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Topic: UGLY (Read 1957 times)
purple monkey dishwasher
August 28, 2007, 10:41:25 PM »
I posted this over at SG.com and I'm sort of tinkering around with it.
It's not much of anything yet, but I thought I'd spit it out and see if someone punches it in the head while it flops on the deck.
Forgive the steam of consciousness and jumpiness of the post (it's stolen from three other posts).
This may just have to be an adventure idea for another game, but I've been pondering a short game (ala Poison'd) where the players take on the roles of "ugly" characters. Not necessary physically ugly, but real villainous, cancerous people. The debutante the destroys lives in her social circle, the psychopath that collects human fingers, the war profiteer, the world bank v.p., and so on.
It's just an idea at the moment. I don't have anything concrete yet, but the game could be able either redemption or damnation, as the character's lives spin slowing out of control. I know Mark V. would love this game.
As I said. Just a kernel of an idea at the moment.
Just off the top of my head.
You have a CANCER stat (which represents your ability to affect other people with your UGLY), a MALEVOLENCE stat (which represents how deep the UGLY goes), and an AMORAL stat (which represents your conscience or lack there of). The game could be similar to the movie CUBE where the characters are sentenced to die and have a single session to redeem themselves or take others down with them.
Or perhaps the game is nothing more than characters brought in to testify on the behalf of some sick, twisted super-villain.
Mark and I had talked about doing a game where you are trying to PERFECT history (opposite of failing to repeat it).
Maybe there's a corollary there.
Ugly people, somehow tied to the fate of some cruel event, and now they are hearkening backwards to important events in their past. Instead of "the island is sinking," the characters are trapped in a no-way out scenario and the game is played in the flashes of moments between realization and fear?!?!
Reply #1 on:
August 29, 2007, 07:36:49 PM »
The real problem I see with the "total damnation" or "redemption" ideas is reasonable character motive. In order to reach a truly epic level of ugliness, some level of anti-empathetic sociopathy really needs to be involved. Hinging the endgame on fundamentally empathy-based concepts (because, really, to be "damned" or "redeemed", you have to care, first) would, in my opinion, end up feeling artificial.
Perhaps, though (and I'm just throwing something out), you could provide motivation with an external agent... The very hand of god has reached down and cleared the perceptions of these sociopaths, and given them their last chance at redemption. Place a stat for how much or often their "old nature" seeps through, and give them a choice of exiting either out the top (by redemption) or the bottom (by intentionally slipping back into their old ways with renewed vigor). Use a sort of "either-end resistance" model, where as they stat to either extreme, it becomes more difficult not to fall back the other way.
But, back to your proposal...
One thing I don't understand is the MALEVOLENCE stat, and the concept of "depth" in practical terms. Would this stat determine how difficult it would be for the character to slough off or go against their evil nature?
Ugly people, somehow tied to the fate of some cruel event...
To backtrack on my first point, I suppose this scenario would present some motivation, although you would still need to define, in out-of-world instruction, why these people should act any differently the second time around.
If you *really* don't want to call me FLEB, go ahead and call me Rudy Fleminger... I guess... because I like you.
Reply #2 on:
August 30, 2007, 05:57:41 AM »
The closest thing I think I've seen to this idea is Vincent Baker's "kill puppies for satan." Unfortunately, I think that game is a bit misunderstood ... I think people get the idea that you play kpfs until you disgust yourself and don't want to play any more. Instead, the idea of the game is to play until one cannot bear to torment one's own player-character any more ... even though, and perhaps especially because, the scrofulous little fucker has done nothing to deserve such mercy.
Anyway, I went into all that to get a better idea of what you're after, and to provide a basis for comparison. The thing I'm wondering about your idea is this: you mention redemption, and you also mention no-way-out scenarios. So is it really
, or simply
, that constitutes the payoff for playing the character? I'm thinking of Cube, in which nothing even faintly resembling redemption is involved, and in which "clarity" does not refer to the nature of the Cube, but rather to self-knowledge, particularly of one's inner ugliness.
Also, as a first impression, I think you're being a little bit baroque with that stuff about history, traveling backwards, and whatever. I think it'd make more sense to make the adversity as straightforward, undeniable, and claustrophobic as possible.
On one hand, we could be talking about a truly uncompromising, psychological zombie story. On the other, we could be talking about a bunch of secret police officers engaged in petty, stupid, ultimately meaningless abuse of the citizenry. Did you see the movie The Lives of Others? "Ugly" reminds me of the senior Stasi officers, bloated and twisted in their cruelty - yet one of whom achieves a degree of self-knowledge (I'm not talking about the hero, who redeems himself, but the really senior guy, the fat one).
purple monkey dishwasher
Reply #3 on:
August 30, 2007, 11:39:37 AM »
good ideas, guys. thanks for posting.
at the moment, i don't have as much as i should before posting to the forge, but this idea has been haunting me for about a year and i've made no progress. i know there's a game in there, but i can't feel it yet.
personally, i want to make a game where the PCs are all vile, unthinkable characters, with some kind of shared fate.
and of course, maybe that's the game. it could be a small pamphlet of a game, where the players sit down, make a character, and then agree to the shared fate (cube-style or otherwise) to begin play.
i love the notion of it being like cube (without all the math), or maybe more like Fringeworthy or Kult (the old RPG) where the people how can "see" are completely random.... or in this case, extremely vile.
i appreciate the feedback.
when i have a stronger design document ready, i will post it.
Reply #4 on:
August 30, 2007, 08:02:23 PM »
Have you read the John Gardner book
? It's an interesting, philosophical retelling of
from the perspective of the titular monster, and it really goes into some interesting directions on morality and the like.
To keep from spoiling too much of it (it's a really strange, interesting read, in my opinion), imagine a dedicated hunter, environmentalist, and philosopher who gets so disgusted with the people around him that he becomes as monstrous and cruel to them as he sees them acting towards the world in general. Sort of a Nietszche-esque "becoming a monster" scenario, in which noble intentions, without any wisdom or perspective to temper them, lead a person to truly depraved acts.
Do these have to be people who are actually *evil*, or can they be people who at least think they're doing the right thing? Most everybody in life at least thinks they're on the right track, it seems, even if they know they aren't perfect. The PCs should definitely be such people.
What's the conflict that they face?
Kill Puppies for Satan
is really about venting on some level. I don't see that as being a game with much longevity, at least for a particular set of characters... do you want a longer campaign? If not, a one-shot evil-laughter-fest (bwahaha!) could be fun once in a while.
You could also have the players just start their characters out as people that *they* think are bad people, and go from there. That could allow them to have some kind of actual motive to "redeem" them or something, because when the players push their own limits, it'd be a release to move away from that territory. This kind of pushes it into
Wraith: the Oblivion
territory, and by that I mean it's a place where the players might get really uncomfortable. And that's not necessarily fun. But it would give the players a vested interest in that redemption theme, or at least taking another look at the whole thing.
Mask of the Emperor
rules, admittedly a work in progress -
purple monkey dishwasher
Reply #5 on:
September 03, 2007, 08:41:14 PM »
I have read it.
And I really like this idea. People with "good intentions" devoid of the wisdom and perspective to apply it correctly.
Might have to think on this.
Reply #6 on:
September 05, 2007, 10:10:19 AM »
Quote from: jim pinto on August 28, 2007, 10:41:25 PM
the characters are sentenced to die and have a single session to redeem themselves or take others down with them.
As you seem to still be in the "accepting diverse possible directions" phase, let me throw this out:
All the PCs are thrown into some shared situation where "the clock is ticking" in some sense. Final pre-sentencing court session, end of the world, whatever; when X happens, the game's over.
The game instructs each player to decide whether he's shooting for redemption/escape, or for spite/take-others-down-with-me. Now, let's say redemption/escape might be more possible if the PCs collaborate. So, every player at the table knows that every other player will be trying to influence him/her for one of two ends by whatever means possible. Spiteful psychos will pretend to cooperate while scheming to betray; amoral opportunists will try to come out smellign clean atop a pile of bodies; repentant sinners will choose between going it alone and risking who to trust.
End of idea.
I think it's fun to play self-made, uninhibited, iconoclastic, extreme characters who let nothing interfere with whatever it is they're going for. Playing Doctor Doom or some such. But this feels more "badass" than "evil", and whether you have your servants tortured on whim or not winds up being relatively trivial to the experience. I could see Ugly and Cancer and Malevolence being basically the tools of power you use to accomplish your goals. Sounds like a nifty spin on "badass" gaming.
On the opposite end, I suppose I could play haunted, guilty, ashamed, spiteful, ineffectual, and/or addicted characters who hurt others with their displaced anger or poor coping skills or whatever... but geez, would I really want to? Is it fun to play guilt-tripping your relatives, harassing your exes, "borrowing" from your friends, and other sorts of toxic social behaviors?
Not trying to convince you to agree with my player tastes, just hoping to possibly prompt some clarification on loaded terms like "evil" with respect to this game. There's a quote from the
Grendel: Devils and Deaths
graphic novel that came to mind, so I'll sign off with it:
"We all do what we think is best. The problem is when ideas and principles cause us to forget about people."
here's my blog
, discussing Delve, my game in development
purple monkey dishwasher
Reply #7 on:
September 06, 2007, 01:41:26 AM »
The initial seed of an idea for this was, vile characters, with little or no redeemable value.
I've had this idea for a while... before I played Poison'd.
And I'm still thinking about what I want this game to DO.
So, your ideas are solid... I just need to write some notes and see what works.
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