In the 80’s TSR made a valiant effort to draw kids into the world of role-playing through children's television.
I was a product of that effort, and enjoyed many glorious years of dungeon-bashing. But kids these days are a hard sell. They are hooked on soulless computer games and impersonal fantasy gaming consoles that are a mere shadow of the glory of table-top gaming.
So it is that in the modern day a new initiative has been implemented – to subtly write D&D character archetypes into mainstream children’s entertainment with the aims of subliminally drawing viewers back to the traditional fantasy tropes.
Here are a few that you may not have noticed.
Children’s entertainment is certainly not short on magic-users. My idea of an RPG wizard includes one devoted to the scholarly study of arcane lore, complemented by trial-and-error spell-casting experience in the field, but woefully inadequate in melee combat.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which would triumph in a duel.
Here is an additional example that is a little less archetypical and a little more ‘steampunk’.
When considering the ultra-Lawful ultra-Good paragon of virtue, the crusader of righteousness, two examples of the paladin archetype instantly spring to mind. Both exhibit endearing powers and wear at least a little armor.
Not paladin enough you say? Well how about a humble ever-do-gooder with a steed, that lays on hands, and has such a devout vow of poverty that, like Biblical Jacob, uses a rock for a pillow.
I’d like to see a new series where he carries a Holy Avenger.
Move over Tanis Half-Elven. Lay down your scimitars Drizzt Do’Urden. Say hello to the new names in the ranger class. These hero guardians of nature are well-versed in geographical and ecological lore, have the innate ability to communicate with animals, and an emotional connection to all living things.
Delving even deeper into the ranger archetype we have a duo of roving adventurers, equally connected with the terrain, both with animal companions, and one with a bag of holding any adventurer would kill for.
She could improve on her Spot skill though.
A Lawful Neutral Thief (yes, Lawful!), driven by avarice, with a secret so powerful that he has found a way to extort money from the entire unwitting population, aided by two unsuspecting minions; and a Chaotic Evil Thief bent on stealing the dread secret in order to wield it to his own nefarious purposes...
Or how about a Chaotic Good rogue in possession of a potent magic item with better enables him to carry out his schemes of trickery and deception?
What is a cleric? Is it simply a devoted worshipper of a life-giving entity?
Or is it one whose fanaticism is so devout that it allows him or her to perform feats of wonder by channelling the power granted from said entity?
Consider the possibility that we ourselves are subliminally learning the exploits of the Telepathic Evil Twin Priests of Loki, the god of mischief.
This virtuoso is part of a travelling troupe. Everywhere he goes he invites local lore-masters to share their wealth of literary knowledge. In fact, until he accumulates sufficient tales his own bardic abilities are severely hampered.
The druid’s connection to the earth exceeds that of the ranger, and they are far less militant. Completely neutral, they avoid conflict, and live only to serve the needs of nature.
Imagine a conclave of druids, whose oneness to nature grants them mystical power. And they have the power of Wild Shape.
Or perhaps you thought I was describing this program.
Long life role-playing!