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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gary, Aristotle, Theosophy, Platonism, and ADnD-


Originally posted by fusangite
Now that I've slobbered all over you in another thread, Gary, here's a series of questions that have been bugging me for about a year:

1. D&D appears to be inspired from Aristotelian physics, judging by the four-element system and non-exponential falling damage.
(a) What are the implications to this system of of replacing the celestial spheres with the Great Wheel?
(b) What are the implications to this system of having elemental planes instead of confining the elements to Earth?
(c) Am I correct in using Aristotelian physics for questions of physical science when the rules aren't directly on point -- ie. relative speed of falling objects, object trajectories, how electricity interacts with water, etc.?
2. The popularization of polyhedral dice suggests that D&D is in some way paying homage to Platonism; is there any aspect of Platonism in the way the rules or world have been structured?

don't read the complex into what is pretty simple. The four elements are indeed drwwn from Aristotelian physics, but then leaped ahead some centuries to Paracelsius (sp?) and later Spiritualist writers. In all it is meant as a game system of workable sort and nothing more.

As for the non-exponential falling speed question, I corrected that later on--much to the dissatisfaction of many players.

The elemental planes had to be expanded beyond the material in order to exist in other parallel worlds, and to have existence in terms of Theosophy, such as the empyreal plane. By being so it also offers new realms in which to explore and adventure, places for elemental creatures. For example, without the elemental plane of fire being outside the mundane, where would the efreet dwell?

The use of platonic solids is coincidental to the generation of a wide variety of random numbers


Too cool. :D


  1. It almost seems like this person is trying to do two things. I have seen it before, because I teach at a University. One, trying to throw around a bunch of things to show the class how smart they are. Two, trying to throw about a bunch of things to show that they are smarter than the professor. Oftentimes, the subject ends up doing neither.

  2. Polyhedral dice to Plato... a bit of a stretch. I recall reading somewhere that the only reason they brought in all those fancy dice is because they were neat. (This is something I can get behind)

  3. Dunno. I had no problem with his questions, and I thought they had been asked genuinely.

    I think that way and have asked similar questions of Mike Moorcock, with much of the same sort of, -='It sounded good at the time'=- answer.
    --Perhaps I came across as a twitnerd, then, too. lol.

  4. Or...perhaps I am just too jaded. It is entirely possible. If that is the case than I am embarrassed and apologize.

  5. Ryan:
    Sure they look neat, but they are all (with the exception of the d10) Platonic Solids.

    They were probably chosen because they look cool and are simple ways of generating numbers we need. Besides, we have ancient examples of both d20s and d12s (both are Roman)


  6. Runo: No need to apologise. We don't know the poster's motivations. I simply thought the subject matter of the enquiries was interesting.
    --If I came across harshly, I apologise.

    And if I haven't already said it, I would like to extend my welcome to the blog. :D

  7. No, Time,

    You did not come across as harsh. I was merely embarrassed by my jaded outlook. Yes, the subject matter is very interesting indeed.

    Thank you, its an interesting blog and I follow on my blog roll.

    Thanks again,


  8. Reading this definitely put me in the mood to hunt down more old Gygax threads.