Thursday, July 7, 2016
Gamemaster's Guidepost: Someone Always Has to be the Nazis
Over on Facebook there was a thread talking about being the bad guy and eventually someone chimed in "Someone Always Has to be the Nazis." Think about that for a moment. Someone always has to be the Nazis. That's...pretty damn profound if you think about it - at least for storytelling and game design. Let's break it down a bit:
What is the Metaphorical Nazi?
Let's just ignore the historical nazi for right now and go with a generalized pop culture version of them: they are sneaky, zealous, fanatics who embody evil. They kill anyone not like them and they destroy anything that doesn't glorify them. They conquer nearby lands and spread ever outward like a plague. In short, they're the ultimate bad guys. There is nothing about them we can readily sympathize with and that makes things cut and dry. It allows us to dehumanize the already near-inhuman antagonists and treat them the way they'd treat others without any guilt. In essence, killing a "nazi" is like putting down a rabid dog, not only should you do it it's your duty to do it so it doesn't hurt anyone else. Ironically, this also makes those who deal with the nazis nazi-like themselves.
How Do I Use them?
Nazis are perfect for RPGs because it allows the PCs to distinguish black and white morality without any overlapping greys. Furthermore, nazis don't have to be human. Arguably, Tolkien's Orcs are "nazis" as are the Jaffa from Star Gate (even though they look kind of human, they aren't). Sometimes this is played straight (e.g., Stormtroopers) and sometimes it's a bit more subtle.
Nazis work best as mooks or at least high-caliber henchthings. Moreover, since they are effectively interchangeable creating a single statblock for them is a cake walk. Something like this...
ST: 11 HP: 13 Speed: 6.00
DX: 11 Will: 10 Move: 6
IQ: 10 Per: 10 Weight: 200 lbs.
HT: 11 FP: 11 SM: 0
Dodge: 9 Parry: 11 DR: 0
Firearm (13): Typically a 9mm machinegun (p. B278), which does 3d-1 pricing or assault carbine (p. B279), which does 5d piercing.
Kick (11): 1d crushing; Reach C, 1.
Punch (13): 1d-1 crushing; Reach C.
Traits: Bloodlust (12); Bully (12); Callous; Extreme Fanaticism (Ideology) [-15]; Total Intolerance (Those not of their ideology) [-10]; some might also have Overconfideance, Sadism, or any other sort of nasty disadvantage. Elite troopers have Combat Reflexes and other combat-enalbing advantages like Gunslinger or Weapon Master.
Skills: Brawling-13; Guns (two appropriate)-13; Soldier-10; Stealth-12; Wrestling-11.
Notes: Absolutely loyal to their cause (whatever that is).
Should I Use Them?
Using a "nazi" foe really depends on two things: how campy you play up the uber-evil angle and how realistic a game are you running. For the first, it's a matter of taste: are all antagonists evil and thoroughly irredeemable? Or are there shades of grey? For the second, it's going to depend on the genre of the game you are running and your own GMing style. Some genres lend themselves easier to explaining why a mono-ideological organization/group might exist. For example, supers, space opera, and even post-apocalypse are fertile ground for explaing away such things.
Picking Over the Bones
When you need someone you love to hate you gotta have a nazi. Seriously, for sheer dislike and instant acknowledgement of that dislike you cannot go wrong with the nazi. People know them and this allows you to hang an idea on shared popular culture in such a way that you don't really need to explain anything. "These guys are like nazis except they hate all non-elves with a passion and kill them on sight!" Building on a shared popular culture consensus allows you to rapidly jump start a scene or campaign, but that's a topic for another day.