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Bedlam City Poll: Content and Contraversy


Bedlam City Poll: Content and Contraversy  

11 members have voted

  1. 1. Should stories and characters in Bedlam City be held to the same standards of content and conduct as those in Freedom City, Emerald City, and the rest of the setting?

    • Yes. It's all one game with one standard.
    • No. Bedlam should be an option for players who want to explore darker and/or more mature subject matter. Iron Age tropes like superheroes-who-kill and Rape-As-Backstory shouldn't necessarily be out of bounds in this corner of the world.
  2. 2. Racism is a big part of the city's history and current social dynamics. Should we keep that?

    • Yes. It's baked into the foundation of the setting, and it's a big part of what makes it a Bad Place. Bedlam should be a darker, rougher part of the setting, for players who want the option.
    • No. Players who already deal with racism in their real lives shouldn't have to deal with it in-game too.
  3. 3. Several NPCs have rape or molestation in their backgrounds. Should we keep that?

    • Yes. It's a big part of what makes it a Bad Place. Bedlam should be a darker, rougher part of the setting, for players who want the option.
    • No. Players who already deal with the threat of rape and the fallout from it in real life shouldn't have to deal with it in-game too.

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I don't like the idea of having a "rated R" section of the site. I feel like the difference between Bedlam and Freedom should be one of tone; Freedom is a city always hoping for tomorrow, while Bedlam is a city devoid of hope.

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I think the big question I would have is, can the PCs make a difference? Is the setting at all dynamic where the heroes can actually create change, no matter how small, or are their efforts doomed from the start? Can they hope to clean up the town, or is it more like the movie Se7en where Morgan Freeman knows it won't make a real difference, but does his job anyway?


Based on your and AA's recommendations, I purchased both the main book and Straight Out Of Bedlam at Drive-Thru RPG, Shaen, and so far I like what I see!

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I don't think adding a Rated R section is really a great idea, Bedlam can be a crappy place that doesn't mean the stories and characters there need to wallow in it.


Racism is a touchy issue for many certainly but I think it's more of a matter of presentation than inclusion really.  Keeping it as a backdrop to one of many things wrong with the city probably better than just pretending that it isn't an issue but maybe keep the worst of it offscreen. Don't ignore it but try to avoid triggering content.


Rape/molestation is pretty much not able to be presented without being triggering so avoiding it in general I think is probably good.  Also I feel the rape as backstory stuff is pretty weak storytelling to start with.

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I'd say I tend to agree with what angrydurf said.


I think the key is less in "don't have bad things happen" as it is "how much we describe and focus on them". We've had some pretty brutal stuff happen in this game. I mean, we killed a planet of billions a few months ago! That's pretty heavy stuff, and it's had a lot of repercussions and echoes. But we didn't, like, describe in detail the deaths one by one.


With racism, you can get by with a lot of somewhat removed descriptions. "They gave him dirty looks" or "they threw a slew of disgusting slurs at her", that sort of thing. You can have someone spew language out and just ***** a lot of it. People will pick up what you mean but it shouldn't be too heavy.


But with topics like rape and molestation, it's a lot more binary, and those are really,really tough and heavy thing.


I'm fine, overall, if the Bedlam City stuff ends up being a sort of "Hard PG-13" rather than "Soft PG-13" sort of thing. I just think there probably ought to be a line. If we give ourselves wiggle room, maybe down the line there will be some slight room for movement, but I'm with a couple others here in that I'm not sure I'm comfortable with a "Rated R Subsection". 

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I'm still debating my responses to the poll but I don't personally mind darker overtones to stories or characters and I have often chafed under some of what feels more arbitrary restrictions at very points but then I'm also a person who feels that sexual overtones are more policed than the violence. I like my slice of life stories. I understand at the same time that there's a lot of good reasons for restrictions rather than just carte Blanche. 


Personally, regardless of the choices made around Bedlam, I think that it might be prudent to clarify the lines and goals of those lines a bit more clearly and, honestly, I think that even with the lighter tones we tend towards in Freedom City adventures - content notices on threads might be prudent regardless so as we move forward there are no nasty surprises for anyone in threads. 


On a personal note, as a survivor, it wouldn't make me uncomfortable for people to have those elements in their backstory or as something that has to be dealt with. Honestly, some people work through things through fiction. I'd prefer those topics to have a small note at the top so that I wouldn't stumble into them without warning. 


With all of it though, I think that explaining the goals and our expectations for the site and threads would be better than the really vague 'Keep it PG-13' that we have tended towards as direction. Right now, as it stands, we are firmer on our limitations often than actual comics which, isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I think it might be confusing. There is so much out there now for Super Heros, from grim and gritty movies like the DC movie universe to the light and fluffy Hero 6 and everything in between - which is awesome. 


I've gotten long and ramble-y, I think, but I'd like to be able to explore more varied stories on this board and I think that our community can handle that. 


I like the idea of Bedlam and Emerald City. It just might take some finessing along the way. 

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So to clarify as my lovely wife has made clear I wasn't so much.  


I don't have any major objection to loosening some of our content guidelines here.  I think it's the wrong direction to go to make a 'Rated R' subsection or what not but if this stuff opens discussion on looking at overall guidelines for the site there is certainly room for that.  As for Bedlam in particular my concern is that opening content based on including the darker and grittier city like this might just tend toward more of hte old ultra-violence while still being borderline puritanical about the romance/sexual situations end of things.  There are probably more legal concerns about the sexual situations though because lots of laws get passed "Fer teh Children!' without a lot of thought put into them.  That said if we can't handle having Doc Metropolis' glowy blue dong on site we should probably shy away from rorschach deep fat frying a thugs face too.

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Doc Metropolis' glowy blue dong


And suddenly that weird Egyptian skirt of his makes total, complete sense. He's a creature of the city, which means lights, and he's got no lights elsewhere, so it must be there.

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I've nothing whatever to add on the subject of using sexual violence, except my voice thanking Alderwitch for pitching in with her perspective on its appropriateness. 


On the racism front though, I do have some problems. I voted to keep it as a core function of the city in the site, but in hindsight I regret that.


KnightDisciple, I understand entirely that it's just for simplicity's sake that your suggestion was focused on the more overt stuff, but I think it's both a missed opportunity and actually a really bad idea to paper over the side that's not covenants of white people deciding Black Americans can't live near them, or random jerks yelling at Muslim teenagers, or police officers doing what they do best.


At least in North American countries there's a lot of effort redirecting and obfuscating the more mundane ways racism manifests, which is mostly dull and complicated and something only really useful to a trained sociologist. Mostly because that's just easier. It's like why European countries figured trans people didn't exist.


But the result is that racism, while widely recognized as a Bad Thing, is then something only Bad People do, because the alternative is stuff like Amy Schumer's racist dad in that movie, which is beside the point but I'm keeping that in because I can't let a woman beat me at rambling.


Even in Freedom City, there's implicit racism in the removal of a Black majority city for one that's mostly whites, and while White Knight is hardly unbelievable the fact that racial discrimination is represented by him and the LITERALLYNAZIS organization is one of those comic-y things we might benefit by moving away from, if we we're serious about being more serious in Bedlam.


So I'd suggest that, as a stylistic thing, we do what sounds like the opposite of what would make sense and follow my line of talk and focus on the effects, rather than the cause. There's a pretty concise essay by Mr. Desmond Cole for Toronto Life where he talked about how people being suspicious and fearful of him because he's Black had a very real and radical impact on how he behaved in turn. If anyone is curious: here is the essay.


The focus, to be pointlessly brief, I believe should be primarily internal. On how deliberate racial stigmatization hurts people in ways that can't be measured in social or economic power. At the least, that's more difficult than beating up imaginary racists and I feel much more effective in showing how broken Bedlam and its people have become.

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Not commenting on the engagement with racism in the text yet - but yeah, Ari, I noticed that too re:the racial demographics of Freedom given in the text. 


(i.e., Freedom City is noticeably pastier than Atlantic City.)


In my mental headcanon, the demographics given for Greater Freedom, not the city as a whole. 

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On the "rape and molestation in background" note:


I say there's nothing wrong with including it... but it's all a matter of how it's included. We just came off of Jessica Jones, which has gotten a whole lot of praise as an exploration of one individual dealing with surviving rape, both metaphorical and literal. But as a script reader and veteran media consumer, there are a whole lot of red flags I want to avoid:


-Rape as excuse for why an individual has become "unglued," traditionally in the sense of pursuing lots of sexy times (mostly seen this in bad unproduced screenplays, but for media example, Black Snake Moan)

-Rape as excuse for why a character from a "soft" background became a valkyrie badass woman of war (Vicki Petersson's Signs of the Zodiac series, Kate Bishop)

-A background character's rape/assault as reason for a male character to go HAM (Green Arrow, so many others)


So, opening the backgrounds to these elements means - and I know this is stating the obvious, but as the above examples show, it needs stating - we will need to exhibit added scrutiny, to make sure they are treated with the seriousness they deserve. 



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