Thursday, May 26, 2011

No, I'm Not Kidding

Hold onto your seats, chillins; we's a gonna delve inta dem ol' Edition War blues and it ain't gonna be the usual complaint.

I am not an OD&D player.  I know there's some that rank me among that number, and I have made it clear that my campaign is based upon AD&D, or 1st Edition as its called.  Occasionally someone makes an oblique reference to OD&D in some incarnation when making a comment on this blog, with the assumption that its something I side with.  I am taken to be one of the number.  I hear this and I ignore it, with the feeling that it doesn't make any difference, it's good enough for the peanut section and there are more important things to talk about.

However, when I hear someone propose a solution to a problem based on 'pure' D&D ... well, lets just say I'm a bit more than miffed.

For future reference, I am writing this post in the hopes that when - in the future - the matter of edition wars comes up, I can link this post and have done with it.  Without question, the edition wars debate is the stupidest, most infantile on-going never-to-be-resolved pissing contest in the RPG community, and as such it cannot be ignored forever.  The reader has got to understand there's too much urine on the floor for it not to get mopped up.

Every one of us knows the story.  We know the 2nd Edition and thereon were perpetrated on the market in a money grab.  We know there will be more money grabs in the future, with another edition following another edition as long as money floats in pockets.  So we all know this bullshit will wax and wane with each new corporate effort, blah blah, so goes the world.

What isn't said, I think, and what the truly crippling grindfest of all this flag waving boils down to is this:  the new editions are only multiple creations of the same Two Rules: characters and combat.

Characters and Combat are the easiest, simplest rules to create.  How do I know this?  Evidence.  There are hundreds of ways that characters can be concocted, and every way produces a logical presumption for the concoction of characters competing against one another.  And virtually every roleplaying game that has been invented in the last 40 years depends upon the Newness and Wowness of a new character, and a new combat system.  Every jackoff kid in his basement with twenty minutes and a thesaurus can produce a new character creation scheme, and every jackoff kid is doing so, right now.

But what these games don't do, because it is hard and difficult to do, is to present a means to play purposefully in a game world.  Oh, they'll describe another game world, with a bunch of fucking hexes, and little circles for cities and half circles for hills and so on and so forth, but these are NOT solutions to how to make a world real.  They are just shapes and lines.  Little Billy Referee has no more idea what these lines represent than he knows how to make love to a woman.  RPGs ... EVERY RPG, mind, presents as much practical knowledge towards running a campaign as Billy being told to rub his middle finger somewhere between the girl's thighs.  Yeah, Billy might get his clumsy hand in generally the right place and he might get lucky, and the girl might fall in love with him ... but chances are he won't be able to give his son any better advice than he got.  So goes the world.

So here is my opinion about so-called 'pure' D&D.  It's telling Billy his hand has to go somewhere between the thighs.

Now, I don't give a shit about 2e, or 3e, or 4e, or any of the shit between them.  And I don't give a shit about the white box or the red book or the Pink Tome of the Juvenile Fuckwits.  Because they are all the same thing, repeated and repeated and repeated again.  Character.  Combat.  Another list of weapons.  Another list of skills.  Another list of equipment.  Again.  And Again.  And Again.  Which all amounts to pushing people with no imagination onto the next freaking girl in the hopes that her thighs are somehow differently designed so that Billy's freaking hand gets lucky this time.

This blog, and the game that inspires it, is not about any edition in the D&D universe.  D&D is not an edition.  It is a task of conceptual design.  And I am interested in solutions.  I don't care what the solutions are, as long as they ARE solutions.  I don't care how complicated the solutions are.  I don't care if the solution needs a calculator, excel, three lap tops or if I have to break into the Pentagon Mainframe every night I play.  If the solution to making the game simultaneously entertaining and challenging requires three clowns to show up during game play and act out Carmen, I'll fucking do that.  I won't be limited by any bullshit conception of purity, or which game system I'm playing or how many freaking angels can dance on the head of a d20.

Now, I know I am being unrealistic here.  But frankly, I'd like the community to take its communal head out of its communal ass and actually look between the girl's fucking legs and learn what the fuck needs to be done to make the girl's heart palpitate and her throat raw with happy screams.  Because I am awfully tired of excuses like its too complicated or its an 'abstraction' or I just don't feel like making an effort.  That's all very nice for you, but from me it guarantees about as much respect as I plan to have for Donald Trump when he again announces he's running for president in 2015.

To reprise, my feeling about every edition is one of distinct immesurable loathing.  As written, they are all shit.  Any of them could be improved to make a better, meaningful game.  I happen to have started with 1e because that's what happened to have been launched when I started.  That is all the significance it has for me.  I have nothing to gain by changing to some other system, because I have already fixed the problems I have with the system I started with.  I see no reason to try some other system that does the same fucking thing as the one I started with just so I can waste years improving it.  But if you're improving 2e or 3e or even 4e, good on you.  I don't care where you start.

But please, please, please stop creating tables like you are a 15-year-old with a 10-year-old education.  This shit you are presenting online on your blogs ... would this last five minutes in a board room where you're expected to produce real work?  Are you so weak and lameass that you can't respect something you 'love' with as much passion as something you do for a paycheque?  Because I will tell you, if you gentle readers out there are designing machines, performing services or otherwise presenting work with the same slackass effort you're incorporating into your blogs, no wonder the fucking country is choking on the fumes of failure.  You're weak and I'm sick of it.

Okay.  I'm sure I haven't made any friends.  But there it is.  My position ought to be clear.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago asking for criticism, and with one exception - from someone I have respected for some time now - I got absolutely nothing.  I was very disappointed.  I was counting on people to help me improve my game and my world.  I continue to hope for that.  I would not like to think I am alone in this quest for excellence.  I am well aware that I am NOT excellent ... but if I cannot receive any criticism that enables me to improve, I must assume that the majority of my readers are teenage children.  The sort that think pissing endlessly for this dumbfuck corporate product over that dumbfuck corporate product is a valuable way to spend their time.



Anonymous said...

Christ, that was ranty. I couldn't finish reading it. Aren't you gonna at least give us a nice random table at the end, as Joesky tax? :)

Dangerous Brian said...

Alexis, every now and then you publish a post that takes the word "pretentious" to a new level.

Big Rob said...

So, explain psionics one more time...

Oddbit said...

I did not publish a comment because I did not feel my criticism to be very relevant or constructive.

I am not very good at taking a general situation and critiquing it as a whole without breaking it down to components. I didn't know where to start or what was expected and rather than make an irrelevant shot in the dark I conserved my ammunition.

As for my crappy blog, I'll post on that.

Alexis said...


Big Rob said...

Just kidding. But, I agree with your post. What version of football do you play ? None !! I play football with a mix of all different plays.

The Jovial Priest said...

Really Alexis, I can't believe the assumptions you make based on my blog and my comments to your posts. What am I, a red rag?

I mention players being masters of their own destiny and you rant against Americans (Nights that Bump the Thing). Fine, I'm Australian.
I make a comment about pure D&D and you produce this post. I actually find references to OD&D as obscure as I do to 3e.

You said wilderness travel leads to hit point loss is a good idea. I agree. Where's the mechanic that does it?

Sometimes Alexis you can be close to genius. Well go on - create the mechanic or say it can't be done.

But in the meantime you have won, I won't comment on your blog again, and I'll leave you to your rage.

Arduin said...

So. Edition war debate is dumb. Okay, sure, that works. We all know that, even if I personally still enjoy participating.

As for what game Alexis plays, well, heck, I always figured he played his own. At this point, he's made enough mods to it that we can safely call it it's own game.

It's why I like the Wiki, actually. I keep hoping he'll one day post his entire modified ruleset, with all the fancy Excell setup and that post I've been waiting for on how he not only counts the damn cows but makes 'em into boots and so on and so forth.

It's quality stuff, if you agree with Alexis' basic assumptions on how a campaign world should run (and, in general, I do).

Hell, if rage-laden blogger offendin' posts like this are what gets Alexis closer to -that- day, then rage on.

Zzarchov said...

I know I made a reference to 'pure' D&D, though I must admit I did not mean any reference to any particular edition. I was referring to the fact that many of the tweaks I have made to what started as a 2e/1e blend of books as a teenager has diverged along a specific path for some time.

This poses a problem in suggesting changes and solutions to a problem, when all parties have diverged in different paths from the "root" of development. I am a software developer so my mind works in that pattern, allow me to elaborate.

If I have customized a program to go from a simple database into a massive online forum and you have customized the same original system into a financial accounting platform, any improvements I can suggest should be based upon the 'pure' nature of the 'simple database' both of our divergent systems began with, even though neither of us use it in that format now. Expressing things based upon my "Online Forum" has far less chance of being relevant to your "Accounting Platform" than if I phrase things in regard to a shared history of a "Simple Database", without implying you should discard all of your work and revert to said "Simple Database", merely that any concepts applied to the "Simple Database" be brought along the same development path that lead to your current "Accounting Platform".

Of course there is also a possibility this post has nothing to do with me using the term 'pure' D&D.

Alexis said...


Communication problems begin when people do not specify exactly what it is they mean. Please, in future, describe it as your Online Forum and give me enough data/links/etc to let me get up to speed on what you're trying to say. Don't dumb it down for me and use phrases like "pure D&D" to try and keep it relevant to me. I'll work to understand what you're saying even if you say it in techno-speak. If I don't understand, and I want to know more, then I'll ask questions and movement forward will occur.

Clovis Cithog said...

did someone forget to take their lithium?

As longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer observed,

“every great movement begins as a cause,
eventually becomes a business,
then degenerates into a racket.”

SupernalClarity said...

Alexis, man, I respect you for all your drive and devotion—but sometimes, damn it, you say the most childish things.

Sure, you've got some valid points in there, but that doesn't change the fact that you're devising these unreasonable expectations for people and then losing it when they fail to meet those same expectations. It's seriously naïve to think you can just throw out on some tiny corner of the internet "Hey, criticize me!" and expect your call to be answered in enthusiastic, excruciating detail. It's just as naïve to think you can throw out some vague, biased indictment of other people on that tiny corner of the internet and expect your fellow bloggers and D&D players to suddenly change to fit your views.

I don't think a discursive rant about edition wars, corporate jackassery, player/blogger apathy, personal grievances, and indignant presumptions is going to solve any of the issues you want solved. Maybe it's a form of catharsis for you—I don't know—but I wouldn't expect it to accomplish much of anything.

Use your head, man. You're already telling everyone else to.

Anonymous said...

SupernalClarity... but you did take three paragraphs to critique this post, yes? Alexis may be naive (I don't believe so) but I don't believe you can say that the rant is without a point if you stop and examine your own reaction to it.

Carl said...

I have been working on the Piss People Off theory of RPG mechanics for a little while. I propose that the primary thing that rules do is piss people off.

Game designers want a rule to do something fun; and it might, if it doesn't piss anybody off who ends up playing the game.

The houserules that every DM and party end up accumulating over the years are attempts at patching up some aspect of the rule system that pissed off somebody in the game.

They end up tailoring the system to be closer and closer to the "perfect rpg" for THAT PARTY.

I don't think you can write a game that can beat the end result of years of playing and refining one system for a given DM and group.

The funny thing that I have noticed while DMing Mutant Future and D&D 4e while playing in a LL campaign, is that all three work exactly the same when play is flowing smoothly.

The rules sink into the background because no one has to reference them, play flows, and fun is had.