World of Ruin SotDL characters

Hey all–particularly players in my Shadow of the Demon Lord-powered World of Ruin games at GenCon this year!

I’m posting the premade characters for your perusal. It’s first come, first served at my tables, so if you see one here you really want to play, make sure you let me know as soon as you can.

These characters exist over a 15-20ish year span, so they each have two versions: a 0th level version for ESCAPE FROM LUETHER (set during the fall of Luether in 961 SA) and a 3rd level version for BLOOD TIES (set sometime after the fall of the Winter King in 976 SA). The backgrounds of the 3rd level characters have been updated to match the canonical outcome of the first session (assuming the character survives. I would say “likely outcome,” but the likely outcome is character death. 🙂

You’ll notice none of the characters have a gender attached to them. This is because I like my games to be approachable for everyone, and this is an aspect of character creation I will happily leave up to the players.

(Note that the character sheets are subject to update and change.)

Amara the Ice Viper, a courtesan from Tar Vangr and eventual slayer in the Circle of Tears

Amara Ice Viper L0

Amara Ice Viper L3

Ithicus the Imbuer, an apprentice artificer who perfects their talents over the years

Ithicus the Imbuer L0

Ithicus the Imbuer L3

Nameless Summer, a Ruinscarred child growing up on the mean streets of Luether

Nameless Summer L0

Nameless Summer L3

Nassae the Warding Angel, a Tar Vangruyr soldier and hunter

Nassae Warding Angel L0

Nassae Warding Angel L3

Nori Nine Fingers, a world traveler and scholar of ancient religious lore

Nori Nine Fingers L0

Nori Nine Fingers L3

Vandranil the Venerable, an elderly godly Luetharr possessed by living magic

Vandranil the Venerable L0

Vandranil the Venerable L3

Splintering Bone Spur, a barbaric Child of Ruin turned gladiator

Splintering Bone Spur L0

Splintering Bone Spur L3

Aesir the Changeling, a shapeshifter warped by the magics of Ruin, destined to become a High Druid

Aesir the Changeling L0

Aesir the Changeling L3

 

Nazis are the Bad Guys

So, it’s 2017, and by my count, you’d have to have ignored a LOT of movies, comics, books, and culture to identify with white supremacists/nationalists, the KKK, or nazis in this day and age. (Or maybe rooted for the villains? I dunno.)

(Really, fake geek boys?)

See the classic That Mitchell and Webb routine

Here’s an expansive but by no means exhaustive list of the media that show Nazis and their ilk as bad guys.

Indiana Jones (Nazis)

It’s the American way, really.

Star Wars (Empire = Space Nazis)

“Psst, FU123–are we the baddies?”

Harry Potter (Death Eaters = Magic Nazis)

The metaphor is fairly thick here, guys.

Marvel Comics (Hydra = Comics Nazis)

Even the Joker gets it, Nick Spencer–what’s your excuse?

Wolfenstein (Digital Nazis)

Umm… is that ROBO-HITLER? It… it is.

Inglourious Basterds (Nazis)

Dude, alt-right–it’s your hero, Tyler Durden.

Blues Brothers (Illinois Nazis)

They’re on a mission from GOD.

Call of Duty (Regular Nazis & Zombie Nazis)

I’m gonna take a wild guess that you’re not playing a SS officer in this game.

Bionic Commando (Nazis)

The original was probably better, honestly, but still.

Bloodrayne (Bloodsack Nazis)

You’re a hot redhead vampire who kills Nazis. I mean, c’mon.

Sniper Elite 4 (and the previous Sniper Elite games) (Nazis)

Hitler is even a target sometimes.

Far Cry 5 (White Nationalists)

In case it’s at all unclear–white nationalists are the bad guys.

2018 Midterm Elections (Steve Bannon and a bunch of White Nationalists in the GOP)

Give Bannon a sad. Vote vs. GOP.

What are some of YOUR favorite Nazi/White Supremacist/Nationalist crushing narratives?

Share early, share often!

Further Reading:

The Alt-Right has a problem with Nazis as video game baddies I WONDER WHY THAT IS

THE LIST GOES ON: The AV Club’s List of Games about Nazis as Baddies

 

 

Characters with Class: Paladins

King Arthur. Aragorn the Ranger. Joan of Arc. The Twelve Peers of Charlemagne. These are paladins—knights sworn to uphold a particular cause, holy warriors devoted to a deity or virtue, and the shiniest of shiny knights.

In D&D and other fantasy RPGs, paladins tend to be a hybrid warrior/priest class. Big swords, thick armor, loud boasts about good and justice. All that sort of thing.

Look at that posture. Clearly a paladin.

ABILITIES

Throughout the editions of D&D, paladins have been defined by:

1) Their divine abilities, which are similar but not quite the same as those of clerics. They tend to have a much more specific, restricted spell list. Paladins tend to be more specialized as healers (lay on hands, cure disease, etc). Sometimes they’ve been able to turn undead, sometimes not. 5e has made an effort to create paladins of distinct types, which has been largely effective (see archetypes, below).

2) Their fighting ability, which is higher than that of a cleric but not as high as that of a pure fighter. In 2e, paladins had full attack progression (better than clerics) but couldn’t specialize in weapons (as fighters could). Paladins are typically considered front-line fighters and off-role support, as their magical abilities aren’t quite up to being a dedicated support caster, let alone a designated controller.

3) Their smite ability, which has taken on various forms throughout the editions. In early editions, it was a limited # of times per day to gain a bonus to attack an “evil” creature. 3e broke it into more specific smites (smiting evil, smiting chaos, etc), and then 4e turned the smites into various encounter/daily abilities that could be used on any target (going along with the graying out of the alignment system). 5e has paladins sacrifice spell slots to cause additional damage on a smiting attack (any target), and paladins can also cast specific smite spells for specific effects.

4) A strict code of conduct…

So Lawful Good I ride a UNICORN, n00bs! (art by sandara.deviantart.com)

TO GOOD LAWFULLY OR NOT TO LAWFULLY GOOD

In the earliest editions of the game, paladins had to follow a very specific, very restrictive code of conduct and alignment. They had to be lawful good. They had to vow to support charity and smite evil and defend the weak and helpless and, well, be lawful good. And depending on how draconian your DM felt like being at the time, if you stopped being lawful good for as little as ONE SECOND–if you took one wrong step or did one wrong thing–then BAM, all those fancy paladin powers were out the window. You might be able to atone with a quest (story hook, anyone?) or you might just be a mediocre fighter for the rest of your gaming life. (Sucks about all those missing feats, brah.)

And as long as people have played with Truth, Justice, and the Faerunian Way sorts of Paladins, gamers have loved the concept of the EVIL paladin. The anti-paladin. The blackguard. The chaos paladin. The dark paladin. The death knight.

Some of them used to be paladins, and lore abounds with this “fall from grace” sort of story: paladins who made a mistake that cost them their powers, and they became twisted champions of evil. Lord Soth from Ravenloft, Scyllua Darkhope from the Forgotten Realms, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader from Star Wars. (Um, spoiler alert.)

Some, however, were always evil—were anointed by a dark god or swore their service to a foul depravity, rather than a virtue. And so was born the concept of the blackguard. The blackguard was a prestige class in 3e, which was mechanically similar to a paladin but evil—all their powers reveled in darkness, rather than good. 4e removed the alignment restrictions altogether, so you could play a paladin of any alignment—a holy warrior sworn to any cause—and produced the blackguard base class. 5e also has no alignment restrictions.

Lord Soth, for when Lawful Good just isn’t LAWFUL enough…

ARCHETYPES

At first, when D&D was young, the “knight in shining armor” sort of paladin was your only option. You had high strength, decent wisdom, and a punishingly high charisma requirement (2e required you to have a charisma of 17 to play a paladin). And then your character was basically a shining example to the world. Many people played paladins like self-righteous jerks who eventually crossed the rest of the party ,but a paladin doesn’t have to be that, even while being lawful good (see my post about Lawful alignments for more on this subject).

3e broadened the paladin’s horizons with an official blackguard prestige class, which is mechanically linked with paladins (basically, they have almost identical abilities, but themed for causing harm and evil, rather than healing wounds and good, down to a Smite Good ability). The rogue/paladin Shadowbane Inquisitor (ahem, gee, wonder if *that* was a coincidence) prestige class from Complete Adventurer also showed us that paladins could be something other than straight up fighters, while the Grey Guard from Complete Scoundrel gave gamers an avenue to bend the inflexible moral requirements of being a paladin in pursuit of a greater good.

I feel like he’s trying to tell us something here…

4e allowed paladins of any alignment, allowing holy warriors of various causes, and also produced the Avenger base class, which is similar to a paladin in many ways (more like a rogue/paladin). 4e produced the Blackguard base class, which is kinda like a paladin, but different—more of a striker than a defender, an avenger rather than a protector.

5e has really delved into what a paladin could be other than the knight in shining armor and the dark champion of villainy. You can certainly play the classic, protector, valorous paladin, or you can play the paladin whose powers come from the land and who has sworn oaths to protect the ways of the ancients, or you can play a gritty, obsessed with vengeance upon their enemies sort of paladin. The archetype system in 5e is really a powerful tool for both mechanical and roleplaying opportunities.

The Paladin: calm, serene, noble–can kick your ass twelve ways to Sunday.

Facets of Alignment: Lawful

Caveat: This is a topic that has been, is being, and will be argued for time immemorial. So YMMV, of course.

I think of “Lawful” as a pattern of behavior that is organized and relies upon rules and systems to make things work. Discipline and “the rules” are how lawful people live their lives. Lawful people tend to be methodical, rigorous in sticking to a routine, and follow a very specific pattern of how they do what they do. Sometimes this makes them predictable, though sometimes they are very adept at outside-the-box thinking that can surprise opponents. While that may seem like a fundamentally chaotic thing, it only appears that way to an outside observer: a Lawful Neutral bounty hunter’s MO, for instance, might always include finding new and innovative ways to surprise a mark.

I’m going to give examples from comics, video games, and my own books to exemplify these alignments–note that these aren’t necessarily perfect examples, as many of these characters have had countless iterations and visualizations and you can argue lots of exceptions. A lot of these characters (particularly the LN ones) have good or evil tendencies, and that’s fine. In the case of Geralt, for instance, choices you make while playing the games he’s in can push him in a good or evil direction–he isn’t strictly neutral. These characters are sentient creatures who aren’t uniform in their behavior. Alignment isn’t a straight-jacket–it’s a general tool for describing behavior and outlook.

Lawful Good

A Lawful Good person believes in law and order being tools for the benefit of all, and will follow the laws of the land so long as the higher ideal of justice is served. A Lawful Good person has a strong sense of compassion and prioritizes helping those in need, even if it’s dangerous to do so. They are often extremely driven people, unable to tolerate injustice or stand by and do nothing.

Lawful Good types will be extremely uncomfortable with the very concept of bending the rules, much less breaking them, even if it’s for the greater good, in a way that a Neutral Good person would not mind as much, while a Chaotic Good person would advocate for breaking oppressive rules as the best course.

Superman, Defender of Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Examples: Superman is Lawful Good. Obi-Wan Kenobi is Lawful Good. Daredevil is Lawful Good. Triss Merrigold is Lawful Good. Kalen “Shadowbane” Dren is Lawful Good.

Lawful Neutral

A Lawful Neutral person believes in law and order for their own sake, basically “those are the rules and we should obey them because they’re the rules.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that a LN person always obeys the laws of the land they’re in, particularly as a traveler, but they always have a set of strictures or a code that they follow to the letter, and generally they default to a basic respect for the laws of the land, as in “those are the rules that others follow, and they follow them for a reason.” They are often thought of as mercenary or “just following orders” types.

There is a hierarchy of rules: a Lawful Neutral person will only violate an existing law if it comes in conflict with a more important law, and then usually with great discomfort. They may or may not put on the appearance of being good and are sometimes described as being amoral or unfeeling (which is sometimes accurate).

A True Neutral person doesn’t cleave to the law in this way, while a Chaotic Neutral person may have similar priorities to a Lawful Neutral person (getting paid to do a job, for instance) but goes about it totally differently, ignoring or violating rules and expectations as a matter of course.

Geralt of Rivia, Witcher

Examples: The Punisher is Lawful Neutral. Mace Windu is Lawful Neutral. Dexter Morgan is Lawful Neutral. Gerald of Rivia is Lawful Neutral. Levia Shadewalker (Shadowbane 3) is Lawful Neutral.

Lawful Evil

A Lawful Evil person believes in law and order as a means for securing their own power and dominance. The rules are important, primarily because they can be exploited to disadvantage others. A Lawful Evil traveler pays only lip service to the laws of the land that conflict with their own personal code and set of strictures, and will ignore those laws they consider to be weaker than their own or worthless. A Lawful Evil person seeks power through organization and alliance, relying upon others to provide them the support they need to achieve their goals, which involve crushing their rivals.

Neutral Evil people may take advantage of laws but don’t feel much compunction about violating them or working outside them at the drop of a hat, while Chaotic Evil people usually revel in defying laws and rules and will gleefully shirk them whenever possible.

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith

Examples: Lex Luthor is Lawful Evil. Two-Face is Lawful Evil. Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia are Lawful Evil. The Red Skull is Lawful Evil. Doctor Doom is Lawful Evil. Darth Vader is Lawful Evil. Vengeance (from Shadowbane 3) is Lawful Evil.

Romance + Compassion: Dawn of Empathy

Spoiler Alert: Wonder Woman is Wonderful

SPOILERS for WONDER WOMAN
….
….
You were warned….
….
….
And yet you persisted….
….
….
Let’s be clear that I really, really loved this movie, for all its occasional flaws. I could spend literally all the free time I have today listing what I loved about the movie, but there’s one particular point I wanted to address, and so I’m going to do that here. As for my review: I really liked it. You might like it too. Go watch it.
Now then.
The Pivotal Question: Does the romance subplot undermine Wonder Woman, making it seem like she “needs a man” to succeed?
Kinda?
Kinda, in that well, the optics are that Wonder Woman wouldn’t have succeeded if she hadn’t fallen in love with, had sex with, and then lost Steve Trevor. (Was he fridged–i.e. killed off to motivate her? Kinda?)
But is that really true?
ROMANCE + COMPASSION: DAWN OF EMPATHY
(Caveat that this flows partly from analyzing the movie in a vacuum and partly from my outside knowledge of–and extreme affection for–the character of Wonder Woman. For a viewer who knows nothing of Wonder Woman, that scene might come off a different way, more in line with what I call the “surface” interpretation.)
On the surface, the movie makes it seem like that moment–seen in flashback–where Steve tells Diana that he loves her (just before he heads off to sacrifice himself for humanity) is the moment where she chooses good, rather than the evil Ares is offering. Well, more accurately, she chooses COMPASSION over destruction, which isn’t quite the same thing as good over evil. And that’s a movie formula we’re very used to: love and sex make everything better. We get invested in a romance and we want it either 1) to work out so we can convince ourselves the heroes live happily ever after, or 2) one character to die and the other character to honor them with some great and epic feat, demonstrating that True Love Wins (TM).
But was that what happened here?
I don’t think so.

He spends a lot of the movie looking at her like “aw geez, man, she so wonderful.”

Look at the context going into that scene. Look at Wonder Woman standing poised to hurl a truck at Dr. Poison–a woman damaged by Man’s World and twisted into something monstrous by her service to the war machine. Dr. Maru is at least as important to the story as Steve Trevor is. And WW sees the value in her–feels sympathy toward her–even when the movie has spent two hours convincing us not to. That is her victory: compassion in the dark and difficult moments.
Diana’s romance with Steve is incidental. The intimacy of their relationship isn’t just between two people. It’s between her and Man’s World, because he is her connection to that world. I think he initially sort of saw himself as pursuing her as a romantic partner, but she never saw them that way. And when he understood how she felt about him and the world (the same way), they became more than romantic. They achieved a level of intimacy beyond–a toxic masculinity shattering thing.
Steve didn’t teach her compassion–she taught it to him. I mean, he already cared about people, but it was in an abstract sense. “I have this mission to do. I have to save all these people.” But in the end, that’s when he understood what it really meant to care about the whole world, because that’s what she did. It was a new level of intimacy he hadn’t been able to achieve–until he met her.
How can you not love someone who teaches you that?
In turn, he served as Diana’s reference point with the world–allowed her to see Men as worthy of her compassion as well as her sisters. Isn’t that how empathy works? In order to feel for people different from you, you need to meet people different from you–get to see them as people–understand their hopes and fears and the scope of their existence?
Spoiler alert: Yes.
And the ascendancy of empathy is not typically something we get in Superhero movies. Especially not DC movies, but all of them. We tend to expect brooding dudes with big muscles who have to blow up or murder a bunch of people and we’re supposed to be ok with it because, well, that’s what was needed to save the world, right?
That’s not what Diana had to do, and she stands above the others for that reason.
We saw a little of it in Captain America and the Winter Soldier–where Cap can only get through to Bucky by not fighting him, but by loving him–but that was very localized between those two people. It didn’t work out between Cap and Iron Man. The relationship between Diana and Steve is painted in similar strokes, but they don’t solve their problems with their fists. They solve it with their hearts.
(And to head off that particular question, no, Steve was not Diana’s introduction to sex and romance. Why would he be? She was living on a whole island of perfectly appropriate romantic partners. They even have a conversation about this on the boat, to hilarious result.)
The interplay between Diana and Steve was pivotal to the movie, because he was her entry point–and ours, in a way. He was the representative of Man’s World: flawed, possessed of both good and evil, partly at fault for what was going on. He was the Good Man–playing a role in the problems of the world without realizing it.
Wonder Woman didn’t come to Man’s World to destroy it or conquer it or even embrace it. She came to fix it–to save it from itself. She couldn’t save Steve–not in body, anyway–but I think she taught him something very important, and vice versa. He would not have given himself for so many others without her example, and she needed him as her access point–but she needed the WORLD to become the hero that she became.
IN CONCLUSION
Will it look to a lot of people like the romance subplot undermined Wonder Woman by making her dependent on a man? Yeah, it will, and it has. You can read lots of articles about that. They muddied the waters–relied over much on this trusted formula about “True Love” and all that.
But I don’t think it was romantic love that won the day.
In order for her compassion to transcend–to know no bounds–she had to know and experience it all. She had to see the destroyed hopes, dreams, and lives of thousands to understand the true horror of war, but instead of breaking, she rose above it. She became more.
When Steve told Diana that he loved her, he wasn’t just saying that he loved her romantically. He loved her the way the Amazons on Themyscira love each other–romantically, platonically, perfectly. He was giving her hope. He was Man’s World, embracing her and conveying to her that her way was right and good and the only hope for ending war (i.e. destroying Ares). And Ares/war was what had just taken Steve from her–that she could still choose love for all people over vengeance for one person was her victory.
That didn’t undermine her. That made her stronger.
A FEW OTHER THINGS
Sex doesn’t threaten Wonder Woman: I do feel that the romantic/sexy-times subplot with Steve wasn’t really necessary. It came off as a hook to get us, the audience, invested in these characters. At least it didn’t have any exploitative/porny scenes. But even if it did, so what? Wonder Woman is allowed to have romantic interests. See = all the Amazons. Love and connection are pivotal to her character. And it’s Chris Pine, I mean, c’mon.
Romantic Supporting Role: Ok, so, Steve was kinda the girlfriend character in this movie. He ranged from kind of adorable to doing some actiony bits to seeming like he might have had a speech impediment when he tried, stutteringly, to talk to Diana or keep his wits about him around the Amazons. And they managed to make him not kind of a misogynist dick, the way he was in the excellent animated version from a few years back. He seemed largely confused about how to say things, even if he very earnestly felt them and cared deeply about his mission. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking “how would this go on, if it were to go on?” Would Diana love him the way he loved her, or would they fall apart the way they did in New 52? I guess we won’t get to see that, but that’s ok. We can move on.
Steve Trevor = Captain America (they’re both named Chris): So, why exactly couldn’t Steve pilot that plane loaded with the weapons of mass destruction into an ice floe, thus ending up in suspended animation for decades, after which he and Diana could be reunited in a long, angst-filled movie where they took down the evil corruption in the government (probably led by Ares, the way he did in THIS MOVIE)? Oh right, there was a timer on those bombs. Oh right, there was a timer.) But hold up, was the timer for only like 20 minutes? Why? Weren’t they planning to fly to London to drop the gas? Don’t they need more than like 20 minutes to fly from Belgium TO LONDON?
Diversity? So, obviously I’m super happy that Diana’s crew wasn’t all white dudes being white and saving the world while white. There was a Middle Eastern dude and a Native American dude and a Scottish dude who, while white, was still dealing with some shit, and Diana helped him in a pretty cool way. That said, WTF with the smoke signals? That was just an odd moment of “heheh, look, Indian does Indian thing.” They didn’t have to do that. In context, I guess it was forgivable, but whose idea was that? (See further reading, below.)
The Oddly Abridged Mythology Stuff: Whose idea was it, exactly, to not mention any of the female Greek gods? I mean, I get that you wanted to simplify it, so you only mentioned Zeus and Ares, but 1) how dumb do you think the audience is that we can’t even handle a couple other names (wait, nevermind, don’t answer that), 2) why kill off the other gods, exactly? Why couldn’t at least Athena survive? I mean c’mon, 3) aren’t the goddesses pivotal parts of Wonder Woman’s backstory? Don’t they give her blessings like the Beauty of Aphrodite, the Wisdom of Athena, that sort of thing? This was a noticeable excision.
The Baby Thing: Until that scene in London, Diana has never seen a baby, and that’s a big deal. That’s why she goes nuts over seeing a baby. But if you’re going to do that, why not make it pay off later in the film? Why not have her, I dunno, talk to Steve about this? Or even see a dead baby in the destroyed village? She is obviously really, really bothered about children being hurt in war, but I feel like this is a missed opportunity to bring things around with a reference to this important piece.
Continuity question: Isn’t Diana in “Supes ❤ Batman: Dawn of Bromance” kind of “retired” from the world? I would have expected that she end up her origin story bitter and sad and removed from public life, but she seems to have been victorious. So why the retreat? Did she go back to Themyscira? Did she go hang out with Etta Candy for the next few decades? What? HURRY UP WITH THAT SECOND MOVIE, PATTY JENKINS!
WW1 = perfect setting for Wonder Woman 1: I was quite skeptical at first, but I feel like this setting perfectly captures the theme and concept. Steve called it at first “The War to End All Wars” (did they call it that at the time?), and WW1 would have seemed truly apocalyptic to the people at the time. This was really, truly WW saving Man’s World from the cycle of war and destruction. Though like all things, it doesn’t *stay* saved and will require constant maintenance. But does this mean Wonder Woman 2 (WW2) will take place during World War 2 (WW2)? And no, that’s not entirely a joke–a bit could be done about Diana attempting to be an ambassador to Man’s World, etc. And I know Batman supposedly only found that one picture of her from WW1, but maybe 1) that was just the *first* picture he found of her, and/or 2) he was just too distracted with lifting all those weights to fight an unbeatable super being (do you even overcompensate, bro?) that he just didn’t notice her appearance during the 40s.
Further Reading
 https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/06/04/representation-matters-chief-wonder-woman-awesome/

Education Saves Lives

Let’s talk about driving for a minute.
 
Driving is a surprisingly complicated activity.
 
When you’ve been doing it a while, it can feel natural or old-hat: you just instinctively know what the pedals do, how to steer, shift, look over your shoulder, check your mirrors, etc. There might be small variances in different cars you drive: different buttons or switches that do different things, the cruise control in a different place, the heating or A/C control works differently, etc. It might take a bit to realize which side of the car the gas cap is on.
 
Odds are you’ve got a basic understanding of the laws of the road, know what traffic lights mean, and you’ve got a sense of what signs mean. You develop some degree of intuition about other drivers and can sometimes predict what they will do based on their car’s body language. (Particularly when it inconveniences you.) You sort of know who is supposed to go first at a four-way stop.
 
But when you’re young and you just start driving, there’s a learning curve for those things. It can take months to learn, particularly if you’re in the midst of other studies, or a job, or you’re just an easily distracted teenager with more hormones than sense. (Not all teens are, obviously, but you see what I mean.) Good thing there’s a class for that. A basic driver’s ed class, which teaches you both the mechanics and laws of driving. You need know how to operate a car, and–importantly–how to do so safely.
 
Which is a good thing, because the stakes are pretty high. Odds are, a car is the most dangerous weapon you will ever operate in your life. It’s so easy to lose your focus and potentially hit something or someone. And the consequences of that can be *disastrous.* Not only will you potentially ruin someone else’s life, potentially forever, but you will fundamentally change your own life, potentially forever.
Driving is undeniably dangerous. You could seriously screw up.
 
That’s why you need to know how to drive safely. To pay attention to those around you. To know how to judge stopping distance and keep your eyes moving. Learn how the brakes work and the airbags and the other safety features. Good thing you had a driver’s ed class to teach you that.
 
Now imagine, however, that you didn’t have a driver’s ed class.
Or perhaps you did, but all they ever told you in class was not to drive. Just don’t do it. Only bad people drive. You’ll screw up your life and the lives of everyone around you. Seat belts or safety precautions? They’re a waste of time and don’t work. The only way to keep from killing anyone or yourself with a car is to not drive.
And then you just look at pictures of engine parts that the criminally unqualified teacher (say, a social studies teacher who has no idea about engines) glosses over them and responds to any question with a look of disgust.
This class is called “Pedestrian-Only Education.”
When you’re home, your parents look at you awkwardly and refuse to talk about driving. They are extremely driving-negative. They tell you you’re not old enough. They tell you to wait until you’ve paid a car off before driving it. In fact, if you mention liking the wrong kind of car (they’re a Ford family but you like Toyotas), they scream at you and cry and threaten to throw you out. (Gods help you if you come home in one of those cars.)
 
And now you finally have a car, which you need to drive to work. You’ve received no education about driving. No briefing on safety measures. Your Pedestrian-Only Education class taught you basically nothing. The best you’ve got is entirely too many viewings of the Fast and the Furious movies, plus your friends bragging about seemingly ridiculous accomplishments they’ve achieved with their own driving.
Also–and here’s the best thing–the lawmakers have been specifically removing laws about seatbelts and speed limits and other measures intended to protect you. They’ve made seatbelts way more expensive–they don’t come standard. And airbags? Forget about it.
 
Now. How good a driver are you going to be?
Not great, I’m guessing.
And is it any surprise that a driver who comes out of this sort of no-education, no-training, driving-negative background is at a much higher risk of potentially life-altering accidents?
So now. Let’s talk about sex for a minute.
Today, right now, in America, a disturbing number of schools in a disturbing number of states waste a disturbing number of your tax dollars teaching Abstinence-Only Education to your kids. Education that, studies have shown, dramatically increases their risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections and/or producing an accidental pregnancy. Why?
Because kids don’t avoid sex because you tell them to. That’s not how that works. But what *does* happen is that when they *do* have sex, they don’t know how to protect themselves. Because you spent all that time castigating them for something it’s only natural for them to do, and you never got around to telling them how to put on a condom.

(Not that they can get birth control very readily, because the pols are up there making it illegal or making health care not cover it. So that’s great.)

Abstinence-Only Education drives UP the teen pregnancy rate.
It drives UP the abortion rate.

It destroys lives.

And those kids who DON’T screw up when they’re young have high levels of discontent later in life, with all that sex-negative bullshit kicking around in there. (Ahem. Trust me on this one.)
Driving and Sex are both high risk activities.
Again. Think of the analogy.
We don’t expect kids to roll out of the living room and just start driving perfectly and safely with zero driving education or–worse–a class specifically designed to teach them that driving is wrong and dangerous and evil and will screw up their lives. Why would we expect kids to handle sex any better, if all the education they’ve got on the subject is a bunch of sex-negative adults telling them “just say no.”
Teach kids about safe sex.
By all means. Teach kids to be responsible and thoughtful and caring when it comes to sex. Teach them about consent–how to ask for it and how to tell if you’ve given it. Teach them about relationships and how to avoid abusive situations. Teach them about flirting. Teach them about respect.
And teach them about sex. How it works, how to protect yourself, how babies are produced. All of it. Don’t pretend that they don’t need to know this stuff.
Because kids are gonna have sex.
You wanna know how I know? Because most humans do. Not everyone drives or has any interest in driving, but almost everyone has sex at some point in their lives. And they need to be prepared.
Protect your kids. Advocate for their education and safety.
Just say “NO” to Abstinence-Only Education.
Further Reading: