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Title: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 11:16:36 AM
I thought about posting this report for a while, trying to decide whether or not I should.  I'm not sure if this is an actual play post or an exercise in psychology.  In the end, I thought, what the heck, someone may gain from it, and the whole point is to talk about experiences, so...

I was really looking forward to the Roach at GenCon.  Everything I had read about it really sounded like a lot of fun.  I should say that my expectations for the game were somewhat ambiguous.  If asked beforehand what to expect, I guess I would have said vaguely Cthulu-esque tongue-in-cheek parody, along the lines of PBS Mystery does HP Lovecraft as written by Fry and Laurie or P.G. Wodehouse.  Keep those expectations in mind as you read on...

So, I signed up for a game on Saturday afternoon.  There were six players, including the GM.  I don't think any of us had ever played the game before.  I'm tired from having just GM'ed four four hour sessions straight on Friday and Saturday morning, and addled a bit because I had to clear my own Donjon game off the table to let the GM of the Roach game set up (she was very nice about it, by the way, thanks).  I sit down and start to play.

Here is the biggest surprise of the con for me...I hated it.   At first, I thought I just didn't really enjoy it much, that I was tired and not really on the top of my form, etc., but the more I reflect on it, the more I hate it.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the rules of the game; the rules are actually perfect for what the game is.   Jason is worthy to be praised for his work here, and anyone considering a GM-lite game should look at this.  I also didn't hate it because of the players I was playing with; they were all fantastic, really gaming on all cylinders and driving stuff forward.  The GM/organizer knew what she was doing, knew the rules, and had a ton of experience with the game, not to mention all the plastic roach props she poured onto the table, which were fun.  I can't even say I didn't have fun; there were moments when I really enjoyed myself, especially the moment when I spoke MURUB to the chap sitting next to me. 

And yet, I still hate it.  I could go into the fictional events that occurred in the game, but I don't think it would really be helpful; they really weren't that much different from other AP posts you may have seen.

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach is the first game I have ever played that I found disturbing for philosophical reasons.  The game has a point; the behaviour of the characters is essentially no different, whether they have eaten the Roach or not, and therefore comments on the depravity of human nature. I got the point in the first 15 minutes. As a believer in the doctrine of original sin, the point was easy to make for me.

I then experienced another 3 hours and 45 minutes of people doing horrible things to each other and to the NPC's for fun.  From what the GM said, our game was remarkably tame compared to some; she seemed somewhat dissappointed by the lack of gore, bloodthirsty sex, general dismemberment, etc.  I did try to get into it, I think; I purposely took on the Roach early on just to see how that would go, and did my best with MURUB.  But the story breathed its nihilistic philosophy on me and made me shudder.  Frankly, if I had not gotten the Roach card on the last event and been able to expel the Roach from my character, I would have probably felt even worse about the whole experience.  It is the first time in my life I have ever stood up from a game and felt, well, a bit dirty. 

Its not that I haven't played and narrated violence, sex, etc. in games; there has been a lot of that, some of it pretty brutal and graphic.  Just the previous day I had been the Dealer in two Dust Devils sessions that involved prostitution, brutal beatings, gunfights galore, psychopathic personalities, and racial hatred.  So what was the difference? 

I think I have finally figured it out.  In most games the morality of the actions of the characters is essentially independent of the fun you can have with those characters.  The paladin is as much fun as the assassin, and in some ways the actions of the assassin may be moral than those of the paladin.  Often, it is exactly those places where the morality or immorality of the characters intersect with the other characters and the setting that the most fun happens; will this moral character stay moral in the face of horrible pressure?  Will this immoral character see the light?  Will this character confront the moral or immoral tendencies in their own makeup and resolve the tensions?

But in the Roach, as far as I can tell, the fun of the game is directly proportional to the immorality (or amorality) of the characters.  The more depraved the conduct, the more enjoyable the fiction, seemingly.  I have to place the Roach in the same category as I place movies like A Clockwork Orange and Se7en, or the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch; impressive works of art that I wish I had never actually experienced.

Again, my intent is not to bash on Jason, Bully Pulpit, my fellow players, or the game itself.  I'm just trying to understand if this is simply a case of "not the game for me", or if there is something more involved.  Looking back, I realize that if I read the other actual play examples more closely, I would probably have noticed the aspects that in the end made me dislike the experience.  Also, I really was very tired, and I admit I was not at top form.  I'd be surprised if any of the other players in this game remember any of my inputs very well (except for MURUB, of course, which is just plain easy to make memorable).  Another point is that my expectations different from what the reality of the local instance of the game was.  Finally, I have not read the actual rule-book itself, and have no idea what guidelines might be within that address exactly the experience I had; I only have the verbal description provided to me by the organizer as a reference.  But I do have several questions:

* Did I simply miss the real point of the game?  Was there some deeper meaning or subtext that went over my head?
* Was this focus on depravity a design feature of the game, or just a local phenomenon?
* Is the kind of nihilisitc angst I experienced during the game what is intended, or am I just taking the whole thing too seriously?
* Am I just an idiot for not realizing what I was getting myself into, like a guy walking into a bar called "Wild Cherry Gentlemen's Lounge" and then complaining it would be a nice place if it weren't for all the naked women?



Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: epweissengruber on August 17, 2006, 11:48:09 AM
Your in game decision really impressed me

In C.S. Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy there are some pretty harrowing moments of degradation and cruelty, especially in That Hideous Strength.  And there are moments where characters come face to face with the realization that their actions have lead to their damnation.  All this is pretty harrowing stuff (even for an infidel like myself).  Lewis gives the frisson of being threatened by the infernal but the reader has some distance from the damnation in question.  S/he is proximate to ultimate horror yet given to realize that s/he has within the power to refrain from making the fatal step over the abyss.

Your intervention in the game made me think of C.S. Lewis meets HP Lovecraft.

In any case -- you did not become obstructionist.  You made a contribution to the game based on  your response to the premises of the game.  It's sad that the rest of the players didn't pick up on that.

Erik


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Adam Cerling on August 17, 2006, 12:01:53 PM
I believe I was in this game as well. You were the Asst. Prof. of Mathematics touting his Theorem and his Calvinism, correct? I played the manipulative, cruel, German Prof. of Foreign and Ancient Languages.

Having little time at the moment to contribute my perspective, I just want to add a bit more information for those reading:

Lisa Provost was the GM.

The two people between you and me (Kyle [male] and Corrie [female]) were friends Iíd talked into coming to the Roach game with me. My friends and I had never played before, and only I had read about it. I talked them into the game because we all appreciate Cthulhu camp. I actually didnít end up purchasing the Roach, but Corrie did.

Iíll chime in more later when I have time.

(Noticing Erik's reply) -- Erik, what of Hans's contribution do you think the players "didn't pick up on?"


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 12:05:56 PM
Your in game decision really impressed me

In case you are wondering what Erik was talking about (he and I have spoken in another venue regarding this)...

I was playing a Calvinist mathematics professor who had taken the Roach because the Roach had convinced him he was not a member of the Elect, predestined for salvation. On the last scene, I got the card which allowed the character to expel the Roach. I narrated the character being blown away by a shotgun blast by another character, and in that moment looking up into a bright tunnel of light, and seeing a kindly face looking down on him, which said "Why, Josiah, did you believe the lies of the Evil One?" and then the Roach being violently expelled through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  I'm not sure whether anyone else at the table even noticed this; I sort of got the sense they all sort of smiled an "ok, whatever" kind of smile and kept going.  That's fine by me; to me it seemed almost a required act to redeem my character and myself.

Erik bringing up "That Hideous Strength" is very appropos.  I guess that novel would have been much closer to my expectations of the game than what actually happened, if that makes sense.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 12:07:25 PM
Iíll chime in more later when I have time.

I'm looking forward to it, Adam, because I'm almost completely certain that my experience at this game session was diametrically opposed to that of the other players, and I would really like to hear about it from your perspective.  It might help me figure out exactly what went wrong for me.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 12:13:46 PM
Lisa Provost was the GM.

The two people between you and me (Kyle [male] and Corrie [female]) were friends Iíd talked into coming to the Roach game with me. My friends and I had never played before, and only I had read about it. I talked them into the game because we all appreciate Cthulhu camp. I actually didnít end up purchasing the Roach, but Corrie did.

Kyle was the chap I MURUB'ed; a good sport if I ever met one.  Corrie was, well, Corrie was fantastic; the first person I have ever seen stand on a chair at GenCon in the midst of a session, and oy vey her Jewish accent is incredible.  You sir, were downright sinister.  My friend Gary was also in the game (as the psych professor sitting to the right of Lisa) and there was one other guy whose name escapes me.

Every one of these people are people I would LOVE to game with.  If I did not enjoy the session it was certainly NOT for their lack of trying.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Lisa Provost on August 17, 2006, 12:25:27 PM
Hans,

I find it interesting that you did not enjoy yourself.  A bit puzzled as well since I asked you if you were or were not during the break we took about two hours in.  Being the nob GM and uber paranoid, I wanted to be sure that everyone was having a good time.  :)

You know, it very well could be that it's not the game for you.  Not everyone is going to like it.  And that's okay if they don't.  There are plenty of games out there that people I know play and enjoy that I personally dislike.  *shrug*

I wonder if maybe you should try the game again... maybe with someone else that is not as blood thristy and violent as myself.  *insert big grin here*  If you still dislike it, then it's not the game for you.

I was thinking of what I might have done to make it more interesting/enjoyable for you but you know after reading your posts again, I really don't think there was anything else I could have done.  Erik mentioned that maybe the other players should have noticed your uncomfortable-ness but going back and thinking about it, you didn't give off that vibe at all to me and I was sitting right next to you.  If anything, you were the one laughing harder than I was. 

Was it just the subject matter?  If maybe there hadn't been the 'using' of co-eds, the murder, do you think it would have been enjoyable at all?

It's funny you should mention that you felt 'dirty'.  My husband was in a game later that night of MLwM run by Adam Dray and he laughed saying her felt 'dirty' once they were done playing it. 

Lisa P


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: oliof on August 17, 2006, 12:34:50 PM
Hans,
in my convention game, we had a *very* tame game as can be seen in the actual play report up here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19932.0). The only death was like 'off-the-scene', and the majority of the game was academic satire, warped by roach-bound commands.

So, meaningless brutality does not need to dominate the game. My guess is that once it has been used successfully, it's easy to follow up in the bloody tracks plowed by other players. I need to play this game more to comment in-depth, though.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 01:19:10 PM
I find it interesting that you did not enjoy yourself.  A bit puzzled as well since I asked you if you were or were not during the break we took about two hours in.  Being the nob GM and uber paranoid, I wanted to be sure that everyone was having a good time.  :)
Lisa, I did appreciate you asking.  I'm just not the kind of person who will say "yeah, well, I guess its ok, could be better" when a GM asks me if I am enjoying myself.  You were certainly doing your best to make the game entertaining, for which you are worthy to be praised.  And honestly, I WAS having fun at the time.  My ultimate feelings about the game were only beginning to make themselves known to me at that point.

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Not everyone is going to like it.  And that's okay if they don't. 
Agreed completely.  My hope is that I can figure out why I didn't like the experience so I can either a) avoid it in future, or b) learn what to do to make it more enjoyable.
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I wonder if maybe you should try the game again... maybe with someone else that is not as blood thristy and violent as myself.  *insert big grin here*
  Hehe, you definitely have a certain "devil take the hindmost" quality to you. :)

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I was thinking of what I might have done to make it more interesting/enjoyable for you but you know after reading your posts again, I really don't think there was anything else I could have done.  Erik mentioned that maybe the other players should have noticed your uncomfortable-ness but going back and thinking about it, you didn't give off that vibe at all to me and I was sitting right next to you.  If anything, you were the one laughing harder than I was. 
Absolutely the case, I don't think you could or should have done anything different...we will be certain of if Adam is able to post his impressions.  Erik was speaking about a particular thing that I did in the game that I mentioned to him (see above) and not the general actions of the other players.  I was dissapointed by its reception, but on reflection its my own fault; I was either too tired or too disengaged by that point to really make people notice it, and even if they had noticed I'm not convinced it wouldn't have been against the general tone of the story to that point anyway.  Tony LB once said something about how the story you remember after the game is not the same story that would be written from a transcript of the game; the things that are important to you may be completely irrelavant to what someone else remembers.  This is an example.

As to laughter...a) I pretty much laugh all the time, ask anyone who knows me, its one of my most annoying habits and b) I really disliked the overall experience, while enjoying individual bits of it, if that makes any sense.  I loved the MURUB scene, and pretty much any scene I had with Kyle after that, and almost everything Adam and Corrie did was fantastic stuff (not to trash what other people did, but they really were incredible).  But its the same feel I have with a movie like Se7en; Morgan Freeman is fantastic in it, yet walking out of the theater I found myself wishing I had that two hours of my life back.

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Was it just the subject matter?  If maybe there hadn't been the 'using' of co-eds, the murder, do you think it would have been enjoyable at all?

Hehe, changing the subject matter would sort of be like saying "I'd like Quentin Tarantino's films if he just wouldn't have all that violence and bad language in them".  Co-eds, murder, murderous co-eds, murdering co-eds, etc. seems to me to be integral to the game.  Can you have a game without it?

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It's funny you should mention that you felt 'dirty'.  My husband was in a game later that night of MLwM run by Adam Dray and he laughed saying her felt 'dirty' once they were done playing it. 

Its funny you should mention MLwM, because after playing the Roach, I'm thinking that MLwM is another absolutely brilliant game that maybe I should never play, regardless of how interesting it seems. 

It strikes me that some people can "distance" themselves from the actions of their characters better than others, or at least better at some times than others.  In one game, you can play a character that does absolutely horrible things for some reason, and are able to say "its not me, its the character doing those things".  In another, you can't.  Maybe, for whatever reason, I simply could not distance myself enough from my character and achieve the necessary "pawn stance" or whatever its called.

A perfect example of this is the MURUB scene with Kyle.  Kyle is describing his character throwing all that psychoactive stuff into the fire, and Corrie picks up on it, playing the co-ed (Regina, I think) coming on to Kyle's character big time, and I think to myself "well, this is as good a time as any", and MURUB'ed him.  But even then, I couldn't separate myself from the character.  I suppose it could have been played a number of ways, but all that seemed "within bounds" to me was a relatively straightforward romantic scene between the two characters; firelight, a convenient blanket, tender whispers of affection, and a tasteful pan of the camera.  Because anything more than that is simply not me.  It wasn't "how would Josiah handle this sudden search of attraction towards a member of the same sex?" but "how would I handle it?"

I seem to remember reading a thread on kill puppies for satan (definitely a game I should probably not try) that addressed a similar issue; how the gruesomeness can escalate and escalate and all seem like fun and games and then suddenly you cross a line, and you can no longer distance yourself from what you are narrating.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 01:25:42 PM
Hans,
in my convention game, we had a *very* tame game as can be seen in the actual play report up here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19932.0). The only death was like 'off-the-scene', and the majority of the game was academic satire, warped by roach-bound commands.

So, meaningless brutality does not need to dominate the game. My guess is that once it has been used successfully, it's easy to follow up in the bloody tracks plowed by other players. I need to play this game more to comment in-depth, though.

Your thread defintely is more along the lines of my original expectations of the game, Harald.  Thanks for directing me to it.  I'm beginning to think that the way to really figure out this game for myself would be to try it again:
a) after a good nights sleep
b) with people I know pretty well
c) after a general discussion of the kind of tone people want to set

Whether or not that would lead to a wholly enjoyable experience on my part I don't know, but the game is brilliantly conceived and it seems a shame not to give it another go.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 01:38:29 PM
It's funny you should mention that you felt 'dirty'.  My husband was in a game later that night of MLwM run by Adam Dray and he laughed saying her felt 'dirty' once they were done playing it. 

Actually, though, if you want to know the thing that most gave me this impression, it was definitely something of my own creation; the whole business of sorority girls enslaved by Wheldrake with equations carved into their foreheads.  I made this up, and if I had come up with it as a GM back in my old World War II Mage game as something some Nazi scientist was doing, I would have totally grooved on it.  But in this case, it was not some Nazi scientist, it was ME carving equations into their foreheads; I could not distance myself from the fictional act.  Does that make sense? 

This is all verging on psychoanalysis territory, and yet it seems important to me from the perspective of any RPG, not just the Roach.  We have all narrated some pretty gruesome and horrendous stuff in our gaming lives.  What are the circumstances that let us say "thats not me DOING that, its someone else"?


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Jason Morningstar on August 17, 2006, 01:49:45 PM
* Did I simply miss the real point of the game?  Was there some deeper meaning or subtext that went over my head?
* Was this focus on depravity a design feature of the game, or just a local phenomenon?
* Is the kind of nihilisitc angst I experienced during the game what is intended, or am I just taking the whole thing too seriously?
* Am I just an idiot for not realizing what I was getting myself into, like a guy walking into a bar called "Wild Cherry Gentlemen's Lounge" and then complaining it would be a nice place if it weren't for all the naked women?

Hey Hans,

Thanks for posting about your experience with The Roach - this is fantastic stuff.  I'm just going to address your specific questions and get out of the way, because the conversation is really interesting and productive.

I don't think you missed the point of the game.  I've seen players consciously and unconsciously add meaning to their experience, but I've also seen it played for cheap laughs.  With me it is usually a race for the bottom.  As a designer I had no elegant self reflective goals in mind (although I'm glad when that happens). 

I can't tell you whether or not you are taking the game too seriously, but I will say that the whole thing is meant to be amusing in the darkest way.  It's pitch black satire, and if upon reflection you realize that the real depravity is your own, not your characters, you can draw your own conclusions. 

I talked to Lisa and was assured that she had the standard lines and veils discussion before play, which is something I really harp on from people who facilitate it at cons, so I really don't see how a person could be completely blind-sided.  That said, I totally respect your feelings about The Roach, and I'm encouraged that you brought them to the forums. 


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 02:00:17 PM
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I talked to Lisa and was assured that she had the standard lines and veils discussion before play, which is something I really harp on from people who facilitate it at cons, so I really don't see how a person could be completely blind-sided.  That said, I totally respect your feelings about The Roach, and I'm encouraged that you brought them to the forums. 

She did indeed, and I have no complaints whatsoever on her behaviour.  If I was blindsided, it was due to my own expectations or misunderstandings, not due to any failure on her part.  One of the reasons I hesitated on posting anything at all was because of the concern that it would harm someone elses experience of the game, or their memory of it.  I hope that doesn't happen.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Ricky Donato on August 17, 2006, 03:08:18 PM
Actually, though, if you want to know the thing that most gave me this impression, it was definitely something of my own creation; the whole business of sorority girls enslaved by Wheldrake with equations carved into their foreheads.† I made this up, and if I had come up with it as a GM back in my old World War II Mage game as something some Nazi scientist was doing, I would have totally grooved on it.† But in this case, it was not some Nazi scientist, it was ME carving equations into their foreheads; I could not distance myself from the fictional act.† Does that make sense?†

This is all verging on psychoanalysis territory, and yet it seems important to me from the perspective of any RPG, not just the Roach.† We have all narrated some pretty gruesome and horrendous stuff in our gaming lives.† What are the circumstances that let us say "thats not me DOING that, its someone else"?

Hi, Hans,

You have reminded me of a quote from a very old thread:

I once wrote a story and while writing I was entirely within the head of the main character. I was my character yet at the same time I was the author of the story and I was doing some rather terrible things to this person. The imagination is a rather amazing thing and it has many levels, it seems.

You are not alone in your feelings. This is a dichotomy that every writer faces; he empathizes with his protagonist (I use empathize to mean "feels the same emotions as"), but he also must place difficulties in the protagonist's path. Everyone can hit a wall where they say, "Oooh, that's a bit too much."


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Adam Cerling on August 17, 2006, 04:54:38 PM
Okay, my experience with the game! But first an aside:

That Particular Revulsion

I was not revolted by the game in the same way you were, Hans, but you described your reaction in a way that was immediately familiar to me. I wracked my brain remembering why.

It was Grand Theft Auto: I once had the same reaction playing the video game Grand Theft Auto that you had playing the Roach. GTA gives you deplorable game objectives, and then turns you loose to accomplish them in deplorable ways. I found it difficult to navigate the game at all without accidentally running down pedestrians. Murder isn't a big deal, it's just a thing you do.

So I don't play GTA.

Playing the Roach

I had a good time, and I would gladly play again. The only reason I didn't buy it is because I can't imagine its Cthulhoid academic satire appealing broadly within my circles of friends. Corrie did buy it, and so I hope to play it again with her and those few others whom I can imagine being interested.

I know I've read the comment before, but the Roach felt a bit like a colorful board game -- akin to Betrayal at the House on the Hill. Because the fiction failed to constrain or increase my options, I had a sense that the fiction didn't really matter. So I went about my murdering and torturing and stuffing a man's intestines into his own mouth without a sense that I was addressing any premise whatsoever.

I created my character to be despicable. The thought process went something like:
1. Hmmm, what funny accent do I want to try today? I know! German!
2. Huh, what were the Germans up to around 1919? Oh, I remember...
3. A proto-Nazi it is!

The first two atrocities were mine: when trapped in Kyle's mad sculpture, my squirming loosed the spike that killed the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and later I tried to frame Kyle by killing the Chaplain and putting him inside another sculpture. In both cases I attributed no moral weight to the acts: I was a player jockeying for position.

At the end of the game (as I stood over Asst. Prof. Andrews' dying body) I remember I hesitated for a long moment: at that point I was realizing that a) I was not Roached, but b) I was being a right monstrous bastard anyway, and c) it would be too complicated to humanize my character at this point, so I was better off continuing to be a right monstrous bastard.

I noticed a palpable drop in energy at the end of the game, when most of the table realized they could not win.

Josiah's Redemption

Josiah's deliverance went totally over my head, I'm afraid! I totally failed to figure out who the "kindly face" was, much less that the Roach was expelled through His agency. I understand the Mythos to be a nihilistic, materialist milieu: I no more expected Christ than I expected Cinderella. I glossed past your narration because I didn't understand it, and I was keen on getting to that bit where I won the game.

Perhaps some of your discontent is that you wanted to address a premise ("Does a belief in determinism [Calvinism] lead men into evil?") and the rest of us were doing no such thing?


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on August 17, 2006, 06:08:33 PM
The Shab-al-Hiri Roach is the first game I have ever played that I found disturbing for philosophical reasons.  The game has a point; the behaviour of the characters is essentially no different, whether they have eaten the Roach or not, and therefore comments on the depravity of human nature. I got the point in the first 15 minutes. As a believer in the doctrine of original sin, the point was easy to make for me.

I haven't seen this point particularly addressed in any of the above posts, so I'll address it: wow, that is a really interesting insight, and the moment I read it, I understood exactly what you meant. Jason, you should take this as a high compliment, seriously.

Hans, as someone who is rediscovering his belief system, I understand how this point could be very disturbing and unpleasant. I thank you for posting this thread.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 17, 2006, 06:44:45 PM
So I don't play GTA.
Your sympathy with my position is reassuring, Adam, even if not shared for this particular instance of gaming.† I'm glad you DIDN'T experience it, and had a good time.
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I know I've read the comment before, but the Roach felt a bit like a colorful board game -- akin to Betrayal at the House on the Hill. Because the fiction failed to constrain or increase my options, I had a sense that the fiction didn't really matter. So I went about my murdering and torturing and stuffing a man's intestines into his own mouth without a sense that I was addressing any premise whatsoever.
This is very interesting.† I've heard almost the exact same comment made about Capes by some people I play with here in Ontario, and yet in Capes I never have any problem feeling like things matter.
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3. A proto-Nazi it is!
Your my first choice if I ever do a remake of Triumph of the Will.† That was meant to be a joke, based on your wonderfully cultured German accent, and not an accusation of facism, by the way.
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I noticed a palpable drop in energy at the end of the game, when most of the table realized they could not win.
This is also interesting, I noticed this as well.† I don't think any of my impressions are based on bad sportsmanship, but I can't deny at least a twinge of a "taking my toys and going home" feeling at the very end.
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Josiah's deliverance went totally over my head, I'm afraid! I totally failed to figure out who the "kindly face" was, much less that the Roach was expelled through His agency. I understand the Mythos to be a nihilistic, materialist milieu: I no more expected Christ than I expected Cinderella. I glossed past your narration because I didn't understand it, and I was keen on getting to that bit where I won the game.
† You didn't notice Christ?!!!!† :)

Seriously, I was pretty much disengaged near the end, and sort of playing for myself, you know?† If I really wanted to make a statement, I should have made it more bluntly and melodramatically, with angelic hosts, stigmata, transfigurations,† Handel's Hallelujah playing in the background, etc.† So it really is no surprise it made little impact.† As I paraphrased Tony, one person's recollected story is rarely the same as anothers.

Quote
Perhaps some of your discontent is that you wanted to address a premise ("Does a belief in determinism [Calvinism] lead men into evil?") and the rest of us were doing no such thing?
That is probably a deep insight into my character Adam.† Have you ever considered becoming a therapist?† I never consciously thought of that premise, but its pretty obvious my subconscious was sending me telegrams about it.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Adam Cerling on August 17, 2006, 07:54:54 PM
That is probably a deep insight into my character Adam.  Have you ever considered becoming a therapist?  I never consciously thought of that premise, but its pretty obvious my subconscious was sending me telegrams about it.

Nah, I just think systematic theology is teh awesome. That's a classic question about Calvinism, and a great premise to address. Figure out what game we can use to address it at GenCon next year, and I'll be there!


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 18, 2006, 07:18:04 AM
Dude, I have problems even playing Sorcerer for the same reason.

I'm pretty easy to engage, I think. Even when the game isn't precisely my cup of tea, I'm usually on board in some respect. But...I prefer to play heroes.

It's like the computer Joshua says in the movie Wargames about playing Global Thermonuclear War: "An interesting game Dr. Falcon. The only way to win is....not to play."

I mean, in Sorcerer, the "winning move" to me is to stop being a sorcerer. Banish your demons and live a normal life. Ron points out that you can perhaps overcome your demons and win that way, but the probable moral descent neccessary to do that is, I think, not acceptable.

I often play characters who are tempted by the dark side, don't get me wrong. And they even go over at times. They're only human, after all. But in the end, I hope that there's something truely redeeming about the character. If not, well, then I'm really not interested in playing the character for more than - as you put it yourself - about 15 minutes.

I've had precisely the same problem with Paul Czege's game Acts of Evil and have made that clear.

The issue is that after you've made the point with 15 minutes of play (or even having watched that much), the only way you're enjoying yourself is is you are actually finding humor in the things that are going on. That, in and of itself isn't problematic to me. I can watch a dark movie. The problem with a RPG is that you yourself are making up the dark things. Those come from somewhere. And the fact that you're making such a thing for the exploitation of the group present?

Yeah, I don't enjoy that at all, either. Maybe I do have a dark side. I'd rather not look at it too deeply. That's not denial, that's player preference.

I think that it's a testament to how effective Jason's design is that it provokes such a reaction. Even a game as good as, say, Unknown Armies with similar content doesn't do so. And, I'm sure that for some it'll be a great design as they may enjoy these things. I'm not going to judge.

But, sorry, I don't have to participate. I played a 15 minute demo of Roach. And that's probably all I'll play.


I would say that MLWM is not exactly the same. This is because the characters in question aren't so much bad as pathetic. You understand that they're doing the bad things they're doing not because they want to do them, but because they're in a dysfunctional relationship with somebody domineering. As such, when you're laughing about something apparently depraved, the tears that accompany the laughing are because of the sorrowful feeling you have for the poor minion.

Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter. ~Friedrich Nietzsche ...

If you're feeling for the minion, rather than simply reveling in the depravity of a bad act, it's a very different thing. Leastways it is for me.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Bret Gillan on August 18, 2006, 07:51:01 AM
Hans this is really interesting to me, because it's come up recently in my own thoughts on a game I'm currently preparing to run. Basically, at what point and in what way is the creation of a fiction condoning the events that occur in the fiction?

I'm currently setting up a Burning Empires game. For those who don't know, Burning Empires structures the game around the battle between Humans and Vaylen (body snatcher-like aliens). You can have humans on the Vaylen side who don't realize they're on the Vaylen side - their actions are just working against the best interests of humanity.

In the game as we've set it up, two of the three PCs are Noble Lords whose planet and power is built on serfdom. They are on the Human side. A figure of note on the Vaylen side is a Serf Insurrectionist. Since this world creation session I've gotten to thinking about it, and it makes me deeply, deeply comfortable. It seems to me that we, the players of the game, are creating a fiction in which fighting slavery is against the best interests of humanity. I've discussed this with my players, who think I'm overthinking this, but I feel like we're creating a fiction in which slavery is condoned.

Now, I enjoy pushing comfort boundaries in games I'm in, but this is the first time since I was very young that my comfort boundary is being pushed, and I think this is happening not because of the events that are occurring or could occur in the game but because of the statement about slavery I believe me and the other players are making in this game, intentionally or not. It sounds like this is what you and Adam and Mike are talking about - that the mechanics of the game push the fiction towards a message you don't agree with and that by playing out that fiction you feel as though you're condoning it.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Ricky Donato on August 18, 2006, 08:19:41 AM
In the game as we've set it up, two of the three PCs are Noble Lords whose planet and power is built on serfdom. They are on the Human side. A figure of note on the Vaylen side is a Serf Insurrectionist. Since this world creation session I've gotten to thinking about it, and it makes me deeply, deeply comfortable.

Quick clarification, Bret: you meant to say uncomfortable at the end of this sentence, right?

More generally, you (Bret) bring up an excellent point: there is a distinction (IMO) between creating a fiction and condoning that fiction. I've done this myself; I wrote a poem where the main character was tremendously arrogant. He comes out the winner in a conflict, and that just makes him more arrogant. Whenever I read that poem, I finish it feeling furious at this arrogant prick. And you know what? I really dig that feeling, and I really love that poem precisely because of its effect on me. I consider that the hallmark of success.

Hans, if you encounter fiction that makes you uncomfortable, that's perfectly OK. It means that you have to decide between two choices:
1) You say, "This content makes me uncomfortable, and I will play this game anyway, with the goal of trying to understand where my discomfort comes from."
2) Or you say, "I am not going to play this game in this form because I am uncomfortable with its content."

Does that help at all, Hans?


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Blankshield on August 18, 2006, 08:36:34 AM
Just want to offer a really quick comment to Hans, thanking him for starting this thread.  It's a good thread.

Hans, thank you for clearly and without rancor saying what most people really mean when they say "This game sucks"

thanks,

James


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mark Woodhouse on August 18, 2006, 08:52:10 AM
It seems to me that we, the players of the game, are creating a fiction in which fighting slavery is against the best interests of humanity. I've discussed this with my players, who think I'm overthinking this, but I feel like we're creating a fiction in which slavery is condoned.
Here I am, in both this example and Hans' AP, going... "but, but... ooooh, juicy!" Isn't one way to look at Bret's situation to say "slavery and oppression are exactly what make this society vulnerable to the Vaylen. If I am going to preserve humanity against an alien threat, I am going to have to beat them by abolishing slavery and oppression. I'm going to have to give up my power and privilege to save my world. I'm going to win the insurrectionist over to my side."

Now, in the Roach case, I guess I tend to approach the game as black comedy and not worry too much about the moral weight of it, but Hans' choice seems like something that's not out of bounds for Roach play - just not the default and not what was expected at the table. You could play a morally engaged game with the roach, if everybody was ready to see it and support it. I think that could be cool.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 18, 2006, 09:46:16 AM
Hans, if you encounter fiction that makes you uncomfortable, that's perfectly OK. It means that you have to decide between two choices:
1) You say, "This content makes me uncomfortable, and I will play this game anyway, with the goal of trying to understand where my discomfort comes from."
2) Or you say, "I am not going to play this game in this form because I am uncomfortable with its content."

Does that help at all, Hans?

I think that summarizes the situation admirably.  I can see both points, and can conceive of different levels and kinds of discomfort that would make me choose one or the other course of action.

Of course, another question might be how do you deal with the situation where, three hours into a four hour session, you cross the line from point 1 to point 2?  Or three sessions into a five session campaign?  At that point it becomes more a question of tact; how do you tactfully explain to the GM that you need to walk away?

We all know these things should be discussed up front (as Lisa and Jason have indicated the rules of the Roach require), but we also know that people's self knowledge is incomplete; sometimes you don't know something will bother you until you actually experience it, and therefore don't really have any hint you should avoid the experience in the first place.  In a Dust Devils game I ran at GenCon, one player made the statement at the beginning of the game that he was uncomfortable with rape.  I thought, "wow, that is incredible self-knowledge, I need to make sure I ask a question regarding boundaries before every session of Dust Devils I run with strangers."  But at the same time I thought "wow, what had to happen in a game for him to need to state THAT up front?"  I can truthfully say I've never had rape even hinted at in 20+ years of gaming.  It would never have occurred to me to mention it as a boundary I didn't want crossed. 

In response to Mark's comment regarding black comedy and Jason's comment regarding "pitch black satire", my expectations regarding the game were totally skewed, in retrospect.  If I had made the judgement that the Roach was going to be "pitch black satire" I probably would have steered clear in the first place.  Black comedy as a form of entertainment has never been a favorite of mine.  I expected, I don't know, dark grey comedy; sort of Wodehouse meets Lovecraft, as I may have mentioned previously.  More parody than satire. 

From that perspective, my experience with the Roach is roughly analogous to a person buying Ferrari and then complaining that it gets poor gas mileage; a little more research could have saved some trouble.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Ricky Donato on August 18, 2006, 10:12:24 AM
Of course, another question might be how do you deal with the situation where, three hours into a four hour session, you cross the line from point 1 to point 2?† Or three sessions into a five session campaign?† At that point it becomes more a question of tact; how do you tactfully explain to the GM that you need to walk away?

That's an excellent point to raise. I think it must begin with you stating outright, "I am uncomfortable here." This does not equate to you leaving the game, though. I see two possible solutions:

1) The group decides, "Ok, then we won't go into that uncomfortable situation. We'll go into this other situation instead." This is a perfectly functional solution.
2) The group says, "We really want to go into that uncomfortable situation." To which you presumably reply, "Then I think I should not be playing." This is also a perfectly functional solution.

Which of the two will actually occur depends on the social contract, which means that it depends not just on you but also on everyone else.

We all know these things should be discussed up front (as Lisa and Jason have indicated the rules of the Roach require), but we also know that people's self knowledge is incomplete; sometimes you don't know something will bother you until you actually experience it, and therefore don't really have any hint you should avoid the experience in the first place.† In a Dust Devils game I ran at GenCon, one player made the statement at the beginning of the game that he was uncomfortable with rape.† I thought, "wow, that is incredible self-knowledge, I need to make sure I ask a question regarding boundaries before every session of Dust Devils I run with strangers."† But at the same time I thought "wow, what had to happen in a game for him to need to state THAT up front?"† I can truthfully say I've never had rape even hinted at in 20+ years of gaming.† It would never have occurred to me to mention it as a boundary I didn't want crossed.

That's a funny story to me. When I first started thinking about boundaries in RPGs a couple of years ago, the very first boundary I thought of was rape. I knew it was a boundary I did not want to cross, even though I've never encountered it in my gaming. So maybe that player didn't have a bad experience; maybe he just knew for sure what he would not want to see.

I think this is a common issue in RPGs, because RPGs allow an infinite number of choices. You never need to worry about boundaries in Monopoly or Risk, because the choices are finite, you can see all the possibilities immediately, and so boundaries don't need to be stated; you can decide if this crosses your boundary as soon as you read the rulebook. RPGs don't have that benefit.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Jason Morningstar on August 18, 2006, 10:33:14 AM
I'd love to play in a Roach game where the switch for moral engagement was definitively, explicitly on.  It'd be a very different game, and much harder to play I suspect. 

In terms of boundaries, I tried to make it clear in the rules that if someone articulates their desire to establish a line or veil, that is to be honored without further comment.  I recognize that "I will not abandon you" play is both possible and laudable, but I don't think The Roach is the game in which to explore it.  When I play, I always say "sexual violence against women or children" as a hard line, because I don't want to see it, ever.  Once that is out there, and knowing what everyone else has issues with, I can push 110% on whatever remains, which is always plenty.



Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 18, 2006, 12:34:46 PM
No, it's not that we condone the acts. I've had characters do heinous things that I would never, ever condone. No, it's that we're enjoying the suffering of others that's problematic. That we're reveling in villainy. Yeah, sure, we're also making commentary that what the characters are doing is heinous. But, as I said, after you say that once, after that, why are you continuing to say it? Message recieved, over and out. Anything after that is exploitive of our own feelings about the darkness that we're discovering in ourselves as we come up with the depraved things that happen.

You know what's interesting? I hadn't actually assumed on reading the game that this sort of horrible thing would happen constantly. Oh, to be sure when controlled by the roach, characters are forced to do some things that are bad. But the player still has some control over what happens. When I played my demo, I thought I was getting out of hand when I had my character deliberately try to injure somebody. I'm a piker when compared to most players, it seems.

I think that a much more "civilized" game of roach could be played that doesn't end up like most of Lisa's sessions. OTOH, maybe it's just my inexperience with actually playing the game.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: oliof on August 20, 2006, 02:21:40 AM
Mike,
the horrible things described in the AP reports don't happen constantly. I assume (and my experience with dogs support that assumption) that AP reporters are mostly very creative, colorful and extroverted people. That also means that they will go to the extremes a game offers them often, so we see them here.

I have already linked to my Roach AP account, which is much less vile, satanic and brutalizing than most of the stories I've read here. Nonetheless, it was a game where people followed the roach orders, where being roached was a bad thing that gave you the extra power you needed, where professors competed for reputation, and all that jazz. We even hat ancient east sumerian architecture, engineering and art on topic. On top of that, we had plagiarism, student-professor relationships, police investigations, ...

I promise you another "civilized roach" AP report before the end of the year. Keeping it "civilized" also adds to the tension between the roach commands and their disconnect with "modern society".

Regards,
    Harald


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 20, 2006, 11:04:48 AM
Keeping it "civilized" also adds to the tension between the roach commands and their disconnect with "modern society".

This seems like it would be one of the coolest features of a toned done, gentile Roach game.  Played either for laughs or for horror, making the Roach commands truly alien would be a great outlet for creativity.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Josh Roby on August 21, 2006, 09:21:17 AM
Couple thoughts:

On the toned-down "civilized" Roach game -- I find that con games sort of encourage the depravity, due to the quickened pace and the anonymity.  A con game is a venue where you can experiment going further than you might normally with friends that you're going to play another game with next week.

On applying Calvinism to the Roach -- first off, I think my eyes crossed when you described your character's rapture to heaven.  To me, that seemed to be a pretty profound departure from the game's intended content; I'm not surprised at all that it was hard to shoehorn in.

On the difference between playing and condoning -- the point-man for this discussion is Lolita.  Nabakov wrote the novel to explore what would make a man trespass so far from cultural norms.  There's value in exploring that territory, because crossing boundaries is the only way we ever understand the nature of the boundaries themselves.  We aren't saying that it's okay to cross the boundary, we are exploring why the boundary is there and whether or not it should be there.  Personally, I think it's important to at least consider the possibility that the boundary is not a valid one; without that possibility a great deal of the exploration is simply impossible.  In Lolita, you have to consider whether it's possible that Humbert really can love Lolita, or if his attraction is wholly depraved.  If you go in with an answer pre-prepared, you miss a great deal of the novel's impact.  The same goes for games that offer big, hard moral choices -- it's got to actually be a choice, otherwise you're missing the bulk of the game.

On moral choices in games -- one of the best things I've seen in recent games is the trend towards placing big, tough moral choices in the context of specific situations full of conflicting details and compelling characters.  Dogs is awesome in this regard, in that the game can make the Dogs question nearly any of their beliefs when presented with loving, hurting, desperate people who are struggling with those beliefs.  That's why I find Brett's BE game fascinating (fascinating enough for a separate thread, Brett -- get posting!), because the game sits there and presents the players with a conundrum.  Here's your antagonist: he's morally superior to your protagonists.  Now deal with the situation.  Roach has a similar conundrum: how far will you go to get tenure and recognition?  Sure, the question is easy when it's presented like that; it's much, much more difficult when you've got a fully fleshed out character in front of you, in a rapidly escalating situation complicated by other player characters who are also fleshed out with their own motivations and goals.

To me, Roach can get played in one of two ways: it can be played for cheap laughs, or it can be played pretty hardcore.  It's hard to play the second at a con game to start with -- it requires a little more investment and social support structure.  However, for the second you've also got to leave your absolutist faith in anything at the door.  The purpose is exploration, not exposition.  If you go in with an answer already determined -- or decide that you've got it all figured out in the first 15 minutes and don't need to test your hypothesis -- you're short-circuiting the game.  It's like walking into an Uno game deciding that you're the Uno Champion, and disregarding whether you win or lose each hand, denying that anything that happens in the game has anything to do with your Uno Mastery.

All that said, Hans, I don't know if either mode -- cheap laughs or hardcore exploration -- is the kind of play that you're interested in.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 21, 2006, 10:07:09 AM
Oh, I dunno, that sort of anonymity where you actually are with a person isn't the same as internet anonymity. I tend to be more guarded, not less, when playing with people I don't know. Not knowing whether or not it will offend, etc.

Yeah, I think that there are some gamers for whom this isn't true - gamers who aren't socially well-adjusted. I saw the game Hans was talking about and from that and his description, I don't think that's true of these particular gamers.

No, I think it's just that the game says that it's OK to get depraved, gives you an excuse, and players go ahead and get depraved. Probably in part because they haven't had a chance to do so in other RPGs. Similar to how players get kinda crazy when playing Universalis for the first time and end up with odd genre bashing or just silly play. If the parallel works here, then it may be that "civilized" Roach play will come with more experienced players. That said, I don't see players playing Roach a lot of times, so I'm not sure that it'll get there.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Adam Dray on August 21, 2006, 11:06:16 AM
I hosted a Roach game on Saturday night at the Embassy Suites. It was the tamest Roach game I've ever played in, and perhaps the tamest game I've ever heard of.

The worst bit of violence I recall was when the roached professor randomly murdered a luminary for disturbing him in his holy place ("This Place Shall Not Be Disturbed," or somesuch, was the card). There were a couple fistfights. There was a forced man-to-man kiss. And, of course, another professor accidentally poisoned a bunch of people at the board meeting. My character had a lot of consensual sex with Regina Sutton, even in a coffin.

We had a hilarious, yakkety-sax scene involving a professor in a hospital bed, Mr. Bompus, a couple other professors, and a cute nurse. You had to be there.

At the end, a couple people were roached. A couple people who had been roached (like me) got unroached. I ended with a big pile of chips and won narration of the epilogue. I said that the roaches left and that everyone at Pemberton University lived happily ever after.

It was a lot of fun.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 21, 2006, 11:37:52 AM
If you would, Adam, how much experience with the game did the other players have. Checking on my hypothesis.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: oliof on August 21, 2006, 01:42:50 PM
Mike: In my game, nobody ever had played it before. Not even me.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Adam Dray on August 21, 2006, 01:55:49 PM
I believe that no one in that game had ever played it before.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 22, 2006, 07:58:57 AM
Huh. OK, so much for that idea.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Josh Roby on August 22, 2006, 08:19:19 AM
Maybe Harald and Adam's friends are just morally superior to us, Mike. ;)


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 22, 2006, 09:49:58 AM
Heh.

Well, again, I played relatively un-debauchedly in my first demo, too.

So maybe I should have known better. And I think in Hans' case, he was probably getting caught up in doing what was expected by the group in question. Which would be problematic, because that's him...uh I want to say knuckling under to peer pressure, but you get the idea. That would revolt me, too.

But, consider that I was somewhat revolted at myself merely having my character trying to do bodily harm to some of the others second hand (like he'd ordered a student to rough up the other guy).

The word that I keep coming up with to describe it is that it seems prurient.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Adam Cerling on August 22, 2006, 10:31:44 AM
At the risk of calling Lisa out -- I'd say that at her table this GenCon, she strongly encouraged extreme violence.

The seven of us were over halfway through the game with only two deaths (both my doing) when, during the break, Lisa remarked how surprised she was that the game was so tame. She followed up by describing with great enthusiasm all a number of bloody Roach games she'd played before.

By the end of the game we'd ramped up the brutality accordingly.


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 22, 2006, 11:08:27 AM
First, I think that every game is going to have players that push things one way or another. Second, in case anyone is thinking that I'm being judgemental, I'm not. If people get their kicks from playing like this, good for them. So this sounds merely like somebody getting from a game what they want, which seems just right to me.

I don't want to participate in such a game, but that's just my own preference. Others should indulge if they feel that they'll enjoy it.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 22, 2006, 11:21:19 AM
...because that's him...uh I want to say knuckling under to peer pressure, but you get the idea.

I am pretty much a sheep. :)

She followed up by describing with great enthusiasm all a number of bloody Roach games she'd played before.

Enthusiasm and relish. :)  Lisa is an expressive person, whose enthusiasm is contagious and who lets you know exactly what she likes and doesn't like.  This makes her a great GM, and a great player as well.  However, I wouldn't say Lisa "encouraged" extreme violence, in the sense of her saying "come on, what's with you people?  get with the rending and the maiming and the piles of bodies already!"  Rather, I would say that she gave the impression that in her experience games with lots of extreme violence were the most fun.  That is, you sort of got the feeling that if you weren't putting in a lot of extreme violence, you probably weren't fully appreciating the Roach experience.  I guess I would have to ask Lisa if that impression is actually her opinion of the Roach, or simply an unintended consequence of human communication. 



Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 22, 2006, 11:49:08 AM
Good question, Hans.

Mike


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Lisa Provost on August 22, 2006, 12:31:22 PM
Enthusiasm and relish. :)  Lisa is an expressive person, whose enthusiasm is contagious and who lets you know exactly what she likes and doesn't like.  This makes her a great GM, and a great player as well.  However, I wouldn't say Lisa "encouraged" extreme violence, in the sense of her saying "come on, what's with you people?  get with the rending and the maiming and the piles of bodies already!"  Rather, I would say that she gave the impression that in her experience games with lots of extreme violence were the most fun.  That is, you sort of got the feeling that if you weren't putting in a lot of extreme violence, you probably weren't fully appreciating the Roach experience.  I guess I would have to ask Lisa if that impression is actually her opinion of the Roach, or simply an unintended consequence of human communication. 

Thanks for the praise.  You know how worried I was about GMing as such a big con.

Nope, when I mentioned it was a tame game, I was making conversation.  I really didn't mean that the game -had- to be bloddy and violent.  Everyone was asking me how other games I had run/played in had gone and well, I answered honestly.  I didn't mean it as a bad thing.  Just my opinion. 

Yes I do think that sometimes, the ones with extreme violence/horrible circumstances are the most fun because it seems to me that people end up with some of the best descriptions/narrations that way.  I mean, how much cooler can you get than when  (I think it was Carrie) described tearing the Roach from her PC's body with an ice pick?  That was fantastic in my eyes.

I like the game because it seems to pull the violence, gore and horror out of me.  That was something that CoC could never quite do for me.  It's probably another reason I enjoy MLwM so much.  *shrug*

Does that answer your question Hans?

Lisa P


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: Hans on August 22, 2006, 01:05:16 PM
Does that answer your question Hans?

Indeed it does.  Thanks! 

This whole thread has been very helpful to me, and it seems to have been helpful to others as well.  I think I have probably gotten what I wanted/needed out of it, but if others are still looking for more, by all means, keep talking!


Title: Re: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Disturbed at GenCon
Post by: MichaelCurry on August 25, 2006, 07:19:07 PM
As another data point, when I ran the Roach a couple of months ago at a small con, it was a game that definitely fell into the tame category.  There was a lot of university politics and infidelity, but it wasn't until toward the very end of the game that the level of violence even rose to fisticuffs, and then there was one scene where my character attempted to stab one of the other PCs (and ended up killing an NPC instead).  That was it.  No dark sorcery, no sacrifices, no torture, no bloodbaths.  I was frankly a bit surprised, as I'd gotten the impression from reading AP posts that things tended to go way over the top violence-wise, but the game never even wandered near that territory.  Afterwards, I even wondered if I'd done something wrong in explaining the game, since it was the first time any of us had actually played the Roach.  Most everyone had fun though.

Hans, I suppose it's in some ways unfortunate that your first Roach experience ended up being the other sort of game, as I think you may have enjoyed the more tame version.  Or at least not had as negative of a reaction.  Thanks for posting about the experience you did have though, as it was really interesting.