Thursday, October 6, 2011

Don't Throw out the Baby with the Bath Water

A few days ago, I said that I really liked the flying mounts and cylinder cities of Gor and thought they'd be fun to play in. Immediately, a torrent of people came crying, “You promote rape culture.” Well, not a torrent, just three, but they were very persistent :)

Now, had I said, “I really loved the bondage in Gor, let’s use it to play with kids,” their arguments would have had merit. Bondage is certainly not for kids and I imagine even many adults find it offensive. However, this is not what I said. What I said was, “let’s leave the bondage and sex aside, and take from this source what we can use, namely very cool bird mounts, unique city design and insect overlords.” 

Big birds, big buildings and big bugs; this is only offensive if you have a problem with pointless alliteration.

Now, I imagine the very mention of Gor is offensive to some people. Fair enough. Don’t use this word. I never said you should play Gor, now did I? Only that it would be fun to burrow some aspects of it. Call it Lor, call it “birds and towers,” call it “how I stopped worrying about priest-kings and learned to love golden beetles.” Whatever floats your boat.

Saying no element of an adult work can inspire a game for children, would kill a huge part of our children’s literature and cinema. Anything Biblical? Kill – incest and bigotry. Anything from Arabian Nights? Kill – erotica and slavery. Anything from WWII? Kill – Nazism and genocide. Anything Medieval? Kill – crusades and witch-burning.

You do not want to know what these two did in the original version...
If you did, you would not ride a magic carpet ever again!

For example, 300 is definitely not for kids. Using it to design a jump and stab attack with a spear? Awesome. Friday the 13th is 101% not for kids. A mysterious villain in a scary hokey mask? Full of win. La blue girl OMG! TOTALLY NOT FOR KIDS! a funny talking cat companion? adorable.

In short, if we ignore an entire source because of one aspect which is not suitable, we narrow our vision to a tiny, boring point. Why not take the best of everything, leave out the worst, and just have better and richer games for it? I mean, if a work of questionable moral value has this one amazing, innocent, wonderful NPC just begging to be rescued from all this filth and adventure in your clean and lovely world, would you deny him*?

*This was a joke. If NPCs are talking to you, please consult a trained professional.

"Let me see. A genuine African native," Mickey murmured. "Perhaps I should start showing him off."
This is also Disney...

NOTE: you may agree or disagree with me, but please don't float. Making your point once is enough :)


  1. By this point this has moved from discussion to harassment, seeing as you repeat the same point time and again like a parrot, despite me asking you to stop and repeatedly resort to personally offending me or other people who express opinions that don't much your own.


  2. Great clarification. I knew what you meant when you posted "Children of Gor" I thought it was brilliant. People need to not focus on one little nitpick thing. Sheesh.

  3. You stated that you thought Gor was a good campaign setting for kids.

    You didn't say to pick out the better parts; you said that Gor itself was a good setting for kids. Let's quote you, here! "Last week I wrote that the Gor universe could make a great setting to play with kids..."

    And then you move the goalposts, saying that, no, you didn't say that Gor was a good setting for kids! Just parts of it! Even though you did say that Gor was a good setting for kids. And you say that everyone else is simply ignoring the entirety of Gor, even though no one said that and, indeed, said that there's no harm in taking the other aspects of Gor that don't involve the objectification of half the population.

    You're being childish, trying to pretend that the arguments you made were in fact not the arguments you made and creating strawmen to attack because your own position was untenable.

  4. J, This is simply not true.

    My first statement on the subject was, and I quote: "Wait until I tell you about the game based on John Norman's Gor"

    I have even joked about some people mistakenly thinking of introducing bondage, saying: "Bondage: yeah... let's leave that for later :)"

    Anyhow, this is my statement and intention and let's finish this circular and, quite frankly, boring flaming and move to greener pastures.

  5. If you don't want your opinions to be commented on, maybe you shouldn't post them on a blog?

  6. Oh I do, I just don't want the exact same argument repeated 70 times. This is called flooding and is not polite at all.

  7. Okay, understood. In that case, I'm genuinely interested to hear your answer to a few questions I haven't already seen:

    1. When your players got to the scattered cities on the giant birds, how would you describe the cities while avoiding the whole bondage thing? In Gor, even just in a classic fantasy meet up in a tavern intro, you have tavern slaves whose "use" goes with the price of a bowl of paga.

    2. If you're throwing out the slave-centric culture/economics/everything entirely, and suggesting that people not call it Gor etc, why do you insist on calling it Gor? As others have pointed out, insectoid races, giant birds and unusual cities are not unique to Gor.

    3. Let's imagine that one of your daughter's friends goes home and tells her dad that you're planning to run a game based on John Norman's Gor. Let's say the dad has read one or more of the books. Do you imagine him being okay with that? Do you think you could explain your intentions in a way that would make him okay with it?

  8. 1. I describe them as places with thieves aiming for your pocket, mercenaries looking for a fight and scheming merchants looking for adventurers. The only aspect I take from the cities are the cylinders. Again, given that you hate the series so much, I find it odd you read all the books and seem to know it much better than me.

    2. I said, multiple times, as explicitly as humanly possible NOT to use the word Gor. For example, I call it Tzipori Milchama ("War Birds").

    3. Due to 2. 3 won't happen. Just like mentioning flying carpets won't lead to racism, fundamentalism, and support of slavery. That is, all they'll be able to say, we rode giant birds and fought giant insects who secretly control the world. Fully harmless.

    Also, none of my players speak English...