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I was just thinking about Sandra’s Keep on the Borderlands example and the single bit that struck me the most about it was her deep expectation and hope that the players would engage the adventure to reach her predetermined conclusion.
hope ≠ expectationhope ≠ predetermined conclusion
A DM has to hold expectations super loosely.
If I weren’t as dedicated to the, uh, “hygienics” (a word that makes sense in programming contexts (pouring out a cup to flamewars long gone between LISP-1 and LISP-2—yes folks, there were things to argue about even before the “threefold” or whatever) but that word has a rather gruesome connotation in a thread about racism) of sandbox refereeing as I am and am committed to remaining, I obv wouldn’t have had the PCs roll up detailed family histories for the NPC hench and then roll lingering injuries for said hench in the line of battle and then have said hench insist on joining the expedition (one-eyed & on crutches #ablism) in search of her husband and then show the kobolds eating said hench husbands etc.
Since if I was steering play towards a conclusion, doing all those things would’ve been fucking stupid.
But that’s not how I play D&D. The husband was also a hench and he got separated from the group and I rolled randomly for what happened to him. The lingering injuries on brave wife a.k.a. badass hired fighter were similarly emergent properties from the ruleset (even though it’s exceptionally unlikely to get a 1 and a 2 result on those rolls; most of that table is like “OK light bruise heals in a day” or w/e).
And me having that experience is why I think I can stand on pretty solid ground criticizing games with political fucked-up&racist elements, such as FDotHJT, with the aforementioned “entropic argument” that no matter how much you hope for dramatic irony, that’s not how the game works. Once you rev up that Saturday Night Engine it takes you all the way to hell.
"Conservatives" are a type of neo-nazi in my book. They want the same shit. One group is just more socially acceptable because of the fact that every Western nation is a fascist settler-colonialist state.
Since it is a game, and since games emergent properties are inherently chaotic and entropic, of course a bunch of fucked up things happened! When they found kobold baby room they had lost so many of their own to these kobolds that unfortunately, the kobold tribe was not spared.
Eero, I would kindly ask that you do not speak to me as if we were friends.
Is there a reason the Mule imagery/symbolism is also particularly disturbing or problematic?
Jason Morningstar's Winterhorn does a good job of doing the thing of allowing players to engage with oppressive systems to better understand them. It's a larp where the players play as members of a government agency working to destabilize and destroy a revolutionary group. It's designed explicitly with the intent of educating organizers on the tactics that the government will use against them - how to identify them, and how when possible to work against them.
Is there a reason the Mule imagery/symbolism is also particularly disturbing or problematic? It seems to suggest something, almost subliminally, but I’m not sure if it’s a reference to anything in particular. The Mule character in Asimov’s “Foundation” series comes to mind, but that’s the only thing I can think of.
I get hung up on the “emergent properties” of games. Complex systems might appear chaotic
With word “chaotic” I didn’t mean pure noise. I did mean inherently “unpredicted”, if “unpredictable” is overstating it.
but look hard enough and you can find the laws governing them.
Oh, I meant good games!
Understanding why you killed the baby kobolds, when before playing the module that thought wouldn’t even occur to you is powerful, I think.
(I personally did not kill them; I was the DM.)It’s not worthless. We did also have a fruitful discussion about it afterwards.
However, the point was that if you are trying to tell a particular story or a particular position, I don’t know of a way to do that in a game without the risk of you saying the opposite of what you wanted to say.
Reading Human Acts rn and she threads the line so carefully telling her story.
Not sure that would’ve helped been by a big helping of dice.
“ACKS, the story of how mercantile economy is the perfect system and anyone can become king”→ Whoops turns out it’s a blasted hellscape of dying in the mud for 2 silver pieces
“KotB, the story of how the indigenous population overthrew the colonial forces with the help of some wise adventurers who could help them get inside the keep” → Whoops, turns out kobold mamas give 5 xp each
with educational material framing the game
In other words, “tell, don’t game”…?
I feel like if you're trying to portray a fucked up world without being offensive and making people think you're racist, you'd probably be best off not using words like "hamitic" and "miscegenation" in your authorial perspective stuff. If you want to have characters using it in fiction in the book or something, that's generally fine, but I don't think it should be in mechanics.
Didn't he say pretty directly earlier in the thread that he's marketing to the edgy crowd?
Yeah, that's how I roll sometimes. Pretty awkward, huh? I myself think that I'm not a moral reprobate but more of an edgy artist shedding light on uncomfortable truths, but you're not the only one to think otherwise.
The measurable "breeding" bonus similar seems like it might lend itself to objectionable content and some clarity around the purpose of introducing these themes would be appreciated. I think some notes about how this might fit in a larger setting (Is this viewed by some as a nightmarish experiment by a power-mad deity?) could also be useful.
I agree that it doesn't seem like the title of "Miscegenation" and some of the specific details have the desired artistic impact on this impromptu test reader crew. My hoped-for reaction was more along the lines of having the highly specific terminology cause a mental association with modern-era Protestantism of the more fundamentalist bend, which in context would inspire the reader to view it as a horror piece: it posits a D&D setting where not only is the vilest sort of Christianity at least in competition for objective reality (it's in striking distance enough that something resembling its creation mythology, angels and race mythology is in play), but the divine plan is also not nearly as comprehensible and tidy as the Books of Moses present it; it is being contested by monstrous will, and quite successfully at that. The lesser details in the adventure that haven't been discussed here are supposed to inspire the reader-GM to put together their own take on the specific cosmology, but to me it all has a rather creepy vibe, what with the crude practicality of the breeding enchantment involved in repopulating the Earth (no blind clocksmith, this God - or clocksmith of any kind), and the way that Noah's expedition has apparently met with something very near to a disastrous failure due to demonic influence that caused the ark to become, well, the welcoming place we see in the text.In short, it's supposed to be cosmic horror that, regardless of the specific ideological background or alignment that a character might have (I've been envisioning an European archeological expedition in the 19th century, in the midst of the Egyptology craze, myself), will challenge their worldview when they see a foundational myth of Christianity proved simultaneously real and horrifying. This is of course only relevant for a campaign that works with this sort of thing - not nearly all D&D campaigns are horror games set in a historical milieu, obviously - but then that's the nature of the One Page Dungeon: you do the thing you do, and it's up to the reader to apply it to their own campaign. It'd be easy enough to change the superficial details and insert the ark in Greyhawk or wherever.But that's what I was hoping to evoke when writing it the way I did. What we seem to get here is instead a pretty consistent rejection of the entire piece; not a horror-story rejection of the reality it presents, but a real physical rejection of the text itself due to how it is perceived to interface with the social reality of the hobby scene. So yeah, I don't think that's exactly ideal either, if somebody was under that impression. I might not be skilled enough to do the piece I envisioned, because it makes sense in my head, but the rubber doesn't hit the road quite in the way I'd have liked.
(One of the intellectual charm points of American Christian fundamentalism is the special respect accorded to old bible translations. The big cheese on that block is the King James Bible, a renaissance era translation that is, as I understand it, deprecated by more mainstream sects for its inaccuracies and outdated language, while revered as the only divinely inspired translation in some other circles. It's an oldie horror shorthand to refer to KJB as a sign of fundamentalism being afoot.)
I like the idea of using more familiar Western mythology as a source of Cosmic Horror
It really calls into question whether you're acting in good faith or not - whether you actually want to see things get better, or whether you just want to write the racist hellshow genre but don't want to be criticized for it by people actually invested in breaking down colonialism and trying to mend the colossal harm it's done to so many communities.
Right; but my orig issue with the text is this: Peeps are gonna read this adventure (or, worse, accidentally gaming table) and feel unwelcome/excluded. That's just speculation on my part from reading Edward Saïd, Frantz Fanon and other.
So yeah, I think it's perfectly logical for you to take a stand against a wide variety of horror literature.
Right; but my orig issue with the text is this: Peeps are gonna read this adventure (or, worse, accidentally gaming table) and feel unwelcome/excluded.
Anyway, writing too much again, using too many analogies, trying to make too many points at once. Gonna stop here. I’m ready to be schooled, but so far I’m not convinced that the reaction was appropriate in severity.
The author, writing it with a specific audience in mind, or the GM, choosing the adventure for the table? Right?
Is it, as a writer/creator, possible to keep everyone, literally everyone, in mind when creating something?
I thought I was asked why do people thing S-G is insular & unwelcoming and this adventure’s fucked up name came to mind (I hadn’t yet gotten to the point that I had spotted the details in it that made me think it was also a fucked up game).
I mean, you could say the same about kids accidentally reading a horror story/game or viewing a horror film. Is that the fault of the producer, or of whoever is actually responsible for the kid? Right?
Kinda weirded out by how much zombie & brains stuff there is for little kids now tbh. But that’s a side topic for another day of “hand wringing” T_T
Also, it is one (1) adventure (well, in this case, two), which is hardly a solid basis to judge a person on.
As I said, I’ve also fucked up, I’ve also ran adventures that I ended up regretting pretty much right away.
So that makes it difficult to judge even if I do think Eero is kind of… uh… about this; however, I am feeling even less warmly towards those who came in and was like “Oooh, a con-tro-ver-si-al adventure! Let me shower it with praise even though I had never heard of it before and would never have heard of it otherwise! #edge #fucksjw Everyone who might have any complaint are pearlclutching handwringers straight out of Bowdler”
Rarely has someone offended me in such a capacity that I could not trust them at all anymore or felt so unsafe with them as to break off the friendship.
Well, I live in a place in Europe where there are actual Nazis running for government & putting up stickers w/ nazi paraphernalia. That’s beside all the other conservatives who don’t flout that group affiliation as openly. I have certainly cut ties with friends because of this. This is not me doing a Godwin on Eero but on that specific argument that friends can’t offend you enough to cut ties—they can.
That said, I have a policy, a kinda difficult policy, that says that I try to not judge anyone for who their friends are or what their friends and family have done. For all I know, they might be pleading with them every night “Please, So-and-So, stop doing such-and-such, as your friend I beg you to do better!”. That’s a difficult policy because my instinct is always to “transfer” my anger at So-and-So to So-and-So’s friend too, and I try to go against that instinct.