Convergence: The Early Years

Hasbro’s 2017 annual earnings report is out.  Here’s what you want to know:

In addition, several other gaming brands grew, including DUNGEONS & DRAGONS…

The SJWs are going to take this and run with it.  The brand grew, Mike Mearls is the savior of modern D&D, the usual drill.  But let’s drill down into this like a prom date and see if there isn’t more to the story. The sentence above ends, after some irrelevancies with the following:

…growth in digital gaming

Yup.  Tabletop continues to die, in large part due to management’s pursuit of fad money now rather than long term stability.  There’s a metaphor in there for our entire culture.  Chase the new hot immigrant for a quick buck and easy votes now and if it leads to the wholesale destruction of our culture, hey, I got mine, suckers.  Take a look at Wizards of the Dolt’s big hit for 2017 – Tales of the Yawning Portal – it’s eating the seed corn.  It’s Ready Player One in tabletop format.  All horn, no beef.  All chrome, no muscle.  All cleavage, no motorboating.  Fourth Edition ruined the phrase “Red Box”, and Fifth Edition, recognizing that they haven’t produced a single iconic or memorable product yet, went right back to the giants of yesterday and I’m not talking about Nosnra and Grugnar.  Well, I kind of am, because Mearls wheeled them out like Bob Hope on stage in 2002, but really I’m talking about claiming the legacy of Gygax’s success even as you pander to people like this:

chult

Wakanda, The Early Years

 

If rumors are to be believed, even Magic: The Gathering has seen growth in the year that it came out in support of NAMBLA.

It’s enough to make a guy think – except that when I was diagnosed with cancer of the bodily humors, it didn’t kill me right away.  I felt great until the cancer really took hold.  Then, after a long and slow fight in which I propped up my failing systems with massive injections of unicorn blood, everything fell apart “for no reason at all!”

Patience, edgelords.  It’s what separates Real Manly Men from the savages outside of Christendom.  The poison of secular liberalism takes its time to kill the host, and often runs its course and turns on itself before it has a chance to finish the job.  You can see signs of this all over the place – C.C. D’Anastysio’s headline up there is just the tip of the blue-haired, land whale iceberg.

Just keep playing those OSR games, support Goodman Games, deny WotC your dollary-doos, and good things will come to pass.

Don’t believe me?  I’m not into comic books, but they make for one hell of a sexy 1940s Black Canary* in the coalmine. What you see playing out there is coming to tabletop RPGs, and sooner than you think.  To whit:

comics

 

*Not that heroin chic travesty of a costume on Smallville.  Pee-yew!

 

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Mentzer: One Hit Wonder

Frank Mentzer has been taking breaks from sexually harassing women, or from dodging dodgy sexual harassment accusations*, to write up a new RPG called Fairy Tale Games.  His announcements about the game are posted over on Mark Zuckerberg’s Data Mines ‘R Us, so I can’t link to them directly.  Instead, I’ll link to Tenkar’s Tavern.

In any role game you start with a character. But —
If you have stats, that produces competition for better stats.
If you have equipment, you compete for better stuff.
If you have combat to the death, that’s the ultimate competition.
Can you leave all those out and still have fun?

Nope.

I created a new game system.
It’s about storytelling, not combat.
It’s for cooperation, not competition.

mentzyEmphasis added.  There’s your thick, ropy money shot right in the old phiz.  It’s a storytelling game that drains the actual drama of clattering dice and man against setting only to replace it with…what?  A bunch of forced “Princess Bride” and “Monty Python” references, if my experience eavesdropping on storytelling games is any indication.

This is just the latest attempt to cram D&D into a gimp suit and call it a new and novel game.  If it’s not about competition and conflict then it isn’t a game – it’s a verbal masturbation exercise for failed community theater thespians tarted up in an RPG rulebook to take advantage of the supreme gullibility of the overly welcoming people within this supremely aggravating hobby.

Save your money, kids.  Buy something decent like whatever slapdash product Pundy is peddling these days.  Probably something he can use to brag about his history degree, right?

*Either way, it’s hilarious to watch yet another committed feminist ally crab getting dragged back down into the bucket by the crab infested harpies beneath him.  It’s like watching a greased pole climbing competition featuring rainbow haired harridans and soft-bellied soyboys.  Say!  There’s an idea for an RPG right there – slap some Forge style pseudo-intellectual verbiage on that and you too could have the next RPG.net darling!

 

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More On Kids and D&D

Ha ha, yesterday I forgot to wish my exes a Happy Valentines day, and all three of them got pretty mad.  They didn’t to let me see my Jewish daughter, my Latin King son, or even my hijab wearing daughter.  (I make her wear that just so that you can’t call me mean names.  Ha!  Suck on that, COMICS!).  Which meant I had a little more time than usual to think about children and D&D.

thinking

I added some d20s in there, because I know you D&D nerds get off on that stuff.

After re-reading the lifehacker article, How to Introduce Your Kid to Dungeons & Dragons (archive link because I am having a hard time keeping track of all the clickbait sights that I don’t want to give clicks to, the list is getting unmanageable at this point), it occurred to me that perhaps I was being too harsh.

We all know that playing D&D doesn’t automatically turn people into strange, blobby autists.  I myself am quite the rugged and handsome slab of man-meat with pectoral muscles you could bounce a quarter off of and a way with the ladies that makes them swoon.  (My secret is chloroform.)  But it’s all about odds, you see.  My uncle Morty smoked a pack a day and lived to a ripe old age, but that doesn’t mean you should pull a Marlboro and market your toxic product to the chitlens.  That ginger snowboarder whose face is on more products than Star Wars, but that doesn’t negate the thousands of people paralyzed after a stunt gone wrong every year, if you know what I mean.

And being the obsessive type, the kind who spends his spare time reading D&D blogs, we all know you’re going to go ahead and press those little plastic polyhedral pieces of gaming crack into your kids’ hands.  So if you won’t scare your kids of D&D, maybe I can help you keep them a little bit safer.  Give them an RPG helmet so that they can at least hop up on the gaming bike and toddle around the Gygax neighborhood with less fear of having their cranial matter smeared across the pavement when some vapid teen girl gets a text that’s way more important than watching out for little Timmy Training Wheels.  And by “vapid teen girl” I mean Mike Mearls.  And by “text”, I mean “desperate call for attention and white knighting by blubbery SJW activists”.  And by Timmy, I mean that I intend to run this joke into the ground harder than car tires over Timmy’s careless head.

So let’s filk Kevin Makice’s terrible advice and set the record straight:

I bought my two sons the Fourth Edition starter kit for D&D, which is made of a collection of nuanced rules. The game lost my kids’ interest before their first characters could swing an axe.

Ya think?  Come on, bro.  Everybody knows you can’t start with anything published after 1980.  Maaaaybe, if you want to throw them a book so you can get back to your drinking, you can throw them a copy of Mentzer.  That guy wrote a version of D&D easy enough for SJWs to understand it.  But really, you want to go with Moldvay if you think they are going to play without you, or with Holmes if you plan on being full-time DM for the little (in my case literal) bastards.

You see, no kid can unravel Holmes – it’s beyond even Kevin’s grasp – but if you’re there to ease them into the deep end of the intellectual pool, it really is the loosest of the rulesets.  That sucker is wide open for everything you can possible think of.  When they ask to be a ninja turtle, you can wing one in there (AC bonus, d6 HP, strike as a cleric) with no real problems.  If you like vanilla – and who doesn’t? – then B/X is the way to go, especially if you’ve been a good dad and already shown them the Lord of the Rings movies before tying them to a chair for an extra special edition of “Daddy’s Play Time”.

At the time, my solution was coming up with a stripped-down version of D&D (“DnDish”) that threw out all but the most essential parts of the experience.  In doing so, I gutted the rules and only kept the crucial parts: Create a character, Roll the dice, Level up. The rest relied on our collective imagination.

He means that he built his own OSR version of D&D – another great option.  ACKS is good, as is S&S.

With the release of the Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons in 2014, the official rule set now addresses some of the obstacles my family encountered trying to learn the game. However, there are still some things you can do to simplify 5E and improve the experience for your kids.

Yeah, build your own OSR game.  How can this guy claim to be a fan of a game and not know that he’s reinventing the wheel?  It’s like listening to a hockey fan who doesn’t know who Gordie Howe is, or a football fan who doesn’t know who Vince Lombardi is, or a soccer fan who doesn’t know who the gay equivalent of Gordie Howe and Vince Lombardi is.

To avoid costly reference checks, don’t play with the parts that prompt research.

Better yet, don’t play with versions of the game that require you to research during the game.  This isn’t hard, people!

In D&D, a lot of decisions are required to create your character…The quicker you can get to the first monster, the better.

Only if you are doing it wrong.  Roll 3d6 in order: no decisions.  Pick a class, pick a weapon, buy the best armor you can get away with.  Roll for your spell.  Boom – monsters!

When creating characters, it isn’t uncommon to see a bunch of low numbers and hear, “That didn’t count.” Re-rolling to get an acceptable set of high numbers guarantees your character will start strong, but playing with low scores inspires creativity.

Home slice be working on my last nerve.  Three. Dee. Six. In. Order.

The sheer breathless gall of this mouthbreater to think playing the game the way Saint Gygax intended is at all novel or even needed.  Except as an explanation of why not to play a version of the game written after 1980, with the previously noted exception of Mentzer…and maybe Allston, but nobody really plays Allston’s version – they just brag about how great it is to have one hard cover book instead of two soft covers before cracking open Moldvay or Holmes.  But still – it’s an option.

Make Leveling Up Simple

Who know who does that?  If you said Monte Cook, may God have mercy on your soul.  If you said Mike Mearls, go get an AIDS test right now.  You need it.  And you’re welcome.

Rather than deal with those nuances, I award the same points for each encounter. Every character who participates earns those points.

The worst advice in the article.  This isn’t just bad DMing, this is bad parenting.  It’s commie style role-play designed to make life easier for the DM rather than make the game matter for the kids.  If you reward everyone regardless of actions then you’ve short circuited the risk-reward cycle, and you’re teaching the little brats that they can get away with slacking off, because the tank will cover for them while they run around like an idiot wasting their heals and buffs on themselves or on sideline fighters who aren’t taking a beating to save their punk ass from the enemy.

Good luck not being a waste of digital skin in an online MMO with that attitude.

warning

I know I’m being too cynical here, but it’s for your own wife’s boyfriend’s kids’ good.  On the bright side, this article is called “introducing YOUR kid” to D&D, which is a step up.  Had this been official WotC article, it would have been called, “How to Introduce A Kid to D&D So Their Parents Don’t Find Out About Your Combination Magic: The Gathering Display Room and Basement Rape Dungeon”.

There are plenty of reasons to teach your kid D&D.  The table is a place where you can teach them about risk and reward.  You can let them roam freely in the game world in a way you can’t at a D&D convention (without fear of some creeper making passes at them).  You can even sprinkle a little cultural roots into their life by using folklore tales like Baba Yaga or Little People or Firbolgs or Odin into the game.  Logistical planning, knowing when to fight and when to run, learning how to save your GP for plate mail, all of these are skills that will serve them in good stead later in life.

But you can’t impart these valuable life lessons if you play D&D the way Kevin Makice suggests.  Play an OSR game, and play it straight, and you won’t have to fear your kids growing up to waste their life writing free D&D articles or joining some death cult like Antifa.  Metaphorically speaking, that vapid teen girl Mike Mearls will always be out there checking texts on quiet suburban roads, but at least your kids will have some thin veneer of protection between their mushy little heads and the hot, steamy blacktop.

That’s the way I roll, and my wives’ boyfriends’ kids are turning out pretty good.

Go thou and roll likewise.

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200 Pointless Hours!

This is my 200th post.  I’m really jazzed about that.

Have a birthday cat picture.

bday

Meow, m-fers!

I made the stars look like d20’s, because I know you nerds get off on that stuff.

 

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Introducing Your Kids to D&D

Some Basic Becky faux-nerd got it into his head to help you introduce your children to the wonderful and magickal world of D&D.  As is the case with the middling-intellects who write clever-clever lifehacker articles, it’s chock a block full of bad advice, the worst of which is contained right there in the title, How to Introduce Your Kid to Dungeons & Dragons.

Let me provide you with some better advice…

neo

Don’t

Continue reading

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Stiffed Again

BooWhore

Super Male Vitality, yo.

And not in a good way.

Full time shit stirrer and part time writer Jon of the Rice, a left-wing activist, has launched a competitor for the Hugo Awards, and straight out of the gate he dropped the chalupa.  Last month he posted this list of nominees for the inaugural Ribbit Awards, and lord ha’ mercy, I haven’t seen that many stinkers since Uncle Sam put me in charge of the base latrines as punishment for a little Shore Leave escapade back when I pretended to serve in the military.

He had the good grace to include a grand total of three categories for which your arrogant host was a natural fit – Short Work, Related Work, nOOb, Shitposter, and Lifetime Achievement – and gave me bagels across the board.  It would be understandable if he had Best Counting as a category and left me off, but Related Work?  Did you read my memoirs of how normal people react to DMs that get angry when players enjoy their own game instead of the DM’s sad narrative?  It’s right here if you haven’t, and you should have, because it’s hilarious.  A lot funnier than The Hitchhikers Guide without all the twee smarm…of course, that’s true of Schindler’s List, too.

The point is, these awards are like my high school football team – giant circle jerks that don’t invite the kicker just because of one or two dropped snaps in the endzone.  Pointless and I’m not bitter at all, but seriously, you should ignore these popularity because they are all run by mean old poopy heads.  And I only say THAT because they probably spend an hour a day huffing their own farts like the booger-faced dum-dums they are.  So there.

Unless I win a Hugo this year, then SFWA is okay in my book.

Not that I’ll get any help from the frogs there, either.  He white knighted and nommed a vagina for best Short Fiction for a Hugo.  Outrageous!  And he nominated the well connected and beloved everywhere funnybook artist Ethan Van Scribbler for best artist despite my glorious meme magic.  (Memes are art, right?  They are in my book!)  Where’s my fainting couch!

Anyway, you know the best stories are those written specifically for the big silver rocket and not to actually entertain people.  I signaled my virtue like a mofo in Hugo Bait and I was completely transgender when I wrote it*.  That’s like two checkboxes in one.  I’m a shoe in for a Hugo, and frankly, if Jon isn’t smart enough to recognize that and get with the winning team, then he deserves all of the hate he gets from the mentally ill poo-eaters over at File 770.

Vote Hugo Bait.  Vote today, yo.

*I got better.

 

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You Need to Read This

We should be so lucky…

If you aren’t already reading Bradford C. Walkman’s blog, then hie thee to his place and fix thine ways ere you succumb to the forces of storytelling gaming.  He’s the brainiac behind the Mech Pilot analogy for players who mistake rules for character traits.  It’s all a part of the modern, third-rate community theater reject style of RPGs designed to maximize player options by hammering the square dregs into ever smaller holes.  It’s the old “that which is not allowed is forbidden” method of selling players abilities instead of the “that which is not forbidden is allowed” method of selling everyone a thin, 64-page rulebook suitable for running an infinite number of monkeys through an infinite number of settings.

There’s just no margin in the latter, but ol’ Uncle E. Reagan ain’t here to milk you for cash, he’s just here to show you a better way.  And when he finds a wise guy with wise words, he loves to share the wealth.

Which brings us back around to Walkman’s recent missive, entitled Easy Magic Turns Everyone Into Magneto, Not Gandalf, itself a response to something written by fellow bigbrain, Dyvers.

Dyvers gets all foofy and storyteller by asking:

So how do we fix this and make magic more meaningful?

He answers with a bunch of yah-yah about backstory and setting and costs and God I’m already bored.  It’s a strong attempt.  He took some risks.  French judge gives him a 9.3.

Walkman, on the other hand, takes the ball and runs with it:

The result is exactly what you expect: magic-use becomes little more than myth-flavored super-powers, and users little more than superhumans.

Bingo.  Upping level one spellcasting, you just made magic mundane.  Way to ruin the game, Wizards!

Which is why it’s not Gandalf that you get when magic is too easy. Gandalf has to be wise to win. Magneto doesn’t, and easy magic doesn’t prompt players to cultivate wisdom- just power. It’s not surprising, therefore, to see Raistlin Majere retain his popularity despite all the shit he brings upon himself.

They completely screwed that pooch with the feminist haircut of Fourth Edition, which made everyone a spellcaster with unlimited spell slots, and that produced the worst possible version of the Grand-Daddy of them all.  Fifth Edition walked it back, but couldn’t resist making sure that magic-users had lots and lots of powerful stuff to do.  They compensated fighters for their loss by making them nothing but standing bags of hit points meant to stand there and do nothing but bleed while the wizard got stuff done and the thief plinked away with a short bow for massive amounts of damage.

A short bow.

Sigh.

wiz

But really, the big issue here is that everybody wants to be the star every combat round, and nobody wants to earn real ultimate power.  Nobody wants to put in the effort to earn the XP to build up to Elric levels of god-murder, and nobody wants to have to think about tactics beyond, “Which button on my character sheet should I press this round?  Magic Missile again?  Okay!”

Well, the high-T menfolk do, but in this world of plasticizers and Comedy Central and bubble-wrapped playgrounds, we macho dudes who don’t need to grow a scraggly beard to hide our low-T values just aren’t as common as we used to be.

Even at the gaming table.

Thank God there are manly men with bulging pectoral muscles and meaty brains like B-Walk to show us all the way to stand up to our wives’ boyfriends and demand they run B/X instead of Pathfinder this week.  Without them, we would be lost.

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