Sunday, August 12, 2018

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.94 A Gundam For Us



Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This time I talk to Brian Niemeier, Bradford C. Walker, and Rawle Nyanzi about the A Gundam For Us project, which is about creating a mecha intellectual property that Americans can identify with and get behind. So I hope that y'all enjoy the discussion, and that you'll also go check out the links in the description. Hope y'all enjoy!

MP3 download of this episode: 
https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/Ep94.mp3

Relevant links: 

Brian

Website: http://www.brianniemeier.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrianNiemeier

Gab: https://gab.ai/BrianNiemeier

Bradford

Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/individuals/18944827

Website: https://bradfordcwalker.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrBCWalker

Gab: https://gab.ai/MrBCWalker

Rawle

Website: http://rawlenyanzi.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RawleNyanziFTL


Social Media Dump:

FeedBurner: http://feeds.feedburner.com/jimfear138

Maker Support: https://www.makersupport.com/JimFear138

Ko-Fi: http://ko-fi.com/jimfear

Steemit: https://steemit.com/@jimfear138

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LichJim

Tumblr: https://jimthedefiant.tumblr.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimFear138

Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

Wordpress: https://jimfear138.wordpress.com/

Bandcamp: https://jimfear138.bandcamp.com/

Gab: https://gab.ai/JimFear138

Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 Closing Music:
Kings of Tara by Kevin Macleod: http://www.incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1500071&Search=Search
Kings of Tara Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.93 ft. J.D. Cowan



Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This week I talk to J.D. Cowan about several articles he posted to his website, his book, writing, anime, music, and a host of other topics! Be sure to check out his website and his book, Grey Cat Blues, linked below! Hope y'all enjoy!

MP3 download of this episode: 
https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/Ep93Actual.mp3

J.D.'s Links:

Website: http://wastelandandsky.blogspot.com

Novel: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077X5G9DN/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=jimfear138-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B077X5G9DN&linkId=d592d6214ff7c1a72b2ad09e22cab3c0

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wastelandJD


Social Media Dump:

FeedBurner: http://feeds.feedburner.com/jimfear138

Ko-Fi: http://ko-fi.com/jimfear

Steemit: https://steemit.com/@jimfear138

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LichJim

Tumblr: https://jimthedefiant.tumblr.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimFear138

Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

Wordpress: https://jimfear138.wordpress.com/

Bandcamp: https://jimfear138.bandcamp.com/

Gab: https://gab.ai/JimFear138

Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Closing Music:
Crunk Knight by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1400044
Crunk Knight Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Monday, July 23, 2018

James Gunn and How War Works



So because some people still just don't get it, this post is something I see as necessary. I'm going to try to explain what's currently happening, and why it's necessary, if not good. Because at the end of the day this isn't about James Gunn, or pedophilia, it's about winning a war, and the concept of "total war" isn't just for armed military conflict.

For those unfamiliar, although I doubt any of you are, James Gunn is the director of Guardians of the Galaxy who was recently fired from his job because of some pretty outrageous "joke" tweets making light of pedophilia. This was mostly undertaken by Mike Cernovich and his fans, and because of this Gunn scrubbed his twitter account and lost his job. New targets include Patton Oswalt, Michael Ian Black, and Dan Harmon. 

I should state up front that I really don't care what they joked about. Those who follow me for any length of time come to a quick understanding that I consider no topic "off limits". There is no cow so sacred that I won't tip it if I feel like it. Comedy is comedy, jokes are jokes, and neither are evidence of a crime. I don't think that Gunn and Oswalt and Black and Harmon have actually done anything wrong, not until I see actual evidence of it. It certainly seems suspicious to me, but there's no law against that.

But like I said, this isn't about them individually, or what they said or did. This is about winning a war.

Because whether or not you like it, or want to admit it, there is a culture war happening. The left and the right have been going at it since the 60's, and given the absolute state of things at the moment you can see who's been winning. Spoilers: It's the left. 

Any idiot can see that. The marriage rate, divorce rate, fatherlessness rate, devaluation of currency, invasive laws being passed every day, the creep on gun rights, privacy being violated, and free speech being socially abrogated are all evidences of the disastrous policies of the left becoming more prevalent with each passing year.

This is also on top of the left thinking they own the public space, that any person who has wrongthink or badfun should not only be excised from that public space, but should be unable to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their families. They burn people alive and give no thought to cleaning up the ashes before they're on to the next target. We see it in people like James Damore, Roseanne Barr, and hundreds of people you've never heard of whose lives are completely destroyed by the leftist outrage mob. 

Another thing it's crucial to understand is that the tactics of the left work. They are effective. They get results. They shift the culture. Anyone who denies this is lying to themselves and to you.

You should also keep in mind that pride and principles do not, and I repeat DO NOT WIN WARS. 

For example, the picture I used above. World War One was one of the most horrific wars in the history of mankind, if not the outright worst ever. Specifically let's look at gas warfare. Germany was the first to use gas of any kind, but specifically bromine and chlorine, in the effort to demoralize and kill their opponents. If Germany had kept using gas, and the Allies hadn't, Germany would've won that war. 

So much like in the current culture war, the Germans (the left) are using gas warfare (calling for people to be fired for mean tweets) in an effort to demoralize and at the end of the day kill the people they perceive as their enemies. Caught up on that comparison? Okay good.

So what happened in WWI? The Germans started using gas, then the Allies started using it back, and eventually both sides stopped using gas and nowadays whenever you hear about someone using chemical weapons, even on troops in a declared war, it's considered a war crime that the international community spits on and holds in utmost contempt. 

Are you starting to see where I'm going with this?

This is how war works. One side will escalate in an attempt to win, and the other side will either be bowled over or escalate in turn. Deescalation only happens when both sides have been harmed enough to agree to it. Now, I know that lunatics on the left like Cenk Uyger like to say that the left just lies back and thinks of England while the right rails them six ways from Sunday, but I can assure you that just isn't the case. 

I watch the news quite a bit, and I can recall about seventeen incidents off the top of my head wherein the leftist outrage mob has gone after some poor undeserving soul just within the past four years. The left does this almost weekly, and its plain to see. The right, on the other hand, has what's been happening the past couple days on twitter and Gamergate, which wasn't even a proper right wing movement. It was just a bunch of nerds from all over who wanted their goddamned video games left the hell alone. 

So no, the right does not engage in these tactics. Up till now they have been almost solely the purview of the left. That's why people are getting so upset at the people going after Gunn, and Oswalt, and whoever else. This is Simply Not Done™. Not by the right.

No, see, we have principles. We have honor. We do not stoop to their level.

Well, okay. Let me ask you some questions.

How many people whose lives have been destroyed by the left has your principles and honor saved?

How many actual victories have your principles and honor won?

How many leftists (you know the type) have looked at your principles and honor and said, "You know, maybe we shouldn't try to kill these people after all"?

And most importantly, will your principles and honor be able to keep you warm on those homeless nights after you offend the leftist outrage mob and are rendered unemployable?

Having principles and honor is all well and good, but it is not how you win wars. You win wars through decisive action to smash your opponents as swiftly as possible. The left already views this as a war and have been acting accordingly. So, I have to ask, why in the flaming fuck haven't the right?

Another thing people need to understand is that the person being attacked doesn't get to decide when a fight starts. The country minding its own business that gets invaded doesn't get a say in whether or not they're actually in a war. The side of the culture minding its own fucking business doesn't get to decide when the culture war starts when the other side of the culture walks up to them and starts trying to strangle them. 

A war is upon you, whether you like it or not. You can either fight it, or pretend that you're better than everyone else while doing literally nothing about it other than condemning both sides for trying to win. In a life or death fight, honor means nothing. Keep your principles and honor, but understand that the people attacking you have none and don't want any. 

They will use any method period to utterly destroy their opponents, or the people they have decided are subhuman. To defeat such a widespread and honorless enemy as this, you are going to have to lay down your honor and principles and smash the absolute shit out of them. You can pick them up later when the fight's over. 

So when Antifa shows up to a peaceful protest or march or whatever and start getting violent, you kick the everloving shit out of them. Send them home to their parents' basements with broken noses, cracked skulls, shattered ribs, and a note attached to their backs to never do it again.

When the SJW's on twitter pull this outrage mob bullshit to get people fired, like Damore or Roseanne or anyone else, you dig into their twitter history, or their entire online history if you can find it, find the fucked up shit they've said, and contact their employer about it. 

Now you may ask, "If this war is basically being fought online, with no face to face contact with the rest of the combatants, how will I be able to see the enemy's appeasement signals when they're ready to talk truce?"

To which I would respond, "Don't worry. They won't be able to see yours either, or they'd have come to the table by now."

So as distasteful as some people may find these tactics, they are necessary to end this bullshit. You have to speak a language these people understand. With Antifa, it's violence. With the outrage mob, it's outrage. One man with principles can't fight off all of Antifa (unless it's Rufio, that mother was handing out dirt naps like candy on Halloween), and one man with principles can't stop the outrage mob. You need friends, allies, tactics, goals, weapons, and heads on motherfucking pikes.

It's good for morale, trust me.

Because the left has been on track to win this culture war for decades at this point. They're organized, evil, ready, and coming whether you like it or not. So for the milquetoast "conservatives" and the anti-SJW's who think they can win this war by killing them with kindness, you need to stop being a denthead about this. War isn't won by honor, principles, pleading, and happy feelings. 

And you are in a war, whether you like it or not.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.92 ft. Rucka Rucka Ali



Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This time I get parody artist and student of philosophy Rucka Rucka Ali on to discuss Ayn Rand, her books, Objectivism, moral and ethical philosophy, human rights, his music, The German Question™, and plenty of other topics. The podcast went on for about 5 hours or so, and there was an issue with the audio from his side, again.

I swear it sounded fine in my earphones, but then when I got it into playback his audio was clipping pretty bad. I've done what I can to clean it up, and he's at least understandable, if not coming through with perfect sound quality like we'd all want. I blame skype, because we fiddled with the audio beforehand to make it sound good. Next time I'll be sure to do a test recording beforehand to make sure the audio is all good. So apologies for not thinking of that this time. Personally I don't think it's too bad after processing, but I'll let you guys be the judge. 

Hope y'all enjoy, and thanks again to Rucka for coming on the show!

MP3 Download of this episode: 
https://ia800408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/Ep92.mp3

Rucka's Links: 

Website: http://ruckasworld.com/contact/

Main YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/itsRucka

Rucka Reacts YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RuckasBlack

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamrucka

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamRucka/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/rucka-rucka-ali/id288447860


Social Media Dump:


FeedBurner: http://feeds.feedburner.com/jimfear138

Maker Support: https://www.makersupport.com/JimFear138

Ko-Fi: http://ko-fi.com/jimfear

Steemit: https://steemit.com/@jimfear138

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LichJim

Tumblr: https://jimthedefiant.tumblr.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimFear138

Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

Wordpress: https://jimfear138.wordpress.com/

Bandcamp: https://jimfear138.bandcamp.com/

Gab: https://gab.ai/JimFear138

Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Closing Music:
Crunk Knight by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1400044
Crunk Knight Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 91 - Some Politics, Atlas Shrugged, & Objectivism



Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This time I talk about some of the crazy developments in politics for a while, then get into a discussion of Atlas Shrugged as a book (from what I've read so far), then move from that into a discussion of Objectivism (Ayn Rand's philosophy). Hope y'all enjoy!

Mp3 Download of this episode: 
https://ia800408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/ep91.mp3

Places to buy Glimmer Vale (my new audiobook): 

https://ssnstorytelling.com/product/glimmer-vale/

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Glimmer-Vale-Audiobook/B07DGLMLDF/

https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-Vale-Chronicles/dp/B07DGVMKS2/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/glimmer-vale-glimmer-vale-chronicles-volume-1-unabridged/id1394885090

https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Michael_Kingswood_Glimmer_Vale?id=AQAAAEAM1RaVCM

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/glimmer-vale-1

https://www.audiobooks.com/audiobook/glimmer-vale/335483

https://play.playster.com/audiobooks/1001800000000231421/glimmer-vale-michael-kingswood

https://www.scribd.com/audiobook/378877692/Glimmer-Vale
Relevant Links:

Rucka Rucka Ali: https://www.youtube.com/user/itsRucka

Rucka Reacts: https://www.youtube.com/user/RuckasBlack

Charles Tew:  
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8iOCGZj09rvCXhXeya4vkw

Gulf City Cartoons: 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGx6IVMJJEtR7rcGa5_Ojrg


Social Media Dump: 

FeedBurner: http://feeds.feedburner.com/jimfear138

Maker Support: https://www.makersupport.com/JimFear138

Ko-Fi: http://ko-fi.com/jimfear

Steemit: https://steemit.com/@jimfear138

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LichJim

Tumblr: https://jimthedefiant.tumblr.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JimFear138

Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

Wordpress: https://jimfear138.wordpress.com/

Bandcamp: https://jimfear138.bandcamp.com/

Gab: https://gab.ai/JimFear138

Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Playing The Game Wrong: Inspiration



Continuing in the vein of bitching about D&D because it's been on my mind a lot lately, recently I found out about the FERAL rpg. This one's in development, but it looks really cool for what's there in the playtest. From what I've been told it's basically a mashup of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ttrpg from the 80s (now known as After The Bomb because licensing is a beyotch) and D&D 5e.

You can probably see where this is going.

So in an effort to understand FERAL I had to, out of necessity, get ahold of the 5e Player's Guide, which I did. The things I put up with, I tell ya. I figure the best way to understand character creation so I can explain it to other people is to go ahead and make a bunch of characters. This I did, and I found out some incredibly head-scratchy and disturbing things about the design of 5e that, coming as I am off of about a year of OSR and B/X high, made me very confused. And given that this blog is my place to bitch about things that annoy me, that's what I'm gonna do!

The first of these things that viscerally repelled me on a spiritual level, like a Catholic watching a streetwalker do unspeakable things with a Eucharist wafer, was this little thing called Inspiration. What is Inspiration, you ask? Well, I'm glad you did because now I get to show you this abomination from the 5e guide so you can feel my pain right along with me because misery loves company.


Now I shouldn't have to explain why this is bad and wrong but I'm gonna anyway. This must be something they took from 4e or created specifically for 5e or dredged up from the pits of girl D&D hell specifically to torment people like me who are used to rolling with the punches in our tabletop games. As I explained in my last post the dice in a tabletop game that uses them (diceless systems exist, they're just not all that common in my experience), the dice are meant to represent and embody the "luck" component of any encounter.

For example, B/X D&D has three major mechanics governing encounters which are The Alignment System, The Monster Reaction Table, and the Retainer Reaction Table. If you wish to truly give yourself up to the whim of the Gods of Random Chance as Gygax intended, you let the dice do the talking at the tabletop. You choose your Alignment in character creation or roll a d3 (there's only Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic, and none of those are inherently evil or good), and that's supposed to govern how your character reacts to stimuli in the world.

So a Chaotic character might stick with the party for a while, but if an encounter goes badly they might just run off out the back with as much loot as they can carry while the rest of the group dies horribly to unknowingly facilitate them saving their own skin. 

The monster reaction table is meant to decide how monsters in the dungeon react to the players showing up and wrecking face. It ranges from "Instant Attack" to "Enthusiastic Friendship", and is rolled on a 2d6. There's more chance the monsters will actually talk to the characters to find out what they're doing down here, because almost everything except for dumb animals in the dungeons are chaotic and they'll betray their masters in a heartbeat for a shiny new dime and a glass of soda.

If the dice are on your side, that is. 

The retainer reaction table is much like the monster reaction table, only it's meant to govern how well or badly hirelings take to your offer of shinies and dangerous adventure. It's also a 2d6, and ranges from "Offer refused and every other potential retainer is adjusted by -1" to "Offer accepted and they get +1 to morale". Once again, letting the dice decide things like this is a big part of the fun of the game, because thanks to the luck and chance components you never really know what's gonna happen.

So the reason I explained all that crap to you is this: You're supposed to rely on the dice. They are your guides through the valley of the shadow of death, your saviors in time of trouble. They're also the sadistic little bastards that just let you get eaten by a wolf even though you're wearing full plate armor. Even when my misguided self was playing 3.5 back in high school (don't be too harsh, it was the only ttrpg I knew existed and quite literally the only game in town), half the fun of the game was rolling those knucklebones and seeing what came up. 

This applies even more when we're talking about the things that this 5e mechanic of Inspiration governs: Attacks, Saving Throws, and Ability Checks. These are the meat and potatoes of a D&D campaign, it's what you'll probably spend the most time rolling over, and as I said half the fun is seeing what happens when you roll those dice and dealing with the consequences, good or bad.

For those unfamiliar, attacks are pretty self explanatory, but saving throws are when something really bad happens to you and you need to see if it affected you or not. This can be getting hit by poison, a spell, a magic wand, or even dragon's breath. You have a chance to roll to escape it, and getting to re-roll that is just playing like a sissy.

There's no other way to put it. This is straight bitch-made, right here. 

In the older versions of the game you dealt with what the dice gave you. Like I said in my last post, character death is supposed to be a thing, and while you have a chance to survive this stuff, you have a chance to not survive it as well. The tension and suspense of rolling the dice and seeing what happens is a fundamental part of the game. 

Ability checks are less deadly (usually) but still pretty important. Less so in B/X unless you're a thief, but any character can try to do a thing and roll to see if they're successful. Trying to climb a wall, jump a cavern, do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight, all of them can be tied to an ability the character has and can be checked against a roll on a d20 (or various other dice, depending). 

The way Inspiration seems to work from that small explanation (the only one in the rulebook, by the by, but maybe the DMG has other info on it, I haven't cracked that tome of horrors yet), is basically if the player is a good role-player, or comes up with a clever solution to a problem, or does a good in a fight, they gain a point of inspiration to be used to re-roll a dice throw that came up in the negative for them. This is, primarily it seems, meant to encourage the narrative play that people like Pundy, Bradford, and myself have been shouting into the desert about lately.

And I took a bit of heat from Misha Burnett over that last post because I am contending that there is a right and wrong way to play D&D, so I should say this right here: Having a narrative in your D&D game is not an inherently bad thing. There's a narrative in The Temple of Elemental Evil, for god's sake (the module I'm currently running). Granted, it's mostly about getting into the Temple and cracking The Skulls of Elemental Evil, but there are extensive parts of that module dealing with Hommlet and Nulb and the various people in them. Every named NPC has a backstory, and can be called upon to influence the game in various ways to the aid or detriment of the players. 

So I'm not saying having narrative is bad, and I'm not saying role-playing is bad. Could've fooled you, right? What I'm saying is that letting those take over the game to the exclusion of all else is bad and Not Fun™. Trust me, I've been there. I actually prefer a little role-playing in my games. It leads to interesting and fun moments that get laughs and groans from everybody at the table and adds to the overall fun of the game. What's bad is letting the role-play and the Way The DM Thinks The Story Is Supposed To Go™ take over.

I should also mention there are plenty of narrative games out there I have no issue with. They're purely meant to facilitate role-playing, and good for them. No, serious as a heart attack, good for them. Different strokes for different folks, I'm a libertarian at heart, and I'm not going to show up at your table and tell you to your face that you're playing the game wrong. If I'm a player I'll probably just quietly see myself out, if I'm not involved well then I'm just glad you're having a good time because it doesn't effect me at all how you play your D&D sessions.

However I am entitled to my opinion, and my opinion is that there is a right and wrong way to play the game, and inspiration is most definitely wrong. If you missed your roll trying to attack the Big Bad Evil Guy, sack up and deal with it and pray to the Dice Gods for a more favorable roll next time. Likewise for saving throws and ability checks. Failure is part of the game, and indeed without it the fun, in my opinion, doesn't exist. 

Don't get me wrong, I like to get absolutely fucking shitfaced hammered and play a first-person shooter on easy mode and just godhand every single measly motherfucker with the bad luck to be in my crosshairs just like any red blooded American. But unless I'm so drunk I literally can't see straight, there's no challenge in that, and the challenge is where the fun of games like FPS's and ttrpg's lies. That knowledge that the next encounter could be the last is what makes the game exciting and memorable. 

The narrative-above-all-else style of gaming that mechanics like Inspiration encourage is just an inferior style of game. If that's your thing, then go for it and good luck, but you're essentially cheating the dice just like if you loaded them. You're stacking the odds in your favor so that fewer bad things have the chance to happen to you.

That last part is in italics for a reason. It's not that those bad things will absolutely happen if you don't use an Inspiration-style mechanic in your game, it's that they have a chance of happening, just like you have a chance to fudge that second roll. But what a mechanic like Inspiration does is effectively put the player characters one or two steps closer to being invincible, and as One Punch Man has shown us, winning every encounter with little to no challenge is just plain boring.

What a mechanic like Inspiration says to me is that the players are too sissified to be able to deal with the consequences of their own dice rolls without getting to shout, "Do over!" like a child on the playground who missed the pitch in a stickball game. It's a fundamental disrespect to the people who are playing the game, along with the DM. Kids in the 80's loved and reveled in games like B/X where you dealt with your dice rolls like a man and came back swinging next round. Kids in the 2000's dealt with it too, although 3.5 was already sliding down the winding slope that led to this game basically spitting in your face like this. 

A friend of mine on twitter (I believe it was J.D. Alden, but I apologize if I'm misremembering) also foresaw that this could start actual no-shit fights at the tabletop and ruin gaming sessions. Now I don't know how true that is, I've never heard stories about that happening, but I could see it happening. Some player who's really up in themselves about the role-playing thinks they're entitled to a point of inspiration because they're playing a chaotic evil tiefling and they just act like an absolute cock to everyone. But, like I said, I've never heard of this happening, I just admit that it's a possibility.

But anyway, I think I've come to why this is bothering me enough to write this long-ass screed about it. This is insulting to everyone who picks this book up expecting a good game. They're effectively saying that you can't handle what children four+ decades ago could. I, for one, don't put up with that kind of crap from anybody, let alone a WOTC drone who insults potential customers on social media. 

So really the choice comes down to this: Are you going to play a game that spits in your face and treats you like an infant, while at the same time playing the game wrong considering what type of game it actually is?

Or are you going to see the light and come over to the Proper Way To Play™?








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Thursday, June 28, 2018

D&D Is Not Final Fantasy: Let Characters Die

Final Fantasy IX, otherwise known as The Best One™

So Pundy (or The RPGPundit, as he's commonly known) has a new video about player backstories, and I gotta say I agree with him wholeheartedly. Hat tip to Bradford C. Walker for posting it on his blog and then further posting that to twitter so I could see it while I was making my coffee today. Go subscribe to both of these gentlemen and pop their blogs into your rss feed. 

Now I'm not going to belabor the points made by Bradford & Pundy, but I am going to add onto them here. There's something that's implicit in all this talk of player backstories and why they're bullshit that's being left unsaid, I think. And I dunno if those two just overlooked it or if they were purposefully leaving it unsaid, but as we all know I'm a little thick and sometimes I need to spell things out for myself. Maybe someone else will get the benefit of my anti-wisdom. 

Anyway. The real reason your players don't need backstories are because they should be allowed to die. None of the other stuff really matters as long as the players and the DM understand that:

A: This is a game and
B: Player character death is apart of it


So far as I'm concerned after that understanding has been reached the players can do whatever the blue fuck they want with their characters, because they're their characters not mine. Give that guy a backstory if you want, I'll even make minor concessions in the game world over it. Like in my current game (Temple of Elemental Evil run through B/X rules) one of my players is a cleric, and he went and did a ton of research about the Temple of Saint Cuthbert, made up a whole other branch, and decided that his character was a part of it and their job was to kick evil square in the dick.

And I don't mind that. It's actually been kind of funny. But the main thing is that he has the understanding that, unless he plays smart (which he does), every single time they go into the Temple could be the last time his character does anything. This is an understanding that every DM should have with all of their players.

Players like to do dumb shit occasionally. Sometimes that dumb shit comes with serious fucking consequences. The DM shouldn't be afraid to let the players suffer those consequences.

Because Bradford's right when he says:

the revealed pattern of behavior is that backstories are used to shoehorn narrative trope bullshit into what is not a medium of narrative storytelling, but rather a medium of liminal wargaming.

That's what D&D is. It's a wargame on a very small scale, meant to represent and put the players into a fictional world that reacts to their decisions via the avatars of the characters they play. D&D has its roots in wargaming, quite literally, & it's a lot more fun when that is kept in mind by the players and the DM. I can promise you that.

I've brought this up before but my last Pathfinder game before I started DM'ing myself was narrative bs. I put very little effort into my character's backstory. He was evil, a cleric, probably an orphan, and a tiefling because I was being an edgelord. I wanted to be able to just fuck with people as hard as I could and there's few better ways to do that than by actually playing a fucking monster. However, there was no risk to that game, and I got bored quick and stopped taking it seriously after about six or eight sessions. 

Every character had a backstory, we had entire sessions that were literally nothing but roleplay when I was looking to get into the dungeon, kick people in the balls, take they stuff, and get back out alive. The only "real" fight we had was all a dream so the DM could test how we would do (at level 8 or so) against the enemies he'd homebrewed, and we got fucking wiped. 

I think my guy might've survived because I banished one of the engines of death back to its native plane. That was the most fun session that entire game, and once I realized that I just couldn't go back to narrative bullshit anymore. I got a taste of a real fight, I watched my friends' characters die, and I almost ate it myself, and after feeling that tiny, diluted hit of what D&D was supposed to be, I just couldn't do "girl D&D" anymore. 

D&D is based in wargaming, and it shows in the language we use in the hobby itself. The reason a string of adventures is called a "campaign" is because it's based on the military campaigns that tabletop wargaming recreates. Much like the influence of Appendix N and the pulps, that's something they'll never scrub out of the hobby no matter how hard they try. Like H.P. Lovecraft's writing, its power is beyond their ability to deface. 

But what happens in a military campaign?

People fucking die. It's a necessary consequence of the very act of campaigning. When you have supposedly slightly extraordinary people (you're not peasants, but you're not great heroes of legend either) going into an incredibly dangerous situation almost literally every single day of their lives, the likelihood that something will kill them is increased exponentially. This is why dungeons are full of monsters, traps, evil humans, portals to other dimensions, and all kinds of other shit. The point of the dungeon is to kill the players, and the point of the players is to navigate it without dying. 

So what does Final Fantasy have to do with this?

Tabletop RPG's ARE NOT VIDEO GAMES. 

In a video game like Final Fantasy, you have the One True Party™. These are a group of people whose stories the dev team has chosen to tell, like Cloud, Barrett, and Tifa in 7 or Zidane & Co. in 9. They have their ups and downs, and apart from a scripted loss here and there they literally beat the dogshit out of everybody they encounter. Oh, you can run into shit that's too heavy for you, but if your party gets wiped in the process it's game over and you have to go back to your last save point and click through all that dialogue again.

In D&D there is no One True Party™. The characters are expendable and can easily (or should be able to be easily) replaced. For example, another personal anecdote because I'm sure y'all aren't tired of those yet.

In the Temple of Elemental Evil our Dwarf who'd somehow survived like 16 sessions and had been there since the beginning (he was about lvl 5 or so) had acquired a lightning spear. This thing was basically a magical weapon of mass destruction. It did 1d6+20 damage in a 150 foot radius. Barring incredibly high HD creatures (like over 4 or 5 or so) it'll kill just about anything it hits, if it hits them. Well they come up on some Elementals in the Temple, as you do, and he throws the spear.

He misses. The elementals start stomping towards them, right over where the spear had landed. So I figure I'll have him roll to see if one of these giant mounds of dirt and boulders steps on it and breaks it, unleashing the magical energy within. Because I'm a dick like that. 

He rolls his d6 and it comes up on 1. Well slap my ass and call me Sally, B/X is a roll-under system and low rolls means the thing happens. The elemental stepped on the spear, broke it, lightning went everywhere, and it fried that dwarf like bacon. Dead character, no more dwarf. The other characters proceeded to slit his throat and use his blood to banish the other elementals that were still coming towards them.

Hey, he didn't need the blood anymore. Far as I'm concerned that's efficient use of resources at hand. Player's fine, he rolled up a thief and he's back in the game next session. It sucks, but that's the way the dice rolled. Never trust a computerized random number generator. 

This, incidentally, is why you hear me talk so much unrepentant shit about 5e's character creation system. It's horrible because it's too involved. There was no way the guy would've been able to have a character built by the end of the session like that (we were pretty close to heading back to town anyway) if we'd been playing 5e. Simple rule sets encourage this kind of frivolity with character's lives that's really at the heart of the way D&D is supposed to be played. 

The party characters are just people, they're not special, they don't have any great destiny ahead of them, and their backstory doesn't matter. What matters is the emergent story that comes from them interacting with the virtual world they're placed in and how it reacts to them. These characters have to forge their destiny, not have it spelled out for them in a nice, safe garden path they can traipse down at leisure with no worries about big mean monsters coming to ruin their dainty little fingernails they just had manicured. 

The characters are supposed to be people like Northwest Smith, Conan, Adam Reith, Cugel the Clever, and Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser. Slightly extraordinary men in extraordinary situations that built their own destinies from square one. There were multiple times in all their stories that they almost died, and would have were it not for their luck, fighting prowess, and brains. So it is with player characters in D&D.

If they live, it was because the player fought smart, played it safe, used every advantage they had, and had luck on their side represented by the dice. If they died, it was because they didn't. Plain and simple. This isn't Final Fantasy, it's tabletop rpg's. They're two completely different mediums, and one is about storytelling while the other is about kicking monsters in the dick and taking they stuff. 

Failed novelists have no place at the table in D&D. Go write your book if you're so enthusiastic about it you'll try to railroad the players (or the rest of the players and DM) into going along with your supposed destiny. It's really easy to do. Pop open an OpenOffice text document and start typing. But when you come to the tabletop, you're supposed to be there to game, not tell a story. 

Unless you're playing something like Hillfolk, I suppose, but we're talking about D&D and games like it. Which, once again, is fundamentally what these ttrpg's are. They're games. Even in the One True Party™ Land of Final Fantasy, failure is part of the game. You can run into that one thing that's too strong for you, or just fuck up planning for a fight, or screw up on your strategy for a certain boss and just get your ass completely wiped the fuck out. 

The difference is in D&D character death is supposed to be permanent. So my advice, to build off what Bradford and Pundy are talking about, is firstly to DM's: Don't be afraid to kill off your players' characters when they do something stupid and the dice don't come up in their favor. And then to Players: Don't sweat a character dying, because it's really not that big of a deal anyway. If you had a destiny planned out for them, that wasn't really their destiny. Their destiny was actually to get squished by an Elemental. 

If you inject some actual stakes back into your game, such as players getting pasted by big mean monsters, it'll be a much more fun experience for everyone involved. Even the guys whose characters die. If that wasn't the case then our thief player who died in session one wouldn't have rolled up another and come back next week. Our current female fighter would've quit after session 2 when her elf got her throat torn out by a wolf.

Dangerous liberty is far more fun than comfortable security, especially at the tabletop.