Friday, March 09, 2007

I finally found a Pulp supplement I can do without.

New Horizons is a new supplement for Spirit of the Century. Each chapter addresses a marginalized group from the pulps, kept outside by their sex, their race, their lifestyle, or their beliefs. In New Horizons you’ll find information about real-life heroic individuals and teams, the challenges they face and some of the solutions they find to the problems of dealing with 1920s society. You’ll also find heroes and villains ready for use, plot hooks, and ties to the mysteries around the Century Club. The life of heroes outside the mainstream may seem as strange as the secret language of Atlantis, but can be as exciting and powerful in play as a zeppelin armada.

I simply don't see the need for it. There comes a point when these things stop being games and become...something else. This may be an ideal example.

When you agree to play an RPG you are suspending reality. RPG's are a dressed up version of "let's pretend". Why would you even want to go where this is going? How is this fun?

I've ran quite a few Pulp games and my players and npc's have run the gamut from Filipino boxers, Australian P.I.'s, Mexican Priests, and an Oxford educated Punjabi physician (who happened to be a were tiger). Never did racism or bigotry show up in the game. It didn't need to. My players and I are all too aware of the historical racism of the period and the ethnocentrism inherent in the pulps, but we chose to ignore it to have fun playing the game. Remember fun?

It's almost condescending in the way Black history month is. here Black people you can have this month, Mexican's you get Cinco de Mayo (whatever that is), Italians you used to get Columbus day but the Native Americans got mad so were gonna have to find you something else...

By creating a supplement of this nature, it seems that the publishers are saying:
Attention ladies and people of color. you now have your own supplement. so if your character is a Wong or a Gomez please convert your PC to comply with this new "special" supplement we have made for all of you.

The publishers may think they are doing something neat or noble but all they are doing is making race an issue where it never was. Justice Inc. Mercenaries, spies and private eyes, GURPS Cliffhangers, Top secret: Agent 13, none of them went to this extreme in making race an issue.

Visit the various Pulp boards. we all know that racism and bigotry is a fact in the pulps. It's discussed and grudgingly accepted as a reflection of the times. We are well aware of it's existance, you dont have to shove it in our face during a game.


  1. It was my understanding that Spirit of The Century wasn't going to have any supplements, so I guess whoever's produced this is just "jumping on the bandwagon" of the latest darling of the RPG community!

  2. "New Horizons comes to you from veteran author and developer Bruce Baugh in collaboration with the minds behind Evil Hat Productions."

    I dunno Tim,
    according to the author the darlings are pretty much on board with this.

  3. The authors are, to be frank, huge fans of Mister Baugh, and while we hadn't planned on any supplements, we also hadn't anticipated be approached by anyone, let alone Bruce Baugh, saying "I'd like to write a supplement for your game." So we said yes. Honestly, if Bruce wants to write a supplement about the hairstyles of the time, I'm still going to trust that it will be awesome, so just to split that issue off from the subject matter: No, we didn't expect any supplements but this is an OK way to be wrong, at least so far as we're concerned.

    As to the subject matter, well, man, I'd be absolutely naive if I didn't expect that some people would view it in the way you do. S'cool. Hell, I'll go one better on the cynicism. This is a sufficiently controversial topic that it's generated a decent sales spike for us now, and probably will again when its released. Controversy is like a gift from heaven for the small press, and it's going to mean more money in our pockets in terms of core books sold and sales on the supplement when it comes out. If this were purely a cynical ploy to take advantage of a hot button issue, that would be a pretty smart plan.

    The good news is, we're not that smart. And I dig that this is not going to be a supplement for everyone. Hell, I embrace it - I love SOTC to death, but my first response to anyone who says "I don't like these things, but people say SOTC is cool, sell me on it" is that they should spend the money on a game they'd actually like. Same rule is in effect.

    But that said, I'm just going to state that this is going to be a game supplement, not a screed or tract or big-s-Statement. We're not in this to enlighten anyone, we're in it because we think there's some good play to be had in it. If this was purely for political purposes, there are many better venues for that.

  4. That's really cool of Rob to be so frank about his game! I really like what I've read of Spirit of The Century - but certainly have no interest in this supplement for it (no matter how well written it probably will be) because Pulp is about escapism - not reality. But I guess it's whatever floats your boat! And brings in the cash ...

  5. Fair enough Rob.
    There is no such thing as bad publicity.

  6. Anonymous9:30 AM

    I was going to way in on this, because I saw the same thing in the free version of Haven:City of Bronze from LPJ Designs. I don't like having the dark underside of the era thrown in my face. It was there, along with blatant sexism, but even then there were some authors who cracked the mold a little bit, seeing as they were unable to break it completely.

    However, I read what Rob wrote, and I think I have to agree that a supplement is just that. It is not required for the game, but others may feel like they need it.

    I'm with you in that I'm not one of them....

  7. Anonymous4:12 AM

    As a gay woman who games, I appreciate any attempt to eliminate prejudice of all kinds (gender, sexual orientation, ability, colour) from gaming. It makes me feel included to be able to play a woman in the 1920s/1930s who doesn’t need to be “rescued” by a man — or is not borderline psychotic — just as it would make an African-American feel included not to be a forelock-tugging washerwoman or a Native American not to have to be the “squaw” talking pidgin English. Or to look at another gaming universe, not every female player wants to play a 38-24-36 blonde bombshell popping out of a chainmail loincloth and pasties and getting hit on by every male character, and their dog …AND their horse to boot! Roleplaying is fun and fantasy for us who are normally marginalized in pulp universes too, and we enjoy the idea that we can actually contribute in a meaningful way.

    If this “left-wing political correctness” gets up your nose, then imagine how we — women, gays, members of other ethnic groups — feel when confronted with the right-wing political correctness of “Ahhh, it’s only a game … we don’t want reality intruding.” Not confronting prejudice means, in the end, accepting and reinforcing it.

    Of course, if what you’re really saying is, “That’s how it was, people … you’ll just have to suck it up,” you’re actively, rather than simply passively, excluding more than half the population, including a sizable number of current and potential gamers.