Monday, November 20, 2017

Terrible Law

"Don't take it away from me
I need someone to hold on to"

Nine Inch Nails - Terrible Lie

So's-I's-a'wuz-a-thinkens, I've never entirely liked the way the law/chaos axis has been handled in cRPGs and much of dis, like, dislike has to do with lying. Bad enough that chaotic or freedom-loving characters get painted as mere spazzy goofball comic relief or frequently insane. Need we heap further insult upon them by labeling them liars to boot?

After all, lying is in the real world more often than not the very mortar holding up any power hierarchy's foundations, in the form of a big lie, a blatantly false dogma which must be sustained by continual, unyielding, authoritarian falsehood. Religions give us the prime example. The very notion of the existence of the "super"-natural must be supported by constant, ritualistic repetition of the lie, in unchanging chapter and verse, to the point where not even the threat of truth but minor secondary embellishments of the big lie are apt to spawn pogroms, inquisitions and jihads. There's nothing at once as lawful and as dishonest as a mantra or catechism. Brainwashing. Capitalism, communism, primitivism, feminism, veganism and tribal identities of all stripes similarly depend on repeating, ad nauseam, their own particular big lies. Everything's always the fault of the (insert evil here): Jews, welfare queens, carnivores, bourgeoisie, white imperialism, technocracy, black imperialism, patriarchy, polka-dot-imperialism, etc.

Pick your poison and if it doesn't sound convincing, just keep repeating it until it drowns out dissent.

In fact, let's make a game of it. Literally. In the spirit of RPGs which allow you to play evil characters, create a game in which your roleplaying choices center on upholding a particular big lie. Fabricate fake news and fake statistics, bribe and smear and silence the opposition, subvert and divert rational criticism by emotional manipulation, monetize your true believers, feed unrelated scandals to shift scrutiny off yourself, foment moral panics, bury evidence, play the victim, play the people's champion, found entire institutions dedicated to legitimizing your propaganda in the eyes of the public. Base success on how consistently, how lawfully the player manages to uphold a blatant falsehood.

Most of the world's population is either already playing this game, or wishes they could. Someone should really cash in on it. If it plays in New York, it'll play in Neverwinter.

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