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MarkK

Villainy and Consequences in Freedom City (all read please)

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Perhaps you've been reading recent works such as Dark Reign, where the public embraces a known multiple murderer as their idol and protector due to their fickle distaste for superheroes and general ease of being swayed to forget about such things. Or maybe Bomb Queen, where a whole city idolizes a rampaging homicidal lunatic because, well, exciting boobies. Or really almost anything by Garth Ennis, where superheroes are basically dunderheaded, ridiculous victimizers of the world around them who don't actually help people in need in any meaningful way, and only guys like the Punisher/The Boys/Whoever is Garth's mouthpiece today can show humanity the way.

All of these may indeed arguably be interesting comics in and of themselves. They have nothing to do with how Freedom City works in any way whatsoever. At all.

In setting, the people of Freedom like their superheroes, and dislike their supervillains. The Iron Age was a relatively brief period that came to an end. There isn't even any kind of widescale anti meta prejudice ala what seems like the entire world hating mutants in X-men. Think of it like the relationship the people of the DCU have with the Flash, they built the guy a museum. Think of it like the animated DCU, where ultimately Cadmus, the people based on "superheroes are fools, humanity first, humanity dislikes superheroes" were revealed as little more than the duped pawns of Lex Luthor and nearly facilitated his taking over of the world. Freedom City operates ultimately like a sort of Bronze Age/modernized Silver Age hybrid kind of thing. Where people with Civil War Maria Hill/Tony Stark's perspective on things ultimately end up becoming Shadivan Steelgrave, lieutenant of the Omega.

What am I getting at particularly? There are consequences for being, and acting like a villain and part of making a villain character is acknowledging that. A villain that tells themselves they aren't really evil, and that they're the hero in their own mind and that the superheroes are really the bad ones? That's great. That's complex and interesting to play out and deal with. It doesn't however mean that anyone else remotely agrees with them, and depending on how they have acted to this point, might just mean specifically /no one/ agrees with them. That /no one/ sympathizes with you, or your perspective. And that last one particularly about "heroes don't really help anyone and etc. etc. etc."? It's objectively wrong in the world of Freedom. It certainly doesn't mean that you get to narrate that people love you anyway, that you can decide there is a whole current of humanity that grooves on what you do, and that it matters all that much if you feel "chafed and limited" if superheroes don't acknowledge your quality and want to talk to you on the terms you demand, instead of want to throw you in jail at the soonest opportunity they can manage. You are what your actions have made.

Take for example, Captain Knievel, who when asked to describe what he does as a villain, has mentioned he dangles orphans out of windows to try and get superheroes to fight him, hijacks cars and attempts to cause multi car pileups on the highway as he drives against and through packed traffic, that he generally causes random devastation around him. He has supplemented this by describing incidents where he goads massive trucks to crash into each other, resulting in the deaths of one of the drivers. He has supplemented /this/ by describing instances of him wandering around the city and beating people bloody, and tossing their bodies in dumpsters, to the point where he can't tell, and notes that he specifically does not care if they are alive or dead.

It does not then matter as a result if he says "but my character is not evil". These are the things he has done. And it means that the citizens of Freedom will on the whole view him as a dangerous, insane, sociopathic monster. If his anti mutant/meta views become clearer, a bigoted, insane, dangerous sociopathic monster. Superheroes will not respond to his requests for parley and idle chit chat. People will not think he is reasonable or want to listen to anything he says. He will not be greeted by the cheers of an adoring populace. When he appears, people will hope to god superheroes show up to finally arrest him so that he can be brought to trial and a hopeful speedy incarceration.

People don't generally respect the villain, or even the massive bodycount antihero, and there's usually no driving reason for them to do so. It breaks the setting we as admin are trying to maintain the feel of for someone to demand that they do anyway, and to narrate that they do anyway.

You want to play the subtle villain who can engage heroes and people at large in dialogue? That's great, that's cool, that's a classic concept. It means that however if you've done things like the Captain has, or gone on rampages otherwise to field test your weapons, or your robots have caused havoc across the city, or etc. etc. etc. both the superhero community and the average man on the street aint about to buy it. You might have to do something like create a completely new villain id for yourself.

Or: There's a difference between early 60s raving madman Magneto, and 80s-90s tragic Magneto as far as which of these people is actually sympathetic outside of their own delusions. There's a reason they had to completely retcon the vast numbers of people Magneto massacred under Grant Morrisons run for the character to come off as sympathetic again.

Or, say you want to turn the community against superheroes? Again, cool, classic plan. It is however /an uphill struggle, because most people like superheroes and superheroes have demonstrably made the world around them better/. So you have to factor that in. You don't narrate that you're tapping into a sentiment you've already created or that exists outside of you.

We have villain characters with the understanding that when you slot your character under "villain", you're accepting a few things about their place in the world. And that if you have them act a certain way, you don't follow that up by stating what they believe should in fact be objective truth across the setting. And that depending on what your character believes as is, it's not the objective truth anyway, or anywhere even close. I say this because we've had what feels like a rush lately of either particularly, spectacularly dark characters, or characters who in the way they act and what in several cases have become what feels like demands to us on how the setting should treat them, seem to feel they are playing in a completely different setting.

This isn't Image, or Wildstorm. If your conscience hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and every tale condemns you for a villain, then you're a villain. And you will be treated that way. If you don't like that, either make a different type of villain, or don't play a villain.

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this post is in a separate thread, because the original post that i would like to respond to was locked before i could get to it. I make this post because the one i am responding to explicitly mentions me and i feel it is my duty to respond.

First i would like to start by saying that a person is one thing, and the character they may play is another entity entirely. By separating these two entities, I believe that it makes me better able to role-play truly interesting characters. That being said, I submit that i agree with many of MarkK's points. I am inclined to argue them, however, in defense of the character that i am playing, Captain Knievel.

MarkK brings up many interesting points about the format of the FC campaign setting. They focus on FC's viewpoints on and responses to acts of villainy, as well as that he believes the residents of FC might have. I feel that these viewpoints are unfairly generalist. It is the nature of society in general to not be 100% in agreement. With the exception of The Giver i do not know many societies that can even claim to rule over the opinions of all of its people (and in truth even the society in The Giver has problems).

MarkK provides a detailed list of the misdeeds of Captain Knievel. I do not refute any of these things. They happened, and I would be the first to know about it, as I was the one that wrote those posts. MarkK follows this list with the following,

It does not then matter as a result if he says "but my character is not evil". These are the things he has done. And it means that the citizens of Freedom will on the whole view him as a dangerous, insane, sociopathic monster. If his anti mutant/meta views become clearer, a bigoted, insane, dangerous sociopathic monster.

And as per my above reasoning, I must beg to differ. There will always be some faction of any society that agrees with a psychopath, however extreme. Take the ending of the movie Boondock Saints into consideration. Citizens of Boston are depicted arguing back and forth about whether the main characters are doing good or evil. The results are surprising. The Boondock Saints kill many people in that movie. Yet a surprising amount of the republic thinks they are doing the right thing.

MarkK goes on to further state that,

Or, say you want to turn the community against superheroes? Again, cool, classic plan. It is however /an uphill struggle, because most people like superheroes and superheroes have demonstrably made the world around them better/.So you have to factor that in.

I agree that it is an uphill struggle. I agree that the general populace is going to like superheroes better than supervillains deserves consideration. However i disagree with the following:

You don't narrate that you're tapping into a sentiment you've already created or that exists outside of you.

When i make posts in character, they are from the viewpoint of Captain Knievel. He is a character that truly believes he is doing what's best for the world. Therefore it is well within the scope of his viewpoints to believe that he is creating these viewpoints, to believe that these sentiments exist elsewhere, rather than thinking they are all in his head. It does not have to be an actuality. The Captain just has to believe it is so. People fight for what they believe in, and it is that belief that drives them and gives them purpose. From the perspective of The Captain, this belief is right, however twisted it may be.

We have villain characters with the understanding that when you slot your character under "villain", you're accepting a few things about their place in the world.

I do.

And that if you have them act a certain way, you don't follow that up by stating what they believe should in fact be objective truth across the setting.

I disagree: Has Lex Luthor ever said, "I want to rule the world, but I understand that it is the wrong thing to do."

And that depending on what your character believes as is, it's not the objective truth anyway, or anywhere even close.

A belief system does not have to be the objective truth for it to serve as a belief system. If I may refer to the classic argument between Catholic and Hebrew doctrine with regards to whether or not Jesus Christ was the son of god, it is obvious that either viewpoint is not the objective truth, and yet both sides truly believe they are correct about it.

I say this because we've had what feels like a rush lately of either particularly, spectacularly dark characters, or characters who in the way they act and what in several cases have become what feels like demands to us on how the setting should treat them, seem to feel they are playing in a completely different setting.

If you feel that any requests I have made of you out of character are unfair, then I apologize. However you must understand that those requests were on behalf of my character who follows a certain belief system. Under that belief system he believes he is entitled to certain things. Whether or not he is objectively correct does not matter to him, because he believes he is right.

All this being said, MarkK, by your own argument, i would request that you do not attack the in character viewpoints of my characters out of character. Feel free to argue with The Captain himself, I relish the opportunity. But i must request that you avoid doing this out of character, because as you say, not everyone agrees with you.

if you [...] act a certain way, you don't follow that up by stating what [you] believe should in fact be objective truth across the setting.

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And as per my above reasoning, I must beg to differ. There will always be some faction of any society that agrees with a psychopath, however extreme. Take the ending of the movie Boondock Saints into consideration. Citizens of Boston are depicted arguing back and forth about whether the main characters are doing good or evil. The results are surprising. The Boondock Saints kill many people in that movie. Yet a surprising amount of the republic thinks they are doing the right thing.

There's a staggering difference in tone between the world of the Boondock Saints, and Freedom City, and honestly, it's noted right in game rules and character creation the overall setting tone we're trying to maintain here right in the things to read before you make a character. If you want to play in a world like that of an R rated movie, why play in Freedom City? It's not as though we aren't upfront about this place.

There's further a difference in tone between guys who go around killing criminals, and a guy who randomly kills various witless bystanders as far as claiming vast segments of the population would adore your character. The analogy doesn't track here for what you're trying to say.

When i make posts in character, they are from the viewpoint of Captain Knievel.

Again, the big problem has been that no, you haven't been. You don't just post about the Captain going around killing and beating whoever, you then post whole clubs full of people cheering his name and throwing themselves at him. That's not his perspective, that's saying how other people react, and it clashes heavily with the general FC setting.

There are whole things about god modding and the like in shared, administrated rpg settings. Saying that people at large love your character no matter what your character does, amounts to saying "the setting works how I say it works, regardless of what the people running the joint, or the general depicted tone of the setting says." And that's problematic of itself, but moreso is that you particularly apply that for something that would be difficult to buy even in reality. Your character verges on being a spree killer, is wanted by the law, and so forth. Do you really feel that it jives with the setting to narrate from a 3rd person perspective whole crowds of average people cheering him in adulation? Even that aside, do you think it's all that likely in Freedom City?

The point of a shared setting is that, you know, it's a shared setting. It's not for a single character's indulgence. Among our big selling points is "hey look, Freedom City!" it falls apart on characters causing carnage galore, then dictating they are loved for it anyway.

I do.

Again, the problem is that you haven't been. For instance, I wanted to set up with you that thread where your character runs into Lady Liberty off of your request and was talking with you how to do that. When I noted it didn't seem plausible that she would want to agree to meet for a talk with a villain with the kind of MO and track record as the Captain and noted other ways you could make it happen that would still fit, but still give you the encounter, you abruptly cut off talking to me, and tried to find another GM to do it for you while I waited for a reply. Only when that didn't take was when you came back, and even then without particularly acknowledging that, you know, given what your character does, Lady Liberty is really only likely to react to your character in a certain way.

A belief system does not have to be the objective truth for it to serve as a belief system. If I may refer to the classic argument between Catholic and Hebrew doctrine with regards to whether or not Jesus Christ was the son of god, it is obvious that either viewpoint is not the objective truth, and yet both sides truly believe they are correct about it.

We're not talking about religion, we're talking about your narrating your rampantly murderous character as being beloved throughout the city, particularly a "the Iron Age is over, things are overall hopefulish" comic book city. I like to think you know there's a difference between those things.

Whether or not he is objectively correct does not matter to him, because he believes he is right.

Look, I'll restate, the problem is not what your character believes, the problem is you having seemingly decided how the setting should treat your character. and his beliefs. And particularly in a way that doesn't fit at all with that setting.

That you seem to be pulling back on that now, that's great, we appreciate that, thank you. That you were doing this previously is just what you were doing.

Your character can do whatever he wants. How people are narrated as reacting to him doing so is something completely different, and something you need to separate out. If you want to say that given his personal crazy and egomania, Captain Knievel thinks in his head that everyone loves and is cheering him, but meanwhile make clear that something completely different is going on, that's just fine really, go to town with that. The problem has been that it hasn't been such, nor coming off that way.

Regardless, it would be better if from this point you just modified your character's posts appropriately rather than continue in trying to argue this.

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I have to agree with Mark on this one.

I'll leave aside questions of any one particular character (that I don't play) as I think that's between that character's player and the Refs.

I will say that Freedom City is not a setting that celebrates murderers and thugs; the mindset of the people there simply don't work that way. Bad guys should get their due, I've tried to do that in the thread I'm running that has a bad guy. But they should be treated _as_ bad guys; the things they've done to make them terrifying and wicked should give them the terror and fear they deserve. The people of the setting simply won't celebrate them.

And beyond the in-game setting, let's not forget the world outside the game.

It would be so. easy. for an online game like this to turn into an excuse for the various players to act out their ids in a fictional setting, but doing that would destroy the gaming community that we're trying to build here. How many of us have heard horror stories on the ATT, or encountered players IRL, who want a party of Lobos and Punishers? Those have a place, but not here. This isn't a setting that encourages that sort of thing. Frankly, it shouldn't be.

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I'm sorry MarkK but it seems that you missed the point of my response to your thread. It was threefold and i will state it explicitly so that there is no confusion.

1. I do not appreciate being called out.

2. I do not agree with your viewpoint.

3. I am not the only one with this viewpoint.

That is all i would like to say. So please do not antagonize me further.

I am not going to respond to avenger's post because my above argument already contains my viewpoint on this matter.

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I'm sorry if you feel that you can't or won't take these things into account, but the statements on the overall play we're aiming for here remain what they are. And if you're not going to take into account the posts of others on the matter who disagree with you and simply ignore them, there's not much point in leaving this open as a discussion thread, as it no longer is one.

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*clears throat. kitten falls out, quickly sucks it back down*

Captain Knievel is a complete and total psychopath. Quote, you yourself have likened him to the Joker, and a few others have, too. Now, there's nothing wrong in and of itself with that type of character (else the Joker wouldn't have been plaguing Batman for almost seven decades), such characters are often liked by readers. Many villains have their fans amongst the readers. Even Sylar has his fans.

The problem is how characters (especially Nonplayer Characters) in the setting itself react to him. Continuing the Joker comparison, not many people in the DCU like hanging around the Joker, and those who do -- like Harley Quinn -- are for the most part completely insane. (Luthor only tolerates him because he'd rather know where he is than not, and because he'd rather the Joker was going crazy on the heroes rather than on his villain team due to feeling slighted for not being invited... but do keep in mind that even Luthor is, with his monomaniacal obsession with destroying Superman, not entirely sane.) Or, to quote the Trickster, "when villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories."

Writing Joker-centric stories is fine. Writing Joker-centric stories from the Joker's PoV leads to madness.

And that's what's seemed to be going on here, you were making posts where many/most NPCs agreed with/cheered for the Captain, since the character himself thinks that's what everyone would do. And while your statement of "in any given society, not everyone is going to share the same viewpoint (his) there will always be a few people that disagree" is true to a point, the point fails when the character in question is a complete psychopath, and so about the only people who'd "see his way of things" are other psychopaths. (And I do mean Psychopaths, people so dangerously insane they should be locked away in Providence Asylum.) And even then, their particular idiosyncrasies may not mesh well with K's worldview.

Now, if he were a new and fresh character, one who was never before seen, then his flamboyance may win some over at first, at least until he blows up the first car or dangles the first baby out a window. But now's not the beginning -- Knievel's been active for about three months, plus whatever activities he had in his backstory.

At what point were you going to start having the public realize what a monster he was? Because, to us, there was absolutely no indication that that was going to be happening, or that you were even thinking of having it happen, hence our stepping in.

This is what we want to make sure is made evident. Yeah, it's fine for Capt K to think everyone loves him, and that everyone sees him as an idol... but we also need you to show that others -- most others -- view him as a dangerous lunatic, and have them react accordingly. In other words, we'd like for your posts to be a bit less subjective, and a bit more objective. To accurately reflect that, yes, Freedom City is a place where Heroes are lauded and Villains are reviled (and the two are for the msot part very easily differentiated).

I've seen that you've been willing to compromise and edit your posts, and that's Very Good.

I do also need to warn you: if you don't make some significant changes, if it looks like you're not changing and you slip back to your old posting habits where many NPCs cheer the Captain and go out for drinks with him after seeing him drive a truck full of dynamite into a bus full of nuns, there will be consequences. Terrible consequences.

This is Strike One. Don't get a second strike.

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