Further Inspiration

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Everyone’s heard that, either in history class or as part of some anti-government rhetoric when someone your party didn’t like was in power. And it’s a good sentiment, but one that folks never really understood. Or maybe His campaign to take over the world was just so different from what folks were used to that the comparison just doesn’t work.

He came first for the politicians, the priests and the CEOs. He came for the people that we all hated. The people who were out of touch, who argued talking points and bottom lines when we were here on the ground working for a living. We knew that Congress was gone, and we heard – second and third hand, usually – that the richest and most powerful people in the world were just disappearing.

But the day-to-day didn’t change much. The people who really did the work came in and punched their clocks like they always did. The breakdown started from the top, and because so much wealth and power was concentrated in such a small number of people, it didn’t matter much that they were dead.

Well. We didn’t know that they were dead. I guess technically they might be alive, but They aren’t known to take prisoners when They don’t have to. I imagine that the big corporate fat-cats, the Senators and Representatives, the important people, they turned off their lights to go to bed…and the darkness just came open, and they were gone.

And the world turned on. And even once we noticed, we didn’t care, because it wasn’t us disappearing into the dark, dragged off by monsters, dead before we knew anything had changed. It was them. It was those rich guys. Those guys that fired us, that voted for that piece of legislation that we hated, that said stupid things on camera, that spent our taxes dollars on that thing we didn’t like. Serves them right.

It’s tempting to feel guilty. To say we didn’t do anything because of who they were. But that’s overlooking two very important points. First, we put them there. We built our culture to be what it is. We, collectively, the whole world, made abstractions more important than concrete reality, and that was what He couldn’t abide. I’m not saying we deserve what happened to the world. I’m just saying that the world was what we made it.

And second…what the hell could we have done about it? The point of that quote is that the people should have stopped it, shouldn’t have turned a blind eye. But even if every single person had noticed and clamored for a response, where would it have come from? Who is like Him, and who can fight against Him?

I mentioned in the very first post, I think, that A Perfect Circle’s cover of “Imagine” was what most directly inspired curse the darkness. Another song that informed how I see Him was this one:

“Handlebars” is, to me, a song about ambition and opportunity and what happens if you don’t look down while you’re walking, as it were. It resonates to me with this game because He thinks He’s the guy that went right at the beginning of the song. He’s not, of course; He’s every bit the corrupt leader, the ideologue, the religious figurehead. He just happens to have an invincible army to back up what He wants.

We’ve all had those thoughts: People should have licenses to breed, because damn, that lady with her bratty kids! Those people should die. I hate when people mispronounce that word or use that grammatical construction. As a species, we’re hard-wired for tribalism, and sometimes that’s useful, but the tendency to look at people and have part of our brains think not like me, other, strange, alien is not helpful. curse the darkness is about, among other things, the conscious choice to reject that impulse, and to evaluate people and situations and everything in the moment, on the appropriate terms and in the right context.

Oy, OK. Enough with the philosophy (for now). Here, have a system:

I talked before about Memory Points, which the players receive from the GM. But the players can also give the GM points – these are called Between Points. The GM needs a certain number (decided when play begins, and there’s a system for it, I promise), at which point He notices the characters and something bad probably happens. The players can give the GM Between Points in exchange for lots of little benefits in play, but they also have options for taking them back.

The GM gains Between Points in the following ways:

  • The players can give the GM a Between point to keep a card during a Character Challenge, rather than discarding it.
  • The GM gains a Between point whenever a player shuts down a Memory conversation.
  • The GM gains a Between point whenever anyone (including NPCs) Opens a gateway to or from the Between.
  • Any player can give the GM a Between Point to Refresh any Attribute.

Explaining how the GM loses Between Points requires getting into other systems, like Removal Challenges and the Essential Choice. And we’ll get there, but not tonight, I think.

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6 responses to “Further Inspiration

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