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Hopepunk and the Chronicles of Darkness

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  • Hopepunk and the Chronicles of Darkness

    I just learned a new neologism today; hopepunk, grimdark's Mirror Universe philosophy. In summary, hopepunk is essentially "metal existentialism"; saying "the world is a fucked up place that wants us to be assholes, which means that it's our job to tell it to piss off by not being assholes; being good and being innocent are two different things, and it's the people who want you to believe in nothing and just be a cog in a self-killing machine that tell you otherwise, because they want you to be miserable jerks like themselves and feel better about trying to kill the world."

    Reading it, I realize this exactly how I play Changeling, Werewolf, and Hunter; that kind of defiant optimism, where you stare down Cthulhu and realize you are fighting for the right for someone else to renew the seals down the line, and that's fine. You get your happy ending, and while it may not last without effort, the fact that it's present at all is good. It doesn't matter if the glass is half-empty or half-full, it matters that there is water in the glass and it is leaking out, and often needs to be refilled.

    I feel that's an excellent mood for a horror setting where you can and do have happy endings, so how about your takes on it?



  • #2
    RE: Hopepunk

    In my writing journal, I wrote the phrase "There is no Horror without Hope". It serves as my guiding statement when working in this genre I feel Horror works best in an established context of hope, decency or normalcy. The Horror is often about different degrees of deviation, transgression and violation. Without a baseline of something to transgress against, the whole exercise becomes numbing, and even worse, ~dull~.

    One of my personal favorite ST tools in Vampire is contrasting life (existence?) in the Danse Macabre against the normal, everyday people they encounter, and how poorly it usually goes for the normal everyday person. In something grim dark,I Iose that hook because such a setting assumes the person "deserves" whatever awful thing happens for the crime of existing.




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    • #3
      Beautiful...

      (Characters)


      A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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      • #4
        I think Changeling is a bit mixed, but Promethean and Geist are explicitly hopepunk games within the CofD; and most of them can be played that way even if they aren't focused on that. But PtC and GtSE are the two games were 'winning' in the sense of making the world a bit less dark, and proving the hope is something worth fighting for, is something you can really do.

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        • #5
          Hopepunk doesnt require a win state. In fact, it seems to be predicated on the idea that whether winning is even possible is irrelevant, fighting for the atom of justice, the molecule of mercy, is important, even if evil and despair will always come back. In that way, Changeling is incredibly hopepunk. You're fighting for just another day of freedom, with little to no idea of the enemy's true numbers or form. But the fight to keep people (or even just you and your,motley) free from their depradations, free from the fear and pain you know awaits them in Arcadia, is worth it. Even as Ironside itself seems to reject you, you flip the bird at both worlds and live free.


          A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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          • #6
            Changeling can be hopepunk, but that's more specific Courts (Spring and Summer standing out) than the game as a whole. Hopepunk is more than surviving day to day, it's fighting for more than that. Changelings don't always fight for hope/positivity in their fight for reclaiming their own self.

            And I don't mean there has to be a win state, but that PtC and GtSE (GtSE doesn't have something like the New Dawn) are games more much with hopepunk in the narrative of the games.

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            • #7
              wouldn't the term not really be a punk genre but more of a tone for punk genres to have? from the sound of it, cyberpunk such as deus ex could easily be hope punk

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              • #8
                The *punk thing has never really been that strict of a line between things. Different forms of *punk blend into each other and overlap all the time.

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                • #9
                  Sooooooooooo.....just punk?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                    wouldn't the term not really be a punk genre but more of a tone for punk genres to have? from the sound of it, cyberpunk such as deus ex could easily be hope punk
                    You're correct, but it's not really presented as a genre in the first place. I suppose it's named hope punk because it naturally lends itself to the various *punk genres (before they started becoming aesthetics instead of genres) because they described dystopian worlds and most works included progress or the promise of change for the protagonist and/or the world at large. Not guaranteed to be positive change, but when the world is ruled by monolithic institutions a disruption is inherently hopeful (though also terrifying).


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                    • #11
                      I don't find it terribly relevant to my experience of roleplaying. It feels like it's written very much with standard fiction in mind rather than an RPG where authorship is shared between players and ST, and the audience is the author to an extent. I really don't think a ST has that level of control over the emotions that arise from a game, whilst players suffer from either being too detached or too close to their characters for it to work.

                      I think it's instructive that they quote Prachett who is willing to more or less tell you the moral of the story. I'm not saying that's bad, just that I don't see myself or my friends doing that in a game.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tessie View Post

                        You're correct, but it's not really presented as a genre in the first place. I suppose it's named hope punk because it naturally lends itself to the various *punk genres (before they started becoming aesthetics instead of genres) because they described dystopian worlds and most works included progress or the promise of change for the protagonist and/or the world at large. Not guaranteed to be positive change, but when the world is ruled by monolithic institutions a disruption is inherently hopeful (though also terrifying).
                        it's a shame punk genres are seen as merely an aesthetic by many nowadays, but I tend to think video games such as Ruiner stay true to them as a genre

                        anyway, I would say that promethean and werewolf are the most hopepunk

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                        • #13
                          Yeah, Promethean has hope as one of its core elements. I mean, Elpis and all. As such, it's pretty much standard to play with that theme


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                          • #14
                            Hope is 95% of the reason why I love Chronicles. They are grim, life sucks, yet hope and evolution of purpose endure. Love it.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Veritas View Post
                              Sooooooooooo.....just punk?
                              Well, I'm normaly not frequenting the CofD boards, but this thread caught my interest.

                              I'd agree with you. To be honest, "hopepunk" feels redundant to me. It's like saying "dark horror", or something like that. Magical fantasy. Futuristic sci-fi.

                              The "punk" aspect of games labeled as *punk (cyberpunk, gothic-punk, even steampunk, to some extent, if I'm digging into it a bit) is already a signifier of defiant resistance, of standing up against insurmountable odds, for a belief in a better tomorrow that worth the fight, for being yourself in the face of oppressive conformism.

                              Of course, that's if you consider "punk" more than just a label for having an edgy and quirky aesthetic, accentuating a particularly distinguishable visual style.

                              Also, to be blunt, I never really got the way some people play games, like the various CWoD/CofD titles, or Shadowrun, with the presume of "everything sucks, it's nothing but grimdark, everyone is shit to the exreme, there's no winning, even a little bit and there's no hope at all". I just don't get the appeal of that Übergrimdark playstyle. Yes these games are dark, with opressive settings and unbelievably strong antagonistic powers. Still, without hope, what's the point? Just wallowing in the shittyness of it?

                              On the same tone, that's also why I never got the appeal of 40k, as a setting (aside from just not liking the aesthetics terribly much)...


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