Friday, November 28, 2008

Save our Minotaurs!

The minotaur is just misunderstood. It is just an animal that needs love and affection, just like we all do. The minotaur is really a heroic beast that was slandered by the Greeks, especially that villain, Theseus.

WHOOOAAA! STOP! Pull that nonsense bus over. What is this about minotaurs being good guys? What kind of garbage is this?

Canon is an interesting thing. It is different than methodology or mechanics, and clearly can be changed to fit the world, campaign or game system. It’s a bit different than style, although the two are easily confused. For me, the basic essence of canon is important. There is a bit of tradition built into canon. Canon after awhile can become its own mythology. I think when Gary Gygax initially penned D&D, he had a certain canon in mind, which was heavily influenced by mythology and the pulp sword and sorcerery of the 1900's. I will go on to say that the pulp sword and sorcerery was in fact heavily influenced by ancient mythology. Once could even go as far as to say that western civilization is significantly influenced by Greek and Roman mythology.

Now to bring this back around to my opening comments. In my mind, I have definite ideas on mythology and canon that resonate well with me. It is as if I have an internal conductor that plays a symphony that keeps everything in a certain harmony. I call this natural internal canon. This is what just feels right. Minotaurs as good guys does not feel right at all. I am very much aligned to the Greek mythology, and I really like what Game's Workshop did with their canon on the minotaur. They have coined the name Doom Bull for the war like leaders of minotaurs and their lesser beast men kin, and I like this idea a lot.

It possibly began with Dragonlance and it was present in Monte Cook's Ptolus that Minotaurs were a part of the natural background, and could be good guys. In fact one person mentioned that he wanted to have his minotaurs running an underground railroad of sorts to help fair maidens escape oppressive masters. Needless to say, this felt like nails across a blackboard. Minotaurs helping maidens? What???? Yikes! What is the world coming to? Next we will have cats and dogs living together.....this is truly terrible!

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all about mixing things up, but sometimes, bad guys need to remains bad guys. Now I get the appeal of Drizzt Do'Urden, and there is a certain fascination about the bad guys. But when traditional bad guys turn good, it feels a bit much. The occasional example is ok, but anything more just over the top wackiness. I would even go far as to say that truly rotten bad guys that remain truly rotten remain bad guys, is actually a good thing. I have teased my son that you can't have a good guy without a bad guy. Let the bad guys be bad guys!

I do recognize that I am going to have folks disagree with me, and I think that is what makes the discussion on canon all the more interesting. I think folks can get worked up on canon, and I think it has to do with the person's internal conductor and what resonates with them. I like my canon to be heavily influenced by traditional mythology, and I think the original canon penned up by Gygax remains one of the best synthesized canon that has ever seen print.

While there maybe some out there that like a tamer, more civilized sort of minotaur, I will take mine extra grungy, with a healthy dose of villiany!

"Minotaur" is Greek for "Bull of Minos." The bull was known in Crete as Asterion, a name shared with Minos's foster father. In Greek mythology, the Minotaur (Greek: Μῑνώταυρος, Mīnṓtauros) was a creature that was part man and part bull. It dwelt at the center of the Labyrinth, which was an elaborate maze-like construction built for King Minos of Crete and designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus who were ordered to build it to hold the Minotaur. The historical site of Knossos is usually identified as the site of the labyrinth. The Minotaur was eventually killed by Theseus.

Peace, love and minotaurs!

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