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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: iago on April 16, 2003, 01:18:12 PM



Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: iago on April 16, 2003, 01:18:12 PM
What follows is an intro blurb I just sketched up based on an idea that's been banging around in my head here and there as I've been reading the 24-hour game stuff.  

Quote
Can you see the humor in cannibalism? If not, this is not a game for you. Eaten recently? Not for you, either. The game is best played at least a little hungry. On a diet? The game uses actual food as part of play. When done best, it's tempting, but probably at least a little bad for you, food. Don't play it if you can't face it.

Quote
Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, nothing so surely unmortars a society; nothing, we might plausibly argue, will so harden and degrade the minds of those that practise it. And yet we ourselves make much the same appearance in the eyes of the Buddhist and the vegetarian. We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions, and organs with ourselves; we feed on babes, though not our own; and the slaughter-house resounds daily with screams of pain and fear. We distinguish, indeed; but the unwillingness of many nations to eat the dog, an animal with whom we live on terms of the next intimacy, shows how precariously the distinction is grounded.
Robert Louis Stevenson


Long Pig comes out of a certain caveat that I've seen here and there when playing a game that uses glass beads, poker chips, loose change, or what-have-you for counters: Don't Use Candy, Because The Players Might Eat Their Counters.

In Long Pig, however, that's exactly the point.

To start with, your characters are cannibals, not to put too fine a point on it. They eat their own kind. Indeed, they hunger to do so. But they are also people who know the hunger is on some level wrong. Thus, a dominant story for a character in Long Pig is in the tension between dark appetites and the drive to resist them as well as the inevitable moment of surrender.

This may not be a literal cannibalism, however, and the trappings of the story can be bent around the hardpoint that is this theme. You could be playing vampires filled with self-loathing. You could be playing sadists who keep hurting the ones they love. And, in fact, the game could operate with multiple interpretations of the cannibal, with each character exploring a different kind of appetite for feeding on one's own kind.

The gamemaster, called the Tempter in Long Pig, occupies the somewhat sadistic position of placing difficult temptations in the characters' paths. These temptations are in turn represented by genuine "real life" temptations for the player. What exactly those are might vary from session to session and/or from player to player. For some it might be chocolate. For others, salty snack foods. Regardless, and this is where the player and the Tempter have to trust one another, it has to be something that represents a genuine "I have a hard time not eating that if it's in front of me" temptation for the player. And it has to be divided up into units that do not, individually, fully satisfy the need. You can't eat just one.


My main questions here are:

- Did this grab your interest?  If not, could it with a rewrite, and if so, what's missing?

- The main "mechanical" notion I have here revolves around the Tempter-Player "real world" gimmick.  What other mechanical elements (if any) suggest themselves?  (Not looking for a 'design my RPG for me' response here so much as an initial reaction as uncolored by my own notions as possible)

- In the end, plain and simple: Would you play it, and what would it take to get you to?


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: anonymouse on April 16, 2003, 01:29:54 PM
Quote
- In the end, plain and simple: Would you play it, and what would it take to get you to?


I would, but probably only once, and only as a one-shot; I can't see myself enjoying this as any kind of long-term campaign on its own. Eating people (or sentient things in general) leaves me pretty squeamish, so chalk it up to personal preference.

There seem to be a whole lot of people who play stuff like kill puppies for satan, though, so I'm sure there is an audience for this. ;)

Also: it seems like it would work best the closer you can stick to the literal definition of cannibalism. Using one of your examples, if we wanted to do a self-loathing vampire shtick, we'd play Vampire.


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 16, 2003, 01:32:28 PM
Hi Fred,

Let me see if I can make a point with my answer.

The answer is "No, I 'would' not play it." But it is also, "If you write it, I will play it."

See what I mean? The hypothetical case isn't going to help anything. Dude, you came up with a game that obviously you want to write and play. Icky? Poo-y? Sure! But there it is.

If you can communicate that passion to other people - and believe me, your text so far is well on the way - then some of us will go "Ick! Poo! Umm, how do I make up a character?"

But never mind looking for approval first. Screw approval. I'm looking forward to this.

Best,
Ron


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Sylus Thane on April 16, 2003, 01:39:40 PM
My only problem with would be that it would make game night munchies that much more expensive than they already are. You really can't eat just one, especially if it's the right one. I've known some people that would be better off cooked in my own opinion. (Can't believ I'm saying this) I'd say not to worry necessarily making a mechanic for it but it would make a really good supplement for something. Maybe you could if you could make it a supplement for KPfS.

Sylus


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 16, 2003, 01:44:39 PM
There seems to be an underlying theme in the game about giving in to dark desires. Couldn't it be recast from that POV? Then cannibalism would be just one possible choice amongst many.

Or are you thinking that by going with the worst impulse as the primary example that it'll be more provocative?

I think either approach is likely to have problems in terms of people who might be put off by the subject matter.

Mike


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on April 16, 2003, 01:54:58 PM
[Cartman] Sweeeet! [/Cartman]

Yeah. What Ron said. Screw approval. If some losers out there can put out FATAL with a straight face and defend it, someone with your talent (and I have the playtest version of Delta, so I know you have talent) can pull off a game like this with few problems.

Yeah it's queasiness-inducing subject matter, but so are Oz and The Sopranos. Not because they're extra gory and violent, but because they hit so close to home. Cannibalism is extreme, but it's been done in human history. Games about vampirism are thinly disguised games about rape and murder, and people with any sense of metaphor know it, but they keep on playing.

So go ahead and do it, but do it well.


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: clehrich on April 16, 2003, 04:36:54 PM
On the general concept of cannibals as characters, that sounds like fun to me, in a weird sort of way.  I'd agree with some here, though, that you ought to stick to literal cannibalism.  There's a lot of dreck around about how vampires are predators and humans are prey, which keeps the two far too separated for real discomfort these days.  If you're an otherwise ordinary guy who occasionally noshes on neighbors, though, that sounds really uncomfortable and twisted.  Have you seen Cannibal!  The Musical yet?

As to the temptation concept, I think the thing is to have the players provide their own treats.  Then you and the player break them down into units: one honkin' big chocolate is no way equal to one potato chip.

But then, if you ask me, make a real mechanic out of it.  It seems to me that this sort of thing lends itself to bidding in place of Fortune, where you have to bid a limited resource to get something in return; perhaps you gamble your resources, and if you succeed (or fail) you get more back.

The point being: you've got to reward the players for eating people (treats) just as you reward them for not eating them.  It's got to be a trade-off.  You could do it as humanity: the fewer treats you've got left, the less human you are; or, the more treats you've got available, the less human you are (you've got a fridge stocked with body parts); or whatever.

I think the danger with this concept is that it could turn into nastiness for its own sake, in which case the player-GM antagonism is going to suck.  

As some people have said, check out kill puppies for satan, and consider doing this as a supplement.  What if treats somehow equal evil?  In kpfs, you get evil for doing terrible things (killing puppies), so would you get power for eating people/treats, or would you spend power by eating people/treats?

Keep it funny: you don't want the players agonizing about eating chocolate, really; you want the players to eat up a chocolate and say, "Mmm... spicy brains!"


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: iago on April 16, 2003, 04:46:16 PM
Thanks for the replies.  

Ron, I do get the point.  I'm not looking for approval, though, so much as "am I selling the idea well", I think, and the range of responses I've gotten have at least told me that for my purposes I'm on the right track.  This is good and this is helpful from a "keep the motivation going" perspective, so well done there, all. :)

On the "make it a supplement" track, I recognize the game concept as laid out has some resonances with Kill Puppies For Satan and Sorceror for that matter, but I have not, as yet, digested those games (pardon the verb) and on some level I don't entirely want to yet out of a kind a vague fear of "polluting" the implementation.  I hope to visit them before a revision phase, but that's still a while in coming given the amount of writing yet to be done between here and there.  Cannibal! The Musical is also in my future viewing, for much the same reason (as are a few others; I want to avoid the Hannibal stuff, but I'll probably seek out Ravenous).  I want to keep the idea as pure to what's solely in my head as possible on the initial run.

Chris, thanks for your suggestions about shifting the tone of the game a bit (you didn't quite say that, but it's the effect of several suggestions).  I'm chewing on that one presently (augh, there's another one).  I'm definitely going for black comedy here, since a dedicated "straight" take on it would be almost too dark for anyone to play; I'm going to have to reread my pitch a few times, because I think it's wanting to veer off into the serious take on things in spite of my intents.


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: hardcoremoose on April 16, 2003, 05:21:56 PM
I'm all for cannibalism.  I say go for it.  And I wouldn't temper the material by saying "maybe it's really vampirism" or "maybe it's sadism".  I'd just make it about people eating people.  But that's me.

Cannibal: The Musical is fine viewing, although I think you'll get more mileage out of []Ravenous[/i].  You might try Deranged - it's pretty intense and deals with the "dark desire" theme.  Just for fun, I'd suggest finding stories about the Sawney Beane clan too (the inspiration for both The Hills Have Eyes films, the upcoming horror flick Samhain, and the OOP novel Off Season).

- Scott


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on April 17, 2003, 11:37:38 AM
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6092

Just in case you thought you were the only one up to evil things. ;-)


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 17, 2003, 02:04:03 PM
I don't think you'll really be able to avoid the Hannibal "stuff". Who's the most famous cannibal in literature and media? Hannibal Lecter. When people see your game, he's likely to be the very first thing they think about. And I mean really... What's better cannibalistic "black comedy" than the scene with Hannibal recommending brains with fava beans?

That's my opinion. I think you'd do well to keep it in mind, even if you don't use it as a direct influence. It's easier to go with the flow than against it.

And you ever notice how cannibalism is really only abhorrent when it involves sentients?


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Tar Markvar on April 17, 2003, 03:45:21 PM
Ravenous is a decent movie (that I like quite a bit), but aside from the cannibalism, it brings up the "wendigo" concept--the idea that, by eating a human being, you gain in effective power somehow.

There are tons of tales of people who believe that by eating a part of their enemies, they might gain some of that enemy's strength.

Does this game go into that territory at all, or does it stop with the badness of cannibalism?

Jay


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: iago on April 17, 2003, 03:54:59 PM
Quote from: Tar Markvar
Ravenous is a decent movie (that I like quite a bit), but aside from the cannibalism, it brings up the "wendigo" concept--the idea that, by eating a human being, you gain in effective power somehow.

There are tons of tales of people who believe that by eating a part of their enemies, they might gain some of that enemy's strength.

Does this game go into that territory at all, or does it stop with the badness of cannibalism?


Good question.  My intention is to support the possibility of playing it with wendigo-style legends being true, or simply with the characters believing it's true.

Right now I'm toying with the idea of (among other things), that a character has an Appetite rating (numeric).  The number indicates a few things:

- The number of body parts you hunger after, and the potency of the abilities you believe consuming those parts grants you (higher is better)

- The ferocity with which your hunger returns after a meal (lower is better)

People who choose a low appetite won't be able to pull off "potent magic" (or whatever), but they also won't be hungry all the time.  High appetite gives big rewards but you're constantly hungry.

Most of the other mechanics I might attach will be window dressing to some extent, so right now I'm dithering on whether or not the above idea is more or less all I need.  While I admire the elegance of "single rating" systems, I do tend to find a little more complexity attractive.


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Garbanzo on April 18, 2003, 07:47:43 AM
I am in love with an "appetite rating."  It's just too funny.  

Everyone's been talking about cannabalism; sure, sounds pretty cool.  
But a score for Appetite!  I'm hooked.    

-Matt


Title: Idea shards
Post by: DP on April 18, 2003, 12:32:04 PM
A Deadlands game, once, in which the theme was thirst turning lost pioneers into critters. The GM turned up the heat in the apartment; when finally someone noticed, he rounded up all the drinks and restricted bathroom access.

"Dear Player, Please come to a special one-shot RPG I've prepared. I'll be providing [player's favorite food, determined beforehand], so be sure to come hungry."

The TV show Survivor's Reward Challenges.

...And everybody loves chocolate, right? (http://anatomical.com/item_disp.asp?PN=SCH-4G)


Title: Re: Idea shards
Post by: iago on April 18, 2003, 12:50:43 PM
Great stuff, Dave, thanks!

Quote from: Dave Panchyk
A Deadlands game, once, in which the theme was thirst turning lost pioneers into critters. The GM turned up the heat in the apartment; when finally someone noticed, he rounded up all the drinks and restricted bathroom access.

"Dear Player, Please come to a special one-shot RPG I've prepared. I'll be providing [player's favorite food, determined beforehand], so be sure to come hungry."

The TV show Survivor's Reward Challenges.

...And everybody loves chocolate, right? (http://anatomical.com/item_disp.asp?PN=SCH-4G)


Oh, ouch.  My melting heart...


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: iago on April 18, 2003, 03:24:25 PM
Here's my second run at the intro.

Quote
Are You Ready?

Can you see the humor in cannibalism? If you can't, this is not a game for you. Eaten recently? Not for you, either. The game is best played at least a little hungry. On a diet? The game uses actual food as part of play. When done best, it's tempting, but probably at least a little bad for you, food. Don't play it if you can't face it.

If you can see the humor in cannibalism, expect to giggle darkly.  If you haven't eaten recently, you'll find your character's appetite familiar and close at hand.  If you're not on a diet, snacks are on their way.

What's Long Pig About?

Long Pig is a role-playing game.  Chances are you know what this means.  In this particular case, we follow a pretty standard model.  There's a gamemaster who puts together a loose story structure for the players to wreak havoc in, and there are players who are definitely, clearly, obviously not playing people who are like themselves.  I hope.

The idea for Long Pig comes out of a certain caveat that I've seen here and there when playing games that use glass beads, poker chips, loose change, or what-have-you for counters: Don't Use Candy, Because The Players Might Eat Their Counters.

In Long Pig, however, that's exactly the point.  

To start with, your characters are cannibals, not to put too fine a point on it. They eat their own kind. Indeed, they hunger to do so.  Some may have only a minor appetite for the flesh of the living and can restrain their urges.  Others are overwhelmed by the desire and may seem more beasts than men.

Legends abound about the purposes and effects of cannibalism, and one of the first decisions to be made is which ones are true.  The act may be viewed as a simple madness.  It may be that a man can tap into a terrible power by eating his enemy.  The bones of certain people -- virgins, babes, rock stars, televangelists -- might be fashioned into potent magical items.  Everyone starts with a reason for their unique cuisine.

But ultimately, it comes down to the demands of one's appetite.  And once you eat long pig, you can never go back...

It is the gamemaster's job to play sadist, to some extent.  She tempts with one hand and stymies with the other.  The players will have some pretty straightforwardly driving goals, at the very least -- find viable foodstuffs (humans) and arrange the circumstances to eat them.  The gamemaster takes steps to see that this is not easy, and to make sure that the players are really feeling their characters' hungers.  

This latter bit is accomplished by representing the prey with "real life" temptations for the players.  What exactly those are might vary from session to session and from player to player.  For some it might be chocolate.  For others, salty snack foods.  Cookies.  Peanuts.

Regardless -- and this is where the player and the gamemaster have to trust one another -- the chosen food has to be something that represents a genuine "I have a hard time not eating that if it's in front of me" temptation for the player.  And it has to be divided up into units that do not, individually, fully satisfy the need.  You can't eat just one ... but one's all you'll get at a time.  More on this later.

This is not a game to take seriously.  However, the degree to which you play your characters "straight" is up to you.  On one end of the spectrum is a kind of gory slapstick, "Weekend at Bernie's" with a few serving platters and long knives.  On the other end of the spectrum is something where the characters are dark and damned, and the laughter rises out of subtler things, irony, satire, etcetera.  

Furthermore, it's possible to play this game without a single gory description, with all the violence implied, off-screen, or euphemized.  It's also possible to make it a full-tilt gross-out contest.  Neither one is better than the other -- as with the humor level, it's all about common taste.

It's your call as to where you'll set these options, but make sure your choices are agreeable to your fellow players.  This game only manages to be fun if everyone is into the idea of it being fun, and one dissonant choice can derail the whole thing for everyone.  It's important that you take the time and care to see that the dish that is served is one everyone's interested in digging into.


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on April 18, 2003, 11:54:23 PM
Straightforward without any undue coyness or shots at the gag reflex. I like it. Keep it.


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: Rich Ranallo on April 19, 2003, 12:07:11 AM
Well, you've got the temptation to consume human flesh nailed perfectly.  But you need to add in the element of revulsion that soon follows.  There are two ways to do this.

First, pair each tempting food with a disgusting food.  Sixty seconds after the player gets his reward, he has to eat something awful, preferably a taste that'll linger for a long time.  Since no food is available otherwise, the player will strive to get the "good stuff" in order to wash away the bad taste.

Second, change it from snack foods to a really delicious meal, preferably with lots of meat and sauces (lasagna seems perfect here).  As the character chows down on his fellow species-mates, the player digs into his lasagna...all the while, the GM describes, in vicious detail, the grisly details of the human flesh being consumed.  If that doesn't make things hard enough for the player to eat, the GM starts to tell the player all the memories of the person being eaten...details of the victim's life, loved ones left behind, the beautiful details that will never be felt again, etc.  The further the player can go in this process, the more power the character gains from the corpse.

This is getting farther from being an RPG and closer to being a mad Communist psychological torture program.

I like it.


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: clehrich on April 19, 2003, 08:28:54 AM
If you really want to push Rich's suggestion, you could also sometimes require people to eat, and then have (as he suggests) pasta or lasagna.  So late in the game, people are forced to eat yet another plate of spaghetti, leading to extreme revulsion and nausea.  And wacky hijinks ensue!  :p


Title: Long Pig the RPG: Would you play it?
Post by: iago on April 19, 2003, 10:33:07 AM
Actually, I might just go for a toned-down version of Rich's suggestion, in that the player is instructed to savor the reward they get, but it's the GM's job to describe things that create a clash of yuck image against yum taste.

As someone pointed out earlier, I don't want this to be a bank-breaker in terms of the investment of money in foodstuffs.