Creep and Tribalism

So this has been coming up a lot lately through many different sources, so I thought I'd take a minute to let my stupid hands shit out some words about creep and tribalism. 

Creep is a term that I use (and I'm sure others may as well) to discuss disparity between players stats.  New players come into a game with a lower stat pool than players that have been playing for five or six years.  And this is a nightmare for game runners that run games with no travel.  Add in the travel component, and you have a bunch of new people, proud to start off in a new town and to make it their own, and then a bunch of seasoned veterans come in and unwittingly shit in their rose bushes.  That makes the nightmare so much bigger for any director who either runs an older game, or is starting a newer one. 

Travel is great.  It allows you to sample all of the flavors without having to buy the scoop.  And it allows players who get bored of a flavor to go out and taste some others.  It's actually one of my favorite things about DR, in that every chapter I've ever been to has it's own unique flavor.  And I like going to those games as a tourist. I like checking out the flavor, and trying not to push my usual tastes over it.  

Say, for example, when I went to China a few years back.  My family went with me, and we were a part of a large tour group.  The tour took us to all the familiar stops, and they cut out huge swaths of area for us to feel more comfortable and American.  We got samples of Chinese culture cut into American sized bites.  We ate new foods, saw new things, and experienced pieces of a new culture.  It was absolutely fascinating.  

A few times during the tour, we'd get free time.  A few hours for us to explore Beijing or Xian without anyone telling us what to do or where to go.  I loved these parts the best.  I'd try my best to blend in, going to restaurants where the locals went, browsing local stores.  I'd do my best to learn a bit of the language and try and speak to the locals.  I found my way to the Hutongs, and I walked through this small and poor neighborhood.  I listened to traditional and local music.  I tried my best to immerse myself. 

The rest of the tour would say things like "Oh my god, I'm gonna die if I don't get a Starbucks." or "Wow, a KFC!  Let's go there!".  They'd browse the tourist traps for five dollar "I walked the Great Wall" shirts.  They'd complain about smells or foods or the bustle of traffic.  

Those guys suck.  Don't be those guys when you travel.  Come to a game with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart.  Meet strangers, and make friends.  Explore their local customs.  And don't say "Where I'm from, we do it like this."  Instead, find your identity in learning and exploring. 

This brings me to my next point, which is Tribalism.  Tribalism is a horribly double edged blade.  It both encourages local pride, but simultaneously causes distrust of outsiders and gatekeeping.  The reason that second line gets crossed is two-fold.  One: Creep.  Two: Bad Tourists. 

Creep makes local players apprehensive to trust outsiders.  They most likely have had a powerful few veteran players come in and step all over their fun.  I'm not saying these veterans have done this on purpose, but I've seen it happen hundreds of times.  They want to help, but instead they just take over everything, using their money and stats to overpower newer players.  They bully people who have lower stat counts than them.  They steal plot because the newer players are afraid to step up and take it.  They roll NPC groups that were clearly meant to challenge the newer players.  None of this is necessarily done with malice, but from a place of "teaching".   They feel like they're going to "teach" these new players how to play. Which falls into Bad Tourism.

Let people build their own town.  Let them figure out their own rules.  Don't tell them how you do it at home, ask them how they do it here.  Learn something from them.  Buy something from them.  Be an excellent friend and neighbor.  

Hopefully then, we can get rid of that second edge to Tribalism.  Because pride does not create hatred towards the outside.  Pride makes you love where you're from and what you represent.  What makes that "fuck outsiders" part come up is experience and fear.  And if we remove those negative experiences, maybe we can all be cool and enjoy some tea inside of a little authentic tea shop.