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Author Topic: Twisted Sicken: An RPG of mind-bending depravity  (Read 7269 times)
ethan_greer
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« on: May 13, 2004, 09:04:31 AM »

Sometimes I alarm people. This is your content warning.

Here's this game I wrote. It's one of those thought experiment games, but I'd definitely play it. What I'm looking for is your thoughts on my presentation of the idea, your opinion of the idea, your opinion of the viability of play, whether or not this "counts" as an RPG, and any suggestions for alterations and improvements.

Twisted Sicken
A freeform Roleplaying Game of Mind-Bending Depravity

First, a joke:
Q. Whatís black and blue and doesnít like having sex?
A. The 14-year-old boy in the trunk of my car.

Who You Are:
You work for an evil organization. You torture people for a living. You passionately love your job. Every night, you get together with coworkers at a bar or some such and talk over the dayís work and relive old glories. Itís basically a bragfest, where each torturer is trying to outdo his or her coworkers by describing the most horrible and nauseating acts of cruelty imaginable.

How To Play:
Players take turns describing a hideous way in which their characters have tortured an innocent victim. (And the victims are always innocent, not that any of you care.) As one player tells his or her story, the other players act as audience. The audience players are required to pay close attention to the describing player. Audience players may call for clarifications and make comments during the story; but remember that the spotlight stays on the describing player.

Telling Your Story:
First, describe your victim. Make the victim likeable and undeserving of the terrible cruelty inflicted upon him or her. A good technique is to model the victim after someone you the player know and love; this makes things more visceral for you, and will spice up your delivery.

Second, describe what you did to the victim. Make sure the description is extremely graphic, drawing on all of your knowledge of anatomy, biology, and psychology. Make the acts you describe as disgusting, depraved, and immoral as you are capable of imagining. (As the game progresses, your imaginative capabilities will increase dramatically as you draw inspiration from the other players.)

The Story Rule:
No real-world inspiration. If it happened in, oh, say, Auschwitz, or the Killing Fields of Cambodia, or some such, you canít use it. Likewise, no conventional torture devices or techniques are allowed. No rack, no thumbscrew, no boot, no Chinese water torture, no ducking stool. You can do better than those fucking amateurs. I know you can. (Itís okay if you are ignorant of a real-world occurrence or device; coincidence will not be held against you.)

The Rating:
When you have finished your account, the audience will give you a rating based on their assessment of your story. You will also rate yourself. Everyone uses the rating scale below:

1 - Enh. Iím not particularly impressed.
2 - Okay, that was pretty wrong.
3 - That was sick, and wrong.
4 - That may be the worst thing I have ever heard.
5 - I am no longer willing to play this game.

If you rate someone (including yourself) with a five, you must then leave the game. You fucking pansy.

The ratings you get donít mean much beyond bragging rights, as in, ďWhoa, I got a four from [so and so]; I rule.Ē

Once the ratings have been given and discussed, the spotlight moves to the next player, and so on.

The Rating Rule:
You are not allowed to play to your audience to get the high ratings. For example, if you know a participant was raped in real life, donít make excessive use of rape in order to get a 4 or a 5 from that person, unless you enjoy being justifiably kicked in the crotch to the cheers of onlookers.

Endgame:
If someone cries or vomits, the game is over. Jesus Christ, what is the matter with you people?

Otherwise, the game ends either when people agree that theyíre tired of playing, or when all but one participant has fived out.

The Point:
The point of this game is to alarm yourself with your ability to envision atrocities, and your capacity to enjoy that envisioning. The point of this game is to get in touch with your inner bastard. After all, you laughed at the joke.
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JamesSterrett
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Posts: 118


« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2004, 10:47:42 AM »

I'd suggest dropping the story rule; any tortures that are wimpy are going to get low scores anyway, and it seems to me that in the quest to gross/chill/disgust/squeam the other players, we may as well plumb the depths of human ingenuity already well demonstrated throughout history.  The probability that players will be able to come up with something that hasn't already been done is infinitesimal until you hit the realms of fantasy/SF and thus acts that are physically impossible given current tech limitations and the non-functionality of magic.
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Demada
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Posts: 29


« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2004, 11:28:52 AM »

Wow... kfps boiled down to its core. Interesting... I think i could make great use of Dead baby jokes and pedophile jokes, and the Parking Lot is Full. Man... I would love this game. I love plumbing the depths of what I can think, making myself laugh and gag at the same time.
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ethan_greer
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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2004, 12:50:48 PM »

Hi James,
The only problem I have with using real-world material is the fact that it effectively separates the participant from what he or she is describing. Effectively, "What I did" becomes "what they did," which is something I want to disallow.

On the other hand, maybe I'm being too careful. Anyone else wanna weigh in on this particular issue?

Demada,
In a word, yep. That's pretty much the idea. For the curious, Parking Lot is Full is/was an online cartoon that's just wicked funny. I say is/was because while it's no longer being produced, the archives are still available.

Edit: Typo.
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Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2004, 01:08:12 PM »

I think the key to the Story Rule is to specifically allow new variations. So, a bog-standard rack would be off-limits, but a rack combined with flexible bands around the victim's torso so that each breath moves a tiny ratchet wheel, which is geared down two-thousand-fold to tighten the rack itself... that's new, right? And if it isn't, then how about putting a pair of lovers into two of these, facing each other, with their mechanisms cross-connected...?

I will be staying far, far away from this game. Yes indeed I will.

- Walt
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Wandering in the diasporosphere
ethan_greer
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2004, 01:28:44 PM »

Walt, I like that a lot. Okay, so you can use real-world influences, but you have to enhance them in some way. Cool. Unless anyone can convince me otherwise, I'll consider that a permanent change to the Story Rule.
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JamesSterrett
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Posts: 118


« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2004, 01:47:40 PM »

Enhancement of things you've heard of is fine by me.  :)
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isaackelley
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Posts: 4


« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2004, 11:34:32 AM »

Interesting concept, but I wouldn’t play it with you, Eth.  I think that while we can all agree that torture is funny (well, not really all of us, but some, right?), I think there might be a fair amount of dissention of why torture is funny.   I don’t laugh at the jokes because I enjoy the graphic evil.  I laugh at them because they present the horror as trivial.  It’s all in the presentation.  

For instance,
Kill Bill had massive graphic violence, but presented it in an exaggerated fashion that detached the viewer from the cruelty and evil of the violent acts.
The Passion of Christ, on the other hand, also had massive graphic violence, but focused on the suffering and agony.  This, I don’t find entertaining in the least.  

Your game, as presented, focuses on the viscera of torture, which I would wish to avoid.  I can enjoy torture humor, but do so when it contrasts horror with an element of absurdity.  The Joker, not Sabertooth.  Reservoir Dog’s ear lopping, not Payback’s piggie smashing.  I’d rather tell stories of absurd overkill and ironic ordeals and gloss over the mucky bits.  And I think that can be just a bastardly.  

Is any of this useful?
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clehrich
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2004, 07:46:36 PM »

Couple things:

1. Is this played for laughs?  I know what you wrote, but what do you expect here?  This significantly affects things like the Story Rule, because there is a big difference between funny-sick torture (bizarre is good, borderline physically impossible is good, etc.) and horror-torture (you can almost feel it happening to you or a loved one).

2. You might want to think for a minute about the old Billy Crystal-Christopher Guest improv routine that went, in essence:

A: "So I was bored, and I took one of those...."
B: "(bizarre and over-describd item, chosen to make A laugh if possible)"
A: "Yeah!  And I took it and <some horrible masochistic action intended to make B laugh, described in hideous detail>"
B: "Ouch!  That really smarts!"
A: "Yeah, I hate when that happens!"
B: "Know what you mean.  Just today, in fact, I was bored so I.... <continue until you run out of time or get bored yourself>"

Ring any bells?  What level of overlap is there with your game, in terms of concept and/or effect?
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Chris Lehrich
ethan_greer
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2004, 05:24:27 AM »

First, just to let y'all know, I've changed the name of the game to Chamber.

Isaac, Chris:
Certainly the game could be played for the laughs. Or it could be played deadpan, as presented. Do you think the manuscript would benefit from explicitly presenting the humorous approach as an option?

And yes, Chris, I remember that bit. Frickin' hilarious. Depending on how the game was played, there could be a great deal of overlap.

I kinda like the perverse seriousness of the document as presented, though. The over-the-topness is kinda bizarre, and I like it.

Here's the content warning from the current draft:

Quote
In case the subtitle didn't tip you off, this game is pretty fucking sick. It is intended for mature readers. It is not intended for the easily offended. Seriously. I mean, goddamn. I'm using the f-word and blaspheming in the offensive content warning; that should be your tip-off right there. I don't personally condone or endorse any of the behaviors described in this game, and I don't personally condone or endorse playing this game. If you play this game in public, you deserve whatever consequences ensue. If you are easily offended, have a sensitive and caring nature, a weak stomach, or severe psychological problems, you might want to think twice about reading past this disclaimer. And if you decide to forge ahead even in the face of my warning, you might want to think twice more before reading the example. I'm not fucking around here: It's a sick game, and if you keep reading and then get all wigged out, you can't say I didn't warn you.

I dunno. Is the humor implied, or absent?

P.S. Isaac, dude. Welcome, hombre.
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isaackelley
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2004, 07:02:52 AM »

Starting the manuscript off with a joke implies a jovial tone.
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haze
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2004, 01:09:07 PM »

First off, I gotta say that this is a great idea, and probably the type of game that you only play a couple of times (if that many).  I'm curious as to how you came up with the idea, as well as why you chose to change the title to "Chamber".  Not that I mind, I think it's better than the previous title, but for strictly personal reasons.

Now, onto the topic at hand...  humor.

It's a tough call.  Because of the nature of the game, like has been stated, it can go to the absurd or go to the ultra-serious.  However, I think the humorous tone at least needs to be in there, if only to remind everyone that while they're thinking of these atrocious things, they're still human.  We need to be able to laugh at horrible things.

That said, I much prefer the "play the serious" way.  It's far too easy to go over the top, ala Tarantino or SNL skit, but it's much harder to make up a believable story, with real human characters, and then destroy them.  And since the point of the game is come up with the most vile and despicable acts of torture, throwing the humor into the story itself just sort of... ruins it.

In a way, this isn't so much the kind of game you get together with your good buddies and play (well, okay, it is, but...), so much as the kind of thing you use in a self-exploration group.  No better way to get to know someone than to see what they're capable of. ;)

-H

Oh yeah, and if you want inspiration, check this out: http://www.shootingiron.com/chamber
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Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2004, 09:03:48 PM »

Quote from: ethan_greer
After all, you laughed at the joke.

No, I didn't.  I remembered real life victims of such horrors.  And I would give a '5' to the group and leave before the first player even started just to get the hell away from those people.  (Without even playing the game, everyone now knows what kind of person I am / what I am capable of.)

But, you're right, you warned me, and I must give you props for that.  And you evoked a strong response from me emotionally not just intellectually, and I must acknowledge your skill at that as well, so for what you'd intended, I guess this game is well done.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
ethan_greer
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Posts: 869


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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2004, 10:46:23 AM »

Admittedly the game is not for everyone. Knowing that it exists isn't for everyone. Hence the content warning. Like I said, sometimes I alarm people.

I picked Chamber because, obviously, "torture chamber" but also because the word itself is punchy. It invokes an emotional response in the reader. Whereas "Twisted Sicken" is just pretensious and sounds fucking stupid.

Haze, cool website.

How did I come up with the idea for this game? Dangerous question, that. There's always that nebulous boundary of how far you can go in a public forum before it gets too personal. I'll try not to cross the line while still answering the question. Basically, I have an internal reservoir of darkness that was pretty much untapped before I wrote this. So I figured, why not go "all the way" and let the darkness out a little? That, and I spend a lot of time in howling crippling agony for no reason. I am one of the victims in this game.
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John Harper
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2004, 12:13:06 PM »

There is a terrible beauty in all of this that I find very attractive. It goes like this: "Look at what I am capable of imagining. Look at the horrors I can conceive of. Look at all of this inspiration for evil inside of me. Now. Watch as I never, ever actually do any of them." It's a powerful argument for mankind as something more than an animal. Something more than a sum of our desires and urges.

We have such powerful choices in life. The decision to never harm another human being means a lot in the context of such potential for evil. My torturer-character shows me stripped of my moral center, my compassion. The acts he describes highlight just exactly why I need that center, why compassion must be an active choice. In short, the torturer is the signpost, pointing at something greater and good.

Cool game, Ethan.
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Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
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