Corey and Lori's Quest Log


Corey and Lori’s Quest Log

Posts Tagged ‘School for Heroes’

Those Who Can, Teach

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Those who Can, TeachTeachers rarely get much respect. The old joke goes, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I think that is backwards. Maybe it should read, “Those who can, do. Those who can and care, teach.”

You have heard the proverb, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.” Teaching a subject multiplies its value by the number of people taught, or by many more as they go on to teach it to others. If you care about something, don’t just do it. Teach it!

Moving Young Minds with a Mockingbird

I was inspired by this BBC News article on To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I haven’t read the whole book yet; I’ve just started reading it because of the article. Lori tells me Mockingbird was one of the most influential books she read as a child, and we still have her copy.

What really impressed me was the tale of the English teacher, Garry Burnett, as described in that BBC article. Mr. Burnett was so inspired by the book that he started a Mockingbird Festival in Hull, England. The week-long festival “was attended by actors from the… film adaptation…” according to the article.
Wait a second. A schoolteacher got American film actors to attend his school festival in England? That was a pretty extraordinary feat. Mr. Burnett cared about Harper Lee’s book, and he took action to share his passion with others.

Did Mr. Burnett spend a few weeks lecturing about To Kill a Mockingbird and explaining why it is an important book? No. He went far beyond the requirements of his job and inspired his students. He took some of them thousands of miles to visit the author’s home. He created an annual week-long festival to encourage young people to explore the book’s themes in depth. And just this week, his influence was extended worldwide by a BBC News correspondent, and I am reading that book as a result.

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I can move the world.” – Archimedes

What can one hero do in this age of mass communication? If he knows how to teach, one man can move the world.

Great Teachers Change Lives

We’ve all had good and bad teachers, some more memorable than others. Two who influenced my life were Mr. Herman (6th grade) and Mr. Cross (8th grade math.) in Abington, Pennsylvania. Some students considered both of them “mean” or tough, but to me they were inspirational. Without their influence, I might not have met Lori, and I probably would never have become a game author. I certainly would not be writing this blog today.
Mr. Cross introduced me to probability theory. That foray into “recreational mathematics” was one of the influences that later led me to major in mathematics at UCSB. I do not know if I would have become a computer programmer without that early push.

Mr. Herman ran his 6th grade class as a competition; students raced to complete math problems on the board, worked in pairs to practice spelling, and so on. He did not believe in mass-market teaching. If you finished your problems early, he kept you busy with “extra credit” assignments.

Since I was good at spelling, Mr. Herman had me go through an advanced SRA self-study program in reading and vocabulary. When I finished that, he assigned me a College-level spelling workbook. Finally, I got a week or two of free periods during spelling at the end of the school year. Mr. Herman taught me that there is no limit to learning, that study – and even spelling – can be fun. I didn’t know at the time how important that extra work would become. They don’t teach spelling in American schools after 6th grade, so that was my last chance to learn a skill that has been important to me throughout my life.

Communication is Key

My mentor at UCSB, Professor Max Weiss, liked to tell this story: “You can be the greatest problem solver of all time, but if you can’t share your discoveries with others, your work is worthless. A successful proof is one that can be communicated and reviewed by your peers.” In other words, mathematics is about teaching as much as discovery. If you can’t or choose not to teach what you have learned, the knowledge will soon be lost.

Today I read an AP news report about a Los Angeles 8th grade math teacher who had a problem. Fresh out of college two years ago, Lamar Queen heard his students say that his class was boring. They joked that it would be more fun if he taught in rap… not knowing that he had performed rap in high school and college. Lamar started teaching his lessons in rap, and the students listened and learned. Queen has “won a national award and shows teachers and parents how to use rap to reach children.” He now hopes to “make rap math a business”, creating a web site to expand the use of rap in education. That’s communication on two levels – with the students and with the wider world.

Help Create Heroes

The School for Heroes is our small attempt to spread some of the lessons about heroism that we began with Quest for Glory. Our audience is much smaller, but the interaction is much more personalized than we were able to achieve in the games.

We aren’t alone in this. Scott Farrell runs the highly-recommended Chivalry Today web site (http://chivalrytoday.com/. Scott, also known as “Sir Guillaume” in the SCA, started promoting his message of the importance of chivalry as a Knight (and now Duke) in the SCA. Since then, he has made teaching the art of chivalry into a passion. Besides the web site, he visits San Diego area schools to teach the lost art of chivalry. He also runs a Summer camp where students learn martial arts and the principles of heroism.

Aspire to InspireYou can be a part of the movement too. We all have skills, knowledge, and ideas that we can teach. The difference between a mere “doer” who affects a few nearby people and a teacher who affects dozens, hundreds, or millions is one of commitment. Do you have something valuable to teach? We think you do. Will you accept the commitment to share what you know? It isn’t really that hard. Start by writing an article for the Ars Heroica or by posting on the site of your choice.

When you see someone post a message you find valuable, help share it. Spend a few minutes commenting on their work. Post a link on another site. At first only a few people may see it, but if just a few of us help promote worthwhile messages, the word will spread. The ideals of heroism and chivalry can go viral, and then we will be teaching the world. It is up to each of us to care enough to make that dream become real. Be a part of the dream.

 

School for Heroes

The Art of War(riors)

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Patton MeepOn the surface, the brash, straight-forward Warrior seems like the easiest and most obvious character class to define. Examples of great Warriors abound – Genghis Khan, Caesar, Conan, Wolverine, Hagar the Horrible, Patton, Leonidas, and many others. (Okay, so some of these are greater than others.) We all know what a Warrior is and does…

Or do we?

When we think of a Warrior, it might be one of several images – the plate-armored “human tank,” the wild-eyed berserker, the big, dumb, fighter, or the calm strategist. Each serves an important role in battle, and each is a very different archetype. Here at the School, when we say Warrior, we mean Leader.

If you took the Hero Test and became a Warrior, you would rather do something than sit around. You crave excitement and adventure. You are decisive. Other people respect that and look to you for decisions and answers when the going gets tough. Our great Warrior heroes need the judgment of Right and Wrong and the heart and soul to choose the Right.

Leadership

Back in October, we wrote an article called Tribal Lore about a book called Tribes: We need you to lead us by Seth Godin. The concepts are powerful for everyone, but Warriors especially should read the article and consider getting the book.

Seth says, “The first thing you need to know is that individuals have far more power than ever before in history.” You don’t need a title to be a leader. You just have to be passionate about an idea and willing to do the work to help it spread.

Creating and sustaining a tribe is about leadership. More than any other class, the Warriors have the decisiveness, the vision, and the passion to be leaders.

No Substitute for Hard Work

The Warrior class may have some of the most difficult and challenging assignments in The School for Heroes. That’s because Warriors thrive on challenge and they know how to overcome obstacles. They don’t think their way around it like the Wizards, and they don’t sneak past it the way a Rogue might.

To a Warrior, finding a way around an obstacle is avoidance. They aren’t afraid of hard work when the goal is worthwhile.

Warriors see a problem, face it, and overcome it. They know that a challenge postponed is ten times harder than one handled immediately.

How was the Great Wall of China built? Step by step and brick by brick. If a task seems overwhelming, the Warrior breaks it down into manageable pieces, makes a plan, and starts working on it one piece at a time. If the project is too big for one Hero, the Warrior delegates, leads, and finds the people to get the job done.

Are Warriors the Best of the Best, or What?

Warriors in the School are pretty hot stuff. They’re confident, healthy, decisive, and charismatic. Nobody’s perfect though. It’s easy to go from “decisive” to “reckless.” Warriors sometimes act without having all the data they need to succeed. Somewhere along the line, a successful Warrior needs to learn control and balance as well as authority and power.

One of the most important parts of the Warrior curriculum is learning how to lead. Warriors are natural leaders because other people tend to follow the one who has a plan. However, to stay a leader, Warriors need to learn to listen, to compromise, and above all, to keep going when times are tough.

We might not succeed at every plan, but failure makes us stronger. Some of the greatest successes in history have come after equally spectacular failures. Be willing to be wrong, and be willing to adapt when the first try fails. Nike had a slogan, “Second place is the first loser.” We hate that saying, but that message is different to a Warrior than to other people. Here’s what it says to a Warrior:

“Second place is the best motivation to win the next time.”

Learn from your failures and grow. Maybe you just need a little more work, and a little better plan, to be a winner. Second place is pretty damn good, but being a Warrior is about becoming the best. Cherish your seconds and thirds, then do what it takes to become first.

“Never give up, never surrender, full speed ahead.” – Galaxy Quest

We don’t make it easy on our Warriors. One of the first Warrior assignments is to create a daily workout regimen and report on their progress after a week of following it. No other class gets a rank 1 assignment that they have to spend at least a week on before they can report it as done. It can be very easy for a new Warrior to look at the assignments, think “This is too hard,” and give up.

Give up? Even think about giving up? That’s no Warrior attitude! If they assignments are tough, that’s because we know you’re tougher! By working through them, you will become stronger.

And we need your strength. We need Warriors to help lead us into the future. More importantly, the world needs Warrior Heroes who lead with a conscience. Be that leader. Be a Warrior!

 

Sun Tzu Quote

The Entertainer – Bards in the School for Heroes

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Bards have a unique role in the School for Heroes. They tend to be outgoing, creative, and expressive. They preserve our tales for posterity and let the worlds hear of them today.

The Bard MeepTraditionally, Bards – also known as minstrels, troubadours – carried news from town to town and kept history alive by memorizing traditional stories. Others created original works of performance art to entertain their audiences in the days before books, TV and the Web.

Famous historical Bards included Taliesin, O’Carolan, and of course “The Bard”, William Shakespeare. They’re famous partially because some of their work was written down and actually survived into the present. It also helps that their work was very, very good.

What is a Bard to me? Here’s Corey’s story.

Love Is But A Song We Sing

I grew up in the 60′s listening to the music of The Beatles and Herman’s Hermits. By the late 60′s, the “conflict” (it had not officially been declared as a “war”) in Viet Nam was in full swing. Music – a blend of folk and rock-and-roll – was at the heart of the protest movement.

I discovered folk music when my mother took an adult school class taught by George Britton, a co-founder of the Philadelphia Folk Song Society. I started by helping her learn to tune, then discovered I really enjoyed playing the simple chords and singing along. I wasn’t very good, but the music touched my soul, and that was what mattered. My older brother, Barry, and I discovered a local coffee house and spent every Saturday night there listening to the singers and helping out.

Barry went on to become the folk music DJ at the University of Wisconsin radio station. I collected song books by Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and others. I joined the Vancouver Folk Song Society and learned how much more powerful the songs become when you sing them in a circle with everyone around you.

From Folk to Filk

A few years later, when I attended my first science fiction convention in Los Angeles, a young woman named Karen Willson sat in the lobby and sang her wonderful original song, “Ship Without Sails.” That was my first introduction to filk singing – the scifi/fantasy version of folk singing. The songs at a filk are based on Fantasy, Science Fiction stories, NASA, mythology, D&D games, and anything else people want to sing about. (Supposedly the word “filk” was coined when the editor of a mimeographed fanzine mistyped “folk” and the variation stuck.) Karen now runs a great Web site for girls, A Girl’s World.

Filk sings are also known as “Bardic Circles” and there’s a reason. Everyone takes a turn to perform and tell stories through their music. I got my dusty guitar out of the closet and began to play along. Nobody cared about my limited skills – They were just glad to have someone accompanying the music to keep everyone more-or-less on key. Science fiction writers like Mercedes Lackey, Gordan Dickson, Larry Niven, and C.J. Cherry occasionally joined the filksinging. Mercedes Lackey wrote a few of the best songs.

After I met Lori, we started going to the filk sings together, and they became as much a reason to go to a convention as gaming. Sure, some of the singers were terrible, but the sense of belonging and fellowship, the music, and the funny stories made each session unique and fun. We even wrote some Filk songs ourselves such as “The Mage who Lost his Glasses” and “I’m a Retriever.”

Around the time our son was born, filk music started becoming more professional and many singers were more interested in putting on a good performance than in connecting with the rest of the circle. The music got better, but filk lost a little of its heart. We moved out of the San Jose area and our priorities shifted away from filk music. We miss those good times, though.

The Music Man

The Washington Post did an interesting social experiment a couple of years ago. They arranged for Joshua Bell, a great classical violinist, to play six Bach pieces in a crowded Washington Metro station at rush hour on his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin.

A few people threw change into his violin case, most rushed by without even noticing. This is one of the world’s great musicians; two days earlier he performed to a packed house in Boston at $100 a seat. But people were not expecting great music in the subway and didn’t find time in their busy lives to listen.

Here’s a great video about Joshua Bell’s passion for music and – as we see it – what it means to be a Bard.

Being a Bard is about communicating – the message and the passion behind it. People were not prepared for Joshua Bell’s message in the Metro, and so they missed a rare – and free – treat. We hope that the words and songs of our Bards will not be as lost in the world. As a start, the rest of us in the School need to make sure we listen.

The Bards in the Band

When the How to Be a Hero Correspondence School opened its doors to students from Earth, there were no Bards. We had Warriors, Paladins, Wizards, and Rogues. But after a few unfortunate incidents in the alleys of Silmaria, the school council decided that having Rogues in a school for heroes was a little too edgy. The Famous Adventurer had to make the difficult decision to close the School for Rogues. In its place, the School would teach Bards. After all, all Rogues have a bit of a class clown in them, no? So why not turn them into acceptable members of society by teaching them to become Bards?

At least, that was the Famous Adventurer’s theory – before he heard some of the rogues sing. He began to think he had made an error in opening the School for Bards. Then came the first application from an actual Bard student. The difference between a true Bard and a pretend Bard is the difference between Joshua Bell’s Stradivarius and a kazoo. Today, actual Bards are just as important a part of the School as any other class.

In The School, we don’t require Bards to have magical ability… or even musical ability. What a Bard does need is the soul of a performer. They stand in front of an audience and tell stories or sing songs. They write poetry and prose or direct movies. Bards see deep into the human soul and find a way to touch the heart.

We look forward to hearing your stories and watching our Bards perform. We also hope they will invite us all to join their circles of music, magical tales, and wonderment. The Band of Bards is currently the smallest class in the school for heroes, but one of our most important. Our Bards will be the ones to spread the story of the school to the worlds… if we all share with them our own stories of heroism, learning, and fellowship.

Not a Bard

Happy Heroic Holidays!

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Well, it’s that time of year again when holidays abound. Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s Eve – There’s a festive occasion for almost everyone. Each of these events is a celebration of ancient traditions. They represent rebirth, renewal, and hope for the future. It’s a time for reconnecting with relatives and friends. It’s time to count your blessings and make commitments for your future.

Celebrations at the Ranch

Happy HolidayHere at the Flying Aardvark Ranch, we’re enjoying our holiday season. Lori managed to get out for a day to get some nice photos of the season at Western Sierra Nursery and did some art for the FAR Studio website. Our son, Michael, is home from his work in Lompoc, California for a few days. Lori, after agonizing over Michael’s low-carb diet, put off making the traditional sugar-loaded, fattening holiday cookies until now, and Corey apparently ate more than his share of them… but more likely the Evil Meep took a bunch just to make Corey look guilty.

Gifts were opened on Christmas Eve just as midnight came around because people couldn’t wait for morning. Lori got a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean” mug from Michael’s recent trip to Disneyland. Corey got a “School for Heroes” denim shirt from Hero Bazaar. Michael got the “Persona 4″ video game for the Playstation 2. It’s an interesting role-playing game about developing your skills and interpersonal relationships as a kid at a High School in Japan who fights Shadows in a strange shadow world. The game play is varied and the mystery underlying the game is intriguing. It’s a great game for anyone who likes heroic games.

Singing for Supper

We sing in a local choral group – Corey’s a tenor and Lori a first soprano – and for the holidays, we did a Christmas concert and caroling at a couple of events. We enjoy learning the harmonies and singing with the group. We sometimes have a little trouble with the better-known songs because we know too many parody versions. “Carol of the Bells” reminds us of Oxhorn’s World of Warcraft machinima version, “Hark, Hear the Wails”. Corey can’t hear “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” without thinking of the Star Wars parody version – “They know that Obiwan is on his way, carrying daddy’s light saber home on his sleigh.” But we manage to fight through it and usually sing the correct lyrics.

We had a little Winter excitement two weeks ago as a result of choral singing. The group had been hired by Tenaya Lodge, a wonderful local resort hotel about 25 miles up in the Sierra Mountains, to carol in their lobby. As we started up the hill towards Yosemite Park, snow began to fall gently all around. Having neither chains nor 4-wheel drive, we decided it would be incredibly stupid to keep going. So of course we did anyway. The concert was lovely – we sang in the foyer by the huge Christmas Tree and the blazing fireplace. Then, afterwards, we followed the snow plows back down the mountain through several inches of snow. We drove really, really slowly and had no luckily had no mishaps.

Last Sunday was the holiday concert. We were raising money to fund a free meal program. However, it was still a fun concert and everyone sounded very good… even when people got a little creative with their parts. Afterwards, we had supper at a local Mexican restaurant and the waitress insisted we sing some carols with her. A patron at the next table also threw in a special request. That and a Mastercard were enough to pay the dinner bill.

No School Break

Despite the busy time, we keep working on The School for Heroes. Lori makes sure the teachers get all of the assignments and then she posts the results. She creates art for the blogs and the website. Corey fixes bugs and adds features to the site code. The latest – Assignments are now broken down by level to make it easier to find current ones. You can now edit your “avatar” icon and tag line on your personal page. Honor awards for “charter students” (anyone who completed at least the first “mission” in 2008) and special awards for exceptional submissions now appear on the Personal Page as well. We will soon add school-wide assignments, available to everyone in the school. Corey is also gradually adding higher-level assignments as we work out which ones from the previous incarnation of the school still make sense four years later.

A Time for Reflection

This end-of-the-year holiday season is a great time for reflection and commitment. We tend to scoff at New Year’s Resolutions, but you know, if you really want to be a hero, think about taking them seriously this year. Pick two or three big changes you would like to make in your life and commit to them. If you say them as New Year’s Resolutions and repeat them several times during the day, you can begin your commitment. Repeat your resolutions to yourself each morning in front of a mirror and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish this coming year.

What is a New Year’s Resolution, Hero style? For Warriors, it’s a powerful commitment to definitive action. To a Wizard, it’s a form of Lesser Magic by which you turn dreams into reality. For a Paladin, it’s an opportunity to commit to helping others and doing good. Bards can use their resolutions as a rehearsal for the deeds of renown they will be performing throughout the year. And for the Rogues – Well, let’s just say that planning ahead is essential to succeeding in whatever wild plans you may have in 2009. And repetition of the goals and the plan are a great way to make sure you stay true to your goals under pressure when you are challenged.

We look forward to growing together with all of you in 2009. It’s a time for change, and we can work together to make those changes positive ones.

Sky Ball

Paladins – Those that Can, Do

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Over the next 6 weeks, with a little time out for the holiday blog, we will look at each of the five four schools in the School for Heroes. This week we look at the Paladin class, our second-largest class in enrollees and level 1 Initiates who have completed their mission statements.

What Was a Paladin?

When many of us think of “Heroes”, the image of the Paladin comes to mind. The word Paladin was first used to refer to the Knights of Charlemagne in romantic tales such as The Song of Roland. The “Knights of the Round Table” and of Medieval Europe were supposedly held to a Chivalric Code – the Seven Knightly Virtues of Courage, Justice, Mercy, Strength, Generosity, Faith, Nobility, and Hope. These were the sort of values the Knights swore to uphold and believe in before they were worthy of their title.

Have Gun – Will TravelIn the early days of television, there was a TV Western show called, “Have Gun – Will Travel” about a man named Paladin who was a “Champion for hire” and a “knight without armor” who traveled around the American West helping people with his Colt six-shooter and his Winchester rifle instead of a lance.

But it was Dungeons and Dragons that defined the modern Paladin as a Lawful Good warrior dedicated to serving his God as a Holy Warrior.

Lori has played a lot of Paladins in D&D games. From Karl, the boneheaded Ultra-uber “I am the leader by virtue of my God Heimdahl” in-your-face Paladin to Ekara Lita, the gentle protectress of women and children dedicated to the Finnish Goddess Ilmatar, to Fotheringay, the angst-ridden ‘never as good as he needs to be’ Paladin of Dianceht, Celtic God of Healing, she has explored all sorts of personalities who have only their Lawful Good beliefs in common. In D&D, you have to obey the Laws of Man and God, and you must always be unquestioningly good.

Then, in 1985, Richard Garriott created “Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar” – a computer game that was based on the Eight Virtues ethic system of beliefs. The virtues were: “Honesty, Compassion, Valor, Justice, Sacrifice, Honor, Spirituality, and Humility. It, and its sequel, “Warriors of Destiny”, inspired us a great deal to create Quest for Glory. Why? Oddly enough, because while we loved the character creation system which required moral decisions and we appreciated the virtues underlying the game, the actual game play was still basically ‘kill a monster, get its treasure” with the occasional stop at the local blood bank to donate blood to get your honor up. Not exactly our idea of heroism in action. As much as we enjoyed playing Fantasy-RPGs on computer, they were no match for a real D&D game. We thought there was a lot of room for improvement.

The Quest for Glory Paladin

Quest for Glory PaladinThe Quest for Glory version of the Paladin owes more to the Dungeons & Dragons Paladin character class than to Richard Garriott’s Paladin Avatar. However, Glorianna is a world without the ethics system of Good/Evil and Law/Chaos imposed upon the player. There was no major religion dominating the world. There was no such thing as a Holy Paladin, born to serve his deity. In fact, in the first three games, you couldn’t choose to play a Paladin. Your character became a Paladin through the course of the game by always making ethical choices and working for the good of everyone.

While the D&D Paladin is essentially a Warrior with some clerical “holy” abilities, we allowed characters of any class to become Paladins if they managed to do enough good deeds while avoiding any truly evil actions. It was most difficult for a Thief to become a Paladin as their sneaky nighttime activities often came at the expense of others. Nevertheless, a Paladin was defined by the actions he took and the good he did in the game.

So, What is a Paladin?

From the Paladin Lore page:
You are compassionate, forward-thinking, and devoted to doing the right thing… Above all, you love helping others and bringing a little light to the world wherever you can.

PaladinPaladins are the conscience of heroism. They are the ones who see problems and immediately work to fix them. The Paladin is a person who cares about other people and has the empathy to understand what they are feeling. The Paladin believes in personal growth and striving to become a better person. Unlike the D&D Paladin who lives in a world of Black and White with no moral ambiguities, the Paladin in this world needs to use his own common sense rather than firm rules to determine the Justice in any situation. Like the Quest for Glory Paladin, we live in a world where not all laws are fair, and not everyone who breaks the rules is ‘bad.’ The Paladin must learn to trust his own judgment.

The School for Paladins is called a Circle. There are five virtues to this Circle of Paladins – Strength to face the future and bear the burden of responsibility, Faith to believe in yourself and what we do, Wisdom to see what is right and true, Love to care about others, yourself, and the world, and Will – to do what is right. These five principles form the core values of the School for Heroes Paladin.

How Could It Get Any Better?

As with every class, the profile of the typical Paladin suggests both strengths and flaws. Paladins tend to be overly critical of themselves. It is very hard to live up to the ideals we believe in. Although Paladins believe that they can make a difference in the world around them, it is sometimes easy to be overwhelmed by the gulf between the “Way Things Are” and the “Way Things Should Be.” Many Paladins tend to try to do everything they can to help others, but are reluctant to ask for help when they, themselves need it. They also have a tendency to let other people take advantage of their good nature.

The Circle of Paladins was designed to bring Paladins together. It shows that “we are not alone” – there are other people out there who care as much as we care about others. There are other people who are working to make a difference in the world. The Circle is a symbol of all the Paladins gathered together, holding hands, supporting one another and our shared dreams.

For while “The Song of Roland” was only a bard’s tale, D&D, Ultima and Quest for Glory were only games, Paladins are real. They may not know the word, “Paladin,” but they live their lives by these values. The members who join the Circle of Paladins are real people who truly believe in making a difference in this world. They are actively working to make this world better.

So yes, Paladins are real. That’s why there is a School for Heroes.

Paladin

The Weird, Wild, Wacky World of Wizardry

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Over the next 6 weeks, with a little time out for the holiday blog, we will look at each of the five four schools in the School for Heroes. Today we begin with the Wizard class, our largest class in both enrollees and level 1 Initiates who have completed their mission statements. In the following weeks, we will explore Paladins, Rogues, disbarred Bards, true Bards, and finally Warriors.

The Wonderful Wizards of Odds

Crystal Ball of WizardryThere are a few reasons for the popularity of the Wizard class. One is self-selection – Many of the first people to find this site are role-playing game players, and you’re all pretty computer literate to be here at all. A lot of Wizards fit that profile.

Another possible reason is tester bias – The hero test was created mostly by Corey, a notorious Wizard, and the rest by Lori, who is undoubtedly a Paladin. It would not surprise us if we’ve unconsciously made the Wizard and Paladin answers sound more desirable than some of the other choices. We have in fact recently fine-tuned the hero test to balance the weighting a little; it is now slightly easier to qualify as a Warrior, for example. We hope to see more students choose the difficult, challenging path of the Warrior over the coming months.

What Is a Wizard?

From the Wizard Lore page:
You’re intelligent, educated, and just a bit superior to everyone you know… For you, learning is a joy, and knowledge is the greatest treasure.

The Meep ApprenticeThere are a lot of really good things about being a Wizard. Wizards are great at defining and solving problems. They often have great insight into the heart of a problem that they can use to come up with a good solution. Contrast this with a Rogue, who is also good at solving problems, but generally by finding a way to work around or avoid the problem entirely. Wizard solutions tend to be clean, thorough, and permanent.

Another Wizard strength is “seeing the big picture.” Where a Warrior might just attack a problem head-on, sometimes the Wizard can see that what appears to be a problem is really just a symptom of a problem somewhere else. It’s like the old saying about, “Teach a man to fish.” A Paladin is likely to see a hungry man and feed him. The Wizard might be the one to see that training and knowledge are worth more than food to the man with no resources.

Wow, I’m Brilliant! Is There a Downside?

As with every class, the profile of the typical Wizard suggests both strengths and flaws. Consider that “just a bit superior” part, for example – The good side is that Wizards are very smart and know it. The bad side is that sometimes they get a bit arrogant about it and don’t listen to others as well as they might. Despite their love for knowledge, Wizards sometimes fail to learn because they are too busy imparting their wisdom to others. They can also be a little lazy about finishing projects once they’ve worked out the theory of how to do it. It’s like this…

The Mathematician Joke

A physicist, a mathematician, and an engineer met at a conference, had a few drinks, and stayed up really late. This was back in the days when even highly intelligent people liked to smoke, and they’d been smoking cigars. The engineer got back to her room, tossed the cigar into the trash can, and fell into bed. An hour later, she woke up and realized she’d started a small fire. So she dumped the trash can into the bathtub, turned on the water, and the fire was soon out.

Meanwhile, the physicist had the same unfortunate circumstance. Acting quickly, he measured the trash can and flame height, did a few calculations on a hotel notepad, and poured exactly 7/8 of a glass of water on the fire, just enough to put it out. In minutes, he was back in bed snoring.

The mathematician, having had some physics and engineering training as well, was equally up to the problem. He made some measurements, did a few calculations, determined that it would take just 7/8 of a glass of water, plus or minus 5%, to put out the fire. “Problem solved,” he thought, and went back to bed.

Ways of the Wizards

Wizards are sometimes like mathematicians. They’re great at analyzing problems and coming up with solutions, but not always quite as good at applying and following through on them. Unfortunately, this flaw is compounded by the tendency of many Wizards to be loners. A Wizard is strongest when working with a team of other people with complementary skills. The School for Heroes can help you build those relationships with Heroes-in-training in all the classes. It can also be very helpful – and fun – having other Wizards to talk to.

So, from one Wizard to another… Let’s work together to learn, to teach, to improve ourselves, and to make the world a better place through the application of insight and knowledge. It’s so much easier and more fun to do it together than alone.

School for Exceptionally Talented Wizards