GTRT Ep 20: Religion in games, Race in comics, and Superhero RPG’s

FandibleFeatured5 Geeks, One Roundish Table. On this weeks Geeky Topics Round Table, we discuss the representations of religion in games, does race change a character in comics,  and choosing a Superhero RPG.

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18 comments on “GTRT Ep 20: Religion in games, Race in comics, and Superhero RPG’s

  1. Mawdrigen says:

    We did get the package! Handily the episode was released this weekend, cult 62, which is a Cthulhu episode!

    We liked it a lot and also answered your questions!

  2. Mawdrigen says:

    Also as the whitest of white animistic deiists religion and race are something which worries me a bit when I have portrayed other races/religions/sexes/orientations.

    I tend not to run female npcs for example not because I consider them in someway flawed, but I worry that I cannot do the “mental headspace” of a woman justice. I’m a straight white guy, and I am well aware that this informs all of my responses, and as such I become concerned that if I try to portray a woman she’d be a “mans idea of a woman”, or worse I’d portray them either as too weak or as a man with boobs.

    Similarly with other races, I just plain don’t have the right experiences to draw from. I have very much been the “outsider” in my incredibly bigoted hometown but my “otherness” is not a physical manifestation, so I still haven’t got the same experiences as someone suffering racism based on skin colour etc.

    Orientation is waaaaaaaayyy easier. I’ve (wrongly) been on the receiving end of homophobia and vast numbers of my friends are gay, bi, trans or poly. I didn’t tend to portray other orientations for the same “headspace” reasons but have gone out of my way to try, hence why Garrick Snow was bi. None of the cult raised issues with my portrayal which I consider a success.

    I’m still stretching my legs with these things. I’ll get there. It’s in part due to the fact I grew up in a very bigoted place, and I worry about how much I internalised without realising.

  3. Mike says:

    A few of those Super-hero mash ups already exist and are pretty good. Marvel Noir (1920s with a darker/gritty theme) was amazing, Marvel Old West was decent. The last time we had reality tv and supers in marvel it started the Civil War…

    That Capes and Colonists idea gets even more interesting when you start incorporating the lesser villains who were just thieves and stuff.

  4. Dan says:

    I’m super excited to hear that you guys picked up 5th Edition books. It’s super slick! My group and I have a lot of fun playing it, and I think you guys will too. There’s so little math!

  5. Lucek says:

    I played the play test for 5th ed. In that time (to use your analogy) I ran and played in everything from a Waldorf salad to an extra large portion of beef wellington as the center piece of a 7 course meal ending with an entire black forest cake. And a wafer thin mint.

    For note the Waldorf salad involved as the primary antagonists warforged. IE Robots in all but name.

  6. mrm1138 says:

    First of all, I just want to recommend BASH! Ultimate Edition as a wonderful superhero RPG system. It’s fairly rules-light but also surprisingly robust. Pretty much any power you can think of can be made with the standard powers suite in the book. Not only is it easy to learn how to play, it’s pretty much just as easy to learn how to run. Seriously, this is my pick for supers gaming!

    Second, there is also a superhero hack of Apocalypse World called Worlds in Peril. It completed a successful Kickstarter last year and hasn’t yet been released. (I’m not altogether convinced the Apocalypse Engine is suited for supers.)

    I also wanted to compliment you guys on a nuanced discussion of race in fiction. I’ve decided to pretty much keep my mouth shut as I’ve seen a couple friends complain about how making Johnny and Sue adopted siblings is some kind of radical reinvention of the characters or how making Johnny black is nothing more than stunt casting. It’s really disheartening.

  7. Syren says:

    One of the most notable religious games that I’ve played would have to be dogs in the vineyard. The game is D Vincent Baker’s love letter to Mormon religion which he was raised on but no longer follows. It’s about a sort of Mormon like organisation in a pseudo old west Utah. And when you play inside of it you actually choose how real the religious dogma is, from just being stories to sins taking the form of inhabitant demons. That ultimately made it very scary when you chose for it to be as real as possible because you could no longer doubt that the religious beliefs of the characters were just opinion. Every single thing they thought was backed up by a powerful god being, and I measure how I portray any religion to playing dogs in the vineyard as a pseudoMormon. If I have to display true faith then I know much better now what that really looks like. And at lower mythical levels I still have a good idea of how much doubt I can give it to somebody who actually believes in something like it.

     Race on other hand, I have not had a lot of experience with. I honestly have a hard time portraying whatever the hell I am because I’m so racially diverse. Because of this my dives into being whiter than I am, browner, or even black kind of melt together unless an outside influence reminds me that it’s different for other people. And it isn’t that I don’t understand that it is different I just don’t understand how to clearly portray that without being overbearing. But I guess I could do worse then just portraying everyone as people.

    If I were going to put superheroes in a specific setting I would put them just after the fall of some super powered Roman Empire. That period of time was like a pre-modern apocalypse, everything that was orderly in the world was dying or dead, and great opportunity was opening for those willing to risk themselves to take it. Those who established themselves then would be the ones to write history to start empires. It’s the kind of place I’d love to see beings with great power dropped into. Also everyone loves alternate history.

    Mutant sex move, hulk smash.

  8. Angela says:

    Listeners like all of you are why we can keep having these nuanced discussions – because we know you’ll keep going in the comments with your own insightful and thoughtful experiences. 😀

    @Mawdrigen – We will dig up that episode! Yay! More seriously, recognizing the environment you grew up in mean you are already WAY ahead of the curve in thinking about presentation of others in RPGs.

    @Mike – The only supers mashup I’ve actually read was Marvel 1628 (or something like that), which was definitely interesting.

    @Dan – You know the magic words to get me to pick up a game 😉

    @Lucek – Excellent continued analogy. But now I’m hungry.

    @mrm – Hm, AW supers. I’m also not convinced, but I’ll look for more on it once it’s released. Also, super sadface about your friends 🙁

    @Syren – I’ve heard A LOT about Dogs in the Vineyard, but somehow not the religious connection. Interesting! Also, super powered fall of the Roman Empire sounds AWESOME. Also also, very nice on the mutant sex move choice.

  9. Syren says:

    Thanks Angela, also yeah religion is central to Dogs. I was glad to run it with people I trust, because when our mostly gay table had to stare down how the desperate closeted relationship occuring in the town was actually destroying the moral fabric of the place and the two of them transformed into demonically possessed monsters of maligned lust it hit hard. It isn’t the kind of game I could play with just anyone, but it certainly gave me some perspective on how I might look to the suitably ignorant.

  10. mrm1138 says:

    @Angela: One thing I will say about Worlds In Peril is that the art is gorgeous. In fact, it’s probably the best artwork I’ve seen for a supers game yet. Here’s a link to the introductory comic for the rule book:

    Like you said, though, I’m not convinced, either. For one thing, the fact that you can only get a success without conditions on a result of 10-12 makes it seem like you wouldn’t succeed as much as you should in a superhero game. Of course, it’s possible the designers factored that into their decisions on what to change when hacking the system, so maybe it’s balanced better for supers than I’m thinking it would be.

    That said, BASH! UE is such a wonderful system that I can’t imagine WIP being any better.

  11. Nymie the Pooh says:

    I enjoyed the conversation. You bring up a lot of good points. Thank you.

    For superheroes, I got some friends from City of Heroes to join me in Icons. It’s a version of Fate written by Steve Kenson, the lead writer for Mutants and Masterminds. We had a couple of players that had never played a pen and paper roleplaying game before and they had a relatively easy time picking it up. Experience scaled up from there to someone that had worked in the industry. Icons had become the system of choice for the group in the months since starting and we are using it for a variety of settings.

  12. Barsha Da Barsha says:

    Virtue represent!

  13. Blightedmarsh says:

    You could have a huge generation ship that people have been living on for thousands of years. The colonists have regressed to a primitive state. They have forgotten about earth, about the fact that the ship is a ship at all. They worship the ships AI “Gaia” as a goddess.

    Between exposure to cosmic radiation, alien technology, inbreeding, genetic meddling and industrial waste many have developed super powers. Gaia dispatches them on dangerous missions to desolate worlds, alien vessels and derelict sections of itself. To A) sort out whatever problem the ship has, B) to act as canaries and find out if the world is inhabitable. C) To dispose of the dangerous superhuman primitives who keep damaging her systems with their incessant battles.

    Gaia is a benevolent goddess; she wouldn’t just abandon you… Would she?

  14. NateD says:

    OH GOD, I never thought about the implications of the “Human Torch”! o.O

  15. NateD says:

    Also: Venture City Stories is a pretty good, rules-lite Fate Core supers game. It’s got a nifty little cyberpunk setting, too (non-approved supers hunted by megacorps, basically), AND it’s pay-what-you-want.

    I’ve got my own homebrewed supervillains game planned out using its rules that I WILL one day run, even if I have to kidnap somebody and force them to play through it…

  16. Warren says:

    (I wrote a long response to the first topic, but then remembered that this is the internet)

    If you are really up for more fantasy (or are going to continue to get your annual booster) you could do worse than Dragon Age.

    At first glance, it appears to have the complexity of something like Pathfinder. But in play, it’s actually fairly simple and cohesive. Rolling 3d6 is also a little more satisfying than a d20, means that results cluster around 10 and 11, and facilitates the stunts system (which is cool).

    If you want to see it in play, the designer ran it on Tabletop near the end of the first season. (Chris Hardwick acts like a bit of an ass, but it does give you an idea of it in play)

  17. Warren says:

    Mutant sex move: (a double splash page that just says) BADOOOOM!!!

    Also, on skin colour:
    You know when it comes to racism, people say, ” I don’t care if they’re black, white, purple or green” Woah. Hold on now. Purple or green? You gotta draw the line somewhere! To hell with purple people! Unless they’re suffocating…then help’em. – Mitch Hedberg

  18. Doug says:

    Treacherous topics handled with grace, poise, and good natured fun. Props to Fandible.

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