I know the White Plume Mountain post ruffled feathers: there were no comments. I could practically hear the grinding of teeth.
If anyone wants to read people's thoughts on the post, try this bulletin board page. It was put up by a reader who was anxious to help me in my crowd-sourcing proposal; I'm not a member of that board. It's an excellent showcase of first impressions people still have of me.
It shows how little patience the community has for content that does not embrace the sacred cows of the game's past. In comparison with some of the strafing runs I've made against gaming content in the past, the WPM post was almost minimalist . . . but true, there was also that post about Gygax recently and I did suggest that he might have been a dick - that is, if you didn't prefer the sobriquet "liar." It was left up to the reader.
It's fine if people feel I can't tolerate disagreement on my blog; I'm apt to defend my point of view when I see that I've been misunderstood, misquoted or misrepresented in another's argument and this can certainly feel to some people that I'm intolerant and inflexible. I've encountered this same feeling in real life, many times. We all feel that we're right and there is a strong sentiment on the internet that when we express ourselves we rarely understand the vitriol we arouse. Not being liked on the internet isn't a character flaw, it's ordinary. We are all disliked on the internet.
LOL. 15 minutes passed (2:26 to 2:41) between blackstone writing "I'll have to admit I'll give it a chance as I read through more posts" and the same fellow writing, "Calling EGG 'a complete dick'? really?" In fifteen minutes he was able to zero in on a post that was two months old, did not have Gygax's name in the title, read it and quote from it, then complete writing his response about me on the bulletin board.
I did hesitate before writing the post - after all, I'm anxious to have people on my side, to step forward and give funds and have good feelings about me. It makes the marketing people queasy if anyone causes the product to be seen in a poor light even for a moment, sending them around in spinning flurries of emails and accusations, a truly modern manifestation. Yet I also have advice that tells me, "Be true to yourself, true to your product, true to your message - if you act differently just to sell something, the readers will recognize that immediately."
Eight years I've been proving I'm an asshole. Eight years I've been pissing (and using swear words) on modules such as White Plume Mountain and the Tomb of Horrors. Eight years have had endless bulletin boards and other blogs posting everything that is wrong with me and all the ways that I need to get over myself. If I were really that adverse to criticism, I would have quit by now.
WPM is a terrible module. Not only in that it is a potpourri hodgepodge of irrational elements bunged together like a bad stew that finds the toilet the next morning, but because it inspired an endless parade of other hodgepodge campaigns over the next forty years from people who never understood that the template was bad. Like forty years of science that bought into the idea of ether because it sounded good, or forty years of the film industry that bought into the Hays Code because it sounded good, or forty years of Jungianism (the blog dictionary doesn't even recognize the word) or forty years of trickle down theory and neo-conservatism, it's a shit template that's been repeated and repeated and repeated because that's all there is. Until finally all the people who embraced the thought as young, impressionable souls reach an age where their views are irrelevant and Carl Jung is relegated to the archive of history and film begins to feature sex and violence and space is proved to be a vacuum and the neo-conservative movement produces a Donald Trump. Bad ideas that won't die because people fall in love with them to the exclusion of reason, innovation, evidence and the exhaustion of consumers who are numb from finding only the same shit modules for sale, year after year.
People went to their graves believing that space was not a vacuum but that there HAD to be ether. People went to their graves believing that films like the the Graduate, the Godfather, Apocalypse Now and Alien were abominations that destroyed the experience of going to movies. People died believing that the collective unconscious and synchronicity are absolute, inviolable truths. And people have died believing that the trickle-down theory and job creation has worked flawlessly. There are still people who believe these things and nothing, nothing, will ever change their minds - just as there are those who will go to their graves believing that everything ever made connected to the game pre-1980 was totally and sacredly brilliant and the only way that modules should ever, ever, be designed.
And those of us who think different? Well, we just have to get over ourselves. The case has been settled. Shut up and move on.
I don't think we're ever really sure about anything. Four years ago I couldn't draw for shit. For shit. Last week, I drew this:
When our eyes are open, we get better. When we live in the future and not the past, we gain better perspectives. When what we haven't got yet becomes better than what we've had, we strive and create all the things that forty years from now people will love.
My daughter and I agree that White Plume Mountain succeeded because every room was an adventure. The emptyroomism of the present age of module creation hadn't been embraced yet and an adventure like WPM tried to keep the readers interest by filling every inch and crevice with interesting things. It didn't matter that these things made no sense together or that the individual elements defied explanation - none of that was important because we had not yet designed any format upon which we had to agree. There were monsters, there was magic, the rooms could be hammered into identifiable dioramas and like a museum, the players could be marched along on the guided tour and shown all the exhibits one by one. Like a museum, it did not matter if the dinosaur room included a diorama of the first hooved animals of the era that came after or the first bony fish of the era that came long, long before. It's a museum. It exists for capturing impressionable minds, particularly the impressionable minds of young people who may not quite understand that the exhibit with primitive man being fifty feet from the giant skeleton of the Apatosaurus might not mean that the two lived simultaneously. That is all right. When they get older, they'll realize they did not and if they choose to make this into their vocation, they'll laugh a little to think that they were ever so foolish.
But no academic expansion happened in the gaming world and the smashing together of monsters in a single format became canon. The children who thought it was kewl when they were ten haven't yet shed those notions now that they are fifty. They still think it is kewl. They haven't grown. They haven't learned. And that is fine - except that they expect the world to stay exactly as it was. They expect that everyone who has come along since will bow down to the idols of their youth and praise them in the way they were always praised.
That isn't going to happen. That has never happened. But these people will go to their graves nonetheless believing that it should have happened, because that is the way old people are.
I am so grateful there are young people in the world.