Image’s Die Finale showed the real stakes of Dungeons & Dragons and RPGs

Image’s Die # 20 shows the conflict that every Dungeons & Dragons player faces, caught between their fate and their free will.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Die # 20, on sale now from Image Comics.

After 20 issues, the dark fantasy series by Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans, Clayton Cowles, Rian Hughes and Chrissy Williams To die to have finished. The Dungeons & Dragons-inspired epic follows a group of characters who played a tabletop role-playing game in the 90s and were trapped in the game world by a set of magic dice.

They eventually escaped, but the things they experienced in the fantasy world continued to influence them throughout their adult lives until they were once again sucked into the gaming world for decades. later. But instead of telling a generic adventure tale with its isekai premise, the story highlighted the deep psychological and historical complexities that influence D&D and its actors, culminating in a philosophical conversation about the nature of fate in relation to free will.

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Upon their return to the world of Die, the characters battle supernatural creatures both to survive and to return home. They eventually discover that the magic dice that trapped them are about to be mass produced and sent back to Earth. They are fighting to stop this before it starts, but it is too late. In the series finale, the characters come face to face with a sensitive 20-sided die, an event that appropriately unfolds in To die # 20.

Die # 20 by Gillen & Hans

This entity, “the god of the end of time”, is the living manifestation of the fantastic world, a being who became aware, created the magic dice and used his near-omnipotence to modify the past and create the circumstances that brought it about. brought to being. He wakes up just before players meet him, but despite all his might, the god of To die needs them to answer a question: “Why am I?”

There is an irony to this. Just as humans have long debated their purpose, so too has the newborn god, even though this entity literally controls fate itself. When asked to explain the backstory of his existence – and the world – the divine being says he only woke up 600 seconds ago, but he used his influence to fill the space between the Earth and itself, inspiring the ideas of early wargames. . These ideas in turn led to the ruthless mechanized warfare of World War I, which inspired JRR Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings after fighting in the war, which ultimately led to the creation of D&D, and finally the creation of To die.

This being has modified the past to manifest himself as a self-taught god. In other words, he embodies predestination. This plays into a concept introduced earlier in history, in which the dice are compared to the tools used to guess the future, a less violent version of the guts of reading in centuries past. After all, in D&D and other role-playing games, the fate of players is determined by the roll of the dice.

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Die # 20

However, the player’s agency still matters. The divine game exists in a quantum state, awaiting a group of adventurers who will give it a purpose by agreeing to help it manifest. The characters must decide whether they should help him, closing the time loop and thus have their own agency, or refuse to help him and risk being destroyed. However, the god-dies will be born without or without them. If they decline, other players from another possible timeline will contribute to Die’s ascendancy. Anyway, Die will be born. All players have to choose is whether they will be accomplices, and therefore have a chance to survive and learn from the past.

The main lines of the plot have a deeper meaning here. Games and game worlds serve no purpose without players interacting with them. When Die asks “Why am I,” one of the characters, Ash, finally responds, “You were a place of adventure and glamor when life was dull. You were a place to explore the worst parts of us- same. And the best … you were a place to learn lessons and their costs. “

For whatever the dice might determine the outcome of decisions, players always make those decisions. This reinforces the idea that role-playing games are more than just entertainment. They give players a chance to learn and grow. For the most part, events are beyond the control of players and their fates are left to the whims of the dice, just as much of life is beyond the control of people. However, the decisions people make in a game world still matter, and their effects continue to be felt long after the game is over, as this issue eloquently illustrates.

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