Category Archives: Kerfluffle
(TL/DR: I wrote my own tabletop RPG. It’s terrible, but I love it. The files are at the bottom.)
I’ve been mulling over an idea for a new blog post. It’s about the idea of “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and how it’s negatively affecting discourse, opinion, and results. It’s a heavy one, and I know it’ll probably piss off a few liberal and conservative friends, or possibly everyone. However, it’s so heavy that I haven’t mustered the energy to produce it. So this post has nothing to do with it. I don’t even really know why this is the introduction to this post, which is about role-playing games. I guess it’s because I treat my blog like a conversation between the two of us, and if you’ve ever talked to me in person you’ll know that I ramble a bit and go on tangents, especially when I’ve had a couple drinks and I’m my Authentic Self. So here we go on the blog post that is about as opposite as a heavy politically-motivated discourse as can be without being just a post of pictures of otters being the representation of everything that is good in the universe.
I love role-playing games of all sorts. LARPs. Video games. Hell, Choose Your Own Adventure books. But my ultimate love of the form is one of the first ones I discovered: the tabletop RPG. I read my first DnD rulebook when I was 10 and fell in love. My imagination soared with the never-ending story potential, and the side of me that later became an accountant loved the idea of rules providing a framework on which I could hang my imaginings. It was like playing Guns (that venerable game wherein two or more people take sticks and pretend to shoot each other, followed by the volleys of “Nuh-Uh” and “Ya-huh” to determine if someone was hit) but with a way to prove who had shot whom and what would happen. I loved it.
You don’t need me to tell you that 2016 was a very fucked up year. Many beloved famous people died, including people who helped define some of the most widespread cultural touchstones we have, from a princess to a professor to a candymaker to a spider from Mars, along with ground-breaking musicians, one regressive judge, comedians, athletes who defined entire sports and eras, giants on the world political stage, and more besides. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, pets – maybe you lost someone personally in 2016. It was the year that never seemed to quit taking. Seriously, go look a list of the famous people who died last year. I guarantee there are people on there you forgot about, and couldn’t believe you didn’t remember.
Also, there was an election, wherein a thin-skinned pissboy with less substance than an expired McDonald’s coupon became president of a nation whose espoused ideals stand in stark contrast to everything the tragic joke of a man set to lead it embodies.
OK, this whole blog post is coming out way more depressing than I intended. Sorry about that.
I talk about Westworld, but it’s spoiler free. Promise.
1. Westworld just aired its season finale. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly urge you to do so. It’s on HBO. If you don’t subscribe to HBO, someone you know has HBO Go. Get their password from them. Ask nicely. Catfish them. Threaten them. I don’t care what you do, just get the damn thing and watch the show. The writing is amazing. There is no such thing as a throwaway line. It’s so tight. I couldn’t write that if you gave me a billion years and a copy of the script. It’s a great example of Chekov’s gun principle: if there is something shown or said on the show, it will be for a reason. The finale pays off in a big way.
I have a deep and enduring affection for Kurt Russell. Even above and beyond his movies, there is just something about the man that makes my knees weak. This perplexes and worries my wife, but there isn’t much I can do about it. I love his performances, his manner, his aw-shucks grin, his interviews – you name it. But there is one thing above everything else about the man that impresses me and leaves me swooning.
1. Jack Chick died today. If you don’t know who he is, you probably didn’t play Dungeons & Dragons back in the ‘80s. Chick was a fundamentalist Christian comic artist who wrote tracks presented in comic book form. These railed about the terrible things bringing American civilization directly into the ARMS of LUCIFER HIMSELF, like Masons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, sports, role-playing games, music, bare navels, evolution, peach pits, homosexuality, Halloween, girls wearing pants, critical thinking, and wearing sandals without socks, to name a few. They were, and are, terrible, bigoted, narrow-minded, and thoroughly, deeply hilarious. They never fail to make me laugh every time I see one. So in his way, he brought a lot of joy to my world. I think if Jack Chick was right about his beliefs, he’d probably be in Hell right now, but if my worldview is correct, his consciousness is no more and he is as one with the Universe now as he was before he was born. I think that’s a nice thought. It’s certainly more than he would have ever wished for me.
At E3 this year, EA dropped a new trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda. It doesn’t explain anything, doesn’t show gameplay, and isn’t everything that I’d hoped would be released (by which I mean I want to know everything RIGHT NOW like the impatient petulant child that I am). There were, however, some clues and hints about what’s to come. I need to talk about it, just to keep myself sane, so this is just going to be a scattershot of thoughts and speculation about what’s to come.
Last night, I finally got around to watching the Season 2 episode of Community where the group plays Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (I know, I’m way behind the times, see this post for why). It was great, of course, presenting it in a funny way that still showed a love for the whole concept of table-top role-playing underneath (similar to how the movie Role Models approached LARPing – an endeavor silly and ridiculous like the movie shows, but worthwhile and a kick-ass time anyway). Ever since I watched it I’ve been thinking about tabletopping, something I haven’t done in a few years now, and growing up surrounded by the very books that were in the episode (and that still take up several boxes in the back room). I remember the Satanic backlash and having to explain to my mother that I was aware of the fact that magic wasn’t real and that raising an army of the dead wasn’t something I could actually do – a fun conversation, lemme tell you – and all that Jack Chick nonsense. Growing up with that stuff had a huge impact on my life. Without it, my two books don’t exist, I never would have written my own multi-volume system, and I never would have gotten so interested in rules systems that I probably never would have ended up an accountant.
You know, maybe Jack was right. That shit has ruined my life.