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.

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!

Is this me? Is She Speaking to Me?!?

That’s actually very good advice! Note she said “project leads.” I would take that to mean likely larger companies. Yeah, at this point in the year 2022, we have better options than all-male, all-white RPG design teams at Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Renegade, and other big game companies. I agree.

WtAF did I walk into this time?

Okay. It so happens I followed this person before this post on #TTRPGTwitter .

There’s a lot to unpack here.

Here’s the link if you’re on Twitter.

**WARNING!** Before anyone freaks out- There are parts of this statement that I wholeheartedly agree with and a couple of things that I think require careful examination and discernment. I’m not offended by any of it. (Some of the comments on Twitter were another story.)

I’m a “Male creator in the #TTRPG community.” (Sorta-ish.)

Okay. So far so good. No secrets there. I’m a pretty standard issue older white guy. Tabletop Roleplaying Games are very much my jam for 40+years now.

She’s calling on me “not to work…” Whoa. What? Let’s stop the bus for a second. I’ve been unemployed for a year and a change now. Um- I’m sorry. But if someone offered me a real, cash-paying job at Wizards of the Coast or some other game company? At this point I wouldn’t argue.

Now, obviously people aren’t beating down my door to offer me a job. I’ve never gotten to hold one of the rare, highly coveted writing jobs at one of the “real” established game companies. Make no mistake- It’s on my vision board. It has been my dream for 36-ish years. I believe it will happen eventually.

Make no mistake, I have zero issues working with anyone on an RPG. (*Okay, except bigots, homophobes, transphobes, haters and other such -ists.) But People of Color? Women? Trans folx? Sign me up. Awesome. It’s about the GAME! (and maybe a paycheck.)

Now to unpack the more of this statement.

“…not to work with project leads who consistently lead projects that only include white men and the occasional token non-man.”

Okay, cool. I think people took the ball and ran toward the wrong end zone with this statement online. I think what she means is don’t go work for white guys who only hire other white guys and the occasional person of color or woman/trans male/trans female. That’s the lengthened version if I read it right.

That’s actually very good advice! Note she said “project leads.” I would take that to mean likely larger companies. Yeah, at this point in the year 2022, we have better options than all-male, all-white RPG design teams at Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Renegade, and other big game companies. I agree.

The negative, harsh criticism from this post is unwarranted.

I’ve seen too many comments of “Don’t tell me who to work with” and “Don’t tell me who to hire.” Those comments are all for nothing. Guys, she’s not speaking in absolutes. She’s not trying to force anything. She’s trying to promote diversity and inclusion in game design teams. Good for her!

I would personally have said it a bit differently in an effort to keep things positive. I might not have the perfect phrasing, either. If I posted a similar statement here on my blog, it would look like:

Hey, if you’re looking for a job on a design team, please look for project leads who work primarily with diverse and inclusive groups. There’s plenty of work in large companies such as Wizards of the Coast to go around.

If you have the option to work on a project with a manager that encourages diversity and inclusion of ideas from all the people from every walk of life, culture, climate, condition, whatever- that’s awesome. Please do that. I think most people would argue that an abundance of varying ideas from different sociocultural perspectives is a good thing.

I have issues with the last part of the statement again.

“There are so many better, cooler, more fun projects to work on.”

Sure. I can start my own game company. I can struggle for years to get noticed or get my product noticed. Can I come live in the world where all of these amazeballs options exist, please? I guess if I’m doing shit for fun, maybe? (*I mean, yay fun, personal projects, but those don’t pay so well.)

Sorry, RPG family/community. It’s not that I have issues with @wildrosemage (Hannah) Quite the opposite. She’s an accomplished editor and designer. I admire her success. (*Law of Attraction rule: Never disrespect someone for their being prosperous. Positive success is a good thing.)

Oh, and damn near 15,000 followers on Twitter! Geez! What am I doing here? At least there’s almost zero chance my comments will be noticed once again. LOL!

Hannah’s very impressive Twitter bio.

The issue I have with there being supposedly being so many other projects to work on, like I have all these amazing options in front of me, is that the statement comes from her worldview. Obviously, she has options.

I can put good ol’ Matt Colville or Matt Mercer on blast on this blog any day of the week. No one will give a hoot. Why? Because I’m small potatoes right now. I could disappear from the internet tomorrow and very few people would notice.

Game companies are not beating down my door to hire me. Yes, I am very picky about who I work for these days. I’m also very reluctant to deal with criticism. In short, I’m a hot mess of a human being. I’ll own any/all of my shortcomings. Obviously, some folx have it a lot better.

Yeah, I’m still barking in the dark. Sigh. Nothing like a major case of imposter syndrome to end my day much the same way it began. Not even sure where I belong any more.

I am so happy and grateful for every last one of my readers.

Thanks for being here. I may be taking a social media break after this. I appreciate you stopping by. You’re a wonderful and kind audience. Thank you!

THANK YOU!!!

One? D&D. Only One, Huh?

I can only say what I think of this new edition of D&D. For the record, I don’t love it or hate it more than prior editions. It’s just another edition change.

I’m struggling to stay positive with this “One”

I listened to the Wizards of the Coast announcement of “One D&D.” Okay, I tried. Honestly, I skipped the Magic: the Gathering announcements and some of their other corporate Mcdoublespeak. I like the spokespeople they had for D&D Beyond and the new rules.

I’m not going to talk about everything that I took away from this. I have a couple of main concerns. First, is the supposed retro compatibility. Second is what it sounds like might happen to retailers. Last, aside from their announcements I’m not really keen on all the hype.

I’m very skeptical about the idea that editions are going away.

We’re told by WotC that everything we’ve purchased previously (for FIFTH Edition!) will still be compatible. Okay. Waitaminute. What? Then, someone at WotC went so far as to say “we don’t see things in terms of editions.”

Yeah, because if you acknowledged prior editions, you’d remember there are actually six editions prior to this “One.” Basic/BECMI, First Ed AD&D, Second Ed AD&D, Third Edition, Fourth Edition, and then Fifth Edition. For some unexplained reason, the nice folks at WotC always seem to exclude all of that content prior to Third Ed, unless they can bring it back to make a quick buck or two on it. (Spelljammer, Dragonlance, etc.)

I appreciate what Fifth Edition has done for the hobby.

Some people saw Fourth Ed D&D as basically the “New” Coke for RPGs. For those to young to remember New Coke, it wasn’t very good and it gave Coca Cola an excuse to bring back the old formula and make more money off all of the grateful Coke drinkers. In terms of advertising and marketing, it was brilliant. That said, in terms of being on the consumer end, it sucked. D&D Fourth was sort of the same way.

Fifth Edition is when WotC supposedly started listening to the players and incorporated feedback and merged some of the better concepts from prior editions. That’s true for the most part. But how do they explain the OSR movement?

Fifth Edition also introduced thousands of new players and DMs to the hobby of tabletop role playing games through Critical Role and other actual play podcasts. I think we’re all truly proud and grateful for that. As much as I kinda jab at Matt Mercer occasionally, he did do ALL that, and it’s a genuinely good thing. (And I know Matt would never read my blog. LOL!)

They think they have a solid lock on their demographic.

You know some marketing goobs at WotC sat down and asked, “What does a typical D&D player look like?”

Because that’s how marketing works. Make no mistake, WotC is still part of a very large corporation, HASBRO. Their job is to make their brands profitable. If it ain’t making money? It’s gone.

None of us want to see D&D go away forever. So, they sat down and figured out that their target audience is mostly between the ages of about 14-35, primarily in English speaking countries. They want people who are either completely new to the game or came in during the Fifth Ed craze. They’re also likely assuming the new players are somewhat tech savvy, phone constantly in hand, social media users, and accustomed to virtual play.

They admitted in their announcement video that the game is 50 years old. But they’re really only looking at about half of that demographic. In my opinion, it’s like they’ve completely turned a blind eye to the rest of us. They’re not going for any compatibility beyond Fifth Edition for the most part. What about the OSR crowd?

Then there’s their fancy virtual platform.

Yes, we’ve been asking WotC for years to bundle PDF copies with physical rulebooks. Yet if you go on D&D Beyond currently, you’ll notice they’re still charging print prices for digital products. Want the print book? That’s double the price for both. At least DriveThruRPG sells the PDF and physical book together for the price of the physical copy plus shipping and still gives you the PDF.

I kind of suspect with the recent merger of OneBookShelf and Roll 20 VTT, we might be seeing WotC/Hasbro winding up to buy them both. DMsGuild is a joint venture between WotC and OneBookShelf already. I don’t think it’s going to be a big surprise if they are assimilated. It’s only a theory for now.

What concerns me the most is what the new D&D Beyond platform means for retailers. Right now, if their announcement is to be believed, they will be selling the physical copy and bundle it with the digital copy ONLY if you buy it directly from WotC. They sound to me as if they are going to cut physical retailers out of the process as much as possible and only sell directly from their website. Great for WotC, bad for your Friendly Local Game Store. We’ll see, I suppose.

As a famous rapper once said, “Don’t believe the hype.”

I already see the official/unofficial hype folks on YouTube and Twitter talking about One D&D and the playtest materials. Oh, it’s going to be great. Just listen to what they’re telling us and don’t use any discernment of your own.

WotC has made One D&D an open playtest from now until 2024. You can download the latest playtest materials and read them for yourself. Surveys for the first round were due to open September 1, 2022.

I suspect, much like any survey research, this is being done primarily as a public relations tactic. They want us to feel like we had an opinion to contribute this whole time. However, in the corporate world, that input does not matter for squat and we know it. In all likelihood, they’ve already got this new edition in the can. They’re just appeasing the fan base and making sure they’re reaching their target demographic.

Hey, what do I know? I’ve only been around since 1972 and gaming from 1982 onward. I’m just a guy with a blog, right?

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Keep playing the games you love.

No Hate At the Table, Please?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn cover.

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

Original Star Frontiers Character Creation was fast and easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s make RPGs about fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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



Building a Community vs Tearing Others Down.

Yeah, we have some bad actors in the TTRPG community and I’m not talking about role playing skills. I’m not naming any names. They know who they are. They know what they’ve done to get sanctioned, etc so there’s no point in me dragging their names through the mud more.

It has come to light recently that some members of the online TTRPG community tend to want to tear others down more than focusing on the good stuff.

I have to ask, “Why the hate?”

Yeah, we have some bad actors in the TTRPG community and I’m not talking about role playing skills. I’m not naming any names. They know who they are. They know what they’ve done to get sanctioned, etc so there’s no point in me dragging their names through the mud more.

However, we still have other well-meaning folx who seem determined to out and expose these same bad actors every chance possible. I have to ask again. Why?

I may sound a little preachy and I apologize in advance.

Try to keep it positive!

Again, not calling anyone specific out. If you feel compelled to act based upon what I’m saying, great. If not, well, it’s here for anyone who might need it.

We all channel energy with our intent and actions in this Universe. I am speaking as a spiritual being having a physical human experience. (This is NOT to be confused with religion. There is a difference.) IF/F all are bound by Universal Law, then the Law of Attraction dictates you receive what you are. This means you get what the vibration of your thoughts, feelings, and actions would dictate.

Aligning all of the thoughts, feelings, and actions to the greatest and highest good of all is considered a high vibrational state to move into. That’s how Jesus and The Buddha along with many other Ascended Masters were thought to operate. They brought many marvelous things into their sphere while they were on three dimensional Earth. They were thought to be friends to all and act in humanity’s best interest. (No, I’m not starting a cult.)

I’m simply trying to illustrate one of the main tenets of LoA. If you put out a lot of static regarding someone, a group of people, a company, or some other egregore then the Universe/God/Source is probably going to put something in your path that looks a lot like an obstacle or challenge in alignment with that wavelength. If the intention is negative enough, it many even lead to karma that will have to be “worked off” in other lifetimes.

Basically, you get back what you put out. Put out “bad” vibes, get the same back. Promote love, joy, understanding, peace, and prosperity and the Universe/Source/God will eventually respond in kind. Sounds easy enough. People have been doing it for centuries.

Why good vibes are important.

Again, sorry if that sounds preachy.

Focus on what lights you up!

I’m only trying to demonstrate the basic principle that if you work toward building whatever your jam is- whether that’s writing, art, gaming, sculpting, feeding the pigeons, or whatever, then you’re putting up positive waves. Right? Even if you satirize or criticize someone on video or in print for something they probably should change about themselves it’s okay. Tis a small thing and not an overall vibe. The Universe is surprisingly forgiving at times.

My point here is it is better to work on oneself and building a community in the name of the highest and greatest good of all than to repeatedly dis, trash-talk, cancel, or bash on other people. It really kind of is a What Would Jesus Do kinda thing. Or a Golden Rule moment if you prefer. (I’ve never studied Islam or Hinduism to know what their versions are.)

Basically, treat others in the way you, yourself, wish to be treated. I would hope that if I were to start acting like a -phobic, narrow-minded, bigoted ass that someone would call me out on my junk and ask me to make amends. Please do so because it is never my intent to offend based on age, gender identity, sexual preference, race, religion, creed, or politics (in some cases.)

Which is not to say we can’t have preferences.

Regular meditation helps with clarity. I really think so.

I prefer to experience fun things. I choose to game with my family. I enjoy taking naps and walks around the lake. I’d rather meditate if given a chance.

Freaky as it sounds, the Universe doesn’t understand negatives very well. So, I try to phrase things in terms of what I’d prefer to see in life. For example, “I don’t want to get hit in the head with a tire iron, ” becomes “I prefer to be safe and free from harm.” Again, nobody’s perfect. I still point things out to my kids to try to keep them safe.

I prefer to live and associate with communities that are free from hate, fear, and other negative influences. They’re still going to come up. I’m still scouring my Twitter feed for people who post racist, transphobic, homophobic, sexist, ageist comments. I simply prefer to live a peaceful existence and try to keep friends and family comfortable or safe from those things counter to my core beliefs.

It’s okay to drop a bad review sometimes.

Sometimes negative reviews can be good.

For example, if I bought a brand new suit and my wife asked me if I bought a clown costume at the party store, I’d take the suit back and try again before I ever wore it in public. Honestly can sometimes save others from a bad situation. I might drop a bad review on that suit or even the tailor in the vague hopes of saving someone else. But it’s a one and done deal.

Just because I love animals and I’m not afraid of bears doesn’t mean I want to get eaten today. I’m not giving the bear a bad review or even the park. However, I will tell friends and family not to feed wild bears because Mr Brown Bear doesn’t understand, “All out of hot dogs.”

No bears were harmed in the making of this blog.

Mr. Brown Bear does understand that a camper with no food to offer is basically a meat popsicle that screams a lot. It’s not the bear’s fault. He’s just doing what he knows and does best. Which is why we recommend not feeding bears to keep things safe for everyone. Again, that’s not the same as giving bears a bad review.

It’s okay to unapologetically state your beliefs.

I ❤ bears!

This has come up frequently in the United States since that incident with the US Supreme Court in June. (You know the one…) Stating, I believe in “X” is different that saying “everyone must believe in X” This is why I by and large vote my conscience and not by party. This is why I can’t do organized religion. This is why I’m about to have issues with the government in this country.

For a different example of this principle, I don’t care what music you listen to. You like country rap? Great. Listen to it all day, with your headphones on out it public, etc. But, if someone rolls through the neighborhood at 2:00 in the morning playing it at full volume? We’re going to have issues because I prefer other things at a different volume and the old people next door are trying to sleep. The person playing the music is forcing the issue. I’m just stating my preference. There happens to be a noise ordinance in town which is another issue entirely.

Here comes the “however.”

What I started this article about before I got a bit sidetracked, is the notion that dropping a bad review and/or stating your opinion is okay. Flogging it long after the fact? Psychologically, emotionally, and energetically the time could probably be spent in a healthier way doing things to uplift oneself and the community.

It’s okay to set it and forget it when it comes to pointing out others’ bad practices or shoddy goods. Learning to let go in LoA and with negative beliefs is okay. I’m going to come back to it again and again- do what’s best for yourself and the highest good of others.

One last thing to mention:

I will say “Thank you” for pointing out someone for acting like a psychotic, Nazi, transphobic scumbag. I’ll probably steer clear of their company and their product. Please show proof of the claim. And likewise, people should also look into the facts for themselves. If it appears to be true that X said “Y” about this group of loving, caring people over here, then yeah. Sorry. X has to go at that point.

Money is a carrier of energy. It speaks volumes in this country and most others. If there are people saying things you don’t believe in? (TTRPG community especially.) Then, please ignore their Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or whatever. It doesn’t hurt to say, “I’m not buying X’s product because of their track record with this organization that hates people.”

On the other hand, if someone does a good job, please let them know. Praise especially helps all of us writers, ttrpg community especially, know we got something right. That little pat on the back goes a long way!

Choose what makes you happy!

There still comes a point when you have done your due diligence with a person or even a topic of interest. Please, please, please friends and family- DO WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP! Choose joy, love, freedom, and prosperity. Rock your jam every day.

Please, stay safe. Stay healthy. Choose kindness toward others whenever possible.

Thanks for being here. I appreciate you a LOT! You guys are awesome!

A Game Master By Any Other Name.

Neat, huh? No matter what we’re called, we’re still at the head of the table, screen in front of us, running the game. Most of us manage a notebook or a loose pile of disheveled papers in front of us.

Is still running the game! Bwah ha ha!

Most TTRPGs refer to us as “Game Master.” D&D refers to us as “Dungeon Master.” Storyteller (aka World of Darkness) games call us “Storyteller.” Call of Cthulhu and Monster of the Week refer to us as “Keeper.” Dungeon Crawl Classics and Marvel Superheroes refer to our title as “Judge.”

Neat, huh? No matter what we’re called, we’re still at the head of the table, screen in front of us, running the game. Most of us manage a notebook or a loose pile of disheveled papers in front of us. We write down or even type out mounds of NPCs, location notes, tidbits about characters, and hastily scrawled monster stats. I usually have a pad of crossed out hp amounts and a coffee coaster behind my screen beside my dice tray along with heaps of dice, too.

I realized today I haven’t been giving out much GM advice here in my blog.

You can never be too prepared.

I’ve learned a lot in my many years in whatever role you want to call me. I’m usually that guy in the group with a pile of dice, a rulebook and a plan. Most days, that’s really all it takes. Plenty of GMs make it all up as they go. Some of us take copious amounts of notes. Others are literally doodling behind the screen making it look important. Maybe at least write down some NPC names to help keep track of who’s who.

My style is to be overly prepared. I like to have my NPCs drawn up. I like to have my maps already made. I usually have a specific outline or timeline of events built up well in advance. I have my miniatures sorted and ready to go well in advance of needing them. I make random d12 tables for when I have to improvise. I spend hours listening to classical music and prepping convention games ahead of time. (I miss conventions. *sniff.*)

One oddball piece of advice I give to almost all of my creative friends- keep a notebook or something handy to write down ideas when inspiration strikes. I have literally written out NPCs and plot outlines on restaurant napkins. Even if you scrawl out a few hasty lines in your phone’s memo pad, it’s better than forgetting it.

NPCs are key.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes I generate a ton of characters just to get used to the system. It’s nice to be able to help your players or just hand someone a character in a pinch and say, “play this character. If you like it, keep playing it next week.”

Otherwise, some of my character heap become NPCs. Sometimes one of the BBEG’s lieutenants comes out of the character pile. Other times, the group’s loyal retainer over their entire adventuring careers started out as one of my characters.

I like to have a name for every character I think the group is going to interact with along with a few personality quirks to make them memorable. I try to come up with a voice and a pattern of speech for the ones I know the group will see more than once. I especially love it when the group adopts an NPC for multiple sessions.

Having detailed NPCs is part of the success of GMing. Even if the campaign flops. Even if we only run a few sessions before it all goes to pieces, I’d like to think some of the NPCs will stick with my players long after it ends. That, and it’s one of my favorite components of any game.

Photo by Ishara Kasthuriarachchi on Pexels.com
It's not all about combat statistics. Most games involving NPCs rarely make use of those characters' combat talents at all. Sometimes I don't even spend time detailing them. If I do, I usually hand that character off to one of the players. It's one less thing for me to worry about and the character still contributes. 

For me, having 3-6 personality traits, quirks and ticks written down for an NPC is far more important that the attacks, damage, spells, etc. Sometimes key NPCs are pacifists, outright cowards, or designated non-combatants anyway. Not every NPC is going to fight, especially not to the death. 

So many elements to consider.

From Catacomb of the Wolf Lord.

More on NPCs in another article. We have a wide variety of other game elements to consider. Over the many years I have slowly started to get better about campaign/world mapping. Sometimes it’s a piece of typing paper with town/village names and arrows pointing toward other features with “2 days” written above the arrow indicating travel time on horseback.

Mapping larger land masses is kind of my weak point. Dungeon mapping is still one of my absolute favorite tasks. I lay all of my maps out on the table with dungeon tiles and pre printed blocks. Pretty much all of my maps are hand drawn otherwise.
I still use crudely drawn figures and old school D&D mapping annotations for the most part. It’s what I learned. It’s what I do best when it comes to maps.

I’m getting better about not railroading the players and creating more of an open, sandbox style environment for my players to adventure in. I still want to be prepared for when they stumble into a dungeon or town in the midst of whatever they’re doing. There are plenty of ways to do that.

One of the best pieces of advice I can ever give- Do what works best for you!

Listen to me or any other GM advice. Or don’t. It’s okay. As is often said in Law of Attraction circles, “You can’t get it wrong.”

Some GMs prefer various Virtual Tabletop formats and online map generators. Great! If you find a specific way of doing thing fits well with you and your players, awesome. Player feedback is a helpful tool as well. They want their game to be as much fun as you do. This tidbit applies to mapping, narrative styles, characters and the larger spectrum of the game as a whole.

Knowing all the rules and statistics is great, but

Making it up as I go.

If a rule is bogging you down, make the call and look it up after the game. You can always retcon the correct answer later. The important thing is to keep the game rolling forward.

Likewise, if a rule isn’t working for you, the GM, and your group? Toss it out. Make a house rule that does work for you. Welcome to creative freedom! Make the game yours!

Try to cut down on metagaming at the table as much as reasonably possible. Sometimes I wish certain players didn’t have access to a Monster Manual. This is why I try to find third party monster books or just create my own creatures.

Player: I do 18 damage. It’s dead.
GM: Nope. Still standing. Looks annoyed now.
Player: According to the MM on Page 37, they only have 18 hp max.
GM: Hmm. Here in my notes it says 24. Maybe this particular creature is a bit more buff than the ones you’re used to. OR it’s not one of those at all.
Player: Gulp. Who’s next on the initiative order? This looks grim.

Be kind.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Players make mistakes. People make mistakes, for that matter. It’s going to happen. Someone calls out a spell they’ve already cast for the day. Someone rolls the wrong damage dice and has been for three rounds. A player forgets to write down their character’s health between sessions.

Please, above all else, be nice. Try to come up with a fair and equitable solution. Try to run the game you would want to be a player in. If it’s not a ruling you’d want to hear as a player, you might want to evaluate the call and try something else. Empathy goes a long way as a GM.

However, that does not mean you need to be a pushover. Just as a judge in the real world has to rule, please try to be fair and understanding, but resolute in your judgments. You ARE the GM, after all. With great responsibility comes awesome power.

One last tidbit for today.

There are a lot of things still to cover about narratives, campaigns, stats, and genres that we can go into later. The one last thought I’d like to leave before I sign off today- As a GM, you’re always going to have to deal with something not covered anywhere else. Scheduling, paying for pizza, printing extra character sheets, lending dice, and a lot of freaky, weird things (player fraternization is one of my favorites. LOL!) come up between games and out of the scope of the game. Just do the best you can with what you’ve got.

It’s never going to be perfect. Being in charge of the game is often more about human relations than characters and rules. Always try to listen and say what’s on your mind. Do what you think is best. Oh, and know when to step back. Remember, you’re in charge of the game, not the players themselves.

People. Am I right?

Thanks for stopping by. More to come. I appreciate you being here.

You folx are the best. Thank You!

Thoughts On a New Space Campaign.

‘ve been inspired by “The Orville” as it is somewhat as I imagine someone’s starship RPG campaign to look like. Unlike other TV series that take themselves too seriously at times, I think many RPG groups do pretty much insist on dropping some witty side banter and the occasional humorous situation.

Picture, if you will, “The Orville” using Star Frontiers Rules.

The sheer awesomeness of Space Freighter One.
Art by @tinyworld96

Gonna try to make my friend on Twitter, @FreighterOne proud with this one. I’m contemplating writing a short series of adventures or at least an outline for 9-12 episodes. It’s going to be centered on a smaller starship crew (the PCs and a few select NPCs) traveling through space and their wacky adventures every week.

I’ve been inspired by “The Orville” as it is somewhat as I imagine someone’s starship RPG campaign to look like. Unlike other TV series that take themselves too seriously at times, I think many RPG groups do pretty much insist on dropping some witty side banter and the occasional humorous situation. I think gamers tend to take things less seriously than Hollywood most of the time, anyway.

The only question I’m having currently is which system to use?

Nothing new, right? I’m always sort of hemming and hawing about which system I want to use for any given game. This is a campaign calling for something easy to learn, easy to play, fast and fun. This campaign will be designed around getting a group together for about a dozen sessions, so nothing too complicated.
My short list of contenders for this game:

  • ICRPG by Runehammer. Warp Shell gives us some sci-fi/space context. It’s a very easy system to work with. I could almost create a generic series of adventures and fill in the details later.
  • FATE by Evil Hat. This game company has been on a roll as of late. I like FATE for its simplicity, ease of adaptation and spiffy dice.
  • FrontierSpace by DwD. I mentioned Star Frontiers earlier. This is sort of the next generation of SF. It’s a bit crunchier than the previous two games. I like it a lot because of its harder sci-fi edge.
  • D6 System by West End Games (Nocturnal Media.) I mean, it worked for Star Wars, right? Plus I can design ships and characters in my head in less time than it takes me to write them down. I can still run this game blindfolded.
  • Shatterzone by West End Games (Precis Intermedia.) If you follow my blog, you probably know I have lots of love for old WEG products and Precis Intermedia for keeping some of them going. Shatterzone has awesome backstory and a deep world design, but it is a bit crunchier than everything else on the list.

Other thoughts included Starfinder, Cortex, SWADE, EGS, MCC, and even D&D 5E. I’m trying to minimize the crunch and find a base set of core rules that most players will have good access to. At the same time, I want a product that is more easily licensed in the event I decide to publish the campaign on DriveThruRPG.

I think with Spelljammer coming out soon, it might be fun to run a space game for a few weeks. You can only do so much fantasy, right? I think a space game set in Earth’s future might be a fun change of pace.

The next part of the series will be the first two episodes.

I like to link the first two episodes of any campaign together and usually the last two or three episodes. What can I say? I take a lot of RPG inspiration from TV and movies. My more structured campaign style functions very well with that format.

I want to do all of this without railroading the players, but unfortunately most published RPG campaigns and many adventures tend to be somewhat railroady in their presentation. I have learned a lot from Monster of the Week in terms of presentation, though. I might create episodes as missions this time.

Thanks again for stopping by. Space Freighter One isn’t helping me with any game development and probably has no idea I mentioned it. I just really wanted to give a friend a shout-out. Please go visit their site if you get a chance. I can’t think of humor and starship without thinking of SFO.

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.

Using the Fantasy to Its Fullest

I can’t stress this enough. TTRPGs are a great way to blow off steam. Think about a bunch of carefully painted miniatures on a battle map, slugging it out with sword and spell. D20s and damage dice going back and forth. I would dare say that is far healthier mentally and physically than, say, ambushing and beating the unholy living sh*t out of some kid who bullied us on the playground last month.

There was a time when all I wanted to do was roll dice to punch Orcs in the face and hack Skeletons to tiny bits.

Okay, if we’re being honest, that was yesterday? Earlier this morning maybe? And don’t get me wrong, rolling dice to burn things and blow stuff up still really appeals. It probably always will. (Oh, there’s a “but” coming.)

But, I think the psychology behind some of the more destructive fantasies is worthy of examination. No, I’m not in danger of attracting police attention. Rolling dice and using spells to level buildings is plenty sufficient to keep me off certain watch lists.

So, why all the harshness within TTRPGs?

Maybe it’s an imbalance in the Divine Masculine? Maybe my chakras are misaligned. Maybe it’s an imbalance in my Sacral Chakra? It could possibly be something deeply psychological, and little more.

See, your humble narrator used to get picked on a LOT from the time I was in elementary school all the way through high school. Bullies would ride up to little Jeff and steal his book bag, pull his coat up over his head, or count coup as they rode by to just punch me. Middle school kids can be the most cruel little heathens you can imagine. (I will attest to this now that I have kids of my own at that age.)

That was about the time I discovered roleplaying games. I was 8 or 9 when I was introduced to Marvel Superheroes and Dungeons & Dragons. Ah, good times. That’s where the fantasy took root.

I still got picked on regularly, but now I had a mental outlet for all the pent-up aggression.

Now that I’m older, I think I would have benefited from meditation and all the Zen Buddhism I discovered in high school. I still admire those monks to this day. But, a d20 roll and 1d6 damage had to suffice back then.

The friends I discovered from gaming were true friends. We kinda shared that common “nerd” bond. We played all manner of games where the bad guys got beat sometimes in the most brutal fashion possible. Every one of us enacted some sort of revenge fantasy on orcs (bullies,) goblins (kids teasing us,) and skeletons (general childhood frustrations.) I forgot to mention, Drow were the girls who turned us down and openly mocked us asking for a date. (I had two friends who were big on that one. <cringe>)

The good thing is, NO ONE WAS HURT IN THE REAL WORLD!

I can’t stress this enough. TTRPGs are a great way to blow off steam. Think about a bunch of carefully painted miniatures on a battle map, slugging it out with sword and spell. D20s and damage dice going back and forth. I would dare say that is far healthier mentally and physically than, say, ambushing and beating the unholy living sh*t out of some kid who bullied us on the playground last month.

I hate to use school shootings as another example, but it’s true. Teenagers tend to make a lot of heated emotional decisions that have permanent consequences. Thinking back on it, I could have been one of those kids. Literally. If we’re being totally honest, it’s not like I never thought about it. But I never did it. Cooler heads always prevailed. That was 30+ years ago.

Obviously, that would never, ever happen now. I truly weep in my heart for the kids and families who have suffered at the hands of school shooters and unwarranted gun violence in America. Thank God I and my friends found better ways to channel that aggression without hurting anyone. I sincerely wish more kids would pick up a d20 instead of a gun.

If I’ve learned anything from being an “Old Grognard” it’s that roleplaying can be a good outlet for heroic fantasy.

Supers RPGs such as ICONS are fabulous for making bullies pay for their wrongdoing and making the little guy the hero of the story. That’s sort of the nature of comic books, isn’t it? Science nerd Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gradually becomes a force for epic good. Little Billy Batson says “SHAZAM!” and transforms into a guy with powers rivaling those of Superman. It’s not just about beating up bad guys, but learning what being a hero is all about!

I think that’s the other lesson to be learned here. Our fantasies in any RPG are also a wonderful way to explore all the good things of which we’re capable. Truth, justice, friendship, compassion and freedom are all possible within a game session. Through roleplaying, we can experience life the way we desire it to be. We can try out new personas that are somewhat like our own, but in a way that helps us explore and no one gets hurt.

Have a great day/night wherever you are. Please be kind in the real world. Please be the change you want to see. Thank you for being here. I’m grateful for you.

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