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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 73 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Trollbabe (with or without sex), how to do it ?  (Read 4551 times)
Moreno R.
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Posts: 389


« on: March 17, 2007, 10:26:15 AM »

Hello!

Reading this thread has made me remember the problem I had when I tried to push playing Trollbabe to my playing group. I wanted to talk about this, but the original thread was focused to the "sexiness" of the characters and I didn't want to derail it.

As I said in my Sorcerer threads, I am now trying many indie games, one after another, with two different groups, the one for the weekly game with many players not interested in theory (so we play rather "vanilla" games with them) and one for the more "pervy" (or intense, or with intra-party conflicts, or any other thing that don't work with the regular group) games every month with half of the previous group and other people more theory-oriented.

With those two group I have played, or I am in agreement to play in the future, games as Carry, Contenders, Sorcerer, It Was A Mutual Decision, Dogs in the Vineyard, My Life With Master, Mortal Coil, Shadow of Yesterday, Polaris, Primetime Adventures, Grey Ranks. Every one of these games had the interest of at least half of one of these two group (the second one, usually) as soon as we heard about it.

Not with Trollbabe. In both groups, I have not found anyone who want to play it.

As soon as I did read the pdf, I did think that it could be a game that we could play even with the "regular" group. It was fantasy (a big turn-on for many of my players), without many "crunchy bits" or rules to remember, had powerful characters in situations very much like the ones in DitV (a game we all liked), and in the regular group I have four female players (and only one male player) and I thought that they would enjoy playing these powerful female characters.

I know that I am not able to "sell" what I want to play very well (a problem made clear in my previous group, where every one of my tentatives to convince them to play what I liked backfired, until I quit and formed another group), so usually when I want to push one game I want to play, now, I only say to the players who read the rules (half of the group) "look, I would like to play this, check it out", and when I have the support of those players I show the game manual to the entire group, letting them browse the pictures, to see their reactions, if they see someone in these pictures they would like to play.

Well, I was rather sure in the case of Trollbabe.  The cover alone would sell me to the idea of playing a trollbabe, and I never play female characters as my PC if I can avoid it (no problems with npc). So I was rather surprised to find that the reaction from EVERYONE was the opposite.  Nobody, not male, not female, wanted to play it. And not a casual disinterest: the comments were rather like "urgh!" "never", and they put down the printed pdf on the table as if it could infect them with something.

After that, thinking that they got the wrong idea about the game, I tried to explain what it was about, but as I said I am not the most eloquent of sellers in these cases, and after seeing their stares after a minute or so I gave up and showed them another game.

What I would like to ask, to people who has meet the same reactions, or (even better) people who HAVE this reaction to trollbabe, to explain it to me. There's something in the game that I don't see or understand that cause this reaction?  (They rejected another game, "Best Friends", but in that case I got an explanation: "I live EVERY DAY with friends like these, I don't want to meet them in play too!". No such clear explanation for their rejection of Trollbabe. They told me only that they didn't want to play it)

And, after that, I would like to ask to the people who has played the game: If I would like to play with these exact rules, keeping EVERYTHING of the game, but changing the "color" of the character to something that could be "brought" by the players, what other kind of characters could be played instead?

Reading the rules, what I get is that the characters should be outsiders, powerful outsiders in a situation where there is a big conflict between two people (and many lesser conflicts caused or placed against the big one), and that they have access to some kind of power ("magic") coveted by all the factions. If I change these characters to, for example, male and female shipwrecked human from another fantasy world, and the factions in (for example) a hobbit-like people and goblins [I would be more subtle, this is only an example], I could play the game as written with  the same results, or I am missing something that I will not get from the game playing it like this?
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2007, 12:09:42 PM »

I contend that Trollbabe should only be played as trollbabes. I contend very strongly that the outsider, in-between status of the characters is not the central issue of the game, it's only a convenient way to build fun conflicts. Every modification to a different setting that I've seen has focused on this element and has missed the central issue completely. That doesn't mean they are bad games, but they are not and cannot be just a mod for Trollbabe.

The central issue of Trollbabe is playing a uniquely powerful woman. I think this is terrifying to many people at a gut level, most particularly and especially people who would swear they have no issues with it. When I say "people" I include men and women in precisely the same ways and with precisely the same issues.

The best audience for Trollbabe are women who've role-played a little bit and enjoyed it only a little bit, or who have liked the idea of role-playing but never tried it. You might discover, as I have observed repeatedly, that this audience exhibits as immediate, as definite, and as uncompromising a positive response as the negative one you're seeing.

Best, Ron
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droog
Member

Posts: 263


« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2007, 04:50:00 PM »

I'm very intrigued by the question of who gets Trollbabe and wants to play it. My friend Allison, who has played RPGs for about fifteen years, is a powerful, intelligent, attractive woman of about 40. I asked her in an email whether she thought the concept was cool, and her reply was:

Quote
>it does actually - sexy and powerful - what more could a girl wish for?  (and big horns to boot!)

She seems to have homed right in on Ron's central issue.
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AKA Jeff Zahari
Claudia Cangini
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Posts: 38


« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2007, 01:43:27 PM »

The central issue of Trollbabe is playing a uniquely powerful woman. I think this is terrifying to many people at a gut level, most particularly and especially people who would swear they have no issues with it. When I say "people" I include men and women in precisely the same ways and with precisely the same issues.
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Claudia Cangini

http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com/
(artist for hire)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2007, 07:20:16 PM »

Hi Claudia,

Well, thinking over the posts so far, it seems to me as if the whole context of the single person pitching it to the group is not working, and actually that doesn't surprise me either. I'll tell you my basic image of someone getting interested in playing Trollbabe - it has nothing to do with pitching it. It has to do with the game lying there on a coffee table, and someone who likes the image picking it up and flipping through it. The text is written to be understandable on any page, you can actually start reading it anywhere at all (that's on purpose). The idea is also for that first look only to prompt interest, perhaps, in a second look later.

The idea of an intermediary person advocating the game between the text and the other people is just not on the radar. It's actually inconsistent with both the subject and the presentation. So, rather than tell you that you have misunderstood anything, I'll suggest picking the thing up and leafing through it entirely outside the context of choose-or-reject. See if anything written anywhere seems neat, see if the images appeal to you. If not, that's OK too.

Best, Ron
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Claudia Cangini
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2007, 02:27:16 AM »

So, rather than tell you that you have misunderstood anything, I'll suggest picking the thing up and leafing through it entirely outside the context of choose-or-reject. See if anything written anywhere seems neat, see if the images appeal to you. If not, that's OK too.

Thanks for your answer Ron, I'll follow your suggestion.

Best!
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Claudia Cangini

http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com/
(artist for hire)
sirogit
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Posts: 503


« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2007, 02:07:35 PM »

I would like to note that my girlfriend is in the "Likes the idea of roleplaying, but has never tried it" camp and had an incredibly negative reaction to looking at Trollbabe, not through an intermediary person, but just finding it on a table.

I don't think Trollbabe's appeal has as much to do with whether someone's a woman rather than whether someone is a feminst, even though the two issues are normally quite intertwined.
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James_Nostack
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Posts: 642


« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2007, 05:22:29 AM »

My GF is about as feminist as they come, and is intermittently curious about RPG's, but had a pretty dismissive reaction to Trollbabe, based on the pictures and the name.

I wonder if the iconography of empowered women changes in every decade.  Trollbabe seems like it's trying to evoke a late 70's/early 80's feminist fantasy vibe.  Maybe that doesn't always carry over to people who never experienced the primary source material? 
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--Stack
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2007, 06:07:03 AM »

I won't comment on your girlfriends because I do not know them.

Feminism is a hot-button topic of mine because I think the movement died a horrible, tragic death in the early 1980s, having been commercially co-opted and made safe just like every other form of effective dissent. I don't rate many self-described feminists today of whatever gender as worthy of the term. Even saying that is probably too much for the internet, so I'll stop.

I think this topic is better suited for Vincent's new forum, because here, I suspect I'll become very unpleasant about it, particularly regarding my game.

Best, Ron
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