PDA

View Full Version : Games that Make you Feel Uncomfortable



Tamburlain
06-02-2009, 08:54 AM
I was going to post this in Thoth-Amon's thread on ludicrous games. But, by mistake, I took that thread's title as inviting us to describe a game-system whose very being is somehow absurd. Then, by the time I wrote this, I read the funny stories there and knew I had misunderstood. Anyhoo.

If you're at all interested in games with an absurdist bent or ones which may take you out of your comfort zone, I happen to know of an interesting game that may be your huckleberry. It has the charming title of KILL PUPPIES FOR SATAN (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/13/13588.phtml). It's one of Vincent Baker's first, and is a rules-light rpg which he wrote about 10 years ago apparently as a kind of send up of a certain brand of "edgy romantic anti-heroism" that was/is popular to play (a la WoD).

No, I don't mean Emo. Those kids are alright in my book. And, before I criticize, I should admit that I myself am often a sucker for stylistic affectation. Nevertheless, in my gaming circle, there was a kind of PC we used to refer to as the sensitive predator, and he's (she's) one of the main reasons I generally detest playing Vampire. The sensitive predator is given to lamentations along the lines of... "Alas, I have this burning ravenous hunger to feast on the blood of the innocent, but first let me tell you how unfair it is that no one understands my poetry."

Well, Kill Puppies for Satan is a game that says... okay, you want to take a little jaunt to the dark side?--Where morality is but the revenge of the ugly upon the beautiful, or the weak upon the strong? Fine. But have the guts to play this kind of character as they really would appear and really would be. Which is to say, a creepy loser. Not a rockstar.

Game-wise, here is a description of how this characterization plays out, as paraphrased from RPG.net's review of the game:

The PCs are followers of Satan; or rather, Satan is their dealer and their the addicts: If the PCs cause grief in the world (like killing someone's pet bunny rabbit without reason) they get Evil points. With Evil points, Satan gives them Power. As they use those Power their Evil goes down, thus requiring more Evil acts. As the game progresses, if it is played right, the PCs get more depraved and desperate in the endless addictive cycle of Power for Evil.

But look out; there are various traps for the evil addict PCs. First of all, they don't want to hurt or kill anyone. Why? Because good people go to heaven (nobody wants that) and bad people are best left on earth--just where Satan likes them, out doing evil in the world.

I should also point out that this little game is not only clever, but is also extremely funny. For example, the rules discourage characters from actively converting people to Evil, because that's a job for Demons, and there are apparently mondo union restrictions involved in Demonic possession. It reminds potential GMs that the last thing players want is to "scab" on an unemployed Demon. Another quotation from the rules, headlined as "satan's guidelines" reads, "If you must f*ck with people, better to make them say 'why god why?' than 'god help me.' Real torture can lead people to find their inner strength, where petty meanness makes people lose faith in each other. better to hit their dog with your car and drive away laughing."

Yeah. You may notice from that last quotation that the rule book's text employs no capitol letters. Presumably, it's irreligious even when it comes to writing conventions. Even if I had never played this game, it would've been worth having just for the countless full-on belly laughs it afforded me while reading through the rules and the sample adventure entitled 'Cockroach Souffle'.

If you do decide to give it a whirl, here is my final observation. Despite its cheesy mechanics and veneer of pulp irreligiosity, the game ends up focusing (much like many other of Vincent Baker's games, cf. Dogs in the Vineyard) on the nature of morality, how evil--properly stripped of glamor and sexy radicalism--is more often rooted in a garden-variety devaluation of suffering. Evil is banal, and Hannah Arendt, rest in peace, would have loved this game's ability to accentuate this uncomfortable fact. Unlike Vampire, this game isn't going to inspire you to listen to cool music, wear eyeliner, or get an 'Eye of Horus' tattoo; it may, however, make you want to wash your hands a couple of times. Or look in the mirror. Maybe say to yourself, Thank God or goodness it hurts me to hurt others.

And if a game can do that, it's top notch in my book.

For more about KPfS, catch this interview with Vincent Baker on the most-excellent ppdcast The Independent Insurgency (http://independentinsurgency.com/index.php?post_id=334981).

Moritz
06-02-2009, 03:27 PM
She told me to never tell. But there was this game once where I felt really uncomfortable. I wanted to tell mommy and daddy, but she told me not to. That they would be mad.
She said the name of the game was, "Touch the ding ding."

<see signature>

amardolem
06-02-2009, 04:55 PM
hahahaha......good stuff

Tamburlain
06-02-2009, 05:04 PM
She told me to never tell. But there was this game once where I felt really uncomfortable. I wanted to tell mommy and daddy, but she told me not to. That they would be mad.
She said the name of the game was, "Touch the ding ding."

<see signature>

Ha, was that a board game?

Moritz
06-03-2009, 07:35 AM
Pole game.

mnemenoi
06-03-2009, 07:52 AM
I have found a few games that I had to definitely warn players about before they came over and tried to play in. I will say that I do deal with adult topics and in a mature game, such subject matter can offend certain players.

Vampire, though Wraith was the game that elicited the strongest reactions due to the inherent horror of the subject matter. It was by far the darkest of the old WoD games and could be quite chilling. A Dark Age vampire game I ran by candlelight also seemed to broach some boundaries, with some players not fully expecting a very real middle age setting.

Kult also seemed to cross some ethical boundaries at times and could make players feel uncomfortable. From Enchantment to Fulfilment, the Wraeththu RPG, seemed to stick close to the novel and if someone was unfamiliar with the novel's material then its sexuality could prove slightly disturbing to some who have very 'defined' views of sexuality.

Most of these games were ran with solitary or possibly 2 players, so I could focus upon them solitarily and evoke the horror and bleakness that I believe the writers wanted to convey in the genre. This is not saying that these games could not be played in a much less intense fashion or that a larger group would insulate the players from the strong emotions that one on one play can evoke.

On one last note, all the players were adults and took their characters very seriously, placing a lot of themselves and their own fears into the game. This is not always the case with gaming and truly needs to be decided between the GM and player beforehand. I usually used coffee breaks and player signs as clues to determine if the emotions were too intense. Both player and myself knew that we could easily call the game to a halt should they be too much, we were gaming for fun after all.

If done well horror can be a very fun genre, but its practice and technique needs to be made clear before the game begins and certain rules be put up that are not normally needed for its lighter hearted cousins.

Moritz
06-03-2009, 07:58 AM
On one last note, all the players were adults and took their characters very seriously, placing a lot of themselves and their own fears into the game. This is not always the case with gaming and truly needs to be decided between the GM and player beforehand. I usually used coffee breaks and player signs as clues to determine if the emotions were too intense. Both player and myself knew that we could easily call the game to a halt should they be too much, we were gaming for fun after all.

Mnemenoi,

Did you also have a 'safeword'?

mnemenoi
06-03-2009, 08:00 AM
and wanted to say kudo's on the topic, I think its something that might be very interesting to players and GM's alike. We gamers can occasionally forget that what we do can easily be seen as crossing some very strong boundaries and certain games blur those lines.

Excellent topic indeed
--- Merged from Double Post ---
I never utilized a 'Safe word' per se', though we did discuss its use. I found just reading body language and getting up for coffee or the bathroom was enough without specifically stating the emotion was 'too much'. After that I would talk out of character for a bit, until the player initiated re-starting the game, thus it was entirely up to them.

On a side note, Sam Chupp, the writer for Wraith did a wonderful post describing his thoughts and regrets about the game he often referred to as his "nasty, dark, misshapen dead baby of mine". Here is a link to his post (http://www.shadownessence.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=8035) and thoughts concerning the game he wrote and helped create should anyone be interested.

Tamburlain
06-03-2009, 06:46 PM
and wanted to say kudo's on the topic, I think its something that might be very interesting to players and GM's alike. We gamers can occasionally forget that what we do can easily be seen as crossing some very strong boundaries and certain games blur those lines.

Excellent topic indeed

On a side note, Sam Chupp, the writer for Wraith did a wonderful post describing his thoughts and regrets about the game he often referred to as his "nasty, dark, misshapen dead baby of mine". Here is a link to his post (http://www.shadownessence.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=8035) and thoughts concerning the game he wrote and helped create should anyone be interested.

I'm familiar with Wraith. Off-hand I can't think of why he would have so much regret. I'll definitely check out the link to read his thoughts. Thanks for including it.

As for Kill Puppies for Satan, it's of course designed to make the players feel uncomfortable. The nature of the game makes it impossible to play anything but a repulsive creep. And the GM is encouraged to keep the players on the hook.

korhal23
06-03-2009, 07:26 PM
He regretted that it took on the trappings of a typical WoD game when he didn't believe it should. I wasn't a fan of most of the oWoD stuff anyway though, and I love and applaud the relaunch.

That being said, horror games don't really float my boat outside of "All Flesh Must Be Eaten." Before playing that game, I've never had a character I played kill himself, and it's never happened since.

To set the scene, AFMBE is as it probably sounds, a zombie survival game. Our initial group of 4 fairly close friends was down to just 2, my character and his girlfriend, played by my RL girlfriend at the time. Neither one of the characters was in very good health or spirits anymore, and they were running from and occasionally shooting back at a horde of zombies who just a bit behind them. They were on a college campus, though I don't remember the exact location. Anyway, they were running down a hallway looking for a safe room to hold up in for a minute to catch their breath (they were running out of stamina to be sure... the difficulty to keep running was spiking hard if memory serves). Anyway, my character was a little bit faster than hers, and made it into the room first, and she was still a little bit back (he hadn't noticed she'd fallen a good 10 yards back during the chase... not the most perceptive member of the group.). So he's waiting by the door ready to slam it shut when she gets in, but then she failed to keep up the sprint and the zombies closed in on her hard... so he slammed the door and moved the closest desk in the way before she could reach it. The zombies caught her and tore her apart and all he could do was watch through the little window in the door... so as the last man standing he turned his gun on himself... about 3 hours before the military was supposed to show up to rescue them.

Tamburlain
06-04-2009, 09:46 PM
He regretted that it took on the trappings of a typical WoD game when he didn't believe it should. I wasn't a fan of most of the oWoD stuff anyway though, and I love and applaud the relaunch.

That being said, horror games don't really float my boat outside of "All Flesh Must Be Eaten." Before playing that game, I've never had a character I played kill himself, and it's never happened since.

To set the scene, AFMBE is as it probably sounds, a zombie survival game. Our initial group of 4 fairly close friends was down to just 2, my character and his girlfriend, played by my RL girlfriend at the time. Neither one of the characters was in very good health or spirits anymore, and they were running from and occasionally shooting back at a horde of zombies who just a bit behind them. They were on a college campus, though I don't remember the exact location. Anyway, they were running down a hallway looking for a safe room to hold up in for a minute to catch their breath (they were running out of stamina to be sure... the difficulty to keep running was spiking hard if memory serves). Anyway, my character was a little bit faster than hers, and made it into the room first, and she was still a little bit back (he hadn't noticed she'd fallen a good 10 yards back during the chase... not the most perceptive member of the group.). So he's waiting by the door ready to slam it shut when she gets in, but then she failed to keep up the sprint and the zombies closed in on her hard... so he slammed the door and moved the closest desk in the way before she could reach it. The zombies caught her and tore her apart and all he could do was watch through the little window in the door... so as the last man standing he turned his gun on himself... about 3 hours before the military was supposed to show up to rescue them.

Ha, fun ending! I suppose that's one way to prove that you're not showing favoritism with your sig other in a game. :)

MortonStromgal
06-05-2009, 05:24 PM
Vampire in any edition can be an uncomfortable game. Generally though I don't think its played that way but if you read it as 1e/requiem wrote about it being a decent into the madness, that can be pretty uncomfortable. Unknown Armies also has a bit of the uncomfortable though it also has a taste of the silly much like KPFS. I think its more about the group that can make me get goose bumps more than the game. I had some pretty uncomfortable moments playing Traveller. :cool:

Id also add Kult and possibly SLA to the list.

korhal23
06-05-2009, 06:09 PM
Nope, I make it known to my girlfriends that if they play they don't get special treatment and that I don't want special treatment if they're in charge. The ones who have been gamers before I met them totally understand, the ones who were just learning/wanting to know about my hobby usually are too busy having fun to notice ;)

templeorder
06-05-2009, 06:23 PM
Any game can become uncomfortable given the write circumstances. I'm not a WoD fan because it glamorizes and sensationalizes the more grisly aspects of what i like to see freak people out. Not in all aspects and good story telling can make it right...

I recently ran an adventure that forced the players to murder women, men, and children, commit rape, arson, and steal crops - essentially consigning hundreds of farmers to a death by slow starvation. They had to hunt down 'seditious' groups and publicly string them up in ways that the populace would notice. It really made them very uncomfortable, and as a GM, i felt i may have pushed it too far... however, it was an attempt to show the monstrosities of war. The players afterward told me it was one of the best adventures they had ever been in, but that i should not publish it.

Kobolds Ate My Baby is a great morally ambiguous game.. i mean ultimately, the goal is to steal a baby for King Torg (all hail King Torg!) to eat. Its too funny to really make you uncomfortable, but if you succeed, that's someone's baby dude.... gross....

tesral
06-05-2009, 11:52 PM
Kobolds Ate My Baby is a great morally ambiguous game.. i mean ultimately, the goal is to steal a baby for King Torg (all hail King Torg!) to eat. Its too funny to really make you uncomfortable, but if you succeed, that's someone's baby dude.... gross....

To quote Dave Winfree: "Lead soldiers don't bleed."

I know the guy that did the minis for "Kobolds Ate my Baby".

Frankly I find that the psychological factor of imagination in RPGs makes people far more uncomfortable than all the lead gore of war games. Marching Napolon's Imperial Guard through a German village and burning it to the ground has less impact on the sand table than around the RPG table.

It's about faces. The better the GM presents the faces, the more uncomfortable the players are likely to get if it them doing the damage.

It's a place that every game needs to skirt, if you are not slighly pushing the edge of the comfort zone, you are not doing the job. But it is not a place you should go frequently. The game needs to be fun.

PhishStyx
06-06-2009, 12:18 AM
When played properly, Little Fears by Jason L. Blair should be uncomfortable and very creepy.

Tamburlain
06-06-2009, 10:51 AM
It's about faces. The better the GM presents the faces, the more uncomfortable the players are likely to get if it them doing the damage.

It's a place that every game needs to skirt, if you are not slighly pushing the edge of the comfort zone, you are not doing the job. But it is not a place you should go frequently. The game needs to be fun.

I couldn't agree more.
--- Merged from Double Post ---

When played properly, Little Fears by Jason L. Blair should be uncomfortable and very creepy.

I'd like to try that game. You're the second person who has recommended it to me, so I'm putting it back on my list to-try. At first I was a little hesitant that it might be too much like Grimm, which I like well enough, but not enough to buy and play regularly.

Moritz
06-08-2009, 04:25 PM
And who do you tell? Normally you'd tell an adult that you feel comfortable with.

But in this case, who do you tell, "The DM touched me in the bad place."

tesral
06-08-2009, 09:59 PM
And who do you tell? Normally you'd tell an adult that you feel comfortable with.

But in this case, who do you tell, "The DM touched me in the bad place."

I suggest you call the maker of the game.

Baron_Samedi
06-10-2009, 07:24 PM
I'm surprised no one has brought up the Book of Erotic Fantasy...i'll leave it at that...

korhal23
06-10-2009, 07:40 PM
Ew, Book of Erotic Fantasy... Sadly that book alone poisons many people's minds about RPGs and it wasn't even official.

Or hey, what about FATAL? Now there's a product that should never ever ever have existed. A 900 page book that is centered around rape and excessively gruesome violence... A thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters would deem this beneath them.

Tamburlain
06-10-2009, 08:28 PM
I'm surprised no one has brought up the Book of Erotic Fantasy...i'll leave it at that...

Wow, I've never heard of it that one. :/

Baron_Samedi
06-11-2009, 11:47 PM
It almost seemed like a LARP book for swinger parties...my initial shock was flipping through the book at the game store where i worked and saw full frontal he/she cleric action...i'm not against that lifestyle, but there you go...

templeorder
06-16-2009, 10:03 PM
I'm surprised no one has brought up the Book of Erotic Fantasy...i'll leave it at that...

Dang, i had managed to forget that thing. How ridiculous... but then again, my wife stares at Gothic Lolita magazines all day. Each to their own.. but yea, wow, that was an interesting supplement.