AD&D But the “A” is Not What You Think Part 3.

Strangely enough, my favorite edition for monsters thus far has actually been 3E/3.5 Officially there were almost a dozen dedicated monster books plus endless third party sourcebooks. There were three Tome of Horrors variants from Necromancer Games (Now part of Frog God Games.) There was also a revival of Grimtooth’s Traps, but that’s another discussion.

Now, onto Monsters:

Strangely enough, my favorite edition for monsters thus far has actually been 3E/3.5 Officially there were almost a dozen dedicated monster books plus endless third party sourcebooks. There were three Tome of Horrors variants from Necromancer Games (Now part of Frog God Games.) There was also a revival of Grimtooth’s Traps, but that’s another discussion.

The other thing that made 3.5E amazing in terms of monsters is Templates. They kinda did it for 5E, but it never caught on the way it did in Third. I used templates on top of each other and on all of the freaky variant monsters from third party sourcebooks. It was wonderful throwing things out that literally no one had any idea what it was.

Disclaimer: No one edition of D&D is better or worse than any other. Suggestions for the Amalgam Edition are MY opinions! Please feel free to disagree. It’s all hypothetical anyway.

A little bit about Stat Blocks.
From the D&D Rules Cyclopedia c/0 Wizards of the Coast.

I created a LOT of monsters for AD&D2E. I enjoy coming up with new monsters in general. 2E gave us blank monster pages! Back in the pen and paper era, this was fantastic! It might sound dumb now, but back then it was like T$R gave us license to populate our own world.

The binders for 2E were kind of the devil, btw. Also, waiting for new binder pages to come out was kinda the pits. I still have most of mine, but I did the dance of joy when the MM came out in hardcover format.

I also like the Basic, B/X, or BECMI stat blocks. They were short, concise, and super useful. If all I ever need is AC, attacks, damage, special abilities, size and movement, I can look up all the other stuff as needed. I don’t really need their full stats including Cha if it’s probably never going to come up anyway.

I know some of the younger folx reading this are thinking, "He's at it again.-Old guy stuff." But here's the kicker: Every edition has something to offer! I feel simpler is better in many cases! 
Even 4E has something to offer the Amalgam Stat Blocks.
My 4E MM falls open to Oni. That’s probably because it was my favorite creature back then.

I miss the way 4E spelled out a creature’s attacks. In some ways, it added complexity. In many ways, it simplified the game. The D6 recharge ability on a lot of the special attacks was especially nice. I know 5E lists it on some creatures, but I think they could have gone further with it.

Again, I know this seems counter intuitive. It does add to the Stat Block, but it simplifies the DM’s life somewhat. The fewer books I have to have open at the table, the better. My books are full of bookmarks on a given day, anyway. If the creature has spellcasting, I’d rather just have the one or two things it’s likely going to cast in combat handy with a recharge score than have to dig into the PHB and look for all of the nuances of Charm Person, for example.

Also, to mix things even further on the Stat Blocks, I liked the presentation offered in prior editions of how the creature’s attacks should play out. 4E gives us the type, damage, etc but the details of how many and in what order got lost down below. I would rather see it up front. Small thing, I know. But telling me, the DM that the creature will either use claw/claw/bite OR Breath Weapon OR Spell helps a lot.

Some day down the road, I may have to draw up a creature the way I’m describing it so everyone can see what I’m talking about. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds. I like being able to write (pencil and paper) down the creature stats before combat so I can more easily track what they’re doing on the map and in my head so I don’t have to have ALL of my various books open. Trust me, when you make a Feral, Venomous, Sabretooth Wyvern it starts getting a little freaky.

Art sells game books.

AD&D 2E. I want to hug it.

Again, every edition of D&D has things it does well and maybe not so well. Pretty much EVERY edition has some artwork that’s worth keeping. For example- Ogres. The 5E Ogre is almost perfect for the creature, IMO. The 4E Oni were more menacing and intelligent looking. 3E/3.5 had the nice notebook style lines in the background. 2E had a lot of nice color art, especially the 2.5 books. 1E AD&D had the uncensored art that was NSFW in places which was daring and edgy at the time. Basic had a lot of art that just plain got the point across. I like the black and white pen drawings.

The opposite is also true. Take the Displacer Beast as an example. It went from looking almost cartoony (1E AD&D) to pretty much cute and cuddly, to scary, and now terrifying (as it should be.) Regardless, endearing art that brings us closer to the game and enhances the fantasy experience sells books.

I’d rather do this before a game than during.

Thanks for stopping by today. More on the way. I appreciate you!

If I Owned a Game Store Part 5

I’d seen book stores that sold a few RPGs. I’d seen comic shops with a few RPGs on the shelf. I knew plenty of mail order catalogs that included RPGs. Games like Battletech and D&D practically started selling from the back of comic books. The first time I walked into a legitimately games-first shop was mind blowing.

The toughest part of owning a game store is making money.

The first time I walked into a dedicated, friendly, local game store I nearly fainted. It absolutely blew my mind that a store could be dedicated to selling just RPGs, minis, wargames, board games, and accessories. It seemed too good to be true.

I’d seen book stores that sold a few RPGs. I’d seen comic shops with a few RPGs on the shelf. I knew plenty of mail order catalogs that included RPGs. Games like Battletech and D&D practically started selling from the back of comic books. The first time I walked into a legitimately games-first shop was mind blowing.

The kinda sad reality is, most of the ones I first went to are gone now. I can name a couple that are still around in some form, usually a smaller space. I still often wonder how anyone can make enough money selling just games and game accessories to stay in business even with the uptick in sales from the popularity of Critical Role and Covid.

A successful store often has diverse products.

My favorite comic/game shop in the whole world started out as almost strictly comics and branched out into RPGs, Games Workshop, board games, trading card games, anime, and lots of other cool stuff. They survived for almost three going on four decades in a college town doing many of the things I’ve described in the other articles from this series.

I love comic books. My love of comics is what got me interested in the DC and Marvel Superheroes games of the 1980’s. Most comic shops branch out into cards (sports and/or TCGs,) statues, action figures, music, anime/manga, posters, and other comic related merchandise. Many of them even sell some candy and soda pop. I even know one comics place attached to a coffee shop that used to have board games available to the customers.

Since the RPG industry kinda mirrors the comic industry in many ways, it makes sense for them to branch out similarly. I’ve been in game shops that started selling more comics, for example. I’ve been in one game store that went all-in and carries music, games, comics, action figures, LEGOs, Nerf guns, T-shirts, books, snacks, dice, and disc golf supplies. While their RPG section is mostly D&D and otherwise a bit lackluster doesn’t matter to my kids who go in for Transformers, LEGOs and Nerf guns.

Things I’ve seen other places do.

One of my favorite pastimes when traveling is to seek out as many gaming establishments as possible. I’ve seen a pretty wide variety of expansions in terms of the spaces and products offered. Some of them are brilliant and others, well, maybe they’re interesting but…

Spiritual/”New Age”/Wicca?!?

We’ll start with what I think is the most bizarre crossover- “New Age” and/or witchcraft (Wicca) supplies. I’ve been in a couple that sold crystals, jewelry, incense, books on Wicca, tarot, palmistry, philosophy, and so forth. Remember that old 1980’s stigma about D&D players worshipping Satan and summoning demons in their basement? Love you guys. I know you’re harmless, but is this really the message you want to send? Come in for the games, stay for a tarot reading?

It’s sort of a bummer because I’m very much into a lot of “New Age” stuff myself. I consider myself awakened, not woke. In other words, long after the trend dies, my beliefs and practices will remain. I’m down with anyone at my gaming table. Would I sell that sort of product in a game store? Probably not. I’ve also been in one “New Age”/spiritual shop that had some RPGs in with their regular product.

Coffee: saving lives since the day of its discovery.

I’ve mentioned the coffee shop idea already and I think that has a lot of merit. I used to work for Caribou and some of us used to kid around about starting our own establishments. I definitely think it would be a blast having a game room attached to a restaurant with lots of space for everyone to spread out.

I have seen the extreme version of this in use. I know of a game shop that is attached to a restaurant. They’re more of a board game establishment and their main focus is food, but game night is pretty exciting there.

The even more extreme of this ties into an old D&D axiom, “You all meet in a bar.” This shop literally has a bar next door. Obviously they had to separate the two to prevent underage individuals from purchasing alcohol, but it’s an interesting business idea. Lots of beer and pretzels gaming going on there.

Disc Golf, skateboards, and sports cards.

I’ve been in more than one shop that sold Magic: the Gathering right alongside disc golf supplies. I know a fair number of skilled gamers who also participate in that sport for exercise and fresh air. I would not have guessed it would mix as a business model, but they do okay.

I don’t know what the skateboard and/or bicycle shop industry looks like these days. Skateboarding, rollerblading, and rollerskating used to be really popular back when I was growing up. But is it still popular in 2022? Not so sure. Some places have branched out into gaming as a way to help stay afloat I’m guessing.

I know of at least one place that started out selling sports cards, branched out into Magic, and then started carrying D&D, dice, etc. When I worked in game shops we had customers come in a handful of times every week asking if we sold/traded in sports cards. I’ve always found it to be a whole separate affair, but I guess there are places making it work. Good for them.

Model rockets and things even further out there.

If you’ve ever been in a Hobbytown USA store, you know they sell a bit of everything you can imagine. I don’t really consider them a game store per se, but they do carry some pretty spiffy game stuff that many places don’t have. They also have models, terrain supplies, and paint/glue for any miniatures project you can come up with. They also happen to have model rockets and RC cars/drones/aircraft. Good times.

Then there’s what I can only consider the freaky category. I know a game/comic shop with a privately owned tattoo parlor in the back. I guess it’s easy to research the art you want to wear if you didn’t know already.

I also know one place that started as a comic/game shop that moved away from comics and games to sell tobacco water pipes, t-shirts, various tobacco rolling supplies, vapes, and possibly some other things we can’t mention for legal reasons. They’re still around, though. They must be doing something right.

One the far less adult end of the spectrum is kid’s parties. I know a place that rented out their game room for kids’ parties. I don’t think the place made a ton in crossover sales, but it guaranteed money on the off hours/times Magic tournaments and GW events weren’t going on. We scoffed at the idea at the time, but I think some of us Old Grognards can see the wisdom in it now.

The last one I’ll mention is an obvious one that I think would be overlooked. I know this lovely game store that also runs a book club and sells a fair number of sci-fi/fantasy novels. They also carry a few romance books and other things in their book section that are highlighted by the club. I think it’s a good way to go.

Things I could see myself doing.

If I had my druthers, I would have a huge game space. I could see having a handful of walled-off private game rooms to rent out to roleplaying groups. I would pretty much insist on having a night dedicated to a board game club. Obviously we would have Magic tournaments and GW events. Those are all non-product, in store events.

One of the other things I could easily see having attached to my game store is a convenience store or snack bar. Most gamers retain some sort of junk food addiction. Chips, soda, candy, even hot pizza by the slice and maybe hot wings would be on the menu. Anything to save on trips out the door to retrieve food would help. Prices would have to be pretty reasonable, though.

The idea of a coffee bar appeals to me, but it would be pretty low-key. I could see it as sort of a next door side business to supplement the game shop. Part of the appeal to a coffee place is it’s non-gamer friendly on top of keeping the game store staff functional.

I think it would be wise to carry the various RPG related comic titles that aren’t mainstream. Marvel and DC are a mainstay of comic shops. I would market the comic section toward Critical Role and other D&D related comics. I would also consider GI JOE, Power Rangers, Transformers and a few other comics titles. Much like RPGs, a lot of that business is going to rely on distributors with reasonable prices.

Lastly, I could see keeping a few gaming related t-shirts, wall scrolls, and posters on hand. Not turning the place into a clothing store and keeping costs down would be heavy priorities. On the other hand, ordering “gamer sizes” up as far as 3XL, 4XL, and beyond would also be something I would look into. My experience is most places tend to not stock the larger sizes and miss out on some t-shirt sales as a result.

Next time, we’ll discuss web marketing and advertising. Taking the FLGS to the rest of the world.

Thank you for stopping buy. I really appreciate your support. By support I mean just viewing this page or other parts of the site. Thank you.

It’s Awakened, Not “Woke.”

In other words, it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. Cliché maybe? I can’t explain step by step how I got to where I am now mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Sorry, it’s complicated. What I can say is, “I am exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment.”

I went through a process of Spiritual Awakening back in 2015 or so.

What does that mean exactly? It’s a complicated process and personal to everyone who has it happen. Every reverend and guru on the planet has a slightly different take on what it “should” look like. I think the truth is, the meaning of finding your own truth about God/Source/Universe is unique unto the beholder.

In other words, it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. Cliché maybe? I can’t explain step by step how I got to where I am now mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Sorry, it’s complicated. What I can say is, “I am exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment.”

Are we talking religion here?

Absolutely not! In fact I have to be very careful with what I say around a good number of my religious friends. I just know what I have to say about organized religion will get me pushed right out the door of most places of worship. I don’t do organized religion, and they don’t want me around. I’m not a follower in those regards.

There’s two things keeping me out of church. First, would you like to guess what one of the biggest money making institutions in the U.S, if not the world is? Yup. Religion. Second, philosophically, there are certain things we just don’t see eye-to-eye on. That, and even some religions don’t agree philosophically with one another and I happen to agree with the tenets of most of them.

Am I in a cult?

LOL! Absolutely not. I don’t follow any one leader. Sure I listen to Eckhart Tolle, Lori Ladd, Russell Brand, Anna Brown, and even Andey Fellowes. I don’t think any of the above necessarily have a cult. They all have an opinion about life, the Universe, and everything. Who doesn’t?

I grew up during the 1980’s. The mere mention of the word “cult” brought to mind images of Jim Jones disaster and the Heaven’s Gate debacle. A little while later came that mess in Waco, TX. Please trust me when I say, the cult life is certainly not for me.

What got me going?

There are a number of factors that led me where I am today. The first is the notion that I think for myself. We live in the information age. Research is easier than ever. (Don’t get me going about “false” information.) I look at as many facts and opinions as I can and then make up me own mind. Kinda like politics only deeper.

The other answer I have to that question is Dr Steven Greer. I used to meditate back in high school. I used to be big on Ufology and ETs back then, too. I may have had a few experiences of my own from back then. But when I watched Unacknowledged, it made me stop and think.

There are billions of stars, many with their own planets and moons. How arrogant is it to think we’re all the life there is out of all that occupied space? Mathematically, odds are in favor of us having intelligent life in our own solar system. But here’s where the bend in the road comes- It ALL had to start somewhere.

So, do I worship “little green men?”

No. In fact many higher dimensional beings would probably tell you never to do that. That is part of what brought me to believe there has to be so much more out there. There is overwhelming evidence humans are not alone in the Universe. So then, what do they believe in?

We’re well into what-if land now. If you ponder what it means to be connected not just to each other, but the greater whole consciousness of the Universe the outcome is staggering. What if there is more to life than just these squishy bodies we wear for a time?

Paranormal evidence piles onto these conclusions. I became interested in Jerry and Esther (Abraham) Hicks in my travels. Abraham is a being channeled by Esther Hicks. They talk a lot about the Law of Attraction. That made me think even more.

Then I ran across Daniel Scranton, who channels the Ninth Dimensional Arcturian Council. My wife likes to kid me about this one, but what harm does it do? The Arcturians, perched high above in the ninth dimension, tend to send highly positive messages and advice for the growth of humanity as a species. My question is, why not? There’s no harm in anyone spreading messages like, get along with other humans and stay hydrated.

Darryl Anka is another such individual. He channels a being known as Bashar. Most of Bashar’s messages are pretty positive or minimally honest. He’s an interesting being to say the least.

One of my personal favorites is Kryon, channeled by Lee Carroll. Kryon resonates very deeply with me. He talks about a lot of the same topics as the other beings. There are way too many overlapping statements for some of these things not to be true. Kryon also speaks to the marvels inherent to unlocking the vast human potential. Deep and meaningful stuff.

It doesn’t stop there.

Almost EVERY Near Death Experience (NDE) I’ve ever heard or read goes almost the exact same way. I’ve seen way too much of this type of thing to believe in coincidences. If you’ve ever listened to someone talk about their NDE, it will track consistently with many similar stories out there from all walks of life and levels of education.

If NDEs aren’t enough, try to explain a phenomenon known as Remote Viewing. This has been employed by governments and corporations alike. It’s a psychic phenomenon wherein a viewer focuses their consciousness on a specific place and records what they find there. It’s like flying a drone and astral projection all rolled into one.

Every major religion the world over has iconography and myths relating to beings from somewhere else. Angels, demons, djinn, and otherworldly visitors appear in almost every religion. The number of possible explanations starts to narrow the more you compare notes. We might not even be the first true civilization on this planet.

I could literally go for days on this subject, but…

The reason I wanted to discuss this subject was because someone said, “F*k wokeness and cancel culture.” in a post I read earlier on Twitter. Joke’s on him. I’m not “woke” nor do I consider myself to be.

“Woke” has become a cultural phenomenon meaning any number of things (sometimes negative.) If I were to take it as I imagine it was intended? That’s not an insult. In fact, I’ll stand with my “woke” friends all day before I’ll hang with a bigot.

I’m guilty of fitting the stereotype to a certain extent. I do use as much polite terminology and non-discriminatory language as I can. I have several friends and a family member in the LGBTQIA++ community. I think Black Lives Matter.

That’s just it. Lives matter.

I think a lot of lives matter. Jewish, Asian, Hispanic, Muslim, and Trans lives matter, too. If we’re going to meet beings from other worlds, we have to stop squabbling like children over issues such as race, gender, sex, and politics. If we’re all connected and we want to be friends with other planets, we have to show we can make this one work first.

The sad part is, I’m not loved in a lot of communities because I’m perceived as a middle aged, white, cishet male. Yeah, I appear that way. No, I don’t necessarily think that way. I’ve got so much love for anyone who wishes no harm on others. Why do we keep letting petty earthly differences define us if we’re all beings of love and light in an energetic Universe?

Am I crazy?

Depends on who you ask. No, I’m not hearing strange voices that aren’t my own. (Currently.) Do I think beings in the energetic onion layers around the Earth are trying to communicate? Yeah. Probably.

Everything is energy. You, me, the table, what we call atoms. Mostly empty space and filled with energy- different frequencies, different vibrations. Nikola Tesla figured it out. It’s ALL energy.

If I’m nuts, what is CERN doing? They’re experimenting with energy. They are digging into the fabric of the Universe to try to figure out how it works. They’re monitoring energy emissions. (Among other things.)

Some basic tenets of my beliefs.

Be kind to others. Take care of one another as best we can. Spread love, joy, peace, and prosperity for everyone. Try to stay calm and understanding in the face of strife. If we can’t have peace on Earth, how can we ever interact with beings from other worlds?

That’s why I’m here discussing this today. I know of some folx in the Twitterverse that are in need of a lot of kindness and understanding right now. At some point, we have to figure out how to get along regardless of race. There are 8 Billion people here on Earth right now. For anyone to think one particular race is superior to the rest is to deny the Creator. Someday I hope maybe these people will be even a tiny bit awakened to what’s really going on.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate you. More to come.

If I Owned a Game Store Part 4

One of the most successful things I have seen done in the FLGS sphere is having a local board game club meet in the store. Basically, it’s a demo night for board games and players can get a taste of the product. With some concerted efforts in communication and promotion, stores and clubs can work together to make game nights a huge hit.

Time to look at the elephant in the room.

Board games. I used to work in a store that primarily sold board games. It was a lot of fun. The poor thing went belly up eventually, passed to a different owner only to die again a few years later. That was almost twenty years ago at about the time German style board games were really taking off in the US.

Admittedly, board games weren’t the only thing that shop sold. The owners, misguided and loveable though they were, decided to pull in jigsaw puzzles by the truckload along with all kinds of other crazy stuff. This is the game store death trap of competing with Big Box stores mentioned earlier in this series. One simply can’t compete with stores such as Target when it comes to buying power.

That leaves all of the the niche board games. There has also been a massive bloom of what are called “Deck Building Games” in recent years. These are basically TCGs that knew they couldn’t compete with Magic so they made it an all-in-one affair and put it in a box. Then they sell expansion boxes. It’s a good marketing strategy.

The same phenomenon is becoming a trend with RPGs. These board games follow in the footsteps of Talisman and Hero Quest (both of which have also seen a revival) where you have one game with pregenerated characters in a dungeon style environment battling their way through multiple scenarios. Basically someone smashed an RPG campaign into one box and provided minis and dice along with it. Personally, I miss Heroscape.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have I mentioned sales yet?

No, I have not. Here’s the problem I see with board games. They take up a lot of space and don’t necessarily sell all that incredibly well. They’re usually a larger ticket than other things in the shop and the prices from the distributors make it less appealing. Competition with the Big Box stores can be fierce on mainstream games such as Monopoly and its hundreds of variants. There is more money to be made elsewhere in the shop.

There are a couple times per year when board games sell well. The first is November through January. Everyone likes to take a board game home for the holidays. Family gatherings- go figure.

The other good sales time is when people know they are going to be indoors for long periods of time. We used to call it “winter” here in Iowa, but the last several years have been progressively more mild. Maybe the popularity of board games is geographical? I haven’t been to Europe where pub culture is alive and well.

The other down side to board games is in order for them to sell successfully, people have to often times experience them first. I think most of us prefer to play a round or two of any given board game before deciding to buy it. That means the store trying to sell the game must have someone on hand who is knowledgeable about said product and a demonstration model has to be available. How many FLGS owner/operators are free to do so?

Club play.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of the most successful things I have seen done in the FLGS sphere is having a local board game club meet in the store. Basically, it’s a demo night for board games and players can get a taste of the product. With some concerted efforts in communication and promotion, stores and clubs can work together to make game nights a huge hit. This is also true for RPGs and miniatures wargames.

The only things required for club play are a semi-regular meeting time, space to play, and an organizer. Okay, and people, but that usually sorts itself out with some communication and promotion. Having the regular meetings in the shop are a huge bonus because the product is in the next room if people want to buy a copy. (Although the shop also has to be open for that to work. Just sayin.)

Taking it on the road.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This sort of a gamble. Sometimes taking a board game or two to a gaming convention pays off. People become introduced to the newest, shiniest board games at a particular convention and have to have it. The only kicker is how many other dealers brought it with them? Is the company who created the game present with their stack of copies? (Those folx jump for joy when they sell a copy because it’s huge profit with no middle men in the way.)

Smaller, local conventions sometimes offer a better venue for board game sales. There are also specific non-gaming conventions such as the Pork Producers Convention or the State Fair where specifically themed games might do well. This is always a gamble of time, help, and profits. If you can spare the manpower and pay for a dealer table, it might be worth the effort.

Taking board games on the road to gaming or sci-fi/fantasy conventions is a gamble. How many RPGs, dice, M:tG booster boxes, comics, etc could one have brought instead that take up the same amount of space for far more product? Is it better to sell one $60 board game with 40% markup than 30 packs of Magic cards at $3.97 ea at 50% markup. (These may or may not be realistic numbers nowadays.) I can pack three or four booster boxes of cards in the same space as the board game. There’s the dilemma.

The verdict.

If I were running my own little FLGS I might devote a small amount of space to a few board games. I would be extremely picky, however. I would pick things aimed more toward the RPG and Deck Building game crowds. Obviously anything sold at Target, WalMart, Costco, etc is right out. I would ramp up the board game inventory a bit in October and then reduce it back to maybe 20 or 30 different games in January with the notion that specific games can be ordered via customer request.

If I had an expert in my friends group willing to set up a board game club night, I would help promote whatever he/she/they would want to showcase. The only thing I would ask is to have some idea of what they were planning to play so I can get one or two copies on hand for people interested in it. Oh, and make sure the gaming space is free that night. Magic Tournaments and D&D Adventurers League take up as much or more space. It’s all about scheduling.

Next time we’ll talk about diversification.

I mean in terms of the business. What do you sell on top of games, cards, dice, minis, meeples, and snacks at a game store? Oh, you might be surprised at some of the crazy cool stuff people have come up with over the years.

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you’re enjoying this little foray into the retail side of the game industry as much as I enjoy discussing it. I appreciate you.

If I Owned A Game Store Part 3

I’m not joking when I say a person can literally go bankrupt buying dice these days. There are so many sizes, shapes, and flavors of clickity clack goblin math rocks on the market it’s not even funny.

There are a lot of nuances to game retail that many people fail to consider, especially early on.

Photo by Summer Rune on Pexels.com

I’m not joking when I say a person can literally go bankrupt buying dice these days. There are so many sizes, shapes, and flavors of clickity clack goblin math rocks on the market it’s not even funny. Yes, plenty of pro manufacturers to go around. And then for an added bonus there are so many artisans making their own beautiful creations. Let’s talk about Dice.

I’ve seen sets of dice made from moon rock that retail for hundreds of dollars. I’ve seen other stones and crystals cut into polyhedral dice that run close to $100. That’s a lot of money to have sitting around in the shop waiting to sell. Honestly, I don’t know how FLGS owners really feel about that.

It’s kinda like that $100 Magic: the Gathering single sitting in the case that might end up being a tournament prize eventually. It’s pretty to look at, but do I really want to shell out that kind of money as a customer. I get a set of solid obsidian dice, or I can buy a pack of really high quality resin dice that look exactly the same as obsidian for around $12. Hmmm…

The dice market has become more complicated over the last decade or so. I can remember a time when there were four major dice manufacturers: Chessex, Armory, Gamescience, and Koplow. Now? I follow dozens of Instagram accounts for dice makers. Etsy shops all over creation. I can buy one pound bags of random single dice on Amazon for $30-ish.

A pound of dice broken up and sold as single dice for $0.99 is a pretty shiny profit and it’s pretty much a guaranteed add-on purchase for a lot of gamers. Sets near the checkout for around $9.99 are a similar purchase. There’s money to be made selling dice in a FLGS, but it’s important not to drop too much money on them going in if I want to stay in business for more than a week.

Tasty math candy, but DO NOT EAT THE DICE!

Dice Accessories are another growing market over the last decade or so. I’ve watched it grow from simple felt lined wooden trays to leather and felt trays with snaps that fold flat when not in use. There are dice cases, vaults, and compartmented dice bags now. Heck, there are even dice towers and dice jails to be found.

Again, there are plenty of folx out there on Amazon, Etsy, even Ebay that have their dice-related wares up for sale. But, that leather dice case/play mat for $14.99 is awfully tempting as an upsell for the retailer. Dice freaks like me have a hard time saying “no” to cool stuff like that. The black leather one had to come home with me. As as retailer I think it’s best to approach all of the cool dice accessories with cautious optimism and balance sales with product line expansions.

A well-lit case near the cash register is probably the best place to sell dice. The more out of sight the math rocks are, the more likely they are to get stolen before they sell. It’s tragic that someone would do such a dastardly thing, but it happens.

Another interesting thing I would do in my FLGS is try to get one of those huge Chessex bins to allow people to customize their own sets. I saw one of these at The Source in Minneapolis MN and bought more dice than I originally went in there for. That’s also where I picked up a very nice set of Dungeon Crawl Classics Dice. It was a good trip up there. Can’t wait to go back. That bin really stuck out from a seller’s point of view, though.

Photo by Asia Culture Center on Pexels.com

Dice are one of those things that sell pretty darn well at conventions, as I recall. People forget their dice and D&D starts at Table 13 in ten minutes! What to do?

“Ack! Oh, wait. Jeff’s Game Box sells plain $5.00 dice sets in the Huckster’s Room. Just go grab some and be right there. You can also get a cute Dragon Baggin for $14.99 to put them in. Shweeet!”

I’m telling ya, dice and dice accessories can really come in handy in the right place at the right time. I’ve been there on both sides of that discussion. Even at conventions where gaming isn’t the focus, it’s possible to sell dice and dice games. I worked for a company that kept selling out of LCR and Pass the Pigs at the International Pork Producers Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Turns out people want something fun to do after they’ve been grilling pork chops all day.

Next time, we’ll talk about the elephant in the room. Yup. We haven’t discussed selling boardgames yet. Lots to talk about there, too. Setting up a FLGS is a LOT of work mentally and physically. Planning ahead is the key to success.

Thanks for being here. Please stay cool and hydrated. I appreciate you!

If I Owned a Game Store Part 2

Product choices can make or break a game store. This is where business minds superior to mine can probably chime in. The most basic concept, especially starting out, is to balance overhead with profits. If it’s not going to sell sooner rather than later? Hold off on ordering it.

Then comes the fun part- Product.

Product choices can make or break a game store. This is where business minds superior to mine can probably chime in. The most basic concept, especially starting out, is to balance overhead with profits. If it’s not going to sell sooner rather than later? Hold off on ordering it.

Floor space is critical as well. A full Games Workshop spread takes up a lot of space and requires game room for tournaments. Magic the Gathering requires very little counter space (minus single,) but lots of tournament room. D&D is always kind of a gamble because of the massive amount of competition with other retail sources. If you devote a ton of space to miniatures, you lose space for other product. Then there is a matter of peripheral products such as dice.

Below is my list of product considerations:
  • The first thing FLGS owners must generally accept is it’s tough to find decent distributors willing to really work with small businesses. I mean, everyone wants to cut deal with big box stores such as Target, Walmart, or Costco. The big boys are going to order pallet loads of product and get pennies-on-the- dollar deals. The big box stores move pallets. FLGS move one or two units at at time and then reorder.

    Independent owner/operators usually get a pretty rough deal unless they have a ton of money up front. Sounds mythical, but not totally impossible. The unfortunate thing is, middle men like to make big money. Most game publishers will jump for joy at direct orders, but who has time to contact dozens of different manufacturers to secure one copy here and two copies there? The same goes for booster boxes of cards and boxed board games.
  • To GW or not to GW? That is a huge question. Games Workshop is an awesome company, and they are super helpful with retailers. BUT, if you want their support, you have to play it by their rules. Some of their rules are pretty insane. They like to make it so if you’re selling their product, that’s all they want you to sell, ever.

    If you’re a GW store, their product has to be placed prominently up front. There have to be regular events. Tournament armies must be painted. The store must order X amount of product per week. It just goes on and on.

    The alternative is to not be a GW store, but then you can’t carry any of their official product. There’s money to be made selling $250-$300 boxed sets, plus paint, rulebooks, White Dwarf magazines, terrain accessories, and tons of miniatures. Have I mentioned how they like to charge pewter prices for plastic figs? It’s enough to make a guy want to go out and buy a 3D printer/scanner and make his own. (Not that I’d be officially suggesting anyone do that.)

    It is possible not to be a GW store, but being listed as one has just as many or more benefits. It’s a similar situation to Magic the Gathering and other popular TCGs that have the potential to bring in hundreds or even thousands of dollars when done correctly. Where do you want to make the money?

    I used to be big into GW. I love Warhammer 40K. I played Necrons, Orks, and Blood Angels and dabbled in several other armies. WH Fantasy armies were Undead and Bretonnians. As a retailer, I sold a TON of Space Marine minis and Chaos everything. Boxed sets were a big ticket, especially the basic games. I also sold and played a lot of the little games like Necromunda, Blood Bowl, and Battlefleet Gothic. There’s a LOT of money in GW if done well.
  • Oh, I mentioned Magic, didn’t I? Love it or hate it, Magic is a strong seller. (The biter old school Old Grognards all cringed just now.) The most beneficial thing I’ve ever seen a game shop do is have a regular Magic expert on staff pretty much available daily. Cards sell extremely well and really don’t suck up much space.

    There’s a catch to Magic. Single cards are finicky and complicated, especially to the untrained seller. I like Magic, but the nuances of specific cards are way beyond me these days. Buying, trading, and selling cards is big business on this end of the industry. The value of single cards goes up and down monthly. Having cards specifically priced in a display case requires a heap of upkeep.
  • Roleplaying Games: Personally, this is my “why” in terms of owning a store. I’m an RPG guy in my heart and soul. But selling them for a living is not the same as designing and running games. It’s tough on the retail side.

    RPGs can take up a ton of space. The markup in terms of prices is usually not the best depending on the distributor. Turning product into profit is a big challenge when you’re competing with Amazon, other Internet sources, other FLGS, the pdf market, and even game companies themselves.

    I would love to have a good way to turn huge RPG profits in this day and age. If I’m being honest, it’s just not there right now. The smartest decision I’ve seen from other FLGS is to carry the basic, core book for any given game and signage that explains you can have the store order specific sourcebooks/modules.

    There’s a couple of exceptions. First is D&D. Again, there’s a lot of competition. Short of selling below MSRP, dealing directly with WotC, or having a ton of product that might be beautiful shelf lining for many years, I’m not sure what else can be done.

    The second exception might be local interest. If you have a solid Call of Cthulhu group that comes in regularly? It might be worthwhile to expand that section be a few books. Another exception is Pathfinder. It’s a big draw, much like D&D complete with all the pitfalls of selling it.

    Other RPG systems worth keeping more than one book on hand include, but aren’t limited to :Monster of the Week due to its small volume of product; FATE due to its narrow selection of books; Shadowrun due to popularity possibly; anything with a tv or movie tie-in might be worth having a couple of books; finally, I recommend Dungeon Crawl Classics for the OSR fans who want something cheap and endless hours of fun.
  • Wargames other than GW are another potential pitfall. If you have a local wargaming and strategy club, there might be some specific recommendations from them. Otherwise, Battletech is a really great game and crowd pleaser. It’s one of the only games to ever give GW a run for their money in the US, and it’s not that close. But, miniatures wargames can be a huge draw as long as one is careful with product overhead.
  • Miniatures in general are a big draw. They can take up a ton of cabinet and display space, sit for a long time, and sell for big money depending on where one finds them/acquires them. Back in the old days, our local FLGS in Des Moines, IA had a big cabinet full of painted minis on commission in some cases. Nowadays, pre painted figs come in a variety of ways from booster packs to single painted (usually large) figures from talented artists in the community.

    This is sort of a sticky wicket in the same way Magic singles are. One can devote tons of space, time and effort in stocking them or sell unpainted figures/boosters sometimes in bulk. Paizo, Wizkids, and some other companies also sell huge dragons and other monsters already painted and boxed. Lots of space, big sales, but also a big gamble. Always asking, “Will it sell?”
  • Pre-Owned merchandise is another major issue to look over. Roleplayers will tend to try to dump a lot of old books during an edition change. (Not me, but some people do.) Personally, I don’t recommend buying or trading for much of anything but modules/adventures. Adventures can be used with other systems or editions. The catch is not giving away the farm for things that probably aren’t going to move very fast.

    Again, TCG singles or even full collections have the potential to be big money deals. The kicker is how fast will they sell. A case full of cards doesn’t do a heap of good if no one is buying them.

    Miniatures, as I mentioned before, can possibly be a big deal. Fantasy minis never really go out of style. Games Workshop frowns on sellers peddling product other than theirs, but I think most retailers keep it quiet if they’re selling other products. Used GW products are usually a big no-no unless they’re well painted current figures. I’ve gotten jammed up on GW in the past when suddenly units change in terms of types, figure bases, and size.

Then there are all of the peripheral products such as dice, dice trays, journals, and wargaming supplies.

We’ll talk more about product tomorrow. I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years. I love that people are making their own dice, printing their own minis, creating their own dice bags, and even dice towers. Profitable endeavors are another story, especially from a brick-and-mortar perspective.

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you. Please take care.

If I Owned a Game Store Part 1.

Before product even walks in the door, one simply must have a substantial amount of money to gamble on such a business. Yeah., It’s a gamble for the first several years. Restaurants and coffee shops are the same way along with many retail businesses. Oh, and did I mention it’s a pretty good chunk of capital?

Okay, how many gamers have had this dream?

I imagine it’s probably more common that one would think at first. The Friendly Local Game Store is as much home to many fond memories and good times as it is sweet, sweet dice and cool products. But the reality of the FLGS is that it’s a business first and a place to have fun second. I think a lot of gamers forget that fact.

I’ve had the privilege of working in three such stores over the years. I’d go back tomorrow if I could. Four kids plus my wife and my health issues don’t make for an easy schedule at a retail establishment of any kind, to be honest. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t hire me knowing about the health stuff.

I don’t think a lot of gamers really understand what goes into keeping an FLGS running.

Before product even walks in the door, one simply must have a substantial amount of money to gamble on such a business. Yeah., It’s a gamble for the first several years. Restaurants and coffee shops are the same way along with many retail businesses. Oh, and did I mention it’s a pretty good chunk of capital?

Without actually dropping a whole business plan here (I could,) let me see if I can some of the stuff one would need backing for up front. We’re talking before product. Trying to get a small business loan for a game store? <cringe.> I guess one could certainly attempt it?

The brief list of things that come BEFORE product and game rooms.

This is some serious overhead. I haven’t looked a prices on this stuff lately, so I’m not going to list dollar values. Basically, any time you start a business, you have to do some research.

  • A space. It might be an entire building or a space in a strip mall. Probably not cheap. Mall rent is dreadful iirc and our mall situation in Des Moines is pretty grim already.
  • Research. Games stores are a retail destination, meaning people are coming in for something specific as opposed to a restaurant or a grocery store that are more of impulse decisions. Finding a proper spot that has good traffic flow and reasonable parking is key. Ever seen a big Magic the Gathering tournament? Space is a must, both inside the building and out in the parking lot. And then one must balance it with the cost of the space. Complicated? Yes.
  • Paint and shelving. Fixtures, cash register or other way of accepting payments, possibly carpet, lighting and glass cases. It adds up fast, especially anything custom made or all glass/metal. Prepping the space is key. Oh, and game tables, chairs and bathrooms. Pray there are at least two or three publicly accessible restrooms either in the building or very close by.
  • Advertising, web presence and social media. This is actually a full time job for someone. The owner is already going to have his/her/their hands full with all of the fun details above plus product, employees, customer relations, etc. This part of the process is actually more stressful than some may realize and a heck of a lot more costly. BUT, if you’re not making new contacts and building an email list? You may as well close the doors before you even start.

    It might even be a case of begging, borrowing, or stealing help in exchange for product or favors down the road. Gotta save money somewhere, but advertising might not be the best place to do it. I’m not suggesting anything shifty under the table, but maybe an exchange of favors helps out a bit here.
  • I mentioned employees. Unfortunately, one is going to need people to do all that work setting the place up, stocking shelves, fielding customer questions, actually selling things, and cleaning. Otherwise, the owner/operator(s) is going to have even more to do. Even with family and friends pitching in, it’s a LOT of hard work. Unless you have a ton of money in which case you hire people to do all that stuff. (Never in my 30+ years in this industry have I seen someone do this.)
  • Then, once all of that is in place, there is also the monthly upkeep overhead of paying the lights, phone, internet, and possibly water/garbage if it’s not included with rent. Having access to a good dumpster for the first month or two is going to be necessary between all the construction and moving product in. The doors aren’t even open and the whole thing is already losing money. Ain’t it great.
  • I forgot a big one. Signage. If gamers don’t know they’ve arrived, they’re probably relying on Go-Ogle not to lead them in circles around a shoe store two blocks away. Something big, flashy, well-lit, that screams “We have your game!” is preferable, but probably not cheap.
  • One of the often overlooked boons to a fledgling game store is finding a good artist willing to help with logos, signs, and social media/web marketing. Most of us will delete an email before we even open it if we know there’s nothing exciting to look at inside. Solid art, flashy photos, and good ad tactics go a long way toward promoting a business. But, again, not terribly cheap most of the time.
  • Somewhere in the middle of all this or possibly in years leading up to it, there’s the notion of going to conventions, trade shows, expos, sometimes even flea markets. There are two objectives to almost any social gathering such as the ones mentioned. A vendor can sell product and/or make crucial connections, networking with other vendors. Sometimes even the idle gossip is worth the price of a ticket. BUT, all of this costs money, too. Hotels, vendor space, product, labor, and food all figure into the budget on top of time.

I just realized I’m doing a brain dump of everything I know about the RPG retail business.

To be continued tomorrow. As you may have guessed, I’ve put a LOT of thought into this subject over the years. It’s always been fascinating to me all of the little steps that are involved.

Thanks for being here. I appreciate you. See ya soon.

No Hate At the Table, Please?

I dug up a bunch of my old Star Frontiers and Gamma World characters recently. We didn’t necessarily attach a lot of deep meaning to these characters back then. Somebody died in combat? Oops. Introducing the new guy at the next opportunity. Ship crashed? New crew next session.

This latest debacle over Star Frontiers: New Genesis is just eating at me.

I probably get called a lot of names. I get it. There are people who don’t like me for supporting LGBTQIA++, Jewish rights, Muslim rights, Asian rights, Black rights, Native Americans, and human rights in general. I’m also a big fan of the Constitution of the United States. The First and Second Amendments are pretty important to keeping the rest together.

I know a lot of people probably keep saying, “It’s just a game. ”

Why are we getting so bent out of shape over it? Simple. The Role Playing Game sphere is constantly expanding. Dungeons & Dragons is the game that opened the gate to all kinds of other RPGs. One really bad game published under the banner of the company that originally created D&D could ruin it for all of us.

It’s not “just a game” when people (at NuTSR) are using it to spread hate and fear. Role Playing Games aren’t supposed to be a platform for politics, spreading hate, encouraging real world violence, or any of the other negative crap. It’s about friends, snacks, rolling dice and FUN.

This “New Genesis” sure as heck isn’t your dad’s Star Frontiers.

Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn cover.

As Tom (@jedion357 ) reminded me on Twitter, original Star Frontiers was a fabulous old school RPG that contained no racist nonsense. No, not all characters were created equal. Bad rolls meant less favorable stats just like good ol’ D&D. Your choice of species did affect your character, but the negatives were offset by positives. This kind of game balance was common in the 1980’s. It was simply a game mechanic with no malice attached.

Original Star Frontiers Character Creation was fast and easy.

Back then, we just wanted to play games and have fun.

I know I’ve said it before. “Old Grognard” is not synonymous with hateful attitudes and behavior. We’re not all trapped in a broken, old, warped mentality. Obviously some people are, but I truly feel the number of good OG’s outnumber the rest.

I dug up a bunch of my old Star Frontiers and Gamma World characters recently. We didn’t necessarily attach a lot of deep meaning to these characters back then. Somebody died in combat? Oops. Introducing the new guy at the next opportunity. Ship crashed? New crew next session.

Being a Dralasite or a Yazirian in Star Frontiers was just an added bonus of not being a stock human character. Okay, you came from an “alien” world and maybe you have a backstory that’s two paragraphs long instead of one. Heck, I have characters with a couple of lines of backstory.

Pick up games around home and at conventions lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to four or five hours. (Just like D&D.) Our characters explored strange new worlds, hauled freaky cargo, met bizarre aliens, and brought in just enough Credits to keep our ship running another week. Good times. There was no deep philosophical or political intrigue.

The old Star Frontiers Games was a blast to play. Still is.

Part of why certain facets of the Old School Rules (Renaissance) movement are so popular is their loveable simplicity. D&D is a prime example of this. We didn’t used to have a separate sub class with tons of spiffy features for every character in the game. The designers left a lot of things blank because they didn’t have a comparison like they do now.

Star Frontiers is much the same way. There were no other games quite like it at the time. It was breaking new ground in much the same way D&D and Marvel Superheroes did. Top Secret S.I. another T$R property back in the day, was really one of the first games of its kind. These games were written in the vernacular and sometimes prejudiced attitudes of the time.

I keep coming back to this Wizards of the Coast disclaimer on DriveThruRPG:

We didn’t need this disclaimer back in the 1980’s.

The simple anthropological, sociological, and historical facts are we grew out of these old ways of thinking. We continue to grow and evolve with each passing year. I’m not endorsing the old way of doing things. All I’m saying is, many of us never stopped to think there was an even more enlightened world view to have at the time. We were wrong then, but people can change for the better.

Is using an example of racism, slavery, societal bias, sexism, etc okay within the confines of a game to illustrate a point?

That’s a tough question many of us struggle with. Truthfully, I think if the group has a Session Zero and it’s established that maybe some controversial subjects might come up and it’s okay then great. No, I’ll never endorse Player Characters owning slaves or having bigoted attitudes. But if the group undertakes a crusade to go free some slaves from a wealthy landowner? I think that’s acceptable.

Straight-up evil characters tend to get confiscated at my table even now. I’m not okay with players enacting any kind of sick, racist, homophobic attitudes out through the characters of any game. (Admittedly, I game with my kids, so…)

Those are my rules as a Game Master. My players are all aware of it ahead of time. Keep it relatively clean or else.

Let me give a couple of examples of things that are acceptable:

  • A character has it in her backstory that Orc marauders killed her parents and took her siblings as captives. Should the player be able to say the character generally distrusts Orcs? Probably not unreasonable within the circumstances of the character. Maybe that’s why it’s called “character growth” when she learns to forgive and even like some orcs.
  • The same character above, a Paladin and noble knight of the crown, later catches up to the marauders. Should she be allowed to slaughter every Orc in her path? Where will her loyalties lay? Again, lots of potential character growth.
  • The characters are taken prisoner by a heavily matriarchal tribe of some remote village. The female characters are set free. The male characters are kept in chains. The tribe simply does not trust men and the male characters will have to act as indentured servants until the group either does something to prove their men worthy or they finally leave the village. Maybe the villagers experience some character growth. Maybe the PCs have to experience some character growth as well.

Space games in particular have a ton of potential as teaching tools.

Look at any episode of the Star Trek TV series and you’ll probably find at least one moral lesson being conveyed. The same can be said for many space games. Just because we’re fighting Cylons or clones doesn’t mean we can’t maybe slip a message about the nature of humanity in there. Space exploration games lend themselves even more toward moral lessons. The various Star Trek RPGs have both dropped many such messages in published adventures and homebrew games.

RPGs are excellent for showing younger players the types of behavior you would like them to emulate in the real world. Non-Player Characters can be portrayed as oppressed, discriminated-against or even hated in a specific situation only to be later rescued by the PCs. The young players have a golden opportunity to do the right thing and uphold freedom, justice, and truth in a fictional environment as we hope they do it the real world.

Let’s make RPGs about fun.

Not every game has to be about some super serious deep topic or moral lesson. If the Dungeon Crawl Classics players want to tear up a dungeon, bash things in the head and steal filthy amounts of loot? Let em. As long as it was agreed upon ahead of time.

If the starship crew in Star Frontiers wants to roam the galaxy in search of profitable cargo to haul? Let them. Make the game about their wanderings and people they meet instead of trying to save the galaxy from certain doom.

What we should not be doing, as a certain company recently proved, is roaming the galaxy, learning to hate for the sake of spite and malice because some game designer thought it would be funny to include “Negro” as a player race.

Please remember the Original Star Frontiers had no overt, intentional racist overtones or unkind messages.

The old Star Frontiers was about traveling through space, having adventures from one week to the next, and having fun doing it. Please forget this “NuTSR” abomination even exists and just order the reprints from DriveThruRPG if you have to. It’s better than putting money in the pockets of radical extremists, anyway.

Thank you as always for being here. Please be kind to everyone you meet as much as possible. There’s no room for hate on this planet if we ever want to advance. Take care. See you soon.



Racism Has No Place In the Tabletop RPG Space.

@NoHateInGaming is very good at what they do. They, Tenkar and @jedion357 have done a great job exposing the racist drivel being spouted by “NuTSR” contained in Star Frontiers: New Genesis.

Recent spoilers of Star Frontiers: New Genesis on the Tenkar’s Tavern YouTube Channel have gamers fuming mad.

It’s not Tenkar’s Fault. He’s just being honest. I think he also did the community a favor. You can watch the video here while it’s still available. News of the drivel in the manuscript being discussed has gone viral in the last two or three days.

Screenshot of the Tenkar’s Tavern video.

If I had made the mistake of backing any “NuTSR” product on Kickstarter or elsewhere, best believe I’d be asking for my money back.

Dave Johnson and Justin LaNasa are proven racists. I’m appalled at the fact I even have to mention them on this blog or anywhere. These two clowns took over the old Intellectual Property for Star Frontiers Role Playing Game. The “product” that they are supposedly developing is showing to be some hardcore racist Nazi propaganda.

NoHateInGaming is very good at what they do. In this case, they’ve exposed Dave Johnson for his racist beliefs. I wouldn’t buy a game from this guy. Sorry not sorry at all. It might not be legal to outright censor someone, but we can expose their garbage.

@NoHateInGaming was kind enough to repost some of Dave Johnson’s atrocities.



If Star Frontiers: New Genesis ever hits the shelf anywhere, and all of the racist garbage is still within its pages?

The outcry in the #TTRPG community is going to be outrageous. There might not be a court case made against “NuTSR,” but damned if some of us won’t try anyway. Regardless of legalities, a lot of us will be on social media, at conventions, and harrassing sellers for carrying Star Frontiers: New Genesis if it still contains all the racist garbage shown during playtesting.

Not kidding, I can’t believe Wizards of the Coast, owners of much of the old T$R original property rights, let it get this far. There are already other lawsuits in the works between “NuTSR” and WotC, but no mention of Star Frontiers yet as far as I know. This has gone well beyond some small time game company trying to bring back an old classic RPG and well into insanity in my opinion.

@NoHateInGaming was kind enough to repost this on Twitter as well.

What year is this again?

“Negro?!?” Are you serious right now? And then the clowns go on to portray this “race” as physically able, but less intelligent. Come on. Really?

That’s bad enough, but then there are the “Nordics.” They may as well have not beat around the bush and just said, “Aryan.” It would have been more transparent.

They didn’t apparently think any of this book through.

Even though Star Frontiers: New Genesis contains parody races, they still did a damn terrible job. Don’t get me started on how little justice they did to Grays and Reptilians. The injustice they did to humans and the “Negro” is bad enough. I didn’t think people still used the word any more. Sad. Really sad.

It gets worse, if that’s possible.

Unfortunately “hate speech” is still protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. However, I would remind everyone that even though it is protected speech, so are the thousands of voices shouting down this racist nonsense! As long as there are no threats of violence, we can call these clowns almost anything we’d like and get away with it just like they do. That said, I still urge patience and tolerance when possible.

First Amendment.

Otherwise, loud outrage does quite nicely in this situation. I hope no platform such as DriveThruRPG will even consider allowing this book if it contains all the racist prattling of lunatics. It might be legal, but I know for a fact OneBookShelf controls their own platform and what is allowed on it. Even if it wasn’t a direct violation of their Terms of Service, do they really want thousands of gamers mad at them?

Wizards of the Coast at least has the wherewithal to put a disclaimer on their older products to reflect that fact that beliefs and values have changed. This disclaimer is even on the Star Frontiers products listed on DriveThruRPG:

WotC puts a disclaimer on a lot of their older products, especially D&D.

You know? I wish we could say, “It’s just a game. No big deal.” But that opens the floodgate for racism, homophobia, transphobia and just plain hate loose all over the industry. TTRPGs are supposed to be about friends and fun not hate and fear. And if it’s prevalent in our games, what stops it from being that way in society?

More on this topic later. Thank you for listening to my rant. I really appreciate you being here. Thank you!

Doing What I’m Passionate About.

I still love Role Playing Games wholeheartedly. I love writing. I like money, but we’re still working on that part. But a friend reminded me once that joy is a way bigger priority than money.

When last we left our hero…

July 19th was kind of a rough day. The day before was challenging because I went round with Imposter Syndrome yet again. I’ve had a bit of time to process. I’ve also had a TON of loving input from friends and and a certain amazing mentor.

Also, a huge shout-out to Space Freighter One on Twitter. He’s been encouraging the heck out of me before I’m even awake most days. I think it’s the benefit of being a sentient starship. Thanks!

Thanks always to Laura DiBenedetto as well. Without The Six Habits, I probably would have lost my marbles completely during the year that was 2020. Thanks for keeping me sane and reminding us it is possible to find joy. Laura on LinkedIn. If you ever need a Life Coach or just a good friend who’s unafraid to give you a swift but caring kick in the butt when needed.

Laura jumped right in with all kinds of suggestions and helpful ideas. I keep forgetting to mention, I own my failures. My successes I owe largely to The Six Habits and lots or great advice from its author.

I still love Role Playing Games wholeheartedly. I love writing. I like money, but we’re still working on that part. But a friend reminded me that joy is a way bigger priority than money. That feeling of being in my own zone every day is worth a million dollars and then some.

I knew it would be less than a day before I became inspired again.

Laura responded to both of my prior posts that went to LinkedIn.com. This amazing, talented, CEO with God-knows-how-much going on took time out to respond to my posts. Knock me over with a feather. Holy crap.

I watch a lot of YouTube when I’m not doing anything else. Or at least listening to podcasts while I’m in the shower. I shave my head while listening to Russell Brand talk about how messed up the world is or my friend @jedion357 talking about Star Frontiers and old D&D. Tom’s YouTube Channels are Table Top Taproom and Star Frontiers Gamer.

The thing I admire most about Laura, Russell Brand and Tom (aka Jedion) is their passion for what they do. Admittedly, Brand has something akin to 5.7 million followers. Tom has maybe 135 total? But regardless of follower count both of these talented and passionate individuals put out phenomenal content almost every day.

Tom is especially passionate about Star Frontiers and just listening to him talk about the game makes me want to run it. He’s been into the game a very long time and I admire his dedication to what is definitely considered part of the Old School Rules family. If he can stand so firmly behind this older game, I can certainly write about/run/play Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Let’s talk about Old School Rules.

Disclaimer: I want to clarify this is not about a specific product, but a category of RPG products. OSR and OSRIC are a line of RPGs that closely mimic rules of original fantasy and other games from the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dungeons & Dragons is the main focus of many of these games, but not the only one.

My goal in life is not to refresh the infamous Edition Wars of D&D past. Some of us are very passionate about games gone by. Whether it’s Basic, B/X, White Box, 1st Ed AD&D, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, or even something slightly more obscure- you can still find a solid fan base for it somewhere on the Internet.

The #RPGTwitter sphere covers all sectors of the RPG spectrum from OSR to 5E, and more Indie designers that ever. Unfortunately, a lot of the OG, Old Grognard, bitterly jaded, spiteful OSR crowd lurk all over social media. On any given day it depends on who you run into as to the reaction you might get. Some of us are pretty darn friendly.

Huzzah!

I’d run AD&D 1E or Basic from the Rules Cyclopedia tomorrow IF I had players and those players had a copy of the rules. Obviously a fresh 5E PHB is much easier to pick up. But, Dungeon Crawl Classics is firmly rooted in the OSR tradition and it is widely available.

I’d love more opportunities to run DCC. The potential for unexplored territory and old school huzzah! moments is great. But, I ran into my fears of imposter syndrome at the sheer amount of material that exists for this game already. Goodman has been going at it steadily since the 1990’s. Third Party publishers who came over from D&D 3rd Ed or Pathfinder 1E have been putting out their own material almost as long. How can anyone compete?

Competition.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

This is also why I’m not trying to cash in on the D&D 5E market. Yeah, it’s hot right now. But that’s also why some third party publishers are selling at $.99 or less. Many times it’s Pay What You Wish. Or even free. I can do free here on my blog. Easy.

I firmly believe there is still plenty of untapped potential in DCC and OSR in general, really. Sure, there’s plenty of well-trodden territory out there. But, I think I have some things that maybe haven’t been done as much in mind.

There’s a well known Law of Attraction saying, “There’s no such thing as competition.” I’m a fan of the saying, “There’s plenty of room for everyone.” Quips aside, I believe it’s possible to still create even in a crowded market as long as I’m having fun. The goal becomes having fun. Money is a very welcome side effect.

With that having been said, I’m going to keep making DCC stuff here on my blog for sure.

Love you, Family!

I’m going to stop looking at other third party publishers’ material, though. Just because someone else has done a thing, doesn’t mean I can’t do it differently or maybe better. Right now I just want to have fun with it and strive for personal growth.

Would I like to be the next Gygax or Arneson? Yes and no. Popular to the point of other writers and game designers quoting me regularly- heck yeah! Would I like to be dragging around some serious ethical and philosophical baggage long after I’m dead? Aw hell naw!

Update: New avenues of discovery.

After conferring with some very wise people, I’m going to start looking at >gasp!< non-TTRPG work again. Like it or not, my skill set does apply to more that one occupation. Now if I can stave off sheer terror and existential anxiety, I’ll be fine. Keep on keepin on til then.

Thank you for being here on my journey. I’m staving off the imposter syndrome again. Folks like Laura, Russell Brand and Tom have inspired me to keep going. I am grateful to all of you every day.

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