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Does RotRL feel more and more like "torture porn" to anyone else?


Rise of the Runelords

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With books 2 and 3, as I read them, I am getting more and more disturbed by the images presented in them. Is it just me being an old fart? Or is anyone else feeling more and more disturbed by the content, that it is going in unnecessary detail on certain aspects? Also I've seen a thread about wanting a "director's cut" version which would be even more graphic. I always feel like the older and more mature people become, they less they seem to want graphic "mature" content? Or am I just off my rocker? (I've fallen and can get up)

And before anyone says something like, "You can change the content for your game", yeah I know, thanks for the (lack of meaningful) input.


If the violence and depravity displayed in the RotRL so far was just violence for violence sake, or for the shock factor, I'd be very disappointed and would consider it "torture porn." However, since it's being used in a story-driven way (this is an AP about sin, after all), I'm okay with it.


pres man wrote:

With books 2 and 3, as I read them, I am getting more and more disturbed by the images presented in them. Is it just me being an old fart? Or is anyone else feeling more and more disturbed by the content, that it is going in unnecessary detail on certain aspects? Also I've seen a thread about wanting a "director's cut" version which would be even more graphic. I always feel like the older and more mature people become, they less they seem to want graphic "mature" content? Or am I just off my rocker? (I've fallen and can get up)

And before anyone says something like, "You can change the content for your game", yeah I know, thanks for the (lack of meaningful) input.

If someone gave me a pat answer like that I might be bothered too. So I hear what you're saying. :)

To your main point, I don't agree, but I am going to acknowledge that there is a dark theme to RuneLords. It's not your imagination. I think it's in keeping with the theme, which is sort of an exploration of sin, and those that derive a sort of power from it. That doesn't quite cover the ogres, but in the case of both Lamia Matriarchs it certainly does. Along with Nualia's sense of shame and lack of self-worth that drive both her and Tsuto into being very different people than they might have been otherwise. (Incidentally, I am in no way condoning or apologizing for Nualia and Tsuto, but I think in both cases neither of those individuals woke up and decided to be 'evil.')

Back to point, RuneLords is something of a dark morality play, with secrets lies, shame, and manipulation. I don't think one can deny that.. But I don't think it's intended to be gratuitious for it's own sake.

And I don't think there's been any real interest on the part of Paizo to release an uncut version of CHapter Three. Nick Logue might be a little pleased that he made his friend and boss turn green- but I think they found a line not to cross and they're going to abide by their instincts.


Reading the other thread, providing the main disturbing content in my previous group (I was alternately nicknamed either Caligula or "bucket man"), and having my own perception in roleplaying and entertainment in general, I feel that this is all harmless. Since the OP brings up age, my own at 34 should help color my contribution. There's a simple and complex answer. Besides saying that this is "harmless," I think the simple answer is that such banter is intended only in the most good-natured way despite what the context might otherwise indicate (i.e. humor mixed in with serious topics ranging from rape to murder).

I think the complex responce would be for me to say that, as has been previously mentioned in the laboriously long "Sandpoint is Amazing" thread for which you had similarly provided input, would be to give a blanket statement that D&D in general does not summarily condone the imperial attitudes engaged within the games: pillage, looting, murder, raping, raising minions from the undead, etc. Your post can relate to those trying to draw links between video games and school shootings, Playboy and rape, D&D and satanism, etc. Not that you imply these things, but it feels like a train of thought not much distant from it. There's a fear there: where is Pathfinder headed, are the people who enjoy such stuff *really* that demented, where is society headed?

Speaking personally, I can laugh at many things, but I don't find everything I find humorous should be taken as reducing all such material as dissmissive/ and or acceptable behavior. When coming across a fatal robbery, news about Iraq, or some woman in a wheelchair getting raped in the news, I do not laugh nor find that funny. So, what's the difference? I think the main difference is that one represents real life, and the other represents fantasy. In fantasy, anything can happen but exists within a cushion of safety. Events can happen during a game session, but none of that is real. Characters in a D&D setting experience a myriad of grisly affairs, but the game ends, and everyone goes home. As for why such topics, perhaps it's venting, perhaps it's just sophomoric, perhaps it's a complicated projection that's redirected in a safe environment.

As I read the other thread, I felt it was an outstanding sense of comraderie between the Paizo community members and the contributers sharing in a wonderful and dynamic story.

Perhaps it is generational. As canned adventures and players change and age, we've seen it all before. Adventures need to change and stay fresh. The Pathfinders present an increased verisimilitude of where the world is more familiar with the audience as opposed to villains that romp around and spread an esoteric version of "evil" for the sake of it. It's not a "black-and-white" world. I'd call it a "dark" game where the events and humor are gritty and complex.

Frankly, in a white-washed game where heroes must save the princess and slay the dragon becomes cliche and trite, I feel a little rubber-gloved, and Pat Boone songs come to the surface.


To be honest, I don't mind the darker turn, because it fits the story line, as Watcher and Lilith said.

* Warning: Rambling discourse follows:

However, I think part of why it doesn't bother me is that I've always had elements like this in my games, both as a player and a DM. Not in every session, but it is a theme that crops up fairly often in our storylines.

Going back to the AD&D modules that I fondly remember from the 80's... I'm honestly not sure how much PG-13/R material was present (if any) in Ravenloft or the Against the Slavers/Against the Giants/Demonweb modules.

I'm sure it wasn't as much as there is present in Pathfinder, and it was just left for the DM to fill in the blanks at his own discretion. But that pretty much goes for all forms of entertainment/media if you compare the 80s to today.

I'd have to go back and look, and maybe there aren't graphic descriptions of Strahd's vileness, or the horrors that occured in Sterich, in the actual modules themselves. But we as a group filled in the blanks. Its just now with Pathfinder, we aren't so much having to fill it in ourselves, so much as its already written. But pretty much all aspects of the adventures are better covered now than back then, if for no other reason than a higher page count and color pictures.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

We won't be releasing a "Director's Cut" of Hook Mountain. The graphic elements that I toned down from Nick's original draft didn't add all that much to the adventure, and would CERTAINLY have turned off a lot of readers to Pathfinder. That said, Skinsaw and Hook Mountain are indeed pretty gory adventures. I wouldn't go as far as to call them "torture porn," since what happens in movies like Wolf Creek and Hostel and the various Saw movies is a LOT more extreme than what we've been doing in Pathfinder... if only because we're generally not illustrating the super gory stuff. For the most part.

That said, gritty horror and dark adventrues are quite popular with our readers... according to our market research, it's the MOST popular genre, so having 2 of the first 3 Pathfinders be pretty dark and gritty was a conscious choice. That said, the gore does get toned down a bit for the last three adventures, which move into a more "Giants Vs. PCs" and "Finally Facing Off against Runelord Stuff" arena.

I probably could have cut a bit more of the gore and violence from Hook Mountain, but at the same point I didn't want to sanitize the ogres too much. The whole point of that adventure is to show just how despicable and horrific ogres are—they're not just little giants, or orcs with more hit dice. For the key monsters in Pathfinder, we're doing our best to make them more than just speed bumps on the way to the big bad end guy. The ghouls and ogres and goblins (and stone giants and lamias and dragons that are "comming soon") should be memorable, and in the case of ogres, what makes them meorable is their violence.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I actually appreciate Paizo making the monsters monstrous. I can tone it down for my players if I need to but as a DM I like to every now and then remember what makes villains true villains. And ogres should be vicious and mean.

That having been said, the picture of Mammy Graul was too much.


Talion09 wrote:

To be honest, I don't mind the darker turn, because it fits the story line, as Watcher and Lilith said.

However, I think part of why it doesn't bother me is that I've always had elements like this in my games, both as a player and a DM. Not in every session, but it is a theme that crops up fairly often in our storylines.

I'd have to go back and look, and maybe there aren't graphic descriptions of Strahd's vileness, or the horrors that occured in Sterich, in the actual modules themselves. But we as a group filled in the blanks. Its just now with Pathfinder, we aren't so much having to fill it in ourselves, so much as its already written.

Much of what Talion09 said here is exactly like what I have done in my games over the years. I don't add these sorts of things into my games for enjoyment of whatever horrors are committed, but as a story-driving tool. Is it always necessary? Of course not. Does it create a more 'real and gritty' gameworld? Absolutely. How the games is played varies greatly from group to group and I have always felt a little left out with many of the published adventures (excepting the more recent years...Thank you Paizo!) not meeting a great many of my needs as a DM. Not to say that I can't simply ad-hoc something into an adventure, but finding the right fit for the tone set in a published adventure is sometimes easy, sometimes not.

Pathfinder seems to be an AP with a more mature audience intended. As DarkArt, Lilith, Talion, Watcher and most likely many other poster that will follow will say...this is an exploration of Sin. Not gratuitously, as 'Torture Porn' does, but as a moral and philosophical dilemma that we each face throughout our lives and a dilemma that will be facing the PCs and making players really think about what to do.
I've always favored adventures that bring moral choices and hard decisions into a game. I've always done this in my campaigns, I'm happy to see it in a published product. Granted, I am one of those who did call out for a 'Directors Cut' of HMM, but that was more an exercise in teasing Nick Logue and our praise for him. Would I look at such a thing, were it presented? I would. 1) I have an intense morbid fascination, 2) I am extremely curious about everything pretty much, 3) I enjoy the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Does this mean I like torture porn? No, I don't really care for it. I liked Saw for the ingenuity and creativity that went into it, the psychology behind it and the mechanics of the traps. Not the gratuitous violence. I've never seen Hostel or its derivatives, nor do I have any wish to. There is varience in everyone's taste, but Pathfinder doesn't taste anything like torture porn, not even close. Sorry for the rant. My input.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Describing Pathfinder as torture porn is inaccurate to say the least. It's like describing Orgasmo or Clerks as porn because the characters talk about sex or there is sex occurring offscreen. Just as the sex occurs offscreen in Orgasmo and Clerks, so too does the torture occur offscreen in Pathfinder. The reason why torture porn movies are so powerful is because they revel in showing you all the details, all the pain, and all the horror of the acts portrayed. Pathfinder lacks that visceral quality, in part because it is not a visual medium like film, but also because the torture is not seen directly by the characters.

Is Se7en torture porn? That's a much closer analogy to Pathfinder than Saw or Hostel or any such movie. In that movie, the characters investigate the aftermath of horrific acts of violence. Is it disturbing? Yes. Is there some degree of flash backs used to convey the horror? Yes. Is the focus of the movie just the shock of the murders? Hell no.

If the adventure involved the PCs getting captured by the ogres and either watching NPCs be tortured or being tortured themselves, the torture porn label might be more apt. However, that is not the case.

Liberty's Edge

I wish this thread wasn't spoilered up...must...avoid..reading.....

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


The whole point of that adventure is to show just how despicable and horrific ogres are—they're not just little giants, or orcs with more hit dice. For the key monsters in Pathfinder, we're doing our best to make them more than just speed bumps on the way to the big bad end guy. The ghouls and ogres and goblins (and stone giants and lamias and dragons that are "comming soon") should be memorable, and in the case of ogres, what makes them meorable is their violence.

James I am loving the AP. It is awesome. My group actually stopped almost mid-campaign to begin RotR because I was so happy with what I saw in the first Chapter. As to my aged brother who is the OP. I am 51 and I do not have a problem with anything done in the AP so far. I think that a little more grit is missing from D&D in general. Let's have our evil truly be evil and leave no room for excusing their actions as something that can be overlooked by our PCs. Thanks so much. I miss my magazines but being this is a result of that change I have never been so happy with the game and would trade the magazines any day for your excellent work on the APs.


Sebastian wrote:
Describing Pathfinder as torture porn is inaccurate to say the least. It's like describing Orgasmo or Clerks as porn because the characters talk about sex or there is sex occurring offscreen. Just as the sex occurs offscreen in Orgasmo and Clerks, so too does the torture occur offscreen in Pathfinder...

Thats a good analogy. While I like Clerks a lot, I highly doubt I'd watch it with people that would be offended, or with small kids. Likewise, I like Skinsaw Murders and Hook Mountain, but I wouldn't play them word for word as written with people that would be offended, etc.

And as has been pointed out, all the gory stuff happens "off-screen", which is a big difference.

Scarab Sages

Wow...not the "torture-porn" thing (which is the first time I've heard the phrase and immediately am not a fan of it) but the description of the themes in Rise of the Runelords has gotten me really intrigued. As I've said many times before, I'm not a module guy. I really don't have any use for them. That said this story is sounding freaking awesome. I'm kinda' jealous. It sounds like there's a lot of good stuff going on.

Grrr...


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Generally speaking, I concur with both Lilith and Sebastian responses. I find the atmosphere to be very much in service to the story. It is evocative.

As a side note, DnD was birthed in fantasy that was both dark and violent, and to me this tendency in the past few years to approach the essence of DnD with kid gloves is really a shame imo. Each to his own though.


I think that the writers of these adventures are doing a great job of pulling in ideas from other genres they enjoy (ie horror movies). It's pretty cool to see all these references to various horror movies, but given a fantasy twist. I think my players will really get excited by the idea of these psychotic hillbilly ogres that are reminsent of the family from Texas Chain saw massacre. I think these inspirations have really given some classic monsters a much needed face lift that makes them fresh and exciting again.


It is kind of a relief seeing this thread because I was wondering if any body else found this adventure path thus far somewhat disturbing as well. There is a lot that has captivated me thus far regarding pathfinder but I don’t know if I would describe the tone as mature. But rather dark and disturbing in a teen slasher flick sort of way.
On a related side note I am kind of worried that the tone might adversely affect the longevity of pcs wanting to follow the whole adventure path. That they might feel unable to be heroic and make much of a difference, only shut the stable doors after most of the horse have gotten away. In many ways this adventure path reminders me a little of ravenloft which, atmosphere wise seemed to lend itself better to a short arc then a campaign.


Just to give some context for some of the readers, the reason I mentioned this is that the graphic nature was increasing.
Burnt Offerings had:

Spoiler:
A goblin eat off a guy's face, this was described as perhaps too graphic for some players.

Skinsaw Murders then had:

Spoiler:
Gruesome description of people's bodies mutilated (jaws removed, etc), people cut in twain, body parts used to decorate pictures, and such.

Then we come to the Hook Mountain Massacre:

Spoiler:
House, as pointed out above, was right out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Along with more gruesome descriptions of bodies being used for decorations, toys, food, etc by both the ogres and their spawn.

None of these by themselves is extremely worrisome, it was just that it seemed as if each issue was getting more graphic than the last. That this might continue until the point where the description of "torture porn" might actually be legitimate. I am glad to hear that is not the case, and that it will be getting toned down a bit in the next few coming issues.

Most of this is just personal preference on where to draw the line. As some have said, it might be too much if the PCs were having to witness the acts instead of just seeing the aftermath, on the other hand I've heard of DMs (not running Pathfinder) that would have PCs get raped (and played out in brutal detail) and thought that was not overboard.


I dont think I stand alone when I say...

BRING IT ON

*Tents fingers and grins*

(and yes I know this adds nothing helpful to the argument, but I might repost when I finish work)

Liberty's Edge

Lilith wrote:
... "torture porn"....

Wow...I've never encountered that term before.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Watcher! wrote:
Incidentally, I am in no way condoning or apologizing for Nualia and Tsuto, but I think in both cases neither of those individuals woke up and decided to be 'evil.')

Um.

Spoiler:
Reread the adventure overview and background for the first adventure. When the Runewell of Wrath activated, Nualia (along with two others) literally woke up and became evil, even for a few moments. Granted, it only worked on her because of her latent feelings of rage at the events that had happened to her previously, but it's still true.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Wicht wrote:

That having been said, the picture of Mammy Graul was too much.

Eh, to me, I just started thinking about [u]What's Eating Gilbert Grape?[/u]

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Andrew Turner wrote:
Lilith wrote:
... "torture porn"....
Wow...I've never encountered that term before.

It's mostly because we don't want the FBI (or Charlie Sheen) all up in our faces if we compare RotRL to sn****.


Sect wrote:


Eh, to me, I just started thinking about What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

i guess that would be... Mammy

But seriously, do you think ogres eat berries and flower petals. And why not use our bones/bodies as toys and equipment. How many of you have an ivory carving, or bone cutlery. I keep a few small skulls I have... um found, yeah found, on my desk at home. Those of you in the states, does anyopne have a stuffed head of an animal that you killed on the wall, or do any of you wear leather.

Using whats left of a corpse, be it human or cow, is just practical.

Edit, I have just quoted you Sect, I am not refering to you in the bulk of the post.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Planar Chicken Shepard wrote:
Edit, I have just quoted you Sect, I am not refering to you in the bulk of the post.

I gotcha. No worries.

Now my rebuttal: for humans, there's a huge difference between using the carcasses of a "lesser" species and using the body parts of a fellow human, or even other sapiens. Why else does everyone think a monkey's paw is creepy, but a rabbit's foot is lucky?

The point is, it's very awkward to be cavorting about in chaps fashioned out of the epidermis of someone that you could potentially hold an intelligent conversation with.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I read the adventures and the "torture porn" tag came to mind, especially in the Hook Mountain where:

Spoiler:
A dead body os posed to look like it is eating its own entrails.

But there are other examples in all three scenarios to date.

It bothered me slightly. While I appreciate that they want to show the baddies as being, well, bad, there are questions of what it is good taste (a slippery term at best) to actually put down in writing. Most of the nastiness is actually, in my opinion, gratuitous - it doesn't add much to the playability of the module, or its plot. We know ogres are bad - that is what Chaotic Evil means.

The problem is that it is fun to write violent scenes. What tempered my initial response is when I remembered I have written some fairly violent stuff into the fight scenes of my PbPs (especially, funnily enough, RotRL) - faces half ripped off by ogre hooks, spilling entrails and all. It is indeed fun to excercise one's imagination that way. It just might not, on some occasions, be that much fun for others to read.

I know that James et al have said that this is intended to be dark. They are probably also picking up on the current zeitgeist for unpleasant violence as entertainment in films. I can hardly rush to condemn, as I have said above. But maybe this isn't a great idea.

Dunno - I suspect this thread might run, so I'll reserve judgement.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Wicht wrote:


That having been said, the picture of Mammy Graul was too much.

if you're talking about the picture I think you are, then then there are worse things in R movies, I specifically thought Blade when I saw it. and Blade is shown on TNT at 7pm with that scene still in it...

speaking for my group, I have found that players want to know that they are really being heroes and saving the world, you can't have good heroes without evil villains. without these clear cut examples, some people would just go on about their business thinking that it was a easy rat cleanup that someone else would do. Sort of like that story of the person assaulted in the street who died 2 hours later from bleeding out because all of the witnesses thought someone else had called the cops.


I’m glad this thread is here. I feel exactly the same way as the original poster, but haven’t really said anything until now because I thought I was just being reactionary.

I read the .pdf of one, and the .pdf of two, but haven’t bothered downloading the .pdf of three yet, nor have I opened the packages for any of the modules (three arrived today). Well, I tore the flap off #1 but never bothered to slide it out, at any rate. I’m just not feeling it. Movies like Saw don’t appeal to me on any level, so this kind of content really drives me away, which depresses me, as a lot of really hard work by very talented people went into making these modules. As it stands, I’m waiting out the next arc in hopes I’ll be totally blown out of my socks.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the adventures are “bad.” In fact, I think they are superb modules. I use some disturbing imagery in my own campaigns when I know I’m playing with more mature players, so for me to simply sit back and criticize would be hypocritical to say the least. The big problem for me is, I don’t want to leave them lying around the house where someone could pick them up and go, “you need real help…” I think Paizo could marginalize most of my concerns with the simple addition of a “modules intended for ages X and up” sticker blurb.


I've seen Seven and get where the comparison is coming from. I don't get the SAW comparison. (hey, IMO that was a well done horror movie.)

But what is "torture porn"? Are we talking about snuff movies or graphic S&M, be they live action/real/simulated/animated?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Kruelaid wrote:

I've seen Seven and get where the comparison is coming from.

But what is "torture porn"? Are we talking about snuff movies or graphic S&M, be they live action/real/simulated/animated?

Torture Porn is the name applied to a lot of the new exploitation-type movies. The Saw movies are the big ones in this arena, but others like Hostel are pretty big news too. They're mostly the equivalent of a cinematic geek show where you get to test your limits on the gore; the movies really revel in the violence and blood and gore and torture element, intending to shock the audience.

Basically, it's a similar thing between eroticism and pornography, but with horror and torture porn. You can have an erotic movie without it being pornography, and by the same extension you can have a gory horror movie and not have it be torture porn.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

mwbeeler wrote:
I think Paizo could marginalize most of my concerns with the simple addition of a “modules intended for ages X and up” sticker blurb.

In our solicitations to Diamond and the book trade, we do indeed indicate that Pathfinder is for mature audiences (ages 16 and up). We don't use that wordage on the books themselves, because that smacks to me of sensationalism and sorta cheesy.

In any event, Pathfinder 4's adventure is a lot less gruesome than the Skinsaw and Hook were. Pathfinder 5 is pretty tame in the gore too... there's a section that, as it stands now, gets probably TOO racy in the sex department though... not sure if that'll get trimmed back yet or not, but there IS a set of rooms themed to all seven sins, after all, including Lust...

Pathfinder 6 is looking to be pretty standard on the gore as well.

But that said... now and then, Pathfinder will indeed tread close to the R-rating when it comes to gore, sex, and adult situations. The vast majority of our customers, according to our research, prefer the gritty side of gaming and are closer to 30 years old than anything else.

And for the record... I thought Saw was a TERRIBLE movie. Not for the gore (I have a pretty strong stomach there) but simply because I thought the acting, the directing, and the story were just wretched. The director's gone on to show some promise (he just did the Kevin Bacon movie earlier this year, "Death Sentence"), but I doubt I'll ever be commissioning a movie based on Saw. Movies like Seven and The Hills Have Eyes, however... that's a different story! :)

Liberty's Edge

Hostel and Saw 1-3 don't come close to the content of RotRL.
I've seen all those films, and I enjoyed them for the simple factors of "what depravity is next" and "can they top the last one." But once you see those movies, you might snooker a friend into watching them, and thus see them more than once, but how many of us (who enjoyed the films and their like) really sit down to second and third viewings? The RotRL adventures are a different something altogether, inviting re-inspection and replay. Not to mention, there's just nothing I've read in the three books out so far that holds a candle to the graphic nature of the aforementioned films.

I should mention that I appreciate the anonymity of Blockbuster--no-one knows what dvds you're carrying around because they're all in the same blue-and-white casings---I would be embarrassed for anyone who knows me to see me purchasing a movie like Saw; it's akin to carrying around a copy of Hustler while you shop for the rest of your groceries. Pathfinder on the other hand--no shame; I even leave it on the coffee table (though my wife did ask me how Seoni can get anything done in a cocktail dress...)

*edit: I should mention that I saw Hostel on dvd when I was deployed, with about nine other dudes--there were several scenes we wore out in replay (the Achilles tendon scene comes to mind); our doc was there and had to explain all the anatomical inconsistencies, of course, though he [and we] was impressed at how often the characters vomited from pain and fear--trust me, when you come under some intense physical pain, you really do puke.


pres man wrote:
Or is anyone else feeling more and more disturbed by the content, that it is going in unnecessary detail on certain aspects? Also I've seen a thread about wanting a "director's cut" version which would be even more graphic.

Simply put, it presents a complete ignorance of violence and it's consequences. "Dark" is "cool" at the moment, but it's the cool of high school shooters and horror movies. Creepy, puerile, immature and gratuitous.

It used to be a little different and these are direct quotes from Dungeon magazine (RIP)with regard to adventure submissions to show my point -

"Here's a good rule of thumb. : if you think you've gone to far, you probably have. This sort of material is just not necessary to make an adventure good." - Dungeon 89

"Make it unique, and make it sing" - Dungeon 125

IMO , If it needs the gore to be good, it probably isn't.


Good lord James, you noticed the acting, directing, and writing in SAW? I was just so shocked I sat with my jaw in my lap through the whole thing and having made it without blinking through the whole thing still feel my money was well spent.

On the other hand, I refuse to see the others because the shock is old and certainly is not going to work again....

So I shall avoid Hostel, too, if it's more of the same genre.

Liberty's Edge

Kruelaid wrote:

Good lord James, you noticed the acting, directing, and writing in SAW? I was just so shocked I sat with my jaw in my lap through the whole thing and having made it without blinking through the whole thing still feel my money was well spent.

On the other hand, I refuse to see the others because the shock is old and certainly is not going to work again....

So I shall avoid Hostel, too, if it's more of the same genre.

Regards to Hostel, see my 'puke' statement above...

Sovereign Court

James Jacobs wrote:
But that said... now and then, Pathfinder will indeed tread close to the R-rating when it comes to gore, sex, and adult situations.

IMO, "Hook Mountain Massacre" didn't tread close to an R-rating... it WAS R-rated.


James Jacobs wrote:
Movies like Seven and The Hills Have Eyes, however... that's a different story! :)

With all due respect for both Wes Craven and your own genius writing, may you be cast into the inferno for speaking of Seven and Hills with the same breath. [crosses himself]

Liberty's Edge

Put me in with pres man and mwbeeler.

I have found myself slightly turned off by the content, although I do acknowledge the context, and I am not averse to graphic imagery. It has pushed very close to the edge for me, and any more would definitely be too much.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I did balk at describing to my players a man who'd had his face eaten off. I compromised and decided that he'd got an arm into the cubby-hole; nuch more of a goblin snack and a gnawed arm is so much less gratuitous.

But; I do wonder why it is legitimate for art to scare us, shock us, and provoke other "negative" emotions but people have much more of a problem with art that disgusts?

In The Bedroom made me weep, the first film to do that in years. On the surface that might be seen as a negative but that a work of art can move people so powerfully is seen as a positive.

The problem with disgust is that it has little connection to any deeper truth, nor does it allow us to explore our human nature or meaningfully ponder morality. Disgust is just an auto-response designed to prevent us from getting diseases.

The problem perhaps is that the disgusting aspects, the torture porn, are there to signal the hidden evil underlying the whole adventure. A Runelord is merrily causing the deaths of hundreds of people to gain power for himself. That's why the BBEG is evil.

To return to my original example; I played down the face-eating, but I played up the breakdown of the guy's wife - the real horror of that set-piece is the children losing a father, the woman destroyed, the family lost, the hole in the community when the family heads south, the colleagues left pondering an empty workbench and the friends morosely pondering their buddy's absence... In most comedy films we're endeared to the characters and cued to the jokes by the reaction shots. In drama, and in real life, it's the ripples of damage inflicted upon the living that really hammer-home the pathos of a lost life.


I really enjoy the darker cast of this adventure path and find it fits my play style very well. I loved the Styes and the other darker modules to come out of the Wunderdungeon years. I say go for it. More like Preacher and less like Dragonlance. China Mieville and George R.R Martin are my favourite fantasists. When I was ten, I loved David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist. I am thirty-three now. I do not watch horror, but I love to DM it. I have always made evil disturbing in my games where I could. It makes the heroes shine all the brighter for ending such darkness and redeeming the lands.

Dark Archive

Please keep the gore flowing! Sorry guys, huge horror fan here...

*I do think the ultimate torture would be getting strapped to a chair with your eyes taped open with the whole SAW series on repeat.

Dark Archive

I actually like the darker tones of the RotRL adventures. I like them so much that I decided to use the optional horror rules from "Darkness and Dread" (from Fantasy Flight Games) to use the gory and shocking scenes at their fullest potential.

Regarding the graphical facet of the discussion, as I'm 32, I am not so much shocked by it: it's always quite suggested rather than openly portraied, which is a good thing. Moreover the bland "here's a village sacked by orcs: there are some dead people, a puddle of blood or two, nothing else to see" is no longer a good enough scenic description for my players.
The horror of violence is a powerful narrative and mood-setting tool; indulging and reveling in the most graphical or gratuitous parts is obviously lame, but a tasteful (even if continuous) application of it, for me is just added value.


I am a huge fan of a lot of incredibly gory films (and I'm not talking of Saw or Hostel,) and I've even seen a decent smattering of real torture porn ( dead locust blow-jobs, for example.) But, I do think scaling back on the WTF-ness is a good idea, mainly for overexposure purposes. The players will become numb to the imagery, and I like such things to stay nice and sharp. Less can be more. (I'm trying to remember this in all aspects of my campaign, as well.)

FWIW, I don't like the take on the Grauls. Comes off as just a little too comedic for my tastes.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Given that the sin in question is actually greed, on the whole, I question whether sadistic violence is actually wholly in keeping. After all, we haven't actually seen too many depictions of gratuitous greed at all. Not sexy enough, and too difficult to make interesting?

Personally, I don't think any of the adult readers of this will be especially shocked by this. I remember reading an Elric where he shears through someone's face with Stormbringer (though it is written like that, rather than loving documented in detail) and that was over 30 years ago, so this isn't new, exactly.

But it is a bit of a turn-off, sometime. Not all of us are that big into horror, and the action is the key, so the depictions are window-dressing at best and possibly distracting from otherwise very solid adventures. I presume (having not read the original) that Ravenloft didn't need all of this to be effective.

I'm not condemning - I know James and the others want to (a) make a statement, (b) produce mature adventures for a mature audience, and (3) want to differentiate what they are doing from the competition. And I certainly won't stop buying Pathfinder - the quality issue far outweighs any minor niggles about depiction of violence which I find mildly distateful. (Plus, Nic Logue has written other stuff like it - his last Eberron adventure in the print version of Dungeon depicted dismemberment and such like, which at the time I didn't especially like either. Pett does these things so much better....) Hell, the controversy might even be healthy for sales.

Scarab Sages

James Jacobs wrote:
And for the record... I thought Saw was a TERRIBLE movie. Not for the gore (I have a pretty strong stomach there) but simply because I thought the acting, the directing, and the story were just wretched. The director's gone on to show some promise (he just did the Kevin Bacon movie earlier this year, "Death Sentence"), but I doubt I'll ever be commissioning a movie based on Saw. Movies like Seven and The Hills Have Eyes, however... that's a different story! :)

You liked Hills Have Eyes? You mean the remake? Weird. I really really wanted to like that movie. They did such a good job setting up the family and everything, and the premise of a parallel society so close to our own--one that thrives on pain and misery in abysmal conditions was really fascinating. Then you meet them and it's like Larry the Stereotypical Hillbilly with a sixpack and a shotgun. Nothing alien or scary about their culture. They were just mild weirdos who happen to be dangerous and stupid wearing crappy prosthetic mutant parts. I have a hard time being scared by that.

Granted I love some really intense stuff. The remake of Dawn of the Dead is a huge favorite of mine. I love what they did with Silent Hill and that movie's got stuff in it that's just wrong. I don't shy away from blood and gore. I just like it to at least intrigue me with a good mythology if it can't manage to scare me.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Heathansson wrote:
I wish this thread wasn't spoilered up...must...avoid..reading.....

Agreed. I might have wanted to watch Hostel or Saw someday (sigh).

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As a slight counter to my previous posts, when I described the scene from the

Spoiler:
Glassworks
in my PbP, one of the players said something along the lines of, "Phew, this is heavy." As such, it maybe did bring the seriousness of the goblin threat, after their more comical incarnation - I didn't bother with
Spoiler:
the goblin under the floor
so this was their first exposure to this stuff. So maybe it did bring home the evilness of the goblins, as desired.

I didn't really notice it much in Burnt Offerings, and I didn't take too much offence to Skinsaw. My tolerance point was reached in Hook Mountain. Which is slightly ironic as, in adventure terms, I think it is really great. Some cool sites, especially

Spoiler:
the Thassilonian dam and its pit fiend power source - genius
and good cinematic action, plus a bit of pathos too.

(Apologies for all the spoilers, but after my previous post in another thread, I could hardly go into details without them.)


James Jacobs wrote:
Pathfinder 5 is pretty tame in the gore too... there's a section that, as it stands now, gets probably TOO racy in the sex department though... not sure if that'll get trimmed back yet or not, but there IS a set of rooms themed to all seven sins, after all, including Lust...

Please please please please don't tone it down. This is the story of the seven deadlies. I have bought and run these exactly because these elements are in them. We are adult. we can cope. I tone these things up in my own games, and I can do that because you provide the info I need to build on.

give it to us as it is, and we'll repay you. I promise.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sect wrote:
Wicht wrote:

That having been said, the picture of Mammy Graul was too much.

Eh, to me, I just started thinking about [u]What's Eating Gilbert Grape?[/u]

I don't remember that movie having nudity :-/

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Not to pile on...but I'd have to echo the sentiments that many have expressed here about the tone in Pathfinder's first three issues. From a market research standpoint, I have a group of 6 players...ranging in age from late-20's to late-30's...with most of us in our mid-30's, I believe. I'm running Rise of the Runelords for them and we haven't finished "Burnt Offerings" just yet. But I've read each issue that's come out with a rising level of discomfort.

It's not that I can't handle the gore. I can. And it's not that I can't adapt my game to tone it down. I can do that too. And I have.

However, just in running one of the scenes from "Burnt Offerings," one of my older players remarked in a somewhat surprised and negative way, "What is this...PG-13?" And I thought to myself, if he's taken aback by that, then how's he and the rest of the players going to respond to the harsher elements coming up in the "Skinsaw Murders" and "Hook Mountain Massacre"...?

I guess what I'm trying to convey is that our gaming group fits the demographic you cited as justifying the increased depictions of violence as something they want...and yet, our group doesn't really respond as favorably to it so far. Thus, I'm very much having to throttle it back in how I run the game. There's different ways to tell a story in order to convey horror. And for some of the descriptions used so far in the actual text of Pathfinder, I think it did cross the line from "horror" to the ubiquitous "torture porn" that's so prevalent in movies today...

But that's just my two-cents,
--Neil

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Wicht wrote:


That having been said, the picture of Mammy Graul was too much.

if you're talking about the picture I think you are, then then there are worse things in R movies, I specifically thought Blade when I saw it. and Blade is shown on TNT at 7pm with that scene still in it...

There are worse things in "R" movies. There are also worse things in snuff movies, XXX movies, etc. There were worse things in Iraq's torture prisons and the Nazi death camps (real life things).

I don't see the point.

Actually, my chief problem with the picture is not the obesity nor is it what she is eating. It is the nudity. I can't use that picture in a game with kids. I would prefer the editors to aim for a PG-13 with the artwork.

Other opinions will vary of course but that's what would make the art the most useful for me.

Other than that, no complaints about anything in the AP so far.

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