Stonekettle's retreat was due to his post that expressed anger at the total fuck-up that was Iraq, specifically wondering what it was all for as Iraq now slides into the pit of demented religious fanaticism.
People who cannot figure out that war surprise me. The following speech is from the Third Man; it's delivered by Harry Lime, a black marketeer in Vienna after WW2, who sells bad drugs to hospitals that results in the deaths of kids. The scene is the Ferris wheel in Vienna, looking down at the people far, far below on the ground:
Martins: "Have you ever seen any of your victims?"
Harry Lime: "You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don't be so melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offer you £20,000 for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spend? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax - the only way you can save money nowadays."
I don't know why people find these modern wars so incomprehensible. America has recently imposed a new stooge for the throne of Egypt, Syria has obviously been paid off, Libya is a money-making chaos for a variety of evil people and their corporations, while Russia just wants its hands back on the Donets Basin, where there incompetent Ukrainian fiasco is letting the machinery rust and the production of one of the richest places on Earth falter. Follow the money. Always follow the money.
And when I am listening to a pretty smart fellow, last night, give me all the same rhetoric about why we can't afford to pay our taxes (and why we shouldn't have to), along with welfare, the people out east who want a piece of beaten, old Alberta (which makes a per capita income that dwarfs Brunei and the rest of Canada) and how poor we are and how we can't afford services in this province like post secondary education, the rise in the cost of health care and so on, I just hear the same bleat that says, "Let everyone else die, I love my money, I love my money, Oh how I love my money."
So Iraq is going to the dogs. Well, that was expected. American business soaked it for everything they could get, they created the mock-up of a police force so they could leave the country with a modicrum of dignity (that was supposed to help the Republicans win the election back home, but it didn't fool enough Democrats), and now its done. The dots are still moving, but someone else is getting that money.
And Alberta doesn't give a shit about the rest of the country. Why should they? If other people wanted to be rich, they should have been smarter about where they were born. Those are the breaks. There's no room for thinking of someone else.
This does come back to D&D. Because I was also talking to a table full of DMs and Players last night, being reminded that most DMs view players the same way Halliburton views Iraq, or Alberta views the rest of Canada. Players don't do the work. Players come and players go. Players are replaceable. Get what you can out of them, and if they give you trouble, pitch them to the wind. Because fuck players.
My book How to Run has a theme. I know, for some, it won't be one that's appreciated. My advice to DMs is Do it for the Players. I preach this all the way through. If you're not making and running your world for the players, you suck at this. You're a bad DM. No, there is no gray scale there. You make your world for yourself, you run it for yourself, you don't view the players' needs as first and foremost in your mind, then you are exactly the sort of crap DM I have avoided all my life.
To an outsider watching you run your world, what kind of DM you are is obvious. It is easy to see if the players are engaged. It is easy to tell by the kind of questions they're asking. All too often, online, I tap into game video and what I hear is the party trying to find something. "We look here; we go there and see if we find it; we ask these people, do they know?" And so on.
If you're a player, take a step back from your campaign. Are you spending most of your time looking for things? If you are, you are probably running in that world to make the DM happy.
The best way to keep a party busy is to have them go and get something. That's how we keep populations busy, too. We all spend most of our day rooting around at work so that we can get the thing we came looking for, a paycheque. Then we root around getting the things that keep the home going and so we can eat and not starve, and once all that looking for things is done, we begin looking for shit on the box to keep ourselves entertained until its time to look for sleep. Look here, look there, keep your head down, don't look around at all the other people who have their heads down looking. That way, you won't see shit.
Are you starting a new campaign? Well, you better not ask players what they want, or else you'll have to spend a bunch of time getting it for them. Think of something that they can look for. That will keep them moving nicely, mooing like good cows, until you can think of something else for them to find. Woot, D&D!
Talked to a fellow last night who bought one of my books after I'd insulted him a few times. Seems to go that way with gamers. He was talking about how he was set to run as a DM for the very first time. I can see his face as I write this. His face revealed everything. His face was the reason he bought my book, because I told him that my reason for writing anything was to make things better. He said I hit the exact right button, as he dug in his pocket for enough change.
See, his face in that moment is what blows to hell all the crap I read on-line. It's the thing about this role-playing preoccupation that make me ... just angrier than I can express. It is what makes me truly, deeply hate the Wizards of the Coast, and all those guys who created and invented the game.
Because this 20-something man's face - this machinist's face, for that was his occupation - was spooked. He was afraid to run for his first time. I have seen that look on the faces of hundreds of would-be DMs. And none of the rhetoric I read, or the pomposity of the game's founders, or the shit churned out by the WOTC, does jack shit in addressing that issue.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's a great fucking game. Why is running it so fucking scary? And why do the people who learn how find they have to be pricks to get past that fear? Answer me that.