Saturday, June 12, 2010

RPG.NET rant #12 Cannibals, Rednecks and Transgendered Astronauts


RPG.NET rant #12
Cannibals, Rednecks and Transgendered Astronauts


originally posted to RPG.net on 11-30-2002 at 08:36 PM

WARNING THE FOLLOWING MAY OFFEND THE EASILY OFFENDED, FANS OF HIGHLANDER 2 AND PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT I WAS DEAD.

I always loved CHILL, there was a kind of elegant simplicity to it that appealed to me. The problem was I could never seem to get a game going. This is an example of the kind of thing that always seemed to happen.
We were in El Disgusto’s basement. I was going to be running the game- Psycho Dave, El Disgusto, Weasly Crusher and Blobert Smith were playing.

Me: "Really? They're going to Gen Con?"
Psycho Dave: "Yeah Deviant Boy his pookie-pie are there right now."
El Disgsto: "I don't think much of his taste in women but I gotta admit the man knows romance."
Weasly Crusher: “What more could you expect from someone that has memorized all the Gorean slave positions.”
Blobert Smith: "Bah! Romance! What is romance but a call to propagate the continuity of blood? And don't all lovers turn to dust in the end?"
Weasly Crusher: "Didn't you used to be in A-V Club with us?"
Blobert Smith: "In my youth I threaded many a projector. I walked among the students but did they ever see me?"
Me: "Didn't you used to be a lot less… Goth?"
Psycho Dave: "And a lot less… large?"
Me: "Dave!"
Psycho Dave: "Well look at him! He's huge! That's no gamer- it's a battle station!"
Me: "I'm sorry about this Blobert, Dave thinks he's funny."
Blobert Smith: "I am not insulted. I wear my girth as a badge of honor. You see the doctor's told me I was diabetic, they told me that if I did not change my dietary habits I would die."
Weasly Crusher: "Wow."
Blobert Smith: "But I ask you… is life without the Nutty Buddy bar truly living? I say to you no! Death or sweets? I say let Poppin' Fresh be my Grim Reaper."
El Disgusto: "Testify brother!"
Me: "Well you're living your dream I respect that… kinda. Let's make characters shall we?"

It was fairly easy to coach them through character creation but when it came time to equip the characters Psycho Dave started to become skittish.

Psycho Dave: "What the Hell kind of a weapon's chart is this?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
Psycho Dave: "It's one chart, it covers all firearms damage! It's blasphemous. It's like Rolemaster gone retarded."
Weasly Crusher: "It looks ok to me."
Psycho Dave: "One chart for all kinds of firearms? One chart for revolvers and automags? One chart for rifles versus assault weapons? What about buckshot and armor piercing rounds?"
Me: "Well the game doesn't get into that much detail."
Psycho Dave: "Then how can you expect me to role play my character properly."
El Disgusto: "This is one of Ab3's games. You play by sneering at the mind-numbing lameness."
Weasly Crusher: "Ouch."
Blobert Smith: "Can we not accept the fact that we game because we are the floatsam and jetsam of society? That the very gravity of our personal pain has drawn us together?"
Psycho Dave: "I think I liked you better when you spent all your time dubbing tapes of ‘Mystery Science Theater’ on school equipment."
Me: “Lameness? You dare accuse me of lameness?”
El Disgusto: “You ooze lameness.”
Me: “Ok why don’t you tell us why you hated my D&D campaign?”
El Disgusto: “Because it was a stupid dungeon crawl.”
Me: “Ok then. By the way what was the plot for your STAR FRONTIERS game?”
El Disgusto: “Some guy you met in a bar on a space station wanted you to recover a lost device from a long- abandoned underground complex that had been overrun by mutants.”
Me: “I see. Now what was the plot for you BOOT HILL game?”
El Disgsto: “An old prospector met your characters in a saloon and asked you to help him get some gold from an old abandoned mine that had been overrun by Lovitar worshiping Apaches.”
Me: “And lastly, what was the plot for your SHADOWRUN game?”
El Disgusto: “An old wizard hired you guys to steal some data from an underground complex guarded by a dragon.”
Me: “And you hate dungeon crawls?”
El Disgusto: “With a passion.”
Me: “But you love irony.”
El Disgusto: “Irony is for losers Ab3, losers like you.”
Weasly Crusher: “Can my character be a vampire?”
Me: “No you fight vampires in this game. Vampires are evil blood drinking menaces.”
Weasly Crusher: “Well maybe I could play a vampire with a soul who is fighting evil because he is on a quest for redemption.”
Psycho Dave: “That is without a doubt the most stupidest thing I have ever heard.”
Weasly Crusher: “Ok then I’ll just play an good cop with a bad attitude named Arnold Eastwood.”
Psycho Dave: “I’ll be playing a bounty hunter named Beauford Fett.”
El Disgusto: “My character is a ninja. No one knows his real name, so you may call him... The Scourge.”
Blobert Smith: “My character is a transgendered astronaut with something to prove.”
Me: “…interesting mix.”
Psycho Dave: “In his spare time my character hunts and kills Starbucks employees.”
Weasly Crusher: “My character keeps the ashes of his dead partner in a snuff pouch around his neck.”
El Disgusto: “My character’s weapon of choice is an aluminum baseball bat he calls ‘Justice’.”
Blobert Smith: “My character is on the run from the government because he/she knows the moon landings were faked.”

The game hadn’t even begun and already I was rooting for the forces of darkness. In CHILL the player characters were all members of a super-secret monster battlin’ ghost-busting organization called S.A.V.E.. I decided to have them all inducted into the organization at the same time.

Me: “Professor Kruthers welcomes you all to the organization and gives you each a lapel pin with the S.A.V.E. insignia on it.”
Weasly Crusher: “Cool.”
El Disgusto: “The Scourge pins his to his BARE NAKED FLESH!”
Blobert Smith: “My character attaches hers/his to the crushed silk cravat she/he wears.”
Psycho Dave: “I thrown mine across the room and tell Kruthers to go screw himself.”
Me: “What?”
Psycho Dave: “Beauford Fett works for no man.”
Me: “But… the premise of the game is that you all work for S.A.V.E..”
Psycho Dave: “Well I suppose that the Premise is more important than Free Will to you then?”
Me: “I am fine with free will but this is like having a STAR TREK game and one of the players refusing to be in Starfleet.”
Weasly Crusher: “Actually that happens a lot. Remember the last STAR TREK game? El Disgusto wanted to play a ninja.”
El Disgusto: “How could Star Fleet not have ninjas? It’s the only thing that keeps the Klingons from attacking in force.”
Psycho Dave: “Look I’ll be in the stupid monster club if it’ll stop you bitching and whining but I am not wearing some sissy ass magic pin.”
Me: “Fine, fine.”
El Disgusto: “Can I have his pin then?”

I quickly wrapped up the debriefing and moved on to the players’ mission. They were to meet their contact in Atlanta, Georgia where we would investigate a series of cannibal murders of a decidedly supernatural bent.

Weasly Crusher: “While we’re on the plane I listen to a book on tape version of the Necronomicon.”
Me: “No you do not.”
Psycho Dave: “My character pees in the restroom sink.”
El Disgusto: “I can’t believe I let you use my bathroom.”
Psycho Dave: “Look who’s talking bottle boy.”
Blobert Smith: “My character contemplates throwing himself/herself out of the airplane as a way to combat the gnawing malaise that infects her/him.”
Me: “Ok.”
Blobert Smith: “But instead he/she just orders a second desert.”
Me: “I’m glad you made it through that little crisis. Now your characters get off the plane and your contact Brian Hayes is waiting for you. You spot the gentle-features African-American man easily by his tell-tale S.A.V.E. lapel pin.”
Weasly Crusher: “I greet him with the secret handshake.”
Me: “S.A.V.E. doesn’t have a secret handshake.”
El Disgusto: “I try to make sure none of the baggage inspectors notice my suitcase full of ninja gear.”
Blobert Smith: “My character bats her/his eyes at Brian Hayes and then instantly loathes him/herself for doing so.”
Psycho Dave: “Whoah. Wait a minute. Hold the phone.”
Me: “What?”
Psycho Dave: “A black guy? We have to work with a God damned black guy?”
Me: “He’s an NPC, he’s here to help your characters.”
Psycho Dave: “Help us what? Learn how to collect welfare?”
Blobert Smith: “Sweet Pan-Fried Jesus! What’s wrong with you?”
El Disgusto: “Do I find my luggage?”
Weasly Crusher: “You know this isn’t REDNECK: THE LYNCHING.”
Me: “Why does this matter? Are you really going to make an issue out of this?”
Psycho Dave: “What’s next? Dungeon delving with fluffy orcs?”
Weasly Crusher: “Man I knew you were a racist and I knew you were crazy but I didn’t think you were some kind of a crazy racist!”
El Disgusto: “Hello! Luggage! Should I make a search roll?”
Blobert Smith: “Do you not rage against the men of color because you hate yourself?”
Psycho Dave: “Ah… no.”
Me: “Ok look. If it will make you happy I’ll make Brian Hayes white.”
Psycho Dave: “Too late! You already said he was black. He’s black- no do overs!”
Me: “Oh for Christ’s sake…”
El Disgusto: “Where is my luggage?”
Me: “It was sent to Los Angeles, all your luggage was sent to Los Angeles.”
El Disgusto: “Of course you realize this means war.”
Psycho Dave: “See? Brian Hayes little homies probably stole them!”
Blobert Smith: “Oh they might manhandle our suitcases but they will never lay claim to our souls.”
Me: “S.A.V.E. will give you a modest stipend to get clothes and equipment.”
Weasly Crusher: “Can I buy body armor with gold trim?”
Me: “Brian Hayes drives you to a 5 star hotel, on the drive there he tells you about the strange case of the cannibal murders. He explains that each of the victims was seemingly swallowed by shadows and then their partial eaten bodies were found later in the park. A set of red sticky footprints were found leading from each of the bodies seemingly to nowhere. The footprints faded after twenty-four hours and could not be photographed. Each of the victims was seemingly swallowed by shadows and then dropped somewhere else.”
Psycho Dave: “I jab a pen into Brian Hayes’ neck and shout, ‘Maybe that’s just what you want us to think! Did you even pay for this car?’”
Weasly Crusher: “What?”
El Disgusto: “I roll down the window and ride on top of the car… ninja-style!”
Me: “Brian Hayes asks Beauford if there is a problem.”
Psycho Dave: “I tell him that I’m watching him.”
Blobert Smith: “I roll up the window so our ninja friend can’t get back in.”
Me: “Anyway, Brian takes you to your hotel and helps you get settled in. he tells you that in a few hours he will take you to one of the murder scenes.”
Psycho Dave: “Let me know if I have a chance to get this guy alone.”
Me: “Why?”
Psycho Dave: “You’ll find out Mr. I-Get-Confused-By Charts.”
Blobert Smith: “Once my character is alone in his room he/she puts on a sundress, a gorilla mask and a strap on and plays Russian Roulette.”
Me: “I seem to saying this a lot today- why?”
Blobert Smith: “Because she’s/he’s in PAIN!”
El Disgusto: “I check my room for ninjas.”
Me: “The room is completely ninja free.”
El Disgusto: “How do you know when you didn’t even roll?”
Me: “There are no ninjas in the damn room! They must have put up one of those no-ninja pest strips.”

A few hours later Brian Hayes came back to tell the PCs there had been another murder. This of course sent Psycho Dave into another round of accusations and attempted garrotings. Finally I got them moving again but things did slow down again when El Disgusto insisted on having his character climb down the walls of the hotel.
Soon, the characters found themselves at a very fresh murder scene. They took a moment to look over the gnawed on body and the large tar-like footprints.

Weasly Crusher: “Uhm, why aren’t the police here yet?”
Blobert Smith: “My character gazes down at the corpse and considers that perhaps in the end we are all selections on a cosmic deli tray.”
El Disgusto: “Yeah why aren’t the police here?”
Me: “Brian Hayes explains that-“
Psycho Dave: “My character shouts ‘It’s a trap!’ and tackles the wily NPC.”

(A brief tussle later)

Me: “Ok. Brian Hayes puts the can of mace back into his jacket, Psycho Dave’s character is screaming and running around in circles.”
Psycho Dave: “I doubt that. Me and Biff Bam used to mace each other all the time to stay manly. I’m sure Beauford Fett is walking it off and biding his time.”
Me: “Brian Hayes explains that the police aren’t here yet because they don’t know about the murder yet.”
Psycho Dave “ah-HA!”
Me: “Brian Hayes goes on to explain that the reason he knew about this murder was because he is plagued by strange dreams of a prophetic nature.”
El Disgusto: “It’s like he has a ninja danger sense.”
Weasly Crusher: “Even better he’s psychic.”
Psycho Dave: “Oh I get it. He’s black and he has a dream. Very nice, very politically correct.”
Blobert Smith: “Your xenophobic gibes grow wearisome.”
Psycho Dave: “And your ass smells like cheese what’s your point?”

The next hour or so was spent on investigation… in the loosest sense of the term. Weasly Crusher tried to piece together clues but he needed a lot of NPC help. Sadly he didn’t get a lot of NPC help because Psycho Dave spent most of the game trying he get the NPC Brian Hayes, poisoned, killed or deported. Blobert Smith tried to help but since his role-playing style was somewhere between regular gaming and performance art he was really no help at all. Since El Disgusto’s character was a ninja he stayed in the shadows and fondled his bat, maybe that was just as well.
Finally they group figured out that there was an Aztec cannibal god on the loose and they tracked it down to an importer on the seedy side of town. Taking their cue from every horror film ever made the team planned to storm the monsters den in dead of night with minimal planning and weaponry.
But before that could happen I had to excuse myself to use the restroom.

Psycho Dave: “Took you long enough.”
Weasly Crusher: “Hope everything came out all right.”
Blobert Smith: “I feel we must try to reason with the cannibal god.”
Me: “Uh, El Disgusto?”
El Disgusto: “What?”
Me: “How long have your parents been away for?”
El Disgusto: “Just this last day, they come back in the morning. Why you wanna marry them?”
Me: “And how long has Lamont been locked in the linen closet?”
El Disgusto: “Did you let him out?”
Me: “Yes.”
El Disgusto: “You total total wuss.”
Me: “Why are you so mean to that poor animal?”
El Disgusto: “That damn dog was asking for it!”
Me: “What did he do?”
El Disgusto: “I was stretched out on the love seat, trying to enjoy the classic film ‘The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck’. I had just gotten to the tribal rubdown scene when the damn dog rubs his slimy nose across my bare feet!”
Weasly Crusher: “There’s a mood killer.”
Blobert Smith: “Ah I remember the first time my parents walked in my room to find me with my shirt gripped in my teeth and ‘Hardbodies’ playing on the VCR.”
Me: “So you punished your dog for that?”
El Disgusto: “Dogs are like women, they only respond to strong dominant men- like me.”
Me: “That would be more impressive if you hadn’t cried like a baby at the end of ‘Highlander’.”
Weasly Crusher: “I cried at the end of 'Highlander 2'.”
Psycho Dave: “We all did Weasly, we all did.”
Me: “You realize of course that after almost a whole day in the linen closet you no longer have… clean linen?”
El Disgusto: “Damn that dog! I’m gonna beat him like a rug!”
Me: “Returning to the game… please … how do you guys sneak in?”
Psycho Dave: “We kick in the front doors.”
Blobert Smith: “How very subtle.”
Me: “All right. You guys charge in and find those strange bloody footprints everywhere. Brian Hayes leads you down the hallway to where-”
Psycho Dave: “Wait, he’s in front of us?”
Me: “Yes and he-”
El Disgusto: “Ninja pose!”
Blobert Smith: “My character girds his/her loins.”
Weasly Crusher: “Fool! Never bring loins to a gunfight.”
Psycho Dave: “I shoot Brian Hayes in the back of the head.”

(roll dice)

Me: “You what?”
Psycho Dave: “I see here by this wussy-ass chart you have hear that Brian Hayes is one dead NPC.”
Me: “Why?”
Psycho Dave: “Because I’m role playing.”
Weasly Crusher: “You total jerk! Why did you have to ruin everything?”
Psycho Dave: “Because it can’t be El Disgusto every week.”
El Disgusto: “That does it! I attack Blobert’s transsexual astronaut.”
Blobert Smith: “My character screams like a woman and then goes for her/his gun.”
Psycho Dave: “I taunt Weasly by Riverdancing in the NPC’s brains.”

(Dice are rolled wildly; up above up in the kitchen the sound of a dog desperately trying to use a can opener goes ignored)

Me: “Well, all of your are dead or dying. Hope you’re happy.”
Weasly Crusher: “Can I roll to scoop my entrails back in? I have first aid.”
Me: “A chill settles over the room and as you all watch, the Aztec cannibal god materializes out the shadows and leers down at your with his blood dripping skull face.”
Psycho Dave: “Choke on it… choke on it…”
Blobert Smith: “I make a final defiant gesture… as soon as my character finds her/his arm… I know its around here somewhere…”
Me: “The Aztec cannibal god turns away in disgust, he doesn’t find any of you in the least bit appetizing.”
El Disgusto: “But ninjas are delicious!”

I sold my entire set of CHILL rulebooks the next afternoon and gave the money I got to the United Negro College Fund. It seemed the only appropriate course of action to take.