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On the 50th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons (1974) --A dark turn in the pop-culture? (Part Fourteen)

By Mark Wegierski
web posted April 15, 2024

Trading Card Games and Live Action Roleplaying Games

Trading card games (TCG's) (also called, collectible card games, or CCG's) are a genre distinct from roleplaying games, yet many of the same themes pointed out above, continually reappear. Even the standard, Magic: The Gathering features large numbers of horror images. And then there are CCG's based on struggles between vampire factions, as well as (again) the Cthulhu mythos. A cardgame previously offered by WOTC/TSR was C*23, where cybernetically enhanced HyperShock Troopers battled against monstrous humanoid insects called the Angelans. In an earlier reorganization, many of the less successful CCG lines at WOTC/TSR were retired. Much of the CCG's appeal is based on stimulating a combination of gambling and collector's impulses. This is because the cards are sold in sealed packets, and there are only a few rare, very strong cards, mixed in with the more standard cards. (It is somewhat like buying tickets in a lottery, where only a few cards are "big winners".)

Another type of roleplaying is LARP's (Live Action Roleplaying) games. This is certainly taking the RPG concept even further. Among the most popular LARP's are those involving horror subgenres such as the Cthulhu mythos or vampires.

In September 2001, there appeared a distasteful, darkly satirical booklet, called Vigilante, ostensibly in the form of a LARP, which apparently called on its readers to kill as many people as possible that they "didn't like."

A rather telling comment about roleplaying games on an RPG website – although it was obviously meant to be flip – described them as "kinda like porn, but with more killing." It could be argued that there are certainly convergences there – the appeal to a frustrated "geek" element; the exaggerated theatricality and braggadocio; the "stage-managed" nature of both; the lurid excesses of fantasy and sexual fantasy.

To be continued. ESR

Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.


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