Comments on TWH #177


Mark Swanson

Sounds like you're having a difficult time of it. Please feel free to re-number as necessary -- the only reason I put numbers on is so the fonts match. If you prefer, I won't number at all.

Re models: I don't know if this really counts, but I don't believe it's because the experienced GMs and players are "just tired and sneakier," although I have seen that. My feeling is when you have an interested, communicative whatever, you'll get good results. Knowing the rules helps, but isn't imperative. As an example, I've never really tried to learn the rules well to any game I've been in. I can build an insect (mini-max) if necessary, but those PCs don't really have that much life to me. I don't try to bring extensive knowledge of rules to the game, I try to bring lots of enthusiasm.

As a GM, knowing the rules is helpful. I don't. But I have two players who do, and I trust them to tell me the truth. If there's an argument (and this has happened), I delegate someone to look up the offending rule. I then carry on with someone else in the game. When the rule is located, it is read aloud, we discuss it briefly, and a consensus on how to interpret it is reached. Then we carry on with the game. I never let this interrupt the flow of the game, or let discussions concerning the rule run more than about two minutes.

Some rules stick in my head, so obviously I'm slowly learning them. But I don't think that makes me better, I think learning to get along with the players, PCs, and GM makes me better.

As far as "unutterably gross... long term Champions character[s]," why bother? I'm not in the game to rack up the most points, I'm in the game to have fun. In two of the most outstandingly enjoyable games I have ever played I didn't even keep track of the points. Every once in a while, I'd ask if it was reasonable for the PC to have learned some new thing she needed. Aside from that, I just kept playing the character. I didn't want to be the toughest person on the block, I wanted to explore the morality and ethics of people who were different from the norm. It may be significant that both these games were solo.

Interestingly enough, much of my personal morality has come from role-playing possible results of deciding certain issues certain ways. I'll always be grateful to the GM with whom I ran those games. I don't know if he'll ever see this, but thanks, Carl. Not only did I have a hell of a good time, but I think I'm a better person for it.

Glenn Blacow

Okay, I'll see your quote and up you one! :-)

The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away." --Ronald Reagan


When the President does it, that means it is not illegal. --Richard Nixon

*beam*! Thanks for the cover compliment! Thanks also for the comments on my zines -- as someone (many someones?) else in TWH has stated before, it's nice to know you're being read.

It's a shame you're still angry concerning the Defenders campaign. I like reading your zines ordinarily, but when you get verbally angry about certain people, I feel like I've been caught eavesdropping on something that's none of my business.

I recently was asked how I would handle flaming. I thought about it, then replied I would try to politely answer any levied accusations -- once. I'm not perfect -- it hurts to have what seems unjust accusations directed at you. You end up wanting to make sure everyone else knows you're not like that. Therefore, I would try to avoid personal observations or comments on the opinions of the disputing person. After that one time, I would probably ignore all further commentary on that subject by that person. You didn't ask my opinion, but I thought I'd pass it along. Sorry if this is annoying.

Re phobias about needles: my parents decided the best way to make sure I got over my phobia about needles was to make me give the horses all their shots. Five horses, three shots each, about twice a year. EEeeaaagh!!! Well, I got over my phobia about giving shots. I still have to get over my phobia about getting shots -- right after I apologise to the nice nurse who didn't believe me and consequently got "reflex-struck" in the face. What can I say? I panicked and jerked! It was sooo embarassing!

Robert W. Butler, Jr.

Good point on gaming courtesy and internal characters -- I strongly agree, and generally try to practice same. Ditto for PCs challenging PCs, rather than players doing same.

WRTcomments on George and Hero Games style and atmosphere: I'm not sure what you mean by "Hero Games style and atmosphere." I think you may be falling for someone else's propaganda. George, Ray, and Steve are indeed the original Hero writers, but none of them have ever said, in my hearing, that their way is the only right and correct way to play the Hero system. If anything, I've heard both George and Ray say the rules were written to be freely interpreted. IMHO, mostly they wanted just to provide a level playing surface for everyone to start on. They've even said it's not their job to police abusive players or thoughtless GMs.

On the other hand, I've unfortunately met many people both through Planet Ten, and at cons, who feel they should be acknowledged as the only correct and holy Interpreters of the Sacred Rules of the Hero Game System[TM]. They can often be recognized by their insistence on referring to themselves as "gurus" or even (by a bit of reverse psychology :-) "not the Champions Guru," and by their name-dropping. This type of person is self titled, usually insecure, conversationally monotonous, shallow, and dead set on impressing you with how wonderful it was of them to straighten everything out for Hero System. Clique-ishness and snobbery usually means they've nothing else to be proud of except their ability to put other people's ideas down.

My general reaction to this type of poor fool is something along the lines of "give me a break, guys! Don't try to name-drop from Red October with someone whose room-mates either wrote the original rules or helped write the current version! Using 'guru' jokingly is fine by me, but don't expect me to get all excited just because you have a good memory for rules trivia. If you want to impress me, run an exciting game!"

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't mistake other people's need to be a big fish in a small pond for "Hero Games style and atmosphere." I've heard the original three, and others, misquoted and misinterpreted too many times to believe anyone has the scriptures on Hero. George was half-joking when he said that bit concerning running a mystery, and I've probably misquoted it somewhat anyway. I do agree with your commentary -- sometimes I find George annoying to game with, when it feels like I'm pushing against a fake rather than a real problem. But George can run a mesmerizing game if he wants to. Play it the way you want to -- it will be right for your game. If anyone tells you otherwise, they're wrong! Except me -- I'm always right. ;-)

Comment made by George after reading the above paragraph -- Paraphrase Alert! "If we get asked about rules questions, the closest thing to a 'Hero Games Quote' we have is this -- are you having fun? Then you're playing it right."

David Dunham

Thanks for the congratulations! It's kind of exciting! Thanks also for the comment about people like me in game stores!

Chaosium likes putting in things with their games that you can hand out to the players. I've never used them (I don't play Chaosium much), but I've copied the idea extensively. The players seem to like it.

Used material from a TSR product?! *sigh* There goes the neighborhood. :-)

WRT gaming literacy: Peter Maranci said he'd put the runes on his machine. I wanted to scan them into mine and use them in artwork. My asking his permission to use them wasn't because I didn't know RQ has runes, it was courtesy to the fact he may have put a lot of time in on getting them right on his machine. To not credit him at all or ask his permission seems, to me, to be akin to stealing someone else's work or copyright. I work in a game store. We don't let people xerox stuff from books they haven't bought either.

WRT Amber: it works as well as the GM and players work. It merely points up faults in the players and GM more quickly than a game that allows you to hide behind the rules -- boy, am I going to get into trouble for that statement!

I was in a game once where a year was supposed to pass between each session. Admittedly, the game left a very sour taste in my mouth due to conflicts with the GM and a favored player. However, I found the plot device of a year having passed frustrating to play. I got stuck in one situation where I did not feel comfortable with a player (and my PC reflecting this), and being told I'd known this person for three years and would do anything for him. Yuck. Perhaps I'll get lucky and play in a similarly structured game with a good GM. That should make me more comfortable with that particular mechanic.

Strong agreement with Mark Goldberg's comment. Molly's cyberware was supposed to be wildly unusual. In some of the cyberpunk games I've seen (and not bothered to play in!) she'd be considered sadly underpowered.

Dana J. Erlandsen

I've seen groups saved by compromise several times -- that's why I keep pushing it! In several cases the problem causers had no idea they were causing problems. Finding a happy medium on learning the group language has helped several times also. However, I agree about some compromises not being worth it.

Sorry my own prejudices showed in the comment about "stagnant" groups. I'm just tired of being told I'm doing it wrong by... ah, shoot. Just insert what I said before to Bob Butler concerning Hero Games style and atmosphere here. :-)

Thanks for the compliments on the cover! Re the hands -- Bill was a dragon-shifter. I was trying to show that blurry point where a mirror shows your true self... and you're not sure exactly what will happen if you actually reach out and touch your alter ego.

Life is Change (real original, ya?!). Which is a glorified way of saying I'm only in three games now. :-)

Yes, the sexist comment was several years ago. As far as only "girlfriends" being at gaming cons, you could try something along these lines:

An acquaintance of mine made a comment about needing a wife to run the booth in the dealer room (since women never really gamed!) so he could game at cons more. He was being deliberately provocative in an unfriendly fashion about why women went to cons. I thought about his statement, then commented that I couldn't agree more; I too needed a wife to run the Planet Ten booth. Furthermore, once I'd found one, I'd let him know where, since he was obviously incapable of doing it himself. He got kind of goggle-eyed, then left me blessedly alone for the rest of the con. Thanks to Doonesbury for that one *grin*.

Douglas E. Jorenby

Comment overheard at Planet Ten concerning Torg[TM]: "What a dog!" :-)

And now Collie goes waaay out on a limb: I think most people role play to sort of try on another thought pattern. The hack-and-slasher wants that feeling that no matter what he does, it's all right because he's the hero -- ultimate confidence. The moralist wants that feeling of uncertainty -- is this the right choice? The romantic wants that breathless, beautiful moment of possibility -- should I trust him? If a game system keeps hitting you in the face with the fact it's "just a game," you never get to really experience those feelings. I think that's why Torg isn't popular.

Warning: the following has nothing to do with DP:TRPG, and is basically a plug for my favorite rules system!

You mention meta- and multi-genre game systems. May I offer another category: tool-kit game systems. This is a rules system which is generalized enough so any genre may be played within its parameters. However, I know of only one rules set which accomplishes this -- Hero System. There are other systems which claim to (GURPS springs to mind), but to put it bluntly -- they Lie! And now back to our regularly scheduled zine.

Very big beaming smile!! Thanks on the cover compliment!

Or what! :-)

Thanks for the zine comments!

George Phillies

Umm... how about the spaceshield (as opposed to the windshield)?

Sorry about the typo -- it should have read +1(408)738-1359 (not 9359!). All is corrected. :-) I'm a little confused by your question: "Is Peaceable Demeanor 3, Page 7, also you?' I'd love to answer, but I'm not quite sure what you mean. Could you please be a little more explicit?

WRT a super team holding territory: hmm, perhaps I should have been more careful defining why I said this. However, the following should clear up any confusion I've created.

I usually try to run in games with a maximum of five players. Perhaps a group as big as the Defenders could hold a territory the size of a country (how many team members were there anyway?!), but the five of us would have to be pretty awesome to do so. Also, I was informed the Soviet Army had a shovel as a standard piece of infantry equipment. I have no idea what they're like now (nor do I particularly care, Scott! :-), but I was told they would literally dig in with foxholes if they had a moment during combat. This was supposed to make them very hard to root out, and was why they held territory effectively. Using this assumption, a super team doesn't usually hold territory well. Supers tend, in my observations, to depend on their mobility, firepower, and defenses more than being able to have a lot of people burrow in and each collectively hold one small spot, so the small spots add up to a lot of territory.

If you're interested in a copy of Bratpack, Planet Ten does mail-order! Call my number.

Thanks for the... umm... spekk- spepp- spell-checker.

WRT SPI -- I wasn't there. What I wrote is just my opinion. But I find it hard to believe everyone in a corporation is unredeemably Evil. I also believe people change -- why not a corporation? TSR has certainly changed owners since then.

As far as the problem with the unicorn: I wasn't upset the unicorn was horse-like. I was upset the GM (repeatedly, although my anecdote didn't illustrate that) expected us to follow his reasoning based on unstated assumptions, then penalized us if we didn't.

Who's Kevin Slimak? Where in California is he? On page 7 now is not spelled know. :-)

Loved your comment re Galactus -- "snarfs down planets the way teenage boys go through pizzas."!

Peter Maranci

Thnks for not taking offense concerning my commentary on your commentary on TSR -- I was a little trepidatious when I sent it off. Your points are well taken -- wait-a-minute -- you're a lawyer?! Gak! Can I afford to associate with you?! :-)

Thanks also for the cover compliments -- I'm such a sucker for flattery!

Enjoyed "Philosophy Corner" -- I've always felt characters shouldn't be subject to the tyranny of the rules! Perhaps you should try Hero system instead of GURPS. Steve Jackson Games play-testers are allowed to play any system they want in the play-testing room, on the premise that poor systems improvise, good systems borrow, and great systems blatantly steal (thanks, George! :-). A little known fact concerning the SJG play-testing room is that Hero system is not allowed -- the play-testers ended up not playing GURPS because they only wanted to play Hero system!

Bill Ricker

Loved the illo of the information sink! What, no illo of "a mated pair of GMs"? What about the "S&P" standards of this APA?

Bye for now!

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    Last Updated: Mon Aug 4 1997