Monday, February 18, 2019

A Bare-Back Discussion on the A.R.S.E.

The Approved Rules System Expert (ARSE) in the RPG field is wanting to turn it into a wasteland of folks willing to pay for crappy products and unwilling to think for themselves. In the 90s I should have learned that no general couldn't write his own wargame and that boardgames are about European paper being put into boxes with Chinese plastic figures to sell to people in North America. If a "Game Theory" expert has thoughts on your game, they're probably just lying. They are either somebody that thinks being a concern troll is clever or a sock-puppet for hire to whomever has a bit of funding to control a table-toppers social media feed.

I learned this first through when I bought Alpha Blue. I disliked it. I disliked it hard, especially after paying like 15 plus Yen or some such. I openly reviewed it. I received within the day, like 20 minutes later though I had stumbled off to bed to end up reading it five hours later, an email from somewhere between Alberta, CA and someplace South Korean, (I check the ISP of unsolicited email) but more than likely Nevada, USA, that wanted me to start to really laying into the guy.  I quickly and in public apologized then offered up my own game, the one that I could consider the best selling at the time, for review. Yet another day later, my format-designer (my wife) discovering this situation stated that I was an asshole.

"Don't do that again." She said before dropping the subject forever.

To any taking note, they had better know that a "1" star rating sells more games than say a "2" "3" or "4" Plus. I shouldn't share my secret explaining any rating detracts from any real negative effect on on-line rating system, but I will. So anyone's passive review without first trying to speak to the author plays into the trope of somebody purchasing a game without reading it.  Luckily the purchase was refunded within minutes after being purchased? Still take your publicized purchase elsewhere from the purchase site and then disavowing the product as a part of the marketing process for what it is boils down to a few more sales. Thank you.

This post is actually about the current Zak Sabbath scandal, which hopefully has bloomed into everyone having said their piece and afterwards being a bit more restiive where reflection is not being inappropriate. Okay, to date, Zak S. was one of the main support elements of a person that had a chronic and progressively debilitating illness for about eleven years. In these years he has proven himself to be unreliable. In the later years he went from 24 to 14, which maybe has happened to more than a few males in the crowd, but not in such a dramatic time scale. Now I am not excusing him for the digression, I have had to beat up my own bloods' boyfriends every now and then. Those nieces or nephews, or sons or daughters, (We all want to be hillbilly until someone tells us it's bad) weren't spouting off about being porn stars. Lord help Mz Morbid's kin in this situation.

Mister Zachery Smith (is Zak short for anything but Zachery?) himself, after more than few debilitating ass-beatings, needs to buck up. I say this as a guy whose last communication with the man was "Tom K stop being a dick" when openly proclaiming my disapproval of Nazi fetishism even by Jewish folk (Achtung Cthulhu won an Ennie the following year). He needs to tell everyone to mind their own business about his past life and just do what he does. Is this support? Not really. It's someone that doesn't accept others' thoughts as my own.

When the man is in jail after raping a GIRL in a wheelchair is proven outside of FacetuBe, I can be be the man that only reviewed the product where my name was included in the credits to be later not included in the Nazi fetish crowd around him. He is a young man that went south and didn't have any strong male or LGBTQ influence on his life when dealing with a failing relationship. Get over it folks. It's all Middle School after the initial sales boom.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Ever More Tacos in Toledo: BASHCon '19


 BASHCon a U of Toledo's Student Activity cash cow every February was the last two days. And despite my nappy Sunday, waiting for the gang to go out to dinner, it worked for me. The gang of PeryPubbers, complete with its Darkshade components, that show up is kind of a big thing because of our places on the map and overall bang for the buck cost-wise for gaming and lounging. Even on bad years, we at least have each other to game to with, as well as growing number friends that jump in from other overbooked games. This year was marked by an incredibly uninterested student staff, that viewed the event as having to mow the lawn for their grandparents. I think only the local Pathfinder organization had any publicity before the doors opened though every submitted event did make it into the printed program, some 1,500 pamphlets strewn throughout the building so it doesn't matter. Maybe the vendors that showed up might have some complaints, I doubt that they don't know the deal.

We, Pery, me, and JerryTel, blew off  going to the campus Friday night altogether. While sending out missives on the interwebs as to our whereabouts, we'd meet for the late dinner at Applebee's. That is where G'noll, Paul H., found us. He drove in from Wisconsin on Thursday evening which I often do as well but didn't to carpool with the wife this year. He was a bit more than relieved to see us and get down to some serious deep winter dorkiness. Lore of Gary Gygax and insider knowledge of small press publishing flowed as much as the warmth and beverages from us all until very close to midnight. We closed out the night back at his room checking out the competent BASHCon program, where we, sadly, at this point noted that our scheduled events did indeed get some ink. Sara, Saharrah, and New Tom, texted us telling us that would be showing up even later and that we'd see them in the AM or lunch-ish. 

I didn't show up for my morning 8am Crawlspace session, staffers show up at 9am, if then, and I just saw the probabilities on the wall at 6am. Apparently nobody else did either, except G'noll--dammit. "You sounded so confident last night." Paul said.
"You sounded like you were going to sleep to noon." I replied.

We had a nice long lunch with Sarah and Tom. JerryTel and Perytons' game "Keep on the Borderland" got started at 2pm. Sarah would disappear to an indy game, Tom and I went to the auction and spent about $10 on stuff we really didn't need.  Every dinner-ed on their own, but that gang came together for "Bad Moon over the Maumee." With Cory Tucholski (Death Magnet) there were ten ppl at the table. Not enough for a two-GM event, so I took over and let JerryTel play. I loved it, and despite popular rumors it was not a TPK. Two characters were able to make it back to the city. Cory died twice though, which has marked a new milestone in my GMing experience. Pancakes, not waffles, came next-- remind me that IHOP is bad when not doing whipped creamed goop on sweet bread.


So Sunday came. Jerrytel ran the second half of "Keep on the Borderlands" by himself. Robin, Peryton, and I did our last minute wandering waiting for the session's completion. Liam, the Boy, showed up and he taught me poker games that he and his coworkers and friends are doing these days. I all-in'ed on a five card stud match when JerryTel showed up. I won of course (I am lying). The gang was ready for the closing dinner at "El Patio" (El Vaquero(sp?) in Toledo) as named by the Boy. Hugs were given in the parking lot afterwards. Talks of "Midsummer Night's Dream in Middle Earth" hoot for June are in the development phases.

Overall, success. When the clique is able to do their own thing and still have one event for mostly just us, I consider that a good convention. We didn't have the five PeryPubber events and the closed door members only thing that we normally do, but hey we filled up more tables than the larger RPG (corporation-funded) clubs. I spoke with one creative sort who might want to publish a steam-punk-y sort of thing. Sarah has given me her indy designer's card and insist I speak with him. So a small scale event, but with comfort and renewal for all involved. That is including the ever disappointed G'noll.

Did I mention I killed a character, zombified him, and then killed him again without anybody being called stupid? 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mental Scribbles on Heart Day '19.

Feeling the Games Down In Africa

Having some time in-between the latest release and the upcoming mega-tabletop event Toledo tomorrow night, I've been reading through my Africa RPG stuff. Well, not really Africa, but "afro-centric" as the works, Khi Kanga and Nyambe: African Adventures, are both set in fantasy lands that resemble Africa but also with elements that are distinct from Africa as we would know it. I have a couple other works, but these two handle the vein of heroic fantasy set there better than most. In my opinion, most of the other products to date were a bit overwhelmed by the "place," either avoiding actually talking about it or being a bit shallow. Still nobody is making Africa, itself, "fantastic." There isn't even a GURPS book as far as I can tell

Well I guess it falls onto me. I have been to parts of it not as a tourist, if only in a very specific capacity while there. Notice how I said "parts," because since being there I learned that like any other continent, its North Dakota is not like its Equador though one can drive between the two. Guess I'll zine it for Red Bat some day. Maybe over the summer. I have a couple Africa-centered places in Wobble, so it might work into that product line. Yeah I know, supporting a brand. What the hell? Who would've thought of that? Still is going to be a daunting task to do this place so awesomely enormous in our imagination the tiniest bit of justice.

Toledo In February For the Tacos

So BASHCon is this weekend. "Leave" has been approved at the milkshake factory, the cat-sitter is ready, and the clique's games are at least 60% by the GMs. We decided to do "big events" as the convention has been the place to do the experimental stuff in previous years. JerryTel and I are running a cops, robbers, and zombies thing set in Toledo in 1900 called "Bad Moon Over the Maume". One upping me, Jerry and Peryton are doing a two part "Keep on the Borderlands (Bizznatch)"-- I think the "bitch" part is being left out of the official title-- for 5E (whatever that is), just to make me look bad I bet. Hopefully, this is an "On" year for the convention that is ran by disinterested students of U of T, for always passionate attendees.

Zak S Despoiled My Wobble Release

So on the day of the release of my work, Wobble, some twelve years, if not more, I forget, of mad making up stuff for something RPG-wise, Zabbath Smith's ex-of a score of years drops an open letter proving to the world that all claims about him provoking fights and using her as a sock puppet to promote his work while poo-pooing others like him trying to set himself up celebrity among self-appointed game celebrities who wouldn't like him anyway, were right. Oh yeah he was a bad boyfriend as well. His own response was formulaic Zachery Smith using a tweet which actually belied his claims and calling upon others to bear witness to "the good times" between him and his mandolin's relationship to come and proclaim "the truth" of what was a private thing.
 Brandon Novak, Jackass Cast
Kudos to John Tarnowski, the RPGPundit, for staying cogent and amusing in the "I Told You So"/"Me Too" moment in tabletop gaming history. No claims of the man's "socialism" being the cause, or citing "He raped a child in a wheelchair" to denounce him. I mean who would've thought that a relationship of people claiming to be pornstars in the age of consenting adults posting sex tapes for free anyway would end badly? But I figure this tempest has overshadowed my Al Hazred moment and costing me about a million sales. After this egregious harm, I figure, Zak owes me about 5,110,000 $(US). He and Mandy can work out the details between themselves, no checks. 

Spacers: Universe Is Rocking

Okay so it's going to be a handful of releases over 2019. It is looking awesome. Got the artists doing fresh artwork as we speak.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The First Wobbly Step

No photo description available. 

A game I didn't want to write except since about three years ago is done. Fifteen years after I started scribbling notes for Peryton's "D&D meets Dr. Who." Then when that project changed, I just couldn't help stop thinking of stuff in my. Instead of working on projects that I really wanted to, I would distract myself with coming up with more stuff.

Then when I said, okay let's do it. I couldn't stop it. A page long list of different universe became about 40 pages. A couple of the "Verses" had like eight to eleven small-type filled pages over the years. The number of universes expanded a few times. Most awfully, the game sessions over the years, since like o7(?) only added to this process. Those damn player-characters with the backgrounds that developed over the course of play. The last three years my job has been to whittle things down more often than fill up some place markers.

Between last night and this afternoon when Peryton helped me by completing the PDF for release, my stomach has been topsy-turvy even shoveling the driveway couldn't help. I am happy and sick with with relief that this thing is out.

I just hope that it's cheesy enough. I mean that in the good way.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Defense of Roleplaying: U-TaM-Gee

In terms of rules types I learned a new one a couple of weeks ago. It was over at the Rules Lite RPG group over at And The term is something I derived from somebody else's definition of a "rules lite" game which I disagree with, but the phrase has been been sticking in my head. Frist lemme give a quick list of RPG terminology in my head. This is by far not the final list, nor is it probably correct usage, but it's what I use. A lot of game systems are in multiple categories.

"D&D"- Simply put, any game system that anybody sits down to play in dungeons and encounter dragons that is Trademarked by a major game publishing using "D&D" in the title. Words like "white box" and 5E mean something in conversations about this category.
"Old School"- This includes a lot of D&D products, but also has ones like Tunnels & Trolls, Call of Cthulhu, and say Empire of the Petal Throne. Basically, if I or another person that has to worry about high blood pressure because of our age played this as 11-14 y/os, it's "Old School." I've grown old enough to watch "new wave" games like Vampire:the Marketing and Shadowrun join this category. Palladium Publishing is in this group, no the curmudgeons do not get their own listing.
"Big Press No Play"-Mostly because of the advent of Kickstarter and other interweb panhandling these are publishers that keep your storage bins full of whatever they are selling every couple of years. This category has included what would become very successful publishing houses and moved into "Old School" territory. It also includes anybody that has the license for any TV show released in the last two decades. To quote someone that likes to avoid being mentioned by name on-line, "Yet another rules system that will have handfuls of players for thousands of hard-bound books."
"OSG/OSR"- Games which try to get back to the days of yore when role-playing was dungeon-crawling through beautifully crafted maps with rules systems that feel familiar to the "Old School" RPGer even if it never was really like it. This can include any variation of a TSR game including Gangbusters, Gamma World, Boot Hill, Top Secret, and may include the new editions of those games from the refurbished TSR company. Not always but most popular is the use of a 20-sided die and a few charts. It can use game mechanics with ridiculous varying amounts of number ranges because of unconventional dice. Other times it focuses on the approach of the GM towards their player's Characters lifespan-- the shorter and more pointless a PC is, the better.
"Indie"- Always dear to my heart because "I haven't played D&D since 1980" (a lie that is almost true). Many try for new markets, like people younger than 50, but failing that to video games, go for niche markets. I don't just mean books for parents to force, err teach their kids under 11 to roleplay, I mean the ones that deconstruct genres and identify great RPG possibility with the tropes and settings used. I also mean my own games. Later many in this category title have delved into into using politics and pointing out political incorrectness as marketing ploys. It makes me sad. They go places in arguments with and about their chosen nemeses that don't help out any counter-culture or liberal mindset, and the games won't get much traction in long term impact. That is unless arguing with the OSR/OSG crowd counts.
"BX"- A new one to me. Looking at the authors I see using this, I'd say it means using the concepts of "Basic" and "Expert" as the follow-ups to AD&D, but for the crowd buying the OSG/OSR products more than the official D&D brands. I think the "X" includes advanced directions for wargamers wanting to LARP with their miniatures.
"Rules Lite"- Oh how I love these goofs. On the extreme, if it's over a page, the author needs to revise. More often than not, ten pages of typing is seen as an encyclopedic tome meant for your Grandmother's Wraith/Warhammer 40K crossover campaign. When these people go setting, they deconstruct with the best of any RPG writer. The guys from QAG (are they still around?) comes to mind-- One author did like the entire Cold War in two pages. Ken St Andre, author of T&T, the first "not to heavy on the rules" RPG game* ever, is trying his own hand at it with his latest release Fours.

And now my newest category! To repeat the quote where I heard it. "...However on G+ someone mentioned that to them a game was not rules light because it used UnfamiliarTerminology and Mechanics..." and "Gee" because like game, or G+, or something.
"U-TaM-Gee"- Any game for the reader that has not read a lot of games before.

*RPG game- a Fantasy Adventure Game entitled Role Playing Game but actually meant to be used as a basis for a collectable card games based off of Warhammer: Tolkien Edition. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Defense of Roleplaying

This entry's title should be "The Defense of Roleplaying In A Roleplaying Game: The History Itself." Now I like OSR/OSG/0E/Retro-Clone/'Nards as much as the next person that buys RPG material. Like Finland sitting next to Russia, as a guy that likes "indy" adventure gaming as much as that country likes access to the Baltic Sea most of my hobby world is dominated by their presence. I like reading their blogs, watching their videos, and buying their books. What I am starting view in the same vein as East German intellectuals from the mid-80s trying to show the real freedom of totalitarian society away from individualistic ideas, are a lot of them lecturing me about how "role-playing" was not a part of D&D.

Role-playing as a parlor game is the point of any RPG publication. While the mind game of figuring out which rules from a few books, a couple editions, and possibly a homegrown additive here and there a Dungeon Master is applying to a particular "puzzle" can be a bit of fun, a full game it does not make. Don't miss the point that I am saying that there is are places for that in any RPG campaign, but that doesn't have to be the point of an RPG campaign. Things like "character development" and "motives" are not dirty words in a game where the players play "Characters" and the GM presents an adventure.

Don't give me that "Trad Vs Narrative" line of reasoning. The tradition of the "Trad" style of gaming is more designed to get rid of unwanted players and then focusing on the quest of the approved players. Maybe GMs use it for one offs at conventions and folks show to scare away the wife for a couple hours. Guess what. White Wolf RPGers don't often do dungeon crawls and are about daydream fulfillment, but they love getting into arguments about rules as often as any Old School Gamester. Can we as a hobby move on?

I get it. Parchment bound rule-zines like Chain Mail were not an RPG. But when Dungeons and Dragons became a thing that there were a lot more people roleplaying being elves and half-orcs and dwarves than people worrying about where every secret door and false floor was in forty rooms.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

2019 Calendar

So setting up a schedule to refer back to over the year.

Jan 27-Feb 15:
Getting ready for BASHCon in Toledo (Feb 15-17)
FEB 15th (?): The release of Wobble: the RPG
Image may contain: one or more people and text
Feb 18- July 31:
Getting ready for GENCon's (Aug 1st-5th?) seven runs and working on Spacers(TM): Universe
July 31st (?): The release of SPACERS(TM): Universe.
August 6- September 30: Prepare Crawlspace's Halloween special.
October 1st(?): Release the Crawlspace Halloween special.
October 1-Nov 15: Work on Red Bat Christmas special.
December 1st(?): Release X-Mas Red Bat.
December 1-?: Begin Crawlspace, The Letterbox Edition rule additions.