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Sunday 30 September 2018

Inappropriate Characters, Tonight!

So, many of you already know I have, besides my own Youtube channel, a special Youtube show called Inappropriate Characters which I share with my co-hosts Venger Satanis and GrimJim.

Tonight, we're going to be doing a show, which I presume will be a Livestream. We'll be airing at 7:30pm CST. And of course, as usual, we'll be talking about the RPG-related Controversies of the day!

So please check us out, and if you're not online at that time, be sure to check out our new episode later. And if you want us to make shows more frequently, be sure to back us on our Patreon, so Venger's wife lets him spend more time on this!


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Elizabethan Mixture

Saturday 29 September 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: Dead God Excavation

This is a review of the RPG adventure "Dead God Excavation", which also includes the adventure "La Bas Chartreuse".  The former is supposedly for Venger's Crimson Dragon Slayer game, the latter for his The Outer Presence game.

This is as always a review of the print edition, which is softcover and about 28 pages long. It features a full-color cover with a surrealist painting of something vaguely Lovecraftian.

The interior pages have a color shading and include a mix of color and black & white illustrations. These are almost entirely images of monsters, mostly Lovecraftian monsters, though there's also at least two images of basically naked women.

For the purpose of transparency I will note that I have a kind-of professional relationship with Venger, in that he's my co-host on the Inappropriate Characters Youtube show.  I'm not involved in any way with the creation of this product, nor do I make any profit from this product. I want to include the notice of his being my co-host for the sake of transparency; I don't think it will really affect the quality or substance of my review.

In the first place, a note on production: while having colored pages has a certain aesthetic appeal, I found that the dark colors and background images on the pages of this product make it more than a little difficult to read. In some places, slightly annoying; in some areas, particularly near the top of the page in the first adventure, really difficult because it's a very dark background shade behind black letters. Venger should have gone with lighter tones.

Dead God Excavation starts with a very short (4-entry) random rumors table related to an ancient kingdom named Voss'th Ekk, a place with "powerful and dangerous mysteries man was not meant to know". Naturally, the PCs are heading into that area. More specifically to "the excavation site of a gigantic tomb".

At the tomb, there's some complicated local politics happening with the archaeological dig, and many people with different priorities. When the tomb is finally opened, it's full of deadly perils, alien metal, a kind of symbiote, and a dead Lovecraftian/Howardian god.

Besides the reading being impaired by the fact that the top two lines of text require extreme illumination and very good eyesight to discern, the structure of the adventure is a bit complex, but I do have to say that the stuff inside the tomb (without giving away any spoilers) is all fairly interesting. So, in all, not too bad.

At page 17 of the book we get to the second adventure, "A Bas Chartreuse". The "bas chartreuse" is supposedly a "stairway leading to hell itself" somewhere in the jungles of Sri Lanka. The adventure set-up is left quite open, with an account that could be presented to the PC in any way the GM wishes (suggestions include a message in a bottle, a colleague who has been interned in an insane asylum after an expedition, etc).  It describes the stairway, a monolith, and terrible sacrifices, and everyone in the expedition except the person making the account were killed. No specific reason is given as to what would motivate the PCs to go looking for this type of horrid place, it's just assumed they would (of course, a horror-investigator campaign pretty much takes that as a given anyways).

There's a table for some (six) potential random encounters in the jungles. Only one of the six potential encounters is supernatural (a 'tentacled dripping lurker'), the others include guerrillas, drug cartel thugs, natives (potentially cannibals), some other expedition, or insane cultists.

The PCs will go on to encounter the monolith (whenever the GM decides it's time, I guess, encounters in the jungle are listed as 'one per night', but there's no indication of how many nights you should spend in the jungle itself). The monolith provides an entrance to "an unforgiving realm of starry chaos, a shadow reality".  What happens in there? Well, we get into another feature of Venger's products, one I don't much care for: nothing you do matters in there. There's two random tables, of "what happens to you" and "silver lining", each has only 6 entries. The tables are the only guide to what happens inside the 'starry realm', ranging from "you become a pet of one of the entities in that universe", to "after several hours wandering that realm you find your way home"; and a set of effects of how being in there changes you. None of these rolls are affected at all by anything the PC can do, or any of the PC's knowledge or abilities. It just happens. There's not even any roleplaying involved.

After this there's a random table for the effects of Alien Metal, which Venger states is also useful in the "Dead God Excavation" adventure. This is a 20-item table, which is way better than having a 6-item table, and it's fairly good. It is mostly only descriptive of effects, rather than giving concrete statistical data; but if you're using the book for any system other than Venger's own that's probably just as good.

After this, there's a random table for 'how much blood is there' around the monolith. There's seriously a 6-item random table that just provides different ranges of how much blood there is (with one option saying that instead of blood there's a weird ichor).  Now, does it matter how much blood there is? Does the amount of blood present change the rest of the adventure? No. It's entirely aesthetic, and yet he spends a quarter of a page on this. I'm a fan of random tables, as you may well know if you read my work, but not of pointless random tables. The entire section could have been substituted by one sentence saying "the GM should decide how much blood there is around the monolith and mention it to the PCs".

Finally, there's the stairs. You get a three-quarter-page description of the trip down the stairs, culminating in cthulhu-esque terror. But again, there's absolutely nothing the PCs can do that matters, with the exception of not going to the monolith in the first place. There's another 6-item random table, which describes what happens to the PCs. These range from instant death, to various horrible effects, none of which are determined by anything the PCs did or anything about the PC's attributes.

This adventure isn't a railroad only because there's absolutely nothing pushing or motivating the PCs to go to the jungles in the first place. But it's about as bad as a railroad, because there's pretty much not a damn thing for the PCs to do in this adventure. It's just "go to the place, and then something will happen to you that you have no control or influence over".

So what to conclude about these two adventures? Well, if I had to rate them I'd give "Dead God Excavation" a 3/5. It's not really terrible, but not especially great. It's also difficult to read through, both in the sense of somewhat disjointed structure and in the sense of being literally hard to read because of the choice of background color in the pages. And La Bas Chartreuse gets a 1/5. Really the only thing saving it from a 0 is the very basic premise itself, but the execution fails completely. The alien metal table was OK.

On the whole, you should only get this book if you're already a fan of Venger's products and you don't mind adventures where nothing your PCs do really matters.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Gawith's St. James Flake

Friday 28 September 2018

Classic Rant: "Real" Magick in RPGs, Continued..

So, getting to some actual "things magicians do"; we begin with an unusual point: yoga.

Yes, yoga, but maybe not the yoga that you think! Some of you who read a recent Cracked article might have noted that what we think of as "yoga" today, the series of stretching exercises, is in fact a pretty recent invention. It wasn't quite invented by Iyengar, like the article suggests, but pretty close. It was really popularized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the idea of Yoga being "Hatha Yoga" (the stretching exercises) became so deeply popular that even most Indians believe that its really an ancient practice.

To put this into context, the stretching exercises of hatha yoga are sort-of spiritual, but only in the way that "doing pushups for jesus" is sort-of spiritual. And what's happened with Yoga now is like as if people started believe that ALL "prayer" was doing push-ups.

In fact, there is a real yoga, or several real "yogas" to be more accurate, and almost all of them ironically involve not moving at all. Most of them actually require you to stay as incredibly physically still as possible. The physical stretches, the sun salutations and downward-dog and all that stuff was just the warm-up stretches that people might do at other times, before and after spending hours and hours of trying not to move the slightest little bit.

So what the fuck does all of this have to do with western magicians? The answer is that a great deal of western magicians are into yoga; this is because late 19th/early 20th century magical groups were seriously into yoga (starting with the Theosophists, going into the Golden Dawn, and culminating with Aleister Crowley, who was an expert on the subject and wrote volumes about it). The yoga they were into, however, was not the "stretchy" kind, but the old school yoga, the Raja ("royal") Yoga.

Remember, first of all, that 90% of self-styled "magicians", including those who talk about yoga, won't actually do any of it at all. New Agers and neo-pagans are, ironically, more likely to actually do stretchy-yoga at least; unlike ceremonial "hardcore" magicians, who will mostly fulfill the facetious definition that Crowley made for how to describe a Theosophist: "They talk a lot about yoga, and do no work".

Meanwhile, many of those magicians who actually both tell you they're "into yoga" and actually DO yoga, will not do any yoga the standard person (or player character) is likely to recognize. There are tons of "ceremonial magicians" who are "yogis" that couldn't stretch to save their lives, that have wrecked joints and back aches and couldn't touch their toes if you offered them a million dollars.

Which is really a shame, because part of the philosophy of Raja Yoga (the non-stretchy kind) is that body, mind and soul should be connected. While hatha yoga (stretchy yoga) exercises aren't really "magical", they are quite good at helping you to have a sufficiently efficient body to make those connections. So what you're likely to find, if we want it to be an "NPC breakdown" is the following types (in increasing order of rarity):

1: neo pagans and new agers who do stretchy yoga
2: ceremonial magicians who talk about "yoga" but do nothing at all.
3: ceremonial magicians who do non-stretchy yoga but aren't really getting anywhere because they're thinking of it as a mental exercise
4: ceremonial magicians who turn on to the fact that maybe connecting mind and body requires actually exercising the body, and do both the stretchy and non-stretchy yoga.

What the fuck is the non-stretchy yoga supposed to do, anyways?
To put it in basic terms and without elaboration (because this blog entry is about how to use this shit for RPGs, and not how to actually do it), Raja Yoga is all about creating intense concentration. The first step in this is "asana" ("posture"), which involves keeping the body incredibly still. The classical western-magical test for this is to be able to hold a position so still that you can rest a saucerful of water on your head for an hour without spilling a drop.
Asana is meant to still the body, while "pranayama" controls the breath; people who practice this can eventually lengthen their breathing cycle (inhalations and exhalations, and the pauses in between) so that a reasonably capable student can spend 20 seconds breathing in, holding the breath for 30, and breathing out for 40 seconds, then holding the breath for 30 again, meaning he's doing one full breath every 120 seconds.
Next comes Dharana, where the magician focuses his mind, blanking out all thoughts except for a single object of concentration, able to focus totally without distractions.
All of this is meant to lead one to a state of Dhyana, awareness, where you enter an altered level of consciousness that can be used on the one hand to vastly improve your senses and perceptions, and on the other to enter into states of trance that allow you to communicate with spiritual entities (when combined with other magical practices).

Of course, this sort of shit takes months or years of work, and most people just give up on it. But if you should want your PCs to run into a "real" magician/yogi in the game, or to play one, prolonged effort of this kind should lead them to be able to resist extremes of cold and heat (bonuses to saving throws?), hold the breath for long periods of time (endurance?), and have incredible powers of concentration (useful for the performance of ritual magic later, where concentration is absolutely essential to the ritual working successfully).

There are other kinds of non-stretchy yoga too; Kundalini yoga being a popular one. Contrary to the common assumption about that, it has incredibly little to do with sex. Of course, a great deal of people the PCs run into will probably talk about kundalini yoga as if its all about getting some "sacred sex" going and trying to do so with the player characters. Others who are into kundalini yoga will go on and on about "chakras", talking about them as though they're real physical centers in the body, even though the yogic texts make it clear that they're meant to be allegorical. But to make a long story short, someone who's really practiced kundalini yoga will be using these allegories of the "chakras" to create a kind of harmony between mind and body, emotions and thought, and can use these abilities to do things like ignore considerable amounts of physical pain, speed up the healing process, develop increased memory, and again improve their sense of awareness.
I suppose if you want to, you can treat "prana" (energy) in your game as something a bit more literal than allegorical, or in any case you can emphasize the psychosomatic effects of the same, and someone who is trained in kundalini yoga could be able to help cure someone with an "energetic disease" or, in theory, cause one.

More on this stuff later.


(Originally Posted August 2, 2011)

Thursday 27 September 2018

Gencon Rewards Violent Assaults Against Attendees

Gencon has given a carte blanche to leftists to violently assault someone and get rewarded for it, and the victim punished. Unless you're antifa, it's no longer safe to go to Gencon. And I don't mean hurt feelings safe, I mean physically safe.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker + Country Doctor

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Intelligent Animal Characters!

In RPGPundit Presents #47: Intelligent Animal Characters of the Last Sun I present you with one of the weird features of the gonzo Last Sun setting.

In the world of the Last Sun you may never quite know if any given animal is just an animal, or an animal with human-level intelligence.  A dog might just be a dog, or it might be a messenger/scout for the Kingdom of Cooland. A gorilla could be a gorilla, but it might also be a scientist of the Gorilla Kingdoms.  A sloth might just be a harmless jungle creature, or it might be an enforcer of the deadly drug-running Sloth Cartel.

In Intelligent Animal Characters of the Last Sun you'll find a list of 29 different animals playable as PCs or NPCs, along with their special abilities, bonuses, penalties, special attacks and descriptions of their typical behaviors and activities in the world of the Last Sun. The rules for generating and playing animal PCs are usable in any OSR system. All this for just $2.99!

So be sure to check out RPGPundit Presents #47 on DTRPG or at the Precis Intermedia Webstore.

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

RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

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

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more next week!


Currently smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia

Tuesday 25 September 2018

If You Support, Justify or Excuse Antifa, You ARE Excusing Terrorism Right Now

Over on G+, we were debating the terrorism of Antifa, and some asshole (who insisted on calling them 'punch-nazis', inherently recognizing that the very word Antifa has become toxic through their actions) was claiming that he's not going to condemn the to-him very laudable notion of nazi-punching for some 'slippery slope' theory of what might happen in the "future of punch-nazis" of them "going too far". He was insistent that thus far the movement had not gone too far.

Here's my response:

The 'future' of "punch-nazis"? First, they're not "punch-nazis", they're "punch ANYONE I've arbitrarily called a nazi".

Second, just who among the people who've ALREADY (not in some theoretical 'future') been assaulted or suffered attempted assaults do you think deserved it?

I mean, Richard Spencer and Vox Day are both pieces of shit, who I think deserve to be called out for their ethno-supremacist, racist, or anti-semitic views. They deserve to be mocked and ridiculed. But in a civilized society, that's how we deal with these assholes, not by turning them into martyrs by violently attacking them or censoring them. Are you that afraid that you won't be able to point out how fucking stupid they are by refuting their toxic ideas, that you'd rather just concede you can't by physically silencing them?

And who beyond that, out of the people who have been attacked and censored by the SJWs and the Stalinist Antifa, do you think actually deserved it?  I'm guessing maybe Milo, the gay dude?

Jordan Peterson, the geeky college professor who talks about mythology? Does he deserve punching? Is he a Nazi, even though he's talked at length about the essential importance of combating the mentality that leads to the death camps and described them and the people that ran them as the ultimate evil?

Maybe Ezra Levant? Ben Shapiro? Barbara Kay? Are they all Jewish "nazis"?

Do you think Ian Miles Cheong is a white supremacist that needs to be assaulted?

How about Tanveer Ahmed or Maajid Nawaz? They sure sound like Nazis! I mean, I guess pretty much all Muslims who are the slightest bit critical of extremist fundamentalism in the Muslim world and defend democratic values are basically nazis deserving to be punched, right? 

Sheila Gunn Reid was assaulted by a supposed 'nazi-puncher' outside the Alberta Legislature for daring to report critically at the anti-Trump women's rally. Should she have been punched? Because she's not a nazi from anything I've seen?

What about Indian intellectual Tarek Fatah? He's received death threats in India and the west because of his advocating for secular liberal society, not only from Muslim fundamentalists (Fatah himself is a Muslim) but also from left-wing 'nazi-puncher' stalinists who call him a Nazi for believing in secular society.

Does believing in a secular liberal democratic society qualify you for nazi-punching?

Jeremy Hambly might not be to everyone's liking, but I've never seen him say anything remotely 'nazi', and yet like Venger and myself (and I don't know about Venger, but I received death threats during consultantgate, and more than a few of the people you think of as brave nazi-punchers have talked big about physically assaulting me) he was Declared a "Nazi" and got violently assaulted in a bar in front of a half-dozen witnesses at Gencon, by a Stalinist retard who was screaming "I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill you". Did Hambly deserve that in your opinion? These are the people you're claiming are justified, right?

Christina Hoff Summers is a 1960s feminist and registered democrat but because she's been critical of the association of 3rd-wave feminist with marxist 'equity'-based identity-politics she's had her speech disrupted, people wanting to hear what she has to say assaulted, and her life threatened multiple times. I bet she totally deserves to be punched, right? Oh, and she's yet another of these Nazi Jews. Who'd have thunk it, right?

Or Ayan Hirsi Ali? Should she need constant protection because of her opposition to female genital mutilation and her rejection of the Islamic faith she'd been born into (I'm pretty sure if I'd had my genitals horrifically mutilated, I'd be rejecting the faith of my birth as well)? Does she deserve to have left-wing psychopaths threatening her and trying to censor her and assaulting people who come to hear her speak? Is a Somali-born democrat who believes in classical liberal western values a nazi to you? Did she deserve it?

How about Maryam Namazie? She's a Iranian-born secularist and avowed socialist human-rights campaigner, but she was declared a "nazi" by the Feminist society at Goldsmith's university London, and was aggressively threatened and had her talk there disrupted.

I mean, I could go on, but I trust you get the point. Just who on these lists are you suggesting deserve the punching you seem to be so OK with?
And if any of these people don't, why are you defending these antifa terrorist thugs as though they were actually heroic 'nazi-punchers' defending our values, when in fact they are assaulting women, people of color, and minorities as well as other free thinkers in an all-out war against the most fundamental values of western liberal democracy?


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Egg + Barking Dog

Monday 24 September 2018

Wild West Campaign Update: The Mule Thieves

So our latest adventure started out when Bat Masterson approached Crazy Miller about the two of them taking a trip back to Dodge City.

(dodge city)

Turns out that Jim, Bat's brother, had asked him to come immediately as he was in a fight with the co-owners of the Lady Gay Saloon; a fight that had escalated to death threats.

While Crazy and Bat headed back to Dodge (the players again noting the astounding difference the existence of the train had made in the west, with a trip that would previously have taken ages being manageable in just five day, and that including two by stagecoach), the other PCs stayed in Tombstone. A couple of days later, they were surprised to see a couple of US Cavalry lieutenants riding into town (from Camp Rucker, it would turn out). They had come on account of the theft of 6 mules destined for service at the camp; their Colonel wanted them to hire Wyatt Earp to find them and the thieves who stole them (he's a huge Wyatt Earp fan). When they offered Wyatt $600 up front, he reluctantly agreed, and he convinced Kid Taylor, Other Miller, and Jeff Young to come along. He didn't invited Doc Holliday because he knew Doc would never agree to doing work for the army, and because Doc had been busy having vicious fights with Big Nose Kate lately.

(Tombstone around 1881)

Wyatt asked himself just where would there be a market for mules? And the answer was clear: The Tombstone Mines. As they rode out to the mines, they crossed paths with their friend Frenchie the prospector. When they explained what they were looking for, he told them to go check out a guy named "Muley" Smith, who was the owner of the mule pens at the mining camp.

(the Tombstone Mines)

When they got to the camp, finding the mule pens was easy enough.  Muley stated that he certainly didn't have six mules with Army brands, and while the two Lieutenants (who, it turns out, were both named Thompson, though like the Millers they weren't related, and one didn't have a "p" in his last name) clarified that they hadn't been given an army brand yet and had a double-twig brand, Muley didn't have those either.  Initially, Muley claimed that he never bought anything but mules with all their proof of ownership; but after being intimidated by Other Miller and threatened by Wyatt, he broke down and admitted that in fact he bought mules from two suspicious customers. One was a Mexican bandito named Angel Suarez, the other was Frank Patterson, a member of the Cowboy gang.

Meanwhile, Bat and Crazy had come to Dodge, and Jim Masterson was waiting for them at the train station.

(James Masterson)

It turns out that Dodge City's glory days as a buffalo and later cattle-drive boomtown were done. Of the nearly 40 saloons that once graced Front Street, only four remain operating. One of them is the Lady Gay, which was owned by Bat and Jim, but when Bat lost his election as Ford County Sheriff he left town, selling his share to Jim.  The Lady Gay wasn't doing well and Jim wasn't a great money manager, so he soon found himself selling part of the bar to his bartender Al Undergraff. Then a second part. Then Undergraff sold part of his share to prominent Dodge businessman and "Better People" member AJ Peacock. Suddenly, Jim found himself holding only a minority stake in the bar, with Peacock (who was not a friend of the Mastersons) wanting to buy him out and Undergraff taking Peacock's side.

Bat and Crazy Miller both realized that it would actually be much better for Jim to sell out, and Peacock had offered him $2000 for his remaining share, which was not a bad sum, but for Jim this was a matter of pride. They spent some time trying to convince Jim, and he finally agreed if Bat could make it $3000, and of course Bat being a silver-tongued devil, he was sure he could.

They decided that before heading to the Lady Gay to negotiate with Peacock, they'd go visit the Long Branch and the Alhambra, two of the other remaining saloons, to catch up with their friends Luke Short and Frank Harris (owners at the Long Branch), and Dog Kelley and his bear Paddy (owners of the Alhambra). As they were headed to the Long Branch, Crazy Miller suddenly spotted a couple of shadowy figures in the alley on the other side of the street, pointing guns in their direction!

There was a quick firefight, and while Bat and Jim were both shooting, it turned out to be Crazy Miller who hit his shots. He shot the gun out of one assailant's hand, causing him to run away. Then the other one was turning to flee so Crazy shot him in the foot. Several shots from the assailants hit the Long Branch saloon, and several shots from Crazy and the Mastersons hit the new jailhouse. Soon Bill Tilghman, who was now the city Marshall, came out and discovered that the man shot in the foot was Al Undergraff! What's more, Al immediately claimed that the Mastersons and Crazy Miller shot first, and were trying to kill him.  Unable to find any witnesses of who fired first, Tilghman was forced to arrest them all.

(Bill Tilghman)

Over in the Tombstone Mining camp, the PCs, the Thompsons and Wyatt Earp were keeping watch on the mule pens, waiting to see if one or the other mule-smuggler would show up. Finally, Angel Suarez made his way into camp, with 10 mules and 3 other Mexicans. When he had arrived at Muley's, the team ambushed them calling for them to surrender. But the Mexicans fought, and fought hard! It took several shots to finally take Suarez down.

Unfortunately it turned out that the mules were not the ones from Camp Rucker. At this point Wyatt Earp decided to say 'fuck it' and led the team toward the Clanton ranch, sure he'd find the mules there.

In Dodge City, Crazy, Bat and Jim were all in jail but were at least enjoying the wonders of Cooter's coffee for the first time in ages. Al Undergraff was there too, at least until his foot was tended to, but he was released by morning on his own recognizance (by the highly biased Mayor's office). Not, however, before Bat and Crazy managed to plant the seeds of doubt in him as to whether his senior partner (AJ Peacock) hadn't really intended for Al to be killed by the Mastersons so the Mastersons would in turn go to jail, leaving the Lady Gay all to himself. They also told Undergraff to tell Peacock to come and see them, as they were ready to deal.

So Peacock comes down to the jailhouse, and there's a tense negotiation between him and Bat with help from Crazy. As usual, the two best negotiators in the entire campaign get their way, and Peacock gives Jim Masterson a good payout for the Lady Gay. They're freed from their jail cell as soon as they sign the papers.
Then they stop off for drinks in the Long Branch and the Alhambra, but when they step out they're confronted by County Sheriff George Hinkel (the man who beat Bat in the Ford County election), his deputy, and Marshall Tilghman. They've been ordered by Dodge Mayor Webster to use the same law that was enacted in the cattle-drive era to empower the lawmen to kick anyone out of Dodge without any required justification. The three men were escorted right to the train station and made to leave.  Jim Masterson decided not to go with Bat and Crazy back to Tombstone; instead he was taking his money and going to Colorado, where he was hoping to find work as a Lawman and get out under the shadow of his older brother.

Back in Tombstone, Wyatt, Other Miller, Kid Taylor, Jeff Young and the two Lieutenants ride up to the Clanton ranch. They find a welcoming committee armed and waiting for them, including Pa Clanton, the Clanton brothers, the McLauries, alleged  mule-smuggler Frank Patterson, and Sherman McMaster.

(you just couldn't make up a better evil boss than Pa Clanton)

 The Earp party was seriously outnumbered. Wyatt told Pa Clanton they were looking for the mules, and Pa Clanton responded that they didn't have any US Army Mules. The officers stated that the mules didn't have the army brand, but the double twig. Then Pa Clanton made a claim that they did receive some mules, by someone who claimed to be from that ranch, but instead of returning the mules to the men, he said he needed to verify the story and the authenticity of the mules (and the officers) and if it all checked out he promised to return the mules in two days. It was nothing more than a blatant display of power, of showing they didn't even fear the authority of government. But the Earp party had little choice, other than a shootout, so they agreed.

The mules would never be returned; instead Pa Clanton used his connections with the Arizona Democrats to get the army to look the other way and in the following days Cowboys would be mocking the lawmen on the street.

The PCs learned several important lessons in this session. They also discovered one important fact I didn't mention above: the Cowboys' criminal business previously relied considerably on rustling and other robberies across the border in Mexico. But in the last few months the Mexican government has significantly increased its Federales forces all across the border (yes, in the 19th century it was Mexico that was frantic about border security and criminal cartels). So part of the reason why they'd noticed the Cowboys resorting to more criminal activity nearer to Tombstone is because they had no other choice if they wanted to keep their profits up.

All this made it clear to the PCs that some big conflict is coming up very soon.  Of course, they all know about the shootout at the OK Corral, and that this is going to happen (well, unless the PCs do some really really freaking weird stuff to change the historical timeline), but what they don't know is how things in Tombstone as they were lead up to the eventual confrontation, and how the hell things after the OK Corral turn out like they did. And they're quite excited to find out.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Egg + Elizabethan Mixture

Sunday 23 September 2018

Saturday 22 September 2018

Why I Can't Just Ignore (or be Civil) With Venger's Attackers

It would not be unfair to describe Venger Satanis as a "smut peddler". Not quite the Larry Flynt of RPGs, but probably our closest equivalent. And some people could have legitimate complaints against him for that (legitimate, in the sense that it would be fair for some people to be offended by him).
It would be more hard to imagine anyone being really 'offended' by his wuss-liberal Hillary-voting centrist policies, except maybe by their inherent wussiness. But hey, I guess if you really don't like that the guy voted for Hillary (and there's certainly great criticisms to be had of the very notion of voting for Hillary) you could complain about that and it would be legitimate too.

But shitbags like David Black and the other cunts who attacked him this week? No, they're not legitimate.

Nor can my response to them be "civil". The incivility of both their methods (lies, smear campaigns, and calls for mass censure) and their motives (Stalinist-style totalitarianism) are such that they demand an extremely uncivil response.

None of us can ignore them, because they cannot just ignore us.

You see, Totalitarians can never "just ignore" you. It's the difference between totalitarianism and authoritarianism.

With Authoritarians, they need you to not say "no". You can't defy their authority. You need to either say yes or keep silent.

With Totalitarians, that's not enough. Every moment of your life must be actively engaged in Agreeing with them. You must not just say Yes, you must say Yes to everything they demand, and you must say it ALL THE TIME, in every action you take.  If you are just keeping silent, you are Refusing to Agree, and that is enough for them to need to make you agree or completely destroy you.

Which is why we also can't just ignore them. Totalitarians must be fought, actively, at every moment.  Not for  one moment can you imply that it's OK for them to push their agenda that would (if they had the power) deprive every human being on earth of either their life or their essential liberty.


Currently Smoking: Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + C&D's Delta Days

Friday 21 September 2018

Classic Rant: "Real" Magic in RPGs, Redux

So I'm trying this again, as the last time I attempted to write on the subject I met with the wrath of The Wench for being "too mean". This time, the focus will be less on savage mockery of silly people and more on the "magick" itself and what it should look like if you're trying to run a modern campaign where the occult rules are meant to effectively emulate real life.

Occult Posers

Again, the first thing to note is that 99.9% of people in the "occult scene" are posers, from the point of view of practicing magic. That is to say, they don't really do magic at all; they may talk about it or read about it, pretend they have great powers or like to collect crystals, but they've never had an actual experience of magic. Note that this includes, aside from the most absolute basic practices, 99% of "ceremonial magicians" who, for the purposes of this series, we'll be focusing on (not that there aren't other kinds of modern occultism that could have real "magical power" in your games, certainly tantrism and those rare shamanic practitioners that are actually doing it right, for just two examples, but we have to focus on something, at least to start). The people interested in hardcore magic, most of them, have read a couple of Crowley books, own a tarot deck or two, and may have tried some of the basic exercises (like the "lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram"), performed them badly, and then quit when nothing happened right away. Instead, they want to talk a lot about spirits and angels and demons and the Kabbalah and satan and how the man is putting them down, and how many books they own (whether or not they've read them), and how "dark" or "hardcore" they really are. You know, wankery.

A few of these guys even start their own magical orders.

But there is a smaller group of people who actually do the practices. Before I get into those, we should address how those people get to do it; are they secret initiates of a great magical order? Did they find lost tomes hidden away in some library?

No, fuckers! They just got what's readily available everywhere, and actually did it.

That brings us to the first rule of modern "authentic thaumaturgy":

RULE 1: it's not hard to find occult secrets, it's hard to understand them.

Remember that. Do not make it hard for someone to find real magic; it was all laid out 100 years ago, and even before the advent of the internet pretty much everything you needed to do "real" magic was readily available for purchase. And today, on the internet, where you can quickly and easily download pretty much every medieval grimoire, everything the Golden Dawn ever wrote, and absolutely everything Aleister Crowley ever did, including his personal diaries and ALL of the "secret rituals of the O.T.O.", there is really no information that is kept away from you. 
In a lot of "occult RPGs", that's one of the first things that strikes me as being utterly unrealistic; the authors make it that real occult knowledge is really difficult to obtain. It isn't, at all.

What's difficult is the ability to comprehend that knowledge; because you have study a lot of fundamentals, and you HAVE TO actually practice. So you have to read and read for years and years, and even if you do that you won't have an ounce of magical power unless you've also been exercising and exercising for years and years.

Go find a copy of Aleister Crowley's "The Book of Thoth", that's his book on the Tarot. Try to read it. Assuming no (significant) prior knowledge of the occult, you'll understand maybe 10% of it. The rest will seem like gobbledygook. 
So faced with that, most people either just quit in disgust assuming it is all gobbledygook, or they just pretend that they understood more of it when they did, beginning their long careers as occult frauds.

And the Book of Thoth really contains huge and powerful magical secrets. Within that book alone are secrets that contain significant magical gravitas. But to understand what its saying, after that first reading, you'd need to spend about six months working with the Tarot cards, reading the basics of astrology, reading the basics of kabbalah, reading the basics of alchemy. And then reading the Book of Thoth again. And after all that, you'll understand maybe 20% of it, but what new insight you got spurs you on to do new kinds of work, that gives you new kinds of insights, which leads you to new areas of study, which leads you to new areas of work, which leads you to new insights...etc etc.

So there's a huge cycle of learning involved. You could end up reading the just the Book of Thoth over and over again once every 6 months for 15 years, and IF you've actually been studying and practicing magick, then EACH time you read it, the book seems to be totally different than the last; like it's been re-written. Because magick has been busy re-writing you.

After the first two or three re-readings, where you figure out that's what's happening, that's where things start to get fucked up.

So yeah, if you want the availability of magical power to reflect real life, make it super-easy to get the information, but very difficult to be able to actually turn it into something useful. The difficulty to obtain the book is low, the study time it takes to master it is high; and brings risks of your giving up, lying to yourself that you get it, becoming obsessed, or starting to have weird reality-questioning shit happen.

Finally (for today) a note on "magical orders": if they don't contain the secrets, what the fuck are they good for?
The biting answer? Mostly nothing. For the most part, again, 90% of "magical orders", "lodges", "secret temples", "working groups", "covens", "rosicrucians", etc. are just places full of Occult Wankers where they can get together and show off their wankery to each other. The one conceivable benefit is that you might find one or two other frustrated newbies who want to get something real out of it, and just haven't figured out yet that this is not the place to get it. 
If you want your "magical order" to seem authentic, it needs to be full of seriously marginal people, who can't hold good day jobs, claiming to be wizards of grand power. It needs to have endless internal power struggles over who gets to be the "master of the circle" and in bigger societies who gets to be the "outer head of the order ad vitam". There's HUGE levels of megalomania involved here, and desperate power-mongering over nothing. Unlike freemasonry, which these "serious" occult wankers tend to mock, most magical orders are not democratic; that's because, in theory, the person who is most magically advanced should be the one in charge. But in practice, this works out to being an excuse for power-trips, because none of the guys involved are really all that advanced enough to warrant the pitfalls that come with having only one guy in charge forever. 
In any case, most "orders" of this sort don't teach magic at all, and those that do tend to do it poorly.

Seriously, I've found Freemasonry, which can only barely be called a "magical order", to be a much more valuable tool to occult practice than any of these OTOs or Golden Dawns or Rosicrucian Orders or Temples of Set, or any of the other supposedly "hardcore" groups that make so much fun of freemasonry for "not getting it". Not only do Freemasons tend to get it better than most pretentious occultists do, but they have actual stability, which is really one of the hardest things to keep and most important things to have, if you're going to study the occult. Masons are people who can hold down regular jobs and have families and social lives, and work in lodges that in many cases have been around and meeting regularly for 150 years or more; neither of those are true for most members of the "serious" orders; where the people involved have allowed their obsession with the occult to destabilize their regular lives (or, in some cases, have failed to be able to use the occult to bring stability into their already fucked-up lives), and where powermongers and megalomaniacs and the lack of a large network of infrastructure means that the order itself is chronically unstable.

If you think I'm exaggerating about this, go and read about the history of the original Golden Dawn. Or read about Agape Lodge in California. Or take a look at the current problems and struggles of the various "OTO" groups of the past couple of decades.

There is of course that 10% of orders that are of some good. Usually, these are very small groups, where the emphasis is on individual teachers and individual students working together. There will be little importance placed on fancy titles and ranks, and a lot placed on daily work; and the group will tend to be private but not exclusive (the opposite of the shit groups, which tend to be very public (trying to show off to everyone), but elitist (trying to make out that they have special powerful secrets no one else has, and that not just anyone can join)).
Even in the case of these good groups, except in those rare cases where they're being led by someone who's really attained some serious illumination, the most they are useful for is to have members keeping tabs on each other, keeping each other honest. They will focus on sincerity and experimentation, and on trying to have good discipline in the work. So mostly, you'd join a magical order for the same reason you'd join a pilates class rather than just do pilates by yourself out at home; in the hopes that it'll help you to keep up the hard part of the work and give you some structure, plus the occasional tip. Only in this case, half the time, you end up having your class-mates either want to have sex with you or rob you blind, half of the members can't hold a job because they can't ever actually talk about anything other than pilates, and the three guys who took some other class once before are beating the shit out of each other over who gets to be "Supreme Master of the Pilates Class For All Eternity". 

Welcome to the wonderful world of the occult.


(Originally Posted July 29, 2011)

Thursday 20 September 2018

Psychotic Stalinist Prude David Black Stalking Venger on Facebook

I've got a very busy weekend coming up (high-level Masonry stuff) so I'm going to direct you all to go check out Venger's blog.  He's got some interesting screencaps there...

David Black, a mostly uninteresting mentally ill individual who thinks he writes OSR games (he actually wrote a garbage-tier game of 5e For Mental Defectives and called it the black hack), has been stalking Venger on Facebook and is now trying to drum up a harassment campaign against him and his games.

The reason? Hillary-voting wuss-leftist Venger is apparently a "Nazi" now, and keep in mind Stalinist Piece of Shit David Black has previously advocated violence against people who he thinks are "Nazis" (which is EVERYONE who isn't a Stalinist like himself) so by default, this pussy is calling for violence against Venger.  So he sees Nazis everywhere, but the reason why he thinks Venger is a "Nazi"? Venger has sexual content in his games. And of course those Nazis were famous for how sexually libertine they were.

Go check out the rest of the story at Venger's blog, and remember: if you don't believe in Stalinism, don't financially support people who despise you, don't buy David Black's unbelievably shitty half-written RPG products.

Quit buying games from people who hate you.


Currently Smoking: Blatter Diplomat  + C&D's Delta Days