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Author Topic: (Perfect -wt) Do you have the proper certifications to wear that waistcoat, sir?  (Read 3334 times)
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« on: April 14, 2006, 06:42:05 PM »

I'm designing Perfect (working title), a game about oppression and dystopia set in the high society of Victorian England.
For the first thoughts, check out:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19466.0

This conversation is splitting from the above link, because the conversation diverged greatly. For background, try reading that link.



Okay, I'm going to outline some things I've got rolling around in my head, as far as setting...
and what I want to know is:
1.) Do you, personally, dig the concept?
2.) Does the concept fit into the context?
3.) What do I need to elaborate on or clarify?
4.) What do you have to add to this world?

General

Quote
Historians now regard the Victorian era as a time of many contradictions. A plethora of social movements concerned with improving public morals co-existed with a class system that permitted harsh living conditions for many.

For most, the Victorian period is still a byword for sexual repression.

Critics contend that corsets constricted women's bodies and women's lives.

Homes are described as gloomy, dark, cluttered with massive and over-ornate furniture and proliferating bric-a-brac.
That's snipped from Wikipedia.
This is the real world version of the Victorian era.

the game Perfect takes the oddities and quirks of the Victorian era, and extrapolates from them the basis of an oppressed and dystopic world.
The game isn't quite set in the real world. Much like Dogs is in a "west that never quite was".

The pomp and splendor is transformed into something soulless, and without life.
Elegant dress becomes a symbol for repression and loss of identity.

Specifically, people use certain clothing to mark the fact that they have conformed to certain contractual laws.
An orange waistcoat means you have given up your right to speak (at all), in exchange for Freedom of Thoughts.

The Waistcoats.

I'm considering using waistcoats (or vests, in other words) as the symbology of which Freedoms a character adheres to.
If I have Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Privacy, I would wear an orange and green striped waistcoat.

Inspectors.

Inspectors wear all black. Black suit, black shoes, black socks, black hats, BLACK WAISTCOATS.
These guys appear in great number, lining busy streets and most buildings.

They are the only class of people allowed the priviledge of attaining:
The Freedom of Invasion.

Basically, they can lean into any conversation, and you are required BY LAW to continue the conversation regardless of their presence. Halting a conversation when you realize an Inspector is eavesdropping is enough to have you arrested for suspicious demeanor.

They can follow you anywhere they like, excluding Privacies (house, washrooms, bathing machines).

They are allowed to ask you for certifications and documents - papers.
You are required to carry identity papers with you at all times.
If your papers don't match your physical appearance, you are in big trouble.

Also, if you are wearing coded clothing which doesn't match with your papers - again - big trouble.

Relationships

If love isn't dead, then it is at its deathbed, at the very least.

Most relationships are for two things:
-marriage for status
-procreation
Dowries (sp?) are common for marriages, and most are arranged or at least heavily guided by parental figures.

Basically, anything that ignites sparks is a Forbidden Love.

This hopefully creates the potential for interesting campaign adventures, as Pell struggles to track down that woman he once shared a glance with - risking everything to learn her name.
Risking his freedom, status, and life.

Family
The family unit is held together by tradition, custom, and etiquette....
but the idea that families are a wellspring of love and acceptance is an idea easily lost to the inhabitants of the Perfect world.

Family members are, to them, just enemies that are more easily able to expose you.

As such, there is no solace or comfort in the home. Only alienation and fear.
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Chad
Member

Posts: 45


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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2006, 11:11:48 PM »

Hi Joe,

I see you took to the waist coat idea, cool.

I had another related idea: in order to enhance the effect of the freedom signifier (colored waistcoats) as well as impose a form of total symbolic control on the masses - what if the state outlawed all color ,except for the waistcoats.

Obviously natural colour of the sky and wood and such would be legal, but all other manufactured colors in art, clothing, decor i.e. any cultural production must be Dark gray, gray or white (only inspectors have black). This would serve two purposes; one the effect of the colored waistcoats and their importance in society would be magnified a hundred fold because - these are the only colours that are allowed. Secondly, I think, it might enhance the mood of the dystopian landscape.

A can see it mentally, as a bleak black and white period film, with the only colors as the waistcoats.
Any dabbling with color will become a capital offence - only the state may use color.
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Chad
Member

Posts: 45


WWW
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2006, 11:29:39 PM »

Sorry to double post, but the color thing got my head going, and I have some stuff I want to add to that.

If you like the color ban idea, I was thinking how this could relate to Images and other forms of conflict/resistance in the setting.

All Images would be vivid, full color things. Perhaps before the New Order, color was legal so all these memories are bright full color clips.
Traffic in full color photos; family photos, magazine or otherwise becomes a dangerous black market business. These are tied to Images as anchors for memory.

Creating colored art, or otherwise colored stuff becomes a metaphor for real freedom, a freedom that the state tries to simulate with the colored waistcoats.
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TroyLovesRPG
Member

Posts: 150


« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2006, 11:34:41 PM »

Sounds like Pleasantville (the movie).
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dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2006, 08:04:47 AM »

Hi!
  What if you turned this food pyramid upside down? What if at the Coming of Age, every citizen has a clean slate and all Freedoms, but every infraction forces them to wear an article of clothing that denotes their previous infraction. Like a scarlet "A" but more elaborate?
  So, the rulers of the world would be those who were of a certain age or older and had no demerits?
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2006, 11:16:46 AM »

Quote
had another related idea: in order to enhance the effect of the freedom signifier (colored waistcoats) as well as impose a form of total symbolic control on the masses - what if the state outlawed all color ,except for the waistcoats.

Obviously natural colour of the sky and wood and such would be legal, but all other manufactured colors in art, clothing, decor i.e. any cultural production must be Dark gray, gray or white (only inspectors have black). This would serve two purposes; one the effect of the colored waistcoats and their importance in society would be magnified a hundred fold because - these are the only colours that are allowed. Secondly, I think, it might enhance the mood of the dystopian landscape.

A can see it mentally, as a bleak black and white period film, with the only colors as the waistcoats.
Any dabbling with color will become a capital offence - only the state may use color.

Honestly, Chad... I love it.

Quote
Traffic in full color photos; family photos, magazine or otherwise becomes a dangerous black market business. These are tied to Images as anchors for memory.

This creates some serious mechanical tie ins with Images, for sure.

Let's say the Government Reduces your Image of a ferris wheel.
If you have a colour picture of a ferris wheel, you can Restore the image.

Maybe at the sacrifice of a humanity (or whatever it will be named) point, you can Restore it.

And... I'd also say that if you use a Picture to Restore an Image, the picture is considered Expended...
ie, the picture in your hands has given you as much inspiration as it ever will, and it is basically dead to you after you use it to Restore an Image. So... you need to track down a new picture of a Ferris Wheel - or whatever it is.

Okay, so for mechanics:
-Do you like the idea of Pictures being a mechanical element that affects Images?
-Do you like the idea that a Picture can Restore an Image that's been altered?

I would also say that during Inspector Interrogations, if they manage to hone in on an Image (which will be mechanically tested, I think)....
then they might have some way to reveal that you used Pictures to secure those Images.
Which means they'll be able to charge you with Posession of Colour.

-Does this make pictures dangerous enough, but also useful?


Quote
What if at the Coming of Age, every citizen has a clean slate and all Freedoms, but every infraction forces them to wear an article of clothing that denotes their previous infraction. Like a scarlet "A" but more elaborate?

Hm....
I like the idea of marking infractions.
Maybe they get small "FoT" and "FoP" and "FoA" patches sewn onto the shoulder of their suits.

However, the idea of Freedoms is that people choose them.
I'm adamant on that one.
When I started this design project, I had one thing known for solid:
people are forced to pick their own crippling blows in a dystopic world.

But, you mind if I use the "scarlet A" idea anyways?
I'm thinking make the patches black though...
That way, an Inspector's infractions never show. :)
(Not that they'd actually be required to wear patches, but its just a symbolic link)
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Chad
Member

Posts: 45


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2006, 12:17:41 AM »

Quote

Let's say the Government Reduces your Image of a ferris wheel.
If you have a colour picture of a ferris wheel, you can Restore the image.

Maybe at the sacrifice of a humanity (or whatever it will be named) point, you can Restore it.

And... I'd also say that if you use a Picture to Restore an Image, the picture is considered Expended...
ie, the picture in your hands has given you as much inspiration as it ever will, and it is basically dead to you after you use it to Restore an Image. So... you need to track down a new picture of a Ferris Wheel - or whatever it is.

Okay, so for mechanics:
-Do you like the idea of Pictures being a mechanical element that affects Images?
-Do you like the idea that a Picture can Restore an Image that's been altered?

I would also say that during Inspector Interrogations, if they manage to hone in on an Image (which will be mechanically tested, I think)....
then they might have some way to reveal that you used Pictures to secure those Images.
Which means they'll be able to charge you with Posession of Colour.

-Does this make pictures dangerous enough, but also useful?


Very, very nice. That makes the loss of Images, and the risk, so tangible. I really like the restoration of images, that to my mind, can be a major drive for play. Say my dead wife was a butterfly collector, and my last fading Image of her is pinning this rare, but brightly coloured insect...I think search for these kinds of things could become painfully poignant, and poetic.

Finish this game already so I can play it!
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2006, 02:17:19 AM »

Quote
Finish this game already so I can play it!


Wow, really?
Yeah, okay.

I feel like, as far as colour and background, there is one thing that needs to be fleshed out before moving back to mechanics and gameplay.

That's the antagonists.
We can't rightly go on creating impacts of "the beast", without first knowing its nature.



So, here's my current thoughts...
If anyone has any ideas they want to tack on, or replace my ideas with....
by all means, throw the ideas out there.



Whether this is rooted in Victorian England, or a parallel universe I'm not sure about, but it isn't 100% relevant either.

Queen Abigail ascends to the throne, following a line of queens who have been increasingly proper and prude.
She regards herself as the most fit and proper being on the planet.
She remains celibate because all other human creatures were lustful and indelicate.

So... coming close to her deathbed, she has no suitors and no inheritants for the throne.
Enter in a fascist dictatorial group into parliament.
They take control of parliament, and they start outlying the principles of a system they dub "Abigailism".

Abigailism is basically a self-moderating and completely stagnant government, which depends on:
-a rigorous enforcement of tradition and etiquette and culture normalicy
-a harsh and biting pecking order
-an instilled belief that one must chase status and priveledge
-an oppressive set of customs, etiquettes, practices and laws
-fashion and staying fashionable

Queen Abigail, of course, loved it.
At last, her pefection could live on. Everything she was, others would be too.

In her dying days, Abigail refused to touch anything with her hands.
She refused to speak in public.
She refused to let anyone enter her home.
She refused to enter a room which a man was present in.
She refused to go out in public without first crying.

These things, these self-oppressions, became venues for the public to become "closer to Abigail".

She signed the papers, and she approved the motions.
The Gailists rose to power, as she lay dying.
She wasted away in sterility, and perfection.


And the Gailists regimented everything.
They imposed laws on exactly what colours could be worn in public, and they imposed laws on who could wear what articles and designs of clothing.

They listed the many Freedoms that Abigail had enlightened the world too, both obligatory and contractual.
The obligatory freedoms are things like the laws that we have today.
The contractual freedoms are things like...
Freedom of Thought (cannot speak, but they cannot use mental alteration tactics)
Freedom of Privacy (cannot invite people into your home, but they cannot enter your home either)
Freedom of Affection (cannot be in a room with a man, but they cannot sever communications of affection)

The basic concept was this:
the contractual freedoms were things that you could opt into. You basically sign on the dotted line, and it BECOMES law, for you.

Why would someone want to do this?
Well, the Gailists declared that you could only rise to positions of X power if you were this close to the image of Abigail, and you could only rise to positions of X+1 if you were THIS close to the image of Abigail...

Basically, you had to take on more of HER freedoms, to climb in the status chain of HER likeness.


Enter the Inspectors, the boding figures which strangely resemble Charlie Chaplin, but less comedic.
These guys dress in black and bowler hats, and are everywhere.
They are the enforcers.
Everything you have signed to, they are there to enforce.

And that, in its current inception, is the Victorian (slash, Abigailan) nightmare.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2006, 11:53:27 AM »

Quote
It took me a while to understand the use of the word "freedom". I gather that the meaning is "freed from certain thought, task or possession" instead of "able to think, do and have without restriction". The idea of status in terms of traditional exclusiveness now makes sense. To focus merely on the status and put great emphasis on desiring it becomes clear. A person must conform to the ideal of their status to maintain their status. Deviating from it pushes you in one direction or another.

The use of colors and garb is great. Their reverse meaning makes more sense to me. Articles of clothing, traditionally, were worn for functionality. Aprons allow you to work without harming or soiling your body or clothing. Hats protect your head. Scarves warm your neck while you work in the cold. Goggles shield your eyes from metal shards. When I see a person wearing a hardhat, I know he or she is in some type of construction occupation (purely subjective). Rawhide gloves give the impression of labor, while kid leather shows cultured society. When I wear a suit, I am free from menial tasks. I'm strictly a hands on the keyboard man. If I wore overalls then I would be expected to route cables and take out the trash.

Color reminds me of insignia; therefore, status. When I see a white hardhat, I assume the person wearing it is a supervisor or manager of that crew. Just as purple is a royal color, so the colors show status. In the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) color was a great indicator of status. It didn't matter how elaborate your garb was, only that you wore color appropriate to your status. Purple and ermin where reserved for the nobles.

In the school system, everyone had pins with the logo and an embedded crystal. The pin shown you were a representative of the school system (freedom) and the color indicated how many years you worked in the school system. The superintendent fussed about his pin and wanted one that reflected he had 30 years experience in education, although he only worked for the school system for 2 years. That opened up a whole can of worms, because the color changed its meaning. Eventually, the board voted to use only the number of years in the school system to determine the crystal color, and gave the superintendent a special plaque engraved with "30 years educating children". Within the school system, the pin had no status but the color was paramount. To the public, the pin shown we were school system employees and the color (guess what?) had no meaning.

Troy, I pulled this over from the other Perfect thread, just to keep the colour (no pun intended) in one thread for now.


I was originally going to use colours to represent freedoms, and use certain dressy styles to signify different status.
But...

You've made some solid points on why COLOUR should represent STATUS instead of FREEDOMS....
and, complimentarily, I have thought of some reasons why COSTUME should represent FREEDOMS instead of STATUS.

So, if you use certain ARTICLES of clothing to represent different freedoms, they can be even more symbolic.

Freedom of Thought... which prevents you from talking...
could be a tight scarf or a choker.

Whatever freedom prevents you from using your hands in public, you wear gloves for that one.



you guys like?
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TroyLovesRPG
Member

Posts: 150


« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2006, 03:01:29 PM »

This is beginning to look SO much like the way the world really operates. I'm creeped-out and fascinated at the same time. Remember the 50's shows where all the characters dressed and acted a certain way? June Cleaver in her dress, apron and pumps never contradicted Ward but just said "Oh, Ward." We never knew what Ward did at the office, but he had some nice suits and hats. Hmm. They were all grey. Everything was grey. So much for B&W TV.

I had an image of surgery used to permanently identify someone of a particular freedom. Would the loud-mouth idealist have his vocal cords cut to obey the law of Freedom of Thought? There is a Philip K. Dick story where people are handicapped to give everyone the same chance of success. There is a story in the Hard Shell anthology about a man who suffers horrible tortures to become leader of an alien race. That was very bizarre and gruesome. :)

What if the certifications were of two types: temporary and permanent. Citizens may adopt a Freedom and suffer the hindrance, having papers, smart ID card, register DNA, to take on the Freedom for a predetermined time. They could also elect to take on Freedoms that require a permanent and very visible modification that is looked upon with awe. Tattoos and implants, anyone?

One other way to determine certification is that of behavior. How difficult is it to fake the behavior of someone with a particular status or color? Are there secret handshakes, code words, choices that must be made? Drinking tea without extending your pinky is a sure sign of mental corruption.

Waistcoats make sense for men. What about petticoats for women? The difference is that they are hidden and give women the great mystique. Women are treated the same until they desire to "expose" themselves and flag their freedoms. Men strut around like males of most species and it is the females' choices that determines the next step in the relationship. Her petticoat may be pink, showing that she has the freedom of reproduction (although she is forbidden to have sex). She may choose the most disgusting man to take as her husband, knowing that she will never be tempted. Its his gamble, her petticoat is hidden.

Time for dinner.

Troy
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2006, 03:37:20 PM »

Hmm....

I thought you were suggesting earlier that waistcoat/petticoat colours pointed to status,
where articles of clothing pointed to freedoms.

That's the direction I'm moving in now....


But no, I don't think that I like the "hidden" element you are suggesting with the petticoats.
I want status colour markers to be out in the open.
I want the first thing you notice about someone to be that visible marker of status.

So that you can't help but think "this person is a low class citizen" before you think anything else.
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TroyLovesRPG
Member

Posts: 150


« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2006, 05:28:23 PM »

I caught that too, about the petticoat and realized I was contradicting myself. Strike the petticoat from the record and change it to bodice as suggested by another. (Wasn't sure if I should include this, but I think we're all mature). The chastity belt could signifiy the freedom to reproduce without sex (in vitro fertilization). Only children of virgins are worthy citizens.

I still think color denotes status and attire indicates the freedoms. The "hidden" status was something that intrigued me.

What about the Freedom of Imbued Status? An umbrella effectively raises the status (although temporarily) of the person also beneath it. The holder can only go outside on rainy days. Too weird?

Is status indicated by a single color? What are the levels of color you will use?

Troy
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2006, 07:40:13 PM »

Quote
An umbrella effectively raises the status (although temporarily) of the person also beneath it. The holder can only go outside on rainy days.

That is amazing.
I don't think it works, as is, because there are a lot of different types of weather.

Maybe...

Right of Silence
You may refuse to answer any question asked of you,
but must always have your head and face overshadowed. (by an umbrella or other).

That way, the umbrella shelters you from the elements, both physical and social. :)
Somehow kinda fitting.

Soon I'm going to open a Freedoms thread, and get people to do a brainstorm...



For now, let's talk a bit about hte antagonists.
Do you guys think that the Gailists and Gailism and that whole evolution works?
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TroyLovesRPG
Member

Posts: 150


« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2006, 08:42:01 PM »

I like the story about Queen Abigail. Evita just sprang into my mind. The suffering of Abigail would be admirable in the Victorian era. Now the people strive to rise above what is normal (Abi-normal?) The MIBs are a good balance (for characters and antagonists). The Prisoner series has elements like this.

Another enemy could be the Divested (no clothes), rebels trying to tear down the government. They want everyone to be free without restraint. Its attractive but anarchy would ensue.

Are there other forces outside the government that are worse?
Does this political arrangement affect the world or just one part of society?
Do the characters enter into the game wanting to rise in status and freedoms?
At what point do the characters choose to break the rules?
Is there constant surveillance as in 1984?
Do some people have freedoms and are able to ignore the hindrances?
What are the laws governing identical twins?
Where are the children?

I'm sleepy.

Troy
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2006, 03:06:38 AM »

Quote
Are there other forces outside the government that are worse?

I think that this is obviously a matter of opinion, but no.
The Gailists have created an isolated and suffocated state, and as far as THEIR people go, they have become the absolute evil... even if they aren't regarded that way.

Quote
Does this political arrangement affect the world or just one part of society?
It affects an isolated state...
Either Britain or a similar parallel to it.

Quote
Do the characters enter into the game wanting to rise in status and freedoms?

 Most definately. Society has it ingrained to the point that even the rebels look at social action in terms of status and freedoms.

Quote
At what point do the characters choose to break the rules?

Ack... I am not 100% sure.
I think that there needs to be a much more concrete benefit for taking social action against the government...
Because at this point the elements of rebelllion lie solely on players thinking that ikt "make sense".

Quote
Is there constant surveillance as in 1984?

Inspectors are a pervasive and controlling element in society.
Aside from that, witchhunt-esque inquisitions occur regularily.

Quote
Do some people have freedoms and are able to ignore the hindrances?

Yes.
Some work around the crippling effects.
In fact, most do.

Quote
What are the laws governing identical twins?
They are treated as individuals.
One might or might not be able to fooling the government about which person you actually were....

Quote
Where are the children?

I envisioned something a lot like in 1984, where the traditional nuclear family exists...
but its been stripped of emotional bearing.
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