Tuesday, October 29, 2019

On the Eve of All-Saints

Ah. I can rest from a period of doing somethings to make the Halloween month significant in my RPG hobbyist mind. My poor work colleagues have been regaled with tails of traditions of this truly America holiday to the point where they tell me about what they are doing to make the Trick or Treat month special for their own families. I've rekindled the Elder Tunnels franchise with one its better selling events, the "Halloween Special".  Sadly I have to work on All Is Hallowed-Eve, and no kid in a costume comes back to our small house in a back lot anyway; it's hard enough to get pizzas delivered depending on the driver. So I think efforts here are done.

I did promise myself though some Santa Claus stuff at the start of year didn't I?

While I have asked, in a drunken haze, for contributors to a "Christmas Special" for E-Tun (that's Elder Tunnels), I am not expecting much to come of that. Still I have finished "Operation: Joulupukki" my first for publishing war-horror scenario for Crawlspace and have the cover getting worked on. Feeling guilty for that war-porn filled with Nazi/Commie fetishism product, as only an ex-Catholic can, there will be a more kid-friendly Christmas scenario available for the Red Bat system where players can be Santa's elves dealing with abominable snowmen in  "Yule of the Yetis."

I have not forgotten my Spacers(TM) products. Working on getting editors for both the serious and campy products as we speak. But then the illustrations have to follow, so bear with me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Chill Beardos. Chill.

Ever have one of those Christian conversations that purport to being religious in nature when in essence they are just ethnocentrism dosed with an ample amount hypocritical self-righteousness? Finally you say that Christ was a Jew and the Book of Matthew was for Jews and all the New Testament is speaking to Roman rulers and their subjects? And you feel that you're being polite because you didn't point out that it's all make-believe any way?

I am starting to get this vibe in reviewing everyone's take on a certain mass of reactions to a BBC Twitter conversation about D&D. An opinion expressed by a certain Kat, starts out with the phrase "No offense, but Dungeons & Dragons is not just for a bunch of beardy boys in a basement, it's for everybody and anybody..." .  Now I know it's nice to have something to be outraged about my fellow dorks, but frankly, she's not talking to you.
Yes Beardos she said a mean girl joke.  If you apply the rules of English, sometimes I have trouble with them myself, so it's understandable, to the sentence "No offense, but Dungeons & Dragons is not just for a bunch of beardy boys..." It might be argued that she did not cast shade on the bearded grognards of our adventure gaming hobby by insulting their manhood.  I'd argue she's a bit envious. Okay she's probably not from a "nerd" background because she is trying to sell playing D&D as something kewl to "normies" as I heard one of the respondents call people that don't play role-playing or collectable card-games. Truth be told not many people think in terms of "nerds" and "normies" anymore, or at least once they are out of High School that is.
She then goes one to mention a "partner" indicating that she's either a cop or a person that doesn't like to say "husband" or "wife;" she could be both, I don't know. Okay maybe she is "virtue signalling" but is that like a beacon for an alien invasion in the middle of the Los Angeles of your gaming table? She did say "not just" which would indicate, that the beardos involved do not have to leave the room. Heck they don't even have to be at the same table if they are ever in the same room. BTW me not knowing anything about her just from her looks seems to a rarity among the responding. I am listening to. For a community that doesn't like to be judged, calling her fat, discussing her hair and way of speaking just isn't being consistent with its proclaimed views. As for the inferences of her "gate-keeping" I refer you once again the words "not just". I'd go so far, just based upon reactions to her, as to say that there is some projection going on here.

Look my fellow dorks, D&D is actually never going to be cool. Even guys like me that do not need a beard to be weird don't talk about roleplaying while we're playing racket-ball with our friends from the soccer team. If you did not meet your wife at GenCon, you probably shouldn't offer to run Raveloft for Valentines Day this year.  If you're inviting over your kid's friends for D&D play dates, you're not going to win an honorary doctorate in child psychology. Sure it's a part of the culture but so is reality TV. Take a win for once in a while, and get out of your spouse's hair and go paint miniatures in the basement while letting some other people discover the books for sale before she makes you mow the lawn.

Halloween Specials Rock

Available Electronically
So here is Elder Tunnels Halloween 2019. With the help of Ian Engle (forgetting his nickname), JerryTel, Peryton, and Werdna, along with the art of Teresa Guido for each of the scenarios, we got another issue out. Always a good thing that makes the year just right.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A World a Week: The Vast Jewish Conspiracy World

Two factors have brought about this future Wobble world. A recent bout of bad ankle has given me some time to get into my deeper historical research of a century ago, which mostly means Russian-language TV shows set in the people and reading Wikipedia entries from names scribbled down during history classes in the 80s-90s.  Then there was a slough of posts by Ivan Sorensen, a fellow lefty-liberal, yet Nordic gamer dude (only a few of us are white supremacists despite the interwebs) that goes along the lines of "How Germany Could've Won WWII." His last thought experiment was ""What if the Nazis werent anti-semitic and thus scientists didn't flee Germany?" Remembering the big names of the era of the Tweens slipping into the Twenties and re-reading all the things that actually happened during the time a century ago, a world like this popping up in the MU Continuum was kind of fated to happen.

Let's address some things first:
The title "the Vast Jewish Conspiracy World" is more a provocative eye catcher than actually any sort of model. I frankly don't have the time to be presuming that people of Jewish heredity ever sat around hatching world-shaping schemes of domination while they were busy being subjugated, exploited, and murdered by the peoples around them throughout most of history.  It's like blaming the dweeb for becoming a sought-after scholar while a bully became a hourly labor outside of High School-- all of it being anti-intellectualism in essence and ignoring how the world really works.
Want to discuss how could Germany win WW II? Easy enough, extraterrestrial interference. Between Soviet Russian belligerence and western powers that would not work without it, Germany was always fated to be middle grounds between Western-style democracy and the last vestiges of 19th Century autocracy ( I include the Bolshevik Russia in that category) Short of flying saucers coming down and helping Weimar build inverted pyramids to generate room-temperature fusion with enough energy to support colonies in Antarctica and on the moon, the many fascists movements of the period between the wars in Europe were deconstructed feudal society for a new age of landowners versus their trapped renters, but given sexy boots.  Sorry folks, the 20th Century was about welcome to the Modern Age Bitches, not the "war of ideologies" TV channels have been taught as a shorthand by producers that wanted to talk about the Crusades, pirates, the American Civil War, the Battle of Kursk, the Cold War, and then 9-11.

Now about this What if the Nazis weren't anti-semitic and thus scientists didn't flee Germany? supposition thingy. Let's take "nazi" to mean nationalistic and autocratic, which it means according to their pamphlets was their intent.
First off, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out knowing things is better than willful ignorance. Still using premeditated murder and opportunistic crowd violence to avoid functioning civil society, but not being torn up about their Jewish neighbors. Well, the wars that would become World War Two would not have happened. Not saying that fighting from 1919 until at least 1926 in Eastern Europe would not have happened just the way that it did, I am saying that German foreign agents would have been very effective in countering Soviet forces in places like Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Balkans, all of the Baltic States, and Finland. The indigenous Jewish populations did indeed support the nationalists hanging around much more than any fibby-Lib lefty democrat, who were always suspect of being Russian-backed. The new governments of Poland, the dissolved Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, and more than few parts of Russia would have a functional support line directly to the now unofficial yet powerful German imperial apparatus, that had befuddled their local czarists monarchs and ineffectual Bohemian secret agents. This central European national groupings of fascists (let's call them Die Zentrum) would coalesce into a significant sociopolitical force that would rival the American southern States of the times in anti-democratic views and social norms.
But all that brain power of the rocket scientists, mathematicians, psychologists, film-makers, et al that would not emigrate to the West only had so much to work with. Heavy German-speaking populations, even in its Greater Germania literary borders(meaning book sales not literal) are smaller than Montana. The straight-up "Germans" (including Austrians, Yiddish-speakers, Livonians, Sudetens, et al, listed in order of population) had about the population of California of 1920 give or take a few ten thousand. The academic areas are fascinating realm of speculation but what is in their pockets? The industrial base of Germany was technically advanced but still materials like helium, rubber, and hard water were kind of hard to find, as they still are today. In any long term struggle against another continental power by Germany in not-Anti-Semitic still had to deal with more coal than oil and soybean peapods versus rubber plant leaves, and uranium that needed way too much hydrogen to be practical. While the tanks and submarines would become legendary, they would not be anything that special compared their compatriots.
Now these Zentrists would not be warm and fuzzy social-democratics. Any social democrats would be busy toiling away in work camps or getting shot for being themselves. There would evolve into a whole bunch of brown, grey, olive, tan, vermilion, and black-shirted nationalists, all with their own national myths, that distrusted international banks and anyone that lived south of Rome and north of Argentina. 
The world united against Communism from the Soviet would not have needed that much propaganda to get their hypocrisy across as well as their benefits. Germany being slighted by the Entente forces of England and France would not be very colonial any longer. Alternately to our world, they would've sided with Chinese nations versus Japanese. Don't forget that Japan and Soviet Russia got on like step-sisters during the tweens and twenties.  Ironically enough, Britain, the home of the Balfour Document in 1919, would probably just let its ant-Semitic flags fly when seeing that continental nationalistic movements with all sorts of Jews getting social traction and increasing influence. The UK would probably rival the United States in informal racism as well as legally-reinforced "traditional" means versus Jewish European immigrants.
America itself would've been a lot more moderate in its ethnic politics. The "Red Threat" being acknowledged by honored Jewish intellectuals such as Trosky and Rosenberg with their New Democrats from the 20s on. The established sons of slave-owners that made up 70% of banker family prodigy in the U.S. , would rather lend to continental European powers as opposed to those anti-Semitic Brits and the degenerate French with their African-ties. Any of the dissenting worried about such things as equality and human rights, could be easily dismissed as "Reds."

So in this Mu world in 2019?

After the 1924French & English/German War, the nation of Judea would be officially recognized with the Treaty of Athens of 1926. Fostering the Berlin-dominated Baltic Commonwealth 1927 , Germany, Poland, and Sweden became the predecessors to the European United States in 1951, after three wars with the Soviet Union and its vassal nations. It would bolster its former allies in the Turkish-dominated Pan-Islamic States emerging out of Istanbul and Cairo, in 1029 on wards.  In 1959, England and Spain would join the Trans-Atlantic Alliance with America and Brazil. Since 1961, the Irish Wars have spread from northern Ireland into what we'd call Scotland and Wales.
Japan is still seeking independence from its annexation by the USA in 1949 after the American/Asia Wars from 1940-1945.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Wracked Up

Failure to Thrive at the Tabletop
You know, when you're couch-bound for health reasons, it becomes the hardest thing to do anything but reading or watching TV done. I have a bit of a log-jam worth of RPG projects to get through post-production over the next winter coming up so that isn't bugging me. I did not have the motivation to put the rounding notes on my CoC scenario The Naked Idol for the tabletop session that was supposed to happen last night. I cancelled a couple of hours before. I was flattered that Pery, the woman forced by law to RPG with me, was the most disappointed. I'll take that as a sign that I've still got it and focus on the scenario for the wrap-up of the Call of Kopfy Halloween sessions.

The Cult of Goofy
After doing YouTube videos on the Denisovans, from dry genetics to boring mysticism, in place of Idol last night, the feed went to dudes driving in cars and reviewing Wendy's Feast of Legends so we watched a few. Pery and I talked about Werdna's review a bit after ingesting a couple of them. So far reactions I am seeing are more on the "this is fresh!" side of things than the "this is too much of a commercial." I am curious to see where this event is going to end up.

Will there be a contingent of people running the game at conventions where I attend? Will there be established game groups that post their adventures on-line already giving the campaign a try out on their weekly-to-monthly-to-whenever feed? Are there going to be authors releasing their own explorations into the immersive world of Beef Haven? Is there going to be a big budget fad around Feast (WFoL maybe?) where other fast-food franchises have their FRPGs written up detailing their particular take on Adventure Gaming? Will an OSR-like movement of independent GMs make a defacto OGL around Feast to do their favorite fast-foods? Will I see titles like The Walking Pizza Hut, Highlander: the McDonald Clan, Pirates of Port Silver, Whopper: City-State of the Indomitable Burger King, Panda: No Chopsticks Required, and of course Burrito Borderlands: the Bells of Los Tacos? After writing all of this, I am saddened to think that probably not much of it is going to happen. Still it is fun seeing everyone get a little silly for a bit.

Would you like dice with that?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Strewing About the Stew: Raggi's Saga

I've quipped recently at MeWe "I am not sure which is funnier, James Raggi's Zak-Free proclamation or Erik Tenkar's coping with it?" At first glance I can't help but be amused. Even around third glance, it's still hilarious. Tenkar's growing outrage over the fact that he bought a work I think was entitled Zak Smith Had Nothing To Do With this Book plays out on the man's audio feed better than any Greek drama that I have listened to in like a decade.  But on a deeper note, I feel for the man Raggi. I feel for Tenkar as well, but more because of bemusement of having buyer's regret.

Raggi presents an RPG scenario as an excuse to apologize to a friend in that scenario's introduction. He goes out and even explains that his publication company has been the most successful endeavor of his life to date, and that he is going out on a limb by doing so. By the end of the proclamation, the publisher is vowing to never make that mistake again regardless of the cost. He gets a little preachy and self-righteous by the end of the ramble, but I think that he was having Scarlett O'Hara moment.

Tenkar's continued berating Raggi after Drive Thru RPG removed the product, which was not really announced by Meredith Gerber of that company is a bit over the top even in the realm of hyperbole about our shared hobby. Sure the man made some money on the work as well as the distributor, well that's the business. The guy does like to make his living doing RPG products. And in case nobody has noticed, this whole "alt-right edge lords versus left-wing outrage brigade" thing has given attention to some mediocre works and some half-baked "philosophies" from a few factions of people trying to sell more than a few dozen books to mostly each other. Terms like "gate keeping," "free speech," and "virtue signalling" are only as important as the next interesting RPG product to come along.  Tenkar himself points out the folks actually boycotting anything are those that wouldn't buy the product any way.

A spicy onion in this stew is that Mz. Gerber made a non-statement, away from the DTRPG, but made as someone that is in charge of something at the company. It was something like she is sleepy and needed a nap before answering any questions. She then went on add that anybody with any questions should be pleasant to her staff still awake. Not that I had a question, but, the hell? In what world is anybody that says something like this not being condescending to those that they are speaking to? Glad I don't read her feed. 

So in the continuing saga of I am Rubber and You're Glue in our hobby, by people that should really just leave each other alone, one man admits that he has made mistakes. He's got some problems with how he expresses himself, sure, but which one of us doesn't? He has also said that he isn't going to stop doing what he loves, despite his world being in the back alley right now. In a hobby where people form communities to ban and ostracize each other, it's nice to see somebody remembered that even a blustery apology if it has honesty in it is good for the soul.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

October 8th: Food Puns and Big Funds

So like the breaking news is that burger, chili, and a "frosty" joint Wendy's has produced an RPG game.This gag item is something of an elaborate gem if you as the player group have been sitting around after finishing The Forgotten Realms, all of them not just a scenario or two, and are looking for something to fill the hankering that you all have. Something with more than a little beef to it and can be as cheesy as a Monty Python quote thrown into a Pendragon game, to keep the GM from thinking the players really care about his penmanship. From the game mechanics, to a rather detailed world of puns, to an entire campaign of adventures set in that world then finally a little bestiary. Some aspiring and motivated adventure gamers can sit down and fill up weekends of a whole season with the Feast of Legends  product.

The whole thing is just under one hundred pages of content with some decent art and thought-through direction. Rather nicely there is some pacing designed into it. I can see High School teens and early college dorks, that have their own cars, making a Friday night festival out of the game. Drive up to a Wendys, grab everyone's dinner, throw the bags onto the table as players and the GM work out last minute problems... then just as the indigestion starts to set in, the first "Beef Bandit" raid occurs. The adventures in the book are just the right size for a semester's worth of adventuring. I wish a few would-be Kickstarter game designers could take a look at it to get the idea of how not to publish yet another 300- plus page dust catcher that 2-7 of them aren't filler. But then I am being unfair. Imagine that a corporation like Wendy's having enough money to spend on a give away that will appeal to a very unique portion in their marketing audience for as long as the product remains up; WOTC had to publish MTG for a decade before they could hire someone to answer the phones.  

Would I play it? Naw. Not these days. I do admire it though. I wrote a campaign called "A Heroes Bowl of Cereal" for T&T during my first college days, where in eight adventures everyone would be 20th level (5th Ed rules) just to fill up our Friday nights before partying on Saturday. Had I stumbled upon Feast around that time, ah hell yeah.

These days , it's just not cheesy or biting enough for me to find relishing. Overall, it's a Robo-Monster of an RPG on the Smurf-to-Godzilla scale. The writing is very proud of its humors subtlety, yet directed at a rival which it is scared to death of. The villains are definitely ugly, yet just unrecognizable enough not to be sued (by McDonald's), so they come off as pun-monsters and not very good ones. More than one fart euphemism is used and repeatedly at that. Most of  the types of adventurers available to play are menu items that won't be around forever, and it is indebted to the biggest rivals inventions of nuggets of yard-dwelling fowl as well as shaking chalices of frozen milk.  It leaves too much of the ashy taste of passive-aggressive backbiting to be the fastfood land of fantasy that will stay fresh for ages, unlike say the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer New Year's Eve Adventure cycle does for whimsical Santa marketing milieu.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Start of the Fantasy Months: October '19

Ah October.  People are busy with school work, or their office/teaching jobs start getting serious, and cars start to break down all while a distinct, if a bit distant in this part of Ohio, chill starts creeping in.  The start of what I like to call the Fantasy Season. The fantastical is embedded in our calendars, even more so than those obscure religious holidays for whatever religion; which are a lot of fun to begin with, but everyone gets to play these days. Sure its big marketing keeping the population distracted and still spending money, but we could do worse than Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

October with its Halloween festival has let loose from candy sales spooky movies, to being times where people research the medieval and pagan history around the fall season. Besides the semi-employed finding gigs at haunted houses, the unemployed writer can find something Halloweeny to write about, especially in the RPG field. Over employed non-writer RPG GMs have Ravenloft and dozens of other works to work into their groups. If Charles Brown's pan on big marketing folklore with the Great Pumpkin has halfway become a thing, even the most uninspired RPG writer can work in the Great Pumpkin into the Cthulhu mythos.

For me this year there are a couple things going on. My Call of Cthulhu homage mini-campaign for all of two to three players, "The Call of Kopfy." Why didn't I do my own Crawlspace? I, myself, needed to crack open the book and once again familiarize with the actual text. I also have two players that have never played in a CoC purists style campaign, which I was luckily to have both played in and ran for others in a dozen of from like 1982 until about 1999. I am brushing up on the rules, if not using them exactly (we're doing video chat and everyone is about 20 years beyond need a 1040-A tax return form for a Character sheet), we're sticking to the spirit of the Lovecraftian sub-genre in horror gaming. At the same time for the author/publisher in me, I've rekindled the Elder Tunnels web-magazine with an upcoming Halloween Special '19 . They tend to do well and fans of creepy, like JerryTel, Werdna, and Ajax Talbot (Ian), jump right in to do their thing.

Oh one day though, my Halloween setting (that's Ravenloft in D&D-speak), is going to come to print, or electronic-availability at least. A bunch of realms authored by different writers designed for horror role-playing in varied, yet attached, "realms." As I do more Wobble, I don't even think fluctuation in technology or time frame would matter to the Characters-- Never mind that, CoC and Crawlspace already do that just fine. Okay it'll be in a set period, but the NPCs will rock. The working title for this is "The Blood Moon Campaigns" based off of Scott Malthouse's (Werdna's) Peakville notes from about a decade ago. No I don't give up the ghost when it comes to Halloween. One day, my Gourde Lord, a Pumpkinhead homage, will have other "Blood Masters" to plot against. One day Lake Blood Moon will be where the Irish Sea meets Lake Erie and Lake Okeechobee (and now someplace in Arkansas... Texarkana sounds fun) where only bog lands with whispering cattails separate them. One day my "Halloween Land" collaboration will take the hobby by storm.