Comments on TWH #175


Dana J. Erlandsen

Is Greentech over? You wrote about it in the past tense in your zine. It's a shame in a way that what takes four hours to play usually takes 20 pages to write.

What's this about dense APA writers in the Southern California area!? The Bay Area is Northern CA -- I can't really speak with authority on the gamers' density, however. :-)

RAE (and agreed with) BNC on the responses to my zine.

Douglas E. Jorenby

My sympathies on not wishing to be a token male.

An interesting essay on religion in RPGs. I admit one of the things I enjoyed most when I took over Scott Ruggels' Fantasy Hero game was filling in details on religion. When I was asked to elaborate on the already established timeline I found much of what you discuss. Namely, there were only "facts", and they were only presented from the point of view of one culture.

I solved this problem by creating the GM's timeline of everything important. Then I came up with creation myths, using the local deities as the myth's "heroes". I cropped non-important (e.g., not of that culture) facts, and printed up the ensuing messes. Thus I ended up with more than one publicly available timeline; one for each culture. The players had a good time comparing details. After all, each culture has its own slant, e.g.,

Northern POV:

The dragon Vreyrad the Mad destroys Helvetia ([southern] provincial capital) by following west coast, then crossing Rimwalls through Kipriano Pass. A highly successful combination of extremely explosive volley rockets, and dragon breaths were used in attack.

Vreyrad the Mad dies in air to air battle at [southern] Pass with three [southern] dragons. He manages to kill two, and is cremated with full honors at [Northern capital].

Southern POV:

The dragon Vreyrad viciously destroys unsuspecting Helvetia ([southern] provincial capital) by following west coast, then crossing Rimwalls through Kipriano Pass. Hundreds of innocents foully murdered. Appellation "the Mad" is given him when it is discovered combination of as yet unproven (and highly explosive!) volley rockets and dragon breath [fire] was used in attack.

Amazing Vreyrad luck runs out. He dies in air to air battle at [southern] Pass with three brave [southern] dragons. He manages to kill two.

Vreyrad the Mad is cremated with full honors at [northern capital]. Effort put into transporting a dead dragon causes many to believe that Vreyrad's mental condition was caused by his choice of homeland.

Creating this was a lot of fun. However, I can neither confirm nor deny the creation myths, as some of my players are TWH readers.

I do have some ex-agnostic PCs in the game. They had a very 20th C attitude about religion. Then they discovered the "wimpy healer goddess" while they were injured. (Sarcastic quote from a believer concerning the newly converted) "It's a miracle!".

However, lack of faith hasn't penalized anyone yet. I do have something coming up where a test of faith is called for. I just haven't decided how to test a PC's faith yet. The PC has been shaken once already--he's been told, by someone he is inclined to believe, that his gods are false. It should be interesting.

Re: Planning detailed operational/tactical plans: may I present: (fanfare) Collier's Theorem: No plan survives contact with reality.

There is a radical faction which believes the theorem should actually read: no plan survives. Obviously this is poppycock. ;-)

I have one GM who wildly insists that at least one of the plans our team made over two and a half years of play must have succeeded--no, really! Stop laughing! ;-)

George Phillies

I'm enjoying your fiction, but I sometimes have problems keeping the children straight. Would it be possible to put a description or synopsis of the kids at the beginning?

Re comment to Bob Butler on telling people why your PC does something. In a game, commenting on the way your PC thinks seems to have two apparent problems: 1) you get accused of not staying in character, or b) you get accused of hogging all the GM's time with conversation that doesn't further the immediate story.

However, having a GM who really understands how your PC thinks can lead to some really engrossing game hooks. Also, it can be really frustrating, for both GM and players, not to have any idea why a particular PC did a particular[ly stupid] thing.

I GMed one game with a player I'll never forget. His group (himself included) was badly injured and close to death. They were slogging through the dangerous, monster-infested, trackless swamps. Their mission was almost accomplished; all that was left was to get home. It was at this time he decided, without warning the other PCs, that he had forgotten something. Ignoring the knee-deep mud, the dangers of the swamp, the entreaties of other players, and the warnings of the GM, he left -- to pluck a flower.

He almost got killed, both in the game and real life. :-) I still don't understand his reasoning. I tried asking several friends what they'd do, as a player, in such a situation. Nobody went for the stupid flower! It's become a bit of a joke--"Oh, no! Not another damn flower!" :-)

I wish I could give you better news regarding game conventions and exclusive dealerships in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, "exclusivity" is a standard at most game cons here. Cons are all "for profit"; you have to buy your way onto the con committee. The excuse the cons use to prevent being enjoined is that the convention is privately owned. Unsurprisingly, exclusivity has become an old boy network.

The official excuse for exclusivity is that the attendees are getting better service by having each dealer carry everything from the entire line. The "scuttlebutt" reason is that some dealers lost money at a con many years ago when they tried to under-discount each other (personally, I call that evolution in action). So they came up with a way to prevent competition in the dealer's room--everyone carries different game lines.

As an example, at Pacificon the dealers' room liaison is also a dealer. He has the most tables, his tables are right in front of the doors to the dealer's room, and he carries TSR, Steve Jackson Games, Avalon Hill, and myriad other smaller lines. Unsurprisingly, most of these are the biggest and most profitable lines. Can you say conflict of interest, boys and girls?

The main games distributor for the area has started a new policy which punishes complete line coverage at cons. It should be interesting seeing what new and convoluted excuse is given to justify exclusivity.

Gosh, I'm now a "fab babe"? Thanks, Mr. Wizard! :-) Maybe I'll see you at some other con!

Bob Butler

Enjoyed your fiction. Sounds like it would have been fun to try.

amused sigh You enjoy baiting Scott, don't you? :-) Good points on the RKA team, though. I was in one game where it seemed the bad guys all had teleport and we didn't. We would laboriously (and painfully!) dog-pile a bad guy into unconsciousness, and turn him over to Gryphon, the game equivalent of Stronghold. When the bad guys woke up (because the Gryphon agents weren't watching them closely enough) they'd teleport away. At one point my character told the Gryphon agents that if their incompetence lost us one more villain, she'd start killing knocked-out bad guys. The GM got the message, and quit recycling bad guys quite so quickly. ;-)

Transport is a big problem for any "reactive, not active" group. In one game Scott and I are in we had an amusing example of this. To prevent a fight, one of the PCs called Gryphon. The fight started anyway, while the last numbers were being dialed. The phone receiver was carefully put down, and combat ensued. By the third ring, the combat was finished. On the fourth ring, the Gryphon secretary picked up the phone.

"This is Gryphon, can I help you?"

sigh "Never mind." click

Thanks for the comments!

I like Mark Swanson's stance on the level of sex and violence in TWH. Personally, I've always felt that part of the problem with modern attitudes can be seen in the phrase "sex and violence". To misquote George Carlin (I think), sex is something really nice. Most people seem to want to have it practiced upon themselves. Very few people seem to want to have violence practiced upon themselves. Why are we lumping something so enjoyable as sex together with violence?

Bill Ricker

Re Spandex: I suppose it's good for super-hero wear. Just bear in mind the first good fight is going to graphically illustrate that this isn't a "comics code" book!:-)

As far as Cutey Bunny with gun illo -- yes, it was specifically requested that both her mammaries and her gun be improbably sized. The idea for her bikini-top came from gaming product art.

My personal standards are that I don't mind doing "furry" art. I won't accept commissions for things that make me feel uncomfortable. "Plumbing studies", unfriendly bondage, and "sex-kitten" or "boy-toy" stuff make me uncomfortable.

I've met my share of fur-vert fandom. I mean, for God's sake, I wear spandex! But generally they go away if you actively discourage them. I don't find them all that different from the other unpleasant, minimally socialized, umm, "people" you can occasionally find at cons. So? Don't hang around with them. It's just like gaming. You can't pick your relatives. You can pick your associates for games and cons.

I guess I'm a little dismayed by this because, strictly speaking, we encourage them. Someone has to do the art. Someone has to talk to them. If the artist at the con is that upset by doing fur-vert art, then quit! If it's all that pays the bills, then quit belly-aching! Scott Ruggels was just today relating a story about some poor woman who got trapped by a fur-vert artist who wished to show her his etchings- er, his aaaht! Why didn't she politely but firmly tell him she wasn't interested, or was allergic, or couldn't because of religious reasons, or anything? Instead she waited until someone "saved" her.

Don't get me wrong. I agree with Bill Ricker's assessment of fur-vert "art". However, cons are a form of democracy. If you really care about it, you'll try to make the fur-verts feel unwelcome. If you make the fur-verts feel unwelcome enough, they'll quit coming back.

Actually, I kind of enjoyed "Forever Knight."

Peter Maranci

Sam and Max -- it's awful! I loved it!
Sam: "Where do you keep that gun, little buddy?"
Max: "None of your god-damned business!"

"It's strange how vampires exercise such an attraction to so many people. I wonder why?"
Sex, power and the abuse thereof!

Name? You want a name? We don't need no steenking- ...oh. We do? Oops. Umm, sorry. See the title section. ;-)

amused sigh No, no bunny ears. Check out the catwoman cover to an upcoming TWH though, and then you'll know the Awful, Secret Truth! You guessed it. The wings are where she stuffs her hair!

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    Last Updated: Mon Aug 4 1997