Saturday, February 26, 2011

Found This Lying Around

Another One Of Those Posts With Lots Of Notes On Things

-Despite the fact that they require looking numbers and letters up on gigantic charts, fights in Rolemaster feel somehow more like fights in real life than fights in any game (including video games) I've ever played (feel like I've already said this on this blog--maybe I have?). You can prepare and slide the odds in your favor, but when the time comes, you just do something, hope it works, and then, next thing you know, you're on the ground or with one arm tied behind your back and you do something else, and cross your fingers again, and a few seconds later you're just glad you aren't dead. In D&D you seldom get that roll -wince- -wince- -wince- -sigh- effect.

-More on our Rolemaster games when I get a minute. Busy doing the cover for Vornheim.

-Ever seen that game Rune Wars on a shelf in your FLGS? My friend bought it. Cost him 100 Bucks. That box is the size of a small suitcase and is, no kidding, 90% air. The whole thing could actually fit in a Monopoly box. They just made it that big so you'd think it was worth 100 bucks. Is it? Don't know, didn't play. It literally took him so long to unpack all the (tiny) pieces that me and another friend played 2 games of Citadels while we waited (fun game, by the way) and by the time he was done we were too tired to do anything else.

-Why is Willow such an under-appreciated movie? Ok, we can all name like 90 reasons it's under-appreciated. But it was the first western movie with kick-ass kung-fu-style swordfights and for that I was, as a lad, grateful.

-I cannot remember what gameblog tipped me off about the (very poorly named) Kabod, but since it looks like this:





I am 100% certain Mandy, Satine (bing!), and possibly Viv (addendum: bing!) will become obsessed with it & play it day and night for months on end, so thanks, whoever that was.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Entire Old School Renaissance Explained

So my friend is writing a game. It's interesting and good, but it still has some rules kinks to work out. We sat around and playtested the prototype for a few hours last Sunday, then, because we're us, sat around for a few more hours talking about things that could be done with it, as well as, incidentally and also because we're us, every other game ever written.

Sam: "...and that's the reason I hate 40k and I haven't played Warhammer 40k in years."

Zak: "You have played Warhammer 40k, we played it last summer, we had a good time, you kept coming back."

S: "That wasn't Warhammer 40k!"

Z: "Yes it was, I mean, aside from the psychology rules, that was pretty much straight-up Rogue Trader first edition 40k."

S: "It was a bunch of pieces of paper scribbled with what you remembered from playing Warhammer 40k 15 years ago. And, actually, it was a way better game than the original. It had all the bits that didn't work filed off."

Z: "So maybe that's what you should do with your game: play it with a twelve-year-old, then take away the rules, wait a decade, then ask him to write down all the rules he remembers from scratch. Then you'll have an awesome game."

S: "I'm sold."

Monday, February 21, 2011

DIY D&D's Most Valuable Product Yet Is...

(...according to my completely unscientific poll...)

...Jeff Rient's Carousing Mishaps Table. Three people said they used it, one said they'd be all over it if they had a regular campaign going, and 2 reported using my standing-on-the-shoulders-of-the-giant-that-is-Jeff adventure-seed-generating version of it (3 if you count me. It basically sparked the entire I Hit It With My Axe campaign--whether that's good for bonus points is a matter of philosophical debate.)

I will do the community the favor of not speculating on what the fact that the most popular game material it has yet generated is essentially a table for explaining your PC's hangover says about it.

Part of me can't help but wonder if we might've gotten a different result if James Mal had asked.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Too Funny For Hippie Games

So our pal came back for a visit after moving to the Bay Area.

Now there is only one reason to move from Southern California to Northern California: to become more of a hippie.*

Sure enough, he arrived on our doorstep last night with a feather in his hair and indie games in his pocket (it is unclear as to whether or not he had a song in his heart).
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But he is a good egg, and we are--as all good-hearted people know--good sports, so his games we did play.

Dread, the horror RPG where you use Jenga blocks instead of dice, was the main event, and the most interesting. The setting was an Ali Baba 40 Thieves thing. It quickly degenerated into backstabbing and, therefore, quickly degenerated into Jenga.

We were actually all cool with this and had a good time except Mandy kept saying that when she died she would just listen to 50 cent/Nine Inch Nails mash-ups on youtube**, which gave me, despite the set-up, more incentive than you could possibly imagine to keep her PC alive.

Observation 1:

Despite being, once the game starts, rules-lite, Dread is highly GM-prep-level dependent. The GM designs, or helps the PCs to design, motivations and goals for their characters. Carefully planned, the game can totally not just turn into Jenga and the disintegrating block-tower is a simple counterpoint to the action, like ominous theme music, however if the challenge is too straightforward, the best Jengists will survive and that's that.

Observation 2:

Gyorgy Ligeti goes with Dread like cheese goes with burger, especially when pulling blocks.

Observation 3:

This game is fucking fun. If every Dread GM had the same amount of practice, experience and received wisdom behind them for their game as the average adult D&D GM does, everyone would know this game rocked. Only problem is is it's very one-shotty, so you are putting all that thought and effort into something that'll probably last one night rather than a campaign. But then, many of the best things in life are about putting a lot of thought and effort into something that'll probably last one night.

Observation 4:

Hosts/GMs: Give thought to what people will do, socially, once dead. Otherwise you may have to hear 50 cent/Nine Inch Nails mash-ups.

Observation 5:

The character-sheet-created-by-individualized questionnaire thing rocks. Especially for a one-shot. I recommend porting it, though, like all things in Dread, it is highly GM-prep-quality-dependent.
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After Dread it was either Chaos In The Old World or S/Lay With Me and since playing any boardgame with Cameraman Darren requires being seriously hardcore about the crunch and because the ladies love Conan, we went for S/Lay With Me--a Ron Edwards game.

It's like: you quickly describe a character for you to play, and (maybe secretly) invent a Lover and a Monster for them to interact with. Each person sort of DMs the person to his/her left. There are some super-light mechanics that basically are just there to make sure the story actually moves toward the monster. So it's basically a lot of just improvising shit.

Observations and theories (based, admittedly, on playing this game once):

-One-shot games of exotic fantasy can be difficult to concentrate on if the actual events proximate to the game constitute a more exotic fantasy than the events imagined in the game. To wit, last night, talk of one participant's tremendous and impending breast enlargement, a female friend's tremendous and impending plan to, with 4 other young women, go to a bar, find a single suitable, strange cute boy, and have a fivesome with him, and the recent discovery of an unexpected clove of garlic in a vagina on film. (This is not the game's fault.)

-One-shot games of exotic fantasy with shared narration can be difficult if everybody at the table has a sense of humor. (This is somewhat the game's fault.)

-The subjective quality of an indie game vis-a-fucking-vis casa DNDWPS may be directly proportional to the quality of its name. S/Lay With Me? Really? Dogs In The Vineyard is definitely the third worst name I've ever heard for anything. (Worst: Porn movie called Shades of Romona, second worst: metal band called Several). Dread is a perfect name.

This doesn't seem apply to traditional RPGs: Rolemaster is a thoroughly uninspiring name, as is Traveller.

-Contrary to the occasional New School claim to the contrary, being the DM is not universally regarded as a privilege.

-I think D&D works like this: the rules, setting, and DM are relatively serious (or at least intense) so you--the player--don't have to be. You can be drunk and play the goofiest half-troll half-gnome bard in the world and the game will keep chugging along and being a game full of twists and challenges and unexpected delights for all (including the drunk gnome) because it's pre-loaded with serious business. Unless pretty much everyone playing S/Lay With Me is earnest about playing S/Lay With Me, the game will crumble. If they're not, they might still have fun, but it doesn't seem like a lot more fun than if the same funny people were just riding around in a car bullshitting about what the next Conan movie would be like if they got to direct it.
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Anyway, all fine and good to fuck around, but we're itching for the next Rolemaster session.

_____
*Wait, you might be saying, what if you just want to drop out of the hyper-competitive amphetamized LA environment and just chill out while not having to listen to shit about how your tattoos are marks of Satan (like that's a bad thing) or blind conformity to...(whatever the hell East Cast people on their Blackberries are on about)? Well then you move to Portland. Duh. Or, if you like interesting weather, New Orleans. This has been a public service announcement.

**Boys: rolling with strippers does have a downside. That was also a public service announcement.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fem Gamer Roundtable Round 2: The Girdle

I have turned the discussion over to Dungeonmum for today, since she seemed to be really into it. She has a question for all the ladies out there....
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Zak has very kindly asked me to guest post following the first Female Roundtable questions. I'm not sure what I can bring to the table but I'll do my best here.

Reading back through the comments (they're still coming in, there's 25 thought provoking questions so a lot of material), what jumped out at me were the answers to the question:

What would the ideal treasure look like?

Take a look at these responses:

The ideal treasure, for me, is specific. I hate winning generic loot. I want to find character treasure, not game treasure. (Alicia)

The ideal treasure would not be tons of gold or gems. I much prefer artifacts, something I can use that not everybody has (me)

Sparkly...jk. Something that has special relevance to a character or a party member that shows that the DM isn't just throwing treasure around because they should but because they are actually concerned with how loot effects character development and plot. (XO~Sarah)

I want the treasure to be kind of cool now, but to suggest how it could be very awesome later on. For example, several months ago, the PCs acquired three soul-berries. You eat it, and you get a soul. They have been debating for months about how to use the berries. Could they defeat the demon leader by giving him a soul? How could they get him to eat the berry? That's way more interesting than a magic sword. (Though one of our players just sacrificed his awesome magic sword to close up the hellmouth that, er, the PCs created.) (replayable)

The ideal treasure is unique and adds something new to the game. Treasure with souls of past owners is always fun. (Lis)

Something unexpected but useful/awesome. (Pixiedragon)

Weird shit my GM has made up, things that don't exist in the books, and have some kind of personality to them. (not insofar as they've got to be intelligent- they just have to have flavor.) (Amsel via Inktea)

I like power and influence and knowledge more than physical items. Books, I guess. (Mandy)

Seeing as you cannot 'win' D&D (or any other RPG) treasure is the short-term gain (not counting XP and stat improvements). What seems common amongst these answers is the desire for something unique. The reward for an adventure, looking at replayable's answer, would be yet more adventure, or at least something that takes the adventure in a certain direction. Gems and gold are very pretty and you can buy lots of stuff, but ultimately if your bunch of PCs are to be off adventuring every weekend are they really going to be able to appreciate those mansions piled with loot and masterpieces? If adventuring is what it's all about then gold and diamonds are pretty much worthless. And nobody has said anything along the lines of 'A plus 2 sword' or a 'wand of magic missiles' – they want something that's never gone before. Perhaps you don't even know what it does, but one day you'll find out.

Now I don't think rolling on treasure tables is necessarily the answer (unless the GM is going to make them up himself) – in our group the ten year old pine gnome statue and bracket mushroom headband will go down as the most memorable treasure of all time for the wrong reasons. Likewise I don't think that what we're after is something to make adventuring more easy, that kills the bad guys quicker – what's the point in taking away the challenges? Wandering into a room knowing you'll live and the baddies will die is utterly yawn inducing and enough to make you want to stop playing, in my book. I guess the DM needs to tailor-make the treasure based on the campaign and the individual PCs, but above all, the PCs have to earn it.

As an aside, I don't think 'women do this and men do that' (despite my answers to the previous questions, that was more 'I do this and my fellow players do that'), there is enough division of opinion in the (largely male) general RPG community to draw me to the conclusion that all people have different ideas regardless of gender. I have no doubt that if these questions were aimed at men (or just people in general) there would be similar responses about non-generic and unusual treasure. But I'm glad to see a little pocket of the blogosphere of discussion aimed at female gamers, only because I don't come across them all that often and it's nice to see what other women get up to when they're playing.

So, for the next round of discussion, I will use a standard piece of equipment from the DM's bag for my next question:

If your character put on an ordinary belt which they found in a haul of goodies that turned out out to be a girdle of femininity/masculinity (changes the gender of the wearer, can only be restored on a wish 50% chance, there is also a 10% chance that all gender will be removed from the wearer), would you play on, in the knowledge that your stats would be unaffected, or would you do everything in your power to remove the curse and revert the PC back to their original state? How would you feel about playing a sexless or hermaphrodite PC? Would a hulking brute of a man continue with the same personality in a sylph-like damsel, and vice versa?

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Zak's addendum:

I'd be interested to know if you'd feel different about different characters you'd run. Think of all the characters you've had lately (in any game) and imagine them switched or de-gendered. Does that suck for certain ones more than for others? Why or why not?

And, as always, guys: quiet for now.

This Is How You Do It

Now that's a fucking map.

Every room labeled right on there, all on one spread. Clear as a bell. Looks small, too, but it's like 60-90 rooms depending how you count.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Debaser

So I'm done with the endless discussion with Greg about sexy pictures and the damage they may or may not do. There are so many Q's & A's that if you want to read all of it you have to click the little "newest" button beneath question 205.

Below is the chain of Q&A I found most revealing, in terms of where Greg is at. Greg, if you feel this edit misrepresents your position, do let me know.

I have turned off the comments. If you want to rant at Greg or me, do it somewhere else. The point of this exercise was to figure out if we have any common ground here, and, if not, what the different basic assumptions about human beings we have that make our positions incompatible are. The point is not to hurl abuse at someone for thinking something different than you (though I am sure the temptation is almost overwhelming at all times on both sides, since the stakes are, to me anyway, very very high), since that doesn't really change anything.

Also, I told Greg I'd answer any questions he asked, and he didn't ask any.

Z: 173. So you're saying gay men might identify with pinup images because "they like sex" but women do it because of the dominant culture? If not, explain.

G: 173. Because the real question was, why would a woman be attracted to an image if it debases her. My point was that it is because she drinks the kool-aid. With a man, the image doesn't give him the message that he is only a sexual object because it is drowned by the images around it. There is no kool-aid to drink. No man looks at our culture and says "wow, we really only value men for their sexual physique". Unless he is retarded.

Z: 182. If the image "debases" a woman, does the gay pinup "debase" the man? If it only "debases" the woman because the pinup image is part of a larger sexist context, then does that mean the man has access to honest sexual feelings that the woman doesn't?

G: 182. No. Yes. Men have a much stronger connection to their true sexuality than women because our culture encourages women to suppress their own desires in supplication to men.

Z: 188. Re: 182 What would be true evidence that a woman (one who, like many men, identified with women in pinup art) had a "connection to her true sexuality"?

G: 188. Don't know. Many women appear confident and relaxed when they are secretly riddled with guilt, self-doubt, etc. You would need to do serious discussions with the individual woman to ascertain this. Appearances are deceiving.

Z: 198. Do you grant that maybe people who aren't you maybe have -had- such discussions and come to the conclusion that the woman in question wants what she wants because, culture or no, she wants it?

G: 198. Yes. Maybe opens the door for any outcome though.

Z: 206. Do any women have a "true connection" to their sexuality? Do many? Do most?

G: 206. Unknown, but I do not think very many do.

Z: 212: re: 206 You do not think many women do have a "true connection" to their own sexuality based on what evidence? Please don't cite a source and say "read it", or another generalization. Describe, in detail, the observations that make you think this.

G: 212. Because they are in a culture that places strong pressure on their sexuality. When you remove those barriers, even partially like in certain northern European cultures (netherlands/scandinavia), you see much healthier female psychology.

Z: 213. Reanswer 212. What are the characteristics of this "much healthier female sexuality"? What are the relevant differences that allow you to make this determination?

G: 213. Healthier body image, self-esteem, self-confidence, more equality in personal relationships, etc.

Z: 215. So if an individual woman displays: healthy body image, high self-esteem, self-confidence and equality in personal relationships then it is possible or even likely that she has a "true connection" to her sexuality despite the fact that she does or doesn't identify with girls in pinups?

G: 215. Yes. Most likely she has disassociated with the culture.

Z: 216. Which, if any, of the deviant sexual behaviors discussed here (i.e. previously in the questions) (hypersexuality, polyamory, a-certain-kind-of-sex-as-overwhelming priority) a priori evidence of "unhealthy body image, low self-esteem, low-self-confidence, etc"?



(I am giving you an opportunity to avoid people reading this thinking that you subscribe to the following tautology: 

Deviant sexual behavior in women is evidence of a distorted sexuality if and only if the woman has low self-esteem, body issues, disproportionately low self-confidence, etc..

However: that deviant sexual behavior itself is proof positive that a woman must have low self-esteem or disproportionately low self-confidence, body issues, etc.)

G: 216. I do not have the psychological training to state definitively on any of those behaviors. However, based on what I know from interacting with most people I know, if sex is dominating your thoughts from dawn to dusk, that is probably a psychological problem unless you are a male at the peak of sexual maturity. That just isn't normal. If you have a normal sex drive, but it is just deviant (you like S&M or something), that doesn't strike me as a psychological problem. I don't think someone who is polyamorous necessarily has low self-worth (they could, I don't know) but is more likely just different. The intersection of deviance and body-image is just not an area that we have a lot of data on. Deviance is by it's own nature, quite rare and often secretive.

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I disagree with a lot of what Greg says here (or what it implies), but he knows that. My position is summed up in the two comments after answer 217 here.

I suspect we have no common ground, and my strategy for destroying evil is largely incompatible with Greg's. Oh well. Let us now move on to something else.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Discussion for The Triple

So somebody posted this. Now since I am a member of a "triple" rather than a "couple" I had to bend the rules a bit, but here are the two women I love's answers to the Serious Geek Couple (polyamorophobic much? huh? huh?) Discussion Questions. (And, yeah, I pretty much stayed out of it, the girls decide everything around here. Makes being in a triple a lot easier.)

10. Am I free to date if you die? It’s just good to get this out of the way: how long should you wait to make sure your old honey isn’t going to be revived, or resurrected by magic, or regrown by sinister corporations?

-Mandy and Vivka decided on 2 years because they play a lot of Mass Effect 2. (May I just say right now, fuck Mass Effect 2 and its pause-the-game-every-3-seconds-interface and its interfering with my womanizing?)

9. Will you kill me if I am facehugged, bitten by a zombie, etc.?

-The girls decided that if I'm a vampire then no because vampires are hot.

Viv: "As long as it's not Twilight vampire...now, zombie? Is it like a Shawn of the Dead zombie where you can still kinda play and stuff? Ok, vampire no, everything else, yes."

8. Do we convert if we witness a miracle?

Mandy: "I'd take it in stride."

Viv: "If it was a relic, I'd steal it."

7. Do we welcome our alien overlords?

Mandy: "I'm ok, even if it involves sex slavery."

Viv: "They terrify me but I'll still suck up."

6. Are we going to get cyber implants? If so, how many?

Unanimous: Yes, as many as possible.

5. Are AIs and manufactured sentients deserving of human rights?

Mandy: "Star Trek has taught me yes."

Viv: "If they get to a level of like Data. That fucker felt."

4. Is being body-switched with your worst enemy grounds for a break-up?

Mandy: "Mmm...is the enemy hot?"

Viv: "Yeah that was my first thought. We'd take advantage--there's always room for a hatefuck."

3. Does the holodeck count as cheating?

Unanimous: No.

2. Are we raising the kids Orthodox Jedi or Reform?

Mandy: "Sith."

Vivka: "Mandy's smart. But I'm raising them 'raptor'."

1. Are we in this for loot, or XP?

Mandy: "XP then loot."

Viv: "XP--you can't do shit if you don't have XP."

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P.S. Female gamer roundtable is still on--hit it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Female Gamer Roundtable Is Go!

Here's we go...

Ok, any woman can answer--try to answer as many questions as you have time for. If you're a guy, be quiet for now. (If you have some in-between gender situation I haven't anticipated, do whatever you feel is best.)

Also, everybody who answers please stick around to see if any new questions pop up in the comments--the idea is to let this forum go anywhere the women participating want it to go. I may throw the comments open to questions from the y-chromosome contingent after a while if I feel it would be helpful and nobody objects.

1. (from Dungeonmum): How did you get into RPGs?
(2-9 are from Oddysey)
2. If you DM/GM, how, when, and why did you start?

3. If you don't DM/GM, why not?

4. Who was your favorite character to play, ever? Why?

5. How often do you play male characters?

6. If sometimes you play female characters and sometimes you run male characters, how do you decide what gender of character to run?

(With no restrictions on player/DM type/practicality...
7.What would the ideal campaign look like?

8.What would the ideal adventure look like?

9.What would the ideal treasure look like?

10. Would you consider putting out your own RPG product, why or why not? What about just contributing to a product?

11. Do you have any thoughts on why more women don't play RPGs? Do you care?

12. Have you ever experienced sexism in the gaming community? How?

13. What's your favorite part of the game? Or favorite parts?

14. What's your preferred game, why?

15. There's this stereotype about women and math...how are you with the "crunch" in games? Do you avoid it or jump in?

16. Did/do you ever feel "performance anxiety" in front of a gaming group? (These last two questions are from Zak--these are things Mandy's talked about.)

17. Anything you'd like to see more of, in your own game(s)?

18. Anything you'd like to see more of in the industry in general?

19. Mandy asks: "How do you feel about highly sexualized images in game art? Like, say, this. (Full disclosure: my own position is I'm totally ok with it, and like looking at it, and want to be able to draw like that, and don't think it's degrading in any way.)"

20. Do you feel like you can make any "guys tend to do this, female gamers tend to do that" statements? If so, what?

21. Any questions you'd like to ask the other women here?

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New questions from the comments:

22. Taichara asks "Why did you decide to answer these question?"

23. I wanna know this one--Pretty much everybody who has answered so far has played both male and female characters. I've played females twice, but only pretty much because Keith Baker and/or the girls made me do it (I liked it, but mostly as a one-shot thing). Guys don't usually play women. Got a theory?

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New questions:

24. Loquacious asks: "What do you hate most about gaming and why?"

25. (zak): Do any of the answers other participants gave surprise you or pique your interest/curiousity, etc? If so, which ones?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Take My Blog, Please

Taichara, Mags, and any other women who may be reading this...

Take my blog, please.
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A lot of people read this blog.

So I'd like to use it to host a roundtable about women in pen & paper RPGs.

I am offering you all a chance to talk to the entire audience of D&DWPS. Which is big.

Whoever wants to moderate the discussion and propose questions can, and if nobody wants to do that, I will, or maybe Mandy.

(I don't want to overload the list with people I know, so unless somebody else from my group really really wants to participate, I'm gonna ask for it to mostly be people we don't know personally.)

I'll understand if you don't want to be in, some people don't like that kind of attention. But if you do, I think it might be nice and helpful and fun in all sorts of ways we cannot predict.

I also don't assume you'll necessarily have anything in common, so the conversation could really end up anywhere. However, everyone reading should realize that the sample is, by necessity, skewed toward women who: -Already play rpgs and -are ok with appearing on a blog called Playing D&D With Porn Stars.

I will kick it off after a day or two, so if you're in, stay tuned.

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Here's how it'll work: the participants will write a bunch of questions (or I will, if they don't wanna), the participants (and only the participants) will provide answers in the comments. Any female participant may ask questions in the comments. Participants will answer these questions. Nobody who isn't a female participant can comment. It goes on as long as it goes on.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Some Raw Data On Sexy Male Characters And A Question

So I noticed this phenomenon:

Girls would, spontaneously, while watching a movie say something like "I'd fuck Tony Stark. Not Robert Downey Jr. but Tony Stark."

"Like the comic book character?"

"No, like Robert-Downey-Jr-As-Tony-Stark-If He-Looked-And-Acted-Like-RDJ-Does-In-The-Movie but not the actor and not the guy in the comics."

I heard this more than once. Spontaneously (without prompting) from women.

So I asked around. After about an hour on the internet, (twitter, facebook, etc.) I got these responses from women:

Magnum PI but not Tom Selleck

Dirk Diggler but not Mark

Frodo but not Elijah

Lestat but not Cruise

Venkman but not Bill Murray

Arthur in Inception but not whoever

10th Doctor but not whoever

Castor Troy but not Cage

Cyrus the Virus but not whoever

Joker but not Ledger

Tyler Durden (twice)

Gyllenhall but NOT Donnie Darko (A reverse example, but those work, too)

Cal from 40 yr old virgin.

Han Solo but not Harrison Ford

Bruce Wayne but not Christian Bale (three times)

Patrick Jane but not Simon Baker

Seymour from Ghost World but not Buscemi

"All sexy vampires but not the actors who play them" (twice)

Spiderman but not Toby McGuire

Now while by no means an entirely scientific experiment, I would say this is a fairly decent control/variable situation. Same body, same face, different personality and style, remarkably (literally: from "remarkable" as in "worth remarking upon") different levels of sexual interest from women. These are some good-looking men (as I understand the concept), but apparently only sexy to a given woman if they act a certain way.

(Counter-possibility: all responding women just hate actors. I know that in the case of all the respondents I know personally, this isn't true.)

So, question:

Guys--are there female characters you'd have sex with but not the actresses who played them (at the time?). For me? No. I probably like Catwoman more than Michelle Pfeiffer circa 1990, but I wouldn't kick her out of bed. You? Would you do Barbarella but kick Jane Fonda circa 1968 out of bed? (Or the other way around?) Let's hear it.

And ladies, if you would like to add to the data (or contradict it), go right ahead.

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Pen-and-paper-game-designer-relevant hypothesis:

A) An economically significant majority of women are attracted to sexy characters. i.e. Attractive bodies and faces attached some sort of personality or style to indicate the direction or kind of thing to expect from that guy. If you would like to include sexualized males in your game so as to capture this market, be aware, in the artwork or the fluff, of the indications of what kind of guy they are you are giving.

B) An economically significant majority of men are attracted to sexy pictures. Period. i.e. Attractive bodies and faces. Based on what I've seen, I think the industry probably already knows what to do with that data.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Greg Christopher I Would Genuinely Like To Understand What You Are Trying To Say

So people are talking about sexism in games.

Some of it makes sense to me, some of it doesn't.

But it's really important.

And: I want to understand the point of view of seemingly intelligent, responsible people who are saying things that do not make sense to me. I don't want to debate to prove I'm right, I want to understand things I do not yet understand.

So: Greg Christopher, I am inviting you to come here and explain what you think. And, if you like, vice versa.

HERE ARE THE RULES, THE ONLY RULES:

-If the other guy asks a question, you have to answer. No rhetorical questions, no grandstanding, no "I can't believe you would ask that question", no bullshit joke answers for the crowd, no "oh come on, you know the answer to that." You answer the question, you answer seriously and succinctly. Then you wait for the next question and/or ask one of your own.

-Beyond that, you try not to make any other statements (so do I). This is hard (and asking a question often involves making a statement), but the point is to understand that which is not understood. If you feel the question is leading or unfair, you can clarify, but basically this is not a debate this is an attempt to understand where the real, base-level differences are between whatever you think is the way for male human beings to fight sexism is and what the way I think the way for male human beings to fight sexism is.

-I erase any interjections from everybody else.

Lemme know.

-Zak

Addendum:

Alright: Here we go.


___
Obvious question: Why are 2 guys discussing this?
Answer: I haven't read any women saying anything as confusing as what I've read Greg saying. I repeat for the stupid: Every single woman I have ever read or heard anything from on this topic has been capable of making her position easily understood. I want to understand Greg's point of view because it is unclear. That's why I'm doing this. Not to get some specific actions or recommendations or collect data, but to understand what an actual other human being thinks. I do that other stuff on here, too, once in a while. Not today though.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In My Limited Experience

Never played with That Guy. Never saw his trenchcoat.

Never been to a con.

Never ran a game for strangers.

Never knew who the 'jocks' were in high school, never knew who the 'nerds' were.

Never got called a nerd.

Never had a crush on a cheerleader, or knew anyone who did. Never lived in a suburb, never borrowed dad's car, never had a car.

Never got locked in a locker.

Never said 'pwned'. Never knew anyone who said 'pwned'.

Never read a genre novel written after 1980.

Never played WoW.

Never called anyone 'bro'.

Never had a munchkin.

Never told a girl she couldn't play. Never saw anyone tell a girl she couldn't play.

Never played with anybody who called anything they thought was lame 'gay', except Kimberly Kane, who fucks girls and likes watching guys make out with each other.

Never got static from a girl about liking girls. (Or painting them naked. Or fucking them for money.)

I've known one rules-lawyer and she's my girlfriend.

Never read Penny Arcade, Order of the Stick, and whatever that comic is that's in Hackmaster.

Never saw Firefly or Serenity or the new Battlestar Galactica or Buffy.

Never argued about Kirk V. Picard or saw anyone do it.

Never willingly had an extended conversation with someone who acted like Comic Book Guy.

Never knew a grown-up who lived in his mom's basement.

Never thought only assholes played paladins.

Don't know what this 'I cast magic missile at the darkness' thing is about.

Never waited for a video game to come out.

Never got obsessive about a first-person shooter.

Never knew what day of the week my comic books were supposed to ship.

Never played a game with a skinny Peter-Parker-looking guy with glasses.

Never played a game with big fat guys with beards, except once, for charity. They were nice and didn't smell like anything.

I live in a big city. I always have. Once in a while I pull out a game and play it with my friends. They're all artists and sex industry people. When I was a kid they were all kids and they acted like kids.

When I hear people talk about 'the gaming community', it sounds like an insane towel-snapping locker room circus full of people nothing like anyone I've ever willingly spent time with in real life or ever will meet in real life who live in a Cheeto-strewn country called 'the internet'. I don't feel connected to them or disconnected from them or responsible for them or to them. Whatever. It's like seeing all that red on the map every November 2nd. Those people are also Americans? Huh, who knew?

I'm sure they exist. I just don't feel like they have some special significance to me just because we both own dice that aren't part of a Monopoly set. I'd be surprised if a lot of the people reading this didn't feel exactly the same way.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Productive Exchange Of Ideas

Another quicky, another one where it'd be nice to hear from y'all:

All of this is pointless and stupid unless it actually gets used in games. So let's hear about it:

1. What's something you've read on somebody's gameblog that you actually used in a game?

2. And how did it go?


If it's something I wrote, I'd love to hear about it here, for playtesting reasons if for no other, but I'd like to hear about other people, too, and I'm sure everybody reading would, too...



_____
Oh and P.S.
If you've used someone's idea in a game, tell them, too. I'm sure they'd be jazzed to hear about it, and how it went.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

DIY RPG Blog Sampler

Do you have an RPG blog? Are you like: Fuck yeah, it's amazing and everyone should read it! Are you like: Hey, maybe take a look, it's not bad and I kind of like my in-depth analysis of F9--Isle of the Wrecking Porpoise...

Well, either way, here's your chance.

Leave a comment with three sentences quoted directly from entries on your blog. They do not all have to be from the same entry. Then put your blog URL.

People can go here and read all the stuff, so you have a chance to try to pique their interest and show what your blog's all about...

I will keep this page accessible by putting a permalink to it over on the right above "greatest hits".

Saturday, February 5, 2011

DIY Consumer Bill of Rights

Congratulations, you are a consumer of Products of DIY Culture. You like something obscure, niche, handmade, homemade, or simply very very particular. Certain kinds of music, movies, pictures or, yes, even games.

Maybe this is because you are smarter than other people and new mainstream products just makes you think of nonmainstream products or old products or something you thought up yourself that does the same thing better, or maybe this is because you have been consuming products for so long you've slowly become jaded and tired of the "gateway" products, or maybe it's just because you're a pretentious, insecure asshole who uses your interest in something out-of-the-way as exhibit A for the defense in the court case you're constantly running in your head where you accuse yourself of maybe being too much like everybody else. Whichever it is, you are entitled to certain rights. Here they are:

-You have the right to assume most people are stupid. They are.

-You do not have the right to assume most people are stupid merely because they don't like your product of choice. There are a lot of different kinds of smart, and only a few of them require thinking whatever you think is fun actually is. I'm real glad my doctor spent all that time in medical school learning about where my pancreas was rather than painting, and when I pay him immediately and in cash, he's probably real glad I learned to paint.

-You have the right to access the product you wish to consume. You have the right to form communities dedicated to helping you access and/or retrieve such products. If you haven't found one yet, you have the right to form your own.

-You do not have the right to demand easy access to your product of choice at all possible consumer-interfaces with the medium wherein your product-of-choice manifests unless you are willing to help destroy the current economic system and replace it with something else. Why doesn't WhateverFuckingStore.com sell WhateverFuckingThingYou'reAllExcitedAbout: Advanced Edition? They don't sell your thing because they don't know if it'll make them any money. Myriad opinions on how to smash model-2011 capitalism and whether that's actually a good idea or not are available elsewhere on the web. You are, however, allowed to say "If you don't got Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin'."

-You do have the right to suggest that maybe the consumer outlet of your choice could simultaneously fulfill the twin goals of making you happy and making them money by providing access to products amenable to discerning connoisseurs like yourself.

-You do not have the right to assume you're right about that. At least not until they try it.

-You do have the right to point out that maybe, aside from the monetary rewards, they might also garner less tangible but more important benefits like helping to build a vibrant on-line or in-real-life community by cultivating a more sophisticated-and-therefore-probably-more-dedicated-and-participatory customer base.

-You do not have the right to assume they should give a fuck about that.

-You do have the right to call them greedy fucks if they don't.

-You do not have the right to call their freelancers and employees greedy fucks if they don't. Do you take responsibility for the actions of every boss you ever had?

-You do have the right to speculate on what kind of people would be interested in the thing you are not interested in.

-You do not have the right to assume you're right about that.

-You do have the right to ask around about that.

-You do not have the right to assume someone's lying if you hear an answer that doesn't fit your thesis.

-You do have a right to talk about why you don't like Very Popular Products That Don't Fit Your Idea Of A Good Time.

-You do not have a right to bore everybody with that.

-You do have the right to create or promote a product that remedies the perceived deficiencies in said product.

-You do not have the right to assume your solution to the Problem of the Very Popular Product will satisfy other connoisseurs complaints with said Very Popular Product. You are united by your dissatisfaction with the Popular Product, not by your agreement about what the solution is. If you were, you wouldn't be the special-little-snowflakes-in-search-of-an-experience-that-fits-you-like-a-glove that you are. You hate vanilla because it isn't strawberry, she hates it because it isn't chocolate. Your unity-of-purpose will only last so long as neither strawberry nor chocolate wins, so if you want unity, build it on something else, like a unity-of-belief-in-creative-experimentation or a Neapolitan Pact.

-You do have the right to demand Nice Things. Great achievements in art and culture have come from every conceivable point of view. If you need a characterization-heavy rpg where you play stretches of plumbing pipe enmeshed in a psychologically-tense soap-opera-plot powered by a water-balloon-tossing resolution engine that's actually good then you have every right to demand it.

-You do not have the right to demand Fancy Things. You are smarter than average or more experienced than average or just more picky than average, therefore accept that it would be commercial suicide for some fancy motherfucker who makes fancy shit hoping to sell something with mass appeal to pitch their product at you, especially when there are so many goddamn average people out their to prey on. Average people will buy just about anything because--hey, have you rolled yourself a character with Int 10 lately? Not pretty.

And if there were a Fancy Thing for Discerning Consumers you probably wouldn't buy it. Why? Because you can probably figure out how to get whatever it's offering cheaper. Because you're smart, or experienced, or well-connected and/or you--unlike normal people--pride yourself on not being gullible enough to buy shit just because it looks fancy. Point is, being picky puts you on the far edge of capitalism's bulls-eye. Get used to that.

-You do have the right to demand that people who make Things With Mass Appeal That Little Kids See All The Time have some social responsibility. They shouldn't make Wonder Woman into a guy, and they shouldn't make Storm white. With great market share comes great responsibility. I mean, if you're not going to make anything good and you're having all your shit printed for 10 cents an hour overseas the least we can do is let you deal with the parents you're fucking with on your own. It's that or the revolution.

-You don't have the right to demand that people who make Things With Mass Appeal That Little Kids See All The Time be any good. These things will probably suck because they are aimed at a mass audience. Again: change the whole world economic system or live with it and be happy when, once in a while, you get Adventure Time or Justice League.

-You do not have the right to demand people who make DIY products have some social responsibility. They are making something that is for them and people like them and we have to give them the benefit of the doubt that whatever they're making is the way it is for specific creative reasons and they need to be given a little room to come up with something new. Plus, seriously, nobody's fucking listening to them anyway.

-You do, however, have the right to demand the people who make DIY products make things that are good. That is the price they pay for their freedom: they must put in a real and genuine effort without hiding behind the excuse of what will or won't sell, or their creative license is revoked. They need to provide the maximum possible value for money in whatever direction they're heading (even if it's a direction you'd prefer they didn't go) or get the fuck out.

-You do not have the right to bleat about somebody else's DIY product merely on the grounds that it's designed for people who aren't like you. If you want to complain about something, complain that people who aren't like you exist at all. How far that'll get you in life depends on what direction you're going and whether or not you like sleeping with those people.

-So: if your excuse for doing things that piss people off is money, you have to accept that you need to Think of The Children once in a while, fatcat. If your excuse is creative freedom, then you have to always make the best thing.

________

Joesky's Rule Compliance Addendum:

Slow demon

This demon has the body of a beautiful naked woman.* It has the face of a big fucking leech. Its trick is to make you fall in love with it, then it eats your face. Resistance to its charm is inversely proportional to how upstanding your character is. Paladins save at like -9.



____________
*Is there a non heteronormative version? Maybe if I ever figure out what a hot RPG guy looks like.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

D&D Ideas Stolen Or Derived From Whatever Comic Books Were In Reach When I Wrote This Blog Entry

-Crisis On Infinite Earths: Hey look it's Negative Woman.

Ok, so you fall unconscious and a Negative Spirit that has your stats but in reverse appears. To whatever degree a stat is above the norm, it is now below, and vice versa. It is also the "opposite" class: meaning whatever you're worst at (and consequently whatever it is best at) is it's prime requisite and it's a member of the corresponding class. So if your wisdom sucks, it's a cleric. You may control this being as if it's your PC but it lasts for a set amount of time, like a day, and you can't do anything about it. This is a spell, or a thing in an item.

-This isn't a comic book, it's a Hobby Japan catalogue. But it has Ultraman monsters.

This spell allows you to create giant monsters. Material components are two animals. The animals get combined into one creature then grow to the size of an elephant.

-Hellboy: The Troll Witch And Others. There's someone talking about eating worms.

Adventure idea: mad, decadent king demands mad decadent feast be prepared: unicorn toes dipped in giant squid ink, spidergoat eyes in whalefat, all that. PCs are hired by chefs to hunt down ingredients.

-Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos.

Fuck these yokels. NEXT...

-Ironwolf: Fires of the Revolution. Ok, so the Omicronese (I think) shut off all the Secret Police's high-tech zappers using some...thing...

Anyway, point us there's an item, or a place, that shuts off all _____ in the campaign. Familiars? Magic rings? Undead? Something that shows up a lot in the campaign and seems maybe more useful and/or common than it oughtta be. Or that the villains have in spades (but the heroes have enough of them that there's some cost-benefit analysis, like, say, it renders magical writing illegible for 8 days or a month or something.)

-Another Hobby Japan catalogue. It's a remote-control car.

You thought that all you had to defeat the rampaging sea-serpent/golem/elemental was to slay the mad wizard controlling it but actually it's the other way around.

-Blue Beetle: Endgame

There's a giant beetle. It's blue. It's eyes are yellow domes. They are full of smaller beetles. You have to kill it without cracking open the eyes because, when exposed to oxygen the little beetles get big.

-Scud: The Disposable Assassin

Curse: PCs must seek out and slay a worthy foe every day or die of spiritual starvation. Each foe must be more fearful than the last.

-Wolverine: Civil War

The guy the PCs are looking for is at the bottom of the sea.

-JLA: A World Without Grown-Ups

Annoying kid-versions of the PCs show up.

-The New Avengers: Breakout

The authorities haven't heard anything from the prison island since the big earthquake. Would the PCs mind terribly taking a look? Convict level x 1000 gp bounty for any strays the PCs pick up.

-JLA: Terror Incognita

This spellbook has some spells written on that a wizard PC can use right outta the box as if they were scroll spells, problem is it's so fucking boring it requires a wisdom check/will save/whatever just to remember the spell long enough to cast it.

-Frank Frazetta: Rough Work

The shaman's goblin-blood warpaint doubles your strength up to a maximum of 19 and doubles your speed, but you can't wear any armor and must drink the blood of every foe you kill.