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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Wild West: First Session (Wherein I Remember That My Players Are Racists)

Two weeks ago having been just for character-making, this time was the first session we actually played.

Let me say first: Latinos are profoundly racist. Especially toward other Latinos.  In the character creation process, I gave each player 5 chips which they could use to get a reroll on any of the 20 or so tables we were using to determine the character's origins and background.  Once a player ran out of chips, I warned them, they're stuck with whatever they get. And since some tables can be very important, they will want to be very careful not spend their chips away on something less important.

The very first table rolled was for place of origin; in that process, three chips were spent to avoid being Mexican.  One of my players actually rolled Mexican, spent a chip, rolled Mexican again and spent ANOTHER chip, just to avoid being Mexican.
That same player later accepted being Cuban, probably in part because he was running out of chips, but mainly because it would let him do the silly-sounding Cuban accent and play on Latin-american stereotypes of Cubans.
To be fair, one of the players also used a chip to avoid being from Indiana. Not totally sure why, something about it sounding too boring.
There was also someone who used a chip to avoid being an ex-slave, though that one was probably less overtly racist and more to do with having already had an idea what he wanted for his character and knowing that he wouldn't have a chance to achieve that by playing a former slave.

Anyways, it turned out that a fairly remarkable percentage of chips were used to re-roll an element related to race/ethnicity. Second highest was probably for rerolling to avoid a particularly low social-status. There was no special concentration of chips spent for any other mechanical type of details (not, for example, to re-roll the background profession that would determine your starting skills, which in terms of pure mechanics had way more weight than race or social status).  So I guess my players were, if nothing else, clear that they were thinking of this campaign as one where the roleplaying elements of it would be at least as significant as the mechanics of it. Which of course is true.
But they were also pretty racist.


If you are an expat living in a country that isn't in North America or Western Europe, you have to remind yourself sometimes that outside of these places, people didn't spend their entire lives being indoctrinated in a concept of multiculturalism that turns it into an intense taboo to make fun of other ethnicities or nationalities; so in Canada, even if some people might think some of these things and maybe say them with very trusted friends, they would never do these sorts of things in a more open social environment like an RPG table with some people they barely know in it.  But in South America (Uruguay is no special case, you'd see all the same stuff in Argentina, Chile, or indeed Mexico or Cuba), or Eastern Europe, or anywhere in Asia or Africa, people don't have the same indoctrination.  The bad part of this is that they will stun their north-american expat friends by risking the rest of their PC's viability just to avoid being Mexican (and keep in mind I made it clear that in the Wild West, while Mexicans were not looked upon quite as well as an anglo-saxon, they were in fact probably less prejudiced against than they are in the U.S. today); of course the good part of this is that if a gang of migrants were mass-raping women in a public plaza, Uruguayan men would not be standing around impotently too worried about being thought of as racist to stop the rapes from happening.  So, you get the good with the bad: South Americans are sometimes prejudiced in ways that seem both silly, ignorant and distasteful, but they also still have some kind of sense of personal convictions and moral courage and that backbone that the "proper" 1st-world West has almost completely lost.  Would that some happy mid-point were possible!


Anyways, we ended up with a Cuban, two Kentuckians, a pair of guys from Illinois, and a Mormon. The Mormon, incidentally, is a gambler by profession, but he doesn't drink alcohol or coffee and doesn't stay up late nights. Probably the most awesome wild-west character imaginable.  We actually have a lot of archetypes filled: there's the one guy who is stupidly awesome at gun-fighting (or will be as soon as he gets a little bit of experience), the oddly straight-laced gambler, the Cuban guy who is a total outsider with crazy notions, the punk kid from a broken home who ran away to become a bounty hunter, the guy looking to make his fortune opening a butcher's shop, and the mostly-normal guy who is slightly better educated than the rest of them and will probably end up being their leader.

The first session (which, after finishing off character creation and giving everyone a detailed briefing of common knowledge and laws and social codes in the west, ended up only being a couple of hours long) ended in the first shootout, with the PCs having just arrived in Dodge City penniless and a few of them deciding to face down an outlaw (who had already killed one sheriff & a deputy and injured a second sheriff), for the sake of a $240 reward (which for them seemed an outrageous amount of money).  The fight was good, intense, but ended with the group gang-rushing the outlaw and pinning him down after he ran out of bullets.  The main players in the shootout now gets to become the deputy for the fat and useless town marshall, promising him a lot of life-risking action in the future.  The other characters are still on their way to figuring out their place in the frontier.


Along the way they met a young Wyatt Earp who is already haunted and thinks he's quit the lawman business for good, an even younger Morgan Earp who is just starting to follow in his older brother's footsteps, a county sheriff that seems like the very icon of everything good or noble about the law, a saloon gal with a heart of gold but who's tough as nails, a surly country doctor, and a goofy one-eyed country-bumpkin sidekick.

It seemed like a good start. Aside from the latino-on-latino racism.

RPGPundit

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13 comments:

  1. I've always wondered: do you run your games in English or Spanish? Or do you mix it up depending on the group? Are there any challenges you've encountered in translation, especially when on the spot?

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    1. Almost all my games in the 12 years since I moved here have been in Spanish. There is one group that I started about 4 years ago that was in English, originally for Dark Albion (but not the original Dark Albion campaign, it was another one) and then when we finished that game we switched to DCC.
      So today, my DCC game is in English, all other games are in Spanish.

      And yes, sometimes there's translation problems, especially with things like old-west lingo, but we power through it.

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  2. Interesting. Was it racism per se or not wanting to play a character of perceived lower social status ?

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    1. In the case of the Mexicans, it was very clearly racism.
      In the case of the former slave, it was much more the latter case.

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  3. I'll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I ever play a son of bitch from Kentucky!

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    1. "we had quitters in the war too.. we called them Kentuckians!"

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Have you ever thought of writing a Wild West game yourself?

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    1. I can't say I have. I don't think I could do it better than Aces & Eights did.

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    2. Perhaps focus it on a less common era or region, like Gold Rush California? Or maybe even better, write a Mexican Revolution game.

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    3. I really don't think it's going to happen. I've got way too much stuff I want to write already.

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  6. Mexican isn't a race. Never has been.

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    1. Yes, technically true enough, but then let's say prejudiced.

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