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.

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.