Apr 26, 2013

A Modest Proposal for an Indecent RPG: Don't Play This in Public

I'm almost ashamed to confess that I spend way too much time playing games. I trawl the radioactive badlands for rocket fuel or go spelunking in ice caves to shoot at bat-faced elves and annoying blue gnomes; I carjack delivery vans to escape from police and rival gang members; or I talk a kid out of joining a crew of space mercenaries because I don't want him to get killed.

You get the idea. 

The more computer role-playing games you play, the more common features you see. Usable items, be they weapons, clothing, salves or food, all share a ubiquitous property: stats. Stats are modifiers, traits that give your character some advantage. There's basic damage, damage per second (DPS), and then special effects which alter gameplay to varying extents. These special or magical effects, depending on game flavor, usually get quantified and arranged in neat categories. 

Plenty of medievalist fantasy games offer flaming, freezing or shocking swords, for example. Exceptionally, you find items that provide more than special kinds of damage: Morrowind, third game in the Elder Scrolls series, had the "Boots of Blinding Speed," which allowed you to run a great deal faster, but the screen went dark when you ran.

To simplify matters, stats are usually presented as numbers -- say, the Measly Sword of Slicing would give +2 to your damage-dealing capacity, whereas the Toxic Spear of Puncturing might give you +20 damage and a 15% chance of food poisoning. Some stats augment skills your character already possesses; the flipside is that you don't usually gain a skill by owning a certain weapon or item. So the Leather Thongs of the Volcano, which boost fire mage spells, would prove quite useless to a Transvestite Assassin, whose main expertise lies in the field of concealed weapons, not fire magic skills.  

Developing an RPG is a daunting task, one that I haven't launched into just yet. But I have a few ideas for the kind of RPG I'd create. It would feature the following weapons:

The Childress Revolver -- shoots magic bullets that bring your enemies back to life

The Fuzzy Dagger of the Nin-po Monks -- made of compacted yak fur, +1 to Baboon Grooming

The Unspeakable Dong of Mischance -- gives mammoths unruly erections

The Sequined Rod of Fate -- turns you into your drag queen self from a parallel universe

The Poleax of Sleep Disorders -- afflicts enemies with narcolepsy and a 2% chance of Critical Wet Dream

The Prolegomenon -- a bust of Immanuel Kant that you wield as a blunt weapon, +3 to Moral Imperative, -1 to Debauchery

The Air Guitar of Crapshoots -- invisible weapon, generates random sonic waves; %25 chance of Looking like a Fucking Idiot

Beer Binoculars -- like beer goggles, but only work at a distance; +7 to Impaired Judgment

The Wand of Flaming Hypocrisy -- find out which enemies wear pink thongs for a %60 chance of Ridicule

The Retardatron -- Releases waves of chainsaw-wielding manatees

Pottery Shard from the Qing Era -- cuts you real bad if you're not careful

Panda Thigh Bone -- +6 to Extinction, +6 to Who's Laughing Now, +6 to Fossil Misidentification

Bladed Poster of the Revolution -- your enemies self-criticize to death

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