Showing posts with label community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Blog Ahead October Challenge 2019

I have not done a Blogfest/Challenge like this in a while.  Sure there was RPGaDAY back in August, but this is a purely Blogging challenge.

Anna over at Herding Cats & Burning Soup is hosting her annual Blog Ahead October Challenge.

The idea is to stack up some pre-written posts and get them ready to go for October.  The goal, of course, is to give me more time to put into future posts.  So am I not worrying about what to post on each day.  The posts will feel less like a driveby and hopefully be more engaging.

At least that is my goal.  I am going to be doing the October Horror Movie Challenge as well and those I like to write as soon as I can while the movie is still fresh in my mind.

Right now I have about 20 posts queued up, ready to go.  I am supposed to add 31 to that (for daily blogging) and end up with 51 posts for October.  Ok.  Let's see if I can make that!

You can see who else is participating and join your self if you like.
SIGN UP-- Blog Ahead October Challenge 2019







I am looking forward to it and hope I see some new readers.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What Everyone* Is Getting Wrong about "Consent in Gaming"

This past week Monte Cook Games released their Consent in Gaming free PDF.
And...as expected there is a lot of whining and complaining from the expected crowd.  Lots. Like somehow this is a personal affront to them.

Now I say Everyone* up there, but really most comments I have read get what this guide is trying to do and be.  So the vast majority get it.  I have tried to spend the last week or so reading everything I can that has been posted online.  I certainly have not read everything, but I am pretty happy with the sampling I have read.

AND nothing in this is new. I talked about social contracts back in 2015. They have been going on for longer than that.  This is just one type of codified social contract / social agreement.

On Wikipedia, we have something called "Assume Good Faith."   The same needs to be used when using this.  Assume the player on the other side of the table is presenting their concerns in good faith.  If something bothers them then it bothers them. 

At the risk of these being straw-man arguments, I do want to address the most common types of comments I have seen online (FB, Twitter, YouTube).  By lumping them together I do make my own error of over-generalization, but I have already spent a lot of time on this post (I started it last week) and more time and text will not make my points any clearer.

But I am Only Gaming With People I Really know.
Great!.  Guess what, you probably don't need this. You likely don't.  You have self-selected yourself out.   Don't worry about downloading it.

But what about...
Whataboutism is a weak argument all the time. 
Sure ANY rule in ANY book from ANY game can have a "What about..." This is not a reasonable argument.  Sure though maybe some hypothetical reasons could come up, but isn't that what this document is supposed to help with? 

But...
I have SO many reasons why people will use this to "fuck with a game" but guess what? That can happen with ANYTHING.  Your ability to pull a hypothetical situation out of your ass is not an argument against this.

Ok. But What About *MY* Fun?
Again, if you can't give an example without starting it with "What About" don't even try.
Also, why is YOUR fun greater than everyone's total fun? OR what is your fun greater than someone else's personal pain?

This is SJW Virtue Signalling!
Since when does not being an asshole mean you are an SJW? Besides calling someone an SJW and expecting it somehow mean an insult is signaling to your own in-crowd and like-minded people.

This is some sort of Millenial Bullshit!
The authors, Sean K. Reynolds and Shanna Germaine, are in their mid to late 40s.  Monte Cook, of Monte Cook games who publishes this, is also in his mid to late 40s.   All have several decades of game design and development with some of the biggest publishers in the world and the awards to match.  They are all solidly Generation-X.

This is Censorship!
Far from it. This actually frees you to do the things you and your players agree with.

But What About Horror movies/TV Shows?
Yeah, and those things have warnings and people self-select themselves out of them.  I love horror movies, my wife hates them. I don't take her to see them no matter how much we love each other. Nor do I expose her to them without warning her. She doesn't "stop the movie" because she scared, she just doesn't go. 
This document helps people make those choices.

What the %@&! are "Sensitivity Readers"?
I took that as basically "Educational Consultants." Both seem qualified to that. Darcy Ross is getting her (or has) Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (something I don't see on the CVs of the critics) and I don't know much about Jessica Meier save that she works in RPGS and has a black belt in taekwondo. 

It's *My* Game.
No. It isn't. It stopped being *your* game the second other people sat at the table.  If you want a situation where characters go through your made-up world with no agency consider becoming a novelist instead.

This is Maoist/Communist/Socialist!
Hmm. So I guess these people never actually studied those things in school.

We have always handled this on our own.
Great. If your track record is objectively, rather than subjectively, good.  If not then this is just another tool to help.

But Psychological Studies Say...
Ah, more whataboutism.   Ok I have read those studies. I have WRITTEN those studies. They are good, BUT please keep in mind WHO were the subjects back then.  Those subjects would not be the ones this document is aimed at. 

That Form
So the fuck what?  I recall starting a game back in college in the late 80s where I went over the potential issues in the game (AD&D Ravenloft) that included murder, the threat of sexual violence and implied child murder (I mean where do you think I used my Utburds?).  You know what people had the most issue with? The child murders of course.


I am reminded of one of my more intense and adult WitchCraft RPG games, my Vacation in Vancouver game. This game dealt with themes of sex, bdsm, sexual slavery, actual fucking evil (demons) and death.  Would this document have helped this game?  Maybe.  I can say this with 100% certainty; this Consent in Gaming document would not have had much change to my game.  We all had talked beforehand about what was and what was not allowed in the game.  I was pretty upfront about the content and the people signing on agreed to this.  There were some intense moments AND at the time I was coming off a long bout of very deep depression, so lots of things bothered me then.
There were things the players did not want.  For example one wanted more BDSM, another player though had issues with this due to her personal history.  Oh she was fine with other violence, but not this.  What did I do?  Did  I kick the player out?

No. Because I am a fucking adult. I worked around it.

I had to get MORE creative, not less creative.
There were a couple times when the game was paused when things got fairly intense.  We then went back to figure out where to take it next.  Well, that was EASY REALLY.  We moved the timeline a few hours ahead past the situation.  That worked FOR US. The same thing may or may or not have worked for other groups.  That is where this document would have worked in those groups. 

Don't tell me it will damage games.  Maybe it will damage YOUR game.  Maybe YOU need to become more creative.


When my kids run games in my house my wife and I cook for them. (yeah full diners each session)
We DON'T make anything with peanuts in it.  Why?  One of the players has a peanut allergy, a pretty bad one.  Do we tell them (that is their pronoun, go suck it if you don't like it) "sorry, you will have nothing to eat for the next four hours!" or "you self-selected into this game now eat the peanut chicken or you can leave!"

No. Because we are not dicks.  We make something else. We do something else.

This is the same thing. Why is that so hard to get?


So here is a bit of advice to the crowd that is so quick to dish out the exact same advice.
If you don't like it or don't want to use it, then don't.
It's really that damn simple.  I have never seen sadly I have seen way too much immature overreacting about this.

It's not going to retroactively change your games. It won't do a damn thing to the 40+-year-old game you run with your buddies.  Nothing.

So be the intelligent player/gamer you say you are.  If you don't want this, then don't use it.

But those that want to use should have access to it. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Favorite Basic Clone? You Tell Me!

I ran this poll over on Facebook, but I wanted to collect some more responses.  Since this is my year of "Back to Basic" I wanted to hear about what you are all playing and enjoying.


So please, answer the survey below and let me know.  This is 100% anonymous and I am not tracking anything but the choices you make.


I believe I have the top choices here, but there is also an "Other".
Note: I am considering Swords & Wizardry its own thing for the purposes of this survey.

Friday, August 30, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Connection

Today's topic is Connection.

While in games this is an easy thing to do, in the online-related world of selling games it is a bit harder.



One of the big reasons I wanted to do this #RPGaDay was the potential of connecting with others.  To see what sort of cool things we are all doing and share it that.  Like my post yesterday I mentioned I enjoy a lot of games. I also enjoy talking to people that make games.  All sorts of games really.

Ultimately I want more people to see my games and me to see other people's games too.

Drop me a note if you discovered me through the #RPGaDAY2019.  I am very curious.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Door

Today's topic is Door.

There are a lot of doors in D&D.  Which reminds of that old saying and my response to it.


D&D taught me that closed doors are supposed to be kicked open.

I feel the same way about "Gatekeepers".  This is a topic that has been coming up a lot lately.

Some groups are claiming that other groups are gatekeeping and those groups are claiming they are not.  I can't speak to any groups really, save my own.

Take the lessons we all learned in D&D. If you see a door, or a gate, kick it the fuck open.

Or better yet, say fuck you to those groups and do your own thing.  Someone says you can't play their way, kick in the door and take their shit.


I don't normally call out groups but I do want to mention what is going on in my back yard.

So a while back there was this new movement started to counter what they thought were some of the more regressive elements of the OSR scene.  They called their movement #SwordDream and I personally think they have some interesting ideas.  I am not 100% sure what they are doing will last, but I don't know.  I can't say though I could name a product that has been made yet under the SwordDream banner, BUT that has more to do with mether

Should the OSR be worried? No. In fact, they should be thrilled this is happening.  Competition should bring out the best in everyone and if one group wants to do things one way and another wants to do another thing then we should all be happy right?

Well...there is that whole gatekeeping thing.  SwordDream has mostly been met with derision among some old school stomping grounds and outright hostility in others.  Yeah I know, I have read the posts.  These are also the same people that will claim NOT to gatekeep. 

See the problem is that gatekeeping is not just telling people they can't play it's also telling them their way of play is wrong.  Or thinking their way of wanting to do things is wrong, or lesser, or stupid, or whatever.

Is the OSR full of regressive types? Full? maybe not. Are there a bunch of old fucks that don't want people to sit at their table? Yeah there is.  Are there good people in the OSR too?  Of course! Lots really.  I kinda wish that the critics of the OSR would see those people too.

What are you the new young gamer supposed to do?  Kick in their door.  Or better yet tell them you don't want to sit with them anyway.

Kick in that door. Do your thing. Do you.

Monday, August 12, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Friendship

Today's topic is Friendship.

This is a rather easy topic, to be honest, and a story I feel will be repeated many times today.

Some of my earliest and longest friendships have been around gaming.  Some of my current good friends I have met through gaming.



I met my first AD&D DM, outside of my brother and I, in my 7th grade band class.  We both played saxophones.  We are still friends and I just bought his son a whole collection of 1st AD&D books.

I met my high school DM via our Theatre classes and working on the student newspaper.  We are still friends.

I met the guy who runs games for me and my oldest son sometimes through the same daycare our kids were in.  He recognized my name from my work at Eden Studios.  We are still good friends and our oldest boys are really great friends.

I have a bunch of friends I have met online that I like to see at Gen Con too.

It's funny that a game labeled as "anti-social" back it's golden age requires so much interaction with other people.

This is also a good time to remember the tale of Carlos the Dwarf.


Friday, May 31, 2019

New Feature: The Other Side Rewind

Tomorrow, June 1st starts a new feature for the Other Side.
Note I say "for" and not "at".

The new feature is The Other Side Rewind.
If you come here to read my blog or via an RSS reader then you will not notice any differences or anything new.

If you engage with me over at Facebook or Twitter then you will see a lot more.
On my Facebook and Twitter pages, I will be reposting some of my posts from the early days of this blog.  I have gained a lot of followers on both platforms in recent years and wanted to share some of the posts from the past with them.

It should be fun to see what sort of responses a different audience might get on some of my older posts.

So join the conversation over on Facebook or Twitter.  If you don't follow me in either place yet now is a great time!

Facebook, The Other Side Group: https://www.facebook.com/OtherSideblog/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/timsbrannan
and for fun, MeWe: https://mewe.com/group/5c598927dc9a663c488557e9

Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 30

Day 30: If you were in charge of the TTRPG Industry what would you change?

Ok.

First off I think it is a misconception that there is a single RPG industry.  There are many.  The OSR crowd doesn't follow the Storygamers.  The DIY and Indie gamers try to avoid the big publishers and everyone is off doing their own thing.

This doesn't even take in consideration the related markets and products like Actual Play podcast/videos or even something as simple as selling dice.

I don't think I would change it, to be honest.

There are things I would like though.

More Market Data
Seriously how have we gone this long and not even know who we are selling too?  I know companies have their own, but a lot of it is still guesswork.

People Need to Be Better to Each Other
Look we are all here to have fun really.  So let people have fun.  Don't like their game? Fine. Don't play it.  But maybe you are missing out on something.  That guy over there is being a dick?  Ok, call him on it.  Find ways to get him to stop. 

Look not everyone is going to like everything and RPGs have boomed since 1974.  The average player...doesn't exist.  There are so many people in this hobby with so many different points of view.  I think this 30 Day Challenge has shown that.

I think I would like to have more Cons closer to me.  Yeah I know I am spoiled, but still, you asked and I answered.

I hope you all had as much fun as me with this!
Thank you Kira Magrann for getting this going.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monstrous Monday: The Elusive Nauga Beast!

I had something else planned for today, but better for next week.  This post was inspired by a post by Bruce Heard and frankly, it is silly enough to run with!

Nauga Beast
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice (HD): 7d8 (31 hp)
No. of Attacks: ram
Damage: 2d8
Special Attacks & Defenses: Fear
Move: 210’ (70’)
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: Fighter 8
Morale: 5
Treasure Type:  See Below
Alignment: Neutral
The extremely rare and extremely valued Nauga Beast is not one encountered often by adventurers but very sought after.  The nauga beast looks like an abdominal cross between a boar, dog, crow, and a large  cow.  Some sages believe that the same horrible experiments that gave us the owlbear spawned the nauga.   To call the nauga beast "ugly" is generous.  It is horrific.  Creatures below 2 HD have to make a Saving Throw vs. Paralysis or run away in fear.  Creatures with greater HD are still repulsed by this creature. 
Their only attack is their ability to run very fast and ram into creatures.  Typically though it will run away. 
There are very few nauga to be found in Known World.  They suffer from the dual problems of being "too ugly and too stupid to breed" according to celebrated Glantri naturalist sage Phygora.
So ugly in fact that the nauga is frightened of each other. Even it's own reflection will cause it to run away as per the cause fear spell.
The nauga has no natural predators or enemies. Indeed the meat of the nauga has been described by goblins, the only creatures known to have tried to eat one, as "rat floating in an open sewer for a week."  The beast would be happily ignored if not for its hide.  While unsuitable for armor, the hide is often used in other clothing or in covering.  It is flexible, waterproof and unlike leather seems to last forever.
The hide of a nauga beast will be worth anywhere from 300 to 800 gp in value (1d6+2), but requires an expert in dealing with the hide.

Friday, April 26, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 26

Day 26: Favorite Online Community

So many really. I love all my online communities.

I guess my greatest love is still blogs.  Best signal to noise ratio, best content on the games I enjoy and a chance to interact with other creators.

Facebook is still a great place to find a wide variety of opinions and games but that also means there is a large collection of "noise".

This is one I will really enjoy seeing what others are going to post.  I am always in the market for more places to learn about games.

Monday, April 22, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 22

Day 22: How are you working to improve the ttrpg community?

I hope I lead by example.

I would like to be the example that not all "old guys" are stuck in the 80s (although my wife would question my tastes in music) and we are not all a bunch of grumpy assholes.

I also try to call out bad behavior when I see it and correct my own when it happens.

My reach is not very far, but I am hoping that things like this will help.

I like to be an RPG evangelist.  Show everyone what is good about RPGs and the joy of sitting around the table with family and friends and rolling dice.

Monday, February 11, 2019

I am Going to Talk about Zak Today and Then Never Again

Yesterday Mandy Morbid, the former girlfriend of Zak Smith/Sabbath, and one of the members of his group of D&D players made famous by his blog and his show "I Hit it With My Axe" posted a letter to Zak on her facebook page.

You can, and should, read it here: https://www.facebook.com/amandapatricianagy/posts/10215845527064252

It's long but read the entire post. Come back here when you are done.

Back?  Good.
Or maybe not good. That is not a post that should make you feel good at all.

I want to say upfront I believe and support Mandy, Jennifer, and Hannah in this.
I wish them all nothing but the best and healing. They deserve that and more.

Now I have defended Zak in the past. I have lauded his works here and on social media.

Well, now I condemning him for his abusive behavior and his violations, both physical and mental in terms of trust.

I apologize to you all, my readers who take the words I put down here and trust that I have vetted and verified them all.  I try, but in this, I failed.

Mostly I want to apologize to Mandy herself for giving support to someone that used that support as a means of coercion or control. Had it not been for people like me giving him vocal support he likely could not have done the things he did for as long as he did.

Don't expect to see any more support for Zak here.  I only wish I had seen all of this sooner and done more. I won't mention him here on these pages after this post.

We need to do better as a community. So I am starting with me.

Edited to Add: Satine Phoenix, who was/is friends with both Zak and Mandy has posted this.
Edited to Add 2: Vivka Grey has also added her experiences and how they confirm Mandy's side of the story.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Alas, Google+

Sort of a non-RPG post today.  But like a thief in the night, Google took away all of the Google+ Blogger integration.

If you are getting ready to post something today you will be greeted with this message:


The Learn more link takes you to their page explaining it in detail.

Gone are badges, the Google +1 buttons, and circle widgets.





Also gone, and this is a much bigger issue, are all the comments people made IF you moved over to the Google+ comment system.

I didn't here, but I did for my atheism blog, The Freedom of  Nonbelief.  So all of those comments are gone.  I know others did as well and had many, many more comments than I had there.

Of course, this is just the start of the end for Google+.  This along with the URL shortener Goo.gl are going away and it will have an impact on many of us in the Blogger community and the OSR community.

To the right I have a script that displays different books I have done.  The script is affectionately called "GoRando.js" but it uses the Goo.gl url shortener to work.  So I need to fix that right away.

We also have a ton on communities in Google+.
For me it means closing down my own Victorian Gamers Association: Role-playing in the Age of Victoria group and moving back over to the Facebook version.

I hope the communities on G+ do find new homes, but there will be an inventible splintering.   I have heard a lot of people saying they "won't do Facebook" and that is fine, but my communities and groups are there, so to pick up and try to build a new one elsewhere would take a lot of work.

If you are a fan of this site then I also suggest you check out my Facebook page for it. https://www.facebook.com/OtherSideblog/

I also created a MeWe group for this blog and my books.
https://mewe.com/group/5c598927dc9a663c488557e9

Where ever we all go, hope to stay in contact.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

10 Years (sorta) of The Other Side!

It's December and I am celebrating 10 years here at the Other Side.

Willow & Tara join the Justice League Dark by Jacob Blackmon
Sort of...

My first post called intelligently enough First Post, was made on April 27, 2007. But I didn't do much with my blog at all in 2007.   My next real post of substance was not till December 23, 2008.  In that post, I talked about some projects I was working on at the time.
Project #1 never came to pass, the IP owners pulled out.  BUT I am happy to say that the adventure I wrote for it then is now in the hands of a new editor and I hope to say something more about that soon.   Project #2 of became Eldritch Witchery.   Since that time I have gotten 25 or so books out and appeared in a few others.

In any case, I figure December should be the 10 year anniversary of this blog.  It has been a crazy ten years too.  Yesterday was my 10 year anniversary on Facebook too, so I hit Social Media big in 2008.

This blog started out as an extension of my then website, also called The Other Side.  But the site got hacked so many times I dropped it.  I was growing tired of Message Boards where I could talk about Game A, but not Game B or I could talk about Games A and B but not Topic X.  I wanted more freedom to talk about the games I loved and the topics I cared about.  That site and this blog gave me that freedom.

What has the Other Side seen in 10 years?  Well as of right now, I have had 3,744,607 visitors which averages out to about 1,024 hits/visits a day.  I have made 3,848 posts and only 663 have overtly been about witches.

I have spilled a lot of digital ink (electrons? photons? photons) on witches, vampires, witches, Willow & Tara, Zatanna, the OSR, superheroes, my favorite games, witches, games I have written, sometimes about my hardcore left-leaning liberal politics, witches and games I played with my kids.

With this blog, I have participated in blogathons, blog carnivals, and blogfests.   Reading challenges, post-a-day challenges and theme posts.  I have seen a lot of great blogs come and go and a lot of my contemporaries still posting right along beside me.  I have made some good friends and some people I love to work with.

To memorialize this anniversary Jacob Blackmon (my first Featured Artist) created what might be the ultimate "Other Side" image:  Willow and Tara being welcomed into the Justice League Dark by Constantine and Zatanna.   Pretty much captures everything this blog has done in 10 years!

What next?  More Featured Artists, more Black Star, the return of This Old Dragon and One Man's God (OMG).  I hope to bring even more.  So let's get on that next 10 years, shall we?

Thanks, everyone!  You are what makes posting here worthwhile and I hope to keep being a place you can come too for your RPG and pop culture entertainment.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Swords & Wizardry

It has been a GREAT time on TV for witches!  We have Charmed, another Vampire Diaries spin-off, Constantine has joined the Legends of Tomorrow and we got a Salem episode Monday night.

The big star of this Halloween season is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina


Anyone expecting the old ABC Sabrina the Teenage Witch is going to be in for a surprise. This is an honest-to-Satan hit and sometimes creepy as hell.  The cast is amazing with stand out performances by Kiernan Brenna Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, Lucy Davis ("Etta Candy" from WW) as Hilda Spellman, Miranda Otto (Éowyn) as Zelda Spellman and the true, true treat Michelle Gomez as Mary Wardwell / Madam Satan.  We also get Richard Coyle as Father Faustus Blackwood who is better known (by me anyway) as Jeff from Coupling and the originator of the Giggle Loop.

You can read more about the show over at Tim Knight's fantastic blog, Hero Press.

Going into this show with the Melissa Joan Hart series and the classic comic in mind I thought she would make a perfect Swords & Wizardry White Witch.  But...well I won't spoil the show for you, but Sabrina as a White Witch...well it doesn't really fit. 

This is, however, a great chance for me to bring up a topic.  How can I use a Basic Witch with a Swords & Wizardry Witch?

Say my player, let's call her Kiernan (she's a cousin on her mother's side)  REALLY wants to play a  Diabolic Witch from my Witch book, but I am running a Swords & Wizardry White Box game.

The answer is simple, use all the rules and tables from the White Box and the Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box, but grab the Diabolic tradition from the Basic book.  I have made all the of Experience tables the same and the witches all get Occult Powers at the same levels.  I will also grab some spells from both books to flesh her out more.  Now Kiernan is happy playing the character she wants and I am running the same I want.

Halloween is Sabrina's 16th birthday.  She has not had formal witch training but has had extensive training by her aunts at home.  We see cast glamour, remove curse (or dispel magic) and maybe Vanquish.  But I am going to say she is still pretty low level.  1 or 2 tops.

Sabrina Spellman

2nd level Human Female Witch,
Malefic Witch Tradition (using White Witch rules)

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 15 (+1)
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 17 (+2)

HP: 8
Alignment: Neutral (Good Tendencies)
AC: 9 [10]
Saves Base: 14

Occult Powers
Familiar: Salem (Cat)

Spells 
Cantrips: (5) Arcane Mark, Black Flame, Call Bats, Toads, or Spiders, Ghost Sounds, Summon a Witch (Ritual)
First: (2) Glamour (from Basic Witch), Mind Obscure (as a Ritual)

So mixing these works well.  I had to fudge a bit to get the Mind Obscure spell.  But I figure that was a ritual she learned from her aunts to protect herself.

Happy Halloween!
You can also check out Justin Isaac's version of Sabrina for Dark Places and Demogorgons on his site, https://punverse.blogspot.com/2018/10/chilling-adventures-of-sabrina.html
And my Unisystem version for modern times and an older Sabrina at Sabrina, the Middle-Aged Witch.
Thanks again to Tim Knight at Hero Press for sharing the word.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Save Versus All Wands: Witches in Early D&D

+Oakes Spalding has a great post over on his blog about Witches.
Save Versus All Wands: Witches in Early D&D


It is worth checking out and is the kind of analysis I do on my own but should really post more often because it is interesting. 

The post, like most of what Oakes does, is OD&D focused. So don't expect a lot about Dragon #43 or Dragon #114.

Still it's a good analysis and post and I enjoyed it.

This comes from his research while working on SEVEN VOYAGES of ZYLARTHEN.
The game is a "cleaned up" version of OD&D or a clone.
You could use his witch along with my own Swords & Wizardry witches in particular my "White Box" witches and ones directly influenced by OD&D such as Eldritch Witchery.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year! Tell What You Have/Do/Make!

So I started this posting on Facebook today and it is really taking off.



So I want to continue it here.

I know so many wickedly talented and smart people. A lot of them read this blog.

So in the comments below and/or on Google+ please share what you are doing, making, selling or otherwise want people to know about. Share.  When I get back from my meetings today I'll also share some, but don't wait on me. Toot your own horn!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Much Maligned"? I don't think so.

So I got this email from RPG.Net the other day and there is a section near the bottom.
Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition has been much maligned in RPG circles (including by yr. humble editor, to be fair), but the game does have its undeniable good points. For some positive discussion of the latest edition of the grandaddy of RPGs, check out "Why 5e Is Good."
Much Maligned?  By who? Where?

RPG.net is blocked at work, so I can't get into the thread itself.
I know there is a certain segment of the RPG population who disliked D&D5 based on (what it seems to me) the involvement of +Kasimir Urbanski (RPGPundit) and +Zak Sabbath and wished it would fail.  Well, that never happened and now almost 2 more years in I notice some of those (vocal) one are now playing 5e.


Then there are also these articles.  Not exhaustive, or even 100% representative but they do make a point.   Read them, but for the purposes of this illustration, the titles will suffice.


I could go on but hardly needed.

No I think this is much, much more a reflection of the point of view of the editor of this newsletter, "Iustum". (I admittedly have no idea who that is.) Also trying to push a particular narrative.

RPG.net lately has been more a place of cliques and overly draconian rules on what can and cannot be posted.  Granted that is their right. They pay the bills they can say what they want there and control what others say.  But that doesn't really make it true.  

Sorry RPG.net. but D&D5 is not much maligned. Not even by die hard Grognards.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What are RPGs Worth?

Been a lot of talk about this on the old internet lately.

http://www.enworld.org/forum/content.php?3410-Why-We-Need-To-Pay-What-Games-Are-Worth-Not-What-We-Think-They-Should-Cost#.VzH7TnErKVM
http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2016/05/what-are-games-worth-follow-up-to-chris.html
https://plus.google.com/+GregChristopher /posts/4ScbaXYPFnv
http://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2016/05/whats-it-worth-to-ya.html (edited to add)
http://therpgpundit.blogspot.com/2016/05/incompetent-game-writers-demanding-we.html

Some advocating more expensive books and/or better pay for the work they do.  Others saying let the market decide what something needs to be charged and/or paid.

I guess to me the issue is really what is an RPG worth to me.

I am very fortunate. I get to write RPGs, the stuff I want and I get to be choosy about it.  I have a day job that I am really good at and pays me well.  I can afford to buy the things I want and even get the occasional luxury item.  So my personal calculus for what I will pay is different than yours or someone doing much better than me.

The questions are "What should RPGs cost?" and "What are RPGs worth?".  The logical extension of these questions are what should a professional game designer be paid?

These are two VERY different questions.

Let's look at the breakdown of price (money), cost (money and time among other things) and value or worth.

I bought the AD&D 1st edition hardcovers back in the 1980s.  Money was tight for me then. Even a $15 or $20 book represented a significant number of hours of me working at the time.  So their value started out as higher than their price might indicate.  The worth of those books to me is incalculable. Not just the time I spent with friends playing, or reading them over and over, but the things I do now with my own kids.

I bought the 3rd Edition hardcovers when they first came out.  I keep the receipts as bookmarks so I know when I got them and how much I paid;  9/11/2000 (interesting date) and I spent $18.00 plus tax (in Cook County Ill that is about 9%).  These books cost far more to produce. The cost was a bout the same to me, but the amount of work this total represented 20 years later to buy them was far less.  Also, their worth to me is still great since this was the system I taught my kids how to play.

So value and worth is not something I can easily quantify.  Does Skip Williams deserve to be paid more or less than Gary Gygax did?

I have had the pleasure to work on some truly wonderful games.  I spent hundreds of hours doing research for Ghosts of Albion. Not just on the primary material, but on the Victorian time, names, economics, how long it took to load a gun, world leaders, countries, disputes. Hell I spent an entire day doing nothing but looking up the most popular names of 1838 and 1839!  Should it have been more expensive to make than say Army of Darkness? A game with the same rule system?

I am going to say no.

Why?  Well lots of reasons really. Army of Darkness, the movie, is more popular than the Ghosts of Albion books. There is a certain gamer-cool vibe to Army of Darkness too.  Plus Victorian games, as popular as they are, are still a small niche inside the RPG community.
I spent that time in research because it was what I chose to do. I wanted to give you a better game.  I wanted to give you the best Victorian game I make and the best Cinematic Unisystem game I could make.  In both cases I feel like I did my best.  Hey it's 8+ years since publication and I still get people telling me how much they love Ghosts.

To someone else the value of Ghosts vs. Army is the same.  The cost certainly is for the consumer.  I am privy to many of the behind the scenes costs for both books, so I am not going to get into the issue of which one was more expensive to make.

I also spent hundreds of hours working on The Witch. The typing, the layout and the research alone goes back decades. I also bought a bunch of art for it and bought advertising on my own dime. I sell it for $5.00.  I bet I could have charged $10, but 5 felt better to me.  If I were to be paid let's say minimum wage on the work I did, well...I'd likely never see that money based on sales alone.

But that is not why I do it.

There is a quote that is often attributed to Kevin Siembieda's ex-wife Maryann, "If you want to make a small fortune in the gaming industry you need to start with a large fortune and work your way down."

There is a sad truth in that.

I am not saying we couldn't or even shouldn't pay game designers more.
But they will be paid what the market allows for.

There is a price that a book will sell at, but my knowledge of micro- and macro-economics is not MBA level so I have no idea what that is.  We have thousands of games, hundreds of professional and amateur designers out there, and unfettered access to all.  This new golden age of access to RPGs has a price.

We just don't know what that price should be.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Witch Game

Jonathan Becker of the excellent B/X Blackrazor posted this to my Class Struggles post yesterday:

Have you considered (or run) a game where witches simply replaced magic-users?

Reading this post and your earlier ones, I'm struck by the idea that the "witch" (which I've written several times myself) may need to be something setting-specific, rather than an archetypal class. So much of the witch...and version (folkloric, historical, literary)...is intimately tied to its particular setting, mainly with regard to culture. Sure, they do magic...but that magic varies from source to source (I know you're an expert on the subject, so you can draw references from tons of sources). Real witchcraft is extremely personal to its practitioners, and in a way that parallels the media depiction of witches: each filmmaker or TV producer or book writer has their own personal interpretation of the abilities of a witch. There's a shit-ton of differences between Bewitched and the film Warlock and those Harry Potter books...and a galaxy of difference between any of those and Baba Yaga!

The real defining thing about witches is their (sub)culture, not their powers. They are outsiders from normal society. They are close-knit (have shared ties) with each other. They're feared and often persecuted (or shunned if too powerful...see Baba Yaga). Even so, they can be helpful to non-witches. They seem to have an appreciation for the natural world, especially animals and plants. Their "natural world" also includes forces that mundane folks see as "supernatural" (whether you're talking about spirits, sympathetic magic, or whatever).

The default setting of most editions of D&D don't really leave room for this culture of the witch. People don't shun and persecute magic-users. Magic-users are prone to secrecy and isolation in order both to guard their power and to prevent every Tom, Dick, and Jenny from banging on their door asking for help with some quest or village plight. The evil ones go crazy and live in dungeons and command legions of orcs and monsters. The helpful ones are out on adventures, fattening their purses, getting in knife fights, and acting as magical artillery. I don't know...for me, there's just nothing "witchy" there (culturally speaking).

To really do witches, you need a specific campaign setting that works with their culture. After that, most any spells or abilities will work (and there's plenty of inspiration to draw from). But without the right setting? I don't see a real place for witches in the D&D game.

Jonathan knows his stuff. He also did a very excellent witch in his Complete B/X Adventurer. He makes a lot of excellent points.

Let me dive in, in detail.
>>Have you considered (or run) a game where witches simply replaced magic-users?

I am currently in one now and have played some in the past. In general the witch is less powerful than a same-level wizard, but has some advantages the wizard doesn't have, such as healing.

>>There's a shit-ton of differences between Bewitched and the film Warlock and those Harry Potter books...and a galaxy of difference between any of those and Baba Yaga!

Oh yes. That is part of the problem, and part of the fun.  I  could find some similar differences in say a thief. Like Robin Hood vs. The Grey Mouser vs. The Stainless Steel Rat and others.  D&D only models a particular type of reality.  I have often said I'd kill to do a Harry Potter game, but damn if I know how I would build Hogwarts in D&D yet.

>>The real defining thing about witches is their (sub)culture, not their powers. They are outsiders from normal society.

There is a ton of good in these two sentences. It also concurs with things I have said in the past, repeating what Tom Moldvay has also said.   One thing to consider is that one man's cleric is another man's cultist.  So often a "witch" really could just be a wizard, cleric or some off-the-wall druid.
It really does give weight to the idea of a "magic-user" class.

>>I don't know...for me, there's just nothing "witchy" there (culturally speaking).

Which I think is why the witch has traditionally been an NPC class.

>>To really do witches, you need a specific campaign setting that works with their culture. After that, most any spells or abilities will work (and there's plenty of inspiration to draw from). But without the right setting? I don't see a real place for witches in the D&D game.

For me though I think this can be handled in right role-playing environment.
Pathfinder does a good job makeing their witch very different from their wizard.  D&D4 had a different take on their witch, but it was still fun.  In both cases there is a lot of "background" to help seperate them from the other spell casters.  I tried to do this with the Traditions.

I see your point that the differences between a witch and wizard are largely cosmetic (my words) or cultural (your words); but even the "wizard" as an archetype has a lot of variety. I mean is Hermoinie a D&D wizard or witch? She is called a "Witch" but her magic seems more "Wizard" to me.

Heck. In some ways your B/X Witch is more "witchy" than mine!

In any case I like that these points are made.  
I do like the idea of a specific campaign setting that supports a witch.  I suppose in many ways that is my "default" game setting.  But "my D&D" tends to have healthy doses of horror in it as well, so the witch, potentially a person that deals with these elements from beyond, is more of an outsider.

But you have given me some material to consider and I appreciate that.
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