Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Tolkien’s Bully, Cryptic Alliances, Colonial Oppression, and Silly Ducks

Game Design (LawfulGoodness) What tips do you have for formulating a campaign? Do you prefer pre-made modules or home few? — “Pre-made adventures or campaign settings are only useful if A) they’re easier/faster than coming up with something yourself would be, or B) you have a lot of free time to read a game book and memorize all of its details.”

Appendix N (The Weekly Standard) Myth Makers — “The Inklings’ main activity, according to the Zaleskis, was ‘to read aloud their works in progress, and endure or enjoy with as much grace as they could muster the sometimes blistering critiques that followed.’ Tolkien, reticent by nature, became gun-shy when fellow Inkling H.V. D. Dyson greeted an installment of the trilogy with a caustic, ‘Oh God, not another fucking elf!’—and then bullied Tolkien into never reading from it in his presence again.”

Bidness (Zak S) Victory Speech — “I get a ‘you catch more flies with honey’ speech from a different beardo with a different failed Kickstarter every week. Guess what? Flies don’t buy D&D books. They don’t even have wallets. Because they’re flies. They don’t even have pockets. They just have big roundy golfball eyes. You catch gamers by giving them something they don’t already have, and what they already have in spades is people constantly feeding them hype in order to sell shit or soft-pedaling to avoid pissing off moderators.”

Gamma World (Dungeon Fantastic) Cryptic Alliances – Rise of the Belief State — “You could relegate most Cryptic Alliances to just secret societies that exist within existing secular states. But I think it’s a lot more fun to have the lands that belong to the Ranks of the Fit than to have the Kingdom of Loosyanna with some scheming sub-groups in it. It makes the land feel more threatening if there are only a limited amount of places you can go if you aren’t part of some group. And it makes either joining a group – or founding your own – a bigger challenge. Most of the Cryptic Alliances just don’t accept that other people’s beliefs are valid too. That would also make the few free cities worth the name valuable prizes for all sides, dangerous pits of trouble, really interesting places to visit, etc. Being the exception (non-C.A. allied large power structure) not the rule (C.A. controlled) makes them really interesting. Like The Free City of Krakow in T2K.”

D&D (The Rusty Battleaxe) D&D 5e: My Ambivalence — “Dungeon combat became both more complicated and less interesting with 5e. I quickly noticed that there was a blandness to encounters as every PC was able to take some sort of action almost every turn. Often, it didn’t seem to matter what specific type of attack was used by the PCs. Each option seemed to have about the same chance of success/failure and did about the same amount of damage, whether melee, missile or spell attack. Lots of options every round for players but the effects of those options felt very generic from the DM perspective.”

Robotech (Future War Stories) FWS Topics: Mildly Military — “As I said above, anime/manga is a minefield of mildly military organizations, and the landmark ROBOTECH is no different. The RDF of the Macross era is filled with pilots with crazy hairstyles, poor discipline, odd behaviors (like watch a beauty contest or attempting a concert during a patrol). Some of this can be forgiven in the 3rd Robotech generation during the Invid War, due to REF Scott Bernard being a guerrilla fighter leader, but neither Macross or the New Generation are anything close to the horror show that is the 15th Tactical Squad under the childish leader of Dana Sterling. Seriously, can this recent graduate of the Southern Cross military academy fuck up more than she does? No military would put up with her, no matter the talent or the family connections, and it completely robs The Masters of any digity.”

Anti-culture (Dyvers) What Must They Think of Us When They Read Such Things? — “Don’t you know that D&D is nothing more than a shadow play of colonial oppression where race wars are played out and misogyny is at the heart of every adventure? Haven’t you ever thought deeply about anything in your god-damned lives?”

Culture (Acculturated) Was America More Diverse in the 1950s? — “The racial progress in America has led to a reflexive dismissal of everything else the culture produced prior to the civil rights victories of the 1960s. Marinating in self-regard for our progress, we reject previous eras as bland black-and-white prisons, a patriarchal matrix of Mad Men-style sexual harassment, racism, bland pop music and TV dinners.”

Game Design (Violent Resolution) Why the five games chosen for Violent Resolution? — “I considered more, but as it turned out, five was more than enough to nearly overwhelm me. Other options might make an interesting follow-up, but I’m liking the “write what strikes my fancy” phase I’m in now.”

Role-playing Games (Reddit) About Vampire: The Masquerade: Was it really that popular and/or revolutionary? And if so, why is now so forgotten? — “They giggled, seemed nervous, whispered to each other for a bit, and one of them nodded. I got her number, exchanged pleasantries, went home and promptly gathered up every comic I could possibly find worth anything, sold them, bought V:tm, learned it, told me friends we were switching to Whitewolf because girls!”

Books (Cirsova) Ace Doubles: John Brunner & Gardner F. Fox and Dean Cain & Milo Yiannopoulos — “In Endless Shadow, computer programmers are viewed as superhuman, beautiful women want to throw themselves at them, but alas, the program is more important, and they flawlessly write millions words of code! Really? I work in software, and you’re lucky if programmers can be arsed to do their own unit testing half the time, much less write a million words (not lines, mind you!) of code without a single mistake. But if Brunner wants programmers to be newtype supermen, so be it; he makes up for them with snake-handlers and pain cultists.”

Bidness (Star Croseed Musing) The RPG Industry and fair compensation — “They don’t make much money, so they can’t pay much money; and if you love games and have a skillset in writing technical material about horror and fantasy and sci-fi stuff, you end up working for practically nothing because there are hundreds of other fans out there like you who are willing to work for practically nothing, because this isn’t a job, it’s a hobby.”

Comics (Dr. Xaos Comics Madness) That duck, ’nuff said — “Nuances and personalities aside, though, Howard is a powerhouse of comics and pop culture event, no question, a direct splat of comix somehow delivered into one’s newsstand funny books. For me, the touchstone for his presence lies in an immediate nab into the role-playing hobby. When I got into the role-playing game RuneQuest and its setting Glorantha in 1980, I didn’t even blink at the obvious homage in the Gloranthan ducks, which made perfect sense to me in that I practically personally embodied the complete connections among dope-scented counterculture, role-playing, fantasy worlds, politics, and comics. When I finally met Greg Stafford we greeted each like long-lost brothers and stayed on the phone for about a solid year. I was baffled by the strange push in the later fandom to make them less cartoony, and to this day, a gamer who complains about the ‘silly ducks’ is dead to me.”

Science Fantasy (False Machine) Arthurian problems — “The modern D&D-alike often feels more as if it’s in a kind of post-everything future rather than the past. Instead of there being once central feudal authority, there is usually a kind of pleasurable chaos that lets everyone do what they want without much consequence. Instead of almost everyone being the same colour and religion, everyone is different, everyone is a unique race/species/gender combination and everyone is utterly equal and generally regarded so in the imagined society, with about as much race or species hated as an episode of US TV, enough to overcome in about 42 minutes plus ads. Instead of all the violent people being men and all the women being trapped in castles, physical power and the assumption of physical force is shared equally between the genders. Instead of everyone being the same religion, except for one guy who eventually converts, it’s vaguely pantheistic most of the time.”

Appendix N (Haffner Press) News and Events — “December 7, 2015 marks the 100th birthday of one of our favorite authors—Leigh Brackett. Behind the scenes we’ve been preparing for every contingency to celebrate the Centennial of one of America’s unique literary voices. As of this writing, it’s too soon to share our final plans, but rest assured that we will spare no expense or care in designing a finished product that honors the First Lady of Space Opera as well as a hallowed addition to your personal library.”

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2 responses to “Blog Watch: Tolkien’s Bully, Cryptic Alliances, Colonial Oppression, and Silly Ducks

  1. Cirsova August 7, 2015 at 10:34 am

    AC 70.5? Preposterous! Those gentlemen aren’t playing Dungeons & Dragons!

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