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Alex Greene

More Adult Adventures?

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Legend is Mongoose's foray into D100 territory, but I was thinking that sometimes there is only so far one can go with the game before we come up against Mongoose Publishing's unwritten 12A age certificate. Makes me sometimes wonder if there are d100 adventures where the age certificate starts at 15 and goes up to Song of Ice and Fire and higher.

I don't even mean the kind of stuff that ends up on HBO. Just adventures where the Adventurers find themselves in some places and situations which are a lot more adult than dungeon crawling, looting treasure and fighting orcs.

What else is that Seduction skill there for?

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Are there actually published Legend adventures?

Apple Lane was an adult adventure! Well, our group thought so once they encountered the local priestess.

Edited by Vile

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I'd prefer more adult adventures. Although my group plays mostly d20 stuff, whenever they crit or slay a foe I usually give a gory description of the  death. So more mature adventures would suit me!

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2 hours ago, Vile said:

Are there actually published Legend adventures?

Yeah, I'm not sure what things the OP is referring to.

IME 'adult adventures' happen when there are adults at the table playing them.

Edited by Simlasa

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It all depends, of course, what we mean by the various ratings.

For me, Legend, like RuneQuest, is about chopping people into bits in combat, with flying arms, legs and heads. That is really Game of Thrones level violence regardless of the scenario. 

Or are we talking about extra material, such as sexual acts, torture, rape and such things? If you have broos and ogres in the setting then you have this by default, even faded into black. Settings involving the Spanish Inquisition can also involve the above, but nobody expects that.

If a bandit chief abducts a noble-born lady with a view to marrying her, a very typical occurrence in the Middle Ages, how adult is that? On the one hand it is a simple abduction-rescue mission, on the other hand there is the rape and marriage subtext. I suppose the rating varies depending on which subtexts you emphasise.

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

It all depends, of course, what we mean by the various ratings.

For me, Legend, like RuneQuest, is about chopping people into bits in combat, with flying arms, legs and heads. That is really Game of Thrones level violence regardless of the scenario. 

Or are we talking about extra material, such as sexual acts, torture, rape and such things? If you have broos and ogres in the setting then you have this by default, even faded into black. Settings involving the Spanish Inquisition can also involve the above, but nobody expects that.

If a bandit chief abducts a noble-born lady with a view to marrying her, a very typical occurrence in the Middle Ages, how adult is that? On the one hand it is a simple abduction-rescue mission, on the other hand there is the rape and marriage subtext. I suppose the rating varies depending on which subtexts you emphasise.

This was kind of my point. Any game really can be any of these depending on the GM. Although I don't touch mature sexual topics (ie. The Book of Erotic Fantasy type stuff) I prefer visualizations of the violence medieval melee combat will cause.

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Okay, examples of adult storylines for me.

- Adventurers investigate a string of robberies all over town. One of their own connections or relatives got robbed, and badly hurt. Local law enforcement are all volunteers; clueless. This place is centuries away from forming a government-backed police force. The Adventurers have to be the Law.

- Someone is taunting the Adventurers. They know how they think - they know their Passions, and exploit them cruelly without showing their face.

- The characters are given a special assignment - travel halfway across country, just to the border with the neighbouring country, to smuggle the Ambassador's wife into their country's Embassy, which is under siege. It's just to test to see how they can smuggle people in and out of the country next door clandestinely.

- A sculptor wants the country's most beautiful Lady of the Night to pose for him for a sculpture. She's already retired and now runs her own establishment. The Adventurers have to negotiate a price from her. What she asks for is to identify her sister's killer and end him, quietly, so the law thinks it's an accident. It turns out that the killer is the son of the Mayor, a right awful sort and a bit of a wannabe serial killer.

- The cultists of the Temple of the local Goddess of Love are being targeted by a bunch of moralists protesting their temple, even since the Love Goddess's temple facilities were converted into a free hospital round the back to help bring healing to night women and street people who need their services. Those sorts of services.

- There's a war on, but nothing can stop the show. Except maybe the disappearance of its lead actor. His lover is inconsolable with worry - he wants the Adventurers to find out where the actor's gone, and what's happened, and if they can, bring him back. And on the way to solving the case, they accidentally bring the war to an end.

- A sadistic murderer is targeting young lovers. It seems to be haunting a local area notorious for teens hanging out to make out. The Adventurers encounter something that would not look out of place in a Wes Craven movie. A local craftsman has been possessed by a murder spirit. They need a shaman to stop it ...

Those are, for me, adult adventures. Not this running around looting old tombs and killing orcs.

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23 hours ago, soltakss said:

It all depends, of course, what we mean by the various ratings.

For me, Legend, like RuneQuest, is about chopping people into bits in combat, with flying arms, legs and heads. That is really Game of Thrones level violence regardless of the scenario. 

Or are we talking about extra material, such as sexual acts, torture, rape and such things? If you have broos and ogres in the setting then you have this by default, even faded into black. Settings involving the Spanish Inquisition can also involve the above, but nobody expects that.

If a bandit chief abducts a noble-born lady with a view to marrying her, a very typical occurrence in the Middle Ages, how adult is that? On the one hand it is a simple abduction-rescue mission, on the other hand there is the rape and marriage subtext. I suppose the rating varies depending on which subtexts you emphasise.

+1 for the Python reference

SDLeary

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19 hours ago, Alex Greene said:

Okay, examples of adult storylines for me...

Most of those sound fun to me, I might steer clear of the 'topical' ones.

But some people, even 'adult' people, like the looting tombs and killing orcs schtick... there's a guy in our group who pretty much only engages for combat. So for his sake I'd look at your plot suggestions and work in reasons for a visit to some old ruins, or an altercation with some orcs/beastmen/bandits/mutants.

Does Mongoose really have some rule mandating 'loot and scoot' adventures? I haven't read anything but the stuff in their Elric books and those weren't mere dungeon crawls.

 

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On 12/27/2016 at 10:20 AM, Alex Greene said:

- Adventurers investigate a string of robberies all over town. One of their own connections or relatives got robbed, and badly hurt. Local law enforcement are all volunteers; clueless. This place is centuries away from forming a government-backed police force. The Adventurers have to be the Law.

I'd take a close look at the Icelandic family sagas for an example of how to run an "adult" adventure along these lines involving the consequences of weak law enforcement. The family sagas are unlike anything else in medieval literature, being closer to a modern novels than medieval literary forms. They usually revolve around bitter feuds in a fledgling nation that had a complex legal system but no central government and minimal law enforcement. There is a good reason why Njáls saga was listed in the recommended reading list for RQII (along with Snorri Sturluson's King Harald's Saga). The blood feud in Njáls saga spans generations and shows how obligation leads good people to commit terrible crimes in the name of family honour. There's a story here with adult themes rarely depicted in RPGs.

Personally, I'd also recommend the Laxdæla saga for the doomed love triangle between Kjartan Ólafsson, Bolli Þorleiksson, and  Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir in the Breiðafjörður region. This work involves a romantic rivalry leading into a spiral of vengeance that ultimately destroys both of the suitors and leads Guðrún into a life of seclusion.Once again, the bones of this story can be reworked to create a tragic adventure built around adult themes.

Treat these as bleak and gritty Scandinavian crime stories - a genre which is alive and kicking right now - and you've got a story that can go to some very dark places indeed. Interestingly, the closest thing I've seen recently in mainstream media that captures the same atmosphere is the recent Captain America: Civil War movie with the intense personal conflict between Captain America and Iron Man. We know that both of them are worthy men with a strong sense of principle, but they end up in a tragic conflict with one another that threatens to tear the superhero community apart. Ultimately Marvel Studios pull back from the full implications of the conflict, but nonetheless it is remarkably strong content for a superhero movie and comes close to capturing the tone of the Icelandic sagas. Notice the way that both parties in the feud are depicted as honourable - neither has a big sign around their neck indicating that they should be regarded as the bad guy. Both have human failings and ethical blind spots as well as admirable qualities. This approach is almost a prerequisite for building an adventure around "adult" themes.  

In fact, read as much ancient and medieval literature as you can to get a feel for great authors handle adult themes. Read the outstanding translations of the Iliad and Odyssey by Robert Fagles. Read the translation of Beowulf by Seamus Heaney (or better still, get the audiobook where he reads his superb translation aloud). Get a good translation of the Völsung saga, such as that of Jesse L. Byock or wait for the forthcoming one by Jackson Crawford. Read the final third of Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and pay attention to the collapse of King Arthur's Court and the Fellowship of the Round Table due to human vices. The authors of these works lived closer to "adult" themes in real life than most modern people and handle the gritty realities of their own time with sensitivity and skill. Adult stories do not necessarily involve gratuitous gore and sexuality, but do not shrink away from depicting these things where they are appropriate for the themes at hand. Consider the way that Beowulf carefully balances the story of Beowulf's first victory against the story of his final defeat. Look at the way that subtle structural oppositions between youth and age, peace and warfare, loyalty and betrayal, are woven through the story. For example, a mention of the Finnesburg incident is worked into the narrative to prefigure the ultimate fate of the mead hall at Heorot and to remind the audience that the victory won by Beowulf is ultimately hollow. 

One thing that all of these classic works share is a tragic sense of the transience of life, a theme that also emerges in the greatest works of modern fantasy - whether it be in the grim moodiness of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, the pervasive sense of doom and decline in Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique or Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories, the slow defeat of Tolkien's Middle Earth as the wonders of the First Age fall into shadow, the growing sense of mortality in Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea novels, and many more. In fact, I would argue that this is the defining theme that runs through modern fantasy literature. Great fantasy typically contains a pervasive sense of loss or an acute awareness of life's brevity - or both at the same time. And yet RPGs rarely grapple with truly adult themes of mortality, grief, and loss in any meaningful way - perhaps because the experience systems in many early RPGs lend themselves so well to adolescent power fantasies or perhaps because fantasy games shied away from themes that might be considered "religious" for so long due to the influence of the Satanic panic during the 1980s. Even today, most gamers don't think or death and mortality and grief as "adult" themes in the same way that they think of sex and violence. 

Edited by Prime Evil
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On 28/12/2016 at 0:52 AM, Prime Evil said:

I'd take a close look ... Even today, most gamers don't think or death and mortality and grief as "adult" themes in the same way that they think of sex and violence. 

Brilliant essay on modern fantasy literature.

 

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If you have someone in your group who pretty much lives for combat, give him a cause to fight for, and something to care about. See if your combat jockey can develop a character if the local martial order asks him to begin coaching young 'uns in his favourite combat style, then having to lead them into a battle. If his subordinates have names, and your combat jockey is any kind of gamer, leadership may well prove to be a heavy burden for him indeed.

And if not leadership, then responsibility. I had my characters once delve into some ruins. Only, they were not ancient - the ruins were less than twenty five years old. And they had a personal meaning for one of the characters because the ruins were where his Dad died.

The team's combat jockey had a highly emotional game when he realised that he was actually tracking down his father's killer and bringing his Dad's murderer to justice. The flood of Improvement Rolls he and the rest of the team earned was welcome; but the combat jockey had a fantastic time actually playing a role and resolving something from his character's past, which suddenly turned his character into a living being, rather than a bunch of numbers on a page.

The plot of The Blood Path was similarly adult in tone - the Adventurers bump into a band of orcs who'd sworn an oath to track down a bad guy, whom I shall not name, who had murdered the orc party's village and kidnapped two orclings, the kin of the orc party leader. The Adventurers find that there is a lot more to it than that - but the story, for the orc band leader, is about avenging the dead and rescuing all that remains of his family.

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The 'sadistic murderer' example is a classic Call of Cthulhu scenario description. After GMing the 'Arrius Lurco' adventure for Cthulhu invictus I did wonder about a campaign set in ancient Rome with a plot using the types of themes explored in Rome (HBO series) and Spartacus: blood and sand - with maybe the odd bit of Cthulhu style horror thrown in.

Actually that suggests a name: Cthulhu, Blood and Breasts

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On 12/29/2016 at 10:58 AM, smiorgan said:

Brilliant essay on modern fantasy literature.

 

Thanks! 

 

As an aside, I'd point out that if you really want to play with adult themes religion is another hot button topic. 

For my own personal taste, one thing that Runequest has consistently done right in most of it's incarnations is to treat shamanism and religion seriously. Most RPGs shy away from realistic depictions of animistic or polytheistic worldviews, perhaps as a direct consequence of the "satanic panic" of the early 1980s. By contrast, Runequest has always depicted these worldviews with a sense of respect alien to most RPGs. Most old-school RPGs reduce the miracles associated with the divine to a source of cheap buffs and heals (to use MMORPG slang). Runequest has allowed players to experience to atmosphere of an animistic or polytheistic worldview without necessarily committing to them in real life. In particular, most RPG avoid the notion that the sacred may be immanent in the mundane world or that spiritual experiences may be accessible to ordinary people. The cultic structures of Glorantha owe something to the mystery religions of the ancient world, which is another huge plus. I ascribe a lot of this to the influence of Greg Stafford, whose personal involvement in alternative religious circles is well-known (e.g. he was a Director of Shaman's Drum magazine). 

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On 1/2/2017 at 8:27 AM, Prime Evil said:

For my own personal taste, one thing that Runequest has consistently done right in most of it's incarnations is to treat shamanism and religion seriously.

I have to agree with you Prime Evil.  I am still relatively new to Runequest/Mythras being that I've only started to unravel it's many layers of depth since RQ6.  The common tendency seems to me that even when the "popular" fantasy rpgs provide examples of Clerics/Priests, they're either draped in obvious cliché or the belief system is glossed over.  It was a cool thing when I literally stumbled upon RQ6 and what stood out to me was an example that illustrated the interweaving of religion and culture:

"In exchange for an oath of abstinence and faithful service, she [Kara] is inducted into the Cult of Myceras as an initiate. Much of her time is spent clearing up the mess produced by the incessant sacrificial offerings requested by the city’s warriors, yet during the evenings she is taught the ways of worship."

It became evident to me at that point that belief was not just lip service for the people of the setting.  Myceras was as real to the people as it was to the priests.  In another passage, Kara sets a trap for thieves, turning one into a bull and sacrificing him to Myceras as an example of what happens to thieves trying to desecrate the new temple.

As far as adult themes go, the level of violence, morality, sexual content, emotional content and graphic detail are elements determined in part by the GM and the Players.  Although genre can have a hand in that, it can be a response to the events in a story.  Take the Sword and Sorcery supplement "Spider God's Bride" as and example.  Although there are many "adult" themes that run through the story line, it is up to the players and the gm to determine how graphic the descriptions get and also the level of immersion in game play.

If you're running a game from scratch, then these elements are usually called "hooks" which is something I've not taken a liking to.  I prefer motivations.  Story building can get really interesting when the characters have an emotional investment in the campaign world and each other.  That said, the level of drama is something to consider as well.

My advice is this: if you know where the boundaries are, then it's an agreement between all involved as to what level of roleplay the game takes; if you don't know where the boundaries are, it's best to ask before hand so everyone has fun without making it unpleasant for someone else.

Great topic.  Happy gaming everyone.

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On 28/12/2016 at 1:16 AM, SDLeary said:

+1 for the Python reference

SDLeary

Yeah that Spanish Inquisition reference gave me a good chuckle as well 😂

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Nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!

But seriously, has anybody considered forking the Legend system now that Mongoose seems to have abandoned it?

I know we've got Mythras as the natural successor to MRQII,  but the Legend ruleset has the advantage of being something we can freely tinker with as a community. 

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On 11/23/2017 at 1:18 AM, Prime Evil said:

But seriously, has anybody considered forking the Legend system now that Mongoose seems to have abandoned it?

Mongoose have not abandoned Legend, as far as I know, they just seem to have other things to do instead and have done for a few years.

I suppose I should ask them again whether they are continuing with Legend, but can I be bothered?

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