Monday, August 19, 2013

Gotcha

One thing I did not talk about last week with the whole Nibovian Wife nonsense was how truly stupid the monster is. Basically, the monster (the DM) tricks the player into sex, then gives birth to a creature that hunts down the player forever. The contention of the linked thread was that this was sexist. Technically it is. It bears great similarity to many historical depictions of a woman-gendered character using her natural femininity to bring down or destroy an 'innocent' male counterpart. There's quite a lot of contention about the innocence/guilt of the male in the equation who sleeps with a woman, but the central point here is that the man is being fucked over by an alien who recognizes the best way to fuck over a man is by presenting as a woman. That's sexist.

I don't really care if it's wrong or not. In game, many of the things players do is "wrong." Murder is wrong. Theft is wrong. No one cares if players slip out of town without paying their taxes. A great deal of vice is happily overlooked. Sex, however, is always different. Sex is the vice we can't forgive. I think that's very silly and childish. I've always thought people who had a problem with sex, the practice of sex or the participation of others in sex were very silly and childish. Given that we're all here on account of sex, making sex really one of the truly meaningful acts humans can perform - the creation of other humans - there's no real position one can take against sex without somehow also being anti-human. All positions against sex are, by their nature, either discriminatory (we can have it but they can't) or idiosyncratic (do it this way but not that way). Both positions are indicative of a lacking generousity or empathy.

There are two elements of the monster that bother me a great deal more than its ethical status. The first would be, is there any circumstance in a game where this would be a practical monster to inject TWICE in a campaign. The second would be, does the injection of the monster consider the needs and entertainment of the players, or of the DM?

Because, really, I think this is a DM's monster. I think this is one of those bullshit moments where certain DM's get to wring their hands in glee over the downfall of a particular player character, for no other reason other than the DM being a self-satisfying, masturbating prick. The monster does absolutely nothing for character agency, or to provide the players with either opportunity or challenge. What it does is to derail a campaign that might have been moving in a positive, albeit difficult direction, and force it into a tunnel that has to be marched through at the DM's whim for two or three really insipid, pointless, predictable sessions that can only come out one of two ways - neither of those ways being determined by character play, but by the DM's personal whims or concessions and how the dice happen to fall. It's crap. It's filler. It makes a certain type of sick DM happy. For a player it is nothing but a price they have to pay in order to play with such a fucker. I don't doubt many players have walked from many a game when faced with this sort of thing.

There's NO benefit to having this monster turn up twice. Except, of course, for a DM who runs many parties, who gets to try out his little gotcha monster on all of them. One easily imagines the DM cackling at the table, telling how the last party that faced this little DM wank-fest did this or did that, or died or didn't die, and wow wasn't that fun for the DM.

There is a sort of DM that wanders about the community landscape inflicting this sort of creature (or dungeon) on as many hapless parties that they can reach, spreading it around conventions and local gaming groups like a plague, tricking thousands of neophyte players into believing that this is D&D, that it is all about gotcha monsters and gotcha moments, where they see the smiling face of their fucked up little tin pot DM and think to themselves, "One day I hope I get to fuck over a party, just like him!"

Sometimes it seems to me that's the message that gets passed along from DM to player. It isn't that players wish they had agency and don't get it. It's that players NEVER perceive that there is any other game than this you-touched-the-statue-without-checking-for-traps-and-now-you're-dead bullshit. They're weaned on it from little noobs at the mercy of smug fuckers with a DM screen right up through the ranks until they're smug fuckers themselves.

This game is not about abusing players.

I recognize that I'm talking to a lot of DM's now. A survey ages ago now told me I don't have many actual players who read this blog. I think I need to say therefore that when I hear one of you - either here, or on one of the many other blogs of the blogosphere - talk about how D&D needs to be FUN, and how it shouldn't be about responsibility or work, I'm significantly aware that for a lot of the non-regular readers that means, "Stop messing with my sadism."

The gentle readers here, those that know my violent rage is directed a people who deserve it, know exactly what I'm talking about here. They've seen it. They've experienced it. And they take great care not to play like this in their worlds. They don't need me to preach this.

No, this ire is for the others. You know who you are. You puff yourselves up to look all righteous and indignant, but in truth you slaver over monsters like the one above like wicked children who can't wait to push some poor victim off the swing.

The game isn't always going to be a venue for you people. There are more of us than there are of you.

3 comments:

Roger the GS said...

My thought was that the Wife only made sense as a monster to "haunt" an NPC, and for the PCs to investigate. Otherwise it's just another silly monster who hits the PCs in a need which mechanically they don't have, unless they are played by goofy horndogs.

Matt Williams said...

In my experience, using succubi on a party is either incredibly obvious and shallow, as in the beautiful princess you just rescued inexplicably wants to have sex with you, or incredibly mean-spirited, as in that village lass you were smitten with and spent all that time wooing? Totally a succubus the whole time, deal with it.

Either way, not very interesting.

Quincy Jones said...

My game--like 90% of games out there--used to revolve around "gotcha" moments and railroading. It was all I knew, and it killed my enthusiasm for tabletops in less than a year.

Now all's random and all's well. Tables like your Treasure and Hex Generators go a long way in keeping ad hoc crap where it belongs.