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Content note: This week, the notorious sexist, transphobic harassment machine Zak Sabbath got another transgender games writer to drop off the face of the internet and/or social media. This is the third transgender (or otherwise non-cis) victim of his that I know of, who has committed infosuicide or otherwise severely curtailed their online activity because of him.

Frustrated with the tabletop games industry -- especially the regressive, authoritarian part of it called the OSR, or "Old School Renaissance / Revolution," but also people like Mark Diaz Truman who have helped to create a false equivalence in people's minds between abusers and their victims -- I had a public meltdown about it on Google+. This post reproduces that meltdown in its entirety.

For more information on the GamerGate of the tabletop games scene, Zak S, see Ettin's compilation thread and this compilation thread on Google+. Keep in mind that most of the TG scene is okay with this, or is cheering him on, and that Zak S was credited in the latest edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook.

Vent posting follows )

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Meet Kethra.

A photo of a small plastic miniature on Jewel fox's desk, next to her laptop. The miniature is of a female spell caster in a green dress, with a grey cloak over the top and a set of leather pouches and accessories hanging off of her waist. She is carrying her spell book in one hand, and using the other to summon ethereal flames from its pages.

She's a rebellious notary public, from a snowy part of the Forgotten Realms.

One winter, her local lord barred anyone without notarized identity papers from accessing shelter or grain. Kethra responded by notarizing any and all papers that crossed her desk while there was snow on the ground.

A cat is now lord of that land. The cat has impeccable documentation.

... oh yeah, her hobby is studying magic. That's what she's doing in this picture. Magic, not studying it.

Detailed profile )

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Read more... )

* I mean straight as in "heteronormative," and not as in the genders of the participants.

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Hyperallergic's Michael Press is Dispelling the Myths Around the Hobby Lobby Antiquities Case:

Looting involves destruction and loss of information on a truly massive scale: not only do the objects themselves lose all contextual information, but after being looted, any object deemed valueless on the antiquities market will be discarded or destroyed. Looting pits may be quite deep, and all material located above the looted artifacts is destroyed or lost. This is one of many serious problems with collectors’ buying, and scholars relying on, unprovenanced artifacts – artifacts without a clear, traceable chain of custody back to an archaeological excavation.

But we must also remember that this is a case of theft. In such cases, the real loss is not “ours” as Westerners or as scholars. It is above all a loss for those from whom the artifacts were stolen — the Iraqi people.

How many games have I "innocently" played, where the point is to loot ancient and priceless artifacts and sell them? I don't think I can look at those the same way anymore. Sort of like how Nekopara goes from "creepy" to "terrifying" after reading Ewen Cluney's Nekomimi Land. This is outright cultural theft.

Family and religious stuff, plus innuendo )

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I've been watching the "Heroes of Awesome" play D&D. In this episode, they're camping out in the forest and are being circled by wolves.

Click here if you can't see the speciesist title card.

In previous episodes, the players (a guy, a girl, and two women) completely lacked agency or the ability to advance the plot in any way, save by kissing up to or accepting missions from NPC authority figures. And rolling a d20 over and over again until their roll doesn't suck. In this episode, we're apparently finding out that wolves like to eat elven and human adventurers who are encircling a campfire.

As soon as they realized the threat they were facing, the Chaotic-Neutral-ish Rogue asked if she ought to climb a tree. Everyone was like "NO" even though this is, of course, the most sensible thing to do.

Also, just as a minor nitpick, literally everyone at the table forgot that Eladrin don't sleep, and are aware of their surroundings during "trance." Which became relevant when the people on night watch started rolling Perception.

Can the wolves possibly survive their encounter with heavily-armed adventurers?! Maybe we'll keep watching and let you all know. >_>; I have to say, though, these campaign videos are really making me appreciate Fate and Dungeon World.

EDIT

We actually DMed an encounter with wolves, once, in D&D 4e, the same system these people are using. A Revenant (sapient zombie) player character woke up from death to find one chewing on her foot.

The wolves freaked out when the "carrion" fought back. Then she and another player character (who happened to show up just then) started dealing damage to them and doing flashy spellcasting-type stuff, and they bolted back into the woods.

No one was killed on either side (although one of the people involved was already dead).

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So, lately I've taken to reading transcripts of the "FATAL & Friends" reviews on Something Awful, named after the legendary Worst RPG Ever. It's been very interesting to get a fresh perspective on games like Pathfinder, and see their flaws pointed out by an outsider.

(The Original D&D review was also very interesting. Did you know that the reason Pathfinder has so many spells like Cloudkill and Hallucinatory Terrain is because they were originally supposed to be used in a Warhammer style miniatures game, to delete blocks of infantry or to create or obscure terrain?)

Fate Core in person

I also recently had the experience of going out to GM a starting session of Fate Core in person, for a Pathfinder veteran and his friend who was new to RPGs but was very interested when I described Fate.

In hindsight, I think I did things all wrong for the planned Capsule Contingency RPG. >_>;;

How wrong, you ask? )

So, for [personal profile] redsixwing and [personal profile] sablin27 ...

What should we do for our planned game? Do you want to just start it right now, and then help us come up with things as we go? Because I think that we could do that, if there is an understanding that it isn't going to be perfect. ^^; We could alternately discuss some of the ideas we had for where the game's going to go, so we can find out what stories you're interested in exploring and maybe get some ideas and stuff.

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I've been kind of uncomfortable with Pathfinder and D&D both for different reasons, and started looking for another role-playing game that has the rules for free online and lets you write your own stuff for it.

So far I've found two that look promising: Dungeon World and 13th Age. You can find their respective SRDs, or free online rules documents, here and here.

Both are strongly inspired by Pathfinder and D&D, with stock fantasy adventuring tropes and more or less stock fantasy character options. But the authors went in two different directions with them ... especially with regard to how accessible their games are to newbies. Whether those newbs are players, or fan / professional authors.

Read more... )

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Back when the first editions of Dungeons and Dragons saw print, the writers had to explain to players from the 70's and 80's that this wasn't a game like Chutes and Ladders that you were trying to "win." In fact, the game could continue indefinitely, with a new adventure for your character in every session.

Having said that, players through the years have tried to achieve their own personal win states for whatever roleplaying game they were in. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for how to win most of the roleplaying games we have personal (or substantial second-hand) experience with!

(These suggestions are not completely serious, but they aren't completely UN-serious, either.)



Babylon 5: Level up enough times that a single PPG shot won't kill you.

Call of Cthulhu: Don't die or go insane this session.

D&D / AD&D 1.0: Figure out how the heck to play Dungeons and Dragons.

D&D / AD&D 2.0: Cause your DM to pull their hair out, burn all their RPG books, and join a convent. Alternately, if you're the DM: Kill all the players. Not the characters, the players.

D&D 3.0 / 3.5: Get to level 6, so you can finally go into a "prestige" class and play the character you wanted to.

D&D 4.0: Win or survive every combat encounter, until you best the final boss fight and beat the game at level 30.

D&D 5.0: Survive D&D 2.0 dungeons, using a D&D 4.0 character, until you acquire one magic item from the D&D 3.5 rulebooks. (This may take several years.)

D20 Modern: Get to level 4, so you can finally go into an "advanced" class and play the character you wanted to.

FATE Core: Insert your own win condition here (then invoke it as an Aspect during play).

Pathfinder: Convince the GM to let you play the character you want to play.

Pathfinder Society: Buy enough Pathfinder stuff, and kiss up to enough Venture-Captains, to get the boon (and the books) that you need to start over from level 1 as the character you actually wanted to play to begin with.

Traveler: Don't die during character creation.



Special bonus for those who've been subject to it

FATAL: Cast FATAL.*




* Although really, the only way to win is not to play.

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Dungeons and Dragons (and its successor, Pathfinder) uses a mechanic called "alignment" to describe your character's morals. It consists of a Good / Evil axis and a Lawful / Chaotic axis, with the possibility of being "Neutral" on either or both.

A lot of people have discarded the alignment system, seeing it as neither a fun game mechanic nor a useful way of understanding people. We don't really like it as it's implemented in Pathfinder, but we feel like the Planescape campaign setting for D&D really showed what kind of potential it has both for storytelling and philosophy.

Planescape portrayed the Chaotic Neutral afterlife as a "Limbo" of swirling clouds of random matter, which change so often as to be essentially formless and static. It noted that there are "anarchs" who can reshape the landscape at a whim, but did not seem to think much of them.

We think that if someone were to make a game where you play as one, though, it'd look something like Microsoft's Project Spark ...

Click here if you can't see the video.

... either that, or the Internet.

Floating islands of games, stories, and content, connected by threads of imagination and lit by sparks of wonder. That's what we feel it'd be like, to live in a realm of pure creativity and personal expression.

We were always told that we'd get to create (and populate) worlds, in the Mormon afterlife. But that was always used as an excuse, to keep us from doing so here and now. We had to "endure to the end," first, and then somehow we'd go from a Lawful lifestyle of self-negation to an eternity of fulfillment. Either that, or we would be destroyed and replaced by someone who would be fulfilled as a Mormon.

I think our family of origin still wants that for us.

I think that's what all conservative religious people mean, when they talk about "loving the sinner but hating the sin."

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After spending hours and hours and hours photographing the board, editing PDF character sheets, and writing up power lists on [community profile] nentir_vale, I can conclusively state the following:

D&D 4e was not meant to be played online, unless you have a D&D Insider subscription and use the online tools. Especially the virtual tabletop, which doesn't exist.

Pathfinder's much easier to GM online, partly because combat does not last all day or require a game board, and partly because all the stuff that you need you can link to directly online.

D&D 5e looks like it'll be closer to Pathfinder, but its "Basic D&D" rules are a gods-damned PDF, and are far from comprehensive.

If we ever get up the energy to do another online RPG campaign, it will probably be Pathfinder.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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