Friday, August 1, 2008

On Rock Throwing

Carl is making some fine arguments with his comments on my last point, and in some ways he’s right. I probably shouldn’t slam others for what they want to write on their blogs. I should be tolerant.

I guess where I fall down on the whole thing is in the words, “other practitioners”…because, chiefly, I’m questioning the whole premise that they ARE practitioners.

In those long off and sad days when I used to attend conventions, in the 80s, where most of the participants were the sort who were renting hotel rooms in the hopes that one of the “nerd babes” without a place to stay for the weekend might crash there…I did a lot of questioning about practioners. And it comes back to things I’ve said about a completely different lifestyle, to be found on a completely different blog of mine other than this one.

People put on a pretense of having an interest in something for a number of reasons: they are lonely and want company at any cost; they lack the ability to do more than manage a pretense; they are pure evil.

This is a bit of a jump: It may seem strange, but with the development of the internet, I went looking for D&D stuff and ran slam bang into websites designed wholly to keep information out of my reach. Everything was “official”…there were no peoples actually sharing useful information. You could find groups chatting on bulletin boards, but it was pretty much like those sad nerdy groups sitting around and not playing games at conventions. The people we looked at back then and thought, “potential suckers designed by god for the purpose of buying our shit.”

So I stopped looking for D&D stuff on-line. I just stopped searching for it. For seven years.

When I decided I’d stop putting my D&D stuff on the blog I was writing, where no one wanted to read it, I thought I’d better find out if there were any D&D blogs out there…because if you want to get read, you have to comment on other blogs. That is how readers online find you.

And what I found…appalled me. Until I found “Lamentations of the Flame Princess,” I was disgusted beyond all reason. Before LOTFP, I could not find one individual who was not busily masturbating themselves over the eventual appearance of 4e (this was three months ago)…and I admit, it left a sour taste in my mouth. And the last few rants I have posted have reflected that.

Carl is right when he says the solution is not to flame but to produce solid work. But he’s wrong in that it is perfectly possible to do both. I’m prolific enough to handle that.

I think the reason why I feel I must is that there have to be thousands (I hope there are thousands) of potential readers of D&D blogs out there who, like me, have not found LOTFP or even this blog, who are saddened and angry and greatly disturbed by the unmitigated shit pile that represents the RPG blogosphere. Where are these people to go? What are they to think? What is to stop them from failing to type “D” “&” “D” into a search engine for seven years?

Well, me, hopefully. LOTFP, RPG Corner and possibly Carl if he ever gets his Three Hams Inn up and running. It is awfully important that that poor lost soul out there knows that there’s more to the net that what they ARE likely to find.

Incidentally, it was pointed out to me yesterday that there IS another group that reflects the sentiments of the blogs I was trashing with my last post. Another group focused inanely on the petty details of who published or printed or drew or fixed their trademark.

That group would be the “collectors.”

People pathetically bent on the collection of St. Anne Spoons and Computer Parts from the 1960s, spittoons and old car manifolds and beer bottles from Georgia in the 1930s. People for whom “to have” is far more important than the utter uselessness of the articles they have travelled over half the country to obtain. People who never get tired of talking and talking about which family member hand built which chair in Waterbury Connecticut during the civil war.

Could it be that all these people buying miniatures and modules and books have a completely different motivation? That it is more important to HAVE than to USE?

I think so.


Carl said...

I don't doubt your prolificacy, Alexis. You're obviously a practiced writer. I haven't looked up what you've published yet, but I get more curious the more I read here. I'm just questioning the utility of the flames. is up today. It may remain up. We're encountering some "issues" as we say in the computer biz. We hope to have these worked out soon. I'd go into detail, but my ISP may not find what I'm doing as amusing as I do. Also, it's boring as hell to talk about unless you're a hardcore network nerd. And sometimes it's boring then, too.

I appreciate the link on your site to mine, but please correct it to remove http// from the address. Presently it points to "http://http//"

I'm a fan of The Flame Princess, too -- he's a bit abrasive, which I like, and he's a bit gothic, which is a nice change since my games tend toward the Warner Bros end of things. I found his site before yours and some of his material on running games was downright inspirational. I found your blog through a post Grognardia made linking to you and I started reading your econ posts. I was hooked immediately. I haven't been back to Grognardia in a while.

There was another blogger running a site called TacticalStudiesRules who was doing a purely mathematical breakdown of The Keep on the Borderlands (B2) as an exercise in analysis of Basic D&D mechanics and gameplay. It was really interesting to see how deadly D&D was/is/should be and to try and infer the designers intentions from how the encounters play out. B2 is a sandbox module in that the DM is given an area map and the players are charged with exploring the area to find "adventure" without any specific story goals. That style of adventure is what's inspiring my current game.

When 3.0 was released I subscribed to the email list run by WotC. I got cautioned for my use of foul language. Go figure. I got into some intense arguments with people over rule interpretations. Yes, I know -- hard to believe. Mostly what I learned was that the people posting there most prolifically were more interested in telling you that how you were running your game was wrong than actually discussing the game and how it was played. I withdrew. I had a gaming group of over 15 players at that time and I had little interest in arguing rule minutiae. I didn't spend much time looking for D&D stuff online after that. I was running a message board for my game and that took up about all of my online time. Kind of a pre-blog. This was about 9 years ago now.

Although D&D and the Internet kind of grew up together, and some of the Internet's oldest content is D&D related, I think D&D is still finding it's place as is the Internet. This game is a strange and beautiful thing in that it is the shared vision of the players who are playing it together. Outside of that level of organization, things get...difficult and arguments abound.

Now I feel as though I'm distracting you from posting about reasonable random encounter tables. Hit me with your wisdom stick, Alexis.

noisms said...

So hang's okay to posture and point fingers so long as you're prolific enough to write useful things as well. But it isn't okay to discuss trademarks and licenses and "second string artists" even if you're prolific enough to also produce things of practical value? Because the latter is geeky and the former is, what?

The thing is, I agree with a lot of the points you make in this and the previous post, but you're directing the full force of your venom at entirely the wrong people. Innocent buffoons who get excited about 4e aren't the enemy - they're innocent buffoons. The enemy is the group of people intent on wringing every last fluid ounce of soul out of the D&D name in the pursuit of cold hard cash. Ranting about the state of the D&D blogosphere is like kicking a blind man when he's down, while meanwhile a rampaging ogre is busy smashing your most prized possession.