Friday, October 20, 2017

Dinosaurs

I'm not much interested in general gossip connected to the public gaming community, but I do enjoy tap-dancing on the metaphorical grave of any self-righteous soul connected to the so-called glory of TSR, which I continue to feel took role-playing and D&D in the wrong direction right from the beginning.  I believe that the grassroots community that plays this game weekly, not as a publicity stunt but because they love the game, has been fighting to regain all the ground that has been lost by four decades of modules, edition wars and endless copycat game systems punched out by every fanboy who dreams of someday being Gary Gygax or Dave Arneson.  We just want to play.  Yet there is a whole community out there that sees this as nothing more than a way to pump their egos, flitting from game con to game con to enjoy the adulation of largely ignorant innocent young people who have been mesmerized by their "authorship" on some half-baked 64-page system printed on pulp stock before the fans were born.

Have you heard what's going on with Frank Mentzer?  He's one of these classic RPG celebrities, co-writer of the red box set and various modules and mostly stuff viewed with dull nostalgia but not much cold, clear evaluation.

He's been running around to pitch a kickstarter for his world Empyrea, which was intended to create a game setting that would mesh with any system.  This, Mentzer has said, is positively unique, because no one, no one ever, has thought to create a game world that could be adapted to D&D, Pathfinder, Rolemaster, whatever.

Well, except for Harn, which actually did get off the ground.  And about ten thousand grassroots publishers who have been doing this small scale since the '80s.  And anyone who is able to realize that any setting can be applied to any game, without anyone having to specifically design a setting for that purpose.  However, Mentzer is a celebrity, so when he does it, it's the FIRST time, because despite haunting cons for 35 years and getting kicked out of a few for being a prick, he's managed to believe the game world has in no way evolved since he was made famous.

Just 40 hours ago, Frank Mentzer announced the kickstarter's cancellation.  The reasons for the cancellation are pretty vague; but the reader can figure them out from the link.  Coincidentally, according to EnWorld, the cancellation followed the posting of a twitter feed from Jessica Price, featuring a considerable lack of empathy on Mentzer's part surrounding a woman who was groped on a Seattle bus.  Things apparently spun out of control, Mentzer got blocked and decided to take his grievance on his mistreatment public while believing that he had the power to ensure that Price never worked in the gaming industry again.

Around the same time, also according to EnWorld, Mike Myler, who was described by Mentzer as his "crowdfunding engineer" for the kickstarter, released a statement that he was only loosely connected to the project and that the description was inaccurate.  So apparently Mentzer has been name-dropping to raise funds for his kickstarter without actually giving a shit.

All this has started the usual row online, with people rushing forward to defend Mentzer, who obviously can do no wrong because he was famous for making a crappy children's version of D&D once upon a time, played by children who are now adults who can't get past the horrible truth that they've got to grow up someday, and those who just can't figure out why Mentzer shouldn't be thrown under a bus.  This amid rising stories that Mentzer was tossed from Paizo Con, that he doesn't pay people who work for him and other wonderful things that can be found by searching google.

Me, myself, I didn't like Mentzer on principle when I didn't know anything about him.  I don't understand any of this Red Box glorification.  When my peers came across the Red Box set, they were already playing "adult" D&D and we thought the set was a joke, obviously meant for children who needed everything dumbed down for them, like games that read "for ages 5 to 8" on the box.  No one, absolutely no one, would have predicted that the set would become the Holy Relic that it is considered to be today.

Anyway, good riddance to bad rubbish.  Like the quote from an old movie goes, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, "You and your whole lousy generation believes the way it was for you is the way it's got to be.  And not until your whole generation has lain down and died will the dead weight of you be off our backs."

1 comment:

Ozymandias said...

Love the quote. Thinking I need to see that movie.

Oh, and let's not forget my chance for shameless self-promotion.

I supposed for some, it's not too unlike hearing that Bill Cosby was a sexual predator. I didn't exactly grow up on his TV shows and movies, but I watched them frequently and I certainly felt a little disappointed at learning that this icon ~ a respected, fatherly figure ~ could have done something so terrible. Course, by the time I learned it, I was pretty much already jaded to how terrible people are.

I'm saying I can sympathize with those who haven't learned that lesson.

Still, bad behavior is bad behavior. We should stand up and call 'em out on it. And we should support those who have to courage to do so. All-in-all, I'm glad to see more positive responses on this issue than I've seen on previous "scandals."