Epideictic Rhetoric of the Player’s Handbook

To take a break from things like the Epideictic Rhetoric of Science or why my eyes melted out of my skull like the Nazi’s faces at the end of Indiana Jones, I have been reading the new Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook. What is epideictic rhetoric? I am glad you asked, now I can share my pain with you.

From Wikipedia, “This is rhetoric of ceremony, commemoration, declamation, demonstration, on the one hand, and of play, entertainment, display, including self-display. It is also the rhetoric used at festivals, the Olympic games, state visits and other formal events like openings, closings, anniversaries as well as at births, deaths, or marriages. Its major subject is praise and blame, according to Aristotle in the limited space he provides for it in the Art of Rhetoric (Freese translation). This rhetoric deals with goodness, excellence, nobility, shame, honor, dishonor, beauty, and matters of virtue and vice.”

Some of you may be wondering or saying to yourselves, “Weren’t you and your family already playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition?” The answer to that is yes. We were using the free Basic rules. Overall the family enjoyed playing Dungeons and Dragons. Why the wait to read the Player’s Handbook? I don’t have a good answer other than, no real reason.

Even now there is was no real reason, but now that I have I am glad that I did. The immediate difference between Basic and the Player’s Handbook is art and color. Lots of both. I was expecting the same Dungeons and Dragons page layout from every other edition. This page layout is vibrant with plenty of white space and art. Very pleasing to the eye.

I am in the middle of the race section and I am loving the presentation. What stands out most to me is the dividing line between common races and uncommon-as in may not be appropriate for all campaigns-races. I rarely if ever use all of the races in a campaign, but the races are typically portrayed as equal and all of them are in every campaign. Just the sidebar discussing the uncommon races was a welcome change.

The 5th Edition has a nostalgic feel to me. I do not know if this was intentional on the part of the designers. Reading each race is the nostalgic feel of earlier editions (not 4th edition) with information that has been scattered about in other books. For me the total effect is similar to catching up with an old friend. We have our shared stories from our past and we have many new things to talk about. As I read through the Player’s Handbook I will update my impressions. I still have no idea what Epideictic Rhetoric has to do with science, but maybe if I am lucky while I am reading the Player’s Handbook I will get a clue what it means, in relation to gaming. 🙂



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