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I killed my first D&D monster, and it was a Klan rally!
May 4, 2013 2:01 AM   Subscribe


 
That's exactly what the establishment WANTS you to think, man.
posted by PlusDistance at 2:28 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


there is something incredibly, horrifically wrong with this and i really wish i knew how to articulate it
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:38 AM on May 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


(without being really condemnatory)
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:39 AM on May 4, 2013


"Lawful to Chaotic became Hip to Square."

Shouldn't that be the other way around?
posted by zompist at 2:52 AM on May 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


We didn't have a GM, and the shared narration really worked here; everyone got to sculpt the world, and we all quite enjoyed it. We implicitly gave people authority over the meaning of their attacks and the effects, with everyone throwing out ideas.

This looks like fun. I'm game.

Character: Joseph McCarthy (Level 5 Aggressive Square Demagogue)

Round 1:

McCarthy's position as chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations grants him nationwide influence. He is holding hearings investigating American pacifist organizations, claiming that they have been infiltrated by communists. The very idea of testifying is terrifying to all but the bravest witnesses.

Game mechanics:
Paladin of Tyranny: aura of cowardice (nearby enemies suffer a penalty to saves vs. fear)
Paladin mount: a warhorse named Subcommittee
Standard action: detect good/pacifistic. If uninterrupted for several rounds McCarthy will gain increasingly precise information about the power and location of pacifist players

posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:52 AM on May 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love the "You... made D&D... Narrativist! My world is crumbling around me!" comment.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:09 AM on May 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


Imagination is fun, although it sounds like other systems might suit players who enjoy utilising ideas rather than d20s more....
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:49 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


But if they enjoyed d20s more, why would they be *here*?
posted by CrystalDave at 3:53 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a dude in my mid-to-late-20s and I found this offensively inaccurate as to my understanding of "the 60s" and the broader cultural movement that phrase is meant to evoke. It's a weak first-pass caricature, and quickly shows the (pretty weak) level of effort and understanding put into it.
posted by Soultron at 4:15 AM on May 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gosh, you mean this roleplaying game is historically inaccurate and oversimplifies real world events? Gosh!
posted by ook at 4:47 AM on May 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm a dude in my mid-to-late-20s and I found this offensively inaccurate as to my understanding of "the 60s" and the broader cultural movement that phrase is meant to evoke. It's a weak first-pass caricature, and quickly shows the (pretty weak) level of effort and understanding put into it.

Next you'll tell me that the standard fantasy trope where most of the land is wilderness aside from a small handful of farms isn't reflective of medieval Europe!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:55 AM on May 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Never trust the historical verisimilitude of an RPG — or fantasy novel — where the currency consists of coinage of noble metals denominated in a base divisible by ten. Maaan. Not to mention fixed gold/silver exchange rates that pay no attention to the adulteration coefficient indicated by the precise monarch's head on the currency. Or to coin clipping. (This is advice is worth precisely 2/6d.)
posted by cstross at 5:11 AM on May 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm a dude in my mid-to-late-20s and I found this offensively inaccurate as to my understanding of "the 60s" and the broader cultural movement that phrase is meant to evoke. It's a weak first-pass caricature, and quickly shows the (pretty weak) level of effort and understanding put into it.
no see its okay because i relate to everything in terms of D&D and hobbits because everything is a fandom

grind the world down into pulpy beige nothing and extrude it out a tumblr so my friends can share it endlessly as memes

bleh
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:37 AM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean, you can set a D&D game anywhere. But yeah, GURPs would work better for this. Seems fun to me either way. Anywho. Thanks for the post!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:46 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


GURPS would be hilariously inappropriate for a '60s protest game, unless you wanted a lot of detail in things that would never come up. You'd do better with Unknown Armies, which deals pretty well with Obsessions and you could use different ideologies in place of schools of magic and avatars.

This was clever but it was RPGnet and so the shallowness that Soultron pointed out was par for the course. (And RPGnet is worse now.)
posted by graymouser at 5:52 AM on May 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I found this offensively inaccurate

"As you enter the thread, you find a Humorless Prig standing before you, blocking your passage."

"I cast a spell of Lighten Up, Man"

"The Prig is unaffected, and returns fire with These Kids Today."
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:54 AM on May 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


I rolled a natural 20 and cast "get off my lawn". There are no survivors.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:12 AM on May 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Lawful to Chaotic became Hip to Square."

Shouldn't that be the other way around?


Yes, but I'm enjoying the implication that Huey Lewis and the News promoted anarchy.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:33 AM on May 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


graymouser: "GURPS would be hilariously inappropriate for a '60s protest game, unless you wanted a lot of detail in things that would never come up."

I dunno. Maybe not GURPS specifically, but the first name that came to mind when I saw this is Steve Jackson.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:41 AM on May 4, 2013


The first name that came to my mind was Jesse Jackson. I COULD DO THIS ALL DAY.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:46 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


which faction is the one with my little pony on it
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:50 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a warhorse named Subcommittee
posted by The Whelk at 7:05 AM on May 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's surely cute in itself, but what's a bit additionally interesting about this is that it appears to be some kind of unconscious re-engineering or re-emergence of the cultural roots of D&D itself — that weird convergence of the wargaming subculture (=Square, militarism/engineering) and the huge Sixties spike in fantasy's popularity (=Hip, counterculture). Someone should roll up Gygax and Arneson characters and ask Jon Peterson to DM.
posted by RogerB at 7:23 AM on May 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


> I'm a dude in my mid-to-late-20s and I found this offensively inaccurate as to my understanding of "the 60s" and the broader cultural movement that phrase is meant to evoke.

I'm a dude in my early 60s who was there for all this and I found it hilarious. (Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about D&D.)
posted by languagehat at 7:36 AM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe a custom deck of Munchkin cards would work just as well.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:37 AM on May 4, 2013


I saw something on TV the other night night about the modern, friendlier KKK and I failed my ST vs Belief.

Because they were still racist fucks in dresses.

And I say that as someone who isn't averse to being called a xenophobe or being a guy a dress.

I am now going to sit down and make this work in Ravenloft's Masque of the Red Death. But I'll probably give up and go Palladium.

And, suddenly, how wrong does "I put on my robe and wizard hat" seem now?
posted by Mezentian at 8:00 AM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


In my understanding, the point of this exercise is not how D&D makes it possible, but that it's hilarious because D&D makes everything a lot harder and more ridiculous than it would otherwise be.

That said, if you do actually want to play a game with this kind of abstract "combat", go with Risus (it's six pages and free). In the longer non-free Risus Companion there's an example given where a space pilot uses a vending machine but his soda doesn't come out, and depending on which rules you handle the situation with you can make it anything from a simple one-roll challenge to an half-hour session of elaborate metaphorical combat. Because combat in Risus has no rules for physicality it makes this kind of combat very attractive.
posted by 23 at 8:12 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This exercise strikes me as very similar to reading tarot cards. You have a bunch of images that weren't really chosen as symbols of the situation you're trying to map them onto, but you try as hard as you can to interpret them in relevant ways anyway.
posted by baf at 8:58 AM on May 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just rolled a natural 20 on my saving throw vs Operation Rolling Thunder!
posted by R. Schlock at 10:44 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


except you append, “metaphorically speaking” to the end of every sentence

, man.
posted by dhartung at 2:39 PM on May 4, 2013


Am I already Hip to Square that the only thing that bothered me in this was the spell "spreading the meme that the KKK is anti-Christian"? Dawkins didn't even coin the term until 1976, man!

(Though now that I think of it, the original cover to The Selfish Gene did have a 60s-ish flair to it...)
posted by chortly at 4:35 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the wonderfully bizzarre dungeons and discourse (which probably deserves a post of its own), based on this comic. If you've ever wanted to slice your foes with a dedkind cut, or summon a dire C. elegans, this is the game for you.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 6:37 PM on May 4, 2013


In my understanding, the point of this exercise is not how D&D makes it possible, but that it's hilarious because D&D makes everything a lot harder and more ridiculous than it would otherwise be

The point of any roleplaying system is constrained collaborative storytelling. The dice and the rules serve an important purpose: they prevent the characters from becoming omnipotent. Your wizard can summon dark mystical energies, but he's only prepared three spells today. Your barbarian is great with a sword, but once in a while she's going to fail to roll 16 or lower and miss.

What's not entirely absurd about this exercise is that it lets you make up alternate histories where all of the players are constrained and finite in power.

Round 1 con't

Bertrand Russell (Level 10 Neutral Pacifist Academic) publishes the Russell-Einstein Manifesto cautioning the world about the threat of nuclear war. In collaboration with Manhattan Project scientist Joseph Rotblat, financier Cyrus Eaton and a group of scientists from around the world Russell helps organise the first Pugwash conference.

From Russell's opening statement: "I am bringing the warning pronounced by the signatories to the notice of all the powerful Governments of the world in the earnest hope that they may agree to allow their citizens to survive."

(Game mechanics: Russell casts "Telepathic bond," allowing communication at a distance among allies regardless of language)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:04 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The point of any roleplaying system is constrained collaborative storytelling.

I'm not sure that's such a settled thing. I have met a few people who use RPGs as a kind of social Final Fantasy Tactics (though I do find that frankly terrifying).

The dice and the rules serve an important purpose: they prevent the characters from becoming omnipotent.

If that's the sense you mean constraints in that just sounds wrong - I've known a lot of players who, given omnipotent characters, just wouldn't know what to do; there are people who enjoy role-playing without it being a power trip or wish fulfillment. I think good rules* serve as a mediation point (simplifying complex interactions) and as a kind of Oulipian idea machine, adding complications, details, or direction to the collaborative story that wouldn't otherwise be present. I know that's not at all the goal of a lot of systems, but it's exactly what I see D&D doing here, and it's something I look for in games I run.

It's one reason that even though I hardly ever used the rules (besides character generation) when I ran the Maid RPG, I will always be greatful to it for providing me with a tale about the time a character transformed into a deep fryer in order to make fried giraffe for a drug queen.

*good rules = "the kind of rules I like" not "the only rules that are ever good for anyone"
posted by 23 at 4:02 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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