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Saturday 31 December 2016

Classic Rant: Putting "RPG Inclusivity" Into Context

We had an interesting discussion over at theRPGsite about "Inclusivity" in RPGs. Some people get annoyed at what they perceive as the inclusion of "token" inclusive characters in published settings or adventures, particularly characters that seem totally out of place with the perceived society or values of the setting (as one poster put it, more or less, the problem is when you have characters running around in a medieval fantasy setting that seem to have 21st century middle-class liberal west-coast values). Of course, others also get annoyed at the absence of these same characters.

Now, lately the "refugee crisis" of posters from rpgnet looking to be able to have actual conversations rather than politically-correct-hugbox environments has reached such a fever pitch that we have actual (notorious) rpgnet moderators coming along to write in the free atmosphere of theRPGsite; and I found myself in the amusing position of largely agreeing with a post on this subject by the infamous Modclique member "Future Villain Band", who I believe had some less-than-flattering things to say about me and theRPGsite in the past and yet now has found himself a 168-post-and-counting homestead there. He pointed out, perhaps expecting disagreement, that it was just as annoying to him to see a setting where there are magical luxuries the real medieval-world didn't have, a presumption of potential female adventurers, and yet for totally arbitrary reasons women couldn't be guards; or where magic (including transformation magic) is plentiful and yet its somehow unheard of to see a transgender character.

Well, as for me, I absolutely agree. Shit, if the setting is one where magic to change your gender is relatively easy, I would think the setting would then all but DEMAND that being a normal thing.

As for sexism, yes, the setting designer should shit or get off the pot: either make it clear that women are equal in the setting or explain why they aren't. 

I would almost be equally not-ok with the idea of a world where everything closely follows medieval historical models yet for some reason all women are accepted as equals and get to be half of the king's guard and are regularly taken seriously in positions of power without any explanation; as I would be with a world where society is nothing like medieval historical models and yet for some reason there are no women in the king's guard just because.... the only thing that pisses me off slightly more about the former than the latter is that the latter is just a violation of logic while the former is a violation of both logic and a set-up that actually happened historically (and thus feels like blatant politically-correct historical revisionism).

The bigger issue is that the self-styled champions of inclusivity are usually obsessed with two points that have little to do with their alleged concerns for social justice: first, they want to paint a picture of regular gamers (and ESPECIALLY OSR/Old-Schoolers) as reactionary dinosaurs who will refuse to play in a setting that isn't all white-heterosexual-males all the time. Second, they will try to crusade to just cut-and-paste often ridiculously tokenized concepts not so much out of any kind of concern for creating any kind of meaningful 'equality' as much as out of a desire to "punish" those evil OSR-gamers, or to confirm their prejudices about regular gamers by noting their protests while patting themselves on the back as to how much more evolved they are; never understanding that the main 'protest' from the vast majority of regular gamers isn't "we don't want women, minorities or LBGT characters in our D&D!" but rather "what is being done makes no fucking sense".

So in rebuttal, I present to you a little OSR game I wrote called Arrows of Indra. No white guys in it at all. But what it DOES explicitly have is transgendered people in it (there's even one on the cover!).

But hey, before that there was Al-qadim, Rokugan, Kara-Tur, and Tekumel. The first three were very amateurish in the cultural portrayal, and the last too weird to be popular, but each of these featured no-white-guys; in settings that were socially and internally consistent. And the last of these was like the SECOND RPG SETTING EVER (if you count Blackmoor and Greyhawk as having been the same thing at first, which it pretty well was).

The idea that Old-school gamers only want to, or need to, or ever did only play characters that "look" like them is ridiculous.


Currently Smoking: Raleigh Volcano + Brebbia No. 7

(Originally January 15, 2014)

Friday 30 December 2016

Break Thursday: Cats Have Altered Our Minds for Kinky Sex

Posting this a little bit late because it somehow slipped my mind (possibly because of sinister feline mind-affliction!), but here we go.

In today's article, I point out how approximately 50% of the entire human race has had their brains fundamentally altered by cats, to change our behaviors in a number of surprising ways. Most notably, cats may be causing half of humanity to be more into BDSM than we might otherwise be.

Find out how this could possibly be real, in my in-depth article above!

And of course, please reshare this everywhere. We need to warn the people!!


Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Virginia

Tuesday 27 December 2016

A Love-Letter to 2016

A lot of people have been really down on 2016. Whiners, mostly. You tell if someone (let's face it, almost certainly a millennial)  has never actually had any true hardship ever in their lives, if they claim that 2016 was the 'worst year ever' because some old or drugged-out celebrities died and people they didn't like won elections.

For a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump, for example, 2008 was the worst year ever; not because someone they liked died that year or because Obama won the election, but because that was the year their job was lost and their lives destroyed.

The worst year of my Polish grandfather's life was unquestionably 1939. There's nothing I've experienced in my life so far that would come even close.

Anyways, 2016 has, for me, not been a bad year but rather an Anno Mirabilis.  Both in my personal life and in terms of world events.  It was the greatest bestest year ever.

In 2016, for starters, I made more money than I had in my entire life. Dark Albion has been an incredibly successful product for me. has been a wonderful place to work (and kudos to Alex, Winston, and everyone else there!), where they've pretty well allowed me to write (within certain broad limits) whatever the fuck I want and trusted it would be good. And I think, for the most part, it really has been.   As much as I liked writing politics for Everyjoe, getting to write about a huge variety of subjects at Break - weird, funny and educational stuff - has all been great fun.

Second, it's been really great in terms of other personal goals. Spiritually, it was huge, but I won't be going into too much detail there.  In terms of living life on my own terms, it's been pretty well a peak. It brought some nice surprises for me in my Masonic work.  My personal RPG groups have all been really stable and awesome.

Third, politically it's been pretty well a home run. Brexit. Donald Trump. The gradual unraveling of the EU, and the leaders who have most contributed to the dismantling of western civilization either losing power or losing favor one-by-one. It's rocked.   And a note to you liberals: It's going to keep happening!

Of course the Left has behaved utterly despicably this year, doubling down on being more smarmy, more deceptive, more totalitarian and more pro-censorship than ever. But it's all just backfired on them. They're more despised and less effective than ever.

And finally, yes, a lot of famous mostly very old people died. Let me reveal a shocking fact to those of you, again mostly Millennials, for whom 2016 has very clearly made apparent had never actually been taught this: old people die. ALL old people die eventually. Yes, you too will also get old, and then you will die. This is not a shocking, tragic, surprise; it's actually just what happens.

David Bowie was an amazing musician, it's true!  He was also a 69 year old man. When a 69 year old man dies, it's not a "horrific tragedy", nor was his life "cut short" as some absolute morons have said. He was goddamn 69, and had a more interesting, amazing and productive life that 99% of people alive, including many people who are going to live 30 years longer than David and accomplish fuck all with their lifetime.

Let me put it this way: I'm a couple of decades younger than Bowie. If I should somehow croak now, my life would be a triumph.  I'm totally satisfied with everything I did. My life was astoundingly full. It would not be a 'tragedy' that I die, it would only be an ending of an already-successful life.

People who don't get that are mostly people who have lived a life where so far they've accomplished fuck all, and foresee accomplishing fuck all in the years to come.  If you've actually lived, death becomes much less scary.

Yes, a lot of the famous people who died in 2016 were very interesting people, or people who I felt a sense of connection to in some part of my personal life.  Apparently Carrie Fisher died today, and she was a feature of my childhood, of my early nerdiness, and yes, probably an influence on my developing pre-adolescent sexuality. But that's what happens in any year: people die.

There's at least a couple of people who died this year who were pieces of shit that absolutely deserved to die. None moreso than that complete fucker, Fidel Castro. His death was far too late-coming, and far too comfortable.

In fact, there's 4 more days to go in 2016, and if anything we could argue too many good people have died compared to absolute cunts.  I have a little list in my head of people whose grave I'd piss on, and so far Castro has really been the only one. It would be the feather on the cap of this amazing, awesome wondrous year, my dear 2016, if you could just make one more go at-bat in the 100 hours or so it has left, and killed just one person on my little list.

I'll still love you and remember you with amazing fondness just the same, either way. But if you could just give us all one more welcome surprise, that'd be great.


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

Monday 26 December 2016

Break Monday: The Certain but Preventable Apocalypse

So today in what is definitely something of a teaser title, I let you all know that there is something out there that's not crazy biblical prophecy or psychic prediction and that's not mere scientific speculation, but that is effectively certain to happen to us sooner or later.  And that we could totally prevent. But we aren't.

Today, or tomorrow, or next week, we could find out we're going extinct in two years. And there would be nothing at all we could do to stop it, because we chose not to bother.

Find out what the heck I'm talking about (if you haven't already guessed) in my latest article.

And if you like it please share!
Hell, if you don't like it, please share too.


Currently smoking: Neerup Egg + Image Virginia

Sunday 25 December 2016

Happy Doctor Who Day

No entry today. Maybe, if I have a lot to say about it, there'll be something a lot later about the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

EDITED TO ADD: Well, I watched it. Just after an amazing steak and potato dinner by "Bill the Elf" who happens to be a superstar chef (though he now only cooks for friends and family).  The quality of the beef, which is always good in Uruguay but somehow Bill always gets the very very best, is the sort of thing you'd pay a fortune for in North America. The potatoes seasoned to perfection. The wine (Argentinian, if I recall, which by the way I find vastly superior to Chilean wines) was the perfect accompaniment.
As for the episode, it was not really as great as the meal. But that's sort of to be expected.  Christmas specials are ALWAYS especially goofy and fantastical in nature. At least this one had the virtue of not being overly obsessed with the whole 'Christmas' theme. The villains were decent. Capaldi did his usual good job of playing the Doctor, though he didn't have any of those truly transcendentally spectacular "Doctor" moments he's had in some other episodes. I even found myself liking Nardole better than I had in previous episodes he'd appeared in (which is good, because it looks like he's going to be a regular next season).

I think I might have looked on it less kindly had it not been that I'd felt absolutely starved of Doctor Who after a year without the series. Anyways, thank fuck that now there's going to be a new series coming up in a few months.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Classic Rant: Getting Over Charisma-as-Dumpstat

There’s this sensation, particularly in old-school play, that Charisma is the one irrelevant stat; that if you have a choice (often in old-school you don’t, depending on how your GM makes you roll things up), its the one you’ll put your lowest score into. In newer-school design, there is an attempt to solve this problem with having CHA related to certain powers, or to resisting certain effects.

But in fact, this is not necessary. I argue that if you are running your D&D game with 3 particular details intact, then Charisma is in fact the one ability score that can theoretically be important for any class (maybe along with Constitution):

1. You use NPC Retainer and Morale rules. In my Albion game (likewise Arrows of Indra), if someone has servants, henchmen, or followers of any kind, or if he is a commander in battle; its his CHA modifier that affects “his” NPCs’ loyalty or morale. This means that the guy who wants to be a great general will probably need a good Cha bonus more than a good attack bonus, even. It also means its your manservants who will be the least likely to screw you over, or run like morons when the first bugbear attacks.

2. Monster Reaction Tables: When first encountered, not all creatures are automatically hostile, or automatically not; for the vast majority you check on a reaction roll. If your PC is alone, or the forward scout, or the party leader, or some other way prominent, his CHA modifier should affect that roll. It might make the difference between a monster that charges right at you, and one that hesitates for a round; or one that would just hesitate and one that might try to parley rather than attack. That can make a huge difference in a game, when you’re literally not someone who “looks like bad news” and will be more likely to not be ambushed by paranoid humanoids.

3. NPC Reaction Tables: the big one, of course. Your Charisma should affect all NPC reactions; affecting everything from whether you’ll get the best deal selling your treasure in the market, to whether you will be well-treated by the nobility or the clergy, whether you will be able to talk your way out of a tight spot with nothing more than excuses or promises, even whether you will be granted an audience, or a stay of execution, from the King.
I would go one further on this: character with the highest charisma attribute should be seen by NPCs, at least ones who have no other thing to go on, as the “leaders” of the party. They should be the one the NPCs want to see, want to talk to, and think are in charge (again, assuming things like social class or fame being equal). The GM should make sure to make it clear to his group that generally speaking things go better for them when Character A with his +2 Cha bonus is doing the talking for them, than when they’re all trying to speak at once, or definitely better than when Character B with his -2 Cha penalty is the one trying to speak.

Now, you’ve heard me before argue about the virtues of avoiding “social skills” and social mechanics. For sure. To me Charisma represents your raw likeability. The guy with the +2 Cha bonus in the above example still has to be able to know what’s the right or wrong thing to say, and when and how to say it; the +2 Cha bonus just means that if he does act like a boor or say the worst possible thing, he’s more likely to be forgiven than the guy with a Charisma penalty. On the other hand, its up to the PLAYER to know what the right thing at the right time is. And if Character A’s player is a fucking idiot who always sticks his foot in his mouth, the party may decide they’re better off choosing to have Character B speak for them, even with the -2, because at least his player will know enough to say the right thing, and then have a CHANCE of succeeding. While Character A wouldn’t, if he says the wrong things, no matter what his Cha modifier is.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Canadian + Image Latakia

(Originally Posted December 4, 2012)

Friday 23 December 2016

Blue Rose: Heralds of Breitbart Campaign

Over on his blog, Tim Brannan, who may be the only person ever to have run a Blue Rose campaign longer than me, has suggested that in order to help make Blue Rose more tolerable, it can be combined with Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos.

Well, I can't argue with that!  Just about anything would make Blue Rose better than its default, of course. When I ran it, long long ago, I combined it with Port Blacksand. Apparently Tim has been mixing it with a whole bunch of stuff.

And Cults of Chaos is spectacular for making just about any fantasy campaign better. I strongly recommend you check it out, to combine with Blue Rose. Or, if you don't own Blue Rose, well.. fuck it, just buy Cults of Chaos.

Anyways, this led to a little debate between him and I on G+, where he argued with me and a couple of other people that Blue Rose is in fact a "good emulation" of the genre it seeks to be based on, namely Romantic Fantasy.

But it isn't.

It doesn't do a good job of emulating Romantic Fantasy at all. Because most Romantic Fantasy is based on a formula that depends on the default setting have significant injustices for the plucky young protagonist (usually a heroine, but not always) to overcome.

Blue Rose doesn't have that. It's a utopia. There is no social injustice, except against libertarians.

BR does a better job of fulfilling left-coast socialist/wiccan/feminist fantasy wish-fulfillment political-fantasies, than it does of reflecting most of the romantic fantasy novels.

Brannan tried to argue with me that it is specifically a dead wringer for Lackey's "Heralds of Valdemar" series. Only it isn't.  In Valdemar, the countryside features places where women are not taught to read and are forced into marriage. In Valdemar, the young heralds beat and essentially try to kill the heroine (throwing her off a bridge) for daring to try to join their ranks.

That literally could not happen in the Blue Rose setting. Nothing like it could. Aldis is a place bereft of social injustices. It's a wicca-feminist utopia, and thus has no potential for the most important part of Romantic Fantasy.

You see, so much of romantic-fantasy is based on this premise: plucky marginalized-person (usually a girl, but it could be a person of color, a disabled person, an LGBT person, or some other kind of outsider) wants to join/become X.
'X' does not allow for this person's identity-group to join, but after much tribulations and enormous pluckiness and the help of some magic animals, an exception is made somehow. Then plucky young person faces ENORMOUS harassment and opposition from people full of prejudice, uncovers some kind of evil plot from shadowy monsters, saves the kingdom, and gets some measure of acceptance/revenge against all the bullies who tried to exclude him/her/hir.

In Aldis, that can't happen. Or, ALMOST can't happen. There's only one group who are routinely harassed, prejudiced against, and excluded in Aldis: Individualists, who refuse to bend to collectivist will and are thus labelled "twilight" or "shadow" as derogatory terms and are excluded from government and other positions of state authority/monopoly.

I've said before that in a romantic-fantasy novel set in Aldis, the only "plucky young heroine" that could possibly exist is Ayn Rand. And no one wants that.
That's why BR sucks, even at emulating its supposed genre.

But then suddenly, I realized I was wrong.

Thanks to Tim Brannan (and remember everyone, Tim Brannan is directly responsible for what follows), it may not just be Ayn Rand who could be the plucky young heroine of a Romantic Fantasy story set in Aldis!
It may be a plucky young Milo Yiannopoulos. That could work too! It'd be fabulous. I could see it now:

Blue Rose: Heralds of Breitbart

"Young Milo embarks on a quest to be the 15000th openly-homosexual member of Aldis' Queen's Guard, but only its 1st ever Dangerous Faggot.

No one cares he's gay, in fact they're ridiculously saccharine in their gushing praise of it to the point that they seem unable to shut up. But he quickly encounters groups of his fellow apprentices setting out to have him exiled or even killed for being such an unrepentant asshole by pointing out thing like how fat people are unhealthy, socialism is stupid, and identity-politics feminism is cancer.

Exiled from the Queen Guard's college in Twitter House, Milo's only hope now depends on relying on his friends and fellow-outcasts: Cernovich the troll and Ezra the Northern Jew, the help of his spirit-animal Pepe the Frog...

(romantic fantasy Pepe)

and the guidance of the outcast seeress Ann Coulter. Long shunned by all the people of Aldis, Coulter  predicts a savior will soon come to Make Aldis Great Again.  She knows young Milo his friends will be essential to helping him overthrow the Magic Deer. Can he succeed, or is his quest doomed to be thwarted by dark witches of the Aldis Trust and Safety Council?"

See that? Its the best Romantic Fantasy story you could possibly tell in Blue Rose. Thank you, Nicole Lindroos & co, for creating an RPG setting where the only possibly brave-hero to overcome prejudice are the Cultural Libertarians, and the only people in the entire kingdom doing the oppressing are the Collectivist Left.

Maybe Blue Rose is more realistic than I first gave it credit for.


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

Thursday 22 December 2016

Break: Millennial Sexlessness Edition

Today, I examine why Millennials, the generation born from 1983-2001, are having WAY less sex than the last two generations before them.

In my latest article, I try to figure out what the fuck is wrong with these little pussies!?  And importantly what or who is to blame?

As always, please share if you liked it!


Currently Smoking: Castello Canadian + Image Latakia 

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Break Wednesday: Jedi Religion Edition!

Yes, I know, I've been having a lot of articles this week. But that's just how it  goes sometimes. Anyways, I'm pretty busy otherwise with trying to crawl through the slog of making my 'short' medieval-authentic set of Appendix P OSR rules.

Today, in any case, we look at a recent item in the news where the UK Charity Commission made a final judgment on the question of whether "Jedi" is a real religion. In the sense of granting 'charity' status to a "Jedi Temple" at least, they apparently are NOT.

But are they, actually? As's resident expert on religious studies, I've been charged with the task of analyzing whether the UK govt got it wrong.  The UK Government says "Jedi" is not a Real Religion.. but is it?

Please check it out, and please reshare it everywhere if you liked it!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Hawkbill + Image Virginia

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Break Tuesday: Trump-Attack-Faking vs. Real-Honor-Killing Edition

In today's article, I talk about how there is a REAL hate-crime going on in the story of the woman who faked a 'hate crime' (alleging falsely that she was attacked by Trump-fans on the NYC subway), but no one in the mainstream media seems to want to talk about it!

Maybe because it's got to do with an adult woman so terrified of her own strict Muslim family that she'd lie about having been attacked by Trump-voters to try to cover up having gone drinking with her non-Muslim boyfriend.  Maybe she's so scared, because of the fact that there's over two dozen honor-killings in the USA every year, and the actions her parents took at her court trial only make it more clear her life is potentially in danger.

So, find out about Yasmin Seweid lied about one hate-crime, but could end up the victim of a real Islamist hate-crime from her own family.

And please reshare if you can!


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Image latakia

Monday 19 December 2016

Break Monday: Sex Magic Edition

In today's Break article, we look at the secrets of Sex Magic! How does it work, what's its deal, and how you can do it at home!

We even include the details of how to perform one type of sexual magic, with the help of a handy video starring comic-book genius and famous wizard Grant Morrison.

So, be sure to check it out, and share it around if you liked it!


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

Sunday 18 December 2016

Wild West Campaign Update: The Reckoning

This session featured some karmic deaths coming home to roost. It also featured the first death of a PC in the entire campaign; quite a thing given how lethal gunfights can be in the game.

But first, it featured the arrival into town of Ed Masterson, brother to newly-elected Sheriff Bat Masterson.  Ed looked a bit like his brother, but thinner and with striking eyes. Everyone also noted that he seemed quieter and more introspective than his brother, who was a famously silver-tongued devil.

Ed was quiet, soft-spoken, and seemed relaxed and gentle in comparison to the frenetic and showy Bat.

In any case, he had come to town because Bat had manipulated local politics to make sure that starting next year Ed would be town Marshall, which meant that the Masterson brothers would control BOTH the lawman offices (County Sheriff and Town Marshall) in Dodge. A lot of people in town (including the PCs) felt apprehensive about this decision, but in fact everyone who met him seemed to quickly like Ed. He wasn't presumptuous and it didn't look like he'd be so stupid as to try to boss Wyatt Earp and deputy Young (a PC) around, even though the much more experienced and fierce lawmen would now be his subordinates.

Ed and Bat also wanted to start getting involved in town business. They tried to buy the Palace saloon off of Miller (another PC); it was appealing to them because Miller had just invested a lot in refurbishing it. Unfortunately Miller wasn't very interested, probably because he needed the saloon to keep advancing in his profession path. But also because he's just planning to build himself a whole business empire in Dodge. In this session alone he also got into a deal with former mayor Beatty to collaborate in the building of a high class gambling hall which will be connected to Beatty's planned hotel. And he started inroads into purchasing a lot to build a new restaurant in Dodge. He's a magnate!

But the real action began with a horrific shooting in the Long Branch Saloon. Sam, the bartender at the saloon since it first opened, was brutally murdered by his friend, a farmer named Skinner. Skinner just walked in and shot the unarmed bartender dead through the heart in front of a dozen witnesses. But he immediately surrendered his weapon and claimed that he had acted legally, on a bounty, for a crook named O'Reilly who was wanted dead or alive.

It turned out "Sam" had been in hiding from the law for almost 20 years.   He had admitted his former life of crime to Skinner, one of his oldest friends in Dodge. The problem was, Skinner was about to lose his farm, his family was on the verge of pennilessness. And the reward for "O'Reilly", dead or alive, was $750, enough to save his farm.

But in the wild west, you aren't thought kindly of for shooting unarmed men, even if you legally can. And you don't shoot your unarmed friend for filthy lucre, ever.

The mob wanted him dead. He turned himself in to Bat Masterson, to get his reward and to prove what he did was totally legal. It was. But the mob still wanted blood, and gathered outside the sheriff's office wanting Skinner hung. Skinner, for his part, almost didn't seem to care if he died. The money would go to his family anyways, and a man who couldn't provide for his family wasn't a man worth staying alive anyways.

Meanwhile, Smith (another PC) found himself about to be faced down by two brothers. Smith was a serial womanizer. He'd slept with half the county. Incredibly, his charm and luck had saved him from any really dangerous situations, until now. He'd gotten a girl pregnant, and her brothers were determined he'd either marry her or die.  Smith decided he didn't feel like marrying, so they told him they'd seem him in 2 hours in the dry gulch just outside town.

But first, he was recruited by Bat. With Young and deputy-sheriff Bassett out of town, Bat only had his brother (not yet even official) and Wyatt Earp to rely on. He didn't know Smith too well, but Bassett had spoken very well of him and said he was a man to rely on in a pinch, so he had him cover them with a shotgun.

Miller and Hale the Mormon Gambler, meanwhile, were with the mob. Miller because he got swept up in it, and Hale (who worked at the Long Branch as its Faro Dealer) was actually there to try to see if he could find a chance to calm the flames.

The mob gathered outside, calling for blood. Bat spoke with them, and turned Miller around to his side. Hale made it clear that Sam wouldn't want any of his friends to hang (or be shot by Bat) for avenging his death. The mob hesitated. Bat made it clear that once Skinner was out of town and out of his sight, he didn't give a fuck what happened to him.

Some of the mob dispersed, others tried to plan how to get Skinner. Then Wyatt Earp stepped up, and told them all to go home. He gave them his word Skinner would get what was coming to him. Turns out if there's one thing Earp couldn't stand, it's men who don't stand by their friends.
His word was good enough for everyone there.

So Smith went off to face the brothers. They agreed to shoot it out with him one at a time. He had made some arrangements in case he didn't come back, but told no one the specifics of what was going on. Even so, many people had seen the brothers confront him in front of the Dodge House Hotel, and word got to the Fort Bar that he co-owned with Miller. When Miller finally made it there, Hank the bartender told him what was up and Miller raced off to try to help.

He was barely close when the gunfight already started. He shot it out with the older brother, taking a shot to the chest, but hitting the brother in the thigh with a wound that nicked an artery. As soon as the older brother dropped, though, the younger brother started shooting, hitting Smith twice in the chest.

He was still alive when Miller came riding in on his nightmare horse. The younger brother was tending to the older brother's leg trying to save him; he got up and turned his rifle, and Miller blew his brains out while at a full gallop.

Smith was still alive; he was even still conscious. Miller managed to get him to Doc.  There were three bullets in him, and in spite of Doc's considerable skills, he only managed to get two of them out.

Smith was conscious again after the operation. He dictated his last will, leaving half his share of the Fort Bar to Miller, the other half to Hank. He left about $1000 to his future child, to make up for abandoning its mother and killing its uncles.

He lived for five more agonizing days before infection took him.

In spite of knowing just how deadly the game can be, it was quite a shock to the players. But everyone agreed it was a very decent kind of death for how Smith lived. The player himself was pretty satisfied with it, and we ended the session eagerly rolling up his next character.

Anyways, that's it; stay tuned for some more wild-west action.


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Amber-Root Bulldog + C&D's Crowley's Best

Saturday 17 December 2016

Classic Rant: The Pundit Saves Christmas!

Yes, my article for EveryJoe this week is a Christmas article. 

Who else but Nixon could go to China?

Who else but the RPGPundit could possibly cut through all the bullshit of the "war on Christmas" and bring everyone together under one common cause we can all agree on: blowing shit up!

Check it out please, and reshare it everywhere you want! Thanks.


(Originally Posted December 23, 2014)

Friday 16 December 2016

DCC Campaign Update: The Horse Looks at you all With Haunted Eyes

In our last adventure, the PCs had found themselves in the Shithole, supposedly the most awful place in the very very awful world they already lived in. Bill the Elf  had ended up becoming the boy-toy of a mighty barbarian sorceress named the Queen of the Lake.


-Yarr the Halfling and Bunda the Transparent Wizard had been left behind in Coolland, escorting the alien-chav-queen Priscilla of the Grey Realms back to Gaga. They did this with the promise that Queen Zoey would recognize her as a fellow monarch and give her lodging, and that Harembe was 'rugged'.
" that's why Heather is a total bitch!"
"Yeah, I heard she has chlamydia.."
"OMIGOD, right?? I was wrong about you halfling, I thought you were all conceited but you're not. I hate conceited people!"

-the Players noticed that both Yarr and Emily sure are very good at manipulating self-centered people.
(which leads the GM to think that in two more sessions she'll be running the whole party)

-They arrive at the palace and present Priscilla to Harembe, Queen Zoey's personal bodyguard. "by G.O.D. what is that thing?!"
"holy crap you guys, he IS rugged!"

-"Why did you bring that.. that THING here?"
"She followed us.."

-"Have you ever had a sleepover, Yarr?"
"Yes. That's where you break into houses and murder people in their sleep, right?"

-The PCs don't end up spending much time in the city, however. That night, Jal'udin the rogue appears before Yarr, and gives her a message to send to Bill the Elf. It seems as though Jal'udin is trying to get the point across to Bill that he's not kidding about the threat Sezrekhan now presents to the world. Unfortunately, getting Yarr to the Shithole involves stabbing her with the Dagger of Teleportation. Apparently Jal'udin has a similar view Yarr's idea of what a sleepover is.

-Next, Jal'udin goes to Bunda the Transparent Wizard.
"Sezrekhan has gone insane. He must be stopped!"
"Weren't you a servant of Sezrekhan?"
"Yes, but he has to be stopped or we are all doomed."
"Oh... I was about to join the Sezrekhan fanclub, so if there's something going on I'd like for you to tell me.."

-"Speak to Bill about this. He will understand!"
"guys, I think that Jal'udin has way too much confidence in Bill."
"Yeah; to me it seems he's putting all his eggs in one basket... and the basket is on fire."

-"what's your PC's personality modifier again?"
"Right now it's -2... and also it's -2 all the time."

-Then Jal'udin goes to visit the Equestrian. He's gone back to his house after being recently knighted.
"I have a quest to send you on!"
"Alright! Just let me get my horse."
"Very well, I'll walk with you to the stable.."
"Um... stable, yes. Definitely not my bedroom..."

-So pretty soon, everyone shows up at the mountains at the edge of the Shithole, with stab wounds from the Dagger of Teleportation. Yes, even the Buttercup the horse.

-"So we're going to have to trek through a desert."
"Does anyone have water?"
"I have chloroform, does that help?"

-"Do any of us have vials to carry water in?"
"I have a vial of poison; I guess if we cleaned it really really well..."

-"Can I ride with you on the horse?"
"But I'm pretty small."
"yeah, the thing is, I'm the only one who gets to ride my horse."
"The horse looks at you all with haunted eyes."

-The Party sees an incoming caravan.
"Ohh, shopping! What are you selling?"
"Why are they always slaves?"
"well, we're a slave-based economy."

-The party members had been captured as slaves, and eventually got to the village of the Queen of the Lake. Shebubu is there, and he recognizes some of the PCs and decides to try to buy their freedom.
"You walk over to the Slavemaster. You know he's a slavemaster because he has a whip."
"He's either a slavemaster or Indiana Jones!"

-"This is Shebubu. He is your new master now."
"Can we choose to just stay with you instead?"

-"The transparent mutant is getting sunburn in his inner-organs in this desert setting."
Shebubu manages to get him a "pelt" that was clearly once the skin of a mutant.
"It fits just right!"

-Shebubu pays for the freedom of the other party members by healing slaves.
"Oh, thank you cleric.. now I can continue working myself to death for others..."
"It's all thanks to G.O.D.!"

-"What is this G.O.D.? A Demon?"
"yeah, you could say that."

-Bill the Elf (whose player could not make it to this session) sends a message from the Queen's hut, where he's been busy getting busy.
"It says, 'go on ahead i'll catch up'".

-"Is Bill on a quest?"
"Yes, like those you go on with your horse."

-"What about Morris?"
"Last we saw of him, he was walking away very creepily right into the swamp."

-The cleric gets a disapproval on healing the last slave he had to treat to pay off the freedom of the other PCs.
"hey, could you um... just pretend to be not dying?"
"Go fuck yourself.."
"Hey, if you don't play along I'll try to heal you again!"

-The Equestrian convinces the slavemaster to accept some "horse lemonade" instead. The slavemaster immediately realizes what 'horse lemonade' really is, but accepts it anyways, because it's the Shithole.

-"Hey Shebubu, could you heal my liver? It's looking a bit off, see?"

-"Who's this?"
"I am Shlub!"

-Shlub and the transparent mutant wizard immediately bond over being cyclopses.
"You have the right amount of eyeballs!"

-"apparently, Bill attracts cyclopses"
"It's because there's something fundamentally broken in them."

-"who follows Bill?"
"I do!"
"I have been following Bill longer!"
"Really? Because Shlub has not seen you around.."
"I was doing important work for Bill."
"So Mighty Wizard Bill sent you away..."
"Yeah? Well he sent you away now too!"
"...he has sent us both away!!"

-In the swamps north of the Lake Queen's town, the party has an encounter with a massive and deadly-looking Shoggoth! Shlub, familiar with the threat level, runs like hell.
"Come back Shlub!!"

-The PCs wisely decided to follow Shlub's example, and ran like hell.

-Later on, the PCs find a shovel, abandoned on a hillside. Deciding it might be of use later, the Equestrian rides up, but can't quite reach it on horseback and doesn't want to reduce himself to dismounting.
"So what, he can't get off the damn horse?"
"..I think he gets off on the horse!"

-"Hey guys, I can see a brown mutant village from here!"
"I feel kind of racist saying 'brown mutant'..."

-The village turns out to be relatively friendly, and its run by a human, who they call the Ageless One. Apparently, he's immortal.

-"We might be followed here later by a guy named Bill. Right now he's busy getting it on with the Queen of the Lake, she wants to create some kind of super-offspring with him."
"Oh yeah, she tried the same thing with me once. She wanted to make Ageless Wizard children."

-"Hey, could I buy a slave from you, in exchange for some Horse Lemonade?"
"...that's just horse piss, isn't it?"
"Then no, you can't."

-"so you guys are going to a region full of radioactivity, instead of the other place that actually has one of the few sources of drinkable running water in this hellhole, just because you heard there's a dude with multicolored skin in the first place and you'd want to see what that looks like?"
"That was the plan, yes."
"Man, you guys really aren't from around here, are you?"

-"we could go the longer way where there's a river, but we should probably go as soon as possible. We have to go to Tijuana, for the horses!"
" one said anything about any horses, dude.."

-"Most of the PCs decide they'd rather take the longer route, but the Equestrian continues to argue for going the direct route."
"He's just going to drink 'horse lemonade'"
"What we sometimes do in the Shithole to survive, he does for pleasure!"

-"Once you get used to drinking urine, it's not bad."
"You 'got used to it' right at the start!"

-The PCs continue their travels. They pass a gorge where there is a half-ruined giant head carved into the rock, but they  have no idea whose it was.

-"Does the head in the rock follow you with your eyes?"
""only if you psych yourself out."

-Some time later, the PCs find a perfectly-folded suit of chain mail and a handaxe, carefully left, seemingly unprotected, by the riverbank.
"It could be a trap!"
"In Shithole we have a saying: everything going to kill you anyway!"

-After enormous paranoia, the PCs grab the pristine armor and the handaxe. Nothing dangerous seems to happen, the armor and weapon appear normal and uncursed.

-They continue following along the gorge and find a massive metal bridge. It looks much too high tech to be in the Shithole.
"let's go check it out!"

-As they get closer, they see it's covered in massive spider webs.

-They run like hell and head away from the river.
After some time, the reach a large keep which seems to be inhabited.
"It's a trap!"
"Well, nothing bad has happened to us so far."
"We've had to drink our own pee!!"
"I have to wear someone else's skin to protect myself from the sun!"

-The castle, they found, is occupied by a military force of some very strange mutants. They are vaguely greyish-silver in color, and instead of hair, the top of their heads seem to burn with a greenish-yellow flame. The aliens also turn out to have a funny vaguely-french accent.

-"Does this remind you of something?"
"I don't know, is he going to taunt us a second time?"

-The strange mutants are actually friendly, offering to allow the PCs in. They say that they are members of The Watch. There, they are presented to their leader, the Watch Captain. He is equipped in a pristine set of chain mail armor and a hand axe.

-"We shall be willing to give you sanctuary here, so long as you follow the rules of hospitalite!"
"Which means?"
"You must not cause any violence."
"That'll be pretty hard for us. But you never know, it's bound to happen someday, right?"

-"um.. just out of curiosity, that's a very nice suit of armor you have on and a lovely handaxe.."
"Yes. They are the symbols of a Captain of the Watch."
"And, do you always keep them here?"
"Until a Captain dies. Then his armor and axe are left at the river in a ritual."
"And.. just out of curiosity, if someone else were to touch those later?"
"It would be death!"
"I see.." (cue the equestrian covering up the armor he's wearing with his cloak; and the halfling surreptitiously tossing the handaxe behind a nearby rock)

-"Where do you people come from?"
"I come from a Billage."
"I come from a forest."
"What's a forest??"

-"And where have you guys come from?"
"We have been here for countless generations. Keeping watch. We are The Watch"
"Oh shit, they must be super-inbred."
"How do they even reproduce? They're all guys!"
"Don't even question it."

-"Just so you guys know, if you see any handaxes in our possession we got them from home."
"I got mine from my mom!"

-"So, what are you keeping watch on?"
"We have kept watch."
"I think they don't know what they're keeping watch on.."
"I think they've forgotten what they were supposed to keep watch for!"

-"Ok, so I have to ask.. you're all male.. there's no one else nearby.. how do you make kids?"
"...the usual way."
"Ok, stop. Let's just go to sleep and get the fuck out of this place early tomorrow morning."

-"I'm going to try one more time to talk to one of these guys, not the captain.. hey, what are you watching?"
"I'm watching this hallway."
"Ok, forget it, I just leave."

-"Ok, I know this sounds like a really stupid question guys, but are we going to keep watch while we sleep?"
"I am!"
"Yarr, you should keep the next watch."
"..are you really going to?"
"What, are you going to watch me keeping watch?!"
"Fuck it. I'll just keep watch all night."
"I think this castle is fucking up your minds, guys."

-The next morning they leave the Keep of the Watch as quickly as they possibly can. As they continue their travels through the Shithole, they run into a tentacle monster.

-  Unfortunately, or perhaps mercifully, in the ensuing battle the Equestrian's... um, beloved.. horse Buttercup is killed.
"That's ok... he knew too much..."

-Some time later, the adventurers manage to make it to a village, which turns out to be populated by some of Shlub's purple-hairy-monster race. Like Shlub, they're apparently very interested in finding  a Mighty Wizard to serve, and are envious of Shlub.
Bunda tries to claim he is a mighty wizard, but they don't end up sufficiently impressed in his magic. They're even less impressed by Shebubu's magic when he tries to pass himself off as a wizard.
The purple-monsters then plan to eat the entire party, but get distracted by a conversation about just what defines the mightiness of a Wizard.
"Quick, we should go now while they talk!"
"You don't want to stay with your people, Shlub?"
"No. Shlub doesn't need the competition!"

-They stop to camp out only when they're sure they've gotten far enough away that the purple-monsters won't catch them.
"You lost your horse today, Equestrian, you should rest."
"It was just a horse."
"But.. it was clearly more than just a horse to you..."
"What gave you that idea?"

-They head out again the next day and find a single solitary tree. Thinking there could be food or water nearby they approach, only to find the tree unfurls to reveal it was actually a camouflaged tentacle-monster!

-The Equestrian manages to slay it, running it through in one blow.
"Huh. Shlub think he actually more competent since losing his Buttercup."

-Later on, the PCs run into a kind of giant amoeba monster! It swallows Yarr the halfling whole!
"She's still alive."
"I think she's probably safer inside than out here!"

-Color Spray does nothing on the creature. Bunda then tries to hit it, but misses on account of having no depth perception. Shlub tries to attack it, but the Amoeba swallows him as well!
"It has a taste for Shlub!"

-Eventually, Shlub and Yarr manage to cut their way out of the amoeba, slaying it.

-Shebubu has a catastrophically bad Divine Disapproval, and gets the Mark of Shame.
"You know what? Fuck it. I'm just going to keep it forever."

-They camp out again that night, and arrange the watch.
"Why is the Equestrian stuck doing a watch alone?"
"Well, he should have taken better care of his horse."
"I'm pretty sure that horse wished for death.."

That was the end of this disturbing adventure, which will probably not see things getting any less weird next session when hopefully Morris the Creep and Bill the Elf will be back with the group.  Stay tuned!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Solani Aged Burley Flake


Thursday 15 December 2016

Working on My "Medieval Authentic" OSR Hack

So, been busy the last couple of days trying to work out the one really complicated part of my little project: the planned expansion of my Appendix P rules (first seen in Dark Albion), to a more general rule-set for highly 'medieval authentic' OSR gaming.

The hard part, of course, being the magic.  If I want to make the system more Medieval Authentic, the main thing I need to get rid of is the Vancian spellcasting.  Clerics and Magic-users will instead have magic (miraculous powers in the case of Clerics, lores and magical techniques in the case of Magisters) that are simple and generally based on medieval perceptions of how magic worked.

Clerics will have considerably less variety of abilities, but will be able, at higher levels, to make recourse to direct divine interventions.  Naturally, these will have a lot of terms and conditions that apply, and can't just be flung around frivolously.

Magisters will have a set of fairly varied magical techniques, but many of them will require either time-consuming rituals to perform, or they will require the creation of talismans or other objects.  Thus, the utility of a Magister in combat or adventuring will depend on their level of preparation.

So here's a very basic outline of the powers I'm considering for the two classes. Note that this is not yet definitive and my list might yet change:


-Divine Inspiration
-Holy Light
-Holy Weapon
-Laying Hands
-Turn Undead
-Divine Intervention (higher level)


-various non-magical lores (knowledge), including chemical alchemy, apothecary/medicine, and languages.
-Banishing and purifications
-True magical alchemy
-And of course, the Summoning/Binding of demons and spirits.

So that's what it's looking like so far. Feel free to share any thoughts!


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

Wednesday 14 December 2016

DCC Campaign: The Backstagening Pt. VIII: My Friends and Other Animals

(here's some more of the no-longer-private backstage chat on social media among my DCC players, about the campaign):

Shabubu: Everything worked, mostly because of our peace loving ways, or shabubu would like to think that.

Bill: I Could picture these animals in DCC:

Pundit: Well, I guess it'll remain to be seen, whether or not Bill comes.

Equestrian: So it's gonna be a surprise!
In my experience, Bill 's surprises are not really enjoyable.

Pundit: It's Schrodinger's Bill. He's in the Neutral Zone right now.

Transparent Wizard: He is being used by his patron for evil purposes and voluntarily evil at the same time until you open the box.

Bill: Ass and hole at the same time, or neither.
That did sound much better before I wrote it.

Shebubu: "That sounded better in my head" is changing from a catchphrase to a way of life.

Bill: better than  "I teleport and throw a grenade"!
it's almost up there to 'I shoot magic missile at the darkness'.

Shebubu: Well, They are from very different realms, one is from the realm of the impossible, while the other is from the realm of faulty planning, Like becoming a cleric.

Bill: Ah, poor incompetent cleric. You just need more money to burn!

Shebubu: Well, I am already Feeling the Bern, Like 500 gold to the trash in one go.

Bill: Small change.

Transparent Wizard: You never saw Ackbasha complaining.

Bill: Exactly! Be a good Shububu. Follow in the steps of Ackbasha!
Except the part where you kill bill.

Pundit: The money isn't the goal. First you get the money. Then you get the power. And then, you get murdered by a minotaur.

Equestrian: Whoa whoa whoa!
Hold on a second!
You can't cast Magic Missile at the darkness.

Shebubu: Well, maybe if you name someone the darkness you can. Mind = Blown

Equestrian: That joke has been done to death.

Shebubu: Well Magic Missile to the darkness haves probably more years than some people on the internet right now.

Equestrian: And any other combination of magic missile and darkness chu.

Shebubu: Holyfuck, 1996, that is how old the whole magic missile thing is. 20 fucking years.

Equestrian: That's....not that old, dude.

Shebubu: From internet time its old.

Equestrian: Just like your mom!

Bill: Hello darkness my old friend.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Poker + H&H's  Chestnut

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Classic Rant: How to Play A Bharata Kingdoms Indian

How's that for a controversial title?!

So here's the thing, lately there's been a lot of idiocy from the pseudoactivist-Swine talking about the "portrayal of race in rpgs", to the point that some people on "" have gone as far as suggesting that if you're a white gamer (apparently any other race is no problem), then you should never be allowed to play a PC of any other race.

Ignoring moronic drivel from ill-intentioned subversives who hate gaming, however, there are also a lot of gamers out there who probably feel nervous about it. They don't want to play a goofy stereotype, and at the same time they feel like they don't know enough about how to avoid playing a stereotype.

So now I'm going to give you some basic tips on how to portray a Bharata Kingdoms Human in an Arrows of Indra game:

1. First, the Bharata Kingdoms culture is incredibly inter-twined with religion; religion is real, gods are real and have shown up frequently (though no longer as frequently as in previous ages) and many people have miraculous powers granted by divine force. People think about religion on a daily basis and as something vitally important; they may have individual favorite gods but will pray to any god that may be of help in a given situation, and often in some situations will engage in small rituals of prayer "just in case". Priests and temples are very important, as is ritual, but people will also pray at home, or on the road, or just about anywhere. Some people meditate as well but usually that's reserved for siddhis and yogis who know how to do that.
On the other hand, maybe religion doesn't matter that much: in spite of the gods being clearly real, and magic being clearly real, most people are breaking little rules all the time; figuring that by bathing in a holy river at the right time or getting a blessing from a holy man at the right moment, they will be purified and made Holy again. Some people will try to 'game' the gods; cheating, stealing, gossiping, or worse when they want to and then later "paying it off" by gaining some god's favor with a temple donation. Religion is rigid and legalistic in all the kingdoms the previous Avatara Rama founded (and have become more so, and less authentic, in the thousands of years since Rama's existence on earth) and there is a growing discontent with that situation (which, ultimately, the new Avatara Krishna will hugely change); people aren't necessarily blindly faithful.

2. Caste is immensely important. People are highly conscious of caste, of maintaining their caste, and its role in social stability. Priests give lectures (as noted in the Bhagavad Gita) against the risk of caste-mixing, the production of "bastards" (since the proper institution of marriage is indelibly tied to caste) and the danger of social crime and chaos that will result. People believe that anyone of lower castes is literally a worse type of human: they are the product of a less auspicious reincarnation, which means they're getting what they deserve; they are literally less moral, more prone to crime and sin, and more spiritually ignorant, inherently. The sullying of Caste directly affects your "spiritual level" and Holiness.
On the other hand, there's no reason that needs to be the case on any individual level. On a day-to-day basis, castes interact all the time; and yes taboos are carefully maintained (particularly for Brahmins, and toward Dalits) but on the whole in any city you will have interaction every day with people of every caste and its not a big deal. As with religion above, any minor taboo-breaking can be easily resolved by some purification ritual down the road; obviously inter-caste marriage or things like that are more troublesome, but established laws make it clear that those happen too, there were clearly plenty of people willing to suffer a demotion in caste for the sake of love. Likewise, in the Bharata Kingdoms (unlike in later-period Indian cultures), caste was not as rigidly absolute: people did change castes in their own lifetimes. This was by no means common (particularly UPWARD movement to a higher caste), but it could happen, so there was not necessarily a fatalistic notion that the caste you are born in is the one you will definitely die in. On a day-to-day level, the function of caste is integrated into the infrastructure of the Bharata kingdoms to the extent that you probably didn't have to think about it constantly at all, and it only came up when something really unusual or shocking occurred.

3. Family is crucial, both in terms of immediate nuclear family and clan. Obedience of children to parents is absolutely required. Your father or your oldest living male sibling was the head of your family, and you would not question doing what he orders; likewise, your clan is the basis of your social-support network so the family as a whole must obey the clan's expectations. This affects everything in personal life: education, marriage, children, where you live, who you work with or for, whether or not you may travel, etc. People in the Bharata kingdoms are much more concerned with their family and obedient to family rules.
Or, then again, maybe not. Its pretty clear that there's all the same resentments, conflicts, bad blood, adolescent rebellion and general drama within families in the Bharata Kingdoms as in any other human culture. Of course, the society is much more rigid, conservative, and favors the family-heads than our own modern culture does, but that doesn't mean there's all kinds of cases of runaway teenagers, brothers who fight each other over money or women, mother-in-laws that make life miserable for their son's wives, and in-family feuds that last decades. Clans can be full of similar conflicts, rivalries, and power plays.

4. Law is enormously respected. The King's authority is absolute, other than having to fit within the dictates of religious rules. Citizens of the Bharata Kingdoms would be shocked at any ideas subversive of the social order, and don't question the way things are.
Or, then again, maybe not. There are several HUGE cities (by pre-industrial standards) all over the Bharata Kingdoms, and most of these have enormous crime problems. A large number of people flaunt the laws and engage in crimes and violence that would be shocking news in a modern city in our world, but are just daily events there. Entire Clans are dedicated to criminal activities. The countryside is riddled with bandits and local gangs that often are a law unto themselves and terrify the local peasantry.
And there are significant subversive movements in society; two of the major kingdoms (Kuru and Panchala) have been shattered by civil war and dynastic separatist movements, and the Kosala "Kingdom" has not been a real kingdom for a thousand years or more, having fallen into a patchwork quilt of decadent principalities and city-states. There are unusual religious cults all over the place, and of course now, there are several movements declaring one or more heroes the new Avatara, and every time there's been an Avatara it has led to a complete upheaval of society. Speaking of which...

5. The Avatara is a symbol of hope and a religious concept venerated by all. It has been predicted by astrologers that a new Avatara walks the earth, and everyone is hopeful in anticipation that he will be once again a great force for good that will restore morality, renew society, and bring peace in our time. There's some debate still about who the Avatara is (the candidates most supported are Krishna, Karna, or perhaps the emperor of Magadha), but aside from this question everyone is looking forward to what the Avatara will do.
Or, then again, maybe not. Particularly devout followers of the previous Avataras (Shiva and Rama) may ironically not be pleased to see someone new who will not just repeat what came before; Rama was as radically different as you could imagine from Shiva, and this difference has led to significant regional differences in the Bharatan religion (with some places favoring the "Vaishnavite" form of religion imposed by Rama, while those areas which were less touched by Rama maintain the "Shaivite" form), and whoever the new Avatara is will be bound to change things too. Priests are very nervous about popular movements that will favor the Avatara and devotion to that figure rather than orthodox ritualism. Rulers are nervous about the way kingdoms tend to get swept away in the wake of an Avatara's great acts. Common people are likely to be worried about the tendency Avataras have to create chaos and bloodshed as they adventure through the world. In other words, anyone who has a reason to be conservative and have an interest in the status quo will not be pleased with Avatara-movements.

6. Bharatans are very conservative. Particularly in matters of morality and things like sex; you will not see Bharatans (including many adventurers) going around "carousing" with booze and loose women. Modesty is extremely important and pre-marital sex or public drunkenness are severely shunned.
Or, maybe not so much. The western Balika kingdoms, which other regions see as semi-barbaric but are in fact the oldest Bharatan cultures, are much more relaxed about sexuality, for starters. But even outside those kingdoms, you are likely to find prostitution EVERYWHERE, and as much as it is publicly condemned trade in prostitution is quite common; particularly in people without the wealth to own a bevy of concubine-slaves. Concerns about sexual activity in general is more of a concern about illegitimate births, and while there are certainly sexual conservatives (prudes, you could say) all over the place, sex is still something that happens everywhere and in some ways with less of a guilt-complex than what you'd see in the west (or indeed, in later indian societies). Alcohol is also common throughout the Bharata Kingdoms, and while public drunkenness is seen as a serious problem, and condemned, people get drunk on palm wine or cannabis liquor or other alcoholic beverages on a very common basis. Also, as already explained in the Arrows of Indra rulebook, while gender-roles are quite rigid in some respects, it is also generally accepted that there is a "third gender" and in this Bharatan culture (unlike in later Indian cultures) third-gendered individuals are given a common role in society with relatively little prejudice.

So, I hope you're getting the point here: while there are cultural details that you might want to consider in roleplaying in the Bharata kingdoms, ultimately the key to playing Bharatan characters in a non-stereotypical way is to play them as human beings. While Bharatan cultural values are very different from modern 21st century western values in some respects, the actual PEOPLE are people with exactly the same types of aspirations, inhibitions, hypocrisy, idealism, or complexity as you'd find at any other time or place. You're not playing an alien. This isn't rocket science. The notion that "you couldn't possibly understand" someone from the Bharata kingdoms (or indeed any other ethnicity or culture throughout history) is just unadulterated bullshit. If you remember that first, and then operate your roleplay of your character from there, you'll do just fine.


(Originally Posted December 5, 2013)