Comments on TWH #182


And now, an unpaid announcement. Mark Goldberg was kind enough to write me a letter praising both my zines and my artwork. Being completely unprejudiced, I nevertheless felt some response would be appropriate.

Thanks! :-)

Okay, I'll get to the real comments now. No, I don't read A&E. It's blurry and hard to read, and I'm not a fan of Top Ten lists.

There are several games out now which seem to be based more on the self-serving, "we're badder than you" model, rather than the heroic model. Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020, Nightlife, Vampire: the Masquerade, and all its buddies in the Monster Mash spring quickly to mind. To me, neither type of game is inherently good or bad, but the heroic genre allows one to work with a team easier. Also. it's hard to keep a campaign based on mistrust, lies, murder, and deception running for a long time, or to "develop" such a character. I mean, what do you do, cheer when your fellow PC (probably not friend!) can assassinate double their body-weight in crazed wolverines? What do you do when it decides you or some busload of schoolchildren are crazed wolverines?

I recently found out that FASA deliberately undervalues the sample characters they print in their books. This is done so when you finally decide to build a PC or ship or whatever on your own, you'll blow away the printed opposition. Handicapping new players deliberately -- what a dumb idea!

Glad you enjoyed "Team From Hell"! Right on the money with Mystic Shit Armor Man -- yes, it was based on Black Paladin!

Planet Ten, alas, is no more. *sniff!* I hadn't been working there for something slightly over a year, but it was still a bit of a shock to get the news. The doors closed for the last time August 23rd, 1993. Basically Bob, the owner and one of my roommates, found that he had time to do two things well. Since at the time he was doing freelance writing, his consulting job, and Planet Ten, he decided to drop the least fun thing. That was, unfortunately, Planet Ten.

However, under the urgings of several people (some of who were former subscribers at Planet Ten), I have started a small mail order business. It's called (stunningly) Collie's Comics & Things. Therefore, if you want anything in particular, you can still get it, although I am (like Planet Ten) subject to the vagaries of my comics distributor, as the patiently waiting George Phillies can attest! :-) Yes, I can also get the Mayfair "Demons" books (there's three, not two now!), and the "Book of Ebon Bindings" -- it looks cool and is fairly popular among the artsy gaming set. And Of Course I would happily order all Phil Foglio's XXXenophile books if you want them! Not only are they hysterical, they're a best argument for both entertaining comic pornography and sex as a Very Fun[ny] Thing! Send a check for the amount, and as soon as I have the product in hand, I'll send it to you and deposit the check.

No, the giant snail hallucination was while driving a four-horse van non-stop (with assistance -- I'm not that insane!) from Texas to Colorado. I saw the "snail" shortly after I realized that I was driving in the middle of the night in New Mexico while running out of gas with my reserve gas tank, and that the entire damn state had only three gas stations in it -- and two of them were closed!

Tease/Pyrite (pyrite -- common mineral with a pale brass-yellow color and metallic luster, common name Fool's Gold. Possible alternate meaning: Experiment #3, subject 14, right side of corridor [3.14R]. Yes, there are several versions of her :-) was a cyberpunk PC who was heavily cybered and brainchipped by a mysteriously vanished corporation to do her job. She would have made a perfect villain's tool, because no-one had taken the time to give her a personality or morality. That, the slow development of morality, in a person whose job says she shouldn't need it and who doesn't understand it -- but wants to understand the human condition, was the role-playing prospect that fascinated me so.

Tease had some obvious hooks hung on her so that she could function in a team. In fact, she functioned superbly on teams. That was never a GM complaint. Unfortunately, my efforts to initially role play her as both emotionless and constantly at top capability apparently made several GMs nervous enough that they didn't really want to deal with her. One GM, a "storyteller," quit running a game with her in it because he felt his favorite NPC (ex-PC) was threatened by her.

There were a number of cool bits I remember from all the different campaigns. In one she partnered to a basically nice guy whose face was horribly scarred. They were known as Beauty and the Beast. No-one (except maybe Beauty, who didn't want to think about it too much!) understood why she always assumed she was Beast. In another campaign one of the other players paid me a very nice compliment. Tease had followed orders to use a certain chip at a certain time. It made her forget her past; her "creative" corporation was getting rid of dirty evidence of illegal wetware. So she met this guy (a PC), and he asked her where she was from. The chip interceded, and made her memory wander. Her intensely focussed gaze and sharp edged voice slowly wandered, and then she responded with, "My name is Teeeease," and a smile that never reached her eyes. The player said it was really eerie watching me play her; rather like playing mind-games with a bomb when you don't know when it will go off.

She was always a challenge to roleplay. I attempted to make her part of about five different campaigns, all of which rapidly folded. *sniffle* I'd really like to explore her some day!

I find it interesting that so many people feel the only outlet for the perennial gamer is to become a GM. I love to game, and I love to play interesting characters. I've often had people tell me that since I was such an avid player, I would be most happy once I became a GM. However, I've not found that to be the case at all. One of my biggest problems is when I come up with a neat idea my reaction is that I want to be the player, not the GM! I have to mentally ramp myself up to GMing, and I've got to feel ready, or I have an uninspired game. As an overall average feeling, I'd have to say I don't really enjoy GMing. I wonder if anyone else feels that way?

Thanks again for the compliments! Maybe we'll see you in TWH sometime soon?!

Mark Swanson

Sniffle! My zine arrived one day late?! Snail mail strikes again! BTW, what does that comment on the envelope mean, "how many of you are there?" As far as I know, none of my personalities have had any recent memory lapses. :-)

Just out of the blue, it's interesting to see you spell Scott Ruggels' name correctly. I recently noticed several Hunt members spell it wrong, and I know that would make me crazy. I try to always cross-reference other people's name spelling with how they style themselves in their zines. Perhaps I'm unduly sensitive to this because I have both an unusual legal- and nick-name.

On the other hand, I know of at least one time where a miss-spelling was fortuitous. I had ordered Indian food delivered. It was not only delivered extremely fast, it was delicious. We were commenting on this when I noticed who the bill was made out to: Kali.

George Phillies

I've been talking to some friends of mine who're been reading your fiction. I know you said you wanted criticism, so I've put some of their reactions down. Here goes! :-)

One common complaint was that the kids can do so much stuff. All of what they do is amazing. Many people in this conversation seemed to feel that a sense of wonder was a necessary part of superhero stories. Any one ability the kids used could use exploration in a story, and be fascinating. However, the kids have so many abilities that it's hard to keep that sense of wonder.

Also, Pickering himself doesn't seem surprised enough. Admittedly, he's riding the "weird shit is happening!" wave quite well, and his reaction is probably well within the parameters of his personality. However, because he has such a dry style, his reactions don't add to the sense of wonder, and the kids, of course, are quite blase about their abilities.

Maybe the story needs someone who has more of a "holy COW!" attitude. They could be Pickering's equivalent of Doctor Who's sidekick. You know, the person who provides contrast to the Doctor and an anchor for the audience; the person who asks the stupid questions so the Doctor can explain things to the audience?

Maybe the problem is that both worlds (Pickering's and the kids) are strange and wondrous -- either is interesting enough to be a background for its own story. However, because both are so strange, you don't have the anchor back to the real world of your audience. Hmmm. Never thought of a background as a sidekick before!

Another complaint was the kids aren't different enough in their styles. It's hard to tell them apart, especially since there is some overlap in their abilities. The advantage to having unique abilities and a name like "Always on Fire Lass" is that you know it's a real good bet she's the one on fire! Their spoken styles are very similar also, which adds to possible confusion.

Comics are a very visual medium. However, according to one of my roomies, you're describing them intellectually, not visually. We learn what they're thinking and feeling. But there's not enough distinctive visuals, like we're used to in comics. Maybe a tag phrase?

Finally, one person commented that he found the shuttle scene very unsatisfying. These are supposed to be kids. But they go up to the shuttle with a very "we're here to rescue you, Dummy" attitude. Their plan, while rather complex, is handled so matter-of-factly. There is no sense that this is an amazing thing. The adults in the shuttle seem to be considered somewhat of a hindrance by the kids because they aren't pragmatic enough about the amazing rescue. Also, the adults are never asked "do you have any suggestions, since you are the people on the scene and might know more than us about what's going on?" In many ways, it felt like the children were treating the adults like children.

I've read some of the Modesty Blaze books. The stripped-to-the-waist technique wouldn't, IMHO, work well today for a couple of reasons. One, it's a known technique -- known techniques get opposing tactics developed. This, for example, seems to be the problem Operation Rescue is having in the San Jose area. Picketing clinics and doctor's houses works best when they're unexpected. In Palo Alto, however, one doctor's house was guarded by both the police and the neighbors. Operation Rescue members entering the doctor's cul-de-sac found a pro-choice poster on the garage door of every house in the area, and there were two neighborhood volunteers to escort every single Operation Rescue member while they were in the area. Obviously the doctor didn't feel that intimidated by Operation Rescue folks -- he/she had heavy neighborhood support. Similarly, if the guards were used to women with nothing on above the waist, they wouldn't freeze. This does lead to the interesting proposition that a further development on Modesty's technique would be to enter the room with nothing at all on -- oops, sorry, my post-adolescent prurience just got ahold of me!

Two, the technique works best on men. What happens when our heroine enters the room, finds it has a few women guards along with the customary men, and is mown down with berserk speed? Obviously, someone was jealous. :-)

Finally, I find it hard to believe that men are so completely slaves to their hormones. How about it, guys? You're supposed to be guarding a dangerous prisoner/super-secret base/weapon with which to conquer the world, and you're waaaay out in the middle of nowhere. You're possibly a little nervous about this already, and suddenly this half-naked woman, who must have gotten past the guards on duty somehow wanders into the off-duty room. Do you really freeze, wondering if that course you took in auto mechanics in community college will enable you to repair her car, so that she'll be so grateful she'll take the rest of her clothes off? You would?! Can I have your phone number? I've got some beach front land for sale in Texas -- no, Florida, yeah, Florida, that's the ticket! One of those! :-)

Okay, time for another heavily structured and scientifically accurate survey for TWH ! :-)

Our survey respondents are several male player friends of mine. The question: see above, sans possible reaction. Our responses so far:

  1. This is a joke, right? Who sneaked the hooker past the guards?
  2. A Babe! Eeexellent!
  3. Where's my gun?
  4. Huh. Somebody must have just gotten finished having a lot of fun. Guess they didn't know I was here.
  5. HUH?!!
  6. What's going on? (spoken rather plaintively)
  7. Now that's not something you see everyday, Chauncy.
  8. I don't think you belong in here. (spoken rather warily)

Response #6 was actually the player's second response. The first reaction was "Oh, a Modesty Blaze shtick. Now we're all going to get shot in the back by Willie Garvin!"

*sigh* Oh, well. I guess all you guys (but two and a half!) probably get shot. :-) I must admit, I really enjoyed #'s 4 and 7!

On the other hand, some of my respondents had some very good points. For example: where are our guards on the scale of competence? Are they rent-a-cops, or are they trained elite assassins? If they're on the high end of the scale, a stranger walking through the door is in serious trouble. Poor Modesty's going to be pushing up daisies!

Also, whoever comes through that door will get the attention of the people in the room. The reason Modesty's ploy worked wasn't completely because she'd taken her top off. It was because Willie Garvin had worked his way around behind the guards, and the guards were in a crossfire. It's not so much that a bare-breasted woman is coming through the door, as that something both attention-grabbing, and non-threatening, is there. Non-threatening seemed to be the most important part of my respondent's thought-patterns. The object in question occupies people's attention, hopefully long enough for Willie to kill them all. For all the effect it has, you could send in an injured man, or even Fluffy the Poodle!

Finally, you have to consider the reason these books were written. They were titillation for "our boys" over in Viet Nam. They aren't supposed to make sense! If Willie Garvin can work his way around them, why are Modesty and Willie taking the time to kill all the guards? What's wrong with gas grenades? Why does Modesty tend to fight in the semi-nude in a scenario where a flack jacket would make much more sense? Why doesn't Willie smear himself in catsup, clutch his chest, stagger into the guardroom, and collapse on the floor, gasping, "Help me!" to distract the guards? It's so that there's a scene in each book where Modesty takes off her clothes!

Well! That was amusing, and totally unrelated to most gaming. Sorry! Couldn't resist (much)! :-)

re the Planet Ten Tootsie *grin* I didn't draw her or model for her, but thanks for the compliment?

re Hearts and Minds: I was told the man had just been informed his entire family had been murdered by the group represented by the prisoner. My first thought, when the reasoning behind the murder was explained to me, was "Did that bring his family back?" I'm not saying he was evil, I'm saying I, a naive, inexperienced, young person, was horribly shocked at the scene. I don't know how I would have behaved under similar provocation. The point was that one gets inured to violence. The me of then didn't live in a war-torn land and would have reacted with disbelief to the news that someone had callously murdered my entire family: I would not have been emotionally capable of shooting the prisoner, and I would have reacted in horror at seeing such. What I would do now I don't know. Probably my initial reaction would be the same. Would you initially believe someone who walked up to you and told you your entire family had been murdered?

Of course, Scott Ruggels occasionally accuses me of being a bleeding heart liberal. Naturally, he's wrong. I'm a bleeding heart libertarian. :-)

Just as an interesting aside, I had a friend who was a cop in Dade Co., FL for a while. Apparently at one point there was a death caused by a cop shooting an escaping (I think) suspect. The People Against Cop Violence (yes, I'm paraphrasing) was up in arms, saying the cops were reacting as if they were in a war zone. They believed that people that liked guns were becoming cops, the cops were therefore trigger-happy, and that the guns were being used more than was necessary. "Normal" people wouldn't be so trigger-happy.

There was a film the cops used for training which showed situations both where gun use was required and where it wasn't. Watching trainees were issued guns with some kind of detector in them that counted each "shot" you made, and whether it actually hit the target. So somebody official let a representative of the PACV, a cop, and a desk-jockey in the police department watch the film all together.

The film had a variety of "encounters". There was one scene where you (the viewer/cop) were in a children's playground looking for a dangerous suspect, and there's a rustling in the bushes nearby. It turns out the first thing to erupt out of the bushes is a suspect. The second thing is a kid.

Another scene is in a warehouse, where you can only see up and down the aisles created by boxes. It's something like being in solid library stacks. Again, you're supposed to be closing in on a dangerous suspect. You're in the middle of one of these aisles, and you can hear a steady rumbling sound growing closer and closer. Suddenly two figures whip past your line of sight of the end of the aisle. They're kids on skateboards. Seconds later, another kid is passing by, and stops to look at you for a moment before continuing on his way. You get the idea.

The results of the viewing were, shall we say, illuminating. The cop did about as well as usual. He drew his gun more than he used it, he generally hit what he aimed at, and he got "killed" once, if I remember correctly. The police desk jockey was nowhere near as confident. He quickly changed his tactics to carrying the gun unholstered a lot, even though he didn't always use it. He also "killed" a few people, got "killed" himself some, and some of his shots missed their targets.

The woman from the PACV group was another story entirely. She rapidly became very erratic in her gun usage. Often she'd not react to threat, then blast wildly after she was "dead". In the case of the playground, she apparently continuously sprayed the bushes, and in the case of the warehouse, she didn't react to the first two kids, then shot the one she could see clearly!

Needless to say, the PACV group quit complaining. :-)

You inject horses for their vaccinations, of course! It's not as easy as it sounds sometimes. My father once tried to inject my first pony, and the pony's response taught me a lot about using brute force on horses. Lucky, the pony, had to have an intramuscular injection. The rump of a horse is almost all muscle, and it's easy to reach. So my father placed the syringe between his fingers, swung his hand up, and slapped it firmly down against Lucky's rump. Lucky was a rather timid pony, and apparently he saw, out of the corner of his eye, my father's hand moving quickly as if to punish him, so he hunched his back, grunted, and tightened up the muscles on his rump. Lucky's rump ended up unscratched, and my father was left holding a syringe with a large, sharp, sturdy needle bent at a 45 degree angle! A lot of people don't realize just how strong animals are.

David Dunham

You like different colors on the paper?! Hmmm. I thought most people would dislike it. However, on my first perusal of the Hunt, I see other people also liked it. Thanks, Dana E. and anyone else I missed who liked it! Maybe I'll try this again.

Glad you liked my "white stuff is the paper" quote. I sure liked it when I first heard it, although I can't claim credit for it.

Like the computer "game terms"! I think "time-slicing" gaming might work best, as long as no-one gets interrupted. Everyone would get a chance to play, and no-one gets all the GM's attention.

I'm in one game now with an "interrupt processor", and it's maddening. You spend 10 to 20 minutes real-time slowly convincing some nervous stoolie that your group can protect him and he should give you the incriminating evidence against the super-villains. He's just about to do so, and the "interrupt processor" player looks up from the comic book he's been reading all this time and has his PC pipe up with, "Yeah, and if you don't tell us, we'll beat the crap out of you, shithead!" Aaarrrgh! :-)

Thanks for your opinion on the GM erring as far as the "once-per-year" campaign. I was miserable in that game. Somehow I had managed to turn my brain off and believe the GM's assertion that it was my own fault. It probably has a lot to do with my mistakenly believing intensity makes a good GM, rather than realizing that often a good GM can be intense. Neither I nor four of the five other players feel I was in the wrong, but it's still nice to hear that other people agree with me.

I admit, I'm not the person to talk to about the relative merits of tool kits and game mechanics. I like the gaming, not the tools. To me the rules are almost irrelevant. Give me cool people to talk to, and problems to solve.

I understand how you feel about first impressions concerning games systems. The first time I played Shadowrun was the run I described in Peaceable Demeanor #7. For a long time, I had no urge to play what had up until then seemed like a very cool concept. I would not urge you to try Champions. However, if you have a good GM and good players, I would suggest it. That, I think, is the most important thing -- good people.

Dana J. Erlandsen

And now the cat risks its life: what does the J. stand for? :-)

I heartily agree with your commentary on LRP and tabletop gaming. I think no-one wears costumes much because we're not used to it, and we don't want to be laughed at. I have a character who is a "tiger-woman". She wears a small black spandex bikini; that way her fur doesn't get too ruffled. She's on the cover of TWH #...oops, never mind, she's not published yet. You'll probably recognize her when you see her, though. It shows too much hair, stripes, and attitude.

Do I see myself dressing up like her? Are you insane?! :-)

Short of dressing like her, though, I find being able to use my body language for my PC as very enjoyable. I like both reading and using body language. Scott Ruggels and Mark Bailey do this also. Still, I certainly wouldn't have a problem with costumes or props at the table. Having a "Host a Murder" game within a game might be tough though. Who's the murderer? The "new person" played by the GM, of course; certainly not your fellow PCs.

Interestingly enough, I find solo games cause me to fall into the habit of saying, "My character does..." rather than, "I do...". I'm not sure why, although my guess is that solo play almost demands I share my PC's thoughts with the GM. Thus I end up saying, "Hmmm, she probably thinks..." and somewhere along the line it becomes a habit to refer to the PC in the third person. Also, while sitting on a couch it is much easier to say, "She's infuriated! She'll storm into the room floating three feet above the ground, scream loudly, and blast him!" rather than actually doing it. Alternatively, I know when I'm in a gaming group where I'm not comfortable one of the first symptoms I notice is that I've actively (and sometimes consciously) disassociated myself from the PC, and constantly refer to them in the third person. Diff'rent strokes, I guess.

I think "Host a Mystery" games are an excellent way to introduce new people to role-playing. I've been trying for years to successfully explain my gaming to my family. There's always been that, "Isn't that like D&D or something?" kind of feeling for them. You know, "steam tunnels" stuff. Then one day they described to me the thrill they had going to a "dinner and a murder". After they happily enthused about their roles, their costumes, their acting, and how they'd each solved the mystery (some correctly, some incorrectly!), I asked them how they'd enjoyed their first role-playing experience. When they got over their moment of stunned silence, they became much more sympathetic to my hobby!

Bill Ricker

re "brown covers and non-sales": maybe you should let Mark Swanson show you the artwork for the cover of #200, and see if you can emboss the central figure. I think that would look cool, and I (and probably Scott) would certainly help with appropriate artwork, if you'd like.

Glad you enjoyed "Team from Hell!" It was certainly fun to write. LOL when I read your comments on supers and spandex costumes. ["Fred, I'm worried about Raging Hormones Lass. Her costume's come home without her. Again."]. Toupee tape, huh?! I'll have to check that out! :-) Have you seen the issue of the Sensational She-Hulk where she's all dressed up to go into court (she's a lawyer in her non-super time), and she realizes she's going to have to fight a bad guy. She takes all her clothes off except for her bright red lace teddy (which looked rather nice against her bright green skin :-). She defeats the bad guy, and afterwards a good friend comes up and indignantly asks her why she stripped in public, and how did she manage not to tear her teddy? She-Hulk pulls her hair aside and tells her friend to look at the label on the inside back of the teddy. It's a Comics Code sticker. As She-Hulk points out, she didn't want to rip up her good clothes, and the Comics Code won't allow her teddy to get torn!

re interesting times: You know how there are comments which cease to mean exactly what they are saying, and come to represent some other idea or situation? In the Saturday super-hero game, when there is something all the players know, but the PCs don't, and there's nothing we can do about it, and we're going to get hurt, and we don't like it!, we all say a "mantra" to calm us all down. "There are nooo psionics in the Eeeeeight Woooorlds. There are nooo...." :-)

Thanks for the computer definitions. Re Paganism, I agree with you about the friendlies being quieter. I have found this to be the case in almost all the groups I've interacted with.

Peter Maranci

Glad you enjoyed Europe! Lucky you!

Interesting that GMing would be the thing you like best about gaming. For me it's playing, as I'm sure my comment to Mark Goldberg showed. Hmmm. Are you busy for the next year or so... waitaminnit, stop that, I'm in control again. :-)

My sympathies and encouragement on the writing bug. Write! Submit it to other magazines! Write for other hobbies! It's too much fun to stop!

As far as how to write up the Grey Company: get the writer's guidelines to as many gaming companies as you have stamps. Some of them aren't really interested unless you've written (and had published) something before. Some of them will want to see a writing portfolio. All of them will want you to sign some kind of waiver before they'll look at anything of yours. Be prepared to have Palladium be rude to you (humor alert!). Most of them are pretty nice, and most of them answer promptly. Odds are someone will want to keep talking with you. When you get the writer's guidelines send each of the respondents a short synopsis.

Things to keep in mind: do you want to keep creative control? That narrows your potential buyers drastically. Do you want to keep ownership of the idea? Ditto. Must it be in a particular system? Ditto. Must it be only for the fantasy genre? Ditto. Are you willing to shorten it? You've got a lot of stuff in there. You might have better luck if it were possible for the NPCs in the Grey Company to be more integrated into the GM's world, rather than having them all dead or imprisoned in a hero-quest. Apparently lots of people want solutions, not tools (thanks to David Dunham for that bit! :-).

Think also of what kind of supplement you're planning on writing. The number of pages available can be important. Is this a book on its own? It's going to need lots more information, like who exactly lives in the town, who exactly the old apprentices are, who owes and is owed debts by the Grey Company, and all the assorted stats associated with all these people. Is this a short bit in one of the fantasy magazines? This option might be a good way to start. I tend to write TWH zines on new ideas I get. It's after that first once-over of the idea that I polish the deathless pro- er, I mean the writing somewhat, and aim the article's contents at the specific magazine I'm trying to sell it to. Seems to be working so far. Just be sure the final product is different enough from the article that there aren't any potential legal problems.

That's all that immediately leaps to mind concerning your request. Good luck! I'll be interested in hearing how it goes. Just don't expect it to be quick. It took almost a year for my first column, from the "we want this" to actually being published.

Your Vlad player sounds like a real power-greedy-munchkin type. Didn't you say he left? That does sound like the healthiest and/or easiest response to him.

"Rhino-hiding", as I heard it, comes from the SCA. The fighting was on an honor system. If, in your opinion, the blow that had just connected with you was hard enough that a real sword would have cut through your armor and made that portion of your body unusable, then it was a good blow, and you would "take it". If people thought you were calling it too hard, you had a hide tougher than a rhino's: you were "Rhino-hiding".

Thanks for the compliment of wanting my art back -- waitaminnit, I get it! You just want to fluster more Corporate Flunkies! Ooooh, the pain! Here I thought you loved me for my etchings! :-)

re "...glamorous, exciting world of professional Champions writing..." snicker, guffaw, whooohoohoo! Even George LOL on that one!

re Guy Fawkes: yup, check out Peaceable Demeanor #6 to you. As far as I know it's still done. While we lived in Spain (about 20 years ago -- ooch! Time flies!) we different nationality kids would happily help each other of other nationalities celebrate any holiday available. ("You mean we get to make a REALLY BIG BONFIRE and set off more firecrackers than we can possibly imagine?! SUUURE! Heeeey...howcum your country has all the neat holidays?") We all had more holidays than we knew what to do with! Of course, it helps your viewpoint on history a lot if you're taught English History by a cheerfully ethnocentric Englishwoman.

Not a lawyer, huh? Suuuure. Uh-huh. Right. We got it. :-)

Ask Mark Bailey, Marc Willner, or Scott Ruggels if Fantasy Hero has to stick strictly to the rules to be fun!

I very much agree with your player character design, BNC. Why should I add more verbiage when you've said it well already?

I know it's not really relevant to gaming, but I'd thought I'd mention that I always enjoy checking out your colophon. Keep it up!

Robert W. Butler, Jr.

I'm not trying to prove Hero Games has "style and atmosphere", I'm saying that George's off-the-cuff comments aren't the only representative of Hero Games. If anything, Hero Games is specifically not tied to any particular atmosphere. It's a tool kit. You make your own atmosphere.

I wasn't trying to compare you to the people I was writing about. Some of it was meant as light humor. Perhaps a :-) would have helped there. I thought I was clearly stating that you and I were the observers when I said, "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". If you thought I was naming you as someone who needed to be the big fish, sorry. Not my intent.

Strong agreement on becoming the character. The PCs I remember fondly (or even bother remembering!) are the ones where the personality became well-fleshed-out enough that I could play the body language rather than struggling to figure out what to do next. I've been told by one of my roommates that he can tell for about up to an hour after the game which character I've just been playing. He says my body language and reactions are indicative of the appropriate PC. On the other hand, this only works if I like playing that PC.

*sigh* The descriptions of PCs and games occasionally gives me a forlorn wish that I could game with the assorted Hunt members. I wonder what a PBM TWH game would be like (aside from an amazing acronym)?

[The following isn't a slam; I'm succumbing to my inherent urges to organize written material -- oooh! succumbing to urges!! :-)] I wish we could come up with different phrases for your cultural/gaming models. Center pole stable and such aren't very memorable or intuitive.

As an example, one of my roommates is a consultant. They've just re-named all the computers on his floor. To him, Grumpy, Sleepy, and Doc were easy to remember. Now, however, he's never sure if he's on MBST001 or MSTV003 or... you get the idea. I did like Mark Bailey's machine's name -- Tubular! With Surfer next door. I wonder if there was a Radical somewhere? :-) I don't have any immediate suggestions, but if you like I'll put my money where my mouth is- er, I mean think about it. ;-)

I miss your mega-zines. When are you going to get your machine fixed! :-(

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