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!

Getting Communities Together.

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

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

Things got spiritual in a hurry…

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

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

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

“Back in my day…”

I have lots of memories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com



RPG Twitter Be Like…

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

Not the KYBO fire UFO Twitter is. LOL!

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

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

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

Walked into kind of a mess on Twitter, though.

Photo by Mudassir Ali on Pexels.com

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

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

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

People make mistakes. So do I. It happens.

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

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

Curmudgeonly Grognard is NOT the same as hateful and intolerant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please be the change you want to see.

Please be kind to one another.

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

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

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

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

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

What to Charge Part 3

“Darn kids, get off my lawn!” (while shaking fist angrily.) Let’s talk about how bad it used to be trying to break into the RPG industry. “Wait, those are my kids…”

I used to want to work at a game company.

Remember T$R? Remember the RPGA? How about Dragon or Dungeon magazines? What about West End Games, Mayfair, Flying Buffalo Games, FASA, Alderac Entertainment Group, or GDW? While some of them may be around nominally, they are not the RPG powerhouses they were back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Some of them are gone entirely while others are back doing a fraction of what they did back then.

Time for me to tell a few stories of Ye Olden Times in the RPG Industry. See, back then, when I was a starry-eyed teenager growing up in small town Iowa, I really dreamt of working for a game company. That’s still my big dream. I’m not doing it to become a millionaire.

Some myths were shattered early on.

I asked around a lot during my college years about how to get started as a writer in the RPG industry. The most common answer I received back then was to put out submissions to anyone and everyone who would take them as much as possible (**FOR FREE**) until someone took notice. This usually meant writing modules for the RPGA for D&D and/or a small handful of other games, most of which were T$R properties. If one got a foot in the door for a small magazine or the RPGA’s publication, Polyhedron, one had a chance of getting printed in Dungeon (very rarely) or Dragon (More likely.) From those humble beginnings, one then had a vague chance of getting noticed by an established game company and a portfolio could be constructed. From there, real money could possibly be earned.

For those familiar, this is also the old tried-and-true formula for the publishing industry at large. Newspapers and magazines have functioned this way for decades, taking advantage of college students and freelancers having to “work their way up through the ranks.” What sucks is that it’s merely a system perpetuated by seniority. It worked that way for them, so obviously it has to work that way for everyone.

Gary Gygax had to start somewhere, right? I understand if you start a company and you want to keep making money, there have to be standards. A lot of hard work went into early game giants such as T$R, Games Workshop, and the Judge’s Guild. Many RPG companies went from a small family business in a cottage industry to major powerhouse with a few major successes. Then, many of them fell apart completely because of one or two poor selling products, bad investments, divorce, or selling canned beer in the office vending machine. (True story.)

Needless to say, a few things became apparent to my starry eyed younger game designer aspiring self. First, I probably wasn’t going to get rich selling RPGs. Second, it’s hard as heck to get a foot in the door in anyone else’s franchise. Third, no one’s hiring without a portfolio built on blood, sweat, and free tears. Last, starting one’s own company is fraught with peril and should be considered a last resort.

Things are changing?

Technology is scary for some, but not me.

Okay, I’m somewhat skeptical about this, but I’m told a couple of the authors of a major D&D supplement, Strixhaven, were hired straight out of college. Great for them. That’s not what I’m used to seeing in the industry. Maybe WotC/Hasbro has turned over a new leaf? I’m not holding my breath just yet.

I know. It’s the old Grognard coming out again. I could say, “By golly, we had to give a pound of flesh and a quart of blood just to get rejected again, so these kids should too. Everyone should be as miserable as we are.” Again, that’s how we’re used to the industry working, up until technology changed dramatically.

The RPGA is defunct last I heard. Polyhedron has definitely gone the way of the dodo. Dragon Magazine hasn’t been a thing in years. (Dragon+ looks like it might be going away, too.) Dungeon is pretty much gone except in back issues. Really, RPG magazines in general have defaulted to small time electronic publications. Then again, look at the magazine industry as a whole.

Maybe WotC, Paizo and a few others are hiring people off the street to write RPGs. I’ve seen more rise through the ranks of DMsGuild and have offers extended to them than I’ve ever seen a job ad posted anywhere, ever.

We’re not still living in the Stone Age, though. Websites like DriveThruRPG, Patreon, Ko-Fi and Itch.io have emerged that allow product to be sold or even donated usually in pdf or another electronic format.

Some friends on RPG Twitter have a good thing going.

Idea!

I’m new to Twitter. I avoided it for years, especially during a certain Republican’s administration. Some of my new friends on RPG Twitter seem to have quite a successful formula going.

They’re producing super short RPGs- a couple of pages with streamlined, light rules and selling them at Pay What you Want or extremely low prices on platforms that don’t take out huge fees. They’re also putting out a lot of free stuff and promoting themselves well. So far as I can tell, it seems to be working.

Once a foot is in the door using one of these small engines, the writer can then optionally move onto larger, even freelance writing projects or move up to larger sites. I love and admire some of these fine folks. It seems like a good way to go.

I may be following suit, but I’m not sure yet. At some point the freelance question is going to come up again. The RPG industry is more oversaturated with product and talent than ever. Competition for the coveted positions is tougher than ever. The industry is booming thanks to promotion from Critical Role and other actual play podcasts.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” –Snake Pliskin, Escape from LA.

Needless to say, I’m kind of still on the fence with this whole thing. Hey, it took me three articles to get here. I believe that writing job still exists. I may never get to write Star Wars RPG stuff for WEG, but it’s possible I can put out something fun for any number of other game systems, genres, or specific properties.

I ain’t getting any younger, but then again, the RPG industry was basically started by guys who more-or-less match my description. I ain’t giving up any time soon. They might be wheeling me into the old gamers home someday, dice, pencil, notebooks and whatever game we’re on in hand, but I ain’t giving up.

What to Charge Part 2

Stiff competition, a serious lack of fulltime permanent positions, and the veritable mountain of starting your own company makes me wonder, is it worth it? Do I charge the $.03 and get a job that could have paid triple or more? Will I just be adding to my mountain of flush letters?

So, you want to pursue your lifelong dream of being an RPG writer like I do?

True story, I’ve wanted to write for an RPG company like T$R or West End Games since I was in high school. Hey, that was the 1980’s. Those companies were huge back then. You hopefully get the idea.

Nowadays, we have this neat-o thing where a lot of companies use an Open Gaming License or OGL which means you can create content for someone else’s intellectual property as long as you follow their guidelines in the OGL. Their guidelines are usually referred to as a System Reference Document or SRD. (For example, if it’s in the Player’s Handbook, but not in the SRD, it’s best to leave it alone.)

What this translates to is the ability to make cool stuff and publish it on Itch.io or DriveThruRPG/DMsGuild, etc as long as you follow the rules set out in the OGL for whatever game you’re wanting to work with. We’ll call that the “New Age” way of doing it. The old way will be detailed in another article.

The major disadvantage to publishing your own work on someone else’s platform is:

They tend to take a percentage of the profits. More if you want to make use of any kind of Print On Demand services. POD is another headache in and of itself when you factor in formatting and shipping. It’s pricey on a good day. This means you have to up your prices or lose approximately 30% or more of your profit.

It makes it very difficult to produce quality Pay What you Want and resist the temptation not to just slap a flat fee onto it. I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years and my first couple of products might be PWW, but honestly if I’m producing everything on my own, I’d rather make money. PWW is oftentimes synonymous with “Free” in my experience.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen about publishing your own material to DriveThruRPG is, “Don’t do it for the money. Do it to have enough credit to buy your next gaming book.” I feel that’s sound and fair advice. Sell 50 copies of an rpg module at $.99 and get my new copy of Onyx Sky give or take shipping. Hope I didn’t put too much time into that module. Then again, it has to be good enough to sell 50+ copies.

Another deterrent to writing for the industry in any capacity is competition.

Yeah, I’m fond of the phrase in the Law of Attraction and coaching communities that “there is plenty for everyone.” It’s true, but the RPG industry is a vast sea of ideas. Unfortunately, when it comes to fantasy rpgs, there is a TON of overlap. I’m actually surprised there aren’t more copyright and intellectual property lawsuits than we hear about.

Competition is incredible enough as an independent publisher. Even after you jump through all the hurdles and hopefully haven’t committed plagiarism accidentally, chances are there are handfuls or even dozens of similar products on the market. We’re reinventing the wheel regularly in most common rpg subgenres such as fantasy, horror, superheroes, and science fiction.

I’ll talk more about the old paradigm of getting hired at WotC or Paizo in depth elsewhere. It might slowly be changing, but I’m not holding my breath just yet. Still, for every one of those good openings, there are probably tens if not hundreds of applicants in varying degrees of experience. It’s daunting, to say the least. I know people like to say it’s changing, but is it really? I’m not so sure yet.

So, if I don’t want to jump through all the hoops of running my own indie company and permanent, full time jobs in the industry are scarce; what does that leave? I guess there’s freelance writing. Even as a freelance writer, RPGs are still part of the publishing industry. Much like news and magazines, freelance writers are very much a dime-a-dozen. It’s very much an employer’s market.

Again, competition for jobs can be pretty stiff. On top of that, freelance writers are going to have to likely have to pitch new ideas to prospective employers or fit their work into a fairly tight box in terms of creativity. If that’s a problem, the age old answer is: start your own company. Otherwise, you’re locked into the mercenary world of freelance writing or art.

While it’s still easier than back in the day, it’s pretty daunting to start one’s own company. Many who start their own company will fail, sadly. Crowdfunding falls through. People have to work a “regular” job to pay the bills aside from rpg writing. Life happens after a company is born that takes away from writing/gaming efforts.

Art can be very difficult to come by. As a writer I regularly dream of finding that one mythical unicorn of an artist I could work with for a project or two just to get my work out there. Unfortunately, artists need to eat, too. Again, competition for artists in the RPG industry can be pretty stiff.

Back to the original question: What to charge?

I used to think $.03/word was reasonable for starting writers. Turns out three cents doesn’t go as far as it used to. To someone trying to break into the industry for the first time, I used to think FREE was reasonable. Now it turns out $.10/word is considered a workable wage for rpg writers.

I think it’s complicated. I’m not entirely sure ten cents per word really is the going rate. I’ve seen it work for life coaches. They go from charging $80 to $200 or more per session and suddenly their business takes off. But it can go the other way, too. Raise the rates too high and suddenly business goes to cheaper coaches. (Quality not withstanding.)

Stiff competition, a serious lack of fulltime permanent positions, and the veritable mountain of starting my own company makes me wonder, is it worth it? Do I charge the $.03 and get a job that could have paid triple or more? How much should the module/sourcebook sell for? $.99? Maybe $9.99? More? What percentage am I willing to accept? What about royalties? Will I just be adding to my mountain of flush letters? Gah! So many factors!

More on that in the third and final installment of this series. We’re going to jump in the Way Back machine and I’ll explain what it used to be like trying to get hired by RPG companies and how it really hasn’t changed all that much. I’ll also talk about what some of my friends on Twitter are doing to try to work around this mess.

Freedom Day! February 2020 v2.0 Edition

It’s going to get better. One of the toughest lessons in Law of Attraction is learning when the Universe is testing us. Also, learning from past experiences that keep repeating themselves is important. The Universe likes to ask, “Are you sure? Are you really ready for this awesomesauce thing you’ve been manifesting?”

I only wish I was kidding.

No surprises, really.

Remember the year 2020? Have any of us forgotten it yet? So far, this year is starting to remind me of 2020 in all of its shitastic glory.

I’ve reviewed, revised and rewritten this site. That’s as close to a breakthrough as I’ve truly had this year. I feel like we’re connecting more, reaching you, a more receptive audience, and growing together.

Then there’s the rest. The Icky Cough-Coughs came to visit in the middle of January and ate up two weeks of our lives here at the Craigmile house. It was not fun times. All of us came through it okay, which is a huge plus. Just when ya thought you were done with quarantine, though. (Eyeroll.)

The beginning of the year also brought us Governor Kim Reynolds meddling about in Iowa Workforce Development. Iowa has a massive shortage of “skilled” jobs, but nothing requiring a college degree. Nothing like a Bachelor’s degree in two majors just to have IWD tell me they’ll be happy to retrain my fibromyalgia-having ass to become an arc welder or a dental hygienist. (That shit ain’t happening.) But I still persevered through all the added hoops necessary to keep my unemployment check coming.

Then this week, I got shot down for a job I really had my sights set on. That hit right in the old depression, worse than anything in months. While I was recovering from that and a pain flare, I got a love letter in the mail from IWD. My unemployment money is due to peter out this week. We knew this day would come, but it doesn’t take the sting out of it.

Plus a lot of little things keep popping up like the kids’ grades. Minor household disasters are one of the latest things on the shit list. (Okay, a chunk of our garage literally fell off the other day.) Just for fun, I accidentally chipped a tooth the other day, too. One of these days my student loans are going to come due.

Let’s not forget it’s also an election year. Russia and the US are doing their damnedest to not go to war with one another or however that works. Let’s not forget the trucking, uh disaster, in Canada. The mass news media has more garbage and propaganda than ever to spew. I wasn’t even going to touch on this, but it does come up around here occasionally. Every once in a while my wife also goes rant mode over something a school board does any given place in the US. This whole book banning/burning thing makes me ill.

Chillin. Waitin for things to improve.

It’s going to get better. One of the toughest lessons in Law of Attraction is learning when the Universe is testing us. Also, learning from past experiences that keep repeating themselves is important. The Universe likes to ask, “Are you sure? Are you really ready for this awesomesauce thing you’ve been manifesting?”

My answer is always, “Give me a couple million dollars and let’s find out, okay?”

Hasn’t happened yet, but any day now. Right? (Nervous chuckle.) Until it does, or something equally wonderful, I have gratitude for the blessings in my life. I am grateful for new friends, especially on #TTRPGTwitter. I’m also grateful for my Earthly teachers new and old. I’m grateful for the wealth and prosperity that flows into our lives easily, endlessly and copiously every day. It’s the whole notion of living in the dream fulfilled.

The dream shifts and evolves.

Maybe this is why my vision board is not posted anywhere but in my head and on the internet. My big dream is to be a successful RPG writer/game designer. I intend for my kids to be well taken care-of. I want my wife to be happy. I’m pretty satisfied as long as all of that is in motion.

Would I love to be rich? Sure. Am I focused on being happy regardless? Yeah. Most days. Growing beyond contentment into joy is the pinnacle of high vibrations. As we all know from LoA, high vibration pulls us closer to manifesting our highest and best intentions.

I appreciate all of you. Thank you for sharing this space. More to come.

Can We Just Get Back to Gaming?

If something is making you or someone else uncomfortable at the table or even out of game, please speak up. Throw up a red flag. Use the X card. Hopefully we covered it in Session Zero, but if we missed it, PLEASE SPEAK UP! Even if you have to pull the GM or another player aside in the middle of play and stop the game. It’s better to halt play than suffer in silence. As a GM, I’d rather kick one bitter old veteran player than have a new player go home in tears. I’m not in the RPG hobby to make people uncomfortable. No denial. I just want to have fun.

I’m probably going to get called all kinds of “-ist” and “-phobe” for this one, but hear me out, please?

I saw someone today whom I was following on Twitter blocked me presumably for political reasons. This person claimed to be a gamer. The account was actually listed under “So-and-so” Games. (Real name kept confidential.)

Yet I would constantly read this person’s post about how someone is a transphobe because they refused to acknowledge a specific pronoun. And how this other person was a racist because of this political affiliation. Furthermore we shouldn’t follow @X, Y, or Z because they’re one of those reviled Republicans.

Sorry, not what I signed onto RPG Twitter for.

RPG Twitter still makes UFO Twitter look like a government run haunted house, but lately things have been getting a bit touchy over in RPG land, too. Admittedly, it’s not as serious as infiltration by a three letter government agency, but it’s getting about as bothersome at times. Folks, I left my baggage over in UFO Twitter. I only go back there to visit a few friends.

I came to RPG Twitter to talk tabletop roleplaying. I want to talk punching Orcs in the face and slaying dragons. I want to talk mecha battles and starships. Sign me up for my Morpher or my cape and armor. Maybe it’s the “Old Grognard” talking, but when did rpgs become about transgender politics and political parties?

I’ve said before, I should come with a trigger warning.

Look, I can’t help that I was born the was I was born any more than the next person. Here’s the thing- I don’t care if you’re Black, Lesbian, Trans, Neurodivergent, Atheist, Disabled or much of anything else as long as you’re not hurting anyone. As long as your whole thing isn’t hate, harm, or abuse of some kind, you’re probably okay to come game.

Republican? Who cares? Democrat? Same. Green Party? Dude. Nazi? Stay the Hell away from my family. It’s easy. We just don’t discuss real world politics in game, EVER! It’s a rule.

Same with religion. I’m spiritual, not religious. There’s a difference. Sure, we have clerics in fantasy roleplaying. But that’s different than real world religion and spirituality.

I might slip a moral into my story occasionally as a GM, especially when I’m gaming with my kids. If they pick up on it, we’ll talk about it. Easy enough. My wife does life lessons in her classroom, too. I promise she has no sinister agenda at school or in our gaming sessions.

I don’t come to the gaming table or rpg related social media to discuss that serious real world stuff. I’m a married old white guy with kids. I don’t vote Republican or Democrat. I don’t try to hide it, but I don’t try to push it down anyone’s throat, either. You do you, okay?

Let’s talk about what we’re for, not what we’re against, okay?

I’m all FOR Universal love, peace, understanding, prosperity for all, and joy. Let’s all get along, even if we disagree on some points. Let’s thrive together and have some fun along the way. Now you know where I’m coming from.

That’s one of the biggest problems in the United States right now. People, especially our politicians, are in a hurry to tell you, “I stand against this because my opponent stands for it.” But never, “I firmly stand for this because I believe people will benefit from it.”

Contrary to that, I will definitely say, “I’m NOT here to offend people.” Trolls and haters can go for a walk and self-reflect. If I manage to cheese you off, please come talk to me?

So, what do people stand for, exactly? Be proud of who you are in the real world. Great. I certainly hope you are as long as you’re not extremist about it. I stand for being kind, gentle, generous, loving, and decent to one another. Love, joy, and prosperity should be very high one everyone’s priority list on any given day, but I can’t force it.

Honestly, family. I get that we have a shit-ton of problems in the real world. There are plenty of communities out there that are far better equipped to deal with some of them than the ttrpg family. My best advice for rpg groups where everyone isn’t familiar with one another:

In Other Awful RPG News…

I know we’ve had a major problem on RPG Twitter come up where a guy abused his power as a GM and social influence for sex and that shit is NOT OKAY! This person was an actual play streamer and GM for several groups. He welcomed a lot of us, me included, into the RPG Twitter sphere. He used his influence/authority to try to get sexual favors from female players. At the very least, he was making some very uncomfortable advances toward his female players. We’ve had a few other people stand up with him. Again, there is no part of his/their behavior that is okay.

Don’t defend the abuser. Don’t attack victims. NEVER BLAME THE VICTIMS! How many times do I have to say that on this blog? It’s not just ET contact experiencers. It’s anyone who has experienced major trauma.

If something is making you or someone else uncomfortable at the table or even out of game, please speak up. Throw up a red flag. Use the X card. Hopefully we covered it in Session Zero, but if we missed it, PLEASE SPEAK UP! Even if you have to pull the GM or another player aside in the middle of play and stop the game. It’s better to halt play than suffer in silence. As a GM, I’d rather kick one veteran player than have a new player go home in tears. I’m not in the RPG hobby to make people uncomfortable. No denial. I just want to have fun.

I stand in SUPPORT of the VICTIMS. Likewise, I stand with my trans, gay, and lesbian friends, too. Yes, Black Lives Matter. So do Asian lives and Jewish lives. This all goes back to one basic thing. Can we all just please be good to one another on this planet? We’re all we have.

I love you all. I’m grateful for you. Please be good to one another this week. Please stand in the good and the light wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Take care. See ya soon.

“Old Grognard”

I don’t consider myself to be a grumpy old man gamer, aka “Old Grognard.” Rather, I’m an older, slightly more mature, experienced gamer.

I don’t find this term offensive. Do you?

Yes, I’ve been around a while. Back when I first started using the Internet, there was this thing called “Usenet News” that I got all of my RPG news and reviews on. It was a forum like any other. Many of the same truths and toxic attitudes still prevail today. Thus began my love-hate relationship with forums.

I love Instagram. Every community I’ve joined over there has been helpful, supportive, and fun. I love you guys. Keep up the good work.

My Facebook RPG experiences have been somewhat limited, as have my forays into Reddit and Pinterest. Really not much to comment on there. Is YouTube considered “Social Media?” If it is, I watch a lot of videos on there. Again, I like pretty much all of the content I consume, or I wouldn’t be watching it.

Then there’s Twitter. After the Ufology community showed its true, very ugly colors, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be deleting my account. So I started hanging out over on the #ttrpg side. Thus far, I have found it to be a warm, supportive, positive group of peers 98% of the time I interact with anyone. (Okay, I’ve had one less stellar experience, but it was mostly miscommunication.) I love all you beautiful people over there #ttrpgfamily. I’m grateful for all of my followers.

I’m not that old.

I mean, I’m 49. My roots go back to T$R Marvel and BECMI when it was new. I’ve been in the hobby for almost 40 years. Yes, there were good old days.

But that doesn’t mean I’m stuck there. Yeah, I know guys older than me who will never give up their lead minis and boardgames with cardboard chits. They’re reluctant or downright intragnizent when it comes to learning/playing anything new, even if it’s a reprint. Change is truly frightening for some folks. That’s before we start adding technology to the works. Yeesh.

D&D has plenty of throwbacks, and so do I.

Lately, I’ve been encouraged by a friend to get back into more rules-lite, Old School Roleplaying. I’m monkeying around with Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics (Goodman Games,) and Frontier Space (DwD Studios.) I really like that kind of old world BECMI, Gamma World, and Star Frontiers feeling.

That’s not to say I’m abandoning 5E D&D, Pathfinder 2E, or anything. Still tons of fun to be had with any game. If nothing else, playing older games makes me appreciate both eras of play and those play styles that much more.

RPGs have evolved over the years, and so have I.

Beer and pretzels was a style of play back when I started. We did some goofy things running around in dungeons just for the fun of it. We hacked and slashed our way to finding incredible treasures and fought freaky, sometimes bizarre monsters. Some of those dungeons made very little logical sense to begin with. I enjoyed those games as much as I imagine people do Critical Role now.

As the years progressed and we matured as people and as players, some games turned more dramatic. We still talk about those with the same affection and fondness as we do about the half-crazed dungeon romps. Characters and stories mean more nowadays. That’s cool. I think there’s room for both yet.

There’s room for all.

I don’t consider myself to be a grumpy old man gamer, aka “Old Grognard.” Rather, I’m an older, slightly more mature, experienced gamer. I’ll allow pretty much anyone at my table. I’m here to have fun however that comes about. I don’t hold any grudges, and I don’t begrudge any particular play style. Just enjoy the game. That’s what we’re there for. No worries as long as someone’s not ruining it for everyone else at the table.

Yes. I’m sure I’ll still get lumped in with the other old Grognards. I’ll still gladly play Man O War or whatever else they want to pull out when I’m hanging out with those friends, too. Likewise, if I’ve got a group of 20-something 5E players, we’re going to probably be a bit more character intensive.

On the other hand, I’ll offer up some Old School concepts to my younger audience. It’s fun to watch younger players racking their brains to come up with solutions to old school traps and puzzles as long as I don’t overwhelm anyone. There’s also some oldie-but-goodie treasure to be given out and even a few bizarre, somewhat goofy monsters to fight that may not appear anywhere in the newer books.

Lots more to come. I’m going to be putting out some add-ons to old school games that came to mind recently. I’ve also got a few newer projects I’ve been working on for fun that I’ll be putting up somewhere here eventually that are kind of old new school or new old school…however that’s supposed to work. (You know what I mean.) I’m still contemplating various aspects of FATE, Pathfinder 2E and Starfinder, too. The RPG world is never boring.

Next time, let’s talk a little about Hex Crawls. What are they and what do we do with them? Game on!

Found a Community

People on #TTRPG Twitter are KIND to one another!

I came to #ttrpg Twitter at a time when I was pretty frustrated with the internet in general, social media in particular, and Twitter specifically. We had a lot of a fiasco over on #ufotwitter that really left a bad taste in my mouth when it came to community participation. The Añjali drama was just too much and the UFO Twitfologists proved to be by-and-large a toxic, egotistical bunch. Truthfully, after the last few months in my life, toxic people are not something I choose to include in my life.

So I went back to my roots in the world of tabletop roleplaying. Do you know what I found? A LOT of very warm, welcoming, caring people who look out for one another. They don’t judge. They don’t get nasty. They support one another. They’re kind. Read that again.

People on #TTRPG Twitter are KIND to one another!

I have found it to be a safe space even when people are having a rough day. We’re all-inclusive of neurodiverse, LGBTQIA++ folks. I regularly see people lifting each other up and doing shout-outs to one another! Holy buckets! I’m home! It’s a real community. Other groups on Twitter could learn a lot from the #ttrpg family.

THANK YOU ALL for being so AWESOME!

Game on, my friends!
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