Stop trying to prove Jack Chick right you weirdos

Don’t take this too personally, but I’m convinced 95% of people shouldn’t bother voicing their opinions when dealing with people who argue in bad faith, because even when they are right they’ll bungle the point, and that’s worse than just keeping silent. Look at this nonsense from the dark corners of gaming social media:

Evil Hat Productions has been on a roll lately (just look at their ratios!) but even when they are clearly and obtuselly wrong, people still manage to bungle what should be a simple counterargument.

No, the point is not whether any sanity system ir required or not (it may or may not be) or whether this is insulting or respectfull to crazy people people with mental health issues. The big issue is this:

“We don’t require anyone to play or perform mental illness.”

Ahh… thanks?

The answer to that should be: “But why would I have to perform a mental illness… or anything else for that matter? And what are those other games that force me to perform mental illness?”

This is clearly an important issue for them; it’s not just about removing certain rules. Otherwise, they would have said: “Your characters do not lose sanity in this game, although they may be Corrupted, so there’s no need for rules simulating the former.” They clearly need to justify said removal in terms of respecting the mentally ill and being shielded from having to perform a mental illness, something that seems to be the normal way of playing for them. Which leads me to the question: What sort of games have you guys been playing?

I think some of you may be confused about what RPGs are. I know it says “roleplay” in there (probably not the best choice of a word, but now we are stuck with it) but it’s not really acting or performance. Nobody requires you to perform anything. If you are in a group where people or the DM forces you to act or perform, just run away and don’t look back.

You may be a bit confused, so here’s the general play pattern pretty much all RPGs follow, or should follow,:

  1. The GM succintly describes or explains a scene.
  2. If no urgent decisions are required, players can —and should be encouraged to do so— ask questions to fill out the GM’s description (this second point is essential in oldschool gaming, but a bit forgotten nowadays.)
  3. Players tell what their characters do.
  4. The GM decides whether that action can or cannot be done, whether the actions are succesful or not and what happens next, and whether rolling dice is required.

Notice that nowhere in there is something like, “Tell the GM how you feel,” “Perform your character’s emotional state,” or “Suffer a PTSD-induced meltdown for performing a mental illness.”

The classic question in RPGs is “What do you do?” not “How do you feel? Would you please perform that feeling?” It doesn’t matter the situation, whether it’s a stroll down the park, being tortured by orcs, fighting a mummy, being devoured by a swarm of ants (RIP character)… the question is always “What do you do?”

You do not have to perform anything so the entire point of removing “insanity rolls” for fear of being disrespectfull to the mentally ill or triggering someone is… nonsense. It’s like removing dying or even Hit Points out of fear of being disrespectful to those who have suffered real-world accidents and injuries. No, you don’t have to perform losing hps or dying either, although if your game has some Critical Injuries system, that may affect what your character can do and how, but that’s it.

That thing with Evil Hat Productions is not an isolated case. Look:

Again, note the similar wording: “Why, why should I be forced to act like I’m off my meds?”

Obviously this is not a question about game rules or what Sanity Loss implies in that game context. There’s clearly some distress in that question. This implies someone (the GM) was “forcing” the player (and it seems clear the ‘I’ refers to the player, not the character) to act like he was off his meds, so the correct question should have been “Why, why are YOU forcing me to act like I’m off my meds?” Honestly, with what kind of weirdos are you guys playing? Why are you trying to prove Jack Chick right?

The answer to that questions is: No, you, the player, are not forced to act like —that is, perform or emote— like you are off your meds. Sanity Loss is a character’s (that list of numbers you have on that paper) trait, and it has roleplaying consequences (your character may eventually be lost,) but most of these are mechanical or play-related consequences. And nobody is, or should be, forcing you to act like a gibbering idiot, although if you are a good/entertaining actor be my guest and act.

This is not so difficult to understand: roleplaying is not method acting. You say what your character does, and if your character is mentally crippled for some reason, you may be forced to say what your character has to do (or passively watch as your character acts like a madman,) or limited in what he/she can do (“e.g. sorry but you can’t bravely go into the dark cave, your character is claustrophobic”,) but that’s it, you don’t have to perform anything.

5 thoughts on “Stop trying to prove Jack Chick right you weirdos

  1. defling

    The whole point of FATE was to provide to support non-combat systems and thus avoid the need to be a method actor. “I use diplomacy to construct a historical counteragument,” says the player. “You wanna roleplay that?” says the pervy GM, “There’s a Fate Point in it for you…” “Nah, keep your filthy Fate point. I’m rolling the dice.” The whole point of mapping out social encounters wasn’t to get ghey with the Forsoothing and Forwithing.

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  2. Pingback: Sensor Sweep: Harley Quinn, Luna, David Gemmell, Frankenstein Jr. – Herman Watts

  3. Blume

    Might be a generation thing. I am 35 and don’t remember those jack chick anti d and d things. I have only vaguely heard of them in legend and lore. Also the dumb White Wolf story games were a heavier influence on my generation then old school d and d.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course, that’s also how I know of him (I’m even younger than you are.) It’s part of D&D ancient story, of that moral panic about teenagers killing themselves, satanic panic, etc. In terms of sales numbers, probably the best thing that happened to D&D (although it forced them to tone down the games a bit I guess.) Now, Jack Chick is more a meme than anything else.

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