Against the Establishment Games

edited July 2008 in Story Games
I'm interested in games where you play characters that are fighting the establishment. Stick it to The Man type games. Ones where you are battling against the statue quo.
Can you suggest some?
Thanks.
tomg

Comments

  • The soon-to-be-forthcoming Misspent Youth by Robert Bohl is a 100% fit for this. You make the Man, you make the world, you make the characters (in that order), you fight the power.

    Or so I am led to understand.
  • Thanks for getting to it first, Mike.

    Yeah, Tom, my game is entirely about this from top to bottom. I'd be happy to elaborate if there's anything else you'd like to know.

    I feel compelled to point out several other games that do this as well:

    shock: frequently contains stories about fighting authority, though how radical or authoritarian it is tends to depend on the people who play.

    Carry has a wonderfully subversive mechanic where you have to have a certain level of disagreement with the authority figure in order for things to go OK, but not so much that you give away the store every time in conflicts.

    Then, of course, there's My Life with Master. You frequently, literally, stick it to The Man.
  • Thanks Rob and Mike.
    I expected Mis-spent (Misspent) (which is it?) Youth to rise to the top. From what I've read so far it would probably work. Shock could. I don't know anything about carry but it sounds like this might also be the ticket. MLWM is probably a little over the top for what I'm considering.

    I'm looking also for something that deals with a persecuted people. Steal Away Jordan immediately comes to mind but are there others?

    By the way Rob I'm enjoying the podcast.
  • Jesus, it's like the whole nineties never happened.

    Vampire
    Werewolf
    Mage
    Wraith (sort of)
    Changeling
  • edited July 2008
    Grey Ranks.

    Child polish soldiers fighting Nazis.

    You MIGHT want to check out: Spione. It's about spies in cold war Berlin. The character's aren't *necessarily* "sticking it to the man" per se but the players kind of are indirectly. You can definitely be left with a, "what the fuck were these governments THINKING" feeling after playing it.

    Jesse
  • Tomg,

    This is exactly what Perfect is about. I'm currently in late-ish playtesting of the second edition.

    It's a game about criminals in a post-Victorian dystopia. They're stifled by their government, their society, and the ever-present Inspectors. Everything you hold dear is against the law. Everything you want, you aren't allowed to want. Against a world that wants nothing more than conformity, how do you stray? Why? And will you keep straying after men dressed in black suits kidnap you and brainwash you in an unmarked room in an unmarked building?

    Malcolm Craig said, of the first version: "It's like Kafka and Charlotte Bronte had children, and those children wrote Blade Runner."
    It's also a bit like A Clockwork Orange, combined with 1984, as written by Jane Austen.
  • Misspent, not Mis-spent (but I don't really care how you spell it so long as you call me to dinner, or something).

    Yeah, SAJ would be good too. I don't know how good your chances are against the The Man in that game, but then again I don't know how important "winning" is to you. Still, I don't get the sense you directly conflict with slavemasters in that game (which again, may be what you want).

    Whenever I play Dogs in the Vineyard, I'm playing against the authority I'm granted by the setting. I may not always be roleplaying a character who's actively defiant, but I am always--be it by negative example or directly--attacking the culture that the Dogs come out of.

    I'll try to think of other victims of persecution games too.

    PS: Thanks, Tom. I'm glad you like the podcast. Up next: Elizabeth Shoemaker on It's Complicated!
  • Posted By: joepubThis is exactly what Perfect is about. I'm currently in late-ish playtesting of the second edition.
    I knew there was an obvious one I was forgetting. Sorry!

    Also, Covert Generation, though I sense that that game is more about combating a conspiracy rather than a known bad guy in authority.
  • The most subversive game out there is still Dogs in the Vineyard. By the end, you've both judged yourself for all the horrible choices you've had to make, and rejected society for being so fucked up to have given you those choices in the first place. Lots of people miss the punk rock in all the Mormons.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyJesus, it's like the whole nineties never happened.
    Yeah, pretty much all games from the 90s. UnderGround, all the WoD stuff (and yeah, Wraith too JD- Sticking it to Charon's underworld cronies and freeing souls from being smelted into coins), heck the RIFTS America plot is all about kicking back against the Coalition, even.

    World of Darkness is the most through-and-through example of "against the establishment" games that I know of. In fact, until the reboot it seemed like it was the one trick pony of White Wolf... but it was one hell of a trick.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: Robert BohlStill, I don't get the sense you directly conflict with slavemasters in that game (which again, may be what you want).
    If you want to, rather, if they want you to. It can be a goal to kill your master and/or start a rebellion, so yeah.
  • Starchildren the Velvet Generation.

    Way out of print but it had such a good premise.
  • Don't forget Nine Worlds! Not only can you stick it to the man, you can stick it to the gods. And, then take over their fucking planet. You actually get to do that in the game if you want.

    It's pretty cool.
  • Hey Matt,

    Is Nine Worlds structured/themed towards anti-establishment storylines, or storylines where you stick-it-to-the-man? Is this just a possible storyline, or is this a storyline strongly underwriting Nine Worlds?
  • Posted By: Jerry D. GraysonStarchildren the Velvet Generation.

    Way out of print but it had such a good premise.
    Oh holy crap yeah!

    -Andy
  • My next question is how do you want The Man to be stuck?

    We have a great list of games here, but we can't narrow the selection down much without some more information. Are you looking for a short- or long-form game? What kind of mechanics would support the play you're interested in?
  • Geez... did everyone forget Cyberpunk spin-off Cybergeneration?

    That had a serious "against the man" vibe.
  • Well, Cyberpunk itself had a lot of "fighting the system" in it.

    Shadowrun did, too, before you started piling on the fetishes and cyberware and crap.

    And Star Children, the Velvet Generation was really a heartbreaker for me. My wife loves Glam Rock and we really wanted it to be... better than it turned out.
    But there's no denying it was a Stick-it-to-the-Man game.
    (You know, Star Children could really use a story games makeover.)
  • There's quite a bit of sticking it to the man in Poison'd. Not only do you stick it to the man, you steal his stuff and violate his daughter.

    Graham
  • Classics: Cyberpunk 2020 & CyberGeneration.
  • edited July 2008
    In Defiance you roleplay insurrectionists who have lost almost everything except for their desire to fight against the corrupt authorities ruling a city that is half quasi-fairytale and half historical dystopia. Many of them will die, none of them will win, but some will inspire a revolution in the future that may liberate the city and usher in a golden age.

    There game hasn't been released yet and I can't make any promises for a release date because I've never published a game. However I can say that the interior artwork has a deadline of Sept 9. After that I just need to finish the layout, have it edited, and design the covers.
  • Another obvious title that I am surprised nobody suggested: Sorcerer.

    The Man? The Sorcerer characters are sticking it to the entire natural order of the universe....

    (they are, almost by definition, people who violate every social or natural rule to get what they want...)
  • Hey, what about Traveller? You've just been "mustered out" after giving the Man the best years of your life, and he wants you to sit around quietly until you die and not make any trouble. What do you do?
  • I have to third (?) CyberGeneration, because it was something of an inspiration for Misspent Youth. I'm not a super-big fan of the mechanics of that game or some of the "duh, obviously" choices mentioned. I think it'd help a lot for Tom to let us know what kind of game he's looking for, as requested earlier.
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenClassics: Cyberpunk 2020 & CyberGeneration.
    **cough** Cog Wars ** cough**
  • Posted By: JDCorleyJesus, it's like the whole nineties never happened.

    Vampire
    Werewolf
    Mage
    Wraith (sort of)
    Changeling
    More like sticking it to your parents. Take that, Dad!

    p.
  • I could put Exalted (Solars) in here too... the basic idea with a starting Solars campaign is to go from hunted anathema outcast, hated and feared by society... to ruler of whatever chunk of Creation you can carve out, while hopefully annihilating the Realm, those corrupt fuckers! yeah! Or y'know. killin' some gods and demons, beatin' up the celestial incarnae and takin' the jade pleasure dome for yourself. Or you could infiltrate some corrupt governments and dismantle them piece by piece from the inside. Will all your power make YOU become The Man? White Wolf's one trick strikes again!

    Oh, and Jamey's award winning game, Horsies of Happiland. Rock on, horsies!
  • Posted By: Paul BMore like sticking it to yourparents. Take that, Dad!
    Is there really a difference?

    It must be said, a lot of 90s WoD play looked from the outside like it was very much about serving authority: doing what the Prince of the city told you, fighting who you were supposed to. Is this not the case? Was it only the case in LARPs?
  • Mike, that was one of the criticisms of oWoD, how powerful the NPCs were, how in the grand scheme of things you were small and meaningless.

    Burning Wheel: Jihad. Or at least, half the setting was about it.
  • Posted By: joepubHey Matt,

    Is Nine Worlds structured/themed towards anti-establishment storylines, or storylines where you stick-it-to-the-man? Is this just a possible storyline, or is this a storyline strongly underwriting Nine Worlds?
    It's structured toward it the question of whether or not you support the man. It's the defining question of the game. So, sure, there are choices in the game where you actually support the man. Or, you fight the man. It's either one, and it's central to the game.

    It's not like "Oh, you could 'fight the man' in this game, but you could also do Mission: Impossible and maybe some Buffy kind of stuff too." No. The game is about authority. Do you agree with what the gods say and do or don't you? And, what are you going to DO about it? Awesome.
  • Posted By: WirebrainGeez... did everyone forget Cyberpunk spin-off Cybergeneration?
    Argh, I forgot it again! I have again shamed the family!

    This was a classic.

    Also, Brave New World for the supers angle, and Midnight for the D&D angle.
  • Ooooh, Midnight.
  • Exalted when playing as Solars or Lunars, though the general plan is actually to become The Man rather than just dethrone her.

    Mage, where you stick it to both the Technocracy and consensus reality itself.

    I have a half-finished game called The Revolution in which basically anything organized could be the enemy. I may never finish it, but punk music and DJ Vadim / Sarah Jones' "Your Revolution" were major inspirations.
  • Oh, shit! I forgot @ctiv8!
  • Posted By: misubaPosted By: Paul BMore like sticking it to yourparents. Take that, Dad!
    Is there really a difference?

    It must be said, a lot of 90s WoD play looked from the outside like it was very much aboutservingauthority: doing what the Prince of the city told you, fighting who you were supposed to. Is this not the case? Was it only the case in LARPs?

    Well, sure, there's a big difference between fighting your evil, underground, counterculture "dad" and fighting legitimate or tyrannical social authority. Anyway, WoD stuff was more about being ostracized and trying to find a place to fit in, "woe is you."

    As for the LARPs, they were ALL about fitting in, that's what the mechanics rewarded and that's what the storylines really reflected.
  • Thanks for all the help!
    I've got some really good suggestions that I'm going to look into further. Perfect really does sound 'perfect'. Subversive and subtle is what I'm after. I'm starting to develop an idea about the First Century Christians against the status quo Roman government, Jewish establishment, etc.. How to prosper and spread Christianity without ending up like Peter and Paul if at all possible. Yeah, I know martyrdom meant you were doing something right in this case, but that is another thread. Or a whole other forum.
    If it gels you'll be the first to see the results.
  • edited July 2008
    Posted By: misuba
    It must be said, a lot of 90s WoD play looked from the outside like it was very much aboutservingauthority: doing what the Prince of the city told you, fighting who you were supposed to. Is this not the case? Was it only the case in LARPs?
    Not with the PCs trying to kill the Prince every session (in Vampire LARPs I mean).
  • That's ridiculous. In every Vampire LARP I ever played, the Prince was a virtually unkillable narrator. Most people didn't even bother.
    Finding new ways to kiss butt was the major past time.

    Mind you, I played in Portland, Oregon, in the mid 90s.
  • We had a fair number of violent coups in five years, and even between coups, Princes found it hard enough to keep their own thugs in line, let alone to try to enforce their will on those who were outright resisters.
  • edited July 2008
    Tabletop groups have a small number of PCs, LARPs have too many PCs.*
    Especially if you consider how many vampires there should be in a city (1 for every 100k in Camarilla controlled, 1 for every 50k in Sabbat controlled).

    Well, I am used to small cities too.

    * And this is what results in such an unstable social order in the LARP. Also, proliferation of PCs that can gang up on the Prince physically...
  • What no Tribe 8?

    You are exiled, Clan of the Cave Bear-style, by your friends, family and community and told by a your demi-god that you are no longer human. You are driven to a island filled with criminals, the insane and other outcasts like yourself. Despite this, a forgotten prophecy of blood and sacrifice promises that you all are inheritors of legacy that will lead humanity to it's ultimate liberation.

    Rock!

  • Posted By: ArpieThat's ridiculous. In every Vampire LARP I ever played, the Prince was a virtually unkillable narrator. Most people didn't even bother.
    Finding new ways to kiss butt was the major past time.

    Mind you, I played in Portland, Oregon, in the mid 90s.
    Yeah, that's just a different play experience. Especially since under MET you *can't* make a character who can win a fight against five combat focused characters, unless you're fiatting away their success. Even making one that could run away from such a fight is difficult.
  • Mayfair Game's Underground RPG from the early 1990s. You were a super-powered vet tossed out on the streets after being "used up" in a war overseas.

    One of the boxed supplements, I think it was "Streets Tell Stories" or somesuch, had a really cool mechanic where you could try to improve your neighborhood by running missions to improve scores in areas like economics, crime, etc. but any improvement always screwed up some other score and caused new problems.

    They also had Tasty Ghoul products, which was Soylent Green without any attempt to pretend.

    ME
  • Posted By: ArpieThat's ridiculous. In every Vampire LARP I ever played, the Prince was a virtually unkillable narrator. Most people didn't even bother.
    Finding new ways to kiss butt was the major past time.
    As a former Primogen in a LARP, I can promise you that's not a hard-and-fast rule of VampLARPs. In every one *I've* played in, every character of rank was a PC, including once when I was brought in for a few sessions as an Archon, after my previous Malk was perma-killed. Yeah, the low-gen characters are tough... but I've never seen one that's unkillable, let alone a "narrator" (NPC?). Maybe it's an East Coast thing, but "GM PCs" are generally laughed out of play (IG and OOG)--nowadays, I'd all-but-ignore a GM playing 'his own" PC with a bunch of cheater power.

    That said... yeah, when a Methuselah shows up, it can be TPK for the other PCs. Good reason for "unlikely alliances" between otherwise-adversarial PCs and factions....
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