Thursday, August 30, 2007

Maxim: Gen Con! Sex! Is funny! Ha ha!

Nerd Sex Video Funny - Maxim Online Video Channel:

Popping up on the social bookmarking sites is this "Nerd Sex" video thing, which is supposed to be a funny video from a Maxim magazine interviewer about nerds and sex at GenCon.

I'm willing to laugh at myself and other gamers, and I wondered what the hell they could have found to say about sex and GenCon, so I checked it out, but there's really nothing to see. The interviewer tries to get various gencon attendees of various degrees of dorkiness to talk about getting laid at GenCon, and most of them look at him like he's an idiot, and when prodded, joke about it.

Plus there's a woman who was slipped a quasi-romantic come-on note by some guy she'd gamed with.

I was really ready to laugh at this if there was comedy, but I was disappointed.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Come Not Near To Me, For I Be Indier Than Thou

Joe pointed me to a very hot thread on Story Games where the initial poster seems to think that a lot of "indie" game designers and fans sound too much like MC Frontalot...

soundly situated in obscurityland
famous in inverse proportion to how cool I am
and should I ever garner triple-digit fans
you can tell me then there's someone I ain't indier than...

and if you're slow on the uptake, I'll lay it out
hipsterism is a religion to which you gotta be devout
must be seen as in between unpopular and hated
or else get excommunicated
I'm not a regular Story Games poster so I'm going to indulge myself by spouting off here instead. The whole discussion is, if you want a diverting free-for-all, entertaining, and if you don't, tedious.

My favorite replies were from Matt Snyder, Tony Lower-Basch, Judd Karlman, and Christopher Kubiasik. I liked what Andy K and some others had to say, but I thought they made the mistake of wasting too much time on the issue.

I guess bottom line the problem is the many meanings and connotations of the term "indie." It can mean...

  1. Creator-owned and controlled
  2. Non-traditionally distributed
  3. Created with a consciousness of GNS Theory
  4. Consciously Narrativist
  5. Created by people who post on the Forge
  6. Sold at the Forge Booth at GenCon
  7. Non-broken with respect to creative agendas
  8. Cool and hip
  9. Part of a special community of creative rebels
  10. Having a delicious Creme Filling
One could try to define it better, but one can't force others at gunpoint to use one's favorite definition. As long as value judgments and identity issues are wrapped up in a term like that people are going to get bent out of shape over it. So it goes.

UPDATE: the thread continues apace, and with each post I read of it, I lose a few more brain cells. With a few exceptions, the authors of which don't need me to tell them they're exceptions.

I think this kind of thread is what forced Ron and Clinton to reorganize the Forge to try to minimize such wankery, the alternative being gnawing their own legs off.

UPDATE UPDATE: I almost posted the following to the thread, but stopped myself:

I'm wondering if Ron or others ever regret his choice of the domain name "" -- cause I think if he'd gone for something uglier like "" such threads wouldn't exist.

As far as I'm concerned, the only meaning of "indie" which is relevant to the "indie rpgs" movement which stems from the Forge is "creator-owned," because that's what Ron meant by it, and Ron is the one who by his choice of domain names attached the word "indie" to the community.

If that's not what the word "indie" means to you, then fuck the word "indie." Don't use it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

[Breaking the Ice] Xavier and Tricia: Funky Monkey and El Bandito!

A few weeks ago, Ed came over and we decided to fire up Breaking the Ice. My memories of the particulars may be be a bit hazy. I have the word webs and the character sheets, so maybe that'll help.

I started out with brown as my color, and had such interesting connecting words as chocolate, dirt, monkey, guitar and furniture. I should point at that our switch was that my character was a programmer, and Ed's was an office drone. Last time I played the gal, so this time, it was his turn. We set the game in Chicago, as per regulation.

I ended up with Xavier, who was a CAD furniture designer by day, guitar player in a funk band by night. He was honest, had a bit of a sweet tooth, liked to hike, and had a tattoo of a monkey. He also had an over zealous, stalker-ish fan. As a note, Ed and I had just watched a mini-marathon of "Flight of the Conchords" that I had TiVo-ed, and had Mel on the mind. If you know the show, you will nod and smile, if not, sorry.

Ed chose turquoise and ended up with stuff like ocean, jewelry, shiny, southwest, and tex-mex. His character, Tricia, was introspective, a fan of horror movies, made jewelry, liked flying kites, and worked for a restaurant chain, El Bandito! Tricia's conflict was that her office couldn't do without her. She basically, over the years, had been given more an more responsibility, but without promotion or higher pay. We had a lot of fun filling in information about the fictitious El Bandito! coming up with a mascot, commercials, and jingles.

Ed came up with the idea that one of her coworkers was the drummer in Xavier's band, and that they had met after a gig, and kinda hit it off. They agreed to meet at a park and she said she liked kites. If Xavier brought the kites, she'd bring lunch. So I described how Xavier had gone to a hobby store and bought a half dozen kites, from the cheap dowel rod ones, to slick, fighting kites. They ended up putting together the cheap ones, having fun until... crap, I can't remember the particulars, but Xavier ended up getting really pissed and just letting off a long stream of obscenities, just as a friend of Tricia's happened by, with her young child. Oops. I'm pretty sure that as some point Tricia got a call from work, as it was a very common theme throughout the game, her never getting a moment of rest. I remember them having lunch at a band shell, and he playing her some songs on his uke that he'd brought along. We ended the date with a few points of attraction, no compatibilities, and a few new traits: "Curses like a sailor" for Xavier, and "Friends hate Xavier" for Tricia.

The second date was kinda cool. Ed suggested that the date take place over a series of IM sessions. I came up with the idea that his band was on a long weekend tour out of town, playing in some clubs in Michigan. We had wonky internet connections, her getting work calls, him beginning to have doubts about being in the band. It was an interesting way to have a date, and I wish I could remember more about it. I know that they finally got some compatibilities: day job conflict, and love of old Motown songs. I seem to remember he wrote her a song, recorded it on his laptop, and sent it to her. Her conflict even dragged in the drummer/coworker who had to go to a Grand Rapids El Bandito! and help them get their computers working.

The last date was a night on the town. Xavier told Tricia that he'd quit the band. It wasn't going in the direction he wanted, and it was just a hobby for him anyway. After dinner, they were walking along Lake Michigan, when the "fan" showed up, upset that he had quit the band. Tricia stepped up and talked to the girl, and told her that the drummer/coworker kinda liked her. That seemed to placate her. Then Xavier and Tricia walked and talked about her job, with Xavier giving her some advice, telling her not to let her bosses take her for granted, etc. She got a frantic call from the office and told them she was busy and to call the bosses. Needless to say, the next call was from the bosses, and she put the smack down on them. She had demands, and they gave into every one. Starting that Monday, she'd be getting paid more, have the title of district manager, and have assistants. We ended the date with them going back to Xavier's place, and dancing to a song by Marvin Gaye.

In that last date, they scooped up three compatibilities: comfortable asking for help, night walks in the city, and dancing. I know at some point he showed her the monkey tattoo. The ended up with five attraction and five compatibilities. We decided that they'd stay together. For the life of me, and cannot remember when they fell in love with each other. I really need to take notes on these things! I think I decided that Xavier fell in love with Tricia when she stood up to her boss, showing her strength and determination. Ed, maybe you remember how it was for Tricia.

We had a little epilogue of the two of them hiking in northern Wisconsin (earlier in the game he had told her about hiking with the dad), sitting down to have a picnic lunch and him playing a song for her on the uke...

One thing that was interesting was that I used pretty much every trait I had, and even added a few, but Ed ended up with a couple that Tricia never used, or even came up. The making jewelry and horror fan for instance. I guess that happens some times. Once again, a good game of Breaking the Ice. This game is pure gold.

Next up, another game of Shooting the Moon. We played it last year, using the Talislanta setting, which was very cool, but I would like to try it again, maybe with just a modern world backdrop.

GenCon 2007 Notes

It was an incredibly low-key GenCon for me, and that was fine with me. I didn't actually do all that much of anything, but it was a break from normal life, I got to meet some new people, learn new things about games, buy some stuff.

I didn't get to actually play any full length roleplaying games. I didn't sign up for any. I never happened to come by Games On Demand at a point where games were beginning rather than in full swing or ending, and the couple nights I dropped by Embassy Suites I got there too late to get into any of the games there.

I did play a full-on Engle Matrix Game (the Jack the Ripper beginner's game) with Greg and Pat, usually dragging FiL in as referee. It was fun, and I can foresee some future matrix games.

My take on Matrix Games: awesome for simulation, crap for RPGs. I have bubbling in my head the idea of doing simulations of things like presidential elections (including the upcoming one?...) with Matrix Games.

I demo'ed a lot of things: a horror game Ron Edwards was pimping hard called Dead of Night, Seth Ben-Ezra's crime game, Dirty Secrets, Emily Care Boss's alien contact game Sign In Stranger,Tony Lower-Basch's Capes, Tim C. Koppang's Hero's Banner, Atarashi Games' Panty Explosion, demoed by one of the creators, Matt Schlotte, Vincent Baker's Poison'd! and Matt Snyder's 44. I also got a nice Burning Wheel combat demo at the BW booth. Virtually all of these games had very good demos.

I didn't buy a ton of games, but I was pretty happy with what I did get. Two items I really wish I had picked up but didn't (I'll have to order 'em) are Capes and Poison'd!. One thing I got that I really wasn't expecting was Judd Karlman's Dictionary of Mu. It's a kick ass setting for Sorcerer & Sword.

I met Ken St. Andre again and bought a couple new Tunnels & Trolls adventures, and the old Circle of Ice Pocket Adventure.

I got to say hello and chat briefly with a number of Forgefolk, met John Harper in person for the first time, saw Clyde Roher but never got to buy him that root beer... saw Lxndr but every time I saw him he was very busy GMing one thing or other... But on Thursday night I did catch Paul in the Embassy Suites and got to talk with him for a while; catch up on where he's at and get the skinny on the state of the indie world from his point of view. That was a lot of fun.

Oh, I almost forgot. My prize purchase was from the auction store: a copy of the original, three-book Arduin Grimoire ruleset: The Arduin Grimoire, Welcome to Skull Tower, and The Runes of Doom.

And I challenge anyone to come up with a cooler trio of titles for fantasy game books, ever.

So it was a good con. Incredibly low-key for me, but good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Steve Jackson Revealed the Truth

Illuminati Card Came:

This is awesome. From the site:

In 1990, role-playing inventor, Steve Jackson, was planning his newest game, which he would ultimately call the "Illuminati -- New World Order" Game, or "INWO" for short. Jackson was creating a game that would hit very, very close to home, very close to the actual plan of the Illuminati to propel the world into the New World Order -- also known as the Kingdom of Antichrist. As we shall show you, Jackson issued playing cards, three of which foretold the events of 9/11, three of which correctly predict future events just ahead of us, and two that correctly foretell the last two events that the Bible foretells will occur during the final birth pangs that will produce Antichrist!

How did Steve Jackson know the Illuminati Plan so precisely? In fact, he knew the Plan so exactly he got a surprise visit from the Secret Service, who tried their best to shut him down and prevent him from publishing his game. As you will see from viewing excerpts of Jackson's account of the raid, they were very interested in his files entitled, "Illuminist BBS". Let us listen to Jackson's account of the raid [ ]

"On the morning of March 1, [1990] without warning, a force of armed Secret Service agents - accompanied by Austin police and at least one civilian 'expert' from the phone company - occupied the offices of Steve Jackson Games and began to search for computer equipment. The home ... the writer of GURPS Cyberpunk, was also raided. A large amount of equipment was seized, including four computers, two laser printers, some loose hard disks and a great deal of assorted hardware. One of the computers was the one running the Illuminati BBS."

The company, "S.J. Games" fought back in court and finally won, but nearly went under financially. The investigation zeroed in on "fraud" supposedly committed by the company regarding the hacker activity and the fact that the company promoted the hacker's newsletter, "Phrack". However, this is so flimsy that it makes no common sense; in fact, the affidavit made so little sense that a Judge threw the case out, awarding S.J. Games $50,000 plus $250,000 attorney's fees. That is a lot of taxpayer's money to pay for a stupid, nonsensical case!

But, it does highlight the fact that our Illuminist government, the Secret Service then run by President George Bush (Sr.) was worried about something that S.J. Games was up to, and cooked up a reason to invade their offices and confiscate their materials. We think, after you review these materials, you will believe, as do I, that the real reason the Secret Service invaded S.J. Games was to shut them down so they could not produce the game "Illuminati -- New World Order (INWO), for it revealed too much of the plan that was still 11 years in the future. You be the judge.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Gencon Approaching

I'll be there the whole weekend. What to do?

Lurk about the Forge booth. See what's new, seeing as I'm totally out of touch with freakin' everything.

Lurk about the Spawn of Forge-shan booths, such as Play Collective and Das Äschkån-Frønt.

See if I can meet Ken St. Andre, elder trollgod of all gaming (to me anyway), again. And any other cool Flying Buffalos.

Head for McNiven's and eat haggis. When else am I going to get to eat haggis? Oh, I understand they have beer as well.

Buca di Beppo with my homeboys.

Maybe complete my Knights of the Dinner Table collection.

Collect the copy of Schock: Social Science Fiction I earned by reviewing it. Play it! With the Glyphmonkey himself if possible.

Find a pickup Burning Wheel game somewhere so I can see how it plays in real life with people who know the system.

Meet certain fine folk that I haven't seen in forever. I'm thinking particularly of Paul Czege, who I've been in some contact with despite not seeing him for a couple years, and Lxndr, who I last saw what, four years ago? At Gencon, for about 5 minutes?

I guess mostly just learn what I've been missing being out of touch for a long time. I've been busy at work and dealing with some personal stuff and so haven't been illustrating at all, so there's been no "I've been doing illos for this game, I can't wait to see it printed up for real!" like there was in past years.

So yeah. Day after tomorrow.

Thursday, August 02, 2007