For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. — John Maynard Keynes, Nation and Athenaeum (1930)
The sin of Avarice is a bit more complicated that the rest of the lot. We are all familiar with pride, envy, and lust. Even wrath, sloth and glutton, though they sound a bit archaic, are concepts we readily recognize. Avarice, on the other hand, is not a term we use much these days and so this sin actually requires a bit of definition. The root of the word is the Latin term avarus, which is the masculine form of an adjective that is generally translated as “greedy” or “covetous,” or “craving.” What it really refers to, in both its Classical Latin and Catholic usage, is an inordinate desire to gather and hoard riches and wealth.
Greed is a good, common synonym, but it doesn’t quite capture the particularly destructive nature of avarice, which also entails holding onto wealth and a strong connotation of miserliness. The sin isn’t just about gaining wealth, but also about keeping it locked up and hoarding it for one’s own satisfaction.
One way to think about avarice that has a nice connotation within fantasy role playing games in general and Dungeons & Dragons in particular is to think of a dragon’s hoard. Dragons traditionally acquire great wealth and treasure, by conquest, tribute or as spoils from would be heroes. Yet, what do they actually do with all that gold and all those gems? For dragons, and for people who are prone to avarice, the acquisition of wealth is an end in and of itself. It is also a fantastic villainous trait for more human antagonists, and is the sin of Ebenezer Scrooge, Shylock, and Volpone. [Read more…] about The Sins of Game Mastering # 6: the Sin of Avarice