Alex Schroeder @ 2019-06-01 03:55:52
JB is wrestling with the idea of a campaign in real, historical South America with conquistadores being the adventurers but has trouble making it work because the conquistadores were so damn horrible. It truly is a quandary. I don’t think it would work. If it is a human vs human struggle and something you could delve into and learn from then why make it a game; and if a game, how can you turn all the suffering into entertainment, or if replaced by lizards and goblins you are erasing the real world victims out of history. All the ways forward are not good. https://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com/2019/05/a-problematic-concept.html
A. Miles Davis @ 2019-05-31 19:19:20
The easiest answer is: don't fucking do it. For the same reason it would be shitty to play a "real, historical USA south during slave times where you are the slave owners." Just don't. Fantasy RPGs need to be less faux-europe in general, because that's some boring shit about some horrible-fuck people.
Richard G @ 2019-05-31 21:44:41
it’s a really interesting set of questions on which, as a culture, we seem to be deciding to take very boring positions. I guess I was raised to confront demons, not pretend they don’t exist. Counter-colonial Heistcrawl, btw, is about exactly this. European lunatics who think they’re in a medieval Call of Cthulhu game have shown up and decided you are all cultists. What do you do now?
Roger Giner-Sorolla @ 2019-05-31 23:23:36
It's much more interesting if you run an alt-history where the Aztecs put up a better show, the disease vector is not catastrophic, and the situation ends up more like Japan, with European powers trading and proselytizing through franchise towns. In these places there collect polyglot and polychrome adventurers valued for their lack of political entanglements, superstition, and fucks to give. They get hired to do various dirty jobs and eventually discover and fight the resurgent evil of Xibalba.
Richard G @ 2019-06-01 00:49:07
yes. Exactly. Playing the smallpox apocalypse would be _hard._ But resisting and negotiating with an imperfectly coordinated invading force is interesting.
Richard G @ 2019-06-01 00:50:36
...even in the 19th century more than half the British soldiers sent to India died of diseases in their first year.
Richard G @ 2019-06-01 02:50:08
......I wouldn’t keep all the regular dnd trappings in there, tho. But a lot of osr types seem very invested in using the full odnd gumbo. Maybe he has his reasons. It seems to me that including demihumans is radically disrespectful of history and tone-deaf regarding current thinking about colonialism and racism, so I’m curious about how he sees all that.
Alex Schroeder @ 2019-06-01 03:54:17
In the blog post and the discussion he says exactly that: dragons and giants are fine, but replacing humans with lizards and goblins is not. One interesting aspect is the question of how “near” things are and that apparently playing Vikings is fine (I’m currently in a Moonshae campaign where the Northmen and the Ffolk feel like just that). Steppe nomads is fine. Romans is fine. That’s because our identity is no longer tied up in these ideas. It’s only when you read a novel like Wake set in the Norman conquest that you might start to resent the British nobility again as you realize that where as you might have forgiven and forgotten about the Norman conquest, *they still own the land*. I feel like the most important part would be to not have anybody be represented by caricatures (goblins instead of humans), and then decide how you felt about it all. Disease, slavery, genocide – it might not be a background I felt like playing in no matter the historical closeness.
Richard G @ 2019-06-01 10:29:42
I need a +1 button!
Anne Hunter @ 2019-06-04 02:32:47
@Richard, I would see a key distinction here that CCHC makes the indigenous peoples the adventurers. Yours is not a game where the players are encouraged to act out the role of genocidal conquerors nor one that rewards them for replicating historical atrocities.
Richard G @ 2019-06-04 12:13:36
@Anne it’s a tricky distinction, though: war should raise moral problems no matter which side you’re on, and I think indigenous peoples (or victims generally) are too often romanticized as fundamentally morally justified. HBO has a new drama, Grisse, set in 19th century SE Asia with Dutch colonists and heroic locals, and it’s straight revenge porn - the Dutch are bestial predators, the point is to do violence to them. Watching it, I realized that (a) this wasn’t what I meant at all, but (b) I’d never really articulated how CCHC was different from it. My aim with CCHC is to present difficult questions - about how to resist, what lines to draw, and how to organize and govern when you have a base to defend. But for it to be an RPG with tactical infinity etc. it has to allow the possibility of the players choosing revenge porn - they have to be free both to fail at building a better world and to choose not to try. And a game where you play conquistadors _could_ talk about similar things _if_ you went against the dominant grain of history, which is something individual Europeans occasionally did: - Multatuli was a Dutch colonial officer who was repelled by the system he served: his method of resistance was to write a novel about his experiences that (amazingly) actually changed colonial policy; - the movie _The Mission_ depicts a small attempt at humane coexistence by colonial Jesuit churchmen in the face of a genocidally exploitative Royal policy - it’s based on a true story, and shows missionaries sincerely trying to save the lives (not just the souls) of some Guarani natives by giving them a way of life that was legible to the colonial plantation operators. That’s a mindset we’re just starting, falteringly, to grapple with - at the time it was one of the few realistic options for avoiding their extermination. Predictably, it ends in tragedy, but my takeaway was that even in this case, the situation wasn’t simple and not all the invaders were bent on the goal of extermination - but that if you’re on the colonisl side and that’s _not_ what you want, then you have a hard fight on your hands that will demand creativity.
Alex Schroeder @ 2019-06-04 18:13:39
I saw an interesting perspective to the entire moral question at the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam. How do you resist the German occupation? Why do you collaborate? Small things. Individual reactions. Reading your comment, Richard, I feel like perhaps that’s the kind of exploration we would need more of to understand colonialism better. From this point of view, Heart of Darkness basically just poses the question but provides no answers. The reader is swept into the Heart of Darkness and is show no way out. It’s just madness and death. Without such role models, such anecdotes, it will be hard for players to act – you say that it will “demand creativity” but without shoulders to stand on, this is demanding a lot. I do agree with the openness, though. In my games, the moral dilemmas are much simpler and in order to not make decisions no brainers (funny, trying to avoid the double negative: in order to make decisions brainers?) I make sure that the evil path provides benefits that the good path does not: treasure by looting and stealing; xp by killing and destroying; good feels by saving the villagers (and often not a lot of treasure). I just think some things must go together in order to provide meaning: an action is heroic if you risked your character‘s life in a real way (and thus „hero points“ are an oxymoron); an action is good if it was selfless and to the benefit of others (and thus rewards for good deeds are oxymoronic).
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