Thoughts vis-a-vis the PCs

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Thoughts vis-a-vis the PCs
« on: May 01, 2011, 07:39:48 PM »
While walking home from an encounter with Montreal's finest shields and batons, it occurred to me that the PCs should not be a special forces police detective master chiefs fighting the good fight against the evil Other and its rabble of corrupt masses.

I want to make explicit in this game that you're not saving the world or dying gloriously for blood and soil. You're not the last vanguard of some threated progressive liberal state making one last paternal stand against the barbarian hordes.

Johnstone hit the nail on the head when he framed it as kind of psychic drug war / cold war. But you don't play DEA or CIA agents routing out threats to american hegemony. You play the revolutionaries, the drug dealers or the cultists that are symptomatic of the metaphysical sea change that's literally ending the world as we know it. Those are just examples but I wanted to make clear that this game isn't about the tragic heroics of the boys in blue.

I want to make equally explicit that the denouement should not be some utopian victory either. Simply that the world ends and what on the Other side of that should be unrecognizable.

Not to proscribe the narrative too much but those are my design goals for this.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 09:40:22 PM by Nathan Orlando Wilson »

Re: Thought vis-a-vis the PCs
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2011, 12:35:11 PM »
Huh. I have to say I don't think of institutional protagonists in that way. I mean, I'm somewhat sympathetic to players who want to be special agents who believe in what they're doing and all that, but the idea that there are two sides--our side and the wrong side--is patently ridiculous, and a game or narrative set up like that is weak and juvenile.

But I don't think that's intrinsic to the conceit of PCs as agents of an institutionally conservative status quo.

Take A Scanner Darkly for example. That's a story about a drug enforcement agent.

Or Solaris. Kris Kelvin, and all the other astronaut Solarists, are members of the governing institution.

And the description "agents of an institutionally conservative status quo routing out threats to American hegemony, who actually believe in what they do" also describes half the cast of The Wire.

The reason I use the drug war and the cold war as analogies is precisely because they are/were pointless bullshit. Just the espionage in the cold war ruined literally thousands of lives because of bad intell to begin with, never mind the ruination of third-world countries through proxy wars. Some people honestly thought they were fighting the good fight, and other people used it as an excuse to take over half the world, just like American drug laws are an excuse to put coloured people in jail. And hell, nobody really thinks they can win the war on drugs.

But I think maybe what you're reacting against is the idea of The Man? Or the heroic, unified front against the Eschaton, and having that portrayed through Man-from-U.N.C.L.E.-slick government agents?

I think the best way to approach it is through factions. If all of society were of one mind, there wouldn't be any problem--but that's not the case. Society is fractured, and everybody has different resources, has different concerns, is vulnerable to the eschaton in different ways, gets different benefits from the eschaton, AND have different alliances with each other.

It isn't about how well you fight the end. It's about how you work with or against the other factions, who goes down first, who becomes obsolete, how you make your peace with the end of everything. I mean, what do DEA agents do when suddenly heroin doesn't just get you high, it makes you telepathic? Etc.

Goddamn I write a lot.



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Re: Thought vis-a-vis the PCs
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2011, 06:10:47 PM »
I'm suppose it was a bit of weird day for me and all.

Like you said, patently juvenile and weak but it gets handled that way often in RPGs -or more fundamentally, that notions of state, state violence and hegemony are legitimate if only for a few bad apples.

I haven't watched much of the Wire. Although, I few people I respect swear it's good tv.

I dig the stuff at the end of your post. I suppose I'm less interested in having PCs be members of state intuitions and more interested in them being terrorists.

As such, the factions I'd like to see in play are likely the one that's that are in subaltern positions. As with with Scanner, having one or two PCs be Agents of some kind, undercover or sympathetic, is fine. I'm not interested in having whole groups of Agents running around.

In fact, one of the playbooks I had wanted to write was effective an Agent or Bureaucrat of some sort. A very different flavour of Hocus or Hardholder in effect.

I'll try to write up a move for that.