Thursday, August 27, 2015

I'm not easily shocked, but... holy hell!

Some of you may remember my commentaries on the #Gamergate: The Card Game mini-controversy. (If not, you can read them here.)

As you read this, the morally upstanding publishers who threatened to yank their products from Onebookshelf sites must have fired off emails to everyone at the firm, even more purple-faced with rage and indignation. Because, surely, a straight-faced roleplaying game sourcebook about an extreme fighting tournament centered on raping the opponent is something they'd far less want to be associated with than a satirical card game?

I am talking about Tournament of Rapists, the latest release from Skortched Urf Studios/Otherverse Games.

... wait? What?!
I first saw hints about this OGL d20 System supplement via vague posts in my Facebook feed about an hugely offensive new release on the Onebookshelf sites. No one was linking to it, so I went looking at DriveThruFiction (since that was the only site that links were being provided to. But I couldn't find any new releases out of the ordinary--some things that *I* wouldn't have published and that *I* wouldn't have bought were there, but nothing worse than dozens of other similarly themed "adult" products that are released on a monthly basis.

And then a post by Erik Tenkar (of the "Tenkar's Tavern" blog) came into my Facebook feed. It was about the product Whose Name People Dared Not Mention: Tournament of Rapists.

Holy hell. My first reaction to the sparse sales text was, "Well... it's a shocking title, but I guess it's a good subject for an adventure that revolves around crushing, killing, and otherwise bringing to justice the evil monsters involved with such a fighting ring."

Then, once the "wait... WHAT?!" reaction subsided, I looked at the sales blurb again. Tournament of Rapists is not an adventure. It's a source book. And it doesn't appear to be source book about a monstrous group that exists expressly to be destroyed, but one on an activity that player characters can be part of, in an affirmative sense.

We thought we were risque
Holy hell. When we here at NUELOW threw "adult feats" on this blog as a gag, we giggled like the immature people we are. When Hundal proposed we put them and other content in a little product titled Modern Basics: Feats of an Adult Nature poking fun at people who think sexuality needs to be front and center in RPGs, as well as at publishers who make it a marketing point, I worried that maybe it was too risque and possibly more offensive than funny.

Compared to Tournament of Rapists, our little booklet looks more harmless than a Family Circus or Dilbert cartoon. Even our straight-faced releases that touch on sexual themes in gaming (like Devils in Petticoats and Modern Basics: Feats of Seduction and Subterfuge) are basically PG or PG-13... as opposed to what appears to be a hard R or NC-17 with the Skorched Urf book.

I don't understand the appeal of a game source book themed around sexual violence. I can't imagine conceiving, writing, or publishing such a thing. The most monstrous of villains in my games are the ones who molest and rape victims--they are targets for player characters to arrest or kill.

But will they let her compete?
Now, I am admittedly making at these comments and judgments about Tournament of Rapists from a position of ignorance. For all I know, the book is slanted in a way that makes it impossible for PCs to join in the "fun" of Ultimate Rape Fighting. I have not read the book, nor have I looked at any of the setting material it expands upon--a place called Dark Tokyo. (Someone out there is more than welcome to set me straight if I'm making incorrect assumptions.)

Well... over the next few days, we'll be seeing all sorts of posturing and threats coming from morally outraged publishers. Unless... they really were motivated in their crusade against #GamerGate: The Card Game by far baser impulses than just the desire to play Morality Police?

As far as the apparent target audience for Tournament of Rapists? I am worried they might have taken offense over the things I've published that make fun of their desire to have sex front and center in their games. Please don't rape me.

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