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Author Topic: Why I Didn't Buy TroS at GenCon  (Read 7310 times)
ejh
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 309


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« on: July 28, 2003, 05:56:20 AM »

So it's Sunday, I'm at GenCon, and I've bought all the "first
tier/gotta have" games I have on my list, and I'm ready to spend a few
more bucks on "second tier/wanna have" games, and it's gonna be at the
Forge booth.

Yesterday, Jake Norwood has given me the 5 minute http://www.theriddleofsteel.net/">Riddle of Steel combat
demo and impressed the heck out of me with the combat system, and he's
shown me the magic system and it looks really good.  I pick up The
Riddle of Steel and page through it and I'm liking the illustrations
and everything.  A sale is imminent.  It's just the $35 price tag
that's making it hard; I've got to work up some serious "gotta have
it" juice to justify this purchase.  No problem, a flip through the
rulebook should do it.

What's this?  Encumbrance rules.  Huh.  How old school.  Let's see how
it works....  Oh.  Interesting.

Encumbrance rules in this game aren't just about carrying equipment,
they're also about being fat.  The fatter the character, the more
laden-down and overburdened he is considered, and the more penalties
he gets, just as if he were carrying a gigantic pack or weighted down
with heavy armor.  Why?  Because the rules say (quoting them to the
best of my memory) that "fat people are carrying more weight than the
human frame was meant to hold."

Now... I'm fat.  And I happen to think I'm "meant" to weigh pretty
much exactly what I do weigh.  I don't think that my body weight is
more than my "frame", whatever that means, can deal with; it's been
dealing just fine all my life thank you.

I felt like I imagine a black gamer would feel who came across a note
that black characters take a -2 penalty on all intellectual skills but
have a +5 at picking cotton, or perhaps a Japanese-American gamer who
was reading some rules which suggested in all seriousness that
Japanese characters should have a penalty on perception rolls because
their eyes were squintier than eyes were "meant" to be.

Now, those examples are patently, openly offensive -- racist bigotry
is a no-no, while bigotry against fat people is perfectly acceptable
and even encouraged, so much so that it's a matter of unconscious
assumption for most people, even most fat people.  Fat people really
are portrayed in our culture as gross aberrations, contrary to what
nature "meant" people to be.  So I'm sure that the author had
absolutely zero malice when he made that rule, and even considered it
a matter of simple, obvious "realism."  I met him.  He's a really nice
guy, not a mean or jerk-like bone in his body, at least as far as a
very brief acquaintance would suggest.

But it was enough to just kill the game for me.  I put it down (sadly;
I'd really liked it) and spent my dollars on a less offensive game: http://www.septemberquestion.org/lumpley/puppies.html">Kill
Puppies for Satan. No, just kidding, that would have been cool and
ironic, but it was actually http://memento-mori.com/octane/">octaNe by Jared Sorenson.

Again, I'm not trying to press a point of principle or even to prove
that the encumbrance rules were "factually wrong" in whatever sense a
set of game rules can be said to be factually wrong.  I'm describing a
subjective reaction and discussing why, at that moment in time, it
killed my wish to buy TROS.


I'm not even saying I'm never going to buy TROS because of this, but
it was sure the reason I didn't buy it yesterday, in spite of liking
the game a lot and being very impressed with the little system demo
that Jake kindly provided.

I'm not even trying to say "You'd better change this because it
offends me!"  Obviously it's your game, Jake, and you should put in it
exactly what you want to put in it.  But if I were a game designer and
someone had this kind of reaction to some small detail of my rules,
I'd at least want to know about it.  So just so ya know.

Peace,

Ed
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grot
Member

Posts: 25


« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2003, 07:35:55 AM »

I am trying to think of a nice way to say this, but it keeps coming out as "oh please...."

You want a game system where you can weigh 300 pounds and run a marathon, go design one.  I can tell you right now that I can carry a larger pack for longer periods of time hiking at the end of the summer, when I have shed my winter 15 pounds and have gotten in shape, than I can on my first hike of the spring. It's called "the real world".  And as for racism, most game systems have some modifiers for race - or at least DM's who aknowledge them.  Half-orcs vs. elves and all that.  Since when does PC mean "politically correct" in this little world of ours.

Jake ran four of us through a demo on Friday.  All four of us bought both of his books.  He's to be commended for keeping his game gritty and real and mean and bloody and full of real motivations.
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Stephen
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2003, 07:58:37 AM »

I can sympathize; I've refused to buy certain games because of the attitudes I felt they encouraged towards organized religion, so I know that subjective personal reaction is a real and perfectly valid reason to be annoyed by a game.

At the same time, as you note yourself, the encumbrance rules weren't written with any kind of prejudice in mind, and you don't really offer any suggestions for changing it.  I've always believed the best kind of criticism or complaint is the constructive variety.

Assuming that the central point of the encumbrance rules -- i.e., that unhealthy levels of obesity do effectively reduce physical performance in a manner similar to being overencumbered -- has to be accounted for, how would you rewrite the rules to avoid being offensive to folks such as yourself?
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Even Gollum may yet have something to do. -- Gandalf
ejh
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 309


WWW
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2003, 08:14:52 AM »

Quote from: Stephen
I can sympathize; I've refused to buy certain games because of the attitudes I felt they encouraged towards organized religion, so I know that subjective personal reaction is a real and perfectly valid reason to be annoyed by a game.


Heh.  That was another analogy I'd considered using.

Quote from: Stephen
At the same time, as you note yourself, the encumbrance rules weren't written with any kind of prejudice in mind, and you don't really offer any suggestions for changing it.  I've always believed the best kind of criticism or complaint is the constructive variety.

Assuming that the central point of the encumbrance rules -- i.e., that unhealthy levels of obesity do effectively reduce physical performance in a manner similar to being overencumbered -- has to be accounted for, how would you rewrite the rules to avoid being offensive to folks such as yourself?


Well, obviously it can't be changed in the current printing of the rules -- and a fine printing it is.  And thanks for noticing that I do not mean this as an attack on Jake in any way, just a report of a subjective reaction.  I didn't presume to offer any suggestion on how to change it because my point isn't to tell Jake how to write his game, just to give him feedback on the ONE negative reaction I had to it.

Let me warn you that I do not have a firm grasp on how the rules in general work so I can not offer a solution based on a solid understanding of them, only based on a vague guess about how they might work assuming that in general they're vaguely similar to other RPGs.  But since you asked, I'll reply out of total ignorance as to how I'd change things...

I'd simply assume that the values for a character's regular physical attributes and abilities *already reflect permanent or semi-permanent features of their body, such as their weight*.

You got a strength of fourteen, or whatever, that doesn't reflect the strength you WOULD be able to exert if you dropped a hundred and fifty pounds, it reflects the strength you DO exert!

If you have an endurance of twelve, or whatever, that doesn't reflect the degree to which you WOULD be able to endure if you slimmed down to a size nine dress size, it reflects what you've GOT RIGHT NOW.

The whole concept that you need extra rules to reflect extra weight buys into the Richard Simmonsesque notion that "inside every fat person there's a thin person trying to get out" -- and your regular attributes and abilities are those of the "thin person trying to get out" and they have to be modified by encumbrance rules to reflect the fat person on the outside.  Ridiculous.  Simply reflect the person's actual abilities, at their current weight, in their stats, to begin with, then you don't need "fat encumbrance" rules.

Let me disclaim once again: I don't know how the rules of TroS for physical attributes work, I'm just working from a very vague understanding of them based on a short demo and some rulebook browsing.  I mostly got to hear about combat effectiveness and Spiritual Attributes at the con.

And let me disclaim once more: It is only because you specifically asked that I am making suggestions about changing rules; I am not all about telling other people how they should write game rules and how they shouldn't.  I just wanted to throw a data point of feedback out there into the world.

Also, TroS appears to be in general a superlative, excellent, outstanding game, liable to generate a huge cloud of well deserved positive feedback; in such a context negative reactions might be particularly valuable because they might get lost in the crowd.
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kenjib
Member

Posts: 269


« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2003, 09:17:50 AM »

I agree with you.   I personally don't think those rules add any value to the game and was slightly offended as well.  I've just decided to ignore that rule since it has absolutely zero practical game impact to do so.
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Kenji
6inTruder
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2003, 09:28:11 AM »

um... I thought the whole 'fat as encumbrance' thing went along with the Obese Flaw?
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Draigh
Member

Posts: 151


« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2003, 10:29:06 AM »

Fat doesn't always mean slow, but slimmer people generally have a greater muscle mass to body weight ratio than fat people.  In high school I played football, could run a 5.0 second fourty yard dash, and weighed 275 lbs.  Do I doubt at all that I would've been able to run faster if I had lost 50 lbs of fat? NO.

Wake up and smell the reality people, Earth is full of bigots of all inclinations, and you can be hated or wrongly judged for all kinds of percieved shortcomings.  I've never met a group of people so thin-skinned as American Consumers.  Does everyone walk on eggshells these days?  I know that I, for one, do not.  Our society promotes the notion that all people are equal and all people have the same rights, dignities, and civil liberties.  This is a great concept, but conceptualization and practice are two entirely different things.   I don't know anyone who hasn't been discriminated against at one time or another, and most of them instead of crying about it, "toughen up" and grow up and go the hell on with their lives.  


Quote
Fat people really are portrayed in our culture as gross aberrations, contrary to what nature "meant" people to be. So I'm sure that the author had absolutely zero malice when he made that rule, and even considered it a matter of simple, obvious "realism."


Yup.  And I agree with him, as will most people you meet, I would think.  
I think you are being oversensitive, a society where 30+% of adults and 50+% of children are overweight is not natural, nor is it healthy.  Most people differ from the societal perception of "average" and chances are, they've been picked on because of what makes them different.  You're not the only one, so get over it.
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Drink to the dead all you, still alive.
We shall join them, in good time.
If you go crossing that silvery brook it's best to leap before you look.
Morfedel
Member

Posts: 345


« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2003, 11:22:08 AM »

You guys are being oversensitive. It was intended to represent the phyiscal problems of being overweight - in particular, to reflect the obese flaw.

And guess what? There are problems with being overweight. If it bothers you so much you can't handle it, then I suggest you learn how to deal with it.

I, for one, grow very tired of seeing so many people sensitive about facts of life. Being overweight has problems, and it was written to be reflected in game. I, for one, think thats just fine, and yet people get oversensitive about these things, as if they feel they are being picked on.

You aren't being picked on; get over it.

And I can say this with complete justification, because I am around 50 lbs overweight myself, and am considered medically obese. And I didn't bat an eye at that text; it surprised me, but only because I hadn't seen a game take obesity in quite that direction. Otherwise, it was no big deal, at all.

I also lost my left leg below the knee while in the military. And I got damned tired of people dancing around the subject like they are afraid to bruise my ego. I just about had the last straw when I started getting letters from my university wanting to do a survey on "handicapable" students.

Handicapable? I'm handicapped, disabled, and heck, I've even had a few people (friends) call me a gimp, and I didn't cry over it. Yet it seems too many americans today wear their hearts on their sleeves when it comes to an issue that directly impacts them.

And this entire subject is rather silly too. I remember this comedian who once said he wanted a new catch phrase to hand to people in the 90's and 00's:

cope.



PS: note, that there is a difference between being oversensitive and someone being truly insulting. If someone was attacked for using the term "black" instead of african american, for instance, that would be unreasonable. But, certain other, well known and insulting terms for such same ethnic groups isnt acceptable; its all a matter of the spirit that it was intended in, and, I think, a dose of common sense.
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Draigh
Member

Posts: 151


« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2003, 11:32:41 AM »

Morfedel said:
Quote
PS: note, that there is a difference between being oversensitive and someone being truly insulting. If someone was attacked for using the term "black" instead of african american, for instance, that would be unreasonable. But, certain other, well known and insulting terms for such same ethnic groups isnt acceptable; its all a matter of the spirit that it was intended in, and, I think, a dose of common sense.


That common sense stuff's a rare commodity in gamers, Morf.
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Drink to the dead all you, still alive.
We shall join them, in good time.
If you go crossing that silvery brook it's best to leap before you look.
Morfedel
Member

Posts: 345


« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2003, 11:39:46 AM »

Gah! What was I thinking? :D
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kenjib
Member

Posts: 269


« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2003, 12:01:57 PM »

In real life, I agree with you folks that people need to look at the truth first, and then decide what to do from there, but not in a game.  For me this falls into the same category as limiting strength for female characters.  In gaming, realism is not an ends in itself, so if realism doesn't add anything positive to the game, I don't think it should get in the way of having a good time.
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Kenji
mrgrimm
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2003, 12:02:00 PM »

Everyone is allowed their opinion and I will not tell the offended person that they are wrong about their opinion of the encumbrance rules, but that they ( they being the encumbrance rules....well doh! ....hehe) are based on reality.  To prove my point, my wife is considered morbidly obese, that being over 100 pds overweight. She has a hard time walking to the car and basically walking anywhere. She does not play RPG's in any aspect. I let her look over the rules for encumbrance and looked at the pictures. When she was done I asked her her feelings. She said "That's about right." I asked her Were you offended in any way shape or form over the rules or the pictures? She responded "How can you be offended by the truth?"

Now having said that I am overweight as well. When I read the rules and saw the pictures I was a bit caught off guard. No one has portrayed encumbrance quite that way before and it was an interesting route to take because of that fact.  

Was I offended? No. Personally, I liked it. It went well with the rest of the game and was, in fact, realistic, to a point. I can think of many points where it is not the case, but they are the exceptions to the rules.

I am sorry to hear that someone was offended enough to not buy the game based on that particular fact as opposed to based on the fact of whether it is a good game or not.  My only advice to that person is give the game a second chance. If you don't like the encumbrance rules the way they are set now, then don't use them and come up with your own. This game is so much better then the culmination of it's "faults" that it would be a shame to not buy it based on a dislike for one aspect of it.

These are just my opinions, take them as you will and possibly with a grain of salt. (I personally like sugar better, but to each his own)

Mr. Grimm

P.S. Maybe if you hang out here, you might find that there are more reasons to buy the game then not.  .....Just a thought...
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A The Riddle of Steel Computer with  a Haven : City of Violence graphics card and a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay soundcard. Lejendary Adventures of Ram and a Cyberpunk 2.02.0 Hard Drive
kenjib
Member

Posts: 269


« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2003, 12:03:49 PM »

Okay, so should there be a new rule in TROS that female characters get a -1 to strength score during character creation and a max of 8?  What is the in-game benefit?  How does it make the game more fun?
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Kenji
mrgrimm
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2003, 12:19:04 PM »

Is that directed at my post?
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A The Riddle of Steel Computer with  a Haven : City of Violence graphics card and a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay soundcard. Lejendary Adventures of Ram and a Cyberpunk 2.02.0 Hard Drive
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2003, 12:21:11 PM »

Quote from: kenjib
Okay, so should there be a new rule in TROS that female characters get a -1 to strength score during character creation and a max of 8?  What is the in-game benefit?  How does it make the game more fun?


BL>  Actually, I think that the game might be improved by giving male characters a +1 str, and female characters a +1 end or +1 wp (represents better endurance or pain resistance)

Just because I think that the game needs higher strength scores...
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