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).