Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Most OSR Session

Before I go on to this actual play report, a legal update:

Details here

And here.

Anyway, let's get back to games. This is Slorm:

Slorm is a goblin and a cleric who appears weekly in OSR founder* Jeff Rients' weekly game alongside a guy named Graham played by Lamentations of the Flame Princess founder James Edward Raggi IVs guy, Graham, a fighter who goes around dressed as the dungon-boss necromancer we killed in our first adventure.

Anyway Slorm worships a god that fell out of the God Maker, the Sister of Infinite Punishments.

Last time Slorm played, he was in a giant slime and got stung by an LotFP-style trap where he looked through a telescope and gained a view of the infinite universe like the Aleph in that Borges story and was incapacitated and then the session ended.

Then I spent several weeks not playing because life, then I came back and we're in a dungeon but Slorm now has Expanded Life Universe Perspective and talks like a SoCal acid guru who sees....who like seeeees, man, he sees youuuu, he sees what you're about, man, like....enTIREly.

So this game is Jeff Gameblog DMing, Zak S fresh off suing someone, James Raggi on fighter, two trans people and a Ukrainian sniper--you don't get more OSR than that.

So, this report straight from the from the seeeecret LotFP weekly game! (ssssh) :

Slorm wakes up to find the party's bard is dead. "Good!" he says. He is replaced by a blind dwarf.

We are in a Library. James' henchman El Grec has identified a sigil! its the sigil of the king! 

I , theee goblinn has posted henchindividuals outside the library, theres .MAGnificent fresco of the king leading troops. Slorm, filled with a wholly fraudulent sense of the inherent spirituality of a blind dwarf, says we have to follow the blind dwarf's lead through the library.

The blind dwarf has got a book off the shelf. As has Dr Merchandise thee henchman. 

(Not a real doctor just needed a name that began with D to go with previous henchfolk Astrid (R.I.P.), Boulder, and Christopher (R.I.P.).)

One d8 roll later  @Jeff Rients  "Does your character  actually read dwarf braille is the question?". More rolls, no. 

The henchmen notice one of the walls outside are bleeding. Slorm the goblin casts cure light wounds" on it, it scabs over. 
Blarnibus the Ogre licks the wall. The blood tastes significantly more acidic than expected.

Slorm then casts Cure Light on the ogre's tongue.  

The dwarves roll architecture. Nothing happens. Goblin cleric insists we just let the wall bleed because its dungeon dressing mannn. 

Slorm can see through the veil of maya ok? 

We go on. El Grec has picked up some Old Haldrani and can see a book called Lords of Gold!  It says where all the local gold mines are.

I am glad I am doing this write-up because I forgot that we found this.

Slorm can read a book called the Grimoire of Par Kaare which has some spells.

I also forgot that--Jeff what spells are in there?

but WHATEVER...down to level NEXT. We're in a huge corridor. With some...passages? idk James Edward Raggi IV is mapping so I trust him. 
Did I mention my goblin looked through a telescope into the infinite, got incapacitated for 3 sessions and now talks like a cult leader on mushrooms? Ok anyway. So he gets the blind dwarf to listen and he hears Sinister Laughter!  To the north. We go north. 
120 feet and then. Ok this dungeon is REALLLY big like it was drawn in the 70s by someone who didn't do rational architecture but its a Jeff Rients game so that is probably what it is.

(Turns out it's from Judges' Guild Journal. 2 decades of  game blogging for nothing, we are still running around in some eccentric notebook dungeon written by people who know people who give out the 3 Castles Award. ) 

We are in a martini-glass shaped room. Slorm the goblin casts Augury and does not have the spell Augury and so randomly decides to go right and not left. Both left and right doors lead to the same room.


Goblin casts Insect Plague and sends the insects go down the corridor, they eventually find a secret door. Graham opens it. 
A TEMPLE! Scarabs on the walls. The floor is made of blue marble with white veins--all veins leading toward a laughing buddha/dwarf like statue. Blarnibus the ogre approaches it. The Statue is entirely blued silver and its eyes are gems. Slorm urges any party member but himself to approach the statue. Quoth Blarnibus "i'm gonna shake it like its a piggybank".


The only image that comes up when you google "Ogre with piggybank"

When he picks it up a hidden gong sounds! There's a delay on the guards showing up (Jeff just tells us the mechanic) Blarnibus rolls...4! A bunch of weirdoes in red and black start pouring out. 

I highly suspect Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a reference here. 

Weirdoes? Shaved heads and forky beards! James takes the rearguard and the goblin sends an Insect Plague to protect them.

Slorm is insane but has the Rod of something for Clerics so that's why he's casting all this bullshit. 

The lowest level cultists show up first, and the plague takes them!! We get away scott free! 2500gp statue!

So far, so dungeon. But here's that real sauce:

Then--OF COURSE!--we dress the two dwarves up like the statue of the god by paying 500gp to the best cosplayer in the village. Jeff rules that by coincidence our blind dwarf has EXACTLY the same build as the god. Because: Jeff. 
But the god mostly wears a loin cloth."I'm gonna fast-forward to the stupid corridor with the 2 sets of double doors". Slorm rolls a 2. Slorm casts Continual Light on the dwarf god's loincloths.

So they'll glow, naturally. 

So the nonblind god-cosplaying dwarf leads the blind one to the plinth. The plinth is really tall though. One dwarf tosses the other. "Does he get up there before he sets off the alarm or not?". 1-3 or 4-6? 6. 
So fuck ok the dwarves are messing around on the floor as the alarm rings. Slorm casts Insect Plague! Scarabs to the front! Protect your gods! Guards in chainmail with spears roll up.

They are not intelligent. The statue of their scarab-friendly god that's been missing has no been replaced by two gods? And a bunch of live scarab beetles.

They immediately declare--ITS A MIRACLE. The guards bow "We're not worthy!" The blind dwarf says "No you are not". 
They fetch the high priest. One of the guards is confused to see two gods. Slorm casts Command. The one word command? PHILOSOPHIZE! For a round (6 seconds) the guard rhapsodizes about how there are TWO where once there were ONE!!! A holy mystery! 
4 junior clerics roll up. Jeff rolls to see if they are swept up by the religious hysteria. They fail their save and begin praying. 
James Edward Raggi IV asks "Um no reason, just asking....whats the dwarf gestation period?" Jeff rules 12 months. 
Blind dwarf goes "I don't feel safe". 
James goes..."i'm just saying, that we have the ability, at the rate of one per year, new gods!" "WE ARE JACK KIRBY!" 
Jeff: "You know i don't do this very often but I'm awarding everybody 50 extra xp for shenanigans!" 
550xp each. 
No fights.


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Universal Ultimate Theory of OSR Play


After two decades of RPG theory, I have boiled down the principles of the Old School Renaissance RPG down to a single maxim.


(Oh wait before that, important announcement on the legal front:

That's the third case down if anyone's keeping track. Details here, anyway...)


This principle explains why we keep playing D&D despite the creator and copyright holders' tremendous flaws.

It explains why we keep playing old versions, with less detail in the characters.

It explains why we tend to disdain too much backstory or involved character creation.

It explains why we so often hack an existing game instead of playing custom-built games from scratch.

It explains why we favor compact, easily-portable and modular blog-sized bits of content that can fit lots of versions of D&D.

It explains why we don't do Session Zeroes much.

It explains why safety tools, while not incompatible with OSR play, aren't really a big thing in OSR.

It explains why "on-boarding" of all kinds--where the DM carefully explains to the players what the premise and expectations of the campaign will be, are--is disdained.

It explains why the GM is given as much power as the group will let them have.

It explains why we the OSR is so improv-friendly and the modules often ask for improv.

It explains why rulings (on the spot) are privileged over rules (new books, to be read).

It explains why 3d6-in-order, character-dies-roll-again is so common.

It explains why dungeons are so common.

It also explains why certain post-80s improvements to games have been picked up by the OSR--including expressing to-hit as a bonus instead of a chart value and improvements in layout and adventure packaging, and various rule-of-cool hacks.

It's this:

I wanna play.

That's it: I wanna play now. I want to play an RPG right away!

I am busy I am an adult. I do not have time for anything!



Any innovation to the RPG experience which extends the time between all the players figuring out when they can all meet to play and when they will actually start playing is unlikely to become standard across Old School play, no matter how great the other advantages of said improvement.

OSR is born of desperate, time-poor circumstances. We play 2 hour sessions before everyone goes to work or school, we play in hotel lobbies, drunk, because 3 people were all like....Hey! We should Play!!!, we play in a box, we play with a fox, we play with dice made from our own blood, we play. We need to play asap!!!!!!


An example

Several months ago I talked about the possibility of my suicide on this blog. This was occasion for great consternation on the part of the good-hearted people in the RPG-o-sphere.

I had a long zoom conversation with Jeff Gameblog and James Edward Raggi about the various problems in my life created by people who had been inspired to make game stuff by myself, Jeff Gameblog and James Edward Raggi. They had initiated contact because they were concerned, but they had no idea what to do.

Jeff finally said "Well...we should play a game."

I almost said "Go fuck yourself."

Like: given fake felony accusations destroying my life your plan is we play a game? Jeff my dude.

But I decided to play.

What did we play?

We played D&D. Not even LotFP.

What characters did we use? Whichever ones we could dig up fastest from games we already played.

What edition were we using? We still don't know.

What spell list are we using? Couldn't say.

Are we using LotFP or Holmes or AD&D or Moldvay versions of spells? Figure that shit out as we go!!

Why? Why not any of the other games or variants on games we have all had so much fun discussing over the decade-plus? Because we wanted to play NOW. Jeff runs his game in a tight 2-hour slot between waking up and getting his kids to work. There is not time for fripperies like playing a game we don't already know already.

No reading no figuring no planning. Get a character, get a dungeon, get a guy, get a girl, get a they, get a whatever, get in there and playyyy.

As the game expanded, we got new players.Who did out first recruit play? A henchman that was already there. Who did they play when that character died? An ogre that was already in the dungeon. What were their stats? We figured it out as we went.

Does this mean each rule we use is possibly not the most optimal one? Yes!

Does this mean the lore is an utter patched-together trainwreck devoid of subtlety? YES!

Is this reliance on the One Game totally fair to other games--including ones we ourselves wrote? NO!

Does this means over a dozen years of pondering all of us have done about clever hacks of the building blocks of D&D got ignored? Yes!

But we played! And so we had fun, more of it, faster! We logged more fun-hours! We are playyyyying. 

Efficiency is beautiful, efficiency is art.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Ask Them Why.

I sued again. It worked. Again.


In 2019, by taking advantage of my estranged and mentally-ill ex, basically the entire tabletop RPG industry decided to start harassing me.

It worked. They destroyed my entire life. I had a career inside RPGs, I had a (much larger) career outside RPGs selling paintings. I had a social life. All that was annihilated.

This is my eviction notice--because I couldn't pay the rent because of this:

This is my food stamp card--because I can't afford food because of this::

This is where my 5 missing teeth used to be--because I couldn't afford to get them fixed because of this:

This is what happened when I sued Ettin / Paul Matijevic, a Something Awful troll and RPGnet moderator in Australia, where he lives, for claiming I abused and harassed people:

This is what happened when I sued the game streamer Vivka Grey, in Los Angeles, where she lives, for claiming I abused and harassed people:

This is what happened when Vivka Grey sued me back, claiming I was lying when I defended myself:

And, now, if you were on the internet yesterday, you might've seen this:


I haven't lost a case yet.

For years everyone has been telling me how hard it is to win a defamation case in the US.

Fewer than 5% of civil cases go to trial.

Viv, for one, admits to having spent over half a million dollars on her cases, yet I won while evicted, on food stamps, and missing five teeth.

You may have heard about my case against GenCon being dismissed. It was. Then I appealed. Only about 20% of appeals are successful. I appealed, it worked.

And then everybody was telling me how hard it was to sue overseas--how would you collect? You collect the same way people overseas pay for anything else, with the internet. It's 2023.

Everyone who was screaming at you about me was wrong. Again.

How long can hundreds of nerds be wrong before just admitting it?


Both in court and on the internet, when anyone anywhere is asked to produce any proof I did anything bad they come up empty. 

This is especially significant considering how many people are claiming I did bad online things--things that should be able to be proved with a fucking screenshot. Nobody has been able to come up with thing one.

Basically, every single thing a person could possibly do to prove they're innocent, I did. In person, on video, via tweet, in court, out of court, you name it--I have been subjected to every kind of scrutiny from every direction for longer than it'd take to earn a Bachelor's.

If you still think I did something wrong, I'm not asking "provide proof" (there isn't any), I'm just asking, for the millionth time: Why? What makes you personally believe any of this shit? 

-When at least a dozen of the people who spread this bullshit have been, themselves, cancelled?

-When the original beef that all the Something Awful goons (like Ettin) had was fake allegations of transphobia against someone whose main online defenders are trans, who repeatedly got trans people hired, and gave up a 5-figure contract to protest transphobia?

-When the original beef that all the story game designers had was a bunch of shit nobody now believes about the supposed objective inferiority of Old School games or people who played them?

-When there's video evidence that the people who started this particular round of harassment turned out to be lying out their asses?

-When the excuse that I have a trust fund turns out to be bullshit because I don't?

-When the excuse that "well the laws are different there" turns out to be bullshit because I won in the US, too?

-When the excuse that I was "obnoxious" has to be put side by side with but you lied about rape?

What the fuck reason do they have left?

Ask them. Ask for the receipts that justify their hate.

Ask WOTC and Hasbro what's left of their reasons for doing this..

Ask GenCon what's left.

Ask Matt Mercer what's left.

Ask the folks at Green Ronin Games what's left.

Ask the guys at Mothership what's left.

Ask Patrick Stuart and Gus L and Arnold K and Noisms over at Monsters and Manuals and all the other OSR people what's left.

Ask Chris McDowall and the OSR discord what's left.

Ask Sandy Pug Games and Tin Star Games what's left.

Ask the Troika folks what's left.

Ask all the sacred crackpots what's left.

Ask Ramanan and Grey Wizard working on BREAK! what's left.

Ask Crystal Frasier and Jessica Price --formerly of Paizo--what's left.

Ask Andy Kitkowski--the founder of Ron Edwards--leading light of the Forge--what's left.

Ask RPGnet and reddit/RPG and reddit/OSR what's left.

Ask OneBookShelf what's left.

When every single reason for hurting someone has been proven by time and by inquiry and by the law to be bullshit, what claim are they hanging on to?

Ask for the receipts. Ask why they ever believed any of it. Ask if they think their reasons were good. Ask if they're even capable of changing their minds.

Please ask them for me.

Ask because I can't do it because I'm busy moving because I can't live in my apartment any more, and my friends here can't because they're busy helping me. 

And when you ask these people, remind them: I will never give up. So if they've got reasons, they'd better be real sure what they are.