I Cast Mage Armour: How Glass Cannons Survive the Real World

07 May 2019


Ever notice how it seems like introverts are a rare breed, and when they come out of their dens of solitude long enough to interact with other people, they are awkward and shy and socially inept? Yeah, I haven’t either, because all of that is a load of crow.

Hi, my name is Sage, and I am very much an introvert.

People who don’t know me well don’t know just how introverted I actually am. Part of why that is, is because when I am put in social situations, I may be more on the quiet side, but I can also carry on a perfectly normal conversation if I need to. I can approach a stranger if I need to ask for directions. I can be in a social gathering for several hours without collapsing in on myself or making (too much of) a fool of myself. Hell, my whole convention lifestyle is founded on spending two to four days at a time, surrounded by, and interacting with, complete strangers, for eight to fifteen hours each day.

The all-too-common misunderstanding that introverts are few-and-far between, and incapable of handling social situations is unfortunate, and I think it has two key factors that enforce this misunderstanding. First, western society still struggles to value what introverts have to offer, and paints them as being the polar opposite of their extroverted counterparts, when in fact, they are not two sides of the same coin. This misunderstanding can leave a rather unpleasant idea of what it means to be an introvert in the minds of those who are not one. But this is not the thing I want to talk about today. The second factor is that many introverts have been expected to and therefore have become superb at putting on an extrovert persona when placed into social situations. This is what I want to talk about today.

Players of Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition may be familiar with the ability Mage Armour. For those who are not, here is an overview: The character, a sorcerer or wizard, can cast a spell on a willing individual or creature who is not wearing armour. This spell creates a magical protective barrier on that willing individual or creature until eight hours (in game time) has passed, the willing individual or creature puts on actual armour, or something breaks the spell, whichever comes first.

When an introvert goes out into the world, and has to interact with people, they often put on a mask of extroversion. This an unspoken survival method used to get through those draining social situations. Many of us don’t even consciously know that we are doing it, because we have been learning to do it for so much of our lives. We are casting mage armour on ourselves, creating that protective layer between ourselves, and that energy sucking outside world. Just like mage armour, we have a limit for how long we can stay in this state. And like mage armour, there are a multitude of forces that can shorten the duration we can stay as our extroverted alter-egos.

This is a concept that many extroverts struggle to understand or relate to. Unlike their introverted comrades, extroverts wear an actual set of armour, no time limit, no worry of an outside force breaking the defenses. Or it could be stated that extroverts wear no armour, arriving to the battle fully exposed, because their armour runs through their blood. (Think goliath barbarian, with a million hit points.) Meanwhile introverts are the glass cannons. Sure, we might go unconscious after two or three good hits, but in between those hits we held our own, and proved our value to the rest of the party. (Think squishy human wizard, with next-to-no hit points.)

Now I’m not here to argue that introverts are better than extroverts, or to say that introverts need to toughen up and grow a thicker skin. Nothing of the sort. I like to believe that both groups provide something valuable to the adventure. Extroverts can enter a rumble, take a million blows, and keep on dancing like it ain't no thang. Introverts arrive, make their mark, then step back to heal or recharge. Neither group is doing it wrong, they are just contributing in their own way. We need to, as a society, embrace each other’s strengths, recognizing how one group’s strengths, can make up for the other group’s weaknesses, and vice versa. The party will run the smoothest, if everybody lets everybody play their role, and people stop expecting the glass cannons to run in and be the tank.

What about you, would you describe yourself as an introvert or extrovert? And do you think these D&D abilities fit the introvert/extrovert description, or would you assign a different ability or class to these personality labels? I would love to know how others would describe their personality types via D&D lingo, so please share in the comments below.