Another one of my English-language Tales of Entropy
scenarios dropped into the database today. As I've discussed before, Entropy is a pretty emblematic, relatively generic blood opera story game, which makes it a fit vessel for doing all sorts of more or less quirky things. I like to brag about my writing, but these scenarios are also often pretty good springboards for considering story game scenario prep in general - what makes a good scenario?
For reference, here are my earlier threads on the general topic of Entropy scenario writing and repurposing stories into games:Farcical RoleplayingMovie AdaptationIntentionally Breaking Genre
The new scenario Dark Dungeons
continues the adaptation trend that I've been riding lately. This time I'm pretty
sure that at least somebody's heard of the thing I'm adapting: it's a short comic book pamphlet from the early '80s, created by the fundamentalist Christian evangelist/cartoonist Jack Chick for his series of little comic books that tell stories about his world-view. Dark Dungeons
the comic book is somewhat notorious among gamers for how zany it is, and for how it captures the era of the big "Satanist panic" that gripped American religious circles at the time.
There are several things about Dark Dungeons
that make it interesting to me as a drama gaming topic. The first one I want to emphasize is that while there is plenty of ironical distance, repurposement and death of the author in my enchantment with Jack Chick, none of that applies to the comic book story Dark Dungeons itself: I genuinely like it as a comic book and storytelling, no need for any irony or strange reinterpretations in that regard; the work stands on its own. It's a snappy little tale with compelling characters and thought-provoking situations, and a brutal, emotionally empty finish. It's a horror story from a world where you're forced to choose between satanic witches and a soulless cookie-cutter conversion to patriarchalist spiritual slavery. I fully empathize with gamers for whom the attitudes and ideas here are too personal to deal with, but for me personally it's an interesting psychological horror fantasy story; what would
we do as a gaming group if somebody killed themselves over the game? What if somebody really did use their gaming group as a recruiting ground for their church? What if reality really was as riddled with gnostic conspiracies and magic? What does it mean that I can't get a character to name level despite trying for years on end?
More generally, I'm excited to play this scenario at some point simply because it features the trifecta of dramatic excitement for me:*
There's a distinctive fictional milieu with relevant human themes.*
There's a sympathetic dramatic situation.*
There's a serious political and philosophical core we have to take stands on as human beings.
My favourite "philosophical premises" here, laid out in words in the interest of being explicit with people who might read this sort of stuff completely differently. These are what interest me in this scenario philosophically:Can following the Calvinist God ever be morally justified? How about refusing him, how far does "rebellion" carry as a moral principle? Is God ever morally responsible, or is He really an amoral and arbitrary actor?Assuming that goodness as a quality flows from God, as Christianity generally does, what does it look like when people approach or distance themselves from God with what is essentially magic? In this world, does witchcraft make you intrinsically cruel
(unlike reality, if I'm any judge), or is that a cultural accident, or what?
I am curious to play this with whomever, and see what kinds of answers they bring. And what kinds of questions, too - this scenario is really dense with content, you could focus on all sorts of things.
A few feedback questions to help us craft better scenarios in the future - if you read the scenario I linked above, please answer these:1)
What is your relationship to Dark Dungeons
? Are you familiar with it, or the culture it comes from?2)
Would you be interested in playing something like this? Do you find the scenario comic or serious? Is it politically relevant to you?3)
Given the scenario, and the way Entropy requires each player character to be a nemesis of another one - who would you create as your player character in this scenario?