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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Alternative settings - why racist Dogs break the game  (Read 28381 times)
Spooky Fanboy
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Posts: 585


« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2005, 02:04:35 PM »

The problem is that race is not something that you can atone for.  If we're going to say that Jews or Blacks or Whites are the core of problem, they need to be like Demons -- mysterious and strange and possibly just bad luck.

If you look at the referents of racist ideologies, the hated races don't act like Dog's Demons, and they do it in such a dramatically different way that it really would break the game.

See, if I were to actually run the Black Muslims variant, I'd set it in the 60's and 70's, and call "Demons" White Deviltry, and have it be an abstract force that hangs in the background. According to the original post, there were allowances made for white people to have souls (just not much of one), and thus it would be possible to run into a few token whites who are not bad people, not active conduits of White Deviltry. They are not embraced (that's a sin), but they are not actively shunned, either. With the Sixties and part of the Seventies being such an ideologically turbulent time, I could pull that off and not snap my own belief suspenders.

While it's chilling that an SS game could be done with DitV, I must side with Ben and others that I could not imagine anyone playing it successfully. Ironically, I think it was Vincent that gave me the key to it's failure: how do you create a modern-day religion that provides conflict (hard moral choices) and yet isn't so overwhelmingly oppressive and inhuman that modern technology really doesn't allow for it to go on without provoking people to desert? In DiTV, the Faith is an important part of life because it gives the people something to keep going past the failed crops and harsh winters. In my Black Muslim version, the characters are seen as heroes in their communities, a source of positive action and authority when white authority fails them yet again.

In the SS version, the characters will also pull double-duty as being the elements that hold that society in check, using fear to convince the populace that they are the best alternative, without any support for that from the outside world. If play is limited to a brief span of time, it could be believable, but not for long-term play. Any long-term campaign will eventually have to deal with the Reich's collapse, or the creation of a 1984-style dystopia.

Sydney: that was heroism, and I admire you for putting it up on the screen.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2005, 02:08:46 PM »

Thank you.

I'd say the game-break isn't really the in-game plausibility of how such a society could hold together, though (as much as I'm fascinated by the history/worldbuilding aspect); people play games and read books and watch movies about implausible societies all the time. What breaks is the ability of the real-life players to empathize with their in-game characters.
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Spooky Fanboy
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Posts: 585


« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2005, 03:28:14 PM »

Thank you.

I'd say the game-break isn't really the in-game plausibility of how such a society could hold together, though (as much as I'm fascinated by the history/worldbuilding aspect); people play games and read books and watch movies about implausible societies all the time. What breaks is the ability of the real-life players to empathize with their in-game characters.

I'd say the two phenomena are related, and that this thread is instrumental in helping me flesh out my other alternative settings, for one simple reason.

Dogs in DiTV are culturally-approved heroes. Think Michael Jordan with superpowers, and you should have a good idea of what the townsfolk feel like when the Dogs come to town. Yes, their judgement is something to fear, but as far as the majority of the Branchfolk are concerned, that sort of judgement only happens to "bad apples" anyway. They are respected for doing a difficult job, struggling under the weight of having to fix things that go out of control, and are admired (envied?) for having the power to step outside regular channels to set things right. They are walking, talking moral centers to a society founded on religious absolutes. The Ceremonial abilities, if they come to play in a high-magic setting, are just icing on the cake. But a key element to their heroism is that they prevent the Outside World from swallowing up the Faithful, whether due to snows, bad crops, Demons, or if need be, encroaching Territorial officials.

The SS game wouldn't work because the SS aren't heroes: they ARE the hostile elements from Outside dressed up in uniforms and given authority. If they are considered heroes (with Nazism given the stamp of the One True Way...uggh!), then they still pull double duty as being both. If there is no way the players can find the characters heroic, then there is no way a town will find them heroic, and much of their moral authority is diminished, and must be bolstered by fear. Again, I think a key element of this is the fact that the Nazis are aggressively expansionist; the Mormons aren't, the hypothetical Black Muslims are trying to maintain and slowly improve their situation, but for the Nazis, any element of heroic underdog status is lost. And that is an essential component of what make Dogs (and their analogues) heroic and sympathetic.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2005, 06:43:17 PM »

I made believe I wasn't reading this thread for a while. Secretly, I was. I wasn't keeping it secret from you folks, I was keeping it secret from myself.

I'm stickin' with "technically playable" with the "I don't have the stomach to do this ... and why would I want to?"

So, yeah, this is an excellent example of the applicability of the Dogs rules. It even say something about human nature.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2005, 07:33:26 PM »

What surprises me with this thread isn't the level of repugnance, or that someone actually went through with creating the groundwork for SSitV.

What surprises me is that people seem surprised in any way that DitV could handle this. I mean.. Come ON. Vincent is the same guy who created Kill Puppies for Satan. If KPfS is playable long-term, which at least Ron Edwards seems to believe it is, then I could see a serious group playing SSitV long enough to make it viable.

The only real difference between the themes in KPfS and SSitV that I see is that the SS were real; These punk satanists pulling wings off flies and popping puppies in the blender aren't. At least, they aren't real in the same way, at any rate. The SS and Hilter and the Reich have left an indelible mark on the collective memory of the world, and we shudder at the idea of making them the heroes in any sense.

I won't play this game, but I wouldn't play KPfS, either. I'm good not exploring those particular themes.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
IMAGinES
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« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2005, 10:03:55 PM »

And you know, the one thing I sort of hope for, about this despair-inducing thing? That some wannabe Stormtrooper or "monster I am let monster I wankey wank wank" type Googles up these rules, gets his buddies all psyched about "we're gonna be Knights of the Reich! We're gonna kick some untermensch ass! We're gonna be baaad"; and then halfway through the actual session ... all players look at each other and go, "Wait a sec, when did this stop being evilsexycool and just become vile?"

And just as the lesson has been imparted, said gamer's mother will find the damned thing, be disgusted and horrified and lauch another Anti-Gaming Crusade...

That said, though: Sydney, thanks for having the strength to get it done right and well, and I hope it never gets played either.
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Always Plenty of Time!
Frank T
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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2005, 06:11:16 AM »

I’ve been wondering how to comment on this. Obviously, as a German, I am more sensitive regarding this topic than you are. The task of “fixing” a given town becomes so horribly twisted by this indeed very well thought-through variation that it gives me chills. I’ve always argued that you have to make people think about the Nazis, consider Hitler’s ideas, in order to make them understand why it was so horrible, rather than tell people the “right” judgement straight away (what German teachers and politicians are doing constantly). But SSitV is… tough. I don’t think I could stand it.
   
- Frank
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2005, 08:16:25 AM »

I’ve been wondering how to comment on this. Obviously, as a German, I am more sensitive regarding this topic than you are.

I'm sure I'm not the only Jew interested in this. There are probably homosexuals and Blacks folllowing it, too. There are a lot of reasons for a lot of people to be sensitive about it.

Quote
I’ve always argued that you have to make people think about the Nazis, consider Hitler’s ideas, in order to make them understand why it was so horrible, rather than tell people the “right” judgement straight away (what German teachers and politicians are doing constantly). But SSitV is… tough. I don’t think I could stand it.

The theoretical exploration of the topic is probably enough. Actual play would be one of those things that would require some serious emotional safeguards and trust between players. Plus, probably, and explicit way to get out of the game.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Frank T
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« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2005, 09:37:57 AM »

Hey Joshua, no offense meant. What I was trying to say is as a German, I have more reason to be careful about thought experiments such as this. If a Jew sais "hey, what about playing SS", it's sure sensitive, but if a German sais it... well, it was us after all.

- Frank
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2005, 09:55:20 AM »

Hey Joshua, no offense meant.

None taken. I meant that a lot of us - maybe all people, everywhere - have to confront this thing.

Quote
What I was trying to say is as a German, I have more reason to be careful about thought experiments such as this. If a Jew sais "hey, what about playing SS", it's sure sensitive, but if a German sais it... well, it was us after all.

Fair enough. Thanks for participating in the conversation, though.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2005, 04:50:59 PM »

In science, there is a thing called a "thought experiment"... though originally named in German.

A thought experiment is an experiment one imagines engaging, because you are either unable or unwilling to actually enact it.

"Imagine you're on a spaceship travelling near the speed of light, with a stopwatch whose ticks are measured by a photon bouncing back and forth between two mirrors."

"Imagine you're on the edge of a black hole's event horizon."

"Imagine you are at the kappa delta phi sorority house and... " no wait, never mind, that last one's not a thought experiment.  Ahem.

Anyways, SSitV could be termed a "thought RPG"... a game one can imagine playing, and can learn from, merely existing in the theoretical, but would be either too expensive (in whatever resource)  to play in real life.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2005, 04:28:01 AM »

In science, there is a thing called a "thought experiment"... though originally named in German.

Gedankenexperiment, I believe (checking my very poor German against Wikipedia). The term is old, and the idea is even older, but the most famous thought-experimenter was Albert Einstein, who was, of course, Jewish; and whose equations will be in constant use long after the SS bullies are forgotten.

On which pleasing irony, I would suggest -- obviously not with any moderator authority to close a thread, but as the thread's initiator -- that we let this discussion end before we go entirely off the topic at hand. Spin-off threads and personal messages to me are of course always welcome.
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JasperN.
Member

Posts: 41


« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2005, 01:08:55 AM »

This is creepy, indeed. I wouldn't want to play it. But it does one thing for me, and I'm grateful for that: I see a lot better now why Dogs is a tough, creepy game anyway. Religious fanaticism is pretty far removed from me. I'm getting a MA in U.S. Studies, so when I read "Mormons", I tend to think something like "Aw, remarkable example of protestant sect in the U.S.", and when I read about the fictional brotherhood in DitV, my thoughts go similar ways. Compaing it to political fanaticism and terror makes it easier to grapple with for me: These guys are scary. Playing DitV should involve uneasy choices. I'm not ever going to play either the SS or the Black Muslim variant, that's for sure, but having read this provides me with a not-so-nice reminder of  not to think of religious fanatics as "quaint, but ultimately harmless". 
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Sean
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« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2005, 04:50:33 AM »

Quote
These punk satanists pulling wings off flies and popping puppies in the blender aren't.


I can't speak to Vincent's life experience, but the protagonists in Puppies are only moderate caricatures of some people I knew between late grade school (hanging cats from clotheslines to watch them fight) and early high school (sacrificing animals, pentagrams of blood, etc.). Probably not too much stronger caricatures then the Dogs are of a certain self-righteous community enforcer hardass type.
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Iskander
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Alexander Newman


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« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2005, 03:34:07 AM »

For the record, I'm pretty sure this thread is responsible for the nightmare from which I just woke, shaking.

It's still remarkable work, and the d10 Bureaucracy is horribly inspired. I wonder if it would be more palatable set in modern American megachurch fascism, or Orwell's 1984 world where the violent reality is unrealised. Would it be just as revolting set in the 82nd Airborne in Iraq right now?
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Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
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