It’s Freedom Day, 14 Months In.

There’s a few other minor tidbits to share. I find myself constantly burned out on depression. The only thing more disappointing than my career aspirations is the lack of funds in my wallet. (LOL!)

My monthly personal share. This month I learned…

New psychiatrists ask a LOT of questions. New to me, not new to the profession. He’s a nice guy, though. Hopefully I’ll stick with seeing him. Or he’ll want me to? However that works.

There’s a few other minor tidbits to share. I find myself constantly burned out on depression. The only thing more disappointing than my career aspirations is the lack of funds in my wallet. (LOL!) I’ve even been staving off writer’s block and I never thought that was possible. Finally, summer vacations are nice for the teachers and kids but school starting is priceless when I’m home all alone with just the cats.

Nemo (Left) and Snoopy (Right) just snuggled up on the couch.

I’m looking for positives here.

“Pain. All I know is pain.”
Pain Bot- Teen Titans Go!

I wake up in pain every morning. I go to bed in pain every night. Somewhere in the middle, there are a lot of ups and downs. Usually pain, too.

Anybody who tries to convince me I stupidly chose this? Is probably crazier than people accuse me of being. Oh, I hear plenty of “It’s all in your head,” and “You’re making it all up,” from doctors and nurses who I thought were supposed to be helping me. Well, if I’m nuts, then it’s from the pain on top of why ever else I might be crazy. I know what I go through every day.

Each morning I get to wake up in pain is still another morning I get to wake up. I’m grateful for that. There’s a roof over my head and a warm cat by my feet. I celebrate any time I find a quarter in the laundry or a dime on the ground. (It adds up.) There’s a bumper crop of abundance in each day if you know where to look.

I’d be happy if corporate America shriveled up and blew away tomorrow.

Disclaimer: Some people mistake me for a Socialist or a Communist. Now, to be fair, I have studied about both quite a bit over the years. If we’re being honest, some tenets of a socialist democracy do appeal. Unfortunately it’s prone to abuse, corruption, misinterpretation, and ultimately suffering. So, love our government and economic system in the US or hate it? Still better than the alternatives as far as I’m concerned.

Yeah, I know. I’m anti-capitalist. I’m what the crazier half calls crazy. I’m a lunatic, a socialist, and a dreamer. I’m just “woke” enough to believe there’s maybe life outside of chasing the almighty dollar. Not that I trust my government any more than I trust corporations. They’re all corrupt and greedy as Hell. Prove me wrong.

Okay, admittedly I’m pretty bitter. I’ve tried like mad to get over it, pretend it isn’t a thing, even spiritually bypass the fact that I’m unemployed. I’m still pretty pissed off over a year later. It’s just like any relationship ending suddenly, really.

I still can’t give specifics because ya never know when one of the shifty lil shitz might be reading my blog in an effort to hang me with my own words. I’ll just say that if I ever hear “It’s what’s best for the company” ever again? Well, friends and family will be visiting me in the nut farm for a while.

F$@&%x*

You hear about “quiet firing” and “quiet quitting” these days more and more. I think there’s some truth to it. People are getting fed up with being mistreated and undervalued in the workplace. And, strangely enough, large corporations are usually the workplace in question. I never want to find myself tied up in that position again. Any employer lacking in compassion should be… Well, uh, trying to think of something at least Rated R to say right now. Yeah.

I still stand by the notion it’s better to suffer the lack of free spending cash and a lavish lifestyle than to go to a job where my values don’t match my employer’s. I think it’s better to breathe fresh air than show up to a stuffy office building every day and hate it. I firmly believe I’m better off writing blog articles about my unemployment and the inconveniences it has caused than blindly trudging through life every day just waiting to kick the bucket.

My psychological journey has been in the forefront of my day-to-day life these days.

It ain’t pretty. I’ve been in a pretty dark place. I haven’t tried to delete myself or anything, but I ain’t happy. Not kidding, I really feel like a failure most days. I don’t know where I’m headed, but I sure know where I’ve been.

I had quite a day a couple of days ago. There was a big shift from my sort of quiet, stagnant state to an overwhelming amount of domestic productivity and creative energy. It’s a little freaky, but I like it. Then, the next day I crashed- hard. Suddenly I was back to being exhausted, sore, and somewhat unmotivated.

Even my beloved hobby, TableTop RolePlaying Games, has had it’s shares of ups and downs as of late. We spend a lot of time in the TTRPG community discussing racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia and other negative things. Sure, it would be more fun discussing books, settings, dice, Game Master advice, Player advice or really anything game related, but a few rotten dipshits have wrecked that for all of us. Someday down the road I hope people will embrace what they love and joy instead of criticism and hate.

Life is full of ups and downs. Learning experiences come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and forms. Sometimes we don’t know what it all means until ages down the road. I’d throw my hands up and say. “It’s all part of God’s plan,” but we all know that’s not how I do things.

Speaking of my favorite hobby.

TTRPGs have been a big part of my life for 40+ years. Yeah, I take my gaming pretty seriously. I’ve been a collector, player, DM/GM/Judge/whatever, designer, writer, and critic for most of those years. I still have a lot to learn. The hobby has only really been around for a little over 50 years in a way we would recognize it.

Modern Dungeons & Dragons (Fifth Edition or 5E) has failed some of us. This has led to the creation of the Old School Renaissance movement. (Or Revival, Rescue, Revision. Just insert your favorite “R” word after Old School.) Some of us in the #ttrpg community really enjoy running older versions of D&D or even other games developed in the 1980s and 90s.

The problem arose when a lot of us older, white, male gamers gained a reputation for bigotry and other negative behaviors. It may have always been there, but this modern crowd of gamers is far more sensitive (in a good way) than those in the past. It’s not going to fly now.

If new players are discouraged from joining in at the game table, turned away from conventions, or shouted down on social media? Those are players that might never come back. New players are the lifeblood of any game system. For the Love of God, please consider inclusivity and diversity in all things hobby related. We (humanity) have got to get past the hate and the negative rhetoric or we’re never going to evolve as a species.

This takes a toll on my mental health. I get that we old, white, (presumably cishet) males have been screwing up the US for centuries. It’s finally coming back around to haunt us in our own socio-cultural interactions. I’m pretty saddened that people behave so poorly toward one another.

The TTRPG/boardgame industry is just one tiny example. It’s not even that many of us OGs have these hateful feelings or are bigoted in some way. It’s the perception that we’re bad news. That stereotype is going to kill the OSR despite our best efforts. And trying to break that negative stereotype through love and positivity can be exhausting mentally as well as emotionally. Then we go out into the rest of the (“real”) world and see it even more prevalent out there.

This seems like a good stopping point for now.

Please remember to be kind to one another. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you, always. Take care.

So, I Woke Up to This Video Yesterday…

I’m an OG (Old Gamer) fighting an uphill battle, starting with my own mental health.

Here’s the video from Gamers on Games:
He can be found on Twitter here, which is where I met him: https://twitter.com/YTGamersonGames

Strap in, family. This is going to be a LONG article. There’s a lot to unpack here.

He makes a lot of good points. Well worth listening.

When I woke up to this video yesterday. (literally, not “Woke.” Although that’s an issue, too.) I wanted to argue initially. I agree with most but not all of what was said. We’ve got some people in the Old School Renaissance community that regularly make embarrassing, bigoted comments.

We are literally seeing the tides of racism turning the other way within the RolePlaying Game hobby. Older cishet white (Caucasian) males are rapidly on our way out. (I say “our” because I’m sorta in that category.) There are still plenty of us around and the camps of bigots/everyone else are rapidly dividing.

The tragic irony is Dungeons and Dragons was created by a bunch of older white guys who were originally miniatures wargamers. Minis wargames were traditionally dominated by older white guys. It’s getting better. #warhammer is seeing a broader audience despite the gatekeeping in that community. The OSR RPG community is struggling with racism.

Racism is not possible in the face of Universal love and peace.

Get it right. It’s “Awakened,” not “woke.” This is NOT directed at Gamers On Games. I know all too well there are members of the OSR community who will cringe when I start talking about spiritual awakening. Right wing Christians, racists, transphobes/homophobes and others call it “woke.” My eyes were opened by the Universe.

Maybe racism has always been present in the RPG community. Maybe the spotlight has finally shown upon the dark corner that is racism in the RPG hobby/community in general. I’m Old School. I’ve had some pretty sketchy players in my groups before which were okay at the time as long as they kept their mouths shut about race, politics, and religion.

Over the years it has gotten better. The hobby has changed. I have changed. When one awakens to the Source of all creation and realizes we are all one at the end of the day. We are all a miniscule speck in the greater Universe. When one realizes we are effectively God experiencing all of creation, perspective on race shifts dramatically. How can one look at another person and hate when one is effectively hating on oneself?

I believe in forgiveness. I believe in a benevolent Creator. Yes, there is bad shit out there. There are very difficult people in every community, not just RPGs. These people (racists, -phobes, haters) are a challenge placed in the path of anyone who seeks to love all beings (in the spiritual sense.)

I’ve made my share of dumb mistakes in life and said some pretty horrific, regrettable things that I can’t ever get back. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I intend to do better. We’re ALL in this together. Some of us have bigger burdens to bear than others, especially in the RPG community.

#DropDaveCon is a legit hashtag.

Long spiritual rant aside, The nice folks at DaveCon, a premier gaming convention in the Midwest needs to either drop known bigots from their Guest of Honor roll, or lose attendees and vendors. There needs to be a clear, obvious message sent to the organizers of this convention that these old school bigots need to hit the road or radically change their views.

This hashtag, this convention makes me sad. I live in Des Moines, IA. It’s pretty much a gaming convention deadzone. We have one or two piddly conventions per year. I’d organize my own, (*And I KNOW how,) but it’s a lot of work and a lot of money to put a convention together.

Minnesota, on the other hand, has a ton of conventions. Davecon is about a three hour drive from where I live. I’d love to go. Except, money aside, their guest list includes some people I just can’t hang out with.

Sorry. Imagine driving all the way to Bloomington, MN just to be turned away from the table because of the color of your skin or your blue/pink hair? I can’t let that go. That would suck. Why not support conventions that encourage inclusivity and diversity instead?

Having an entire hashtag telling people to boycott a convention? Ouch. That’s bad press for any convention. Losing attendees can kill a convention for good. I’ve seen it happen. It’s not pretty.

Let’s talk Gygax for a moment.

Learn a little more about Ernie.https://g.co/kgs/Ger99Z

We all know and love E Gary Gygax, creator of the original T$R Games and specifically Dungeons & Dragons (Along with Dave Arneson and others.) Gary was an amazing man. Unfortunately, he did have some quacky views of women in gaming, but every big name game designer has a few skeletons. But Gary is still revered and loved by the most of the RPG community.

His son, Ernie Gygax (Jr.) is another story entirely. He has aligned and embedded himself in what we call NuTSR. For those who might not know, NuTSR has nothing to do with the old company beyond buying up the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum in Lake Geneva, WI, birthplace of D&D.

I’ve listened to interviews with Ernie. Some of them make me cringe because of some of the just ignorant things that roll out of his mouth. He’s kind of the face of the OSR in some ways, being the son of Gygax. His brother, Luke Gygax is still involved with the hobby to some extent, but not nearly as vocal.

Truthfully, I want to side with Ernie on one concept and only one. He is honestly trying to keep his father’s dream/legacy alive. I’d support him more if he hadn’t fallen in with the likes of Dave Johnson and Justin LaNasa. I’d be a fan if he hadn’t openly spewed a lot of negative comments about the LGTBQIA++ community and some pretty racist comments.

Having Ernie as a “Special Guest of Honor” at any convention? Ouch. I seriously question the judgment of the convention organizers at this point. #DropDaveCon. Yeah. Let’s say no to racism.

None of us are getting any younger.

The video, getting back to the original point, makes a very obvious, true statement about a lot of us OGs. Here in the next 20-30 years, most of us older (white) guys will be gone. I’ve got diabetes, fibromyalgia, obesity, bad teeth and bifocals. The video really makes me feel my mortality.

I’m just one example. I know a lot of OSR gamers have their share of health issues and none of us are getting any younger. However, I happen to know a younger generation of gamers that are starting to embrace a bit of that OSR goodness. It is possible for that part of the hobby to survive in much warmer, more sensitive, caring hands.

Take a look at a game called ShadowDark. It’s an OSR game if I’ve ever played one. If one were to talk to Kelsey, you would know she’s not one of us OGs. She is a brilliant, hard working RPG designer. @thearcanelibrary. on Twitter. I’ve written about her before here. (Yeah, I’m a fan.)

Yes, there are parts of the OSR that will vanish from the Earth eventually. Maybe they need to as a natural course of the hobby’s evolution. It saddens me as a RPG aficionado, writer, and lifelong GM that our legacy as gamers is so tarnished by a pack of loudmouth hate mongers as Gamers On Game’s video suggests.

I wish he (Dave/GamersonGames) was wrong. I would love to say, “Let’s just get back to gaming.” For the Love of God, I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t bring myself to ignore the hate and negativity in OUR (as in ALL of us) gaming community. We need to heal. We need to grow.

I love my hobby with all my heart. I love humanity in the eyes of Source. I won’t just sit here and let the racist crap go unchallenged any more. We have to live on this Earth as a family. Skin color, gender, sexuality, age, and so on has to be something we ALL have to accept as people. If Jesus and Buddha (or some other deific figures) wanted to sit in on your gaming session, wouldn’t you let them?

I’m not making excuses for all of the NuTSR crowd, Venger Satanis, and Evil DM. I think a lot of things that have been said and done at this point that are inexcusable. The sad part is, the actions of a few have spoken for the many in the OSR segment of the community, if not RPG enthusiasts in general. It stinks. I hate it. It’s up to the rest of the RPG community to pick up the pieces and try to repair the damage that has been done to the hobby’s reputation.

I feel for the companies that could potentially go belly up as a result of the OSR movement going away.

The one last point I want to make about the video is I have a lot of concern for companies such as Goodman Games, Necrotic Gnome, and the Arcane Library if the OSR movement in the RPG hobby goes away, which we most assuredly will someday. I love those companies that are putting out OSR/D&D retro clones. I have high hopes that some or all of the OSR producers will survive.

Wizards of the Coast is kinda the elephant in the room. You can’t swing a dice bag around in the convention scene or a game shop without hitting something touched by Hasbro. Wizards of the Coast and Renegade Game Studios are huge right now. That’s probably not going to change. However, that means the RPG community has to deal with their corporate culture for better or worse.

Wizards of the Coast profits from pretty much all of it, and they don’t seem to care much about the OSR.

WotC also controls the rights to most or all of the original TSR trademarks and copyrights. This is especially true of D&D. I know they want to push their new products. We’re going to hear no end of rhetoric about One D&D for the next approximately two years. When 2024 rolls around, we could very easily see WotC pull the plug on all of the reprints, DMsGuild, and pretty much anything in the various Open Game License content that they don’t like.

WotC could end up being the dreadful gatekeepers of PDF products, especially TSR reprints, that some of us were always afraid they would become. I’m sure they’ll find some clever McCorporate way to put it to the fans like, “We don’t see editions any more in One D&D. Come buy all the new stuff.” All the Indie creators that rely on OGL products could have to move away from DriveThruRPG in the coming years. That will also fuel the demise of the OSR because we rely on reprints and a lot of independent content providers for our games.

Imagine a world where no one plays original D&D, BECMI, 1st AD&D, 2nd Ed D&D or anything that remotely resembles them ever again. Imagine entire conventions shutting down because attendance fell off. What’s it going to be like when WotC presents their virtual platform and all their new, young 5E/One D&D crowd flocks to it, consequences and side effects be damned. Yeah, I’d say a world without an OSR is possible.

Remember, RPG family: your hobby is being judged by the actions of some loudmouth, hate-mongering stooges.

WotC was smart to file an injunction against NuTSR to stop production on Star Frontiers New Genesis and other reprint products. An inferior product produced by a pack of known, very vocal bigots would not help the hobby. It would make us ALL look like idiots. It’s bad enough we OGs have to try to shake the stereotype applied to the OSR.

That’s my final thought on the subject. It was pointed out in the video. All of us old, white guy gamers are being stereotyped and judged based on the actions of loudmouth racists. I can’t stop stupid. Duct tape can’t fix it. Please forgive those of us who don’t think the way they do and don’t behave the way they do. Thank you!

I appreciate you being here. More on this topic to come. It really hit home between the old white guy/OSR stereotype and the mortality bit. I’m not lying when I say I’m pretty bummed out right now.

What to Write.

Just a short one today.

When you don’t know what to talk about.

I don’t know what to say. Just not a whole lot going on right now. As soon as I have something worth going on about, I’ll let you know. It’s been a pretty mopey could of weeks.

It’s not even “writer’s block.” I never really run out of things to discuss. I’ve always got an idea for something brewing. The problem is usually my idea in terms of text and stats far exceeds my artistic talent. And you can only use about so much clip art.

So, kind of a short ramble today. I hope everything is going well with you wherever you are. I appreciate you. See you tomorrow.

A Moment of Silence Today.

No full article today. Please take time to remember and honor our fallen.

We Will Never Forget.

Photo by Lars Mulder on Pexels.com

If you served anywhere as a civil servant and you see this, THANK YOU for your service.

In honor of all of those who lost their lives that day and the millions more affected by that loss, there will be no article today.

Take care. Thank you for everything you do. I appreciate you!

What Are We Here For, Exactly?

We’re humble gamers. A lot of us were marginalized by our peers and picked-on while growing up. (“Nerds!”) There are a ton of emerging sociocultural topics that we are being faced with now that the hobby has grown from hundreds to thousands to an approximately 50 Million. I would go so far as to say we’re a subculture now.

Please bear with me, family. This one is as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s.

I see so much injustice in the world. I almost turned this into a poem just now because it goes deep fast. I see all these injustices, lack, and hate in the world. Is that what we’re here for?

I don’t want to come at this from a place of privilege. Yeah, I’ve had it relatively good. I’m super grateful that I got to grow up in white bread middle of the United States. It’s not like I had much of a choice.

I see so much negative crap in the world and it kinda breaks my heart.

Yes. Call me a pansy, bleeding heart, woke, socialist, or whatever. I empathize with a lot of people when they’re hurting. Politics aside, my heart really goes out to a lot of friends and family who have been stuck in the proverbial mud as of late.

Truth: Being poor sucks. Being homeless sucks. Being unemployed royally sucks. Abuse of any kind, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and hate in general are all seriously bad. I’m grateful every day that some of these circumstances don’t apply to me.

BUT, they apply to a lot of people I know and care about a lot in the real world and on social medial. I spend a lot of time in the #TTRPG sphere these days. Unfortunately, just as in almost every community on the Internet, there exists inequity, racism, and other forms of hate. It hurts. It really does.

I keep wondering what I can do to help, like really help.

Don’t get me wrong. I have my own share of health and psychological issues. But, I would really like to do more. I’m not sure what, exactly. I’m just a guy with a blog.

That isn’t to say I’m helpless. I do have a few readers according to my statistics. I love you folx. Honestly, you’re great! We need to spread the word more in the #TTRPG community when we see all these injustices.

More discourse!

The TTRPG sphere has had its share of controversies as of late. The issue with NuTSR’s extremely racist views recently came up again. Wizards of the Coast managed to shock the fan community with their recent Spelljammer flub known as the #Hadozee. Gatekeeping is becoming a hotter topic now, too. Finally, there seems to be a regular uproar on Twitter any time someone tries to give advice involving diversity and inclusion in the TTRPG workspace.

Here’s the catch: We should be discussing these things!

We’re humble gamers. A lot of us were marginalized by our peers and picked-on while growing up. (“Nerds!”) There are a ton of emerging sociocultural topics that we are being faced with now that the hobby has grown from hundreds to thousands to an approximately 50 Million. I would go so far as to say we’re a subculture now.

We should be working as a community to move closer together, not farther apart at least as a culture. We need to talk about our beliefs and values. Most importantly, we should be able to come together as a group and enjoy a roleplaying game for 4-6 hours at a time. Discuss!

We’re committing to spending time with one another once (one-shots, conventions games, etc) or possibly one night per week or whatever can be scheduled. We are going to have some different ideas as people outside the game. Public discourse is healthy for us all.

Maybe we don’t agree. Maybe we do agree. Can we compromise on something?

The Session Zero debate seems trivial enough.

Anyone mentioning Session Zero or inclusivity in their gaming group immediately gets shouted at “Don’t tell me how to run my game!”

Some of us think Session Zero is always a good idea. I like knowing what characters I’m dealing with and a little about their backgrounds when I GM. I like to talk about house rules. We discuss what might be sensitive subjects to some players. Simple enough, right?

Okay. Don’t run Session Zero. If you’ve been playing with the exact same group of people for 20 years, you probably didn’t need one in the first place. You know it’s going to be the same hot buttons and things to stay away from. Great.

Please believe me when I say, no one is trying to tell you how to run your game with your group at home.

Trouble starts when tabletop gamers start acting a fool in public or on social media (see also; in public.) Please don’t exclude people from a public game unless the group is jam packed. If you’re not running a system they like, they probably won’t stick around anyway. At least the offer was made.

Most pro level Dungeon/Game Masters know how to run for larger groups and still make it around the table to everyone anyway. (That’s a different article, though.) My point is- we’re all there to have fun. Please make it happen?

If you’re in a PUBLIC space, please remember there are going to be all kinds of people from different walks of life, countries, genders, preferences, races, and so on potentially present. It’s our job as GMs/DMs to make everyone feel welcome as hosts of a game in a public space. What you do inside your home with your own private group is none of my concern.

Back to my original question.

Why are we here? Is is to fight, bicker and complain about one another? Pffft! Absolutely not!

Are we here on planet Earth on the 4D plane of existence to discover love, peace, joy, compassion and prosperity together? Absolutely! How do we want to choose to treat one another? It’s up to us,

My final thought is, if 50 Million of us can figure out how to get along and coexist in spite of our slightly conflicting values, what’s to keep the rest of the world from following us. Please remember, no matter how bad one thinks one has it, someone else has it worse. Someone also has it better. So, please consider- Can we do it better?

Let’s please try to get along.

3:00 AM Rantings of a Mad Man

Back in my day, the ancient past known as the 1980’s and 1990’s, if you wanted to meet one of the superstars of roleplaying games you had to write them a letter or go to a convention. Conventions were few and far between back in those days, at least ones that drew in the BIG names. Or you could send fan mail. Later there were Internet forums and email, but originally we had to do it the hard way.

Seemed like a good idea. Might take it down later.

WTaFH am I doing here? No really? What am I doing here?

Do I even belong here? In this space? With all these HUGE names in gaming?

I just don’t know any more. Some of y’all make more in a day than I will this year off selling RPG items no less. Should I even be here on #TTRPG social media hanging out? Seriously, I’m losing my damn marbles here.

I mean, yeah I’ve come up with some (*what I think are) fairly interesting articles..

Fell asleep on my keyboard right about here. 6:47AM

Thud!

It just stymies me how I am still somehow, in some small way, considered a part of any community on the Internet. I mean, I follow some pretty big names on Twitter. To my knowledge none of them followed me back, but I could maybe be wrong about that.

Okay, after a little research, a couple of what I consider to be HUGE names actually did follow me back. Much love for you. Y’all know who you are. Thank you!

Old timey story incoming.

Back in my day, the ancient past known as the 1980’s and 1990’s, if you wanted to meet one of the superstars of roleplaying games you had to write them a letter or go to a convention. Conventions were few and far between back in those days, at least ones that drew in the BIG names. Or you could send fan mail. Later there were Internet forums and email, but originally we had to do it the hard way.

Back then, some of the BIG names in gaming were giants because there weren’t that many of them. Artists, too btw. You were lucky if you could find Gary Gygax himself, Jim Ward, Lester Smith, Ed Greenwood, Tom Moldvay, Zeb Cook or Keith Parkinson in person. But if you did, it was awesome!

Even more fortunate was if you got to sit down at the table with one of the legends. I never had the pleasure, but I knew a few guys that actually sat at the table with Gary Gygax at Gen Con back in the really olden days. Can you imagine? Playing D&D with the creator himself. Wow…

Nowadays, our heroes are slightly more accessible.

Maybe it’s because of the Open Game License? There are far more creators out there in the world to run into than ever before. That’s one possibility.

The other, bigger monstrosity is social media. Facebook/Instagram (Meta,) Reddit, Pinterest, and Twitter among others have helped us keep in touch with friends and families all over the bloody place. Seriously, I have like, a thousand friends on different platforms and I have no clue who they are. (Feel free to say Hi any time.) YouTube is somewhere between social and a regular medium.

Then we’ve got just as many creators selling themselves on crowdfunding such as Kickstarter. One of the best ways to promote anything is on social media. YouTube videos help. Sometimes blogs like this one help spread the word, too. (*Okay, maybe not mine, but there are some. I know there are.)

Ever since this crazy new electronic age began, I’ve actually bumped into a few of my idols out there online.

I think our “greatest” technological innovation has been great for helping us connect. It’s also been horrible psychologically for some of us. One of my recent forays into #ttrpgTwitter led me to an account with almost 15,000 followers.

Holy buckets! Publishing credits with some major names in the industry. That’s saying something. I realize it’s easier these days to break in as an RPG writer, designer, editor, etc. But still, to actually receive a paycheck from Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, or even Goodman Games would be dream come true for many of us.

So, I’m out there in the Twitterverse with some of these truly amazing folx and I’m wondering. How do I fit in? What am I know for? (uh… nothing yet, really.)

I learned that I share a birthday with Matt Mercer. That’s kinda cool. I’m older, but still…

If anyone needs me, I’m going to be curled up in a ball under my desk with a pot of coffee, a bowl of homemade Chex mix, and this here laptop. You might hear me rolling dice or see me when I sneak out to go to the bathroom. I’ll figure the rest out as I go.

At least I came out from under the desk.

Thanks for being here. See you in the funny pages on Twitter. I appreciate you!

OSR Imposter Syndrome Part 2.

Well,. I’m going to go grab the Chex mix out of the kitchen and put on another pot of coffee. Hopefully some video game therapy will help me figure things out. I’ve been back and forth with this for over two weeks now.

My first thoughts were, “OMG What am I doing here?”

Photo by Eva Bronzini on Pexels.com

Seriously, it makes me want to crawl into a hole for about a week and subsist off of coffee, Chex mix, and video games. I’ll come out long enough to shave my noggin, maybe bathe, pet the cats, and forage for not-Chex mix. (Vegetables or something.) Otherwise my family can come try to poke me with a stick to see if I growl at them.

Aw crud. This is the first full week of school. No crawling in a hole for me. Kids need rides to and from school. My wife needs clean clothes, clean dishes, and meals cooked. Guess I have to live with other humans, not in my cozy hole. Boo.

Why the fuss? Well, go on DriveThruRPG and search up Dungeon Crawl Classics. 1.397 entries! Yes, many of those are from Goodman Games, around 451 of them give or take. But still… That’s a lot of entries.

Can I even compete in this market?

Seriously? Is it even possible? With the announcement of One D&D, and the massive bloat that is third party 5E publishing, I won’t touch that market until at least 2025 if/when they announce a new open license agreement. There’s no sense putting out a whole 5E module just to have to rewrite it. IFF it actually sells.

I figure I’ll take my chances with DCC. at least it’s only 1,397 competing products. Maybe I can make enough credit to get more OSR stuff. I want to try monkeying around with some of the OSE stuff from Necrotic Gnome. I’ve heard good things for years about them.

Which is tougher: Fear of failure or fear of success?

Suppose I put a module out with my meager mapping and art skills. My goal is to make sure it’s carefully written, edited, and creature stats in order. I want to make sure all of the OGL licensing is in proper order. Oh, and I want the adventure to be fun, too.

As I’ve said before, my fear and loathing of criticism runs extremely high. At least with a game product I have the option of ignoring all of the negative comments and updating fixes based on the constructive ones. Still, I find the whole process terrifying.

What to charge? Pay What You Wish? Do those ever make money? $1.99? 2.99? $6.99? More? What’s fair? I wish I truly knew.

What’s the best that can happen?

Thanks for being you!

Well,. I’m going to go grab the Chex mix out of the kitchen and put on another pot of coffee. Hopefully some video game therapy will help me figure things out. I’ve been back and forth with this for over two weeks now.

I appreciate you stopping by. Hopefully things will seem brighter in the morning.

AD&D, But the “A” is Not What You Think Part 4.

Reminiscing about the old items from editions past.

Before I get going, a bit of a rant.

If you’re new to this series here on my blog, I’m talking about Amalgam Dungeons & Dragons. Nothing advanced here, except for the older editions from which some things are derived. Every edition has something to contribute, and this is not an attempt to rekindle any Edition Wars of Internet infamy. My thought exercise with Amalgam D&D is to try to bring together the best from all editions. (It’s just my opinion, y’all.)

Please indulge a short rant here. I think a lot of us OGs tend to react similarly when we see the announcement a new edition of one of our favorite games.We knew this was coming. It was inevitable. 

I'm trying to remain positive about the upcoming changes to the mother of all RPGs. The biggest company in the industry is once again doing a makeover to one of its flagship products to bring in more revenue. I can respect that.

While I get somewhat annoyed at Wizards of the Coast at times, they are doing very well with what they do. We still have an OSR movement for a reason. I seriously doubt that's going away. We "Old Grognards" will still have our old books and reprints with plenty of fun to be had for years to come.

As far as One D&D goes, maybe it will turn out to be pretty cool. Right now it's not worth getting too worked up over. Let's check out the playtest material and see what changes are implemented in the final draft.Anyone "reviewing" it now is just doing Public Relations for WotC. Once the dust settles, then maybe form a lasting opinion.

This will be the last article in this series as Wizards of the Coast has announced the next incarnation of D&D called, “One D&D.” Supposedly their designers don’t see different editions, even though everything before 3rd Ed seems to disappear into a vault unless they think they can make a quick buck on it.

They’re allegedly keeping 5E fully compatible, but then why is this new edition coming exactly? Wasn’t 5E supposed to be the amalgam of prior editions and retrocompatible? Supposedly they listened to the fans, but I think they really only listen to the ones who say what the writers already wanted to hear. (Okay, getting off my soapbox now before I go full vent mode.)

We haven’t discussed one of my favorite topics yet.

Magic Items! Honestly, I think I invented more items I was happy with in Basic and Fourth Ed than anything else. 4E had a well defined action economy, making artifacts easy to pace in terms of recharge times and abilities. Basic was where I started and it has a pretty wide open stage for cool items.

I’d also throw in tidbits of other books. I mean, +6 Holy Avenger. Am I right?

I would love for WotC to do another official series like the Encyclopedia Magica (but they won’t.) For those unfamiliar, it catalogued nearly every official item T$R ever printed through AD&D 2E. I still go through that set of books looking at all the items.

I can create a new magic item any time I’d like. I think the magic item section in the Dungeon Master’s Guide should have an in-depth step-by-step item creation process to determine cost and possibly components for creating powerful artifacts.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. I’m not sure what to think of this new official edition coming up. I think I’ll be more excited when it rolls out in 2024. Like prior new editions, I think there will be an adjustment phase. In the meantime, there’s plenty of OSR action to be had.

Thanks for stopping by. Short of squishing some players together into some kind of weird amalgam, I’m not sure what I forgot to cover. I appreciate you. Game on!

Freedom Day +1 Year, +1 Month, +1 Day.

…right up until I look around me or I look in my wallet. I’m cool right up until we have another discussion about bills or my kids want to stop at the Burger King drive-through. I’m one happy sonuvagun as long as I’m out in nature, away from the commercial world, with no distractions.

Everything works out in divine timing.

Despite all of the adversity, all of the struggle, and all of the nonsense that has gone down since- I’m still here. I don’t miss it. I get to spend my time doing what I want to do. To think I chose this. WE chose this.

Earth life can be tiring. As a luminous spiritual being having a physical experience beyond the Veil of Forgetfulness on a 3D/4D planet, we volunteered for this. I can’t definitively say “Earth is ascending.” Maybe it is? It’s no 2020, but after this past year in my life? There’s a lot of things I wonder about.

I try to imagine it other ways.

What if I was still working in that place? (That fired me.) I was about at the end of my rope with them anyway. The PTSD is real, folks. Maybe not war-in-Afghanistan real, but real enough. If it weren’t for all of the NDA crap I had to sign for my severance package, I’d have some four letter words for certain people even now. (But we wouldn’t want someone trawling my social media for lawsuit fuel. LOL!)

What if I had fled town with some meager possessions? What if I had a tuna salad sandwich for breakfast? Who knows what might have taken place in alternate timelines? We may never know. The way time works is a very freaky thing to us. Then again, reality might be a mystery compared to what we <think> it is.

Someone very wise keeps reminding me I’m not a victim.

I’ll admit I’m stubborn. I might be a bit thick headed when it comes to certain lessons. I have to be reminded regularly that life happens as a result of choices we make. Experiences happen for us, not to us. There’s no one else pulling all the strings. It starts and stops with us.

Choices lead to suffering. Suffering leads to depression. Depression leads to sitting on the couch for days not wanting to make any more choices that could potentially hurt again. Yup. Being honest. Do I choose to feel depressed? Hell no!

Maybe brain chemistry plays into depression cycles a bit. Sleep, stress, and other physiological concerns affect hormones and brain chemistry. Depression is an ugly cycle that feeds on itself in a downward spiral. The only way out is through. Getting out of an old pattern usually involves making a choice to start a new habit or rework an old one.

Previous generations hid their physical and emotional pain.

Not me. My generation grew up with way more psychological education. Good old Gen X with our Ritalin and Prozac growing up. The stigma of being labeled as “crazy” was just starting to come off. That nice President of the US during the 1980’s was even nice enough to deinstitutionalize a lot of people.

I don’t have all of the numbers in front of me, but I know mental healthcare is on another rapid decline in this country and in Iowa specifically. It might be the only thing going downhill faster than education, and that’s a sad state of affairs.

My dad’s generation never talked about their feelings. They drank, smoked, gambled, did dope, and had sex to distract from all of their problems. The men of that era were badasses. Unfortunately that meant we, their children, never learned to talk about our feelings in a meaningful way and inherited all those distractions.

It’s not that they didn’t feel pain. I’m sure the problems may people in older generations experienced were more harsh than the ones we face today. Sometimes the farther back one goes, the worse it seems in terms of physical labor, political strife, emotional trauma, and so on.

Depression is real.

Just ask my therapist, or really any therapist. I am not my feelings. I am a person who feels things. It’s tough to remember that sometimes. I choose how I feel. And yet, I still feel depressed? Can’t I just choose to be happy all the time?

Yeah, right up until I look around me or I look in my wallet. I’m cool right up until we have another discussion about bills or my kids want to stop at the Burger King drive-through. I’m one happy sonuvagun as long as I’m out in nature, away from the commercial world, with no distractions. Peaceful, quiet times are truly some of the happiest times for me.

I can’t just go live in a cave off the grid somewhere or I would have probably done it by now. Sometimes life is about choices we didn’t make. I could choose to be in physical and emotional pain every day at a job I don’t care about that leaves me incredibly unfulfilled. But I’m a heck of a lot happier this way than I was then.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’ve been at this human business for 50+ years now. The more answers I find, the more questions I have. It’s a never-ending cycle of experiences and discovery. I’m not going to have it all figured out in one night.

Thanks for listening to me vent. I’m grateful you’re here. I appreciate you! Back to more gaming content after this. Deep discussion again soon, too.

For Free Speech, Against Racist Publications.

The same could be applied to someone in the RPG industry who have hardcore racist opinions. Sounds crazy, but think about it. Create it, print it, and distribute it among the “we-hate-everybody club” meeting. That’s perfectly legal, Constitutional, and I’d even say reasonable. (Again, assuming it doesn’t espouse violence against anyone or any specific group.)

I would argue the two are not mutually exclusive.

In light of recent events in the Role Playing Game industry, I feel the need to clarify some things. I’ve recently spoken out against what appears to be an overtly racist publication. Whose job is it to police such publications? Where does “Cancel Culture” fit into all of this? What does it mean to be an “Old Grognard” in relation to all of this?

It so happens I have a print media journalism background. I absolutely, positively LOVE the Constitution of the United States, specifically The Bill of Rights. I’m a huge fan of that whole First Amendment.

Constitution of the United States. First Amendment.

We might not like “hate speech,” but…

It’s a slippery slope. If the Supreme Court were to rule something to be considered “Hate Speech,” and said speech warrants government interdiction, our country is going to get ugly in a hurry. Well, if “X” is considered hateful, then why not “Y and Z?” Historically, the Supreme Court has been very hesitant to go anywhere near this issue.

What it basically means to any publisher of any document or broadcast, is it might be legal to say it, but that doesn’t mean one should say it. There have been certain exceptions to the First Amendment over the years. The age old example of yelling “Fire” in a crowded movie theater comes to mind. Anything involving child porn would be another example.

A more awkward position than playing Twister with a giant octopus.

I might not like when people spew ageist, ableist, racist, transphobic, homophobic crap in their publication. But, as much as I might hate it, I’ll still defend their right to say it all day. However, I’ll also defend those who would shout it down just as vehemently, maybe more so.

You might not like what I have to say. I get it. But I’ll still respect your right to say it. We can’t have the government stepping in every time someone takes offense to another’s print statements. This country would have never made it this far if one ruling party could put the smackdown on something they find disagreeable.

But we live in the age of social media.

If you ever think no one cares about your social media posts? Try saying something half your friends are going to disagree with. It can be the smallest most innocuous thing.

“Chocolate is the bestest flavor evity-ever!”

Watch twenty people out of hundreds become very vocal about vanilla, strawberry or butterscotch.

“What about mint?” because there’s always some troll that doesn’t even follow you normally that has to chime in.

Where it gets sticky fast is when the people running the platform get involved. For example, my wife recently commented on a senator’s post on Facebook and then got hit with a 24 hour ban for allegedly violating the Terms of Service. They couldn’t tell us which rule, but she was banned anyway. She didn’t espouse anything violent or immoral. All she did was disagree with someone. (*Eighteen hours later, her comment was restored on review.)

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you did. If you get reported, the automatic ban for review can be bad enough. The point is, you have the right to free speech as long as you are using your own platform. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc are all platforms. When one signs up for a platform, they agree to the terms of service. Shockingly, the same thing technically applies to Internet Providers and Web Hosts. If they take offense to someone’s site and their TOS says they can ban it? The whole site can be taken down.

Self censorship is the best way to go.

TVs can be turned off. Phones can have apps uninstalled. If there’s something you don’t want to hear? You can ignore it. I’ve been ignoring the mainstream news for years. It’s easy. Living off-grid is not unreasonable sometimes.

For example, if I belonged to a club that exclusively talked about one specific type of flower and I knew all of my friends and family have heard absolutely enough about this orchid, I might create and print a specific newsletter and email/snail mail it out to the fan club. This is more discretion than censorship.

The same could be applied to someone in the RPG industry who have hardcore racist opinions. Sounds crazy, but think about it. Create it, print it, and distribute it among the “we-hate-everybody club” meeting. That’s perfectly legal, Constitutional, and I’d even say reasonable. (Again, assuming it doesn’t espouse violence against anyone or any specific group.)

Where it gets really ugly is when someone tries to sell something that includes hate speech. First, who’s going to want to buy that? Second, how many people are going to call someone out on social media for doing that? No major publisher online or elsewhere in their right minds is going to take a chance on that because they’re afraid of losing other paid clients and customers.

Cancel Culture is kind of a misnomer.

It’s actually a subculture last I checked. I would argue anthropologically that it’s a subculture containing members of the Internet, political, media, and business communities. I would argue the majority of people at a local or even national level might not entirely agree on what to cancel or why.

This again seems to be a phenomenon that centers widely on social media. One person decides someone is a bigot so now all of their “true” friends must ostracize, block, and ignore this person. Sometimes it’s well meant and legitimate. Other times, maybe it’s personal or political. Personally, I check people over if someone says, “Hey. Unfollow this person.”

Admittedly, my friend is usually right. If I dig into a person that has been accused of being a bigot, I find the evidence that makes me wonder why the heck I ever followed that person to begin with. I recently went through and cleaned out my Twitter list when I found a lot of people I followed when I was new on the platform and looking for friends. Oops.

Not everyone looks into the accusation as well as I do. Sometimes someone gets shunned by an entire community for making one or two offhanded, untoward comments. Sometimes people end up backing a loser and become guilty by association. I’ve seen it happen on Twitter. Not everyone exercises discernment the same way.

On the other hand, if someone does prove they are a card-carrying Nazi? Well, they’ll retain their like-minded friends. That’s on them. I’m a fan of unfollow, block and in many cases reporting racist statements. Most social media platforms don’t tolerate that sort of thing.

Another example is if someone is outed as being physically or sexually abusive toward women in the RPG community. Word gets around freakin fast. I can’t get into specifics (sorry,) but I have seen it happen on Twitter. The “alleged” abuser was pretty much gone from the platform within 24 hours of his misconduct being reported by multiple former female players in his group. The moral of the story is: be nice or be gone.

The “Old Grognards” are beginning to police themselves.

This is a sticky subject for me as I kinda fall into this particular subculture of the RPG community. A lot of us OGs have a bad reputation for being old fashioned, bitter, gatekeeper types and very unaccepting of anything new. It’s make life hard on people who don’t generally deal well with changes in their society and its overall culture.

I’ve heard well-known, long time gaming celebrities basically admit to being racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, and sexist. For crying out loud, the 1980’s are gone! Let them be gone. We don’t have to think like that any more. OR, if that’s too much to handle- stay in your basement with your same, likeminded, narrow minded little group that probably hasn’t changed much in 30 years.

If we’re talking about people who don’t accept change well, or at all for that matter, why would they want to run games in public? Again, I say you can tell your views on the real world all day. Just remember, the venue you’re in may have rules against racist, anti-LGBTQIA++, and other such speech. They can ask you to kindly pack up, leave, and never return.

Personally, I welcome the opportunity to engage in conversations about RPGs with just about anyone genuinely concerned with the topic. We can talk new editions, older editions, indie games, mainstream games, or even house rules. I love roleplaying. As long as I’ve got time to spare, we’re good. What I won’t put up with is people who hate.

This all comes back around to the notion that if one wants to hate, that’s on them. Keep it in their own little groups with their like minded friends. Great. Just keep it away from the rest of us who don’t appreciate that crap.

People can change.

I used to say some things that I regret now. My opinions have even changed a lot over the last six months or so when it comes to gaming. My opinions of people have changed a lot over the last six or seven years for the better. I’ve even become more accepting of opinions differing from my own.

I’m more than happy to give people second chances most of the time. I still have my limits. But if they can demonstrate and continue to demonstrate new behavior, then welcome back. Carry on.

I still steadfastly denounce those wishing to harm others, especially children. The same can be said about people who are intolerant based on race, sex, gender identity, age, ability, and so on. I firmly believe we weren’t put on this planet to hate and hurt one another. We’re here to learn and maybe find joy before we move on.

Everyone in the US is free to speak their opinion out loud. But, any given platform can drop the ban hammer. The lesson here is: be careful what you say because your audience is listening!

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you! More tomorrow.

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