When you uncomfortably realize you've entered a 'magical realm'...

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Shipyard Locked

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
2,183
Reaction score
4,004
First, the definition of 'magical realm' for this discussion:
https://1d4chan.org/wiki/Magical_realm

Have you ever found yourself wandering into one of these as a player?

I haven't experienced this sort of thing myself, but in college I heard of a Werewolf: The Apocalypse campaign where the players started to realize that the GM was just a little too interested in the details of how lupus breed werewolves came to be (and I've retained a mild aversion to the setting since, which I mentioned back on the other forum).
 

Tommy Brownell

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2017
Messages
3,430
Reaction score
8,691
Nah, I avoid that stuff in my games.

Now, don't read my fiction too close...
 

The Butcher

Nobody fucks with him
Joined
Apr 29, 2017
Messages
4,511
Reaction score
11,391
giphy.gif
 

Spinachcat

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2017
Messages
764
Reaction score
1,139
At a convention many years ago, my buddy and I played a demo of Cybergeneration.
It's the "sequel" to Cyberpunk 2020 where you play teens.
The GM took a pee break at the 1 hour mark...we all fled the table.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
28,735
Reaction score
79,981
Not something I've experienced as a player, thankfully.
 

Leon ap Hywel

Lord of Misrule
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
923
Reaction score
1,202
If this happened at my game table of 37-42 year olds men who've been gaming together for 20ish years I'd probably pass out in shock and horror lol. Mind you this might explain James games hmmm
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
5,468
Reaction score
14,648
I did wonder why my last GM insisted on wearing a gimp suit.
 

Necrozius

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
3,147
Reaction score
6,696
Not really, but it's something I've worried about.

The closest I've ever experienced was an awkwardness created between two players. Out of game they had a budding romance forming and they played it out in-game with their characters. They were mostly decent about it; most of the "fade to black" moments happened on the forums (where players were rewarded for adding prose during downtime (eg: journals).

It wasn't that bad, really, come to think of it. But it caused problems that I won't get into here (hint: her boyfriend was at the table too).
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
Have you ever found yourself wandering into one of these as a player?

Yes. Once. This was my response:

i-am-sorry-but-no.jpg


It was a V:TM game. A new group I'd never played with, including the storyteller. Things started off fine, then quickly became some moderate S&M* play. At first I just thought the storyteller was just getting into some deep, dark themes, but as the game went on, it became clear he was just playing out his fetishes at the expense of the story and his players.

Some of the players seemed okay with it, and were going along. Me and another dude weren't down. When I finally got it through my head what was happening, I politely explained that I wasn't comfortable with the sexual elements and excused myself from the campaign. The other dude followed suit, being somewhat less polite but not rude.

The storyteller got mad. I mean, really mad. He started running his mouth, saying some rather insulting things. The dude and and I glanced at each other, shrugged, and walked away.

Ruined my interest in Vampire for a long while.

* Not judging. But sex is a prickly thing at the gametable and tends to mess things up unless (A) all the players know what they're signing on for, and (B) all the players are into it. This is rarely the case, IME, so I keep the sex at my table at a R rating at the most.
 

Spartan

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2017
Messages
299
Reaction score
664
No. The definition in the link provided was uh, enlightening. ;)

It had honestly not occurred to me that this would be a common thing. Whatever makes people happy, but it's not for me.
 

S'mon

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
294
Reaction score
397
First, the definition of 'magical realm' for this discussion:
https://1d4chan.org/wiki/Magical_realm
Have you ever found yourself wandering into one of these as a player?

Not really (except playing PBEMs back in the '90s with one lady, but I knew what she was into...) - but I mostly GM.
As GM I do try to keep the scantily clad slave girl NPCs IMCs to a minimum...
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
I think the issue with this kind of thing isn't the content itself; it's the player's understanding of the themes explored from the beginning.

If the GM makes his interests clear, and states openly that there are going to be sexually explicit themes in the game, and all players are down for that, then great. But traps are traps. And I don't like surprises.
 

S'mon

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
294
Reaction score
397
I think the issue with this kind of thing isn't the content itself; it's the player's understanding of the themes explored from the beginning.

If the GM makes his interests clear, and states openly that there are going to be sexually explicit themes in the game, and all players are down for that, then great. But traps are traps. And I don't like surprises.

Yeah - when my PBEM GM made it clear she was into BDSM that was fine (except when she took the S too far by using a sockpuppet ID PC to torture her GMPC).

On a related note, I recently had a player who insisted on bringing her own issues/dark fantasies into my explicitly family-friendly D&D game in which my son was playing. That wasn't nice. IME players can be guilty of this just as much as GMs.
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
Yeah - when my PBEM GM made it clear she was into BDSM that was fine (except when she took the S too far by using a sockpuppet ID PC to torture her GMPC).

On a related note, I recently had a player who insisted on bringing her own issues/dark fantasies into my explicitly family-friendly D&D game in which my son was playing. That wasn't nice. IME players can be guilty of this just as much as GMs.

Yeah, that's...that's...no. Just no.

That kinda thing with kids at the table? No.

Look, I've got a lot of tolerance for people working out their issues during a game. Some people have them and it's the closest thing to therapy they'll ever find. I can put up with a lot of BS if that's what I think is going on.

But there's a line.
 

S'mon

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
294
Reaction score
397
The RPG table is a BAD place for therapy.

That's my experience - the player I had with 'issues' just kept repeating the same script, I don't see how it was helping her at all, and it was freaking me out.
 

Necrozius

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
3,147
Reaction score
6,696
Something came to me this morning. Not a GM's fetish for anything sexual, but he had a massive hard-on for the militarism of 40K. When he took a turn running the game, he was meticulous about tactics and the management/upkeep of weapons and gear.

It got really awful when he'd stop the game to lecture us about the intricacies of military punishment and Court Martials.

But as I write this, I realise that he DID bring something "magical" to the table. Every game he had the same PC (or GMPC, if he was running it). A promiscuous, attractive 18 year old female with a shady past (usually involving drugs and/or prostitution). She was always a dexterous gun bunny glass cannon. Also, he made sure that we always knew exactly what she was wearing, down to intimate detail.

He stopped doing that when he got a girlfriend, unsurprisingly.
 

The Butcher

Nobody fucks with him
Joined
Apr 29, 2017
Messages
4,511
Reaction score
11,391
Something came to me this morning. Not a GM's fetish for anything sexual, but he had a massive hard-on for the militarism of 40K. When he took a turn running the game, he was meticulous about tactics and the management/upkeep of weapons and gear.

It got really awful when he'd stop the game to lecture us about the intricacies of military punishment and Court Martials.

But as I write this, I realise that he DID bring something "magical" to the table. Every game he had the same PC (or GMPC, if he was running it). A promiscuous, attractive 18 year old female with a shady past (usually involving drugs and/or prostitution). She was always a dexterous gun bunny glass cannon. Also, he made sure that we always knew exactly what she was wearing, down to intimate detail.

He stopped doing that when he got a girlfriend, unsurprisingly.

Therapists have been familiar with the cathartic power of roleplaying for decades. Though we exercise it as a hobby rather than therapy, it is inevitable that a minority of hobbyists will bring their issues to the gaming table.

I sometimes wonder about the people who always play the same character, or GMs who always feature the same NPC. When it's a barbarian prince whose parents were murdered or a lesbian stripper ninja, it's easy enough to overlook.

But we had this (super annoying, insecure, attention whore) guy where every other adventure (regardless of game; he usually ran D&D or VtM) ended with a big ass demon threatening the party and saying, at some point, "YOU ARE PATHETIC!" and you start to wonder where creative bankruptcy ends and real, honest-to-God psychopathology begin.
 

Baulderstone

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
8,047
Reaction score
22,369
Since Necrozius has opened up the topic to obsession of a non-kink nature....

When I ran a game store, I had one guy who would come in and run pick-up games of Star Wars at the game tables. Inevitably, all his games would result in the players being taken prisoner and sold as slaves by the Empire. There wasn't any BDSM kink to it. This guy was just very earnest about educating people about the genuine horrors of slavery, which is a little outside the tone people expect when they sit down to play Star Wars.
 

Necrozius

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
3,147
Reaction score
6,696
But we had this (super annoying, insecure, attention whore) guy where every other adventure (regardless of game; he usually ran D&D or VtM) ended with a big ass demon threatening the party and saying, at some point, "YOU ARE PATHETIC!" and you start to wonder where creative bankruptcy ends and real, honest-to-God psychopathology begin.

When I ran a game store, I had one guy who would come in and run pick-up games of Star Wars at the game tables. Inevitably, all his games would result in the players being taken prisoner and sold as slaves by the Empire. There wasn't any BDSM kink to it. This guy was just very earnest about educating people about the genuine horrors of slavery, which is a little outside the tone people expect when they sit down to play Star Wars.

I really shouldn't be finding these stories humorous, but I actually laughed out loud at both. I don't know why: perhaps because I've been watching a lot of Tim and Eric sketches on YouTube lately (i.e. the awkward juxtaposition of innocent hobbies with expressions of serious emotional issues or ideological obsessions).

I'm not proud of myself.
 

Baulderstone

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
8,047
Reaction score
22,369
I really shouldn't be finding these stories humorous, but I actually laughed out loud at both. I don't know why: perhaps because I've been watching a lot of Tim and Eric sketches on YouTube lately (i.e. the awkward juxtaposition of innocent hobbies with expressions of serious emotional issues or ideological obsessions).

I'm not proud of myself.
If it makes you feel better, I would stand behind the counter watching with quiet amusement every time that guy pulled some new victims into his game. He was actually a very nice guy, just a terrible Star Wars GM. If, instead of playing bait-and-switch, he found a group of serious-minded gamers that wanted to explore deep issues in RPGs, I would actually consider him pretty good at what he was doing.
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
The RPG table is a BAD place for therapy.

I agree Spinach, but sometimes a bad place is better than no place.

And remember, I wrote that I'm tolerant, not that I encourage it.
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
Something came to me this morning. Not a GM's fetish for anything sexual, but he had a massive hard-on for the militarism of 40K. When he took a turn running the game, he was meticulous about tactics and the management/upkeep of weapons and gear.

It got really awful when he'd stop the game to lecture us about the intricacies of military punishment and Court Martials.

I used to get this kinda thing a lot. One of my early, regular players was heavy into gun lore. Every character was the Punisher in one form or the other, and he would waste a lot of gametime lecturing us about firearms or complaining about how unrealistic the firearms stats were.

I eventually kicked him out of my table. No one else would play with him.

Ironically, I used to have a fair number of vets and cops at my table. They almost never took issue with the weapons stats. I noted this once, and "Who gives a fuck; it's a game." Was the usual reply.

He stopped doing that when he got a girlfriend, unsurprisingly.

I've noticed that there's a lot less derp at game tables when the participants are regularly getting laid. Becuse of this, I instituted an hour-long Mandatory Gaming Orgy prior to the actual game, to, you know, mellow everyone out. :grin:
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
Therapists have been familiar with the cathartic power of roleplaying for decades. Though we exercise it as a hobby rather than therapy, it is inevitable that a minority of hobbyists will bring their issues to the gaming table.

I think it's more than a minority. I've seen too much of this at my and other tables. Almost every game I've been a part of that went tits up was because somebody tried to inject their issues onto the table, and the others didn't understand that, and/or didn't want to be any part of it.

I sometimes wonder about the people who always play the same character, or GMs who always feature the same NPC. When it's a barbarian prince whose parents were murdered or a lesbian stripper ninja, it's easy enough to overlook.

I used to do this in my teens. Always the same, min-maxed archetype. I grew out of it and now force myself to play something different each time.

But we had this (super annoying, insecure, attention whore) guy where every other adventure (regardless of game; he usually ran D&D or VtM) ended with a big ass demon threatening the party and saying, at some point, "YOU ARE PATHETIC!"...

Sounds like dad issues to me.

...and you start to wonder where creative bankruptcy ends and real, honest-to-God psychopathology begin.

I'd argue they're one and the same.
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
So when your creativity and self discipline run out, your go-to neuroses take over?

Obviously not. I'm not trying to suggest that the moment we hit a creative speed-bump it's because of whatever psychological baggage we may or may not have.

Creativity and self-discipline need renewal. When you hit a wall, sometimes you need to back off, rest, and recover for a while. Like exercise. Writing blocks happen. We've all been there. This is normal and part of the process.

I'm not writing about creativity blocks here, Shipyard. I'm talking about quality control.

What I'm suggesting is when you're still creating content, and the quality of said content takes a nose-dive, it's a good idea to reevaluate rather than power on. And when I write "content takes a nose-dive", I'm not just talking about mistakes or a slump. Mistakes happen and slumps are normal. I'm talking about a consistent level of performance well below what we know we're capable of, insisting on that level of performance, and then shitting out a final product that smells as bad as it actually is, then celebrating it.

And sometimes we do this because there are issues in play that need to be addressed. The mind functions on survival strategies, and sometimes those strategies are based on outdated conditioning. Updating them can make a difference. I'm big on self-disciple, but sometimes it helps if you lighten the mental load.

That's all I'm saying.
 

Spartan

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2017
Messages
299
Reaction score
664
Wow, my gaming history has been positively quiescent. Asides from the odd one trick pony or milspec aficionado, I got nuthin'. I tend to insert HEMA sensibilities into gaming, so that weapon weights are realistic, but that's about it. And no one says "I draw my sword from my back scabbard" in my games with a straight face. I don't think that counts as a magical realm, though. :smile:
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
If I ain't getting paid therapist wages, I ain't providing it for free. :cool:

Man, I really stepped in it in this thread. :oops:

Several points:

People who would genuinely benefit in therapy should be in therapy, helped by a professional, not slumming it at my, or anybody else's, game table.

Gaming isn't a substitute for real therapy.

But many people can't or won't get the help they need.

Some of them find catharsis through roleplaying.

I'm tolerant of this at my gametable if I think it's doing some good and it's not ruining everybody else's game. To a point. There are lines. Once crossed, I intervene immediately.

This is me, and only me. I'm not insisting this should be a thing for other people. I'm not. I'm not telling you how to run your games.
 

opaopajr

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
2,513
Heh, we know. :p

It's just, why sell yourself short? Ask for $50+/hr. if you're doing the hard work of therapy! :cool:

Nothing like a little cathartic fantasy during one's off time. But when it ends up deep in a 'Magical Realm'... I best get paid. ;)
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
Heh, we know. :p

It's just, why sell yourself short? Ask for $50+/hr. if you're doing the hard work of therapy! :cool:

Nothing like a little cathartic fantasy during one's off time. But when it ends up deep in a 'Magical Realm'... I best get paid. ;)

I've actually thought about this, because I can Psyche 101 and Armchair Therapist with the best of them. But (A) this shit should be done by an actual pro, and (B) I'd get fined and probably arrested for impersonating a health care professional. :sad: I don't like being fined and arrested, so no.
 

opaopajr

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
2,513
Aww, you're no fun... Think of all the malleable, impressionable minds to toy with! :grin: (Naw, I get it. ;) )
 

daniel_ream

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Messages
460
Reaction score
529
As someone who works with people with severe cluster B personality disorders, I have strong opinions on the topic this thread has drifted into (specifically, players working out their issues at the table).

It's universally a bad thing. I'm sorry, noman, but a bad place is not better than no place; it is often worse than no place, because engaging in dysfunctional coping mechanisms (which is what working out one's issues in gaming is) reinforces those mechanisms. What is needed for proper mental health is positive coping strategies, guided by a trained professional who can monitor and provide effective feedback.

We all want to have sympathy for people suffering like this, but it's important to keep in mind that what they think makes them feel better is often not helping; it is the definition of mental illness that their behaviour is self-destructive.

In general, when I end up with people like this at the table I take them aside and recommend they find a good therapist and not try to use gaming as a coping mechanism, and I don't allow them to inject personal issues into the game. It's disrespectful and uncomfortable for the rest of the group, and not healthy for the person with problems.
 

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
As someone who works with people with severe cluster B personality disorders, I have strong opinions on the topic this thread has drifted into (specifically, players working out their issues at the table).

It's universally a bad thing. I'm sorry, noman, but a bad place is not better than no place; it is often worse than no place, because engaging in dysfunctional coping mechanisms (which is what working out one's issues in gaming is) reinforces those mechanisms. What is needed for proper mental health is positive coping strategies, guided by a trained professional who can monitor and provide effective feedback.

We all want to have sympathy for people suffering like this, but it's important to keep in mind that what they think makes them feel better is often not helping; it is the definition of mental illness that their behaviour is self-destructive.

In general, when I end up with people like this at the table I take them aside and recommend they find a good therapist and not try to use gaming as a coping mechanism, and I don't allow them to inject personal issues into the game. It's disrespectful and uncomfortable for the rest of the group, and not healthy for the person with problems.

There's no need to apologize, Daniel. I don't mind if people disagree with me. And I appreciate you showing so much restraint, given that "strong" reaction to my posts. However, I'm now pretty sure some people, including you, may not be getting where I'm coming from.

Let me repost this:

Several points:

People who would genuinely benefit in therapy should be in therapy, helped by a professional, not slumming it at my, or anybody else's, game table.

Gaming isn't a substitute for real therapy.

But many people can't or won't get the help they need.

Some of them find catharsis through roleplaying.

I'm tolerant of this at my gametable if I think it's doing some good and it's not ruining everybody else's game. To a point. There are lines. Once crossed, I intervene immediately.

This is me, and only me. I'm not insisting this should be a thing for other people. I'm not. I'm not telling you how to run your games.

I'm not talking about severe or even moderate mental illness here. I'm certainly not suggesting that "severe disorders" can or should be helped with TTRPGs. I'm sure as hell not trying to play therapist. Anybody who has that impression, go back and reread what I wrote upthread, especially what I just quoted above.

I'll put it simply: I'm talking about giving a guy some leeway at my game table if he needs to blow off some steam.

Broke up with his girlfriend. Has some issues with her mother? Trying to break a gambling addiction? I'm gonna let them play that out. IF it doesn't hurt anybody else at my table. I have no problems kicking somebody out of my games if it comes to that.

I'm not offering counseling, advice, or trying to heal. I'm not a healer. I'm just letting some people play out some of their stuff. That's all.

I used to play with a lot of vets and cops. Some of them suffered PTSD. These guys were never going to therapy. Ever. Vets and cops can be pretty dark, and sometimes I let them play out some of that darkness in my games. They appreciated it, because they said it helped them relieve some of their stress, and was better than just sitting around drinking. Sometime I think it did some good, the games and their characters acting like a mirror for them to have a chance to see what was really wrong.

Is that a substitute for therapy? No. Will it help them over the long term? No. But goddammit, for a short while I was able to ease a little internal suffering by letting a bunch of half-crazy, alpha males express some things that they'd never express openly in a million years. Guys like that are just looking for some way to express what's going on in their heads. Sometimes that's enough.
 
Last edited:

noman

Inactive
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,039
I'll follow up on this in case we're actually not talking across each other, and because this (your post) was a well-thought out post that deserves a little more.

It's universally a bad thing.

This is our first problem, as I don't believe anything is universally bad (or good).

I'm sorry, noman, but a bad place is not better than no place; it is often worse than no place, because engaging in dysfunctional coping mechanisms (which is what working out one's issues in gaming is) reinforces those mechanisms.

Maybe. I'm not going to presume to debate this point with you save to point out that that I disagree on the notion that's it's either professional help or nothing. Something is usually better than nothing if you're hurting.

What is needed for proper mental health is positive coping strategies, guided by a trained professional who can monitor and provide effective feedback.

In many cases, yes. I reiterate that this is ideal, and gaming, or any other recreational activity, isn't a substitute.

We all want to have sympathy for people suffering like this, but it's important to keep in mind that what they think makes them feel better is often not helping; it is the definition of mental illness that their behaviour is self-destructive.

Respectfully, you're not at my table, Daniel. You don't know the details or context with regard to what actually transpires.

In general, when I end up with people like this at the table I take them aside and recommend they find a good therapist and not try to use gaming as a coping mechanism, and I don't allow them to inject personal issues into the game. It's disrespectful and uncomfortable for the rest of the group, and not healthy for the person with problems.

And that's fine. I, for one, will never tell someone else to seek therapy. Telling people to seek therapy guarantees they won't. Also, who the hell am I to tell somebody else to go see a shrink. I'm a little crazy, but I'm not a hypocrite...or a health care professional. My judgement means nothing. And finally, I can't think of a more demeaning thing to say to another person, especially someone I may have just met, and especially considering I have no medical training or authority to make such a judgement.

One last thing.

We're having a disagreement, not so much about RPGs, but about something I think is very personal for both of us. I'm cool with that and I'm cool with you. No snark, anger, or anything like that is intended in anything I wrote.
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top