Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Not Nice

I am such an asshole. I have to wonder why anyone comments on this blog, as I am fitfully likely to go off on them regarding the tiniest thing, in the most gonzo-grumpiest way possible, generally in the mode of righteous indignation. Call it my fanboy-style if you will; there’s no doubt I’ve gathered the reputation for thinking this game was designed for me, personally, and that I, personally, will judge what is right and wrong in how the game is played.

Sometimes, it’s a bit funny.

This is my way. I am a fanboy. If the gentle reader feels I am being too hard here, I’m every bit as nasty when it comes to the non-believer. I get into everyone’s hostile little face. Yes, these are 20-sided dice. Yes, I’m comfortable with that. I am enlightened.

It is not so much that I think that the reader might be playing the game wrong, it is just that, well ... you’re playing it wrong. Probably. If you comfortably feel that I have gone off my rocker and I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, then I probably AM wrong and you likely ARE playing the game correctly. But there are hundreds in the blogosphere, and tens of thousands out there, who are frustrated, out of ideas, creatively bankrupt and lacking in a game to play ... many more than are sitting around tables playing worlds that work. Please give that some thought. After thirty years, the greater majority of people try this game, fail this game and discard this game, than ever play it regularly ... and among those who DO play it regularly, it is played intermittently, inconsistently, irresolutely and generally towards a lack of satisfaction. Most people who have played this game, or who are playing it now, either failed to understand that it could have been better, or worse, are trapped in the dim periphery that it MUST be better, but right now it I’SNT. And it may never have been.

Prior to the invention of this blogosphere of D&D writers, this dissatisfaction was deliberated chiefly between players and shop vendors – the latter standing around rather bored, or perhaps with the insidious intent of selling one more piece of crap to a drowning RPG’er. Apart from the vendor, in a large city a school age player was limited to those living in the neighbourhood, or going to their school. In a small city or town, this might be no one at all. An adult could try the local university, if there was one, and expect to find a small, elitist sect of cultish followers to whatever RPG god was prevalent at the time. This game has not existed in an environment of choice or competition. You took what you could get.

As small as this paltry sample of the population was, it was subdivided further – criminally, I would argue – by the (there is no polite word) fuckness of the distributor, ubermaster of the vendor, insisting on subdividing this narrow market not one or twice, but repeatedly, to a degree that can only be described as rabid. But right or wrong, however, we are stuck with it.

However ... now that this community has been finally brought together in the last five years, it would be nice to think that we could get along. But we can’t. We’ve been living in the wilderness these past twenty-five years and let’s face it, we HATE each other’s way of playing. We were brought up in this system, or that system, or the old system, or the new system, or we’ve been working in our basement apart from everybody or we spent five years inside WOTC and we have the Word of God to back us up. The distributors are still trying to cut this game up piecemeal and there’s little incentive among anyone to agree steadfastly on any sort of solid state system for the game.

That may seem a little confrontational to you. If you have a blog, however, you must underestimate the number who sneer at the work you’re trying to do, but who never bother to comment. Why should they? Why would anyone comment here, who didn’t feel compelled to stick their head into a bear trap? Why would I comment on certain blogs whose mundane or insipid material compels me to feel a cloying lethargy I can’t adequately describe? This is human nature. We don’t admit human nature because it’s wrong; if you can’t say anything nice and all that.

Problem is, tripping all over ourselves to be polite and kind to other people whose games strike us as an evening in hell with rabbit turd pizza on the side doesn’t move anyone playing this game towards a viable conclusion on how it should be played. The so-called original D&D Renaissance is an attempt to do that, but so far all it has managed to do is create countless protesting/divisive blog posts on how to DEFINE original D&D. As if that were the principal issue. The argument has all the clarity of a congressional (parliamentary) fact-finding study.

It is for these reasons that I behave like such a shit on this blog. Look, please understand. Half the time I wouldn’t play in most of the campaigns described on a fucking bet, no matter how hard up I was for play. I’d rather play WoW. I won’t pay lip service to someone else’s campaign; it’s all I can do not to scream like a feral panther on other people’s blogs when I see things that disturb me down to my core. I don’t like the way these people play. I want to say so, and I want to say it often, in between offering other ways to play, other things to think about, and other solutions to problems that distributors seem to deliberately ignore. I dedicate thousands and thousands of words to both these mandates.

People out there are fucked. I want that on record.


R.M. Walker said...

Great post, Alexis. I'd submit this for Questing GM's Blog Carnival this month.

Daddy Grognard said...

Mmmm...did someone mention Rabbit Turd Pizza?

Isle said...

Huh. I'll risk a post just so I'm not a sneering lurker... I'm just starting to learn about D&D (and tabletop RPGs in general) and I love the approach you take here, the thorough worldbuilding, the critical examination of the rules, and the huge degree of player agency. That said, I don't think I or my friends could handle such a game, at least not yet.

But please, go on writing about your way of playing! The more styles I read about, the better equipped I am to decide on my own, right?

Zzarchov said...

Rabbit Turd Pizza? Not being a vegetarian I want some meaty Wolf Turd Pizza.

I think whether or not you should lay a frothing trail of vomit on someones blog 'doorstep' depends on how their blog presents itself.

If they pretend to give authoritative advice, you should comment you feel they are wrong. If they just want to share what they do, you may wish to think about it. basic social custom. I for instance don't mind rabid frothing dumps, critisism is valid feedback.

Rob L said...

mmmm....slavish cults......

Kent said...

I am such an asshole. I have to wonder why anyone comments on this blog.
Speaking for myself I would say it is because you are an asshole and can take it.

You are right that most blog offerings are merely an insight into why fantasy roleplaying is loathed by sensible people worldwide.

Your own *campaign* I would describe as meticulous and erudite for your world building but trite, vapid, grey, odourless, numbing, flacid and robotic for your fantastical imagination.

This is only my opinion you understand.

Blair said...

You are THE master of the obsessive realistic Yee Fantasy Earth, a madness that dogged me for years in the past.

I salute your inspired lunacy, and it would be pretty hilarious seeing you get uncunted a leave asshole comments on blogs...

Badmike said...

I have no problem saying my D&D campaign kicks ass while yours sucks balls. I've known that about every other D&D game out there since I started playing. So did all my players. Cause we were way cooler.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Anything specific prompting this?

Word verification: sterd - im not sure what the "s" represents

Badelaire said...

"Prior to the invention of this blogosphere of D&D writers, this dissatisfaction was deliberated chiefly between players and shop vendors"

Dude, I was watching these trainwrecks circa 1995 on USENET. Things havent really changed at all in the last 15 years. Different medium, still just as sad (and yet, entertaining).

Leopardi said...

Lazily commenting on this post and the one on puzzles.

Preparation, yes, I'm all for sandboxes and improvisation but I only really feel comfortable in a true wide open sandbox if I've done loads on preparation to riff of. Maybe it's just me. What I usually end up doing is asking the players between games where they're headed or what they want to do so I can stay one page ahead. Of course In a dungeon it's more managable.

Puzzles. Just run a sub level of basically all puzzles (10 or so rooms)for my wife and one other player who happened to drop by. In general I was really impressed with their puzzle solving. Only 1 had me screaming inside "It's so fucking obvious" and they only really fucked up one. There was a ballista set up with a phoney arrow of beholder slaying. It was a phoney beholder as well, a gas spore. They, fell for it, no one died but I found it quite funny.

Alexis said...


I will go on writing.


Rabbits are vegetables?

”How a blog presents itself ...” You mean, graphically? Anyway, I don’t leave said frothing trail of vomit just for the reasons you mention (though I am banned for life from Uncle Bear’s site for leaving a thin trail of untouched jello once upon a time – he’s a sensitive man). But I will pull out Eastwood’s comment on the situation ... they better arm themselves if they’re going to decorate their blogs with my game. That’s all the justification I’d really need.


Don’t punk out and give me that “only my opinion” bullshit. Who else’s fucking opinion is it going to be? Afraid that we won’t know that you wrote the fucking words of your own free will? That’s just PC crap, man. Have the courage of your jerk-ass convictions.

Ryan said...

I get into everyone’s hostile little face. Yes, these are 20-sided dice. Yes, I’m comfortable with that. I am enlightened.

The first rule of blog club...

Word verification: facking, which I don't even need to explain.

Anonymous said...

Alexis, you are brilliant. By not only declaring that you are a righteously indignant fanboy asshole, but that you are seemingly PROUD of being a righteously indignant fanboy asshole, you have now and forever handily removed any merit from further allegations made by your detractors or critics of you being a righteously indignant fanboy asshole.

Well played, sir. Well played.

Alexis said...


Obsessive? Okay, that’s fair.


But still chiefly vendors, right?


I try.

Brian Moon said...

Who was it that hurt you so badly? What was her name?

You poor, sad, man. I really hope you get the comfort and treatment you deserve. Good luck in the future. I won't be back.

Zak S said...

I'll be back a whole lot more often.

Alexis said...

It's funny, in light of my other blog.


Zak S said...

I'd so much rather see people honestly write some shit I totally disagree with than click around blogs trying to find bland, agreeable people just so I can pat them on the back for rolling the way I do.

Kent said...

Don’t punk out and give me that “only my opinion” bullshit. Who else’s fucking opinion is it going to be?
It is true I am polite to a fault, some would say exquisitely so. Don't be distracted by my softening language from the main of my observation. Loosen your mind with drugs, whiskey or some such. There are visions to be had.

Badelaire said...

"I'll be back a whole lot more often.

Yeah, it kinda explains why I mostly watch professional hockey for those moments when the gloves come off...

R said...

I think that your frankness is respected mainly because of your degree of dedication and the meticulous level of inner-logic that exists in your campaign. It shows effort and a desire to improve. There are other bloggers who rant and froth just as much as you, but they get screamed at right back because people don't care or respect who they are.

I like your blog because of its level of intelligence, you never dumb anything down (to my knowledge), and your ideas are interesting. The asshole thing just seems like you don't have time to bother with being nice, which is fine. I doubt you have the time or desire to teach idiots or people who don't understand your vibe.

And if you're a fanboy of anything, it's your own campaign, because you definitely play my game completely wrong :-)

Zzarchov said...

To quote back to what is obviously the most important part of this whole running commentary...

While rabbits are not vegetables, rabbit turds would be vegetable matter and not meat. While wolf turds (wolves being carnivores) would be meat based.

Turd Pizza is serious business you see.

P_Armstrong said...

"If you comfortably feel that I have gone off my rocker and I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, then I probably AM wrong and you likely ARE playing the game correctly."

You ARE wrong.

Anonymous said...

I come to this blog because it's like watching "House". It's kind of fun to watch, or read the writings of, a guy who you know you would totally not enjoy being around in person.

Word Verification: Hyori - I dated her in college, when I was briefly into Asian girls. Great skin.

Dr-Rotwang said...

My game is better than your game because I'm playing mine. If I weren't playing, it'd suck.

Word Verification: IRDRONOM There's an NPC name, uh?

James V said...

I read this blog because you have a clear vision of your game, and share it with a certain thoughtfulness, and without any excuse. Sure I could never GM a game the way you would, but who cares? It's a really interesting approach, and gives me something to think about.

As someone who has stuck his head in the bear-trap, it was worth it.

2eDM said...

I never thought you were mean. The whole time I've just been thinking you were passionate about the game and possibly a fellow aspie. Anyway, as long as you continue to post things I find interesting, I'll continue reading, and I don't give a rabbit turd covered pizza about how snippy or rude you decide you want to be. It's your blog, and last time I checked, if a blogger dislikes any particular comment strongly enough on his or her own blog, he can always edit them out.

MercerMachine said...

Well, tell us what you really feel, now, don't hold back!


Clovis Cithog said...

I enjoyed reading this post and I think I understand what you were trying to accomplish.
One of the goals of the OSR is to GROW this hobby.
That will require appealing to the youth (not just our children).

Even the term ‘Old School’ which I like
is unfortunate since the word
OLD = bad in young minds
I would prefer to call our hobby,
‘CLASSIC’ or ‘RETRO’ gaming.

There are few things more repugnant to a teenager
(I know, I game with them)
then to see old gamers
(anybody over 30 in their eyes)
attacking each other.

“They fight so hard, because the rewards are so small.”

It is one thing to critique another’s gaming philosophy or opinion,
but it is totally destructive to our hobby to insult or name-call from the safety
(distance and anonymity) of the internet.
Angry words without the potential for real violence are pathetic.

There is a big emotional disconnect in humans between being told

‘I don’t agree with you’ versus
‘You are a XXXX’

The previous tact is especially acceptable if you site facts or examples.
The latter tact is either an act of cowardice or an involuntary ejaculation of self-revulsion.

Ten good posts can be cancelled out by a single childish or petty rant.

If we lose the youth, it will not be because of lack of intellect, insight or quality product,
but incivility.

“I have seen the enemy, it is us.”

Carl said...

While "old" may be a bad word to the young, "old school" is certainly not. "old school" is what a good percentage of them try desperately to prove that they are - They actually liked that band before anyone else, even if that means they were grooving on the misfits before they were born.

Carl said...

@ Alexis

This was an interesting post for me, because I read it directly after reading a comment you made on your previous post that made me think,

"Good lord your game sounds like utter shite and I am so glad I am not playing with you as my DM!"

So I guess I fall into the category of people that think you are wrong. But I like this blog a lot and you have provoked more than a few neurons to make connections, so thank you very much for posting.

I personally think there are few attitudes, possibly no attitudes, that I have run into more incomprehensible and reprehensible than "one true wayism" in all of its ugly manifestations, from religion to RPGs.

PatrickW said...

I has several cheeky things to say, but really, unless you know me well, I'd sound more like an ass-hat, so I won't.

I've been reading your blog as you seem to put thought in what you are doing. I've learned a new way to map that is way cool (if a bit of a resource hog) and you've provided new ways to look at my campaigns, even if I ultimately decide I don't want to do things the same way. And that is damn useful.

I'm hoping this trollbait-flamestorm will die down shortly and we can get back to that. Never let the bastards grind you down.

Verification word: SURRIT - I think I read about that in one of the Monster Manuals...

Carl said...

Call me an internet softie, but upon rereading my last post I realized that I came off harsher than I intended. While I did have a "Good lord your game sounds like utter shite and I am so glad I am not playing with you as my DM!" moment while reading your comment, that was immediately followed by this thought,
"But I bet in play this attitude which seems so insufferably 'my way or the highway, this is my world not yours, get of my lawn!' probably doesn't come through and I probably would enjoy playing in his game because he seems to take a lot of pride in his work and has great attention to detail."

Feel free to bitch me out for not standing by my convictions...