Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some Declarations

Joseph Bloch over at Greyhawk Grognard had an interesting post on Sunday, even it was really just at its core explaining some of his preferences as a gamer. I’m going to go ahead and make some declarations of my own, many riffing off of his, some not:

I definitely think there’s often a disconnect, where people see games in terms of technology. New isn’t necessarily better. Of course, neither is old, but there isn’t some inevitable march of RPG progress.

As far as Elves, I’m not a fan of them as player characters. I like them with a little bit of arrogance, removed from the worries and wear of a short human life. I will admit, about 50% of my gnomes are in the “let’s blow stuff up” category. Dwarves are awesome, and need not be modified in any meaningful way from their Tolkienesque form. Halfling are ideally a bit more round about the middle, fond of pipeweed, second breakfasts, and a distinct lack of rough travel.

I don’t mind players adding meaningful bits to my world, but stay out from behind my screen. You don’t narrate that a sword appears or the dragon falls over dead. That’s my job.

I’m not even super-fond of half-elves and half-orcs, let alone dragonborn. If a class has a “-singer”, "-weaver", or “-dancer” suffix, that’s probably a bad sign. If you need a) more than 3 total words or b) generally any compound words at all to describe your race/class, I probably don’t like it.

Special class abilities, skills, and feats can be fun perks, in moderation. I hate min/maxing, which an excess of any of those three former items may encourage.

I really, really love random tables and charts, especially when they’re optional.

I have never had an “evil character campaign” end well.

The pdf revolution has been great! There are still times I want a printout or hard copy, though. New Book Smell is aces.

Laptops are a-ok at my table, but they’ve also been a distraction at times, just like smartphones. Groups need to be respectful of that sort of thing if they’re going to use them.

I am a proud member of the Order of the d30. I also love Zocchi dice, but things like a d24 are fun novelties, and not much else. I want to ensure the core dice for any game are at least reasonably accessible to players.

Ever since I became a parent roughly 6 years ago, I can’t stand any setting or adventure that sees children injured or harmed in any way. I hate seeing it, I hate reading about it, and I hate it as a plot hook.

I think the style of Dungeonpunk sucks. If you have that many buckles and spikes on your armor, it will take you 37 hours to get dressed, and you will likely impale yourself in the process.

I am almost exactly as old as Keep on the Borderlands. There are still no modules that come close to helping you learn how to be a sandbox GM quite like that one.

I am a really horrible Game Master when it comes to horror gaming. I can do sci-fi, fantasy, supers, but I suck when it comes to horror.

I mean this in the nicest way possible: I don’t care if an RPG uses “he”, “she”, “him or her”, or “it” as a pronoun throughout their examples. Whatever gets your point across. If certain pronouns in your examples help you deal with your white male guilt, go for it.

On that topic, men and women are treated the same at my table. I don’t see a need for any special treatment for either, but you’d better not act like a creep, no matter what your gender is.

I almost never use alignment. It’s problematic and easily gamed by players. Rather, you are how you act.

Yeah, gore….not really my thing in illustrations or art. It’s a style, but not one that’s at the top of my list. I like too much Goya not to have some appreciation for horror art, but I’m not a fan of too much of it in my gaming.

I’m a Christian and a gamer, who holds generally small-government political principles. Yes, I’m a pretty terrible Christian sometimes, and I’m probably an even worse libertarian. I don’t mention either on this site or online much, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy seeing my ideals, moral code, and God mocked. Yeah, you’re free to do it, but it’s irritating, especially when I’m just trying to discuss gaming, and one of the reasons I probably don’t post some places as much as I used to. I’m not about to start linking to in-depth National Review articles I find interesting or discuss my religious convictions here, because that’s not what this site is about. It won’t come up again, because I know it’s pretty irritating to jump online for RPG chat and see a bunch of other unrelated stuff thrown into the mix, but I felt like I needed to at least get that out there.

There are times when I look at what people are raving about on RPGnet or elsewhere, and I really think the hobby has passed me by somewhat. I look at where I was 4-5 years ago, and I don’t have that sense of commonality anymore. Then I tell myself to suck it up, quit being emo, and I go play with my kids for a while.


Astronut said...

While I disagree with a chunk of Mr Bloch's preferences (I'm not an old-schooler although I agree with some of the principles), these seem to match me better than I expected, especially regarding demihumans, progress and losing track of the hobby...

I think you nailed feats and the like spot on - cool in moderation, terrible if over-used - but I have no issue with characters built around specialist fighting/magic styles - if done in moderation! (We're back to Goblins' entirely unrelated trio of misunderstood Drow aren't we?).

I tend to think I can do horror, but I have a feeling it's actually pulp with a horror flavour...

No comment on the politics ;-)


Zachary Houghton said...

Interesting idea on pulp/horror, Jon. I think there's a lot of crossover--or, rather, I think a lot of horror that's run is in the pulp horror vein.

And thanks! ;)

elrics said...

Zach, you are my brother from another mother. I am RIGHT THERE w/you on being turned off by modules/campaigs/etc. that use threatening or exploiting children as a plot hook. I get so angry I can't serve as a properly neutral GM. I recognize that this is a weakness of mine, paternal instinct gone crazy, and that in a pseudo-medieval world children would be abused/exploited/killed in droves, but I don't care. If we can assume away centuries of mysogyny, we can assume that children are safe until they achieve their majority.

Right there with you on the Christianity and the libertarian Conservatism, too. :)

Zachary Houghton said...

Right on, man. I hear you on the kids thing—I know it’s irrational, but ever since my first daughter came into the world, I just can’t do it. Nice to hear I’m not alone on that one.

Stuart said...

I share your feelings about kids getting hurt as a plot device. It's not what I'm looking for in my make-believe hobby gaming time.

Greyknight said...

Wow... I can't believe I found a blog post that I agree with 100%!

That is a first.

Zachary Houghton said...

Er...it was this one?

Wow! ;)

Joshua L. Lyle said...

Not a Christian, myself, but I wanted to say I respect your beliefs and I appreciate your light touch on the matter of writing about them.

Zachary Houghton said...

Cheers, Josh. Thanks for the comment.

mabon5127 said...

Great Post!


rainswept said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Rotwang! said...

Totally not cool with anything that features kids as victims, either, dude -- and for the same reason. Actually I never liked it before I had a kid, but I like it even less now.

Politics, schmolitics. I'm in this for the swords and the aliens and the monsters and the spaceships. Also, I don't give any more of a damn about someone's religion than I do about their preference in...I dunno...toilet paper, or whatever. So long as neither of 'em are flung at me, I'm cool.

I understand dungeonpunk as a marketing and/or aesthetic choice. I also understand curry as a seasoning, and I can't stand that, either.

Feats, bah. You and I don't need a Sharper Image catalog of PC Badassedness; we're grown-ups, and we can adjudicate this stuff on the fly.

Dragon-blooded blah-dee-blah. Sorry, I'm not digging it. Not my kinda fun.

Gaming with ladies. I've been doing that for a loooong time now, and I never thought of women as anything other than cohorts to begin with, so...just show up, be fun and have fun. Your plumbing is irrelevant; you, as an individual, are not.

My wife makes a damn good chili. That's not germane to the conversation, but it's true, dammit.

LASTLY - Be Excellent To Each Other, And Party On.