Chuckie D’s Avalon is Number One!

avalonI bailed on comic books in my mid-30s, when everything turned into dark and edgy and so frowny face grown-up “this means something” meaninglessness.  Been watching that Diversikids and Comickals bloke run circles around the usual Suspect Justice Warriors, and wanted to get back in one way or another – you know, through a few of my hard earned trust fund nickels at the upstart alternative.  Still do, but suh-weet Mommy Dearest and that sexy, sexy coat hanger scene, do most of those mopes making alternative comics have some stones.  I ain’t gonna pay no $25 for a 44-page comic, even if doing so would mean spitting in the eyes of the SJWs.  What you got there with your robo-frogs and chicken-dudes and hot Melania in a skin tight space outfit is a racket.  You know how many back alley happy endings I can get for $25?

Two.

Two with enough left over for a Happy Meal.  That’s how many.

And you expect me to give up that money for a guy with no track record of delivery on crowdfunded stuff?  You expect me to give up that money for digital comics I can read faster than Shontaynelle can work her digital magic?  It is to laugh!

On the other hand, the few bucks I spent on the AltStarHero line is money well spent.  I’ve already received 72 pages with no end in sight.  Even if the comics were mediocre, that’d still be more bang for my buck than my back alley bangs.

Which makes the interesting premise of Avalon all cream on the top of my comickal sundae.  We’re following two supers who operate outside the law – Tony Stark won this world’s version of the Civil War and those filthy muties have to register their powers or GTFO – through the first issue, and then a hot chick in full leather get up arrives and makes me wish I hadn’t already used that sundae analogy, because she doesn’t do much but look damn fine, but she doesn’t really have to.

It’s good stuff.  I’m interested to find out where it’s going.  Best comic buy I’ve made in my life.  Sorry if you RPG nerds have to read my rave reviews for a while, I know alt-right stuff isn’t what you signed up for from a guy called the Alt-Right DM.  I’ll try to do better.  If it helps, I’ll say that I’m reading this stuff for inspiration for things to put into my dungeon trawling games, because customer satisfaction is important for running a successful business.  Shontaynelle taught me that over more than a few post-happy ending Happy Meal dinners..

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On Social Advice from Social Mopes

adviceDon’t take financial advice from a broke guy.  (Yo!)  Don’t take dietary advice from a fat guy.  (Double yo!)  And don’t take relationship advice from SJWs.  You can trust your old pal E. Reagan Wright on that last one – he’s so good with the ladies, he’s scored a hat-trick of divorces in the two and half periods of his life so far.  At least until the marriage was official, the sprog delivered, and the family courts made aware of the sizable trust fund that could be hers thanks to the joys of no fault divorce.  The point is, we’re talking about relationship advice today, because at their core, tabletop RPGs are utterly dependent on the DM-Player relationship if they are to work, and most RPG designers are SJWs, who are so bad at relationships that they think being an SJW is some sort of noble calling instead of the last desperate gasp of the sexpests and femcels.

Thankfully, the men of the west are here to help guide you poor deluded fools through the forest of lies planted by the SJWs in the tabletop RPG industry.  As the final boss in internet shitlords – Zack style time out! Some dopey mopey SJW actually called him that thinking it was an insult. That’s how bad these goofballs are at relationships, and one more piece of evidence that you shouldn’t listen to them – Zack style time in! As the final boss in internet shitlords, Pundy goes into detail on one piece of really bad SJW gaming/relationship advice here:

For the tl;dw crowd – everybody walks around these days repeating that good DMs ensure that every player at the table gets plenty of spotlight time to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. He points out that some people don’t want spotlight time, and thrusting it upon them will do more to wreck their experience than playing 4th Edition D&D. In short, all you have to do to make sure everyone is having a good time…brace yourself for this…is ask them.

Shocking. Just be a normal person. Read the room. Talk to your players. You know, the sorts of things SJWs have difficulty doing what with all that time and effort spent trying to make sure none of the other crabs escape from the bucket.

Be normal and don’t be a spastic doofus, says ye olden Punditten. A fair point, but there’s more to it than that.

Jeffor takes it to the next level when he spergs out, as is the ways of our people, about 3d6 in order being the solution to all of D&D’s ills.

It works. Over time, every one gets a chance to try each of the major archetypes. But for any given scenario, you won’t know which character class is going to be the most significant or relevant. One thing that happens with this is that the quiet person that always hangs back and goes along with whatever the group wants can find themselves in a situation where they have to make judgement calls that can affect the course of the entire adventure. In a continuing campaign, this is pure gaming gold, believe me!

Another fair point. But there’s a deeper magic that he only touches upon.

The issue of “spotlight time” only rears its ugly head when you venture away from the RAW D&D of ye olden times and start to dabble in storytelling. Not even once, kids. Once you shift gears to the “we’re telling a story” instead of “we’re playing a game” everything hinges on the social adroitness of the group of storytellers instead of the logic and rules knowledge of the gamers. Which is why the real solution to this problem is to turn your back on negotiated or planned spotlight time, and turn your face to the light of the GAME.

You design the dungeon, a great big whacking maze of a thing, and you impregnate that beast with a wide variety of challenge-babies, and let your players decide (knowingly or not) who gets the pleasure of being the point man for each kind of challenge.  Traps for the thief.  Undead for the cleric.  Magic toys for the magic-users.  Things to stab for the front line fighters.  Then you lets the chips fall where they may.  Your players will blunder into one section or another, and if that fat bastard playing the cleric whines about no undead because the party went through six thieves in the funhouse of traps, then you shrug and say, “Quit bitching, Chad!  There’s undead in there, but you have to find them.  I’m not going to hold your hand because daddy never said he loved you.”

Then you dust the Cheeto orange off your hands, point to the player map and ask, “Which way now, gamer man?”

The burden is lifted from your shoulders and carried by the rules, as it should be.

If you dopes would just learn to trust them.

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Realms of Pure Evil

There are more evils under heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

otusWhat you’re looking at here is a piece by the inestimable and incomparable Erol Otus, master of illustrations weird and wonderful and kind of unsettling. That’s the creature of raw, pulsing chaos that lurks at the heart of reality, Yog-Sothoth, and the red critters creeping away are the spawn of said Mx. Sothoth. (You know she is evil because she hyphenated her last name. You also know she would use that execrable ‘x’ because she is pure evil. It’s a common signifier.)

Note well the red colored critters, oozing, crawling, and slithering out of the ever-shifting chaos of that physical manifestation of the universe’s hatred of mankind.  We live on a small blue rock in the center of a universe that hates our kind.  We exist only because of a multi-billion year fight against nature and the odds, if you take the dull and uncreative midwittery atheistic view of the universe anyway, and that fight is never over.  In our constant battle in the face of infinite time and space hostile to our existence, we have secured but a few millennia and no more than a fraction of the small blue rock – a rock we share with so many things that want us dead.

We’ve covered this before, but it’s always worth remembering that the world of man – and those worlds that reflect it, which includes those imaginary worlds thrown together by homo neckbeardus – exists in that delicate balance between good and evil, and the worlds we create from the raw fuel of our imaginations are balanced between good and evil, AND by taking on the role of good who spits in the face of evil, we can inculcate in ourselves a tendency to spit in the face of evil in our daily lives.

Our adversaries take exception to the notion of the existence of evil in any form beyond DudeBro and if you haunt the miserable corners of game shops and D&D blogs over-run by the misery-peddlers who wear Che shirts, you’ll hear them lament the old-school understanding of orcs and goblins and demons and even entire planes of existence composed of pure, smoking, chunks of evil such as those found in toaster ovens at the end of films crafted by men who don’t know how to end films. They’ll wrap their own Dudebrophobia up in a tidy little slide that they can project onto normal gamers and claim that pure evil doesn’t exist, evil races are all stand-ins for non-DudeBro minorities, and the only real evil thing you can do is believe in evil. And that’s why their evil character whose ugliness and deformities are accurate representations of their blackened little souls are in actually elite, galaxy brained conduits through which they can explore their rejection of everything wholesome, decent, and worthwhile.

Don’t buy it.

Some men need a good killing. Orcs that crawled, wet and sticky, from the black ichor of an infernal pit that taps straight into the depths of hell, for example. While the real world may make it a little tricky to identify good and evil, that don’t mean it don’t exist. And worlds where good and evil take on physical form perforce include physical realms of evil populated by evil intelligences both vast (like Yoggy up there) and discrete (like your random wandering ½-HD kobold).

There are hordes of critters inimical to life and growth and humanity in our world. Polio. Viral meningitis. Socialists. Smallpox. Netflix. Just to name a few.  Why not blow those up to humanoid scale and throw them at your players so they can experience the visceral and valuable thrill of physical pushback against evil that has been in short supply since the end of the twin heroic ventures we know today as the Cursades and Inquisition lo those many centuries ago? I mean, we had shooting Commies there for a while, and we still have punching pantifa goons, but for the average gamer those are a little out of reach.

Stabbing green skinned evil in the face at the table can make for a suitable substitution. Don’t feel guilty about.  Love wins, and those who love to hate evil are the biggest winners of all.

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An Ugly Week for RPGs

Jessica Price, high-powered and blisteringly intelligent video game developer, fired for rolling her eyes at a man who literally raped her on Twitter.

One mug labelled “Fanboy Tears”: Fifteen bucks

One Copy of Pathfinder: Forty bucks

ArenaNet: Priceless
Here’s the posts in question, so you can decide whether the “Woman Fired For Defending Herself Against Gang Rape By Fans of Video Game Patriarchy” headlines are real or fake news:price.jpgSpeaking as an RPG designer who has written a few unread filler text boxes for video games myself – oh, I mean as a “Software Developer” – and an award winning RPG designer at that, can I just say, “HA!”

Virtue is beautiful, and vice is ugly.  That’s why vice hides, orc-like, in the shadows.  People who give their lives over to sin end up looking like troglodytes.  Physiognomy is real, and when you dump poisonous hate into your soul on a regular basis like Price, it affects your body in ways that are visible to others, and make no mistake about it, mankind has evolved to spot opportunistic psychopaths by their appearance.

Be good.  Play good.  Look good.

In obviously related news, Zak S, the palsy ridden artist and creative genius behind the blog “D&D With Porn Thots”, plops his skinny ass down into the hot seat this week with a new report about his alleged ties to alleged alt-right (sic) game developers.

zak

Dance with the cannibals, and sooner or later you’re going to wind up in the pot.

On the other hand, look at this handsome devil. Delivering a Ted Talk to hordes of screaming, nubile young Google-boppers.

am

Alexander Macris, ACKS superstar.  This one’s for the ladies!

 

That’s a decent man living a life of decency, right there. That’s the kind of man who runs a tight gaming ship, and the kind of man you should already have thrown some of your hard earned cash at in the form of backing his latest crowdjermafundage. The name alone, “Secrets of the Nethercity” evokes rich emotion in my own personal nethercity. It makes me think of plunging into hot, steaming orifices that are terrifying and wonderous and after every visit, leaves me curled up in a fetal position crying like a Hilary supporter on election night.

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Be Best, D&D Style!

Playing pre-1980 D&D will make you a better person.  But don’t take my word for it, listen to the world’s most beautiful woman…

best.jpgIt’s no exaggeration to lay the blame for the slow death of Western Civilization squarely at the feet of Lorraine Williams.  Her takeover of TSR led to the overwhelming popularity of Loser D&D, a style of play adopted by the broken souls who now lead the world.  Had Winner D&D continued to enjoy the popularity it had when  Saint Gygax stood at the helm of the USS Tabletop Gaming we would live in a world today that would make film Wakanda look like a real world African nation.

It may be too late to save Western Civilization from the likes of Gail Simone, Joss Whedon, Cat Rambo, Tim Doyle, and other silly women, but it’s not to late to save yourself, dear reader!  Heed these words!  Make your amygdala swole, and when the soypacalypse finally turns the rest of America into the sort of vast wasteland of misery that has taken root in my hometown of San Francisco, your mettle will be tested in fire, tempered into steel, and ready for the spiked football pads and assless chaps uniforms of the army of Lord Humungus.  No cringing behind a school bus gate for you, picking nits from a feral kid with a bladed boomerang for you, and watching the only HB8 in the colony smooshed under a semi full of sand – no sir!

Consider that post-1980 iterations of the Great Game have slid down the feelz slope slipperier than an SJWs argumentation process.  Where once ya rolled your dice and moved your mice, the game morphed into a all-the-happies-all-the-time strokefest written to cater to people who never learned the concept of the word, “NO”.  They didn’t like that the dice wouldn’t give them the specific character class they wanted, so they rewrote the game.  They didn’t like that the dice gave them fragile 1HP characters, so they rewrote the rules.  They didn’t like that the dice sometimes giveth and sometimes taketh away, so they rewrote the rules.  Always with an eye towards the GIMMEDAT rather than the CHALLENGE ME!

The mincing and effete players demanded the ability to influence the game not through clever play, but through whiney wheedling.  They demanded spotlights and sparkles and multi-hued snowflakes with long and detailed stories invented whole cloth.  They demanded unkillable characters and long strings of vidya-game-esque reward-reward-reward cycles to stimulate their shriveled amygdala’s, and as a result never learned the hard won lessons in life.  Which of course led them to embrace all sorts of nonsensical ideas, such as:

  • Evolution stops at the neck
  • Socialism has some good things to offer the world
  • Vampires are cool, sexy, and misunderstood creatures of romance
  • America’s magic dirt instantly turns cavemen into spacemen
  • Streamlined saving throws enhance the game
  • Subtraction is so hard that ascending AC is the only way to make sense of combat

The rotten and pouty style of play infected their brains.  It turned them into zombies, desperate for an unearned love, for whom whining and shaming was the ultimate tactic to affect change in the world, and only by the merciful grace and blind kindness of their enemies did their tactics succeed for a time.  Succeed being a relative term, given the ultimate failure of every public and private policy their feelz directed them to implement.  It left them sad and miserable and broken wretches addicted to the rush of Big Pharma’s faux-love sold by the bottle.  It left them physically scarred and incapable of adopting a hairstyle that didn’t scream out, “Danger!” to the world.

On the other hand, you have the brave and strong jawed men who embraced the harsh satisfaction of playing through the pain of a low INT magic-user.  You have the rugged individuals who wrassled the game space and threw countless characters into the meat-grinder of countless dungeons, in the process learning how to deal with loss and rejection and a stoic sense of stone cold acceptance of the harsh realities of an uncaring world that laughs at your pain.  They took punches to the chin, laughed and spit in the face of the fates, and kept getting up for more.

In the process, their amygdala’s became ripped and jacked and ready for the real world.  They built up a spiritual armor that left them ready to accept the slings and arrows that life slings and arrows their way, and today stand tall and proud in the face of Mike Pearly Mearls, refusing to be fired, and rolling them 3d6 in order and backstabbing the enemy spellcaster a 1HP thief, heedless of the inevitable counterattack.

Those men strode into gyms and churches and jobs and worked to make the world a better place by kicking it in its metaphorical balls.  And when those balls hadn’t dropped, the Winner D&D types didn’t cry about it – they got back up and tried again.  This time with a different party make-up.  A different party marching order.  More spears to attack from life’s metaphorical backrow.  They learned to embrace CHA as a powerful stat and used henchmen and found allies, and today, led by the Emperor Ascendant, Hallowed Be Trump’s Name, they stand ready to take back Western Civilization from the heirs of Lorraine Williams.

Join them.  Join us.  With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to America.

And all you have to do to get started is put away childish things and play some Big Boy D&D.  Like a pebble in the muck-laden pond of your life, the ripples of that choice will spread throughout your psyche and help you become the man Gunnery Sergeant Hartman always knew you could be.

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All You Need is Three

The worst campaigns I’ve ever played in started out like this:  “What do you want to do?”

My answer to that always takes the passive-aggressive form of another question:  “What are my options?”

Being as I’m a player who is considerate and outgoing and appreciative of the DM’s effort to show me a good time, I don’t spend the entire session whining, “But what about MEEE?”  I’m not here to explore my character’s motivations or politics or struggle to cast off the chains of oppressive hetero-normative-titties, I’m here to dive down into dank and subterranean places of danger.  I’m here to explore and adventure and kill and loot and repeat that process in deeper and danker places.  Gimme, as a player, three choices of stank that each have the potential to contain evil that needs slaying and gold that needs awaying and I’m as happy as a pig-faced orc in slop.

Which means that a decent DM doesn’t need to write up more than a few paragraphs, bang out a wilderness wandering monster table or two, or stat out more than six small levels of dungeon.  Gimme three holes, two levels each, and the promise of more to come, and I’m ready to 3d6 in order and get started on some Big Boy D&D.

ChicagoWiz has a whole slew of examples, the most recent of which is, The Iron Basilica.

Years ago, hidden shores were discovered in a fog bank that suddenly blew up across the eastern seas. As sailors and explorers sailed into the veil, they discovered a large, moor-covered island with a singular feature on it, a large, unpenetrable basilica made of iron, it’s single massive door and windows mocking all attempts to enter. A town sprang up around the edifice and many explorers are combing the island, eager to see what other secrets they may find; not knowing that the most deadly and evil of secrets is awakening right beneath their feet within the Metal Church!

That’s the premise, the key to this sort of campaign prep is that the Iron Basilica includes three massive hexes, each of which provides a hook for the players to bite on.  In this case, a moor of more undead, a classic pit of a dungeon, and a cannibal troglodyte colony.  Basic archetypes with ephemeral tendrils connecting all three to each other and back to the titular Iron Basilica.

Three easy themes to build up three options for the players.  That gives a DM scope to craft an easy, medium, and difficult challenge, and just figuring out which is which should be part of the PC’s fun.  Given the struggle to cross 30 miles of wilderness, that trog bog probably needs to be left until later.  Smart DMs sprinkle bog-crossing magic items and more pointers (e.g. treasure maps and tie-ins) in the nearer dungeons to help point the PCs down Trog Lane.  Trogs are a great not-goblin race that doesn’t see enough action, especially when you add in the maybe-degenerate-human or maybe-caveman angle.  The uncertainty of that description makes them far more menacing than their stats would otherwise suggest.  *kisses fingertips*

ChicagoWiz has a tight, concise, and yet evocative style that leaves the door wide open for expansion.  Being insanely creative myself, I’d never use one of these Three Hexes as written, but boy howdy does reading this kind of inspiration get your hex and grid map juices thrumming.  Just makes you want to start wiring the four locations together, stuffing a few two room lairs into the spaces between, and maybe even stat up a few NPCs of varying levels of usefulness.

Good stuff, people.  Go thou and do likewise.

Disclosure:  He cheats by making the Iron Basilica itself a fourth option.  Good for him.

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Super D&D Saiyan

This past weekend the Dynamic Geek Gab Duo snapped on a pair blue rubber gloves, bent D&D over a paper covered table, and ran their callouses fingers over every polyp and nodule it could find within the greatest RPG’s warm and moist confines. They also found a whole lot of shit up in there, too, as you can hear:

Paraphrasing the erudite and wise Jon McGlynn, “D&D Fifth Edition is a super hero game in fantasy trappings.” Be still my aching, thrice-broken heart. If that isn’t as concise a description of Girl D&D as I’ve heard, may God strike me dead.

I’m still typing, so that should tell you something.

Of course, then “Me, Daddy Warpiiiiiig” had to go and ruin my post solo-coital afterglow with his observation that dice ruin everything.  His point, for those of you slackers who didn’t leave this window open for 83 minutes watching that embedded video, is that when you roll the dice, all you do is open the possibility for things to go sideways.  So long as you keep yapping and wheedling and manipulating the DM, you can keep shoving the narrative in a direction of the table’s choosing, which generally means to the better.  Once you roll the dice to determine what happens, the power is gone, and you open the doorway to the possibility of failure as dictated by Norn fiat.

At some point he mentioned this was an observation and not necessarily his opinion, but my memory of that part of the video is hazy from the smelling salts my manservant was giving me to revive me from the stupor caused by Dee-Dub’s point.  You see, his point is merely Girl D&D writ miniature.  It’s a call for storytelling gaming as opposed to actual gaming.

Now, to be fair, even in the most wargamey of OSR games, the smart play is to move your pawns into advantageous positions, to make a case for those advantageous positions, and to create those advantageous positions whenever possible.  As a player, the point of the exercise is smart play, earning those bonuses to AC through cover or surprise or what have you, and putting your thumb on the scales of chance whenever possible.  There’s a whole spectrum between pure shooting craps and pure storygame faffery, and as much as I’m here to advocate for games way over on crappy side of that spectrum, I’m a kind and benevolent polemicist.  There’s room in the OSR for some wheeling and dealing, sure.  But what I’m really here to complain about…er, advocate against…is the very notion that the dice are to be avoided because they will ruin an otherwise perfectly good game.

Those kind of value judgements are the worst sort of Baby Boomer tripe.  They also  smack of socialist heresy:

  • “I could have succeeded if only I was luckier.”
  • “He only won because of an accident of birth.”
  • “He has an easier life than me because of a little thing called ‘His Parents Were Parents Were Better at Life Than Mine Privilege’.”
  • “We should have won that encounter, but the stupid morale dice made my henchies beat feet.”

Wah.  Gig gud, loser.

Mindset is everything, fam.  Don’t listen to the Hogfather of War.  Don’t view the dice as your enemy.  Don’t place value judgements on the judgements of the Moirai.  Their decisions are neither good nor bad, they simply are.  What’s good or bad is your reaction to their decisions.  Sweet talk those heartless bitches, give ’em a squeeze and a pat on the ass, but stop thinking of them as they enemy.  They know what they are doing, and every little roadblock they throw in your way isn’t personal – it’s an opportunity to flex a few mental muscles that, let’s face it, all too few of us ever get the chance to flex.

The Fates and Eris make for one hot and sexy four-way gangbang, if you just let them.

Embrace the uncertainty.  Learn from defeat.  Enjoy the chaos.  There’s a reason Eris sounds exactly the same as Eros.  Not knowing what happens next, holding your breath in a fun-sized dose of auto-erotic asphyxiation as those little geometric shapes clatter past the Dorito bags and soda cans and miniatures and into a future more exhilarating and exciting than anything you miserable mortals could have every come up with.  And dealing with the fallout will make you not just a better gamer, but a better person.

If you can get your head on straight and enjoy a little stoic resolve for once in your life.

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