Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"The Court Martial of Hiller C. Ranton"

"The Court Martial of Hiller C. Ranton"

Testimony of the Naval Court of Inquiry regarding the sinking of Captain Ranton's ship, the "Banal."


Court Record 1. On the morning of 21 August Cpt. Ranton ordered his ship to steer a course through uncharted waters of what is now known as Shallow Bay.  The result of this order lead the ship to hit a coral reef, tearing a hole in the Banal's hull.  Immediate flooding occurred and the ship sank to its deck.  There was no loss of life.  The HMS Dragon was dispatched to rescue survivors after receiving an S.O.S. from the Banal.  The Dragon arrived at the following scene as described by its officer of the deck, Lt. Commander Gestalt:

"The whole scene was chaos.  Naval personnel gazing this way and that, some shouting orders, but most in a mad rush to collect floating objects as fast as they could.  I distinctly recall Captain Ranton amid this turmoil trying to organize the mess.  He floundered from one group to the next whereat he read from one of the two texts he held separately in each hand.  Upon noting the arrival of Dragon he swam to us and we hauled him aboard.  Then began the retrieval of the Banal's crew."

In further testimony Lt. Commander Gestalt notes Captain Ranton's demeanor:

"It was one of haggardness brought upon by drink, I'd say.  His eyes were focused away from me as I sought to get him out of his wet clothes.  He fiercely gripped two books which he intended not to be parted from, but with some gentle persuasion I claimed these, plus a third from his trowser's back  pocket…"

Court Record 2.  These three titles are hereafter included in the court record as exhibits, E/A, E/B, E/C:

E/A: "How to do Anything, Anywhere, Anytime and Under Any Condition, So Help Me Goebbels"  --authors, various; edited and with commentary by H. C. Ranton

E/B:  "My Camp"  --original author's inscription defaced throughout and signed instead by Captain Ranton as the inditer

E/C:  "Mixology Made Easy" --Swill Press, 2002

Court Record 3.  Banal Crew Testimonies, abstracts.

1st Mate Noermynd:  "It all seemed so strange, you know?  We were well read and all, the Captain saw to that with his books. He'd rail on us to learn his ways; he was relentless in teaching us about every contingency, how to expect any course change in anything.  I  just don't understand how this happened; I really don't…"

Of special note are those testimonies of new recruits, known as Newbies by the Banal's crew:

Seaman Uppend:  "Well, with all due respect for the Captain and the officers, I was rightly confused.  He and they kept at us newcomers, saying that we had to read what they were reading to really know anything, and not to think, just do, you know?  One time I gave a suggestion and one of the officers, well, he looked in this book and said, "'Nope, it's not in here, doesn't apply, get back to duty.'"

Seaman Zerozum:  "There was so much pressure on the ship and every one talked the same, I mean, you know, THE SAME, repeating things over and over which I'd never heard at the Academy, but who was I, just a Newbie and scoffed at.  "They'd teach me," so many said, and I tried to believe, I did…"

Court Record 4.  Captain Ranton's testimony, abstracts.

"I followed protocol. I do it by the book and only the book, so help me…. ah… I do it by the book."

"I taught them by the book, even when we'd foundered I read passages in the water to inspire "My Camp," eh, erh, my crew, that is.  Yes.  My crew.  I followed protocol, I did it by the book.  How else is one to be inspired?  That is how I was taught, that is how I command, how I teach.  By the book and only by the book, so help me… ah, yes…"

When court appointed Navy psychologists were allowed to cross examine Captain Ranton they asked if the first book (E/A) was the book used in heightening crew response.  He refused to answer the question, but it is noted that he continued to look at exhibit E/A from then on out while requesting various mixed drinks.

Conclusion:  It is the Court's conclusion that Captain Ranton be penalized in full for violations of military code as set forth in the attached rider, Duty Codes Violated.  Captain Ranton is hereby discharged without ceremony and remanded to the Naval Care Facility at Long Beach for detoxification to last no more than 3 months. At his request the Long Beach Naval Hospital will provide a detention cell of bamboo for his comfort and ease.


Anonymous said...

Message, Rob? ;)

I think I have a copy of E/A around here...

"If you instruct players in a specific way of gaming long enough and keep repeating it, players will eventually come to believe it is the only way to play. The specific way of gaming can be maintained only for such time as the Gamemaster can shield the players from the imaginative, inspirational and/or rule-bending consequences impairing the specific way of gaming. It thus becomes vitally important for the Gamemaster to use all of his/her powers to repress dissent, for creativity is the mortal enemy of the specific way of gaming, and thus by extension, the creativity is the greatest enemy of the Gamemaster."

"Yahweh is Myweh. So I have written it, so let it be done.""

Telecanter said...

You're mistaking specific for banal and deep for cliché.

Rob Kuntz said...


"Message, Rob? ;)"

Just returning the compliment.

Your quote from E/A is frightening. But truth can be frightening, can't it?

Anonymous said...

All too true. :(

The new breed of gamer is not the colorful, wild rogues of D&D's heyday, or even the standard by-the-book, antagonizing rules lawyer. The new breed submit itself to a quota of pay, play, please can we have some more sirs!

A duller breed …
And this world is theirs.

Rob Kuntz said...


We all agree that an RPG should be fun or else it would lose its entertainment value.

But you expose a mode here that is not as apparent or in vogue as it once was.

D&D/RPG grew out of many interdisciplinary studies in education, the arts, game theory, game design and several distinct areas of literature including fiction, history, myth, legend, folktale and related. Whether these were manifest on a primary level or subsumed in the knowledge base as the game was extrapolated into being is not as important to understand; rather that these disciplines in parts or whole were indeed used in the formal or informal process.

However, as the game grew, these integral components for the most part became obscured to the majority playing it and for obvious reasons dealing with its mass marketing thrust as I have pointed to in my recent interview. This forced it into the perceived view of a "unique"
entertainment vehicle only. But now, 37 years later, D&D is just another RPG and by many is considered passe and sterile. Why is that? How can a game with so much foundation go from internationally recognized to just another RPG game in such a short time span in history? I can answer that in full, and I am doing so in an upcoming article and book.

Timothy Paul Schaefer said...

"Emile and Event Streams: A Moral Viewpoint on DMs and Players as People"
"This is my final online post regarding the GM Challenge now raging towards its ultimate conclusion at various blogs."

"We are dealing with unique individuals; they are not plug-and-play objects easily fitted one after the other into categories no matter what we think is true, or is the "norm," amongst ourselves. We owe it to newcomers and ourselves to be cautious and concerned in the matter of teaching and its methods."
-Monday, August 22, 2011

What is the "best" way to teach or learn?
Listen to yourself.
Listen to reason.