The Case for the Knight in Shining Armor

Another of my favorite cliches...

Disgusting! Grieving Lich responds to "genocidal" white knight! "They just wanted a hug!"

I know that the knight in shining armor is deeply out of fashion, but I like to dust that old armor off. I'll tell you why.

Why do I think the knight is dead? Because we all know that nobody is like that. Nobody, in this world, ever does the right thing, or at least not wholly. There is always at least an unconscious selfishness to the few good works we see done. Ulterior motives poison every good heart, compromises, fear, and greed hide under psychological coverups, biological determinism, cynical schools of common sense and theological indulgences, No movement, no war, no police encounter, no charity and no peace offering by a dotting relative is complete without speculation about what lies beneath.

Sometime, perhaps while I was young but I strongly think it happened before my time, the collective gorge of the tastemasters of literature and media in general began to rise at the idea of the "pure heart". As it should. It was overused, I have been told or intimated to. It became a sturdy crutch for the author to lean on, and those always need to be removed at some point, if perhaps for a time. You didn't have to think deep about the background of the character, once their goodness was established. They were just, well, a hero, ready made and boring as waiting for another brilliant Murky Masters blog post. 

But, now, I want to bring that idea back, because the leg has shifted to the other crutch for me: you can always trust a hero to be predictably two-faced, or vulnerable in a certain area, or certain in their cynicism. Just like romance is a fantasy, a jaded view of the world can hide details and realities. So, every once in a while, when I or my players get too comfortable in their distrust of mankind, I whip out a real knight.

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