Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Was Zoran Bekric right?

Zoran Bekric was recently banned from RPGnet. Some RPGnetters might remember that name. At least for a time a few years back he was Bruce Baugh's personal bugaboo, harrying Mr. Baugh across multiple internet fora, getting himself banned from some of them for his trouble. If I recall correctly this fellow's main gripe with Baugh was that Adventure! wasn't pulpy enough, or something equally crazy-go-nuts. Mr. Bekric's lengthy RPGnet review of Adventure! was pretty much a hatchet job, but this one passage has always stuck out to me:
Beyond that, Adventure! is set in the period between the wars and one of the threats Player Characters can be expected to confront is Nazism, an ideology that maligns those it doesn't like as untermensch (under-men or less-than-humans). Presumably, the Player Characters will oppose this noxious idea and champion the democratic notion that all people are fundamentally equal. However, the game system undermines them, since the Nazis are obviously right -- there are untermensch (the Extras) and, oddly enough, they always end up being the opposition. Didn't anyone give the sub-text of this rule even a moment's consideration? (The chapter on Roleplaying has the standard literary aspirations of a White Wolf game and talks about Theme and Mood, but there's no mention of sub-text.)

Now, the idea that the text of Adventure! lines up with Nazi ideology is pretty damn ridiculous. After all, a Jew can be an Inspired hero and a gaggle of Aryan supermen can be statted out as Extras to be tossed aside by that Hebrew badass. Still, I kinda see his point. Some people are inherently better than others in Adventure!. That's going to be true of any game with levels or character points. In a fantasy game that doesn't bug me. But in a pulp game where the virtues of the day involve Motherhood, apple pie, and Uncle Sam needing you? Then it seems a little weirder, I guess. Part of the mythology of Nazi-bustin' is that a regular farmboy can whup Hitler's ass in a fair fight. Does that mean every G.I. Joe in WWII was some sort of Inspired proto-superhero? Adventure! as written seems to make that suggestion.