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New Monograph Submitted - Aces High


MrJealousy

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It seemed strange to me that an American company would be interested in a Western game supplement written by an English bloke. But what can you say, Chaos is a wonderful thing!

What follows is most of what went into the original proposition I sent to Dustin around september last year. I uploaded it to the Chaosium server near the end of Feburary.

ACES HIGH - a mythical western BRP supplement.

THE PLAYERS SECTION

Introduction, setting the scene.

Violence is an everyday occurrence on the frontier of Civilisation. Settlers make a grab for the fertile land, destroying whatever does not fit their ideal. Prospectors are raping the hills for precious metals; dumping their waste in the fresh, clear rivers. Trappers slaughter vast herds of buffalo for their valuable pelts, leaving a wake of rotting carcasses, a mountain of bone and skulls. The Law can barely cope, as lynch mobs leave cadavers hanging from the trees.

The Red Skins fight for their very existence, being caught between death and degradation. The Old Powers cannot compete with the New Power from the East. The Wise have begun to abandon hope; the young still believe they have a chance to even the score.

Ancient Mysteries are discovered as the White Man slowly conquers his New World. However, everything is not always as it seems.

Chapter 1

Character Generation - the rules and optional rules that will be used from the standard BRP rule book. Including cross referenced page numbers to the BRP book, and a modified character sheet, to allow for those options.

Chapter 2

Extraordinary Abilities – No magic, mutations or psychic powers for the player characters (as a general rule). However, there is an optional Table for random Extraordinary Abilities. Increased (or decreased) attributes, special skills, affinities and Psychosis, Phobias, Dependencies and other weirdness.

Chapter 3

New Skills - quite a short chapter refining and clarifying the basic rule set. Quick Draw, or Fast Draw, becomes an ability that anyone can use at anytime. Additional rules for Two Pistol Style, shooting rifles with one hand, shotguns with solid or scatter shot, firearm modifications, and pistol whipping.

Chapter 4

Occupations - specific occupations from both sides of the Law, for Slaves, Women and Chinese player characters. Be a Lawman, a Hired Killer or a Shaolin Monk!

Chapter 5

Guns, Equipment and Supplies - a cross section of weapons for the wild west period with the year that they were most common to allow pre or post civil war gaming periods. Possible expansion may include pre and post Independence gaming periods with muskets and black powder weapons.

Chapter 6

Religion, Piety and Allegiance - Includes brief descriptions of Evangelists, 7th day Adventists, Fundamentalists, Spiritualism, Voodoo, Mormon, Quaker, the Millerites and others.

Chapter 7

A period map of America c.1870.

The Harsh Law - covering hangings and lynch mobs, Outlaws and the chance of being Wanted. Can you survive being hanged? What does it take to be Wanted Dead or Alive?

Attitudes of the West - how did people regard and treat Women, the Celestials, Red Skins, Mexicans and Negroes on a day to day basis.

A brief history of the Americas, from the Land bridge to 1900 - One idea is to allow historical play from any period in the Americas from prehistoric natives to 1900.

A list of Presidents - a brief description of what they did.

THE MASTERS SECTION

An Introduction from behind the veil, Secrets revealed.

Chapter 8

Townscapes - What can you expect to find in a frontier town? A settler village? A boom town? Will include suggestions on how to quickly find out what is most likely to be available.

A Map of Mystic Sites - where to find some of the odd critters that live there.

Chapter 9

The Animal Kingdom - animal descriptions and statistics from Alligator to Wolverine. Approximately 30 types of animal, nothing particularly unexpected, all mundane.

Mundane or Otherworld - Why do some spirits come from their ‘Otherworld’ to our ‘Mundane’ world, and how do they do it? More importantly, how can we send them back?

The Not So Animal Kingdom - Animal Ogres to Zombies, with some Red Skin gods and a few lake monsters thrown in for good measure. Descriptions and statistics for Traditional Indian myths and other weirdness, including...

BIG HEAD / BAT PEOPLE

The Bat People are an old, mysterious and malevolent race. They inhabit the high branches of dark and forbidding forests. They are grotesque and very large bat winged heads.

This demonic race of beings has been known to live in heavily wooded areas or high in isolated mountain ranges. They are accused of cannibalism and see other races and beings as things to exploit and torture. They are universally regarded as evil and malicious.

Otherworldly creature powers and descriptions.

Chapter 10

Arcane Lore in the West

Optional Player occupations - includes Diabolist, Voodoo Priest, Witches, Warlocks, the Drifter and the Red Skins.

The Diabolist sees all life as if it were a complex mathematical or symbolic cycle of enlightenment and ignorance. Diabolists are after the pursuit of Evil for its own sake, committing deliberate wickedness whenever the opportunity arises.

The Voodoo priest of the coloured folk is a source of great fear and respect. The people in the Voodoo priests neighbourhood are required to support him; in return he aids them in whatever ways he can. He will not take kindly to lack of respect and can curse as well as cure.

Whipping, torture and lynching have the power to create a Drifter but there are many other ways. Hate and pain have conspired to create this avenging angel. He has been put in the situation where he can see that he has lost everything. He understands his complete and utter destruction.

The Red Skins are steeped in mystery; few outsiders are allowed to freely explore the insides of an Indian camp without being harassed. They call themselves ‘the human beings’ and seek guidance from the spirits.

Chapter 11

Red Skin Tribes

Red Skin rituals - All of the American Indian tribes are closely linked in some way to a mystical power. These rituals put them in touch with their Totem Animal, reveal knowledge or heal.

Totem Animals for the Brave and Magic for the Shaman.

Animism, Totemism and Fetishism - Three points of view for the origin of Red Skins magic.

The American Indian Language Tree - many American Indian languages all stemmed from one original language. How easy is it for Apache to talk to Sioux? Optional rules to cover this fact.

Chapter 12

A short scenario…

Mr Jealousy has returned to reality!

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Uh, you know, I'm not sure the "Red Skins" will fly that well in some circles. Can I play as an American Indain? Or are they the enemy in this setting?

That said, any supplements for BRP are a good thing, and controversy often equals free publicity, right?

After edit: Ah, I see I can. Sorry I just did a quick glance through your post.

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Chapter 9

The Animal Kingdom - animal descriptions and statistics from Alligator to Wolverine. Approximately 30 types of animal, nothing particularly unexpected, all mundane.

Don't forget to include jaguars. The California jaguar subspecies didn't become extinct until c. 1905. I think they were featured in an Ambrose Bierce short story.

Does any BRP game have stats for them already?

Michael

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Cool...

It sounds like a more serious take on Deadlands territory... that sounds good to me.

More 'spaghetti western with voodoo and native curses' than 'Wild Wild West with Manitou and cthonians'.

I'm currently in a biweekly Deadlands game and something about the rules just seems to support a default to wacky humor (then again, maybe it's just the varmints I'm playing with...).

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So, this is the Weird Wild West, huh?

Does it follow historical events, as I noticed you mentioned the list of President and the things they did?

Is the default setting in 1870, to go with the map? Does that mean slavery no longer exists, as the Civil war ended in 1865?

When you wrote, "Trappers slaughter vast herds of buffalo for their valuable pelts, leaving a wake of rotting carcasses" did you mean the buffalo hunters? The trappers were after beaver and otter pelts mostly.

Finally, and this is more for everyone who reads this, what about the use of the term "Red Skins"?

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"Red Skins" might be appropriate verbiage for the genre, particularly depending on the Western source material used. But the political correctness crowd will blow a gasket. They've already freaked out because the term was used as the longstanding name of a popular sports team. :(

Speaking personally use of that term is the only thing that put me off of the game. Which otherwise looks absolutely awesome.

It is entirely possible and reasonable to use a term of abuse in a sympathetic way with one's friends. (I have a number of mates who I refer to as 'Paks' and 'Stani' between ourselves - and likewise they refer to me as 'redneck' and 'tipp-ex boy' - but that's because we know and trust each other). Their tales of having burning dog sh!t posted through their letterboxes by the racist moron brigade has made me think about using these kind of terms more broadly and casually.

And it is also quite possible to use an unpleasant term without meaning anything unpleasant by it whatsoever. I'd guess that the majority of people mourning the passing of the Washington Redskins never dreamt of using that name and label as a way of bashing others.

But.......

'Redskin' has been used as derogatory term by people with very unpleasant views. It also contributes to a climate of thinking about different ethic groups differently and even 'well its only a joke if THEY can't see that, then THEY have the problem, not me.'

The 'political correctness' argument gets sterile very quickly. Most of the complaints made under the 'Its political correctness gone mad' banner actually refer to Health and Safety legislation! Many of the best, wackiest and funniest tales of 'Its political correctness gone mad' are entirely made up. For one the 'Winterval' saga in Birmingham a few years back had nothing to do with political correctness and protecting feelings it was about the local chamber of commerce finding a label which they thought would maximise the commercial appeal of that shopping season.

Would people happily refer to sports teams such as the 'Pompey Pakkies' 'Reading Ragheads' or 'New York Niggers'? I'd guess not. Terms such as Chinaman and Redskin have a very unpleasant history the fact that people on these boards are not/would not use them in that light does not change that. Neither does the fact that members of non-white ethnic groups use derrogatory terms about whites and about other non-white ethnic groups.

My advice: don't use 'Redskin' or 'American Indian' or 'Native' use 'Amerindian' (or even better ask someone who knows what they are talking about), maybe including some sample terms which might cause offense (and if you are better at this kind of thing than I am advice on how to and how not to use these terms to build atmosphere. For myself if I hear an NPC use the word 'nigger' then I've pretty much made a decision about which side (s)he stands)

Al

Rule Zero: Don't be on fire

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Your monograph does sound awesome, I have to say.

EDIT: As for the politcal correctness thing, it really is a minefield. I have personally had sleepless nights (well, not quite, but close) wondering about whether I should use Black and White magic - even though the origin of those phrases has nothing to do with the colour of people's skin (to my knowledge). I think I'm going to use it but I have considered changing it to Dark and Light. Equally, I think I would stick with Redskin in your case as it lends a period flavour to the text and I do think that is important. It is nice to read something that evokes the setting rather than reads as dry, modern prose.

It seemed strange to me that an American company would be interested in a Western game supplement written by an English bloke. But what can you say, Chaos is a wonderful thing!

There seem to be a lot of British people writing monographs for Chaosium. I put it down to them being more comfortable with our Lovecraftian spelling.

Edited by Byron Alexander
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I'd suggest using Indian or Injun in the general sense (depending on the context) and referring to specific tribes (Apache, Comanche, Crow, Cree, Shoshone, Sioux, Arapaho, Cheyenne, etc.) by name whenever possible.

Indian as a designator has been in continuous use for more than 500 years, and is still used by the US government.

Or you could use the name many tribes called themselves, such as The People or The First People.

Here's a link to a Wikipedia article about the name controversy. WP's not always the best resource, but it is usually a safe bet.

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Does this monograph include rules for more heroic spaghetti western style gunslinging?

How does it handle the fact that the good guys seldom get hit until neat the end of a film or of they do its a flesh wound? Is there some type of hero points mechanic?

Remember that the core rulebook already has fate points (p176) if this monograph doesn't include them.

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As long as Chaosium doesn't panic. I'm reminded of a program I did with my daughter, "Indian Princesses" which was started by a European-American and a Native American, and administered through the local YMCA.

The YMCA change the name to "Guides" because they were worried that they might be sued because of the name "Indian". Note that they had not actually BEEN sued, or threatened with a suit, they were just worried about it. :eek:

Steve

Bathalians, the newest UberVillians!

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...spaghetti western...
I don't think you can use the word, "Spaghetti" :)

Sorry, couldn't resist. I actually think the conversation is a good one -- as someone else pointed out, this area of language is a minefield in the US. AMong other things we're trying to expand the world for BRP, not antagonize people.

Hearing different points of view may find us a path through the mines.

Steve

Bathalians, the newest UberVillians!

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Wow, lots of interest! Most of it positive, many thanks guys.

I'll try to answer your questions in one big hit...

On Jaguars

The California jaguar subspecies didn't become extinct until c. 1905.

Oops, didn't know that! Missed opportunity there. I have mountain Lion stats which I believe are generaly similar enough to use for jaguars. I suggest that cougar, puma and pather all use the same stats, so I guess Jaguars could fit in there as well.

On Seriousness

...more serious take on Deadlands

Never played Deadlands, but I'm definately coming from the serious side of things. Think... 'High Plains Drifter', or 'The Outlaw Josey Wales'.

On History

On the surface, its a straight historically (semi)accurate western... and I have provided a bit of information for those that don't know American history. I supplied an 1870s map because that seemed like the best period to capture the feel of what is going on, but the system isn't directly aimed at that period. If I had the time and the page count to use I would give you period maps of America from the Land Bridge to 1900, but that is a book in itself.

'did you mean the buffalo hunters?' Er, thanks for pointing that out Ortrail, if you don't mind, I'll just ignore that one:innocent:...

On Shaolin Monks

I grew up with Kung FU! Nuff said.

On a Heroic Spaghetti Western and hero points

No, but BRP does allow it. In Aces High you have just as much a chance of being killed as everyone else. You are just supposed to be better than most other people, and there are a couple of things in there that can change the odds in your favour, slightly. I don't really believe in holding the players hands through a tough scenario. That said, the lethality of Aces High is controlled by the GM.

On RedSkins

As far as playing RedSkins, normally PCs will play half breeds (is that racist? probably) or dispossed RedSkins, those with no tribe. I don't want to reveal too many secrets here though...

Ok, on to the contentious thing.

'...controversy often equals free publicity' That is not my intention at all.

RedSkins doesn't mean anything racist in my head and I will defend it, although I admit that it could cause offense to people that do not read the book. As far as Aces High goes the RedSkins exist alongside the Pale Faces, the Buffalo Soldiers and the Celestials. Personally, I have a great respect for the American Indians. During the writing of Aces High I learnt a lot more about them as a people than I expected and I have tried to do them the justice they surely deserve. Also, I totally agree with Byron, RedSkin does lend a 'period flavour'. Which is what this book is all about.

RedSkins is used to describe all of the American Indian Tribes, when it comes to getting personal I use the Tribal name, Sioux, Apache etc.

In Aces high nobody is treated with kid gloves. The people that should most be complaining about this book are going to be the white people.

Will the RedSkins be the main protagonist? Honestly, I don't know. The introductory scenario doesn't treat them like that. But there is plenty of potential for it. I think it depends on the players attitudes, the GM, the game you are playing, and the time period.

In play testing I ran a different scenario than the one in the book for 5 different groups. 3 groups befriended the local RedSkins, 1 group totally ignored them, and the last group got into a running firefight with them. I didn't plan any of that. The main protagonist was white, and a pillar of the community.

I hope that answers most of your questions.

Mr Jealousy has returned to reality!

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...

On RedSkins

As far as playing RedSkins, normally PCs will play half breeds (is that racist? probably) or dispossed RedSkins, those with no tribe. I don't want to reveal too many secrets here though...

Ok, on to the contentious thing.

'...controversy often equals free publicity' That is not my intention at all.

RedSkins doesn't mean anything racist in my head and I will defend it, although I admit that it could cause offense to people that do not read the book. As far as Aces High goes the RedSkins exist alongside the Pale Faces, the Buffalo Soldiers and the Celestials. Personally, I have a great respect for the American Indians. During the writing of Aces High I learnt a lot more about them as a people than I expected and I have tried to do them the justice they surely deserve. Also, I totally agree with Byron, RedSkin does lend a 'period flavour'. Which is what this book is all about.

RedSkins is used to describe all of the American Indian Tribes, when it comes to getting personal I use the Tribal name, Sioux, Apache etc.

In Aces high nobody is treated with kid gloves. The people that should most be complaining about this book are going to be the white people.

Will the RedSkins be the main protagonist? Honestly, I don't know. The introductory scenario doesn't treat them like that. But there is plenty of potential for it. I think it depends on the players attitudes, the GM, the game you are playing, and the time period.

...

Okay, taking your defence and applying it Black characters, how will they be referred to collectively? I respect your right to defend your position and the stance you are taking appears understandable, but if you compromise in one area (and I expect you will have to logically), then the stance makes less sense.

Given the times you plan to depict I think a gentler approach to collective naming for ethnic groups may be less of a hazard for you as a writer ultimately. Just my two pence. :thumb:

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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I refer to Black people as a race as Negroes. If they don't mind that then thats good, but there are other 'period' things in the book that will cause offence if Negro does. I realise I am in a no win situation here and I haven't even mentioned the religions yet!

Mr Jealousy has returned to reality!

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I refer to Black people as a race as Negroes. If they don't mind that then thats good, but there are other 'period' things in the book that will cause offence if Negro does. I realise I am in a no win situation here and I haven't even mentioned the religions yet!

Just don't add politics to the allready hot soup! :D

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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I think we have to face the fact that it was an incredibly racist period. I have tried to allow for that by saying this is what its like, but I don't force anyone to behave in a racist manner... oh... hang on... actually... Ah, no I don't force anyone to behave that way. But, because of the setting it has to be allowed for.

Mr Jealousy has returned to reality!

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I think we have to face the fact that it was an incredibly racist period. I have tried to allow for that by saying this is what its like, but I don't force anyone to behave in a racist manner... oh... hang on... actually... Ah, no I don't force anyone to behave that way. But, because of the setting it has to be allowed for.

Yeah, to be close to a realistic depiction (nevermind the mythical elements) you do have to acknowledge and allow for the racism of the day. The thing is, do you need to use those terms upfront?

Negoes? Pretty accepted term, but you'd have to acknowledge that for the time period many whites, especially southerners would think of them as "niggas" or "bucks" or maybe "blacks". Would you really want to use those terms on a bullet point for the back cover of the Aces High book?

The term "American Indian" or "Indians" or "Tribes" could be used instead of "Redskins", though mentioning it inside the book as appropriate for the setting works.

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