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More depravity and Violence Future

Started by Ron Edwards, April 17, 2002, 05:06:51 PM

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Ron Edwards


Having played our final session of Violence Future last week, I thought this was a good time to return to the topic explored previously in these threads:
Violence Future: disgusting! And only myself to blame
Real life partners, in-game depravity
Drawing the line, drawing the veil

Participants: Dav, GM, guy in his mid-20s, lives with girlfriend but she's in Europe; Mario, guy about 30, single; Kyber, woman in mid-late 20s, single, eight months pregnant (none of the present guys indicted); Ron, guy in his late 30s, lives with girlfriend.

Characters (in respective order of the three players listed above): a depraved male samurai who eats his victims' hearts and still nurses at his mother's breasts; a depraved female samurai heavily in S&M, as well as whatever you call wanting to kill your partners during sex; a slothful male ronin who kills, steals, and manipulates because it's the easiest way to be comfortable, yet idealizes his friendship with a woman he's never met.

Events during play ... oh man, I'm not even sure I want to go into this ... suffice to say, the challenge was to create dramatic interconnecting stories using templates including sexual torture, broken hearts, corporate intrigue, and capitalist demons from hell, and I think we achieved this to a large extent. I suppose that in keeping with the topics of the above threads, I might as well disclose.

Kyber's character ended up naked and dead, straddling (still inserted) the also-naked and equally-dead body of her mortal enemy in a pedophile-prostitute house; she was slain by a poisoned French tickler, and he was killed by her with a broken-ended glass rod, through the eye, as her final act. My character ended up embracing his sex-slave as the only person who'd never betrayed him, and killing both her and himself on his own sword, pinning them together, with his valet decapitating him as the seppuku clincher. Mario's character, the heart-eater, ended up deciding to give up his demon blade, renounce his role as samurai, and leave town with his lover to start a new life.

Essentially, ick poo. What is the point of such awfulness, and as a corollary, its verbal depiction during play? (Barring Mario's ending. In some ways, Mario was badly shorted and his character's saga really deserved another session of development, maybe two). For instance, Kyber spared us very little regarding her death-scene, including playing one of Dav's repulsive NPCs to an extent that had the rest of us, Dav included, almost ready to flee the apartment.

Julie nailed it perfectly in a conversation shortly thereafter, upon learning more about the game. She called it "Forced catharsis." I agree with her completely. Violence Future is specifically about generating and expressing such extreme emotional reactions and decisions, that they cannot be expressed except in the most extreme possible ways. Its gruesomeness, and most especially its subversive way of encouraging the players to provide more and more defilement of their characters and their acquaintances, is not the point of play but rather its engine. The "car," so to speak, must be driven somewhere (theme) in order for all of this spattered mess to be effective.

The really interesting thing for me, and why this game ties in so nicely to the "Drawing the line, drawing the veil" topic, is that the people in the room were actually openly attempting to raise (or lower) the bar in terms of what could be verbally depicted. The main culprits were me and Kyber, more so than Mario or Dav (such nice boys), but all of us found ourselves describing scenes, acts, anatomies, and consequences that would have been totally over the line in say, the L5R game we had played previously, or even in the Sorcerer or Obsidian games. And yet, and yet ... that catharsis was really there for our characters; each death-scene brought total attention and total "uh's" of agreement from everyone in the room.


Jürgen Mayer

Jürgen Mayer
Disaster Machine Productions

Fabrice G.

Hi Ron,

I have a question : Would you play it again soon ?

I'll explain my question.
It happen that I had some kind of cathartic play (but not being here with you as you play only leave me to guess at how cathartic it was..). I was GMing Kult for a bunch of friends, and we all agreed to go the *very dark* road. The game was set in victorian London, and almost all the characters had very dark secrets.

The players really played this well, sending their characters in a mess...and I was making it the most psychologically horrible I could.
In the end, three of the characters comited suicide, one went completly mad.

It was a very strange and frightening play because I went over the top and the players were 1) enjoying the story and 2) very disturbed by it.

The story was over in two session. I got praise like never before ("It's the best session I ever had... but never again !!!"), but all (me included) were happy to see it being over. We had all a terrific experience (and remember it as one of the best rpg play in our lives)...but we decided not to play this kind of game for ...oh maybe six months !!

So this was cathartic for sure, but it was a one-of-kind type of game. Was it something like this for you ? Or was it something that you could play again , say next week.



ps: I think that it helped a lot that all the horror was psychological, no big bad bloody monster...the real monsters were humans'one...the characters.

Ron Edwards


I'd like to get Dav's and Mario's comments involved as well, especially (as I said) since Mario didn't get to develop his character in either direction, good or bad, as much as Kyber and I did. I think Dav was a little surprised at how many NPCs or significant places/things there are to work with in the game, as each PC starts with four and it escalates from there. Taking a bit more time to develop all of those relationships, more Map than Bang, if you see what I mean, might be the way to go.

But none of that really addresses your question, Fabrice. My thought is that I'd like to play again soon, but with my other role-playing group, or rather, perhaps getting Dav to run it again with me and another mix of people. Another reason I wouldn't mind playing again is that the rules are still in some stages of flux, and I want one of the Circles (Hate, specifically) to get rewritten completely. [Dav is reeeal good at Sloth, Avarice, and Depravity rules; I'm OK with Sloth, don't see the others very easily at all, and I'm all over Hate.]

But for purposes of story creation ... no, you're right. I'm ready to say that I'm temporarily done with that level of personal foulness, much in the way that I'm not prepared to see Requiem for a Dream again soon, or any similar film. If we were talking about a more finished version of the game, or if there weren't as many potential fellow players available, then I probably would want to wait to play again for at least a year.



Okay, my input.  I loved it.  It  went exactly as I hoped.

I think that the great power of Mario being the only one that survives was great.  He had no true vendettas, no true enemies.  He walked when he saw everything crumbling.  I thought it was perfect.  He saw the evil and wickedness around him, and decided to change it.

The rest (Kyber and Ron)... wow.

All-in-all, I wanted to design a game around clinching death scenes... boy howdy.  It's a good feeling, it worked.

But, to nod over at Fabrice:  it is a game you play every once so often.  Hopefully, however, it is that one great run out of 100 that you want to bore your friends with over coffee and beer.  You know, enough action for the boys, enough romance for the girls, and enough gooey goodness for the flinch-factor... but also with a point.  Once a year, or once per six months, but not repeatedly, and not right after you finish.  Not unless you are sick ;)

All in all, I tweaked mechanics through the play, revamped a lot of stuff (forgot to delete out a few mentionings of now-defunct mechanics... DAMN)... but it worked, so I am very pleased.