The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Sunday 3 May 2015

Ron Edwards, Opportunistic Nouveau-Geek, Accidentally Reveals Why He Never Got RPGs.

Ron Edwards sure has been desperately trying to reinvent himself lately. After he became largely irrelevant to the movement he founded (the Forge/Storygames movement) as other, more "radical" people overtook him in the quest to tear down regular RPGs and replace them with something new, he sulked in relative obscurity for a couple of years.  But now he's back with a vengeance, taking credit for the OSR (actually having the gall to have said that the OSR should "thank him" for his responsibility for it; even though he spent the last 15 years fighting against old-school RPGs), and even more recently starting some kind of blog/project about comic book villains in preparation for a new game of his on the same theme (it remains to be seen just how storygamey the new game will be, or if it will be the culmination of this desperate attempt to redefine himself as a hero of regular geekdom).

But today, he accidentally did something in a blog post that gave away a very revealing point about him, that explains the differences between regular RPGs and the Forge/Storygames, and between the two of us personally.  The post was about the Legion of Super-Heroes, where was asking people to "explain the Legion" to him.  

That right there is symbolic of the whole difference between him and me, and between the Forge/Storygames movement Ron Edwards created, and Regular RPGs.  I love the Legion. I ran a ridiculously long RPG campaign (six years of week play) set in the LSH.  I wrote dozens and dozens of blog posts about it. Edwards, on the other hand, explicitly said he "doesn't know" about "whether and how the Legion is good comics". And he said this in a post where he says he's "not going to crack wise" about how silly the Legion is, which is of course exactly what he's doing by making that statement.

When I pointed this out on G+, Edwards took umbrage with this. But hey, they were his fucking words.  

Now, you might think I'm making too much of this, but let me explain just why I find it particularly significant (other than that the Legion is a comic I really enjoyed, and one that Edwards apparently never bothered with):  the Legion of Superheroes is a brilliant case of organic world-building that at the same time does not take itself very seriously.   That's the definition of how old-school design (and GMing) goes.  Its a huge crazy world full of people that has no central "narrative" and can swing wildly from serious to silly at a moment's notice.  It doesn't address "themes" but it has a wild mix of characters and places and things that gives it the feeling of a Living World.

(the sort of serious legion of badass sci-fi supers)

(who were also the group that chose their leaders by a random method of throwing little planets at their heads)

The reason Edwards doesn't "get" the Legion is the same reason why he doesn't get D&D, Old School, or regular RPGs in general.  It has none of the things he believes "should" matter, and all of the things he discounts as "incoherent" or "impossible" or whatever.

I'd have no problem with Edwards' new-found fandom for the OSR and all those other regular RPGs he used to claim people were 'secretly miserable' for playing, and regular old geeky comic books too, if he were only capable of admitting he was wrong.  If he had the balls to come forward and say "ok, you know what? I was a pretentious shit-head through almost all of the 2000s, but now I've seen the light!", then fine.  If he's now into superheroes and old-school gaming and no longer thinks that D&D is 'incoherent' and RPGs need to be turned into storygames and doesn't want to pretend like he's the leader of the New Beat Poets anymore and doesn't feel a need to write 100-page dissertations on the 'dynamics' of Narrativist games in order to feel like he's being Really Super Serious and not just geeking out, GREAT. 
Just stop fucking pretending that's what you always were. Because I'm not going to stop reminding everyone what you did to this hobby

But hey, Ron,, it's cool.  We get that you'd rather still be writing 52-page pseudo-academic bullshit essays about "gaming theory", and not having to pretend like you always liked old-school D&D. If only there was still any popularity in it for you.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Volcano + H&H's Beverwyck


  1. LOSH: really, what is there to get? Teenagers/young adults with super powers in the 30th century and the adventures that ensue. Not all that complicated. Personally I only like the goofy early stuff when they hung out with Superboy and nobody made fun of Bouncing Boy's power.

    1. Indeed, the Legion's whole deal is such that I can only conclude that "explain it to me" is code here for "I don't like it".

    2. Just an aside, since you're a fellow Legion fan, what did you think of the post-Zero Hour reboot Legion?
      Myself personally, I loved it, and it's second only to the Terra Mosaic stuff. I dug Jeff Moy's very detailed, Disney-esque art contrasted with how incredibly dark some of the storylines were, especially the White Triangle storyline, which was basically American History X in space.

    3. I have to say I didn't care for it very much. I guess with the Legion I'm Old-School, too.
      I liked the threeboot legion's original premise a little more, actually, just because it was a radical rethink. I quite liked the early 'new legion' that came after the threeboot (particularly their Justice League crossover, Action Comics stuff, and the "legion of three worlds"), but the new-52 legion was a disaster.

  2. I agree with you about the Threeboot Legion. It was so radically different it was pretty entertaining. Did you ever read the Jim Shooter arc- the final arc before the Action Comics re-reboot, I think? It was pretty entertaining, if unfairly cut short.

    Also agreed on the New-52 Legion. I couldn't even read it and I'm truly saddened DC isn't doing anything with any version of the Legion right now.

    I was prowling through back issue bins at a used book store this weekend with some friends. I ended up with a handful of Legion issues and laughingly realized I had 6 different issues representing four distinct continuities. I think we're the only fandom in the world that schismatic.

    1. Yeah, the Shooter story was going somewhere but was ruined (as so many things in DC comics are these days) by the moron editorial staff.

  3. Your opinion on the futuristic profanity?
    To me, at first it amusing, then it was grating because it was in practically every word balloon, then it turned back around into hilarity because Shooter kept up up for the entire 12 issues. The joke just went on so long it became truly epic.

  4. I assume "explain it to me" is really "explain why you like this crap when you should know better like me."

    1. Exactly. The main problem though, is his ongoing lies about what he'd been doing for the last decade and a half.

      NO ONE ON EARTH would have, back in 2006, said "oh yeah, Ron Edwards is a gigantic fan of old-school D&D. That's absolutely his 'thing', man".

      Now he is LYING, trying to pretend that he was the inspiration for the OSR all along, and its biggest fan, and not a pretentious piece of shit who used pseudo-academic bullshit jargon to brainwash a gang of imbeciles into trying to tear down the RPG hobby's most basic structures all for his own glorification.

      That sin of pride is the very reason he can't just come out and say "i was wrong" now.

    2. Personally never heard of him until you brought him up on this blog a while back. Can't say I give a hoot what kind of games he likes or wants me to like. From what I have seen now it sounds like he likes some pretty lame stuff that sounds more like amateur drama club than an RPG.

    3. What do you mean, no one on Earth would have said on 2006 he was a fan of D&D?

      * I remember a series of posts where he GMs D&D, the latest one at the time, which I think it was 3.5, for a father and his son: He told them to create two characters each, and was amazed when the boy decided to make a Half Elf and a Half Orc that were half brothers.

      * I also remember another post where he played with younger gamers, as a player, and everyone was surprised at some old school tactic he used (I can't remember, something about traversing quicksand, while in full armor, without a spell? He did something without using dice, I dunno).

      * He has had that article on the history of D&D for ages, it's been around as long as the GNS ones, and it's actually on the same site, right next to them. Link:

      Disclaimer: I am a fan, of course, of The Forge in general, Edwards, Dr Xaos blog, etcetera. I don't game. I'm getting caught up on the latest developments of the RPG world, after a few years of not Googling anything about it. For the sake of completeness, I want to understand what you, The RPGPUndit, are saying. I thought my examples "proved" Edwards never hated D&D, but I think you probably know all that already, so I wonder what do you mean by hatred if it isn't refusing to play the game, not writing fondly about it, etcetera.

      Maybe you mean he can play it, and write about it, but he hates it still and calls it Incoherent? Something like that? Like, maybe he likes it but doesn't see it as a serious game? That's not hating, though. I dunno.

      Sorry if I ramble. If you could enlighten me on this, I'd be grateful.

    4. He founded a movement that, apart from whatever else it claimed, spent the better part of the 2000s being viciously opposed to D&D. His arguments about D&D being 'incoherent' were a much more powerful and influential statement than those few counter-examples you were able to pick out.

    5. Oh, wait! What about him being a biiiiig fan of Glorantha?

      Actually, now that I think of it, what's the status of other "old school" fantasy RPG games on the OSR community? What do they think of RuneQuest, Tunnels & Trolls, Traveller, etcetera? (And what about Bunnies and Burrows?)

      You've already been gracious with your time for answering me before, so I get it if you tell me to just Google. But as someone who's kind of studying this, it would be much help if you could give me some pointers in both accounts (OSR position on other old games, plus opinion on Edwards being a huge Glorantha fan).

      (Is it a hipster thing? Besides Edwards, 'cause you know, you hate him and I'm a fan of him, but have there been, even before the 2000s,a group of gamers that went "Yeah, fantasy roleplaying, well D&D is fine and mainstream, but I was much more a fan of 'cult classics' like RQ/T&T/whatever?")

    6. The OSR has generally been favorable to all old-school RPGs, though the emphasis has been on D&D. But in particular Traveller has been a fairly big deal to most OSR gamers I know, and quite a lot are big Runequest fans too.

      As for the Forge, you could say it was a 'hipster' thing in the sense of shallow pretentiousness that produced almost nothing of value. The Forge movement's main goal wasn't the production of games, it was the production of a FEELING, of that feeling of being smarter and superior to the unwashed masses of regular 'brain damaged' gamers.

  5. I sometimes wonder if the RPGPundit who writes all these clever, detailed, accurate, informative and often witty game reviews that I find so useful and the RPGPundit who spawns all this incomprehensible bullshit concerning the Worldwide Narrativist Swine Conspiracy are two completely different persons.

    Ron Edwards NEVER fought against old-school RPGs, if by the latter you mean older editions of D&D and other games that inspire the OSR. I dare you find me a quote. Yes, he attacked White Wolf, he criticized the marketing and publishing policies of post-Gygax TSR -- but who did not?
    Ron Edwards NEVER claimed credit for the OSR. He only said that (a) OSR and Forge share many traits in common; (b) some OSR guys used to be active at the Forge; and (c) OSR is much concerned with the phenomenon of self-publishing, and he was a pioneer of it. All three things are obviously true; whether (c) entitles Mr. Edwards to some thanks is a matter of debate, but not a reason for outrage.
    Ron Edwards NEVER founded any '"Storygames movement" (if there's any). He promptly shut any talk of "movement" at the Forge and cut off ties to StoryGames forums exactly when (and because) people there started talking about "movement".
    Needless to say, Ron Edwards has NEVER been on any quest to tear down "regular RPGs", it's all your personal fantasies.

    Because, you see, he is just a guy who plays and occasionally designs games. You may find it hard to believe, but all these "movements", "ownership", and other adolescent identity politics crap you seem to be so obsessed with, is of no interest to him. I bet the poor guy doesn't understand what you are raving about when (and if) he reads your posts like this one.

    I know nothing whatsoever of LSH, so I can't judge the reasons underlying the differences the two of you have about it, but it seems like your interpretation is based on very little evidence. Don't try to use it as an independent argument for your dichotomy of "regular RPGs" vs. "storygames" (which, as I said before, is a rather poorly-articulated piece of reductionism that makes poor service to the actual diversity of our hobby), or you fall into the trap of circular logic.

    1. Dmitry: He LITERALLY said something like that the OSR should "thank him".

    2. In his very first GNS essay (if I recall correctly, I believe it was the first) he stated that all roleplayers are secretly miserable with their gaming, because of its incoherence.

      It was only after the OSR came along that the Forgists all started to revise history to try to pretend that they never had anything against D&D.

    3. And although the term "storygames" came along after Edwards and largely by a group of Forge Swine who wanted to come out from under his shadow (and were probably sick of him by then, though they would never say that explicitly), he IS very much responsible for the Storygames, and for all the pretentiousness, elitism, and bullshit that sprang out of them.

      Name me ONE thing that came out of the Forge/GNS/Storygames that was:
      a) unique to that movement
      b) supportive of D&D
      c) good for the OSR

      There's nothing. It was just a wasteland of pretentious crap.

      The D&D they ARE responsible isn't the OSR; it's 4e: the monumental failure based on the idea that D&D should be like the pathetic thing Ron Edwards insisted it was most suited to.

    4. >Dmitry: He LITERALLY said something like that the OSR should "thank him".
      Yes, per (c) in my post. But you make it sound like he claims some active involvement in OSR or responsibility for inspiring/producing its creative content, which he never did.

    5. >Name me ONE thing that came out of the Forge/GNS/Storygames that was:
      I don't know why you are asking me that. In what way the absence of such thing (especially meeting the requirement (a)) justifies your claim that Edwards fought against old-school D&D?

      Anyway, there surely is a thing that fulfills all three criteria.

      It's called Raphael Chandler.

    6. >he stated that all roleplayers are secretly miserable with their gaming
      He never said "all".