Tanking is a gaming term. It means the sort of character or player that draws attacks onto themselves, allowing the other characters to fit the baddies without taking as much damage. Tanks are warrior characters, heavy on armor and hit points, who rely on others to heal them and keep them alive… because once you’re stuck in the fray it’s hard to get out.

Some people, including myself, can have a tendency to tank in real life. It’s often combined with the protective mumma/momma bear instinct. Willingness to take risks and be exposed helps get stuff done and tanks can help others come forward. Elise Matthesen wrote a great report about a productive experience she had reporting harassment – it’s telling that part of what made her braver to advocate for herself was that she’d be protecting others. Many of us have the strong urge to protect and it’s often when we are at our finest.

One of the tricky bits about tanking is that sometimes you can draw fire and create conflict (increase the aggro of an area) when the party needs to heal, or possibly with the people you are trying to protect would really rather go back to the village and have a pint. Tanking has value, but you need your healers, it can be too lonely and mad making alone… and sometimes creates habits that generate bone-headed self-sacrifice. Bone-headed self-sacrifice is a theme I often return to in my fiction. I think I did my best exploration of that theme in The Rugged Track (a roller derby fairytale).

Anyhow, this is part one of three, inspired by several social media conversations, but most especially by Minerva Zimmerman ‏(@grumpymartian) saying “even bear tanks need healers. Don’t forget your support crew :)”

It feels a bit vulnerable to do this series, and I don’t know if it will work/entertain, but that’s what making art is for. Lots of love and hugs to all the bear tanks (momma bears, papa bears and baby bears).

edited to add Elise Mathesen stuff 🙂