My brother was in town last week, and our reflections on our AD&D days of yore led me to think about how the ethical/moral assumptions of our gaming group changed over time--at least, in regard to how what sort of characters we chose to play in AD&D.
Strangely, I don't know if we've ever felt the same way about as Trey morality. He writes that he began as a younger man intentionally playing heroes, and then attempted to play more "mature" anti-heroes in high school. When I first started playing, it'd been after the influence of various other fantasy games, replete with anti-heroes and difficult decisions. We'd never been overly influenced by the saccharine sweetness of "playing the hero," honestly. Our group in high school had been influenced heavily by Lord of the Rings but it was always the little guys that got our attention- the fact that Aragorn had a star-crossed relationship with an elf woman, and how Gimli had a running rivalry with that silly elf. How that one chick had a thing for Aragorn, and how a few brave men could hold the tide against many.
For us, it was never about trying to be "heroes" by being virtuous and just and fair, it was about being heroes by doing what needed to be done, even when we didn't want to. For us, D&D was more about duty than heroism; the town needs to be saved from ogre marauders, or a dungeon needs to be delved to clean out the goblins, or a demon needs to be slain. You must do it, or you will die with your kinsfolk.
|Better get the caskets ready.|
Maybe it's just because of the timing in the world, or because we all came from military families, but we always sort of had a different sense of morality than what seems to be the default. A lot of people, even today, declare that they don't allow evil characters because D&D is a "game about heroes." While that particular and peculiarly misguided notion is a subject for another day, we never felt the need to make such odd digressions. Nor did we really play with "Good" or "Evil" alignments until we played 3e where we ignored what it meant and played our guys mostly Neutral-something anyways. Chaotic Good rangers adventured with Neutral Good clerics, and with Lawful Neutral wizards fitting in behind them. It simply didn't matter to us, and it didn't affect our gaming in the least.
I apologize for the brevity, but your author is becoming ill :(