In many ways, Dungeon Masters are the ethnographers of their own worlds. Granted, we’re not exactly interviewing the people who populate them, and we’re inventing most of the traditions and customs out of the content in our own imaginations. But when it comes to building a narrative about people and their ways-of-being, there isn’t all that much difference between narratives of “a” world and narratives of “the” world. This is something we actually have in common with fiction writers as well. Ethnographies share, to an extent, certain characteristics of novels; such that both the author and the anthropologist are setting out to involve their readers in a particular time and place, with a particular group of people (set up as pseudonymous dramatis personae), all who will hopefully tell us something about ourselves in the end.
Anthropologists and Dragons
I surprised myself by not hesitating. Spinning around, I headed straight back toward one of those that had followed us into the alley—a woman in dark robes, eyes barely visible beneath a dark hood. I barked a threat, telling her to turn around and walk away. She snarled a retort that we should hand over the object or else. Seeing no other choice, I drew my sword and plunged it deep into her chest.
Saying No to the CIA… and Other Anth Fantasies
It doesn’t go without saying, so I’ll say it: I’ve never worked for the CIA, or done any intelligence or security work of any kind, nor would I. But all through my years living abroad, in Indonesia and Australia, I harbored a secret fantasy, that maybe, one day, I would be tapped.