I’m a Level 20 Mage Half-Elf. And You Are…?
Roll up a character! It’s D and D time! Oh, you prefer Champions? Okay. Or perhaps some Deadlands for some flavor? Yes, I’m talking about gaming, table-top role-playing. If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically pretending to be someone you’re not and imagining a storyline that’s not really happening (save for inside your own mind) . You can fly, fight, and throw fireballs at people. It’s fun, really. But, it’s not reality, or is it?
Depends on what you consider reality. Is imagination reality? Well, who cares about the mind’s eye, hmm? Oh…did you say, we do? Well, this isn’t an article about gaming, but it is about power play.
In gaming though, we have something called the “power gamer” or “munchkin.” They know every tiny detail of every single edition known to man. They brag about it. They pull out the book and quote the paragraph and page number. “No, you can’t be a such-n-such in 2nd ed. It’s in the rules!” Anything to make someone feel down. More importantly, to make them feel superior and get their way.
Why do people do this? People in the magical community do it too.
“I’ve been practicing for 10 years now, how about you?” says the older Witch to the newbie.
I say this because I caught myself saying just this. (I just did it now in the article, but never mind that. It was for the point) I was talking to someone a few weeks ago. We were discussing more in depth about how we worked energy and craftings. I have been somewhat reclusive lately so I was honestly a little overly excited.
I realized I said this exact phrase to someone even though I knew he hadn’t been practicing too long. I wanted him to recognize that I knew what I was saying. I didn’t allow myself to be heard on my own merit, and I really wanted him to listen, so I said it. I knew it’d get his attention. It was pride. It was also manipulation of a sort. It is also a lesson I had to learn.
But, did I say it automatically with no real focus on wanting to feel superior? That’s also possible. Just an innocent comment. What else do you say when you’re trying to explain what you do and how you got to where you are? I seriously don’t know for certain whether I said it just because I wanted to share something I was proud of, whether or not I wanted him to feel on a lower rung, or it could have been just some sort of random bit of information that flew out of my brain onto my hands and into my keyboard where it was sent threw AIM to another person’s attention.
I’ll never know for sure. I can conjecture. I think I wanted attention, and that is a dangerous thing. Pride. Pride and fear. I was afraid that I would be rejected by someone whom I had a chance of being able to Work with. Reaching out is a frightening possibility when you know what it feels like to be discarded by others.
We all know this feeling, have felt it at some point in our lives.
“I’m a 2nd level Gardnerian Wiccan.”
“I’ve been practicing Reiki for 25 years.”
But, I ask you, are you good at it? I say this because what I said to someone made me start thinking. Well, it made me continue thinking on something that I’ve been pondering for a while. Thanks to my friend Jason J., I started contemplating the idea of “Those who know do, and those who can’t, teach.” Or in this case blab.
I’m not a High Priestess of anything. I’m just me. I don’t want to be on a high horse, I don’t like me there. I’ve found that those who know do. So true this. They don’t explain how they do it. They don’t need to. And as Terry Pratchett says, “The natural size of a coven is one.”
I suppose that’s why there are so many solitaries. People want to do what they want to do, just like in everyday society. However, there’s prestige in fancy names. Hence the title of the article. “I’m a Level 20 Half-Elf Mage, And You Are…?” Right smug if I should say so myself.
Now, people in covens aren’t like that. I’m talking about the magical munchkins specifically. Every coven, every Witch, every Practitioner should be rated on themselves. Every Witch is a solitary in the end, because we’re all alone in the end. It’s not sad either. We are social animals. We like being with others, sharing other ideals. That’s why religion is such a big deal. People want to feel supported.
More people to travel with on this journey called life. Or, they want to know that they are right. They want to feel a feeling of “I’m not alone.” Well, it’s nice and all, but it’s not forthright. Not entirely. The reason it’s not a sad thing to be alone is because it is a neutral thing. It is just a fact of life and death. Only you can live your life. Only you can be what you are. If you’re loud and rude about what you’re doing, maybe you’re doing it wrong.
But when to speak up?
Well, that is a question. We’re supposed to keep silent about our ways, even if there are books about it and people eating it up like the next new thing. Still, I think, that you should help those that need help. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sometimes it’s good to get out there and dig in the trenches.
I made the mistake of saying what I did, because if he needed help he would have asked. Still, people aren’t smart creatures. You know we aren’t. Individuals are at times. So, take it slow. Don’t be all “I know this because…” It’s just talk.
Lead by example. It’s bound to sink in sometime that you know a little somethin’ when it comes to whatever you’re good at. Despite the fact that people want to be straightforward, it doesn’t work that way. We have to use social cues.
Don’t volunteer information so freely, or you’ll look desperate. People are suspicious of free things. Basically, don’t-give-it-up-on-the-first-date type of mentality. Listen. You learn so much more by listening. But now that’s out of the way and you’re not going to go out of your way to explain how much knowledge you have, lets deal with those who do.
Well, you have options, which is good. The magical munchkin likes attention. Take that away and you take away their power. Your absence is their kryptonite. Well, at least it’s a start. Others might not be so aware that what their saying is just for attention and not helpful in any way. Or is it?
I suppose munchkins have their place in this world. If you do want to know something that you just don’t want to look up, you could ask them and they’d most likely know (if you trust them as a good resource of course) . A property of a rock, astrology sign, Horus’ favorite flower, etc. So long as you expect them to try and reel you in with their oh-so-spiffy image as all-knowing, you can nip it in the bud. Short and sweet is how I’d recommend.
Also, don’t let them drag you down. They may be the loudest of the crowd, but there are others out there like you just looking for someone to hang with, discuss technique with, or perhaps perform rites and spellcraft with. So, just remember, we’re all human…but allow yourself to be picky.
But, what about the munchkin in question? Should we leave them in the wind? Alone? I’ve always figured that we are sponges of a sort a great deal of the time. We mirror others. Would you want to mirror someone that was so smug? If you are by chance friends with one, you can only be yourself and hope that some of you comes off on them. Just keep yourself in check.
Now, in gaming, munchkins are laughed at. In the magical community, it is somewhat the same. People are suspicious of free things, remember? But, remember that not everyone is seasoned. Not everyone in the community knows that a magical munchkin is a pariah of sorts.
Yep, I’m talking about those new to the Craft with more naivety than street smarts. They would most likely go toward a person who seems to know the most. That would either be a) the loquacious munchkin lacking practical knowledge or b) the charismatic mystical leader (that is a munchkin in his or her own right only concerning how to ‘handle’ a coven and look cool) . Either way, this isn’t exactly very good.
I know; who are you to choose friends for them? It’s just good to not let their only options be a power-hungry/drama-filled priest/ess or someone that could drain all of their excitement for learning by force-feeding them superiority-filled gloat. They’re new, they don’t know.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you were the normal friend? The reliable friend? Or maybe just add to your reputation as a good guy? Instead of being larger than life…erm… 20th level whatnot, just say, “Hi, my name is _____.”
Compassion, by far my favorite virtue. What? It’s not on the list? Oh well. Still…
Pride isn’t confidence, and to be good at what you do doesn’t need a title to make it true. And prestige is overrated.
Terry Pratchet “Witches Abroad”