Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Decisions, Decisions ...

And now there are two offers on the table.  The one from Alexander of The Escapist, and by proxy Zak of I Hit It With My Axe and Playing D&D With Porn Stars; and the other from my friend Carl and his friend Kyle from Three Hams Inn.


I can see the appeal. The Escapist seems to be a significant force online, as several people I've spoken to these last days have heard of it, without my having to even give the context. The question has been, "Have you heard of a website called 'The Escapist,' " and the answer as been, "Sure. Gaming site. What about it?" So Alexander, you can feel good that up here in Western Canada they've heard of your work.

So here's a recognizable platform, plenty of expertise, experience in creating an online presence, and opportunity to launch the proposed 'association' with a bang. No doubt, once it was started it would gain a lot of attention, what with eyeballs being driven there from your site - membership would take off within the first six months, I have no doubt, and there'd be significant opportunities to take advantage of that membership to do all kinds of things ... perhaps increase my own notoriety and even find my way into the Escapist family somehow, as Zak has done. Zak’s blog is booming and I Hit It With My Axe is an obvious success. I feel an honest temptation to reach out and grab on, however that might work between you and I.

However, and here I have to be honest … I really dislike the look of the Escapist website. I found I had to explain to several people that those weren’t ads on the site, those were links to articles and reviews. Unfortunately for me, upon reading those articles I found them trite and juvenile, as well as pandering to the industry you’re representing while at the same time purporting to slap it around. As a money-making venture I have no doubt as to its success, but where the very nature of the site badly taints your proposal. It light of the website, how can I take your word that commercialism and ultimately merchandising a D&D database is something in which you have no interest?

You may very well be sincere. All the worse for you, since you’ve chosen to present your sincerity side-by-side with this eyesore. I’m unable to correlate my expectations with what I’ve seen there. I see it, and because it exists I just don’t trust your word.

I recognize that I may be creating an enemy. For that I apologize. I feel that you may be reassured that the idea I advanced in my blog is not unique, and as such you are free to pursue it to your heart’s desire without my involvement. I don’t feel that I would be of any help to you in that regard. I am too academic, too particular and too prickly. Frankly, I don’t wish to wallow.


I should like to repeat my belief that I am in no way the appropriate face for any organization of this nature. People read this blog mostly to see just how far I’ll go towards alienating nine tenths of the community while trying to figure out how a frothing lunatic is still capable of churning out good work.

I shall try to demonstrate.

For those gentle readers who may still be reading this post …

If I rescind my challenge that you provide any capital at all, but provide an opportunity to present your world in context with other worlds, who reading this would step up and make an effort to provide me maps and descriptions of that world, to go on afore-described database?

Who would be prepared to produce thoughtful (not opinioned!) material comparing specific rules of various fantasy gaming platforms, such as D&D (all editions), Tunnels and Trolls, Rolemaster, S&W and what have you?

Who would be prepared to develop tables and methodologies for practical use regarding dungeons, encounters, treasure, combat, adventure, NPCs, magic, world design or otherwise?

Would you be prepared to submit to my judgment on whether said material was worthy of being published?


Zak S said...

"Daring people to agree with him, since 2008"

graham said...

would this kind of thing be appropriate?

Article: Character Creation
Subsection 1: Stat Generation

A traditional and the simplest way to generate stats is simply 3d6 in order. There are many many other variants and almost all are meant to either inflate, or give the PC more control over the final stats.

Some such alternate systems include:
rerolling low scores
rerolling poor characters
rolling 4d6 and discarding the lowest score
getting bonuses to scores depending on class/race or other factors
allowing the player to swap two scores
allowing the player to roll an additional 3/4d6 and swap it for one of the allocated scores
being given a number of pregenerated scores to allocate
using a point buy system

Some reasons to use a method which inflates or gives the PC more control over stats are:
1. If stats have significant mechanical effects
In a very rules light system such as Swords and Wizardry in which the highest and lowest possible stats only have effects of +/-1, it is much more viable for a character with shitty stats to be successful. If stats provide greater bonuses, or have other mechanical effects, a PC will be less willing and able to play with below average stats.
2. Long character lifespans
If a character is not expected to make it to the third level it matters less if their stats are unideal.
Also, frequent death means frequent character generation, and mid game character generation is less disruptive with a simpler system.
3. To facilitate pre-planned character concepts
Characters with 3d6-in-order stats are generally limited to just a couple available or ideal classes. A campaign in which all the PCs were elves would require a system which ensured they all had the minimum necessary stats.

this is all off the top of my head but I would be willing to help write a series of articles comparing the effect of different mechanics used between various games and editions if that would be appropriate.

Aos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexander said...

The Escapist has won two Webby Awards for Best Game Related website on the internet, and a Mashable Award for Best Online Magazine on the internet. We reach around 3 million people every month - we have more readers than D&D has active players, to put that into perspective. So, with all due courtesy, what you see as an eyesore is a very, very successful website.

I frankly don't understand, in any event, what my corporation's aesthetic sensibilities have to do with my own personal sincerity.

You could have taken my word for the fact that I'm not interested in commercializing a D&D database on the basis of good will between grognards; on the basis of Zak's recommendation; or on the basis of the fact that I've not done so when obviously I could.

In any event, you haven't made an enemy. I know from reading your blog that you are highly opinionated about things you are passionated on, so I can't villainize you for staying true to form. You merely have foregone an ally. If you change your mind, let me know.

Best regards,
Alexander M.

Anonymous said...

I was willing to drop $500 before, so yes... I'm in for free, wherever its hosted.

Alexis said...


That is the right idea, but I’d like to see greater specificity in the content, along with some viable experimentation. To begin with, rather than just listing off the alternate systems, what is the source for these? Which issues of the Dragon, which versions of D&D and – included, hopefully – methods from Palladium, Steve Jackson or other old systems. What about the actual stats being rolled for, as they compare between games?

As far as experimentation, run a couple of games using alternate levels of stat abilities. Did the increased stats improve the game or no? How bad could the stats be before they’re too low.

By the most bizarre chance, a player in my game last Saturday rolled four stats (using the 4d6 and remove the lowest die method) below 9. The actual rolls were 6,7,7,8,16,17. Absolutely weird. Does the potential for vastly different stat scores improve the game? I know that many would have an ad hoc opinion, but I’d like some actual gaming examples.

Finally, if we could get a sociologist to build up an inquiry, how often do stats actually influence a character’s death, as opposed to a die roll. If a hundred players were recruited, and asked to give their reasons for death, how many of them would actually blame the stats?

This is all off the top of my head, but I’d be willing to look at a series of articles comparing the effects of different mechanics, provided those comparisons were not made in an ad hoc manner.

Alexis said...


Have you read the conversation on Three Hams Inn?

I'm going to be on yahoo chat this evening. You can find me at tao_alexis; it might be good if we could talk in real time.

Symeon Kokolas said...

I have no world to contribute. What I do have is an interest in the behind-the-scenes mechanics, the statistics that not even the DMG bothers to print.
I'd like to start with the basic math of dice and follow up with how those numbers work in various systems. This will be generic enough to apply to any combination of dice under most systems. Once that is comprehensible I'd like to focus on character progression.
The end goal for me would be to produce a framework where any system or subsystem could be translated into any other. Good structural work by one author would then be straightforward to incorporate into another's efforts. I may not work fast, but I will tackle the subjects one at a time until it is done.

Alexis said...

Sounds interesting, Symeon. I'd like to know which games in particular you'd want to start with. For the present, however, I really am interested in finding someone ready to put forward their world.