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Tuesday 31 May 2016

Classic Rant: GMing, and Playing, in a Heavily-published Setting

JHKim had this to say about it: "If they aren't world-jumping strangers, though, they should know a lot about the world they live in - ideally more than one book's worth or even a dozen book's worth. One of the advantages of an established setting is that players do have more information, like people who live in the world really ought to have. My rule of thumb here comes from games set in the real world. There are thousands/millions of books about history and the real world, yet I don't find it stifling, and I don't have a problem with having historians in my historical games. I find that they make good gamers."

I would say that, no, sorry, but the CHARACTERS should know a lot about the world, not the PLAYERS. Those are two different things. And what the Character does or doesn't know about the world should be determined by his sensory guide, the GM, not by what the player has or hasn't read in a book.

The "knowing" that setting-book material creates is not good emulative knowing. If you grew up a farmboy in Pissantdale you're not going to be very likely at all to know what the best restaurants in Waterdeep are, much less that Alusree Lovebringer is a secret Red Wizard agent. You certainly won't know there's a beholder city in the Underdark below Calimsham, and while you might know that Elminster is (allegedly) a very powerful wizard, you shouldn't know that he's a 214th Wizard/18th Cleric/3rd Chosen of Mystra/1st Demigod, or that he can't cast Prismatic Sphere on Tuesdays because of emotional harm that he suffered in the 15th book of the "Elminster In Heck" novel series.

If as the GM you're going to change ANYTHING, then that essentially invalidates EVERYTHING about the predetermined canon-knowledge anyways, unless the GM specifically gives away the things that are different too. Unless he says "in my game x, y, and z will not be the same but everything else will", the setting-knowledge basically becomes worse than useless as your PC will now not only be assuming stuff he should have no business knowing, he also may be assuming stuff that is inherently untrue.

The basic answer is that players need to depend ON THE GM for what their character knows, not on other sources. And the game-play experience is superior if they are not trying to debate the GM on what "ought" to go in an area of the setting, and in fact never know what to expect (unless their PC should know, in which case the GM will tell them).

Setting material can be useful if, for example, I can tell a player, "you're from Sandomdale so read the Dales' Sourcebook section on it, where everything except a and c are things your character knows, or at least thinks he knows, as truth". But even then, its only mostly a time-saver. So it is sometimes possible, too, for players to take out-of-character notions they have about some of the world and translate that into things their character might BELIEVE about his game world, sometimes I've explicitly emphasized that. Sure, your PC BELIEVES that Elminster is an incredibly powerful Chosen of Mystra, but in the game world it could be utterly and totally untrue. Your PC may BELIEVE that Waterdeep is the biggest city in the realms, but maybe that's just exaggeration. You won't know until you get there.

Generally, though, the best situation is if players assume they don't know anything going-in about the game world. Setting material is there for the GM's benefit, not the player's, and for the GM to dole out as he sees fit with as much or little modification as he cares to.


(January 23, 2011)

Monday 30 May 2016

Pictures From Uruguay!

Just some random pictures today, nothing too special.

Here's a typical street corner in the Cordon neighborhood:

Here's an amusing contrast on the types of cars you can see in Montevideo's streets.  Some people have shiny new vehicles, with cars being a hugely important status symbol.  But because cars are a status symbol, having any kind of car is socially more significant than having no car at all, so some people will buy or hold onto the crappiest of beat up cars just to say they have one:

And speaking of cars, while there are some standard modern parking complexes in the city, there's also a lot of parking lots that you'd never see in a city in north america, like this one:

And finally today, some more street art. Because I love Montevideo's street art:

That's it for today!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti half-volcano + Peterson's Balkan Delight

Sunday 29 May 2016

Trying to Explain Why Government Should be Blamed for Corporate-Government Collusion

If there's one thing that blows my mind about the leftist view of modern politics in terms of how blatantly wrongheaded it is, it's how liberals will always blame "Corporations" for shitty pacts between Corporations and Government.

I'm going to try to explain why this makes no sense:

Let's say you have a horny 16 year old high school jock. He wants to do everything that moves.
Let's say you have a middle-aged but still attractive high-school teacher.

If the teacher and the student end up having voluntary sex together, who was the more liable, the more criminal, and the less moral of the two?
The teacher, right?
Because it's the student's nature to want to fuck the hot teacher, but it's the teacher's job NOT to take advantage of the students.

While the actions of both could be considered 'wrong' on some sort of level, only one of the two parties involved has an actual RESPONSIBILITY not to engage in the behaviour in question.

And only one of the two has actual POWER. The teacher can force the student, the teacher can ruin the student's life, but the student has no means of forcing himself on the teacher outside of illegal physical aggression.  Thus, any coercion that happened in this scenario was on the part of the teacher, not the student.

So obviously, the student here is Business, and the teacher is Government. It's still bad that business gets in bed with government, but the larger part of the responsibility and blame rests on GOVERNMENT'S head, which is what you liberals consistently fail to understand.

Now let's say someone caught out our naughty teacher. What do you think should be done about this scandal?

Would your answer be "Give the teacher EVEN MORE POWER over the student, so that surely will stop the two from having sex, given what a sterling job the teacher has done so far"??

Would it be to expel the student and let the teacher go off scott-free, with a blank check to start all over again with another student?

Because that's what the liberal answer to government-business collusion always looks like.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Beverwyck

Saturday 28 May 2016

Christopher Helton Making Fast Gains In His Effort To Become the Biggest Swine Douchebag of the Gaming World

Man, he sure went from an absolute nobody to a guy who is at least making a lot of noise as he desperately tries to place himself front-and-center in the Outrage Brigade hierarchy.  I guess he figured out no one gave a fuck about him in the OSR and now he's trying to fake his way again, but in the other direction.

And man, Helton sure is on a roll of making a complete cunt of himself. He's three-for-three on the last cause du jours of the Outrage Brigade!  He was the originator of the "gamers should be forced to give self-styled game designers a 'living wage'" idiocy. He was a standard-bearer for the idiotic "not at my table" (and wrote a blog entry about me where he was too scared to call me out explicitly... see, Helton? It's not that hard!). And now here's this asshole's next move:

Yes, because the Swine are deeply worried about the sexism of a well-known problem among married gamers: when your spouse isn't into your hobby (of course, so few of the Swine are so fundamentally unlovable as human beings that they are not nor have ever been married, no surprise they're not familiar with it).  This crusade is definitely about that, and not about the Tabletop Library being an attempt at creating a competitive alternative to OneBookShelf.

Or not. The real story is very clearly this: that the Swine are constantly worried about any potential competitor to OBS arising. They know that the more digital sales points there are, the more diverse market competition is, the less vulnerable anyone will be to threats of boycotting in order to force Censorship.  If the Tabletop Library succeeds, then people like Helton have less power to force OBS to censor books they don't like.  Note that Helton has been a pro-censorship activist for at least two years now, and explicitly praised the ability of the Swine to force OBS into censoring its products.

That's their key motive.  That and being pathetic virtue-signalling windbags of course.

Free-market competition helps prevent censorship. Helton already came out as pro-censorship by his endorsement of #NotAtMyTable.  The Tabletop Library is a really good target for him to attack, to further his sad pathetic mission to try to become a relevant icon among the Regressive Left Swine of the RPG world. 

I look forward to see what else he does, and whether he gets the leadership position he's clearly so desperately craving that the OSR totally denied him.


P.S.: Kudos to Tenkar's Tavern for a brilliantly clever and subtle attack on Helton's asinine bullshit.  I, on the other hand, have chosen the direct approach.

Currently Smoking: 

Friday 27 May 2016

James Desborough Pulls the Ultimate Troll on the RPG Regressive Left Outrage Brigade

Oh my god, I can't stop laughing!  This here? Comedy GOLD:

Yes, that's "Diversity Dungeons: World Building and Game Design in the Safe Space Age", written by JAMES FUCKING DESBOROUGH.  The only guy who the Regressive Left Outrage Brigade, the type of people who worry about 'safe spaces', have tried to ban from RPGs more often than me!

This, then, is his revenge for the time they got his gamergate-themed game pulled from OBS.  Or the other games of his they've tried to ban.  Or for the time they tried to boycott Mongoose and force Mongoose's executive into issuing an apology for having ever hired Desborough. And for the times they went after his family. And for the time they tried to get him blacklisted and denounced by Wizards of the Coast... oh no wait, that one they did to me. But you get my point!

Anyhow, so here he is, writing a guide to 'diversity representation in gaming', including "how we might simulate the plight of minority groups" and "allow characters to affect social change within the game worlds".

Now, Desborough will totally deny that this is a massive troll designed as the ultimate, bold-faced, huge-testicled Fuck You to the Outrage Brigade; when I asked him about it on Twitter he insisted he was being totally super serious and really meant what he was writing. But then, LOOK AT THE FUCKING COVER. LOOK AT THAT COVER RIGHT THERE, MOCKING THE SHIT OUT OF THE KIND OF BULLSHIT THAT THE REGRESSIVE LEFT LOVES!  It's fucking glorious.

Oh, and note his co-writers "Jia Mingzhi" and "Jina Bandia".  Those wonderfully diverse-sounding names which would totally fit on some academic paper on 'intersectionality in identity politics' from the Oberlin College Feminist Cultural Studies Department?  They mean "fake name" in Chinese and Swahili.

I tip my hat to you, sir.

This is a work of fucking beauty.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Canadian + Image Latakia

Thursday 26 May 2016

Classic Rant: I Am The Absolute Authority

"We Must Run The Rules As Written", My Ass.

I'm quite willing to houserule the fuck out of any game. I think that those who claim "a game SHOULD be perfect right out of the box so as to make houserules unnecessary" are mostly covering up the fact that they're petit-fascists that don't like the idea of the GM being able to invalidate the string of feats they worked out that are "within the rules" to give their PC 100 points of damage reduction, or whatever. "We have to play with the Rules as Written!" is the cry of the rules lawyer and the reverse-cheater (one who cheats by abusing the letter of the rules).

Furthermore, there are all kinds of games pre-RPGs that are houseruled. Hardly anyone plays Monopoly absolutely straight. Poker has 20 million fucking variants (including the utterly despicable "Texas Hold'em") because people houseruled the fuck out of it.

And consider this: many RPG companies release Errata and/or new editions. What is that, if not the game designer saying "rule x is flawed or not ideal, I've got this houserule for it"? The mere fact that he wrote the game doesn't make him any more competent than me, nor the fact that he's a game designer (so am I, but the case stands even if the theoretical GM in question was not). In fact, since he's the one who fucked up in the first place, I'd say that puts him lower on the scale of people qualified to fix the mess. And its even worse if instead of the designer, its just "someone from the company"; now you're trying to tell me that for some reason some random dick, possibly even some suit who has never actually written or maybe even played an RPG in his fucking life, is somehow more qualified to make up a new rule for a game than I am, just because he has the little "official employee of Wizards of The Coast" sticker on his chest? The Hasbro Exec's retarded nephew Cletus, who got the job because his parents went to Uncle Joe for help to find Cletus something to do other than stealing hub-caps, somehow magically gets to houserule but I don't?

Fuck that.
Fuck you.

I am the absolute authority. The game rules are there as rules for the players UNTIL I SAY OTHERWISE. But to me? They only exist as suggestions. I can change them as I so will it; add my own genius to them, or destroy any part of them with but a snap of my fingers. 


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

(Originally posted December 17, 2010)

Wednesday 25 May 2016

My Video Interview with Rol Salvaje (in Spanish)

Edited:  The interview is now complete, and here it is:


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

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Tomorrow I'm Being Interviewed Live!

Check it out: Wednesday, 10pm Spain Time, I'm being interviewed by the top Spanish video channel on RPGs: Rol Salvage!

It turns out that I'm pretty popular in Spain, certainly among game designers.  My reviews of Spanish RPGs like Puerta De Ishtar and Walkure highlighted how Spain is probably the most exciting European scene for RPGs around right now, and helped to get translation deals for several RPGs.   Old School is pretty popular over there thanks to games like Marca Del Este, so there have been a few social media threads expressing excitement at my coming interview. Which is the first interview I've ever given live.

And YOU will be able check out the interview live (a link will be generated when we start the interview) on the Rol Salvage channel.   Mind you, in case I didn't make it clear, the whole interview will be in Spanish. So if you're an English-speaking Pundit fan, you're just shit out of luck.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Egg + Brebbia No.8

Monday 23 May 2016

Why #NotAtMyTable is Not About Bullying

The instigators of #NotAtMyTable are claim that they're all about stopping 'bullies' and 'abusers' in the RPG hobby. Of course, we all know that's a lie. All they give a fuck about is their little group manipulating people's sense of fundamental discipline to be able to get power over the hobby, in order to enact censorship and blacklisting.  We know this because they've done it dozens of times before now; it's so endemic that I can link you to an earlier blog post of mine about a totally different "outrage" in the hobby and you'll see how it applies in exactly the same way; once again, Totalitarians are trying to use emotional appeals to the mushy middle's sense of decency against them, to take control.

One of the things they claim is that they want RPGs to be 'safe' from sexually suggestive or 'triggering' games. Now let's assess how this is absolute bullshit and what they really want is to use claims of sexism (or racism, or homophobia) to go after games they don't like.

I mean, it should be as simple as asking: "which of the sides in the controversy are have significant numbers in favor of censorship"? That should be enough. But let's say you want some more proof that they're not just totalitarians, but HYPOCRITICAL totalitarians....

The proof is in the Maid RPG.

Maid is a game where you can literally play a preteen slave/maid dressed in a completely transparent uniform, who is sexually pursued by her master and is identified as a 'lolita'.  And this isn't 'can' as in theoretically in some weird stretch the way you could theoretically do something like that in, say, Call of Cthulhu (weird as that would be).  This is 'can' as in "It is explicitly used in the book"!

If the game had been written by, say, James Desborough, they'd be calling for his arrest. Feminists all across the hobby would be demanding that he and anyone ever remotely associated with him be banned for life from producing RPGs ever again. There'd be demands that we censor the entire RPG hobby. There'd be people going to the UN. There'd be fainting-couch outrage like you've never seen before.

Of course, James Desborough, who has been painted as the great 'smut-peddler' villain of the RPG world by the Regressive Left RPG Division, has never, ever, written anything even remotely as extreme as Maid.

But because Maid was NOT written by Desborough, and was instead translated and published by a beloved leader-figure of the Forge/Storygames movement, the game is 'stunning and brave' instead of sick disgusting misogyny proof-of-rape-culture whatever etc. etc.

It proves what a gang of hypocrites the Regressive Leftists are. Content doesn't matter, all that matters is which team you're on.  Desborough writes games that are regular RPGs, and he's a militant rationalist-atheist type who has dared question the appeals to emotion used by the Outrage Brigade and their constant and singular proposed solution of handing control and censorship powers to a small group of self-determined elites, so he is a sick pervert who must be stopped.  But the sick fucks over at Storygames can feel free to write and/or promote RPGs featuring sexual acts Desborough would never touch, and they are just being Sophisticated Artists, because they're part of the special club of self-determined elites who want a Central Planning Committee to rule the hobby and punish the old-school gamers for their sins against inclusion.  They're on the right team, the team that wants the Outrage Brigade in power; and Desborough is not.

And mind you, for my example, I picked someone that you could legitimately point out makes very slightly racy RPGs (again, nothing anywhere remotely close to the likes the 'child slave in a see-through uniform being violated with a broomstick' example from Maid, just more like a Benny-Hill Sexy-Party type of smut). But the Outrage Brigade just uses him as low-hanging fruit; they don't actually need anything like that to try to drive out their ideological opponents. It's convenient for them when there is that, but if there isn't, they'll just lie.   Remember kiddies: I wrote an RPG about culturally-accurate Indian Mythic History, and put the first ever transgender heroic character on the cover of an RPG, and they STILL spent months claiming I was a racist and a transphobe.

It's all a fucking shell game of empty hypocrisy. And the good news is, the enormous backlash on Twitter against the stupid fucking hashtag is a sign that the Mushy Middle finally isn't falling for it. They've figured out the trick, and they know that these claims that it's just about making people be nice are really a shallow power grab, and the accusations (often repeated over the recent history of the #NotAtMyTable hashtag by increasingly desperate Regressive Leftists) that if you dare question their campaign it must mean you are a pro-bullying racist sexist bigot yourself has finally been seen through as a pathetic scare tactic.

It's 2016, bitches, and the hobby isn't falling for your crap anymore. Time to run and hide, your scam is up.  Tell your comrades that the Pundit is coming and his Proxy Army is back in town.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Horn + Argento Latakia

Sunday 22 May 2016

Wild West Update: Calamity!

Today we had a fairly short session. One of the players had to deal with a case of mistaken identity: the Mormon Gambler is apparently a perfect doppleganger of a big-time cattle rustler and train robber from the southwest, who's currently in hiding. He found this out in a very comedic situation where one of his henchmen was completely convinced the Gambler was actually his boss in deep cover.

But the main attraction of tonight's adventure was none other than her:

Yes, Calamity Jane came riding into Dodge.

She was hot on the trail of the coward who'd shot her lover, Wild Bill Hickok.  And true to her name she brought sheer calamity with her, getting drunk, causing fights, and shooting up half the town.  The PCs were kept quite busy having to chase her around Dodge, keeping her out of trouble, while trying to figure out if Crooked Nosed Jack McCall (Wild Bill's killer) was really around, and also trying to figure out what to do about the criminal who mistook a tee-totaling Mormon for one of the great gang leaders of the west.

The situation ended up solving itself, when the criminal in question mistakenly thought that Jane and one of the PCs were coming for him (when they were actually looking for McCall), and got into a shootout where Jane (in spite of being three-bottle drunk) managed to shoot him fatally in the thigh.  It turned out McCall had already gotten the hell out of Dodge, and so Jane continued off on his trail; with everyone feeling quite relieved that her whirlwind stay in town was mercifully brief.

If any lessons were learned, it was once again that not all Wild West legends were quite what their stories made them out to be. Wyatt Earp confessed to one PC that he'd actually gotten into very few real gunfights in his career, and that the most important trait for a good lawman wasn't being able to shoot well, but the art of intimidation and a talent for giving a good pistol-whip.  And Calamity Jane was certain a disaster worthy of her title, but her talent too lay more with alcoholic recklessness and brash shock-value than careful aim (though she was as great a tracker as her history made her out to be, and a pretty good nurse to boot).


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Rattray's Old Gowrie

Saturday 21 May 2016


Well, this has been a hilarious Twitter hashtag, started when some of the Outrage Brigade decided that certain types of gamers would no longer be welcome at their table.  You know, in the name of 'inclusion' and 'diversity'.

Because I'm running a game in a half-hour, here's some of my top tweets on it:


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

Friday 20 May 2016

Classic Rant: Three Sources of Awesomeness

People have, over the years, made much of the nature of D&D as a game where you start out very weak, and end up very powerful. Perhaps because of D&D's influence, many other games tend to follow this same format; but I believe it's not just due to D&D's influence, but also to the nature of such a game at creating a system where you can play a long-term campaign that doesn't get boring quickly, thanks to the game over time mutating into different styles based on the growing power level. It could also be said that this encourages player satisfaction as they watch their characters grow mighty.

You could call this structure of system the "awesomeness through experience" model. But its not the only model out there.

There are three ways for a PC to be (or become) awesome: through talent, through training, or through experience. In fact, every successful game will combine these three elements. D&D, for example, has "talent" in the form of base ability scores, which reflect how powerful a character's raw potential is. It has "training" in the form of starting Class and abilities. And "experience" in the form of the level system.

Other games begin with other considerations. Palladium's system is often considered to be a mere D&D-clone (albeit a fairly heavily house-ruled one). But in fact, it begins with rather a different premise. "Talent" is considered important in Palladium only if characters demonstrate extreme giftedness (having an attribute of 17 or higher). "Experience" is still important, in that a character grows as they gain in level, but the curve is much much more shallow than in D&D. A 1st level D&D character has virtually no chance of defeating a 15th level D&D character, but a 1st level Palladium character stands an outside chance of defeating a 15th level Palladium character.
In the Palladium system, the most centrally important model is "Training"; that is, the starting class skills and abilities (and in the case of many of its games, the gear) that a 1st level character receives. 1st level Palladium characters start out already considerably more powerful than their D&D equivalents.

In designing an RPG, I think its important to keep in mind how you would want to distribute the spread between talent, training and experience in terms of what is most important. I think that the reason some licensed settings seem to fit perfectly with certain systems, while others not so much, is because of this issue; if the basic genre of the license matches the basic assumptions of the game system in terms of how characters are awesome, then the result will be good. This is also why superhero games in particular are not very suited to the D&D-style model. In the superhero genre, talent and training are usually much more important than experience.

So likewise, one could say that its important to consider this factor of the different ways to model awesomeness when you are choosing which system to use to run your campaigns.


(Originally Posted December 9, 2010)

Thursday 19 May 2016

I'm Getting Quoted by the Washington Post, for all the Wrong Reasons

So here's the good news: yours truly has become so internet-famous that he's now being quoted in the mainstream media.  One of my tweets on the subject of the atrocious selections for the 2016 Gencon panelists was pasted directly onto the Washington Post!

You can read the article here, but if you do, you'll note that it's a bit odd.  Written by someone I suspect has fuck all to do with gaming (at least, with tabletop RPG gaming), it conflates a whole bunch of nonsense, including Gamergate, Zoe Quinn, cosplay, and more with the core issue of the Gencon panel list.  And in the process, it puts a false spin on the issue with the panelists.  Namely, it claims that anyone who has a problem with the panelists is doing so because the panel is over 50% women this year.

Now, take a look at my quote, you'll see that I'm talking about ALL the panelists.

When I said that "several Gencon panelists are only famous for writing shitty indie games or trying to censor people (like me) on the internet", I was nowhere talking about gender.   But hey, we already know that the Outrage Brigade likes to lie about me. We can guess where that quote was obtained and how it was spun to the hapless fellow-traveller author of the Post article.

Likewise, when I said the Gencon panel is "a circle-jerking list of Forge Swine, SJWs, and Talentless Hacks", I nowhere stated that it was only the ones with vaginas.  And for the record, it is not.

When I said that the people on the panel are a list of "reprobates, motherfuckers, and worthless morons", I meant all of them, not just the wommenz.

And when I said I feel sorry for Kenneth Hite, the only qualified person on the ENTIRE list, because just being on that list is likely to harm his legacy by association, I did not mean "by association to them there women-folk".

Someone should really go tell the Washington Post that they're claiming my tweet makes a point it never did. 
Let me be clear: I wouldn't give a twopenny fuck if 100% of the Gencon Panelists were women, as long as they were qualified.

And there are MANY qualified women in the RPG industry, both historically (Margaret Weis has recently pointed out quite correctly, in reference to this debate, that women have been hugely involved with running gaming companies and managing gaming lines from the early TSR period onward), and in the present day. The problem is, neither the women nor the men on this list of panelists are those qualified people.

For all their crowing about 'diversity', this panel DOES have only one voice: the voice of Fashionable-Leftist Portland/Seattle Hipster "indie" pretentiousness. Everyone on that panel is either part of the self-declared 'industry' that's pissed off at their growing irrelevance, or part of the 'alternative' Storygaming movement that's pissed off that their theories and ideas have been colossal failures, and that the newest edition of D&D was guided not by their bullshit, but by old-school principles pushed by people like me.

It's an insider group alright, a gang of irrelevant no-talent would-be elitists selected by networking and nepotism rather than any actual merit.

You talk about diversity, why was there not even a single OSR writer on the panel?  The Forge, the failed gaming ideology which produced mostly pretentious nonsense and was utterly discredited, makes up the religion of about half the Gencon Panelists.  On the other hand, the OSR, which defined the direction of D&D today (thanks to people like me), has NO ONE.

There is ZERO gaming diversity on that panel.  For that matter, zero political diversity too. And very little regional, racial, or class diversity, for that matter.  It's a bunch of humanities-major white middle-class hipsters who either live in Portland/Seattle or left their hearts there, and think that they should get to own the RPG hobby (which they insist in pretending is an 'industry').  Ironically, these very people who are claiming that 'old white men' are trying to keep control of a hobby that's always been diverse are the only ones obsessed with control: THEY want to be in control of this hobby and marginalize or eliminate all dissenting voices or other groups.

And this all has fuck all to do with the gender of who's on that list. Oh, sure, someone with more qualifications in basic research than the idiot who wrote the Washington Post article could probably find an asshole or two angry at there being women on a panel, but for everyone who actually matters this never had anything to do with gender.  Only the Outrage Brigade Swine obviously want to LIE to make it about that, so that they don't have to argue the much harder real complaint we've put forward.

I'd say the Washington Post owes me an apology, but who the fuck reads them anyway? They're as irrelevant as some of the 'freelancer' hacks who are trying to pretend they're the RPG 'industry insiders' as if there was a real industry, and not just a couple of companies and the OSR (who is doing all the really innovative and genius stuff).

I'll close with this: it's a sad comment on the state of Gencon's panel list that I have had considerably more influence on the modern RPG hobby than almost anyone on it.


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

Wednesday 18 May 2016

RPGPundit Answers YOUR Questions, pt.4! On Death, and Non-Vancian Magic Systems

Some time ago over on this blog entry, I invited readers to ask me questions, and I would gradually get around to answering them in future blog entries!

So today, I'm going to deal with another couple of these.  Remember, if you want to ask me a question, go to the blog entry above, and I'll eventually get to answering whatever you want to know.  

First question:

Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, what do you conceive that to be?

It's not so much a question of belief for me as of experiences.  In both Magick and Tantrism there are practices that can allow one to have experiences of previous incarnations, and I've done these.  Now, some might argue that this is a subjective experience, that it doesn't 'prove' anything, scientifically or what have you.  That's fine.  My own experiences were powerful enough that it's resolved whatever doubts I had.

Now, the bigger point is also that I've been through initiations that are meant to bring one through the experience of death while still alive.  This is a common theme in most esoteric traditions, and it is something very different from the standard religious (as opposed to esoteric) method of creating a sense of comfort in an afterlife to subvert fears of death. So the bigger answer is that if my understanding of my experiences were wrong after all, it would not matter to me very much anyways.  What matters is what you do right now, right here, in this life, not whatever might come after (or, for that matter, what came before).  Death holds no terror to the initiate, who can engage with the infinite in this very life.

Second Question:

I'm interested in seeing what you would do to change OSR magic system, from Vancian to a new method not using spell points.

Well, to a certain extent, I've done that, twice. Neither Arrows of Indra nor Dark Albion's Appendix P rules make use of 'spell point' systems, and neither are strictly Vancian. 

Now, I quite like the Vancian system, I don't have any problem with it.  I think that generally it's a much better system than any "spell point" system I'm familiar with.  But I do like to experiment with other systems. 

I would be tempted to at some point go for something that even further decouples from the D&D-style of magick, and closer to what I did with Dark Albion's 'demonology' rules.  I'd quite like a system where magick involved having to do a lot of research, and then ritual magic that grants temporary or permanent powers. 

That's it for today; but again, if you have questions for me, post them in the comments section of the original blog entry in this series. 


Currently Smoking: Moretti Rhodesian + Gawith's Squadron Leader

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Update on Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos

So, I've just received the Proofread edit of Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos, my upcoming new sourcebook for Dark Albion or any game (especially OSR games) where you want to have medieval-like sects, cults, heresy, witchcraft, mutations, and dark elves to spice up a campaign!

Here, as a treat, is the current (and probably final) table of contents:

I can tell you, it looks great! Dominique Crouzet, who was already the mastermind behind the original Dark Albion book, has once more excelled himself with the layout and art, as well as contributing as co-author to about 40 of the 92 pages of the book.

In short, this book is awesome, and it's coming soon.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billard + Image Latakia

Monday 16 May 2016

The Secrets of the Pundit's Childhood Revealed?

So, a while back I was given maybe the most unusual interview I was ever asked to give.  Victor Garrison over at the "Appendix N Happy Meal" blog has a very strange series, where I guess he's trying to figure out cues about prominent game designers about their childhood play and interests in some kind of effort to figure out what makes them, and maybe our whole hobby, tick. 

So when asked, I decided to give it a shot.  And now you can see the results over on Victor's blog. Go check it out to find out a bit more about what the Pundit was like as a kid, and what he learned from that. As to whether that really tells us anything about the greater hobby, well, I'm not really so sure about that.   Do you think that Victor's project will achieve something?


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Virginia

Sunday 15 May 2016

DCC Campaign Update: What we Need to go get are Some Cows in Heat

Today's adventure began with the PCs still in Highbay, still encountering apparently random attacks of Minotaurs from an unknown wizard, and planning not so much on how to deal with it but on whether they want to deal with it or just use this to farm XP.


-"Is there a body of water in this town?"
"Well, it is called HighBAY"

-"I'm not under threat from these attacks, but I'm going stand with the rest of you guys."
"...for the XP, right?"

-Sezrekhan interrupts Bill the Elf's spellcasting to tell him that he must immediately go into the badlands to recover an ultra-powerful book of magic known as the "Libram of the Ten Spheres". Whoever has it in their possession, and can survive its super-dangerous ark-of-the-covenant-style effects, can use it to reach any of the higher planes, including the Crown of Creation. Just to make sure Bill doesn't fuck around, Sezrekhan puts him under a Geas.

-"My friends, this book sounds to me like it was a daemonic book of evil!"
"Oh shit, it's this asshole again! I forgot we still had Zeke Bodean with us!"

-"I hit Zeke with my staff"
"Does your staff do something special, like Bill's Primo Staff?"
"So.. you're just violently beating him?"

-"We could go get this book, but for G.O.D. instead of Sezrekhan!"
"G.O.D. is pretty much under Nikos' control right now."
"He pretty much IS Nikos right now!"
"Yes, but when I says G.O.D. I actually mean us. You know, for G.O.D."
"Right, and when he says 'us', he really means himself. You know, FOR 'us'"

-"Whoops, it's Minotaur-o-Clock again!"
"Let's go kill it..."
"Right you are guys. I'll just be right here in the corner absorbing XP."

-"You did not hit Chu."
"Chu did not hit?"
"Fuck chu! Fuck Chu all!"
"Are Chu done yet?"

-At this point, Chu the Warrior has become a truly bizarre hybrid between a certain idiotic regressive leftist, and a certain cast member from The Community.

-Trying to be helpful in the fight against the latest Minotaur, the Fishman tries to cast like five spells in a row, failing at all of them. Finally, he succeeds at Spider Climb, which he uses to scurry onto the ceiling.  Once the battle is over, Ack'basha grabs a broom to swat him back down.

-"Here, my followers, use this statuette of Bill the Elf, put it in the far corner as a symbol of pure evil. On every holy day throw stones at the statue."
"Hey! I'm right here!"
"Yeah, Ack'basha. I'm not entirely sure but there's a slight chance Bill might have real feelings, and if so, that was potentially mean."
"Come on, it's funny!"
"Well, yeah, it is funny!"

-The next day the Fishman heads off in search of some armor to buy, and someone someone he can sell a bag of heroin that had come into his possession.  He gets the former going easily enough, but for the latter he's directed to a place called 'the factory', over on 5th and Gygax St.

-Once there, he finds that its a warehouse converted into a weird nightclub full of demented freaks. Lots of people dressed in black, strange music and lights, a whole series of technicolor prints of a portrait of BOLT-0 on one wall.

-The whole thing is run by a guy called 'the director', who is surrounded by fawning degenerate sycophants. He immediately agrees to buy the heroin if the Fishman will pose bare-chested for a black and white short film.
"Oh you're absolutely hideous! It's really fantastic"

-"Ok... I'm getting out of this weird weird place and will never speak of this again."

-When the party meets up with BOLT-0 to learn more about the Libram of the Ten Spheres, they find out that it apparently originated from the sunken lost city of Atlantida.
(the joke being that "Atlantida" is a coastal town here in Uruguay)

"When was it ever the first??"
"Dude, you get that you're basically his abused spouse at this point?"
"Yeah, but you don't know the whole story... I've done bad things too, it's not his fault, I deserve it!"

-"We want to have the book to contact G.O.D.!"
"What we should do is destroy it!"
"I suppose you think we should give the book to you?"
"Wait, would you even be able to read it?"

-"Ok, you guys, I have a plan to deal with the Minotaur issue.  What we need to do is go get some cows in heat.."

-"Um... Bolt-0.. I went to this.. place, it had pictures of you on the wall. It was full of really weird people. What do you have to do with them?"
"Well, like.. there was this lizard guy with a beret and a cigarette holder.. and an obese gold mutant who'd painted his skin silver..."

-The team decides that to deal with the daily minotaur attacks during their trip to the badlands, they're going to get some supplies.
"No, there are no such thing as 'Armored Carts'".

-They settle for attaching a bunch of spears to a cart, and decide to hire some mercenaries. Eventually, they get a bunch of Dutch Crossbowmen for some reason.
"Ya, we are Dutch crossbowmen.. isn't that weird?"

-On the trip, they of course encounter a number of Minotaur attacks. Plus one very confused Ogre who seemed to have been teleported by accident. The Ogre, unlike the Minotaurs, is not enraged or interested in attacking the PCs.
"Look, I just want to get back to my wife and kids. We were all vacationing together."
"Out of curiosity, was it in a Minotaur city?"

-They consider inviting the Ogre to join them, but when he realizes who they actually are, he runs like hell.

-"So are you guys just going to sleep through the night and let the mercenaries stand guard?"
"Well, inasmuch as possible given how many Dutch people are around"

-"Bill the Elf is taking a personal interest in making sure things are weird enough for the Dutchmen!"

-To everyone's surprise, the spear-lined cart works on at least one minotaur, who charges right at the cart and ends up impaling himself.

That's where we stopped for the night; the PCs are just about where Sezrekhan said they had to go, and are ready to try to find the Libram of the Ten Spheres.  As usual, just about everyone in the party has their own competing agenda about why they want it and how they plan to double-cross everyone else to get it.  We'll see how it goes down. Probably hilariously.


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

Saturday 14 May 2016

Classic Rant: A New Historical Perspective on Gygax and the Mythos

Some recent reading has led me to a kind of fascinating revelation. I certainly hadn't heard of Lovecraft or his Mythos stories until I first saw them in the AD&D Deities & Demigods book. Now, of course, there were probably many literary nerds who were quite into the Cthulhu Mythos by that time. 

But really, was there a mass consciousness of these stories prior to D&D? Or was the transformation of the Cthulhu Mythos into a Geek Staple thanks directly to Deities & Demigods, and the Call of Cthulhu RPG?

Because Cthulhu has been hitting the big time in terms of pop culture these days, and that seems to be only increasing. And if my postulate is right, that means that as well as basically being the man responsible for the appearance and form of the modern computer game, at least partially responsible for the popularity of the fantasy genre in pop literature and film, it would mean that Gary Gygax was also directly responsible for the popularity of the Cthulhu Mythos.

I mean really, is there any single human being who has influenced modern pop culture in so many ways as Gary Gygax? Think about how different the entire pop-culture world would be had RPGs never been invented. Then ask yourself about how "irrelevant" RPGs are.


(Originally posted November 30, 2010)

Friday 13 May 2016

Off to the Races

No real time for a blog today. I'm off again to the "Tavernorca" local fortnightly roleplaying mini-con. I will continue running my Dark Albion "Inquisitors" campaign using material from the soon-to-be-upcoming Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos!

If I survive another night of all-night gaming with a bunch of kids, you'll hear from me tomorrow!


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

Thursday 12 May 2016

Nothing Spells Success Like When Your Enemies Hate You Enough to Deny Reality

I know I've been redirecting you to a lot of links this week; but there have just been a lot of links worth sharing with you, my dear readers.  And today's is no exception: witness the stupidity of the insular community of morons formerly known as rpgnet, who believe that D&D 5e, which has broken records and triumphed in press and reviews, is 'maligned' and doing badly.
Why the hate? Well, they just can't get over me.

LOL! Oh man, does it ever tickle me that these delusional cunts are wishing-cancer on the most popular RPG in the world because of little old me. Especially when the version of D&D that I worked on and that aligns with MY vision of the hobby has done so spectacularly well. Whereas their pet version (4e), was by far the least successful version of all time.

Note that I don't mean favorite in the sense of 'game we like to play'; lord no! 

It was their favorite in the sense of seeing something you don't like very much being 'put in it's place'. That's what 4e was all about to them: D&D being turned into what they always imagined D&D was like in all those critical essays

Anyways, all this fills me with the deliciousness of two of the sweetest tastes in the world: revenge, and being right.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Half-Volcano + Gawith's Commonwealth

Wednesday 11 May 2016

The Spanish Invasion... RPG Version

So I had someone in the Spanish RPG-publishing crowd send me a link to this article, along with a personal thanks for the role my reviews played in this development.

The short version: several Spanish RPGs are being translated to English and published.  Spain has an incredible record of making spectacular RPGs, that until now most of you would never have been able to enjoy.  Games like Aquelarre and Walkure are stunningly impressive, and of course a lot of you may be familiar with "Aventuras en la Marca del Este" (Adventures in the East Mark) by now.

Take my word from it: the above announcement is not likely to be the end of it.  You'll be likely to see a lot of other great Spanish games in the future, now that they've been "discovered".

You're welcome.


Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Bent Billiard + Rattray's Old Gowrie

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Incompetent Game Writers Demanding We Pay Them More for the Games They Can't Earn a Living on

What a complete crock of shit this link is. Someone made the same argument before, years ago, and I refuted it already in a previous blog post. Entitled game designers do not get to set Price Controls, Helton, just so that they can get the rock-star lifestyle they think their imagined genius entitles them to.

Why is it that semi-competent assholes in the gaming industry always end up hiding in one of two demands: either that everyone start paying more for their products, or that we somehow reduce the number of people writing competing products?

People have the right to work at a job that pays a living wage, they don't have the right to work at a job they LIKE and make a living wage. It's bullshit to suggest that because I did a bunch of research and writing, I am "owed" something by those fucking ungrateful peasant gamers who don't appreciate my grandeur, or some crap like that. The truth is that if you don't cut it as a game designer, no one owes you anything. You certainly don't have a 'right' or deserve to get to follow your 'dream job' if you suck at it. What you deserve is to be stuck at a minimum-wage job for the rest of your life because you majored in Feminist Literature instead of something useful, and have no discernible talent, ingenuity or skills.

I know that I wrote Dark Albion because I WANTED to. Free choice. People bought it because they wanted to. Free Markets. It made me a lot of money, more than any other RPG I've written so far, more than what I was paid for 5e, and it got a ton of great reviews and made a ton of gamers who bought it really happy. 
By the way, you can get Dark Albion, the hardcover, for a very reasonable $30 on Lulu. Rather than the sixty that people like Helton or Chris Pramas think you unwashed masses should be forced to fork over to them.
You make the choice: $60 for the entitled assholes who think you deserve to work a shit job and then pay them more so they don't have to; or $30 to the guy who loves RPGs, his books, and you as a valued customer?

If you won't be satisfied with the RPG writing you're doing unless you make a minimum amount of money, you shouldn't be in the RPG-writing business. Though if you're good, you'll make good money.

Again, it's mostly mediocre assholes like Helton or delusional self-styled 'industry professionals' like Pramas who complain about how the hoi-poloi should be forced to give them more money because they think they're so special.

Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Virginia