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Monday, 21 December 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: A Rare Moment of Swine Honesty

Brand Robins, famous Forge Swine, being utterly serious, on how to be in the In-Crowd at Storygames:

Quote:
"I'm the one whose ass you have to kiss. In addition to my ass you should kiss Ron, Vincent, John Harper, both Matt (Snyder
and Wilson), Mike Holmes, and Paul Csegengisy's asses.
The games you have to have played (not be playing, as they're old now) are Dogs in the Vineyard, Sorcerer (but you had a
hard time with it until Ron helped you out), Prime Time Adventures, Red Box Hack, and Burning Wheel. If you also got Dust
Devils down at a con after someone hit you with a situation that really cooked, that's good too. You should now be playing
some combination of Grey Ranks, Spirit of the Century, Burning Empires, and 3:16. You should have tried In A Wicked Age and
Poisoned, but had trouble with both until Vincent or John Harper helped you. You should have tried Beast Hunters and
Breaking the Ice, but be secretly uncomfortable with the intimacy of one on one play.
Publishing a game is good. It is better if it is not d20 or OGL derived, as those aren't really real games, but at least they get
you publishing experience. Its even better than that if you sell from the Forge Booth for at least one Gen Con.
Make sure to use the words narativism, authorial, conflict resolution, and story now as often as possible -- and often not in
the same way between uses. Be sure to make at least three posts a year in which you define the one true way to play a
story game, and then make sure that when you are called on it you say that you aren't saying its the only way (while
insinuating its the only good way).
You should talk occasional shit about White Wolf, AEG, Steve Jackson and all "traditional games" about which you are vague
enough to not be pinned into a specific corner. A few years ago you could have also talked shit about Wizards, but D&D 4th
is still hot, so wait until everyone figures out skill challenges and then see if you should praise or talk shit about it based on
what John Harper, Rob Donoghue, and Anna Kreider say about it."

I guess he wrote this when he thought none of the great unwashed were looking.

Now watch him come along and try to claim that he was joking. But let's face it, this is absolute truth. This is how these people think.

RPGPundit

(Originally posted September 22, 2008)

48 comments:

  1. >Now watch him come along and try to claim that he was joking.
    Would anyone in their sane mind ever think that he was not?

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  2. Pundit seems to have trouble understanding A, the concept of Poe's Law and B, self depricating humour. Who'd of thought.

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  4. I agree, it sounds so insane that it should be parody, but it wasn't. he was being completely serious.

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    1. *Ding ding* Just because Fallacy.

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    2. What do you mean by "there"? Were you actually looking the guy in the face, while he was saying that? Anyway, what exactly TOLD you that he meant no sarcasm?

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  5. jesus, I'd call that guy a horses ass, but that is insulting an animal that is actually useful. reminds me of the guys I used to game with who would complain about how I, and others, were running or playing a game wrong, because we weren't playing it THEIR way.

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    2. So true. Self-promoting game designers behaving like spiders trapped in a jar forced to consume each other. Their zero-sum mindset and competitiveness, when it comes to promoting their own writing. Distasteful as I find it, it may have been caused by the monopolistic practices of the TSR/WOTC, which dominated the market with THEIR D&D, which became de-facto synonymous with what role-playing encompasses.

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  6. If this guy is serious, he is pathetic. Some statements made by Ron Edwards are bizarre claims, such as his statement that playing D&D causes brain damage. His behavior at The Forge shows him to be a self-promoting egotist, as other game designers are. I am not sure how he came to a position of influence and prominence as a game designer.

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    1. Except that Ron Edwards never claimed that.

      And well, he's a brilliant game designer (though quite an egotist and a terrible RPG writer).

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    2. Well, glad you admit that whatever games he might be brilliant at, they're not RPGs.

      And yes, he did say that. Now he's trying to pretend it didn't happen, which is different than it not having happened in the first place.

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    3. Nope, I in no way meant that Ron's games are not RPGs. I only said that he is a great RPG designer, but not a great RPG writer.

      Well, if he ever said that, give me the fucking quote. I know that many people, including Edwards himself, asked you for one, and you always failed.

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  7. Look here, Exhibit number 5:

    http://whitehall-paraindustries.com/Theory/Threefold/GNS.htm

    Second, if you have to CLARIFY anything, means that you said something to the effect.

    Ron Edwards is a BIOLOGIST, not a literary scholar, that is why he uses a terrible naming convention for his terminology, and it is a bad theory - no practical application, internal consistency or heuristic value. You want to see a truly innovative theory of modern literature, that HAS practical application to role playing, consider M.M. Bakhtin and his concept of Heteroglossia, and if you can figure out what his concept of a Chronotope actually means (it was misinterpreted at least once in academic research).

    Finally, D&D evolved from the hobby of tabletop miniature wargaming. Runequest evolved from live re-enactment by the San Francisco chapter of the society for creative anachronism. Story games seem to have evolved from experimental/method acting exercises and psychodrama therapy. I am only guessing here based on some similarities.

    I have nothing against story games and theater techniques, as a matter of fact I try to employ them in my DMing to make the gaming more vivid for my players, but I give credit and criticism, where they are due. BTW, Ron Edward's short sightedness for the failure of the Forge.

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    1. Thanks, but I know that whole discussion -- better than the guy whose webpage you linked to.

      Now, there is not a single word here about "playing D&D causes brain damage" and "if you don't play Forge-approved games, you are going to end up brain-damaged". What he says, basically, is: "prolonged playing of railroady games where players' decisions mean nothing causes brain damage" and "games that came out of the Forge in 2000-2006 show signs of being designed by brain-damaged authors for brain-damaged audience, so may be future Narrativist games shall be different". (Yes, the first person Ron Edwards diagnosed with this kind of brain damage was Ron Edwards himself).

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    2. The implication was very clear that ALL Regular RPGs (which would include D&D) cause LITERAL brain damage. You missed mentioning he insisted it was LITERAL brain damage, clarified he was not exaggerating for effect or using the term loosely, but that as a biologist he was insisting playing RPGs makes you LITERALLY Brain Damaged. He then compared the 'harm' of playing regular RPGs to being a 12-year-old victim of sexual abuse.

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    3. Since Edwards obviously does not buy into your bullshit dichotomy of 'regular RPGs' vs. 'storygames', he could never imply any such thing. After all, were he sure that all kinds of D&D cause brain damage, would he run his own LotFP campaign?

      As for the point of LITERAL brain damage, I haven't missed the point, and I rather don't like Ron rhetorics here, although I understand his reasoning. I wonder if the man would say that smoking causes brain damage.

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    4. It is not a bullshit dichotomy, if two sets of games are played by crowds defined by differing demographics, as it appears to be the case.

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    5. The reason he's running his own 'campaign', if he is, is that for the last couple of years he's been desperately trying to reinvent himself as an OSR guy, to the point of claiming he invented the OSR, and that we should all be thanking him.

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    6. Oh my, again you are asribing to Ron Edwards the claims he never made and then attack them. Your usual style.

      What Ron actually said was that (a) he had been a #1 proponent of self-publishing from the start; (b) the development of OSR relied on self-publishing to a large extent. That's it.

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    7. @Brooser Bear:
      Any evidence that these two sets of games (btw, nobody still has delineated these two explicitly) are played by crowds defined by differing demographics?

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    8. From the start? No. The start of self-publishing was D&D, in 1974. In fact, Ron Edwards did EVERYTHING HE COULD to try to redefine "indie" as meaning only his special games that he and his friends who are the edgy pseudo-intellectual avant-garde design, and to try to specifically somehow REDEFINE regular RPG publishing as 'not indie', including very small press RPG publishing.

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    9. Now, after years of SHITTING ALL OVER D&D, he's pretending that he was playing old-school this whole time. Bullshit.

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    10. Dmitri, for a time between 2006 and 2009, if I remember correctly, Barnes & Noble sold both WOTC RPG publication, Warhammer Books, and Indie RPG books. I think I saw the Sorcerer and some book about Fairies. Later they dropped the Indie products, but the marketing data is there. Do the market research. Since 2009 I encountered 3 OSR games in NYC, and I was the only one who even knew about or was interested in the Dust Devils and Dogs in the Vineyard. The most indie thing anyone of them did, besides playing retro-clones, was playing Pathfinder. Do yes, definitely different demographics for Indie vs OSR players, and munchkins buying WOTC D&D is a separate audience altogether, which is being trained in the art of D&D by hobby shop owners running D&D nights using WOTC kits (adventures and adventure aids) designed for that purpose and distributed to shop owners. Some marketing efforts here.

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    11. @Brooser Bear:
      So, how does it all supports the dichotomy of 'regular RPGs' vs. 'storygames'?

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    12. @Pundit:
      >Edwards did EVERYTHING HE COULD
      What exactly?

      >after years of SHITTING ALL OVER D&D
      An example, please?

      You see, Pundit, I already see that substantiating your claims is not your piece of cake, but me you are not going to persuade by repeating the same stupid mantra over and over again. I need arguments. Facts. Links. Data.

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    13. I never said that there is a dichotomy of RPG's vs storygames. I have no problems using storygame techniques in my DMing. The OSR players and groups I came across, however, never played and never cared for storygames. It may be that different types of gamers play storygames, and these may even play D&D type games, but they are a totally group of people. Furthermore, the premier RPG hobby store in New York, The Compleat Strategist, I don't recall seeing any of the storygames in their store. Actually, I wasn't looking for any indie RPG games. I was looking for any writing on DMing. Once upon a time they carried a small selection of books of interest to DM's. I found an interesting, if a bit useless little book, called Hamlet's Hit Points. But no more. Last couple of times I been there, only stuff from WOTC and other major publishers, including the DCC. No other retro-clones, and DCC is not quite a clone.

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    14. >I never said that there is a dichotomy of RPG's vs storygames.
      Fine, but I called the Pundit's dichotomy 'bullshit' and you seemed to object. OK, let's not derail the subthread.

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  8. Of greater interest is not something utterly stupid that Edwards may have said, but the big picture, namely his behavior after taking over The Forge, that led to its demise. His elitism; his GNS theory merits or lack thereof. On the other side, you have the stifling effect the TSR/WTC brand hedgemony had on the development of OTHER gaming, OSR and Indie RPG's. Also the development of railroading in the mainstream D&D.

    Dmitry, now that you mentioned it, it is interesting, if Ron Edwards Narrativism evolved as a reaction to the linear D&D adventure writing, where players had no option of going wherever they want, like they do in a good sand box.

    The silliest and most pathetic TSR RPG was one called Top Secret. It overlaid the D&D game structure over the modern world, put Gygax and his second wife on the cover, and had zero historical accuracy regarding espionage and terrorism that it was trying to portray. This was late 1970's and even then there was wealth of information to make for a good and realistic game about cold war era espionage and terrorism, that would be fascinating as hell, because the real world scene and operators involved in it were fascinating as hell. Unfortunately TSR writers were a bunch of hacks devoid of talent. They couldn't even research their own subject.

    The railroad adventures linked to specific settings must have been the development of the same trend, just like every TSR RPG at the time used pretty much the same game mechanics as D&D.

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    1. I don't see how any personal qualities of Edwards have brought the demise of the Forge. The latter was a forum with a mission, and once that mission has been accomplished, there is simply no more need for it.

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    2. What mission did the Forge accomplish?

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    3. If a person becomes a leader, then his or her personal qualities come into play, since they affect the organization via the person's leadership and decision making. Ron Edwards did not start The Forge, but has taken over the site, and later left, letting another person run it.

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    4. I suspect I see two factual errors in your last statement. So, who started the Forge and who ran it after Edwards left?

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    5. @Ian:
      Forge was first and foremost a platform for promoting independent RPG publishing. Today this mission is clearly accomplished, though it is a matter of some debate hw much credit should actually go to Forge itself. I don't have any definite opinion on the latter.

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    6. 'first', as in before Ron Edwards took over the conversation? Maybe.

      'Foremost'? No. Most gamers today don't remember the forge as "oh, yeah, that site that promoted independent rpg publishing'. Most gamers today remember it as "oh yeah, that site full of pretentious assholes making stupid theories and trying to tell us how to game'.

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    7. It sounds like the Forge's mission was accomplished by the internet and DriveThruRPG.

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    8. @RPGPundit:
      I am talking about what Forge actually WAS, not about what some people who never read it believe it to be. As I said before, you are spreading lies; even if your lies are widely believed, that hardly justifies you.

      @Ian:
      Very likely so.

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  9. Dmitri, The Forge was started by Ron Edwards and Ed Healy. Ed Healy left to pursue his own business interests. Edwards revitalized The Forge with Clinton Nixon. Towards the end, Edwards moved on and left the site administration to Nixon, before it shut down.

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    2. Still factually incorrect. Here's the chronology:

      Dec 1999 - Healy and Edwards start The Hephaestus' Forge. It was a website, not a forum. Any discussion that was went on Gaming Outpost and mailing lists.
      Feb 2001 - The Hephaestus' Forge is closed. So, it only lived for a bit over a year, and no archives have survived, afaik.
      Apr 2001 - Edwards and Nixon launch the Forge forums, with the former as the content moderator and the later in charge of technical things. Ed Healy is an active member during the first weeks, but then drops off, as his new job at Comcast eats more and more of his time.
      Nov-Dec 2002 - "The Infamous Five" are posted, a series of threads discussing the current context and the goals of the forum; if you wish, a Forge Bible, if there ever was one.
      Feb 2005 - Edwards announces that Forge will eventually close.
      Nov 2005-Jan 2006 - the forums are reorganized according to the plan purportedly discussed between Edwards and Nixon as early as mid-2004; the Theory forum is closed and Edwards encourages bringing most of discussion into the Actual Play section.
      May 2007 - Nixon steps out as tech admin, transferring the role to Vincent Baker.
      May 2010 - the forums are moved to a new hosting after a crash; some subforums are closed down and all threads prior to 2008 are moved to Archives.
      Dec 2010 - Edwards announces that the Forge will close in about a year.
      Jun 2012 - the forums are finally closed, though some activity, including the Forge Reference Project, continues. Some functions of the older Forums are taken over by 'Your stuff' section at Ron's new forums.

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    3. It seems that every game designer, and every wannabe game designer, set up a blog or a website to promote their published work and to support the hobby. Some of them do it with more grace than others. Some are really pathetic.

      Ron Edwards is no exception. He did his Astroturf. From what I've read, it was all about Ron Edwards and HIS ideas, and did not really reflect the movement or the ideas of the others. He was not a friend of free speech, I am guessing, not like Pundit here. Now, there are other hobby websites and forums, which are more democratic and are less commercial as far as their soul is concerned. I am not impressed.

      He did his thing, got his game sold at major book store chains, and moved on. Any more recent indie RPG games circa 2015? 2014? Where is Ron Edwards? Tank Destroyed?

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  10. Well, I think that Forge was something much, much more than one aspiring designer's personal website. First, it never has been all about Ron's ideas. Many ideas widely discussed there can easily be traced back to other contributors. Rather, people tend to associate many things that came out of the Forge with Edwards, though he never claimed credit for them.

    Second, at its peak the Forge united more than 40 imprints, most of which have published more than one game. And some of them, like Sorcerer, Fate, AW, DW were quite successful and won much critical acclaim for a self-published game.

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  11. As for your last question, about the current state of Edwards and the post-Forge community... I do not keep an eye on everything, but here are some examples:

    Well, December 2014 Edwards published The Circle of Hands, which I own and think a pretty great game (still waiting for the chance to play it, though, 2015 being a lean year in gaming for me). Since then he is working on Doctor Xaos, which I am not interested in, for the superhero genre is not my thing.

    lumpley games is in full swing, but let's wait to see the next annual sales report.

    John Harper is working on Blades in the Dark, having raised $179,280 on KIckstarter. Judging by the updates and the latest playtest pack I've seen, the game is pretty close to completion.

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  12. First, sorry that 2015 was a lean year for your gaming. Same here. According to what people have written elsewhere, it was about Ron's Big Theory. He seems to have organized other designers into a movement, how much it served him and how much it served others is open to discussion. Other RPG forums, for whom Ron decided he was "too good" are still around.

    Regarding Circle of Hands... oh noooo... not another dark fantasy vaguely OSR type of game vaguely set in the Teutonic Baltics... Didn't we have Baldur's Gate already?... In a nod to his fans, the default religion is vaguely non-institutionalized Buddhism and weed is cultivated freely... in a nod to Lukyanenko, we have dark versus light magic, though by no means L was the first to come up with the idea... Then we have D&D tropes of adventuring and some notion of color points reminiscent of Magic, The Gathering. In a nod to the OSR scene we have a GM, and like in OD&D, the game is not really conducive to the campaign style of play, since you have two characters to rotate between adventures.

    On the other hand, the writing itself is engaging and atmospheric, he's got the psycho-drama angle with the combat trauma and survival and the apparent phenomenology of putting the players into their characters' shoes, which I do a lot of myself. But it is still less than my D&D.

    It used to be, which is what I did, you take the AD&D core books, and you write your first dungeon adventure, then another, and then a base town, and the nearby wilderness, then develop your own setting or customize one of the commercially available ones to your play. I started with my own idea for a sandbox setting and my own definite idea of the flow of events that would define a campaign in that sandbox of mine. This was lost in the Post TSR world of D&D, Open license and OSR, the notion of complex realism and also the idea of a campaign play - where over the course of real world months and years you run a series of continuous adventures connected to one another as the players grow their characters from level one to heights of power. Part of what drove the OSR was the complexity of the AD&D rules, which although burdensome, made for tactical realism. You need nuanced rules, hopefully ground in historic research and analysis, to make power gaming difficult if not impossible, and to make the tactical choice actually matter during the play, with bad tactical decisions leading to defeat. Ron solved this problem in the Circle of Hands by giving everyone a spear and a chain mail. He forgot the Axe, actually a fairly common weapon in the area to be used against chain mail.

    There are problems and limitations with the AD&D ruleset, which the Storygames and OSR games have not addressed, since they are rewriting rules away from complexity. I have no problem with it, since I grow my own. What others seem to be doing and what Ron Edwards is dovetailing into, is that you create your setting, then you write some version of the D&D rules, and you package it together as your own brand new game. Nobody beats the AD&D (and all its supplements) in comprehensiveness, and the way it is being re-written by all comers is reminiscent of the craftsmen in the dark ages scavenging the marble from the ruins of the Ancient Rome to build something new.

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