Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Open Letter to OSR & Storygamers

First off, this blog post is an open letter to both RPG communities - the OSR and Storygamers.  It's in response to the +Mark Diaz Truman post here.  And this is the (now closed) g+ comment stream that followed.

There are a number of things that jumped out at me.  The most important being that feuding between gaming communities is a waste of time and energy.

I'm an active and outspoken gamer within the OSR community.  Months ago, you might have heard about my sleazy sci-fi RPG Alpha Blue being pulled from OneBookShelf for about 48 hours.  I write, I publish, I play games, and chat with other gamers.  Regardless of your feelings about one or more individuals, I'm not your enemy... and I'm not the enemy.

To read that these two factions are at war seemed ridiculous to me.  I don't know, like, 90% of Storygamers (come to think of it... I probably only know about 75% of the OSR).  For the most part, I feel like the OSR sees the Storygame community as Canada.  We're vaguely aware that you exist, but we just never really think of you.  You guys are the good neighbors who don't cause us much grief, but on the other hand, you don't go out of your way to interact with us.  Has the US been secretly at war with Canada all these years?  I doubt it.  And if that's true, it's not a productive use of our energies.

Awhile back, I said something online publicly about +Erik Tenkar.  Then he said something about me.  It went back and forth a bit.  At some point during the exchange, Erik mentioned "getting his Irish up," or something to that effect.  I'm Irish.  My mother's maiden name is Murphy.  And I said nothing - at least, I don't recall saying anything.  Thankfully, we eventually got shit off our chests (proverbially, thank Dread Cthulhu), and now I consider him a friend.

I know both +Zak Sabbath and +Kasimir Urbanski (RPGpundit), but I can't speak for them.  Also, they are not in charge.  We don't have leaders or officials or badges of authenticity.  The OSR is filled with a lot of different personalities.  We're not all one thing or another.  I think all gamers are relatively eclectic, actually.  Our one commonality - we enjoy roleplaying games.

If you're going to communicate with the OSR, and I hope Storygamers will, there are some things I should mention.  Though, I personally consider myself progressive and liberal (most of the time), the following are words and phrases that won't mean much to us.  We don't use them.  At least, I can't remember the last time I've seen them used on an OSR blog, forum thread, g+ post, etc. (except for +Kiel Chenier)

  • People have been hurt by this or that - you can talk about your hurt feelings, but that's not going to garner much sympathy.  Life is a contact sport.  If you haven't been badly hurt physically, rub dirt into it and walk it off.
  • Harassment and abuse - similar to the above... if it's not bad enough that you've gotten the authorities involved, then chances are that it's more hurt feelings by people who strongly disagree with you on the internet.  Not worth crying about.
  • We're not being inclusive enough - I don't give a damn what color, gender, sexual preference, religion, or anything else you are.  If we have common interests, let's chat.  If we have a good chemistry, then hopefully we can be friends.  No one in the OSR feels bad because the guy writing his own Labyrinth Lord modules doesn't have enough ethnic diversity on his cover or collaborating on its design.  Focus on the work, what individuals bring to the table.  Don't whine about being this or that... or this or that isn't being represented as well as it should be.
  • Privilege and power - similar to inclusion, I'm not interested in reading words about how straight white males have it easy or that the powerless are cowering in a little dark corner.  Do something you're proud of that a few other people like, too, and then make use of it.  That's what it's all about.  The more power you have, the more your hands are tied.  So, sometimes the least powerful can become the most powerful.
  • Politics - we're not here to talk about Trump versus Hillary, Hillary versus Bernie, or the 2nd amendment versus pro-choice.  Sure, you can mention whatever you want, but don't expect gaming talk to follow suit.  That would be like combining oil and water and assuming it will mix well.
  • Lumping people into stereotypical groups - oh, well, those people have over there have beards (!) or frequent the Dragonsfoot forum, theRPGsite, Tenkar's Tavern, or the Story-Game boards.  So, that means those people are all like X, Y, and Z.  
  • Continually reminding us that we have a problem in the gaming community - the RPG hobby doesn't have a problem - certain individuals have problems (or are problems).  By and large, everything is fine.  Sure, some bad apples exist.  But constantly trying to shame large groups into behaving a certain way is only going to piss people off.  A gaming community is not the place to advocate for social justice or whatever cause you might have.
  • Playing certain RPGs causes brain damage - Fuck off!  That's all I'm going to say about that one.

Obviously, people from both communities have experienced things way before reading this blog post.  I propose we try to move past all that, turn the page, and start anew.  Let's open up a dialog.  But I'd rather not open up old wounds.  They won't heal by re-examining them.  This, here and now, is about moving forward.

If there's a problem, talk about it openly.  Not getting anywhere?  Maybe you need arbitration.  Tag people you know and trust if you are looking for clarification, reassurance, or witnesses.  Perhaps I can be one of those people.  I'm fairly reasonable and unbiased about a lot of things.  I have a lot of friends and tons of acquaintances, but I try not to play favorites.

Of course, first you'd have to get to know me.  Without that first step of communication, there will always be a wall between individuals and communities.  Personally, I could do without that wall because it prevents me from interacting with people I might enjoy getting to know and game with.

Finally, yes, there are ideological differences between the Old School Renaissance and Story Games.  Storygamers go towards the story, while the OSR lets the story come to us.

When it comes down to it, on a fundamental level, I don't really give a shit about that either.  We all love RPGs, and there's a variety of them for a reason.  If you like one type of gaming, that's not going to prevent me from talking with you, appreciating your work ethic, critiquing a piece of artwork, examining a rule/ruling, or even sitting down at a table together in order to try something new out.

Thanks for reading.  Feel free to comment below!

Venger As'Nas Satanis
High Priest of Kort'thalis Publishing

p.s.  I'm tagging a bunch of people who already responded to Mark's post so they'll see this and maybe a dialog will open:  +Sage LaTorra +Avonelle Wing +Jessica Hammer +Brendan S +Elizabeth Chaipraditkul +Fraser Simons +Michael McMullan +Hilary McNaughton +Dan Maruschak +Christian Griffen +Mark Delsing +Lukas Myhan +Nicole Winchester +Andy Hauge +Mick Bradley +Jason Pitre +Ramanan S +Renee Knipe +Angela Craft +James Smith +Jessica Price +Jeffry Crews

Friday, July 22, 2016

Xmas in July Sale!

Yep, DriveThruRPG / RPGnow is doing their annual summer sale.  25% off a lot of PDF titles - including all of mine.  Like something you see on the right sidebar (be sure to scroll down - I've been busy over the last 4 years)?  Click on it and be whisked away to awesome town!



Thursday, July 21, 2016

Draconic Magazine Article Roundup

This might be Draconic Magazine issue # 4.5555667 and 2/5ths or so, but it's here.

Now, that writing on Universal Exploits and Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11 is finished, I've had time to post a few more articles.

There's stuff for Alpha Blue, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and my interview with Zak Sabbath where he talks about Maze of the Blue Medusa.

Please check it out and keep coming back, y'all!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

From Renaissance to Resurgence

I'm sure you've seen them...

Articles like this talking about celebrities playing fantasy roleplaying games, watching people play on youtube, listening to gamers talk about multi-classing or whatever on podcasts, the popularity of D&D's 5th edition, a new D&D movie in the works, $200,000+ Kickstarter for Mutant Crawl Classics, how nerd/geek/dork stuff is actually cool (again), and there's even a Trump D&D twitter account.

[Update] I just learned about something called HarmonQuest.  Check it out!

Ever so slowly, RPG content like Maze of the Blue Medusa * is (hopefully) breaking through the cultural barriers so that random people who might pick up Entertainment Weekly or Juxtapose might actually read about the RPG hobby and be tempted to try it out, and those watching Community, Silicon Valley, House of Lies, or Stranger Things can be exposed to tabletop gaming.

Lots of activity.  Things are happening.  But this is not the time to sit back and let people trickle down to our hobby.  Shouldn't we bring our beloved "elf games" to a future audience, grass-roots style - people who enjoy fantasy, science-fiction, and horror?  I say, strike while the iron is hot!

The renaissance worked, floodgates opened and everyone and their brother's wizard got into the indie spirit and did it themselves.  Now it's time to bask in the old school resurgence we find ourselves in, while simultaneously pushing that agenda forward until we achieve a third golden age!

How we bring roleplaying games to the masses is the question.  How do we make all of this awesomeness easier to find?  How do we make it so conspicuous that you can't help but be aware of roleplaying games?  For myself, I'm thinking of creating an outreach program of introductory seminars using Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11.

Have an idea?  I'm open to suggestions and encourage all those reading this post to go ahead and suggest some things.


*  In the past, I've insulted, ridiculed, and attacked +Zak Sabbath for a variety of petty reasons.  I privately apologized to him months ago, but not sure if I said anything publicly, so here goes.  Sorry for being a dick to you last year, Zak.  Congratulations on all your success!

Monday, July 18, 2016

CDS 1.11 Revised

I don't know if Crimson Dragon Slayer needed a Starter Set, but I gave it one... and a fresh coat of gore-splattered paint!

Nearly a dozen tiny changes needed to be made... typos, clarifications, rule changes, additional setting details, etc.  And I really wanted actual boxed text rather than a line above and below certain passages.  Now, it's been revised.  Thanks to all those who chimed in with valuable feedback.  I appreciate it greatly!

+MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) came through again, lightning fast as usual.

The DriveThruRPG link was updated this morning.  I've got the new Dropbox files, as well.  Printer-friendly b/w here and the bloodstained parchment here.

The PDFs are free, it's an 11 page, demo-friendly, "one hour game" made for introducing lapsed gamers and non-gamers alike to tabletop roleplaying.  I believe that Crimson Dragon Slayer, edition 1.11 shall forge a dark future.  Game on!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Alpha Blue customized character sheets

+James V West has done an absolutely stellar job with the new Alpha Blue custom character sheets I commissioned from him.  And +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal) turned them into usable files via Dropbox.  Thanks to you both!

Here's the black and white front and back.

Here's the bloody parchment front and back.

By the way, the latest Alpha Blue sourcebook, supplement, what-have-you is finished.  It's in the final editing stage.  Meanwhile, I'm also waiting on the last few pieces of artwork.

Universal Exploits should be available to everyone in October.  I can't wait for you to see it!

Have a great weekend,


Monday, July 11, 2016

A New Aeon of Crimson Dragon Slayer

Indeed, a bleak and bloody dawn approaches.  T'is Crimson Dragon Slayer Day today, and we're celebrating with the release of edition 1.11 here.

Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11 is 11 pages (including an introductory adventure) of quick and dirty sword & sorcery... hinting at eldritch, ultra-telluric horror. I created it with "one hour" demonstrations in mind; hopefully, showcasing why the RPG hobby is awesome and more people should become part of it.

This booklet is a free PDF in both printer-friendly black/white and bloody parchment color.  1.11 will introduce gamers and non-gamers alike to the dark science-fantasy setting and quasi-old school rules of Crimson Dragon Slayer.

If you'd prefer to bypass DriveThru, here is the Dropbox b/w link and color link [updated on 7/18/16].

Read it, show it around, try it out - see for yourself if this could be the start of something interesting... if perhaps this is the first step towards a full-fledged Crimson Dragon Slayer 2nd edition in 2018.  Either way, your feedback is appreciated.



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"One Hour Game" for Crimson Dragon Slayer

I was inspired by the posts of +Erik Tenkar on his Tenkar's Tavern blog.  Here is the first post where his idea really takes off.  And that post was inspired by Free RPG Day and how it struggles to bring new people into the hobby.

Sometimes, it seems like we're re-inventing the wheel a thousand times over.  Yet, I believe there's value in what Erik is doing with his Swords & Wizardry: Light.

That's why I've been taking a little time off from Universal Exploits to create an even shorter, streamlined version of Crimson Dragon Slayer.  It will be a free PDF with professional layout and cartography by +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal).  This should be available by July 11th, which just so happens to be Crimson Dragon Slayer Day!

At this time, I'm not sure what the exact page number will be.  It's definitely going to be longer than 4 pages because the manuscript will also include a short scenario and artwork by +Craig Brasco.

Hopefully, this "One Hour Game" version of Crimson Dragon Slayer will attract new blood since demonstrations can be as short as 60 minutes.  A lighter than light version (CDS is already pretty damned "rules lite," just like S&W) usable by super noobs who don't know the first thing about fantasy roleplaying, except maybe they've heard of Dungeons & Dragons.  Perhaps, it could be popular at conventions...

In any case, I'd like to thank Erik and the RPG community he's built for inspiring me to re-invent the wheel one thousand and one times.  ;)

Thanks for reading,

Venger As'Nas Satanis
High Priest of Kort'thalis Publishing