The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Classic Rant: The Problem with “Collectors”

Over on theRPGsite, someone asked me why it was that I could have a problem with “collectors” when in fact I very obviously have a “collection” of literally hundreds of gaming books?

There’s a difference, however, between someone who has a lot of things and uses them, and a “Collector”; which any collector himself will tell you, accusing you of not being a “true” collector because you actually PLAY with your star wars figurines/read your comics/write in the margins of your RPG books/etc. rather than just keeping them wrapped in their original packaging.

Those sorts of collectors are morons. And they’re insidious because pretty soon companies cater to them; making stuff that’s never meant to be played with and only meant to be owned. And jacking up prices in the process, so that these aforesaid morons can live in the delusion that their “collection” is very “valuable” and a “good investment”. A "good investment", as if they were stock market geniuses or something; I love that.

Water Processing Technologies is a “good investment”. Your double-foil wrapped special edition collection of Incredible Man #1 (Volume 17, 12th printing)? Its the Fucking Nerd-equivalent of having bought a figurine of a pig in a princess outfit from the “national mint”, or like those people who buy Dale Earnhardt “collectible” commemorative coins that you then have the gall to make fun of because you imagine that you’re so much smarter than those rubes on account of your reading Star Trek novels.


(originally posted January 4, 2012; on the old blog)

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Wild West Update: Cattle Drive Season

So the PCs find that May of 1877 marks the start of the cattle drive that proves to be the largest cattle drive season to date in Dodge history. After a relatively quiet drive last year (due to fears related to the rampaging Sioux warriors under Crazy Horse) the good conditions this year (and the fact that Crazy Horse and his men have surrendered to the US Army) means that there is a shocking rise of activity in town.

According to the accounts, during the peak Cattle Drive years in Dodge City, you could look out into the plain and see nothing but a solid wall of cattle as far as the eye could see.

Of course, all those cattle means tons of cowhands, freshly paid and wanting to drink, whore, gamble and raise hell. Violence becomes endemic on the city streets.  This is also the year that Wyatt Earp solidifies his fame and reputation as a remarkably brave and effective (some would say brutal) lawman.

Sheriff Bassett is granted extraordinary powers to deal with the absolute chaos in Dodge, and so he declares one block north of Front Street to be the "Deadline". Any cowhand caught north of the deadline will be arrested, and no one is allowed to wear guns north of the line.  They also take up volunteers among the townsfolk to work in "citizens' committees" who will help to patrol the streets.

Violence is not the only problem in Dodge this spring, however.  Doc Baker discovers that there appears to be an outbreak of Typhoid Fever among the German townsfolk. Back then, this was seriously fatal business; one of many totally awful ways to die in the west.

When Kid Taylor, who has been apprenticing medicine under Doc, blurts out the discovery of Typhoid to the general public he causes a panic. Doc Baker manages to defuse it, but then the kid goes and starts it all up again by revealing that its being 'caused by Germans'. This leads Dog Kelly (the owner of the Alhambra saloon) to rile up a mob with the idea of driving the Germans out of town. Luckily, Sheriff Bassett and the PCs, along with Kelly's girlfriend (the famed actress Dora Hand) manage to convince Kelly's mob to stand down. The source of the Typhoid is eventually uncovered, and the crisis averted.

That's not all that happened, though!  While the cowhands were raising hell and every lawman was strained to the limit trying to keep the peace, the corrupt and obese town marshall Larry Deger ended up shooting an unarmed cowhand who he claimed was trying to rob a house.

The Oklahomans that had ridden the trail with the dead man are hungry for revenge, but Deger is protected by his badge and his political influence.  Deputy Young manages to at least broker a peace that he hopes will cost Deger something, by making Deger pay a compensation to the dead man's family. But Deger ends up cheating even that, by getting the local cattlemen's society to pay for him instead.

Finally, Miller (who at this time last year was working as a butcher for a cattle rustling gang) is trying to build up a career for himself as a respectable town magnate. He's bought a good amount of real estate, he's dating the highly respectable widow Mcknee, he's partnered with Jim Smith to open the Fort Bar, and he's planning to partner with the Mormon Gambler to open an hotel. But Buck, the head of the rustlers, wants Miller to come back and butcher for him.  Miller has to go find a substitute, and he finally settles on recommending them a Texan he found. It looks like he's out of the frying pan, but then he throws himself into the first by suggesting that sometime soon he might open his own butcher shop, and of course Buck decides he'll want to partner up with Miller to use the Butcher shop to 'launder' his rustled meat. It looks like Miller might never get out his life of crime.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Rhodesian + Image Latakia

Saturday, 27 August 2016

DCC Campaign: More From Backstage

So, today, I give you another transcript of backstage talk amongst my DCC group's ongoing discussion thread.  The comments are funny enough and the last post popular enough I decided to do this again. But this might be the last time, since I don't want my players to start hamming it up for the camera, as it were.


Chu: Eh, that is disputable.

Bill: I guess this sums up Akbasha and Bill's relation

Fishman: I wish they'd just get on with it and fuck.
No, wait, I'm not playing that character anymore.

Newbie: Hey guys, I have caught the flu so I won't likely show up next Sunday unless I get any better. So good luck with the minoswats

Chu: That is going to become a thing, They are minoswats now.
Eitherway. Get better soon.

Newbie: Thank you!

Bill: Noooooo!

Pundit: Well, better you don't get us sick. Just hope this is a real flu and not that you got scared off!

Newbie: Not at all. I did had a lot of fun with you guys, so I hope to be back next time!

Fishman: We'll try harder next time then.

Pundit: Ok, good!

Morris: Hey guys I'll be there a bit late today. Stay alive, please.

Chu: An old boatswine saying "If we kill them, they lose" so they are totally going to lose if we die.

Bill: ETA?

Morris: I thought that it would take me less time, now I need to stay. Sorry, I won't be able to go today. I wish I had been able to tell you before.


Pundit: Well, I hope you're happy. You murdered Ack'basha. Of course, Bill's pretty happy.

Ack'Basha/Ref: everytime you skip a session, an Ack'basha dies.

Fishman: A great evil has been defeated.
Unfortunately, it has given birth to a little evil.
Now, with Ack'basha's demise, we as a party, are we going to become more evil, or LESS?
I'd wish there'd be more of a change so we could find out.
I think there's an extra 'd in my last comment.

Ack'basha/Ref: the only way for the party to be less evil at this point, is a total party kill, and that's not something sure either.
specially with bill coming back.

Fishman: There's no TPK like a Bill TPK, because a Bill TPK is not complete unless Sezerkhan wishes so.

Pundit: "Little evil" is literal in this case, what with the halfling.


Bill: Looks like Akbasha.

Chu: Pictured: Akbasha about to commit holy genocide , Circa last Tuesday.

Ack'Basha/Ref: Surrounded by his hippies.

Bill: That looks about right.
Too bad you are missing the staff.

Fishman: Love the detail of the programs running on the tablet.

Morris: What the fuck I just missed?

Bill: About 30 xp and also Akbasha died.
A drunken Master.
A bland food taster.

Fishman: And the Tasmanian devil.

Bill: And a freak halfling.
Sure you don't want to call it Taz?
Primal Taz.
Anyways, now we are inside the tower.

Chu: That is what happens when you don't get your priorities straight.

Bill: Which are?

Chu: Getting 30 xp ; ^ )

Bill: Ha!
It's all the rogue's fault.

Fishman: ....what happened with those guys?

Chu: Something.

Bill: They probably fell through the darkness and are now arriving at the tower doorsteps.

Chu: They probably became underwear testing puppets (fate worse than death).

Bill: True.
That's a good way to teleport at our location.

Fishman: We should keep the slain minotaurs' underwear. They might prove useful as a way to locate either Chu, Bill or Sandy.

Bill: interesting. If Sandy is still alive, maybe she is also dispatching Minotaurs.

Ack'Basha/Ref: We need an enlarge spell to wear them.

Bill: Some of the new guys seem to have big balls.

Fishman: If you are talking about Ref, it's true. He cut them off a minotaur.

Chu: Or Bolto whenever he is.

Fishman: He's in a better place.
Which is, by definition, anywhere without us.

Chu: Pundit, your blog post needed more of my tactical crying.

Fishman: Get a hold of yourself, man!

So that's all for this session. Hope you enjoyed the ridiculous inter-session banter!


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Classic Series Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best

Friday, 26 August 2016

Pictures From Uruguay

Time for some more pictures from Uruguay!

So, all of these pics today are from the corner about a block from The Abbey (for any newcomers, that's the name of my current stately manor).

First off, the corner flower stall:

You see these type of flower stalls all over town, and of course, all the flowers are local from the region.

Next up, the building behind it on the first picture.  That's the Esmeralda:

The Esmeralda is a "Confiteria", a place that specializes in sandwiches, drinks, and especially pastries. The Esmeralda is one of the most famous in town. Its sandwiches are good, it's little pastries are amazing, and they have a lunch known as a 'picada' (a selection of little dishes with a variety of different cold and hot foods) that is just amazing.  For many years, they were also known as "the place with the black waiter". That sounds pretty awful, but I suppose several decades ago it was unheard of to have a black man working as a waiter in a fancy confiteria, and the Esmeralda was the first one to do so.  The waiter is still there. Nice guy.

Next up, the corner of the Esmeralda, and a street performer:

This guy has been juggling in this exact same corner, sometimes dressed up in a clown costume and sometimes not, for at least 13 years.  How do I know? See the blue building in the background to the right? That's the Midas Building, which was the first place I lived when I got to Uruguay. And this dude has been busking in that corner from way back then.

A note about this neighborhood, the Cordon (which I may have already said in this series, but I'll repeat it again): when I got here, this was the first neighborhood I lived in.  Back then, it was a very quiet place, with a population of mostly old people.  Everyone I ever mentioned my address to would tell me "oh, my grandma lives around there"! I was surrounded by grandmas.

After a few years, I moved away, to my second place, a penthouse in the Andes Building, downtown. I lived there for several years, but then finally decided to buy a place, and settled on The Abbey, back in the Cordon, less than two blocks from my old apartment. But I found that the neighborhood had changed dramatically!  Now it was full of 20- and 30-somethings, young mostly middle-class artsy types who wanted to be closer to the downtown core than their parents' places, and came over in droves to the the refurbished quirky old houses (like The Abbey).  They started opening up restaurants, clubs, second-hand stores, art and craft stores, bookstores, yoga studios, cafes, artisanal ice-creameries and more. Now it seems like there's a new business opening here every week, and while the Cordon still has its share of grannies, it's seeing more bearded hipsters on bicycles riding around its streets every day. It has become Montevideo's answer to Brooklyn.

Some of the old ladies complain about the noise around the bars at night, but I'm pretty damn pleased. It's become much closer to the type of neighborhoods I always liked to live in, and the trendiness has undoubtedly helped out the property value of The Abbey too.

So next up, notice those weird poles in the background of the last picture?

That's what the Commie city hall considers "art".  When I lived in the Midas building, that spot had a large signpost that featured an alternating digital-clock/thermometer, which was very convenient as I could look out my window and know the time, and especially, how hot or cold it was outside. But a few years ago City Hall decided that this wasn't "cultural" enough, so they tore that down and put up that bunch of metal rods that passes for "art". Fuck's sake.

Thank Christ for street art, which shows actual fucking creativity. If we had to depend on the marxists we'd be screwed.


Currently Smoking: Italian Redbark + Argento Latakia

Thursday, 25 August 2016

RPGPundit Reviews: Into the Demon Idol

This is a review of the system-neutral OSR adventure, "Into the Demon Idol"; written by Jobe Bittman, published by Bloody Hammer Games. The review is (as always for my review) of a print edition; in this case an 18-page staple-bound booklet. the cover is colour (albeit mostly shades of purple); the interior is black and white, with a few simple illustrations, and a two-page central map of the "Demon Idol", which as it happens is a dungeon within (and below) a giant statue.

The module also comes with a large bookmark, containing statblocks for the various creatures.  Being a system neutral game, the stats are provided for DCC, Labyrinth Lord, and Swords & Wizardry.  There's also a table for certain creatures to provide some slight variations of the monster encountered.  I like how it was provided as a separate aid, meaning that you can look at a given encounter location without having to flip back and forth along the pages to get to the 'monsters' section.

As usual with adventures, I'm going to avoid getting into too much detail here, since I don't want to be responsible for spoilers.  In brief, there's a premise, albeit one that the author makes clear that a GM could completely ignore if he wanted to.  Even so, I would say that if you do completely ignore this premise, it will turn the adventure into a very bog-standard dungeon crawl.

As to said premise, it's as follows: a borderland region is being threatened by a large army of lizardmen.  The PCs get wind of a ruined temple with the form of a grotesque demon statue which they think might have some magic items capable of helping to turn the tide of the lizardman invasion.

There's a small overland map, hex-style, for the PCs to travel across to get to the Demon Idol. I'll note I spotted an error in the map key: two of the names of the human forts were switched around. Luckily, this becomes evident when you read the descriptions of the various locales. Once they get there, the PCs will find that the temple has a number of dangers, and a secret which could (if the PCs are smart enough to figure it out) allow them to save the endangered human villages.

The adventure also features a potential side-trip to a labyrinthine outer-plane, and the end of the book features some very basic mass-combat rules in case the adventure veers into large-scale battles with the lizardman army.

So, overall, this adventure is short and you can't exactly expect something too epic from it. It's in many ways a standard type of D&D adventure (with a touch of nostalgia as the 'demon idol' is evocative of the D&D demon-statue that was found in the cover art of the AD&D books), and features a couple of neat little twists added in for good measure. I could certainly envision myself running it at some point. I don't imagine it will blow anyone's mind, but it's certainly not a bad choice if you're looking for something to run in any of the OSR games.


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

(note: at the time of writing I was unaware of this, otherwise I would probably have determined it doesn't fall under my rules for what I review, but apparently the only way to purchase Into the Demon Idol is by ordering it directly from the author, sending him an email with your address and $6. But well, what's done is done)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Limits on Aggression in Dark Albion

Someone had suggested to me, quite some time ago (but I never got around to writing on it until now), that this youtube video on the subject of aggression in the context of RPGs was of relevance to some of what I'd talked about how the culture in Dark Albion ought to be different than in regular D&D games and you can't just have people breaking out into open violence at every turn.

Now, I do appreciate getting the recommendation. But besides being too long, I really don't find this video very relevant to Albion.  Or indeed, to most medieval settings. There ARE consequences to violence in Albion, but its got nothing to do with "escalation".
It's got to do with propriety.

In Albion it's not about how violent you are, usually, it's about whether or not you're ALLOWED to be violent at someone.

In fact, if you have two knights and they have a dispute, it will NEVER be resolved in pushing and shoving. Fisticuffs and wrestling was completely beneath a knight or noble; it's what filthy peasants did. A dispute between two knights would go from "Arguing" right to either "Duel" or "Appeal to a Lord".

Peasants can punch the shit out of each other, but if one kills another it's bad, because it is not proper for them to kill another peasant.
A lord can kill a peasant, but not _someone else's peasant_ only his own. And even then, by the time of the Rose War, he already needs to be able to justify it a bit if questioned on it.

Peasants can NEVER appropriately punch a lord, and drawing a weapon on a lord is petit-treason.

So the issue isn't degree of violence, it's whether it's Socially Permitted or not.

The video link seems to be much more about modern sensibilities than medieval ones. I hope this blog entry points out just how different the medieval ones are, and that this is what you need be able to present IF you want to run Dark Albion in a way that is "medieval authentic".


Currently Smoking: Castello 4K Canadian + Image Latakia

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Classic Rant: Who Really Supports RPGs Being Fun?

One of the frequent claims some critics of old-school RPGs try to make about old-school is that it doesn’t believe in fun; that old-schoolers want gamers to spend most of the time not having fun, because the OSR doesn’t want people to just make 20th level Warlords with Vorpal Swords.

Now, the notion of having to earn your fun is indeed retarded. Its certainly something I would never do; if there was a game where you had to put in 20 or more sessions of utterly boring drudgery in order to get one session of kick-ass awesomeness, I wouldn’t want to play it or run it.

Fortunately, that’s not what old school is about. Its about recognizing that fun is the process of Making Yourself, not the actual destination.
If someone were to make a computer game where you were already in god-mode, had all the power-weapons, completed all the quests already, and could easily slay anything in the game, it would be derided as the worst shit ever produced. Much moreso a game where you created a character who had already defeated all the great evils, got to strut around for 40mins with a sign that says “look at what a badass I am” and then skip to the end-credits.
So why is it that a certain group of tabletop RPG gamers seem to think that this would be the best way to run your RPG campaign?

Of the two (the old-schoolers and the power-gamers) the old-schoolers are by far the ones who are more in support of games being fun; unfortunately some people (including some old-schoolers!) have framed the debate wrong to make it look otherwise. But its old-school play that recognizes that being a level 20 world-killer is not actually very fun for very long; that the part that’s worth playing is the long, sometimes hard, but hopefully always fun (for the player) effort of GETTING to that point.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia

(Originally posted December 16, 2012)