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Eerie

Holocaust and CoC

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Eerie

Anyone ever tried this idea? I think its great. The atmosphere of ghettos and\or deaths camps will fit perfectly with lovecraftian background. Its perhaps the only setting where you can show GOOs relatively "better" than some humans. I mean, with all the atrocities around, people will have trouble even noticing Ctulhu (who may certainly come, attracted by all the "fun")...

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QuentinTheTroll

I have avoided this subject intentionally, and would take great care in approaching it at all. I have a hard time with the incorporation of the Holocaust in any form of entertainment. This includes art with the best intentions, even the works of Jewish artists, such as a film like Schindler's List.

 

I won't be so prescriptive as to say that Keepers shouldn't do this, but I would say that anyone doing it should take great care and reflection before incorporating it.

 

Shalom.

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TheKingInYellow

Well, I suppose it really depends on what your players are comfortable with- Some people might find the idea intrinsically offensive. As you said, the mechanical malevolence of the GOOs doesn't seem as terrible as what man does to his fellow man and could lead to very good gaming and roleplaying. As long as everyone has fun, of course, then it's a good idea... Just potentially rough waters, depending on who you play with and how you play it.

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QuentinTheTroll

That actually highlights another potentially game-breaking element: exposing the GOOs as paper tigers in the face of a very real, historic and unprecedented malevolence.

 

I really can't see anything fun about playing a game that incorporates the holocaust as a major plot device.

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Gil_Trevizo

As someone who has done a lot of thinking on CoC and WWII, I think it has to be handled in the same manner as Charnel Houses of Europe, that is with respect and towards providing a richer understanding for the players rather than simply as a backdrop to get their horror jones off. I agree with Ken Hite's contention in GURPS WWII: Weird War II that the Holocaust should not be presented as the result of some fictional occult conspiracy, but as it was: the consequence of human folly. I do disagree with the corresponding contention that therefore the Holocaust should never be a factor in WWII-era gaming, as that can lead to a "cleaner" picture of the war for pathetic Nazi-fondlers that find it "kewl" to play the SS without having to consider the consequences of that action. So the Holocaust can be fodder for gaming, but it should be kept informative rather than exploitative.

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swj719

With a mature group, this would be an AMAZING setting...

 

With a group like I might find in the area, I think it's best we not consider what it would be like...

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ThothAmon

To make the Holocaust a consequence of Mythos meddling would trivialise the real-life subject. The fact that the Holocaust was carried out by so-called humans is the ultimate in horror.

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Roucheau
To make the Holocaust a consequence of Mythos meddling would trivialise the real-life subject. The fact that the Holocaust was carried out by so-called humans is the ultimate in horror.

 

I agree completely. I can see the role playing possibilities of using the setting if the players were mature enough. However, I avoid any part of attributing the monstrous behavior of the Nazi regime to any outside source. Hitler and his cronies were the epitome of how depraved mankind can be and anything that tries to mitigate this fact is indeed trivializing the events. Adding Cthulhu into the mix could be interesting but saying the events were due to anything other than man's inhumanity to man is just not a line I will ever cross.

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QuentinTheTroll
I do disagree with the corresponding contention that therefore the Holocaust should never be a factor in WWII-era gaming, as that can lead to a "cleaner" picture of the war for pathetic Nazi-fondlers that find it "kewl" to play the SS without having to consider the consequences of that action.

 

I can respect that position. However, if you've got Nazi-fondlers in your group you've got bigger problems than finding an appropriate setting. Frankly, if they've got that problem, they are probably going to make some uncomfortably wrong choices in addressing any Holocaust elements, as well. I can only imagine the liberties they would take with naked, defenseless NPCs who have reference to real world victims of war crimes.

 

I'm not saying that the Holocaust should be sanitized for gameplay in WWII, but I'm saying that I wouldn't use it (or the ghetto) as a scenario setting.*

 

To a degree, silence is the only appropriate response to another person's very real grief.

 

*There's a practical note to this as well: gameplay would be very limited - either your Investigator will be a possessionless, starving and doomed person lacking the energy to care very much about vague phantoms, primarily because of the real ones in the guard towers and at the chamber doors, or else he will be a sadist "following" orders in a very regimented environment who won't be free at all to go chasing after spooks. Playing CoC in a concentration camp setting isn't that far removed from the infamous, never-shown Jerry Lewis movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_the_Clown_Cried

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coffeedemon

Wow - I think this would be almost impossible to play without making someone uncomfortable. I wouldn't go there. How can you guarantee all your players are OK with it, even if they say they are? Sounds like a good way to lose a player or two.

 

There are so many other times/places to play; surely you could make up something else?

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Gaffer

*There's a practical note to this as well: gameplay would be very limited - either your Investigator will be a possessionless, starving and doomed person lacking the energy to care very much about vague phantoms, primarily because of the real ones in the guard towers and at the chamber doors, or else he will be a sadist "following" orders in a very regimented environment who won't be free at all to go chasing after spooks.

 

I agree completely. The ghetto or the death camp are sterile environs for drama other than the tragedy of survival while all around you die. I can't see it.

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ZodiaK
To make the Holocaust a consequence of Mythos meddling would trivialise the real-life subject. The fact that the Holocaust was carried out by so-called humans is the ultimate in horror.

 

I completely agree to this. We had a similar dicussion in our german board. I could go along wit a scenario in ww2 (althoug I find military scenarios a bit boring), but not with a connection between the holocost and roleplaygame.

Especially the younger players (i do menan grown-ups!) have a tendency to relativate the nazi-terror, and the use of the konzentration camps as setting would emphatize the view, that they were just another warcrime in the past.

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swj719

But I don't think that every game of arcane horror needs actual elements of arcane... I have a hard time believe that a mature group would be unable to play out a senario set in the Warsaw ghettos.

 

And even if there are mythos horrors, why would it have to deminish the horror of what was going on around them? I hadly think some vile evil in addition to the brutality and inhumanity of the Nazis would deminish it...

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QuentinTheTroll
And even if there are mythos horrors, why would it have to deminish the horror of what was going on around them? I hadly think some vile evil in addition to the brutality and inhumanity of the Nazis would deminish it...

 

That's the point exactly. This isn't about diminishing the real horror of the Holocaust: that can't be done. It is about sapping the Mythos of its game power.

 

If the Mythos become an adornment, a lesser evil, a weaker, less pressing problem in the course of an investigation, then that breaks the game.

 

I'm not saying that you can't have whole scenarios that are devoid of Mythos (or mythic horror), and in fact I would encourage this, but only because the absence of Mythos grants it greater power in the game, evokes more mystery and terror. Kind of like how Stoker's Dracula is scary because Dracula is hardly ever in it.

 

However, this is the opposite of using the Final Solution as a backdrop for game play. I don't care how eldritch your phantasms are, how creepy or well described, but the mere idea of a concentration camp suddenly exposes Cthulhu for what he is: a playful idea in literature.

 

All I can say is try it with your proverbial "mature" group of players. In all likelihood, you will watch the thing fall apart, badly. I consider myself to be a mature gamer (an oxymoron, to be sure), having played seriously for more than 25 years now, and all I can say is that my only reaction to playing an rpg (any rpg)with the Holocaust as a central setting is one of revulsion. True revulsion. I see nothing Lovecraftian about the Warsaw ghetto, nor of Sobibor, Treblinka or Auschwitz.

 

I would not and could not conceive of myself every having had "a good time" playing an Investigator praying for liberation but destined for abuse, humiliation and murder, an awful fate that weakly echoes the true stories of millions and millions of people.

 

I think the wonderful edge that CoC has over many other RPGs is its historicity: when done well, it nicely blends education with imagination for an authentic evening of amusement. But it is a game, amusement is the object, and real-life genocide simply isn't compatible, in my mind, with amusement.

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Robbie

I've used the holocaust -- by reference -- most notably in a game where "experiments" are being conducted by the SS in Castle Wewelsburg using "detainees" from the "workers camp", sort of thing.

 

I have to agree with others that this backdrop can be used to amazing effect, but I also find it potentially a little distasteful too, depending on how it is done.

 

Your gaming group's style of play is everything.

 

Personally I generally prefer to take on the Nazis and the SS directly, rather than confront what they are doing to people en masse.

 

In short: I think ThothAmon (above) nailed it really.

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Gil_Trevizo
I think the wonderful edge that CoC has over many other RPGs is its historicity: when done well, it nicely blends education with imagination for an authentic evening of amusement. But it is a game, amusement is the object, and real-life genocide simply isn't compatible, in my mind, with amusement.

 

While I sympathize with many of your points, on this I have to disagree, and as an example I'd give Machine Station Kharhov-37. It is set during an extraordinarily dark period, one arguably of genocide, and is still "amusement" at least in the sense that it is satisfying horror. The scenario doesn't shy away from the particulars, nor does it go in any tasteless directions such as putting a Mythos explanation behind the horrors of Soviet collectivization, and neither the real-life horrors nor the fictional ones do anything to detract from either.

 

That said, I think a scenario with the Holocaust as a setting would be remarkably difficult to achieve, and require a great deal of historical research on the part of the author to not give the subject short shrift. I am still convinced that the Holocaust should never be described as the result of Mythos influence, but it is possible to create a Mythos scenario with that history in the background, as much as any other period of history is equally usable. Whether it is in good taste or not, "amusing" or not, is going to do depend on how it is portrayed, and nothing else.

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ProfSpender

There might be some potential if the players play members of the SS. No the average facist but normal German people who joined because of political pressure and who then learn about the horrors in the camps, and are moved by their consciences to stop them. The play/movie The Deputy/The Representative (by Rolf Hochhuth) describes the ultimately vain effords of one such SS officer and his friend, a Catholic priest, to stop the mass murder by getting the Catholic church to speak out against it in public. Being forced to assist in such crimes, trying to stop them but being unable to, perhaps while pretending to support them - that is real horror! If the PCs are deputized to organize support for the camps rather than have to work in them personally, then there will be more ways for them to try to stop the holocaust; also, the horror remains fresh with every new visit to the camps.

 

For a Mythos angle, there is the paradigm of Sam Johnson's WWI scenario, in which the man-made horrors of the war nearly awoke a Mythos horror. The real-world horror is cause, not effect of the fictional one. Perhaps something along these lines is applicable here, too (and maybe it is coupled with the realization that it wouldn't make things much worse than they already are).[/i]

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QuentinTheTroll

Yes, I can see how in the two instances above, an adventure could work. I'm not saying that an adventure can't be played in a "time of genocide."

 

I guess this is the key sticking point:

 

Should a scenario be set in Auschwitz?

 

My answer is no, not in any practical sense. Playing it out would be miserable. This is somewhat different from playing a soldier in an awful period of history, struggling to do what is best. The fact of it is that there were no soldiers at the death camps who acted do the right thing, except, possibly, in very small, meaningless ways. There were no interned victims who had any power or energy to do much more than very small acts of resistance.

 

CoC requires that the Investigators have the volition to commit both acts of heroism and folly, and everything in between. The very definition of a death camp is that volition is destroyed, in any sense of physical action.

 

Aside from the risk of disrespect the dead and dishonoring the survivors, I believe a setting of this kind paralyzes a key element of CoC, that is, action.

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ZodiaK

Many years ago, I renember there was an accusation in germany, that there were roleplayers "who played nazis that chased jews in concentration camps". Luckily this proved to be another infamous rumor that was spread to discredit roleplayers, and it is forgotten since.

But I just try to realize the outrage in the public, if any journalists, parents or teachers stumble across a rpg - group that uses the holocaust as background for a horror game.

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Gil_Trevizo
CoC requires that the Investigators have the volition to commit both acts of heroism and folly, and everything in between. The very definition of a death camp is that volition is destroyed, in any sense of physical action.

 

Keep in mind that there is much more to the Holocaust than just the death camps. While the Einsatzkommando mass-killing bears equal problems of destroying volition, the Warsaw Ghetto was a community wherein it would be possible for PCs to go about something like lives, albeit under the constant threat of doom. A scenario set in the Ghetto, or even in the community of a death camp, could still have enough freedom of action wherein the PCs could interact. That said, I personally couldn't do it - not because I think it might be inherently tasteless or intractable, but because it's simply too big a subject for me to portray with any skill or understanding.

 

There are only two scenarios that I've ever considered that would come close to the death camp environment. One would be set in Allied POW camp, where the Karotechia are carrying out experiments on Soviet prisoners in full-view of the American, British, and other Allied prisoners that get slightly more humane treatment. The war is nearing its end, and while one of the Karotechia officers is frantic to complete his experiments to call up something that would destroy the Reich's enemies (and perhaps the entire world), the other officer sees the end and wants to make a deal with the Allied POWs (among whom are OSS/Delta Green and PISCES) for a "get out of jail free" card in exchange for freeing them and sabotaging the experiment. I'm pretty comfortable with this idea, but I do see that it skirts perilously close to the death camp setting.

 

The other idea is that the PCs are Allied commandos (again, OSS/Delta Green and PISCES), sent to destroy a Karotechia research laboratory, which has hundreds of "untermenschen" prisoners engaged in some kind of nonsensical work. The work is in fact meaningless, and simply part of a larger ritual that is draining the life-force from the prisoners to power a binding spell that covers the entire camp. The Karotechia accidently called up something (Carcosa maybe) that they recognize would destroy all reality, and the binding spell is the only thing keeping it in place. The PCs would be forced to decide to free the prisoners and destroy the camp (and thus release the something), leave the camp as is to keep the spell running (and leave their own sense of humanity with it), or find some third way. I'm less comfortable with this idea, but I still think it has dramatic potential.

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swj719
Many years ago, I renember there was an accusation in germany, that there were roleplayers "who played nazis that chased jews in concentration camps". Luckily this proved to be another infamous rumor that was spread to discredit roleplayers, and it is forgotten since.

But I just try to realize the outrage in the public, if any journalists, parents or teachers stumble across a rpg - group that uses the holocaust as background for a horror game.

 

In Germany, denying the Holocaust or proclaiming the better points of the Nazis gets you tossed in jail, and I think that was part of the worry there...

 

Should a scenario be set in Auschwitz?

 

Oh no... I never suggested that... The ghettos and the camps are two different things... I would NEVER suggest that...

 

But setting to a backdrop of the atrocity could, if done propperly and maturely, be a very compelling game...

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TheKingInYellow

Well you certainly shouldn't not play just because of the fear of how others will see it - It is a game after all, and if you want to portray the holocaust in the fashion of 80's teen sitcom with go-karts and a bummbling SS commander, that's your call. I wouldn't want to play in that game, but maybe someone would- It's still a game and should still be about having fun. I can understand everyone's concern about whether or not it's tasteful, or whether it trivializes the matter, but it's your game- If you and your players are comfortable with the subject then go ahead and enjoy yourselves.

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Angelman

As much as I agree that Holocaust would be a soar and touchy setting to play in, I must say I stand with TheKingInYellow on this one. I think it could work quite well, given the right circumstances and players, however, it is problematic of course.

 

(By the way, Holocaust is Greek for a fire-sacrifice/a sacrifice that is burnt in honour of the gods, a practice known throughout the Mediterranean world (and beyond). However distasteful, the Holocaust of WWII would fit as a sacrifice to a GOO/OG to bring about the end. This would give WWII a Mythos twist, but I don't think that would necessarily diminish the "human folly"-factor of it all.)

 

Distastefully

Angelman

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ninthcouncil
There might be some potential if the players play members of the SS. No the average facist but normal German people who joined because of political pressure ...

When I was a kid, I used to go to my uncle's farm and get driven around on a combine harvester by a nice German guy called Severin, who still had a strong accent. Years later I learnt that he'd been an SS soldier who'd been taken POW and stayed on in England. He avoided going back to Germany for another 40 years, till he attended his brother's funeral, and wouldn't talk about the war at all.

For a Mythos angle, there is the paradigm of Sam Johnson's WWI scenario, in which the man-made horrors of the war nearly awoke a Mythos horror. The real-world horror is cause, not effect of the fictional one. Perhaps something along these lines is applicable here, too (and maybe it is coupled with the realization that it wouldn't make things much worse than they already are).[/i]

Considering the points raised earlier in ths thread, that's what I was thinking as well. You'd still have to be very careful, though. For instance, let's imagine a scenario where an aged rabbi, trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto with his suffering people, looks in forbidden books for an answer, and calls up that which he cannot put down. There'd be a dramatically satisfying moral quandary ... but how careful would one have to be that this didn't seem to be some sort of vindication of anti-Semitic stereotyping of Jews as diabolical corruptors?

 

All in all, the Holocaust is a very problematic subject and very easy to get horribly, catastrophically wrong. For that reason, best avoided as the centrepiece of a game, I think, though its actuality shouldn't be airbrushed out either, if one is playing in period.

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Gaffer
For instance, let's imagine a scenario where an aged rabbi, trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto with his suffering people, looks in forbidden books for an answer, and calls up that which he cannot put down. There'd be a dramatically satisfying moral quandary ... but how careful would one have to be that this didn't seem to be some sort of vindication of anti-Semitic stereotyping of Jews as diabolical corruptors?

 

Wasn't there an "X-Files" episode like that?

 

I'd rather do a commando/resistance-themed WWII scenario where the players have to get to a Czech museum/monastery/castle before the retreating Nazis or advancing Soviets get hold of a macguffin. They're to bring it to the Allies (like the Ark of the Covenant), but then begin to wonder if they can trust their own side. Maybe it's a cabbalist in hiding who tips them to the true nature of the thing.

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