Friday, December 01, 2006

Dungeons and Dragons' Oversoul

My son left his D&D magazine open for me to an article on the Oversoul, the name of one of the many deities in the D&D world. The article contained the distinctive D&D art, and references to many things I only vaguely understand. ("Humans comprise the largest group of Oversoul followers, by a huge margin, but...Githzeari make up the second largest racial group among worshipers, followed by half giants, elan," etc.) However the purely theological parts of the article were remarkable, fleshing out, so to speak, a Process Theology deity, complete with creation story and comments about worship. The Oversoul has both developed with and guided creation and evolution, a process which is not completed. With each expression of the fragment of itself which is an infidels life, it learns.

The Oversoul looks like serenity. It's symbol is a set of concentric circles. Students of the Oversoul learn first the art of Meditation, then learn to seek the truth beyond the obvious and to question everything, especially himself (sic). Oversoul temples tend toward elegant simplicity, vary often incorporating natural surroundings. Birth and Death are marked by ritual, as they are believed to be the times when individual souls leave and return to the oversoul. The ritual at death involves the telling of the stories of the deceased, especially the sharing of stories by persons who knew the deceased in different parts of life.

It all sounds so eerily like the beliefs of many Unitarian Universalists that I wonder if the author (one Matthew J. Hanson) is one of us.

And it reminds me that I really do believe that our entire RE problem of what to do with our boys aged 12-19 in Sunday school could be solved by using the D&D world to teach philosophy, religion, our values, moral decision making. If someone did this, I think we could have very popular RE programs that kept kids engaged literally for hours and would teach them far more than they are learning now.



UUpdater said...

I think it's a great idea. What would it take to get a "curriculum" put together? How serious are you about this?

penguin said...

Well, it is indeed a great idea. In response to the first comment, and as a DM, I'd recommend against an immediate curriculum, since I approach D&D as a free-form, collaborative effort.

I would start with a "regular" game to get all the kids in the groove of understanding the rules, flow of the game, etc. I'd present games of different styles: basic quest, mysteries, and moral dilemmas being the three I encounter most.

Then I'd start having classes that are seminars on writing modules. First with the entire group brainstorming. Then individual projects, with each kid selecting the "point" or "goal" of what they are creating and working with the leaders (regular GMs) to build that thing.

In this way, the kids would populate parts of the world and the rest of the class would get to go up against the creations of their fellows.

[use of the first person should not be construed as immediate volunteerism ;-]