The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Monday, 13 August 2018

Classic Rant: Using Mechanics to Subsidize Actual Roleplaying Only Favors Incompetence

Some people have criticized my past blog entries where I argued that the best RPGs (like old-school D&D) are superior at handling actual roleplay because they DON'T have any 'social mechanics' and just make you actually play it out.

The common complaint is "RPGs should be fair to players though; it isn't a competition; and if a player has a PC who should be able to do well at diplomacy or something like that, but the player himself is not very good at speaking or putting together arguments, isn't it only fair that the GM give him a bonus??"

This isn't really about being in "competition", but it sounds like they're saying that if you're a really good roleplayer and come up with good ideas, you should roll with just your normal bonuses; but if the guy next to you is a moron who always thinks up dumb ideas or can't roleplay worth a damn, he should get a Special Snowflake bonus so his feelings aren't hurt.
Is that not going to create a sense of 'unfair competition' from the people who do not get that bonus?
Doesn't that look like favoritism?

As far as your character failing to do things he should be able to do: the question would be WHY do you feel your character "should be able" to do those things? In an OSR game you don't have 30 points to dump in Diplomacy so you can wave it around like a Mind-Control Superpower to avoid having to actually come up with ideas or roleplay, so that's out.

Do you feel he "should be able" because he has a high Charisma? Well, if he has a high charisma that's factored into his bonus. Players who have a high CHA AND come up with decent ideas, roleplay well, and make a good argument will obviously do better than people with a high CHA who always think up dumb ideas and/or don't roleplay their character and/or can't string together two words. But having a high CHA still means statistically, you'll do better than you otherwise would on account of your PC being likable even if you aren't capable of playing him as such.

Or do you feel he "should be able" because your mommy told you that you were special and everyone deserves a participation trophy for showing up? Because in that case, you're just Demanding to Win, you might as well think you "should be able" to find a +10 Holy Avenger sword in the next dungeon room. It's a nice thought, but you in no way deserve it and it's not going to happen at my table. Especially since your demand inherently invalidates the talent or hard work of other players at the table; who will get to see you being a socially inept doofus with shitty ideas who never actually portrays his character, and still end up doing just as well as the people who come up with all the actually good ideas.
It will make the world seem less emulative, it will ruin people's immersion, and it's a way to run a game that won't end up being fun for anyone.

If I have a player who feels they 'should be able' to do well in social situations, but doesn't, I'll try to encourage them to actually play out their character, to get more confidence in public speaking, or to think a bit harder about the ideas they're coming up with and develop some logic skills to think if its a good idea or a bad one.

If they refuse to do those things but want to be awesome anyways, then they're not really going to fit in with my games.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Image Latakia

(Originally Posted September 21, 2016)

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Wild West Campaign: The Crossfire

The session found some changes to Tombstone.  Jackson (and Smiley) left town in search of Aunt Henry and her magic recipe.   Meanwhile two more former-lawman exiles from Dodge City made their way into town: Jeff Young and Bat Masterson.

They were both heading to Tombstone on invitations: Masterson from Wyatt Earp who offered him a chance to buy a share in the Oriental Saloon.  And Young on the offer from Crazy Miller to come and work with him in the Millers' new gambling hall.

On the train to Tuscon, Masterson and Young ran across an old friend of Bat's, Texas Jack Vermillion.

He was heading to Tombstone as well, along with his friend Turkey Creek Jack Johnson.

Turkey Creek Jack was a Cowboy, a fact that caused Young some consternation, but from their time together it seemed that Jack was a fairly nice guy; and for whatever reason, Bat Masterson took to him right away.

On the stagecoach to Tombstone, the four men found that the Stagecoach just ahead of them on the Wells-Fargo schedule had been held up. One man was wounded, and a pair of ladies were fairly terrified. One of the ladies was Joyce Miller, Other Miller's second cousin, who was coming to Tombstone to marry him.

Virgil Earp made his way to the waystation, and escorted both stagecoaches to town. From the witnesses, he presumed the robbery was done by two Cowboys: Frank McLaury and Pony Diehl.  However, by the time he got back to town, Earp was given orders by the territorial government not to pursue the investigation.  The Cowboys had powerful influence at this point, and Virgil was very frustrated over how his hands were tied.

Meanwhile, Kid Taylor had been investigating the death of a local rancher named Deke Grisolm. The Cowboys were not likely suspects, since Grisolm had been a friend of the Clantons. The only real clue was some tracks with unusual bootprints, with a star-shaped marking on the heels.  Kid made his way to Grisolm Ranch, where he met with Janet, Deke's sister and the last surviving member of the family, and thus heiress to the Ranch. He began to suspect Bo, Janet's sweetheart, who was a common but handsome cowhand. Finding the situation at the ranch tricky to manage, and the various ranchands uncooperative, he decided to arbitrarily arrest one of them and rode him back to town.

In the meantime, Kid Taylor's deputy One-Arm Kelley had managed to find the boots.  Unfortunately, they were on the feet of a local drunk, who'd found them in an alley.  On interrogating the ranch-hand, they came to realize that it might not be Bo, but Janet herself who was behind the killing. Conferring with Morgan Earp, they speculated that Deke might not have approved of Janet's relationship with Bo, and she killed him to inherit the ranch and free herself of his control. They planned to put together a posse and use the ranch-hand's testimony to arrest Janet, but when they got back to the Marshall's office they found that the ranch-hand had been murdered, shot through the window of the cell.

The Wells-Fargo stagecoaches arrived in town.  The Millers were there to greet Joyce and Young, while Charlie Storms was there to meet his old friend Bat Masterson and get him to the Oriental. Other Miller went off to show his fiance around, while Crazy Miller and Young joined Masterson in going to the Oriental, where Wyatt Earp was glad to see them. Doc Holliday was there too, and Masterson met Luke Short for the first time. All of them decided to stay there a few hours drinking and playing poker to celebrate Masterson and Young's arrival.

In the afternoon, Curly Bill Brocius, Ike Clanton and Johnny Ringo came into the Oriental, accompanied by a few other cowboys. They made some subtle threats against Earp, expressing Pa Clanton's concern about how Wyatt Earp had seemingly set himself up as the Cowboy's enemy. Johnny Ringo was particularly interested in Jeff Young, who was rumored to be nearly as fast as Doc Holliday (or, according to Young, just as fast).

After exchanging some insults with Doc Holliday, Ringo decided to show just how fast he was, by drawing his gun and twirling it with great skill.  Doc responded by mimicking his little show, but with his whiskey cup.

To calm things, Wyatt restated his oft-repeated mantra that "he was just here to make money" and that if the Cowboys didn't cause any trouble with him, he wouldn't cause any trouble for them.  Curly Bill felt satisfied with this and the Cowboys left.  After they'd gone, Bat looked at Wyatt and asked "You're going to cause trouble, aren't you?"
Wyatt answered "Yup."

Several hours later, after Crazy Miller and Jeff Young had gone home, Kid Taylor was drinking at the bar of the Crystal Palace saloon with Doctor Goodfellow, trying to figure out what would be his next move in his investigation.  Just then he saw Charlie Storms throwing Luke short out the door of the Oriental. The two man had gotten into a fight over a faro game. Luke got up and Storms started to draw on him, but Short was faster with a quick draw and shot from the hip right into Storms' heart, at such close range that Storms' shirt caught fire.  Charlie Storms was dead before he hit the ground.

Everyone agreed that Luke shot in self-defense, so Kid didn't arrest him, and Bat forgave him. But Luke Short still felt nervous about it all. He knew Charlie Storms had been a friend of Bat's, and he figured being a partner with him on the Oriental Saloon would be awkward after that. So he would decide in the next few days to sell off his share of the Oriental, to Bat. Will Harris, the other part-owner, did the same; and Luke Short and Will Harris moved to Dodge City where they would buy the famous Long Branch saloon (thus having both gone from owning Tombstone's most famous saloon to owning Dodge's most famous saloon).

Kid Taylor was heading home after a late night, when he suddenly noticed a stranger waiting for him in an alley. Then behind him, he heard a rifle cocking. He realized he was being ambushed by the men who murdered Deke Grisolm, and the ranchhand who was going to testify.  Finding himself in a cross-fire, Kid Taylor dived behind a barrel to try to cover himself from the rifleman, and started firing at the shooter ahead of him. They exchanged multiple shots, with Taylor injuring the gunman several times.  He dropped him with a serious (but non-lethal) hit but ran out of bullets. He then dashed for the corner, avoiding the rifle-fire.  At that point while reloading behind a picket fence he ran into Morgan Earp, and the two turned back to pursue the gunmen. They followed the trail of blood from the injured one to the Mexican Quarter, where they cornered and arrested both.   With their confession, they also arrested Janet Grisolm. Apparently, she was behind her brother's death, and had hired the same two gunmen to kill the witness and then to try to kill Kid Taylor. She was desperately in love with her boyfriend, and was insanely determined not to let anything get in her way; curiously, Bo didn't know anything about the killings and was horrified to discover his girl was a bloodthirsty murderess.

Incredibly, instead of being in a crossfire and outgunned, Kid Taylor didn't take a single hit.  In fact, he hasn't taken a single bullet in his entire career in spite of several major gunfights.  We've taken to calling him "wyatt earp jr.".


Currently Smoking: Neerup Egg + Image Virginia

Saturday, 11 August 2018

DCC Campaign Update: Are You Laquanda?

In our last session, the PCs had gone far back in time to recover the Comfy Slippers on a sidequest. Along the way they'd met BOLT-0, and invited him to contact them in the present.


-Heidi wakes up to find Vegomagus reduced to a vegetable.
"What happened to him?"
"We went to the past to find some comfy slippers."

-"I guess the Vegomagus needs to rest."
"We'll put him in the 'Tard Room', with Mongo."

-"It'll take like a week until I'm up to full."
"Don't worry, it doesn't matter to me."

-"Hey Republican Jesus, Vegomagus is really fucked up."
"Yeah, I know man, I caught them doing some weird sex thing with some slippers."
"That wasn't what it looked like!"

-Korean Jesus gives the PCs a potion to heal Vegomagus.
"Thank you very much."
"do you go give it to Vegomagus."
"No, I keep it for my own future use."

-Meanwhile, Catboy/Boylord heads over to his girlfriend Anema's room and knocks.
"Who is it?"
"Cat.. um.. Boy.. I'm just not sure anymore. The thief previously known as Catboy."
"Oh, um, I'm a little busy right now..."
"What? Wait, are you alone in there?"
"Wait... oh crap, not Bort! Is he really more pathetic than me?"
"I'm not pathetic am I?"
"Shut up, Bort!"

-"I'm sorry, Catboy. But you've changed since you've become a Halconlord. You're just more confident now."

-"I leave a bowl of water next to the Vegomagus."
"Like he's an animal!"
"The sad thing is right now he's technically the leader of this party."

-Catboy notices a communication signal flashing in the control room.
"...fine, Boylord."

-BOLT-0 has a mission for them.
"So we have to go get it, I guess. Where?"

-Apparently, the Magic Wafer is a holy item, that was once in the care of the Cleric Grenoble, who died from causes related to Bill the Elf. It has amazing curative and protective powers.

"I'd be amazed if it was just one."

-Catboy goes to get Lenny.
"Should we get the rest of the team?"
"Nah, how hard could a Death Fortress be?"
"Wait a minute.. did you just say Death Fortress?"

-BOLT-0 gives them transmat locations that will precisely teleport them into a passing skyship. They beam inside and are confronted by a hot looking 1970s sci-fi black woman with a blaster pistol.
"Hold it, suckers!"
"Whoa.. are you Laquanda??"
"That's racist. A black female human shows up and you just assume she's got to be Laquanda."
"Yeah, I'm Laquanda but you don't know me!"

-The surprise of meeting someone vaguely referenced as connected to the PC group in an alternate timeline where Mu and Sami had been a couple is only trumped by finding out that they're on the Superfly II, piloted by their old friend Blitzkreig Sakomano!
"Hey, it's Sakomano!"
"Oh shit, not these turkeys again!"

-Blitzkrieg and his partners were heading toward the Death Fortress to steal the wafer, which a client was willing to pay $30K credits for.
"We can pay you $20K for it right now"
"Deal, man. I wouldn't have the Superfly if it wasn't for you guys."
"Plus, we'll join you on the mission; which will make it easier. Or harder."

-Lenny tries to heal the Vegomagus.
"Choke, choke, choke!"
"Stop it Boylord!! You know I'm insecure about my unreliable miracles!!"

-"So how do you people know about me again?"
"Two reasons: we heard about you before, from an alternate timeline; and also boylord is a racist."

-"Man, Blitzkrieg. When you described these guys to me they sounded cool, but they're actually lame. Well, except maybe this guy."
"Heidi? He's a pacifist."
"Oh lord!"

-Lenny keeps failing to heal Vegomagus.
"I just can't control my miracles! I'm a bad saint..."
"No, honey, you just have to believe in yourself!"
"My total lack of self-confidence has always been my biggest personal flaw."
"...not eating people?"
"Oh, yeah. Well, that's the other one."
"Wait... what?!"

-"Laquanda would either totally get along with or really hate Sami!"
"Sami missed her chance to finally get a female friend."

-Vegomagus visits the cockpit.
"Space Bear stares at you worriedly."

-"BOLT-0 told us there might be a traitor in our group."
"Just one?"
"Yeah, I said that too. I mean, half our party probably follows daemons."

-"The Catboy might try to fuck us up."
"You didn't see how much he fucked things up when we went to the past."
"Yeah, but that's just him fucking things up in the usual way."

-"I'm a way better mage than I used to be."
"Oh yeah, you sure look like magic has served you real well, Vegomagus..."

-"The traitors will probably help us get to the Crown of Creation but will turn on us there."
"So, kind of like in Civil War?"

-"Laquanda don't you go shooting my friends."
"Your friends are jive-ass motherfuckers."

-"I back away from Laquanda"
"you go to the back near the bathroom. You hear Lenny inside, sobbing."

-"Are you OK, Lenny? Do you want me to rub your ears?"
"What? No!"
"I'm not being sexual or something. It's just a cat thing."

-"I just want to be helpful! But I'm not good at anything."
"Don't worry Larry, you're going to be fine."
"My name's Lenny!!"

-"Vegomagus is going to sleep to heal, down in the cargo bay."
"Hey Vegomagus?"
"Yeah, Blitzkrieg?"
"Don't touch the boxes down there. They have some feral sky-pandas I've been smuggling."

-"The Superfly evades the Death Fortress' defensive laser satellites with maneuvers in a stunning action scene produced by Industrial Light & Magic."
"You're such a descriptive DM."
"Yeah, this campaign has now reached new levels of immersion."

-Lenny spent all night in the bathroom.
"I um.. i had diarrhea. I wasn't crying."

-They break into the Cyborg Grandmother's Death Fortress, and into a hallway full knicknacks clearly bought in the Home Shopping Network.

-"Vegomagus is going to cast Locate Object"
"What's wrong? You look funny."
"He's about to masturbate."

-Suddenly, the party is ambushed by Robot Kick-Ninjas.
"Kick Ninjas? I had those toys when I was a kid!"
"When I was a kid I played with dirt. We were really poor."

-Lenny finally manages a miracle, firing a Blessed bullet at a kick-ninja.
"Wow Lenny, you Constantined that bitch!"

-Unfortunately, the Vegomagus, already in a weakened state, is kicked to death.
"His luck has run out."

-"He looked like death was probably a sweet release."

-"We could use the Holy Wafer to bring him back."

-Vegomagus' player starts to roll up some 0-level characters.
"Roll for your random language."
"I got 'Neutral'."
"Nah, I hate alignment languages, roll again."
"Same roll."
"Well, fuck it then, you speak Neutral."

-"How do you say 'Yes' in Neutral?"

-Lenny looks down at Vegomagus' corpse.
"It's so sad. I can't even eat him."

-Laquanda has naninte healing-shots, but she's stingy with them.
"I'm still badly wounded."
"You're a saint, Lenny. Can't you heal yourself?"
"That would require believing in myself, which is the hardest thing of all!"

-They all get together for a prayer circle to try to help Lenny.
"Let's hold hand. Now that the Vegomagus is dead we can do that!"

-In spite of all their efforts, Lenny fails to heal.
"I'm useless!!"

-"OK, let's just keep going."
"Wait, what are we going to do about Vegomagus' corpse?"
"We already looted him."
"No, I mean, are we going to bury him?"
"Hmm. Oh, I know, pile some robot corpses on top of him."
"We're burying him with the same thing that killed him!"

-"Vegomagus died doing what he loved: nothing."

-"Vegomagus' epitaph: He died."

-"Vegomagus' epitaph: He was... a wizard?"

-They find a turbolift; as they go down it, the lift plays nursery rhymes.
"This is even more disturbing than The Girl From Ipanema!"

-They get to a door, which catboy manages to unlock. But the moment he opens it a pair of Giant Cyborg Poodles burst out, knocking him down.
"Heidi attacks with a critical, doing battle rage, +6d12 damage!"
"Those furious bulging eyes as he slaughters the poodle sure makes Heidi look like a Pacifist."

-They enter an insane looking dungeon/nursery, with adult prisoners trapped inside what look like giant titanium cribs. Only three are occupied: by an Orange Mutant Trader, a Human Sky-Sailor, and a Human Barbarian Glider.
"We found the Vegomagus' replacements!"
"They don't look promising."

-The party moves on to an old storage room, filled with old granny dresses, piles of old board games and puzzles missing pieces, stacks of decades-old magazines and news papers, and a portrait of a sad clown.
"Anyone find anything useful?"
"I found a box full of expired grocery coupons."
"I found a vinyl record of Burl Ives' Greatest Hits."

-Having thus far been unable to find the treasure vault of the Cyborg Grandmother, the PCs come up with a plan when the three newbies inform them that a trio of robot nannies were coming into their dungeon/nursery once a day to feed them.
"Man this is a fucked up place."

-They plan to ambush the robot nannies, most of them are hiding in the nursery when the nannies arrive, except Heidi who is hiding on the ceiling of the corridor.

-The PCs are fighting the three robot nannies, but want to capture at least one with its robot-brain intact, to hack the location of the vault.
"The orange mutant is hit with the nanny's stun ray. He's knocked down and loses control of his bowels."
"A standard start for a new PC then."

-"I'm going to try to destroy the last nanny without damaging it's head unit. I fail my Deed die, but get a critical on the attack roll."
"OK, according to this you hit it right in the head for extra damage."

-With all three nannies ruined, they go back to just searching randomly. They find a huge room that they hoped would be the vault, but in fact it's a gigantic wal-mart sized pantry, filled with all kinds of jams, preserves, dried goods, and hard candy.
"Are they just... jams?"
"Yes, and other grandma-style stuff, like hard candies."
"Are all the jams normal?"
"No, there seems to be one shelf of some weird colored or glowing jams."
"So, you could jams?"

-"Wait... are you just basing this dungeon on your grandma's house?"

-After raiding the pantry, including taking most of the weird space jams, they find another door.
"I listen at the door."
"You hear the sound of someone rocking out to Queen."

-They open the door and find a late-20-something in the bedroom of a superannuated teenager.
"Wait, we're in the bottom floor of the Death Fortress, right? Like, the basement?"
"Oh shit, this is her useless grandson."

-Indeed, the person they find is the Cyber Grandmother's grandson, Marty.
"Hey, like, if you're robbing my grandma, I can take you to the Vault. BUT, I get a cut, and you  have to make it look like I had nothing to do with it."
"Oh, you're that kind of grandson. A terrible grandson."
"Hey! It's not like it's my fault! The old hag hardly even gives me an allowance. I can't earn my own money because I took a degree in communication. It's worthless!"
"Why the hell did you study communication?!"
"Me Barbarian and even me know that stupid!"

-"What can you tell us about these jams?"
"They're grandma's experimental jams."
"So, like the grandma version of experimental jazz?"

-"Ignore the barbarian. He's Level 0, he doesn't count for anything."

-"The vault is guarded by a Cyborg Eye-Tyrant!"

-They surprise-attack the Cyborg Eye-Tyrant. Heidi misses, but Boylord hits, and they take it out before it can use any of its death-rays.  Then Boylord disables the security systems and cracks the complex lock of the vault.
"He's actually useful!"
"Wow, hey, I'm actually a Thief, pulling off a heist!"

-They get inside, and the vault is full of treasure! Unfortunately, it's also full of Cyborg-Mummy.
"Hey, that's grandpa! And Grandma's three other dead husbands!"

-"Our guns can't hurt it! We need someone with some kind of divine power!"
"You're a saint, Lenny!"

-Half the party is frozen in fear at the sight of the mummies.
"Am I frozen in fear?"
"No, you have a bonus because you're a Halconlord."
"Can I pretend I'm frozen in fear?"

-"I'm doing really good today."
"With Vegomagus dead, Boylord is our new leader!"

-"Pray harder, Lenny! Smite them!"
"I'm trying my best!!"
"Stop crying, you baby!"

-"You didn't give me a gun!"
"I'd rather Laquanda have it! She's already killed one of these things."

-"I shot the shortest, baldest mummy!"
"You didn't kill it."

-They finally kill the mummies, and loot the treasure room. But the Holy Wafer isn't there!
"Hey, I know! Maybe the Wafer was inside us all along!"
"Again, me barbarian and even me think that stupid!"

-"Wait, you guys are looking for the wafer? It ain't here man."
"Well where is it, Marty?"
"It's in Grandma. It's what's keeping her alive!"
"How come?"
"It's really powerful, and she's really really old."

-Being down on health and resources, but laden with treasure, they decide to get back to the Superfly, and then try to get back into the Fortress to face the Cyborg Grandma. Lenny actually manages to finally pull off a major miracle, and teleports the whole crew and all the massive amounts of treasure onto the ship.
"Well, you were finally useful when it really counted!"

That's it for today. Stay tuned next time to see if the PCs will be able to face the deadly Cyber-Grandma!


Currently Smoking: Castello 4k Canadian + Image Latakia

Friday, 10 August 2018

Inappropriate Characters, Episode 5!

Yes, we're back with Venger Satanis and Grim Jim for another episode of Inappropriate Characters!

In this episode:

-We talk about Gencon's SJW infiltration and the violent assault on Jeremy Hambly

-We discuss the growing mainstream popularity of D&D

-Grim Jim tells us about his interview with Vampire-creator Mark Rein-Hagen, and how Rein-Hagen is pissed off at SJWs calling him a nazi

-I talk about my feud with Jonathan Tweet

All this, and Venger's wife let's him stay up slightly later than usual!

Check it out!:


Currently Smoking: Neerup Acorn + Image Virginia

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Video: Jonathan Tweet Doesn't Know What Storygames Are (and He Lied About Me)

Today, a new video. 

Jonathan Tweet is one of the best living game designers, or was until Trump Derangement Syndrome took hold.
He also took offense at my saying Over the Edge (maybe his best game ever) wasn't a Storygame, because apparently, somehow, he doesn't know the difference between Storygames and RPGs.

And to top it all off, he lied about me for no good reason.


Currently Smoking: Raleigh Hawkbill + Image Virginia

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Some of My Upcoming Productions

Today I thought I'd just share with y'all a preview of a few of the upcoming issues of RPGPundit Presents, not  necessarily in order (that's up to the publisher):

The Dragon Egg: a Medieval-Authentic Dark Albion adventure, taking place in the gritty streets of London. The PCs get involved with the potential purchase of a dragon's egg and a ritual to hatch it. A powerful noble seeks the Egg as a way to gain an advantage for his side in the Rose War, as no dragon has been seen alive in around 200 years. But the item sounds too good to be true, and a sinister inhuman enemy is connected to it with their own agenda.

Medieval-Authentic Activities for Successful Characters: Guidelines and mechanics for non-adventuring activities for mid or high-level characters, covering things like costs of living, purchasing properties or lands, farming or ranching, mercenary work, the responsibilities of high-level Clerics, Magister offices in a Collegium, running a gang, running a business, marriage/children and inheritance, and what happens when you become famous enough to catch the attention of the nobility.

Cult of the Saints: a Lion & Dragon sourcebook with information on how to integrate the veneration of saints into your Medieval-Authentic games, complete with information about how to use icons and relics, prayer for intercession and miracles, along with a big list of some popular Medieval Saints and their areas of influence.

Courtiers, Priests, Sages and Craftsmen: a short Lion & Dragon supplement detailing four classes for NPCs (or PCs, if they really want to be unusual).

The Zombie Kingdoms and the Theocracy of Lariel: a Last Sun gonzo supplement, detailing another region of the world of the Last Sun with two important realms: the vast and sprawling Zombie Kingdom ruled by intelligent undead, where living sentients are chattel, and the land of the strange cult of the Religious Fantastics.

Occult Killer Antagonists: three short Medieval-Authentic scenarios featuring occult-themed villains.

Intelligent Animals: A Last Sun supplement, usable in any gonzo OSR game, for playing intelligent animal characters, with statistics and information on dozens of different kinds of intelligent animals common in the world of the Last Sun.

So that's just what we  have coming up these next few weeks.  If you can think of something you'd like to see me write about for a future RPGPundit Presents supplement, feel free to let me know in the comments!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Egg + Image Virginia

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

New Gonzo OSR Adventure: "At the Darkness"!

A terrible Demon Prince rules over a huge section of the northern lands, and has been growing in power and territory for centuries. His power, and ability to remain on the Material Plane, derives from a pit to the Nether Regions that is protected by an impenetrable Field of Darkness.

The heroic PCs discover the magical research notes of the long-dead wizard Banang, who's final entries included this passage:

"Since the beginning of time, every wizard has had only one dream: to be able to cast Magic Missile at the darkness! Now, I have succeeded!"

RPGPundit Presents #42: At the Darkness is a gonzo OSR adventure, set in the world of the Last Sun but playable in any gonzo OSR campaign, involving a quest for the ultimate spell: Advanced Magic Missile, a Magic Missile spell that is finally able to be cast at the darkness, in order to liberate the north from the evil domination of the Demon Prince Zozzsz.   It features wilderness and dungeon adventuring, as the PCs must negotiate Zozzsz's Orcish armies, and his dreaded Wraith Princes, to seek out the only remaining scroll of this mighty spell.

Along the way, they'll also encounter the warrior-cultist Halconlords, Lenny the Cannibal, the local rebellion against Zozzsz's rule, and a doomed community of Hipster Elves living in a ruined elven dome; all of which might be friends... or foes.

Will your PCs be able to obtain the legendary Advanced Magic Missile spell? Or will the terrors of the demon-plagued north destroy them?

You can get RPGPundit Presents #42: At the Darkness from DTRPG, or the Precis Intermedia Webstore. Either way, it's just $2.99!

And while you're at it, be sure to pick up the rest of the great supplements in the RPGPundit Presents series:

RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia  (usable for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons

RPGPundit Presents #5: The Child-Eaters (an adventure scenario for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #17: The Hunters (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #21: Hecate's Tomb (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

Stay tuned for more next week!


Currently smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia

Monday, 6 August 2018

Classic Rant: Limits on Aggression in Dark Albion

Someone had suggested to me, quite some time ago (but I never got around to writing on it until now), that this youtube video on the subject of aggression in the context of RPGs was of relevance to some of what I'd talked about how the culture in Dark Albion ought to be different than in regular D&D games and you can't just have people breaking out into open violence at every turn.

Now, I do appreciate getting the recommendation. But besides being too long, I really don't find this video very relevant to Albion. Or indeed, to most medieval settings. There ARE consequences to violence in Albion, but its got nothing to do with "escalation".
It's got to do with propriety.

In Albion it's not about how violent you are, usually, it's about whether or not you're ALLOWED to be violent at someone.

In fact, if you have two knights and they have a dispute, it will NEVER be resolved in pushing and shoving. Fisticuffs and wrestling (except for sport) was completely beneath a knight or noble; it's what filthy peasants did. A dispute between two knights would go from "Arguing" right to either "Duel" or "Appeal to a Lord".

Peasants can punch the shit out of each other, but if one kills another it's bad, because it is not proper for them to kill another peasant. 
A lord can kill a peasant, but not someone else's peasant, only his own. And even then, by the time of the Rose War, he already needs to be able to justify it a bit if questioned on it.

Peasants can NEVER appropriately punch a lord, and drawing a weapon on a lord is petit-treason.

So the issue isn't degree of violence, it's whether it's Socially Permitted or not.

The video link seems to be much more about modern sensibilities than medieval ones. I hope this blog entry points out just how different the medieval ones are, and that this is what you need be able to present IF you want to run Dark Albion in a way that is "medieval authentic".


Currently Smoking: Castello 4K Canadian + Image Latakia

(Originally posted August 24, 2016)

Sunday, 5 August 2018

On Gencon Protecting and Endorsing Political Violence

For those of you who hadn't heard, Gencon was this weekend. And at Gencon, a piece of shit designer of shit games named Matt Loter decided to violently assault a guy who politically disagreed with him, by sucker-punching him in the bar and violently hitting him and tearing at his clothing and then breaking a bar window when he forced out of there.

The guy who was assaulted, a popular youtuber about Magic: the Gathering with anti-SJW views, reported the incident to the police and to Gencon. But Gencon refused to expel Loter, and in fact went on to promote his products on their social media, as if to REWARD him for his act of political violence. Because Gencon is clearly under the control of people like Loter, of psychotic little totalitarians who despise notions like freedom of speech and think that silencing your enemies by any means, including violence, is justifiable.

Two or three decades ago, it wouldn't even have been necessary to explain why this is a terrible idea. No one was openly praising the concept of political violence. But all over geek social media now, we have all kinds of people... you know, morons... defending Loter's actions.

So I guess I have to explain to some of you reading this why Political Violence against those who have differing ideas, no matter how bad you think those ideas are, or how hurt you think they make you feel or may theoretically make other people you want to convince yourself you care about feel, is a terrible, terrible idea.

If you punch someone for what they have said or believe, or what you believe they believe, then very simply put you are endorsing the higher concept of Political Violence, that it is acceptable to engage in violence against another person for having different ideas than you.

As soon as you do that, you open the door to civil wars, gulags, and death camps.

Western Liberal-Enlightenment Values work, and are the only thing that really works to create a prosperous and functional society that truly moves beyond barbarism.  It was adopted and clung to in the West for 300+ years because of the alternatives, and every generation or two there was some horrible war or atrocity to remind us of the alternative.
It works because you recognize the inherent Rights of Man that everyone equally has a right to their own speech and conscience, as a kind of treaty against mutually-assured destruction. We have to recognize EVERYONE'S freedom of speech and conscience, because as soon as you claim that your brute force/power can be used to violently silence someone who disagrees with you, you are forfeiting your only argument against someone else more powerful than you using their brute force to silence YOU.

The problem is today we have a generation of lazy self-absorbed little megalomaniacs who were raised in the greatest of cotton-wool swaddling and have never known any real existential fear of anything (and, as a result, are horrified by all kinds of idiotically petty things). They are possibly the softest, weakest, most decadent, most narcissistic generation in human history, and have decided that the Western Enlightenment values are stupid because it stops them from being able to silence people who make them feel offended. They have no idea what doing this will cause, and hilariously don't realize just how pathetically, absurdly weak they are as people and how badly they will end up being the biggest losers when their incessant demand to legitimize political violence brings about a real response.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Egg + Country Doctor

Saturday, 4 August 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: Adventure Writing Like a Fucking Boss

This is a review of the RPG product, "Adventure Writing Like a Fucking Boss", written by Venger Satanis, published by Kort'thalis publishing. It is as always a print edition, 30 pages long, divided into two parts (part I and part II). The front cover is in full color and depicts an impressive image of a dragon breathing fire; while the interior is in black and white, and contains several pieces of art (mostly in a classic fantasy style).

I should preface by saying that while I have nothing to do with the creation of this book nor do I profit from it in any way, I do have a connection to its author in the sense that we're both hosts of the Inappropriate Characters YouTube show.  I don't think this will affect my fairness in reviewing the product, but I want to make it clear for the sake of transparency.

This short volume claims to be a guide to "how to write scenarios that don't suck".

His first point? "No Limits". A section where he talks about how great it is that you can write whatever you want to in an adventure. Amusingly, Venger (who has offended a lot of people, though admittedly mostly the easily-offended) tells his readers that they should not "go out of their way to offend readers". He also presents a limit: suggesting that designers should avoid writing scenarios that ask the PCs to hurt children.

Next, he advises on how to make an 'elevator pitch' for your adventure; that it should have a summary of what it is about, and emphasizes three key elements for a pitch to be successful: that it be intelligible, that it be intriguing, and that it be exciting.
I can't say I have any objection to that, and certainly an adventure having all three of those qualities generally makes sense, though there's a lot of adventuring which can be intelligible, intriguing, and exciting that can't really be summed up in a one-sentence pitch.

Regarding writing style, Venger's chief piece of advice is that no matter what style of writing you use, someone isn't going to like it, and to focus more on continually improving, and not on pleasing everyone. That's sound advice.

Venger suggests taking a moderate approach in the 'railroad' argument; he says that actual railroads must be avoided, sandboxes are OK but his ideal is to put in 'guardrails' that help direct the PC party while leaving them personal choice. OK, that sounds fine. Someone like me, who already knows this, gets it right away but (like a lot of his advice sections) he probably ought to have provided way more detail and example.

This highlites what I think may be a problem with this product: one would presume that Venger is writing it for people who don't already know how to make adventures. If you already know how to make adventures, none of this is news. If you don't, though, it seems like this might not be enough. It doesn't give the detail to really help someone without significant adventure-design experience.

Venger then goes on to talk about 'scenes', and here thankfully he does get into a bit more detail. He suggests these are "building blocks of adventure writing". He advises, as a broad guideline, that a 'scene' should require about half a page of notes, and that a short scenario should have 5 pages of text (meaning, I presume, 10 'scenes').
I think this may all be a little too structured for my taste, but I'll note that Venger does repeat the warning about not railroading.
He provides guidelines about setting up the scene, in the sense of asking who is in it, where it's happening, and what is going on. He suggests the core of the scene is about conflict; and that there should be some form of conflict in the scene, and optionally some secondary conflict(s) involved. Beyond that, there's guidance about making a conflict more interesting, which includes a random table about twists to add to the scene; that's good, but unfortunately it's a very short and very broad random table: it only has 8 entries, most of which are along the lines of "they do something unusual" or "they know something unusual" and the 8th entry is just "roll twice".
There's a subtable, of "Unusual" things, but it only has 6 entries, and the last is, you guessed it, "roll twice".

There's a short section about 'upping the ante' (finding ways to make a PC care deeply about the conflict in question), and about 'the stakes' (what the PCs feel they have to gain or lose).

After this, he goes off the reservation with what he calls "the trailer test", suggesting that you should envision your scenario as if it was material for a movie trailer, and that you need to have some of the scenes be 'trailer material'. This betrays a fundamental split-personality in his writing. Venger talks about not railroading, he understands that this is a game not a movie, but he still seems to want to treat his adventure writing as if he's writing to try to create 'story'. He misses, in all this, one of the most fundamental points of successful RPG design: that RPGs are not story-making, they're world-making.

He goes on to talk about 'betwixt scenes' (what he calls 'moments', as breathers between action), and 'the callback' (making reference at later points of the adventure to something that happened earlier in the adventure).

After a mostly needless page quoting a scene from Resevoir Dogs, we get to Part II. Here we start with the advice of "just start writing", which is good sound advice. He even elaborates on this by giving a three-month plan of how to proceed.

In this second part, which deals more with writing an adventure for publishing, so we get some advice on stuff like cover art and interior art.

You also have some very good advice about leaving a few 'blank spots' in an adventure; not trying to cover every last detail, but rather writing an adventure so as to give the GM using it room to add either a little or a lot to make his own out of the adventure.

I think that not every piece of advice Venger provides in this book actually matches everything Venger does in his own adventures (for example, with the exception of his Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence, which is a true sandbox, most of the adventure-writing of his I've seen is more railroady than one would like), one piece of advice that very clearly matches his adventure-writing is his suggestion to go over the top in presenting PCs with places to be, and things to do. Venger's style is certainly not about subtlety. He also advises you to give player characters complications, and give monsters motives.

As you may have noted, I don't agree fully with every piece of advice Venger gives, but one I certainly agree with his advice to use Random Tables, as a tool for creativity.

On the other hand, I couldn't disagree more with his advice about 'balancing encounters'.  He advises that encounters that are vastly in the PCs' favor should just be swept away rather than fought out; or that encounters that are extremely difficult should be deus-ex-machina-ed away. Very wrong.

Venger provides basic suggestions about different types of endings you can have: the boss fight, the twist ending, the puzzle-like solution, or the weird ending. Advice on NPCs is equally straightforward: suggesting that for basic NPCs only the most basic information about motive, appearance, and purpose needs to be answered, but that more important NPCs should be more fully fleshed out. You get similar information about the importance of room descriptions.

The next major bit of advice is entitled "needs more tentacles", which I guess is certainly something that Venger has applied in his own adventure design. He doesn't strictly mean 'tentacles' literally, but suggests he really means 'more awesomeness'. If you aren't exactly sure what the relationship between 'tentacle' and 'awesomeness' is, he elaborates with extra points like "dark", "Weird" and "sexy", only two of which I'd personally associate with 'tentacles'.

There's more advice, about making your imagery evocative, about it giving the PCs mental possibilities, about adding in some random mechanics, and the value of having factions present in an adventure (other than the faction of the PCs themselves).  All of these are fairly short.

A slightly larger section (half a page) is given to advice on how to be funny. Venger elaborates on the various types of humor: silliness, ridiculousness, self-mocking humor, and clever humor.

Readers are later advised that if they find something they're writing about to be exciting, they should elaborate on that as much as possible.
There's also a repetition not to railroad, adding that if certain phrases apply to a scene (like "the PCs can't rescue..." or "The PCs always fail at..") these things should be "shot between the eyes".

Finally, we get to a subject that's obviously relevant to yours truly: reviews. Venger points out that he personally doesn't buy anything that hasn't had at least one decent review, defining 'decent' as something that "gives me a sense of what the product is like". He wisely warns would-be adventure writers to be prepared for 'bad news'; that is to say, to be prepared to take criticism well (hope he's keeping that in mind here).
He suggests that reviewers can be broadly divided into "positive" (reviewers who usually express only the stuff they like about a product), "negative" (those who only express what they don't like) and "neutral" (reviewers who try to take an objective perspective of the product, and try to assess what kind of reader might like a product and what kind might not).
This is a good section, though he could have saved newbie writer/publishers some time and just shortened it all to "Give the RPGPundit your stuff".

So what to conclude about "Adventure Writing Like a Fucking Boss"? 
I'd have to say that on the whole, it's not one of Venger's stronger products. For it to be truly useful to a would-be adventure writer, or adventure publisher, it would need to have a lot more depth of material. It would need to be longer.

As it is, I feel like I gave away most of the contents of the material just in writing this review.

To someone who already knows a bit about writing adventures, this product wouldn't really be much help.  To someone who doesn't know anything about writing adventures, it's too short and limited in content to be of much help.  As a "tips and tricks" kind of thing I guess it might have something of value. And yet, it's hit platinum-bestseller on DTRPG.  So I can't really argue with the success of that. I guess some people found those tips and tricks enough to be worthwhile.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Acorn + Image Virginia