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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Classic Rant: A Quick Note on Social Skills Vs. Actual Roleplaying

In any game that has social skills, rather than roleplaying, you can run a game without roleplaying more easily than one that has no social skills, unless you run the latter purely as a miniatures skirmish.

That's because in any situation that demands roleplay, in the game with social skills, you can just say "i try to charm/seduce/enchant/intimidate/impress/honor person x" and then roll a die and the die roll can tell you whether you did it or not.
In a game with no social skills, you actually have to roleplay.

The great rebuttal people try to offer to this point is that if you have explicit social-skill rules in a game, that means that it's somehow encouraging people to do more social scenes, whereas D&D with no social skills is just encouraging combat somehow. This is a bit like saying that giving people a ton of tofu will encourage them to eat more meat, while not having tofu on the table means people will forget all about bacon.

In my experience most of the time "the system encourages it" mentality actually causes LESS reliance on roleplaying (and more reliance on 'story points' or having "five dots in diplomacy" or whatever). That's not the sort of encouragement you need or want. Any "encouragement" that makes how well you roleplay the character irrelevant if you roll the wrong die result is not actually encouragement, it's discouragement. It's telling you "don't worry about trying to portray the character, just put your points in the right skills".


(Originally Posted 21 September, 2015)

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Pictures From Uruguay: Tristan Narvaja Street Market

Tristan Narvaja is, allegedly, the largest open-air street market in the world. I'm not sure if that's really true, but I've heard the claim frequently and it certainly could be. It runs the gamut of Tristan Narvaja street, which is 7 blocks long, and spills out on all the sides streets for those blocks, often two or three blocks out.  It is open every Sunday, all year.

There's a big mix of farmer-market-style foodstuffs, arts and crafts, antiques, and all kinds of other things.

There's a very haphazard sort of vibe to it, and a lot of Uruguayan eccentricity.

Like that guy in the pic above, who's doing a type of fortune-telling from Afro-origin Umbanda (the local version of Voodoo), called Ifa Divination.

The various stores on the street are open (most retail stores outside of malls are usually closed on Sundays), and include tons of Bookstores, antique-stores, record stores and more.

As with other parts of the city, you can find interesting street art here.

There's lots of clothes too; hats, shoes, underwear and socks, dresses, pretty much everything.

And one of the very best things about it are the olives.

Anyways, that's it for today. I have more pics of the market of course, so maybe I'll post some more later.


Currently Smoking: Blatter Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best

Friday, 22 September 2017

My Interview with Greg Gorgonmilk About the Ctrl-Left Attempt to Subvert the OSR

So, some of you may have heard by now that the Ctrl-Left has hounded out another prominent member of the OSR: Greg Gorgonmilk.  Greg had a popular OSR blog and was a prominent G+ gaming poster.  But he was also known for posting against political-correctness (sorry for using such an old-fashioned term there for what is actually "SJW propaganda shit"; but Greg's an old-fashioned guy) and in favor of free speech.

The moment he was critically assaulted on multiple social media platforms came, however, when he decided to speak against political violence.  For context, it had to do with something that happened in Seattle this week, where a man with a nazi armband  was spotted wandering around the Seattle transit by someone who posted a picture online. Antifa immediately sprang into action searching for the guy all over the downtown of that city, and when they found him one of them punched him unconscious.  The claim is that he was shouting racist insults at people and that he hurled a banana at a black man; none of that somehow ended up on film even though the punch did (so people were clearly filming; why didn't they film the guy doing the threatening things they claim he was?).  But in any case, it's sort of irrelevant; the core of the story is the guy was a visible Nazi, and Antifa hunted him down and beat him unconscious (admittedly, with a single punch; it looks like Antifa finally found someone with upper arm strength! Or a target with a very weak jaw).

On a post about this incident on Google+, Greg suggested that it was a bad thing to have searched for, hunted, and punched the guy with the Nazi armband. For that, he suffered a massive campaign of harassment, doxxing threats, intimidation against his friends, etc. until he decided to vanish from the hobby.

It should be shocking, but in this day and age a significant part of this hobby seems to believe this is perfectly OK, because some totalitarian fucks decided to claim that objecting to political violence or defending freedom of expression means YOU are a Nazi, and after that literally anything can be done to you. That's the world we live in today.

So in any case, Greg Gorgonmilk got in touch with me after I defended him on G+, and answered a few questions for me. Along the way, he confirmed something I had been hearing from a few people on G+ about a secret group (like a literal one, on G+ or Facebook) that was composed of left-wing OSR people who were targeting Greg.

P: So, are you a nazi?

Gorgonmilk: First let me say that I don't fit into the Right/Left political dichotomy. I'm one of those lingering Centrists. I might even be a Diagonal because I choose to associate with people from both ends, including Libertarians. The takeaway here is that I do not have extreme political beliefs/values. No, I'm not a nazi.

P: Second question: why are you such a fucking pussy? You don't run and hide from the Ctrl-Left Swine-Totalitarians, that's how they win.

Gorgonmilk: I have killed off the Gorgonmilk identity publicly because I am involved in a publishing venture. I have seen the way these Far Left people operate, and I know it would only be a matter of time before my partner is targeted. He's not nearly as "controversial" as me, and I would be pissed to see all the work we have done together repudiated as the work of "white supremacists". If I am a white supremacist, then I am failing at it badly in the real world.

P: That is understandable, and I acknowledge that some people have it harder than others to stand up to Ctrl-Left persecution because of just how dirty they fight, and how they go after friends and family and try to destroy your career in and out of the RPG field. It's why I've made a point of having jobs I know I won't be virtue-signal-fired from and friends who know just what I think and write. But not everyone can have that luxury.
But you have not really left the OSR is what you're saying? You will be coming back, just in another identity?

Gorgonmilk: Yeah that's the plan. Somewhat older and slightly wiser.

P: Ok. So I've heard that there was more behind this story than just what the public got to see. Namely, that there was a connection between the dogpiling and harassment you were the target of, and a secret group calling themselves the Mongrel Banquet Club. Want to explain that?

Gorgonmilk: I was invited to the Mongrel Banquet Club under the pretense that it was a no-holds-barred, post whatever filth you like kind of place. It was started by Beloch Shrike, btw, but nearly everyone there is a moderator. I was chastised for posting an image by Masamune Shirow that showed a semi-naked woman being groped above the waist by demon monsters. I thought it was amusing, but I was told that I could potentially trigger many people there. My response to this was very sarcastic, but I capitulated and took it down. The real salt in their eyes is the fact that I refused to be "taken aside" and talked down to by the group's "moral authorities" (wtf there are pictures of actual poop there!) So even though I did as asked I apparently ruffled their feathers by not toeing the lines of their ideology.

P: So how did this connect to the whole Seattle-Nazi-Punch thing?

Gorgonmilk: Fast forward to me making a post stating that I didn't agree with Antifa's violent tactics. Gus L chimed into that thread to call me a scumbag-racist-misogynist, claiming that I am anti-BLM (I have no fucking idea what he's talking about -- I have never talked about BLM) and so _clearly_ I am a white supremacist. Gus L is also a member of the Mongrel group btw. My position throughout that thread never changed, which I think was very frustrating to the social justice crowd because it painted them in a bad light.

P: And that's when a group of them escalated into larger attacks?

Gorgonmilk:  Their whole schtick is that they are unerringly fighting for goodness, as you realize, so my pointing out that they were supporting assholes was serious cognitive dissonance. The final nail in the coffin was supplied by Courtney Campbell of Hack & Slash, who reiterated the whole "Gorgonmilk is Nazi-Sympathizer because he is showing sympathy for a man with a swastika on his arm." 

P: So what was your exact position on the Nazi-armband guy though?

Gorgonmilk: My position on the Nazi guy was that he's an idiot and he was looking for trouble, but he also has the right to free speech. The Far Left only values free speech when the speech is something it wants to hear.

P: So are most of these "Mongrels" actual OSR people, or are they non-OSR gamers in the majority?

Gorgonmilk:  Everyone in the Mongrel group are OSR to my knowledge.

P: Beloch, who you mentioned and who outed himself as one of the founders of the Mongrels claimed to me that the club was just for fun and games, a place where people posted politically incorrect comedy. This immediately raised my doubts; because if you're trying to convince me that a secret Leftist infiltration group organizing attacks against OSR people they politically despise is really something else, you might want to try a different cover than "politically incorrect comedy group". That's as credible as Nazis trying to disguise themselves as a Yiddish Klezmer band.
So would you say that Beloch is being honest? Or are the Mongrels more about political virtue signalling or the like? Have they talked about going after people or done any other sort of conspiring, especially about people who aren't on the group? Is there an agenda to try to take out (by mockery or whatever else) prominent OSR people who don't follow the leftist agenda?

Gorgonmilk: I think they were having fun amongst each other, but their idea of politically incorrect is vastly different than mine. I was born in '78. We traded dead baby jokes when I was in high school. None of my friends then or now would blink at the Shirow image I posted. I think they're a bunch of virtue-signalling pussies who _think_ they're edgy honestly.

P: There were different tiers to the group though, wasn't there? And from what I understand you were intentionally excluded from the inner circle (it sounds to me like they brought you into it by complete mistake in the first place anyhow), so there was clearly another level of conversation going on there that you weren't privy to.

Gorgonmilk: I was not allowed into any private convos they were having.

P: Do you think there was a conscious and intentional effort to control or take down the OSR and specifically to try to 'take down' RPG authors who don't follow their lead and make the OSR not good and not fun?  Or is it just unconscious? And are there any Extra Special Dogfuckers we should all be looking out for?

Gorgonmilk: I don't think it's a conscious effort, no. Not yet anyway. Give it a few years. I think I was a target because I stuck out like a sore thumb. I had friends on the Left and on the Right and they didn't like that. I didn't censor my comments or tailor them to people who believe in triggers and safe spaces. I openly mocked Taylor Swift and insinuated that she was a giant whore! So while there was not likely a conspiracy, I was pushing all their buttons. I don't think Courtney Campbell is even in the Mongrel group -- he's just a lone douche who shares their ideology. Really my most vocal detractors are the ones I've already mentioned. The rest of them did not attack me, but neither did they come forward to say, "Hey, I've known this guy for years and he's always treated me fairly."

P: Well, I was targeted, already years ago. But the difference is that I thought the OSR was free of that kind of shit, and now you're telling me almost everyone in this secret group that attacks OSR-writers is from the OSR itself. That suggests we're a lot worse off in the OSR than we'd thought. 
The ones who didn't come forward, whether it was out of agreement or fear, are still a part of the problem. What do you think we can do to stop this bullshit? 

Gorgonmilk: Man, I am open to suggestions. I've been watching what's been going on with Marvel Comics for a few months now. There are two conservative comic critics on YouTube (Diversity & Comics and Nerkish) who have been doing a fantastic job of critiquing the shitty writing that Marvel's current SJW staff has been turning in. Just mercilessly breaking down what utter bullshit Marvel has become. Marvel staff has doxxed one of them and attempted to contact his workplace in order to make trouble for him (they had the wrong place). On Twitter Marvel staffers claim harassment and are believed despite no evidence being brought forward. 

I believe strongly in everybody's Constitutional rights. Everybody should be treated fairly. Bigotry is fucking awful. But social justice has moved beyond these values. It is becoming the ascendant social concern. When it starts showing signs of weakness is when it should be taken down and exposed for the absurdity that it has become. Right now people are working from incomplete definitions of what these people stand for. Liberals from the 90s who are 40+ now LOVE the term "social justice" because it means something entirely different to them than what it has become. It's no longer about equality. It's about controlling the content. And for us that love to play around in the entertainment-hobbyist field that is a dire concern. As an individual and a creator I want my autonomy. Unless I'm making I LOVE HITLER THE RPG, I don't want to be called a fucking white supremacist because these idiots don't like what I have to say.

P: But you will be. They're going to do it anyways. No level of appeasement will placate them. So they must be fought. Agreed?

Gorgonmilk: It has to be done in a savvy manner. We're talking about fighting professional victims. Don't even get me started on the white knighting, man.

P: In my experience, the method that works is not being "savvy". It's being intentionally outrageous. It's worked for me. Whereas everyone I've seen who's tried being 'subtle' or acting like the 'better person' or bullshit like that has ended up being overwhelmed anyways. As soon as you buy into their threat, even if you're still trying to oppose their argument, you've accepted their premise (that there's something wrong with what you're saying), and you lose.  You don't win by saying "I think that we have to consider in feminism the value of men and how you might lose some men and women by making statements that are intentionally aggressive about exterminating all white males". You win by saying "Fuck you, Feminism is Cancer".  And then, if they express outrage, you respond by calling some male feminist a little bitch. That's how you win. Because they have only one weapon in their arsenal: the threat of accusing you of some kind of thought crime. If you reject the entire notion that thought crimes exist, if you reject the whole argument that you somehow should not be allowed to offend them, then sooner or later they lose.  That, and you mock them, relentlessly and ruthlessly. Point out how ridiculous they are. Point out the ironies of a fat piece of shit like Bruce Baugh lecturing us on how the evils of capitalism will ruin our environment, while he ruined Gamma World. Point out the ludicrousness of Tracey Hurley claiming that Aleena the Cleric, dressed head to toe in armor, is suggestive with a 'come hither look' and part of "rape culture", and then remind people she didn't know what a tabard was.  Fuck subtlety.

Gorgonmilk: While I totally agree with your sentiments here, it's just more flame wars that go nowhere. Like I would have loved to call Courtney a giant fucking cunt who is purposely contorting what I'm saying -- which is the truth -- it goes nowhere. He looks good for calling me out and making me lose my temper. These battles are being fought throughout fandoms. Look at Gamer Gate. People who have bought into the "reality" of things like triggers, safe spaces, rape culture, toxic masculinity -- none of them will looks stupid for championing their causes because they're part of the culturally ascendant movement right now. Conservatives have been demonized. What would really damage them is proof that they're giant cunts. I think you were onto at the end of that last message -- showing them to be ignorant. That's easier in a fandom like Marvel where the writers have no fucking clue about the superhero genre. More difficult in the OSR where everyone is pretty keyed in to the major tropes.

P: Ok. I don't agree; and I think that explains the difference of why you've decided to move into a new identity (good luck with that) rather than fight it out.  You say "look at Gamer Gate": Gamer Gate got Donald Trump elected. Pushing the Ctrl-Left to the increasing hysterics and outrage is the best way to make them ridiculous and expose their true agenda; which will cause them to lose the people. Because my true agenda is for everyone to get to do whatever the fuck they like and be free. Their agenda is to criminalize anything they don't like, destroy western civilization and democracy, and control everything about EVERYONE'S life. Force them to call normal people "deplorable", and they lose. 
So before I get to my publishing deadline, any final thoughts?

Gorgonmilk: But isn't that exactly what happened to me? They called me deplorable in so many words. And from what I understand some people came to my defense and defended my position, but what do I have to gain by jumping back into that fray? Trump got elected and the SJW element is more lively than ever.

To which I say, they're more lively because they're losing. And the more 'lively' they become, the more they'll lose. And you don't yet know how much you have to gain.

But thank you very much, Greg, for your time!

So here's my final thoughts:

As someone with relatives who died in Nazi death camps I have to admit I really don't have a problem with actual nazis being punched. Actual REAL nazis. And if you go around wearing a swastika armband, you're almost certainly a REAL Nazi.

You know how you can tell if someone is a real Nazi?  Ask them "Are you a nazi?"
They'll say yes.

Nazis aren't embarrassed of their beliefs. They want to show them off. They'll tell you. Shit, they can't fucking shut up about it.

The problem is, we have people attacking, going after, trying to physically or economically or socially destroy people THEY JUST DECLARE are Nazis who obviously aren't Nazis.

So the dude who got beaten for wearing a swastika? As much as I don't believe in the abstract sense in political violence and as much as I believe in the right to even the most odious hate speech, I can't quite muster up a fuck to give about him.

But now, we just had a noted OSR writer get *hounded out of the hobby* with accusations of nazism, doxxing threats, vicious harassment, physically threatened, being called a white supremacist because he supported his free speech.

THAT is the problem. The problem is the Left also doesn't give a fuck about Nazis. It's using that word, and diluting it into eventual tragic meaninglessness in the process, to excuse the most abominable and previously unthinkable Maoist-Youth or even Khmer-Rouge style attacks on people it KNOWS are not nazis but that just do not agree with their agenda and represent a threat to them.

So when you talk to me about how Nazi dickwad on the subway is bad, given that we all know he's bad, all I hear is "we should let a tiny group of Ctrl-Left psychopaths who despise gaming and our entire civilization purge this hobby of anyone to the right of Antifa, with violence if necessary. Because I mean, they're nazis too right? Everyone who disagrees with my world view the slightest little bit is a Nazi and now that means I can do _anything I want_ to them!! Hooray!"

Fuck that. And fuck anyone who thinks they'll be able to achieve a political purge of the OSR. This isn't Storygames, no one is going to lick your pussy in awe because you threaten to call us 'racists'. We all know you already despise us and nothing we do or say will make you not despise us, because it's not about anything we've ever said or done. It's about the fact we are here at all. You don't want to change us, you want us eliminated because we're in the way of your deluded fantasy of how a world without Regular RPGs, regular video games, regular comics, regular sci-fi shows, and regular fun in general will somehow be a post-Western utopia and not an utter totalitarian shithole.

So we're not just not going to listen to you. We're going to promise to do everything we possibly can to be even MORE offensive to you. To make you even more hysterical. To make it clear that you don't get to decide what happens, we do. Because fuck you, that's why. YOU are the fascists I'm actually worried about stopping, not pathetic asshole with the armband. YOU are the ones who are the real and present danger, and who must be taken down. And you will be.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Oversize + H&H's Chestnut

Thursday, 21 September 2017

RPGPundit Reviews: Trinity of Awesome +1

This is a review of the RPG supplement-anthology "Trinity of Awesome +1", written by Venger Satanis, published by Kort'thalis Publishing.
The book is a 56 page softcover book. The cover is full color, featuring a crazy quasi-Lovecraftian monster reminiscent of a giant toad. The back cover, also full-color, features what looks like some kind of pulp scene with a guy in a trench-coat and a slightly slutty broad in the middle of what looks like a Lovecraftian Tentacle-Apocalypse.

The interior is black and white, moderately illustrated ('moderate' in quantity, not character) with a variety of images, including some maps, but mainly bizarre, Lovecraftian, and/or smutty art.  The art is certainly R-17 rating, including a few images with visible female nipples and some suggestive mermaids, among others.

The Trinity of Awesome is a trio of supplements in a single book. What's more, it appears that each supplement is for a different Venger game: one is for Alpha Blue, another for Crimson Dragon Slayer, and a third for The Outer Presence. Plus there's a fourth (smaller) bonus supplement, which is playable for either Crimson Dragon Slayer or Alpha Blue.

The first part of the book is "The Slaves of Tsathoggua". It starts off with a random table to determine "how much of a peasant are you", supposing that this is a party's first adventure. Then it jumps into plot, with the PCs travelling for some time before arriving in an isolated village. It turns out that the local priest has just died, and there's a mystery related to a cave.

This being an adventure, I won't go into full details so as to avoid spoilers. I will say that there's quite a lot of exposition. But it does get to a cave-crawl adventure with a twist. The caves have random tables to determine what type of caves there might be; and also a random table for what's inside random creatures. There's also a set of preset encounters with weird rooms full of different ranges of very weird creatures, including humanoid fruit-monsters. The cave-complex itself is easy to get into but very difficult to get out of.  If the PCs survive (and that's a big IF) there's a totally random table at the end to reflect how the caves have changed them, which range from serious PTSD to beneficial qualities.

The adventure is made for Crimson Dragon Slayer, one of Venger's house-system games. It isn't as such compatible with OSR play. However, the only details that are tied to the system are the basic statblocks of the monsters, and so an OSR GM could theoretically run the caves by improvising a conversion of those monsters.

The next section is called "A Green Jewel They Must Possess". It's a detective story adventure, and the section starts with a random table for determining character sub-plots (things like "just got out of rehab", "knows his brother is a serial killer", "in love with the wrong woman", etc.).
The adventure is set in Chicago in the 1970s. The PCs are investigators and they're contacted by a guy needing their services. There's an optional table for determining the contact's connections to given PCs.

He reveals that he's interested in an occult artifact (a crystal orb of unknown material) that is connected to the Outer Gods. He wants the PCs to help him steal the sphere from the Chicago Museum of Antiquities.

There are options for the PCs to look for more information, and of course details on the break-in if the PCs pursue that venue (there's an option available if the PCs turn down their would-be employer).

Again, to avoid spoilers I won't go into more details, but there's a secret society involved, and other details.
It's a pretty decent occult-modern adventure.

These first two sections both have a little of that quality most of Venger's products have, this line somewhere between quirkiness and goofiness, useful creativity and nonsensical silliness. Neither have any significant amount of the sort of smuttiness that some of Venger's products feature.

But then we get to "Slippery When Wet". It starts with an essay that, well, is basically about how to sound seductive when playing NPCs engaging in sexual propositions to player characters. Obviously, this is in relation to Alpha Blue.

What follows is a series of disconnected sections. You get a random table of "futuristic exclamations" (stuff like "curse your third eye" or "well, color my hole black"). A set of rules about bringing in an alternate-universe replacement for a dead PC, and includes a "multiverse malfunctions" table.

After this, there's a rambling sort of Alpha Blue adventure which, I guess, is called The Mentad (I say I guess, because that's the header of where this adventure very suddenly starts, without any indication that we've moved out of 'random rules tidbits' section and into an actual adventure).
The adventure involves a human computer, some evil insect-aliens, a world at war (with a random table for things that can happen to you on a battlefield, and another for looting the battlefield), details on a seafaring vessel (including floorplans), the aforementioned sexy mermaids, a city called "Aqua Vulva", and a villain named "Darth Facepalm".
There's gonzo, and then there's absurd. I know my own DCC campaign sometime crosses that line too, but never at the "darth facepalm" level.

In some ways, the adventure is OK, if a bit of a jumble (for some reason, Venger always gets more jumbled when he's writing Alpha Blue stuff). But you'd have to be willing to enjoy a very high level of Silly to consider running it.

The final section is "Death Race: Fury Road". It's described as a "post-apocalyptic gonzo competition to see who's best and who can survive". The races are organized by a "collective of evil wizards who rule from the comfort of their base known as the Hive".  It's taking place on an alien world whose "environment was raped by the mega-corporations" (seriously?). It's meant to be used with either Crimson Dragon Slayer or Alpha Blue.

The section opens with some random tables: first there's a "Why race?" table, a wager table (to see what someone is betting on your odds of winning, dying or surviving the race), and a random table to determine the effects of traps/ambushes during the race.

There's a mechanic for resolving the racing. It involves a series of d100 encounter table events. There's a separate mechanic for resolving who wins the race; this is totally random, which I find unsatisfying, it means that, as far as I can see, there's nothing the players can do to make their character fare better or worse in the race.

There's also mechanics for governing whether you get laid during the race, for no good reason other than Venger is the guy writing this.

There's also a totally random saving throw table. Which, again, for the same reasons as the race results mechanic, seems unsatisfying to me.

Honestly, Fury Road seems to me to be a good idea executed poorly. You could say made in haste, perhaps.

Anyways, in conclusion, I'd say that Trinity of Awesome (besides being technically incorrectly named) is a bit of a mixed bag. If you are already familiar with Venger's stuff, and you like it, you're probably going to be able to use at least two or three of the four separate parts of this book. If you don't and you are looking for a mixed bag of mostly-gonzo stuff in different genres, you might find some utility here.


Currently Smoking: Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Looking for a New Publisher for My Short-products Series!

So, I've been writing to you all the last little while about how I've been working with a publisher on creating a line of short products. Tentatively called "Pundit Presents", these are all works under 10 pages long that will be sold for a nominal cost as PDFs.

Unfortunately, the publisher I'd currently been working with has, due to personal reasons, been forced to back out.  I'm not going to say who it was because this wasn't about anything other than something to do with their lives.  Some work had already been done, including a cover format and some templates for the material.

I was already set back by the delays that the above caused. So now, I'm not wanting any bullshit. I just want to get straight to business: I want to find a new publisher.

Here's what you'd have to be:
-A publisher who's done at least one product before!

-Ideally, an OSR publisher; as in that you may have published other stuff but you've published at least one OSR thing.

-Who's ready to put up with the Pundit! Not so much me personally, ask any publisher I've ever worked with, I'm really a wonderful co-worker. I mean not being afraid of what Swine will say about you for being associated with me.

Here's what you would have to do:

-My products are all going to have the same basic cover (apart from the title) and format, so all you really need to do is have the time to take what I write (again, products that will usually be 2-6 pages), make it fit the template, proofread, and then put it up for sale.
The plan is to have one product coming out each week, and later potentially making anthologies.

-Be able to do this without interruptions (within reason) and starting QUICKLY (this project is already months behind).

So, if YOU want to publish me in this project that will be relatively easy, fun, and hopefully profitable, please get in touch with me as soon as possible!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti A-Grade Rhodesian + Image Latakia

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Classic Rant: To All Would-Be Censors Out There

Look, I get that it is really inconvenient for you to be called censors by people like me. 
You know that word, even now in our society's extreme decadence, still has the capacity to turn people against you, and so you want to lie, manipulate, or use weasel-words to explain that even though you want to ban things and silence people you're somehow technically not a censor. 

Or maybe it bothers you because there is still some vestige of principles hidden deep within a lot of you, that makes you understand that you're actually monsters in terms of what you are doing when you are trying to silence other people. And that this in turn makes you desperately want to try to find some excuse to justify yourselves. 
Because you know that you're actually the bad guys; that our whole culture has for the last couple of hundred years at least considered the people that want to FORCE others to think like them to be pretty much monsters because history has generally proved this true. And ALL of those other assholes who used to do it always claimed they had the very best of reasons. Pol Pot claimed he was doing his thing for social justice, and the guys who invented the Comics Code Authority felt they were just "showing the door" to all those terrible homosexuals, communists, and minorities who were "trying to corrupt America's youth". 
In exactly the same way, you are trying to tell yourself that it's for everyone else's benefit (especially the vulnerable), and not just your own, that YOU personally get to decide what is best for everyone else.

But the thing is, I don't give a twopenny fuck about your moral conundrum. 
If you really think that you know better than the rest of us as to what we should be allowed to read, buy or think, if you really believe that you somehow have that authority because of your education or class or just your totally unearned feelings of social superiority, then not only can you go fuck yourself with a spoon, you ABSOLUTELY DESERVE to be called out as a censoring totalitarian piece of shit over and over again at every opportunity.

And you can count on me to deliver, you gang of shitsacks.


(Originally Posted September 11, 2015)

Monday, 18 September 2017

DCC Campaign Update: Fuck Station Aleph

Last time, the PCs had found an old rocket (being slowly repaired by a bear with a dream of going into the sky), that might just be able to get them back up to somewhere near where they have to go to complete their complicated quest to get the Sunstaff, get to the Crown of Creation, and somehow rescue G.O.D.

In the process, they discovered the rocket had (long ago) belonged to the Archemaster, and they sent out his secret to the whole world, that his obsession with attractive young human girls was a product of his having been dumped by one over a century ago.


-"Remember, eating apples and bananas doesn't make you a vegan. Eating bananas and apples while acting smug about it makes you a vegan!"

-Mu's player is disappointed by the Archemaster.
"I thought he wanted a human girl for some dark ritual, and it turns out he's just pathetic."
"I'm amazed you're surprised by this, by now."

-"We have to do two things to get back up there: we need two days of good no-distraction work to fix the rocket, and careful watches to stop anyone from destroying the rocket."
"Someone is going to trash the rocket."

-PCs are discussing whether to go to Lol or the Geb asteroid, and end up planning to steal a better skyship from the Posh Elves.

-The orc newbie is directed to go empty the rocket's septic tank, and he gets attacked by a giant snake!
"There's motherfucking snakes in this motherfucking rocket!"

-"Mongo, no! Stay back, you don't know where that thing has been!"
"We know where it's been, it's been in the septic tank!"
"Oh, right, the snake is probably filthy too."

-The snake is on its last legs after Sami hits it with a well-placed dagger... well, you know what I mean. The Vegan kills it.
"I'm not retrieving that dagger, it's lost to me."
"It's covered in shit!"
"I'll take it!"

-The party gets back to work on the rocket, but didn't actually clean up the spillage from the septic tank, or the dead shit-covered snake.
This ends up attracting a pair of Shit-Eaters, hideous slime-monsters that feed on... well, you  know.

-"Are they made of shit?"
"A certain percentage of them is made of shit."

-"They were drawn by the septic runoff."
"So can't we just back away from them and let them eat it all?"
"The problem is we all have tastier shit. You know, inside us."

-"I have a plan! Quick, shit on my hands!"
"You already owe me too much money, dude."
"What the fuck is happening here?! When the fuck did this get so weird?"
"You didn't see things thus far as weird?"
"Maybe Heidi is secretly Dutch?"

-They manage to wipe out the Shit-Eaters, and the Vegan Mutant levels up into a Wizard. In following with most wizards in the campaign he gets several mostly-useless spells, but he also gets Animal Summoning, which is a potentially decent spell.
"I collect bear hairs."
"So, if he gets hair from space-bear, does that mean he'll summon sentient bears?"
"We all know why you're really asking that, Sami."

-The Vegan Wizard's only good spell (animal summoning) has the mercurial effect that he randomly corrodes a nearby metallic object every time he casts it. So he picks up several dozen chunks of scrap metal from the rocket repairs.
"OK, that's a good plan, but where are you going to carry all that?"
"I have this sack full of weed, I could use the sack.."
"We'll need to empty that out.. let's get to work!"

-The rocket is ready but the party is undecided where to go (the plan being to go somewhere to probably steal a better ship than this piece of crap they're on); so they decide to check the comments on the video of the Archemaster's humiliation to see if it gives them any ideas. The video got 400000 hits, and over 2500 comments!
"There's tons of comments from the Kekistani Air Force; they keep calling him a 'cuck' for some reason."

-"Hmmm... there's also a lot of comments coming from Fuck Station Aleph."

-Fuck Station Aleph was originally created as an orbital space station with a mega-cannon, meant to be used against the Dark Ones. The weapon failed, and the place was abandoned for centuries until squatters moved in, and eventually the whole place got turned into an enormous red-light-district of the skies. Obviously, the party decides to go there.

-The rocket takes off and it's a very shaky ride. But eventually the station is in sight.
"No, Space Bear, that's no moon.. that's Fuck Station Aleph."

-Fuck Station Aleph looks like a pimped-out Death Star with 'Get It Here' written on one side in giant letters a mile wide.

-The Rocket's landing thrusters are unstable, and it's going to crash into the outer-hull of Fuck Station Aleph.
"Attention, Fuck Station Aleph, we are out of control. We're going to be coming down hard on you."
"Ha ha!"

-The rocket's crash is not terrible, but it does damage the outer hull of the station, and renders the rocket inoperable. The PCs are greeted by a rescue-crew of large humanoid space-gerbils, and a hot tree-woman.
"The Vegan is turned on."

-The Station is gigantic, and has a lot more than just prostitutes. There's an enormous bazaar, and tons of other services. After trading out some gems for credits, the bulk of the PCs want to get high-tech weapons and armor, while Mu wants very badly to check out the magic shops. A passer-by informs him the magic alley is near "the Orgasmotron". They find Tech City first, and Mu decides to ask one of the sales reps for directions.
"Excuse me, sir... do you know where the Orgasmotron is?"
"Oh, you're one of THOSE people.."
"What? No! I didn't mean that!"
"Oh let me guess, you're 'just asking for a friend'."

-The party doesn't just buy high-tech weapons and armor, they also buy healing nanobot hypo-sprays, much to the chagrin of Sami the cleric.
"Hey, don't be offended! This is just in case you die... wait, let me rephrase that: this is for when you die."

-"You always stock up when you get to any high-tech area, because you know that most of the time you'll be stuck in some shit-hole where you're lucky if you can get a pointed stick."

-The Magic Alley of Fuck Station Aleph is not as promising as Tech City was. It's got lots of places selling dubious fortune-telling, Reiki To Full Completion, and Crystal Bead Therapy.

-They find a magic bookstore, mainly filled with useless junk and new-age books. But the Vegan Wizard casts Detect Magic and takes note that there are a few scrolls behind the counter and one book in the "antique books" section that are actually magical. The book is a sinister-looking thing called The Red Grimoire.
"Does it have an index?"
"Does it have a bookmark?"
"No, but it does have one page with a blood-soaked fingerprint mark on it."

-The owner is an obese middle-aged hippie named Grizelda.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for a specific scroll and I'm wondering if you have it?"
"What is it?"
"You know, I don't recall if I have that!"

-The Vegan Mutant is caught trying to tear a page off the Red Grimoire!
"Please don't call the security force! He's just an idiot"
"Yeah, he can work for you!"
"I don't need anyone to work here!"
"Well, maybe you could think of something?"
"Hmm... well, he is frail and sickly.. that's just my type!"
"Oh no..."

-The party leaves the Vegan Wizard behind for a night of what will no doubt be extreme discomfort. Mu makes himself invisible and hides in the store when Grizelda closes it, deciding he might as well make use of the Vegan's temporary status as harem-boy to steal all the scrolls and the Red Grimoire.  Everyone else keeps checking out Magic Alley, and they find that Fuck Station Aleph has a Curiosity Shoppe!

-While stuck in the Magic bookstore, Mu starts to read the Red Grimoire.
"OK, make a Will save."
"You don't have a bonus?"
"Oh, right... 8."

-The weirdo running the curiosity shoppe only accepts barter. He ends up trading some of the PCs' junk for Ekim's Facial Surgery Mask, and a +1 Ring of Strength.
"These aren't cursed, right?"
"Nooo! However, if you use the Mask you should steer clear of high temperature areas."

-"How does this guy stay in business?!"
"Don't question it."

-Vizi also trades some useless items, but instead of a magic item, he gets some sunglasses shaped like stars.

-After leaving the Curiosity Shoppe and while heading to a bar to find a pilot (they decided they might as well hire a ship, rather than steal it), they pass by the magic bookstore and see Mu there. Mu's got the scrolls and the Red Grimoire, but he can't figure out the code to unlock the store's front door to get out before Grizelda is done with the Vegan.  He looks pleadingly at them for help through the shop window.
"Should we let him out?"

-"You could use your sonic tool, Sami.."
"I traded it at the Curiosity Shoppe, remember?"

-Roman still has his Sonic, however. He signs to Mu that he'll let Mu out in exchange for the Red Grimoire.  At first Mu is reluctant but when the party threatens to just keep going he agrees quickly and is set free.

-"Wait, what will we do when Grizelda gets up and sees we stole the scrolls and the book?"
"We have plausible deniability... wait, let me disable that camera. There! Now we have plausible deniability."

-The pilots' bar is a typical 'hive of scum and villainy', complete with funky space-music and a crazy mix of non-human weirdos.

-"Ugh, Cyborg-Knights. I hate those guys."
"What are they?"
"They're cyborgs who are also knights."

-The bar also has a dog-man, someone in a "Sky Police" uniform, and a black guy with an afro and a kind of sci-fi pimp outfit with a cape.
"That guy has a cape, so you know he's cool"

-The cape-guy also has sunglasses shaped like triangles, so Vizi instantly heads to talk to him. Heidi goes to check out the Sky Policeman instead.

-The Sky Policeman is the last survivor of the Sky Police, who were wiped out a few years back by the Sky-Nazis.  He's a deeply traumatized law & order square. He's willing to take on the PCs' mission if it's for the sake of "law and order", and to do it for free, but gives off a clear sense that he could have problems all his own.
"You're not going to engage in any unlawful behavior, right?"
"Oh, yeah, we're totally in it for the Law & Order."

-"I mean, of course, sometimes we break a few of the rules; you know, for the sake of getting things done."
"Well... that's probably fine. I mean, I was a bit of a rules-breaker myself. I was the first man in the Sky Police to break regulations and grow a mustache! But I shaved it off two days later."

-Vizi and the other guy spend a few moments congratulating each other on their cool shades, before they're joined by Roman who wants to get actual facts.
"So what's your name?"
"Blitzkrieg Sakomano!"
"Are you a great pilot?"
"Man, I did the Kossuth Run in 42 minutes!"
"Wow. That's like, 12 parsecs!"

-"Look, we need to stay under the radar."
"That's cool, 'under the radar' is my middle name."
"So wait.. your name is Blitzkrieg Under The Radar Sakomano?"
"That's a rad name!"

-"Would you accept part of your payment in 'medicinal herbs'?"
"Shit, yeah!"
"I can see we're going to get along just fine."

-The PCs are divided as to whether to go with the Sky Policeman or Sakomano. Heidi, Sami, and Mu want to go with the Sky-cop, while Roman, Vizi and Space-Bear want to go with Sakomano.
"Dude, the Sky-cop wants law & order. We were on Fuck Station Aleph for less than two hours and we already committed grand robbery."
"Well, let's agree not to do it again, OK?"
"Oh, please. We all know we suck at not being horrible people, Heidi."

-The vote is still tied.
"We could ask the Vegan?"
"No, lets just flip a coin."
"Yeah, that sounds better."
"I have a fake Smithplium coin. I think it's symbolic of everything this group stands for."
-The coin-flip comes up for Sakomano.
"Ok, but he wants money, unlike the other guy. How do we pay him?"
"I still have the 4900 you gave me, that's almost half of what he's asking up-front."
"Yeah, but what he wants up front is only half of what he's asking in total!"
"That's a problem for Future-Us."

-Meanwhile, Grizelda was finally done with the Vegan Wizard. As soon as she stepped out front into her shop, she realized she'd been robbed. As soon as she stepped back into the back room, the Vegan mutant brutally murders her by summoning several snakes to surprise-attack her.  Then he robs the till and high-tails it out of there, since she'd managed to call for security before he killed her.
"Holy shit! What did you just do?!"
"So much for 'under the radar'."

-Trying to find his companions, the Vegan Wizard gets to the Curiosity Shoppe.
"Do you know where the adventurers who were here earlier went?"
"Are you asking 'do you have information on where the adventurers who were here earlier went'?"
"I DO!"

-"OK, so we'll meet up with you in hangar bay 6 in a couple of hours after I've completed the ship's safety checks."
"Guys? I just saw an alert. The Vegan just murdered someone. Should we leave earlier?"
"Sure we can. Shit, how many security checks do we need, really?"

-"The bear will be my co-pilot!"
"Didn't you say 'Blitzkrieg Sakomano flies alone' like five minutes ago?"
"Blitzkrieg changed his mind!"

-"That's my ship over there.. the Superfly-1!"

-Heidi, Sami and Mongo had gone to get some final supplies. Only Mongo makes his perception check and notices the "wanted" alert for the Vegan wizard, but the others ignore him.

-The station security guards spot the Vegan at the cargo bay and start to chase him.
"Man, I'm glad we didn't go with the Space-cop!"

-"If the shit hits the fan, I'll fly Mongo to the ship, you save the Vegan."
"If we're in trouble.."
"No, I mean why save the vegan?"
"He has the money."

-Mu had just bought a jet-pack. He uses it to try to fly straight to the Superfly-1. But having never flown it before, he fails spectacularly and slams into the side of a Kekistani Meme-Transport Ship.
-"I turn invisible."
"Why didn't you do that before crashing your jetpack?"
"I was nervous, mistakes were made!"

-Blitzkrieg gets Space Bear to start up the ship, while he fires on the guards to cover the PCs still making their way over.

-There's a crazy firefight, with several party members still all but hanging off the gangplank when the ship takes off and escapes from the hangar of Fuck Station Aleph.  It looks like no one actually died, but Blitzkrieg is eager to fly them out of there as quickly as possible, as they might be pursued.
"Next stop, Geb! Punch it, Space-Bear."

-"Great. That's one more locale on our list of 'places we can never go back to again'."

That's it for today. The PCs have a cool new pilot and a cool new ship and they're finally on the way to Geb. That is, assuming they can avoid pursuit from Fuck Station Aleph's Valkyrie fighters.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Canadian + Image Latakia

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Post-Apocalypse Wuxia Campaign Update

Our latest adventure in this series went very well. The characters went into the northern tribelands, into a forest in search of a 'forbidden temple'.

They fought a group of yeti-men.

They found the 'temple' which was actually a ruined Ancients' power plant.

 They had to fight some crazed Qi-empowered soldiers, which led the party to suspect that there's some kind of conspiracy  happening in the Northern Guardians Clan.

They also fought a tentacled blob-monster, and a Fire Ogre.

Now you know, I've had some readers asking me if my DCC campaign is as Gonzo as the updates sound. And the answer is yes. It absolutely is. It's Gonzo to "11".

But this campaign, when I read it above, sounds a lot more gonzo than it really is.  It's mostly about low-key adventuring and political intrigue in a highly unstable empire full of rival clans.

It's a little Gonzo. But not as much as it looks.

Anyways, that's it for now.


Currently Smoking: Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Real Class-Warfare and Relativism

Recently, someone on theRPGsite challenged me to read an article that's gone somewhat viral, from the Atlantic.  It was about the way, allegedly, that America (but especially the Right) has "lost touch with reality".  The person who challenged me on it claimed I would probably not read it, because it was 'critical of Trump'.

But it's the Atlantic. You don't need to bother saying it'll be highly critical of Trump; that's repetitive.

And the assumption was fundamentally wrong; telling me that something doesn't agree with my views makes me MORE likely to read something, rather than less. I'm much more interesting in seeing what the enemy thinks than in reading gushing cheerleading from my own side. It's why I read or watch surprisingly few right-wing media sources, usually the informative ones (Breitbart, The Rebel, The Thinkery -though Sargon would object to being called right-wing) and almost never the ones that are just about how awesome we are.

Now, as to the article itself: my overall analysis is that it is too clever to even be wrong, and thus creates the illusion of a coherent argument when it is in fact championing something else entirely.

The way author conflates the rise of the idiotic new-age "Green Meme" (as Ken Wilber puts it) with the methodical and intentional Anti-Western position of the academic relativists and deconstructionists is either naive or intentionally deceptive.
The notion that the Right was opposed to relativism because it was "threatening to their white privilege" is insulting. They objected to relativism because it denied the reality of Objective Truth, and people on the Right (be it for religious reasons, or philosophical reasons) understood the consequences of spreading that lie that 'nothing is true'.

Also, it was ultimately not the 'elite left and the populist right' who were on the same side. It was the Establishment Elite, on both sides. The Neocons betrayed the right-wing intelligentsia when they decided that 'we can create our own reality' was a great excuse for their empire-building fantasies. The Leftist elites created this myth that America was the worst country in the world and Western Civilization the worst civilization in the world, and needed to make up for it. Both of these lies seem opposed, but in fact both of them served a single goal: Establishment Statist-Corporate Globalism. In practice, that was the purpose of it, to destabilize and destroy our Civilization to create a civilizationless void-state run by Public Employees and large Multinationals, free of all those pesky barriers to their power like nationalism, democracy, or free speech.

Their problem is: it isn't working. Not just because of the opposition of people like me. But fundamentally, because these people are all a gang of nepotistic inbred incompetents. The further they get in their goals the less they can make things actually function, so we've had a collapse of economic success and a collapse of military/police stability, and all those foreign workers that they needed to import are turning out to be causing more problems than they're fixing and all of this is just generating much more pushback from the hoi poloi than any of them had expected.

Well, sort of. Almost anyone. Because if you look at the pre-marxist model of Class Warfare, this is obvious. There are really only two classes, which were elaborated on (before Marx ever came up with his nonsense) by the Enlightenment Philosophers as the "productive class" and the "political class", but would now be better put as "producers" and "parasites".
These people who have pushed for the erosion of our civilization and (to that end) the elimination of the idea of absolute values are every one of them to a man (or woman, or miscellaneous) part of the Parasite Class. The Rich Rockefeller Republicans, the Hippie bullshit-selling academics, the Celebrities, the Lobbyists and 'career Activists', and the people who work that very special type of corporate job that involves making money without creating anything and often without even selling anything.

It is inevitable that the Parasite Class, achieving their goals, will bring down whatever polity they've managed to subvert to the level of harm that there will be a revolution against them from the people of the productive class: actual workers, actual farmers, actual businessmen, actual artists, actual intellectuals, actual aristocrats, etc.

All of these groups have ultimately got more in common with each other than with anyone (even someone closer to their own income level, whichever it is) from the Parasite Class; and the more the Parasite Class fucks everything up the more the varied members of the productive Class from such different backgrounds realize that. That's why today you have the alliances of Atheist Biologists and Gay Dilettantes and Game-designing Shitlords and Christian Factory Workers and Computer Engineers into Meditation and Jewish writers that aren't self-hating and Black Cops and Anthropology Professors who actually did their work and crazy half-Latino wizards and Lesbian Feminists who don't want little girls' clits cut off even if they're not white little girls.

You know, "deplorables".

It's not about Republican or Democrat, because the Republican Establishment is as completely a part of the Parasite Class as the Democrat Establishment are. It's not about Rich vs. Poor, which is what leftists don't get when they ask why it is that the working poor feel like the multi-millionaire Clintons don't represent them but somehow feel that multi-millionaire Trump does. It's not even about religious vs secular, except in the sense that those religious people and communities that actually believe in something will stand against the Parasite Class (unless what they believe in can be defined as "the destruction of western civilization", a belief strongly-shared by faith communities of Gaia-cults and Salafist Islamism alike), even if they don't get all they want from it and even if some of their fellow spokespeople in the opposition seem like 'sinners' to them.

The idea in the article that "the Right became more unhinged than the Left" is absurd. The left has become SO unhinged that it has essentially abandoned the Productive Class altogether. That's why in some ways the Democrats (in spite of their massive losses last year) seem stronger or more-united than the GOP, and at the same time why they can't win an election outside of massive urban megalopolises disproportionately populated by the Parasite Class.

It's because what had come to emerge gradually after WWII, in almost all the West, was a situation where the elites of the mainstream political parties of all Western Democracies had been taken over by the Parasite Class (who had always had a strong, but not a virtually absolute showing among the Political Elite like they do now) while they continued to use smoke & mirrors to fool the rubes in the Productive Class into following along with them.

But the inevitable result of the mass-embracing of relativism the way it was done on the Left was that by the end of the 1990s the Left has, almost everywhere in the West, just decided to slowly and then quickly purge its ranks of the Productive Class altogether. They are so Unhinged that Hillary Clinton thought she could shit all over the actual working citizens of the country, call over half the nation "Deplorables" and applaud feminists who were making videos for her about the Extermination of White Males, and still win.

By the time the article gets to the part about the internet, its argument is laid bare as having the agenda of someone who is very clearly a member of the Parasite Class resenting the loss of their ability to Invent THEIR Own Reality, and how the democratization of information on the internet has meant that the Establishment is no longer able to decide for you what information you will or won't see. Has that led to all kinds of people believing all kinds of idiotic things? Sure. It's also led to Wikipedia. And to Wikileaks. It's also led to the mass exposing and laying bare of the Parasite Class and all their teams: showing the bad behavior of leftist academia, showing the corruption and criminality of the DNC and the Clintons, exposing the control-freak nature of the Big State and the Deep State alike.

And part of why they despise Trump so, so badly and madly is that he is anti-Establishment (as the article correctly suggests, but not for the reasons they suggest) but moreso because he is just so much better than they are at using their own weapons, and turns it against them; and at mastering that free-flowing democratized-information Internet to bring together everyone who fucking hates the goddamn fucking Parasite Class.

The author here (who if you're familiar with him, is a longstanding member of the Establishment Left) is not actually trying to condemn relativism. He's bemoaning the loss of control of the failing Parasite Class, too incompetent and useless to even put on an effective Totalitarian State. Of course, that doesn't mean they won't just keep trying harder, becoming more repressive, and trying even more to use propaganda like this to get tighter and tighter grips on control.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Solani Aged Burley Flake

Friday, 15 September 2017

What I'm Working On!

So, as I've been assured that the Pundit Presents series of short products should be starting to come out sometime very soon, so I decided that this week I would get off my lazy ass and start making some new material.

This week, I'm working on a product called "Last Sun: Gazetteer of the Middle-Northern Wilderlands".

It is a bare-bones guide to the original starting region of my Last Sun gonzo campaign.  The bulk of it will be a totally different Occupation table for starting characters, with some information about certain items they have.

So anyways, stay tuned! I'm really really hoping that you'll be able to start getting the Pundit Presents series sometime real soon.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Classic Rant: The Americanism of D&D and the Gonzo Aesthetic

It isn't a new subject, in fact I've brought it up a few times in the past, but a recent essay that is really quite good addresses the issue of how D&D, in terms of its setting and ambiance, is fundamentally an American invention (written by a gamer who started to understand D&D better after visiting America for the first time in 30 years of being a gamer). The default "world" of D&D is full of Americanisms. It isn't really, in that default state, "European fantasy"; it is rather very much 'American Fantasy'. It is only Europe as Hollywood imagined it.

There's another important point: D&D in its origins is Gonzo. It was in fact invented around the same time that this very particularly American version of magical realism came to exist as a literary form of its own. 
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the seminal Gonzo novel, was published in 1971. D&D came into being in '74, after a process of many years of protodevelopment. Whether or not Gygax, Arneson and co. had ever read Hunter S. Thompson, the vibe of Gonzo was everywhere at that time, and had created big effects on the general culture (while today, Gonzo has become so normalized in American popular culture that we pretty much no longer distinguish it except for in its most blatantly exaggerated forms).

One big part of why D&D is so American is because it is so Gonzo. The weirdness of Gonzo is a thoroughly American weirdness, very different from the weirdness of, say, Alejandro Jodorowsky and what the latter did to comics and scifi aesthetics in Europe and Latin America.

What this means, however, is that it is relatively easy to De-Americanize D&D, by shifting out of the gonzo aesthetic (plus by adding a bit more historical and cultural rigor).

In the linked essay, the author suggests that maybe D&D is better when it's not trying to be more "historical" (rather than American pseudo-historical). Obviously, I disagree. Dark Albion lets you recreate D&D in a new and exciting way. The shifting out of Gonzo and into a grittier and more factual kind of historical reality let's you explore all kinds of worlds in D&D that the Americanized version does not. Consider, for example, the very big significance of Social Class in the Dark Albion setting, and it's almost apparently meaninglessness in most (Americanized) D&D settings. That total sense of ignorance of Class is a very American feature in general (dating back long before gonzo, of course); and putting class consciousness back into the game changes the dynamics of setting completely.

I think what all this does mean is that within the confines of the OSR boundary markers alone, we have only just barely begun to scratch the surface of what you can really do with D&D. So much of the game so far has been looking at it from a strictly American lens. Far from just assuming that will be the best way to do it, I think now we can really start to explore how the game becomes new and exciting in totally unexpected ways when you have designers creating worlds that shift out of that cultural context and are informed by different ones than the game's creators could have envisioned.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker & Brebbia no.7

(Originally Posted August 21, 2015)

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Frank Mentzer Was Hanging Around With the Wrong OSR

So, famous old-school D&D creator Frank Mentzer has apparently been banned from the Dragonfoot forums.  I don't bother hanging around there, so I can't speak to the particulars of what happened.  How did a situation get so fucked up that one of the remaining living legends of D&D ended up being thrown out of a forum exclusively dedicated to old-school D&D play?  I could take a few guesses, but that's not what this short blog entry is about.

If you want more information about what happened, you can check out Tenkar's Tavern where he's been writing about this.

What I want to talk about is a quote from Mentzer, originally on the Tavern, that I was initially surprised and later less-surprised to read.

How could we get to a situation where Frank Mentzer believes that the OSR is "irrelevant to the current market" because they buy "the fewest new products"?!

The OSR is a huge section of the modern RPG hobby. Obviously not the biggest part, that would be D&D 5e, but the OSR has formed so much of a vanguard in the hobby and is so utterly relevant to the current market that more than one OSR personality (myself being one of them) was paid stupid amounts of money by Wizards of the Coast to make their latest edition of D&D successful by making it more like the OSR.

And the old-school crowd on theRPGsite, which is one of the biggest membership-groups in the forum, are big-time purchasers of RPG products (and not just OSR stuff, for that matter).

But the reality of what might have caused Mr. Mentzer to think this way is pretty basic, really: he's been hanging around with the Wrong OSR.  While not the worst of the worst, the df forums are still one of the areas where the old "OSR Taliban" had serious prevalence. I'm sure even there, a lot of the members purchase RPG books, and not just old ones. But the overall attitude of those forums is still one of "newer stuff is crap compared to the older stuff".

That's very, very different from the attitude of the OSR at theRPGsite (and other places, like the G+ OSR communities).  Of course they love old-school material, but they don't obsess over old-school purity at all. They recognize that the time we live in today is the best of times: all the old-stuff has become accessible again thanks to the wonders of the interwebs, and at the same time there's AMAZING new material being created for old-school gaming through the OSR.  There's more genius and more creativity in old-school gaming today than there ever was before.

These are the Big Picture OSR people. They want to see what the limits are of what you can create within the landmarks of the Old-School rules, and those limits are constantly being pushed in fascinating and weird and marvelous directions.
And when great new material for old-school rules, settings, supplements and adventures come up, they buy them. They buy them in droves. As one RPG-designer to another, Mr.Mentzer, I can assure you of this, and the huge success I've had with Dark Albion is my proof.

So, Mr.Mentzer, I'm sorry for whatever has brought about this perspective for you. My advice to you is this: come check out theRPGsite! Besides our main forum, we have news & advertising forums where you can promote your stuff, and we even have a design and development forum where if you like you can go into detail about what you're working on and get advice or playtesting from fans and future customers.

Don't count the OSR out because you've had bad experiences with the Old-School Absolutists out there.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Canadian + Image Latakia