ViolenceTheRpg: The review.

You puerile adolescent- and post-adolescent scum don’t give a tinker’s cuss. Berg was right, when he told me, lo these many years ago, that there’s no point in trying to write a good set of rules because you idiots can’t tell the difference between a good set and a bad set any-
way. Actually, one is better off writing a bad set of rules, because it will take you lot longer to figure out that the game itself is an unutterable gobbler.

So says the introduction to Violence, the RPG to end all RPGs, and who am I to argue? This is a free rpg by long-time RPG designer uber-god Greg Costikyan (with creator credits for Paranoia, Price of Freedom, Toon and d6 Star Wars, he’s an uber-god, ok?) that takes the genre to it’s natural conclusion, pulling along the entrails of sick, perverted and hysterically funny baggage along the way.

Violence strips D&D-style role-playing down to the core and recognizes that what we’ve been playing all this time is make-believe mass murder. The characters in our minds are serial killers through and through, from the 1st level Rogue with his iddy-biddy rapier to that 18th level Paladin/Tank/Warblade. Our adventuring parties are roving bands of killers that hack and slash it’s way through countless thousand thinking things, all in the quest for a Good Time. Let’s face it; we don’t rave about the treasure we got for killing the Red Dragon, but the battle itself. Even our holiest of Paladins don’t forgive but Smite Mightily and our Wizards love nothing better than to leave charred remains of their enemies on the dungeon floors. It’s time to face facts. Our characters are killers, one and all.

Violence understands what we want, and runs with it. Or, more accurately, it skulks in the the shadows with it while we’re sleeping then beats us over the head. Hard. It takes a terrific side-swipe at the hobby and splits apart all the tropes and lies we’ve been told by all those “other” role-playing designers in the past. Remember how we were told that all we need to play is “this book, a pencil, some paper and a few dice”? Violence recognizes that this was a lie from the start, used to lull we gullible souls into buying oh-so-many thousands of pounds of RPG stuff that we also, apparently, “need”.

Violence doesn’t do that. Oh no. It’s written straight on page 5 that in order to play the game you need:

… Each and every Violence accessory and follow-on product, plus all Violence logo products, including but not limited to Violence t-shirts, Violence faux vomit and blood packets, Violence miniatures and paint sets, Violence CDs and tapes, Violence collectible cards, Violence POGs and action figures, Violence blood-colored soda pop, and Violence salty snacks, all purchased at full retail price, preferably by mail order directly from the publisher, Hogshead Publishing Ltd, 18-20 Bromell’s Road, London SW4 0BG, Great Britain. Oh, we suppose you can actually play without all this crap, but please be assured, your enjoyment will be infinitely improved by sending us every penny, pfennig, or lira you possess.

If only Wizards were so honest, eh? :)

It’s a parody of everything about RPG, but it’s a darned good one. The rules system (such as it is) is almost playable and the core idea – a modern D&D where the dungeons are tenement buildings and the monsters are just everyday folks – is brilliant in a sick, twisted way. But heck, that’s basically D&D gaming to a tee, right?

So if it’s just a parody, why read it? I can think of five reasons:

  1. It’s free
  2. It’s only 34 pages long
  3. It’s very, very funny
  4. There’s a lot of truth in them thar pages which will make you re-think what you know about RPGs, and games designers in particular
  5. Hey, there’s nothing on TV tonight.

Be forewarned: Violence is the Quentin Taratino of RPGs. There’s a lot of swearing, a lot of gratuitous violence (well, duh!), and a lot of it just doesn’t make sense.

It even has a Wandering Victim Table. I mean, what’s not to love?

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