Old Guys Still Get a Bad Rep.

Do what lights you up. Spend energy, money, and time toward people and things you love. Life is too short to waste it on hating things. Ultimately it doesn’t accomplish much of anything.

Change doesn’t happen overnight.

Some of us have been around long enough to know this, especially in the tabletop roleplaying game sphere. I know a lot of us are looked upon by the younger gaming crowd suspiciously, questionably, even with disdain sometimes. The term “Old Grognard” has become akin to an unfortunate stereotype on social media.

I mean, I have a kind of a thick skin when it comes to social media and the internet having been a veteran of many flame wars and troll battles. My recommendation is- Don’t feed the trolls. Disengage. Delete. Ignore. But when it comes someone disparaging all of us OGs (*Old Gamers,) I feel compelled to say something.

Diversity and inclusion have to extend both ways, or at least an attempt needs to be made.

Look, I get that some of us “old” codgers need some encouragement to give up our old, tired ways and long held beliefs. Up until about seven years ago, I was a straight-up ass at times. I’ve said my share of absolutely dumb, hateful, regrettable things in my time. Many of them were unintentional. Still, there are regrets.

The important lessons here are that I’ve learned from years of mistakes. I’m honestly not a racist, homophobic, transphobic arse. I never have been. I don’t hang with Nazis. I have a pretty diverse number of friends from all over the place. Honest, as long as you’re not a hater, we can probably find common ground.

I get it. Old cishet white guys have made a mess of things.

And yet somehow we keep putting them in charge of the United States. (Don’t get me going…) I can’t fix them or their actions any more than I can change the color of my skin. All I can do is the best I can and try to teach my children to do the same.

The same applies in the sphere of TTRPGs as well as many other things in life. It’s not my place to apologize for what others have done. I can’t learn their lessons in life for them. Just like I can’t create world peace by unifying the world under one Creator/Source/Universe or set of divine principles. That’s why it’s called “free will.”

What I can do is a whole different matter.

I love life. And the day I really embraced the notion that ultimately we are all linked together cosmically changed me. My Higher Self knew this. I just had to remember it. (*This is me speaking from the heart. No, I’m not in some New Age Cult or anything.) Here’s the number one message I have for anyone who feels the need to try to influence the behaviors of others by cramming politics, religion, or hate down their throats- DON’T!

I love you, family. All you can ever do is stand up and present your views. What others decide to do with it is up to them. Yeah, it kinda sucks sometimes. But sometimes it’s just enough to help someone turn the corner.

Other times, it’s just better to walk away.

They’re here to learn, too. All of those enraged, hateful, spiteful Internet trolls? Yeah. We don’t have to cancel them. Just don’t give them an audience. Don’t buy into the product. Listen to people you do resonate with.

Do what lights you up. Spend energy, money, and time toward people and things you love. Life is too short to waste it on hating things. Ultimately it doesn’t accomplish much of anything.

“The best revenge is no revenge.”

Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten who said it, but it’s true. When it comes to social media, Unfollow, Block, and Ignore are your best friends. Heck, it’s anonymous to report people on every platform I’ve been on. If someone is being overly horrible toward others, Report them, please. It’s the platform’s job to police itself.

Wait, are we still talking gamer stuff?

Believe it or not, yes I am. I see examples from all sides of the conflict in the #ttrpg space every day. Every time I log on, I’m reminded that, yeah we have some “Old Grognards” in the community that are awful toward others for race, gender, sexual preference, and so forth. It’s not the f*ck okay!

Then we have just as many folx who want to see them canceled. Heck, some probably want to see me canceled. (I’d rather deal with them than the guys who want to tie me up in the woods…) It’s not about the crusade to stamp out everything that offends. It’s about building up a community and showing some caring regard for one another no matter who they are. (*As long as no harm is intended toward others.)

I’m not perfect. I am more than happy to make amends when I stick my foot in my mouth. Many OGs won’t. In fact, the OGs who never apologize are usually the ones who get “us” in trouble. The broader stereotype makes every action by a handful of misguided individuals reflect poorly on the rest. (*If you only knew how many times I had to retype that.)

Ready to go back to talking RPGs again.

I get pretty wound up about this topic. Sorry. All I can do is try to set a good example of being a good example. All I ask is that others try to do the same. Please, support one another regardless. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Try to show some empathy.

If peace, love, joy, and prosperity FOR ALL aren’t your thing? Well, please feel free to block, unfollow, and ignore me, too. Heck, if I’m somehow offensive, feel free to report me. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Thank you for being here. I appreciate you with all my heart. Love my #ttrpgfamily. Take care.

A Tumultuous Time for Part of the RPG Industry.

Then there’s Star Frontiers: New Genesis. I really don’t want to give this product or this company any free press. There are literally hundreds of RPGs that I’d rather invest my time and effort it. Yeah. It’s that bad.

I’ve been following the recent news about a game company that many of us in the community had a world of love and respect for back in the day.

I was genuinely excited when I heard someone was bringing back Star Frontiers. Taken at face value, it’s one of the coolest things to happen since D&D 5E! Freakin Star Frontiers! It’s back. YAY!

Here’s the Bell of Lost Souls article.

The original Star Frontiers cover art by Larry Elmore.

Did I mention it looks awesome on the surface?

I keep my somewhat banged-up copy of the original with my D&D boxed sets. I’ve kept up with the game on and off. It’s a really amazing classic Sci-Fi RPG. It’s been available in reprint form on DrivethruRPG. That in and of itself is enough for some of us old school gamers.

Then there’s Star Frontiers: New Genesis. I really don’t want to give this product or this company any free press. There are literally hundreds of RPGs that I’d rather invest my time and effort it. Yeah. It’s that bad.

There are two notables among many out there fighting the good fight.

In case anyone wonders, I always type it out as T$R to honor this old logo. It’s a dragon, not a dollar sign.

Tom (Jedion) at Table Top Taproom on YouTube has been embroiled in an ongoing conflict with the person behind this revival version of T$R. Another soldier in this battle is Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern. They have both been up to their proverbial eyeballs in harsh trolling on Twitter. (Gonna leave those links alone, because it’s pretty brutal.) They have both been making videos in support of one another and are very critical of these guys at the “nuTSR.” From what I’ve seen between Tom and Tenkar, there’s no way I’ll touch the new Star Frontiers.

In fact, from all of the internet brawling I’ve seen over Star Frontiers: New Genesis and other “nuTSR” properties, I won’t touch anything the authors do. Ever. Please note, it takes a lot for me to be openly offended this way.

I’m just peeking in on this insanity that is “nuTSR.”

The old T$R had its flaws before and after the Lorraine Williams era. Gary Gygax, (Rest in Peace) had his own personality quirks and flaws that people have called out. It’s all water under the bridge now, but we do owe Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and others credit for putting RPGs on the map.

There are so many award winning authors and RPG designers who passed through the hallowed halls of old T$R, I can’t name them all or we’ll be here all day. Some of the luminaries from the T$R golden age of prosperity and even a few of the later hires are still HUGE names in the RPG business.

Despite the popular culture overtones of the time, many of the games from the 1980’s and 1990’s are still thriving in one form or another. Some of them are five, maybe six editions in. (It happens.) Many old campaigns and modules in reprint now come with a disclaimer from Wizards of the Coast.

The disclaimer as it appears on DriveThruRPG and DMsGuild.

I would bet my collection of Polyhedron magazines none, absolutely none of the old T$R crew would sign off on anything these “nuTSR” guys have been doing. From everything I’ve seen, most conscientious gamers won’t touch the stuff these new guys are putting out. We feel bad for the ones who have.

It’s not just Star Frontiers, either. This “nuTSR” has acquired the licenses for Dungeon Crawl and Cult of Abaddon (module.) Apparently they have not shipped as promised. Seems a bit suspicious at best. At worst, it’s awful customer service. (*Here’s a thought- don’t screw people who are giving you money in exchange for your product!)

Crowdfunded efforts unfulfilled. Designers/Writers blasting fans publicly on social media. One incident on social media involved threats against someone’s family. Star Frontiers: New Genesis is a hot mess from what we hear. Lore and backgrounds aside, it is rumored the editing is a total disaster. The museum and several old T$R intellectual properties are on the line, too. Oh, and apparently WotC has issued a Cease and Desist order and set their crack ninja death squad of elite hit lawyers on the perpetrators from this “nuTSR.”

Trauma and drama aside, the true disservice is done to the fans at this point.

No offense to Tom and Tenkar, but that’s what hurts most about this entire debacle. There are some real Dungeon Crawl fans out there. If there was a successful, well thought-out, well edited remake of a classic game, who knows how many fans could have been introduced? The same can be said for Star Frontiers.

Old school T$R fans from all over are shocked and appalled at what has gone down with “nuTSR.” No matter how freaky and controversial the old guard T$R might be, they would never have stamped their imprint some something shoddy, undeliverable, unedited, blatantly offensive, or promised but not delivered. Then to go on social media (*sorry, not much 1980’s or 1990’s comparison,) and treat fans and buyers like absolute dirt? Ouch.

My humble advice regarding “nuTSR.”

I sincerely hope this all dies down soon and we can get back to gaming. Star Frontiers really was a good game. Please, my advice will always be, put your energy toward that which you love, not creating more hate. Love Dungeon Crawl. Love Star Frontiers. Please give Table Top Tap Room and Tenkar’s Tavern a listen over on YouTube.

My other earnest advice, from someone who used to be somewhat anti-WotC, please watch the manufacturer listed on the product! If it comes straight from Wizards of the Coast or old T$R via WotC, then you can reasonably assume it’s authentic. I also find that knowing a little of the product history helps when I’m looking at older modules. There are plenty of other companies reprinting or revising old T$R modules and they’re fine.

Good times are on the horizon. Please stay hydrated. Stay safe. Thanks for being here. You are appreciated.

Dungeon Crawling or Role Playing.

Really we were just looking for another dungeon to pillage. These dungeons were filled with deadly traps, epic monster smackdowns and sweet, sweet loot.

What’s the difference?

There was a time, maybe back in the 1970’s -80’s when RPGs were new enough that there wasn’t necessarily a huge difference between running amok in a dungeon and “role playing.” Now I think gaming has spread out into a wide continuum of play styles. On one end, there are the straight dungeon romp for almost no reason whatsoever and on the other end it’s pretty much all character drama. (What combat? Monsters?)

That’s not to dis on either playstyle. I think both have their respective merits. The middle ground is more what most people maybe expect when they start playing D&D.

“Back in my day…”

Photo by Estudio Polaroid on Pexels.com

It drives my kids nuts when I start a sentence like that because they know they have roused the Old Grognard from whatever I was doing. I grew up in very much the dungeon crawl era of doing things right up through 2nd Ed AD&D. There was some character banter, but most of it was superficial. Really we were just looking for another dungeon to pillage.

These dungeons were filled with deadly traps, epic monster smackdowns and sweet, sweet loot. Any random system of dungeon generation we have now, such as decks of cards with hallways and rooms on them would have worked just fine. Random room, random obstacles, and random loot were the order of the day. Feelings? I’m here to smack some random monsters with a mace.

New editions, new mindsets.

Roundabout the 3rd Ed D&D days, I found more mature players who actually did spend time in character. Soon we were spending more time outside of carefully constructed underground complexes than in them. Soon interactions extended beyond finding the next catacomb to pillage or the next dragon to slay. There was still a fair share of that, but we had tons more character interactions with both the world and with one another at the table.

It was something I had experienced with other games, certainly. Ninjas & Superspies from Palladium was some intense drama at times. Most of the supers games I had run in the past had lots of character stuff and not a heap of combat. Star Wars, well, that still had some beefy combats, but was still character driven.

Werewolf and Cyberpunk 2020 were all character and very little smackdown games. But D&D? That was sort of different having lots of talky and not as much smashy. The spectrum in my D&D games began to widen considerably. Maybe it was the players, or maybe it was the game itself. By the time 3rd Ed came around, there were considerably more character options thanks to something called “Kits” in 2nd Ed. It only grew from there.

I feel like heavy, in-character RP is the “new normal.”

Old Orc by Michael Robson is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Maybe it was the pandemic. Maybe it’s that players are more mature or have more refined tastes in RPGs now. Or perhaps everyone is trying to emulate a certain popular show on the internet. Virtual TableTop platforms like Roll 20 have been a game changer, too. I also feel like the massive number of actual play podcasts might be changing up how we do things.

Let’s face it. Virtual or podcasts are way more about dialogue. Who wants to watch a bunch of players sitting around rolling dice for four hours? Where’s the drama in that? I feel like the trend is starting to lean toward heavier and heavier roleplay and not so much pillaging ancient tombs regardless. At least that’s what I’m seeing.

We went from the DM saying, “You see an orc.”
And the players saying, “Oooh! I kill it!” (Rolling of dice.) “Huzzah!”
DM replies, “Okay, 7 points of damage kills it. That’s 5XP and 3GP on the body.”

Now it’s more common to find an orc player character or a goblin. The newest batch of rules coming down the pipe is going to pretty much do away with “Monster Races” entirely and just focus on different aspects of races that are unique. How long will it be before they just eliminate the “Dungeons” from the name entirely?

5E changed the game and the way we look at it.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Character options in 5E, if fully expanded, not considering homebrew, are still staggering. We’re way beyond ability score jokes and class tropes nowadays. (Gone are the days of the Level 1 Wizard tripping down two stairs and returning to character creation. Or the Barbarian who is easily confused by door knobs.) Now if we see an orc wandering down the road in the middle of nowhere, we’re likely to end up in a lengthy discussion of her tragic backstory and cool hairstyle.

I know my age is showing a lot here, but why do we need dice for that? Or even really any kind of RPG rules? Why do we want to slay dragons when we can just have a lovely conversation and the dragon has a light meal. If we’re all going to get along all the time, why even carry weapons or wear armor? We can just send the bard in to “hug” it out with the dragon.

Perhaps I’m being too broad and overly facetious.

I guess it depends on who you ask. There is no one correct play style and it’s always best to talk to the DM before starting a campaign. There’s no sense making a barbarian with tons of combat ability if the group is leaning toward royal tea parties and delicate interactions with Fae folk.

Personally, I like both. Sometimes I’m really just wanting to blow off steam with my players and crush skulls while looting things. Other days, a good royal court drama where almost no dice are rolled can be kind of fun. I know I say it a lot on my blog, but it’s just best to find what will bring the most fun to the group.

Thanks for stopping by. Have fun, regardless. I appreciate you! Have a good one!

Note of Gratitude and Congratulations!

Congratulations to April Kit Walsh, Whitney Delagio, Dominique Dickey, Jonaya Kemper, Alexis Sara, and Rae Nedjadi and the folx at Evil Hat Productions! Their game, Thirsty Sword Lesbians became the first RPG to win a Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Holy buckets! Is this awesome or what?

A member of the gaming community recently hit it big.

Congratulations to April Kit Walsh, Whitney Delagio, Dominique Dickey, Jonaya Kemper, Alexis Sara, and Rae Nedjadi and the folx at Evil Hat Productions! Their game, Thirsty Sword Lesbians became the first RPG to win a Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Holy buckets! Is this awesome or what?

Nebula Award for Thirsty Sword Lesbians. Neat!

I think this is going to put Evil Hat on the map even more than before.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians RPG.

One thing I will say about Evil Hat Productions is they seem to really know how to pick them. FATE RPG is an amazing game with several successful spin offs/settings. Monster of the Week by Michael Sands is outstanding in the horror RPG genre as well as being an amazing game in its own right. Now, Thirsty Sword Lesbians by April Kit Walsh has hit big on several fronts. The good times are rolling for our friends at Evil Hat.

There are a couple of things that really stand out about this award as an event in the RPG community that I want to discuss. Aside from one of “our” own, (ours as in an RPG writer) making some headlines, I think it’s great that it’s not one of the big names in gaming for a change. It’s also remarkable to be recognized outside of the usual RPG industry awards such as Origins, ENnies, or Gen Con. Finally, this game uses Powered by the Apocalypse (*Apocalypse World Engine) as its core rules. I’ve been critical of any game using PbtA in the past, but my mind is changing fast.

Confession, I haven’t played this game yet.

Honestly, as much as I uh, love lesbians, I’m still a guy. That’s not to disrespect the gay community. A couple of my best friends are lesbians. Before anyone starts blasting this “Old Grognard” in the RPG community, let’s be clear- I fully support and encourage members of the LGBTQIA++ community. I honestly admire the fact that Thirsty Sword Lesbians was chosen over other industry notables such as D&D, Pathfinder, Star Wars RPG, Savage Worlds, and others.

That’s actually the first thing about this particular award that blows my mind. There have literally been decades of RPGs out there that could have been chosen in years past. I sincerely hope the marketing people at Hasbro had kittens when they found out about this. A little “indie” game did something D&D has never accomplished. Critical Role hasn’t even broken some of these barriers yet. Woot!

I think the rest of the RPG industry should be taking notes over what has been done here.

For any RPG to win an award outside of the usual circles is truly fantastic!

I used to be critical of PbtA. Then I was introduced to Monster of the Week RPG. After making four or five characters, I’m really liking the simplicity of character creation and the playbook style. It’s especially easy on new players. It lays out what characters can do well and helps build backstory in a few easy steps.

Usually one would expect an RPG to be given an award at some event such as Origins, Gen Con, or EN World. (love the ENnies!) For the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America to take notice? Thirsty Sword Lesbians must be a truly outstanding game. Whatever awards this games wins going forward, let’s consider this Nebula Award to be a good step in success.

Like I have pointed out here on my blog before, other Evil Hat games are pretty remarkable in their own right. I think part of what sets Thirsty Sword Lesbians apart is the subject matter. Fabulous art and talented writing help quite a bit, too. Again, I am grateful and really admire what this game has accomplished. Keep up the good work!

I hope someday I manage to put out an RPG product that makes money, wins awards, and raises awareness. I really admire what has been done here. I’m happy and grateful that members of the RPG family are being acknowledged for their hard work.

Congratulations again, Thirsty Sword Lesbians!

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Take care.

Please be kind to one another!

Getting Communities Together Pt 3.

We have what are two separate communities under one banner. I’d love to think the RPG crowd on Twitter or really anywhere is one big, happy family. Some things happened recently to remind me that even though we might be family, we still have plenty of duality and separation to go around.

I promise I am going somewhere with all this.

I’m speaking from my own experiences as an OG (Old Gamer.) All of the opinions are mine. I’m not the world’s expert on all things Old Grognard, but I do sort of identify with that label. Labels are a lot of what this all boils down-to in the end.

We have what are two separate communities under one banner. I’d love to think the RPG crowd on Twitter or really anywhere is one big, happy family. Some things happened recently to remind me that even though we might be family, we still have plenty of duality and separation to go around.

“Those darn kids…”

Those “kids” are pretty great, actually.

I think that’s pretty much the battle cry of the Old Grognard online. “Those darn kids” or whatever synonyms are used, is usually the start of some real polarizing arguments. It’s not always wrong, but it’s an attitude that usually leads to trouble of some kind. It’s not fair to the younger generation and quite often speaks poorly of the older person saying it.

We have this up-and-coming crowd of young gamers. Many of them were brought into the hobby through an interest in Critical Role or some other actual play podcast. Many of them got with a group and discovered they like D&D as a hobby. Great!

They learn to make characters. They play their characters with zeal in many cases. They roll dice and eat snacks, too. Many times they breathe new life into old campaigns or allow us to start new ones. We should be celebrating this! “Those darn kids” are keeping the hobby alive. Screw what edition they’re playing!

Some of us old guys are figuring out that if we want new players, we have to change up the paradigm a bit.

This newer crowd/rpg subculture comes with some new and different rules, however. Not necessarily RPG rules, but socio-cultural rules. It’s similar to trying to understand today’s teenagers. In fact, my own kids fall into this category. It requires a lot of patience and understanding to get to know these “kids.”

Session Zero is a great example of this. Prior to a few years ago, I don’t remember it ever actually coming up much. Sometimes we ran a game session where we made new characters and introduced ourselves, but no one ever discussed “red flags” or “X cards.” Most of the time we discovered one another’s sensitivities after someone got offended. Turns out I actually like Session Zero discussions. They’re useful in so many ways!

“Back in my day…” redux.

Pretty sad that some people were like this back then.

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, we had a much different political, social, and cultural climate here in the United States. The AIDS scare had people paranoid about sexual relations (ironically it turns out the heterosexual community was most affected.) The Satanic Panic had people extra jumpy about RPGs. The religious right was consistently bombarding America with their often pretentious “values.” Cocaine had half of Hollywood, the music industry, government officials, and corporate executives stoned off their asses and making sketchy decisions. (New Coke, anyone? Reaganomics maybe?)

A lot of us growing up back then were taught to shame gay and trans folk. Gamers got “The lecture” about burning their books and throwing away their “evil” dice. Women were still fighting the glass ceiling and trying to be treated as equals in the workplace. Being sensitive to the needs of others was relegated to “political correctness.” Conservatives ruled the US for over a decade. Eesh.

This is not to excuse the bad behaviour of some of the older generations of gamers. There’s never a good excuse for hate, intolerance, or even really bad behaviour. But it does signal a need for change in some of us as people, and should serve as a wake up call for those engaging in such radical nonsense. If you’re old enough to become bitter and jaded toward someone, you’re old enough to figure out how to get your shit straightened out.

These “new” kids…

Respect will get you success!

Learning is an ongoing experience at any age. Change is inevitable at any age. Cultures and societies change mores and values all the time. It’s not always an instant change. For us “old” guys, some of us wonder how change occurred overnight.

If we “Old Grognards” can put our edition differences aside and sit down with these fresh-faced younger players and DM/GMs, we can accomplish so much together. Gaming is supposed to be fun! For crying out loud, have fun with it.

We should all be rolling dice together and yelling “huzzah!” not bickering over whose edition is best or whether we should be concerned over someone’s pronouns. Yes, we should be sensitive toward one another’s feelings, don’t get me wrong. But pronouns should have been agreed upon probably during Session Zero if they weren’t already established.

Please do everyone at your gaming table a huge favor- leave politics, real world religion, and all of your old baggage at the door. There’s plenty of time to find things to argue about on the Internet. If you’re playing a virtual game, it works much the same way when you sit down for Session ONE onward. The bottom line is play nice. RPGs are a cooperative experience, so uh, please cooperate okay?

There may yet be a Part 4 to this discussion.

I feel like Old Grognards still have a bad rep in the RPG community. Maybe some of us have earned it on an individual basis. Unfortunately, the labels and/or stereotypes run both ways. Sometimes we older players and DM/GMs have a hard time finding a pickup game online, at a convention or even at our local FLGS. Sometimes the discrimination runs both ways. Labels, good or bad, run both ways.

I can’t say I entirely blame the younger crowd for not wanting grandpa or grandma at the table. Sometimes we do tend to bog the conversation down with tales of the days of yore. Yesteryear was a very long time ago for some younger gamers. Some of these younger folks don’t quite get the difference between beer-n-pretzels gaming vs a serious campaign, either.

Thanks for stopping by today. I have a ton of good stuff for Power Rangers RPG, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Monster of the Week , and maybe even good old 5E in the works. This topic of the generation gap in gamers and my friend’s battle with “old cishet white guys” has been occupying a lot of my thoughts lately.

Regardless of what edition you play or who is at your regular table, please have fun. Please treat one another with kindness and compassion in real life. I appreciate you for being here. Thank you!

Community Part 2.

Just because we’re a product of our environment growing up, doesn’t mean we can’t change. We don’t have to continue being all of those bad things some of us are getting accused-of.

We “old grogs” have gotten a bad reputation.

If I ask someone on RPG Twitter to describe the term, “Old Grognard,” I’m likely to hear some things none of us are very fond-of. I’m going to say terms like “cynical, racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist,” and “transphobic.” Many of us are characterized as cishet, narrow-minded right wing old fart conservatives. Apparently the MAGA crowd is now big on OSR gaming? Heck, I even saw the term “Nazi” flung around at one point. (*Not naming anyone specifically, because ouch.)

This is what one “Old Grognard” looks like.

I don’t think anyone likes being referred to that way? I sure as heck don’t. Then again, I would like to think I espouse peace, understanding, tolerance, democracy, freedom, and love? Sorry, I’m really big on my “New Age” spiritual beliefs that don’t leave room for hate. Hate is a huge waste of time and energy.

I’m trying to leave politics out of this. Truthfully, I voted my conscience last time and pretty much everyone I voted for didn’t even get mentioned in the final results. Some of them never got nominated officially. (LOL?😅)

Old Grognard gamer stereotypes.

Yeah… some of this stuff is painful to hear.

OSR or nothing! Nothing new is good! D&D 5E is the worst thing since D&D 3rd edition! These darn kids today don’t appreciate anything! These darn kids don’t understand what homebrew really is. Matt Mercer is leading these kids astray. Critical Role is terrible. Blah blah blah. <OG grouchy noises>

I’ve heard people online saying things like this and worse. Way worse. See also, “Back in my day.” I could legit do an entire series of memes just on stuff some of us “old grogs” have said online and irl. We veterans of gaming for 20+ years have a lot of history and a lot of baggage.

The really tragic part is, I know people who are harsh on new editions of almost any game, especially D&D. I know people spouting bigoted, hateful, terrible things online and in the real world. It truly saddens me.

I could say it’s a sign of the times and a pattern of behaviour learned in a different era. We said the same thing back in the day. I used to get on my dad’s case for using the term, “negro” to refer to African Americans. Guess what? He grew up in the 1930’s and 40’s and that’s the word they used.

Just because we’re a product of our environment growing up, doesn’t mean we can’t change. We don’t have to continue being all of those bad things some of us are getting accused-of. I mean, yeah some of the older editions of D&D included some pretty racist, homophobic and transphobic content. We didn’t see it as a bad thing at the time. Now? I hope older generations of gamers are catching on that terms and times are changing.

Modern cancel culture would have it in for some of my all time favorite AD&D books.

Unearthed Arcana Alt Cover.

My favorite example of racism in AD&D First Edition is the racial enmity table that appeared in the Unearthed Arcana. The original UA is one of my all time favorite books because it revolutionized AD&D. I can point to so many other things in UA that are so amazing. But the whole table of X race hates on Y race but tolerates Z race really makes it look bad nowadays.

This only one example. Some have said the entirety of Oriental Adventures is one bad racial slur against Asians and other POC. In a way it really was. Again, I’d love to see some of the content from that book (classes, weapons, and spells) get revived today, but not in a way that’s going to offend people. The RPG industry let a lot of stuff fly back then that we wouldn’t dream of accepting today.

Standing up for Old School Revival gaming LOOKS like standing up for the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic junk that was rampant in gaming and Western culture at the time. That’s pretty not okay.

Some parts of this book are among the most amazing RPG content ever. Some aspects of this book have also become quite infamous, sadly.

This is not to say we should ban either of these two books. The classes, items and spells make them a worthwhile read. OA covers a really nice do-it-yourself martial arts system that has never been replicated in another official D&D product to my knowledge. Even the artwork in both of the books I’ve mentioned is pretty phenomenal.

Unfortunately some of the stuff contained in both books probably warrants skipping over. Some people may wish to not partake in games using these two books or maybe skipping the entire edition of the game in favor of friendlier content.

T$R should not be confused with OSR, however. We’ll get more into that in the next installment. There’s a lot of old school stuff out there that doesn’t carry the junk with it and I’ll get more into that later as well. Just because something has that old school D&D look and feel doesn’t mean it carries all of the negative crap with it. As with gaming, as with gamers on all counts.

To be continued again…

It looks pretty dark for the “old grogs” right now. Yeah, some of us really are that, uh… messed up? Backwards? Old fashioned?

As my dear old dad used to say, “It never gets any easier.”

Sometimes that is the truth. Thanks for being here. Hope you’re having a good week. Please keep gaming regardless of the edition or game. Life might not always get easier, but it can get better. Game on!

Getting Communities Together.

Seriously, I really do have a lot of love and respect for Critical Role. I’m sorry if it ever looks like I’m dissing on them. Not only has it grown its own popularity, but it really does draw a lot of new players into the game.

I didn’t realize OSR Grognardia was a separate island unto itself until recently.

Things got spiritual in a hurry…

I see it on YouTube and RPG Twitter quite often. We’ve got the Old Grognards on one side of the proverbial fence and all the young Critical Role D&D fans on the other. I find it perplexing that a lot of the channels I watch never discuss the various OSR games, or on other channels that’s all we ever hear.

I get that we live in a Universe built on separation and duality. Technically we’re all one big happy family under the stars, but we inhabit different frames here on 3D Earth and we see a myriad of differing concepts go by so we can learn. There are seemingly two sides to everything. For example: you and me, light and dark, raw and cooked, liberal and conservative, dice and diceless.

Then, what really bends the noodle even further is when we get into continuums of things. Yes, Neo, I’m talking about various shades of gray. (Not the book, either.) For example, in D&D we have the early days of White Box all the way to Morrus’ Advanced 5E or WotC’s 5.5/6.0 that’s coming. We have fans of roleplaying games strewn all the way from one edition clear back to the original. And this is without getting into the infamous “Edition Wars” from various internet platforms.

“Back in my day…”

I have lots of memories.

If you listen hard enough, you can probably hear all of my kids and my wife cringing at that phrase. It is guaranteed if I start a sentence with that, they’re in for a history lesson. I love history. I’m an Old Grognard. It’s what I do. I almost became a History teacher at one time. (Ha!)

Back in the 1980’s, when the Satanic Panic was in full bloom, players were few and far between especially in small town Iowa where I grew up. We were literally playing D&D in our parents basements. Gaming was often spoken of in hushed tones outside of the group for fear that the good reverend and pack of well-meaning wackadoos would drop “the lecture” on you again.

The lecture. You know, the one that started with “Those games are dangerous…” and ended with “…burn all those books and go to church.” Truthfully, I don’t know a single gamer that ever burned all of his books and threw his dice away as a result, but maybe it happened somewhere. Who knows?

My point behind this story is that we would have given just about anything back then to have a show like Critical Role that could actually show what D&D actually looked like. It would have been amazeballs to have someone- anyone, standing up for the hobby and bringing new people in.

Matt Mercer, if you happen across this, I’m sorry I ever gave you grief! Please forgive me!

Seriously, I really do have a lot of love and respect for Critical Role. I’m sorry if it ever looks like I’m dissing on them. Not only has it grown its own popularity, but it really does draw a lot of new players into the game. It really does fall on us as DMs to keep players into the game once they’ve started. At least Matt and the CR crew got us the foot in the door.

Would it have worked with any other game? Well, there are hundreds of actual play podcasts floating around on the internet. Covid kept us locked down and inside for months on end. I guess maybe there are a few other, even OSR games out there in actual play format.

Sadly, a lot of us “old grogs” as I’ve heard us called now, don’t make videos of our sessions. Maybe we should start? I’ve literally had people ask me if I would. Geez, from there we could start running VTT sessions of old school games. From there, anything could happen… LOL!

To be continued…

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RPG Twitter Be Like…

As much as I want to be love and light, I can’t abide by racist, homophobic, transphobic, pedophilic, abusive, hateful individuals in my life. I’m on a spiritual path and I’m very willing to forgive (*except on one specific thing I mentioned.) I abide by the Wiccan principle of DO NO HARM. If someone can’t follow that one simple rule, we’re going to part ways.

Not the KYBO fire UFO Twitter is. LOL!

So, I delved back into social media today on both Instagram and Twitter after a period of inactivity other than the occasional story post, retweet and blog notification. I liken being away to a social media detox.

(*I grew up in Iowa and live in Des Moines, btw.)

I actually recommend everyone take a break from time to time. It’s healthy. You’ll find time and mental health benefits you never imagined were there. I have my share of mental health issues. Trust me, it was a good cleanse to take a break.

Walked into kind of a mess on Twitter, though.

Photo by Mudassir Ali on Pexels.com

I make mistakes every day. Trust me. No need for a reminder.

I don’t look my followers over on Twitter as well as I should. Turns out my well-meaning desire to be a friend to all sometimes gets me backing some, uh, unscrupulous folks. Anyone can change for better or worse. I unfollowed some people today that need to work on the ‘better.’ It makes me sad because a couple of these bad actors put out some really good content, too.

But, as much as I want to be love and light, I can’t abide by racist, homophobic, transphobic, pedophilic, abusive, hateful individuals in my life. I’m on a spiritual path and I’m very willing to forgive (*except on one specific thing I mentioned.) I abide by the Wiccan principle of DO NO HARM. If someone can’t follow that one simple rule, we’re going to part ways.

People make mistakes. So do I. It happens.

We can correct. We can atone. All it takes is open dialogue. People can change.

I might be an Old Grognard, but I’m far from a grouch most days.

Curmudgeonly Grognard is NOT the same as hateful and intolerant.

Someone who I genuinely look up to posted something on Twitter that I took issue with. I immediately unfollowed him. Much to my surprise, (more like dismay,) he gave me a big, unsolicited, unprompted, very kind shout-out. Holy buckets! Needless to say I promptly followed again. Mistakes were made.

My mood was somewhere between “Back off!” and “Don’t make me become the center of a national headline.” Then the whole thing on Twitter happened and suddenly I wasn’t done with humanity any more. I can be curmudgeonly when I’m tired, in pain, and hungry, which I was at the time. I’m not always a grouch.

That’s where the Old Grognards of the RPG community get a bad rep. A lot of us grew up in a different generation. Back in our day racism, sexism, paranoia and -phobias were commonplace. (*Not excusable.) Some of us have learned/changed to be tolerant, accepting, patient, and more open to new ideas. Others have yet to come around, unfortunately.

It’s easy to lump all of us old, white, cishet guys together into one category. Most days, I fit into some or all of those descriptors. However, it doesn’t mean I fall into that category all the time. Yes, I get that many people have been dealing with discrimination, hate, and bias their whole lives. It hurt then and it hurts now. Treating people like shit is NOT okay.

In the end, I’m here to eat pizza and roll dice. Fun might even be had. 😁

Sure, we play all kinds of RPGs, minis games, board games, etc where violence is commonplace as long as it’s IN GAME! Hate and violence have no real place out in the real world. Kindness and understanding should be universal. If not love, then neutral understanding, please? We can do better as a species.

Whether it’s social media, gaming, or even here on my blog, I strive to be kind to people. I always try to state it’s my opinion. If someone doesn’t agree, it’s okay. Mine is not the only opinion. I’m cool with it. I never go online with the intent of rammining my opinion down others’ throats. We can always discuss.

Please be the change you want to see.

Please be kind to one another.

Above all, please be kind to one another. Be compassionate. Try to forgive.

I’m lucky. The Source/Universe/God got involved in my life. Yes, I’m a “New Ager.” It doesn’t make me more right or wrong on any given day than I was before. However, it did wake me up to many things. For example: love, compassion, and kindness go a lot farther than fear, hate or intolerance.

Every journey begins with the first step. I doesn’t matter who takes the first step. Let’s walk together, okay? If we can’t do that, can we at least walk quietly and go separate ways for now?

I’m not asking for world peace (but it would be nice.) If people want to disagree, that’s cool. I am open to discourse as I hope everyone is. But violence and hate are unnecessary in many cases. All it takes is one person asking, “How can we work this out?”

Thanks for listening. Thanks for being here. I appreciate you. Namaste.

One Roleplaying Game Fits All?

Trying to make one system of RPG rules fit every genre and campaign is like mashing a round peg into a square hole. It fits, kinda.

“Any system can do anything you want it to do.” — from TTRPG Twitter.

I’m leaving the name off of this because I’m not trying to cause problems in the community. This person is technically correct. But in the interest of discussion, I will say there is a larger continuum to consider here.

From a tactical or strategic wargame perspective, no. Absolutely one system doesn’t work for everything. Typically, many RPGs don’t translate well to wargames/miniatures warfare. Ironically D&D came from the miniatures game Chainmail, which was a wargame. But if one tries to run epic naval battles with D&D 5E, for instance, it’s going to come up short on a mechanical level. One could just as easily create an entirely new game in the amount of time it would take.

Mashing the medium round peg into the medium square hole.

Why are we trying so hard to make D&D work for literally everything?

When it comes to RPGs, yes one can make any system work for just about any game. Yes, you can play virtually anything from stone age fantasy all the way through supers in space with D&D 5E. It’s possible because roleplaying doesn’t require some of the crunchier nuances that wargaming requires.

The whole thing comes down to how much time one wants to spend converting the game to work for one genre to another. How many hours does it take to rework D&D 5E into Call of Cthulhu in the 1920’s? Would it be easier just to buy another game? Would it be easier just to grab a set of more generic, universal core rules to do the same thing?

Yeah, it’ll fit with enough force.

Some game systems hold up to being manipulated better than others. D20 is the most common and debatably popular system as a core on and off for the last 20+ years. But it’s not always the fastest or most efficient when it comes to converting it into specific niches. For example Mutants & Masterminds looks almost nothing like D20 Modern, even though they’re both based on the same SRD/OGL.

I fall back on FATE and FUDGE for a lot of the quirky one shots or mini campaigns I come up with for certain niches because the conversion is relatively idiot proof. Their dice mechanics are simple and flexible for everything, especially combat. Character creation is pretty much the same from one genre to the next with a few minor adjustments. (FATE Horror and any game with supers takes a bit of tweaking.)

I will say that DriveThruRPG and similar websites offer a ton of options when it comes to generic systems. I’ve found a lot of gems such as Fantaji and GMD Core on there. Savage Worlds, the system that Deadlands RPG runs on, is also available. It is a good, crunchy generic system that has been adapted to fit several campaigns in multiple genres. That’s also where I discovered ICRPG which is exceptionally adaptable.

Time to get out the left handed monkey wrench.

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So, it’s either spend potentially hours or days converting a d100 or d20 RPG into whatever genre or game you want. Depending on the complexity of the game one desires, the amount of crunch the players are going to want, and the specific mechanics for some settings (horror, for example.) OR one can simply grab a generic core system and have the whole thing knocked out in an hour or two with some minor adjustments on the fly. Some games are intended to scale into one size fits all.

At then end of the day, it’s a matter of how much time you as a GM and your players want to spend haggling over character traits, historical data, combat mechanics, scale, and dozens of other factors. Personally, I like to get the right tool for the right job. If a preexisting game covers the bases, I’ll grab it and use it. Your mileage may vary.

Thanks for being here. I appreciate your support. Have a fabulous weekend!

Some Lesser Known Alternatives to D&D Fifth Edition

This is a short list of lesser known, less discussed generic rules lite RPGs. If you like D&D, but want to try something new, these are worth a glance.

D&D 5E is a great game and a wonderful introduction to the hobby of roleplaying. Here are some new ways to branch out:

FATE by Evil Hat Productions
  • Index Card Role Playing Game aka ICRPG from Runehammer Games. This is a simple set of rules similar to D20/D&D. It has fewer things to keep track of, which is why your whole character fits on an index card. It’s handy for multiple genres, but excels at fantasy.

    The print copy of the Master Edition is available from Modiphius. I’ve bought into the Second Edition of the game and I absolutely love it! It’s easy on the GM and fun for everyone in the group. If you like the items and monsters in D&D, it’s definitely worth looking at ICRPG.
  • FATE. from Evil Hat Productions. This game has a lot going for it and cool artwork. If you love the roleplaying element of D&D, then this is probably a good system for you.

    It’s easy to learn, easy to run and has cool dice. Honestly, any D6 can work, but their plus, minus, and blank dice are pretty cool. It’s another rules lite game where you can go as in depth or as vague as you’d like. I love it for its simplicity and adaptability as a writer and as a GM.

    I’ve discussed FUDGE on my blog before here. It’s FATE only simpler and a little more adaptable yet. You can literally play any world or campaign you can imagine or steal from. Best part is- It’s FREE! It’s a little older, but very fun.
  • ICONS by Steve Kenson. This is my go-to superhero game these days. It’s got some elements of FATE in the ease of play and dice mechanics. The character creation and abilities have been expanded upon a few times during its run as the Assembled Edition.

    As Steve Kenson once admitted, it’s not even the first RPG he’s ever designed. It’s not even the first superhero RPG he’s ever written. Mutants & Masterminds is a classic and genre-defining game worthy of mention elsewhere. ICONS is a labor of love, as far as I can tell.

    The thing I love most about ICONS is it takes most of the mechanical elements away from the GM so all we really have to focus on is good storytelling. It can be played as campy or as serious as the GM and group desire. The Dan Houser artwork is loveable and very comical.

    While it is a superhero game at heart, I’ve seen ICONS adapted to some pretty interesting subgenres within supers/comic book gaming. Just because it’s intended as a four color comic book world, doesn’t mean it can’t adapt to sentai anime, fantasy supers (He-Man,) spacefaring heroes, or steampunk dystopian post apocalyptic roleplaying. (*Yeah, that’s a thing.)
  • What’s Old is N.E.W, N.O.W, and/or O.L.D. from EN Publishing. There are actually three core books in this series depending on which genre you might be interested in. OLD is fantasy. NOW is modern. NEW is science fiction. All three combine to get some very interesting genres/campaign settings.

    EN World is a D&D fan site from back in the day. Morrus, WOIN’s creator, is a crack game designer on top of everything else he does. He’s definitely got his hands full on any given day. I sometimes wonder how he does it all.

    The mechanics of WOIN are simple enough. There is a ton of free online support for the system. Much like FUDGE and Open Legend, you can pretty much piece the game together for free if you want to. Character creation is about as complicated as D&D 5E, but with fewer homebrew sourcebooks.
  • Open Legend by Brian Feister and Ish Stabosz. Like FUDGE, this game is community based and basically FREE. It’s another generic system that does fantasy extremely well. You can certainly emulate other genres with it, as shown in the core book. Mixing genres is easy and practically encouraged.

    I was attracted to this game because of its, well, openness. If you want to create your own sourcebook for it, they encourage it! Just make sure credit is given where due. It takes the idea of Open Game Licensing to a new level.

    Again, it’s a fairly rules lite, easy to learn game. If you can master D&D 5E, Open Legends is easy and fun to pick up. It’s got the wholesomeness of Essence20 and similar games going for it. Roll 1d20+other dice vs Target Number. The spells and equipment are a bit more fluid in this system. It really does look like what a generic set of core rules should look like.
This is what the Open Legend website has to offer. They really go all out.

This is the first of these D&D alternative articles I’m working on. There are so many games that don’t get enough press or really any press outside of the company’s own meager promotions that I think they deserve some press here and elsewhere. I intend to discuss some lesser known game companies in my next article in this series. Lots of indie publishers deserve more screen time.

Until then, stay safe. Stay hydrated. Be good to one another. Thank you for being here. Please go out and try something new today!

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