Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dungeon Mistress Mandy

Z: So Mandy, you ran your first game over the holiday, how'd you like it?

M: It was lots of fun. It was very refreshing after playing that cleric for so long.

Z:How so?

M: Well, when I started that cleric I was just learning to play D&D, but after 2 years now, some of that excitement of learning that you have new powers and abilities and--on a personal level, learning there were things I could do and things I could say and it gave me a certain amount of confidence...it changes--but then you DM and you're again learning new things, it gave me a different kind of confidence.

Z: I liked the adventure. Ever since you told me the idea you had--a year ago or whatever--I've been trying to resist writing my own Creepy Magic Forest Fairy Tale Adventure so that you could eventually run it.

M: Well good. We had talked about sort of the "Catholic" version of D&D vs. the more cleaned up "Protestant"/"Disney" kind--sort of the physical kind of fantasy with snakes and eye of newt and stuff vs. the sort of "spiritual" hands-off simple-good vs simple-evil stuff. We were on the same page about that.

Z: The creepiest thing was the bushbabies, I'd never heard of that.

M: My grandfather used to say that if we walked around at night then "the bushbabies" would get you, and in the suburb we grew up in there were all these hedges. The mental image that me and my sister came up with was nothing like the cute furry little animal that you get if you Google it.

Z: Yeah, they were sort of spiny babies that paralyzed you if you touched them, but also you kept saying they were crying, like every time we did anything "Oh, that makes the bushbabies cry." And then when you killed them they turned back into regular babies.

I remember this article from the official D&D site where they were working on concepts for new monsters and one person had come up with a demon that looked like a little kid and they were like "Ok, we can't have that, this is a family game." They used to have, in the official game, Lava Children, but they got rid of those too. They don't want us killing children I guess.

M: The thing I like about fairy tales is that in most of the original stories children are being abducted and butchered or transformed or in some way fucked with* and so I wanted to have an adventure that was kind of arcane and occult in that way, with witches using children for their own purposes. Like a really traditional witch--what she wants is to eat babies. That's why they were frightening to begin with--they were like "abnormal females"--it gets into gender stuff too...but this is just a game.

*Z: So you liked reading about children being butchered?

M: I liked that it was honest. Like the moral of those fairy tales, the point of a lot of them was to make scary realities of the world understandable to children. It wasn't condescending like so much stuff produced for children nowadays is.

Z: How did you feel about having stats and a map and stuff?

M: Well the map was easy 'cause I printed one out from some random video game and just put stuff on it. The stats, however, were a little confusing because when we made up some of these in 3.5 and we were running an AD&D game. Also I'm used to only having to keep track of one character to hit and saves and stuff and I had to keep track of...4 witches, plus however many bushbabies I threw at you at once plus the other monsters, plus the items, and...remember all the players stuff...and the dogs. And I have, y'know math anxiety.

Z: Yeah, the dogs are a bitch, aren't they? It's cute when you're a player, but when you're the DM and the player's like "Hey does my dog get a turn?" you're like "'Jeezus, seriously?"

M: It wasn't just whether it got a turn but it was which dog and which one was paralyzed or asleep or whatever. Oh and then I completely screwed up which spells the dog got--which really helped you guys out.

Z: For the people at home I have to explain that Mandy's brother traded a magic mushroom to some of the witches in exchange for them imbuing the dogs with some spell powers which we used against the boss witch.

M: Baba Yaga, with her chicken house.

Z: I can't help but think it's a little unfair for us 2 2nd level PCs to fight Baba Yaga and we could still take her out--isn't she supposed to be tougher than that?

M: I wasn't sure at all about the power balances...

Z: Well, the adventure itself was perfectly balanced--I mean, if everyone's like "Man I'm tired but I want to see what happens" and then it goes on for a few more minutes and then the players are like "holy fuck, we're going to die," but then they don't and team up to kill the last monster by the skin of their teeth, that's exactly how hard an adventure should be. You couldn't have planned it better. What I'm saying is just that the head witch was BABA YAGA--which seems like maybe it should've just been some assistant to Baba Yaga or something if she was able to be taken out by us.

M:But in the fairy tales it always is some famous witch and they manage to take her out by the skin of their teeth by a clever trick.

Z: Well here was my clever trick: I cast sleep while she was on her broom and she fell 60 feet then your brother shot her. However, I feel as though if she had been statted up the way I'd do Baba Yaga I would've made her strong enough to resist a 1st level spell cast by a 2nd level guy.

M: Gretel pushes the witch in the oven--you would've thought the witch would've been able to avoid being pushed in an oven by an 8-year-old girl.

Z: Fair enough, I just wouldn't like to think my awesome wizard got to level 3 by taking shortcuts.

M: Well that's your problem, not mine. Your wizard has a sensitive ego.

Z: He is the WIZARD!!!!!! He can surmount any challenge! He fears no man!

M: He certainly fears women.

Z: Well so far no men have tried to kill him, only women, gnolls, a pseudodragon, some babies, ummm....a hippo...uhhhh...birds? Did the birds try to kill him?

M: No they were more pecking to hinder and obstruct.

Z: Oh my god the fucking birds. Like, mechanically: a witch turns into a bird hidden in a swarm of birds of, like, hundreds and we're stuck in the forest so we can't buy a net and...

M: That witch wasn't trying to kill you and so you didn't have to kill her, she was just there to annoy you and then you talk to her and the plot advances. But you were afraid to kill her...

Z: I wasn't afraid.

M: You were like "let's go the other way."

Z: I was acting in character. Like "You wake up in a creepy forest, to the north you hear evil cackling, to the south you hear nothing" I know which way I'd go.

M: You and my brother, when you finally saw her up there were like "Oh shit, a witch!" and making big eye faces and talking all fast.

Z: Satisfying, isn't it?

M: (laughs) Yes.

Z: See, you didn't expect that, did you? You thought we'd be like "Oh this is a monster, this is D&D, this is what we do" right?

M: Yeah, I guess. I mean, that's what I meant, it's fun to learn that you have new kinds of power.

Z: Witches are scary, man.

M: My grampa used to call my sister and I the wicked witch of the East and West. I was the East one.

Z: You didn't have any traps. Unless you count that fungus.

M: Yeah, the fungus was kind of a trap, it wasn't gonna kill you but...

Z: It could've if you had just sent something in after it, like the bushbabies. Ok--people at home--we see a glowing fungus in the path. My 16 dex wizard climbs up a tree to go around it. Mandy's brother walks right into it anyway. I spend the next 10 minutes dropping branches out of the tree onto the fungus (hitting him and the dogs) hoping to slowwwly kill this fungus.

M: Yeah, that was funny. And you did eventually get the attention of the bushbabies. And my brother got to have a dream.

Z: Did the bushbabies just show up whenever you wanted or were they randomized on a die roll?

M: They were marked on the map.

Z: Ok, but when they showed up after the fungus?

M: That was just because you were making noise. You have to be very quiet around the bushbabies because, y'know, they're babies.

Z: Your brother was much more cooperative than usual.

M: Well he's matured a lot in the last year. And this time he was just up against feminine wiles instead of having to work with them.

Z: So you think if your sister had been playing with us he would've been all goofy again and tried to marry the witch?

M: Maybe he has more experience dating now, too. Well he definitely does.

Z: Women are such a civilizing force.

M: Hell hath no fury.

Z: You seemed really frustrated that we didn't see the whole forest.

M: Well there was fun stuff around. And you were responding so well I was excited to see your reactions to the rest of it.

Z: Yeah, but that's how it goes, tell your players there's someone fucking with them and your players will just want to find them and kill them as soon as possible. Screw tourism, I want that witch dead.

M: Yeah but you were the same way when you were DMing us at first, you really wanted us to see.

Z: Yeah but I realize that sooner or later you'll see it. Maybe somewhere else, but it'll be there. It's nice to have something left for the next adventure.

M: Well the other thing was a lot of it was improv and I wanted you to see it as soon as I thought of it. And I'm not a good liar, I'm very candid.

Z: Yeah, you sucked at that--really the only thing you did wrong is you kept telling us stuff.

M: Stuff that helped you.

Z: So what? We don't wanna know.

M: I know, I learned. I was better the next time.

Z: Yes, you were, my point is just if I had to pick a thing about DMing you didn't immediately do right it was you kept trying to tell us stuff "She has 24 hit...""SHUT UP!!!" But, yeah, you got it. Ok, so let's talk about the second adventure, the one with your sister...

M: That one was really different. And I had absolutely nothing prepared beforehand.

Z: You agreed to do it anyway--that's a lot of confidence.

M: I learn fast. And get bored quick.

Z: Did you have idea one? Like "Ok, they'll meet harpies and then....anything?"

M: No, not even the harpies, they were just the first monster that I knew I liked when I was looking at the monster manual and you sat down to play.

Z: Thank fuck you weren't in the Ds.

M: I wasn't gonna sic a dragon on you, you're second level.

Z: I liked the harpy eggs. I liked how when you picked them up you could hear "hissing" then "fluttering" then "clicking" and I liked how they had disasters inside. And I liked how you handled us trying to figure out what they were. I think that was some Call of Cthulhu experience at work there.

M: Yeah, and my natural cleric tendencies: I want to go to the library, I want books! Which everyone else hates--like what Craig would say "Fuck that Harry Potter shit", but my sister is totally into that.

Z: She was hilarious that thing she said when she was like--she was trying to negotiate the sale of the eggs for the gold and the xp and then, y'know it all went awry and ended in disasters and monsters as these things do and she was like "That always surprises me! I always think 'Oh, I'll just buy this and re-sell it to this person and invest in this and get experience points and it's interrupted by fighting and monsters and I'm like-Damn! I didn't expect that!"

M: She's very excitable.

Z: So am I, I notice. When I DM I'm like I know what's going on, but when I play I just get...I just do everything you guys do. Like OooH OooH what is it? What do I get How many experience points did I get? OOOh is it my turn? Can my owl have a turn? I can't believe I rolled a goddamn owl for a familiar.

M: You really resented that owl. I like how immediately you guys were creeped out by the first semi-possible villain in the city.

Z: You gotta realize that the players only have what you give them to go on. If you say "There's a carrot" the players are going to start going "Ok, what's up with this carrot? Does it house an ancient lich? Is it friendly?" You say there's an NPC, we got nothing better to think about.

M: She wasn't even necessarily bad, you were just immediately suspicious of her.

Z: I generally feel that nice people in games--even if they're actually nice--are wasting my time.

M: I guess I was the same way.

Z: Oh for sure. You hated that sweet old innkeeper telling you about his wavy windows.

M: Well...my character did.

Z: Ok, what happened in that second one...we fought some harpies which came out alright because web and phantasmal force are kick ass spells...

M: And it says in the monster manual that harpies are stupid.

Z: Technical note for the grognards: I always give wizards more spells than the PH does in AD&D when I DM, so my 2nd level wizard actually had a 2nd level spell, bizarre as that may seem.

M: You and my sister were very good at planning your attacks. I suppose you'd have to be being a wizard and an illusionist.

Z: Plus we made our saves, that could've easily gone south, but as-is that bit was ridiculously easy. But that's D&D, it can go either way. So anyway we got their eggs and then figured we sell them and there was a big thing about where to go since the presumed setting is around Vornheim and you hadn't really figured out where this forest was yet...

M: Yup. And I'm really glad you guys didn't go to Vornheim.

Z: Why not?

M: Because Vornheim is like really your city, and I wouldn't want to go in there and be like "this is happening and this is happening".

Z: Ok. but now I know that Osc Lithicum (the city we did go to) is a pretty fucked up place.

M: Because of you.

Z: Oh like there even would have been an adventure if the harpy eggs hadn't gotten opened. Seriously what should we have done?

M: You could have done lots of things. My sister kept wanting to boil them. You could have taken them...

Z: No matter what it would've led to some terrible witch problem.

M: Yes. That's true, but maybe not for a whole innocent city.

Z: Well now at least Osc Lithicum is interesting.

M: That's true. Though I'm not sure I want the responsibility of having a whole city that's like my creation.

Z: Why not? It's not like you have to negotiate with the unions or else the aqueduct won't get built on time.

M: You're right but something's gotta be going on when you guys show up and it has to be consistent with whatever happened the last time.

Z: If only there were the complete manuscript of some sort of publication which provided a guide to running cities for distracted DMs on the hard drive of the very computer that we are typing this on.

M: Shut up. I'm not supposed to be paying that much attention to your secret DM conniving things.

Z: It's a book, I wrote it...

M: I was gonna read it when it was in book form. And it's a Vornheim book.

Z: FIRST LINE OF THE PRESS RELEASE:
The Vornheim City Kit will be a guide to the city that my campaign is based around, but way more than that, it'll be a tool for running open-ended city adventures anywhere.

M: I knew you were going to say that, I guess I have no excuse now.

Z: WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME??????

M: You really don't like DMing that much?

Z: I love it, I just figured, y'know if even my girlfriend won't use the book why would anyone else?

M: Good point. Well...seeing as how I started DMing, I'm probably gonna end up using your book.

Z: I will put that on the jacket "Well...seeing as how I started DMing, I'm probably gonna end up using your book." -Mandy Morbid.

M: What did you think of my NPCs? The witches and the city people? Those were all totally improvved.

Z: I thought they were really good.

M: How so? Good in what way?

Z: Well, they were ambiguous without being boring. Like you didn't know if you could trust them but not because they were totally blank but because they were as suspicious of us as we were of them. Which makes sense. And you kinda did voices, which isn't something you really do in real life.

M: Everyone always thought I was going to be an actress.

Z: Well...you kind of are. A method actress.

M: Yeah. Maybe.

Z: See when I do NPCs I always either have some very specific thing I want to do with them (usually very quickly) and get it over with or I'm like "Holy fuck, you're doing things which are making me make up an NPC" and so I just play them however it comes out of my head.

M: It was definitely the second one.

Z: Yeah, but we couldn't tell that these were just random speedbumps we were creating by trying to find out about the harpy eggs. And that's good. And not easy. Like, you had that little girl follow us. We're looking around for the next thing that we fight, so everything is loaded with potential scariness.

M: Apparently you were scared of a curious 12 year old girl who knew how to sneak.

Z: You would be too if you'd just almost been killed by 7 spiny babies.

M: Hey, it was your wizard who showed her the spellbook, whatever she becomes now is on you. You're only creating more witches.

Z: Good title for this post.

M: I can think on my feet. That's what I learned.

Z: I learned that it's good to have a web spell if your nemesis is a witch who turns into a bird and hides inside a flock of thousands of other birds.

M: Ok, so let's talk about the disasters that were in the eggs that you unleashed on the city.

Z: Well the first one was a cyclone, and...it was. And then a plague of locusts and then something else which you didn't tell us.

M: Yep. They corresponded to spells from the original 3 witches had that you let out of the forest by defeating Baba Yaga.

Z: Well there was no way out of that adventure without defeating Baba Yaga or dying, so really, the witches were gonna get freed.

M: Or killed.

Z: Mayyybe. Me and your brother had as many hit points between us as one of them.

M: But they were so weak on the ground.

Z: How would you have dealt with the witch hiding in the flock of birds?

M: Start a fire.

Z: She had wind powers

M: She could only send in the birds once.

Z: Well I didn't know that. So she was scary.

M: It's nice to have them out of the forest to use in other adventures.

Z: You need a 'zone' to develop. Geographically. Obviously the forest is all yours.

M: I want to do the Middle East thing. The desert.

Z: Ok, but that's a whole other thing. You'd have to get sick of Europe and witches first

M: I can do both.

Z: We need more stuff on the map so we have more choices about what goes on where.

M: I feel like that won't be problem.

Z: But how do you let the players know how each place is different? Each location needs to have an idea attached to it so the PCs have a reason to go there.

M: But a lot of the places you made we didn't know anything.

Z: No, look: Vornheim is home, Nornrik is north and elves, Bellet Osc is full of lunatics, Osc Lithicum is the city of stone and the Isle of Oth is an island. That's all you need, but there has to be something.

M: Ok, well I have ideas for a desert setting--City of Brass, chapter 2 in Diablo
2, 1001 nights, harems and stuff.

Z: You still want a piece of the northern continent, or is it all Ali Baba?

M: I still want my forest.

Z: Well is it all the same or does it have parts? Does every adventure start with "You're lost in the forest again..."

M: You mean like something to draw people there?

Z: Maybe, or just things to give people an idea of...how it's intriguing beyond just 'there's a monster every mile or two'.

M: I think that still won't be difficult.

Z: No?

M: Not with the girls, no.

Z: I see evil princesses in my future.

M: And she-demons.

Z: To be fair, I get a lot of evil princesses and she-demons at work.

M: Lucky you.

Z: I'm not complaining.

53 comments:

velaran said...

Loved the recap!

@Mandy-Have you read Marina Warner's books on the origins/purposes of fairy tales? No Go The Boogeyman and From The Beast and the Blonde, to be specific.... She also has a book of rarer fairy tales not often heard: Wonder Tales. I thought they were fascinating, personally.

DMing-Yeah, I'm with you on the 'I gotta Cool Idea, I Want 'Em To See It Now! thing. But like Zak said, it comes around, eventually. I was like that all the time when I started. From what I read everybody had fun, even got creeped out a little, and would definitely do it again! Sounds like a stellar first run. Congrats.

But... Bushbabies, just Bushbabies... Jeez. And the baby-eatin' witch, the return of a classic. Love to have seen this game.

@Zak S: Always the GM, never the Player? I have the same problem; and the same reaction when I'm playing. Love to do it more.

Glad to see this up.

kelvingreen said...

Thanks for posting this; it's interesting to see a "director's commentary" type thing for rpgs.

As for Baba Yaga, maybe she has decoy lookalikes, like Hitler and Saddam Hussein did, and the real Baba Yaga is still at large. Or -- to be a bit Rientsian for a moment -- Baba Yaga™ is a franchise, and you just offed the local one, which won't please Head Office when they find out.

Or, maybe it was simply that Baba Yaga's legend was more frightening than she herself was.

mordicai said...

I quite liked this! Mandy's game sounds like a ton of fun. Grimm's on Acid is a solid motif. Anyhow, Kelvin, I think it is more like Baba Yaga is an enduring, immortal spirit that manifests as appropriate to the viewer-- she could be balanced for an epic party, or a out of the box party!

kelvingreen said...

An enduring, immortal spirit? Pfah! Expect a letter from the legal department at Baba Yaga, Inc.

Barking Alien said...

I can't believe anything could make me think Mandy is cooler than I already do but WOW!

That was an awesome account of the game and you utilized the kind of fantasy elements I am down with. While not a traditional medieval fantasy fan I love fairy tale and folklore fantasy and I'm impressed by the way you've intergrated the two. You can GM for me anytime.

Happy New Year guys!

baronzemo said...

Sounds like we have a new DM in the field. From all of us(DM'S), WELCOME!!!

DHBoggs said...

Really wanna see this scenario and monsters writen up in FO or somewhere!!!!!

Gratuitous Saxon Violence said...

In all seriousness, if I was coming to it cold:

"Well...seeing as how I started DMing, I'm probably gonna end up using your book." -Mandy Morbid.

This sort of quote would make me favorably inclined to a product, even without having a clue as to who Mandy Morbid is.

crowking said...

I like the idea of the Harpy Eggs and how they " hiss" when you pick them up. Good visual and not the least bit creepy,

Duglas said...

Cool write up! I have noticed that one of the things that new DMs have to learn is not to tell the players everything that they know about the adventure all at once. It's all so exciting... you just want to share! But, no, it's better to piece out the information in very small packages... keep the players hungry for more. Also: don't give out freebies. Players know when you are helping them and secretly resent it. They want to feel that they have defeated your dungeon on their own terms.
Anyway, congrats!

Zanazaz said...

Harpy eggs with disasters in them? Brilliant. Spiny bushbabies would freak me out, and I don't freak out easily. Good job.

billionsix said...

Sounds like you had a great time, Mandy. If you like fairy tale style stuff, have you seen an RPG called The Zorcerer of Zo? It's designed for fairy tale style games, as well as books like Oz and Narnia and so forth.

sroske said...

This is great. It must have taken so very long to transcribe too! I love when you guys talk theory and philosophy, considering gender, mythology, the metaphors of the game. It keeps me coming back.

Chris Lowrance said...

Very nice - "That made the bushbabies cry" is the most frightening line I've heard come out of a game. Maybe soon we'll see "The Haunted Forest Kit" by Mandy Morbid.

Derywyll said...

You+D&D=epicness.
I myself play as a mere elf, quite tall and albino haha. Quite a suprise to the elfen world if i do say so myself =D

Victor said...

lol! now I'm your fan

TheCramp said...

I've become a big fan of witches lately.
This was kicked off by reading Nikolai Gogol's interpretation of Baba Yaga in the Ukrainian Tales. It is fucking terrifying, and counts as the only time I have ever been frightend by a witch in fiction, and one of the very few times a book has scared me at all. I think Disney versions had turned them off as monsters in my brain, and Gogol turned them back on on on.

crowking said...

Second to Sheelba of the eyeless face, this is my favorite interpretation of Baba Yaga

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ETJsmKvaNo

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

I second the "Haunted Forest Kit", although I think that she could expand it into stuff usable for just about any haunted locale. Also, thank her for the bushbabies. It will be night when the party leaves the Octagon Dungeon (So named because the builders make any room with stairs up or down a level in it octagonal).

biopunk said...

Zak: If you want me to talk like a Master Baiter here, you are going to have to do something radically different in the style and content of your blog.


I like your blog.

I like it because it is about ideas and it is participatory.
It's that Gygaxian Democracy thing.

I loved seeing Kimberly’s transformation from uncertainty as a new player into ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this!’ in IHIWMA, to now looking into playing ‘Dragon Age’ to give her a fix. (As well as reading this post about Mandy’s first time as a DM. Congratulations Mandy!)

Partly because I like those things, I'm not willing to reserve comment on some of this so-called movement's negativity, ignorance or their exclusionary tendencies just for the sake of some bullshit attempt at unity.


But if you really want, you could elaborate a little on your Catholic/Protestant analogy: I could counter with the position that all the Protestant schisms and heresies would tend to be messier rather than ‘more cleaned up’ and then ask you if you meant in 'messy' in the ‘these-beings-aren’t-wearing-a-black-or-white-hats’ sense or the ‘I-had-a-physical-reaction-to-that’ sense, because the wording is a bit ambiguous.

Or we could debate the merits of Love & Rockets as 'art' or as a comic book...

Zak S said...

@biopunk

You are STILL not telling me about these "socially relevant innovators". Name one. Name one. Name one.

If you want to talk or question ideas, fine I welcome that AS DOES EVERYBODY ELSE AROUND HERE.

Saying you hope

"that those in the OSR develop the emotional maturity needed for a paradigm shift to occur"

is a careless blanket statement. Like saying "I hope left handed people develop the emotional maturity to..."

When you talk about "negativity, ignorance, or exclusionary tendencies" maybe YOU know who you're talking about, but I don't.

The 3 biggest OSR blogs are me--who loves hearing about new stuff, James Mal--who is King Fucking Polite and never goes beyond "I don't like x, I like y, if you like y, that's ok with me", and Jeff of the eponymous Gameblog--who is the most fucking positive guy on the whole internet and will play with anyone and do anything and is up to his neck in new ideas every week.

So you cannot possibly be talking about us.

Next up is Raggi, who everybody knows just says shit to freak people out and get attention for his company and it works.

After that, who? It all just gets smaller and smaller from there, and I think you can hardly say these people represent the whole OSR.

So then who? If you can name a name, NAME IT. Don't act like a bigot and insult a whole group of people because you're afraid to name a name.

And after you name that name, look at all the names I name every week over there on the right hand column of my blog, maybe ONE of them is arguably "exclusionary". The rest are just doing their thing and letting you know about it and will accept all comers and any idea that actually matches their real and expanding interests

If you're this guy:

http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2010/06/so-wait-you-play-d-like-80s-d.html

then seriously rewire your brain.

biopunk said...

Sorry Zak, my comment in reply to your previous one isn't showing up in James Maliszewski's blog...

Read my second-to-last comment over there:

"As to "the who"?

-Micheal Curtis, for sure, for his 'The Dungeon Alphabet' alone.
A few months earlier, I would have said Raggi, McKinney or Sabbath; now that they have put all their eggs in one basket, I'm not so sure."

I AM talking about you.



Why does pointing out the failings of a group make someone a bigot?

If being critical of someone's work causes them difficulty, why is it wrong to say some emotional development or growth is needed? Isn't that a legitimate concern? It is NOT the same as this blog, who I would consider a bigot...

In saying I hope

"that those in the OSR develop the emotional maturity needed for a paradigm shift to occur"

is a careless blanket statement - only because I misread James' original question:

"What do you think is likely to happen in the old school world in 2011?"

I read it as 'what would you LIKE to happen'.

I'll apologize to James, and everyone who read that, for my lack of reading comprehension.

...but my original comment's sentiments are still unchanged. I don't EXPECT it to happen, I would like it to happen.

Zak S said...

@biopunk

I don't understand:

-how you can say that 4 major OSR people are making good work and yet make a "careless blanket statement" that everyone in it is too immature to accept their work. The little circles are inside the big one. You can't make a statement about the big circle unless it applies to everyone in it.

-how you can be "not sure" about me because I wrote something James will publish. If you think I am so spineless, stupid, weak-willed, or greedy that I would change what I do because someone printed and sold some copies of it you should leave here now and never come back.

velaran said...

@Zak S:
On Your Prediction: You didn't have to wait long to find out!

Biopunk: Um, Biopunk doesn't seem to be able to get across what HE thinks is (his understanding of) a 'paradigm shift' in this sector of the hobby. That might be part of the problem?

On the OSR cognoscenti: If anything, I think anyone following developments in this circle of enthusiasts will tell you, there's more in quantity and quality every year! I don't see the problem.

Bigotry: Not too many bigots tend to realize their prejudices, ya know. The idea of an RPG bigot(in the traditional sense) is kinda loopy, if you think about it. No way I'd consider the master of this blog, Jeff's Gameblog or the Pope Of Old School to be in any sense, though...

@Biopunk:

On your vision of where the OSR should go:
Um, make your own stuff, present to to the fanbase, and see if you can persuade them to come along with you on this bold new journey. No one will ever be convinced otherwise.

Um, Happy New Year....(Just like the Old, it seems)

biopunk said...

Whoah! Zak, I'm not saying that at all.

If you will allow me a 'recipe' analogy:

I'm saying that putting 3 ingredients -that I like fine enough on their own- into the same dish doesn't mean the end result is going to be any more enjoyable for me. It might go either way.

You have the most 'system agnostic' content of the LotFP/C/PD&DWPS 3, yes?

That is what I'm personally looking for. Not another rules-system or setting; I'm interested in the creative content. I understand Vornheim is set in Vornheim. When I use it, I will very likely strip the content that doesn't suit me.

I'm not intending any offense by that.

I'm saying I'm 'not sure', simply because I haven't seen the finished product.


As to your circles argument, I don't understand.

I will say just because something is popular, it doesn't make it infallible or immune from criticism any more than something that is not.

Zak S said...

@biopunk

Carcosa will be about Carcosa

Vornheim will be about Vornheim

James' stuff will be about James' stuff.

Tell the world.

As for the rest: I don't get how you can call "the OSR" immature and they say how you like ll this OSR stuff.

Who are all these "immature" people you are talking about? Name names.

velaran said...

@biopunk:

This statement here:
"That is what I'm personally looking for. Not another rules-system or setting; I'm interested in the creative content."
explicates the (rather acerbic)comment made on Grognardia about retro-clones: i.e. hoping fans would serve up a:"
distinct and decisive backlash against all the retro RPG emulators that seem to be nothing more than someone's house-ruled vanity project."

But, to use your recipe analogy, many if not most of the clones modify parts of the system, and interested parties might utilize these variants to build yet another 'D&D'. It's all fun.(And Good). Like say Raggi's LOTFP, artikids Dungeons And Dweomers, Matt Finch's Swords and Wizardry, and Oliver LeGrand's Mazes and Minotaurs. 'Reinventing the wheel', as you said on Grognardia, can be a useful exercise, especially to those with no experience in wheel building. Personally, I want mine to be bulletproof, with spikes, scalps hanging off it, and on fire, but that's just me!

"I will say just because something is popular, it doesn't make it infallible or immune from criticism any more than something that is not.": has anyone used that line of argument?(Maybe somewhere else?) I don't recall seeing that. Also retroclones and settings made for older editions are hardly what most people would call popular!

@Zak:
Digression:
More Vornheim campaign reports in future? What about the TMNT campaign? Still ongoing?

On the OSR Immaturity:
I think he's coming around to what he means on that. But, I'M still stumped on his enjoying the products of people he seems to think are not up to his standards of, um creativity, I guess....

biopunk said...

@velaran:

On the OSR Immaturity:

I am getting there. (Some time tomorrow, I'm exhausted tonight...)

As to enjoying the products:

It's got less to do with "standards" of creativity. It is all about their utility.
______________________________________

@Zak: I'm trying to figure out when is best to have this dialogue?

Are you still in EST or PST time zone?

Zak S said...

pst

velaran said...

@biopunk
Taking a stab in the dark here, but is your point that the OSR is too DnD-fixated? In other words, it should be coming up with system-neutral materials?(Or maybe for games other than D&D, at least?) But it's not, because it's too 'nostalgia'(used as a pejorative)-oriented.(Apparently unable to move past acquired tastes from childhood?)

If so, I still personally don't see the problem, as I can strip mine the awesomeness out of any gaming materials. I don't care about the stats, rules, setting, etc.. if the product is interesting. Not to mention, Tunnels and Trolls, Basic Roleplaying, and Call of Cthulu, Traveller, D6 System, etc.. are seeing new fan interest these days. Dragon Warriors, Swordbearer, Aftermath, etc are back. Cool new games like Encounter Critical Eclipse Phase, Significantly Advanced, Atomic Highway, Mazes and Minotaurs, and suchlike see print/PDF every day. Not to mention fan converions of Fallout, Ultima, and even Nine Inch Nails' album Year Zero. But, I mean, if this isn't what you're looking for, jump in there and come up with some stuff yourself. It could only help...

And FWIW, using the term 'immature' to describe people's preference for a game seems a bit much. YMMV, I guess.

kelvingreen said...

Not to mention fan converions of [...] even Nine Inch Nails' album Year Zero

Explainez-vous, s'il vous plait.

velaran said...

@kelvingreen:
Da faTGuys and CaTGirls did it!(4 Channers) Here's the link to the wiki page and download:
http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Year_Zero
For extra awesome: it's BRP!
Enjoy!

kelvingreen said...

Thanks!

biopunk said...

@veralan: No, we are on the same page.

More system-neutral materials might benefit the OSR by creating more stuff for users of other RPGs and gain some wider exposure. Sure. But that doesn't mean those users will be playing any more OSR-type games. They might also go a bit more to 'unifying' the OSR like Jeff Rient, Al at Beyond the Black Gate or Christian at Destination Unknown's Iridian stuff already does, or Greg "Gorgonmilk" Benedicto's defunct Eiglophian blog did... More of that is likely a good thing.

I don't have a problem throwing out ideas or helping Zak or ckutalik over at the Hill Cantons when they ask, if I can, I will.

And FWIW: unsophisticated, more adult or mature, under or undeveloped, are still going to rub someone the wrong way.

"Developing" might have been best.

See my next comment for a bit on the 'nostalgia' aspect...

biopunk said...

@Zak:

Okay.

I'm saying there is an element of 'the emperor's new clothes' going on when someone on a blog says "I'm making a new system" and all the comments go "Yea!" and blogger makes a product and some of the commenters buy it and the product gets reviewed on someone else's blog and it amounts to the same as the blurb on a book jacket about how great it is.

Someone has to be allowed to be critical of products without being held as a pariah.

Blogs have followers. Those followers can identify with that blog and seem to take on a proprietary role in defending it by pulling out the daggers at the first sign of conflict. Same goes for the followers of a particular game/system. Together, debate gets cut off decisively.


That is what bothers me about the attitudes and behaviours on the OSR blogs.


Take Grognardia: I don't know James, but I know he can be terribly nostalgic in his posts. A comment like mine can appear to translate into: "I piss on you and your childhood memories".

I'm not intentionally dissing him, his blog, his Lesser Gods Project or any of his participants in it. He may feel that I have in that particular post, but that was again because I misread that second-to-last sentence. I can understand why he would, if the situation was reversed.

That aside, (BIG aside...) what I can't understand is why everyone gets so sensitive about ANY criticism, irregardless of the context of why it was made or the opinion's content.

Alexis of The Tao of D&D's post on 'Disrespect' touches on it, but I'd disagree with his opinion on deleting comments. I'd rather have them stand
and be evidence for a commenter's opinion and a way of gauging whether or not they are developing an understanding of a blog/ger or if they are just a trolling asshole.

I'm only just starting to see much dialogue or development around the subject.

If you know of any others, please direct me.

velaran said...

@biopunk:
On the OSR in general:
I thought that was what you were driving at back in your initial Grognardia post, but couldn't be sure without you clarifying your position.

On usage of 'Immature':
You are accusing people of not wanting to change their game/play style, something they do for fun, which is not critical: a variation of term like this will not be welcome, or appropriate(Internet is Serious Business type stuff), in my opinion. Many of the people who are now playing older games in the OSR HAVE played newer, more mechanically involved/thematically focused(Old school 'Improved' or New, 'innovative' games), and have explicitly decided to go back to a more easily grasped, familiar, traditional game/style; this was not done entirely(if at all) for 'nostalgiac' reasons. Simpler doesn't always mean simple! This is not a big deal, from where I'm standing: they're not sacrificing(or gaining) anything tangible by doing so. Hell, quite a few people go back and forth between the two camps.

On criticism:
Or, the OSR as Echo Chamber. I've always noticed people with nits, quibbles, and caveats over products. There was that whole flap over Raggi's adventures recently, starting at Tao of D&D, did you see that? It was just like Old-School RPG.net! ;-)

On Grognardia:
The leader of the Olden-Skoole Taleyban fully admits his penchant for the days of elde evrey third post or so. No biggie. Occasionally, he like everyone else, will get pissed off. He usually apologizes for it, and asks for forgiveness, from what I've seen. No-one's holding that very human behavior against him. His blog is very welcoming from what I've read.(With the occasional lapse, of course.)

On your 'Vision' for OSR:
Bring forth your ideas and share!

Thanx!

Tom said...

Congrats to Mandy on her successful runnings of both an off-the-cuff and prepared adventures!

Which leads to the question as to whether or not we should keep adventure/atmosphere ideas coming? Or are you set for the next 50 years or so? :)

biopunk said...

@veralan:

1. Cool.

2. No. It is not about any particular game preference, it is really about the behaviour.

Basically: Don't put your prize pig in a contest if you aren't prepared to have it judged.

I understand that a DM/GM has invested a lot of their time and effort into their games, and there is a lot of emotional attachment there, but it doesn't give immunity to being criticized. If our OSR community is going to grow, in my opinion, it needs that avenue to be opened.

3. Yes! 'Echo chamber' is totally the word what I am feeling.

As to the flaps: Sadly, the history of the OSR is littered with them. (The TARGA/IHIWMA kerfuffle back in March 2010 was another.)

4. James Maliszewski's blog is fantastic. He's the closest thing to a historian and an 'elder statesman' (without being terribly elderly...) the OSR has. I certainly respect him.

I just stepped up on his proffered soap-box and made an ass out of myself...

velaran said...

@biopunk:

People being touchy about their 'babies'(i.e. defensiveness over their hard-crafted masterpieces):

For the most part, I'd say the OSR crowd isn't shouting down naysayers, though Jim Raggi took issue with Alexis'(Tao of D&D Guy) presentation of his adventure, which he thought skewed the results(could be seen either way, imo), and some thought one side or(and there are those would say both) the other was culpable for assholery. The Carcosa rhubarb was the most ludicrous non-event to my mind; though mostly the latter irruption was confined to Dragonsfoot, Knights and Knaves, the more squeamish among the OSR crowd, etc... Notably, some people were not informed on the subject; the amount of 'offensive' material was miniscule, according to the author who offered a censored version of the supplement.(And what I saw, taking into account their concerns.) My only complaint was that it was labelled Supplement V, as if it were a TSR product. But not a major issue. I imagine this is part of the problem you're mentioning? The Targa debate was also unfortunate, but resolved quickly. It sometimes seems people don't want debate criticism, argumentation, etc.., but I would posit obstructionism isn't in the ascendancy. Time will tell, though.

On New Product:
"Basically: Don't put your prize pig in a contest if you aren't prepared to have it judged."

Oh, totally agree. Looking forward to more new stuff to judge; looks like a good year. On the subject, this blog owner's Vornheim is high on my list.

On your self-castigation: "I just stepped up on his proffered soap-box and made an ass out of myself..." That's the Internet Effect coupled with a compulsive desire to share Cool Ideas! Don't sweat it, happens a lot....


Thanx for clearing that up! And thanks Zak for the forum, we kinda spilled some digital ink, on the subject!

velaran said...

@biopunk:

People being touchy about their 'babies'(i.e. defensiveness over their hard-crafted masterpieces):

For the most part, I'd say the OSR crowd isn't shouting down naysayers, though Jim Raggi took issue with Alexis'(Tao of D&D Guy) presentation of his adventure, which he thought skewed the results(could be seen either way, imo), and some thought one side or(and there are those would say both) the other was culpable for assholery. The Carcosa rhubarb was the most ludicrous non-event to my mind; though mostly the latter irruption was confined to Dragonsfoot, Knights and Knaves, the more squeamish among the OSR crowd, etc... Notably, some people were not informed on the subject; the amount of 'offensive' material was miniscule, according to the author who offered a censored version of the supplement.(And what I saw, taking into account their concerns.) My only complaint was that it was labelled Supplement V, as if it were a TSR product. But not a major issue. I imagine this is part of the problem you're mentioning? The Targa debate was also unfortunate, but resolved quickly. It sometimes seems people don't want debate criticism, argumentation, etc.., but I would posit obstructionism isn't in the ascendancy. Time will tell, though.

On New Product:
"Basically: Don't put your prize pig in a contest if you aren't prepared to have it judged."

Oh, totally agree. Looking forward to more new stuff to judge; looks like a good year. On the subject, this blog owner's Vornheim is high on my list.

On your self-castigation: "I just stepped up on his proffered soap-box and made an ass out of myself..." That's the Internet Effect coupled with a compulsive desire to share Cool Ideas! Don't sweat it, happens a lot....


Thanx for clearing that up! And thanks Zak for the forum, we kinda spilled some digital ink, on the subject!

Zak S said...

@biopunk

You are completely failing in every way to answer the only question i have:

Why are you using blanket language? It is bigoted and imprecise.

If you have a problem with jackie chan and a problem with Kim Il Sung and no problem with Bruce Lee, you don't say "I have a problem with Asians"

Answer that question. That is all I wanna hear. Answer the question.

biopunk said...

I suppose I'm using "blanket language" as a device to provoke a response to an issue I feel many are complacent about.

No, it is not the most precise to model of discourse, but I don't think a nuanced one would fit any better.

(In my mind, I was talking to the OSR as a whole.)

Zak S said...

@biopunk

Well whether or not you think it'd "fit", you best check it at the door at least around here, because the only "response" you're gonna "provoke" is "wow, more sloppy thinking on the internet I get to ignore."

biopunk said...

Noted.

How do you think a better approach to criticism/debate could be facilitated?

Zak S said...

@biopunk

Be honest, be precise, be funny, give examples, make extensive use of food metaphors.

biopunk said...

Thanks.

I shall endeavour to do so.



BTW: Did you ever find a good gaming store in Montréal?

Zak S said...

nope

biopunk said...

That sucks.


Thanks for the dialoguing and good night,

Iktomist "Alec" Flack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Callan S. said...

M:But in the fairy tales it always is some famous witch and they manage to take her out by the skin of their teeth by a clever trick.

I agree. D&D/leveling tends to prompt you to fight the second cousins boyfriend of someone famous because fighting the actual famous person will do or more of the following A: 'ruining the setting' B: they are too powerful or C: by killing them, you would become too powerful. So I agree, in terms of what classic stories do, you end up not doing alot of that.

In terms of 'not taking shortcuts', I've never been able to figure what is a valid XP gain. It always ends up some variation of sleep spells, falls and gunshots.

What is a valid/legit XP gain?

mxyzplk said...

Solid work there Mandy! Welcome to the wonderful world of GM-ing. I was going to write more but the train wreck in the comments above makes me sad.

Rumtum said...

@ Callan S

Totally agree: experience gains is sometimes a tricky one but in my experience if you have a planned campaign (you have various set encounters designed of a certain difficulty fleshed out which, say, can span over months if not a year or more) then the goal should always be to keep the players within a challenging level range for that content. Most players (that I've played with at least, across a few different groups and two continents) don't like cannon-fodder encounters too often. They're fun on occasion, as you bask in the awesomeness that is your party of heroes, but it's the near death experiences, the near TPK battles with recurring villains that are the most memorable. A valid/legit experience gain would be one that continuously keeps the players on that threshold of excitement. More or less is merely a matter of numerics.

To that effect our long-standing Dm actually kept the only record of our experience points, instead of us. It took the knowledge of our advancement out of our heads and character pages and allowed him to boost us when he felt it was neccessary without us ever really feeling as though we were being boosted. It also allowed him to control our advancement without resorting to fluff "fill" encounters. This was a far cry from our old system where we kept tally of our own XP (as well as the Dm of course) and were regularly given bonus experience based on how well we roleplayed our character, alignment and other things. While that system had it's merits (particularly as a young group still finding it's roleplaying feet) it later became redundant and it was refreshing as a player not to have to consider "experience points" at all...and just play the game. Experience was a means to an end, and no more. Took a wee while to adjust to but eventually we all agreed it was a much better way of managing the whole thing.

If a group is run in a more adhoc fashion, letting the dice fall as they may, then I think really it's the other way around and managing experience is more about tailoring the encounters to fit the group. In such a system you can afford to be generous and reward shortcutting if encounters were handled in an imaginative way. Did success hinge on one person thinking outside of the box and saving the rest of the group, or was it down to a lucky natch 20? Personally I've always found that cutting corners as a player; avoiding unneccesary confrontation through roleplay, or a player's quick thinking bringing a challenging encounter to a sudden win merited more of a reward than simply over-powering the opponents through brute force. Thankfully most DM's I've met have agreed, but still, even in adhoc sessions the Dm should really be thinking long term and considering the pace of his game.

Does he want his players to be level 10 within a year? Level 20?

It's a tough cookie to chew on, no doubt, but once the mind is made up there are ways to control the party growth without resorting to hurling random stuff at players to make up the numbers.

Ooft...sorry if I went off tangent there a bit =P

Rumtum said...

Oh and my bad - well done Mandy! ^^ Will be interesting to see your growth as a DM and how the group tackle your Brothers Grimm approach to adventure. =)