Richard mentioned the term "Medieval America" in a post recently and that has been rattling around in my head. I think he was getting at something a little different (though this seems related). Then I encountered the word "punter" and sat for a bit trying to imagine how I might translate that into Southern California English. Anyway, the mash of ideas got me thinking.
Is Dungeons & Dragons fundamentally founded on the American idea of rags to riches?
I mean, Arneson and Gygax could have started players out as Hamlets and Arthurs and in the wargames they all had experience in, I imagine most characters represented by players were of aristocratic origin.. But they didn't. They were just soldiers going down under those castles to see what fortune they could find.
Now it may have just been that the most natural roles for players to take on when the great transition was made to one player, one character, was that of the poor soldier schmucks. And I know you have the examples from literature like Conan that they may have been modeling the game after, but you also have Arthur and all his knights and Aragorn. And I like the Idea of D&D as a picaresque, but what if that was just a result of the fact that we humans tend to have time to play games once a week, and this pushes them to be episodic by nature?
So what do you think? Is D&D partially the way it is because Americans all think they are CJ scraping their way up from the bottom, claiming their demesnes by the sweat of their brow, by their cunning and doggedness, if not ruthlessness? Would we all be playing something closer to Pendragon if the first RPGs came out of Europe?