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Chaltab
Feb 16, 2011

So shocked someone got me an avatar!


Slimnoid posted:

Currently smoking: moldy grass clippings rolled in dogshit.
It can't possibly be that anyone just legitimately doesn't want to be associated with an internet hate group. Always a damned consipiracy with these people. Pundit, examine what you're smoking more carefully because I think it's rotting your brain.

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FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Pundit's belief that storygame swine are just hipster poseurs next to True Raw Edgy Original Talent Zak S (of whom they are terribly, terribly jealous) cracks me up.

Also, that guy at YDIS compared the magic item lists between Arrows of Indra and Empire of the Petal Throne and welp big shock it turns out the former is an item-for-item copy of the latter.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

moths posted:

This is hilariously stupid, given that the Illuminatus! trilogy that's been an obvious, driving force in Steve Jackson's career is probably one of the least right-wing and most hippy thought-salad surreal books published in recent memory. Also of note: The Principia Discordia, which was an influintial counter-culture drug religion manifesto (that SJG reprinted in 1994.)

Not to mention the research into GURPS Cyberpunk that prompted the Secret Service to wander off with their computer hardware, and supplements with positively portrayed gay characters before even White Wolf dipped their toes into that realm, and taking other companies to task for refusing to do the same.

The Target Munchkin deal was probably a blow to their relationship with local gaming stores, but I doubt they could really afford to not take it. SJG has a history of taking expensive risks, and their finances have rarely been spectacular.

Orange Fluffy Sheep
Jul 26, 2008

Bad EXP received


Chaltab posted:

It can't possibly be that anyone just legitimately doesn't want to be associated with an internet hate group. Always a damned consipiracy with these people. Pundit, examine what you're smoking more carefully because I think it's rotting your brain.

Yeah, I have to agree. When you have to resort to buzzwords like "illuminati" and "facism" I think you may have hosed up.

Of course, if you're using buzzwords like that unironically in the first place then you're pretty deep in some kind of hole.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

My understanding is that Steve Jackson is pretty much a libertarian, with a libertarian's dim view of state power (If the Secret Service had pulled the poo poo on me that they did on him, I'd be one too) and a small businessman's loathing of taxes and regulation.

Free Gratis
Apr 17, 2002

Karate Jazz Wolf


moths posted:

This is hilariously stupid, given that the Illuminatus! trilogy that's been an obvious, driving force in Steve Jackson's career is probably one of the least right-wing and most hippy thought-salad surreal books published in recent memory. Also of note: The Principia Discordia, which was an influintial counter-culture drug religion manifesto (that SJG reprinted in 1994.)

99% of Desbo's strategy is to use labels with (what he believes to be) negative connotation when describing any of his enemies and labels with (again, what he believes to be) positive connotation without ever showing proof that those labels apply. Like, if you point out that GamerGate is full of regressive assholes who are gatekeeping the industry his counter will be some nonsense like "no, it's actually leftist anarcho anti-authoritarian. :smug:" As if it were true or meant anything.

GamerGate has truly brought out the worst in Desbo to the point that even GMS has now refused to defend him.

Rulebook Heavily
Sep 18, 2010

by FactsAreUseless


Orange Fluffy Sheep posted:

Yeah, I have to agree. When you have to resort to buzzwords like "illuminati" and "facism" I think you may have hosed up.

Of course, if you're using buzzwords like that unironically in the first place then you're pretty deep in some kind of hole.

Do I have to be the one to remind the thread that Pundit literally believes he is a wizard who knows real magic?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Rulebook Heavily posted:

Do I have to be the one to remind the thread that Pundit literally believes he is a wizard who knows real magic?

You can't say this and not elaborate.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Rulebook Heavily posted:

Do I have to be the one to remind the thread that Pundit literally believes he is a wizard who knows real magic?

This might sound dismissive, but why should we care?

Part of the reason I'm saying this is that I know a few folks IRL who have some out there beliefs (aliens and flying saucers, tarot card reading, etc), but a lot of these beliefs are more or less harmless and so I don't really judge or mock. Given that quite a bit of Americans believe in pseudoscience stuff like astrology having some validity (according to public opinion polls), a person's beliefs in the supernatural is not as out there.

Pundit believing that magic is real, and using that as an avenue to mock him, is pretty weaksauce thing to do and focus on in light of all the other stuff he says and does.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 05:28 on Dec 10, 2014

Rulebook Heavily
Sep 18, 2010

by FactsAreUseless


Night10194 posted:

You can't say this and not elaborate.

quote:

“Real” Magic in RPGs, Redux

So I’m trying this again, as the last time I attempted to write on the subject I met with the wrath of The Wench for being “too mean”. This time, the focus will be less on savage mockery of silly people and more on the “magick” itself and what it should look like if you’re trying to run a modern campaign where the occult rules are meant to effectively emulate real life.

Again, the first thing to note is that 99.9% of people in the “occult scene” are posers, from the point of view of practicing magic. That is to say, they don’t really do magic at all; they may talk about it or read about it, pretend they have great powers or like to collect crystals, but they’ve never had an actual experience of magic. Note that this includes, aside from the most absolute basic practices, 99% of “ceremonial magicians” who, for the purposes of this series, we’ll be focusing on (not that there aren’t other kinds of modern occultism that could have real “magical power” in your games, certainly tantrism and those rare shamanic practitioners that are actually doing it right, for just two examples, but we have to focus on something, at least to start). The people interested in hardcore magic, most of them, have read a couple of Crowley books, own a tarot deck or two, and may have tried some of the basic exercises (like the “lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram”), performed them badly, and then quit when nothing happened right away. Instead, they want to talk a lot about spirits and angels and demons and the Kabbalah and satan and how the man is putting them down, and how many books they own (whether or not they’ve read them), and how “dark” or “hardcore” they really are. You know, wankery.
A few of these guys even start their own magical orders.

But there is a smaller group of people who actually do the practices. Before I get into those, we should address how those people get to do it; are they secret initiates of a great magical order? Did they find lost tomes hidden away in some library?

No, fuckers! They just got what’s readily available everywhere, and actually did it.
That brings us to the first rule of modern “authentic thaumaturgy”:

RULE 1: it's not hard to find occult secrets, it's hard to understand them.

Remember that. Do not make it hard for someone to find real magic; it was all laid out 100 years ago, and even before the advent of the internet pretty much everything you needed to do “real” magic was readily available for purchase. And today, on the internet, where you can quickly and easily download pretty much every medieval grimoire, everything the Golden Dawn ever wrote, and absolutely everything Aleister Crowley ever did, including his personal diaries and ALL of the “secret rituals of the O.T.O.”, there is really no information that is kept away from you.

In a lot of “occult RPGs”, that’s one of the first things that strikes me as being utterly unrealistic; the authors make it that real occult knowledge is really difficult to obtain. It isn’t, at all.
What’s difficult is the ability to comprehend that knowledge; because you have study a lot of fundamentals, and you HAVE TO actually practice. So you have to read and read for years and years, and even if you do that you won’t have an ounce of magical power unless you’ve also been exercising and exercising for years and years.

Go find a copy of Aleister Crowley’s “The Book of Thoth”, that’s his book on the Tarot. Try to read it. Assuming no (significant) prior knowledge of the occult, you’ll understand maybe 10% of it. The rest will seem like gobbledygook.
So faced with that, most people either just quit in disgust assuming it is all gobbledygook, or they just pretend that they understood more of it than they did, beginning their long careers as occult frauds.
And the Book of Thoth really contains huge and powerful magical secrets. Within that book alone are secrets that contain significant magical gravitas. But to understand what its saying, after that first reading, you’d need to spend about six months working with the Tarot cards, reading the basics of astrology, reading the basics of kabbalah, reading the basics of alchemy. And then reading the Book of Thoth again. And after all that, you’ll understand maybe 20% of it, but what new insight you got spurs you on to do new kinds of work, that gives you new kinds of insights, which leads you to new areas of study, which leads you to new areas of work, which leads you to new insights…etc etc.

So there’s a huge cycle of learning involved. You could end up reading the just the Book of Thoth over and over again once every 6 months for 15 years, and IF you’ve actually been studying and practicing magick, then EACH time you read it, the book seems to be totally different than the last; like its been re-written. Because magick has been busy re-writing you.
After the first two or three re-readings, where you figure out that’s what’s happening, that’s where things start to get hosed up.

So yeah, if you want the availability of magical power to reflect real life, make it super-easy to get the information, but very difficult to be able to actually turn it into something useful. The difficulty to obtain the book is low, the study time it takes to master it is high; and brings risks of your giving up, lying to yourself that you get it, becoming obsessed, or starting to have weird reality-questioning poo poo happen.


Finally (for today) a note on “magical orders”: if they don’t contain the secrets, what the gently caress are they good for?
The biting answer? Mostly nothing. For the most part, again, 90% of “magical orders”, “lodges”, “secret temples”, “working groups”, “covens”, “rosicrucians”, etc. are just places full of Occult Wankers where they can get together and show off their wankery to each other. The one conceivable benefit is that you might find one or two other frustrated newbies who want to get something real out of it, and just haven’t figured out yet that this is not the place to get it.

If you want your “magical order” to seem authentic, it needs to be full of seriously marginal people, who can’t hold good day jobs, claiming to be wizards of grand power. It needs to have endless internal power struggles over who gets to be the “master of the circle” and in bigger societies who gets to be the “outer head of the order ad vitam”. There’s HUGE levels of megalomania involved here, and desperate power-mongering over nothing. Unlike freemasonry, which these “serious” occult wankers tend to mock, most magical orders are not democratic; that’s because, in theory, the person who is most magically advanced should be the one in charge. But in practice, this works out to being an excuse for power-trips, because none of the guys involved are really all that advanced enough to warrant the pitfalls that come with having only one guy in charge forever.

In any case, most “orders” of this sort don’t teach magic at all, and those that do tend to do it poorly.
Seriously, I’ve found Freemasonry, which can only barely be called a “magical order”, to be a much more valuable tool to occult practice than any of these OTOs or Golden Dawns or Rosicrucian Orders or Temples of Set, or any of the other supposedly “hardcore” groups that make so much fun of freemasonry for “not getting it”. Not only do Freemasons tend to get it better than most pretentious occultists do, but they have actual stability, which is really one of the hardest things to keep and most important things to have, if you’re going to study the occult. Masons are people who can hold down regular jobs and have families and social lives, and work in lodges that in many cases have been around and meeting regularly for 150 years or more; neither of those are true for most members of the “serious” orders; where the people involved have allowed their obsession with the occult to destabilize their regular lives (or, in some cases, have failed to be able to use the occult to bring stability into their already hosed-up lives), and where powermongers and megalomaniacs and the lack of a large network of infrastructure means that the order itself is chronically unstable.

If you think I’m exaggerating about this, go and read about the history of the original Golden Dawn. Or read about Agape Lodge in California. Or take a look at the current problems and struggles of the various “OTO” groups of the past couple of decades.

There can be that 10% of orders that are of some good. Usually, these are very small groups, where the emphasis is on individual teachers and individual students working together. There will be little importance placed on fancy titles and ranks, and a lot placed on daily work; and the group will tend to be private but not exclusive (the opposite of the poo poo groups, which tend to be very public (trying to show off to everyone), but elitist (trying to make out that they have special powerful secrets no one else has, and that not just anyone can join)).

Even in the case of these good groups, except in those rare cases where they’re being led by someone who’s really attained some serious illumination, the most they are useful for is to have members keeping tabs on each other, keeping each other honest. They will focus on sincerity and experimentation, and on trying to have good discipline in the work. So mostly, you’d join a magical order for the same reason you’d join a Pilates class rather than just do Pilates by yourself out at home: in the hopes that it’ll help you to keep up the hard part of the work and give you some structure, plus the occasional tip. Only in this case, half the time, you end up having your class-mates either want to have sex with you or rob you blind, half of the members can’t hold a job because they can’t ever actually talk about anything other than Pilates, and the three guys who took some other class once before are beating the poo poo out of each other over who gets to be “Supreme Master of the Pilates Class For All Eternity”.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the occult.

RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Perique


Libertad! posted:

This might sound dismissive, but why should we care?

Part of the reason I'm saying this is that I know a few folks IRL who have some out there beliefs (aliens and flying saucers, tarot card reading, etc), but a lot of these beliefs are more or less harmless and so I don't really judge or mock. Given that quite a bit of Americans believe in pseudoscience stuff like astrology having some validity (according to public opinion polls), a person's beliefs in the supernatural is not as out there.

Pundit believing that magic is real, and using that as an avenue to mock him, is pretty weaksauce thing to do and focus on in light of all the other stuff he says and does.

He uses it to feel superior to other people who play RPGs, which is the relevant/funny part.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



inklesspen posted:

Isn't Red and Pleasant Land just "Zak does Alice"? How the hell does that make anyone jealous?

That's a product that exists?

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

It's his new book, the one which Zak claimed (in the Google Plus posting I screenshotted earlier) was the true reason Kemper was down on Ken Hite. The DTRPG description says it is perfect for your "first, second, third, fourth or fifth edition game". Because the only game in existence is D&D.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



I see.

I've never heard of it before now, and I doubt I will ever hear about it again.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

Ask me about mapping out all the best limousine routes in Moscow for you and the little miss ;)

Lipstick Apathy

quote:

Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Perique

I know I shouldn't care so much, but what the hell is this guy's day job that he has a panoply of pipes and esoteric tobaccos to pick from?

Slimnoid
Sep 6, 2012

Does that mean I don't get the job?


gradenko_2000 posted:

I know I shouldn't care so much, but what the hell is this guy's day job that he has a panoply of pipes and esoteric tobaccos to pick from?

He makes big bucks out of selling other people's hard work.

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.


Rulebook Heavily posted:

Do I have to be the one to remind the thread that Pundit literally believes he is a wizard who knows real magic?

I dunno, Alan Moore somehow manages.
(Alan Moore may also be the only human being able to :smugwizard: while remaining awesome. Still want that Bumper Book of Magic.)

ProfessorCirno
Feb 17, 2011

The strongest! The smartest!
The rightest!


Libertad! posted:

This might sound dismissive, but why should we care?

Part of the reason I'm saying this is that I know a few folks IRL who have some out there beliefs (aliens and flying saucers, tarot card reading, etc), but a lot of these beliefs are more or less harmless and so I don't really judge or mock. Given that quite a bit of Americans believe in pseudoscience stuff like astrology having some validity (according to public opinion polls), a person's beliefs in the supernatural is not as out there.

Pundit believing that magic is real, and using that as an avenue to mock him, is pretty weaksauce thing to do and focus on in light of all the other stuff he says and does.

If it's any consolation, Rulebook is the reason there's literally a rule on RPG.net against using magic curses against other posters.

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




Magic isn't real grogs :sigh:

thotsky
Jun 7, 2005

hot to trot


Why is Kenneth Hite bad? I enjoyed the idea of Trail of Cthulhu, even if I never played it.

Chaltab
Feb 16, 2011

So shocked someone got me an avatar!


Rulebook Heavily posted:

He uses it to feel superior to other people who play RPGs, which is the relevant/funny part.
Holy poo poo, I'd seen the first part of that post and thought he was talking about 'if your conceit is that occult magic is real, then this is how you do it' which is pretentious enough.

Kemper Boyd
Aug 6, 2007

no kings, no gods, no masters but a comfy chair and no socks


Biomute posted:

Why is Kenneth Hite bad? I enjoyed the idea of Trail of Cthulhu, even if I never played it.

He's bad in the sense that he seems to be one of those dudes that go "well lets ignore everything else because we want to play games", which is major contributor to the fact that the industry is a very hostile place to minorities. He helps Zak promote stuff, he engages with him online in a friendly manner, so I decided to not buy any of Hite's stuff.

And apparently this drives Zak nuts because its harassment and an organized boycott or something.

In the last few days there's been talk about the wider phenomenon inside the industry: everyone keeps paying lip service to being progressive, inclusive and whatnot, but when you actually take a look at the people running the industry (in the sense of being major public figures inside the industry), it's straight white guys all the way down. Straight white guys who promote each other, do projects together and somehow never ever include a minority designer in anything, much less promote their products.

thotsky
Jun 7, 2005

hot to trot


Kemper Boyd posted:

He's bad in the sense that he seems to be one of those dudes that go "well lets ignore everything else because we want to play games", which is major contributor to the fact that the industry is a very hostile place to minorities. He helps Zak promote stuff, he engages with him online in a friendly manner, so I decided to not buy any of Hite's stuff.

And apparently this drives Zak nuts because its harassment and an organized boycott or something.

In the last few days there's been talk about the wider phenomenon inside the industry: everyone keeps paying lip service to being progressive, inclusive and whatnot, but when you actually take a look at the people running the industry (in the sense of being major public figures inside the industry), it's straight white guys all the way down. Straight white guys who promote each other, do projects together and somehow never ever include a minority designer in anything, much less promote their products.

I see. Well, all the power to you. I don't particularly mind if people choose to stick their heads in the sand and try to keep gender politics out of their hobby/workplace, but they are treading a fine line between enabling these nutters and "doing their thing". I can easily see how helping Zak promote his lovely projects steps over that line. It's a shame, as Ken Hite seems to be an enthusiastic guy who knows his poo poo from the podcasts I've heard him in.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Rulebook Heavily posted:

He uses it to feel superior to other people who play RPGs, which is the relevant/funny part.
In entirely predictable Tarnowski fashion, he's not only a Prackticing Magickian, but he'll gladly tell you that only he really understand the Thelamic Golden Rosicrucian Secret Egyptian Tradition while everyone else is a poseur barking up the wrong true, because he's just that awesome.

It's also funny because it's so at odds with his usual self-appointed role of clear-eyed scalpel-sharp truthteller looking down at all the silly, unthinking, irrational sheeple who fall for all kinds of nonsense - throwing an "oh, by the way, I (and I alone) command the Eye Of Thoth and comprehend the True Inner Mysteries" into that mix is such a wonderful, self-negating touch.

Froghammer
Sep 8, 2012





FMguru posted:

Prackticing Magickian
I'd like very much to pop you in the mouth for this.

ascendance
Feb 19, 2013


Rulebook Heavily posted:

Do I have to be the one to remind the thread that Pundit literally believes he is a wizard who knows real magic?
So Pundit is trying to be the RPG love child of Alan Moore and Mark Millar?

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

inklesspen posted:

It's his new book, the one which Zak claimed (in the Google Plus posting I screenshotted earlier) was the true reason Kemper was down on Ken Hite. The DTRPG description says it is perfect for your "first, second, third, fourth or fifth edition game". Because the only game in existence is D&D.
We already have a pair of old-school AD&D modules adapting the Alice books to the game (EX1 Dungeonland and EX2 The Land Beyond The Magic Mirror) written by Gary Gygax, and they are strange as gently caress. What does Zak bring to the table? Goth "edginess" like from American McGee's Alice?

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

Man, I dunno. I always thought the "snakes are books" thing from Vornheim was pretty cool. (Someone posted a snippet of it in some thread here.) But there's a lot of folks making pretty cool stuff; I don't need to bring Zak's work into my mindspace.

(I like both snakes and books, see.)

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


inklesspen posted:

Man, I dunno. I always thought the "snakes are books" thing from Vornheim was pretty cool. (Someone posted a snippet of it in some thread here.) But there's a lot of folks making pretty cool stuff; I don't need to bring Zak's work into my mindspace.

(I like both snakes and books, see.)

Well, this is the thing: there's a lot of decent material in Vornheim. For what it is, it's a good product, and I'm prepared to assume that the latest work of Mr S is also pretty good.

But, in the words of Cam Banks (I think): "There is nothing you can get from an rear end in a top hat that you can't get just as easily from someone who isn't an rear end in a top hat." There's plenty of good RPG work being done by people who are fine human beings (Quinn Murphy, for example) so why indulge abrasive shitlords?

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

Well, like I said in my earlier post, it's easy to not notice the degree of his abrasive shitlordiness. Apparently he conducts most of his "activities" through private google+ posts and similar non-public things, right? When the whole consultants thing broke, it was easy to see Pundit's behavior, but Zak's was harder. I read some of the public forum threads he's posted in and saw he was a jerk, but being a jerk is not itself a crime and there are plenty of jerks who have written good books. So I then made a choice to believe people here when they said he'd done much worse things; the evidence for that was not readily available (and, frankly, still isn't). It's easy for me to imagine why someone who simply hadn't had the chance to talk with people here would come to a different conclusion.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Desborough managed to finally make a good showing in an online argument!

...with a Markov script bot


Chaltab
Feb 16, 2011

So shocked someone got me an avatar!


The script bot is still saying more true things than Desbo.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Christ, discovering some of my friends are 'Well Gamergate has it some ideas and there's really no rape threats they're made up by radfem types' people was painful this week. Coincidentally, it's also people from the same group that refuses to move on from 3.5.

Guilty Spork
Feb 25, 2011

Thunder rolled. It rolled a six.


potatocubed posted:

Well, this is the thing: there's a lot of decent material in Vornheim. For what it is, it's a good product, and I'm prepared to assume that the latest work of Mr S is also pretty good.

But, in the words of Cam Banks (I think): "There is nothing you can get from an rear end in a top hat that you can't get just as easily from someone who isn't an rear end in a top hat." There's plenty of good RPG work being done by people who are fine human beings (Quinn Murphy, for example) so why indulge abrasive shitlords?
Zak's issues mainly show in the way he interacts with people, which is like an abrasive crazy person crossed with an insane chatbot. I have no doubt that his actual RPG products are good (though that means the way he writes books is absolutely nothing like the way he posts online), but when there's more RPG stuff out there than I could hope to consume in a lifetime, I do in fact have not only the luxury but the necessity of picking and choosing.

Night10194 posted:

Christ, discovering some of my friends are 'Well Gamergate has it some ideas and there's really no rape threats they're made up by radfem types' people was painful this week. Coincidentally, it's also people from the same group that refuses to move on from 3.5.
I've been totally avoiding bringing it up with most of my friends just in case. At this point I really just don't want to deal with that GG crap.

Weirdo
Jul 22, 2004

I stay up late :coffee:



Grimey Drawer

Guilty Spork posted:

I've been totally avoiding bringing it up with most of my friends just in case. At this point I really just don't want to deal with that GG crap.

The Grognards threads always make me thankful for my gaming group.

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


Libertad! posted:

This might sound dismissive, but why should we care?

Part of the reason I'm saying this is that I know a few folks IRL who have some out there beliefs (aliens and flying saucers, tarot card reading, etc), but a lot of these beliefs are more or less harmless and so I don't really judge or mock. Given that quite a bit of Americans believe in pseudoscience stuff like astrology having some validity (according to public opinion polls), a person's beliefs in the supernatural is not as out there.

Pundit believing that magic is real, and using that as an avenue to mock him, is pretty weaksauce thing to do and focus on in light of all the other stuff he says and does.

I like that the Wikipedia page for the guy who made Glorantha (which is a great setting) has this as its first sentence:

quote:

Francis Gregory Stafford (born February 9, 1948, in St. Mary's Hospital, Waterbury, Hartford, Connecticut[1]), usually known as Greg Stafford, is an American game designer, publisher, and practitioner of shamanism.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Did somebody say "bot"!?!?!



Of course, more relevant to grogs, he later twips:

quote:

We accept interference in business practices in order to safeguard the rights of minorities - and quite right too. This is acceptable.

Stepping in to guarantee a basic human right of everyone, however, is beyond the pale for some reason.

If we can and do and should step in so that no matter how devout their religion a business must serve (for example) gays...:siren:

...why not to serve the basic human right, of all, to free expression? Within reason.

In a world of Amazon, Paypal and discriminatory CC processing practices, we need to have this conversation.

Here's a list of very similar things:

1) "I won't sell my products to you because being gay is wrong."

2) "Get away from my lunch counter. Black people are not welcome here."

3) "You cannot sell your product through my storefront because your product and ideas are bad."

It's practically discrimination mad-libs! Just replace "gay people" or "black people" with "Desborough" and I think you'll see the parallels.

The Culture War of Our Generation

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

Ask me about mapping out all the best limousine routes in Moscow for you and the little miss ;)

Lipstick Apathy

I fail as a GM because I like GMPCs. I tried to write an argument for them. Validate it, or give me a logical, relevant reason to prove that the mechanics are a sin



According to this subreddit, I am a lovely GM and everyone should avoid me like the plague.

How could I know this, and how could any group of people make this assumption? Well, I use GMPCs. It’s very, very clear that doing so is taboo, and so I should feel remorseful for my actions. But I don’t. I don’t feel remorse for my actions; in fact, I enjoy using GMPCs, making this an unforgiveable sin.

Do I think that I’m a lovely GM? Honestly, no. Perhaps inexperienced, but I don’t consider that to be a in any way related to my enjoyment of GMPCs. However, for that reason, I don’t GM anymore. Why would I hand ammunition to the majority of the roleplaying population, knowing that many of them would not hesitate to either dismiss my presence or bash my preferences? Oh wait…

That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m posting this because I have low self-esteem. It doesn’t feel good to know that I’m frowned upon as a GM. It makes me question my actions when I understand what I’m doing wrong but not why it’s wrong. It’s wrong to let other people’s opinions control one’s actions, but it’s different when this inhibits what should be friendly interaction. I’ve run several sessions where I used a GMPC. As far as I was told, and as far as I could tell, everyone was having fun. The players praised me for my work as a GM, but those are only a couple of opinions versus the vastly popular opinion of a large community.

Thus, I am looking for either validation, or a logical, relevant reason for why the singular act of using a GMPC is automatically, unquestionably, without exception, a sin.

inb4 this is downvoted to hell

Given the gravity of such a controversial topic, I’m going to present my argument in a somewhat organized manner. First, I will explain my definition of a GMPC, just so that we’re all on the same page. Next, I will state what I do with a GMPC and why I enjoy using them. After that, I will present some common community arguments against GMPCs, which I will try to paint as illogical and/or irrelevant (i.e. off-topic). Finally, I’ll state my own opinions on the topic. Hopefully, people will respond by either agreeing with my argument, countering my argument, or disputing that the arguments I refuted are both logical and relevant.

Part 1: Definition

A GMPC is a character that I design to accompany the player characters as either recurring support or continuous support. Mechanically, I create the character by using the mechanics for PCs, as opposed to the mechanics for NPCs. Furthermore, when they take an action, I use the mechanics for player actions rather than those for NPC actions. The character has a more thorough backstory than minor NPCs, and the character is often relevant to a single quest that the players resolve. Narratively, the GMPC is a friend and an ally. The character is usually just as effective in combat and adventuring as any PC, and thus uses these skills to assist the players on their adventure(s). Naturally, the skills the character possesses reflect the character’s personality and background, and the character can only fill multiple roles as well as a PC can. Depending on the system and the group’s size, skills and abilities may overlap between the GMPC and the PCs, just like how there can be overlap amongst the PCs. The GMPC does not automatically take on a role that rounds out the party’s combat efficiency (e.g. become the tank, the healer, or the DPS).

Part 2: Practical Usage

These are some of the things I do with a GMPC:

1. Fulfilling mechanical and narrative roles for the PC: e.g. The party needs to explore a bunker before rival forces arrive, so the GMPC watches the entrance. The party needs all the help they can get when invading an enemy stronghold, so they invite the GMPC to help fight. The players want to take a stealthy action during their quest but don’t have a stealthy character, so I roll for the GMPC.

2. Encouraging roleplay amongst the PCs: I can do this more subtly by controlling a member of the party than by outright telling the players to roleplay more. The players may sometimes shift all their attention to the mechanics and quest objectives, but a gentle nudge reminds them that there’s more to the game.

3. Providing suggestions for what to do next: If the players can’t think of something creative to do next, they can ask me to provide multiple different ideas. I communicate this through the GMPC. Of course, I wouldn’t do this unless I’m asked, but I may take the initiative if game is really going too slowly.

GMPCs aren’t needed to create the three effects above; a GM doesn’t need a character to speak with the players, and an additional party member isn’t needed if encounters are simpler, smaller, and easier. I use them because I enjoy them.

I enjoy using GMPCs because I’m selfish. As the GM, I have to do more prep work than anyone else in my group, and chances are a lot of it won’t even show up in the game. I have to monitor both the mechanics of the game and my group’s personal enjoyment. I have much more responsibility in our activities, so when the players get a personal character, I give myself one as well. This is a sin. The common “solution” is to rotate the GMing role, which gives everyone a chance to play. However, this would mean that GMing is a chore. It’s like being the designated driver; it’s a necessary role, and you’re willing to take on the work and responsibility for the end result, but the act itself does not compare to what everyone else gets to do. This also ends up being a very long chore if the game is long-term and low-death.

By accepting the selfishness of my decision, there are two things GMPCs can do that are harder to accomplish without them. First, they reinforce that I am on the players’ side. I am their cheerleader; I am not their enemy, and I will not try to antagonize or trick them. My role is to be a referee, and my job is to ensure the group’s fun. Second, by treating my GMPCs as personal, intimate characters, I can creatively/personally disconnect myself from what I create as a GM. That way, there are no hard feelings when the players literally destroy everything I’ve created. No attachment, no hard feelings.

I’m sure that many of you believe that players aren’t supposed to become attached to their characters, since death is inevitable, but understand that’s one type of game. There are games where there is combat and players can die, there are games where there is combat and players don’t die, there are games where there is no combat and people don’t die, and there are games where there is no combat and people still die. If we’re doing a long-term non/low-death game and my players are not attached to their characters, I should be concerned, not vice versa.

Part 3: Community Arguments

There are some arguments taken from GMPC posts, through only the ones that focus on general discussion rather than an OP’s specific situation. I will not provide the authors of the source comments because I will mostly be paraphrasing, some opinions are shared in multiple comments, and I have no desire to call specific people out.

The GMPC has advance knowledge of the quest’s details, e.g. expected enemies, where to go, etc.
Illogical: A character is not entitled to knowledge that the actual character would not know.
Irrelevant: If we assume that the GMPC knows everything I know as a GM, it’s still irrelevant. As a GM, I don’t know how my players will confront their obstacles, and, for systems with randomization, I can’t predict the dice rolls. Thus, it’s an issue of railroading.

The GMPC is used to put the story on railroads.
Irrelevant: Obviously a railroading issue.
Illogical: GMPCs do not appear to logically cause railroading.

The GMPC steals the players’ EXP and loot. With a system where characters earn EXP at their own rate, this is irrelevant because it’s the GM’s responsibility to monitor everyone’s EXP/level. If gaps aren’t corrected, this is a conscious decision of the GM. Also applies for loot. With a system where characters all receive an equal amount of EXP for each a quest, this is illogical because everyone gets the same amount anyways. Also applies for loot.

Since the GM both “writes the story” and controls the GMPC, the GM can give the GMPC an edge by creating situations designed for their skillset.
Illogical: The GM does not “write a story.” The GM can’t know exactly what the players will face without railroading.
Irrelevant: It is the GM’s responsibility to generate obstacles for the players; if this isn’t done in an engaging and balanced manner, this is an issue of encounter balance, planning, loopholes in mechanics, GM skill, etc.

“If you really want a DMPC in your game, write a short story instead. That way, all the characters are either NPCs or DMPCs and you don't have those pesky players ruining your plot.”
Illogical: A lesson from Tabletop RPGs 101 - story writing is NOT synonymous with playing tabletop RPGs.

A GMPC makes the GM fall into a trap where they start focusing the story on themselves and reducing the fun for the other players.
Irrelevant: This is an issue of GM bias and/or a lack of skill.

Popular arguments that I cannot refute:

GMPCs are special because they are more personal for the GM. This is probably true in a lot of cases. True for me, as I stated earlier. I don’t really care, because I can play a game where we take turns being a designated GM who isn’t allowed to put a personal touch on the world they create, or I can play a game where everyone is having fun a world that’s personal to everyone. However, although I’m fine with my preference, players are not.

“The group either looks at the character as a Mary Sue if you do anything successfully or as utterly worthless dead weight if they don't.” This argument is probably accurate and I can’t refute it. However, it suggests that the primary reason against GMPCs is the community’s unrelenting bias against them. Essentially, GMPCs are prohibited not because the concept is flawed, but rather because the community is too bigoted to accept them.

Part 4: Conclusion

Right now, unless I’m missing something super obvious in this community’s sentiments, I feel like the whole “GMPCs are a sin” has literally nothing to do with the concept of GMPCs. Instead, it’s an issue of railroading, GM bias, and poor GM skill; GMPCs are just scapegoats for far more prevalent problems. Since the GMPC topic is actually a conglomerate of random negative GM habits, the topic is actually a stigmatized preference issue that never stays on topic (i.e. as a preference issue).

There’s one argument that I am not keen on accepting here: That’s not a GMPC.

A somewhat common response to examples where a GMPC does not cause apparent problems for the group is to state that it’s not a GMPC. This is typically used for “NPCs” who follow the party as a background character who may perform minor supporting roles, but never anything more. The “NPC” also can’t be self-gratifying for the GM. (Of course, this argument doesn’t apply to me because my GMPC helps the party as a passive but effective character, not a background character. Its existence is also due to selfish reasons.) If I accept this argument, that would mean that a “GMPC” is simply a NPC that was poorly designed and/or poorly used, which is not a reflection of the core concept but rather the GM’s lack of skill. If that’s the case, then the word “GMPC” is just a loaded derogatory term that serves no constructive purpose in fair discussion. It would be just like the rest of our sexist, racist, and bigoted slurs. However, while I am not comfortable listing so many such words in this post, it’s completely acceptable to use GMPC as “technical terminology.

tl;dr This is intended to be a debate regarding the usage of GMPCs. I presented my argument for them and attempted to refute the arguments against them. Feel free to read, but if you try to counter me by repeating the arguments I initially refuted, it’ll be pretty obvious. Focus on reading Parts 1 through 4.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Night10194 posted:

Christ, discovering some of my friends are 'Well Gamergate has it some ideas and there's really no rape threats they're made up by radfem types' people was painful this week. Coincidentally, it's also people from the same group that refuses to move on from 3.5.

3.5 as in 3.5 types who hate Pathfinder?

Because if they play Pathfinder, well hoo boy I've got news for them.

One of the people on Paizo's team is a feminist (Jessica Price); James Jacobs once told a homophobic fan back in 2008 that they didn't want folks like him as a customer; the company gave several of their books to a depressed transgender fan as a show of support, all of them containing entries of gender-queer characters including an angel deity; a GamerGate supporter tried to start a thread on Paizo forums before a significant section of the board turned on him and it got locked.

The work ethics of Paizo today would cause GamerGate to recoil in horror.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Libertad! posted:

3.5 as in 3.5 types who hate Pathfinder?

Because if they play Pathfinder, well hoo boy I've got news for them.

Yeah, I'm aware of Pathfinder being surprisingly good about that stuff. I still think it's a game I'll never run again, but it's nice to hear about someone trying to be nicer in this hobby sometimes.

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Azran
Sep 3, 2012

I am the real hero here.




At the same time, isn't Pathfinder the game where pretty much every classic monster (ogres, orcs, etc) reproduce through rape first and foremost?

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