Thursday, January 20, 2011

Location, location, location / Have you ever been there, or just seen it on TV?

I live in England, specifically just outside Manchester inn the North West. I'm originally from Leeds in Yorkshire, and was apparently conceived in Scotland. I'll spare you the finer details of that last point though. I wish I didn't know, you certainly don't need to.

I digress. Already.

Most modern or future RPGs are, by default, set in America, no doubt due to the fact that most RPG publishers and authors are based in America, are from America or live right next door in Canada.

I also imagine that a significant proportion of RPG players live in The States as well, which is why so much is set in the States.

Now, the problem is that when it comes to games set in other countries, there is usually an accompanying source book, and that source book usually contains some fairly erroneous preconceptions.

Back for the oWoD game lines of Mage: The Ascension and Changeling: The Dreaming, White Wolf release Isle of the Mighty, a source book for the British Isles. It was an absolutely brilliant book for the mythic elements of the game. The in game history was great, the plot hooks and story seeds engaging, the Mage and Changeling politics interesting etc.
The actual information on the UK and Ireland was... flawed. British culture was viewed through an out of date lens and translated across to the 'Gothic Punk' setting, which meant that everybody in London either wore a bowler hat and worked for the civil service or was a 1970's punk with a safety pin piercing their genitalia. If you lived in Scotland, you had red hair, hated the English and wore a kilt.
It was entertainingly stereotypical.

For the nWoD, White Wolf released Shadows of the UK which did a fairer job of representing the UK, but still prompted the occasional derisive snort with its sly references to Wombles and its assertion that Diana had become an avatar of British Guilt.

But it occurs to me that I set a vast majority of my games in the USA, and have only spent two weeks in Vegas. I watch an awful lot of American TV and film, which is my primary source for games.
I am probably guilty of the same assumptions and short falls. I'm running games using stereotypes and tropes i've lifted from TV, and have no real idea of what life in the States is actually like.
I don't understand the High School and College system, the political system or cultural differences. I can put on a bad accent though.

Are there any USA sourcebooks out there?