Dreamation: James "Bull" Toren

Character: James "Bull" Toren
Game: Carry: A Game About War
Episodes: 1
Theme Song: Doin' All Right by the Fugs
Keywords: Stupid, stubborn, angry

Oooh boy. So this is going to be a little loaded. I want to preface this with I am not American. If you didn't know, I'm Canadian. So when I signed up for an emotionally loaded game about the Vietnam War, I wasn't think about this factor. I was thinking "I've read and watched a lot about this war and I'd love to play something that explores how fucked up this was." Carry is fucked up. It's amazing, go buy it and play it. But it is fucked up.

Now all that being said, you don't get to make your characters. You get to pick up a character who already exists as part of the squad and play them. I'm cool with that. I looked at the characters and knew I wanted someone who would push back, who would be all American, and who didn't wanna fuckin' be there.

James "Bull" Toren was a farm boy type who was drafted and had only been in Vietnam for 3 months. Everyone else had been there longer, but not a hell of a lot longer. I was the new kid and it had been implied I was pretty stupid and I got in a lot of fights with my cohorts. I took this to heart. I called people on shit I thought was wrong, and shit I didn't like, and shit I thought I could wince at too long and think too hard on. I took things as insults that weren't meant to be and I yelled at command more than I should have.

I knew Bull was angry. He was displaced and hot and sweaty and had people challenging him and yelling at him and treating him as unimportant. He wasn't a big guy who was intimidating, he was a big guy people looked down on because of his brain and his willingness to just barrel ahead. Bull was just that, he was bull. No one took him seriously and no one saw him as more than an angry man who had to take it out on someone else. Someone else was anyone else, American or Vietnamese. Mostly Americans. They were nearer to his fists.

There was a sort of poetry to the game that was found in the way everyone played their characters. There were people there for the right of things and people there because they had to be and it came across really really well. I challenged everyone. I hated talking to the would-be lawyer though because he made my character feel stupid and he wanted to punch him then and well, I didn't want to cause more strife in the group.

As we encountered a group of Americans destroying and abusing a Vietnamese village, I decided then that Bull was a bad American, in the sense, he was one of the soldiers who probably would torture and abuse Vietnamese because they were the enemy. He told the CO to back off, to let them do their thing. When those same soldiers came back and shot some of the grunts, Bull blamed his CO because they should've minded their own business. Bull was simple. He saw meddling with other Americans as un-American.

Plus he was racist. But that was probably a given. I didn't play with that too much. I definitely had a different take on the war than the rest of the people at that table, or, at least it felt like it. Maybe I just play too dark, but I decided Bull would grow up and be successful in the military and do horrible things. Maybe I don't have good opinions on the war. I don't know. But I know I ended up pulling back during play to let the others be heroes because I felt Bull was a storm ready to explode and I didn't want to turn the game too pvp.

I wouldn't play this game again with Americans. I would play with people I know who wanted to explore the meaning of the game. It was one hell of a glorious one shot, and I enjoyed playing a man who was volatile and a little toxic. A lot toxic. I hadn't played an Alpha Male before. And here I was. Plugging away at it. Next time I think I'll do better.


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