When Russia invaded Ukraine I was shocked. Even though Ukraine has no borders with Austria (the country I live in) I felt connected. Ukraine is in Europe, as is Austria. It’s a neighbor and another neighbor invaded this country.
It felt so wrong and devastating. The first thing that came to my mind was the Chernobyl incident of the 1980s. I remember it just a little bit, I was only a child at the time.
I can’t really remember the war in Yugoslavia (starting in the 1990s) or rather was shielded by my parents. Even though this one was closer to Austria.
So the invasion of Ukraine felt – for me as an adult – especially horrible. Innocent lives lost, people fleeing, children becoming orphaned.
And yes I know, this is happening all over the world all the time. I feel with everyone; Ukraine as a European country just felt closer.
🧙 Roleplaying Games
At the same time as this happened I – as the Game Master – prepared a tabletop roleplaying campaign for my “Dungeon World” group. I had an invasion of agents of the underworld in mind and already planned out the overall plot and the story.
But I couldn’t introduce this plot into our game. It felt extremely wrong. My play group was on board with this. And so I didn’t do it. I changed it, removed NPCs (Non-Player-Characters), that I created, and we played it without an invasion.
It was a great campaign. We had a lot of fun. And even though I planned the invasion I didn’t miss it in the overall story. It would have been fun to play and give the characters a lot of options to help the oppressed people. And to do right by overpowering the aggressors. But it wasn’t right to incorporate it into the story and so we just didn’t do it.
🤨 Strange topics?
So what is it with this fascination of war in our games, books, plays, and movies?
We’re playing or seeing or reading it, and it’s not real. And we’re entertained by it.
Is this wrong, should we revel in it or not?
I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this. I love to be scared by horror stories but wouldn’t want to have a real killer running around and slaughtering people. But in a story it’s entertaining.
It’s the same with thrills, conflicts, drama, action, brutality, sex, comedy, murder, etc. It entertains – to a certain point. We’re taking part as an audience or as players; but at the same time we can feel safe.
Though sometimes it’s even too much for me. When there’s too much violence, or too much horror, especially when children are involved. Then I have to stop. I do this when playing tabletop roleplaying games and when watching or reading stories.
I remember a very disturbing episode of the show “Private Practice” where a pregnant woman was involved. I won’t write down what happened. But if you know the show, you know what I mean. I was disgusted and appalled at this episode and was cursing the writers for this sh*y story.
Rewind to the pandemic of 2020+
I was helpless, hopeful, afraid, upset, glad when the worst was over, stupefied about the dumbness of certain people, and I had many more feelings. I, like so many people, lost a close friend of the family. Much too young. To this awful virus.
At some point during the pandemic I needed a creative output to cope with it all. Another lockdown was coming, people were even more stupid. So I created a webcomic and made fun of it all. Of the stupidness, of the virus itself, and of myself. It helped. I liked it. I published it online. But because it was more for myself than for the rest of the web wide world; I eventually took the webcomic down.
During the course of the comic I created the so called “Superhero Viruses”. Stupid viruses, disguising themselves as superheroes and just being dumb and funny. My children loved them, I loved them. I drew them, and created backstories, their enemies, their fears. But I took them down, also.
A year later or so I thought about them while I was in the process of creating a new roleplaying game.
😵💫 Which brings me to strange topics again
Is it ok to play with and as viruses, even though they killed and still kill a lot of humans? The same way as it is ok to play with guns in video games while there are too many deaths by guns all over the world? The same way wars destroy lives and still we humans like to watch and read stories of war and destruction?
For me it was a certain line that I didn’t want to cross while writing the game. I wanted to create a funny game with dumb and silly viruses. I wanted for the players to play the viruses and make them their own. Their characters. Their stories. Their entertainment. And at the same time not make them deadly or devastating. This game should be playful and not grim.
I guess, in the end I wrote this game more for myself (again just like the webcomic) than for other gamers. Just to be creative and to put the superhero viruses to use.
The use being relief to the ‘normal’ world.
🌍 New roleplaying game
If you want to read the book, head over to my itch.io site where you can download it for free.
If at some point while reading the book or playing the game you think it would be cool to give money; do so – but not to me – being creative is a hobby and not a means of income.
Give money to a social or environmental organization of your choice. Just a little bit, but a little bit that makes a difference.
PS the final release of the game is scheduled to be in late September
/ early October 2023.