Friday, 21 May 2021


Numbered lists, it seems, are the key, and the chance to talk about your game. By this magic is the Engagement Beast, that translucent, slippery and protean creature, summoned to serve the needs of man. (i.e. this man; me).

Behold! You have sacrificed to me the hecatombs of your honeyed data, and as I sniff the sweet meat-stained ashes rising from your mundane material sphere, relax back into the vast and silken pillows of my own ego and rest my feet upon the cloud of my own glorious genius, I shalt not ignore thy fervent offerings.



Something that fascinated me was the strange ecology of virtual and IRL systems which, seem to be very common with online RPG people.

Flavio Costantini

I would half imagine that at this point there would be some sort of 'killer app' for running games, some combination of systems which does most of what everyone needs and which has become the 'main method', with other alternates occupying minority positions, but this seems not to have happened.

Instead there is a kind of ecology of varied sites, tools and methods which different people use in different ways, even the same people using different combinations of various tools and methods depending on the games they are running or the games they are in. I quite like the general feel and idea of this, though I would struggle to come up with an intellectualised reason for doing so.

Discord is a main channel, for voice play, some camera play, and for sharing documents and discussing the game, rolling via an app AND IRL seems not uncommon, shared whiteboards, google docs, google sheets, google slides, 'owlbear rodeo' 'rolld20', 'Foundry VTT', spreadsheets for tracking, pen and paper, shared pdfs AND physical copies of texts, sometimes sketch maps via shared boards and sometimes theatre of the mind.

An example comment about IRL play;

"Jack17 May 2021 at 18:03

6. I set up World Anvil to keep track of campaign information but almost immediately stopped using it. We organised sessions on a facebook page. I used a laptop to keep track of notes and play atmospheric music. We had a physical book for the rules themselves. I had a whiteboard near the table which I used to draw important info (maps of the situation, notes, clocks, etc)."




I suppose, for people like me worried about the virtual consuming the physical, (and if the comments given are representative, which = who knows), there seems to be a natural tendency for holistic virtual integration, which is bullshit phrasing but let me see if I can clear it up;

People are pretty good generally at finding and choosing the tools which will help them run the games they want the way they want

and it looks like they don't overuse them, or, taken as a whole, strongly prioritise methods into a 'one true way'.

Furthermore, its highly common for people gaming through a wire to strongly integrate IRL assets, (joyless language but); virtual gamers will often roll dice, buy books and use them alongside PDFs, even send letters and create little objects. Similarly, people playing in real life will pick up and ue a wide variety of virtual methods, from having a laptop open to play mood music, to a file and background sharing deal, to facebook pages for organisation.

So my Nightmare vision of 'dead file' pdfs stacking up in peoples hard-drives like the victims of a plague, seems, on the balance of evidence given, to be largely an illusion. People prioritising IRL play seem to be naturally adapting and integrating virtual elements without letting go of core IRL tactile and social interactions, and people playing virtually seem to have little trouble dealing with real dice, real books and sometimes developing more complex hardcopy exchanges which do not replace virtual alternatives but actually sit alongside them, and there doesn't seem to be any single dominating cultural force or True Format which sets that standards and rules everything else but instead a vast archipelago of means and methods which can be pulled from and integrated a number of ways



Evelyn de Morgan

My ratty mind would have expected more alienation, for the virtual to have consumed the real and reduced it to sessile pseudo-activity - a mere mumming of gaming rather than the real thing, for pdfs to have eaten books, or for books to go unread, for there to be some quiet invisible dominating corporation with its fingers in everything, smiling falsely through the gritted teeth of the marketing beast, (which arguably does exist with content but not necessarily with means and methods of play).

So... I'm forced to say...


I was wrong less correct than anticipated.

Instead of fulfilling my darkest visions, Humanity has, (THIS TIME, DON'T GET COMPLACENT), exceeded my expectations and things are not actually (AS) awful (as predicted - YET).



  1. Soooo... Does this mean that you're going to write dero house of leaves or nah? I'm guessing yah. I'm already sending you money for it, it's a done deal

  2. I still enjoy the heft and smell of a book

    And it is still the best form of VR

  3. I'm with Rob, hoping very much that this means there is a possibility of the ergodic literature influenced Dero book. That sounded amazing.

  4. Do the Dero book. But do Lanthanum Chromate first.

  5. My table has voice they greatly enjoy in-person play but all enjoy some of the virtual enhancements: battlemaps on the big screen, ambient music and sound effects piped through the sound system. But dice? For us, dice must be rolled by hand...

  6. I just want something that can listen to what I'm talking about, and whenever I say "umm..." too much, starts throwing me random table entries. Is that to much to ask??