Halloween

Halloween
5% of All Sales go to Support The Tavern

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Indecent Indiegogo - Chronicles of Gor

I remember the Gor series well. I picked the first 12 books or so up from a garage sale in the late 80s at a quarter a book. Made it through the first five or six books before giving up on the series. The sex / rape / slavery depicted was not what I was looking for in my escapism. Well, that and the writing was fairly poor. Yes, i devoured almost all scifi and fantasy I could get my hands on those days, good or bad, but even I had my limits.

So, 25 years after I was introduced to, and decided to pass on Gor, we now have an Indiegogo project to make Gor into an actual RPG. Luckily(?) for us, James Desborough is keeping it to it's roots:

Yeah, as I recall it wasn't so much sex / gender issues as it was slavery and rape. Not things I want to fantasize about in my roleplaying.

No mention or hint at the actual game system isn't helping sell it to me either. I mean, James says the work is basically complete, so how about some ideas on the system that may be worth strippin away from it's setting.

Oh, and it's "Flexible Funding", the "Fuck You" of crowdsourced funding - even if it doesn't fund, your pledge is still taken. So in reality, there is no goal post to hit.

I am sure all publicity is good publicity - but I'm not including links. If folks are really that interested, they can find it on their own.

Sometimes as a hobby, we are our own worst enemy. I'm sure James is betting his own history of internet battles will be as much a selling point as the setting itself. It will be a shame when I find myself on the side of his detractors for what seems like the first time.

54 comments:

  1. As questionable Gor seems to be, the whole crippling health condition thing doesn't really help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's like he's politely informing us in advance that the project is doomed. I appreciate the honesty, it's refreshing.

      Delete
  2. I'm actually quite a fan of the Gor novels, and think they're a splendid sword-and-planet setting. But yeah, there are quite a few red flags in that pitch.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw a Gor movie. I don't know how close it was to the books, and I can't really recommend the movie either. The look of the production though did have a very well done D&D fantasy world (perhaps Dark Sun) design ethic to it that was very consistent. It might be worth a look at from that standpoint. Just don't watch it with your folks. It was wall-to-wall exposed flesh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were actually two Gor movies. Aside from a couple of names, they had zero to do with the books. Kind of like Conan, but awful.

      Delete
  4. Most of the Goreans I have encountered online are good role-players, especially the women (who are always slave girls), but their interest is sex, which doesn't go well at most tables. (Google some of their chatroom transcripts.) But women are treated awful, and the English tongue is arguably treated worse. The whole scene is kinda creepy, and I'm not sure I want to meet any of them for more than casual conversation in person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's even more odd when you consider that at least half of the people playing male Gorean characters are actually female. Which sort of inverts the usual chat room paradigm...

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  5. I think I paid full price for some if those paperbacks ($0.75) what happened to the damn cent symbol . The first intriguing enough that there is a penciled entry for 'Tarn' by the Giant Eagle in my 1e Monster Manual. But they did descend into creepy and the writing wasn't good enough for me to keep them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, the one good thing from Gor that could have been in D&D: tarns. Dave Arneson's campaign had them as the way of long distance travel, and they're in both the Dalluhn Manuscript and the First Fantasy Campaign. (FFC also has prices for slaves with a clear Gorean flavor, but let's leave those back in the Seventies.) It has more flavor than teleport.

      Delete
  6. "Sometimes as a hobby, we are our own worst enemy." Indeed.

    You missed (or decided not to include) the section where he wrote, "Yes, Gor contains sexual content of a BDSM, D/S nature." That's a euphemism for slavery and rape.

    If this is James' thing, then so be it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. didn't miss it. slavery and rape fantasies are not "a thing".

      sorry, but I've dealt with rape victims in my day job, and describing such as James' thing is nauseating

      Delete
    2. Yes, slavery and rape fantasies are "a thing".

      I know two men well who are into BDSM, and both of them are gentlemen. They wouldn't be cruel or unkind to women in real life.

      I'm into BDSM. I don't have much tolerance for men who act like jerks in real life.

      As a D&D player, you know the difference between fantasy and reality, right?

      I hope that makes the idea of BDSM fantasies less nauseating to you. You may find it unappealing, but people who are into that kind of thing are not rapists.

      Delete
    3. Kibibi makes the points I would. What I'm finding funny is how the kink community seems to be shaming the RPers and the RPers seem to be shaming the kink community.

      Gor seems to exist at a sort of Lagrange Point of intolerance.

      Delete
    4. well, at least now I understand where Venger is coming from:

      Shail:

      If during the time of our rule. what if a practicing mage wishes to partake in ritual sex. however there is by some situation no other magicians around. so he takes a non-member and uses them, against their will, making it rape. Would it be rape? ….

      Darrick Dishaw:

      interesting question. i don’t see a problem with talking about moral and ethical options in a theoretical future…

      ordinary people who survive the Emerald Apocalypse, sleeple or whatever you want to call them, will probably either be hiding, sacrificed, or put into slavery. as far as code of conduct regarding slaves is concerned, it usually goes without saying that a master can have sex with his slaves whenever he wants.

      Curwen:

      I’m sure these kind of fantasies can be fun for lonely guys who are lacking in social skills and never get laid.

      But I’m having a hard time seeing how someone who cant get a sexual partner could organize and rule the world.

      Darrick:

      wow, what a f*cking downer you are, curwen! what would your namesake say?

      the question of what to do in a situation of unwilling or unavailable partners for a sex magic ritual is cogent one. obviously, in this day and age rape is illegal and unacceptable. ….

      http://danharms.wordpress.com/?s=Cult+of+Cthulhu+&submit=Search

      Delete
  7. Moorcock ran a campaign in uk for books not to be on display to minors - just a fantasy is lame - everything about this stinks of jerk - we were working on a worst rpg's games day project and Gor was mentioned but we had policy of rejecting rape games - with all controversy in rpg circles (and greater geek culture) now this idea actually deserves all the heat it can get

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I notice that when I Googled James's description of what he was doing, he didn't mention anything about licensing. John Norman actually cares about this kind of thing, and if he catches wind of this without already being given a cut, it will be shut down fast.

      It seems weird, but if you don't want this published, John Norman might be your friend.

      Delete
  8. James desborough is commenting on this on +kasimir urbanski. The funding page for gor is noticeably uninformative when you compare it to his previous efforts like motsp. He says that he is doing a slow reveal of the various system questions and other concerns which to me is puzzling. Ditto with all the concerns mentioned above especially issues of lateness. As for the sex stuff not my cup of tea but I have to say overtly sexual games always seem to take away from play rather than add to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i dont have issues with the sex - not my cup of tea but whatever.

      Having rape as part of the built in roleplaying game and setting - that is disturbing at the very least.

      Delete
    2. Not to mention the rape of the English language. Peeee-yoooo!

      Delete
    3. The word 'rape' as used in the Gorean novels is more like 'ravish' or to 'have passionate and forceful sex'. It's more about D/S - when it gets into that - than actual rape.

      Delete
  9. "No mention or hint at the actual game system isn't helping sell it to me either. I mean, James says the work is basically complete, so how about some ideas on the system that may be worth strippin away from it's setting."

    It's almost as if the designer is hoping to sell the thing based on titillation and controversy instead of technical merit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't imagine the author of The Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers doing such a thing.

      Delete
    2. Or that, like I said, I'm revealing things bit by bit to help keep momentum going.

      All this speculation and aspersions as to why I'm doing things the way I'm doing them. It's rather insulting especially since I'm really not that hard to get hold of and talk to.

      As to SGTFG: "The Canadian government has apologised for Bryan Adams on several occasions." - I see no need to go over that YET again. Read my previous comments on criticisms towards that.

      Delete
  10. Ugh. This, after the whole "he's a rapist" fake controversy, seems pretty fucking stupid. I played a lot on Second Life a few years ago. Lots of Goreans on there. Creepy fuckers, indeed. The thing I remember from the Gor books was the repeated insistence that the slave girls just LOVED to be raped, because it helped them find their true selves. Even at 12, I knew that just wasn't right. I'm with Tenkar. I would read anything at that point in my life, and often did, but that shit wasn't for me.

    As far as the lack of discussion of mechanics, maybe its a third party supplement for FATAL. Seems like an excellent fit.

    James, if you're reading these comments, what the hell, dude? Just... no. There's a difference between being controversial in one's art and courting controversy to be a dick. Don't be a dick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a genuine fan of the books and have been working on this for 18 months. I am also a (currently non practicing) kinkster, but think there's plenty in the setting for those who wish to all but ignore it and concentrate on other things.

      Consent (safe, sane and consensual) is hugely important in the BDSM scene, even to the point of being codified with safe words. This isn't that dissimilar to the social contracts that we have around the gaming tables where we fade to black or tone things down if people get freaked out.

      Its a different, challenging and FICTIONAL culture that for a very large number of people holds appeal as fantasy. We live in a world where 50 Shades is a bestseller and gamers are this prudish and this unable to tell reality from fantasy? This judgemental of others?

      It genuinely saddens me.

      Delete
    2. Here's the real deal.

      No victim of rape fantasizes about being raped again. Nightmares? Quite likely.

      I spent 4 days being trained as a Sex Crime and Child Abuse investigator and responder. The training itself gave me sleepless nights.

      For rape to be billed as an integral part of the setting and rules is, to put it nicely, disturbing to me. I don't give a flying fuck about folks in the BDSM culture (although including such rules in an RPG would certainly surprise me) and what they do in private, but minimizing and trivializing the horror of rape in a commercial RPG is at it's simplest, poor taste.

      To compare my distaste of the codification of "rape fantasies" in a commercial RPG (it wasn't made by you Grim) to Homophobia just shows me how far some need to reach

      Delete
    3. Anecdotal, but, I had a friend some years ago who very much did exactly that. The context of a rape-play scenario gave her a way to relive the experience but from a position of consent and - ultimately - control. She swore it helped her immeasurably, to be able to deal with that in such a way.

      Films, fiction, roleplaying and sexual play all share a common thread. They are a safe, sane and consensual means to explore and examine the fantastical, the horrifying and the different. I object in the strongest political terms to the expansionist, imperialist ambitions of Mordor towards Gonder, but without them there's no story, no adventure.

      Delete
    4. Tenkar, I don't understand why you think that rape is "billed as an integral part of the setting and rules" or why you think that the game is a "codification of rape fantasies".

      Nowhere on the game's indiegogo page does it mention rape.

      I may be talking from a position of ignorance here, because I've only read the first seven books (out of thirty-something). If I'm wrong someone can correct me, but -

      - in the books I've read sexual relations are never explicitly described. John Norman has never even mentioned women's breasts! Sexual relations between main characters happen "offscreen" and only after they have formed a romantic attachment.

      There are plenty of instances in the books I've read of people (woman, and men too), being taken captive, stripped, caged, collared, chained and whipped - even branded! Some pretty unpleasant things happen to people. It would be correct to describe the books as containing sadistic fantasies. But I personally don't think it is correct to describe them as rape fantasies. I don't get any impression that rape is a particular fetish of John Norman's. Bondage, slavery and corporal punishment, for sure. On sexual matters he is quite coy.

      As for the game, I think the reason that Gor will make a good setting for an RPG is that it provides a lot of opportunity for adventure. I really can't imagine a group of people sitting around a table playing this game, and spending a lot of time describing their characters sex lives. For one thing, it would be awkward and embarrassing! For another, if people want to role-play their Gor-related sexual fantasies, there are much better forums already existing out there (on the internet) for them to do so than a game that involves rolling dice and being awarded experience points for achieving goals.

      I understand that as a police officer, due to your work you must have very negative emotions associated with the idea of violence against women, and that because of that you don't wish to see violence against women portrayed as part of the setting of a game. However, I think that your imagination may have run away with you a little bit, when you have been picturing to yourself what this game will involve and what impact it will have on people.

      Delete
    5. While I'm here I would also like to say thank-you for writing this blog, which is such a great source of information about RPGs. I don't actually play D&D myself (I did once, for a few months) but I find the idea of that mythic fantasy world, and all the weird ideas associated with it, exerts a fascination on me, so I do read D&D blogs and products. And without this post I wouldn't know about THIS product. I'm sure you are wishing you'd just ignored it now :-)

      Delete
    6. Oh, my smiley got cut in half by the blog formatting! Here it is again :-)

      Delete
    7. The sex in the Gor novels was less BDSM and more on the rape side of the equation. As James has stated the sexual aspects of the books are integral to the setting and rules, I have no doubt rape will be depicted.

      Just because James tip toes around the issue on the Indiegogo page (probably because of their own standards) doesn't mean it's not there. Heck, James makes no attempt to dispute the notion.

      Again, I understand what James is doing. He wants to be the shock jock of RPG writers. He certainly has talent to spare.

      As a side note - using the Open D6 system is an interesting choice. Personally, I think the system gets less love than it should, but I'm not so sure this is the love I want it to get ;)

      Delete
    8. I disagree, the entirety of Gorean culture is one big D/S power exchange. You've got your own read, sure, but it's more popular than I would think that would be. I see it more in the context of the 'bodice ripper'.

      I don't want to be a 'shock jock', I'm just interested in difficult and controversial topics - and I genuinely love these books.

      Delete
  11. The source material seems trapped between tawdry and despicable. Mr. Desborough has been maligned but that doesn't make him an angel.

    However, the real intrigue here is in the economics. Is Mr. Desborough paying for a license, as one would normally expect when working with established intellectual property? If so, why the terrible 'Flexible Funding'? Clearly he would have a minimum dollar amount he needs to hit for the project to be viable at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From James Desborough's blog (and linked to from the indiegogo page):

      Do you have permission from John Norman?

      This project is being completed in partnership with Open Road Integrate Media: E-book edition of Gor and all other John Norman titles are available in the United States via Open Road Integrated Media and the United Kingdom via Orion Gateway Editions. Print editions are available in the US via Amazon or in the UK at Amazon UK.

      Short answer: yes, via his agent and publisher. I’ve had no direct contact however, manuscripts have been made available to his agent and publisher.

      Delete
    2. I don't see flexible funding as terrible, I've used it before successfully. it's useful when you're going to do a project ANYWAY, but are seeking an amount to do the best job you possibly can. With ImagiNation I needed to pay for my time away from working, so that was fixed, I couldn't spare the time without the dimes. MotSP was flexible because it was happening anyway, but I wanted to use whatever amount I could get - successful or not - to pay Satine.

      This is going ahead anyway, one way or another, but I need a lot of money to get a sufficient amount of art from our mystery artist.

      Delete
  12. Oh, so when I think, "This is game, and the pitch, is puerile, immoral, pathetic, and illegal," I am wrong -- it is not illegal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, you're just being judgmental and closed minded.

      Delete
    2. Right, because the only way someone can think Gor is stupid, that an IGG for a product that is not written and the owner admits may not be written -- though he'll keep any funding either way -- is immoral, or that a game revolving around a second-rate S&S world that is only remarkable for claiming women want to be raped is pathetic -- the only way one can reach those opinions is by being close minded and judgmental. Hokay.

      Delete
    3. You can think it's stupid all you like, but 'puerile, immoral, pathetic and illegal' go beyond personal taste into into being accusatory.

      The product IS written. It's complete. The crowdfunding is for art, just like it says in the pitch. I prefer flexible funding because it means time - and money - is not wasted and I can put whatever is raised into the project.

      Second rate, yadda yadda, subjective personal judgements from fellow roleplayers, much of whose favourite games are incredibly derivative and the most popular of which is a pastiche of any number of first, second and third tier fantasy worlds - and often worse than the source material.

      It's also pretty clear you're going on second hand information if you think it's about 'women wanting to be raped' or that the only thing the books have going for them - or are remarkable for - is depictions of slavery.

      Anyway, TL;DR - you're being a judgmental. kink-shaming prick and don't have your information straight.

      Delete
    4. You are correct, I misunderstood the status of the project. I saw the caveats about it maybe not ever being completed and assumed the worst; for that I owe you an apology. However I explicitly said your project is not illegal.

      (& How I can express my personal taste in a way does not 'accuse' the thing in question of being of a certain character eludes me; perhaps you can explain the alternative to 'subjective personal judgements' in matters of taste. I'm intrigued. Objective personal judgements?)

      So you don't like my opinion of Norman and his crappy novels. I have in fact read parts of two of them (could not finish, he needs an editor badly). He goes on about women being inherently in need of domination; one character was enslaved and IIRC depicted as eventually enjoying it. That is not BDSM kink, that's misogyny, perhaps rape apologetics. Norman -- at least within the context of the bits I've read -- is not describing two consenting adults. You are deliberately conflating those of us who find who find slavery-&-rape-as-a-centerpiece-of-the-setting distasteful with those who find BDSM distasteful.

      Assuming your version of Gor is depicting consenting adults, I guess then it is only distasteful to me for the reason any game that is focused on sex is distasteful. And pathetic.

      Delete
    5. 'Crappy' is a matter of personal taste, accusations - of which only 'illegal' has been withdrawn - are another.

      Yes, that's kink, no, that's not rape apologia any more than the existence of racial evil in D&D is apologia for white supremicism.

      You disappoint me, but I guess I should be used to being disappointed by small, closed minds - even in fantasy - by now.

      Delete
  13. You guys talk about this as if it is going to sit on the shelf at Barnes and Noble next to Pathfinder.

    It isn't.

    It will likely be online only, when people search for Gor material.

    People can publish what they want, that's what freedom means. There is obviously a market for this sort of thing, look at Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty books for ex.

    This moral crusade "to protect the kids" is bullshit. If you want to protect your kid, take away their iPhone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. never said he can't publish what he wants, but I certainly have the same right to condemn it if I so desire. it cuts both ways.

      in any case, GRIM is getting the attention he wants - trust me, none of this discussion is upsetting him in the least - well, except for the lack of links...

      Delete
    2. Please don't speculate as to my motives or how I feel about things when I'm right here to ask.

      Delete
    3. your own words, so I have no need to speculate:

      As noted above, discussion over representation and sex/gender issues in games are a hot topic. The revelation that a Gorean RPG has been developed is bound to cause ripples, scorn, recriminations and many, many heated blog posts.

      It's all publicity, free publicity and hopefully these people will discover that the treatment in the book is not as terrible as they might have thought.

      Delete
    4. That's resignation that this is going to happen anyway. Not courting it. I've been pleasantly surprised by some of the discussion I've seen on - of all places - RPGNET and unpleasantly unsurprised by some of the reactions elsewhere.

      Delete
    5. Again, you knew the reaction this project would receive in many circles. You were actually counting on it to generate free publicity.

      Resignation or not, none of this surprises you and in fact you were counting on it to raise awareness of your project.

      Delete
    6. Again, I'm right here to be asked, rather than for assumptions to be made. Counting on it? Again, no. Expecting it, resigned to it and trying to take the best possible slant on it.

      Delete
  14. But Gor books are just shittah....we had a drinking game back in the 80s involving reading a random passage from a Gor novel and keeping an straight face, or you had to drink. Man we used to get shit-faced! There was one passage about a quadraped slave that never failed to get a laugh (and a drink), it was kind of the Great Wall of Shitty Gor Literature that no one could climb. I support anyone's right to fund a game based on the absolutely worst literature to come out of mankind since L. Ron Hubbard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey L. Ron trie-- okay I can't say that with a straight face and not laugh..*Drink*

      Delete
    2. Eh, I quite enjoyed Mission Earth and Hubbard's anthologies of new writers had some good stuff in them.

      Delete