Monday 28 May 2012

The Point of No Return

D&D exists on a kind of permanent cultural event horizon and this is a good thing.

Listening to this podcast, Satine Pheonix is asked why D&D still carries with it the stereotype of being populated by mouth breathing asocial weirdo's. She says 'because it's kind of true'*

The game has rules, this attracts people for whom rules are important. Because they need the game the way other players do not then they obsess over it and come to dominate it. because they are more willing to spend money on it the become the most easily capitalised part of the market. They then shape the kind of game that is produced over successive editions, making the game more like themselves.

It also inspires a number of very interesting and innovative people at the same time.

So the game is always being sucked into the black hole of crippled nerdery and being destroyed. It is also continually in a state of being rescued by the other nerds. So it orbits, kind of, like a doomed moon around a black hole.

The reason this is good has something to do with Charles Fort and with why Forteanism is a good thing.

Fort is outside the system. he ranges himself against neither faith nor doubt, only orthodoxy. He's also tangled up with some really odd stuff. Because he is so outside the system he is almost impossible to build a structure around. Even more than Anarchism, he's impossible to pin down. Because at least Anarchism is cool, and will get you laid, and you can be sure that everyone believes the same thing. In a room full of Forteans you have no idea who believes what. There can be no power structure.

All good things have two qualities to them. The thing itself, and the structures we build around them.

We chase things like beauty, meaning, truth and honour because they are good in themselves. But because they have inner value they become a route to social, political, cultural or financial power. 

Because people who really really like power are dicks, and they shape the structure then the structures around all these things, which are meant to protect the important things with inner meaning, always end up being corrupt.

This is upsetting for almost everyone involved.

But this can never ever happen to D&D because it is already half-crippled by its damaged relationship with its fiercest adherents. 

It's orbiting a black hole, that makes it poor real estate for people who like power. That means it maintains a strange, fractured kind of purity. You are free playing D&D, free despite the damaged freaks that sometimes  surround you. Free, in part, because of them.

(It's like the perfect intellectual salon, one that never gets taken over by boring dilettantes because they will never turn up.)

*I think thats what she says, I haven't replayed it. Sorry if I got it wrong.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Megadungeon Hinterland (IRAQ?????)

Has anyone ever done a Megadungeon, set somewhere in the wilderness, where the amount of gold and treasure and crap that the party brings up, and the gradually increasing security as they bring down the monster population, ends up creating a kind of shantytown development on the surface? And then a real town, one whose initial source of capital is from a lost culture in the distant past. (Or from a fucking magical dimension?)

Like a gold rush town but with the PC's at the main economic movers? 

(Also weird thought, small groups of experts fighting to increase security and then spending loads of gold with local population is essentially counterinsurgency theory?)

Has anyone ever done a megadungeon where you start off trapped in the underdark and have to fight your way to the surface, square by square?

And also, in economics, has anyone though about what happens when one culture acquires and buries wealth. Then a millennia later a bunch of graverobbing scallies come and steal it? What does that count as? A natural resource?

Have economists thought about the Belloq factor, like how something gets more valuable just because its been hanging around a long time:-


Is a megadungeon like an oil field being robbed, like Iraq or a cultural museum that's being looted for ready cash, like Iraq, or a counterinsurgency problem, like Iraq or what?

So I have juut talked myself into seeing Megadungeons as a metaphor for the Iraq war, or visa versa, fucking hell.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Hey... I'm your cha'DIch

I was going to write a long argument in favour of Lawful Good. I have a friend who is essentially Lawful Good in real life, he doesn't think it's cool enough.

The way I see it, Bad Guys play Life with the setting on easy. Lawful Good is expert level.

But I got side tracked by Worf/Picard quotes.

You'd think having two lawful good characters talking to each other would be boring but in reality it's like they are constantly daring each other to be even more good and even more lawful. It's fucking boss.

Don't blame me for knowing you so well.

Picard: Well, I know that I am an old man and I am out of touch. But the Worf that I remember was more concerned with things like honor and loyalty than rules and regulations. But that was a long time ago, and maybe you're not the Worf I once knew.

[Worf curses in Klingon]

Worf: You have always used your knowledge of Klingon honor and tradition to get what you want from me.

Picard: Because it always works, Worf! Your problem is that you really *do* have a sense of honor, and you really *do* care about trust and loyalty. Don't blame me for knowing you so well.  

For me to seek escape when my Captain goes into battle...

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Now hear this: printout message, urgent, all stations on all decks. Prepare for emergency saucer sep. You will command the saucer section, Lieutenant.

Lieutenant Worf: I'm a Klingon, sir. For me to seek escape when my Captain goes into battle...

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: You are a Starfleet officer, Lieutenant!

Lieutenant Worf: Aye, sir. 

Worf's question is valid

Lieutenant Worf: What gives them the right to enter Federation space?

Commander Tebok: Silence your dog, Captain!

Capt. Picard: Lt. Worf's question is valid.

some of the things I said

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Mr. Worf... I regret some of the things I said to you earlier.

Lt. Commander Worf: Some?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: In fact, I think you're the bravest man I have ever known.

You would do no less for me

Lieutenant Worf: The family of a Klingon warrior is responsible for his actions, and he is responsible for theirs. If I fail in my challenge, I will be executed. - Will you grant my leave, Captain?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: No. If I understand correctly, a Starfleet officer, a respected member of my crew, could be accused of a capital crime. Your actions in this matter will reflect on this ship and on the Federation. Therefore, it seems only appropriate that your Captain should be at your side while you make your challenge. I'm sure you would do no less for me.

Oh Lieutenant
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Lieutenant - sometimes, the moral obligations of command are less than clear. I have to weigh the good of the many against the needs of the individual, and try to balance them as realistically as possible. God knows, I don't always succeed.

Lieutenant Worf: I have not had cause to complain, Captain.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Oh. Lieutenant, you wouldn't complain even if you had cause.

Hey... I'm your cha'DIch

 [Picard informs Worf that he will go into the city's old quarter to look for Kahlest]

Lieutenant Worf: It is too dangerous. You must not go alone.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Hey... I'm your cha'DIch.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

The Translation Is Always Better

Courtesy of Google Translate

'Specialist' is boring in every language except Latin. All of mine will be called 'Artifex' from now on. I urge James Raggi to change this in the published game. Moving away from 'Thief' was a good idea but 'Specialist' lacks poetry and 'Adventurer' is too general. 'Artifex' sounds fucking cool and could mean almost anything. Just someone who is really really good at shit.

'Experto' is also good.

'Fighter' comes out pretty well in any language. Highlights are 'Jagerfly' and 'Batalanto'.

'Autor Maxia' and 'Magicae Lorem' are the best for Magic User I think.

Anyone in my Isle Of the Unknown (plus Vornheim plus Realms of Crawling Chaos) game who wants to rub out their class name and put one of these in instead is welcome to.

(or anything else really so long as you can remember what it refers to)

English -

Magic User

Latin -

Magicae Lorem

Catalan -

Magic User

Swedish -

Magi Användare

Romanian -

Magica Utilizator

Norwegian -

Magisk Bruker

Italian -

Magic User

German -


Galician -

Autor Maxia

Esperanto -

Magio Uzanto

Danish -

Magisk Bruger

Tuesday 1 May 2012

He would have been an interesting DM.

Carl Maria von Clausewitz on, in the first paragraph, the consequences of rapid mutual improvisation, and in the second, table chatter.

I changed the word 'war' for 'game or gaming'.

The italics are his, he barely uses them for the whole book, then spews them all out in the space of one paragraph.

But wild as the nature of gaming is it still wears the chains of human weakness, and the contradiction we see here, viz. That man seeks and creates dangers which he fears at the same time, will astonish no-one.
If we cast a glance at gaming history in general, we find so much the opposite of an incessant advance towards the aim, that standing still and doing nothing is quite plainly the normal condition of a table in the midst of a game, acting, the exception.”