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14 January 2010 @ 12:22 pm
Feed Your Head: Hard Boiled, Egg  
eggshellhammer and I just had an online conversation about gaming and pop culture that might be worth sharing, at least for my own future reference. It started out being about gaming and pop culture, anyway ... .

I've been in this noir DnD game, for... I dunno. Maybe 20, 24 sessions now.

And it's getting hard.

Not that it isn't fun -- but it's hard to endure it.

Because the world I exist in when I go there is such an agonizing moral vacuum. and even though my character has such great power to kill and to endure suffering, I can't make things better.

I don't have anything I can punch that will make a better day rise.

Because in noir, there are no good decisions.

And my only power is violence.

I'm constantly trapped in cycles of violence, and I can't escape them. I can't resolve them.

Your Obedient Serpent:
Sounds frustrating.

The secret in noir is to play the Hard Boiled Detective: do the best you can, help who you can, and maintain your own integrity in the face of a hopelessly corrupt world, because, if there's any moral dimension to that existence at all, it's what you bring to it.

Your quest is noble because it's futile.

The difference between Philip Marlowe and Don Quixote is that Marlowe knows that he's not going to win in the long run, and that even his little victories are often Pyhrric. But he keeps pushing on, because there's an important difference between "Not Winning" and Giving Up.

When you give up, you've lost.

If you keep pushing, and fighting, and striving, then even if you haven't won -- you haven't lost.

If you were playing in a Gothic-Punk game like the old World of Darkness, that would be part of it. Part of playing that game is embracing the Emo. Noir isn't too far off from that. You're a Tragic Hero, and you know it -- and that's what gives you strength. You're standing in front of the tank in Tiannamon Square, and flipping it off.

The Hard Boiled Detective doesn't back down, doesn't compromise, and if he gets the shit kicked out of him or gets killed, he does so knowing that he did it on his terms.

The people who look at an "agonizing moral vacuum" and decide it doesn't matter what they do, that they can kill and torture and do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals?

They've already lost.

The people who curl up in despair because they're not Saving the World? They've lost, too.

...and somewhere along the line, I think I might have stopped talking to Eggshell about his game.

And no, I didn't realize the inherent pun in advising "Eggshell" to play a "hard-boiled" character until I was almost ready to post this. Observing this in the Comments is both redundant and unnecessary.
I feel: determineddetermined
eggshellhammereggshellhammer on January 14th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
Good luck, sturdy dragon!
one in a billionsiege on January 14th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
24 sessions is long enough to reach a good mid-level range, I'd think. Somewhere between 6th and 9th. And that's just enough power to start examining and unravelling the whole web of things. About the time you can travel a continent at high speed, you can begin to weave your own strands to trap the spiders who've been eating your birds, and then eventually cut the strands and watch the whole thing collapse in on itself.

Once the destruction is well and truly underway, then comes the rebuilding effort: plan and prepare so you're ready before the space is clear, then move in to fill the space and prevent a reattachment.

You won't get all the bad stuff. If the local pantheon is against you, you can't knock 'em all down. You'll have to approach epic levels to play out the endgame. And you'll have to build a lot of stuff that you'll have to give up and let fall in order to put something better in place. But it is possible to keep things functional, one way or another, at least until something sufficiently larger decides to take you out.
leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on January 14th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
During this same conversation, I tossed in a comment by quoting the theme song from an old SitCom.

"The Game of life is hard to play, you're going to lose it anyway."
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on January 15th, 2010 07:14 am (UTC)
One of the players in my pseudo-Ravenloft game struggles with the bleak view of the game. The more they learn the worse it seems to get. It doesn't help that when confronted with a social problem - the archpriest of the province they're in has issued a warrant for their arrest and they're currently sieged in a crennalated manor house - one of the OTHER players is seriously considering murdering the family of the knight leading the siege, hehe. Y'know, in the most honorable way possible. :p