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.

Monday, February 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Ever More Tacos in Toledo: BASHCon '19


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mental Scribbles on Heart Day '19.

Feeling the Games Down In Africa

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

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

Toledo In February For the Tacos

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

Zak S Despoiled My Wobble Release

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

Spacers: Universe Is Rocking

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

The First Wobbly Step

No photo description available. 

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Defense of Roleplaying: U-TaM-Gee

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

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

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

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