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Tracy Hickman's view of the Dragon #300 sealed section

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This was part of Tracy Hickman's newsletter. Note that it gets a little inflamatory in places - so make sure that the rest of the thread does not!

D20 TERRORISM
Yesterday, I found a terrorist attack in my mailbox.
Maybe I took it so hard because it was September 11th. Like many of us in the United States, I had spent the day searching for ways to honor the memory of all that was lost just one year ago. I tried to avoid the television. Instead, I spent much of the day in reflection and work ... and thinking on the nature of true heroes.
The thing that upset me the most about this terrorism, however, was that it was in the form of Dragon Magazine’s 300th issue.
At the bottom of the cover, in a little box, it said: “Mature Audiences: Sealed 16-page Section.” In large letters next to it, spanning the bottom of the magazine, it read: “HOW FAR WILL YOU GO? Vile Content * Graphic Violence.”

Vile Content? Graphic Violence?
What about the Comic Book Code that prohibited anyone writing for D&D from indulging in such excrement?
Now their daring us to go TOO FAR?
How dare you? How dare you take something that I have enjoyed with friends and family for over a quarter of a century and make it cheap, trashy and demeaning? How dare you pour filth on all those good memories?
Not that this attack was entirely unexpected. I had information that this was coming soon in the form of a product to be aptly called ‘The Book of Vile Darkness.’

Now THERE’S a title that will silence the D&D critics. :p
Yes, there will be a ‘Book of Vile Darkness’ but it would be carefully labeled for ‘Mature Audiences’ only.
Now my nose twitches whenever I see the words ‘mature audiences’ stuck together. It is such a subtle and devious oxymoron. Invariably, ‘mature’ subject matter targets immature impulses. Think about it: EVERY act that is labeled as ‘for mature audiences’ deals with an immature act or animal-level instinct.
It is understandable on one level: it is lazy. It takes far less effort to tell a dirty joke than a really GOOD joke. It is like my mother use to tell me about swearing: people curse when they are either too lazy or incapable of thinking up something intelligent to say.
Now, after OVER TWENTY YEARS of building public relations good will ... it is all being thrown out the window. They are gleefully opening the Pandora’s box ... and there will be NO CLOSING IT again.
It literally makes me sick.
The lead article in Dragon on this subject is entitled: “How Far Should You Go?” ... which sounds like a dare to me. The subtitle is “Choosing the Right Level of Evil for your Campaign.”

The “Right Level of Evil”???
On the outset, the article appears to be an attempt as some sort of gaming equivalent to the Motion Picture Rating Board classification of films. The clinical-looking ratings of LG, SG, MG and VG supposedly give us a convenient handle on the nature of these game forms. For those of you not familiar with these ratings, they mean ‘Lighthearted Game’, ‘Standard Game’, ‘Mature Game’ and ‘Vile Game.’

It then goes on to completely dismantle, point by point, the same comic book code that we all worked so hard to protect for a quarter of a century. Here is the ‘brave new world’ that we can look forward to in our D20 games. It promotes “selfish and sinful impulses”; distrust and suspicion of everyone; slavery, torture, rape, gore, violence (including “over-the-top, unrealistic amounts of gore”); Characters engage in all manner of sexual acts; and worse!
This is sociopathic behavior ... NOT entertainment.
SHAME ON YOU! Laura and I went to Gencon this year and were relieved and delighted to see families there. Yes, actual families with their children coming to play games and have a good time. Gencon felt actually FUN for the first time in years. We thought that perhaps at last D&D could have a future.
This destroys it all for me. Every dark fear that mothers and clergy across America have about D&D is now, suddenly, true. In one stroke, I watched everything that Laura and I had worked toward for the last 25 years come crashing to the ground.
Shame on you ... whoever you are! Do you honestly think you can dump filth into our trough and blithely expect us to feed on it? You have sold out cheaply to the animal within, apparently too lazy to write something positive and strong. Don’t you know that Goths and the whole post-modern cynicism is so-last-decade? Do you honestly think that we will all follow you into this dark place?
People occasionally ask me how I feel about playing evil PC characters.
My response is always: Don’t do it.
After all, who do YOU dream of being?
A New York City Fireman...
...or a Terrorist?
If you agree with me, may I suggest you make your displeasure known ... as both my wife and I will ... in no uncertain terms to ANYONE you think needs to hear about this. May I suggest http://www.planetfeedback.com could assist you in getting the names and addresses of people to whom you might complain?
And my I further suggest that you demonstrate your own maturity by avoiding purchasing or playing ANYTHING labeled for ‘Mature Audiences Only.’
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Wow, who peed in his corn flakes this morning?

Mr. Hickman needs to take a deep breath and stop taking things so dang seriosuly. .. The Book of Vile Darkness will do nothing to keep families from playing - not anymore than the fact that there are R or x-rated movies keeps families from going to the theatre.
 

Nightfall

Sage of the Scarred Lands
Mister Hickman is certainly entitled to his view. However I think he does a dis-service not just to the gaming community, but to those people who he "claims" to honor. If I want to a way to honor their memories, I do in calm personal reflection. I do it by trying to make the world a BETTER place. Heroes do the TOUGH things, the hard things. Playing evil, just a way of seeing what a hero SHOULDN'T do. In any case, Book of Vile Darkness, and the rest, is fine. I fear not the future. It, like life, comes and goes. We are only able to deal with the choices WE make. So I pray we all make the best ones, in ensure peace, to bring about change for betterment of all, and the be the heroes we yearn to be in our games. Being evil, is just an expression, an outlet for our own inability to deal with ills that won't be cured away by the magic we seek and find in our games.

That's just my two cents.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Morrus - might I suggest we merge this thread with the other one recently started about this very same topic? this post will make some of the others there very relevant and "in focus."
 


Henry

Autoexreginated
I think we need to keep Tracy's character in mind here; who he is in TSR's history - and what he's seen in his years of the gaming industry. Past that, I might write up a response to this article, if no one minds. :)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Henry said:
Morrus - might I suggest we merge this thread with the other one recently started about this very same topic? this post will make some of the others there very relevant and "in focus."

I need to link to it from the news page, unfortunately, which is why it's in a separate thread. The boards sometimes make a great storing place for longer news items! :)
 

Thorntangle

First Post
The equation of what-you-don't-like with terrorism is really starting to piss me off. It reeks of the witchhunt and is a cheap way to intimidate people into silence. And if people keep doing this, the terrorists will have won :p
 

Benben

First Post
Please.

I'll let the moderators decide where this should go.

Dragon has always had pulpy headlines. This should be no surprise to anyone. This is also the Halloween issue. People are surprised that it deals with dark matters?

Is the Book of Vile Darkness going to tarnish the image and reputation of D&D?

No. We've already have AEG's book of EVIL, and various D20 supplements on Conjuring and Necromancy. There is nothing new here, and from the view of the outside world there is no difference between WotC and any D20 publisher. They're all catering to the same audience.

Personally, I think the trashy covers done by Avalanche publishing have done more to hurt the image and reputation of gaming, than the recent publications dealing with evil
 

Grazzt

Demon Lord
A bit overboard don't ya think? I mean, c'mon. Its not like he probably didn't know the issue was gonna contain "mature audience" stuff. WotC and every board on the internet has been spouting that for a few months now.

And this part:
In one stroke, I watched everything that Laura and I had worked toward for the last 25 years come crashing to the ground.

is just completely ridiculous in its own right. How does one article or book completely destroy 25 years? Um...ok..whatever.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not defending WotC, Dragon, Monte Cook or anybody that had a hand in the mag or article or whatever. I myself have seen the article and I really don't see it as being that vile honestly. I dont care for the article either, but not because I was offended. I just think it was poorly executed and a bit immature. Its not really vile enough, like I said.

I think it borders more on gross than vile (maggots, blood...oooh....since when are maggots or blood evil, for example) and attempts to capitalize on "shock value" than anything else. The only spell in there I could see as being remotely close to vile is "Corpsebond" (and only because it mentions copulation with a corpse). Again, more for shock value than anything else.

And as for the "How Far Should You Go?" article...well, that is a discussion for another thread, but I don't think it is offensive, provocative, or even really that interesting.
 
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Someone needs to get a life. I am sick and tired of the 9/11 excuse bull.

If you didnt like the issue then say so on solid grounds with REAL reasons. Attacking the issue for the pathetic reason of when it arrived is just sad.

As for his other comments.

Hey Tracy, your FAMILY game is about killing people and looting their bodies. Don't try to make it out as a sweet game of checkers.

BTW, equating the magazine is the sign of a reactionary and narrow mind. That is the kind of crap I expect from religous extremists and other wackos who try to demonize anything they don't agree with.

Stick to Sovereign Stones and leave the attitude at the door.
 
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Kai Lord

Explorer
In the Tracy Hickman authored TSR book Dragons of Winter Night, either Sturm or Flint looked at Laurana while they were battling on the High Clerist's Tower and feared the nightmares that she in particular would be subjected to if the evil men attacking succeeded and took her prisoner. I wonder what vile horrors Mr. Hickman was referring to, her being tickled to death? :rolleyes:
 

How dare Tracy Hickman equate the writers and editors responsible for Dragon #300 and The Book of Vile Darkness to TERRORISM?! Mr. Hickman owes everyone that he slandered in his newsletter an apology.

That seals it: I will never again purchase anything with Mr. Hickman's name attached to it, which is quite sad, as he *WAS* an old favorite of mine. This type of irresponsible disclosure of his opinion should convince WotC to never allow him to author a work for them again.

That type of closed mentality reminds me of the Mothers Against Dungeons and Dragons so long ago. Its sad to see an industry leader informing the world that M.A.D.D was right so many years ago.

Shame on you, Tracy Hickman.
 
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Nightfall

Sage of the Scarred Lands
Grazzt said:
is just completely ridiculous in its own right. How does one article or book completely destroy 25 years? Um...ok..whatever.

Obviously he'd have a hard time in any game worlds you and I would probably enjoy huh Scott?

Khanny, don't take it so personally. I don't. Hickman has his opinions. Certainly don't let that affect your judgement of Dragonlance 3rd. I say, give the book a shot.
 

alsih2o

First Post
(including “over-the-top, unrealistic amounts of gore)


looking back over the course of human history (recent hisyory included) i have to wonder what is considered an unrealistic amount of gore?

could it be worse than being drawn and quartered? worse than the crusades? worse than the inquisition? worse than wolverine being torn apart to have adamantine laced into and on his bones?(which fell under the cca very well)

what is unrealistic? the human race has shed rivers of blood, slain newborns over prophecy, attempted genocide, and felled entire species in opursauit of a buck, all without the help of a single demon or devil or evil campaign.

i normally do not buy Dragon, but this one i must now get, i want to see what horror they have dreamed up that hasn't been included in history.
 
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Furn_Darkside

First Post
DocMoriartty said:

BTW, equating the magazine is the sign of a reactionary and narrow mind. That is the kind of crap I expect from religous extremists and other wackos who try to demonize anything they don't agree with.

Kind of like you just did with Hickman?

FD
 

Zaruthustran

The tingling means it’s working!
Irony

What I love are the posts that say, essentially:

"How DARE Hickman stand up and state his extremist opinion?! In retaliation for this irresponsible act, I'm going to stand up and state an extremist opinion!"

:Sigh:. Or rather, :snore:.

-z
 

Nightfall said:


Obviously he'd have a hard time in any game worlds you and I would probably enjoy huh Scott?

Yes, Tracy probably DMs a wonderful bit of Bunnies & Snowflakes.

Khanny, don't take it so personally. I don't. Hickman has his opinions. Certainly don't let that affect your judgement of Dragonlance 3rd. I say, give the book a shot.

How can I not take this to the extreme that I have when I see the "great" Tracy Hickman place industry professionals like Monte Cook and Jesse Decker in the same light as Osama Bin Laden and terrorism?

How could anyone not take it offensive ly? I can only imagine how the people he branded this way must feel when they read this.

I was very much looking forward to the new DL 3e and Soveriegn Press products -- but no more.

Ever.
 

BiggusGeekus

That's Latin for "cool"
I can see where Hickman is coming from, but it does indeed look like he overstated his position.

And, just to toss this in, ever since my group said "no" to evil characters we've been having smoother and funner games.
 

greymarch

First Post
I think Tracy Hickman was drunk when he wrote that. Honestly.

His little diatribe is poorly written and lacks the required proof necessary to convince anyone that he is right. I truly believe he was half in the bag.
 

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