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Author Topic: From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!  (Read 2654 times)

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« on: August 29, 2006, 04:57:15 PM »
The Blue Rose Forums, The Generation of Swine and the Death of Rhetoric
 
The True 20 system, found in the game Blue Rose, is a spectacular RPG.  It blew my mind the first time I read it; it has a kind of perfection I never even dreamed of.
 
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the setting; a "romantic fantasy" world that does a good enough job of replicating the "romantic fantasy" genre, including having the perfect utopian feminist-socialists, the foolish and sometimes evil christian-metaphor nation across the border, who are evil and stupid because they aren't "tolerant", and talking psychic animal friends.
 
That said, those are all part of the genre, and things that Green Ronin cannot be blamed for.  Yes, its a phony collectivist "utopia" where everyone happily "tolerates" everyone else (except for the pseudo-christians, its cool to be intolerant of them, because they're not "tolerant", you know). But what really kills the setting beyond any redemption is the addition of things to the setting that make the setting really unplayable even within genre, and it all comes down to the magic deer.
 
Yup, you heard me, the magic deer. Not plural just singular. A freaking magic deer that is actually the evil overlord of humanity, only no one in the setting seems to notice. They all willing enjoy being the slaves of the magic deer, who gets to pick the monarch-for-life of the utopian socialist kingdom, and whose godlike powers insure that anyone who disagrees with its choice for monarch gets a paralysing magic kick in the head and exile from socialist-utopialand.  Whats more, the magic deer has a magic rod that chooses all the nobility, assuring that only the good kind feminist-socialisty-utopian people are chosen as aristocrats.
So basically, the entire system of government is a willing slavery to a magic deer.
 
The concept being silly is the least of the problems: what it also does is that insures that any internal conflict or tension in "socialist utopialand" requires really absurd premises.  You can't have an evil king take the throne, because the magic deer protects the throne.
Want evil self-serving nobles? You can have one or two, because apparently they're allowed to change alignment after the deer picks em, but on the whole the system is always good and true and pure. And anyone who disagrees with the system of government or the idea of being slaves to a magic deer get a swift hoof to the head and exile, every time.
 
There's no hope to free humanity from the magic deer.
 
Sweet jesus, there's a sentence I never thought I'd say.
 
Now, the setting is one thing, but when the fandom you get for a setting goes mental in less than six months from a game's release, you know you're in trouble.  And if you check out the blue rose forum, you'll notice that quite a few of the rejects from the generation of Swine are trying to subtly infiltrate the D20 field by subverting Blue Rose fandom.
No, they aren't making those kinds of pseudo-intellectual threads you would see on the Forge yet (I don't think anyone who's honestly a D20 fan can really sink that low). But they are taking on the religious fanatic mentality; attacking you if you don't run BR "right", suggesting that the true 20 system is really only playable in the blue rose setting, and most of all accusing anyone who disagrees with elements of the setting's plausibility as being sexist, homofobic, etc. etc.

This ties into the death of rhetoric that has come to pass, not just in the "roleplaying" generation of swine, but in the generation of swine as a whole. Raised in an educational environment that says "whatever you believe is ok, you have a right to your opinions" and "every opinion is right", they honestly cannot seem to tell the difference between their opinions and themselves, or for that matter between opinion and fact. And when you argue against their ideas in the classic rhetorical tradition of debate, they can only interpret it as a vicious personal attack on them as people.
 
The fact that they usually react to this by viciously attacking back, not at your ideas (they lack the training to be able to actually argue ideas) but at you as a person, and instantly try to resort to either the censorship of repeated personal insults or the more literal censorship of demanding you be banned for what you say, shows just how thin the veneer of modern collectivist "tolerance" really is.
 
The BR setting fans have become seriously wierd in a very short time; I've rarely seen a subculture de-evolve to the state of "no debate allowed" in such a quick span of time, which really doesn't bode well for either the setting or the future of the True 20 system.
 
It was kind of to be expected, that a setting with this kind of politicized premise (feminism-collectivism) would breed fans who were absolute fanatics, determined to defend the purity of the collective thought-product. But its unfortunate in the sense that it will keep people from discovering the genius that is True 20, a system that doesn't depend upon the setting of blue rose in any way; regardless of what some of the fanatics will tell you... you tell my Port Blacksand True 20 players that True 20 is "unplayable" outside of the Aldis setting.  Unplayable? It isn't even uncomfortable. I've had to do all of two house rules (one for alignment, the only part of the system that ties into the setting explicitly, the other for corruption, because I thought the side-effects of corruption as written were rather uninspired)! The average D&D Forgotten Realms campaign has more houserules than that.
 
As long as True 20 is exclusively fettered to Blue Rose, people are going to miss out on this system. Namely, people who aren't willing to put up with the fanaticism of the Aldis-fanboys, and people who don't know that there is another choice.
 
Green Ronin has done a good thing in providing an alternative, a forum where one can discuss True 20 explicitly outside of the Aldis setting, and here it is:
 
http://www.greenronin.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=24&sid=a9c53e459e5214b8d65b64279d7fe177
 
But they have so far shown a decided lack of initiative in realizing that they have got a system that has met with more critical praise than just about ANY rpg system I can recall in the last five years. Almost EVERYONE agrees that its one of the best iterations of D20 ever.
 
For them to not start immediately working on other settings for True 20, or at the very least a True 20 rulebook divorced from the Blue Rose setting, is the most catastrophic lack of vision since Chaosium flushed the moneymaking machine that Call of Cthulhu d20 could have been straight down the crapper.
 
I hope they don't make that mistake. I hope they realize that whatever their sales figures are for Blue Rose, a sizeable percentage of those sales are people who bought the book for the RULES, and not the setting; and for each one of them there's probably three others who decided not to buy the book only BECAUSE of the setting.
 
Please, Green Ronin: I'm not your enemy, I love your work. None of the people who've criticized the Blue Rose setting are your enemies, most of them only really noticed Blue Rose because of how amazing your True 20 rules-set is! Clue in to the potential it has in other applications, and for sweet jebuses' sake get rich!
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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2006, 05:06:02 PM »
at least everyone now understands the Magic Deer in-joke...
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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2006, 05:08:29 PM »
The Despotic Magic Deer.  The George III to the Pundit's Samuel Adams.

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2006, 01:43:23 AM »
Personally I don't find the Magic Deer any more problematic than, say, Excaliber or any other plot device that ensures the justness and destiny of leadership.  The Magic Deer might be gussied up a bit but it's a strong fantasy trope to have something that ensures and legitimises the goodness of leadership.
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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2006, 02:27:12 AM »
Excalibur isn't quite so fucking pro-active. Nor does it tend to make value judgements beyond "this fucker is of noble blood and therefore the true king". It doesn't demand that you not eat too much sugar or that you respect traffic laws.

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2006, 09:53:09 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Excalibur isn't quite so fucking pro-active. Nor does it tend to make value judgements beyond "this fucker is of noble blood and therefore the true king". It doesn't demand that you not eat too much sugar or that you respect traffic laws.

RPGPundit


Functionally though, it's really no different.
Same trope with other magic weapons 'Only the worthy may life X and use it for the good of the people!' etc.
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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2006, 12:44:03 PM »
Yea, but it makes a pretty big difference on the practical level.

With Excalibur/Sword in the stone/etc, all the sword does is choose the king. And the King is chosen as the dude with the blood of the true king in his veins. Arthur could have been a supreme asshole and the sword would STILL have chosen him, and you could have St.FuckingChristopher try to take the sword and it wouldn't let him.

So its not really a value judgement as much as it is a matter of genetics. Which is kind of stupid, but its divorced enough from our reality that we can get that its not making any kind of real judgement on us (the designers of Pendragon almost certainly don't really believe that hereditary monarchy chosen by farcical aquatic ceremony is the best form of government).

And in game terms, if you're playing Pendragon or whatever, that's fine; you aren't really expecting to be chosen as King anyways, and the sword in no other way affects you.
Shit, you can even end up overthrowing King Arthur, once you figure out that bit about him always being victorious as long as he has Excalibur, and grok that you must get his sword away from him before you try to usurp his kingdom...

The Magic Deer on the other hand, controls not only the choice of monarch but also the behaviour of the entire government, through the blue rose scepter.  You can't even become a Noble if you don't follow a certain standard of behaviour, a standard that the Green Ronin gang, in their infinite wisdom, decided to define as "good"; when in fact I'd define it as anything but (collectivism).

So here, the game designers are choosing a system of REAL LIFE MODERN values, imposing them on the game, telling the players and purchasers of this game that these are "Good" values and that anyone who doesn't follow them is a follower of the darkness (fucking literally), and that in the game if your PC doesn't follow them there is no way he will be a noble, and he can't fake having these beliefs either, because the all-seeing all knowing magic deer's scepter will detect the truth.
What's more if you try to overthrow the monarch, the magic deer will swoop down, he's unkillable and unstoppable; he'll defeat you and exile you. So there's no way that Aldis will escape his tyranny.

You get how one is much more insulting in real life than the other, and how its much more disrupting of your game than the other too?

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2006, 02:01:31 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
With Excalibur/Sword in the stone/etc, all the sword does is choose the king. And the King is chosen as the dude with the blood of the true king in his veins. Arthur could have been a supreme asshole and the sword would STILL have chosen him, and you could have St.FuckingChristopher try to take the sword and it wouldn't let him.


In mythic terms, however, it isn't genetics. It's 'rightness' expressed through
Quote from: RPGPundit
the mythic elements and the divine right of kings.  Something we'd never subscribe to in the modern world (unless you're a crazy monarchist) but something that works within that mythic idiom.  Arthur wouldn't have been a supreme arsehole because he has King's blood, because the sword shows that he is worthy and he fulfills that promise as the fair and just benevolent dictator that he turns out to be.

In the context of the story/myth anyway.

Quote from: RPGPundit
The Magic Deer on the other hand, controls not only the choice of monarch but also the behaviour of the entire government, through the blue rose scepter.  You can't even become a Noble if you don't follow a certain standard of behaviour, a standard that the Green Ronin gang, in their infinite wisdom, decided to define as "good"; when in fact I'd define it as anything but (collectivism).


Well that takes us off on a horrible sidetrack into what constitutes good and evil.  In sociobiological terms, and in common mythic threads, good is what is good 'for the people' so in many ways I'd argue that collectivism is 'the greater good'. I've never liked alignments or good/evil anyway, such horribly subjective terminology and turns the moral spectrum into an uninteresting on/off switch.

Suffice to say that the Deer is, still, fulfilling the excalibur/merlin/lady of the lake role from the Arthurian tales, just in a different context.

Quote from: RPGPundit
So here, the game designers are choosing a system of REAL LIFE MODERN values, imposing them on the game, telling the players and purchasers of this game that these are "Good" values and that anyone who doesn't follow them is a follower of the darkness (fucking literally), and that in the game if your PC doesn't follow them there is no way he will be a noble, and he can't fake having these beliefs either, because the all-seeing all knowing magic deer's scepter will detect the truth.
What's more if you try to overthrow the monarch, the magic deer will swoop down, he's unkillable and unstoppable; he'll defeat you and exile you. So there's no way that Aldis will escape his tyranny.


So it has liberal morals built in.
To quote the prophet...

"Yeah? And? So? What?"

I like a game that actually throws out something interesting on the political/social front. SLA, Cyberpunk, Iron Kingdoms, Paranoia (if you choose to pick up on it) etc, etc.  So this one has more modern, western liberal values as part of its structure... so?

Within the context of the game (remember the context thing with Arthur?) the Deer is simply a primal force for good. There's plenty of those in games, gods and so forth, so that's not new.  Nor is it new in the fiction the game draws from.  Given the game's drawn from modern, liberal, more feminist fantasy fiction it certainly fits that milieu better than many. Frankly, given that magic does everything (and more!) that technology has allowed in our modern society more fantasy worlds should have more modern values and sensibility.

I wouldn't find it disruptive, players will do what they want to do regardless and deal with the consequences that come with it.  That or they'll play characters suited to the game style.  I don't find it insulting IRL, despite being a lefty with anarchistic tendencies, because it is just a game but also because within the context of the game the Deer IS an incorruptable arbiter of goodness and ensures that the people are lead by a caring ruler.  It's a safeguard.
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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2006, 11:38:35 AM »
Port Blacksand, eh? I was grown and weaned on the fighting fantasy stuff, and been thinking about putting together a campagin on Titan. If you don't mind me asking, what led you to True20 as a system?
 

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2006, 05:08:14 PM »
Quote from: mywinningsmile
Port Blacksand, eh? I was grown and weaned on the fighting fantasy stuff, and been thinking about putting together a campagin on Titan. If you don't mind me asking, what led you to True20 as a system?


Well, in part it was just the fact that circumstances combined... Blue Rose had just been released, and I saw that True20 as a system had tremendous potential for "sword and sorcery" type gaming, but of course I utterly despised the Aldis setting; and I'd been interested (nostalgically, as I too was weaned on Fighting Fantasy) in running a sword & sorcery campaign in Port Blacksand for a very long time.

It was a VERY successful campaign.

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2006, 04:05:48 AM »
An all seeing Magic Deer (Complete with capitals, I'll assume), right?

You're not yanking my chain?

Seriously, I'm so hammered I'm doubleposting whenever I type, but you're yanking my chain, right? A Magic Assfucking Unkillable Magic-8 Ball Using Ever Loving Deer with a Scepter of "Bigot, Mysoginyst & Homophobe Whomping +54"?

Seriously?

BWAH-HA-HA-HA!!!!

ehhehehehehehee

I could write a supplement to D&D where the ruler of a kingdom is mongoloid elphantitus of the testicles afflicted lesbian clubfooted half-elf and at least I'd know it was a joke.

Seriously...

A Magic Deer?



hehehehhehehee

I want some of what Green Ronin was drinking.
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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2006, 05:16:42 AM »
You've never had a whitetail buck poke more holes in you than a cheap sieve. :) During breeding season the little shits are dangerous. Those antlers can do some serious damage. Elk and moose are a lot worse. A moose kick can drive your pelvis up into your guts. Believe me, when a half ton of bull elk wants you out of his way, you get out of his way.

Try visiting East Tennessee during rutting season and see how far you get with Bambi.
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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2006, 05:58:22 AM »
A moose once bit my sister...

But seriously, can someone else with the book confirm the existance of said mystical ruminant of the family Cervidae? (thank you wikipedia)  Obviously the Pundit is exaggurating for comic effect, but the last person to break a setting that badly was Mark Millar in his run on the Authority
 

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2006, 06:40:35 AM »
Quote from: Hastur T. Fannon
A moose once bit my sister...

But seriously, can someone else with the book confirm the existance of said mystical ruminant of the family Cervidae? (thank you wikipedia)  Obviously the Pundit is exaggurating for comic effect, but the last person to break a setting that badly was Mark Millar in his run on the Authority


Yes, it exists.  It's called the Golden Hart.  And the rant was no exaggeration -- well, perhaps in calling the people of Aldis "slaves of the deer."  After all, even though the kingdom's ruler is chosen by the Golden Hart, and every member of the nobility is indirectly chosen by the Golden Hart (through the Blue Rose Scepter), the people live a rather good life.

And there are other human kingdoms that aren't dominated by the Golden Hart, one of which isn't painted as "evil at worst, misguided at best."
 

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From RPGPundit's Blog: The Original Magic Deer Rant!
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2006, 08:30:23 AM »
The Magic Deer is real.  I understand it is actually in genre, though since I have never read any romantic fantasy I can't swear to that.

But my understanding is that magic deer and the like are genre defining, not genre breaking.