Hobbyist vs “Professional?”

I still can’t believe we’re doing this. It truly makes me ill. I haven’t been this traumatized by an argument since World of Warcraft players were crying “Casuals are ruining the game!”

RPG Family, are we really doing this? Seriously?

This whole discussion is why I take meds. It’s as if Imposter Syndrome weren’t bad enough. It’s royally pissing me off. Seriously, it should come with a unique Trigger Warning.

Disclaimer: Statements expressed in this article are strictly my opinion. If you disagree or have a different opinion, that’s okay. I’m not an expert on everything. I’m not always right. I’m just writing from my experience as I know it. Your mileage may vary.

*TRIGGER WARNING* 
This entire debate is stupid, unproductive, divisive and generally fails out loud. Only consume in small quantities. Has been known to cause seizures in Old Grognards. It's right up there with the old MMORPG saying of "Get better, NOOB!" Jeff is not responsible for any brain damage caused by this debate. You were warned. 

Let’s define “Hobbyist” first.

I still can’t believe we’re doing this. It truly makes me ill. I haven’t been this traumatized by an argument since World of Warcraft players were crying “Casuals are ruining the game!”

Sigh… A Hobbyist in the TableTop Role Playing Game sphere is defined as someone who creates mostly free content. It’s part of the ttrpg experience. It’s what a GM/DM/Judge does for their campaign every day, every game session. New creatures, magic items, characters, cities, maps, dungeons, adventures, and so on are all a GM’s bread-n-butter as part of the hobby/game. It’s what we do!

The same can be said for Twitch streamers, YouTubers, Actual Play podcasters before they’re monetized. Artists, too. Sometimes people sketch their character. Some GMs sketch their monsters. We all have to start somewhere.

I use Bitmoji for my website. I would never *sell* anything with my Bitmoji on it. Ethically it’s a bit sketchy to do that. Legally, it could potentially cause a lot of trouble. This is similar to the arguments revolving around AI art right now.

I would like to point out a couple of Hobbyists that created this game called Dungeons & Dragons. T$R, the original company who produced D&D, was started when Mr Gygax and Mr Arneson got together with some friends and turned their hobby game into a money-making endeavor.

People are forgetting THE WHOLE DAMN INDUSTRY STARTED OUT AS SOMEONE’S HOBBY!!!

Yes, I use Bitmoji and stock photos on this site. Probably because my own art is mediocre at best and I know it.

There’s a monomolecular wire thin line between Hobbyist and Professional. Let’s talk about Pros.

Sorry, family. We all know how I feel about perfeshunalz. Sorry, Professionals. It’s a lot of things I don’t readily identify with because I’m pretty laid back. Yay, money. Boo snobby, pretentious, gatekeeping crap.

We’ll define “Professional” as someone who makes a living in the TTRPG space. They create games. They sell games.

The title likewise applies to the myriad of artists, editors, layout experts, and others who contribute to the TTRPG industry for a paycheck. Technically, if one has sold a PDF product on DriveThruRPG or Itch.io, they should be considered an RPG industry professional.

Professional is also an attitude. After some folx start making serious money selling their TTRPG products start looking down on the rest of us. Suddenly there seems to be some kind of competitive rivalry with anyone looking to break into the industry. It’s like people are afraid new writers are going to cut in on their bread and butter.

Where I become annoyed or even enraged:

Gatekeeping in the TTRPG sphere is not a new phenomenon. I’ve been personally seeing it in the RPG industry since 1988-ish. I once made the mistake of sending a letter (via snail mail, kids) to Dragon Magazine asking how to become a “professional game designer.”

The gist of what the editor told me was “Come back when you’ve been published elsewhere in the industry, kid.”

Yeah… 16 year old me was almost discouraged for life at that stage. Luckily, I’ve had plenty of teachers, friends, and even professional game writers tell me I’ve got potential.

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, breaking into the industry was considerably harder than it is now. Now all I have to do is publish an adventure on DriveThruRPG or similar PDF sites. I have to make sure all the legalese is included and pay the artist if I have one. It’s not terribly hard.

Back in the day it was either sweat it out to hope to maybe get published by a major company or start one’s own. I dare say old T$R was indirectly responsible for starting several game companies. Those other companies were started because other writers had a plan and a dream that almost got shut down by professional gatekeepers.

Please forgive me if I rage on social media about this.

I love creators of all sizes when it comes to TTRPGs. It’s been my hobby and joy for 40+ years. I dream of having publishing credentials in the RPG field. I’ve only been on this quest since I was a starry-eyed nerd in a small Iowa town with my gaming books and legal pads.

I recently saw someone who used to work for Wizards of the Coast and is now in a similar position for another creator talking mad crap about us “casual hobbyists.” I won’t name and shame on my blog. Needless to say, I’m pissed.

Okay, I’m not working for Matt Colville or Matt Mercer. It doesn’t mean I’m not important. It doesn’t make me less of a creator. It sure as Hell doesn’t mean professionals are any better than the rest of us.

Yes, please be proud of your own accomplishments. Yes, love yourself. I never begrudge anyone for doing well. Don’t we all want to do what we love all day? Don’t we ALL want joy in our lives?

But, don’t shit all over the “hobbyists” who buy those products y’all produce. Don’t tread on the people who got you where are are today. And stop treating anyone trying to break into the industry as competition. There’s enough room for us all.

End rant for now. I’ll say it again when it comes to gatekeeping: Just. F*ckin. DON’T!!!

Thank you for hearing me out. I appreciate you being here. Game on. More tomorrow.

What Are We Here For, Exactly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More discourse!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Session Zero debate seems trivial enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to my original question.

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

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

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

Let’s please try to get along.

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!

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.

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!

Elitism in RPGs

I literally almost started screaming at my phone recently when I noticed someone comparing casual RPG gamers to the wonderfulness of Critical Role.

Headed into somewhat grim and perilous territory.

Maybe I should just learn to stay off social media. I saw something the other night that really spiked my blood pressure. I got the impression from someone talking about the #mattmercereffect that us grumpy old “kitchen table” gamers where somehow of a lower caliber than the Critical Role crowd. I am still just shaking trying not to flip the f%*k out when I hear stuff like this.

I meditate. I pray for peace. Somehow this is one of those shadow elements of my personality that just keeps coming up for me to deal with. I have lots of contempt for statements that lead to elitism, hate, and divisiveness anywhere, but especially in my favorite hobby.

I used to get so angry back in my WoW days when I would hear anything to the effect of “Casuals are ruining the game!”

Because apparently there are people who play World of Warcraft 16 hours or more per day “professionally.” And the rest of us should just log off and close our accounts because we’re not fit to lick their boots or some junk. Whatever.

Yeah… screw that. I don’t play WoW any more because of toxic elitists. Yeah, you’re great at your game. Good for you. Moving on.

I don’t want to ever, EVER see D&D turn into that because of Critical Role or any other actual play podcast. Seriously, we’re all equal here. We’re not starting that elitism crap on my watch if I have anything to say about it.

Running a game at my kitchen table for my family every other week on Sunday is just as valid in terms of loving/teaching the game as anything on TV or the Internet. I’m not trying to disrespect Critical Role. Thanks for generating interest in the game and teaching people how to play.

Picture 1986. 14 year old me teaching the game and learning other games. 1991 college freshman at conventions running games for anyone who would sit down at the table. There were no cameras anywhere to be found. In fact, we used to be stigmatized, ostracized, and beat up for being game nerds back in the day.

Actors.

I used to be big into theatre and stagecraft back in high school. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time running D&D. My stage days are long gone. My love of the RPG hobby and my family are still present. I do all kinds of voices and create all kinds of characters.

Critical Role on the other hand, is a performance by actors. Yeah, they have characters. Much beyond that it looks like an advertisement for Player’s Handbooks and whatever else they want to push for product. If it’s a bunch of actors doing improv under the guise of a playing D&D, that’s called, “acting.”

That doesn’t mean they’re better than anyone else in the hobby. In fact, I would go so far as to say you won’t find Matt Mercer anywhere near a game table if there isn’t a camera around. I like to pick on Matt because I know he’ll never stoop so far as to read or comment on anything I say. I’m small potatoes and he’s a big time Dungeon Master, ya know?

I think the #mattmercereffect is not so much unrealistic expectations put on the DM as it is another silly way to divide people.

I could be wrong. I stopped watching the mainstream news years ago. I stopped watching most TV and movies when I took up meditation and some other things years ago. Honestly, Hollywood has very little influence over my life these days. Yes, I still dip into TV now and again to watch anime and I did see Vox Machina on Prime. Meh? It was okay.

I’m a big YouTube fan, but I watch an absolutely fantastic variety of things on there. Yes, I’ve seen interviews between Todd Kenreck and Matt Mercer. I absolutely adore Dael Kingsmill and Ginny Di. There are a ton of RPG channels that I follow. Some are actual play podcasts, some are just random Op Ed stuff like I do on my blog every day here.

Again, no one is better or worse. I could fire up my own YouTube channel any time and talk about RPGs and other cool things until I’m blue in the face. It could happen. I think other channels probably do it a lot better. Some day I’ll put together a recommendation list of RPG YouTube channels.

My point is: just because you play D&D at your kitchen table in a casual way does not make you better or worse than a trained actor playing D&D professionally on TV. I would bet there are hundreds of DMs and GMs that would give up an arm and a leg to be running a game like that, sure. (Shit, give me a contract and I’ll do it.) But realistically, I just want to enjoy the hobby and I think most people would agree regardless of playstyle.

Onward and upward. I stopped shaking finally. Let’s look for ways to come together at the table, please? Thank you. I appreciate you.

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