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Author Topic: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted  (Read 4169 times)

VisionStorm

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #150 on: May 01, 2021, 01:44:20 PM »
Nice, twice in a thread two different people making aspersions about me without reading jack shit. But then I'm the asshole no?


S'mon

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #151 on: May 01, 2021, 05:49:34 PM »
To be fair, not all civilizations are worth preserving. Rebels fighting an authoritarian regime is technically “anti-civilization” in the sense of pulling down the established order, but that order was corrupt and needs to fall for the good of the people it exploits for the gains of its leaders.

Well a more common trope is the Star Wars one of the Lawful Rebels fighting to restore the old established Lawful order that has been destroyed by a Chaotic insurgency (eg the Sith).

Outside of 2000 AD stories written by actual Chaos Magician Pat Mills, I don't recall too many actually-Chaotic rebel protagonists trying to destroy a more Lawful established order. Even Moorcock's more Chaotic champions are normally fighting against even-worse-Chaos. I guess maybe some Tarantino stuff? Usually in the Noble Savage stuff like Avatar they're not trying to destroy Civilisation, just send it back where it came from.

S'mon

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #152 on: May 01, 2021, 05:52:02 PM »
So, from all that I can safely say you haven't read anything but the title/opening post and jumped to accusations of trying to destroy culture.

Nice, twice in a thread two different people making aspersions about me without reading jack shit. But then I'm the asshole no?

He wasn't talking about you - talk about 'without reading jack shit'  :P

Chris24601

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #153 on: May 02, 2021, 08:40:13 AM »
So, from all that I can safely say you haven't read anything but the title/opening post and jumped to accusations of trying to destroy culture.

Nice, twice in a thread two different people making aspersions about me without reading jack shit. But then I'm the asshole no?

He wasn't talking about you - talk about 'without reading jack shit'  :P
He also apparently doesn’t even remember my previous posts in this very thread where I discussed various elements of game design and what parts of OSR design I felt was a poor fit for the pulp germ and suggesting some other systems that do that genre well (and pointed out they had OGLs which would save design work). He attacked me then too for making presumptions about his design when I was just bringing up general design principles and he already said he was planning on using an OSR system as a base, which either means TSR-era D&D in that context or is just word salad meaning nothing.

My bit about being anti-trope subversion sprung from his clarification that this thread was about which tropes in general need to be subverted and my reply of “none of them” (which I stand by... if the primary focus of your project is subversion it’s going to be crap. Write a good story/make a good system and think about subversion if it’s really needed for a particular aspect of your plot/system to work, but subversion just for subversion’s sake doesn’t work out well).

So I’m going to take him at his word that he’s just an asshole who, given his comments elsewhere about not wanting to try and read up on any other systems and how they work in building his own system, isn’t even interested in the opinions he’s asked for unless they agree with his own conclusions.

Wrath of God

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #154 on: May 02, 2021, 02:05:46 PM »
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So, because that's how it is in the novels that is how it should be in the game?

Well... yes. If you want to play pulp you need to emulate pulp stories/film in game.
IMHO it cannot be done by realistic worldbuilding, as it goes against pulp genre.

So generally unlike in OSR when it's you against the world, here it's you within genre, and mechanics should support it.
And to support genres that are unrealistic even within own reality you need metagaming resources for pulpey stuff.

Otherwise it's not a pulp game anymore.

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Are you trying to live in the game world or to write a Pulp?

If I'd be offered to play pulp game, I'd expect nor want neither.
"Writing" would mean excessive railroading. Living in game world - well different genre of fiction.
James Bond, Indiana Jones and other guys like that does not live in a WORLD. They live in a GENRE. You may pretend it's otherwise, but it goes only that far.

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Why should they care about the characters if they can't die?

Because they are awesome. You do not play PULP to struggle desperatedly survival but to deliver one-liners while fightinh 7 feet tall Egyptian Cyborg Samurai on a top of atompunk zeppelin.

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Who said I wanted infrecuent hero death? Who said level 1 characters are Heroes? They aren't, not yet, they might become heroes if they have what it takes to do so.

Which among other things involves INTELLIGENT risk taking, heroic actions and playing to your strenghts (I mean as a character).

As for deviating from a "pure" OSR system... Well yes, but to what extent? I want it still to be clearly recognizable as something close to it's roots.

Genre you're trying to emulate. Pulp stories are not Campbellian 0 to hero stories. If you want to emulate them in game somehow then yes it's antipulp to go this route.
They should be at least quite competent professionalist on way to become ultra-pros.

But then of course making OSR Pulp is like making Highly Simulationist Apocalpyse World. Press X to doubt.

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So because that's how it has been done it's how it should be done?

There is no "should". There's merely general consensus and feel of what PULP is.
You can play OSR in PULP disguise. It can even be cool. But selling it as Pulp RPG will be a litlle bit misguiding towards potential fanbase.

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Something else the Pulps have is the black & white morality, no shades of gray, that I think is way more important than the time period or the gadgets.

Does it? Dunno really. Of course like among many other genres there is lot of B&W pulp overall, but let's take Conan - he has different setting, but still is very much pulp hero.
I'd not call his setting to be really black & white. More black vs barbarian if anything.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2021, 08:34:46 PM by Wrath of God »
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Eirikrautha

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #155 on: May 02, 2021, 04:31:06 PM »
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So, because that's how it is in the novels that is how it should be in the game?

Well... yes. If you want to play pulp you need to emulate pulp stories/film in game.
IMHO it cannot be done by realistic worldbuilding, as it goes against pulp genre.

So generally unlike in OSR when it's you against the world, here it's you within genre, and mechanics should support it.
And to support genres that are unrealistic even within own reality you need metagaming resources for pulpey stuff.

Otherwise it's not a pulp game anymore.

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Are you trying to live in the game world or to write a Pulp?

If I'd be offered to play pulp game, I'd expect nor want neither.
"Writing" would mean excessive railroading. Living in game world - well different genre of fiction.
James Bond, Indiana Jones and other guys like that does not live in a WORLD. They live in a GENRE. You may pretend it's otherwise, but it goes only that far.

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Why should they care about the characters if they can't die?

Because they are awesome. You do not play PULP to struggle desperatedly survival but to deliver one-liners while fightinh 7 feet tall Egyptian Cyborg Samurai on a top of atompunk zeppelin.
This dude gets it!

"Subverting" tropes is simply low-effort nihilism.  Sure, there's space for a clever subversion of a trope, when a genre has become flat and stale.  But I don't see anyone asserting here that Pulp RPGs have been "done too much."  Normally, you should just read "subverting tropes" as "cnot creative enough to figure out how to make something new and clever in this space."  And 99% of the time you'll be spot-on...

Wrath of God

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #156 on: May 02, 2021, 04:49:43 PM »
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"Subverting" tropes is simply low-effort nihilism.

It's not even subverting tropes really. I mean subverting pulp trope would be if blonde, doe-eyed daughter of professor kidnapped by terrorist turned out to really be terrorist mastermind pretending to be kidnapped to get her father secrets. Or making blonde, blue-eyed lady professor, and kidnap her elderly noble but dimwitted grandfather. And that's fine to degree.
Of course regular subversion for shock value is well metacurrency GM should spend in low doses otherwise it loses it's power.

But I feel here we talk not about subversion of tropes per se, but subversion of whole genre. Of general rules how pulp heroes works. It's not as much low-effort nihilism as trying to have cake (pulp system) and eat cake (keep close to OSR roots, and avoid metacurrencies, which in both cases seems like quite terrible recipe for Pulp Feel).

Now of course you can take trappings of Pulp era and run brutal deadly OSR with it. That's kinda fine - but it's not pulp game, merely OSR in pulp clothes.

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Sure, there's space for a clever subversion of a trope, when a genre has become flat and stale.  But I don't see anyone asserting here that Pulp RPGs have been "done too much."  Normally, you should just read "subverting tropes" as "cnot creative enough to figure out how to make something new and clever in this space."  And 99% of the time you'll be spot-on...

Well I think Pulp RPG is relatively rare so far because well to emulate it you have to go against traditional RPG sensibilities.
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This Guy

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #157 on: May 02, 2021, 07:25:20 PM »
"Subverting" tropes is simply low-effort nihilism.  Sure, there's space for a clever subversion of a trope, when a genre has become flat and stale.  But I don't see anyone asserting here that Pulp RPGs have been "done too much."  Normally, you should just read "subverting tropes" as "cnot creative enough to figure out how to make something new and clever in this space."  And 99% of the time you'll be spot-on...

Your favorite genre aint sacrosanct and new and clever in the adventure space mostly means writing something like somebody who has read something other than adventure tropes. God damn is that some weakass prose.
I don't want to play with you.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #158 on: May 02, 2021, 10:11:54 PM »
Subversion generally only has effectiveness in novelty or suprise. By itself it's neutral at best, and generally low effort and bad at worst.

'Wud if the demons were good and angels were bad' just generally means about the same impact, but more boring because instead of drawing upon so many years of stories for cool demons, you generally just rely on the novelty. And once repeated enough, it just becomes a whole bunch of blandness infatuated with its own fake novelty.
At worst subversion just smashes things that were functional to pieces. 'What if instead of a satisfying climax, 3 hours of dickering?'

Also Im not sure what about pulps has heroes be invicible. If anything they hold their heroes to a very vulnerable standard. The assumption is that a bullet is a serious threat to a hero so guile and stealth is assumed.

Wrath of God

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #159 on: May 03, 2021, 05:16:48 AM »
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Also Im not sure what about pulps has heroes be invicible. If anything they hold their heroes to a very vulnerable standard. The assumption is that a bullet is a serious threat to a hero so guile and stealth is assumed.

Well that's because pulp hero power is metagaming one, unlike simulationist invicibility of Superman ;)

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Oh, in that case... None of them. Subversion is the tool of saboteurs seeking to destroy.

Tropes become tropes for a reason. They speak to something deep in us. They resonate with a type of truth and that is why they are used again and again.

The Subversive seeks to tear them down... often because they don’t understand why the trope was built in the first place or because they hate something it represents. Often they’ll call it “realistic”, but usually it’s their own nihilism bleeding through.

They ultimately want a world where the idea that someone could be heroic for selfless reason, where people are basically good, where there is truth and beauty and love are real, where that triumphs in the end to die so they don’t have to feel like the miserable fucking failures they are for being the selfish sociopaths they are.

And subversion is the tool they use to tear down the civilization whose identity is built upon those tropes.

So, yeah, I’m pretty much done with subversion as a technique. Examine a trope for what it’s really about and then build on it? All day long. But in my experience, those who use subversion have little interest in rebuilding what they’ve destroyed.

We need superversion these days, not subversion.

So, the fundamental question in regards to pulp heroes and mortality is “why is it a trope in the first place?” Plenty of old stories/myths ended with dramatic failures and death of the protagonist (Arthur and Camelot and Hercules for just a couple examples), so what is it about the Indiana Jones, the Doc Savage, the Tarzan or the Shadow type who always survives despite often horrific turns of fortune that spoke to audiences enough to become a trope?

Answer that and you’ll also have a sense of how to model that element in your game, including where the line for death (vs. defeat) falls.

With that I generally disagree. Trope subversion is well not the same as value subversion. They may go toe to toe, but really it's not that certain.
For instance it's trope subversion of adventuring novel that in "Lord of the Rings" Sauron is never seen in person. He never confronts our heroes in person, neither to fight, taunt or try to corrupt them.

And literally tropes do not have to be manifestation of platonic ideas. They can be sign of laziness of producers and writers copying works that sold good before. They may be sign of zeitgeist of the time period - not necessarily in good or realistic way - therefore noir of preWW2 period, or cookie-cutter works of post-WW2.
And classical works of literature, of myth and epos are often quite subversive from perspective of XX-century American filmmaking. For instance they are quite often somehow fatalistic be it in pagan or Christian way, rather than leading to merry happy end taken from Enlightened Prometheism or Nietzcheanism, or both maybe. Or maybe even more from simple capitalism - as modern mass media changed relations between story and people, and people prefer this, rather than tragic end of Sheakspear drama or Greek epos. And then as people like songs they've already heard - they also enjoy tropes they read in their youth - and it does not mean there is intrisic value to them to resonate with as you say. More often it's mere sentiment, recognising known beats, which for some reason is comforting for human beings. It may be good, or bad, and generally it will be simply lazy. And to that I find little virtue. I do not trust sentiments or goodness of human hearts, sorry.

And then let's remember like 88% of subverted tropes become tropes on their own I think. Femme fatale is subversion of damsel in distress. And bam, few decades later both are co-existing as equally tropey things.

(Of course trope that "people are basically good" needs to die screaming nonetheless.)

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Plenty of old stories/myths ended with dramatic failures and death of the protagonist (Arthur and Camelot and Hercules for just a couple examples), so what is it about the Indiana Jones, the Doc Savage, the Tarzan or the Shadow type who always survives despite often horrific turns of fortune that spoke to audiences enough to become a trope?

First one were created by people of traditional mentality, while the others by Americans?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 06:05:18 AM by Wrath of God »
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With great vengeance and furious anger"


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S'mon

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #160 on: May 03, 2021, 05:59:10 AM »
'Wud if the demons were good and angels were bad' just generally means about the same impact, but more boring because instead of drawing upon so many years of stories for cool demons, you generally just rely on the novelty. And once repeated enough, it just becomes a whole bunch of blandness infatuated with its own fake novelty.

Reminds me of His Dark Materials.

Wrath of God

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #161 on: May 03, 2021, 06:31:51 AM »
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Yeah that's all real great but I also want stories that are also real about misery and people being selfish pieces of shit and crimes not getting punished, and fuck the rightscolds that want their stories to teach them Right Morals after they're out of elementary school.

This.

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There wasnt a fucking publishing house churning out as much consumable material as possible to make sure people bought Arthurian romances and Greek myths bro. You wanna compare pre-modern and modern stories without considerin the material circumstances of modernity and entertainment markets

Double This.

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Basically, there’s a difference between Law/Chaos and Good/Evil. Most of the subversion I see prevalent these days is more about establishing that the Good are actually evil and the Evil are actually good (ex. the Maleficent films, Superman expies who turn out to be jerks at best, more typically monsters, orcs are actually good and the humans are racists for attacking them, etc.).

Yeah but not exactly Chris.
Those stories generally do not reverse order of Good and Evil. They do not subverse this duality (sure there are some twists compared to traditional Good and Evil, especially I suppose all around VI commandment, but then I don't think pulp heroes were especially chaste either so this aspect was off the table of modern popculture for a long time).
What they change is - who really was on side of Good and who on side of Evil. And that's per se fine.
That's attacking mostly preconcieved stereotypes that pinpoints someone as Good or Evil based on superficial qualities.

Superman is sort of trope, but then you can take trappings of Superman and put bad guy inside. Or Good guy inside Joker trappings instead.
I mean even official comics were doing such shenanigans for a long long time.

I think it's overal healthy you do not assume orcs in any given story will be Tolkien's Dark Lord mooks. Judge characters for their morality, for their actions - not which tropes and trappings they look like. Duh.

(And of course I know and I agree than in modern hands it can quickly become parody of itself with reversed order estabilished and tropy-ed where all Superman like figures are always jerks which will be as much stereotypical, pointless and boring, and of course for 200 years people gonna claim it's still subversion yeah).
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

"And I will strike down upon thee
With great vengeance and furious anger"


"Molti Nemici, Molto Onore"