Cancer in Fantasy Games
In October, my dad passed away after a four-year battle with cancer. As he was the one that introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons, as well as role-playing games as a medium, here's something I've been thinking about a lot:
If real life were like Dungeons & Dragons:
People across the land are dying of a mysterious disease. Following an ancient prophesy, four heroes travel the lengths and breadth of the land, fighting their way through deserts and mysterious jungles. In the deepest forest, after beating back swarms of mysterious beasts, the adventurers come to a clearing, revealing the entrance to an ancient tomb. In that tomb, they are welcomed by the mad wizard Malcero, who stands at a pedestal before a summoning circle that spews black smoke. Into the air, he released the foul disease Cancer, which brings forth the demon Klemnallannon with every soul it claims. In an arduous battle, the tale of which shall be told for centuries, the heroes defeat Malcero, sending Klemnallannon and his Cancer plummeting back to the seven hells. The lands have been purified once more.
If D&D were like real life:
People across the land are dying of a mysterious disease. You go to your job waiting tables at the local tavern, hearing every now and then about the wizards who seek to study and understand the disease. Many say that it is impossible, that this swarm of death is just the way of things. You shrug, largely ignoring it as it does not affect your daily life. When a loved one succumbs to that disease, you find yourself giving a copper piece from each payment to one of the wizards, in the hopes that it may combine with the copper pieces of others to become an amount sufficient for the wizard to give their cure to the masses. One day the land may be purified. In the meantime, you go back to waiting tables.