Friday, September 11, 2009


Nearly missed my bus this morning as I got sucked into reading up on Raggi’s latest over at LotFP and its associated links. I know I’ve heard of Cannibal Holocaust before, but I’ve never seen the film nor do I know much about it.


I don’t know why the idea of cannibalism turns my stomach as it does. I have a fairly high tolerance level for acts of violence, filth, and depravity but cannibalism is one of the few things that really “get me.” Whether we’re talking scenes from comics (Frank Miller’s Ronin comes to mind) or scenes from film (Doomsday comes to mind). I don’t know why.

Not that watching TV shows about historic cannibals (whether the Donner party or the Maori tribes of New Zealand) bother me. Certainly I have no beef (forgive the pun) with cannibalism when it’s handled tastefully (inexcusable pun!). Observe the cannibalism in John Wick’s Orkworld…nothing incredibly terrible about eating folks whien it's part of the native traditions of a culture, in my opinion.

I guess the thing that makes me say, “ew, gross,” has more to do with the exploitive use of cannibalism in fiction…the idea that a group of folks (again, I’m not talking serial killers, as the occasional Hannibal Lecter aberration is to be expected in our crazy society), yes the idea that a GROUP of folks would hunt other humans for the purpose of using them as their preferred choice of food. THAT’s what gets me and makes my skin shudder.

And, of course, this may be the very purposeful reaction intended by the author of such “horror” works that include the eating of people. Really…you want to talk about a fate worse than death? It’s being held captive waiting for your turn on the butcher block. Ugh!

Anyway, as relates to role-playing in general and D&D specifically, I find it interesting that, in looking back over my own gaming history, I have never made cannibalism a part of my games. Not for horror, or suspense, or even humor (the Bugs Bunny in the stew pot variety). Human sacrifice, yes. Impalement and head-hunting, sure. Cannibalism…big, fat no. And this is despite playing many adventures set in “savage” or “lost land” settings (Dwellers of the Forbidden City, the Isle of Dread, and my own knock-offs). If I wanted to take the journey into cannibalistic terror, I had the vehicles to do so but the thought NEVER EVEN OCCURRED TO ME. It is like a curious blind-spot that (in retrospect) appears to stem from my queasiness surrounding the topic.

This is all just musings, folks...I don’t know if it means I’ll be adding cannibals to my future D&D games or anything, just got my brain going this morning. I give lots of props to Raggi for coming up with yet another interesting (and spine-chilling) idea for an adventure module. I hope he gets it done!
; )


  1. Yeah, Cannibalism has always been pretty taboo for me, mentally, too. Of course, I made allusions to it in adventures with humanoid lairs having signs of humans being eaten (leftover bones, etc.) but I've always found the subject to be 'icky'. Films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have eyes are therefore very creepy to me. Heck, even less exploitational films (like the film 'Ravenous') are on my list of 'no thank you'. But then, overall I have a difficult time with films that remind me that my species isn't always on the top of the food chain.

    Looking back on it, the level of gore and violence in most of my campaigns are pretty PG-13. I am definitely in the school of "less is more" when it comes to violence being scary—the Jaws approach.

  2. You'd want to stay away from the SLA Industries RPG... cannibal families are one of the many threats the PCs need to deal with, as are man-eating pigs, manchines, and licensed serial killers.

    but yeah, I know what you mean - one of the creepiest scenes I've seen in a film is in Quest For Fire, with the cannibal tribe and a crucified half-limbed captive they'd obviously been picking choice bits off of... *gaahhhh*

    1. @ Gary:

      Ha! I've actually lightened up (or gotten a stronger stomach) in the years since I wrote this. But it's still a terrible way to die!
      : )