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  1. #1

    The Black Madonna - Review

    I asked ddavison to start making a blog on here two days ago, and nothing has happened, so instead I'm making my personal statement known here, under the risk that it'll just blow up into a shitstorm.

    For the sake of backstory: I generally don't like roleplaying - not in the form that it's currently in. I could go on and on about that, but that's another topic.

    As for Kult, I like the setting, but I don't think Kult is that well-made in a very cruicial regard: It's an extremely slow burn. The setting is literally behind a veil, of which the players know nothing, and the GM knows everything. This means that from the GM's perspective, the setting is so cool, because to him it's all monsters waging war on eachother, and there's magical spells and other fantastical stuff, but to the players, it's mostly going to be human organisations being corrupt and criminal, with the occational spooky stuff. A 500 lbs monster can literally walk up to you and speak with you, and you'll just percieve it as a human that might perhaps look a little strange at most.

    ...and this isn't exciting. I'm right now listening to a podcast of The Black Madonna campaign. I'm 12 hours in, which is only a third of the way in, and so far the little the players have encountered of "The Truth" is mundane: [spoiler]Bad dreams, worms, black magic rituals, and a few giant insects.[/spoiler] The rest is just criminal activity, resolved by the usual burglary that I both hate and am sick of.

    Compare this to the 1988 movie They Live, where a guy gets a pair of shades which makes him able to immediately switch between The Truth and The Lie at will. That would make Kult exciting for the players as well.

    You won't put up with a movie where nothing happens for two hours, so why put up with twelve or more? Yes, plenty of stressful things happen, but not the actual Kult horror.

    I'm going to go suffer through the rest of the podcast now. I expect to be done in a couple of days. It has great roleplaying and GMing - it's just the setting that sucks.
    Last edited by MooCow; December 23rd, 2019 at 13:02.

  2. #2
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    Can you please provide a link to the podcast and the game system? I've never heard of either of these myself

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by LordEntrails View Post
    Can you please provide a link to the podcast and the game system? I've never heard of either of these myself
    I've already sent you a link, but I figured that I'd reply here as well, in case other people have never heard of it.
    Kult is an old Swedish horror roleplaying game. It's had a few editions, the latest being subtitled Divinity Lost. It's set in modern times, trying to stay fairly contemporary as the years pass. The biggest influence would be the Hellraiser universe, crossed with Jewish mysticism. A string of murders and suicides amongst players of the game, sparked a huge debate on roleplaying games brainwashing its players, and it almost got banned by the Swedish government. It used to have the subtitle "Death is only the beginning.", so this is not a roleplaying game for children. Some jews will probably even tell you that the mysticism behind it is very real and dangerous.

    Here's the podcast I was mentioning:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCw5...gACYvj&index=1

  4. #4
    damned's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MooCow View Post
    I asked ddavidson to start making a blog on here two days ago, and nothing has happened, so instead I'm making my personal statement known here, under the risk that it'll just blow up into a shitstorm.
    Doug is juggling many things and the Blog access is towards the bottom of his priorities. Im sure he will get to it - sooner or later.

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  5. #5

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    I ran Kult back in the day (like 20 years ago) and found the universe to be quite immersive. The players were regular people, a writer, a waitress, a junk yard owner and a insurance salesman. It started slow, as you indicated, with mysteries and small things, and slowly evolved over time as they learned more and more about the truth. While the real universe is really huge and super complex, it's definitely not something to start with. It's better to ease the campaign into the deep end over time rather than just throwing them in. As I recall, for earlier editions at least, even super-uber starting combat characters would be jello against most things from the real universe.

    I found that it worked better if the characters felt that they were part of the 'real' world while they did relatively normal things with small hints here and there until the characters slowly realized that the 'real' world wasn't real at all. It worked to make them feel like a part of the world rather than the disconnect people feel sometimes with this sort of genre. I actually transcribed the character generation system and as far as they knew they were playing a random modern game until things started to unfold. It worked out really well.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by esmdev View Post
    I ran Kult back in the day (like 20 years ago) and found the universe to be quite immersive. The players were regular people, a writer, a waitress, a junk yard owner and a insurance salesman. It started slow, as you indicated, with mysteries and small things, and slowly evolved over time as they learned more and more about the truth. While the real universe is really huge and super complex, it's definitely not something to start with. It's better to ease the campaign into the deep end over time rather than just throwing them in. As I recall, for earlier editions at least, even super-uber starting combat characters would be jello against most things from the real universe.

    I found that it worked better if the characters felt that they were part of the 'real' world while they did relatively normal things with small hints here and there until the characters slowly realized that the 'real' world wasn't real at all. It worked to make them feel like a part of the world rather than the disconnect people feel sometimes with this sort of genre. I actually transcribed the character generation system and as far as they knew they were playing a random modern game until things started to unfold. It worked out really well.
    Yeah, you're probably right about the pacing. My own campaign descended into madness quite quickly, since the short adventure that came with the rules, had them experience purgatory.

    I've said this in another thread: I don't think that horror and combat mix. You can kill some of the creatures, especially if you're good tacticians, but it's just not that style of game. Imagine if Kirsty Cotton had an M16, or explosives. That would be a different story altogether, and it wouldn't be horror. ...so let them face some "invincible" creatures when it's time, at least from a safe distance. Teach them "the meaning of fear". Teach them to flee.
    Last edited by MooCow; December 18th, 2019 at 05:40.

  7. #7
    Just to point out that Kult was never close to get banned by the Swedish goverment. As a swede I like facts and why I would present them for you as well. Since most of it's in swedish you might have some trouble getting your hands on it otherwise.

    In 1994 during the era that roleplaying games had some bad media coverage two politicians decided to hand in a motion to the parliment. There they talked about roleplaying games in general that the hobby is being more popular by kids and that is dangerous. This due to two murders in sweden that had connection to roleplaying games. The connection was more or less someone had sometime played a rpg. Not much evidence but some people doesn't need more.

    The motion he issued talked about the roleplaying games Mutant, Kult, Wasteland and Killer. They claim that a 12 year old kid started cutting himself after playing Kult.
    They didn't want to ban Kult or any rpg game. What they wanted was that Sverok a youth league that promotes gaming and gets money from the goverment shouldn't get anymore funds. The motion was shut down without even been debated. (It's fun that you can find old documents on the web from 1994 and read this). They acually said as a reason that roleplaying games served a purpose and was not destructive.
    The politician who issued this is famous for ignoring facts and lets his own opinion rule his world. He tried two more times to get roleplaying games banned but both time got the answer that the parliment thought that the games was educational and good for the youth to be playing.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by RunningHill View Post
    Just to point out that Kult was never close to get banned by the Swedish goverment. As a swede I like facts and why I would present them for you as well. Since most of it's in swedish you might have some trouble getting your hands on it otherwise.

    In 1994 during the era that roleplaying games had some bad media coverage two politicians decided to hand in a motion to the parliment. There they talked about roleplaying games in general that the hobby is being more popular by kids and that is dangerous. This due to two murders in sweden that had connection to roleplaying games. The connection was more or less someone had sometime played a rpg. Not much evidence but some people doesn't need more.

    The motion he issued talked about the roleplaying games Mutant, Kult, Wasteland and Killer. They claim that a 12 year old kid started cutting himself after playing Kult.
    They didn't want to ban Kult or any rpg game. What they wanted was that Sverok a youth league that promotes gaming and gets money from the goverment shouldn't get anymore funds. The motion was shut down without even been debated. (It's fun that you can find old documents on the web from 1994 and read this). They acually said as a reason that roleplaying games served a purpose and was not destructive.
    The politician who issued this is famous for ignoring facts and lets his own opinion rule his world. He tried two more times to get roleplaying games banned but both time got the answer that the parliment thought that the games was educational and good for the youth to be playing.
    Yeah, I read the Wikipedia article on Kult in a sloppy manner. The censorship of Kult has been prevalent, though, and has existed alongside two vocal opponents - Didi & Björn - who declared that roleplaying games and especially Kult, was preying on the neglected youth. This censorship consisted of removing actual black magic rituals from the first edition, until today's unspecified "tweakings":
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects.../posts/2147939

  9. #9
    "It's the combination of some pictures and to some extent text as well which have been questioned. It's mainly been concern from a US perspective. It's not only law, it's also what the market wants to do and not - which we are not in control of to 100%, and finding that common ground has been a struggle. The final outcome of those discussions we think is fair, i.e. that we only need to edit a few items for the Black Madonna and Taroticum & Other Tales to adept to the wider market."

    Just don't blame the swedes :-)

  10. #10
    damned's Avatar
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    Put the Swedes against the wall!

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