An upcoming game got me thinking about the merits of RPG settings that are just “an excuse to do [blank].”
The game (Storm Riders) has the premise that aliens are invading in 1940’s, but also countries stopped doing awful stuff after WWI. So, all the imperialist powers peacefully released their colonies. Germany retains the non-fascist Weimar Republic. The USSR is a happy little anarcho-communist state. The USA is actively dismantling institutional racism. Also, everyone is a lot less queer-phobic
The designer (Erika Chappell) freely admits that the entire setting is an excuse to let you fly cool WWII-era planes without supporting an awful country. Personally, I’m not enough of a plane-nerd to truly appreciate the aircraft, but I do like being able to fight for a US that has no Jim Crow, Japanese Interment, or colonies.
However, I’ve heard some criticism about excuse settings. Some say that, by sanitizing history, the settings support the awful stuff that was removed. (Erika Chappell has herself struggled with that question.)
Most of the criticism that I’ve heard has been directed at books. I’d like to know what this forum thinks about RPGs with excuse settings. Are they ever acceptable and, if so, what is the right way to handle them?
What excuse settings have people liked or disliked and why?