Friday, June 21, 2019

Cha'alt Pre-Sales


The big project I've been working on for over 6 months is nearing completion.

What is it?  Well, it's a campaign setting and megadungeon called Cha'alt.  It's gonzo, eldritch, post-apocalyptic science-fantasy, and about 174 pages geared to both the OSR and 5e D&D audience.

The files get sent off to the printers in 2 or 3 weeks.  Until then, last minute revision, tweaking, and proofing continues.

Between now and when the shipment of 1,000 high-quality, full-color, hardcover, signed and numbered books reach my slimy green tentacles, I'm opening up sales for this limited edition.

Approximately 100 of them are already spoken for... thanks to KS backers.

The original Kickstarter price was $50 + $10 shipping.  That was the sweet, sweet deal for those who believed in me and actually made this project possible.

The current pre-sale price is $55 + $10 shipping (within the contiguous United States), which is a sweet deal compared to what it's going to cost when the books are ready to ship out.

Want a taste of what Cha'alt will be like?  Ok, right over here is about 5% of the book, an introductory dungeon to get things going before the PCs are ready to tackle the funhouse mindfuck that is The Black Pyramid.

The PDF is free (subject to small changes before print files are finalized), so go check it out and see if you're ready for Cha'alt.

I accept paypal at Venger.Satanis@yahoo.com

Thanks,

VS

p.s. Please send me an email first if you have any questions!

p.p.s Shipping doubles outside the US ($20, which is still fairly decent).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Map of Cha'alt


Last but not least, Glynn completed the Cha'alt map.

This right here is the official KS update.  I'll be showing you more soon enough...

Enjoy,

VS

Monday, June 10, 2019

Billions Is Better Than Game of Thrones


I know fantasy is kickass.  I love elves and dragons and magic just as much as the next D&D geek.

But there's something to be said for consistently strong characters and a story of revolving alliances, rivalries, betrayals, and sworn enemies.

If you want to watch a modern day Game of Thrones that never drops the ball, I wholeheartedly recommend the Showtime tv show Billions.

Like GoT, an episode can turn on a dime.  Events that most series would milk for an entire season, Billions deals with in an episode or two.  Which means there's always something compelling just around the corner.  It feels like an immersive sandbox.  I guess that's my OSR connection.

Anyways, watched the season 4 finale, and it was superbly awesome!  The series has been picked up for another season next year.  I'm just excited and wanted to share my love for Billions.  Watch it!

Enjoy,

VS

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Game of Thrones finale


Well, I finally got to watch the very last episode of the Game of Thrones tv series... [spoilers ahead!]

If there's one thing we hate, it's this - the subverting of our expectations. 

We expect Luke Skywalker to be hopeful.  Instead, he's a bitter misanthropic hermit who's given up on the jedi.

We expect protagonist Jon Snow to have some kind of agency and the courage of his convictions, but instead he broods about how Dani did some unjustifiable things and Tyrion has to talk our bro into doing what must be done.

And then the dragon melts the iron throne and Snow is kept a prisoner for weeks until he's eventually banished.  Oh, and then Bran the broken (god, that's a horrible name) becomes King of Westeros?  WTF?

I actually like Ben Shapiro's speculative take that Bran is actually like a deep-cover sith lord who knew what was going to happen and just let things take their course so he could be the one to rule over it all.

Anyway, this finale was mildly satisfying - Daenerys got what she deserved.  If you're going to go all genocidal tyrannical dictator, then bitches gots to go down.

Of course, the writers could have stayed the course, allowing Daenerys to be a benevolent and merciful ruler, but the seeds were sown long ago and I'm sure George Martin knew where he wanted things to end.

The whole thing with a Targaryen being born and the Gods flip a coin as the world holds its breath, waiting to see how it will land - that's just fucking awesome!  You really can't have a line as poetic as that in a story as dark, gritty, and betrayal-happy as Game of Thrones without Daenerys eventually going psycho.

There's this dumb twitter handle called "Daenerys deserved better."  Nope.  She deserved worse, actually.  In fact, the show robbed us of catharsis by not telling her to her face exactly why she should be murdered, instead of being allowed to carry out her "liberation" - (read: indiscriminately slaughtering innocent men, women, and children).

Maybe it's because the writers, like most of the Hollywood elites, don't actually believe that a social justice tyrant would be a bad thing.  Perhaps they think that would be beneficial to humanity, being ruled over by a person who thinks that anything - including the mass murder of innocents - is perfectly fine if it means that everyone will be equally squashed under the leader's heel. Yay, egalitarianism, socialism, and communism!

Back when the series began, my wife and I had thought about naming one of our daughters Daenerys (actually, she preferred Khaleesi).  Wow, I'm glad that didn't happen!

I'm hoping the character of Kylo Ren stays villainous and doesn't become some kind of myopic SJW crybaby that feels his own conception of "good" is the only possible objective good for everybody.

Anyways, just wanted to get some stuff off my chest.  End of rant...

VS

p.s. That picture is Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) dressed as Morticia Addams for Halloween a couple years ago.  Wow!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Credit For Your THOTs


This is the final installment of the THOT trilogy.  You can get the PDF here.

It's got all the usual awesomeness.  If you love sleazy scifi, random tables, and modular systems that are fun and easy to use, then grab yourself a squirming fistful of xenophilia!

Have a question, just ask...

VS

p.s. Cha'alt is about 2 or 3 weeks from completion.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Sect of the Gleaming Polyhedrons


I'm thinking about starting a new religion, one based around roleplaying games.

Why a religion?  Because gaming to me is more than just a pastime, hobby, or side-hustle.  It gives me purpose.  It defines me.  And it's a whole lot bigger than I am, greater than I am.  Outside of family, RPGs are what's most important to me.

Why not crystallize that into a spiritual movement, an organization that'll take it as seriously as it deserves... without taking ourselves too seriously. 

This is the first and only commandment...

1. Enjoy roleplaying games as much as possible... at least once a week, preferably.  

Anyone interested in joining?

More details when I get back from vacation.  Have a good one, y'all.

VS


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

3 Types of Game Masters


As I mentioned towards the end of last week's Inappropriate Characters episode, I've broken GM differences into 3 basic types...

The first I'll describe is the Dungeon Master from beloved Saturday morning cartoon Dungeons & Dragons.

The Dungeon Master presents the facts, sets things in motion, and then pretty much disappears into the background until his presence is required down the road.  The RPG Pundit mentioned the "clock-maker God" as an example of this sort of GM.  Once he creates a world, his hands are off the wheel and things take their own course, according to the rules or the scenario or the GM's notes.

He's impartial, objective, and about as neutral as a GM can get.  Total free market... no matter what the outcome.  Is it discipline or ambivalence that keeps the Dungeon Master type GM from subtly nudging reality here or there?

The second GM type is Zeus from the 1981 sword & sandals film Clash of the Titans.

Zeus is more subjective, the campaign world filters through him, his perspective.  His hands aren't always on, but also never far from the wheel.  Yet, he still believes in letting go, allowing fate or free will decide which path is taken.  Zeus doesn't have a specific outcome in mind, but tries to maintain a fairness or equality of opportunity, according to his personal standards of ethics, morality, and aesthetics.

If you remember, Zeus has a few tricks up his sleeve.  While balancing the campaign world and all the characters in it, he feels justified tweaking the chances of a result or two in the name of either fair play or compelling story.  Occasionally fudging a die roll for the greater good.

However, Zeus is not a story-gamer.  He doesn't know how things will end up.  He hopes things will turn out well for those proving themselves worthy, occasionally exerting a bit of influence behind the scenes, but stopping short of pre-determining adventure's conclusion.

The third and last type of GM is the Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz is a showman and a conman.  He uses slight of hand, misdirection and railroading in order to get the end result he's looking for.  His GMing creates the illusion of free will and randomness, when in reality, he pulls all the strings.

The Wizard of Oz is the most likely to be a story-gamer, since that style of GMing is directly opposed to the traditional, old school approach (though many GMs in the 70's and 80's aspired to that standard).

Another aspect of this 3rd type is bluster, pomp, and pageantry.  Anything to build himself up, to make the all-powerful GM appear greater, wiser, and stronger than he really is.  His will is mighty and players should not test it, or else face his wrath.  Also, be prepared to confront several self-important NPCs (stand-ins for the GM himself) who shall not be fucked with.  You'd have better luck wrassling an ancient black dragon.

Please feel free to comment with your experiences, your opinion of the 3 types, etc.  Where do you fit in all this?

VS

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tentacled Dice Tower


Yeah, I know... it's not really a tower at all.  More like a tunnel or slide.
And not every die makes its way to the other side.  I feel like that's some kind of "tentacle initiation."  Such unfortunate rolls are simply sucked up into the void.

Hope you enjoy the video and like my clay sculptures.  I'll do more in the future.

Currently, I'm finishing up Cha'alt.  It's quite a beast and is taking up the majority of my free time.  Just about every room within The Black Pyramid has been written up (all 111 of them).  Now, I just have to make them even more awesome during the revision process!


Thanks,

VS

p.s. The Roll20 playtests have gone really well.  I appreciate everyone who comes back for more!

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Horror In Clay


For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to fashion my own Cthulhu idol out of clay...

Well, last week I did just that.  And also made a kind of dice tower, which is actually more of a dice tunnel/slide.  But that I'll show off in a video and blog post this weekend.

Clay is difficult for a noob like me to work with, but I hope to improve on my next attempt.  The painting comes easier to me because I've been doing that all my adult life.

So, there you go... ia ia Cthulhu fh'tagn!

Enjoy,

VS


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Crimson Dragon Slayer D20


As I've said before, D&D means a thousand things to a thousand people. 

It's impossible to define with just the acronym alone.  Even citing a particular version, preference, or play-style of D&D is fraught with peril.

Getting on the same page with a virtual table full of players is of paramount importance.  Without a place to start, you have nothing but floundering.  You need some kind of foundation in order to begin playing.

Here is bedrock!  All new and over-the-top "bloodstained parchment" look provided by layout guru David Guyll.  Did I mention it was absolutely FREE?!?

There are a few iterations of Crimson Dragon Slayer out there, but this isn't a new edition.  Rather, it's my quick and dirty checklist / cheat-sheet for running OSR type 5e games online.  It started here and evolved organically thanks to the feedback I received.

For me, virtual gaming requires the most rules-light approach.  Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 is my solution to all the problems I've encountered running D&D on Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and elsewhere. 

Hope you find it as invaluable as I have,

VS

p.s.  If you appreciate all the freebies that come out of Kort'thalis Publishing, try our nearly 50 PDFs!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Equality of Opportunity, Not Outcome


For some, it's a difficult concept to grasp.  How can things be essentially equal if one person has advantages that another does not?

Well, it's kind of like rolling 3d6 in order, six times.  Everyone has the opportunity to be a titan of strength, intelligence, etc. but we all know that it's random.  You get what you get.  Sometimes the Gods favor you, other times they kick you in the balls.  That's life.

Now, if you were to make everyone's stats pretty good but not great, regardless of what was rolled, that would be equality of outcome.  This is attractive to some because they don't want the risk.  They want an easy "B."

But then, of course, everyone in the party pretty much has the same stats.  You lose individuality.  You also lose any sense of scale.  If everyone has the same thing, then that "B" might as well be a "C" or even a "D."  Without the highs and lows, those stats are relatively meaningless.

That which is attained without struggle has less value.

Especially when you consider the GM's plight... or obligation.  One of his many jobs is to challenge the PCs.  If everyone has good stats, then some villains will have to have even better stats to compensate.

Anyways, what we're after in life and in gaming is a fair shot, a decent chance.  Don't hand your players good ability scores just because you don't want anyone to feel bad.  Make them work harder to compensate for their PC's shortcomings.

What about the super-rich kids that inherent all their parents' wealth?  They didn't have to roll the dice in life.  True, but someone always gets really lucky.  Anyway, overconfidence and a sense of entitlement are their own weaknesses.

Actually, that reminds me of legacy PCs in the Knights of the Dinner Table comicbook.  Ensuring that newly generated PCs get certain advantages from the very beginning... and that shall be the topic for my next blog post!

VS

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Apologies to Trump


All of us.  Ok, many of us (myself included) owe President Donald Trump an apology for jumping to conclusions and believing the FAKE NEWS that went out of its way to spread falsehoods about Russian collusion on a daily basis.

I was taken in for a long while.  In fact, it wasn't until a few months ago that I realized we have one Hell of a President and things could be worse... a lot worse. 

Now that he's been vindicated, let's get back to ensuring the United States of America remains the greatest country in the world!

President Trump talks a lot of trash, can be a bastard, and gets things wrong just like everyone does, but now I see that he has America's best interests at heart.  He isn't the most terrible awful bad news individual portrayed by the media.  That's just Trump derangement syndrome.

Sorry for doubting you, hoss.  Carry on, Mr. President!

VS


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Gamma Incel Cantina


Here's a Cha'alt playtest packet that veers on the border of Alpha Blue.

It's called Gamma Incel Cantina, inspired by a comment Prince of Nothing made on his blog.

What is it?  A sci-fi tavern not too far away from The Black Pyramid, filled with 69 NPCs.  Each NPC has between 3 - 7 descriptors to help the beleaguered GM roleplay interactions with PCs.

Phenomenal map provided by Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design, based on my amateurish drawing (pictured).

I'm looking for feedback, but also extra funds to pay for additional Cha'alt artwork.  While adequate, the Kickstarter wasn't the smashing success many of us had hoped for. 

Oh yeah, there's also a d100 random table that will give you all 6 of the standard D&D ability scores in one roll.  3d6 in order... hours of rolling and recording results from myself and various family member.

It debuted at GaryCon and nearly made grown men cry at the table.  Yay!  ;)

Enjoy,

VS

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

D&D 5e on Roll20


I've been running my Cha'alt campaign on Roll20 during lunch hours and slow times at work.

Sometimes, I label or tag these playtest sessions Swords & Wizardry, sometimes old school D&D, or just D&D 5e... because close enough, right?

Well, a lot of drop-in gamers feel entitled to the official by-the-book, rules-as-written version of 5th edition.  Some have even dropped out as soon as they discovered that we weren't using character sheets for a one-hour game or that skill checks would be replaced by actual roleplaying.

While I can't totally blame them (I like what I like and have certain expectations, too), I feel they're missing out on a new (to them) D&D experience.

So, this blog post serves two purposes.  The first is to give GMs a glimpse at what I've been using for my Roll20 Cha'alt campaign.  The second is to alert potential players as to my interpretation of 5e via old school lens.

Let's face it, Roll20 isn't real roleplaying.  As Yoda would say, controversial do you find my words? Well, virtual gaming is a Hell of a lot different than the face-to-face variety.  So, without further ado...

House-Rules


  • Instead of little modifiers, I use Advantage (roll 2d20 and take the highest) when circumstances are favorable and Disadvantage (roll 2d20 and take the lowest) when their unfavorable.
  • No character sheets!  
  • Come prepared with a NAME, RACE, CLASS, ALIGNMENT, and SOMETHING NOTEWORTHY ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER.  That's it.
  • Whatever race you pick, you can have only one racial ability that helps your character (infra-vision, resistance to charm spells, superior hearing, whatever).
  • The 4 basic classes only - Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, and Thief.
  • Fighters can add their level to their to-hit roll and damage. Everyone else, you just roll a d20 and hope you roll your opponent's Armor Class or better. 
  • Damage is per weapon - simple weapons like dagger, sling, club, quarterstaff, whip, and a sharp rock all do 1d4.  Medium weapons like short sword, spear, spiked club, rapier, axe, mace, and all bows do 1d6.  Large weapons like greataxe, warhammer, trident, halberd, and all types of longswords do 1d10 damage.
  • Wizards are restricted to simple weapons or they're at a Disadvantage.  Clerics and thieves can use simple and medium weapons, but are at a disadvantage when trying to use large weapons.  Fighters can use any weapon they want without penalty.  
  • I'm still considering high-tech weapons like machines guns and lasers.
  • Natural 20 on an attack roll is a critical hit, resulting in double damage!
  • Alignment!  There are 4 to pick from.  If you choose Law, then you believe in order, justice, community, and most likely worship the New Gods, namely the Lords of Light. Those who choose Chaos believe in natural selection, revenge, and individualism up to and including self-deification. They are more likely to honor the Old Gods, such as K'tulu, Yog-Soggoth, and Uba-Sa'athla. Those of a Neutral alignment try to balance Law and Chaos within themselves and recognize both the Old Gods and the New Gods.  Unaligned means that you don't give a damn about Law, Chaos, or the Gods; you have your own unique philosophy or passion that guides you through the world.
  • Everyone gets 10 HP per level.
  • If you reach zero HP, up to negative your level, you're simply unconscious and will recover soon.  Once you go past that (-5 HP if your character is 4th level), you're character is dead.  Create another one and I'll try to get your new PC back in the game ASAP.
  • All HP refresh after a full 8 hours of rest (interruptions are fine, just make it up by sleeping-in a little longer). 
  • Levels only go up to 10.  At 10th level, the PC is at his adventuring peak.
  • Characters gain a level after every other adventure.
  • Wizards and clerics can use virtually any spell in the Player's Handbook that's equal to their character's level.
  • Every time you cast a spell, you take that spell's level worth of damage. For example, a 3rd level fireball drains the wizard of 3 HP each time it's cast.
  • Certain magic items, such as wands, only wizards can use.
  • Clerics are drained of vitality (HP) the same as wizards when casting - including healing!
  • A 1st level clerical spell can heal 1d6 HP; however, this "divine energy" can instead be used to harm demons, undead, and Lovecraftian abominations [clerical healing/harming goes up to 1d8 at 3rd level and 2d6 at 7th level].
  • Thieves can do all the usual thief abilities.  If it's simple like listening or checking for traps, it can be done easily without rolling, as long as, it's described.  Harder thief tasks should be rolled (see Skill Checks below), after the player describes what his PC is doing.  
  • Thieves gain advantage on their attack as many times per day as their level, as long as, the PC's sneaking, hiding, surprising, backstabbing, or looking for weak points is described.
  • At 5th and 10th level, PCs get to pick a feature, special ability, or feat (kool powerz) that relates to their class. Either something they pull from a book or make up on their own.
  • Armor Class starts at 10 and goes up to a maximum of 20.  Wizards cannot wear armor.  Thieves can add their level to AC if not wearing armor.  Leather is +2, shield is +2, helm is +1, chainmail is +4, scalemail is +5, platemail is +6.
  • Saving throws are determined by subtracting a character's level (or monster's HD) from 20.  You need that number or better on a d20 to save.  Natural 20 means you're completely unaffected.
  • Epic Feats of Awesome can be attempted instead of your standard attack.  Subtract your level from 30 and you need that number or better on a d30 to succeed.  The result is whatever the player described.
  • A short rest is somewhere between 45-60 minutes.  You get one of those per day, and it recharges your HP at Xd6, where "X" is your character's level.
  • One round is approximately one minute of game-time.  Combat is abstract, not granular.  So, when it's your PC's action, he can move, talk, and take one action (in any order).
  • Instead of rolling initiative, whichever side would logically strike first goes and then the opposition goes. If there's no clear victor, a tie goes to the PCs.
  • Instead of making a "skill check," just describe what your PC is doing.  Perception and interaction (among other things) will be roleplayed!  If there's a chance of failure, the GM will let you know when to roll.  You need to get a 15 or better on a d20, adding your level to the roll if you're attempting something related to the PC's class.

Did I forget anything?  Probably.  FYI, I just updated this post.  Thanks for your suggestions!

This will make my job easier.  I don't want to have to dig through the book. I don't want players dictating results based on what's written down in some edition or other.  I don't want optimized PC superheroes tearing through anything encountered without fear of death or dismemberment - old school gaming is about desperate adventurers trying to survive in a world gone mad... hoping to attain glory, riches, and power!

There's a good chance I'll eventually turn this into a Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 cheat-sheet PDF for anyone interested in simplistic O5R D&D, either using Roll20 or in-person gaming.

Enjoy,

VS

p.s. Want to see the fruits of my labor?  Here you go!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Stuck In The Middle


I read this Tenkar's Tavern post yesterday, but this is my first opportunity to respond.

Yeah, the middlemen get squeezed.  Those seeking neutral ground will eventually see themselves taking up less and less space.  And that's a shame.  Because politics shouldn't intrude on everything... especially a leisure pursuit like roleplaying games.

To be clear, I'm also a moderate, a centrist, a classical liberal who'd rather not get involved in the culture wars of increasing polarization.  But it wasn't so long ago that free speech, rationality, the rule of law, and focusing on gaming were nonpartisan issues that everyone could agree on.

That is not what's happened over the last 3 or 4 years.  Social media is everything and everything has been influenced (corrupted?) by politics.  The more radical, the better... according to the loudest and least compromising among us.

Any clearheaded person can see that Erik Tenkar contributes to the RPG HIC (Hobby/Industry/Community).  And Pex, as Erik's mouthpiece, has every right to post links to whatever the Tavern is talking about at the moment.  Those SJWs over on Discord can believe what they want... because they're creating a reality all their own.

If Erik and Pex hadn't distanced themselves from me, I'd be there to fight alongside them.  But instead, they chose to throw the baby out with the bathwater and are now being ostracized within certain segments of the HIC because not enough babies were thrown.  Yes, also a subtle jab at post-birth abortions that's now part of mainstream Democrat policy!

Hoist on their own petard.  Sad, but not unexpected.  Live together or die alone, as Lost so eloquently stated.  Meanwhile, I'll be here patiently waiting for my apologies.  Fighting the good fight.  Designing games and doing my za'akier thing.

Good luck to everyone who wants to stay on the sidelines, where it's "safe," and go about their business without getting involved.  Eventually, you too will be swept up in the mob.  Wake up before you suddenly find your head upon the guillotine of social justice!

VS

Thursday, March 14, 2019

GaryCon 2019 (part 2)


Ok, I'm going to primarily talk about the two sessions of Alpha Blue I ran at GaryCon this past weekend.

Even though I was excited to run Alpha Blue (as usual), I was noticeably less so this time around.  And even though I had a great time during the game, something felt a little off.

Part of the reason is that I neglected to bring the core rulebook with me.  I had a big box of Kort'thalis Publishing softcovers in the back of my car, but inexplicably, Alpha Blue was not among them.  And while I did manage to bring this drawing I made of a cantina containing 60+ spacer scum, I forgot to print out the key that would have allowed me to use it properly.  Son of the bitch!

Never wait until the last minute, kids.  And always triple-check your supplies!

Nevertheless, character creation proceeded smoothly using the three word/phrase method! Easy, quick, and flexible, I think that's definitely the way to go for something like a three-hour convention game.

But there was something else, too.  I think it might have been the idea that Alpha Blue has gone "mainstream."  The concept still isn't popular, soft-core sci-fi will always be niche.  Yet, a lot of the people have played it, and so the newness has worn off.  Players familiar with Alpha Blue know what's coming. No longer apprehensive, their illicit expectations guide their characters' behavior.

Take, for instance, the customs officer checking lifeforms over before they can enter Alpha Blue proper.  When he started to get handsy with a female droid PC, she was super eager to go into a little room and get banged.  Then they do that and it's over and... we're onto the next thing.  I guess the potential for conflict was missing and in-game sex seemed like going through the motions.

A similar thing happened with two female droids in the other game.  They hooked themselves up to the little shuttle transporting them to an Alpha Blue bar and had "robot sex" in an instant.  It was amusing and cool, bordering on "naughty," but even as it was happening I could feel the novelty wearing off.

It reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode where the guy thinks he's in heaven because all he does is succeed.  Anything he asks for, he gets.  If he gambles, he always wins.  In a very short time, he's miserable because it no longer feels like real life, soon discovering that he's actually in hell.

There's a few different ways of dealing with that issue.  But I didn't realize there was an issue until I was in the middle of these games.  So, my Cha'alt sessions felt slightly more successful than Alpha Blue, even though I'm pretty sure all 23 (or so) of my players had a great time.

So, how to deal?  Well, I wrote something up for Draconic Magazine.

Nevertheless, lots and lots of laughter reverberated through the aether as players kept trying to one-up each other to new heights of inappropriate degradation.  Below are some brief highlights...

  • Brokeback asteroid.
  • Defibrillating ass-chaps (ass-less chaps)
  • Treasure chest full of gold, vibrating, diamond-crusted cock-rings.
  • Extra-crotchless panties.
  • PCs' starship named "The Green Fairy."
  • That leaky breathing slot in the forehead I'll never be able to erase from my memory banks. 


What else?  I bought some cool "diffusion" style dice in a variety of colors.  All the numbering is plain white... boring vanilla white.  So, I'm in the process of re-coloring the dice numbers.  It's... not going well.  In hopes of making it permanent, I decided to use oil-paint pens.  That was a big mistake.  Even the fine-point ones made a big mess.

Cleaning the dice off with turpentine (paint-thinner) proved time consuming while also wearing off the paint within the numbers - even though I did three coats.  And even after trying to start from scratch with a turpentine bath, the dice still feel a little tacky.

So, tomorrow I'm going to try starting over again with an acrylic pen.  Tentacles crossed!

Will I be back next year?  Not sure; I had to pull a lot of strings to attend this GaryCon XI.  It'll most likely be 2021 before I return.

VS

Monday, March 11, 2019

GaryCon 2019 (part 1)


What a weekend!

Yes, I got back from GaryCon in one piece.  Was there all Thursday and Friday, but had to leave about 1pm on Saturday, after my last game.

There's almost too much to say, so I'm going to keep this kind of brief and condense it all into one blog post.  Wish me luck!  [edit: Nope, just couldn't do it.  This is going to be in two parts.  First, Cha'alt, and then Alpha Blue.]

Session 4

The final session of Cha'alt concerned exploring and looting the frozen insides of the gargantuan purple demon-worm Kra'adumek.  My family and I pre-rolled nearly 100 ability scores (strength, dexterity, etc.), all 3d6 in order, ahead of time.  That's going to come in real handy in the years to come... and will appear in Cha'alt.

As that game was "D&D 5e," there were numerous expectations.  When I told everyone that I wanted to keep it standard races, only one racial ability per character, just the main 4 classes, and you roll a % and what your ability scores turn out to be is what they are, save vs. death... well, some jaws dropped. 

The players were more than a little dismayed (one player's suggestion of pre-gens was solid and I probably should have done that, but also wanted to use my d100 ability score table), but kept their composure (no table flipping), which I appreciated.  After all, if a PC died, he could simply roll up a new one and keep going.  With this method, it wouldn't have taken more than 5 minutes to come up with a whole new character.

We played it old school - distance, movement, and perception checks were all but hand-waved.  And sure enough, just as I told them, once the adventure got underway, how strong or wise their characters were didn't matter as much as thinking things through, tactics, diplomacy, knowing when to step on the gas and when to break, and, of course, luck.

I didn't open any D&D books the entire game... in fact, I neglected to bring any D&D books to the convention - aside from my own scenarios and guidebooks.  To me, that's a sign of a qualified old school GM who's comfortable with his rulings.

This being a con game, they came up with an overarching desire (kill the demon-worm), and I presented them with a way to achieve that... the unexploded photon torpedo.

Several party members almost died, but no one actually bit the big one.  Some nice treasure was had, NPCs interacted with, weirdness encountered, and juicy combat to get the blood pumping... as well as spilling out all over the demon-worm floor.

By the game's end, everyone thanked me for the experience.  I appreciated their indulgence of my old school ways, and a few of them said they were glad that I stuck to my guns.  Overall, I think everyone had been temporarily transported to another world.  That kind of immersion is all the thanks I'll ever need. 


Session 2

The second session of GaryCon was Beneath Kra'adumek.  Since I designated that particular game Swords & Wizardry, the occasional shitty ability scores didn't raise an eyebrow.  This crowd was primed for vintage D&D escapades. 

While I unfortunately forgot to bring my copy of How To Game Master like a Fucking Boss to session 4, I had it with me during session 2.  So, each player rolled % to see what past experience they had. 

The wildest result was a gnome (complete with ridiculous hat) trying to get the PC and others to invest in some financial scheme, offering a transparent cube as some sort of proof-of-concept. 

That could have just been a throw-away idea forgotten as soon as it was said, but no.  The player who rolled that proudly talked about his cube and attempted to seek investors in his uncanny enterprise.  After swapping realities with a nearly identical party, that player decided his cube was now a sphere... and the roleplaying began anew.  By the session's end, his business' tagline was "It never ends."  Appropriate.  ;)

As has usually been the case, the PCs decided to convince several of the purple priests to join a new faction - one instituted by the PCs themselves.  After killing the Ipsissimus and mid-wife-ing a newly hatched demon-worm spawn, it wasn't too difficult to persuade some drugged-out cultists to worship Kra'adumek in an entirely new way. 

They played around with the fissure in time and space, experimented with mutated xoth, ate 67 omelets, and foiled the priest's plans to sacrifice a trio of virgins. 

Due to the freewheeling nature of this dungeon, the loose rules of early D&D, and player personalities, a lot of jokes were told and the table erupted in laughter about a dozen times in those 3 hours of weird retro-escapism. 

There was even a woman among the players, so of course I had to make my own saving throw to avoid chanting, "Old enough to bleed; old enough to play a human barbarian!"  Thankfully, I just made it when the die ricocheted off my slimy green tentacle, and old school grognards were saved having to excuse my toxic masculine diversions. 

Some great and/or hilarious quotes from that session...

  • The New God's name is "wormy"... it's a work in progress.
  • "He who slithers through our minds.  Praise be!"
  • Purple priest playboy mag stuck behind the library books.
  • "Spicy sriracha worms."
  • "May the violet be with you... always."
  • "GnomeSphere... it never ends [TM]."
  • "Obey the slither!"

All in all, both groups were fantastic!  I had a blast GMing for everyone, and I hope the memories of Cha'alt will live long and prosper in our collective imaginations.

Ok, part 2 should come tomorrow.

VS

p.s. I managed to move all 4 sessions to a less noisy, less distracting area of the hotel so we could all enjoy the game without shouting, wondering if we actually heard the other person correctly, or daydreaming about the guy at the next table dressed as Gandalf being bludgeoned into unconsciousness with his own Dwarven Forge terrain.


Monday, March 4, 2019

What's the opposite of humble?


I had intended to stay quiet about everything I know, but this post here on Tenkar's Tavern was, I suppose, the straw that broke the camel's back.

Or maybe because it's almost St. Paddy's Day and the Irish in me just won't let it go.

As much as anything, this blog post is a warning against centralized power, its corrupting nature, cults of personality, and the slippery slope of authoritarianism (yet I hope to keep this apolitical).

Now that I re-read this, it's really long, but I wanted to provide as much as possible so people wouldn't respond with "But, but sour grapes and stuff..."  Yes, some of my interactions left me with bitter feelings, but this is not retaliation for a few slights.  Rather, I want to shine a light on a very public figure before he becomes "too big to fail."  This is to open discussion while it's still feasible to critique the Tenkar Empire without disastrous reprisal.

A little backstory, I've known Erik Tenkar for years, since I started blogging and writing OSR stuff back in 2014.  He was a prolific and well known blogger in those days and his power and recognition has steadily grown since then.

For awhile, Erik and I didn't get along.  But then we kind of got over that and became the kind of friends that's really more like online acquaintances.  He helped me out with promoting various projects, and I tried to show him the same consideration and loyalty (like defending him against Facebook attacks from Stacey and company).

There were isolated moments, like when someone would mention Erik's name in a g+ thread, saying it would be nice if he'd blog about whatever they were kickstarting or selling, but didn't tag him, and he'd find out about it and angrily blog about people who think they're owed.

Looking back, that kind of thing was a trademark of Zak S.  You'd mention his name in passing, and if it was anything but a glowing endorsement, he'd find out about it and criticize you or defend himself by clutching his "tavern keeper beyond reproach" pearls. 

Or when I commented on his blog post with less than complimentary remarks, like Frog God Games virtually giving their old Pathfinder compatible stock away at a convention... those comments either never made their way to his blog or were deleted without comment.

Not too long ago, I asked if I could guest post on his blog, which he regularly encouraged.  He said sure, but when I sent him the content, there was zero response and it never appeared.  That I can sort of understand, because it was a little risque, having to do with Alpha Blue and legalized brothels in Nevada.  Nevertheless, an email saying, "Sorry, that's too much." would have been nice.

And then there's the proposed OSR answer to the ENnies. Erik brought me into discussion and even asked me to be one of three judges.  It was going to be Erik, one of the Spahn guys (I think) and myself.  The OSR was going to have its own annual award.  After several back and forth emails, it was suddenly dropped.  I have no idea why.  I asked, and got no reply.  I assume it was because several OSR products were actually up for an ENnie award that year and a separate OSR award would seem redundant, but I'm still in the dark about those details.

As many of you know, Erik expanded his empire from blogging to podcasting and becoming a Discord fan.  He and his helper, Pex, asked me to join.  They created a channel or sub-section or whatever for Kort'thalis Publishing even before I could say yes.  That kind of reminded me of the whole U2 and itunes debacle, but I didn't want to make a fuss.  Ok, fine, I said.

Pex in particular would gently remind me on a regular basis to keep posting into the Discord void, so I did, even though it seemed no one was listening and I just didn't like the Discord format.  In fact, I was so impressed with Pex's constant encouragement (eventually, it probably would have seemed like nagging, but maybe that's because I've been married for 7 years), that I asked if he'd be interested in working for Kort'thalis Publishing.  He said yes after we negotiated compensation.

A short while later, I released my transhumanist blog post.  It was a day or two before I could respond to anything because of my usual busy family life. 

Basically, I was booted from Tenkar's Discord machine and Pex told me he wanted nothing more to do with me.

I received an email from Tenkar. The subject line was "Man did you step in it."  In the email he states that he wasn't sure what my intent was, but that "flames were spreading" and there was a decision made to remove my publisher's channel."

Despite a few people coming to my defense and calling Erik "transphobic," I attempted to inform Erik on what was going on, why I posted it, etc.

He derisively responded with "Thanks for your concern. If I have something to say, You know where to read it".

I mentioned what had been happening on Twitter, and again one of Erik's spies reported the news back to him where he passive-aggressively responded in an email the following...

Twice on Twitter you claimed you were "kicked off" or expelled from The Tavern's Discord Server. Both times you were incorrect. Your Publisher's Channel was removed (as you were informed of) but you were still a member of the server. Since you desire to be removed from the server (based upon your own claims) we have now removed your membership from the server as you have indirectly requested.

Sincerely,
Erik Tenkar


I responded by asking why I'd want to stay somewhere I was clearly unwelcome?  And that he was effectively exiling me from the Tenkar Empire.  I haven't spoken to him since (but seeing him at GaryCon might be awkward).

Before the whole transhuman blog post, Tenkar had mentioned his support of my upcoming Cha'alt project.  Said that he looked forward to seeing more and talking about it on the various places where he discusses RPG matters.

I never bothered to ask for his support when the kickstarter went live, weeks after the za'akier post.  Partly because I was confident he'd refuse, but also because I didn't want the backing of someone like that, someone who turns his back on a friend because of some ruffled internet feathers, someone who purports to be an ivory pillar of virtue and integrity, but when it really comes down to it is no better or worse than the rest of us. 

Erik, if you had taken money in exchange for mentioning products, that would be a lot less shady than what I've seen from you thus far. 

At least I admit that I'm just an old school smut-peddler who's just as easy to corrupt as the next guy. Sure, I can be a dick sometimes.  I also like to poke fun at sacred cows.  Hell, that's why I've taken Satanis as part of my name.  I'm down here in the dirt - below the dirt, actually; where the dungeons are... bedrock.  Hell itself!  I don't fire back at gamers with "How dare you, sir? I'm a humble bartender and have the utmost reputation!" pretentious twaddle. 

Erik, get over yourself.  The majority of people who've claimed that you have harassed them, most likely deserve it (deadbeat KS people, Stacey, etc.).  But also know that you're presence is intimidating to regular folks, too.  I, myself, hesitated before writing this because of who you are (OSR Emperor, Frog God representative, ex-cop, etc.), but I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I stayed silent.

To Erik's audience, I say this: Be careful of idolatry.  The neutral ground of today may become the golden calf of tomorrow...

VS


p.s.  If anyone wants to get something off their chest or get sensitive information into the right hands, feel free to email me.  If you'd prefer to remain off the record, I have no problem quoting you anonymously. 


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Crowd-Sourcing Awesome


My brain is usually working on a dozen different things all at once, but Cha'alt is a huge project and GaryCon is coming up, and I also need to finish off a couple things from awhile back.

I'm feeling creatively blocked.

So, I'm throwing these questions out in hopes that you guys will respond with some inspiring awesomeness. Here goes nothing!


  • There's a small orange cube and a small blue cube, both magical, (possibly thinking of order vs. chaos) what do the cubes do?
  • If I produced a sequel to Dead God Excavation, what would you want to see?
  • Where would you like me to take the last part of the THOT trilogy?

Ok, that's it for now.  Thanks!

VS

Monday, February 25, 2019

D&D Booze Zine


Justin Ryan Isaac has written a plethora of RPG reviews for yours truly, so this is my chance to blog about his efforts!

The man and his cohorts are kickstarting a zine called Cade's Big Book 'o Booze

It looks both fun and useful, so please consider backing this project.  It's his first, and you know how Venger feels about popping cherries... only by the full moon and when I feel the loathsomeness of His tentacles wrapped around my glimmering emerald soul...

And who doesn't want to bludgeon monsters with a dwarven battle mug?  Huzzah! 

Only $5 for the PDF and $12 for both PDF and print.

VS

p.s. Would y'all like to see Purple Prizm in there?  Let's see if we can make that happen.  ;)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Stars Without Civility

UPDATE:  Apparently, that comment didn't come from Kevin Crawford of Sine Nomine Publishing, but some jackass impersonating him. 

Ok, this post is about Kevin Crawford [yeah, some other dude] throwing down on Prince of Nothing's Stars Without Number review.

Now, it would be hypocritical of me to say creators shouldn't rail against criticism.  I do it all the time (hope you're finally able to sit down without one of those donut-cushions, Bryce).  Some critiques are valuable, others are the opposite of that.

But I didn't really say anything too negative.  The whole comment section (just like the review itself) is basically a love-letter to Stars Without Number.

Here's what I wrote...

"Some of the tools do sound useful, but overall the system doesn't do it for me. You guys have fun!"

And this was Kevin Crawford's response...

"I considered honestly responding but then I realized that the greatest thing you ever produced was the shit that dribbled down your mother's leg while she birthed you."

Credit where credit is due, it's colorful.  But he comes across as a huge jerk.  At first, I assumed maybe it wasn't actually him, or that he was responding to another comment, instead of mine.

And is it just me, or does that sound... illogical?  How exactly am I producing the shit dribbling down my mother's leg while she birthed me?  If anything, that's a product of my mother or the birthing process in general.  I don't think I had any hand in producing the aforementioned dribbling shit.  Oh well.

Then I read another reply from a third party...

"That is definitely the real Kevin Crawford. Most people assume that he's pretty chill, but now you know."

I'm not sure why he was an asshole to me, it could be a variety of little slights which gamers imagine are terrible abuses towards the entire RPG community or whatever.

I'd trash talk him back if I knew more about his game.  Unfortunately, all I know is that it's OSR, scifi, really long at 300+ pages (kind of a deal-breaker for me right there), and extremely popular. Also, the whole Scream thing sound pretty awesome!

Regardless, I'm very proud of my creation, Alpha Blue.  Sure, its audience is a fraction of Kevin's, but it services a niche rarely talked about in RPG circles... rules-light, sleazy, scifi parody.

Alpha Blue has come a long way, boasting a dozen supplements, scenarios, and helpful tid-bits for the BDSM who's brave or insane enough to run something like that.  Check out what Kort'thalis Publishing offers.

To anyone who has a problem with me, what I produce, my mother, or any adjacent dribbling, please come forward, speak your mind.  Let's get it all out in the open. Private resentments, secret harassment campaigns, boycotting, and just bad blood in general - I've suffered through all of them and have come out stronger for it.

Ok, you know where to find me.  Have a great weekend, no matter how much of an asshole you are!  ;)

VS

p.s. This week, I put up two Alpha Blue articles on Draconic Magazine
here and here.  Hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

James Raggi / LotFP Statement


This whole fiasco seems to be winding down.  Hopefully, this is my last post on the matter and we can all (well, almost all) move on to better things.

Here is the official Lamentations of the Flame Princess statement by James Raggi IV via FaceBook.

Basically, it cuts short Zak S' collaboration with LotFP.

Like many people and organizations have attempted, it's a good solid compromise.  No more books by Zak S., but neither will there be a book burning party.  Previous stock will slowly be sold off, and then that's it.

No one's great at everything.  One may quibble at the man's style or aesthetics or taste, but Zak Smith/Sabbath could write, draw, self-promote, and he even had some great ideas.  But there's always a flaw, isn't there.  He couldn't be a decent human being.  Actually, I don't think he could do his own layout, either.  Oh well.

Additionally, WotC/Hasbro is erasing all consultant credits from future printings and digital versions of the Player's Handbook. That sucks for everyone who isn't currently besieged by abuse allegations. Legally, it may be sound, and I'm sure it'll cover their asses in regards to the online activist outrage mob, but is it fair?  Nope, not really.

Never did get James' apology for throwing Jordan Peterson under the bus... [sigh]  This is a depressing blog post.

Hey, buy some PDFs from Kort'thalis Publishing!

VS

p.s. I thought it was amusing that out of dozens of FB comments, mine is pretty much the only one that no one without a "like" or reply.

Here it is for posterity (until Google annihilates this blog), "I hope we can all learn and grow from these experiences." Not just pretty words. It's a civil and objective wake-up call to those keeping at least one eye open.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Frank Mentzer & GaryCon


Point of clarification, in this post I'll be referring to the RPG hobby, industry, and community with the following acronym: HIC.

There was a vague announcement of legendary "Red Box" Frank Mentzer's guest of honor title/privileges being taken away over here on the GaryCon website.

Now, we have some answers... but even more questions with this FaceBook page (why is it always FaceBook?!?) posted, again by Luke Gygax, just a couple hours ago.

It seems to be a mix of new, additional bad behavior from Frank Mentzer, as well as, GaryCon pivoting with these times of social change.

Eventually, I'm sure we'll find out exactly what Frank Mentzer said or did that set these new events in motion.  At the moment, I'm a little conflicted as to how I feel about the situation. 

Like anything, social change has a positive and negative side.  We've seen both in the last few years.  Words like inclusion, diversity, equity, and toxicity sound great, like they're real improvements to the overall culture and gaming spaces.  But they've also been wielded like a club, turning one segment of the HIC against another until the inevitable winners and losers emerge. 

I've been attacked for perceived slights against "social justice."  That's probably equal parts speaking my mind and speaking out against the internet outrage mob vilifying this person or that play-style or those games.

As always, we need to be careful not to throw the dragon out with the dungeon bathwater.  I don't like the idea of erasing people from gaming because they've done something or been accused of doing something inappropriate or even harmful and destructive.  Who among us is without sin?

But at the same time, I think we're all better off keeping the absolute worst individuals a ten-foot pole's distance away from our HIC.  This begs the question, is Frank Mentzer anywhere near the same camp as Zak S?  What about Jessica Price herself... where does she fall on the scale?  What about myself, RPG Pundit, Grim Jim Desborough, James Raggi, or Kiel Chenier? Who decides? 

Without knowing more, I'm going to err on the side of trusting Luke Gygax and attending GaryCon because I don't have all the facts, and because taking away Frank's guest of honor status is not the same as banning him from the convention, or worse, unpersoning him from the HIC.  Plus, I have a feeling there's a recent indiscretion which forced Luke's hand.

To anyone who's thinking about boycotting (or simply not attending) GaryCon over this, I think it's too late in the day and we're too in the dark to do anything so drastic.  Decide about next year's GaryCon when you have an entire year to weigh the pros and cons (no pun intended).

After all, I'll be there and my "problematic" attitudes and "toxic za'akier male" swagger will be in full effect.  We shouldn't let politics ruin an awesome weekend of gaming.

VS

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Schrodinger's Review


So, Endzeitgeist posted his review of Sexual Predators over on his blog.

There's a few things to say about it, so I'll just dive right in...

Apparently, not having the numbers on a map is a big deal to virtual tabletop gamers.  I knew about secret doors, labels saying "this is a trap right here", and obvious icons like the nuclear hazard symbol, but didn't know that an unnumbered map was even more useful to those folks.

But now I do thanks to Thilo's review and Sexual Predators has an unnumbered Crimson Dwarf map as of last night.  FYI, I'm not so high up in my emerald tower of tentacles that I won't listen to fans of my work.  If you guys want something, first ask me if I can provide it before cursing at the darkness.

Next, I'd like to discuss the title.  Yes, Alpha Blue is a sexual game, Predators is the name of the movie I was referencing and showing in the cover image, so Sexual Predators seemed like the perfect fit.  Indeed, I was also trying to be provocative... but not actually offensive.

For one, the main adventure's antagonist actually is a sexual predator, and the PCs struggle against him and what he represents.  Any RPG title that mentions dungeons or lairs or keeps is inevitably about entering someone else's home, slaughtering them, and stealing their belongings.  I get it, there's a reason we don't title scenarios "Home Invasion Butchery & Theft."  That's an ugly thing to dwell on and we have a host of rationalizations to assuage any negative view of our selves or our characters' actions.  Nevertheless, that darkness is in there.

Sure, there's some deeply unpleasant, not to mention morally repugnant, things associated with "sexual predators;" however, like most English words and phrases, there are a variety of meanings.

Here's the "sexual predators" wiki page and it mentions the really bad stuff like human trafficking.  But it also mentions having to hunt for your sex partners or habitually seeking sexual situations that are self-serving or exploitative.  And it's not always "toxic masculinity" displaying "problematic" behavior towards women.  As we all know, the female of the species can be deadlier than the male.  So, the title is apt in several regards.

I just want to make it clear that when I titled that Alpha Blue scenario Sexual Predators, I wasn't trying to pull off a Tournament of Rapists.  That's a line even I don't want to cross.

Lastly, Endzeitgeist posted his review of Sexual Predators on rpg.net yesterday morning.  Since then, the listing on rpg.net has disappeared, reappeared, and occasionally disappeared with no explanation. When I check the review page (like just now), it shows up.  But the main page shows there are no reviews for Friday, that OSR reviews will resume on Monday.  Likewise, there's no thread in the review board of their forum.

So, it's like the Sexual Predators review both exists and doesn't really exist on rpg.net.  Hence the title of this blog post, Schrodinger's Review.

I'll end by mentioning the continued polarization of the entire world that seems to increase every single day.  It's gone far beyond politics.  It's in everything, and I don't think we can ignore it any longer.  It's gone from existential crisis to palpable atmosphere of fear and hatred and irreconcilable differences.

While I'm fucking sick and tired of it, I can't simply pretend that it'll go away on its own.  Deep, foundational divisions don't get better over time, they only get worse until substantive repairs are made.  And I don't see that happening anytime soon.

VS

Thursday, February 14, 2019

THOT Police on DriveThru


Ok, let's take a little break from the drama to celebrate Valentine's Day the old fashioned way - with a sleazy sci-fi scenario!

Yep, I just uploaded THOT Police to DriveThruRPG. It's the second part of a trilogy that began with THOT Audit.

Let me know what you think, and please enjoy...

VS

p.s. There's a Cha'alt easter egg for all you spacers that backed my KS.  ;)

Zak S. Statement Commentary


I just read Zak S' official response.  Here's the link.

Not sure why it wasn't on his blog, but I'm sure his lawyer is giving him all the appropriate advice.

It's actually pretty good and puts Mandy and company in a slightly awkward light.  Of course, he produces very few actual receipts, but maybe that's to be expected.  Now, it's mostly down to he said, she said, she said, she said, and she said (with at least one of those coming to Zak's defense).

Yeah, he's still in a lot of trouble, but that gives him a chance to make some sort of partial recovery.  However, waiting three days to respond to those allegations seems nuts.  I mean, one more week and the next news cycle would have hit, either another #metoo casualty or we find out that some big shot in the RPG community is acting shady behind the scenes.

My wife has her share of health problems (nothing like Mandy, though).  So, I know the added layers of stress, strain, frustration, and emotional trauma that goes into relationships when a partner isn't well.

It's valentine's day today... and maybe it's part hormones, part health concerns, and part v-day expectations, but my wife was really antagonistic towards me today. I couldn't take a picture right and it was the end of the world.  By the time she finally left this morning, she was (all her own words) furious, sad, broken, falling apart, having an emotional breakdown, sorry for the way she had treated me, and said that I was her rock and that she loved me just before leaving the house.  All that in about one hour.

Makes me think of that line from The Godfather, "There are things that have been going on between men and women for thousands of years..." (I'm paraphrasing because I couldn't find the exact quote on google).

Or that other one... "In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns."

In the end, we'll never really know exactly what happened, what the truth of Zak S. and all his many sexual relationships with women were about.  Dude, are you trying to set the record straight or just bragging?

But the one thing I keep coming back to is that Zak S. has been a fucking asshole to a lot of people over the years. That, in my opinion, is the original sin of this tragedy.  If he hadn't been a tremendous dick to literally hundreds of his colleagues, peers, partners, and would-be fans, the vast majority would have given him the benefit of the doubt - at least until he'd released some kind of statement.

As it is, there's six degrees of separation between any random gamer and someone he's seriously wronged in the past.

So, the next big question is - will anyone (I'm especially interested in OneBookShelf) walk-back their pronouncements?  Does Zak S. have a shot at continuing to make money in the RPG industry?  Is this what James Raggi IV of Lamentations of the Flame Princess fame was waiting for... where's his statement?

I don't know if this soap opera is going to keep going or not, but if there are major developments, I'll talk about them here.

VS

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Zak S. Fallout


This blog post's job is to shed light on everything either suspect or outright wrong that's happening in the shadow of the Zak S. #MeToo scandal, in no particular order...

1. DriveThruRPG has deplatformed, unpersoned, and demonetized forthcoming books where Zak S. has contributed.  Here's the link.

While I don't think that's a terrible decision (some consumers are asking for even more activism on OneBookShelf's part), it's a slippery slope.  If such over-correcting nonsense like rpg.net banning support for President Trump and his policies wasn't a thing, I wouldn't be as worried about who's going to be unpersoned next.

While I don't think OBS will risk a full-scale meltdown by getting rid of Alexander Macris, James Raggi, RPG Pundit, or Grim Jim Desborough, (or me, tentacles crossed), the line is certainly getting closer.

False accusations do happen.  All it takes is an edgy persona + offending the outrage brigade + someone accusing you of bad stuff in your personal life = vaporization from the RPG industry.

2. The lynch mob never stays in its lane!  Revolutions have a nasty habit of throwing innocents onto the guillotine, as well as, the guilty.  I've already seen where RPG Pundit and myself have been mentioned on twitter.  Like, we've finally gotten rid of Zak S... who else can we execute in the chaos without too much backlash?

That's not only not cool, but a dangerous path to tread.  If you're going to blame Zak S. (and I believe you should), don't go looking for adjacent scapegoats or bogeymen to also take down just because you're outrage-bloodlust hasn't been sated.

3. A lot of people are catching a whole lot of unnecessary flack for simply wanting more information, for wanting proof besides the word of several women.  And even then, some people believe Zak S. shouldn't be crucified before he's even had a chance to defend himself.

And some people, let's be honest, just don't want to get involved.  Maybe they feel it's none of their business.  Perhaps they're sickened by the sordid details or mob mentality or have some lingering respect for the accused.

In the end, it doesn't matter.  If a person doesn't feel like piling on, that's ok.  They don't have to.  They shouldn't be forced to feel the same way about something as you feel about it or that guy over there.

4. While I mixed my own ideological beliefs with the Zak S. scandal (right over here), I'm not the only one.  ConTessa put out a statement which contained the following, "ConTessa was founded on the principal [sic] that gaming space could be better spaces by letting women, people of color and LBGTQ+ take leadership positions, so that those spaces could be moved into less toxic directions than the default ones lead by straight, white men." Emphasis mine.

Even if her heart is in the right place, that just comes across as disgusting.  If you want to make gaming more inclusive and diverse, don't put down another's race, gender, and sexual orientation.  Straight, white men are not more or less inherently toxic than any other demographic.  Support of fresh faces doesn't necessitate the vilification of traditional ones.

No one is gate-keeping minorities from picking up an RPG, finding players, and running all the sessions they want.  Keep your identity politics the fuck away from gaming!

Those are my 4 points, maybe I'll come up others later, but these are the main ones currently sticking in my craw.  Thank you for reading.

VS

p.s. Well, that's unfortunate...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Zak S and #MeToo


Just before going to bed, I noticed a post on MeWe about Zak S. 

Normally, it would be about one of his books, since he is a good writer, and because by this time, I think a lot of people are tired of his drama, his attacks, his harassment, his arguments, his blocking people, his influence on such people as James Raggi and things like Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

It turns out that his former girlfriend just came forward with her story, corroborated with several other women, about Zak S' abuse, assault, and sheer awful behavior towards women.

Here is the public FaceBook post of Mandy Morbid.

Having been in conversations with Zak S, as well as, having lived in a hobby/industry where he parades around like the imaginary king of social justice and roleplaying, I 100% believe these women.  Zak S. absolutely seems capable of what's described.

I feel bad for those he's hurt.  I hope their recovery is swift and sure.

Authoritarians need to be recognized, confronted, and defused ASAP.  Don't wait.  Don't appease them, don't give into their demands, don't bend over backwards... just don't. 

I heard that Zak S. was a socialist.  Normally, this wouldn't be the time or place to mention this.  In fact, at any other time, self-identifying as a socialist would be a "Who cares?" moment, rather than a sub-section of this #MeToo moment.  However, with President Donald Trump coming out and saying that America will never be a socialist country in his State of the Union address, I think it's topical.

Socialism is based on government control. As government expands, that control broadens and strengthens. Power, especially when centralized like that, leads to horrific abuses. Like people being imprisoned and/or killed if they don't conform.  Of course, authoritarians like it when they're the ones in control.  They like to set everything in order - their order - that others have to follow... or else.

Well, I'll never lay down for tyranny.  I don't care if it's Zak S, a foreign power, "democratic" socialists (like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) within our United States, SJWs, armed and masked SJWs (Antifa), or anyone else. 

The moment you try to force me to live by your arbitrary rules, against my self-interest, I know it's time to fight back.

Here's to fighting back against tyrants!

VS

p.s. James, I expect a full retraction of your statement disavowing Jordan Peterson.  He's a goddamn Canadian treasure, and as you're probably aware, the world doesn't have many of those.  Treat him with the admiration and respect he deserves.