More Module Bashing

nosnra2While we’re talking about Against the Giants, did you ever notice how seamlessly you can pick up the basement of that module and drop it into the space beneath The Moathouse?

Yeah, I noticed it.  And I pulled it off at a con once.  It was great.  First level characters in the hands of older, crusty players.  They planned this great raid on the Moathouse only to find the bandits desperate for help as they were hard pressed to hold off the rampaging monsters trying to swarm up from below.  The wound up allying with the bandits, who became henchman, in a big raid on the lower level, which none of the players recognized was lifted from Nosnra’s basement.

Those old modulars were sheer genius.  I’m trying to think of how one might mix and match ideas from more recent Official D&D fare, and it just doesn’t work.  It would be like dropping Conan into Star Wars.  Or dropping the Mule into Starship Troopers.  Everything is too bound up with everything else in the name of pre-narrative and immersion and other fun-ruining ideas.

One of these days I’m going to find a way to bolt Palace of the Silver Princess onto an island beneath The Lost City, which will be a jungle ziggurat buried beneath the roots of massive trees on The Isle of Dread.

 

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The Dangers of Full Immersion

nosnra2.jpgHad a thought this week while working my new day job as a service technician hand-milking bulls for animal husbandry purposes.  A few months back me and a few of the lads decided to take the classic module Steading of the Hill Giant Chief for a spin for old time’s sake.

They banged out a crew of mid- to upper level adventure bros and an odd assortment of low-level hired mooks, and lit out for Nosnra’s party-palace to knock some skulls about.

And then they got serious.  They did a bit of scouting to establish some geography, and outsmarted themselves.  They started treating this like a story instead of an adventure, and retreated to establish a base camp from which they could launch a series of raids on the compound.

It was a disaster.

I explained that if they really want that experience, then I can give it to them.  If they were going to step back from being door-kicking murderhobos and play this straight, then so are Nosnra and his hoes and bros.

nosnra“Yeah, bring it on,” they said.  And then got squarshed and baked into adventurer-nuggies by the lovely ladies shown here.

Having played through the module once before, though admittedly when they all wore younger man’s clothes, they recalled the basement uprising and the confusion of the big bash in the main hall.  Being not as smart as they think they are, they never stopped to consider that those two elements are integral to the experience, and the lynchpin of why a small group of heroes can knock off a major compound of chaos.

By playing it “smart” and “real”, all they did was give Nosnra time to react to them.  He quashed the insurrection of the basement beardies and threw them into the hills to find the basecamp of the raiders.  He sobered up and marshalled his forces.  He sent his giant-cousin emissaries packing so they wouldn’t get underfoot.  Which made life so much more difficult for the players that the evening ended fast and ugly.

And with the last best hope for manking, Oerth got conquered by the Big Uglies.

That story reminded me a lot of the prevailing culture of TTRPGs of today.  After washing the bull baby batter off my hands, I realized that a lot of these old modules are too smart for today’s smart set.  At first glance, they look really dumb.  And if you think about them on a superficial level, then they can be.  But if you look deeper – really think about how and why they are built the way they are – you will find hidden levels of depth and meaning.  It happens every time.

Imagine if the Rebel Alliance had decided not to make the trench run.  Of if Solomon Kane didn’t walk solo into the depths of Africa to climb cliffs and kill natives.  Of if Robin Hood hadn’t been smart enough to avoid that archery contest.  Or if William Wallace had stuck to banditry instead of insurrection.  Or if Arthur Fleck had pursued a stable life of clownmanship and dating down.  Or if…well, you get the idea.

So ignore the people too busy patting themselves on the back of historicity and verisimilitude and immersion.  They are superficially smart and shallowly smug.  They are the White Witch of Narnia, and you traditionally minded door kickers are the Aslan Kings of the Jungle.  You understand a deeper magic that will forever elude them.

Trust Saint Gygax.  He knew what he was doing.  Play it straight.  Anything else is just gay.

 

 

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The Bile Rises – You Are Not Alone

You seen this?

Oh lawd.

What you’re looking at is a new card game being Kickstarted by my kind of maniac.  There’s no way the Kickstarter fruity-tooty Trust and Safety council won’t yeet this well before or after it reaches its funding goal, but what the hell?

It looks like a modern day Illuminati, built for normal people and designed to parody the clowns among us.

In Virtue Signal you play as one of several different social justice warriors. The object, simply, is to attract a coalition of NPC followers to your cause, whatever that is. The first player to 15 is the winner.

Virtue Signal simulates the power struggles and one-upmanship that goes on between activist groups. The issues themselves are of little consequence, they are merely useful tools to get leverage over others.

I’m literally dying here.  Check out this preview then go back it, ya lunks – while you still can!

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All In – One Hunderd And Ten Percent

The title of yesterday’s post got me thinking.  Now THIS is a modern TTRPG that I could seriously get behind.  My generation’s candle in the wind, taken from us too soon.lejundsUntil we meet again in the promised land, we are all just living in a modern van down by the river of this fallen world.

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Feast of Lejunds

feast.pngThe home of the square burger now has an RPG for squares.

Feast your eyes on the Feast of Legends.

This is a smart move on the part of the sassy ginger brand.  Until today when you thought drunken 3AM meal time or I’m a fat slob with no prospects where shall I east today, your go-to was Taco Bell or a local chain like Jack It in Her Box or Whattsaburger.  By producing a fully fleshed out tabletop RPG utterly branded with Wendy’s trademark style of ironic shade throwing, they’ve made a strong play to carve a slice out of that massive market of consumers who have made poor life choices.

It’s savvy marketing toward a niche market, and in no way marks a shark-jumping moment for normie-D&D.  How’s that for ironic shade, Wendy!

For all it’s naked opportunism, this is not the beginning of the end, though.  This old TTRPG gal still has a lot of mileage left in the tank, and there are a lot bigger sharks to jump before we grognards can be left to game in peace once more.  But it is a good sign.  All we need is some other pinch-faced broad like Kathleen Kennedy or Gail Simoan or the scolds responsible for the latest Birds of Prey travesty to get involved, and then you’ll know that the D&D brand has as much of a future as the love fetus of a wannabe Hollywood starlet and an I-don’t-even-need-to-say-it producer.

Here’s my full review:  Critical Role is playing it.  That means it already has AIDS.  I’m out.

The Mixed GM threw himself on this icy creamy grenade.  He actually read the thing and gave it a really real review. Read it here.

 

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Fair Use

psyberfrog small
That Ethan Van Scribbler guy just released his long awaited – by which I mean long overdue comickal book and it turns out he’s making bank off of a parody of MY work.  He just swapped the first couple of letter around, produced fifty more pages of content all of which includes painstakingly produced art, and wrecked any chance of fulfilling the promises made to early backers of collectability by re-crowdingfunding umpteen times.

He’s practically my skinnier and less bitch-titted clone.  But not by much.

Released well over a year before Cyberdude, my own work, Psyberfrog is a superhero tale about a frog with superpowers.  It’s made me over one point two HUNDRED dollars, and you can’t blame Ethan for chasing that kind of success.  Even after a full year, it’s still ranked in the top 2500 titles in Metaphysical Fiction.

So how does Ethan’s cheap knock off compare to the original flavor?

No one knows.  There isn’t a whole lot of overlap between my handsome and rugged and high-spirited followers and whatever muckdwellers glom onto a guy like Ethen.   But this guys has some funny ideas about Cyberfrog: The Finally Habbening:

There’s some knee-slappers in there.  Set your watch speed to 1.5 and settle in for more in-jokes and sly winks and nods to the comickal book crowd than even a smart feller like me can identify.

Yeh, this isn’t D&D related.  Expand your horizons, dorks.  Also, check the tags.  I know it.

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Segregated Gaming Spaces Are Woke Now

The guy that broke the story about the Consent Forms being a tool to get gamers to think in terms of BDSM culture is back, and this time he’s got a real tiger by the toe.  Can’t wait to hear what the RPGpundit has to say about this story without crediting Warpscream!

That is the correct title, and not click-bait. Imagine that in the, ’Current Year’ that people would even consider racially segregated dining as a perk. Big Bad Con is offering to seat PoC apart from whites as long as you schedule ahead.

Go read it.  It’s ham-hazing.

To be fair, thirteen percent of adventurers loot fifty percent of the gold.

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Big Bad Con 2019.  So progressive.

And these are the people going goo-goo-gah-gah over some dumbass goose meme.  Their own memes give them the Honk Honk treatment and they are too dumb to see it.  What I don’t understand is how they got their peepers so far up their keisters when they can’t find their butts with both hands and a flashlight.

Anyway, Warpscream mentions Ethan Van Scribbler toward the end.  Now there is a name I haven’t thought about in some time.  I wonder what he’s up to these days…

 

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Fluffing The Secrets

Time to get back in the DM saddle.  My posting and roasting has been light of late and there’s a great explanation for it which I’m not going to give you because I’m fiercely protective of my privacy and that of my wife’s boyfriend’s kids.  I don’t need you lugs showing up to the day job and placing orders for esoteric and time consuming special versions of the loaded French fries to go with your triple decker thousand island topped burger just because you don’t like my fresh hot takes on the venerable institution of Real D&D.

The PDF version of this thing has finally seen the light of my flip-phone, and the resolution makes it hard to read, so it’s taking a little while.  Despite that, I’m all a-quiver.

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You can’t just show up to the game shop day one and expect a full table to slither down into the Nethercity.  Players are a skittish bunch that require some patience to lure to your table.  You gotta engage in a little foreplay.  You gotta establish your bona fides.  You gotta build a rep as a solid guy worth investing a little time.  You gotta shower and look presentable and take your tourettes meds on time even if they do leave you constipated and cranky.

So that’s what happened this past weekend.  Gritted my teeth, showed up to the local friendly Nerd World, and pretended to be a relatively normal person for a few hours.  Some table’s regular DM didn’t show up, so I had a crew of three friends from that game willing to give Real D&D a shot.  A beefy random landwhale and her mousy friend sat down to round out the table and take a quick lookee-loo around the abandoned halls of Rogan and Zelligar.

Das right!  We diving into Quasqueton.  The original still holds up, and much fun was had by all.  This go round the place was stocked heavy with kobolds who feared the fungal forest and the rock turtle (read: rust monster) who made his lair there.  Why do stone-age dog-faces fear a rust monster?  It is a mystery, and I can’t wait for the players to explain it to me.

Took some time to explain why the party was starting at the dungeon entrance.  Had to sell the players on a lethal game like Manly D&D, but since they consider it a one-off (hmmm, might be something to that), they were game to game.

Went with two trained wardogs in the entrance alcoves, and a favorable reaction roll meant the party was able to bribe their way past with some fresh meat.  They did this on a second delve after the first one saw heavy losses to a wandering kobold patrol, and if they manage a third delve next week, I’ve decided they can “adopt” the wardogs to fight for them in the Nethercity.  Not Quasqueton – the kobolds feed the dogs, too, you know.

They dinked around in the kitchen and wizards lab, noodled through a trap or two.  Nothing over the top.  They peeked in the pool room, but with two casualties they were on their way out and didn’t have the guts to search it properly.

No big deal this time around.  Just a solid session of training up a new group.

More next week.  Probably a few weeks away from Kissing the Nethers, but we’ll get there.

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Kaz Goes Full Storygamer

I wasn’t going to talk about the “murderhobo” nontroversy.  Some rando said something stupid on Twitter and the windowlickers of mainstream D&D fell all over themselves racing to assure the world that they also very much enjoyed having D&D AIDS.  Must be Always O’clock again.  But then everybody’s favorite squish and crazy cat leaf had to race for the mic to reassure the world that he isn’t like those nasty little mental hobbitses.  He just can’t resist dancing like a puppet when they pull his strings.  In the process revealed something rather astonishing, and something that is far more interesting than the latest mombo-jombo from the Cult of the Woke.

GASP!  The phone call was coming from a Storygamer inside the party the whole time!

The tl;dw* version goes like this:

Murderhoboing is dumb.  My precious games make sure that you place the story first and the game second.  Winning a boon from an Earl is worth way more than 20,000gp.  Playing an immersive style of play where the characters act like retards because of narrative continuity that arises from my failed fanfic writing career makes me le smart.  Also, despite my pretentions of greater intellect I have no clue about the libraries full of literature about wandering ronin and knights errant and cowboys who saunter into a town, defeat the evil warlord/dragon/rail baron and saunter out leaving a trail of broken hearts and broken heads in their wake.  Does anyone have any poop that I could eat?

I might be paraphrasing, but that’s more or less an accurate translation.

We here at Casa de Wright are Game First Respecters.  We believe in the oracular power of the dice.  We understand that the story emerges post-facto from the game.  We do not place a premium on familial relationships and political intrigue and other girlish pursuits.  We’re all about clambering down into dank holes and squarshing chaos and clambering out just long enough to refit, refresh, and return.

aoi

RPGpundit running his latest campaign (cat not pictured).

Storygamers like the RPGpundit take the opposite tack.  They loves them some stories and they loves escape from the real world of their pathetic jobs and lives.  They want immersion into the game so that they can forget for a moment their poor life choices and their small penises.

We here at Casa de Wright embrace our small penises – wait that came out wrong – what I mean is that we love the game and ourselves enough that we don’t need to immerse ourselves in the Fake News of the Fake Lives of our pawns.  We embrace the challenge of the game first, and apply the story once the game has allowed us to suckle on its drama-teat.  While we enjoy slathering on a nice story frosting, we appreciate the rich game cake.  And that’s actually a much harder road to walk, mentally.

It’s really easy to write the stories first and then just nudge that narrative a little bit when the real world of the dice get in the way.  Or to just fudge the dice a bit and ignore them when the results aren’t what your nice little pet theory dictated.  That’s how SJWs,  like Pundy (who is the REAL SJW lol** ) treat everything from D&D theory to political theory to gender theory to fedora tipping their way into the utter stupidity of the atheist religion.

How much harder is it to have to actually pay attention to the dice, to have to remember the results and find the patterns created by the fates and then to offer suitable explanations?  Way harder.  As in, that one pawn that was a combat beast but couldn’t hit the highest AC orc if the thing was tied to an altar to Gork.  You gotta remember that stuff.  You gotta notice it.  And you gotta come with an off-the-cuff explanation that his to-hit rolls failed because he was afraid of orcs and didn’t like them because he secretly wanted to have sex with orcs.  Okay, maybe not that explanation, that’s as dumb in D&D land as it is in real land, but you get the point.

Murderhoboing is the game of champions.

Any doofus can adventure in the same town session after session.  Having to up stakes and start all over dungeon after dungeon?  Never knowing if the cleric in this keep can be trusted not to betray you to the temple of chaos?  Never knowing if that next hex contains a hermit and his pet cougar or a lizard tribe or bandit camp?

That’s the stuff of champions.

*Good choice.

**Boomer zing FTW!

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How Consent Works

When you sit down to my D&D game, you consent to play my games.  Both the RAW B/X game, and the head games that are part and parcel of dealing with a maniac like me.

Like my second ex-wife’s ass cheeks, there a lot of overlap between the two.

You signal your consent by bellying up to the bar and drinking what I’m swilling.  You can remove consent at any time by standing up and walking away.

It’s a rough system, but it works great for adults who think like adults.

These days everybody gotta be an autist.  We wind up with that D&D Consent form that’s been making the rounds and everybody has offered their smoothbrain takes and identical jokes on it.  Even the RPGpundit is taking a few swings at the low hanging Pinata, so you know it’s an easy target ripe for normie-tier edgelord commentary.  (Remember to hit the like and subscribe, everybody!  Dear God, please hit the YouTube levers for my Pavlovian dopamine hit!)  As such, I’d’ve let it slide without comment, but some clever fellow did some clever digging, and it turns out that Monte Cook is just the name behind the worst thing to hit D&D since Monte Cook:

The co-writer and co-owner of Monte Cook Games is a lady named Shanna Germain. Who besides being known for helping to create the interesting Cypher System RPG, is also an author of BDSM literature.

Uh huh.  Just as we all expected.  I’m not even going to look up a photo of Shanna because we all know what people into BDSM look like.  She’s got twenty extra pounds or weird scars or way too many tattoos (read: one).  I did find a picture of her father, though:

Yeah.  They’re planting this big copper bomb inside the D&D stream that flows beneath the outer wall of the Helm’s Deep that is the wider culture*.  They’re going to get everybody used to consent forms for D&D now.  Then they’ll move on to clicking consent forms for using social media, then for those few self-flagellants who still have and want to watch something on their Netflix accounts.  Then they’ll move on to consent forms signed by children – haha, no they won’t the resistance of the children is half the fun for monsters like the people who use the D&D Consent Form.

It’s basically a Pavlovian training thing for people too dumb to realize how they are being set up to document every decision they make so that it can be used against them if they don’t toe the Line of Poz.  Don’t go against the Narrative Family and you’ll be fine…

tru

Justin Trudeau?  More like Justin TruDAT, amirite?

The great news is that these consent forms are part of a head game that you don’t have to play.  You don’t have to consent to use consent forms.  You can withdraw consent from the whole process, but doing what so many have done to my D&D games when they behold my corpulent magnificence – just get up and walk away.

It’s just that simple.  Get up.  Walk away.

*I love metaphors like a fat kid loves literally anything with too much grease or too much sugar.  Or like a Democrat loves pedophilia.

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