Saturday, August 2, 2014

Magick & Munchkins

{Author's Note:  This is one of my Shadowrun Rants.  Some of this stuff is seriously dated.  There is a lot of RPG jargon in it. The definition of a munchkin from Wikipedia: In gaming, a munchkin is a player who plays what is intended to be a non-competitive game (usually a role-playing game) in an aggressively competitive manner. A munchkin seeks within the context of the game to amass the greatest power, score the most "kills", and grab the most loot, no matter how detrimental their actions are to role-playing, the storyline, fairness, or the other players' enjoyment. The term is used almost exclusively as a pejorative and frequently is used in reference to powergamers.  Powergaming, specifically min-maxing almost breaks the rules trying to make the most powerful character with the minimal points}

One thing that has driven me absolutely bonkers in Shadowrun is how Munchkins view Magick. Most want to play the dark manipulative master, who wears all black, everyone respects and fears or they play the down right combat monster mage from hell.  Yeah Right.  When they do play shamans which in my experience is rare they go for the Totems that illicit fear and foreboding. For example I have seen them play the following totems Raven, Wolf, Tiger, Wolverine, Lion, Griffin, Gargoyle, Owl, Shark and etc.  I have yet to see them play something like Dog, Mouse, Raccoon, Beaver or Rat. They first look at the bonuses and the disadvantages and find the one who has the best combat or manipulation spell bonuses.  Then they look at the prestige of the Totem, very few would lower themselves to play say a Prairie Dog Shaman or a Squirrel Shaman.  Finally it is attitude; they want the Bad Asses, the ones whose symbolism instills fear and respect.

All Munchkin Magickal types want to be feared and respected. Funny thing is in the groups I have Gm'd and played in; they become the butt of the jokes.  Most of them are cardboard, no real background or they keep the character's background from the other players and characters.  I had one Munchkin Hermetic Mage in the past that blew the identities of his team mates on his Cable Vid Show. He also cut a deal with Lonestar (the Police in Shadowrun).  Let's just say at the time both player and character were not very popular.  One thing that is a problem is most of the Munchkin Magickal types are very selfish and do not understand what Shamanism is all about.

Shamanism is about serving one's community and Totem. Most Munchkins want their characters to only serve themselves.  The player who played the character I mentioned earlier played a Celtic Raven Druid who followed the Celtic Goddess Morrigan.  This Character, who I will call BattleCrow here, fled Tir Nan Og before his enemies could kill him.  The Player understood the service part but still had to play the closest thing to a Physical Mage at the time (1st Ed and Early 2nd Ed).  He ended up creating a gang of BattleCrow wannabes who he called the Chosen, they became his community.  However the chosen more often than not served BattleCrow than the other way around.  The Player in question had to be feared, respected and idolized.  Once again his characters fell into his usual trap.  If one plays a Shaman one must choose a community to serve.  One's Tribe, One's Neighborhood, or just one's immediate circle of friends.

Another point of contention I have is most Munchkins do not get the Totem/Shaman Relationship.  When I posted my Call Of the Wild article, I had one young Munchkin ask why didn't I say instead of losing all one's magick for misbehaving just allow the Character to be a Hermetic Mage.  I tried to explain that it is a  punishment that the character becomes a Mundane for blowing it.  A character must not be rewarded for not following his totem, so when he loses it all it should be ALL. No Magick.  He becomes blind to that part of him and it is meant to be a bad experience, almost self destructive.  Now I did not come up with all of this from my imagination. I read much of Shamanic Lore and learned that this was the least of the typical punishments.  Most Shamanic Cultures say if a Shaman loses his magick he dies.  This is due to how magick is tied to the complete essence of the Shaman.  To disobey one's Spirit Teacher is to pay the ultimate price according to Most Shamanic Cultures.  In the Article I do have rules to get another Totem, but the road is hard and rough.   The Shaman has to prove to the Totem that they have REALLY learned their lesson and WILL NOT REPEAT their previous mistakes.

Most Munchkin Shamanic types I have seen hate any restrictions and will fight rules like those covered in Call of the Wild.  Most of the Munchkins I know though are good role players and when they take a Totem they follow the Totems restrictions and personality.  But some of them have not understood the nuances of some of the Totems. Among many Native American Tribes Wolf is seen as the Elder, Teacher and Mentor, not just the Hunter and Warrior many portray.  When Playing a Shaman I suggest you try to find out the symbolic meanings of the animal see what all that the Totem could encompass.  When I did it I learned more than I thought I ever could about Shamanism and Totemism.

Well that is my not so Humble Opinion.

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