Author Topic: Tracy Hickman's rant  (Read 8473 times)

Fellfrosch

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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2002, 06:56:36 PM »
Yeah, I always play the evil guys in wargames, but I don't play what I would consider an "evil" RPG character. The feeling is all very different between wargames and RPGs, probably because of the scale and the target. Wargames are at such a large scale that I feel removed from the action--my Zerglings can mercilessly destroy the enemy, but I never have to take on that role myself. The target is also important--Dark Elves and Dark Eldar are vicious murdering pirates, but I've never played a scenario in which they murder innocents. A wargame pits two forces against each other--soldiers killing soldiers, for standard wartime reasons. I have no interest in a recreation of a Dark Eldar slave raid against a defenseless peasant village.

As for the definition of what is evil and what is not, it's true that it's all very relative. Killing a person and stealing all his stuff is bad, but doing the same to a dragon is usually considered a good thing. And I won't deny that when I first started roleplaying I played a lot of very amoral characters, who would kill and steal just because the option was a available. (Besides, when you're twelve it's much more fun to kill a lone thug with a missile launcher than just to knock him unconscious.) I think that playing the violent psycho is a normal stage in roleplaying, because it's a chance to explore the limits of your imagination and do things you'd never be able to do in real life. After a while, though, playing that kind of character loses its charm, and "I blow up that shopping mall just because I can" gives way to more mature roleplaying. (Though I doubt that any of my RPG characters could be termed "mature"--I tend to go for the crazy weirdos.)

The line between real evil and game evil has to be drawn somewhere, at least for me. I don't swear, and I wouldn't play a character who swears because I would have to swear in order to do it properly. Sex is a similar case, though there are obvious differences--I don't mind playing a womanizer, but I would never play a rapist because I would feel uncomfortable saying "my character rapes the [insert NPC here]." And while I feel that violence has an important place in games (you have to beat up the bad guy, after all), I wouldn't want to play a serial killer.

Let's look at the sealed section of Dragon magazine, which I don't have but I do know some of what it contains. It includes a bunch of stuff regarding Necromancy--maybe a little too detailed and gory for my kids, but I don't imagine I'd have a problem with it. Necromancy happens to be one of my favorite parts of fantasy, for whatever reason, and I tend to be fairly tolerant of it. The magazine also included some rules for "Corrupt" spells, which permanently burn off some of your hit points when you cast them. That's a very intriguing idea, and while I might not want to play a character evil enough to know such spells, I'd certainly put a Corrupt NPC into my game. I don't see how these rules and spells would be too horrible for children to read, but I'd read them first just in case.

The third section in the magazine is about overt sexual necrophilia, and here I draw the line. Perhaps it is my typical American skittishness in regard to sex in the media, but I can't imagine a game in which such a subject would be appropriate. I can't imagine any plot element that could not be accomplished through less distasteful means. I wouldn't use this material, I wouldn't let my children use this material, and I might not even read that chapter of the book. HOWEVER, I don't see any good reason why my personal prejudices in this case should be forced onto other people. I wouldn't want to ban the book just because it contains stuff I don't agree with. As an adult I can make my own decision about whether or not to use the material, and I afford other adults the same right.

Rating games and "carding" the purchase of Mature games is an interesting solution. I support carding because it only affects minors, which means that a) it doesn't hurt me, and b) it leaves parents the option of investigating the material and buying it for their children if they deem it appropriate. Any guidelines stricter than that would be unfair--it would limit adults in the name of protecting children. It doesn't make any sense. Spriggan has an excellent point, however, when he says that most RPG stores are too small to bother with carding. Only 15% of video games in the U.S. are purchased without adult supervision, but I'd bet the numbers are reversed when it comes to RPGs.
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Fellfrosch

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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2002, 06:59:29 PM »
Wow, I'm sorry that I keep writing such enormous essays in my posts. I do believe, however, that this is a fascinating discussion and that we are all remaining very good-natured about it. This is what message boards are supposed to be like.
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Lord_of_Me

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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2002, 11:54:32 AM »
i konw absoluteley nothing about roleplaying so, well here's my opinion anyway...

I would never bother the sex bit of the book because that's not what games should be about, like fellfrosch i don't mind the other stuff. The question should be asked though, has wizards gone too far?

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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2002, 01:16:02 PM »
well, yeah. thats what we were discussing ismir. glad you could make it to the conversation.

the concept of sex within campaigns seems to be a strange one. there is repeated mentions of erotic RPing in vampire, and there is a "carnal manual" for DnD (how i wish i was kidding here) making the rounds on the peer to peer networks. amusing that a legendarily geeky game should have a manual for sex, but there you go.


finally, i suppose that playing a evil campaign might depend on what actually happened. having the players be evil necromancers who aim to besiege and destroy settlements (just a random example) is a evil campaign, but does not have to involve any squemish stuff.
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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2002, 03:10:33 PM »
I'd like to expand a little on charlies last statement.  You need to have a villin to have heros.  Weither or not the villin is 100% evil isn't the question, I think the question is how much does a GM want to Embelish (i think that's the right word) that evil ness.  Like Fell I don't have a problem with necromancy, but detailed descriptions aren't needed.  And also there's a difference between sexual releations and a player getting hookers (My friends did that stuff in some campains), it's the details that I don't care for or the Necrofelia (or shi-tai-ai-kou-ka in Japanese, don't ask I've know that word for years).  Again You don't need to buy that book or use those things in your campains.  But I think one of Tracy's main points is that wizards releasing and endorseing a book about that stuff finaly gives creadence to all those that have been bashing RPG's.  That book of carnal desires, I'm not sure that's D&D a lot of time on the P2P people will put D&D in front so that it can be found, ie D&D has become to marker for a RPG game on the P2P.  Now if it is a TSR book then both my last point and Tracy's pont has no creadence to this book but a previous one.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2002, 10:09:07 PM by Spriggan »
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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2002, 03:28:43 PM »
I don't want to get off topic, but I need a little explanation.  My RPGing experience is fairly limited - mostly Rifts, After the Bomb, and Star Wars.  I don't see what the point of the book of Vile Darkness is.  In the games I've played, if you wanted to know the bad guy is evil, you could say he was a murderer or a rapist or something, but why would the details ever come up?  What are the point of rules about "overtly sexual necrophilia"?  I'm having a hard time seeing how it would ever even show up in a game.

Maybe I'm just a little naive in my role playing.  The only time sex has ever come up in a game I played was when I was about twelve.  My friend Giles thought it was very funny for his character to sleep around with everybody, and would tell us that he did.  Is the Book of Vile Darkness written with the same motives (to make pre-teens giggle?)  Is it simply a book for the immature to gawk at, or is there a practical gaming application?

Please, somebody explain.
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Lord_of_Me

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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2002, 04:46:42 PM »
the immature to gawk at, i think.
maybe wizards want to expand the audience and got it a bit wrong

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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2002, 05:40:11 PM »
Isn't it sort of concerning that Wizards has already stated that they won't release online any of the art for BofVD because they say the art is for mature audiences only. In other words, they are concerned that some of the artwork might violate pornography or other public decency laws.

I agree with Fell that the line between game evil and actuall evil can get crossed very easily. Part of the problem is that not everyone agrees on what is the wrong thing to do (like they can't ever agree what is the right thing to do). What may seem as evil to one person may not seem evil to another. For example: I was in a campaign where the DM wanted my character to perform a certain action to further the plot. In his mind he saw the action as self-sacrificing and heroic. In my mind I saw it as masochistic and abusive so I refused to do it and he punished me for it. I didn't agree with the DM (and still don't), but it blew over after a couple of sessions.

Now there are people who clearly take things too far. For example, the guys I knew in High School who were into Vampire had serious problems. One got arrested for substance abuse and carried a dead mouse as a key chain. Another was locked up for sexual assualt on his girl-friend. And another had made scars in his forearms in various symbol patterns (mostly satanic). I like to think that those people would have been messed up anyways, but they did use the Vampire game as an excuse for their actions. I think they were probably looking for any excuse to having to deal with reality, but they took things way too far. Because of those people, role-playing had a very negative reputation in my high school and in the community.
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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2002, 01:23:02 AM »
And yes Mustard, most sane people have no need to go into details as to how the bad guys did what.
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Re: Tracy Hickman's rant
« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2002, 08:25:39 PM »
Just a quick thought on the whole "evil bad guys" thing.  The main antagonist in a game need not be evil, or even bad.  It depends on the point of view of the protagonists (the player characters).  It is perfectly legitiate (in my mind at least) to run a game where the players are all part of some outlaw group or secret society (maybe evil, maybe not) and the main antagonist could be the Order of Paladins, the Church, or even a powerful witch hunter, any of whom might have a vested interest in seeing the player characters either imprisoned or killed.  The point here is that the antagonist doesn't have to be evil to be effective, but merely has to be believable.  in the late, lamented Farscaps, the crew (ie: player characters) were being hunted through space by a soldier who was out for revenge over the percieved murder of his brother (a very believable motive) and had the ships and artillery under his command to make himself a very real danger and a reason for the crew to stay on the move.  Would he have been considered evil?  Maybe, but maybe not.  Even if he were a saint, the motivation of revenge and the power to back it up would have still made his actions believable.  A bad guy in your campaign might very well simply be the wife of a 1st level mercenary the players fought against and killed when they were beginning their careers, but who has made herself powerful through years of magical study and is now able to confront her husband's killers, even though she might be just as "lawful good" as those that she is seeking revenge upon.

Oh well, just a few thoughts.  I'm feeling wordy tonight.  Too much Halloween candy :)
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