Sunday, July 14, 2019

And Now, About Not Being D&D

While I'm admit that every independent RPG game had a boom market when 4th edition D&D came out and and its producers were a bunch of dicks, I'll not cede to designers of its 5th Edition anything but more sales for me.

Back in 'o6 somebody at Origins decided that people running independent games should share a room with folks of Hackmaster. There was no problem with that for us. PeryPub was used to sharing rooms with other independent game producers since like 'o2 at various other places, and we were friends with most. What we did not know that Kenzer & Company had a strategy. The strategy was to pay for stand-in audiences of up to twelve people at tables with eight chairs and be loud and boisterous for about ten minutes every time slot to scare everyone out of the room. They'd come back around minutes before the end of any slot and pretend to be cheering about a game about to wrap up. There'd be a lot of disorganized noise, a speaker-projected dice-roll sequence, and then forced applause, leading to an artificial standing ovation.

How do I know that? Because my games were in the same room. For one then two slots over two years, I, with three to six players at my assigned table, would be a little too busy with my idiosyncratic games rulings to be offended or, perhaps, scared out of the room. No really, we were busy with Character Sheets and game rule Perks long enough not to notice the ballyhoo. I bet it was because of my voice forged from years of experience with street noise in the real world. The GMs, three in total, would come over after their initial performance and the absence of any of their players to ask me about when could they have the room. I did not know this at the time, but me being me ( wanting to know "what' he was talking about and "who" said he could do this"), would foil their efforts by players remaining during the other GMs' interruption and actually continuing my game.

Failing kicking me out of the room, two out of the three GMs tried to say that the something called "the Hackmaster World Championship" was going to take place in the evening and the room was going to be swarmed with their event. In o6, I complied and noticed that the requesting-GM ended up at a table near me in the "Open Gaming" area begging for players with looking at me amusing three players with hate. In 'o7, I came back to the room which was empty except for 20 Hackmaster whatever Event cards littered across the room. My game would have five, then seven, players and was pretty good given the quiet room around us.

A little wiser than before in 'o8-'o9, I'd say to other event coordinators at real gaming conventions, "I don't want to be in the same room as Hackmaster events." To which they'd reply, (I paraphrase) "I've heard about Kenzer last year. Lemme give you your own room this year." The key here is that of the peoples I said this to, I had not shared my Origins Game "festival" experiences involving Kenzer & Company with them.

Coming back to Origins, when I submitted games over following years I still did great. Even when, I'd have to share a Quiet Room (that means "Breast-feeding") with my Crawlspace scenarios and then I've done better than my indie friends in room 1,967 on the Arte-Potte' Shack at the 3rd Slope next to the expresso machine and diaper-changing station, at least attendance-wise,  every time. Some slots sucked but that is Origins, I still covered my expenses in sales.

I know about my sales versus others because we irreparable small game makers talk BTW. We just gossip like fiends. Like little old ladies without much else to do. Yeah, we're awful about being professional according to standards imposed on idiots by corporations that would like to make a few worth hours  of wages based off of our years-long worth of works. Why I'd love to complain about the going rate at an average convention for an indie table, but WAIT! There is that one GYN, err GUY that said this or that left (or right)wing  thing about stuff that you cannot fix by playing a role-playing game! Quick repost all of my T&T scenarios links. When I reach 1 million dollars, I'll try to fix things. It's like I talk to people.

I might just need MORE money, but hey... .

Now about roleplaying games being dependent on D&D. Done with fake scandals and fake outlets. Do a CREATIVE product and then complain.




The Politics of Dice-Rolling

As I watch the dynamics of the organizations and people around me in our hobby, I realize that I am kind of growing into my skin so to speak. Snake-like in meta-biology if not personal beliefs. It really should be just a hobby for a better quality of ideas not branding. So let's talk about the branding of roleplaying products these days.  

Some of my best friends are SJWs
While I have had to tell more than a few to get screwed and come back after they've had the cigarette, I am still very close to many people for whom what can be termed "social justice" are very well served. People who are in "transition" are some of my closest intimates. Meanwhile people that prefer same-sex relationships like to talk to me about real-life affairs, sexually and Austin Texas-TV/UK Gaming Convention-acceptable, even after I have mentioned adult subjects around them. I wanted to be crusty instead I got trusted. My head bled.
Some of my best friends are Alt-Right 
More than a few people I know are a bit fed up with everyone that does not agree with Bill Clinton is a Nazi.  They also tend to view Richard Milhous Nixon as the last hope of the Democratic Party of the USA. I suspect that those friends are a bit upset about the election of Barack Obama as a President of these United States as well. About a third of them are family members... the hell? Still I know that the Democratic National Committee  cannot disagree with these guys openly. I'd still be their friend though even if the DNC, after even an on-line mob, said "No. You cannot.".
So does this make me "the Middle"?
Prolly, not. I'm just some guy that is all about socialized healthcare, the enforcement of Federal labor laws, AND an awesome American men's soccer team in the World Cup. While I disagree with co-workers at my place of employment demanding "safe spaces" because people in the day room are watching TV shows that they disagree with, I am that guy the decides 'Free Speech" and "Buck-Up Buttercup" is the best way to go.  I still think Donald Trump is a middling dipshit among privileged dipshits, but between the edges and for all the balance, I'll say "Noop." I'll be "Libertine" these days, at least until my 30 year-old daughter is looking, even then I'll still say "Der Donald is a Dick among Ducks Among Chickens."
Kids on Bikes is about to go BUST
 When the "Young-Minded in Wheelchairs but thinking its Tricycles" crowd finally admits that Stranger Things is for parents overcoming their fear of the weird in their head and not for kids that get called weird, I'll listen to the self-proclaimed knowledgeable RPG marketeers. No one likes this line of reasoning. Okay game fan boy/mother, your kid is going to stop wetting the bed one day, stop putting them in diapers because they are 29 years old already.  Reliving your adolescent years in an FRPG needs to go the way of Furry Versus Diaper conventions-- You've been there. Don't be retarded.

Now about fantasy
Disney really has nothing to say about anything older than 1961. Fight back.



 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Gate-Keeping the New RPG: Agism?

A few days ago I was listening to someone's podcast where he pretty much felt that the Sword Dream crowd (err concept, err ruse?) as people hating old men. He would not bow to their gate-keeping. Then I read as someone stuck his head up his ass using terms like "punk" and "disco" incorrectly to mostly make his persecution complex seem hip in his own mind, I slipped into reading someone asking "which game systems are best for kids on bikes RPGing?" This is after a few years of noticing people are bringing young kids, to my later games. And then there is what has become my current dislike of what appears to be other publishers and event organizers becoming more and more adolescent in their reaction to social media theater with whatever the scandal of month. A year after attending conventions in Wisconsin where 20-somethings brought their kids to watch grandpa, my age, aboard his hotel-provided electric scooter run games with talking rabbits and extensive shot-gun blast game mechanics with details.

I suppose what's nagging me is the question of "Am I getting OLD"? Well, of course I am. We all are, but I mean is my visceral reaction to people being ostracized by self-appointed "community" shepherds just me having a "get off my lawn" moment every time I see it? Am I just not hip enough to get what I consider to be some pretty awful artwork trends in the industry are actually the new look? Is my view that my games the result of a hobby that picked up in childhood do not have to be child-friendly, well, frankly, childish. Cutting to the chase, is are these signs of dementia?

Well, okay. Ostracism. That has always happened. The guy talking about being excluded from the club of Sword Dream, is the guy who ten years ago would bemoan that there "no T&T GM dungeons" (dungeons? really?) while my approved T&T products were full of GM-directed scenarios. His gate-keeping wouldn't actually work, so he'd go on to herald himself being an official of the OSR over the next few years. I'd extricate myself in a couple years from that club though because its leaders would become to old-minded in their tastes to do decent gaming products. So I was fresh enough to see when something was getting OLD.

RPG artwork has always had bad art. And the art stays bad until it isn't. I need to be patient. Still the coloring book covers for the Indy releases and the overly shadowy but in color Goya-wannabees of the big publishers is annoying. Is there anyone in the small press crowd that isn't too broke do original anymore? Am I being OLD here or a snob? I guess that isn't going to change, so one up for dementia.

Now about, bringing kids to my table. I suppose I came back to roleplaying fulltime after the kids got old enough to get the hell out of the house, that I hold my fantasy in the same light that I cherish my liquor, heroin, and concubines. For as much as I complain, I happen to rock as a PG-13 GM, when I have to. Ask the parents that couldn't find babysitters. Still I feel something was missing from my "Underage Pool Boys of Doom" or "Cosplayers that Can't Say 'No' "scenarios those midnight sessions of that year gone-by. Perhaps this year I can catch the magic with my scenario for Carnage Gaming Convention "Alien Abduction: The Ass-Raping" which will be played in the 9am-6pm time slot. We'll see. It's a bring your favorite miniature event, bring your favorite pony Bronies and gals! My alien sock-puppets are ready to go!

So. Okay on the 3-point criteria I have set for my as to whether I am senile or not, I am at a 1.95. It's a spectrum after all. Just sit me next to the 20-something playing on his phone.

Okay. I am like 92% done with the next Spacers(TM) installment. Really. It's like one-third of what was supposed to one product, but some around page 134 I thought, "really"? It's like Book 2: The 24th and a Half Century. Coming out before too long.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Every Time at a Table, June 15th: a "Simple" Wobble Scenario

The multiverse that is major component of any Wobble campaign game is big. I forget how big it is, until I have to dig into the notes. Holy crap. Who wrote all this stuff? So I decided to do a "simple" session  for the Tau Verse. Why I had four players returning with PCs already drawn up, and the two six-dice mechanic was pretty well established. But people do not see the plant life when they are running from hyenas so to speak. What I did not forgot is that everything is wrong in the Tau Verse.

What is written in the Wobble RPG setting is an okay overview, but how would players, with their Characters at roughly "2nd level", in D&D-speak,  start to understand that this place is just not where humans come to? Okay "dobber" wasps as space pirates. Radio-apes, stealing folks from rural America. G.I. Joe personas as major assholes. Somehow the ant-headed humanoids have come off as empathetic and decent people in my players' minds-- I meant that to happen.

This session was highlighted with the return of Professor Hammerhead (Jay) and Commander Frankie Berg (Jerry) coming back to the fray. They landed in a space station space made up of not many right angles nor really any regular shapes. They happened to be a floating ant-farm from the Trallvex antling world. The queen of the colony was presenting her first "showing" of artwork. She was inspired by a Life magazine featuring the work and philosophy of Andy Warhol. She invited as many humans as she could find hoping that Tommy Gun and Lady Ga-Ga would get the invite as well , to paraphrase somewhere alive in our world today, "Art can only be found in New York City." Following the reasoning that New York City is a city on most human Earths, the rest isn't hard to figure out.

Meanwhile on the Albatross, Captain Canada was performing "Evacuation Drills." Finally convincing Daisy Adair and Professor Rudy into an escape pod, the chuckles shared among the crew members would culminate in Arnie Moses (as an NPC) pulling the hilarious prank of launching it. He'd wink and blow kisses as the two PCs ejected into space. After an hour of outrage, with constant arguing with "mini-Laggy" (the ship's AI's escape pod babysitter), they'd stumble upon "the Showing." A pear-shaped space station with multiple spires attached as airlocks for visiting spaceships and whatnot. There just happened to receive an open invite for "humans." Once again, the ant queen artist hoping that Lady Ga-Ga and Tommy Gun would show up.

So the two PC parties would come together to attend the art house showing of Antling Queen's "Azza-Warhol" work complete with a special guest.

So everything in the showing was pretty respectable and what one expect. Except for that one ugly piece by the special guest artist. When the special piece of sculpture would start killing people with a pompadour pink glow, our characters had the presence of mind to figure out what was going on.The ship was being hijacked and apparently being used as a missile directed at a nearby peace conference site among various warring sectors in this part of the Tau Verse. But who were the squid-faced guys in the cloaks?

Monday, June 10, 2019

The June 1st Wobble Session, belated.

1.June. 10 Summary:
Well the player’s rolled a “High Jack” so while the crew of the Albatross where looking for the Dobbers’ nest complex, they ran into the All-Action Adventure Team, from Mu 117. The A.A.A.T were in their Awesome Rocket and being pursued by an Antling spunik model craft, which was called the Idaho by the players. There was a bit of discussion as to whether they should just shoot the ant-heads and save the humans without asking, or communicate with both. The Characters settled on the later.
GI Joe and his team had stolen a relic sacred to these Antlings. The alien beings were eager to apprehend it.
If the relic is not handed over, WE will not be able to control the outcome here.” Stated the chief antling.
The antling’s ship then fired a missle that would take out the All-Action Adventure Team’s engines. The crew of the Albatross were given an hour before the antlings boarding party would take matters into their own claws and mandibles.
Of course, GI Joe’s team tried to violently take over our wobblers’ vessel. But Arnie Moses, along with his new Bru-Crew (Bruders, pronounced “brooders”), Chucky Jade and Captain Kal were more than a match. The PCs would then leave the raiders in the antlings’ custody.
GM’s Note: The antlings would release the All-Action Adventure team after retrieving the artifact because seeing others of their species that were not total grave-robbing jerks, indicated that humans a species not not be just fodder materials.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

So While Every is Raving About _Sword Dream_

I am so excited about this product line to come out. I am sure it's not a Piece of Sky Pie drummed up to give the OSR crowd yet some more reason to drag their brand into everyone's feed stream. I can't wait for Sword Dream: Nebulous Phenomena Drama the sci-fi version myself. But something else is troubling me.

So at something called the UKGE, the United Kingdoms Games Ennui-Inhibitor for Couples with Kids, a guy by the name of Kevin Rolfe either described rape or he simply implied it by saying "You awaken naked, hand-cuffed, and your (asses) hurt." He then ran the gang through a typical "old school" (not OSR) bout of Characters arguing with or begging the GM for pittances of making the session any sort of fun for anybody except himself. The players, three, I think, played along until the end of the scenario and then promptly reported it to event organizers, I think. Now either the three of them reported it to convention staffers. Or one of them, Anjuli the Beholder Queen, went to Twitter, tagged the UKGE organizers, and complained about the sit-down. Sometime later, a couple, or more, organizers assembled to stop Rolfe from running further games and ejected him from the convention, and as of right now from ever coming back.

The Interwebs went on to speak of pedophilia and gang-rape not being acceptable at gaming conventions. Then some woman (saying her name here strikes me as doxxing) or the real person of Anjuli went on to basically make sure Kevin Rolfe's name, home address, published works, and latest Kickstarter effort would be associated with pedophilia and gang-rape to anybody evenly mildly being attached to her photogenic profile picture. Rumors of pre-emptive boycotting of this Rolfe guy at real game conventions, IN AMERICA, started making the rounds.

It is at this point I started looking into the nuts and bolts going on.

The man's own defense, according to Grim "Always take the bate" Jim in a publicized chat window dialog, is shifty. He alternates between that he meant that they PCs had diarrhea and were not date-raped, to that he runs seven events at every convention that he goes to, he apparently never sleeps, and that he can't remember what he exactly he said to convention staff to be expelled. And his supporters from there haven't stopped speaking in puerile and froggy-rightwing slurs about people that aren't Incels.

Still I feel the guy was wronged.

Taking both sides at their word, they were vicariously gang-rapped as older adolescents, and the GM was underslept and could not properly speak for himself when confronted by convention staff. Let's take a look at the by-laws of the club that runs the event, first.

https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/AttendeeTerms.pdf

Someone, that at least attended the babysitting expo as a GM (general manager or one of Rolfe's comrade in arms Game Master) said that he, along with a gang of unnamed others, think that Rolfe violated the "Use of bad language, verbal abuse or swearing at other attendees, exhibitors, Venue Staff, UK Games Expo staff and volunteers.Any physical violence towards attendees, exhibitors, Venue Staff, UK Games Expo staff and volunteers, including pushing or shoving.Racial abuse, sexual harassment and intolerance due to gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.clause.

Okay. Regardless of the legally silly term "bad language," reading the tea leaves here, and Rolfe's use of the "Diarrhea not rape" defense line on reasoning, indicates to me he used the words "shit" or "shit-covered" or "shitty"  in front of an audience, that I can confirm was over 18 years old if only by asking the event organizers. But besides the inference of gang-rape by the audience, do we really know what he meant? Was it really rape? Was it by a gang? Did one single Hercules-like NPC rape the gang of them?  Was it a couple mixing things up? My point being, unless the GM explicitly described a gang rape, none occurred in the context of the shared experience, except in the actual shared experience of three customers requiring the price of their tickets back and not receiving the refund. I don't know if that last bit occurred or not, the BBC article, my main source for "rapey" nature of the situation didn't cover that. In any case, I am not seeing virtual rape included in the list of offenses here. So despite the UK Hobby Gamer Exploitation Expo 2019 website's charge of "shocking(ly) inappropriate behavior" there is a case of harm caused by no foul here (see SOCCER) outside of the all too common love of English people liking to say "shit" more than Americans of the same economic and social background. Punishment for the use of the word "shit" by anyone over 18 is a bit excessive since about 1961 (Date Line Franco's Spain).

Okay, situations that are not actually swearing, that express the most harmful actions people can do to each other, like RAPE, is a thing these days, especially at a ticket-selling event that proclaims to be a FAMILY FRIENDLY venues while including "Over 18" events to get the Call of Cthulhu players into RPGs meant to be for "kids with bikes". So while the term "Naked, handcuffed, and (ass)-hurting" is a colorful left over from the barbaric times of 2016, it might be offensive to clause 13's stipulation that "the types of (behavior) that would be found unacceptable and would not be tolerated at UK Games Expo." Still unless the GM threatened to rape and whatnot any staff confronting him on his performance from the complaints his event had received, expulsion for life, even beyond just that event itself seems excessive. 

While compiling my week's of notes here (well four days' worth), I am glad to see that haven't needed to mince my points of view because I said too much too soon. There is a point to being patient and persistent. That is being sincere about things.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Look Out You Rock and Rollers

 Something is wrong with us 40 y/o plus adventure gamers. What is wrong is that the hobby that we have created has turned into a cottage industry for people that don't like escapism. The problem with most of the 40 plus crowd is that either they have been in the business too long or that they haven't gotten out enough into the infantalized culture that is fantasy fandom because of video games and porn. And the problem with that is the people that seek to control our tabletop game culture need a growth market that requires the brand names of anything from the 80s, 90s, Oughts, Tweens, Teens, and Tuesday to pay for their mothers' Netflix account and crates full of Hot Pockets while living in her basement, with their spouses and three kids, the adopted "shelter" piranha, and a throw pillow that looks like Allee Bodily the pornstar, all while being on probation for downloading kiddy porn when they were young and dumb, three weeks ago.

 Okay the image above might not be the case. No. I am wrong. 30 something moral and upstanding people with Masters of Business and International Financing, are running conventions for morally upstanding people that want to possibly roll 12-sided dice to hack and slash orks from shiny helm to jewel-encrusted codpiece and steal their imaginary gold pieces. Better yet, there are tons of European paper product and plastics from east Asia adorned by North American artists and authors and packaged in Brazil, Mexico, and Israel to be bought. Oh yeah enjoy all the cosplayers in mini-skirts and kilts that are there because the weather is nice in the air conditioned convention center. Bring the kids because we have face painting. How can people in Indianapolis not get how to sign in on Pacific Time Zone schedules? Gahhh!  Peasants! Crappy pizza anybody?

Okay both situations are probably true. Let's just say, what used to be organized by dyed in the wool fantastists is now the milk from a Golden Calf for others that don't have much else to do with their time or to make moneys. Now marketing slips into the mix. Forget the money being made from 2-65 thousand people wanting to show up at table-top game conventions at nice places, where the attendees tip local staff at about 65% higher rates than most other customers. Investors, not fans, require a growth expedient or they want to start capitalizing instead of, you know, invest. So know it's time for KIDS, KIDS, KIDS! Did I forget something? Oh yeah, K-I-D-S. Kids and kid. Even if you don't have kids (anymore), your taste are childish so you must be a CHILD!

Everyone, by law, loves KIDS. Even if there is no one under 18 in your group, you still must be aware of the effect of your fantasy visions on people that are still wanting to be childish. Childish not through roleplaying in your crafted game at a table, but childish on social media accounts on their phones. Your content may be too shocking for them, and therefore they may need to call for ambiguously qualified and officious-minded people to raise some ruckus among strangers and convention coordinators to help their inner child heal. Is there any way to sue a GM? There really ought to be some money involved. The KID should be able to get a Worker's Comp claim for attending a game festival. Pain and suffering assholes! You need some money to dull the pain.

Failing that, there is ostracism. Yeah because tabletop gamers never had to deal with that themselves for their bad ideas ever. They won all the social trophies in High School I hear. I wouldn't know myself, because I became a serious tabletop gamer near college only to get laid by hot chicks all the time. It might've had to do more with the bottle of vodka than that dice bag I had in my hand, but hey. All these D&D-players are nothing but privileged assholes who everyone fawned over in their adolescent yeas, right? So social scorn is totally appropriate by a culture that is treated as always cool to say NFL football fans and Harley Davidson enthusiasts. Makes total sense right?

Okay. It doesn't.

At the same time, I am arguing for some sort of special waiver for pointlessly offensive expression suffering the recourse of its performer's actions. So I am in the wrong. While I don't give a damn that you have kids, if you bring your 9 y/o to my horror game at 11pm, I don't need to lay it on thick-- at least until they're asleep under the table at 12:15am. Even more luckily for me, I already have a lot of females in my life in various roles. I don't have to go all "I don't get out much" every time a woman sits at my table. My older sister, wife, and daughter might find it hilarious, but my mother wouldn't. My games might include sex as a scene closer but don't revolve around the act as the impetus. This is kind of the case even when I don't have a kid or a female at my session anyway. It's just not that hard for me to be creepy without being a creep in a session of Delta Green, COC.

The recrimination of the less than enlightened, though, is not occurring in a mature and reasoned sort of way . It should not be that since people have used the excuse that fantasy is essentially childish, all fantasy should be family friendly. We should remember that fantasy and fantasists existed even before Vampire: the Masquerade LARPers had children or Peter Jacksom made JRR Tolkien a staple for video gamer man-children every where. Old people expressing the most juvenile daydreams has sold short stories, books, comic books, and daytime TV soap operas since... since... well since before Juvenal (He liked Digorno microwavable pizza before it was French). So what if someone is not bound by the constraints of good tastes. There is a fine line between art and camp, and people going on Kickstarter to fund "games" that are essentially single scenarios is as campy as things have ever gotten in our hobby. Very few of those will achieve the brand name recognition or fanfare of all those politically incorrect RPGs (and their authors!) of 1979-1999. The hobby is not anybody's babysitter.

On top of all of the it's time to stop it with this "community" crap in our hobby. We have a sub-culture of American-derived (north American not native) fantasy that came about as parlor games versus map-driven war gaming. The game structure would be more play-pretend than "scenario simulation" (despite what every 'Nard swears). Folks that like it tend to be very well read in various fictional works and fantastic movies and TV series. Outside of brand names though, we don't have that much in common in our values and tastes. That is mostly because the brand names that we developed our tastes on were sold to those unfamiliar with us as an audience to begin with.

Done for now. I'll stop regurgitating this sort rant when people stop trying to be the final say in our shared hobby.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Every Second Time in a Week at a Table, May 19

Nobody, including myself, had anything planned to do yesterday night, so around Sunday I started rapping the bushes for Wobble players. Sure enough Peryton and the Purple, Curtis, were down. That was great because both were up to speed enough on the rules and whatnot that I wouldn't have a lot of explaining to do and could work on some exposition explaining elements of multiverse as presented in the book. Around Wednesday, Wylie said that he'd like jump in as well-- three players for laptop RPGing is the perfect number so that just made the session more promising.


At the virtual table, Wylie and I worked through his Character from a Mu Earth very similar to 1931 (Mu-Apple 31?). Arnie Moses was a down on his luck, hard knocks Hobo. His type being a Scrapper (that means "fighter" in D&D), he was more a hands on and learns by doing sort. While hopping a train out of Yuma headed towards California where he heard that they need all sorts of workers, he spied something unusual. Dudes in monkey suits and radios on their heads were chasing a little kid from a ransacked camp just off the railroad. Curious to say the least, he hopped off the train, it was under 30 MPH at that point, so no big deal.  Being the rush in first Scrapper that Arnie is, he and kid were quickly apprehended by a radio-ape scouting party, talk about hands on.

Expectations

Insurance claim waiting to happen

Meanwhile in the Tau Verse, Daisy Adair (Pery) and Professor Rudolpho "Rudy" Viggo, along with the NPCs Charles Jade and Captain Kal (Captain Canada), had just successfully evaded their pursuing honeycomb ships in the Wobble boat the Albatross. They had done so by slipping into a cluster of asteroids. Adair was busy looking for the rolling rocks that she saw when Professor Rudy downloaded Earth Prime's classic movie War of Stars: The Empire's Counter Strike. Seeing only little specks of light, like stars, she relaxed. She was looking out for caves with teeth though. It took her a minute to notice that the stars were moving in different directions and vectors, and that one of the little specks of light was getting bigger by the second until it became a boulder flying along at about four times the speed of sound.  And BANG. Our beloved starlet, that can Pilot Anything, was able to make an emergency landing on a planetoid not too far away.

While inspecting the damage, the crew of the Albatross would be approached by what had to be a band of goblins not wearing space suits in the vacuum of space. When they got close enough, the Characters could see robotic machines and processing boards. When the G00blins communicated using radio frequencies, they said things like "Subroutine 47147 detects that your identified non-hostile vessel, verification pending, requires assistance." but in a goblin's voice. The band of plastoid machine intelligences would get them and the ship to their base 153NG4RD, where the Characters would meet the Master-Processing Unit 5TR1D3R 54R0M4N (you can call him "Strider" "Saruman"). In the atmosphere of the space station, the vents played the theme of Lord of the Rings constantly.

Arnie Moses would awaken in what had to be a flying banana boat, inside what had to be a banana crate. The smell of bananas permeated the air. Looking out between the crate's boards he saw four other crates strapped down, and what looked like a film set from Buck Rogers with a flat screen TV as its window. His captures, radio-apes, were busy flying the bucket, so he was able to get out of his crate and grab a large torsion bar (a crow bar used for trucks and tanks).

Back at Isengard-base, Strider Saruman would explain to Daisy and Rudy (and the NPCs. Always forgetting them) that they were in what is known as Tau Universe, or Verse. In this universe what might be our solar system, but with two smaller stars at its center, sentient plants, species of intelligent insects, and radio-apes were vying for supremacy. He and his fellow plastoids were parts of a moon-sized computer which had named itself T0LK31N, not T0LK13N because of fears of copyright infringement. They served the Plant Supreme collective as their first encounters were with the system's "Dobbers" which thought that they were organic and tried to do horrible things to them. They didn't work with the radio-apes because, well, no monkey with a TV for a head is up to any good anyway. Just at that point, a radio-ape ship would appear on the station's radar array. So according to protocol, Strider Saruman and his crew (long pause) started firing missiles at them. Daisy and Rudy looked on.

The biggest radio-ape, a gorilla with a TV for a head, was a decent pilot itself. It was able to avoid the first four missiles and blast them with the craft's laser weapon system. Meanwhile in the gravitational confusion of the dogfight, Arnie would take out two of the smaller radio-apes, two chimpanzee bodies with video camera for heads. With the next four missiles to be launched (long pause while Daisy and Rudy ate popcorn), the pilot's luck would not hold out, and the ship's engines were destroyed. The Rilla would start to put on a space-suit before trying to fight the loose human cargo, Arnie's mother did not raise a fool, he found a space-suit for himself, and got it on quicker. As the rilla was about to get its helmet on, the Scrapper smashed the TV head with the torsion bar. And then the sixth missile hit, blowing a hole in the side of vessel. The other missiles did more damage and everything not in a pressure suit was dead.

While Arnie floated end over end on a now dead piece of rocketship, Professor Rudy remembered that the Albatross had long range detectors that could scan for human life, which he had built last game session. He asked Laggy, the wobble boat's AI, to scan for humans aboard the debris. And after an admonishment from the always self-righteous computer, it was discovered that there was indeed one aboard. Arnie's oxygen supply was in the red so to speak, when the Albatross floated towards his chunk of cockpit and Charles Jade and Captain Kal pulled him aboard. And everybody got to know each other. Arnie definitely needed a shower and shave, and Rudy let him know it, but that didn't stop him from hitting on Daisy, who was sure to mention that having so many real men around, including Charlie Jade, she was as safe as, well, daisies in a plum patch.

Rudy then remembered that he wanted to upgrade the Albatross. Now if only he had some spare parts floating around at a convenient vector. And a decent garage crew with a comfortable spot to get the work done. Hey, wait a second! Mz. Daisy got to redeem her piloting abilities by hauling a good portion of the radio-ape vessel back to Isengard-base. The space orks, err the G00blins got to work immediately, the PCs pondered what to do next. Saving Gary Experience from the dobber's honeycomb ship complex came up. Strider Saruman would intone ominously, "Organics in Dobber Posession are most often not worth salvaging.

Next session as per the Players: "Save Jerry X."

Monday, May 20, 2019

Every Time at a Table May, 2019

It didn't look like it was going to happen. JerryTel and JayUSB both had other plans. Silly things like tending to family obligations and flying to Scotland for work-- tshaw. Still, a second right before I hit the "Cancel" button in the event interface, I realized I really wanted to play. So I wrestled through my memory thinking of potential friends that have played in Wobble sessions before, I threw in some that might be interested. The process went something like this:
"They just had kid number 2." "She's prolly a sock-puppet." "He's on WiFi at a coffee shop." "That's their date night." "Dental surgery." "She's actually having to make money these days." "In jail." "He needs miniatures to LARP." "Owes me money." "I owe him money." "She's Canadian." "They're bored of me."
It was that last one, that I held up on. So I asked the ICONS- in-Hiatus group, of Wylie Coyote, Peryton, and Curtis. Well, Wylie was indeed bored of me. His lie was something mumble, mumble, dying ppl, having surgery, or having to work; I dunno I stopped listening after "I can't make it...". But the other two, I enticed with promise of a Saturday afternoon cocktail session of a game. I mean the game is called WOBBLE and I've never been a subtle person. The game was just what the doctor ordered.

Pery has a certain Character that she actually loves to play named Daisy Adair. An actress from the Mu Universe where WWII, Mu Apple-2 per CAMIDA (The Canadian/Multinational Inter-dimensional Agency)nomenclature, is just now starting. One of the last queens of the Transatlantic Accent, the speech style that diminished as Americans would start to like Westerns over Melodramas in Yank cinemas. Not that Mz Adair is around much to watch the speech patterns of her world change. She's been busy dealing with multidimensional spider-demons, a couple pyramid-heads, and the atomic bombing of Baltimore Maryland (on "Nixon World," Mu Apple-3, so probably not that bad). More importantly the PC is a "pilot of anything" and Robin sticks to her Transatlantic accent throughout the play session.

 Curtis developed Rudolpho Viggo where we randomly determined, using a few lists from the Wobble source book but I should really formalize into a new chart and lists, is from Earth Prime, Mu Gamma-2. The Great War was indeed the war to end all wars, at least the big ones, and by 2019 people are on Mars and elsewhere in the solar system. Three major power blocs, the Russian-European Union (the RE-Union), the American States (The Americas), and the Pacific Bloc (the East) are the major players. The South African nation is wholly controlled by the Primrose Corporation, known for its weird and exploratory science. Professor Viggo from Rome works for Primrose's Time Travel Department in Cape City (stretching from Cape Town to Durban).

I started out the adventure with a cut-away detailing Daisy's dilemma since the nuking of Baltimore and the start of this adventure. The group she was with, Beckett's "Man-Witch" (the guy that nuked Baltimore), Kal's "Lieutenant Canada," and JerryTel's first Wobble PC (Um Gary Experience?) wobbled away from Nixon World authorities in the wobble-capable ship The Albatross into a part of the Tau Verse. Here they attacked by by Radio-Apes and beings that fly around in modular ships that are honeycomb-shaped. All three of the other characters were captured in a sticky web repelling unseen boarders and pulled onto a honeycomb ship. Too many other honeycombed ships were attacking the Albatross so our Pilot-of-Anything had to emergency wobble, breaking written rules, but hey she is a PILOT, to Earth-Prime. And she just happened to show up right around the east side of Cape City.

The Primrose security division, Nimrod Inc.,  went into red alert mode as fast as one would think. Hover-jets were scrambled while all experimental "time portals" were unplugged and extra goon-platoons placed around them, while the Corporates decided who should handle making contact. While the fighters made "controlled contact" with Mz. Adair to land in a certain spot of be blasted to bits, it was decided that Professor Viggo would be the man to blame, err supervisor on this one. There was a quick scene where Daisy is hustled out of ship by goons in isolation suits (cool ones because this place is the future) and given an Earpiece Translator, which took Rudolpho a way long time, but I had fun making up future South African and how American English would sound to a world where New York and Hollywood weren't a big deal when telling each of the players what they heard after the other tried to communicate. The two Characters noticed that they got on well despite language barriers.

Viggo had to have a meeting with his Supervisor, (Primrose Corp) Pay-Grade 11, Stephen Ballinger, and the boss of both of them, Pay-Grade 20, Tilde Swinton. No really, the person that is an actress in our world. Mz. Swinton was dressed in an overcoat and a scarf that fans of Dr. Who from our universe would recognize. The deep probing of the Albatross revealed only mid-1950s technology according to Earth Prime standards, yet its axiomatic tachyons indicated some sort of temporal shift. Curtis's professor would venture that the intruder was from alternate Earth, not from the past or future. This was actually impossible according to current Earth Prime theory, though there have been two other security-shrouded cases such as this on record in the States and the RE-Union.  Perhaps the Corporation may garner more information by accompanying the "wobbler" for a time, suggested our protagonist.

Earth Prime being the best and worst of Earths, the Primrose Corp mindset is not one of doubting its own employees hired to use their big brains. Stephen Ballinger would suggest himself and a couple other researchers, all of whom were of a reactionary, militant political leaning known as "The Gray-Shirts." Director Swinton would stick with Professor Rudolpho Viggo and her "nephew," (that means ex-boyfriend) Pay-Grade 7 Charles Jade. Viggo, being Pay Grade 10, would be in-charge of the mission.

What followed next was a rescue mission trying to back to Gary Experience, Lieutenant Canada, and Man-Witch. Professor Viggo would start upgrading the Albatross and its AI program, named "Laggy." The primitive nature of these trans-dimensional travelers would astound him. Meanwhile, Daisy would mostly get into awkward moments trying to sneak peaks of Charlie Jade in the shower. They would find a cluster of the honeycomb ships arranged into what had to be a crescent moon. Using the upgraded sensors, they would identify three human sensor signatures and about 16,000 other ones. Only two of the humans were close to each other.

Daisy Adair would show her piloting abilities as she maneuvered the Albatross  towards the honeycomb where the two human life signs were coming from, with very few of the other honeycombs detecting it. The surprise raid would be responded to quickly but not before they could pull Lieutenant Canada and the Man-Witch (Adair would curse at their luck) from some goopy silk-like mucus and carry them towards the ship. Becket's Character, now an NPC, would fight free and slip into "the infernal realms" but only half-voluntary .Honeycomb ships were breaking free and attacking like angry bees, maybe wasps, and shooting as carefully as they could at the invading wobble-ship.

Dasiy Adair, Professor Rudolpho V., Charlie Jade, and Lt. Canada would wobble away from the intense laser fire.
Our heroes would accelerate away (unable to wobble because of rules constraints and plot convenience) and hide in a nearby asteroid-filled region.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Long and Winding Road

Roleplaying can get boring.

Not for me mind you, but for the average adventure gamer role-playing can get boring. First one goes from fulfilling the characters from Lord of the Rings, to going all Conan, to end up refining that special PC into Fafhrd or Gray Mouser in somebody's Thieves World campaign.

And then what?

Some might start dating dramatic literature majors and doing community theater before somebody getting pregnant having to spend their weekends working and other spare time getting the kid into college while not wetting the bed.  This absence from the hobby is like skipping a meal, any time one can get back to it, they are at least mildly hungry for whatever fare comes up next. Some get so desperate they start forcing their kids to play with them. Others will double down; giving up sex to move into their mother's basement but then internet porn turns to video games. This can often bloom into spending too much time at internet fora and going bat shit crazy over sexual politics or what it means to be "white" in 21st Century America. More than a few folk, just decide smoking pot and playing board games can fill the gap of not role-playing because who really needs to be creative when they can just consume.

But for those few that avoid the pitfall of ennui and roleplaying, they get serious about escapism. Maybe some ducks on big world of Glorantha to add deep atmosphere. Go vampire to get some sultriness in life. How about going all post-apocalyptic, one gets cars, pistols, and orks w/ four-arms and it's still FRPG. So then they mix it up, instead of watching TV or movies, one starts role-playing them; westerns and even spy movies. And then sci-fi,.. Well okay maybe not sci-fi because the GM doesn't like your brand... STEAMPUNK! Blimps! And then... BLIMPS!

Speaking of brands, remember the joy of the first time someone encountered an Umbering Hulk in that D&D game? No? Well they did, so here's various brands of that product line, most from an official toy maker, a number from edgy artists that know the secret of original D&D. Oh look, here's another brand name from the 80s, who's got the license for it? It is cheap enough? Maybe a Kickstart will help someone pay their mortgage as well as release the new edition of the old brand. Maybe go deep and get into John Carter Warlord of Mars. One gets blimps, pistols, and orks w/ four-arms and it's still FRPG-- one starts swearing that they heard that before? Go deep and atmospheric, Glorantha has ducks.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

SJG vs SJW


I've recently discovered that I happen to "Like" Frog God games on FacetuBe, though I never bought any of their products. I happen to like buying Steve Jackson Games' GURPs sourcebooks, though I would never play a table-top session using the rules from them. I heard about some ban from some sorts named, all names uncertain, Christopho Thelton, Stacy Delearno(sic), and Jessy Pricetag getting Billy Web of Frog God games banned from a convention after hitting on a woman in a bar.

Details vary, but I hope that anybody that is an adult has been in this situation before. My side of the described experience was me totally drunk and some wonderful person smiling wryly and taking me home for a random sexual encounter. And let me tell you... (oops a gentleman never brags). There might've been some rejections, but I can only remember a handful. I think I have apologized to all of them at the time or at least only as late as the morning, plus a day or two allowing for hangovers-- In any case no one has sued me, pressed charges, or tried to enact boycotts on products bearing my name for such actions. I have been sued, had charges pressed, and have had people boycott my products without sexual infringement being the cause. The reader may assume that I have a storied past. But for being a creep? Apparently not so much so.

About being a creep, game-landers, where did you all grow up? Okay Bill Webb of Frog God games, whatever happened, apologize to the person involved, and to your wife if needed. Everybody else? It's really none of your business. As to the woman, pool boy, and/or animal tender that he hit upon, if you haven't received and apology to date, tack on about 10 thousand dollars for every month that he thought the offense would not arise. But if he's already apologized to you, what exactly are you up to? Speaking of being creepy, to the "libertarian" crowd in gaming; yes, Steve Jackson Games is as hard as nails, and toxic as rust, to any entity trying to deal with them legally. I wish they'd come up some games that aren't rehashes from '81.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

"That World Where Apes have Jetpacks" the RPG

The other day someone posted about " 'Friends' but all the characters are ducks and two of them have a tiny human as a pet." I remembered that I had some notes about a post human world. I was all excited about it and scribbled out some of those notes here at this blog. At work, during some down time, I started working on the setting afresh. Got some more pages and more details on the species (that's "racial" for all the 'Nards reading this) listed. Then I worked out some locales and campaign specific cultural details. After some five pages of typing, I was very proud of myself.

While I was prepping for a Wobble session on-line the other night, once again at work during downtime, flipping through some pages of a print, I rediscovered that the setting was in print in somewhat less detail but still already published. Well, that was fresh. For decades, at least since I was nine, I have been making notes in notebooks and themes and titles and phrases would slip from one to the other while their meaning or context would change. And now I am riffing on works already published. Of course with Wobble, I shouldn't be too surprised. But I am.

I tend to over classify things. Other GMs, most recently Jay Murphy, have talked about how their on-going games were becoming more and more mixed genre. I haven't had that dilemma. Perhaps it was my Wobble sideline as opposed to my other games. Running/playing in campy horror scenarios, Spacers sci-fi and superheroes and then listening to other people's FRPG sessions; my hobby experience is full of genres falling into proper (maybe niche) categories where I as a GM or player perform within my expectations of them.

But it really wasn't all Omegans Vs Radio-Apes Vs Space Nazis. I was often angry at myself at working on Wobble. I had so many other things to be working on, and then it occurred to me I could fit in the campaign settings that I really wasn't doing anything with.  Boom that was one of the key points towards my decision to go forward with it. Bought but unused art. Pages worth of RPG notes never going to be played if not put somewhere.

Flipping through the Xi Verse, my 1.5 Million A.D. (now there's a catchy title) "FFFFRPG" setting, I was at first embarrassed. I even posted about it in my Adventure-gaming Aware meet-up places (A.A. meetings). I said something like "If you wrote a roleplaying game with about a score of mini-places to be AND then found yourself writing a couple of the spots with even more details as their own RPG, um... Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I am asking for a friend." The only reply I received was " I look forward to 'That World Where Apes have Jetpacks' the RPG". I suddenly realized that I don't have any jet-packs listed in Wobble

Mildly reassured, I got back to work on next month's table-topping session. I detailed my "Nixon World" setting a bit more for about ten pages in its own file, clarifying as well as revising the setting as presented in the print up. No where near the original Nixon World game concept I had envisioned in 'o8 at a T&T forum, but its evolving. Whether it is turning into a printed scenario for Wobble or its own game one day, I can't say.

I just know that I have notebooks scattered about everywhere these days.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Beyond Thundarr But Not To the Cold End of Space Itself

While working on both GenCon scenarios and something called "A Game of Tombs" as its working title, planned for Halloween, I read Luther Gutekunst's posting at Archon's Court about his OSR "Sunless Horizon" campaign notes. I do love keeping up on ppl's "Far, Far Future Fantasy." This is my name for fantasy settings set a few million years to a couple billion years into the future. Nate Treme's Ghost Star  mini-setting is a good example. John Tarnowski(sp?), the RPG Pundit's "Last Sun" releases are fun. With elements of post-apocalypse tropes and themes but so far in the future one has a totally foreign world (or world-ship, or worlds), these mind trips try to go places so gonzo that alien is a better word.

Of course, I am making notes for myself as well. Ever since Glow I have been playing around with the same sort of vein of RPG.with notes on the Earth about a million and half years in the future. Now while this is not after the red dwarfing of our star and definitely no where near the heat death of our universe, it's still a pretty far out place to be. Take a look at the life on Earth 1.5 million years ago and compare it to now. From woolly mammoths and more than few hominids living around each other in terms of time and space, to one human species and pets leaving plastic covered tech for an epoch to come. So what does my FFFFRP setting look like?

Well there are the Nimby. The perfection of humanoids able to take and hold the lands not radioactive or chemically tainted from ages gone by. We'd recognize ourselves somewhat in the four-toed Bagger, that pretty much populate where humans once did in larger numbers. Often the Bag, a diminutive of Bagger, are subservient to Nimby families. And then there are the Imby, small and nimble and evolved to "smell" radiation and poison so are somewhat able to survive in the wastelands that pock various spots on this new Earth.
perfecthuman-bbc4
A Nimby and its Bag slave
At the same time, in the more wilder parts, raccoons are evolving into an intelligent species and seeking out plastic-coated old human tech which they know how to power up to get a technological edge over the now abundant populations of baboons that scour almost everywhere on the planet. Along the coast lines where most human populations appear to have lived below the surface of, intelligent squids brave the plastic-filled and chemically soiled waters to find technologies of their own.

After my own notes on this for gaming, I've not used it as such. Instead I have been writing fiction in this epoch of weirdness. We'll see what comes of it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thawing Fantasy: Dismantling Colonialism

As an April Fool's day prank someone posted a quick and breezy questionnaire for "tabletop RPG and LARP makers!" With only thirty questions, these questions under the pithy, duck's nut title of "#AprilTTRPGmaker" how could it not be any fun? Unwary readers thinking that anybody wants to casually ask them 30 damn questions about their views reposted it. What the process was about was actually about kicking the participant in groin as often as the survey could. And it puts a ribbon on the self torture with the tag "No Imposter Syndrome allowed." Then it implores the reader "Use any social media" wanting me to spread a meme like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon or something.

It starts out a little strange. It's like an application. The first questions instill a little bug of trying to prove oneself to the unseen author, hopefully one day the recipient of the answers:
"1. Introduce yourself." Umm, to whom? Everybody on my feed knows me.
"2. Describe your work." Is "I already one have with each product that I have for sell" a good answer? Once again, everybody on my feed knows me already. Who am I applying to?
"3. Key to your making process?" Yes. Descriptions are indeed key to selling making money when releasing items. Or is the poster asking "What is key to (my game-)making process?" The answer to that question is the ability to talk about what I want to.

Then it asks a few questions every "TTRPG Maker" likes to answer:
"4. Favorite type of game scenario?" Ones where I enjoy myself running them.
"5. Character or World Building?" World Building through the roles of the Characters.
"6. Long or short ttrpg texts?" On my phone? The shorter the better. Or is the meme designer asking how much prep? I write scenarios based off of designed setting notes. Quantification depends on the product and audience. It's not a binary process.
"7. How to increase accessibility?" By providing the products I write for sale on-line outside of the people that have sat down and played with me. I also use a hard copy distributor to game stores as well. That is what the question is about right?

Then things get a little detailed as well as a little pointed:
"8.  Favorite collaborators?" Whoever is working or has worked with me on a collaboration. Once again everyone knows me on my feed. I wish the meme provider would check out my website.
"9. How do your games distribute power among your players?" Depends on the setting. FRPG its usually magical items and level advancement, but that's wholly system dependent. The more a player is involved, I try to reward overcome challenges with perks afterwards so to speak though.

Then comes a loaded question. It's "Have you stopped beating your wife?" but for gamers.

"10. How are your games dismantling colonialism?" This is the first time that I have heard colonialism applied to RPGs. While Forgotten Realms paperbacks got into their fantasy worlds equivalents of central American colonialism by the Spaniards it was really sympathetic with the indigenous culture being oppressed. And Space 1889 got a little English, well talk to those writers specifically. Are you talking about paladins fighting demons and other PCs fighting goblins and orks? Who are the demons, goblins, and orks in the meme constructer's mind?

Like an amateur interrogator, the meme then throws in an innocuous question, still asking you to name names. The author is picturing the reader with a nail in their left palm, so they demand.

"11. Shoutout an unloved creator." I am not sure "shoutout" is a word. I would recommend Charlie Fleming of Rarr! I'm A Monster Games, but I swear he isn't guilty of whatever I am being accused of.

Having gotten a name to be listed by the interrogated when discovered, the meme gets down to soiling your soul.

"12. How to make work inclusive?" My answer has to be, "Work inclusive by including."  I speak both German and English poorly despite wanting to be a writer but this is poor grammar. Is the author a chatbot? A bit more seriously, come on already. FRPG and RPGs in general have been inclusive to the point of being full of cultural appropriation since TSR did some big book full of samurai and Shaolin monks sans any Yogi from south Asia. I think it is up to the gamer themselves to meet people on their own terms and work from there.
"13. Participate in streamed games?" Thank you for asking and not just yelling. 
"14. How are your game mechanics and Characters intersectional?" My Crawlspace scenarios are noted for bringing PCs starting from disparate starting points together through means of their Character motivations and plot obstacles. (Looks up "socially intersectional") That's not what the author wanted answered, I wasn't supposed to get this right. They need to get a better grasp on vocabulary.
"15. Favorite tropes to subvert?"

That last question, I can get back on my feet again.
"15. Favorite tropes to subvert?" Orks and half-orcs you asshole meme author. I've have David Carridine as a half-orc monk. I always thought of them as Germans raiding Roman territories or Vandals trying to claim north Africa from well founded elves of the Sahara, not oppressed minorities. Of course we never got to have a real empire so much for for your "colonialism" crap.

I spit out a tooth and realize that we're at the halfway point.
"16. How does your environment inform your work?" Paperback distribution and comic books available on-line. I also save social media for roleplayers as contacts.
"17. How does your identity influence your work? " It's easier for me to get through airline checkpoints so I have gotten to travel a lot? I swear I'm not guilty!
"18. What are some underlying messages in your work?" One in particular is that you should buy my work then make you own conclusions.
"19. Favorite themes to explore?" Yes. I have them. Once again my friends on my feed already know them.
"20. A game that you want to make you think no one would play" The life of the meme's author in third grade English. I suspect she is from Slovakia.

So we're at the 2/3rd's point, so the questions change tone. A little softer, more personal once again, thinking that my discomfort reading their presumption and incoherence here has somehow been a discovery for me.
"21. What external factors do you struggle with to create?" Mostly folks trying to grab a few bucks by getting money from on-line accounts while promising services to a big public that would rather play in decent RPG sessions. RPGs swerved out to card games and now to board games, but somehow the concept exist beyond brands. Not because of the this or that of merchandising trend but because of the work of the creator and the audiences's experiences.
"22. How are you trying to improve the ttrpg community?" That is not an FRPG that I want to play in.
"23. Mentoring/Being mentored by?" Once again I am speaking to a feed that already knows me. No names anymore, just take me to the gallows.
"24. Favorite RPG thing to create?" This decade? Pyramid-heads. Just awesome.

And then things go into a kind of fishing mode for 6th-graders.
"25. A rad diversity consultant?" Me.
"26. Favorite on-line community?" Mine.
"27. How do you market your work?" I'm thinking about poorly worded questionnaires presented as social network memes now.
"28. What tools help you create?" Free time and a means to write down ideas.
"29. Exciting 2019 RPG trends?" Everything that I plan to publish.

Before the meme can release the participant it has to admit that it needs help.
"30.  What would you change if you were in charge of  TTRPG LAND!!! ?" To which "There is no such thing as a ttrpg community." I answer. "I'd like to see my hobby devoid of consultants and sycophants." Failing that, I'll settle for great times at conventions and in private.

And now it's time for a shower and a drink.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Thaw of Fantasy: Water

I spend as much time in water as I can. Even when fantasy role-playing, I will drag every party I can into some underwater adventure for a couple sessions and the long term players will think to themselves ‘Here we go again. I wonder what fine point he wants to stress this time.’ Usually that point is that being underwater/amphibian/deep sea should be a lot more alien than say thinking in terms of PCs having to take a pill and breath underwater for a length of time.

On the surface level the GM has to think about why are the players around or on the water. An astute person will know that 99.9% of human history is either being seafaring or living around the nearest water source, but in popular media, where most gamers get their misconceptions about reality as well fantasy you wouldn't know it. Dragons live on mountain tops, where I suppose they eat snow cones sweetened with dwarf blood for sustenance. Giants might live in clouds eating fairy folk fluttering on the air. All the while farmers in Alpine valleys produce enough corn syrup and hamburgers in cold climates to sustain empires-worth of castles, bars, and temples, while orks threaten their drive-thrus every winter. Armies of paladins of multiple gods would be appalled that medieval Europe ate fish soup and oats more often than roast beef and potatoes for all of its  
history.

 

Players don't have to be Sinbad the sailor. They can be Josephus the boat-fixer. Alongside with the fisherman,  Harsdrubal, the Adventurous, and Grappo, the Tough, an accomplished net-knitter, our boy, or gal, Joe, is staring at a world of the unexplained and unexplored every time they go to the docks.  Heck go burlap caps and wool shirts into the medieval times and make them Yurk, the Yam Man, Harold, the Viking, and Gregory, the Grab-Ass, under the rule Richard the Upteenth on the fair Island Kingdom of Boar/Eagle/Lion/Rhino/Platypus Heraldry. Now throw in seals, the animal, that can transform into humans given the right moon. You are now 100% trans-Tolkien based fantasy and you haven't even started the adventure. 

Want to do a story-arc of character in about two sessions? Have the land-lubber Characters have to get underwater. Hopefully the GM doesn't mind watching a PC's player work through some of his/her childhood hang ups (IE swimming lessons) because, you're going to get that. Then work into the magic and its restrictions, the wizard is thinking at a 10th level level while still at 3rd when it comes to good old magical creativity. 

Water being a different world than that of the surface just ask the GM to explain places adventurers want to go. And don't even bring up the difference between fresh water, where I live, and salt water, where no one (human) lives including the surfers. Speaking of surfers, the GM/author has a whole unexplored Character Class just waiting 10 pages and 1,678 charts right there waiting to happen if you're OGL.

The hard work comes when you're in over your head, out of your depth, so to speak. Outside of places like Atlantis, there is no reason for "30'x40' rectangular rooms" off of 10'x10' corridors running east to west from the "locked, oaken door." That wooden door was fish food about ten months ago already while silt and corral aren't prone to right angles. While the landlubber GM is having a time explaining her pit-trap with spikes because every one is swimming, the submariner GM already has a moray eel hiding spot. Oh and torches never work, now its time to watch PC development begin the second phase of the story-arc from cardboard to RPG characters-- it tends to be amazing. 

Despite my usual sardonic tone, underwater role-playing is quite the place to be. I challenge any GM to prove me wrong here.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Indy Markets Explained to Assholes

It's all about what you really want.


Do you want a coloring book for your RPG? Well then 9 paragraphs, a couple charts, and add 20,ooo  mediocre photos/ free illustrations. Sell a thousand games in two months.

Do you want to draw outside the lines a bit? The play whatever White Wolf is publishing these days. D 10s, LARPing, failed on-line communities.

Do you want to Game with people looking to play in a game? You either find a game that is not D&D or you make up your own rules not based off of the OGL.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Midwinter's Afternoon Daydreams

A Game You Probably Haven't Heard Of
 Unicorn Hunt ! I added the exclamation point. A friend of mine from BASHCon for a couple years now, Cory Tucholski finished his "make-your-own-adventure" more than a year ago, but I wasn't able to pick it up until the last time I saw him in February. The author is one of those horrible parents that make their kids come and play D&D with them at gaming conventions, but he makes up for it by writing books for them. Unicorn was written because of his daughters infatuation with unicorns, so Cory wraps in a lot of magic and a bit of history for a younger reader traipsing after the mythical beast. I read through the work over the last few nights at work, and kept dying, but hey, that can happen on an adventure. There are some eightteen endings advertised and artwork by Hirday Jayara, so it might keep the kid reading it busy for at least 30 minutes, enough time for the ravaged parent to finish a smoke and a quick conversation on-line even. A King Kong of a work for sure, it would've been a Godzilla but Cory always rips on Burger King which I cannot forgive.


Midwinter build up
Every Time At the Table
So on Saturday, I was supposed to resume my ICONs mystical superhero mini-campaign. Our household's cat-sitter during longer trips needed the night off of work and asked me to cover her shift at the milkshake factory, so I had to bump the session to Sunday. It was then I found out that one of the major players definitely couldn't make it. He probably couldn't make it on Saturday either apparently but why tell me before I moved the date around anyway, right? I still had the itch to get some table-topping in though, so I announced an impromptu Wobble game. And why not, that damn setting has been bumping in the closet for about ten years already. Expected usual players, like Peryton and Trey Renee,  wouldn't show up. JerryTel, something of a stalwart Wobbler already, did and so did Jay Murphy, the Xothman from here on,  (of UBS Xothic fame over at G Plus) whose usual Sunday group, using CoC/BRP rules if I remember correctly, is in disarray as their 17th Century Dreamland's cycle heads into its conclusion.
UESF CDR Francis Berg

So Xothman developed Professor Hammerhead, an astrophysicist whose brilliant work into dead energy got him hired into the Baffin Island  Facility, Wobble Bay, a few months ago. He works for the UK contingent which often acts as go-betweens for the EU contingent and the Americans, because the Canadians who own the place won't bother with all the pettiness. JerryTel became Commander Franky Berg of  Earth Command's Space Force from the MuFO Earth in the MU Continuum.

Doctor Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks)2.jpg
Dr. Emerson W Hammerhead III
 Hammerhead would be experimenting with a Dead Energy capture device right at the same time that CDR Franky, to his friends, would be leading his Manta interception squadron into a dog fight with, of course, UFOs. Somehow, as if by a whimsy of plot convenience, the Manta's cockpit/life boat would appear in the laboratory right next to Dead Energy Device, the Q-47 (from here on). Exploring the device the Italian security detail assigned to Hammerhead would release the MuFO native who was in full combat mode. The security detail would make short work of the sky-boy as they were airborne infantry, quickly having him restrained and ready for interrogation. As Franky was prepared for the Others, aliens in UFOS, playing mindgames with those that they capture, the initial interview with Dr, Hammerhead would not be very productive.  
 US Army CWO2 Lagge (pronounced "Lag") from Exploration Teams, "X-Teams", US of course, would show up and ask for help with a new acquisition of of his own. At the same time as Hammerhead's incident occurred, the US teleportation laboratories received an vessel that could only be described as life pod for outer space. Out of would step a sleestack with its hands in the air. One of the troops on security would call the being a sleestack to its face, at which point it shut up, apparently insulted. Perhaps Hammerhead could get somewhere with him. The alien would identify himself as "Hisssss(inhale)Pfit." Hissy Fit, would identify himself as a Traveler who was hired by customers to help Travel their ships when they were attacked by space savages.  
Hammerhead wanted to get the Tzakk, what the creature called himself, and "sleestack" means hillbilly in his language,  and CDR Franky in the same room for a cross briefing. Chief Laggy was having none of it, the guy was under American protection, on the behalf of the International Multi-Dimensional Travel Research Forces, after all. Ones does not simply walk in to, err cooperate in our corner of MU Continuum. 
Back in CDR Franky's cell, (Jerry was back from an important liquor run IRL) having had a sandwich and coffee, the fighter pilot was calming down.  He had been part of his universe's Wobble experimentation, which had gone no where as far as he knew. With his blood sugar up, he was willing to accept that maybe he was in an alternate universe of his own Earth. Hammerhead was happy to hear it!
And then walked in Laggy and Hissy Fit, and I invoked Rule 117 from the Wobble book (page 111).  You see, Hissy Fit, Laggy, and CDR Franky had all wobbled before which set off a chain reaction sending them out into the multiverse. Professor Hammerhead would now become a Wobbler as well. JerryTel and Jay would then pick their ID STAT to close out the session. Trey Renee and Robin (the Peryton one) have both said that they would be there for the next session. I hope Pery practices her TransAtlantic accent. She does that Character so awesomely.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Games You Probably Haven't Heard Of: Tall Tales


Remember the days of the Boot Hill RPG? As part of the OSR/OSG reformation of OGL D&D, Mark Hunt, with the help of his pal Anton Otto Fischer, has crafted the Old West rules system for the 21st Century.  Tall Tales: Wild West B/X Fantasy Adventure Game is the author's latest work, I think. Who knows? It's been over a week since its release and this guy is always working on something. In case you haven't heard of him, he's the guy that redid Gangbusters and has been expanding that classic game for a few years. His taste for period specific settings has proven a plus for this Basic/Expert take on the cowboy days.

If you've ever wanted to play in the Wild, Wild West but hoped to avoid the worst of the cowboy and Indian tropes that make up so much of this milieu, this is a good place to start. Players get to take on the roles of Gunslingers, Desperadoes, Mountain Men, Braves, Singing Cowboys, and Snake Oil Salesmen, Now I've never played or read Boot Hill but I bet the PC Classes did not sound like so much fun. What is an OGL game without Alignment? No worries folks can be "Law Abiding," Neutral," or "Dishonest." Hunt adds OGL-style charts for background notes that fill out the Nickle-Book Western feel of the world around the characters.

The GM has a great foundation to start a campaign world. As you'd expect, atmosphere and tone are very established. The weapons and equipment section, from the Trading Post no less, is pretty well rounded but not overly extensive as is the fashion in "true D&D" terms. Don't worry Nards, you get notes on coffee pots and holsters. Where would the adventuring Singing Cowboy be without his troop of NPCs? They are called Hirelings in this work. Logical rules on mounts (donkeys and horses) strike me as really workable. There are guidelines on stuff like judicial matters and random people to encounter. I especially liked how Hunt remembered that hirelings/randos should be described (Hey I am an Elmore Leonard fan) to help fill out the tale being spun-- he does so with a chart to make it nice and crunchy.

Overall, the book is a King Kong of a purchase. I might start adapting some of my own Western stuff to it. Right after I learn Spanish and run a marathon, but hey, this is a really good game. Now if it had original art it would be a Godzilla. In any case, buy the hardback version, get the author's autograph, and set up the basement as Tombstone, AZ, and get to making some big a heapums of Tall Tales. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Defense of Rolepaying Feb.23

Every Time At the Table, 2019.02 23

You might've not heard but a long running ICONs campaign (superhero) wrapped up in a session set after the big adventure culmination, the anti-climax if you will, tonight. This evening, Pery handled the funeral of the Aquaman thought experiment. Killed by a random NPC, after a major PC turned rogue while under mind control deals with his guilt because his own actions in the events leading up to death, there was quite the memorial service. The three players (Charlie, Curtis, and myself) jumped into as many NPC characters, as we had played them as one-off Characters during the last few years during spin-off games, as the GM did.  In TV terms, this was a "supporting Character episode." This was a roleplayer's smorgasbord, and it was kind of random as to who was going to rise to be the stars.  The Torpedo was sent off with a bang for justice.

The venue was rather awesome. Cleveland, has long since transformed into Beta City and Lightfoot Island in our player's minds, but we also have explored the oceanic depths and had some ties there. Torpedo being the latest reincarnation of a prince of Atlantis provided the Mystics of that lost land an excuse to merge the two areas. The surface and undersea depths came together.

Everyone at the table has been to funerals IRL so we kept the memorial part limited. We flexed our RPG muscles by doing quick eulogies for the dead guy as PCs that we hadn't played in a while.  When an unexpected and unknown benefactor provided services for the Wake, the widow, Morgana, Psychic-Extradonaire, there was a pause. At first she rejected the providers, but when Disco, the guilt-ridden rogue hero, tried to protect her from the strangers' pandering, she impulsively invited all attendees to the reception hall.

More than a bit of liberation was imbued at the wake. Landshark was especially enjoying Atlantean fermented jelly-fish while introducing himself as "Bruce the Shark" to Atlanteans, which is akin to proclaiming oneself as a "Bruce the Child Murderer." Mangod, the Cuyahoga County's Super-Powered Deputy Director for the County Sheriff Department, and Disco had some tipsy verbal sparring. Disco went home, but his little sister Nimble, a soccer mom with super-speed, stepped in to keep up with the Jones so to speak. When the reception was found to be a zombie gathering scam, Morgana ended things while Nimble saved the would-be victims without much fuss. An infernal cyborg villain from Torpedo's past stepped forward to claim responsibility for the atrocity, and was made short work of by Morgana and Nimble, while Landshark kind of just drank more.

I was just kind of amazed at how we as a group really made the drama of the event work, and could slip from one persona to another. We had to shift characters midstream. As players, we had to follow the leads given to us by the other players around us. Luckily the mechanics were solid enough to cause a sliver of doubt as to whether or not our actions would help or deter from the plights in front of us. That last bit heightened the experience from "daydream fulfillment" story-telling into OSR style, game mechanic-induced drama-- things could have really gone south and we had to live with any results. The players were really reading rules to maximize the dice rolls and the GM was not being arbitrary as to when we failed during the conflicts.

We had some tasks to overcome, and when a couple weren't accomplished it did not turn into a zero-sum wargame. In short we had a good game appropriate to the premise of the roleplayers coming together for the session. As this group of people at the tabletop play together often already, there are a few leads for the GMs of the group to build off from for later dates of superhero role-playing.

Now about "Community"

Even if you might have bought my products, you more than likely have not sat down at a table to game with me. In case you, seated interweb reader, have not noticed, you have never sat down at a table to game with me. So when you're worried about who has been burning books meant to offend or as to which asshole has been last outed by his boyfriend, I'd appreciate that you don't remind me of my responsibility to be a part of your community.

You guys are full of shit when it comes this community thing. Sitting at the table with someone is doing the "community thing." Commenting on standards to develop a gaming community is being part of a marketing campaign designed to sell group think in hard-covered glossy-paged books with sucky art afraid of being actually in color or unabashedly retarded in skill that will fizzle out in three years, if that. Community is who I know. I don't worry about what is controversial because I write game products for gamers not market audiences.