Comments on TWH #179


Bob Butler

re comment on censorship: I know this is probably a subject you've moved on from, but I didn't really understand or realize what you were aiming for in your (somewhat wordy :-) zine. I admit, it was the nude seagull that stood out in my mind. However, I'm afraid I agree with Peter Maranci's "all censorship is evil." This doesn't mean one needs to be obnoxiously blatant. I tend to sum up my feelings with "Do as thou wilt; and thou hurtest none" (italics mine). Censorship takes a real bite out of my pleasure. As an example, if you (generalized you) want to put pictures of naked people in your zine, but don't want to offend, ask people if they would mind this. A polite "yes, that would bother me" response is all that is required for you to realize TWH is not the APA in which to show off your collection of pornography. Also, just as I would find your disregard for someone else's comfort obnoxious, so would I find their verbally blasting your request nasty and pointless.

I'm afraid I belong to the Ms. Manners' School of Deportment. I've been in enough cultures to realize somebody will think your behavior peculiar and unnatural regardless of what you do (true e.g., "You eat all your different dinner courses at the same time, off of only one plate? With the same fork?!"). Thus I have come to the conclusion that simple courtesy is the only logical and pan-cultural answer. Censorship is simply a way to say you are stupid and wrong and need to be forcibly corrected. Courtesy allows you to point out that there may be more than one way to do something, but they would really appreciate it if you would try it their way while you are in their territory -- and thank you for trying.

Peter Maranci

Yah, there's been a study of the gaming population. "The Evil Empire" commissioned it, and it was a beautiful example of poor question design and using emotionally loaded terms. Unsurprisingly it wasn't very good -- it looked like a high-school project. Lots of sound and fury, signifying... you know. If I remember correctly, it found that most players of its game were male, in the pre- and early teen age-group, slightly smarter than usual, not as disposed to physical activities... the usual. I can't quote it because apparently "The Evil Empire" wants it kept Real Quiet -- I don't know why (possible conversation postulated for the flunkies reading the report: "Why d'you suppose they quit playing after about thirteen or fourteen?" "Girls, ya dope!" "Gir...? Oh, yeah, girls!" ). Considering it was a very limited group with obvious demographics problems, commissioned by "The Evil Empire" for their game alone, I'm not really surprised it didn't show the wide variety of gamers Planet Ten commonly has.

I found out the possible reason why Clan Brujah is considered obscene by some stores, and I thought the Pack would get a laugh out of it. Funnily enough, it's not the title (bruja is Spanish for witch), but that in one of the "quotes" for the NPCs the word "fuck" is used. Once.

I love middle class mentalities, much the same way I like to watch surgery on someone else. Here's this book about brutal, murderous, sociopathic, sadistic dead things, and when a "naughty" word associated with sex is used, everyone is up in arms. Go figure. "Pehrsonally, oi think so-sai-eh-tee's to blame."

David Hoberman

This may sound nit-picky, but could you not insert little written bits from one page onto other pages? It's disturbingly reminiscent of reading women's magazines -- a forum I've grown to despise. You know, "Her heaving breasts were continued on page 237" and then you can't find the damn page for all the ads! If you finish one written piece and then start the next one it would make it much easier to read. Thanks!

I read your comment to Blacow concerning "precognitive commitment" with interest, especially as I recently discovered some interesting stuff on the net. Some examples follow: (italics mine)

"BAPTIST VOLUNTEER PREYED ON GIRLS? Thomas Road Baptist Church in Phoenix failed to screen church volunteer John Herman Kuiper for a criminal record when it permitted him to drive a church bus & volunteer at youth events. Kuiper, who had been convicted in 1991 of a felony charge of 3rd degree sexual assault, was arrested in Phoenix for molesting 5 girls. As a church bus driver in Fort Collins, Colorado, he had received a deferred sentence for molesting a little girl, 5. Rev. Ken Adrian, church pastor, complained to media that the publicity was not good for his Phoenix church. Source: Arizona Republic 11/4/92. "

"SETTLEMENT SHROUDS BAPTIST CASE. A secret settlement was reached just before a civil suit went to jury against Moffett Road Baptist Church minister Henry Hobson, Mobile, for sexually abusing a girl, 14. Hobson admitted having sexual intercourse with the girl he referred to as an adopted daughter, once when she accompanied him on church "visitation". He admitted she "wanted out", but called her a "pleasant diversion." At first he denied her accusations and asked her to say she had lied, for "damage control." He resigned in April 1991 after a suicide attempt when the girl confided in the youth pastor about him. Attorney Robert Cunningham, Jr. told jurors that many church members shunned the 9th grader, blaming her. His attorney argued, "It certainly was not part of his job to have sexual intercourse with her, and therefore the church is not responsible," adding: "He thought it was better she learn about sex from him rather than some young boy at school." Source: Mobile Register 2/12/93.

"Nothing has illuminated this crusade more effectively than a work of fiction, The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene. Preparing for her novel, Ms Greene interviewed more than 400 young men incarcerated for gay-bashing, and scrutinized their case studies. In an interview published in the Boston Globe this spring, she said she found that the gay-bashers generally saw nothing wrong in what they did, and, more often than not, said their religious leaders and traditions sanctioned their behavior. One convicted teen-age gay-basher told her that the pastor of his church has said, "Homosexuals represent the devil, Satan," and that the Rev. Jerry Falwell had echoed that charge." from Homophobic? Re-Read Your Bible by Peter J. Gomez, NYT August 17, 1992

These are all true life cases, and they aren't isolated incidents. Things like this happen every time a person lets someone do their thinking for them. In the first case, the preacher, someone who is supposed to care for the spiritual and emotional welfare of ALL his "flock" is upset that the majority are inconvenienced by the pain of a single member, which may have been caused by negligence in his hiring practices! In the second case, the preacher is the cause of the pain, and feels no remorse, only personal inconvenience and annoyance. He could care less about the injured party. In the third case the preachers are trying to get others to go out and cause pain for the preachers' ideals!!

It is cases like this that cause me to believe that those in authority are not there for my welfare. Asking them to watch out for my welfare by thinking for me is tantamount to doing violence to myself, both emotionally and possibly physically. To me, emotional censorship is just as vile as physical censorship. If you don't question authority, it will question you.

I disagree -- Hero System isn't "primarily a superhero 4-color system..." It is a tool kit which can be used to approximate any genre. You don't explain exactly which rules cause you feel this way, so I can't address the specific problem you have. What I can do is give a few general observations, and hope I hit the problem you have on the head.

Hero System operates on the assumption that players and GMs aren't there to kill each other, but rather to co-operate, in a fashion, to tell a story. This is why there are so many places where it is pointed out that any player can find a way around any rule. The best way to cover that kind of mini-maxing ingenuity is to say, "not in my game," and try to get or teach the player to co-operate with rather than attack the GM or problem. If you want more blood, guts, and consequence in the game, the rules exist in Hero to do this. Read all the rules.

If the problem is that none of the PCs ever get hurt -- let's look at this carefully. A PC and an NPC are behind a couch. Someone enters the room and sprays the couch with automatic weapons fire. The NPC has a tendency to hunker down behind the couch and go "OOWW!!!" when hurt. What will your average PC do? Charge, of course! The fact that PCs are all insane isn't the fault of the rules. You need to get your players to role-play more realistically, rather than simply roll-playing.

Alternatively, if you want your PCs to be more cautious in a roll-playing sense, put limits on the defenses or characteristics PCs can have. Believe me, when your character is no tougher than the NPCs, you get real cautious! "Looks dangerous! You go first!" Defenses, characteristics, and levels are things that PCs usually have more of than NPCs. If my PC has 13 BOD (not unreasonable for a Fantasy Hero character) and the NPC has 8 BOD (also not unreasonable), and you want to do an incapacitating wound to both of them, you have to first bypass the defenses of both. Bear in mind PCs are usually better armored than NPCs. Then you must do more than half body in one blow to incapacitate the person. Okay, the damage needed for the NPC is about 2 or 3 PD and 5 BOD, for a total of 7 or 8 points of damage; something a well-swung baseball bat could do. For our hero the PC, you must surpass 5 to 7 PD and 8 BOD, for a total of 13 to 15 points of damage. This is a significant difference. I don't feel you can blame the rules if the GM lets the players play special people.

Finally, I don't think Hero System adequately deals with the enormous variability of human beings. I don't think any rules system does. Think about it: I've read of someone who died from stubbing his toe. A blood clot formed, broke loose, traveled into the brain, and caused a brain embolism. The healthy young man died because no-one knew what the problem was -- all they knew was that he'd messily stubbed his toe a few days ago! I also recently heard of a man accosted by two muggers, one of whom shot him in the forehead. The bullet traveled around the skull, under the skin, came out the entry hole, and hit and killed the second mugger. How would you show that kind of variability in any one simple and elegant rules system?!

wrt comment to John Sapienza: often the deities are seen much like planets in Traveler: to whit, "Look, it's the planet of Amazon cat-riders who worship Prowl the cat goddess!" Nowhere on the planet does anyone do anything but ride those damn cats! No-where are any men seen, or any craft but warfare practiced! No-where is there any depth or three-dimensionality to either the deity or the culture! Those stupid Amazons probably pee from cat-back (cat-back?! What am I writing here?! :-)! Most deities (and planets!) aren't the "aspect" of only one thing. In Christianity alone, "God" is creator and destroyer, omnipotent, omniscient, and any other "ohm-" you might care to mention. Other deities will, should, and do have similar, possibly linked attributes. This would certainly add to the uncertainty of any player group: "Okay, she's the deity of war, madness, and emotional commitment. *sigh* Is there a theme here we're missing?"

  • Go to Collie's Home Page
  • Go to the TWH page
  • Return to the zine

    Last Updated: Mon Aug 4 1997