Teaser for the Races of Kickassistan

Okay, if you've been following my blog, you've probably noticed all the stuff I've been writing about the Metal Gods. And by probably, I mean "that's probably the reason you're around at all." All in all, I came up with the idea of the Metal Gods because I wanted to make my Game of Taps game to have a particular feel and I wanted humans to have something that set them apart from the other races. Quite frankly, the concept of race in RPGs at all is a strange one and it feels like, all in all, each race needs something that differentiates them from the others. Some settings use mechanics to do this, but I'd rather do it through the feel of the race. For humans in Kickassistan, the concept is that they escaped from bondage at the hands of other races through the discovery, crafting and mastery of steel. In other words, I based humans off of heavy metal. Right, so now that we've got that down, what about the other races of Kickassistan? What inspires them? Here's a quick overview.




I hope you all get where I'm going with this. Stay tuned for more info (or another video dump, which may come first).


  1. I've been mulling this over in my head since you posted, and in light of our conversation a couple days ago (which we should totally do again--it was a blast).

    I guess it would be really really important to put these ideas into words as well as music. Case in point: If we had not discussed the reasoning behind each of the videos you included, I would only really "get" the dwarf one. I do get the elf one, but only because you explained it. I'm not sure I get the one for halflings.

    Music speaks to each of us in the personal voice. Sometimes it evokes common facets of personality and humanity (instrumental music is probably best at that). Sometimes it speaks to our experiences (real or aspirational). This is a bit trickier, especially if you start involving lyrics. I think it's also tricky if you're using something that's more difficult for the common person to get. For example, I had never, before you posted this video, heard a Modest Mouse song. Sure, I know they exist and people listen to them, but they've just not been on my radar. I don't necessarily have the "elves as hipsters" association in my experience, so without your explanation, it would have eluded me.

    On the other hand, the stuff you've been doing with the humans/metal is already a part of my firmware. I get that on a visceral level. If tried to associate the halflings with, say, alt country or bluegrass, I would probably go there with you. For The Specials, though, the reference just isn't there for me.

    This is an interesting conundrum. This means of representing the demi-human races is pretty freakin' genius. It doesn't tell us about them. It demonstrates to us what they're all about. However, it's so dependent on the context of audience reception, we either have to limit the audience to only those who "get" it, or we have to expand the message to broaden the context. If we over-explain it, then the music videos are just fluff, not "the thing." That's problematic. If we just show the videos, then we potentially "miss" the target audience.

    I think maybe part of what would really make this work is to continue to make the culture of the game manifest. Some things simply require that an audience digest little cues and bits of info over time, and incorporate them into the process of building a worldview or cultural framework. We have to consider what is necessary to "decode" the message, and then make sure to make the "encoding" process a prominent part of message construction. We are always doing "world-building" in that sense, if we're trying to establish an unique, shared understanding of the game world. This is a long process, I think, and one that may require a bit more robust approach to complex, multi-layered cultural messaging to pull it off.

    It's a cool idea, and I think it has a lot of potential. I'm just wondering how you might broaden the impact of it.

    1. For the time being, this entire post was just designed to give some rough signposts of the directions that I'm planning on taking different races in. I don't think that this is the last time I'll do a "video dump" of this nature on this particular subject and really, from just one set of videos like this, I don't expect there's much you can tell. This is not an end all and be all post and there's both lots of wiggle room for interpretation here and lots of space for me to change things; until it's in writing, I figure it's up for grabs. Until that point, I'm figuring it's best if I'm just vague and general about things.

  2. I totally understand. It's difficult enough putting one's thoughts out in the aether anyway, especially when they're formative. I think this is a good forum to do it. I jsut wish some other people would join the thread, because I don't want to constantly give the impression that I'm swooping in to crap on the parade (or just go "awesome, dude" for that matter).

  3. Lol, for sure. Honestly, your first comment, to me, means that I really have to focus on the halflings first (and I think that they'd be easy & fun for me to write). I'm a little afraid that al of the "research" I've done for them (which means "drinking with rude boys") will make the little buggers a little too close to home.

  4. Damn, I think I finally got it, while I was on my run this morning. Halflings are like rude boys: It's time to party. We're having fun. We're drinkin' and feastin' and dancin', bagging the odd bird, hangin' out with our mates. Good times. But than it's"

    "Oi! What's that? Is that bloke tryin' to give Barbo Fattypants a thrashin'?"

    And all of a sudden the rudeboy hobbits are like skinhead without borders, and every single one jumps in to put in the boots on that fella wot had the stones to jump their good mate Barbo Fattypants. He was prolly from away, and didn't know how to act around his betters, anyway.

    And then they go back to partying.

    Is that something in the neighborhood?

  5. Yeah, that's real close. If all most halflings want is to sit in their warrens smoking pipeweed, eating cakes and drinking tea, what about the halflings that become adventurers? Surely they want something different? I see this dichotomy in halfling culture as very similar to the one in English culture that caused first the Glam movement and then the Punk revolution. These little buggers will be a slightly more philosophical (yet anti-intellectual) version of the halfling. In this view, instead of forgiving the eccentricities of the few halflings at the top who go adventuring (Bilbo, Frodo, Merry, etc.), it's the outcast nature of the halflings at the bottom that push them to adventuring.

  6. (By the way, I'd like to right now state that I do not tend to allow influences from English culture to taint my games. Normally, I'm much, much more of a continentalist when it comes to any bit of my aesthetic. Really, I just love old punk stuff and 2nd-wave ska [nothing post 2nd-wave, thank you very much] and thought that I'd like to include it somewhere. When I was looking for a good musical analog for the halflings, 2nd wave ska popped into my head and I thought the fit was too good not to use.)

  7. I think I see what you mean. As far as their motivations, I'm wondering if some halflings are just too curious for their own good. "Hmm... what's over that hill? Maybe I'll check it out." I could even see this happening with social interaction, like a 10 year old who's fascinated by something. "What's that? How does it work? Can I hold it? Where can I get one?"

    Did you ever read my take on the DCC version of the Halfling? It may be the best blog post I've written. It's here, if you haven't:



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