[Rollespilshistorie] Horrorrollespil i året 1993

I dag skal vi læse en tekst fra 1993 om rollespil. Teksten er fra følgende værk:

Nete Schmidt: A Taste of Horror. Systime 1993

Værket er en antologi af horror-noveller med alt fra Lovecraft og Poe til Barker og King. Værket er tiltænkt undervisningsinstitutioner, f.eks. gymnasier, og indeholder en kort introduktion til horror-genren, men langt vigtigere er værkets sidste kapitel, som er en beskrivelse af rollespil, som jeg bringer in toto. Efter afsnittet er der nogle korte bemærkninger fra min side.

Bogens rollespilsafsnit er fint historisk dokument, der giver et indtryk af, hvorledes rollespil blev anskuet i begyndelsen af 1990’erne (bogens forord er dateret maj 1993) kort efter Vampire: The Masquerade 2nd edition blev udgivet (se f.eks. Lars Andresens klassiker Isabelle fra 1994). På dette tidspunkt er con-scenarierne i deres mange former knapt begyndt at udvikle sig – intrige-scenariet er fra 1994 – og teksten er en hel lille tidskapsel. God læselyst.

Roleplaying

The term “roleplaying game” was first introduced in the middle of the 1970s when a group of disillusioned wargamers who were tired of playing with whole armies of similar characters, came the idea of just playing a single character. Instead of having to control perhaps 250 members of the royal Danish infantry, they now only had to relate to a single person and would, therefore, gain a more personal “feel” for the game.

Of course there were some sacrifices that had to be mase, as the old and rather straightforward hack-and-destroy rules werem’t suitable for playing a single personality. But these obstacles were quickly overcome and a new era in the field of “realistic” pretend-gaming had begun.

Simply put, roleplaying games are more advanced versions of the games we used to play as kids. “Cops’n’robbers”, “Cowboys and Indians” were both games that involved a minimum of realism and a great ability on the part of the participants to pretend, but they were still loads of fun, and who cannot remember playing these games on a hot summer afternoon?

The roleplaying games of today, be it horror roleplaying in the Lovecraftian 1920’s USA (call [sic] of Cthulhu) or the Gothic 1990’s (Vampire), fantasy make-blelieve in the wolrd of J.R.R. Tolkien (Middle Earth Roleplaying) or a futuristic game of survival in da dark future (Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0), all stress the limitations of the player’s imagination, while trying to bring forth an atmosphere of reality. Who can honsetly say that he never wanted to try his hand at killing the dragon so that the princess would be his, or neber dreamed about being able to access huge computer mainframes with a single thought? Not many, I’m sure, and with the help of roleplaying games these simple childhood fantasies can come to life.

In roleplaying games there are two kinds of players – the Master (Keep, Storyteller, Dungeon Master, etc.) works as the person behind the screens. He is the one who guides the other players that play the part of individual persons within his world, who informs them of what is happening around them, the consequences of the actions they take, and who plays the part of any other people they might meet. The Master is proably the most important person in the games as he’s the one who has to be cool and keep everything together when the players suddenly decide to do something that he didn’t expect. But he is also the one who benefits most from the roleplaying sessions – since he is the one who gets the thrill of seeing how the players slowly unravel the mystery he has spent ours preparing for them.

In roleplaying games you can do anything you want, as long as it is within the boundaries of the game. You can live out your hidden fantasies to the fullest, and be able to experience the things you only see in movies. Even though the events only occur in your imagination, you will still be able to feel anger when the dragon suddenly turns and breathes deadly fire at your compatriot, Alharoudi Irios of the Five Mountains, or feel fear when an undefineable slime-thing from outer space sudddenly decides that you’re going to be its next gourmet dish. The stories that you play will capture your imagination far more readily than any play or movie, because you are able to play the leading role rather than being the passive bystander.

And when you think about it, aren’t our “real” lives pretty much based on make-believe and pretending as well?

Horror Roleplaying

“Traditional” horror roleplaying, and in particular the RP-game based upon the works and literature of H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu” (CoC), is quite different from roleplaying in general, both in regard to atmosphere and to how the characters are played.

In a traditional fantasy game we usually find villains who are easily identifiable, simply because of their wickedness, (the players are, generally speaking, always the good guys in the fantasy game), and who conduct themselves in specific ways. However in a horror hame villains are not that easy to categorize. They usually hide their true identities behind masks of benevolence, and not above pretending to help the players in their current investigation – for a while , that is.

The atmosphere in a horror game is not one of jolly comraderie or mindless fun seeking. It is rather one of the half-hidden bestial perversions, dark lusts and forbidden pleasures where nothing is what it seems. The old man who begs in front of the coffee shop might in fact be a spy, perhaps a member of some secret Egyptian cult who was placed there to record the actions of the players [sic – folks evne på skrift til at skelne mellem spillerne og deres karakterer]. And who knows if the cult has not already infiltrated the ranks of the players themselves? The whole game is one slow trot down the path to insanity as the players slowly unravel the depravities of the society they thought they knew. They might discover the existence of evil cults, or even worse, they might later witness one of the secret ceremonies of such a cult. No human mind can withstand meddling with such mindbending horrors, and as the players are perfectly normal human beings in these “normal” horror roleplaying games, they eventually succumb to the growing insanity and perish.

But the prime difference between horror games are investigative games, in which intellectual skills can be paramount: the ability to read Latin or to use a library is often worth contrast to e.g. bering a good shot. And that is a major contrast to e.g. more traditional Dungeons & Dragons games where superhuman characters cannot be killed even if someone is standing on top of them and slashing them with his sword.

Horror roleplaying is more realistic, more tense, as it constantly remins the players of their own mortality. If somebody stabs you with his sacrificial dagger, there is a chance of you dying. And you cannot do anything aobut it, which may seem frustrating.

But horror gaming is also much more rewarding. Because when you have finally killed the evil leader of the crazed cultists and made sure the ritual to summon the evil god has been disrupted and the all the sacrificial prisoners have been released, the players can look at themselves and say with prode in their voices: “We won! We saved thw world!”. And the Storyteller won’t tell them until much later how wrong they really were …

The Game of Vampire

The Vampire roleplaying game is very different from traditional horror roleplaying. It gives the players the chance to experience the terror from the other side of the mirror. The horror of the the Vampire game is the legacy of being half a beast, trapped in a Gothic world of darkness and half hidden sins, where morality is chosen rather than being compulsory [det lyder som en kritik af D&Ds alignment-system]. The horror of Vampire is the evil inside of the man, and the all-consuming lust for warm blood the players feel as Vampires. Because in the world of Vampire the players cannot live their lives as normal humans do, they are creatures of the night, and constantly having to restrain themselves so as not to lose even more control of the beast inside.

But perhaps the greatest danger in playing Vampire, is that it gives the players a chance to look into their own selves, and see the madness (the beast) that resides therein. And if one cannot even bear to see the evil in his own heart, how can he ever expect to combat it.

If you want more information about roleplaying you may contact:

FASTA

Vestergade 49B, 1. sal

8000 Århus C

TLF 86 18 59 38

(Schmidt, Nete: A Taste of Horror, Systime 1993, p.148-151)

Bemærkninger

  • Beskrivelsen af overgangen fra krigsspil til rollespil er fascinerende, som den er fantasifuld, da den dels antager, at krigsspillerne er disillusionerede, og dels antager et ønske om at indleve sig i krigsspillet, som blandt andet kommer til udtryk ved at karakterisere tropperne som “karakterer”.
  • Eksemplet med ypperstepræstens ceremonidaggert lyder plausibelt, indtil man kigger på reglerne og ser, at daggerten i bedste fald giver 1d6 i skade, og en investigator har hit points lig (SIZ+CON)/2 lig (5d6+6)2, hvilket i snit er 11,5 hit points. En daggert skal ramme 2-4 gange før den er dødbringende Ikke meget mere realistisk end D&Ds mange sværdhug, men forfatteren har allerede besluttet sig for, at horror er bedre end fantasy, og at Vampire er bedre end Call of Cthulhu.
  • Eksemplet med scenariet er interessant, fordi det ikke er til at afgøre, om det er et Call of Cthulhu-scenarie eller et D&D-scenarie eller et Warhammer RPG-scenarie etc. Det er et generisk plot (stop den onde kult fra at ofre uskyldige ofre i et forsøg på at bringe verdens undergang), og forfatteren underforstår, at genrerne har hver deres type plot. Heri tager hun fejl.
  • Af en eller anden grund er forfatteren konsekvent i ikke at navngive Vampire: The Masquerade korrekt, i stedet kalder hun det for “Vampire”.
  • Beskrivelsen af “Vampire” er kuriøs. Dels dækker beskrivelsen over en ideel måde at spille Vampire på – men som de færreste spillede Vampire: The Masquerade på efter første spilgang – og dels involverer beskrivelsen noget med at reflektere over spillerens eget indre, som snarere synes at reflektere en bestemt tolkning eller måde at spille Vampire på, måske hos foreningen FASTA.
  •  Beskrivelsen af, hvorledes spillerne konfronteres med deres eget indre ved at spille “Vampire”, og hvorledes det er farligt er for mig en oplagt E&E-scenarie-ide.

Om Morten Greis

Historiker, etnolog, brygger, fægter, rollespiller, science fiction entusiast History and Ethnology, brewer and fencer, roleplayer and science fiction enthusiast
Dette indlæg blev udgivet i absindth, Call of Cthulhu, D&D, Genrer, historie, horror, Investigation, OldSkool, Rollespil, Rollespilshistorie. Bogmærk permalinket.

2 svar til [Rollespilshistorie] Horrorrollespil i året 1993

  1. Jeg synes faktisk, at forfatterens gengivelse af rollespil generelt, og de forskellige genrer af rollespil, er ganske hæderlige og i nær målestok til hvordan de spilles i praksis og forståelsen af genrens formål. Vi (rollespillere) bør altid have en behersket forventning til, når personer udenfor vores interesse forsøger at gengive hvad rollespil er, da det er et relativt begreb og kan være svær at beramme.

    Dine kommentarer, Morten, er spot on. Altid rart med lidt smagsdommeri for feinschmeckere.

  2. Morten Greis siger:

    Jeg er lidt ambivalent ved forfatterens tekst, for jeg kan se, hvorledes hun – som mere eller mindre udenforstående – gengiver et klart billede af rollespil, som for andre rollespillere er genkendeligt, men der forekommer mig at være implicitte elementer blandt andet i holdningstilkendegivelserne (D&D/fantasy –> Horror/CoC —> Horror/Vampire), som ikke er spor gavnlige for udenforstående. Til gengæld er hendes gengivelse ret god.

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