Writing a blog, you try to be original. You try to have new material, so that the long time readers don’t get bored. A solution to that is to stay up to date on something that’s new, that doesn’t come from one’s own brain – whatever is the latest information on the subject, new releases, interviews with up-and-comers ... or current events. In the blogosphere, this means following fifty other blogs and scanning for some event that one can vent on. You know, like the hullabaloo that went around a couple of weeks ago about stealing WOTC graphics.
Of course, if nothing’s happening, One ends up scrabbling around for something to write. After you’ve done one of these blogs for two or three years, that scrabbling gets to be dull, and the blogger simply doesn’t write anything. So a day passes, then three days, then a couple of weeks ... and six months later there’s a post saying, oh well, I’m ending this blog, thanks to everyone.
Journalism is the art of scrabbling for stories on poor news days, as well as rich ones. Any reporter can draw eyeballs if the world is nice enough to offer up a flood or a hurricane ... the real trick is to make it sound like three water-logged houses down by the local river is a huge disaster. Then it gives the editor a chance to write something about insurance companies or the apathy of the municipal politicals ... you know, things everyone can get on board with.
You can write a blog and think that you are writing the news, but mostly you’re just writing the editorial that follows the news. And as anyone knows, when an editor has been writing editorials for years and years, quite a lot of them start to sound alike.
Most editors have a particular axe to grind. They don’t like those tax-mongering bastards at the capital or they’re sickened by the greed of corporations. Those two axes in particular have labels on the handles marked right and left.
In this blog I have my axes to grind as well. I like to slap down the railroaders, I like to bitch about modules, occasionally I’ll slip something in about later editions and I am always ready to find something bad to say about alignments. I enjoy punting these things around, it makes an enjoyable rant for me (yes, I love writing these things) and I usually get a decent response. And it is a better read than hauling out some musty old from some project I was working on ten years ago. A fiery editorial gets people worked up, mostly because it contains lots of swear words, sarcastic and satire. It gets a laugh or a sneer out of the gentle reader that makes the day go by a little faster ... particularly if it’s good enough to make the reader sit bolt-upright and lash out in response.
But, of course, how many ranting articles can you write about the brainless community?
The thing is, month by month, rants begin to disappear into the bowels of the blog, where they don’t get read anymore. Post 187 gets lost in the shuffle, and even I forget that I’ve made the point before. When you pull out shit from your own life, like I do, there’s always the danger that twenty months later you’ll pull that shit out again. We’ve all had known those people who feel they must tell that same story about when their character found the dragon again and again.
I’ll be honest with you. I started this post thinking that I’d explain my inspiration to write about how discouraged I am with the Old School Renaissance being more about which freaking edition gets played, as opposed to an effort to raise the content of the game itself. I was going to talk about the stupid soft-cover redbook that bloggers get weepy-eyed about, which I picked up from the bargain bin of a games store (not even a roleplaying games store) back when I was still stupid enough to spend my money on crap, hoping I’d get inspiration from it. I know I still have the book somewhere, it’s in a box with a lot of other magazines, some of which are porn, under other boxes in the back of a storeroom, behind a lot of other crap I don’t pay attention to, all of which is behind more useful crap that only gets pulled out in the winter-time. In other words, not very important to me.
But now I’m thinking how pathetically sad it must be for people that this cheesy little booklet from thirty years ago is as far as they’ve progressed with the game – which it must be, since they talk about how they’re starting a new campaign now that they’ve found this precious book, at last, leading them to gush on and on about how good it will be to get back to D&D the way it was meant to be.
Just fucking shoot me, all right?
You know, thirty years ago, as a 16-year-old kid sitting in dull classes, I started a story about professional dungeon masters who would be respected for their art, sort of in the way that tai chi masters demonstrate and teach their art, or as chefs are invited in to prepare a meal for anxious gourmands. I perceived that as the players of the game matured and developed, the game would grow complex and inspirational, drawing to it a degree of respect from amateurs who would gaze in awe at the level of play that a professional game could ultimately provide.
How wrong, how very sadly wrong, I was.
Where are the editorials promoting excellence in this game? If it is a old school Renaissance, where in hell is the school? Where is the effort to create an institution that will upgrade the stumbling, baffled DM to an achieved level of ability? If I am wanting to be a better DM, what means are there out there to improve myself?
Beyond, of course, the crass commercialism of the softcover red book, the juvenile comic-book pictorials of endless editions and proto-editions and the sleazy, mercantile table-frog at the conventions that’s there to sell dice?
We write our blogs, and commend ourselves for sharing “ideas” ... but we share and we share and the game remains hopelessly fragmented, still driven by yet one more doofus who claims to have the NEW answer to How to Play the Game, just send $6 to this address and All Your Dreams Will Come True. And the little rugrats crawl, gooing and gahing in the direction of the bright, shiny tin foil, predictable as the publishing industry wants them to be.
Makes me a little sick, to be sure.
But maybe I could write to my government for a $10,000 grant to start a school, and go all out and ask not $6, but $2,000 for tuition from every student to join that school (we want to keep out the riff raff); and I could hire three or four teachers to give courses on Dungeon Design, Combat & Magic Tactics and Monster Biology ... until the day would come that I could purchase three cheap acres of land outside of Omaha Nebraska (central location!), somehow getting the credentials I needed so that desirous students could collect unemployment during the six month semester.
I could write this editorial again next year.