THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH SIGN-IN SHEETS, INFORMATION ABOUT THE RECORDING OF THE SESSION AND SHOULD HOPEFULLY HAVE A COPY OF THE FORMAL STATEMENT SOON.
Editor’s Note: There is a rumour going around that Mr Rolfe has been barred from other conventions in Europe before now. This does not appear to be true. According to Mr Rolfe he has mainly attended Dragonmeet and UKGE, running two sessions at Dragonmeet and 8 at UKGE for the best part of a decade without problems. They attended Wyntercon once, but didn’t care for it (light on the RPG element). They have not been banned from any conventions previously.
Could you summarise, in your own words, exactly what happened?
When I came up with the adventure I had two scenes in mind.
One, the lads, drunk or high outside a kebab shop at 1 am trying to get enough money together to buy a kebab and two, the lads naked, handcuffed, covered in poo being chased by men with guns, which seemed funny.
I was thinking gross out humour, Porkys, American Pie and Inbetweeners – with a bit of Trainspotting and a dash of the Carry On films, but ending with a light touch of Hostel.
To get from the kebab shop to covered in poo, I came up with the lads on tour, Club 18-30 idea.
But as with all plans, not all of it survived first contact with the players. I forgot bits, the covered in poo part for one, and missed some of the comedic beats.
The second gross out teenage comedy/horror I ran later for the UKExpo’s team leaders hit all its comedy beats and was very funny. The game was halted at 11:30 so the giant robots attacking the rave scene fell flat.
This was a mash-up of the Inbetweeners Movie and Hostel. Not the greatest scenario.
A bunch of rich guys wanted to hunt some Englishmen for sport.
- Act 1 was the PCs trying to get the money for a Club 18/30 holiday
- Act 2 was the arrival in Ibiza.
- Act 3 I removed the player agency for 2 mins for a narrative segment, then continued.
“The tour rep gives you some shots, everything goes fuzzy.”
In my notes it states, the drug used not only knocks them out, it gives them terrible diarrhoea. Hence no clothes and sore bums.
“You wake up naked, handcuffed to each other, with sore bums, in the back of a van. Guys with guns make you get out and say run.”
The image of the Inbetweeners lads running naked over wasteland handcuffed together seemed a funny image, which is why I constructed the narrative just to get that scene. However in the post-game chat with all the players I completely forgot to talk through the bits they missed as we were all talking about the structure of shock in horror games.
I believe this omission on my part has caused the problem. The players saw something that wasn’t there and I failed to rectify this as we started discussing something else. Had one of the players raised the issue I would have remembered.
However I accept that it was my fault that I forgot.
After they ran. they had the option of a farm or the woods. They went with the farm. Had they gone with the woods they would have met the robots hiding there.
I bumped into one of the players from the group of 4 friends who played, he said he was annoyed that there were no robots, had they gone into the woods…
[Edit – Late addition/Correction]
I had no complaints from the players during the game however, I bumped into one of the group of 4 on the Sunday, who complained on Twitter.
He said, “there were no robots we were expecting robots, that’s what you did wrong.”
He did not mention anything else, just that the lack of robots annoyed the group. Now if they would have gone into the woods, they would have found robots…
Did you advertise the game as a horror scenario or with an age restriction?
It was advertised as an 18+ scenario, using a darkly mature game, but the burb clearly showed it to be a gross-out teenage scenario. Something like grubby teenage lads doing grubby teenage lad things.
Did the players remain for the entire session?
Yes, we began with a chat about the systems and the dark themes within them.
When were you aware that there was a problem?
Nothing till 11ish, when I got a call about something on Twitter. In fact one of the group of four said he was looking forward to the game of Kult the following day.
Did the convention staff listen to your side of things at all?
I’d been up since 4 and had just run 12 hours of games. I was in a bit of shock so not 100% as to what was going on, only that there had been no complaint and that they were going off something that was on Twitter. I think I tried to roughly explain the scenario, but I’m not really sure what I said.
Do you intend to appeal the convention’s decision?
Yes. I’m sending them a statement with a request to remove the inaccurate press statement they put out, due to the defamatory nature of their statement.
Were any of the players under age? What about the characters?
The age rating was 18+. The players were 18+, as were the PCs.
Did the ‘gang rape of minors’ actually take place in the game and was it described as such or in lurid detail?
Not at all, both my GM notes and the recording I made of the game clearly show that nothing of the sort happened.
[NB: Said recording appears to have corrupted or failed. Which doesn’t look good admittedly, but on the other hand the sign up sheets and adventure descriptions have been retrieved, see below. A recording does exist of one of the other sessions].
It’s my understanding that while Tales from the Loop is a more ‘kids on bikes’ game, Things from the Flood is more of a horror game with more adult content. Is that right?
No, both are darkly mature games. Anyone who has read the books, knows this. Just a read through of the scenarios in Tales from the Loop shows it’s an 18+ game.
Were you aware of any convention rules prohibiting the kind of content in your game before this blew up?
I have been running roughly 8 games a year for UKexpo for nearly a decade, minus the year I had Open Heart Surgery, so had an understanding of the rules but given there was no ‘gang rape of minors’ it was not an issue.
You don’t seem quite as social-media connected as a lot of people, what has it been like for you being ‘cancelled’ in this way?
I only have a locked down Facebook that I use to keep in contact with family.
Its quite mad to think that the game of internet whispers is revolving around you. I’m reading bits thinking, ‘that never happened’. Makes you think about the fake/real news in the age of misinformation we have woken up to. Bloody insane. The pseudo death threats, and threats of violence, from clicking keys in somebody’s mum’s basement would be funny – if it wasn’t happening to you.
Some people talk as though you have a reputation for pushing boundaries and being ‘edgy’, is that fair to you?
No, I run games that have twists, or that turn genres on their heads. I’ve run every genre from Dad’s Army vs the Deep Ones to Delta Green, to Musketeers in the Hollow Earth.
Have you been able to counter these accusations anywhere or have you been prevented from doing so?
I have not really spoken to anyone. I’ve not begun to online, just yet.
Your delayed Kickstarter has been brought up and used to attack you, but I saw an update from May 15th. Do you still intend to deliver and do you have a revised timetable?
This is really a conversation between me and the backers, but my Open Heart Surgery delayed things. A full draft was dropped a while ago.
This opens up the debate, what is or is not acceptable? MYFAROG? Let’s Kill the Ice Cream Man? Lover in the Ice and any of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventures? Even the Alien RPG, a game based on a film where a monster puts its genitalia down your throat to empty its seed inside you… I guess gross out teenage comedy needs to be added to that list.