Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dear Anonymous...

It is not my policy to allow anonymous posts. In my opinion, either you have the guts to stand by what you have to say, or you are a coward who does not deserve to be heard here on this blog. This is my blog and it gets done my way, and the opinions expressed are my own. If you wish to point out something that I might be overlooking, or if you object to what I am saying, then by all means please do speak up and let's discuss things like adults. I can be wrong and in the face of better information or a cogent argument, I can be swayed into changing my opinion. I never claimed to be right or infallible, and as far as I am concerned opinions are pretty much the equivalent of underwear—they need to be changed before they stink. But I am not interested in the bullshit that gets lobbed like grenades by 'anonymous' posters. It's not like you really give a shit what I have to say, Anonymous, otherwise you would have taken the time to actually read my previous post before tossing a stale boiler-plate cut-and-paste rant into the comments section. Wannabe trolls can just go crawl back under their bridges.

That said, this recent anonymous response got me to thinking a bit, and while I will not accept anonymous posts, I will still address some of the points raised in this particular comment as I feel some clarification might be worthwhile. Yo, Anonymous; if you are serious about actually discussing things, please do feel free to post out in the open and we'll bounce things back and forth a bit.

I knew before I posted the previous bit that the McD&D comment would prove inflammatory. It is my opinion, based upon my personal experience. I do not apologize for it. The comments regarding 'Those damn kids...' were meant in jest, you know, humor. The one thing that does not travel well in the electronic medium. Maybe I should have added the obligatory LOL or whatever. I didn't. Too bad.

I never stated that the kids playing 4E are stupid, nor that we need to save anyone, let alone those who are enjoying themselves mightily at their chosen game. For the record, in my opinion no one who can manage to play 4E is by any means a “mindless numbskull,” nor did I ever imply such a thing. If anything, the most recent set of rules are far more complicated, detailed and demanding than OD&D and it takes a lot to get through them all, let alone actually play them. But that's not the point. I wasn't even addressing the metaphorical kids on the lawn so much as I was addressing the self-professed grognards of the OSR. If we want the OSR to be relevant in any way beyond a few grumbling graybeards circle-jerking over each others' blogs out back in some dark and dismal corner of the internet (thanks for that particular image 'Anonymous'!), then we old-timers and people of experience need to show what we've got, not just talk about it. Otherwise it is we, the not-so-mighty graybeards who'll need to be saved from our own irrelevance.

When I referred to the ignorance of the current generation in regards to the OD&D materials and methods, it was in the literal sense of there are just too few opportunities left to really experience the old ways of playing—in some ways it is a lot like a dying art or folk-tradition that is fading away. A lot of the grognards are dying off. The numbers are against us and the way we approach things is literally going extinct before our very eyes, or so it seems some days. If there is actually going to be some sort of a renaissance around the OSR, then we had better get busy making it happen sooner rather than later. That's is one reason I started this blog. My aim is to do something to the best of my ability that will go towards demonstrating my personal take on the OSR, for what it is worth.

In regards to my using the term ignorance, well ignorance is not necessarily a pejorative, especially when it is quite literally true. Perhaps I struck a nerve, as Anonymous really pitched a fit over that particular remark. Not knowing, having no experience, never having encountered something is being ignorant of it. It is not a moral judgment, and it is a correctable condition, most often remedied by educating yourself. The gist of what I was stating comes down to this: the old-timers can't really gripe about the choices of kids these days if we've made no effort to show them the alternatives available to them. If they do not know about the things we value, it is because we have failed to present a cogent, attractive or meaningful example to them. In many respects, if the OSR does not drop the whole 'your game sucks' bullshit, we are just lending credence to the distorted views of players like Anonymous in regards to the OSR being a bunch of stuffy, unwashed old guys debating the qualities of polearms in someone else's mother's basement. As I have already stated previously in this blog, I tend to see all versions of D&D as being part of one continuous spectrum of development that is rooted in OD&D and extends onwards past the current edition to whatever it becomes next. I have chosen to focus on OD&D for now, but I have not entirely abandoned any of the other editions necessarily as they all have something to contribute and offer to my personal development process. I definitely reserve the right to plunder good ideas wherever I find them.

As for the charge of hubris...well, I stated an opinion based upon personal experience and I feel that I addressed my remarks to the appropriate audience in a fairly straightforward manner. My point was to point out to the grognard-graybeards that instead of grumbling about those damn kids like some lame Scooby Doo villain-of-the-week, we need to demonstrate the stuff we think is valuable, show it to you all, not just hoard it to ourselves like a shiny ring we found in the muck, and give y'all a chance to see it in action...before we're all dead, buried and forgotten. To my experience, bitching never solved a damn thing, getting off the butt and doing something usually gives you a chance to prove your point. Basically, my point was that the OSR needs to prove itself relevant beyond a few insular, cliquish and cranky curmudgeons scowling away and getting all Talmudic with the Holy Text left us by the prophet Gygax.

To me, hubris is far better exemplified in posting an obviously cut-and-paste rant anonymously that betrays a total lack of comprehension of what was being said.

My comment in regard to the fine folks at WOTC is fair and honest; they tend to be very nice people, highly creative and skilled professionals, and I respect them even as I tend to disagree with some of their choices. They are not bad guys, nor is WOTC necessarily any sort of evil entity that brainwashes morons. In my experience morons self-hypnotize themselves far more effectively than any corporate Svengali can accomplish, otherwise marketing would be far, far more effective than it is currently. The game that they present as D&D bears almost no resemblance to OD&D, aside from a few very basic features. Take a look at the two products and compare them as I have. They are quite different animals, very radically different approaches, and it would be hard to mistake one for the other. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, it just is what it is. My point is this: Each succeeding iteration of the game has evolved farther and farther away from the original game to the point that later incarnations are effectively very different games. It is kind of like Poker morphing into Backgammon. It is pretty-much stating the obvious, but it was for a reason; often times the 'obvious' is not quite what we assume it to be.

Please do note that I at no point used emotional labels of value beyond the 'McD&D' label, which seriously did get under your skin, didn't it? I used that term deliberately because the more modern iterations of the game are very polished, slick, with high production values and are driven by corporate interests that determine what is acceptable and which things get included and how. Again, not a judgment of overall quality, but a statement of historical truth: AD&D onwards have increasingly become more corporate in terms of how they have been produced. Fact. Plain and simple fact. McDonalds is one of the most successful corporations in history, being linked to them even facetiously, is far from an insult, from a corporate perspective. It's the equivalent of comparing an athlete to the latest Olympic gold medal winner for that sport. If you choose to load negativity where none was intended, that is your hubris and your problem, not mine. Corporations are a fact of life just as guilds became a force to be reckoned with in the Medieval period. Whether you think they are a good thing or some insidious quasi-Lovecraftian force for evil is a matter of personal perspective; I see them as a fact of life and a known quantity that have had a demonstrable impact on the continued development of the game I happen to enjoy. It would be hubris indeed for me to ignore that fact of life and to merrily go on blathering about the so-called golden age of OD&D...which is pure, utter nostalgic bullshit.

Lastly, Anonymous, the only proper fun I know of is to have fun, period. There's nothing wrong-bad in 4E anymore than there is with any other version, edition, or iteration of the game. I'm just one of those old farts who looked back and realized there was something special and wonderful in the system that I used to play that I want to recapture, rekindle and use to develop something new, feral and shiny that incorporates the best features of ALL the various editions including 4E. And that is what I am doing, one step at a time, building upon the foundation that Gary built, and getting it done on my schedule, to my satisfaction and on my terms—this is my blog after all. If you don't like that, then don't read my blog, and go back to your game and have some fun—proper or otherwise, that's up to you.


  1. If "Fighting-Man" was good enough for Frank Herbert it's good enough for me!

  2. Frank Herbert is dead. Long live Frank Herbert...

    You do what you do and do it very well, I might add--I am doing something different and what works for you might not work so well in the setting that I am building...

    The use of 'man' to describe a class that applies to women, hermaphrodites, inhuman things, nonhumans, urfolk, and hybrids as well as to the spawn of machines, etc. just seems less than adequate. Also, in Riskail, fighting is more of a skill that almost anyone has to greater or lesser measure based upon their personal choices and development. It's more of a feature of the three main classes that approach it from differing perspectives. Having someone devoted just to fighting is handled by the Adept sub-class of the Scholar; people devoted to their militant arts in an extreme measure in order to become consummate masters of their arts of mayhem, destruction and murder...or whatever...

    I will be detailing this in a post that is almost done, again you are anticipating me and you have got to get out of my head dammit...LOL!

  3. Whoops, looks like I commented in the wrong post.

    You are correct re. the inadequacies (and implied gender roles) of "Fighting-Man." I still absolutely love the class name for how it resonates with the language of so much of the source materials (From Dune through to pulp potboilers), and I also really, really like the absurdity of using it as a term for women, robots, plants, hermaphrodites. My character is a Red Man Fighting-Man Woman...that sort of clumsy lingo just cracks me up!


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