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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 89 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Holomodor] Not Just Another Ronnies Thread  (Read 5262 times)

Posts: 38

« on: November 17, 2005, 05:26:45 AM »

Holomodor is a long way from just another RPG. I don't know if I could play it, I don't know if anybody should play it, but it's quite a frightening and thought provoking read.

The basic mechanics amount to to a rather detailed simulation of starvation and despair. The entire point of the game is that it's a death spiral - the weaker you get, the more difficult it is to find food. Your morality holds you back from the available food that could keep you alive, but too much despair will make you lose the will to live.

I found my eyes consistently unfocused from the screen - it's literally that hard to read in detail about what these events while your mind tries on the character and system for size. As an experinced interrogator of gaming texts you can't stop doing it. As a human being, you're horrified that you're facing the palest shadow of what real people went through and it still makes your knees shake and eyes quiver.

It's something that a textbook (I've read the history books) just can't do. To read a first person account or watch a movie has some of the same impact, but at least for me, I'm always looking for a way out - the obvious and effective tactic that somehow they just didn't see. Here, that search has a way of turning desperate, then horrifying, and finally despairing.

The obvious weakness of the game is that there's no calorie rating for the most obvious source of calories of all - human flesh - nor explicit discussion of what the effects of this might be on the character (nutrition rating of the deceased, disease, etc). Even unplayed, this is a crucial bit of information for consideration.

I also felt that text also doesn't give me enough insight into what the Cheka were and could do in that situation. The only example of a successful confrontation with them was a moral one, and while that's suggestive it's not quite enough to corner the rat in my mind.

And of course, guns, and the power they represent are central to the character's situations.
James Holloway

Posts: 372

« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2005, 07:57:09 AM »

Yeah; I just finished reading that. I think it was the matter-of-fact tone of the nutrition section at the end that really got me.

Tony, the Cheka are basically the political police, forerunner of the KGB. In fact, the Cheka itself was disbanded in 1922 (unless these are some other Cheka -- it just means "extraordinary committe"), but the term "Cheka" or "Chekists" remained (and is current) to describe government stooges in general. As to what they can do, therefore ... well, they can pretty much do whatever they like.

Sambucus -- like Tony said, this was be hard to read. It would be hard to play, too. But I think maybe it needs to be done.

Posts: 38

« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 03:56:47 PM »

Oh, I know who the Cheka are. They feature in my entrant, actually.

What I meant by that was more things like how many Cheka were around, where they stayed, whether there were ever any small scale rebellions and the like.The sorts of things you need to know when you're plotting a revolution.

Posts: 65

« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2005, 09:20:11 AM »

I just wanted to say this is an absolutely terrifying and brilliant game concept.

I'm pretty sure I couldn't play this game in this scenario. What really terrifies me is that I can easily see more than one scenario that could be played out with these rules. Just off the top of my head I could see:
  • Roman slaves
  • German death camps of WWII
  • Bataan death march
  • Cherokee Trail of Tears
  • The fall of Vinland
  • Napolean's retreat from Russia
  • The period just before the Biblical Exodus
  • Pioneering the American West
  • American Indian reservations during the 1800s
  • the HMS Bounty
  • the failed march to the South Pole
  • the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
I could go on and on. I also think you could also graft the rules, in whole or in part, onto some existing systems to give them added depth. Just the Despair, Moral and Emotions could fit into a LOT of games. For a desert setting you could use Thirst. For an Arctic setting use Hypothermia instead of or in addition to Nutrition.

Again, terrifying and brilliant.

C. S. Bone

Posts: 2

« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2006, 05:20:21 AM »

Thanks for the comments everyone!

TonyPace: Human meat is similar to pork, so it can be counted as pork.

Cheka were, to my knowledge a group like any in the early communist days of my country. Simply men without any special skill or background, they were only supporters of the communist regime. They had a uniform, but not all of them wore it. They were simply men with guns. When the famine progressed, many farmers joined the Cheka, hoping to survive somehow, but many Cheka activists died of hunger nonethless. Stalin's way of dealing with nations was terror. Simply terror. There was no grand plan or anything. Simply take the criminals, mentally ill, alcoholists and every mad dog of society you can find, give them absolute power over the kulaks, and that's it. Bands of armed man roaming the countryside, killing, looting, and committing every imaginable crime. These units termed as "Cheka" by the peasants had only some loose connection to the political police, but they are remembered as Chekists.

Small revolts erupted naturally, but they were quenched with brutal force.

CSBone: Roman slaves, and Napoleon's retreating army are in my humble opinion, because they had rights. The romans had very strict laws, which described the rights of the slaves as well as the free citizens, and Napoleon's army was a military group, fighting with the elements, and famine. I don't know for certain, but I think they had some comradeship. They had a military organizaton, they were part of, they had aims. The other examples are right, especially the death camps, the Cherokee, and the Warsaw Ghetto. They are all about people stripped of their rights.

Przemyslaw F. Szkodzinski

Posts: 27

« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2006, 02:35:08 PM »

One thing for starters: Holodomor is the kind of game I personally want to see the most - one that makes players squirm and feel drained emotionally (whether the emotional drain is caused by something of a spiritual uplift or a mental breakdown is unimportant). This game is like a bad acid trip on a weekend visit in Auschwitz. Or at least that's how I imagine the game's actual play would look like.

The game needs more details on the setting and, most importantly, the length of the game. Maybe adding a certain time to which all the protagonists would look forward to (like, for instance, the next harvest you've mentioned in the game - but not necessarily). What I mean is that I believe that having a set time period that the players have to survive would prove to the players that, although the odds are very much against them, they still have a slight chance (kinda' vile, but thankfully it's only a game).

The second thing I'd like to see in the game would be setting it somewhere where there's a very slight chance, or maybe more of an illusion of a chance, of escaping the madness. Maybe it could give players more opportunities/incentive for moral/emotional conflicts with despair added to the mix (especially if they had in-game families).

Overall, they game's got a potential to become a one-of-a-kind, never-seen-before RPG with a good shot at achieving awesomeness.

Is it not by means of the imagination one knows joy? Is it not of the imagination that the sharpest pleasures arise?
 - Marquis de Sade

Currently in development: King Rat; Your 120 Days of Sodom
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