Monday, December 27, 2010

C&S Quote

Thanks to one of my readers, Richard Guy, I now have a copy of the Chivalry and Sorcery second edition boxed set to place on my shelf next to Space Opera. It's a game that's elicited mixed feelings in me since time immemorial, but it's also a game that I've long been interested in from afar. I am sure that the game's emphasis on a "realistic" medieval social structure has a lot to do with my ambivalent feelings toward it. This is a topic about which I'm likely to talk more in the coming weeks, as I delve back into the game (alongside Space Opera -- I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment).

Anyway, while skimming the game over the holidays, I came across a section I'd read before and thought to comment upon previously. It pertains to evil religions and their place in a roleplaying game campaign.
One thing should be noted, however. Depraved religions should not be offered up to Player-Characters as their faiths. This introduces a negative factor into the gaming and has profoundly bad psychological effects on some people. Players who get into demon religion in an FRP campaign sometimes go snake, as the saying goes. The GameMaster bears full responsibility and should be alert for signs of strangeness and then do something about it. The best course is to offer a positive experience, not the weird, bizarre and outright sick.
Never having seen the first edition of C&S, I can't say whether that section was included in it. I'd be surprised if it had been, as the 1983 text reads like it was designed to insulate the game from attracting the ire of Patricia Pulling, who began her one-woman crusade against D&D just the year before. If so, it's an intriguing historical snapshot from the days when tabletop RPGs were faddish enough to elicit public notoriety rather than shrugs of indifference.

14 comments:

  1. "Go snake," I've never heard that term before. Has anyone else? Does it mean to turn evil, or tempt others to do so, or to poison the game?

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  2. "Go snake" is (or at least was) military slang for "freak out." Given that then, as now, gaming is very popular in the military, I'm not surprised to see some military slang slip into a few RPG products.

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  3. Yeah, I would have guessed that it was a military term myself. It has that Vietnam kind of ring to it.

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  4. Has more of a Harry Potter ring to it to me...

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  5. What section is that text from? I have the first edition, and I don’t think it even has a section on non-Christian religions. Everyone is expected to be part of “historical” feudalism, and that includes being Christian. (I don’t even see an exception for the non-human races.)

    However, as far as playing depraved characters go, the first edition has you roll up your alignment. Player characters roll a d20; 1 is saintly and 20 is diabolic, “so utterly void of any sense of right and wrong and devoted to hellishness in all its forms that there is no crime, no atrocity, no sacrilege that he will refrain from committing. This malevolent personality is true Evil Incarnate, so fiendishly demoniacal that even the Dark One is ashamed of his excesses at times.”

    I don’t see anything about choosing a religion, even for non-humans. It does have a Demonology section, but that’s for magicians, because “the summoning of Demons is traditional practice for Magicians.”

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  6. You need to get a copy of Harnmaster 1st edition to see how a playable realistic medieval game works.

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  7. Wiktionary tentatively traces "go snake" back to the 1872 "Going Snake Massacre", a little before Vietnam.

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  8. Well, I just looked over the sections on evil priests, black magick, and demonology in the 1st edition and found no such disclaimers so I'm pretty sure the warning is unique to the 2nd edition.

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  9. "The GameMaster bears full responsibility and should be alert for signs of strangeness and then do something about it."

    Ha -- It's like you're a bartender and legally obligated to cut someone off when they're drunk (on diabolical power!)

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  10. Pretty interesting. That's the kind of disclaimer that I'd expect a satirical old school game to include. Are you sure C&S isn't some elaborate hoax by S. John Ross?

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  11. What I find particular amusing with this sort of disclaimer for C&S is that almost everyone I know (and that includes the members of the old C&S mailing list) had a Necromancer as their first actual magician character...

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  12. That's interesting - I recently read a resurrected thread on rpg.net about old RPG arguments in the 70's that brought up the idea that someone who had gotten into real devil worshipping had "Gone snake", and just as in these comments, people hadn't heard the term before.

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  13. I've heard it used for players who go overboard when playing evil PCs, and end up doing things that freak out the rest of the group.

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