Monday, October 24, 2016

Season Seven of The Walking Dead and what it has to do with my game

Hey, there's a bunch of plot spoilers to the episode of The Walking Dead from 10/23/16 here!  After the break, I mean.

Oh, and I do talk about a fictional character in an RPG who engages in abhorrent behavior most will find disturbing.  A gentle forewarning.

Okay, so the first episode of Season 7 of The Walking Dead was a solid hour of torture porn, minus a gazillion commercials.  They showed not just two characters from the show having their heads pulped by a baseball bat, but showed in Rick's imagination all the other ones getting it as well.  Just because.

And they teased out the possibility of cutting off a kid's hand, at which point I started retching into my mouth.  And I didn't feel bad about that, because it kind of affirmed the kind of human I like to think I might be sometimes.  Like the kind who doesn't enjoy watching that, even in the "it's not real" of television.

Anyways, aside from swearing off the show, especially if this is the new bar for brutality that they have set, it really got me thinking for the upteenth time about violence and RPG's.  I've talked about it back in 2013 with the posts K is for Killing and in February of 2015 My Tri-ennial discourse on non-violence.  It has been banging around my head for a month or two now when I picked up Cold Steel Wardens, which offers this interesting take on superhero RPG's with its focus on gritty plotlines and character development.  It also has a somewhat realistic combat system where PC's can suffer long-term injuries very easily, and can die without too much trouble either.  Which isn't bad per se if you're trying to prevent players from getting too gung-ho with charging into combat but instead want them to be cautious and sneaky and "Predator" their opponents like in the Arkham City video game.

But then there's Mr. Kisses, a serial rapist/murderer of young girls who uses his superpower of elasticity in grotesque ways.  There's all kinds of verbage in Cold Steel Wardens about how this NPC might be unpalatable to some gaming groups.  I'm going to go with "most gaming groups," to the point where I kind of wonder why they included him in there anyways except for the same reason that they showed Negan clonking a guy's head in until his eye popped out.  Because for some, graphic brutality is a welcome form of entertainment.  But not me.

I've talked about this with my group, and pretty self-aware adult members have remarked on the weirdness of being totally fine hack-and-slashing away with swords against fantastic creatures but can't handle shooting guns at people. It's "Hollywood Violence" vs. "Graphic Violence" and that appears to be real line.  And for the upteenth time I'm reminded that, whatever I run starting in November, it needs to be more than just fighting as problem solving (or worse, graphic brutality as entertainment).


  1. You know, I had the same mixed feelings about Walking Dead as I was watching the premiere, Mainly "I used to like this show and now I'm not sure I care to watch the rest of this season." I have, and it's underwhelming so far. There's some hope with the king thing they've introduced but how likely is it that side will win out vs. another ten episodes of people being awful to people?

    1. So if you've read the comic books (and presume the showrunner sticks to the plot) you know the answer.
      In the comic book, Negan evolves into more of an anti-hero character, even killing off another major villain. He even tries to make amends with Rick (who isn't having it). I wonder if, with all the hype, the long-game plan for the TV series is to do the same thing.

  2. I don't follow the comics but considering how much they've deviated from those over the years I'm not sure how much they matter for the show. I'd say "signature character moments" seem to be the main thing that comes up from those.

    Aside from the partial roadmap we have from those my question is more "do I want to spend an hour a week watching this stuff". There are a lot of other good shows on TV that are not as relentlessly negative.

    1. It's enough for my family to keep up with Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.