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Author Topic: Sex and Sorcery -- This Book Rocks!  (Read 16041 times)
Trevis Martin
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« on: June 09, 2003, 09:56:15 PM »

Wow Ron.

Really wow.

I just received my copy in the mail today and I've read it all the way through. Its a page turner.  My brain is numb.  I think this may be some of the best writing I've ever seen from you.  

Its hard to pick out parts I liked specifically. The overall quality is so high.  My main painting prof always told us that saying something was cool was fine, but just ego stroking.  We also had to say why it worked and you can be sure I will when more absorption has taken place.

Bits I liked...

The tri-corner model that you use to explain your original sorcerer humanity info from chapter 7 of the main book.  The insight for me was amazing.  Was that analysis afterwards or did you build that model when creating the setting?

The dual humanity ideas and explaination.  Again, very clear.  Made my head hurt.

The male/female story models and their combination has my head spinning out several ideas.

That intro scenario is great. When I run a demo at my FLGS, I'll probably use it.

I am sure this is the best money I ever spent on a gaming supplement.
Consider your ego stroked, crit and questions come later.

regards,

Trevis
One happy, spunky, funky social primate.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2003, 06:19:38 AM »

Hi Trevis,

Thanks! All stroked.

The Chapter 1 stuff that relates to Chapter 7 in the core book was built during play. There's kind of a funny story about that, too. In 1995 or so, I was driving on a lot of secondary highways in north Florida, coming home from a scientific meeting in Tampa if I remember correctly, and I'd stopped for a late breakfast in a local diner. It was very much the sort of place that sprouts up where an obscure highway crosses a county road. I was eating my combo of pancakes and scrambled eggs, and musing over the last couple of sessions of playing Sorcerer, and I decided I needed to sketch out the relationship between Humanity and Lore.

A few minutes later, I had the basics of that diagram drawn out, and the waitress came up to offer me more coffee. I did the all-time fastest flip-paper, not-outlining-anything ma'am reaction scuffle ever.

Here are some of my questions for you and anyone else with the book.

1. Did the Paragon story work, in terms of making the game material clear and/or interesting? Is anyone interested in playing a game using that setting?

2. What about Azk'Arn? Does it sound fun? I'd really, really like to have some artists work on an Azk'Arn gallery for the website, and especially, if anyone wants to do a map, I'd be very grateful.

3. Do those dice diagrams in Ch. 6 make sense, or (as I suspect) am I going to have to re-phrase my explanations here in this forum?

4. How about the testimonials? What point did they make or reinforce, to you? Were they thought-provoking in any way?

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2003, 11:49:40 AM »

Hey Ron.

I agree. Sex and Sorcery is the best of your books so far. I'm only about a 3rd way through it, but it's reaching me in a way that Sould never did, even though I knew it should have.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2003, 12:01:25 PM »

Hello,

It's kind of interesting to consider the writing/publishing history of each supplement.

1. Sorcerer the text file, then PDF (pretty raw)
2. Sorcerer & Sword the PDF (sketchy, no Ch. 7)
3. The Sorcerer's Soul the PDF (pretty good)
4. Sorcerer the book (up to Soul standards)
5. Sorcerer & Sword the book (very, very radically rewritten)
6. The Sorcerer's Soul the book (not very different from the PDF)
7. Sex & Sorcery the book (the only one written from scratch with all three other books as a basis)

This is why I see a puzzling flip from the PDF library to the print one - in the former, Soul was the shining light because it was clearest; in the latter, Soul comes off as the least passionate, because every single increment (#1-7) of the above sequence focused on bringing more passion to the text.

I consider The Sorcerer's Soul to be crucial Sorcerer material, and I suspect that many people internalize the relationship-map issues, especially, and don't realize how much it's changed their outlook. The book is too stealthy for its own good, maybe.

I also think that many Sorcerer GMs would do well to read Chapters 1-3 in The Sorcerer's Soul very carefully after their first or second Sorcerer session of actual play. The material depends so heavily on locally customized aspects of play that it doesn't "strike" other readers.

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2003, 12:07:49 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I also think that many Sorcerer GMs would do well to read Chapters 1-3 in The Sorcerer's Soul very carefully after their first or second Sorcerer session of actual play. The material depends so heavily on locally customized aspects of play that it doesn't "strike" other readers.


And in this may be the problem. Soul is pretty opaque unless you have been playing for a while, and then it's not too late, but it's hard to change the inertial allready set up. Sex, on the other hand, began speaking to me immediated because it's so broad, and it applies to every game I've ever played--not just Sorcerer. It then shows how to really capitalize on this phenomenon in Sorcerer, thus making me really really badly want to play Sorcerer for an extended duration as a player. Alas...

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2003, 12:16:04 PM »

Heh, and here I thought I'd be the first to tip the hat, and now I'm just a me too post...

At any rate, this is by far your best written book yet.  Here I'm specifically not referring to the context (which is excellent in its own right) but the actual writing itself.  You've become a significantly better words smith than when you penned Sorcerer (last night I reread several chapters of the hard cover to make sure...yup, wasn't my imagination).

Kudos.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2003, 12:19:37 PM »

No one wants to tackle my list of questions?

Sniff.

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2003, 12:24:00 PM »

Nah. I'll finish reading Sex first.

That sound so scandalous.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Bankuei
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2003, 12:38:30 PM »

Hi Ron,

I'll tackle your questions.  I had considered doing so earlier, but wanted some time to chew on them.

1) Paragon-
This served well as an example for the game material, although I think some of the dirty manuevers on part of the demon went over my head in first reading.  As far as the setting, it worked fine for the HK action it was intended, and seemed cool enough for me.  

2)Azk'Arn-
Very cool.  Very Heavy Metal, minus the breast-centric cover.  I'd love to try a run in it, although I think it would require a group already familiar with good stuff like Keepers of the Maser, Light Year, and Wizards, and assorted stuff along those lines.

3)Diagrams-
Still atttempting to parse and digest.  I'm not sure if that's your writing, my comprehension or a bit of both.  The idea of all actions working along the combat initiative rule works for me, but the rest of it I'm still trying to get.

4)Testimonials-

One of my favorite parts of the book.  I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't anything said about them, but simply that they ended most chapters.  I know that's the usual Ron, "Think it out for yourself!" method, although I suspect there's more to them than what I read out of it.  The Betty/Will/Harry example is my favorite, although I think that's because it speaks more about that stuff on the "Social Contract and higher" level, which I dig a lot.

Other things which I really enjoy-
-the Transgression Chart(all kinds of head damage there)
-In Utero(more head damage)
-the Martial Arts rules

The writing is a lot more informal and "alive" this time around, the new Chapter title font is cool, and the artwork(while the same size) is better designed for that size(I don't have to squint to see what its about).

I (so far) haven't had any of the "Oh my god" gaming revelations that I had with Sword or Soul, but I suspect that's because I strongly developed the "Bob, Weave, Cross" technique during my extended Feng Shui campaign, so it was very familiar territory for me.

Overall, though, Sorcerer with the supplements is a far different product than without it, and it holds a very different relation to other rpgs and their use of supplements.   I guess this is the classic "Whole greater than sum of parts" deal.

Chris
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Trevis Martin
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Posts: 499


« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2003, 09:37:27 PM »

Ron, here are some answers to your questions:

1.)  I found that the Paragon story did a good job of making the male story type clear, admirably so.  I confess I was surprised to see it given your seeming general disdain for game fiction.  On the other hand, it was written expressly as a demonstration of the story type so it was not merely filler.

I confess to being a latecomer to the genre but the past few years I've gained great interest in ancinet chinese mythological/fantasy setting.  I'd seen some stuff I liked before but what really set me off was Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon.

The martial arts rules are very cool and I would love to play the setting.

2.)  Azk'Arn sounds fun also.  It seems to be a true fantasy setting in the sense that things really seem fantastic and alien as opposed to what is usually meant by the term which holds few surprises or any real sense of wonder for anyone.  Potential for high grade creepiness.  I would love to contribute to the art projet.

3.)  The dice diagrams were a little hard to penetrate.  I think I understand the technique and the idea of an action environment.  I find the idea compelling but it isn't the most clearly described section of the book.  It would have helped to know excatly the reason for the types of rolls in the examples.  Some of them have reasons and some don't.

In the two possesor problem on p 97 I believe you have a typo.  You state
Quote
...and finally, a Will roll between Essinal and Girett to see whether it would break its binding to Krisst.
 
where earlier, and of course the diagram indicates, that the binding being broken is Zett's
Quote
Essinal used this change in her life to drive an attempt to Bind Zett away from Krisst, its master.


Let me go through the rolls on this one real quick
Quote
The conflict is expressed as a Will vs. Will roll between Shrekt'Ka and Zett,

  I understand Shrekt'Ka is the host for Zett who is bound to Krisst (all are NPC's here).  The Will vs. Will is to punish or try to push Zett out of his own body?  Victories confer to Essinal whose action of binding Zett (I assume to free her lover) is the central one.
 
Quote
a will vs. will roll between Essinal and Girett
 I'm not sure what this one is about either...she's fighting for control of her body as host?  Again though, victories/penalties confer on Essinal's final action.
 
Quote
a Humanity roll between Essinal and Shrekt'Ka

Between?  Humanity vs. Humanity?  Or do they both roll humanity vs itself for the relationship and then those victories roll over?
Quote
a "demons in love" roll between Zett and Girett,

No score mentioned and demons don't have humanity.  Is it a power roll? Is the demon relationship being rolled to oppose the main roll or to support it?
Quote
and finally, a will roll betweeen Essinal and [Zett]  to see whether it would break its binding to Krisst.
using bonuses from the first four rolls.

It would have helped me to know the reasons for the type of roll made in the situation.

The Two-queen cooption rituals example seems to be explained more clearly however the diagram indicates that the main roll between Nasua and Zochat'lan is a Will vs. Will and the text indicates Power vs. Lore.

In the Queen-mating ritual example seems understandable.  If I'm reading it correctly, the rolls occur simultaneously but the key vicories compared are the human mating roll vs the demon mating roll.  The demon roll won, thus Nasua did what Miirun wanted - correct?

4.) I found the testamonials interesting and they helped illustrate the issues addressed early in the book though they did not always seem connected with the chapter they were attached to, or the connection was weak. (the ones attached to the In Utero and Paragon chapters for example)  I actually thought that worked.  They weref pacers, downbeats, so to speak, between chapters.  On thier own I found them helpful in humanizing the points made in the early part of the book.  They and the main text of the book did cause me to considter the immature and insensitive treatment of gender and sex issues in many of my early rpg experiences.

 It's also been making me think about our current group.  We recently have had a female player join us.  She's the sister of one of the other players and a novice.  She's actually worked out fairly well so far.   I have to say that I've very limited experience with females as players.  My wife has claimed to not find the activity interesting, despite several invitations to join us (though she did play SOAP with us once, and seemed to enjoy it.) Our group is composed mostly of old freinds, and all of us are reasonably socially competent but I can see where some of these issues will have to be addressed openly for us to approach some of the powerful content that these things can provide (and I've always wanted to pursue.)

Anyway.  As I said before, it's a fine book.

regards,

Trevis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2003, 11:14:25 AM »

Hi Trevis,

Quote
... the Paragon story ... I confess I was surprised to see it given your seeming general disdain for game fiction. On the other hand, it was written expressly as a demonstration of the story type so it was not merely filler.


By "game fiction," I am referring either to snippets of filler/Color text, or to stories that purport to be the product of role-playing (or are such a product and are presented otherwise), or to stories that are supposed to be a framework for the role-playing, usually as metaplot. Very little few of these impress me, although I can think of a few examples.

The Paragon story, on the other hand, is supposed to be an "illustration" in the very same sense as literal illustration. It's not "like" a story or "game plus story," but a plain old story. It doesn't act as an example of play nor as a verbal version of some specific mechanic. As a story, it illustrates a point very much like a picture does. That's the thought I was going with, anyway.

Quote
... Azk'Arn ... I would love to contribute to the art projet.

You're invited.

Quote
3.) The dice diagrams were a little hard to penetrate.
...
In the two possesor problem on p 97 I believe you have a typo. ... the binding being broken is Zett's


Correct. Time to hit the Errata page.

Shrekt'Ka vs. Zett
Quote
I understand Shrekt'Ka is the host for Zett who is bound to Krisst (all are NPC's here). The Will vs. Will is to punish or try to push Zett out of his own body? Victories confer to Essinal whose action of binding Zett (I assume to free her lover) is the central one.


Correct.

Essinal and Girett
Quote
I'm not sure what this one is about either...she's fighting for control of her body as host? Again though, victories/penalties confer on Essinal's final action.


Right, this one's about who's controlling the actual motions of her body. See, Girett likes things the way they are.

Essinal & Shrekt'Ka
Quote
Between? Humanity vs. Humanity? Or do they both roll humanity vs itself for the relationship and then those victories roll over?


It could be done several ways, including the way you described or (very nicely) rolling each one's Humanity vs. a single die, which is what I'd do for characters who were well-established lovers already.

Girett & Zett
Quote
No score mentioned and demons don't have humanity. Is it a power roll? Is the demon relationship being rolled to oppose the main roll or to support it?


This one rolls into the opposing force in the main roll, because the demons like the situation of Zett being in Shrekt'Ka, Bound to Krisst. They are mighty irked that the two hosts found out about the whole thing. I used Power vs. Power, and it might well have been handled more like the Shrekt'Ka + Essinal roll above, but I don't think I did it that way.

Essinal vs. Zett (final roll)
Quote
using bonuses from the first four rolls.


Right.

Quote
the diagram indicates that the main roll between Nasua and Zochat'lan is a Will vs. Will and the text indicates Power vs. Lore.


Shit. More Errata. It should be Nasua's Lore vs. Zochat'lan's Power; it's a Contact roll.

Quote
In the Queen-mating ritual example seems understandable. If I'm reading it correctly, the rolls occur simultaneously but the key vicories compared are the human mating roll vs the demon mating roll. The demon roll won, thus Nasua did what Miirun wanted - correct?


Correct. Or more accurately, considering that Nasua's Humanity hit 0 during this conflict, her lovemaking with Kirikin became a demonic act of mate-devouring rather than a human affirmation of mutual commitment.

Quote
.... the testamonials interesting and they helped illustrate the issues addressed early in the book though they did not always seem connected with the chapter they were attached to, or the connection was weak.


Yeah, a couple of them dovetailed nicely with the chapters in question, but in the main, I consider them a chassis for the whole book rather than for specific points in chapter terms.

Thanks for all the feedback, Trevis! This is extremely helpful.

Best,
Ron
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Jeffrey Straszheim
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« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2003, 06:38:12 PM »

Hey Ron,

I think I'll chime in on these.

Quote from: Ron Edwards

1. Did the Paragon story work, in terms of making the game material clear and/or interesting? Is anyone interested in playing a game using that setting?


I didn't like the story as a piece of prose.  However, if you're interested in its function as a didactic piece, here is what I found.  After reading it twice, along with the explanatory text, I do understand the four rings model, how that model works in the story, and how I might use it in a game.  So by that standard it is a success.

I would love to play in such a setting.  My wife is keen on the idea as well.  So, one of these days.

Quote

2. What about Azk'Arn? Does it sound fun? I'd really, really like to have some artists work on an Azk'Arn gallery for the website, and especially, if anyone wants to do a map, I'd be very grateful.


Weeeee!  Castrated Bug Ninjas attack!

Yeah, Azk'Arn is shockingly cool.  Let me tell a story, apropos nothing really.  While reading the Azk'Arn section in bed, a big-ass-freaking palmeto bug ran across my leg.  Ron lived in Florida.  I'm sure he's met palmeto bugs.  So,  and I'm not kidding here, I tried to kill it will my copy of Sex and Sorcery, but it wouldn't die.  I'm guessing that its spiritial kinship with the content of the text rendered it invulnerable.  In fact, I believe the text drew the bug.  So anyhow, for the rest of the night I had creepy palmeto bug willies everytime the sheet touched my leg.  This text must be approached with proper fear and respect.

Quote

3. Do those dice diagrams in Ch. 6 make sense, or (as I suspect) am I going to have to re-phrase my explanations here in this forum?


The dice diagrams are almost really great.  Here's the deal.  In by-the-text-Sorcerer you have the following:
[list=1]
[*]An opposed dice pool mechanic with margins of victory.
[*]A combat system that combines the initiative and attack rolls, and sometimes requires an abort to defend with full dice.
[*]The currency system, which chiefly provides carryover from one roll to the next.
[/list:o]
That's really about it.  Following the forums, one learns that the combat system can be used for general conflict resolution.  Cool.  Also, one gets a glimpse of some very sophisticated applications of the currency system, but Ron's decision process is never very clear.  It is one thing to notice that dice can carryover between rolls, its quite another to know just which rolls.

When I first scanned the dice diagram section I thought at last Ron is going to expose how he makes these decisions.  However, there simply isn't enough detail in the text for me to reconstruct the decisions, nor the specific step-by-step procedures.  Some examples along those lines would be great!

Quote

4. How about the testimonials? What point did they make or reinforce, to you? Were they thought-provoking in any way?


For me, the testimonials were a complete success.  I loved them.
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Jeffrey Straszheim
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« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2003, 07:10:12 PM »

Heh, I'll be the lone voice of decent on the bug thing.  I hate bug stories.  I hate the whole "sentient bug life form" archetype.  I hate giant killer bug monsters.  I hate strange sounding apostrophed bug words.  I hate them.  No its not rational and I have no intention of ever wondering or even caring about why I hate them.  I just do.

So Azk'arn (makes me shudder to even type that) not only holds no interest for me, on a scale of 0 to 10 its probably negative...alot.  In fact, I even toyed with the notion of taking a black marker to the bug on the cover picture, except I hate damaging books even more than I hate bugs.

Its a mark of how impressed I am with this book that I've even resolved to force myself to read that chapter at all, though I must admit that I haven't actually managed to start it yet.

(no that doesn't mean that real bugs give me the willies, nor do I harbor any fear of spiders, or any other such thing...I just hate bug stories...everyones entitled to something).

And yes, that does mean that Starship Troopers was one of my all time favorite stories...Nuking giant intelligent bugs for the crime of existing is a good thing...If I were ever to run a Sorcerer game set in Azk'Arn it would most definitely involve power armor and large radioactive mushroom clouds... ;-)

Bugs...blech.
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Trevis Martin
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Posts: 499


« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2003, 12:48:38 AM »

Ralph,

well we always need a decent voice around here.  :)


Ron,

I want to echo what Jeffery said on the Paragon story.  I thought it explained the concepts of the social story very well.  As fiction, well...

Quote
The Paragon story...doesn't act as an example of play nor as a verbal version of some specific mechanic. As a story, it illustrates a point very much like a picture does. That's the thought I was going with, anyway.


And it does do that.  It illustrates the point very well.

On the dice diagrams

Quote
Or more accurately, considering that Nasua's Humanity hit 0 during this conflict, her lovemaking with Kirikin became a demonic act of mate-devouring rather than a human affirmation of mutual commitment.


Was this due to a humanity roll aggrivated by penalties from the demon rolls, or was it the effect of a demon power, or as we stated earlier an effect of the demon mating roll winning over the human one?

On the testamonials,

Quote
but in the main, I consider them a chassis for the whole book rather than for specific points in chapter terms.


And I think they helped give the book a more comfortable, almost conversational tone, which lead to it being such an absorbing read for me.

You're welcome, I'm glad to contribute.

regards,

Trevis
[/quote]
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Bankuei
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2003, 10:35:10 AM »

Hi folks,

Went over the Dice Map chapter again, and this time, I get it.  I don't know what part of my brain was obfuscating the simple fact that all it is, is a method of keeping the "roll-over" successes straight.  I think the combination of weird names, plus the fact that there wasn't a 1-2-3-4 of which rolls go first, threw me for a loop for a second.  But I get it now.  Very cool.

Second, I tend to go through Sorcerer and stuff with a highlighter, for the stuff that I think is mucho important to play...  This really struck me, the part speaking about gender and sex being seen as a dangerous can of worms, a pandora's box...

"The choice is clear: either the  cans' contents blind-side the group and screw up the game, or they are put to artistic use with full knowledge."

I had been trying to put to words this very concept, because it applies to any "uncomfortable" subject, whether we're talking violence(as in, real violence, nasty and terrible), sex, gender, race, class, politics, whatever.  I always had trouble in understanding why the players of my regular group were able to deal with most of this, and a few others would shy away or gloss it over.  The issue was the ability to acknowledge the existance of these issues, in game or out of game.

It really highlights the difference we're talking about here.  We're not talking about "mature" gaming because it deals with the normally taboo, but we're talking about mature gaming in dealing with the taboo in an honest, emotionally gripping fashion.  

Consider the different handling of rape in a game:

-Rape, "it happened" glossed over, usually spoken with some demented glint in the eye of the player/GM who declares it happening

-Rape, glossed over, "maturely" handled via rape-revenge stereotype

-Rape, glossed over or brutal detail, but definitely brutal detail on the consequences of it, giving the group serious identification with the victim as a human...absolutely chilling.

In the first two examples, we're talking about glossing over, detaching, and avoiding any thought or identification of rape as "what it really means" in context of being human. In the last example, the emotions of the group are deeply pulled up, thrown on the table, and expressed through play.  

Maturity is acknowledging that Pandora's Box, and being able to handle it, whether you're afraid or not.

Deep stuff,

Chris
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