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Brave New Rant

Over at Cinerati, Christian Johnson posted an excellent rant about my post here yesterday on my Brave New World RPG and Marvel Comics‘ upcoming Civil War event. While I enjoyed the essay (go read it, and then come back here), I want to clarify one of the comments I made on my own post, which Christian quotes. I wrote:

BNW was ahead of its time thematically. I don’t know if AEG would have wanted to pick it up from Pinnacle in the current climate. I recall having to convince a business parter or two that making the cover a burning American flag was the right thing to do. That was provocative back in ‘99. Today, I would have a harder time winning that argument.

As for art and life, I created a world that asked one of the questions that concerned me most back then. It concerns me even more now.

To clarify, I don’t know that I’d have a hard time getting someone to publish Brave New World these days. Heck, I could publish it myself if I hadn’t long ago sold off the rights.

My comment was about the nature of the game’s cover (which shows a burning American flag) and whether or not my then-partners at AEG (who are a bit more politically conservative than me, to say the least) would be willing to release the game today with that cover on it. I argued hard for that cover, as I couldn’t conceive of anything that better represented the themes in the game, and my partners—to their credit—saw that wisdom and went along with it.

Christian is right in that changing the cover would be an act of self-censorship, and I’d be against that. If you have something important to say, I think you should say it. But people do it to themselves all the time, especially when you’re working within a group of people who have different opinions.

Let me reiterate that I have nothing but respect for the folks at AEG. They’ve always been stand-up people, and I don’t begrudge them the right to speak their mind about these sorts of things either. We had an honest conversation about the cover, and we did the right thing—together.

The thing that stuck out at me most about Christian’s post was this bit:

It also reminded me that I am in many ways the type of person who Matt might think wouldn’t buy his game, and that pissed me off too.

Actually, one of the things that made me happiest about Brave New World is how it appealed to people across the political spectrum. The man who was in charge of sales at AEG at the time, Marcelo Figueroa, is as politically conservative as they come, but he loves Brave New World. Of course, he wants to play Delta Prime (the government enforcers) rather than the Defiants (the rebels), but that’s because the game doesn’t specifically espouse one point of view over the other.

My own sympathies may lie with the Defiants, but I wrote the game from many different viewpoints. Just about every book in the series has its own perspective on the problems of the day. Figuring out how to balance civil liberties against security concerns is not an easy question. I wrote Brave New World to help people explore that question and perhaps answer it for themselves.

Comments 8

  1. Matt-

    You probably know and recall that I am a HUGE BNW fan, but do you really think there isn’t a viewpoint in the depiction of the various factions and their representation.

    SPOILER

    Given the inherent lies that “JFK” lives under and the machinations he employs to ensure his rule, I always saw him as a villain. Perhaps a player who knew only the viewpoints of the soldiers (those on the frontlines compared to those who knew The Truth) might be able to see honor and nobility in both causes if viewing with an unjaded eye.

    In tackling one aspect of civil liberties, BNW touched upon all of them.

    In addition to the dynamic background, I always loved the mechanics of the system.

    I would gladly pay a pretty dime (rather a hefty sack full of dimes) for BNW 2E.

    Go Forbeck!

  2. Matt-

    You probably know and recall that I am a HUGE BNW fan, but do you really think there isn’t a viewpoint in the depiction of the various factions and their representation.

    SPOILER

    Given the inherent lies that “JFK” lives under and the machinations he employs to ensure his rule, I always saw him as a villain. Perhaps a player who knew only the viewpoints of the soldiers (those on the frontlines compared to those who knew The Truth) might be able to see honor and nobility in both causes if viewing with an unjaded eye.

    In tackling one aspect of civil liberties, BNW touched upon all of them.

    In addition to the dynamic background, I always loved the mechanics of the system.

    I would gladly pay a pretty dime (rather a hefty sack full of dimes) for BNW 2E.

    Go Forbeck!

  3. Hi Barak!

    Always good to hear from you. I agree that I have my own biases about what’s happening in BNW, and I’m sure that comes across in the writing. However, if you pick up the Delta Prime, I think it’s possible to play such a hero and feel good about it. I’d guess that even the false JFK doesn’t see himself as a villain so much as a man forced to horrible decisions by the circumstances in which he finds himself.

    If that sounds a bit like the situation we see in the USA today, I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    As for the game, I’d love to see a second edition too, although that’s entirely up to AEG. I admit I’m too busy to push them on it these days though.

  4. Post
    Author

    Hi Barak!

    Always good to hear from you. I agree that I have my own biases about what’s happening in BNW, and I’m sure that comes across in the writing. However, if you pick up the Delta Prime, I think it’s possible to play such a hero and feel good about it. I’d guess that even the false JFK doesn’t see himself as a villain so much as a man forced to horrible decisions by the circumstances in which he finds himself.

    If that sounds a bit like the situation we see in the USA today, I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    As for the game, I’d love to see a second edition too, although that’s entirely up to AEG. I admit I’m too busy to push them on it these days though.

  5. Matt, I don’t know how you find time to do anything. Our twins and 3 year old keep us busy we don’t do much of anything outside of work.

    You know, I can see both sides in BNW. I sympathize with the Defiants, but you can see where a Delta Prime Operative is “Doing his job” also. One of the reasons my favorite supplement for BNW is Glory days is because of the Innocent view of the world, a clear black and white, not a shade of grey.

    BTW Matt, I’m reading Road to Death and love it. The characters are all set and it’s pacing is very nice. I love the Eberron setting and it’s good to see they have some great authors shoring it up.

    Wayne

  6. Matt, I don’t know how you find time to do anything. Our twins and 3 year old keep us busy we don’t do much of anything outside of work.

    You know, I can see both sides in BNW. I sympathize with the Defiants, but you can see where a Delta Prime Operative is “Doing his job” also. One of the reasons my favorite supplement for BNW is Glory days is because of the Innocent view of the world, a clear black and white, not a shade of grey.

    BTW Matt, I’m reading Road to Death and love it. The characters are all set and it’s pacing is very nice. I love the Eberron setting and it’s good to see they have some great authors shoring it up.

    Wayne

  7. Hi Wayne!

    Thanks for all the kind words. I had a blast writing Glory Days for that exact reason. It was fun to put aside the gray-colored glasses and focus on something a bit more innocent.

    As for having time, there’s precious litle of it to go around. I try to treat my work as a full-time (and more) job, which helps keep me focused on what has to happen for me to pay my bills.

  8. Post
    Author

    Hi Wayne!

    Thanks for all the kind words. I had a blast writing Glory Days for that exact reason. It was fun to put aside the gray-colored glasses and focus on something a bit more innocent.

    As for having time, there’s precious litle of it to go around. I try to treat my work as a full-time (and more) job, which helps keep me focused on what has to happen for me to pay my bills.

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