Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Death & Glory, Pretentious Nonsense, and S. John Ross’s Groucho Routine

Gaming History (Mesmerized by Sirens) OSR as a rudimentary science — “From the point of view of a youngster who feels attracted to this hobby and is eager to gather information about old games he never saw personally because they were published much before his birth- and who is consequently taking his first steps in this hobby, thinking the internet will be able to help him…there is a disappointing end waiting. This is why i say OSR (nowadays, in 2013) is a rudimentary science, it is much less than a fragmentary corpus of knowledge. This i call penury.”

Science Fiction (Los Angeles Review of Books) Science Fiction and Prophecy: Talking to Arthur C. Clarke — “I came across a review the other day; it’s the 25th anniversary of the movie, and somebody said, 2001 was so far ahead of its time, and it’s still the same pretentious nonsense now that it was 25 years ago.”

Gaming in the News (Greyhawk Grognard) Nice Newspaper Article about D&D — “Tabletop gamers, new and old alike, say they are drawn to the freedom of a game system that doesn’t limit their choices. Whatever they want their characters to do generally is allowed and, as a result they say, the experience feels more “real” than playing a video game, in which the world is like a beautiful cage — vividly portrayed but also limited by its programming.”

Forgotten Realms (Society of the Torch, Pole, and Rope) Back to Faerûn — “So for the last three weeks, I’ve found myself back in Ed Greenwood’s world running a game using a system I’ve not really touched since 1990 or thereabouts. And I must say I’m having a wonderful time. Long time readers know that I remain a fan of the Realms, despite everything that’s been done to the poor place over the last (can you believe it?) twenty-five years. Returning there has been a joy, like falling back in with old flame or seeing someone from your youth and reminiscing about days gone by.”

Forgotten Realms (Society of the Torch, Pole, and Rope) Establishing Boundaries in the Realms — “I started running my first Realms game back in 1987 when the Gray Box was released. Reading that set completely changed how I approached world design.”

Gaming History (Semper Initiativus Unam) The Biggest Monsters of All — “It causes much consternation and clucking of tongues when gamers point out that bothSupplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes for OD&D and the fourth AD&D hardback,Deities & Demigods, are basically the Monster Manual on steroids. This also follows suit for the Judges Guild supplement Unknown Gods which follows the same basic format, and of course its OSR follow-up in Petty Gods. Each carries with it the implication that gods are fundamentally killable things.”

Holmes Basic (Zenopus Archives) Holmes Alignment is Six-Point — “The alignment scheme in Holmes is generally referred to as ‘five-point’. This scheme is adapted from the Strategic Review #6 (Feb ’76) and includes lawful good, chaotic good, neutral, lawful evil and chaotic evil. These are all that is described in the section on ‘Character Alignment’ (pg 8). But there’s actually a sixth option for monsters: no alignment. A number of monsters simply lack a line for Alignment.”

Gaming History (Semper Initiativus Unam) Making a Killing — “[Blackmoor] also makes the fascinating observation that assassins are neutral, whereas AD&D stuck them firmly in the “Evil” side of its alignment matrix. That certainly colors your Blackmoorish neutrality and chaos differently, I think, considering that thieves can be neutral or chaotic, and hired by lawfuls. It also works in terms of insulating assassins from either “side” when viewing law vs chaos as a fight with two sides instead of a grand ethical dilemma. Assassins are for hire and don’t take sides. ”

Adventure Design (Monsters and Manuals) The Problem of Horror Games — “I’m not a believer in the hero or heroine triumphing over evil in a horror story. Even if he survives, he should be physically or mentally ruined. Ramsey Campbell is the master of coming up with endings which imply that some unfortunate soul will be in torment forever, and Ligotti is expert at implying meaninglessness and complete lack of hope, but more mainstream horror can be just as pessimistic – in most of Stephen King’s books there is a genuine streak of sheer nastiness in the endings, giving the sense that everything has changed for the worst.”

Role Playing (S. John Ross) Here’s a terrible thing I do, because I’m a bad person. — “If I’m playing a convention RPG, and the GM is terrible (I only do this is if the GM is terrible) I Groucho them. Which is to say, I very gradually drift my roleplaying from whatever sincere version of the character I had been doing, to an outright Groucho Marx impression.”


2 responses to “Blog Watch: Death & Glory, Pretentious Nonsense, and S. John Ross’s Groucho Routine

  1. PeterD August 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    S,John’s comment is the final nail in the coffin of my willingness to run a con game.

    • jeffro August 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Ouch. That’s harsh.

      While odds are that no GM will be everyone’s cup of tea… I have to say that I really appreciate being exposed to such a wide range of players via the convention scene. It really flushes out all the assumptions I bring to the table. And being responsible for someone’s first experience with either GURPS or classic D&D is pretty awesome.

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