Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Tea Ceremony and Dungeon Mastering
I see some parallels between tea ceremony and Dungeon Mastering.
Tea ceremony requires attention to detail, personal preparation, the creation of a space where a theme or experience can be shared among a small group of friends.
Tea ceremony is not performed for personal gain or for profit. It is an art which incorporates many different forms of artistry into bringing people together in a present space.
Now, for many of us Dungeon Mastering might be the sloppy American cousin of tea ceremony complete with orange stained fingers and Mountain Dew, but there are some interesting parallels and it makes me think, and maybe hope, that Dungeon Mastering can ascend to be something a little more, a little better than unprepared off the cuff adventures and bags of nacho cheese Doritos.
I admit that I am attracted to the idea of Dungeon Mastering or Game Mastering being a distant but similar relative to tea ceremony. I believe that informal schools of different styles of Dungeon Mastering have been evolving over the last decade. Certainly running a top notch RPG for friends can demand a range of artistic talents. There is writing up the adventure, the making of maps and an entire dramatic world to immerse the player characters into, even if the world is tiny, only a few dozen miles from end to end to start with. There are those who prepare terrain or draw battle maps, paint miniatures, pick out appropriate music or sound sets for their games. Some of us invest a certain amount of time and preparation into the gaming space, including the sharing of food with friends which can range from pizza and pop to sushi and glasses of wine.
When you list out all of these specialized artistic endeavors involved in preparing for a top notch RPG night with friends and you look at the list of art and protocols involved in preparing for sharing tea ceremony with guests you can see that these two social gatherings are both profoundly different and profoundly similar.
I also love the notion that working to become a master of tea ceremony is an act very much worthy within its own right. You don't need any other reason to want to master tea ceremony other than the personal dedication that this is a part of who you are and who you want to further become. In the same way I feel that it is perfectly worthy to want to improve and master the art of DMing or GMing your favorite RPG game for your group of friends. There needs to be no other outside reason for doing so.
The desire to be a great Dungeon Master is sufficient in itself.