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Tuesday 31 December 2013

Ring out the old..

So here we are; as I write, there are about 4.5 hours left (in my little corner of the world) until 2013 is gone forever.  It was a very good year, I say to it "well done".  In this year Arrows of Indra was released and has done very well, and Lords of Olympus continues to receive praise.  The Wench and I moved into The Abbey, and after some big hassles the first few months of the year we have now settled in and are very pleased with the place.  I've done some awesome gaming this year, in spite of only having three campaigns going on, but ICONS Golden Age, Dark Albion, and my english-language DCC campaign have all been doing great. I kept advising WoTC on D&D Next, and there's high hopes that it will be far closer to sanity than we've seen from a D&D game in quite a long while; and I also got to be a consultant and writer for Raiders of R'lyeh, a project I feel quite happy to be a part of, and that I think will make a big splash when it comes out early next year. And, of course, this blog also finally moved here which has led to an upsurge in readership and interest, so yay that!

Based on current goings-on, I Ching castings, the alignments of the stars, etc. I can expect that the first little bit of 2014 will be slow, but maybe slowing down is something I need.  I would like to have more time to work on a few things, and I also need some rest and recovery.

I expect too that later on things will pick up.  I have quite a few ideas for games I want to run, and gaming stuff I want to write; too many in fact for all of it to manifest in 2014.   But hopefully some of it will, and it will be awesome.

Anyways, I want to thank all of you who read this blog; I hope you all have a great New Year and 2014 ends up being positive and prosperous for you.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell horn + Gawith's Navy Flake

Monday 30 December 2013

Uncracked Monday: The Greatest Feminist Thinker

Someday, if our civilization survives, it will be Camille Paglia who will be remembered as the truly great thinker in the third wave of Feminism, the one (one of the only ones) who had the guts to shatter the standard paradigm and dare to say things that no one at all wanted to hear from her, that everyone else was terrified went contrary to their common cause.  She dared to say these things because she knew that they were true; many other people also knew they were true but were too afraid to say so.

So please, if you want your mind blown and all your assumptions challenged, read this interview from the Wall Street Journal with Camille Paglia.

She talks there about how at the moment, because of an academic and then social embrace of very dangerous of French post-structuralist bastards (her word, though absolutely mine too; actaully, I'd say "bastards" is far too delicate; I'd say something like motherfucking monsters) like Foucault and Derrida, our civilization is at risk of "societal suicide".  And she is one of the few who fundamentally grasps that the cause of feminism and Western Civilization are not at odds with each other, but that on the contrary, Feminism absolutely DEPENDS upon the ongoing survival of western civilization if it is to have any chance of obtaining and maintaining its most important and most laudable goals.

Maybe its because, unlike most feminists, Paglia can read Latin, and has studied history (real history, not imaginary make-believe history about ancient utopian matriarchies coming out of "different ways of knowing").  That might be why she has the mind she has, and knows just what the stakes are.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia

Sunday 29 December 2013

DCC Campaign Update: Don't mess with Queen Booboo

DCC Campaign Update: Don't mess with Queen Booboo

In today's session (played outside at a private pool & BBQ, by the way!), the players were:

-Ambushed by a cape-wearing Vampire Chimp and his Merlady-Vampire girlfriend

-Charged at by a Morningstarasaurus.

-Double-crossed by a gorgeous and friendly Medusa.

-Viciously assaulted by a gang of dungeon-punk cannibal halflings and their chief, Queen Booboo.

-Ripped-off by a 5th Level Chaos-Lord/Alcoholic.

-Introduced to an Innkeeper named Osman, and another named One-eye.

-Convinced to hire a sellsword named Ralph.

-Privy to a very visible and explosive demonstration that the Daemon of Punk Chaos and Destruction and the Daemon of Heavy Metal Dragons do not like each other one bit.

-Unable to recover their miniature Elephant.

That's all for today.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker + Brebbia no.7 Mixture

Saturday 28 December 2013

Making Arrows of Indra NPC Statblocks is Fun and Easy!

Making Arrows of Indra NPC Statblocks is Fun and Easy!

So recently I made a few NPCs that I wanted to stat out for my Arrows of Indra  playtest campaign.  You know, if you read my blog, that I often don’t bother to fully stat-out PCs, much less go through all the trouble of fully generating them; but I specifically wanted to do so in these cases, as a kind of test.  And as it turns out, doing so was quite painless!

I quickly rolled the stats using the standard method, chose race and class, and decided what level I wanted the NPCs to be.  After that, I applied level-based abilities automatically, and for the background and class skills I chose to roll them all randomly using the method provided.  Arrows of Indra provides the option for players to have certain limited ranges of choice in their skills; a player can choose to raise his existing background skills rather than roll, or to choose from the basic Class Skill list, rather than roll (the difference being that only by rolling does he have a chance of getting on to the Advanced Class Skills), but I decided to do it all randomly.  The end result was characters that were generated really quick, and that work really well for what I wanted them to do.

Just for reference, here’s a couple of the (abridged) statblocks:
1.Fighter level 6: Attack:+5m/4r hp:32 AC:17/18r SV: 13, Skills: Sword +2/3, mace+1, combat maneuvers (defensive attack at -2), charioteer.
eq: Lamellar armor + shield, Khanda Sword (1d8+4 damage; total attack bonus: +7), Mace (1d6+1 damage, total attack bonus: +6)

2.  Thief level 2: Attack:+0/1r  hp:10 AC:15 SV:14 Skills: literate, backstabx2, pp/ol/ft/snk+3 lis+1 climb+4 disguise+2
eq: Leather Armor, Kukri dagger (1d4 damage, total attack bonus: +0), Spear (1d6 damage; total attack bonus: +0), Sling (1d4 damage; total attack bonus: +1)

That’s about it; as you see, there’s nothing much there, in the mechanics themselves, that will differentiate the game in actual play from other OSR games.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Quiete Volcano + Rattray’s Accountant’s Mix

(originally posted October 20th, 2012; on the old blog)

Friday 27 December 2013

Lords Of Olympus: The Walking, Talking, Excessively Accessible Dead

In the Lords of Olympus setting, people can die. NPCs can die, players can die too.  And there's technically no resurrection spell.

However, in one sense dealing with mortality is something that may have more options in LoO than in most other games; the dead are potentially everywhere.

First, there's the multiverse.  Your favorite manservant died in battle? Your girlfriend was murdered by one of Apollo's agents?  Well shit, you can go out and find a clone in a world almost like the one they were from.  This might even get used against you: an enemy might lead you to think your supposedly-dead girlfriend is still alive; and of course as an Olympian you know that she could just be a copy from some other realm... but can you be sure?

Because there's another detail too: everyone who ever dies in Lords of Olympus LITERALLY goes to the Underworld. And the Underworld is an actual place. For an Olympian, its kind of like if in our world everyone you ever gave a fuck about who "died" just ended up in Detroit. You can visit Detroit (though its not usually very nice), you can search around to try to find people in Detroit, if you find them, you might even be able to get them out of Detroit alive (assuming you can figure out a way for them to get a body back)!  Of course, Hades does not care for the idea of people coming into the Underworld intent on taking away HIS inhabitants; he's a bit of a fascist that way.. or it could be something about "cosmic balance", its hard to say.  In either case, if that manservant tied on your armor in just the perfect way, so much so that its really worth the costs, you're going to have to either cut a deal with Hades, trick Hades or oppose Hades if you're going to try to get Manny Armorties back up to the land of the living.

And if you can't get there or do those things, you can still also just call "Detroit";  have you got Advanced Scrying? Then you can try to communicate with the spirit of any dead mortal you ever knew from the safety of your own home Realm. If it was Manny's advice you valued more than his armor-tying skills, then you can still consult with him on the problems and tribulations you now face after his unfortunate demise (assuming he's not pissed off about the 23 spearheads in the back he got while helping you escape to safety with nary a scratch; in LoO you can go find the dead without much challenge but that doesn't mean they'll always want to talk to you!).

Ironically, there's one exception in the whole wide multiverse to all this: the Gods.  Those who have Immortality do not live on as spirits in the underworld after death.  And you may find some reasonable facsimile of them out in the multiverse, but its just not the same.  There's only one Hermes, only one Aphrodite, and if they (or any PC who has Immortality) should die, their like will never be seen again.  The Gods alone are truly unique.
Note that a clever player might think this through and decide NOT to get Immortality, so that if he dies in battle he could just be rescued from the Underworld, and while strictly speaking the GM should not just outright deny this possibility he should consider the following points: first, Hades will particularly want to keep as his thralls those who were of Divine Blood. When the day comes that he must march out his armies to fight some great foe, it is these heroes in particular which give him an edge... maybe even an edge over Olympus!  Second, the PC will be as likely to have people, personal enemies or family enemies, who will want to NOT see him back as he will those who want to save him.  Third, unless the PC made very clever preparations indeed, he is likely to be either lost in Asphodel or partying in Elysium; in the former case he will have no memory whatsoever of his former life; in the latter, he will be experiencing such pleasure and bliss he will have been 'enchanted' by it not to wish to ever leave. Though this would pass after leaving the underworld, the PC needs to not only have friends willing to save him, but friends willing to drag him kicking and screaming back to life against his own will.
And of course, the final salient point: this is Lords of Olympus. If you've really got a game where all the players are totally peachy-keen on the idea of teaming up to save a fellow player's dead PC at risk to their own PCs' lives, freedoms or power, then you're probably running it wrong.


Currently Smoking: Castello 4k Collection Canadian + Image Latakia

Thursday 26 December 2013

Doctor Who Christmas: Responding to the Nerds that Don't-Get-It

So, I have watched "The Time of the Doctor".  And I loved it.  What a magnificent sendoff for the 11th (or 12th? Or was it 13th?) Doctor!  In many ways, it was far better done than The End of Time; both for not having a first-part that sucked ass, and for doing much more to tie in with everything that the 11th doctor had been all about, to tie up loose ends, and to have this Doctor sign out doing something other than whining like a little bitch about not wanting to go.

Plus we got our first five seconds or so of Peter Capaldi.  If there's one thing to be pissed off about is that the BBC is now seriously expecting us all to wait until September to get any more.

I thought that as an ending it was touching and iconic and very right.  And then, imagine my surprise when I log onto the interwebs, and find that there's a string of uber-nerds out there, the type that dislike the popularization of nerd culture because it means they might have to interact with humans, and talk about dumb things like feelings instead of discussing Aquaman, who have been shitting all over the final episode of the Matt Smith doctor and the new series in general.

"The plot made no sense!", they whine.
"there were humans on that planet for no reason!" they bitch.
"Scientifically, they would all freeze to death" they moan
"Alien #17 doesn't act in the way he should based on a book I have from a semi-canonical source!" they agonize.
"the technology makes no sense and is all over the place" they cry
("you know what I love about Doctor Who?" I answer, snickering with glee "he has a sonic screwdriver; just one piece of tech, and it does whatever the fuck he wants, unless its better that he can't then it doesn't. And it was invented by Jehovah just to drive all the fucking mouth-breathing tech-nerds nuts!")

"They never explained point x that no one else cares about now but I refuse to stop obsessing about like the pathetic little self-diagnosed-aspergerite I am!!" they wail.

Fuck all of you.
I love the ones saying "the new Doctor Who isn't science-fiction!"; inevitably comparing it to some infinitely more boring series like one of the horrible Stargate franchises, those shows written for people who need to know all the specs for the guns everyone is wearing but could only make a vague shot-in-the-dark guess as to how normal people feel about each other.

Yes, you dumbfuck, if that's what you imagine as "science fiction", then I suppose that Doctor Who is not that.  But we're taking even that away from you now. You don't deserve it. No one gives a shit about 'Canon', no one cares about your obsessive-compulsive insistence on 'consistency', and absolutely no one gives a flying fuck about the fact that you're stupid enough to think that 'stargate' is a superior work of human storytelling than Doctor Who.
Most people don't even remember there was a 'stargate'.  500 years from now, people might still be studying Doctor Who. Shit, they might still be telling his stories.

So yeah, Doctor Who isn't 'science fiction', in the sad limited sense you imagine that term; Doctor Who is MYTH.  He is a modern motherfucking God. Its not science, its Religion.  Its not about being 'consistent' its about being Amazing.

Matt Smith was amazing. And I'm sure Peter Capaldi will be too. Because at this point, its not just about acting. Its about embodying an archetype.

Now we wait, in the dark of the long night these nine months to come, waiting for the new man in the old blue box, wondering what he'll be, and what he'll show us.


Currently Smoking Gigi Bent Billiard + Dunhill 965

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Christmas In The Most Secular Country In Latinamerica

Long before pot legalization and gay marriage, Uruguay was a freak in the local scene: a country that for the last 100 years or so was officially secular in the most catholic region on earth.  A Spanish-speaking Latin American country who's majority of citizens don't care very much about religion.  Rates of church attendance in Uruguay are as low or lower than most western European nations; insanely lower than any of its neighbours.

So Christmas is not really about Jesus here.  On the other hand, its also not about winter, obviously. We're in the middle of summer, and on Christmas eve day it hit 40 degrees Celcius (don't know what that is in American, but its fucking hot).

So its not about snowmen or sleigh rides or hot cocoa or turkey or fireplaces, either. Its about Santa Claus of course, for the kids; but for everyone else, its mostly about loud music, late dinners, drinking, and especially fireworks.

This is the first fireworks for me since moving to The Abbey; and i have to say its spectacular.  Before, I would watch them from the balcony; and since in this country absolutely everyone gets fireworks and shoots them all over the place (with no regard for any kind of laws or basic common sense) you get quite a show no matter where you are in the city.  People of all ages, and all across the class spectrum, spend small and large fortunes in buying fireworks and then drunkenly firing them off every which way at midnight on Christmas and New Year (yes, every single year fires are started, property is destroy and people die here for Christmas).  So its quite the show, but in my old place quite a bit of that was blocked off due to being in a tall building, balcony facing one direction, with tall buildings in front.

Here, the Abbey roof (which is flat, paved, and has a patio area) is in the middle of the block and every building around is only as tall or shorter than itself.  This means I get to see fireworks in every direction.  It was quite a show.

Anyways, hope the rest of you have a nice Christmas too; now its off to wait for the Doctor Who special!

I leave you with one of my favorite Christmas songs, which coincidentally captures Christmas in secular summery Uruguay to a tee.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Tempesta + Argento Latakia

Tuesday 24 December 2013

RPGPundit Reviews: Napoleon

RPGPundit Reviews: Napoleon

This is a review of Columbia Games' wargame "Napoleon".  I don't usually do wargame reviews, but Columbia games has been kind enough to send me several of theirs, which I've reviewed previously; and thus far none of them have been disappointing.  Richard III, Julius Caesar, Wizard Kings, Crusader Rex; all of these have been consistently great.

Napoleon looks to be no different!  Its a "slipcase" game, a pretty box to put on a bookshelf, and it contains a significant number of wood blocks (and a few dice), with particularly attractive unit-stickers to attach to them; these are the different military forces.  There's some reference sheets (which detail how to initially place the different units to match the historical campaign), an impressively lovely full-color map of the area of the Waterloo campaign (unlike some of the other games, this map is hard board, not just paper), and of course the rules.

One of the things that's great about Napoleon (and all the Columbia games rules in this series) is that it hits what is for me the perfect sweet spot in wargaming.  I don't mind some rules-lite strategy games that are quite simple, if they're well done (Memoir '44 springs to mind as an example of real excellence!), but I don't want something too simplistic.  On the other hand, I also can't stand those strategy games with 40-page rulebooks that take 16 hours of play time to be resolved.

Napoleon, on the other hand, has a level of complexity that is interesting, strives to create an accurate reproduction of the historical campaign its based on, but the play time on the box is listed as 1-2 hours.  In my experience, I'll note, its a little closer to 1.5-3 hours (potentially even a little over 4 hours if its the first time learning the rules for one or both players), but that's OK by me.  That time range is just perfect; nothing so long, complex and involved as to be restrictive (like many other games I've liked but left sitting idle on my shelf for lack of time to play them, and more than a few that are lying there because they're long AND too complicated and I wouldn't choose to play them even if I had the time!).  Napoleon is just the right length, pace, and complexity for my liking.

The Napoleon rulebook, by the way, is only about 8 pages long.  For someone used to an RPG corebook, its like nothing. Its hard to believe that's the entirety of the system.  And even by wargamer standards, its amazing to see how elegant and thorough the rules are.

So, first and foremost, in case you haven't got the hint yet, "Napoleon" is a game that simulates the 1815 Waterloo campaign; where the English under the great Wellington (along with a couple of continental allies) confronted the monstrous French tyrant and insured his final defeat.  Of course, in the game, things could turn out the other way around.
This is an historical game; so the primary concern is not for the sides to be "balanced", in the sense of having the same likelihood of winning, but rather the forces are arranged by historical accuracy.  Players can choose to make the initial setup match the historical positions at the start of the campaign, or to set up free-form.

The wooden blocks as units are a clever mechanic concept: they're placed upright in such a way that a player can see the units on his own blocks, but not the unit on enemy blocks; the blocks are only set down and revealed when combat occurs, this simulate the "fog of war"; you know where an opposing unit is situated, but not what its strength consists of.  The blocks also allow for an easy way to keep track of the unit-strength (ie. its "hit points"), rotating the block 90 degrees whenever it takes a hit, reducing its strength (of course, a unit down to 1 strength taking another hit is eliminated).

One of the keys to the short duration of this game compared to others is that play runs fast, and (crucially) there are only a certain number of Turns in the game.  When the turns are done, so is the game (assuming no one wins earlier than that).  To win, the French player has to eliminate a certain number of enemy units before the end of the game, or manage to occupy two of the three major cities on the board anytime after the June 22nd turn (occupying any of these cities also result in losses for the allies each turn, as they are major supply points for the allied forces). In the case that both sides are simultaneously defeated, it is also considered a technical victory for the French.
The allies (the British and their hangers-on) are victorious if they destroy sufficient french units, OR if the game ends without the French meeting any of their victory conditions (it presumes that without a decisive victory, Napoleon would run out of steam, given his tricky position).

Pieces are positioned on the map and the game takes place in turns; one side resolves all their actions first in the turn, then the other. Actions include movement, where units will move along roads from one town to the next, with certain restrictions on how many units can move on a given road; and with cavalry or horse artillery or leaders getting to move further than infantry; and a special "forced march" rule that lets you move units further but risks reducing their strength.

Forces that move into the same location as enemy units begin a battle; if there's less than three units on either side then the battle is a skirmish, which has fast and simple resolution; if both sides have 3 or more units, its a full battle.
In the latter case, the blocks involved are moved to a special battle sheet, which features battle areas, each side having a left and right flank and a center, plus a reserve at the back. Players place units on each position and there are special rules each "battle round" for how they can move and fight. Combat is fast and simple, with units rolling a number of regular dice equal to their current strength, and must hit equal or under a certain target number to score a hit. Hits are applied to the highest-strength unit in the opposing forces (in the case of a tie, the opposing player gets to pick which unit takes the hit).  Battle rounds are also done in turns, with the attacker going first, moving and fighting, then the defender gets to respond.  There are morale rules for units who have been reduced to 1 point of strength; if they fail their morale check they may retreat or rout. Cavalry units can charge (getting a to-hit bonus), artillery can fire from outside their own zone, and infantry can "form square" for added morale and to protect leaders or artillery units (and making them more effective against cavalry, though less against enemy infantry or artillery).
The battle lasts until the attacking force fails to engage for two consecutive battle rounds, or when either side is the sole occupant of any enemy zone (in the latter case, the losing side Routs, causing serious damage to all fleeing units).

Three forces have leaders: the Prussians have Blucher, the English have Wellington, and the French have Napoleon.  They grant special bonuses to any accompanying units of their own nationality, reducing the risk of forced marches, improving morale in battle, and having a couple of other modifying factors.  Leaders can be eliminated; leader elimination does not cause defeat in and of itself, not even if Napoleon himself is eliminated.

So how to conclude?  In short, Napoleon, like all the other games in this series I've reviewed, is an awesome wargame.  I figure at this point the company knows that a positive review will be a foregone conclusion, which is why they keep sending me these games at no doubt considerable expense to them (a transaction that I'm quite happy about, of course).  But there's no question to me that if you like historical wargames, especially within the parameters I've given, you're going to really like Napoleon.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia

Monday 23 December 2013

UnCracked Monday: Western Buddhists are really just Star Trek Cosplayers

I find it funny; I used to use this as an insult. I should have known that sooner or later some Buddhist who was slightly more conscious and less shy about being a Star Trek fanatic would actually just go out and claim it, like a badge of pride, and pretend that Buddhism is really Just Like Being a Real Vulcan.

The tragic part is that he's largely right, if what you're talking about is that certain brand of pop-culture baby-boomer mainstream Consensus Buddhism in the west. Of course, that Buddhism has very little to do with what Buddhism looks like in the rest of the world, and almost nothing to do with anything the Buddha himself was doing.

If the latter is what you're trying to claim, that somehow the Buddha was advocating that everyone go out there and act like Mr. Spock, then it really isn't similar. It IS similar to how a lot of western Buddhists (including quite a few no doubt mentally-influenced by memories of star trek) act, and imagine buddhism to be like.
They think that being spiritual means going around like Mr.Spock, repressing all emotions except this vague kind of smug "its nice to be nice" niceness, and calling this 'equanimity'.  They strip away their humanity to the point that they can't say the word "love", because that would be too strong a feeling! So instead they say "loving-kindness", a weasel word that means nothing.

This is part of the infection that is the Western Consensus Buddhism, which has NOTHING to do with what traditional Buddhism is about. 
There were some hilarious reactions a few years back, for example, when I told some western consensus Vulcan-buddhists that the Dalai Lama had cried when his brother passed away... they were in shock! You can't do that, right? I mean, one of the supposedly greatest figures in buddhism and he CRIES when his brother dies? How horrible! How utterly human of him (said as if being "human" is a dirty word rather than the ENTIRE FUCKING POINT of spiritual practice).

We're not supposed to be Vulcans and real Buddhism never wanted people to be Vulcan.  And the type of western Buddhism that does is SHIT Buddhism.  Its not really about discovering the real nature of reality but just hiding away, repressing, trying to reject the Truth of your own humanity; it bears far more resemblance to the ideas of the extremist ascetics the Buddha spent his life arguing AGAINST.

Oh yeah, and imagine their shock when I told them that the Buddha wasn't a vegetarian, and emphatically forbade his monks from being vegetarians.
Currently Smokig: Ben Wade Rhodesian + Image Latakia

Sunday 22 December 2013

Golden Age Campaign Non-Update: Tesla's Funeral

So we didn't actually get to play last night, what with most of the group having cancelled to attend Christmas parties of some variety or another.

But that won't stop me from presenting an update!  I'm going to present something they would have experienced in between the adventures yesterday.

In January 1943, the country and much of the world heard of the death of this man:

Nikola Tesla.  He was largely considered the world's first real Super-Scientist.  Here's a picture of him as a younger man:

He was the inventor of the Tesla coil, Alternating Current (the "AC" in AC/DC), and the Death Ray.
His last recorded words were "I dreamed of a superweapon".

When he died, a eulogy for him was read by Mayor Laguardia on the radio, and his funeral (at St. John's cathedral in New York) was attended by 2000 people, dozens of super-scientists (including such insane and dangerous luminaries as Dr. Doog, Professor Ivo, Dr. Bailey, and, as a hologram transmission from his secret Bavarian hideout, the Ultra-humanite himself, trying to remain as inconspicuous as a hologram of a tyrannosaurus rex in a trenchcoat can look!), 21 robots (including Robotman, and Electro the robot-butler), and no less than 14 time-travellers (arrived in blue boxes, phone booths, futuristic cars, 19th century steam trains, several Time Bubbles, a cube, and a couple of miscellaneous).

Dr. Saul Bailey (inventor of the atomic mutant, and father of the PC character Prometheus) said of Tesla "never has one man done so much for super-science.  Any time a child looks up at the sky, and dreams of blowing up the Sun, we have Nikola Tesla to thank!"

Tesla's pall-bearers were Albert Einstein, Robotman, Doctor Emmett Brown,  and Braniac 5.
Braniac 5 wept.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Quiete + Gawith's Squadron Leader

Saturday 21 December 2013

"Real Magick" In RPGs: Crowley's Mistakes (or: "When new-agers attack!")

I Figured this Had to Happen Sooner or Later (“Real” Magick in RPGs)

Didn’t expect it to take this long, really, but there you go.  A “real” magician (of some kind, if you can call an apparent fan of the pseudo-rosicrucian quasi-theosophical “New Thought” movement, the precursors of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Antony-Robbins self-help-book crowd, any sort of magician) has apparently started taking umbrage to some of my comments about the wild and crazy state of the modern occultism scene, and particularly he seems to be under the impression I’m giving Aleister Crowley too much credit.   The action is all going on over on the RPGPundit’s forum of theRPGsite, where I’ve been posting the archived past entries of this series from my blog.  The action starts somewhere around here.

I’m willing to at least consider whether the guy has a point, in that I’ve spoken quite a bit about how stupid a lot of the self-styled followers of Aleister Crowley today are, but maybe in trying to explain why Crowley is important, and has such a huge influence on both the silly and the serious magicians of the 21st century, I lionized the guy a bit too much and didn’t bother to talk about his flaws.  There were more than a few, but probably not the ones those who feel fear or loathing at the mention of his name imagine: there was no baby-sacrifices or murder, and even relatively far less abuse or manipulation of his students than people tend to believe.

There are some areas that you could say were problematic, but that have also been exaggerated or misrepresented.  Its not fair to just blankly paint him as a “misogynist”, for example, when in fact a lot of what Crowley wrote about women was in the realm of radical women’s lib, especially compared to the standard of the age. Undoubtedly, he still did cling himself to some of the notions of his time regarding women, but that’s hardly fair to judge, and for the most part people who accuse him of sexism mainly do so on the basis that Crowley liked to have sex with a lot of women, and believe that if they wanted to have sex with him that was a good thing.  Likewise, accusations of racism are complicated: there’s no question that some of the things crowley said or wrote would be terribly racist by today’s standards, as well as awfully anti-semitic; but on the other hand  he also kept acquaintance and regard with people of all races, travelled the world and by all accounts went utterly native wherever and whenever he could (something scandalous to the typical Edwardian mentality of trying as much as possible to avoid native culture or interaction) and was one of the first really serious advocates of presenting esoteric concepts from the middle east, India, and China on THEIR terms, rather than assuming these to be at best degenerated truths from ancient caucasian, Atlantean, Lemurian, or other non-ethnic sources.

No, from the point of view of occultism, Crowley’s flaws were more along the lines of things like the fact that he failed to complete the magical operation of Abramelin on the first try, something that led to about a half-decade of disaster for him magically speaking; the fact that he often ignored or failed to act upon the instructions he received in his operations, essentially being a “reluctant messenger” for the change he was himself trying to embody, and other varieties of biting-off more than he could chew.  He was also very regularly suffering from serious material instability, and while some of his studies on drugs (and the incredibly honest accounts he provided of these in writing) were absolutely invaluable from the perspective of both a magician and a “seeker of the self” in general, it was also pretty clear that his threadbare control over himself in this department ultimately caused him more harm than good.

There’s no question that he was a relentless seeker of infamy; and while there’s a longstanding tradition of this in esoteric practice (the Sufis call this the “path of blame”, or the Tibetans call it “Crazy wisdom”) and as a technique it probably made his memory so immortal, it also caused him and people associated with him no end of trouble. He was bombastic at times when it would have been wiser to be subtle, and sold himself short at times when he should have been confident.  His administrative management of his working groups were absolutely terrible, and most damningly, he failed to produce an effective heir for any of these groups or work; fortunately, he turned out to be better at producing a legacy, which in a way is more important, since groups are bound to stagnate no matter what you do.

While he certainly had an amazing sex life, he was a hard person to have as a friend, and in romantic relationships he was an unmitigated disaster; but this kind of thing often goes with the territory.

Anyways, none of this actually relates to RPGs, so I’ll stop now, but if you’re actually more interested in the discussion from the magical point of view, check out that thread.


Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Perique

(originally posted October 18, 2012; on the old blog)

Friday 20 December 2013

For Pseudo-Activists, Lying About Rape Threats is OK if its "for the cause"

The funny thing isn't so much that Pseudo-activist Swine would lie, even to the point of accusing someone of making rape-threats when he never did such a thing, no.  The funny thing is that THEY would be the ones who are outraged at a "witch hunt" when someone else dares to point out they did it.

What am I talking about? Well, quite a few months back, Ben Lehman, noted Forge/Storygame author and Pseudo-activist, called out James Desborough (noted sophomoric writer of vaguely erotic rpgs and hated target of the pseudo-activist swine), publicly condemning him for having threatened to RAPE his "critics".  This is a serious charge; but he made it quite public, and got some 80 or so "+1"s on the the G+ post where he made this accusation. Many of those who +1ed were actually fellow-luminaries and storygame-authors at Storygames or known personalities from that forum or the "Tangency" forum.  They were all patting themselves on the back for shaming the awful "Rape advocate" and calling for Desborough to be banned from the hobby, his works censored, any company who hired him to be boycotted.

Except, it was a lie. Someone named John Stavropoulos, himself a Storygames guy and by no means a notorious ally of Desborough (I believe its been claimed by Desborough that Stavropoulos has him blocked on G+), nor by any means one of these horrible rape-advocates or anti-feminists who would have cause, chose anyways to do a lengthy investigation into the subject, to find out just what it was that James Desborough said or didn't say.  Some ten months of investigation in fact, and he ended up proving that Desborough had NEVER threatened any critic with rape. That in fact, Ben Lehman is a filthy liar.
When Zak S (of "D&D with Pornstars" fame, and another famous enemy/target of the Pseudoactivist Swine Outrage Brigade) decided to name names and post the name of everyone who +1ed Lehman's accusation, calling on them (note: link will only work if you are in Zak S.'s circles) to apologize and retract their +1, the Swine went apeshit.

First, several of them attacked Zak on his post. How DARE he expect them to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR LIES?
Note that no one was demanding that people LIKE James Desborough. No one was demanding that anyone stop criticizing him for things he ACTUALLY DID, whatever those may be.  The only thing that was being asked of people was what you would think is a no-brainer: to withdraw support for proven FALSE STATEMENTS (i.e. Libel) about him!

But apparently, while a tiny number did withdraw their +1, and a tinier number also apologized to Desborough, for the vast majority of the Swine this was just not going to happen.  To them, apparently, Truth is just an incidental issue when it comes to "the cause".  To paraphrase the old Garofalo meme "Your Rights, and even your right to the TRUTH, ends where my 'feelings' begin".

Incredibly, many of the Swine involved have since doubled-down in public statements, and others came along to add new +1s (including Moderator and SA Troll-stooge Ettin!), as if to say "We know that the libelous statement was totally false, but we just don't like the guy so we're going to keep on pretending he made rape threats".  It shows what we're dealing with here when it comes to the pseudo-activist Swine.  They have ZERO problem with lies, as long as said lies fit their "narrative".

They also, of course, turned on the messenger.  In John Stavropoulos' G+, we learn that even though he did NOT suggest, endorse or support Zak S' post, and even though ALL he did was to report the TRUTH, he has since been (in what he elsewhere describes as  " a bombardment") "receiving horrendous harassing messages, personal attacks, and threats".  He's shared some of these attacks and accusations (I'll go into some of these below), including someone outright saying to him "YOU should be raped!".

So, let's review.  In the world of the Pseudoactivist Swine it is:
a) perfectly OK to engage in a witch-hunt against an author they don't like for "rape threats" he never made.
b) Absolutely horrible that someone would engage in a "witch hunt" against them for standing by the "rape threat" accusation after it was proven to be a LIE.
c) Totally ok then support that original accusation with MORE +1s, this time being made from people who could in no way claim they "didn't know" it was an OUTRIGHT LIE.
d) Outrageous and terrible that people who they thought should be sympathetic to them would endanger "the cause" by actually wanting to stand up to what's TRUE.
e) Absolutely alright to tell such people that THEY ought to be raped.

And once again, Ben Lehman is a filthy fucking liar; and has not apologized for it. He did, however, modify his original post to try to hide the evidence of his lies.

So, in closing, I wanted to address some of the bombardment of attacks, insults and accusations leveled against John Stavropoulos from the Swine (note that this is just a tiny tiny selection of the list he posted, which in turn were just highlites I'm sure):

"You hate feminists!" -
I would suggest that fucking posers willing to end up damaging the credibility of feminism by promoting and then cleaving to proven lies are the ones who hate feminism.

"You only defend the powerful"!-
This one made me laugh my ass off. In which fucking Universe is James Desborough the "powerful" one in this? He has been harassed and attacked, to the point of extreme distress for him and his family; a cabal has worked ceaselessly to try to ruin his career and personal life. He has been threatened, his family has been threatened, attempts to defend himself have met with censorship, companies that hired him years ago were threatened with being driven into bankruptcy just because they once associated with him.  Where, in the RPG hobby, is Desborough the one wielding or enjoying the advantage of "power"?!!

"who gave you the authority (to accuse)"-
WHO THE FUCK GAVE YOU THE AUTHORITY TO LIE IN THE FIRST PLACE? By what "authority" did Ben Lehman and his cohorts decide they could JUST MAKE UP the story that Desborough was threatening people with rape?!
I'll tell you where MY authority comes from: it comes from being a member of this civilization.  Its not an authority, its a DUTY to call lies what they are and to oppose them when they harm another person's life.

"You are saying we don't take rape seriously!"-
I don't know if John Stavropoulos is saying that, or if Zak S. is saying that, but I SURE THE FUCK AM.  If you assholes took rape seriously, you wouldn't do something that helps to damage the credibility of real rape victims.

"you want a witch hunt and to shame people!"-
The people who wanted a witch hunt (in the very classic sense, of making FALSE accusations and then trying to destroy the life of an innocent person) were you.  What's going on now in response is not a witch-hunt, by strict definitions; this is a motherfucking Reckoning.
And yes, if you haven't removed your +1 and apologized to James Desborough, then you SHOULD BE ASHAMED.  The fact that so many of you clearly have NO SHAME when it comes to BLATANT LIES is a sure sign of how fucking degenerate you are.

So there you are.  Really, if you thought "brain damage" was bad, this thing, where the Pseudoactivist Swine just decided to publicly defend their right to LIE, where they've said for all intents and purposes "lying about rape threats is ok as long as its our side that does it, and we do it to someone we don't like", and have decided to be utterly shameless about it; well, it makes Ron Edwards and his 'literal brain damage' elitist bullshit seem like a moral paragon by comparison.

But now you're all warned: This is what we are dealing with in the hobby. Why should you ever believe anything that anyone who has +1ed that post ever claims again?


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Image Latakia

Thursday 19 December 2013

Arkham Occult Societies Preview VI

I'm finishing up the post-writing editing pass of the Arkham Occult Societies book, so I thought I'd share at least one more preview about the many groups detailed in this sourcebook, meant to serve as a list of groups and NPCs for a sandbox-style campaign.

So today I'll talk about the Arkham Theosophical Lodge.
Theosophy's heyday was back in the 1880s and 1890s, under the reign of the charismatic Madame Blavatsky, but of course it was still a significant force in 1910.  Even so, by that time international Theosophy was badly broken up in schisms; there's a lot of information about that in the Occult chapter of the Raiders of R'lyeh main book.  In the United States, the Theosophical movement had separated from the international movement, and broken up into a couple of different groups; and in some areas, it had started to go out of fashion.

I decided I wanted Arkham's Theosophical lodge to be one of those places. It was important that the setting have some groups that were up and coming, some that were at a peak of influence or importance or enthusiasm, and of course, there also needs to be some that have entered into decadence.
So the Theosophists in Arkham have found themselves reduced from a peak of 200 members in the glory days to about 20 dedicated old men and old ladies; in part because many less-dedicated enthusiasts left the order from dissent or quarrels, in part because the U.S. was beginning to see a rise in other, newer metaphysical interests (like the "New Thought" movement, which drew inspiration from the theosophists and would become the direct ancestors of both the "New Age" as we know it today and the "self-help" movement), and in part because the leaders of the Theosophical lodge had become insular and uninterested in drawing in new blood. They've suffered from a common problem in some esoteric groups: they've turned into a group of social companions who are wary of anyone new coming in and stirring things up, they've become more a tea club than a serious working group.

Theosophists in Raiders of R'lyeh tend to be a fount of (non-mythos) esoteric knowledge, even though a lot of it is largely fantastic supposition and very little of it is practical.  They have high Occultism skills but almost no real magical training; to quote Aleister Crowley in his definition of Theosophists: "they're people who talk a great deal about yoga, and do no work".

The Arkham Theosophical Lodge's average member-age is over 60. Many of them are well-read, but they're blissfully ignorant of just how truly weird or terrifying Arkham's occult underbelly really is.  Most of them have a sense of disdain for anyone who actually engages in some kind of practical occult activity... except for one little old lady.  A lifelong spinster she has, for years, "tapped the table" to communicate with the spirit of her long-dead father; sincerely believing she could communicate with his spirit to get advice on all kind of mundane affairs.  While she's never hid this fact, she's also well-aware that the others in the lodge look down on her involvement in such activities, considering it to be of a "lower spiritual vibration" than reading Blavatsky's books out loud or talking about the writings of the "mahatmas".

Lately, however, she's been talking about it even less, since to her surprise in one of her sessions a few months back, she received another communication, a much clearer voice than she'd ever heard (or thought she heard) from her dear deceased father.  The voice told her that it was an "archangel" and representative of "ascended masters", and that it had a plan for her. Soon, these entities said, she will have to bring others into her fold, to reveal great new teachings to the world...


Currently Smoking: Castello Fiammata + Image Perique

Wednesday 18 December 2013

When Science Proves Uncomfortable

I think its interesting how certain sectors of activism make a big point of pointing to "the science" to back up their views; often in distinct reaction against opponents that distrust or reject mainstream science.  All well and good, but what's troubling is that it often seems to me that these groups are almost as likely (but more hypocritical about it) to use "the science" as a kind of make-believe fetish-of-convenience.   They will point to good science that supports their agenda, bad science that supports their agenda, make-believe non-science that supports their agenda; and will create a wall of disbelief when it comes to real science that ends up being impractical for their agenda.  They try to discredit the sources, even if the sources are utterly legitimate peer-reviewed data, sometimes even the very sources they embraced and held up when it seems to support their positions.

No, in this particular case I'm not talking about climate change, though certainly this argument can be posted to "big environmentalism" (note: NOT "Radical" environmentalism, that's a boogey-man, you can't claim that someone is a "radical" when they're smack-dab in the center of the environmentalist movement and get all kinds of prominence as a supposed representative of the movement).  In a post on my old blog I already handled that topic, making a long list of predictions of disaster (supposedly, though not so much factually, backed up by "the science") made by utterly mainstream environmentalists (including the U.S. government's "science czar" or major spokesmen like David Suzuki) which turned out to be completely wrong.   Its interesting how major media dedicates a lot of time each spring over the last several years, to talking about how the Artic Ice is "predicted to be completely gone" this summer, but rarely mention when that doesn't come to pass (and in fact, the latest data collected by the Cryosat-2 satellite has confirmed that artic ice has expanded considerably this year).

This time, what I'm talking about is Second-hand Smoke.  It was the claim that second-hand smoke had a significant link to lung cancer in non-smokers that gave the Anti-tobacco lobby the power it needed to push extreme anti-smoking laws all over the world; laws often so draconian that they seem petty and punitive, not just to stop people from smoking in government-spaces, or to take away the right of owners of private restaurants or bars to allow or disallow smoking in their businesses, but to the point of forbidding smokers from smoking outdoors in the open air on patios, or even forbidding smokers from smoking indoors in tobacconists or smoker's clubs where no non smoker ever has cause to step foot. There's nothing 'reasonable' about that, and the only reason these sorts of laws managed to garner sufficient support was because of the claim that "the science" proved that even the tiniest particle of second-hand smoke could cause cancer in non-smokers.

This was always hogwash. It reached points of utter absurdity, like the suggestion that someone even walking past a smoker in the open air for one second would be subject to heightened cancer risks.  It came from "policy statements" rather than studies.  But even the more plausible claim, that spending significant amounts of time around smokers (say, working in a restaurant where smoking is permitted, or living with a smoker) could lead to increased cancer risk, was supported by bad science.  The studies conducted to "prove" this went about starting from the premise that it must be true, and then finding figures to support that truth.  The only significant studies that claimed to support this notion, invented first in the minds of anti-tobacco lobbyists, were done by looking FIRST at non-smokers who had lung cancer and then trying to find correlation in their cases with smoking-environments.  That's "logical fallacy 101" right there.

Well now, as of a few days ago, the results of a major study (the largest ever) on the subject of second-hand smoke has been presented to the public. In this study, a sampling of over 76000(!) women was conducted.  Its credentials are impeccable: it was done by Stanford University, and the findings have been published in the Oxford Journal of the National Cancer Institute. And the findings were startlingly clear: it found "found no link between the disease (cancer) and secondhand smoke".

I'm betting most of you have seen this NOWHERE before now. While major media, spurred on by lobbying group press releases, has never failed to report on any nonsense on the subject, they have remained pointedly silent about this finding. It just doesn't fit "the narrative".  The stonewalling is happening right now, and should the subject be pushed by those few groups who may have an interest in pushing it, look for ridiculous feats of mental contortionism to try to explain away why it was still justified to engage in a massive campaign of persecution of property rights and personal liberties, and to continue to do so in the future. All of a sudden, "the science" doesn't matter.

Ok, so in a way, this might also be about environmentalism too, and all kinds of other things.  Because fundamentally, it has to do with the fact that people tend to have a hard time distinguishing between actual "Science", self-styled "spokesmen" who are not scientific so much as using science as an ideological tool of convenience when it suits them and discarding it completely when it doesn't, and media bias.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Rhodesian + Image Latakia

Tuesday 17 December 2013



There’ve been a lot of threads on lately about the subject of the Forge, or Storygames; not sure what’s going with that. It seems odd that so long after the Forge ceased to exist as a website, and even longer since it had an actual influence on the hobby, it should suddenly become the topic of conversation.  Is it just a chain reaction? Story Swine? SA goons hoping to create inter-board conflict (my name has been brought up in a few of these threads of course)?

In any case, there were quite a few ridiculous mis-statements and examples of plain pig ignorance shown to all and sundry on these threads, but there was one in particular that took the cake. One idiot in particular had this to say about the Forge:
I think that Forge-think collaborated with other “movements” like the OSR in our hobby to tell people that it was ok if we weren’t all playing the same game, and that we should pursue mechanics and systems that best fit the style of play we want, no matter who publishes them – be it a fan, a group, or a big company.

Seriously, how do you get it so wrong?! How the fuck do you take a movement who’s entire basis was in saying that if you played regular RPGs YOU HAD BRAIN DAMAGE, and that the only acceptable games to play were author-published microgames about “addressing a theme”, and everything else was Incoherent or insane, and end up with trying to pretend that the Forge was a love-in about all of us coexisting in peace?!

The Forge was NEVER about it being “ok” that we weren’t all playing the same game; it was about trying to hijack the hobby so that it would revolve around a tiny group of self-determined self-styled intelligentsia who would decide what games were acceptable and what games were “incoherent”; not just games, but which way to play (and they got it so wrong, that their definition of the “right” way to play eliminated absolutely everything that actually defines regular roleplaying).

But there you have it, revisionist history in the most ridiculous style, courtesy of Forge Swine on

Its a lucky thing they lost the war.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Compact + Image Latakia

(originally posted October 6, 2012, on the old blog)

Monday 16 December 2013

UNCracked Monday

Here, be outraged.

That's Paul Dini, creator of Young Justice, explaining to Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) how the awesome Young Justice was cancelled NOT because it had bad ratings, but on the contrary, because it was TOO popular.

Wait, you ask, how could it be "too" popular? Isn't that the whole point? Isn't that what TV execs and action-figure-salesmen alike dream of?

The problem was, apparently, that YJ was getting too popular with the wrong crowd.  It was becoming too popular with GIRLS.

Here's the logic behind this steaming pile of shit pretending to be a sound business decision, by the way: if girls start watching "boy's shows" like Young Justice, they probably won't buy the YJ toys (because of course, what girl would want her parents to get her an action figure?), but they also may not end up watching the "Barbie" show or "Bratz" or "Radical High School Princesses Who Are Also Fashion Models", or whatever the fuck insipid programming-for-girls they've invented to sell dolls... and then they won't buy the dolls either!

The entire crisis that led to YJ's cancellation is because toy companies make strictly-defined "boy toys" and strictly defined "girl toys", and for the superhero action figures they know they should make 8 times as many Robins or Superboys than Miss Martians, because a lot less boys will want the "girl superhero".  So even if girls DID start buying YJ toys, it would fuck all their calculations up.  Plus no one in their right mind who isn't an 8 year old brainwash-victim convinced its the only thing she's allowed to want would actually want to buy a "bratz" doll. So if girls and boys start liking the same toys, an entire line of plastic pink manure will become instantly useless... and we're talking BILLIONS OF DOLLARS worth of plastic-pink-manure.

You know all those times some self-interested cultural marxist politically correct intellectual elite Swine has looked at something innocuous and cried "its patriarchy!", and I've pointed out how full of this they were?

Well, this time, its patriarchy.

But worse than that, its bad capitalism.  Not bad as in "capitalism is bad" or even bad as in "evil"; but rather bad as in strategically stupid capitalism. Its bad as in "Capitalism being done badly from a capitalist point of view".
Its people having locked themselves into a business model that has to try to force a certain paradigm on customers rather than being able to adapt to the actual changes in the market.  And that, right there, is fucking unforgivable. Especially when it causes the cancellation of a great show.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia

Sunday 15 December 2013

A Good Case for Internet Anonymity in the RPG hobby

So I don't know how many of you have heard about this, it's already about a week old as news, but it seems that Clark Allen Peterson, of Necromancer and later Legendary Games, has gotten himself into some trouble.   Trouble, in the sense that in his day job, he's actually a State Judge; and apparently some people are trying to claim that his interest in the hobby somehow makes him unworthy of the position. Worse still, some who have appeared before him in court are now claiming that his activities in his RPG company and on RPG forums have affected the time he dedicates to his work, the speed with which he resolved cases, maybe even his impartiality.

This is all bullshit, of course.  If he, like a majority of other Judges, was a hardcore Golfer, fisherman, or had some other kind of more traditional hobby; and went out three times a week to play 18 holes rather than spending several hours each day talking about RPGs, no one would be questioning him.  Certainly, no one would have written a ridiculous yellow-journalism skewering like the article I linked to above.  Shit, in this day and age, if he was fooling around on his wife for the same number of hours as he was gaming, most people wouldn't bat an eyelash.  Its only the still-exotic nature of the hobby for people of this age-range and class that allows this sort of nonsense to happen.

Unfortunately, happen it does.  And Peterson now has to worry about disgruntled individuals who have a beef with his latest published game product or online forum post disrupting him at his place of work; or, just as possibly, having disgruntled or curious people from his workplace showing up to cause a scene at his gaming hangouts online.

There are a certain group of people in our hobby who claim that everyone should be forced to use their real names when writing and talking about RPGs, that this somehow acts a great equalizer or something.  It doesn't. Just the opposite: If I know nothing about you, if I don't know your race, your background, your gender, your sexual orientation, your job, your family life, or anything else, then all I have to judge you on is what you write and the quality of your arguments.  THAT is the "great equalizer".

I feel fairly convinced that the big advocates of everyone having to drop their usernames are people who have no jobs (or menial, meaningless jobs), no family to speak of, no responsibilities, in other words, nothing to lose.  Likewise, people who are happy to use the argument as a blunt weapon to try to silence others; I mean think about it, the entire basis of the argument amounts to a threat: "I should be allowed to know who you really are, so I can silence you by making the argument about your background rather than what you're saying; and if that doesn't work, so I can scare you that someone will mess around with your regular life if you don't shut up".

Sometimes, a mask is a necessary protection of our freedom to speak, and to say things plainly.  The notion of the "greater internet fuckwad theory" certainly has a point, and of course there are trolls who use anonymity to do nothing but prank or attack. But others are just as likely to use the lack of anonymity to do the same: witness how many people who didn't like what I've said have tried, over the years, to unmask me, to the point where some have engaged in levels of harassment that would border on being worthy of civil or even criminal litigation. Certain people have tried to make me lose work, sent harassing messages to people close to me; and of course others have threatened to "expose" or harass me publically if they were to just know where to do so.  Is it really any surprise that I want as few people as possible knowing anything about my life outside the internet??!

But its not just to protect my private life from would-be Swine-stalkers. Its likewise to protect my hobby-life from potential "stalkers" (albeit of a less dangerous kind) from my private life.   I don't want my hobby to cause people to be concerned that somehow my choice of games or how I spend my free time has any bearing on my ability to do my job; I don't particularly want to have family members and non-gaming friends showing up on this blog or on my G+ account or at theRPGsite to tell me how weird it is or how cool it is or to ask how D&D relates to the Qabalah or how we should hang out next tuesday because they're making gnocchi.  I don't really want those worlds to cross, not because I'm at all ashamed of either world, but because they are both their own thing.  

And its an unfortunate reality that as long as there will be people out there that treat liking RPGs differently than liking tennis or chess or knitting or fantasy football, and as long as there are people "in here" who will want to try to shut up or threaten an opponent by attacking the personal rather than the position, I will keep arguing strongly that everyone should have a right (in the RPG hobby, and the internet in general, in most cases) to be the ones to decide for themselves exactly how much or how little they want to share about their personal lives, rather than being forced to do so by others.


Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Perique

Saturday 14 December 2013

The Most Important News for Humanity Today You May Not Have Heard

Its barely been reported. You look all over the news and you can find a ton of reports on a school shooting, on the Kardashians, on the feud between Leo and Marky Mark, on how Courtney Stodden dyed  her hair, and all kinds of other stories.  A few are less vacuous than celebrity dye-jobs, celebrity feuds, or cheap sensationalist reporting of meaningless violence. But almost no one has bothered to mention that the big story today is that for the first time in 37 years (THIRTY- SEVEN FUCKING YEARS) we (as in "humanity") has again landed on the moon.

It is an unmanned Chinese mission, but that's a step toward their long-term plan of landing people there, building a permanent base there, and making regular transits there, using it as a platform for further solar-system exploration, taking advantage of natural resources there, and setting up a permanent colony there.

You know, everything the human race SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST THIRTY-SEVEN FUCKING YEARS, but that we (this time "we" being "the west") failed to do because of a monumental civilization-fail.

No wonder its been under-reported. Who wants to be reminded of that? Who wants the realization that we totally failed to be at the vanguard of humanity's next natural step in expansion, when we can hear about celebrity hair-dye?   At least there we can distract ourselves from our utter sense of shame.


Currently Smoking: Raleigh Volcano + Brebbia no. 7

Friday 13 December 2013

Arrows of Indra Q&A: Presenting the Familiar

Today, we had a "question" of sorts, though it seemed more like a suggestion, that I wanted to respond to with regards to this idea some people have that Arrows of Indra must be hard to somehow grasp if you're a regular gamer who's used to medieval European fantasy.  Short answer: it isn't. But there's still people, perhaps terrified by the specter of Too-weird-to-live games like Tekumel, that are convinced that if they got Arrows of Indra, they wouldn't know 'what to do with it', they wouldn't find anything 'familiar' with it.

I suspect these people haven't actually bought the game. Because if they did, they'd see just how familiar it already is.  Anyways, case in point, here's the "question":

Q: "Here's a useful question:

If I was to start a (Familiar Campaign Premise X) where in the world would I start it, with who, against whom, and how structured?

For example, take the big campaign genres: dungeon crawl, city intrigue, no man's land, frontier life, stranger in strange land, domain management, etc.,

and add refined premise detail: corrupted disused temple, ksatriya city politics, border open clan warfare, fringe merchant caravans, barbarians in the city, brahmin land management.

So for beginners, put it where & when, with who, what, how, and why?

i.e. (Stranger in Strange Land + City Intrigue) Party of new thieves to a new city. pre-Ashoka Calcutta, v. established thieves guild, initiation rites, beginner thief missions.
Basically, explain to new players what they can do with it. Especially how they can accommodate the familiar."

And now, my response:

A:  This is, all in all, fairly well-covered by the Arrows of Indra book; in the Gazetteer, plus the first appendix. Players could make use of all the stuff you listed.

Dungeon Crawl: If you wanted something short-term, you could use an abandoned building or temple on the edge of the Thar Desert, or a ruined temple (or Rakshasa city) in the southern jungles. For longer-term, there's the Patala Underworld, an enormous (as in, covers the whole planet) "underdark"with multiple levels, and containing entire civilizations within it. The latter has its own chapter in the AoI rulebook, with details on each level and random tables for generating segments of the Underworld.

"No man's land" and frontiers are pretty well covered in the regional sections (and with different encounter tables in each area). The City Intrigue part could use more detail (for example, a sourcebook I would like to do is one that chooses a specific area of the Bharata Kingdoms and provides more information on specific cities), but there are City Encounter tables, road encounter tables, rules on caravanserais (taverns/inns), rules on getting work as an arena fighter, random tables for jobs offered by patrons, rules for mercenary work, rules for running your own business (or farm, too), higher-level rules (domain management) for handling your own territory, thieves' guild, school of philosophy, temple, etc. Rules for getting attention from Rulers and honors, missions or problems that they might give you. Not to mention marriage and family mechanics.

The one "theme" that I don't think is really covered is "stranger in a strange land" because I REJECT THE PREMISE that you need to start as an outsider to then understand the Bharata Kingdoms a-la-Tekumel. The Bharata kingdoms are not nearly as incomprehensible; you don't need that because the basic answer to "what do you do in an AoI campaign" is "basically the same sort of things that you'd do in ANY D&D campaign", only in a slightly different but easily-learnable cultural context.

(mind you, you can still do some "strangers in a strange land" stuff by having people visit the lands of the non-human yakshas, gandharvas or vanara, or on a slightly lesser scale the slightly more barbaric Bahlika Kingdoms)


 Currently Smoking: Castello Fiammata + Image Perique

Thursday 12 December 2013

DCC Campaign Update

This weekend we played our english-language DCC game again; the PCs were getting acquainted with what looks like their new home base: the sprawling city of Archome, which they soon realized seemed to be a vertical tower-city built in, on and over a spaceship-graveyard inside a canyon.  They learned a bit about the rival power group struggling for control in the city: The Assassin King, current ruler of the city, and the Snake Witch, who seeks to usurp him.  The city's lesser gangs have mostly aligned to one side or another in the turf war; the Goblins who were once inhabitants of the caves surrounding the canyon are the trusty Royal Guard for the Assassin King, for example, while the vicious cannibalistic halfling gangsters that rule the shantytowns in the shadowy bottom of the canyon are allied with the Snake Witch.  Only the old families, who have seen one ganster-king after another come and go, stay literally above it all, in their mansions at the tops of the city-spires.

The PCs met with another PC (Gabriel's character, who had missed a few sessions) who had apparently been teleported here earlier than they were.  He has set up shop as a fortune teller, and has made an ally of a chronically alcoholic rogue-bard ("with a wee dram of chaos blood" in him) by the name of Borquist. An old hand at surviving in the vicious city of Archome, he takes the PCs under his wing and they decide to form their own little gang.

With a team of half-competent adventurers under his back, Borquist decided to brave the Halfling lower-levels of the canyon to seek out a legend of a dead Wizard's lair.  What has ensued involved exciting action with evil vampire monkeys, vampire merfolk, a semi-intelligent giant octopus, and thus far very little treasure.  When we quit for the evening, the party was still trapped in the Infernal Menagerie of Pang Feng, low on hit points, out of helpful healing robots, and still facing a murderous vampire monkey out for revenge.

We'll see how things go next session.


Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Rhodesian + Image Perique

Wednesday 11 December 2013

“Roleplay” is to Storygame what “Hexagonal Grid Movement” is to Roleplaying Game

“Roleplay” is to Storygame what “Hexagonal Grid Movement” is to Roleplaying Game

I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that there are moments in storygames where roleplaying happens.

Even where roleplaying is explicitly required by the system and not just something peripheral or optional like someone playing pretend with their monopoly piece or chess men.

But that doesn’t make a Storygame an RPG.

The better way to understand it is like this: In RPGs, there are moments when you have to use combat mechanics, movement rules, weapon vs. armor types, etc.; some RPGs might even require the use of miniatures and hexagonal grids. However, this doesn’t make an RPG a Wargame.

Why not?
 Simple.  In a Wargame, those elements: the combat rules, movement, terrain, miniatures, grid; the combat simulation in other words, are THE WHOLE POINT of what you’re doing.
In an RPG, they aren’t, they’re just a peripheral part, and the whole point of what you’re doing is to ROLEPLAY a character in an emulated world.

In a storygame, likewise, little moment of (even obligatory) roleplay might happen, but its not the “point” of a storygame. The point of a Storygame is to create some kind of a story (or to put it like the pretentious story swine do, to “address a theme”); the roleplaying is purely incidental.

Ultimately, the most key point of what the problem is with thinking of storygames as the same hobby, and why they are absolutely something different from RPGs, is found in the statement: “I don’t care if my character dies if its better for the Story”.  That’s never, ever, something that belongs in an RPG, and is not a part of RPG play at all, but is absolutely the basis of all Storygame play. So all those “little bursts of immersive roleplay” storygamers claim might happen in some storygames ultimately don’t matter for shit, because everything, including the immersion itself, gets sacrificed at the altar of what some ass thinks would make a “good story” (even if said “ass” is yourself).


Currently Smoking: Mastro de Paja Apple + Dunhill 965

(Originally posted October 1, 2012, on the old blog)

Tuesday 10 December 2013

The Real Facts About Uruguay

So it seems my little adopted homeland has been getting an awful lot of buzz on the International scene, lately. I can't think of year in recent memory where Uruguay has been more in the news than 2013; in no small part due to its very charismatic president and his modernizing ideas.   And now, no less than Buzzfeed has declared and given its reasons why you should move to Uruguay in 2014.

I moved to Uruguay in 2003. As usual, I'm ahead of my time. I'd love for more expats to hang out with, particularly gamers; and obviously, I wouldn't still be here if I didn't think Uruguay was awesome.  But at the same time, I don't want people moving here under false notions that this is some kind of utopia. So...

Let's clarify some of these points presented in the article:
1. Mujica is a pretty cool president. Unfortunately, Uruguay does also have a political system that, while one of the most stable and least corrupt in the region, is still hopelessly plugged up with pointless bureaucracy, high taxation, very low levels of services, rampant nepotism and control by special interests that don't necessarily reflect the democratic wishes of the majority (for example, the public employees union have massive influence which they generally use to prevent desperately-needed change; the tiny communist party (which has very little public support) holds an inordinate level of sway over the leftist "Frente Amplio" coalition party that runs the government). 
On the other hand, Mujica is awesome; he (and his party) could have easily followed the terrible populist model of Chavez like so many other countries in the region did, but instead he has gone in a different direction, encouraging rather than discouraging business and investment and maintaining Uruguay's democratic values (both of which, for a former maoist guerilla, are a very big deal); and the result is that Uruguay is today one of the most economically prosperous countries in the region and growing considerably IN SPITE of the problems with its basic government bloat.

2. Uruguay hasn't been called the Switzerland of the Americas in a really long time; but your banking will be basically safe here; though banking is quite a hassle.  I still do almost all my business with foreign/international banking.

3. Education is free, secular, and universal. It also sucks ass. The quality of both the education infrastructure, and the general education people receive here, is very poor, as the recent international rankings have demonstrated.  That is, its decent by latinamerican standards, but terrible compared to Western Europe or North America.  If I had kids, I would not want them to be educated here.  Its also heavily partisan; the teacher's union and the government use the education system to indoctrinate kids into leftist ideology, to the point that they've tried to rewrite history (implying that the guerillas in the 1960s were "freedom fighters" opposing a dictatorship, when in fact they were trying to overthrow a democratically elected government to try to impose a Soviet-style Marxist Dictatorship). 
There have been some positive changes lately.  For example, the One Laptop Per Child initiative which has meant that EVERY SINGLE CHILD in the country got a free laptop and is being taught in the use of computers; this will make a HUGE difference within a generation (both to these kids lives, and to the country as a whole), and its amazing, and I give full credit to the Frente Amplio government for this amazing accomplishment.  Unfortunately, the Teacher's Union was opposed to it and continue to oppose it, and have done their utmost to try to minimize its efficacy.  They've also steadfastly opposed any effort whatsoever at educational reform on all levels of the education system, from pre-school to University.

4.  Uruguay does have same-sex marriage; and has changed enormously in the last decade in terms of its tolerance and acceptance of gays and lesbians.  Its one of the most gay-friendly countries in south america.  That doesn't mean that there isn't still significant prejudice on the cultural level, of course.

5. Marijuana and Abortion are legal (as of this year) and yes, Uruguay has great beaches and all kinds of other wonderful natural details; and if you're not a nature or beach fan, the city of Montevideo is wonderful too, full of culture, amazing architecture, beautiful monuments and art, and fantastic cafes.

6. Uruguay's food is amazing, in the sense that its all locally-grown, a lot of it is organic; the meat is AMAZING. Yerba Mate is awesome.
On the other hand, if you're someone who wants to go out for thai food every week, you'll have a problem: there's very little gastronomical diversity in Uruguay.  There are few ethnic restaurants to be found: there's a couple of nice Korean restaurants, some decent sushi places, one or two Mexican restaurants, some good Shawarmas, but you won't find a single thai, vietnamese, Indian/curry, ethiopian, etc restaurants at all.  There's a couple of generic "chinese" restaurants which serve the generally crappy "chop suey"-type dishes-for-white-people, but no dim sum, no cantonese, no authentic szechuan, etc.
On the other hand, the cafe culture is fantastic; and this is the country that invented dulce de leche (or at least, perfected it).

7. Cabo Polonio is a hippie beach resort, but its rapidly becoming highly commercialized.  Punta del Este is a ridiculously overpriced tourist trap. But there are still a half-dozen amazing beach-resort towns that are true gems. I won't mention most of them, to avoid their destruction, but they're there. There's also Piriapolis, a beach resort built 100 years ago by a mad alchemist (I kid you not), and Colonia, which is not technically a beach resort but is an amazing town with an incredible old-town core (U.N. world heritage site) that dates back to the 18th century.

8. Uruguay has an amazing music scene (and was and still is disproportionately influential in the region); and it has a great carnaval. Not as showy as Brazil's, but it makes up for that by being the longest carnaval in the world. The party starts at the end of January and lasts until the beginning of March.

9. Uruguay's soccer team is the best its been in 50 years. And if you're a soccer fan, you'll see some great games here.

10. Uruguay has the largest open-air street market (antiques, crafts, food, etc) in the continent: Tristan Narvaja.  It happens every Sunday, and I love it.

11. Uruguayan women are, I would say, generally more attractive than the North American average.  The men, however, do not usually look like Forlan.  I don't know how it happens, but this country seems to me to have an inordinate number of short fat bald men walking around with stunning, thin, attractive women.  I guess that's good news if you're a short fat bald guy.

12. Uruguay's people are great. Very friendly and welcoming.  A significant percentage of them also speak English (to varying degrees of competency).

Besides that, Uruguay has a culture that is different but recognizable; contrary to what some might think if you move here you won't be living in a jungle, nor will you live in a shantytown.  If anything, Montevideo looks like a slightly run-down Spanish or Italian city.  In other word, its culturally like living in southern Europe, but with a much lower price tag.  You can drink the water right out of the tap, you can get all the amenities you're used to in north america (though, as I mentioned in point #6 not all of the luxuries!). 

Things like electricity, water, fuel, etc are all as accessible and reliable as they would be in most American cities.  The internet here is very good, and Uruguay has embarked on a massive project to try to become the country with the fastest internet service per capita in the world within the next 5 years.  I know that Uruguay's average internet speeds are already better than the U.S. or Canada's.

And for the roleplayers out there, there are no local gaming stores, but Uruguay has a big and very active gaming culture.  If you speak spanish, you'd have no problem finding a gaming group. If you speak english, well, I can personally attest to there being at least one regular English-language campaign going on.

Anyways, them's the facts.


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Classic Series Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best

Monday 9 December 2013

UnCracked Monday

I had a few candidates for what to present today; but when I saw this I had to link it.  As an historian, this is just amazing.

These are pictures drawn by a 7 year old boy, in the 12th century.  Any writing, any art, that we have from that far back, is a blessing; but this, this is a wonder. Bibles, very important documents of other sorts, sure, but here something that no one except maybe this little boy himself felt was of any value, has survived through the centuries, and we get a remarkably intimate glimpse into what his life was like.


Currently Smoking: Gigi Bent Billiard + Dunhill 965

Sunday 8 December 2013

Golden Age Campaign Update (now with more Soldier Bear Hero!)

Last night we played for the first time in a month.  And quite a fun game it was!  First, the PCs heard about a new hero fighting the war for the liberation of Europe: Wojtek, Polish Soldier-Bear Hero!

I've written about Wojtek before; he was a real soldier bear, in the 22nd (free) Polish Artillery, who lived and travelled with the unit and to whom the Poles gave a rank (he made Corporal) and serial number (and he knew how and when to salute!).  But what's more, he WORKED for the Unit, helping to move heavy artillery shells in the middle of combat, including in intense battles like Monte Casino (where the Polish troops secured victory).  Its said Wojtek never dropped a single shell.  Here's Wojtek driving a truck:

 Note the little logo on the side of the truck: that's the 22nd Artillery's insignia.  They changed it in honor of their most famous soldier bear!

But it wasn't all just hard work and danger for Wojtek; he built up love and camaraderie with the men of his unit, a bond of friendship that lasted until the end of their days in Wojtek's case, he passed away in a British zoo in December of 1963, 50 years ago this month.

Wojtek also enjoyed off-duty time with the men, he enjoyed both smoking and eating cigarettes, and he enjoyed drinking beer:

So there you are, a true Golden Age hero and a Polish patriot!

As for the adventure itself, the PCs ended up facing both the Rag Doll (who is rapidly becoming the Joker-substitute of the campaign) and Brainwave again.  In the case of Brainwave, he was looking to use a stolen Olympian artifact (the Aegis) to restore his failing health and prolong his life.  In the end the PCs capture him but not before he succeeds at his primary goal, explaining why in the comics brainwave went from looking like this:

To looking like this:

Anyways, that's it for today.  The adventure was fun.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Rhodesian + C&D's Pirate Kake

Saturday 7 December 2013


I think its silly, when people call Mandela's death "a tragedy".  When a 95 year old man dies, its almost never a tragedy, its often a relief; and in this case its a triumph.  Its the end of a life utterly fulfilled, of accomplishment almost unparalleled in his own time.

Nelson Mandela's death is not a tragedy for him; but I can understand how some fear it might be a tragedy for South Africa.  Certainly, a cause to grieve the passing of this amazing man who was very much the father of his country.  But more importantly, Mandela was a symbol of a sane path, an inspiration to all people as someone who had at one point advocated violence, and later (after his long imprisonment) came to power not to seek revenge but reconciliation, looking not for a violent revolution but to dream of a democratic and inclusive society.   He was a roadmark to direct the way forward and a bulwark against excess even in his dotage, as long as Mandela was alive, South African politicians knew they could only go so far in turning away from his high standards.

But now that he's dead, what will stop utter assholes like Jacob Zuma or Julius Malema, both of whom had little problem with veering quite far away from that standard, from going completely off the map and worse still, claiming that "Mandela would have supported me"? Almost nothing.

And you know they're chomping at the bit to do it.  Zuma is rotten to the core, a corrupt populist who has transformed South Africa into a toilet of bribery and government inefficiency, done nothing to alleviate poverty or crime, and helped in countless different ways to slowly pick apart the threads of the rainbow weave that Mandela brought together, with Zuma's Zulu-supremacist mentality.  Malema, who Zuma once called "the future leader of the nation", has generated controversy but also won himself a loyal cadre of fanatics by his violent overture against all kinds of groups he hates (apparently including women, homosexuals and anyone who isn't black).  Zuma represents a generational decline in South Africa's condition; his favorite song is "give me my machine gun".  The (four decades younger) Malema represents, tragically, a further generational decline; his favorite song which he has recited at public rallies is "Kill the White Farmer".

In short, the ANC, the party that Mandela so gloriously led, is not a party taking its example from Mandela.  Men like Zuma or Malema have no use for Mandela; their model is Robert Mugabe, a slimeball who uses hate and sectarianism to ensure his grip on power, who rejects democracy and rights as meaningless, and seeks to enrich himself even if it means the total societal and economic collapse of his nation.  They don't look at Mandela with pride, they look at Mugabe with envy, seeing that as the way forward.
Go to the "Dear Julius Malema" Facebook page, if you don't believe me. You'll see adoring pictures of Robert Mugabe along with quotes of his "great speeches". They aren't being subtle about this.

These are not just my views, they've been shared by many others, people who were there with Mandela and who are deeply troubled by the advancing decline of South Africa as a nation.  Winnie Mandela (herself in no way a saint, and really part of the problem as one of those in the first generation of governance that already made vast allowances for corruption and political malfeasance) has expressed disgust at the way Jacob Zuma made use of Mandela in his final year to try to drum up support (and we can only imagine, in the next elections, how Zuma will be disgustingly plastering propaganda painting himself as Mandela's true heir 24/7).  Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who may technically qualify for sainthood, I'm not sure; but who with Mandela's passing is the last really viable major figure of respectability left that the corrupt politicians have cause to fear) has expressed his disgust at the actions of Zuma and Malema; asking in a speech before the ANC last year "What have we become"?  Malema's supporters talked about how Tutu needs to be put "six feet underground", in response.  Malema had been kicked out of the ANC, ostensibly on charges of "causing divisions in the party" but mainly because Jacob Zuma (who used Malema to help him take power from Thabo Mbeki) started to feel politically threatened by the young man of endless ambition.

Meanwhile, 25% of South African youth (a significant demographic in a country full of young people) said in a recent survey they would vote for Malema for president.  He has called for taking back land and properties from whites by violent force and with no compensation.  The Julius Malema facebook page is absolutely plastered with pictures of Nelson Mandela.

So yeah, the tragedy here is not Mandela's death, but how his death will be used by slimy opportunists to rebrand him into supporting, from beyond the grave, the very things he worked so hard to try to prevent in his beloved country.

I hope that it turns out not to be so, but really, is there anyone left in the ANC, or anywhere in South African politics with a credible chance of winning, who is even cut in the same mold as Mandela?  If there is, I'd dearly like to see proof, and fast.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Stanze + Rattray's Accountants' Mix

Friday 6 December 2013

RPGPundit Reviews: the AD&D Reprints

RPGPundit Reviews: The Advanced Dungeons And Dragons Reprints

This is a (sort of) review of the AD&D reprint books, released a couple of months ago by Wizards of the Coast as a kind of commemorative edition. 

This isn’t really going to be a review, not of the AD&D system that is, since its pretty well the most famous RPG in the world and really needs no reviewing.  Instead, I’m just going to comment on this specific printing.

I was lucky enough to receive all three books as a complementary bonus to my gig as an official Consultant for the currently under-development 5th edition of D&D. These books were a very welcome arrival indeed; since by this point my own AD&D book collection was in pretty pathetic state.  My PHB and Monster Manual were both long gone, and while I still had the 1e DMG, it was quite literally falling to pieces from decades of use and abuse, to the point that I cringed any time I had to try to remove it from the bookshelf where it lives.  So it was the perfect time to obtain a replacement.
These new books are absolutely majestic. Hardcover of course, with a gorgeous colour, and texture too; the thing has bumps! All the little decorations around the central cover image are three-dimensional. There’s beautiful gold foil in the corners; and the central image of each book is a recreation of a key part of the original cover image, jutting out from their encapsulating circles as though moving to life. Its beautiful.

Each book also has a sewn-in bookmark; blue in the case of the PHB and MM, and red in the case of the DMG. The binding of the books is really astounding and they have all the appearance of a product made to last the ages (or at least the next two or three decades of heavy use I plan to put them through).
The interior of the books are absolutely unchanged from the originals, nothing added or taken away.  Contrary to some concerns, the margins are just fine and totally legible. The interior artwork is fantastic as always, though some images have come out slightly darker than the originals were. That’s probably the worst thing I could say about these books.

I suppose I can’t really finish a review about the reprints without saying something, at least, about the AD&D game itself.  Getting the books provided an opportunity to re-read the AD&D rules, something I hadn’t done in quite a while (I’ve always been more of a Rules Cyclopedia guy); and while some of the material in there seems clunky by modern standards, some of it downright goofy in its excesses of detail, I couldn’t help but be struck by the richness of material in the AD&D rules, the quality of the game itself that has stood the test of time, and its potential value beyond the game itself in terms of a cornucopia of inspirational material that can be readily borrowed or stolen for any number of other games.  The AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, in particular, is a magnum opus of an absolutely awe-inspiring amount of both rules, advice, flavour and setting material.  I couldn’t help but imagine how, when it first came out, it would have been the RPG-hobby’s equivalent of an atomic bomb: nothing like it had ever existed before, and it would have absolutely changed the game for anyone who bought it.  Even to this day, anyone who hasn’t ever read it really should; and not just glance over it, but make the effort of reading it section by section to uncover all the amazing hidden gems it contains.

I pray to all the gods of creation that the main writers of the 5e game will bother to do so.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Horn + Gawith’s Perfection

(originally posted September 7th, 2012; on the old blog)