I’ve been working my way through the current draft of the setting. I had hoped this would only take a week or two, but it’s taken much longer for various IRL reasons (including a car crash and its subsequent fallout), mostly because the only time I can work on it, is the few hours spare I get after the kids are in bed and I’m not always as mentally focused at that time. (I’m getting old, I fall asleep in the sofa at 10.30 in the evening!)
The first half of the text required a lot more re-work than later pieces, yet it was the later pieces I struggled with the most first time round. It seems as a general rule, depending on the length of the chapter, the more I struggled with it the less re-working it requires. With that in mind I started working on the Pantheon chapters in reverse order, hoping to populate the better changes and feel from the later chapters back to the previous chapters.
It was only when I got to the chapter on Demons that something started to worry me. Not the writing, but something I had put to the back of my mind since starting this run. Demons are nasty things. Not nasty as in anti-hero way (like Vampires are sorta cool yet there still “monsters”) but the worst of mankind, supernaturally empowered. Rapists, murderers, abusers, molesters and so on. While it’s possible to create “good” Demons (Fallen Demons or Demonic Bloodlines that avoided the influence of Hell for example), the vast majority of character types are bad, real bad.
Lets get this out of the way now, Lost Heroes is based on old mythologies. These old religions contain stuff that modern readers may find tasteless or even offensive. I can already think of several bits and pieces that might offend some. I’m aware of them but I didn’t want to PC-ify these old stories, just for the sake of writing an RPG. So instead I tried to emphasis some over others. I don’t know if this works or if I should be more cautious in how I treat these themes in the setting. In part, this is the purpose of trying to make this “Book of the Gods” so that I can present something to others and get a real feel for the reader’s reactions. To put it another way, when does editing become censorship? I can’t tell because I’m buried in the forest, checking the bark on each of the trees.
And here I am, reading through the Demons chapter, realising there is very little balance to this chapter. It is dark and it remains dark. There is, preceding this chapter, an chapter on Angels who battle constantly with Hell to prevent Demons destroying everything. While some parts of Angels are dark, there is much light. When I was writing it, I tried to get my head into what might be the motivations of these Demons and their masters. It did haunt my dreams for a while, imaging the horrific nature of Hell, but I felt it was important to get it down on paper. A starting point.
One thing, from the beginning, of Lost Heroes is that I didn’t want to restrict your choice of characters. Of course a GM may apply their own restrictions for the sake of the game, but I wanted there to be a choice. Even if that option was only really available to allow the GM to create antagonistic NPCs, it should be there. Choice is also an incredible important theme in the setting. Everything is about choice. A True Chosen Demon… is a human who accepted to become a Demon. The evils of Demon are the evils of humans, amplified by the supernatural. Do you chose to be the monster or the hero? And so the gamer is already making a choice.
Reading about the monstrous Demons of Lilith, wife of Satan, I started to have doubts. I posted this on twitter:
Just re-read the Demons chap. in Lost Heroes. Am a bit worried that u can create evil and disturbing demons as PCs. Should I take chap. out?
Which it later got imported into Google Buzz where some discussion occurred.
I have no conclusions so far. I’m going to keep tapping away at this drop, hoping in the end that the bits will fall together. What do you think?