Occupation of Gith-raq (a stupid and tasteless idea)

edited May 2007 in Story Games
(If Andy, or anyone else, would like to delete this post, feel free to do so.)

Four years ago, the Blood War spread to the Astral Plane, when a Pit Fiend suspected that agents of the Abyss had infiltrated Githyanki society. The forces of Baator, including many mortals bewitched into infernal service, invaded the Astral Plane and sacked the Githyanki capital, and brutally executed their loathsome Lich-Queen. The baatezu have declared that the Astral Plane will become a staging ground to spread order throughout the Transitive Planes and encircle the forces of Chaotic Evil. Repulsed at the occupation, and furious at the treatment of their most respected artifacts, Githyanki insurgents conduct hit-and-run tactics on the backs of red dragons.

The invasion--and the subsequent savagery and looting--upset deep fissures in Gith society. For generations the Githyanki had repressed and enslaved their near-kin the Githzerai. With the Lich-Queen's finally over, the Githzerai are rebelling, hoping that others of their kind--who had established sanctuary in the Ever-Changing Chaos of Limbo--will soon come to their aid.

Almost all of Gith culture in the Astral Plane is breaking down, either ruined by the Lich-Queen's inscrutable malice, the fury of the invasion, or the madness. T'anarii from the Abyss have come to sow chaos and mistrust, and ensnare the infernal Baatzu in an geopolitical (plano-political?) mess. Many disillusioned Gith, horrified at what's happened, believe this is all the machinations of their ancient foes the Illithids.

Play would alternate between three "parties" --

A group of Halfling soldiers just awakening from the geas that led them on this mission. They crew a lobster-shaped armored tank, an Apparatus of Kwalish. These characters don't speak the language, and are many, many planes from Sigil (or the Prime, whatever). The command structure of the coalition is complex, and includes a few Celestials who hope, somehow, to make Gith society more Good-aligned, even though the occupation also involves devils.

A group of Githyanki blackguards and dragon-riders, seeking to resurrect the Lich-Queen, expel the invaders, and establish a society more in keeping with the teachings of their Prophet, Gith.

A mixed-race family of Githyanki/Githzerai Commoners, who are caught in the middle of all this and must scrounge around for a means to survive, possibly escaping from the Citadel of the Lich-Queen and eventually making their way across the Astral for refuge somewhere else.

Each session involves one of these groups in reaction to whatever was just done by the other group in the previous session.

(I would apologize to the actual human beings involved in these tragic events if I knew anyone's name. As it is, insensitive dimwittery is the nearest I can come to grappling with a mind-boggling situation.)


  • edited May 2007
    Seems like a pretty good idea. I don't see it as in bad taste any more than any other political allegory.

    One suggestion if you yourself are feeling your skin crawl: A dash of humor helps cushion a political blow. Paranoia was published first during the height of the Reagan administration's froth-at-the-mouth twitching Cold War psychosis. Because it was funny, even right-wingers could enjoy it even as it stabbed their political position in the face. The US was funding death squads and selling missiles to psychotic religious fanatics, it was a deadly serious time and attitude, but Paranoia skewered it and so it was a-okay.
  • The Baatezu-Tanar'ri (bah, I can never spell them right) comparison is so apt it takes my breath away. I'm thinking this would make a great PtA game, as three separate but interlinked series.
  • Another possibility is to just play it straight: "adventurers" really are adventurers, in the old-fashioned sense of the word: "Hey guys, I heard about this screwed up place where we can plunder the shit out of things. Let's raise some cash and go there, I'm sure it will be real easy." Man-Who-Would-Be-King style.

    I agree that PTA would be a pretty handy system; so might Shock.
  • Our now ending D&D game's setting had occasional aspects that reminded me of the situation in Iraq, though it was not deliberate and never so apparent that anyone else said anything about it. But we were an occupying force in a city after a big war, and some other aspects. Pity we never got to fully explore those parts of the game.

    I like githyanki vs. githzerai as Sunni vs Shiite. In both cases, I have only the vaguest idea what the difference is, but the people (real or fictional) involved apparently thinkt hese differences are of huge importance. (In the case of Sunni vs. Shiite, I should probably educate myself.)
  • A couple of years ago, I ran a game of Exalted set in Chiaroscuro, a large desert city. The old king had just been overthrown by Dragon-Blooded legions from the overseas Realm. The resistance was led by a group of Solar Exalted insurgents. The PCs, all recently awakened Solar Exalted, heard about this and headed off to see what they could do. As soon as they arrived in the city, they walked slap-bang into a 'suicide bombing' attack in a marketplace (the release of a group of homocidal demons who had no thought of their own safety). They traced the origin of the demons back to the insurgents, condemned them, secured a bunch of the 'bombs' to prevent their use, then got stuck into all the other blood opera fun that was going on in the city.

    By the end of the game, the PCs thought it was a good idea to set off one of the suicide bombs in a crowded public square, simply to cause a diversion.

    How's that for a thematic statement?

    (None of the players twigged that they were really in Baghdad. I don't know if that's good or not.)

  • Posted By: Mr. Teapot
    I like githyanki vs. githzerai as Sunni vs Shiite. In both cases, I have only the vaguest idea what the difference is, but the people (real or fictional) involved apparently thinkt hese differences are of huge importance. (In the case of Sunni vs. Shiite, I should probably educate myself.)
    On the subject of subtle differences between neighbors I think you might find this thread on IMDB interesting. It was on the Hotel Rwanda discussion board, about the difference between Hutus and Tutsis. (My, isn't this thread just full of cheerful subjects.) I'm the gaea_lee person. While Sunnis and Shiias are more different and have a more divided past than Hutus and Tutsis, differences that are tiny from an outsider's view are very visible to those in the region and sometimes those differences can be all-consuming.
  • I ran a Dogs town once that was an allegory for the pre-war world situation.

    By the end of it, the PCs had led the town in invading the farmhouse of the abusive patriarch, killed him, repossessed all the farm's resources for the town, and left a Dog behind to govern for a while. And this was from fairly leftward-leaning players.
  • edited May 2007
    (self-deleted for reasons of good taste)
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: James_NostackPlay would alternate between three "parties" --
    I think that's what sets this idea about from those that would be more like offensive, rhetoric-filled jingoism. Exploring reaction after reaction to where you can't even say who started would, I think, maybe for interesting and evocative play. Though, if I were to run this, I'd be more inclined to actually tackle the "source material" head-on.

    On a side note, one of the lines we drew in a Carry game I played a month back was to not make any reference or drawn any comparison to the current war, because we wanted to keep the game from turning into a political debate and because we wanted to keep the game about Vietnam. This makes me wonder what sort of RPGs will be around in 10 or 20 years that explore the current war, and how we'll deal with that.
  • I agree that alternating play between various viewpoints is quite useful. One of the problems I have had in running "traditional" roleplaying games is that there's rarely a good mechanism in the each-player-has-a-character-in-the-one-party traditional setup for equal representation of views. (An NPC presenting an alien viewpoint is decidedly not the same as players adopting an alternate viewpoint as PCs do.)
  • You know, the 'rotating party' is a good one, but if you were willing to give up party play, you might get some mileage out of a relationship map with pawns on it. As the narrative moves, the players move the pawns to the next character they want to play (or the next character they want someone else to play). The narrative point of view slowly shifts over time rather than being in discrete chunks.
  • Yeah, I used "party" simply because I was thinking D&D, and if you were doing parties you'd pretty much have to rotate for something like this to acquire the necessary moral depth. In a more Indie-ish game, it would entirely work as a blood opera between 3-4 players with various political, social, and religious affiliations shaking them out.

    Jon Hastings and I (and several others) tried this with a PTA game set in 1990's Serbia. Everyone else played slightly escapist concepts: the student revolutionary, the gangster, the chief of secret police. I played the civilian single mom. I have conflicting feelings about that game: it was both a lot of fun, and also, the most heartbreaking and emotionally wrenching role-playing I've ever done. Every time Jon said, "Okay, James, your scene: plot or character?" I almost wanted to cry.

    Moral (for me personally): sometimes laser-sharking something makes it less painful.
  • There's no question it does. See what I said above about Paranoia.
  • Posted By: James_Nostack
    Moral (for me personally): sometimes laser-sharking something makes it less painful.
    I thought that was the entire point of lasersharking.
  • I thought it was to make it more fun.
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