Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Bodkin and the Quietus

So a couple days ago, two things happened. First, I posted this thing to LotFP social media where a fan talks about being introduced to the game  in a session where he encounters Penelope Foxlowe:

Later that same day in the LotFP Facebook group, a pic of this passage from the game Quietus was posted (mutual plugs!), and... spirited, shall we say... commentary ensued.

... yeah.

(I did have the idea of taking out a Facebook ad, naming all the authors credited in that game as specifically recommending LotFP, but rather than making it personal I just did this post.)

To me, if you're advertising your game as "emulates tragic horror movies like Oculus, The Strangers, The Babadook, Inside and the Netflix version of The Haunting of Hill House. If a piece of fiction can make you cry and scream, then it’s a great model for the sort of stories that you can tell with Quietus," and then talking at length about safety tools, it seems that you're deliberately watering down the experience you're advertising the game to provide. Why would you want that?

I mean, you're going to do things your way at your table  AND YOU SHOULD  but to me as the head cat herder around here, everything is always possible as default and it's your job to edit things for your table, not my job to edit things based on what I think you think is suitable at your table. As publisher, I trust that if somebody buys a product promising them hell, they actually want hell.

I want you to have the most intense experience possible, and stories of groups noping right out of adventures like Death Frost Doom and Death Love Doom, freaking people out so much they refuse to have their make-believe people go into make-believe places to face make-believe dangers...

This isn't an "SJW snowflake" issue (I work with people who describe themselves as Trump supporters, Marxists, and everything in between, I don't care what people believe beyond the project in question, weirdness and horror aren't limited to any particular political persuasion, and any political system or ideology that limits artistic and creative expression is invalid and should be shot into the fucking sun), this is a "Are you trying to deliver a horrifying experience or not?" issue.

Here are some images from movies released 1985-6*. A very specific period in time when I was 10-11 years old, seeing this sort of thing WITH MY PARENTS. (ok, Reanimator I didn't see until later but it fits right in time- and themewise and the image is too good not to include)

(Facebook auto-deleted the Return of the Living Dead shot when I posted this there. oh no, a woman's body is visible, so they censor that, and leave the other pictures which are so so so much worse. The inevitable result of do-gooder censorship, demonstrated right there.)

To me, this sort of thing represents awkwardness, embarrassment, everything going completely off the rails and having no idea what is even happening. That memory of my father slumping in his seat facepalming while Linnea Quigley danced naked in the graveyard, in the movie he brought his 10 and 6 year old sons to see, I want that feeling stamping on all human faces forever, that's what the world should be like. I didn't see much of my father growing up, and this is actually my most vivid and treasured memory of him. Both the gift he gave in letting me see that wonderful movie when both it and I were new and fresh, his reaction to it, and oh yeah me scaring the shit out of my brother for months afterward by bringing it up because he was terrified by it. yup, LotFP is DADDY ISSUES.

(I don't even remember awkwardness with my mother seeing Leatherface miming chainsaw fucking that woman, but around this time she decided to show me Flesh for Frankenstein  which I definitely remember feeling awkward watching  so I don't think she gave the first shit about things like that. Yet she wouldn't let me watch The Day After. yup, LotFP is the result of being raised to enjoy entertainment as such and avoid propaganda. :P :P :P :P)

Other people will receive this imagery differently, and it's way way out on the no-no list as a standard in this industry.

There's always going to be an unbridgeable divide between those who want (at least the potential of) their minds blown apart by batshit insanity in their entertainment, and those who want some assurance of limits.

I want you to wonder if that ache in your belly is actually the first detectable sign of the tumor that will kill you, not because it's distressing, but because sooner or later you'll be right and that's just life, so why not have some fun with it. Name your tumor Belial because Frank Henenlotter rules.

You don't like that?


To me all that disagreement isn't worth any more than preferring baseball instead of football.

Now this attitude does relate to the new books.

Kelvin's Strict Time Records Must Be Kept, it's clean as a whistle without any of this nasty stuff, but to me that Doctor character is so cringe over the top camp insanity that it falls right into this same category, despite/especially because it's in a game line with a reputation for edgelord negadungeons. 

Alex's Earth Incubation Crisis seemed to be more sane (the cross-genre mecha stuff to me falls under more straightforward gaming activity) until he started the art. That one piece he asked me if it was OK to do, and me, the person who greenlit Wight Power, what was I going to do, say no? So now we have in print and distributed worldwide an illustration of 14 year old girls fiddling with a corpse.

"14 year olds can't consent. Corpses can't consent. So if a 14 year old fiddles with a corpse... who is the victim?"

LotFP asks the tough questions society is afraid to face.

(The answer is of course YOU the READER.)

The real world is filled with so many limits and considerations and responsibilities and concerns and many of them are even valid, necessary, and good.

Let us at the very least be "free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy" in our imaginations.

To sum up, if you use safety tools, that's your business, it's certainly not going to be ours. The official LotFP line is that negative emotions in the proper context are exhilarating, and whatever emotions you feel during a game of LotFP, positive or negative, we hope you feel them to the fullest possible extent.

So if you want some game-level authority to hold your hand and make sure your intense gaming never gets too intense, by all means go check out the producers of not-too-intense gaming. Make them millionaires. Tell them I sent you.

But if you want something that offers a sharp, nasty experience and then will actually stab you right in your fucking heart, then Lamentations of the Flame Princess is your dagger, baby. Welcome home.

oh, yeah, I haven't posted in this space that Kelvin and Alex's new books are available, have I? Well they are, at the LotFP EU Webstore. We also have a new Weird Crusher installment which will be included in all orders from the EU webstore while supplies last.

* I did think about including male-focused imagery in the movie stills above, but that's a bit tough to come by, isn't it?

I mean, right there in TCM 2, a guy's crotch gets ruined by a chainsaw, but it's played for laughs. Robocop has a guy get shot right in the ding ding, and it's no big deal, he deserved it. Dan Akroyd gets a ghost blowjob but does anyone actually react like he's being sexually assaulted? The guy getting fucked by a bull in Top Secret! is similarly played entirely for laughs.

The thing that almost fits is Ned Beatty in Deliverance, but even that's not right, it's not fantastical at all, it wouldn't fit for the same reason why Jodie Foster on the pinball machine from The Accused doesn't fit in with the pictures or vibe I'm talking about here. I suspect a lot of people would think this to be a distinction without a difference, but I will create according to my perspective, you will create according to yours, and we don't get to dictate to each other.

We did do She Bleeds, which would fit a female-perspective ickiness-to-males bit, and even though that sort of thing isn't pitched to me very much at all, it's not like we won't do it when it is.