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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A "WTF Were They Thinking?" Kickstarter - The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn


Timing is everything. The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn has already funded and will probably hit it's share of stretch goals, but in the wake of the protests in Ferguson, do we really need a bikini wearing, afro headed babe named Chocolate Thunder in an OSR adventure?


I'm not one to be hung up on being politically correct, and I understand that the adventure is meant to be over the top, but this makes even me a bit uncomfortable.

As a side note, I am amazed that the creator, Mark Taormino, has backed over 737 Kickstarters. That is literally an insane number.

Strangely enough, this has raised over $750 in less than a day. The Gor RPG Indiegogo hasn't quite hit $500 in 4 days. I guess it's easier to accept racial jokes and stereotypes in an adventure from a relatively unknown creator than it is rape fantasy from one that is fairly well known.


30 comments:

  1. I dunno, I'm pretty much as politically correct as they come and it doesn't strike me as especially egregious, just a silly and tacky bit of mild blaxsploitation, in a subgenre of RPGs that likes being non-PC.

    I don't really see the Ferguson connection. It's not like it's a game about cops shooting black people or whatever.

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    1. PS: Dear god 737 backed. Is it time for someone to start a twelve-step Kickstarters Anonymous?

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    2. it's a sensitive time - and maybe I'm more in tune to that due to my profession.

      besides, blaxsplotation is usually a genre that involves black creators

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    3. LIke Quinto Tarantino?
      Methiinks you are being overly sensitive. Foxy Brown.... oh I mean Chocolate Thunder is an identifiable goofy film cliche not something from the headlines.

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    4. i did say "usually" ;)

      again, it might be because I'm getting this shit drilled into me every day at work right now...

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    5. I dunno, I was initially interested in the product (had just learned about it from someone else's earlier post today) but that aspect turned me off entirely. I mean, yes I'd seen the cover, but that in itself was fine. I think when it comes down to it... Let's say you had a black player in your group and you had to read those NPC lines aloud at the table. Would you feel uncomfortable/like a creep? If the answer is yes, then you weren't being overly sensitive, you were pointing out a fair critique of the product. Because I sure as hell wouldn't use that NPC dialog even at a table that doesn't have a black person playing there. Those are my two cents anyway. (And I'm not saying the product is bad just because of that, but I am certainly not interested in that sort of humor.)

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    6. You apparently have never seen any of the films from the 70s that such dialog is taken from.

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    7. Erik if you see chocolate Thunder in a bikini with and am assault rifle it isn't wrong to react with force unless she's pointing it at one of those jive mind flayers.

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    8. I'm no expert in Blaxpoitation movies but I've seen some of it and know who Pam Grier is. So as stated previously, I'm not saying the book is bad because of it. I just don't want to do the following :p http://www.cracked.com/video_18536_quentin-tarantino-bad-at-talking-to-black-people.html

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    9. Example side-note: I might get the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen from the same author, and I'm someone who boycotted Ender's Game. I am not saying the module's writer is racist, just that I'm not really interesting in reading/using that specific sort of blaxpoitation humor.

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    10. I recently bought Ender's Game on principle, and I don't even care about whatever issue Orson Scott Card was persecuted for (opposing gay marriage?). I just hate PC pogroms.

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    11. He said homosexuality should be illegal and he donates often to a church that persecutes gay people with the agenda to remove their basic freedoms from them. So basically buying books written by Card is like financing discrimination. You do what you want with your money of course, I just wanted to clarify what the deal was.

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  2. Also I just backed it.....at the $30 level....I may have issues....

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    1. Some of us skip having issues, and just sign up for the subscription!

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  3. Plenty of blaxploitation video games, films and interest in this genre. Was a genre that was made for blacks which honkeys hijacked to make money which killed it. Pam Greer one of greatest female action heroes ever. I think this product is a homage..

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  4. Personally, I find this far less offensive then No Salvation for Witches. Yes, it plays on racial stereotypes but it's fully meant to be tongue in cheek and, despite wearing a bikini, Chocolate Thunder can be viewed as a positive depiction of African Americans and women as she clearly has agency and is the hero of the story. No Salvation for Witches, on the other hand, very seriously plays on stereotypes regarding women and religion. The witches in the adventure are clearly shown as unsympathetic villains, despite having a legitimate grievance against the Patriarchy, and must ultimately be punished for daring to stand up for their rights (rites) either by the player characters or by the very goddess to whom they pray for assistance. The lack of success of the Gore RPG shows that rape fantasy is perceived as being unacceptable but the success of No Salvantion for Witches shows that it's still O.K. to put down uppity women and people of other religions.

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  5. I don't know. I grew up in the 70s watching Soul Train all the time. I saw that picture and my first thought was "whoa, Epic-level Afro" then "where the hell is her armor".

    Like it was said above, its a mild bit of Blaxploitation. She is really no worse than a Bond Girl.

    I am expecting it to be as campy as "Hanging Coffins". My REAL issue with this module is I already have "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks".

    Also she is the one with the gun.

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  6. I think the tough sexy black action heroine is a genre stereotype that has been used for 40 years. The parody of it here is no more offensive than it is in Austin Powers or Black Dynamite. If it was a hard drinking Irish cop or the Italian mobster both equally established stereotypes would we care?

    I think the bikini makes it more sexist than racist.

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    1. You mean "sexier," not "more sexist." Which is the entire point.

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  7. You think that outfit and the sterotypes are bad, check out Chainmail Bikini Squad on YouTube:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL43FBC3A2ACB1A998

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  8. This is far less offensive than a young punk bull-rushing a cop and getting shot multiple times in the chest from less than 10 feet away.

    Wonder where that happened.

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    1. I didn't realize all the evidence had been made available to the public, but clearly you must have special access as you're the only person who knows exactly what happened.

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  9. If you are genuinely interested in whether this material is offensive, why not ask black role-players? This is the Internet & they are out there. What you will find is, like white gamers, black gamers (or any ethnicity or sexuality for that matter) are not monolithic in their opinions on what is or isn't offensive. For instance, I asked my wife, who is African American, what she thought about Chocolate Thunder. She thought it was lazy rather than offensive. She suspected the designers wanted to have a strong and positive image of a black female but she thought the fact that Pam Grier circa 1970 was the best image that they could come up with seemed sad. As she put it, "You mean between work and home they don't know anyone?" She did add that a lot of white guys seem to view Grier as a positive & archetypal image of black femininity so she didn't believe the intention behind the character was negative. I also asked her about the recent debate over whether white folks cos-playing as Drow was offensive. She said, “No. They have pointed ears & stark white hair … they are obviously elves not humans. It isn't the same as Al Jolson performing in black-face. “ (As far as the Drow are concerned, she actually had more of an issue with the fact that the only matriarchy in Greyhawk was Chaotic Evil). Dace over at the Black Role-Players Organization blog would disagree with her regarding the cos-play. This brings me back to my point. If you are interested in the opinions of black role-players, then ask them but be prepared for differences of opinion just like you would from any other gamers. If you ask my wife, Dace, Louis Porter & Connie Parts about whether something is offensive to African Americans, then you could very well be looking at four different points of view.

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  10. I guess I will chime in. Since I purchased Solid, the blaxsplotation D20 Modern RPG from Hyrum Savage I don't have a problem with anyone doing a "homage" to that genre. Is it a racist genre? Of course it is! It it racist to the black in it (No all of us are pimps) and to the white / European actors (Not all all people with white skin are working for the MAN). But that is the joke. Just check out Undercover Brother if you want a tongue and cheek look of blaxsplotation.

    Some time I wish people would STOP looking for racism behind every rock in gaming. The most reasonable and NON racist people I have meet where in gaming.

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    1. I remember Solid. It seemed like it could be a fun game with the right group. However, at the time that it came out, it was difficult to get gamers in my neck of the woods to get into the spirit of anything other than standard vanilla D&D. I suspect I'd see the same problems with concept & genre convention buy-in that I saw when one of my game masters ran Little Fears when we couldn't get a full group for our regular game. Two of us got into playing kids and had a blast but the rest of the players ran their characters like they were still playing D&D and were bored because of it. It can be difficult getting players for niche games in what is already a niche hobby.

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  11. I guess Beyonce in Austin Powers should be edited out for your sensitivities.

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  12. " in the wake of the protests in Ferguson, do we really need a bikini wearing, afro headed babe named Chocolate Thunder in an OSR adventure?"

    Either that's a non-sequitur, or you have a terribly dim view of African-Americans, or this is some weird Politically Correct thing I can't quite get my head around.

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    1. "it might be because I'm getting this shit drilled into me every day at work right now..."

      Oh ok,then I forgive you. Brainwashing sucks. I guess your bosses are keen you don't go out and shoot random black people (shooting random white people seems to be ok,I have a friend whose brother perished that way -http://democratherald.com/news/local/corvallis-police-involved-in-fatal-shooting/article_ac18ae7b-3429-5f7f-9ee2-a72d4ab6bd5b.html )
      and I expect they've gone way OTT on the 'sensitivity'.

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  13. It should make one 'uncomfortable'. That is called a right ordered conscience.

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