes or less. As with so many things in this hobby, it pays to know your table and read the room.

Question of the day then! Have you ever run into philosophical questions in your game? Did you dwell on them for multiple sessions and multiple hours, or did you yadda yadda your way through in order to get on with the adventure? Let’s here all about your accidental im14andthisisdeep moments down in the comments!


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