Africa World

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Africa World
« on: December 14, 2011, 06:20:17 PM »
It occured to me early that AW might be run almost vanilla in the setting of modern day Africa (obviously some regions are a better fit than others). I always get pumped for roleplaying when reading about stuff like Kongo war I & II, the genocide in Rwanda (+ aftermath, especially the character of Nkunda), that death metal band, the naked general, the Darfur conflict, witch doctors buying albino parts as spell reagents, struggle against desertification etc. the place is just overflowing with different factions, tribes, religions and malign & benign outside forces like foreign aid & "investment". This is a place where people sometimes fight with bow & arrows and use life jackets (1-armor floats) as protection. Add to this a highly dangerous wildlife a varied landscape and plenty of disease and there is just about nothing that is not covered.

The biggest difference to the implied setting in AW it seems is the lack of a psychic maestrom and a higher population density.

So which place should I look to if I want to set a campaign in some specific place and not just "Africa"? Are there any good easy reads on the internet about that place? How the hell to do the psychic maelstrom? Flavor from folklore or from the religion of the users brain (christianity and islam has plenty of trippy stuff to draw from).

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Adje

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Re: Africa World
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 08:54:18 AM »
Roleplaying in a fictional setting is one thing, but thinking it'd be fun to play as (low-powered but look at the Harm rules vs. NPCs) superheroes in an existing area of great deprivation could be described as incredibly tasteless, yes?

I'd be worried that I'd be accused of cultural approriation at the very least and called an out-and-out racist by my friends if I suggested such a thing.

Yes, "witch [are] doctors buying albino parts as spell reagents" but that's not a fun piece of colourful fokelore for us to wonder the die-roll implications of. That's documented people in our world (and not in a previous century, but today and tomorrow) kidnapping, murdering and butchering children for financial gain.

Obviously I can't speak for what your group would find socially acceptable though.

Re: Africa World
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 02:21:12 PM »
That's not a very helpful answer and I don't like you implying that me and my friends are racists.

The setting has a great deal of racist systems (just look at South Africa, Etiopia etc) but nothing in the system enforce this and the PCs can by their very nature of not being Threats transcend the racism and fight to mend it if they chose. The fact that people are murdered for spell reagents in real life would probably give it coming up in the fiction more gravity because the players know that spells do not work and that makes the murder all the more senseless and disgusting while in a regular AW setting they would probably suspend disbelief easily because the maelstrom is usually into stuff like that.

Cultural appropriation yes. I have players who are historians, islamologists and active members of the feminist party though so I am sure we'll finish the campaign wiser than we started it!

Re: Africa World
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 02:45:56 PM »
If you haven't seen it, I'd strongly recommend Vice's guide to Liberia - http://www.vice.com/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-1

Re: Psychic Maelstrom: I don't think you need it. I think the Psychic Maelstrom is a good setting spin for AW, but you don't really need the setting spin for modern day Africa because its very unusual as an RPG setting.

If you're really set on having a "Open your Brain" move, I would turn it into "Follow the Money" (Trust me, only weird people do this.) which I would like because it adds emphasis on the corruption and whatnot.

Alternatively, you could plop down the Psychic Maelstrom whole sale, and say "Its David Lynch's Africa."

Re: Africa World
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 07:30:12 PM »
That's not a very helpful answer and I don't like you implying that me and my friends are racists.

The setting has a great deal of racist systems (just look at South Africa, Etiopia etc) but nothing in the system enforce this and the PCs can by their very nature of not being Threats transcend the racism and fight to mend it if they chose. The fact that people are murdered for spell reagents in real life would probably give it coming up in the fiction more gravity because the players know that spells do not work and that makes the murder all the more senseless and disgusting while in a regular AW setting they would probably suspend disbelief easily because the maelstrom is usually into stuff like that.

Cultural appropriation yes. I have players who are historians, islamologists and active members of the feminist party though so I am sure we'll finish the campaign wiser than we started it!

His answer was absolutely spot-on. You're turning the actual, real-life, present-day misery of millions into entertainment for your friends.

Re: Africa World
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 08:59:54 PM »
Hey killjoys:
Are you suggesting that researching factual data about Africa so that it can be used for the purposes of "entertainment" (which you can call racist misery tourism if you want, but I can also call a conversational exchange of information and perspective without much effort), which has almost no effect on the people who live there, is somehow a worse or less desirable situation than ignoring (for instance) the fact that the price of electronics, which makes this thread possible, is the leading driver of a war which has killed 6 million people since 1998?

If a "tasteless" role-playing campaign encourages even one person to donate time or money to a reputable charity or gives them an increased ability to empathize with refugees, it will have done more good than your posts or this thread. And if it doesn't, it will have done no worse. If you are offended enough by someone gaming that continent's woes, I would think you would also be offended enough by those woes themselves to support an increased awareness of them elsewhere. Which is what the OP asked for.

And to address that OP, I would recommend AK-47 by Larry Kahaner and License to Kill by Leonard Young Pelton. The Vice Guide to Liberia reminds me of a documentary Alexandre Trudeau made, Liberia: The Secret War. Apparently he's also made a doc about Darfur, but I haven't seen it.

Re: Africa World
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 10:51:47 PM »

Follow The Money may be the best single-phrase replacement for Open Your Brain I have yet encountered. I'm not saying it's the best fit for a game set in Africa -- though it's a pretty good one -- but it's such a succinct perspective-shift, I could see it working in all manner of hacks or settings.

And I'm glad Johnstone posted. I think people should have at least a little faith in Apocalypse World, or maybe just roleplaying games in general -- enough to assume that they are not going to automatically ethically compromise any real-world difficulty to which they are applied.




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Adje

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Re: Africa World
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2011, 04:46:54 AM »
I wasn't saying you were racists, I was saying that if I suggested similar locally I'd be accused of racist behaviour. Things we do can be racist without us ourselves being capital-R Racists.

And I've nothing against tasteless games. I don't play them because the people I game with aren't into them.

I agree that a roleplaying game highlighting the utter misery and horror of a situation can raise awareness (sadly awareness isn't what the people trapped in this situation need, it's change, of course).

I hadn't appreciated from your post that you weren't going to have the supernatural powers side as real - I mistook your "vanilla AW" to mean the Brainer would have psychic talents for example and over-reacted a little to that in the context of the children being hunted and killed for reagents thing.

All of that aside, I do still think there are huge traps that you would be wise to be aware of with this sort of thing and prepare to navigate around. I don't think it's unhelpful to point that out, though I accept my angry reaction might have meant I communicated that badly.

Re: Africa World
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 06:06:33 AM »
If you haven't seen it, I'd strongly recommend Vice's guide to Liberia - http://www.vice.com/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-1

Re: Psychic Maelstrom: I don't think you need it. I think the Psychic Maelstrom is a good setting spin for AW, but you don't really need the setting spin for modern day Africa because its very unusual as an RPG setting.

If you're really set on having a "Open your Brain" move, I would turn it into "Follow the Money" (Trust me, only weird people do this.) which I would like because it adds emphasis on the corruption and whatnot.

Alternatively, you could plop down the Psychic Maelstrom whole sale, and say "Its David Lynch's Africa."
Yes I'm not 100% sure how far I'll dial back the supernatural. The Brainer is obviously out (real life mind control is probably just manipulation) but the Hocus certainly is not (Frenzy is even more powerful in a setting where people listen to radio and watch TV). I think I'll ask the players about moves that could fill a narrative role as well as a supernatural (PCs having 6 hp, Divine protection, Lost, Visions of Death), if all the romantic elements are removed AW is probably not the right system at all.

Opening ones brain is a useful move game wise, it's in my opinion a way to just look at the MC with a blank stare without having to eat a hard move. On the other hand, not having it might make Africa seem more real and instill people with a sense that the world is a serious place and no mystic entity is just gonna give you guidance.

Following the money sounds like an excellent move but how would it be done in the fiction? Like, going around asking who gave guy X a new car and going through accounts or just an intuitive thing like "well obviously this gang is funded by those guys, everybody knows that"?

Btw, that link looks great! I have awful bandwidth atm though.

And to address that OP, I would recommend AK-47 by Larry Kahaner and License to Kill by Leonard Young Pelton. The Vice Guide to Liberia reminds me of a documentary Alexandre Trudeau made, Liberia: The Secret War. Apparently he's also made a doc about Darfur, but I haven't seen it.

Those seem like good reads on top of being informative. His name is Robert Young Pelton though, Leonard only shows a story-games post ;)

OT: Darwins nightmare is a documentary that has good AW fuel even for a regular AW game, it's basically a ready made Front (it suffers a bit from misery tourism though).

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Adje

  • 34
Re: Africa World
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 06:50:46 AM »
Why not replace the Weird stat?

I'd suggest "Connections"...

Re: Africa World
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2011, 12:35:16 PM »
Ah, crap I got his name wrong. That's what happens when you recommend stuff off the top of your head without looking it up again, I guess.

I agree that some sort of research-based or technology-based move would be the best replacement for Open Your Brain. This could also be different for different characters: police, journalists, and gangsters have different contacts, and some people have the internet while others do not.


I agree that a roleplaying game highlighting the utter misery and horror of a situation can raise awareness (sadly awareness isn't what the people trapped in this situation need, it's change, of course).

QFT, no argument from me on that point. The one thing I'll say is that without the awareness to take it, an opportunity to create change is an opportunity lost, so one has to come before the other.

(Just as an example of that, I don't have any money, but even if I did, I don't know any verifiably good and transparent charities or other organizations working to change the mining situation in East Congo, because I don't really have the time to track them down and vet them myself. Which I find a little frustrating.)