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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Wild West Campaign Update

In this week's adventure, another Earp came to town.  The big brother of the family: Virgil Earp.

Virgil was fresh from some lawman work, and was looking for more.  So when a black sheriff from the newly-established all-black town of Nicodemus, Kansas came into Dodge, looking for help against a group of racist night-riders who were harassing the town, Virgil quickly volunteered.

Sheriff Bassett and Wyatt Earp decided to go along too.  This left deputies Jeff Young (a PC) and Morgan Earp (the younger Earp brother) in charge of keeping the peace in Dodge.

Meanwhile, a crazy old buffalo hunter turned ranching magnate decided he wanted Miss Becky (the Mormon Gambler's beau) as his new wife.  When the Mormon Gambler expressed his genteel but firm distaste, the rancher had his huge ogre of a son attack the Gambler; only to have the Gambler drop the huge man with one good punch.  It looked like worse violence would ensue, but then Miss Jenny put a halt to that by firing her derringer. She banned father and son from the Long Branch, and warned them that if either of them laid a hand on Miss Becky she'd kill them herself.

Two nights later, the old rancher would be found dead in the back alley of the Long Branch, shot by a derringer.

The rancher's son was livid, and demanded justice; he wasn't sure if it was Jenny, Becky or the Mormon Gambler who shot his old man, but he expected the lawmen to avenge his pa's death.  Deputies Young and Earp had to try to manage the crisis, calming tempers while trying to get at the truth.  None of the three suspects have ironclad alibis, but the PCs can't imagine any of the three having done it.  Actually, they agreed that Miss Jenny could have done it, but if she did she would have admitted to the fact.

Meanwhile, Morgan knows about how the Mormon Gambler has been frequently associated with a known outlaw named McClue, and that Sheriff Bassett has been keeping an eye on him because of that.  Morgan, frantic to try to prove himself in comparison to his brothers, spends the better part of the night engaged in a highly ineffective interrogation of the Mormon Gambler, hoping to get him to confess to actually being the train robber and cattle rustler many people have mistaken him for.

The next morning, James Smith (another PC and current half-owner of The Fort bar) acts on a hunch and goes around town's gun shops; he confirms his suspicion when he learns that a man matching the huge son's description bought a derringer the other night. He reveals this fact to Morgan Earp; but Morgan, instead of waiting to tell Deputy Young, decides that it's his time to prove himself as a competent lawman and goes to bring the giant in himself.  Instead, the rancher's son knocks him senseless, and Deputy Young arrives on the scene just in time to catch up to the rancher's son at the stables. The rancher's son jumps on his horse and runs; Young gets a pair of shots in but they're just flesh wounds, so he grabs a horse and rushes off after the murderer.

There's a moderately long horse chase, but just as he's starting to catch up, Young's horse trips on a gopher hole and breaks its leg. Young is forced to limp several miles back to Dodge, where he's going to get a posse together.

That's it for this session; next time will no doubt feature the PCs riding out into a manhunt.


Currently Smoking: Moretti Rhodesian + Solani Aged Burley Flake

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Classic Rant: Swine Pseudo-Activism

(note: this classic rant is timely for a couple of reasons: first, it presages the activities of the past few years by the Outrage Brigade in gaming. I predicted it all. Second, because their latest attack has, again, been on the game "Hentacle" by James Desboroughs. After YEARS of being on DTRPG, it has now been CENSORED. We have to keep fighting against these fucking Swine and their attempt to take power over our hobby)

Swine Pseudo-Activism

So first we had Swine Pseudo-artistry, the white-wolf crowd going around trying to subvert gaming (and ultimately destroy all the parts of gaming they didn't like) by claiming that RPGs have to be "works of art", sophisticated sensitive and brilliant.

When that tactic failed, eventually they moved on to the Swine Pseudo-intellectualism: seeking to subvert gaming by claiming that RPGs had to be academic exercises, based on "Theories", that rejected all the "incoherent" games that were merely about having fun, and that demanded that gaming be re-invented to suit the agendas of the self-styled intellectual elite at the Forge.

That has now fallen to pieces for the Swine as well. And I've been predicting that its only a matter of time before some creative Swine figure out some new angle that they think will win them that long-desired control, subversion, and destruction of all that's good about the gaming hobby. I think that we may be seeing some of the Swine currently trying one of these angles out, in the form of Swine Pseudo-activism.

The Swine Pseudo-artists tried to mainly focus their assaults on the aesthetics of the game, on the setting, on things like product (with metaplot, etc), and the "fashion" of the game. When that failed, the Swine Pseudo-intellectuals put their primary focus on assaulting the foundational systems of the game, not just game mechanics but also the baseline mechanical assumptions of what defines an RPG, trying to change those definitions to suit their agenda. They were repulsed. 

Now, they are going to try to subvert gaming by attacking neither setting nor system nor underlying definitions, but by attacking the social structures of the hobby; by accusing the hobby of perpetuating crimes against "social justice", in other words the dominant morality as defined by a group of self-styled paragons of sensitivity in certain highly restricted bubbles of quasi-intellectual feminist-marxist liberalism; ironically, they're taking something straight out of the Pat Pulling playbook by claiming that RPGs are immoral, these people who claim to love gaming. Strange way to show it.

The case bubble they're working with is well-chosen by these Swine, starting out with one of the dubious undercurrents of the hobby and bringing up a subject no right-minded person could possibly find any question with: rape. There's no debate on any side anywhere (except maybe among absolute lunatics) that rape is a terrible thing, so it'll make a handy little word (as it has for second-wave feminists for decades now) to stretch, redefine and misuse as a bludgeon to try to push through an agenda. No one wants to be painted as being "for" rape. And the target these people have set their eyes on, or rather the patsy they're using as bait for bigger fish, is James Desborough, writer of a number of RPG products (in my opinion of questionable worth) like Nymphology, the Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers; as well as some non-rpg products like "Hentacle", the hentai tentacle-rape card game.

I want to clarify at this point that I've never bought any of those, or any of the other books in that kind of genre (the Book of Erotic Fantasy, etc). I've always found them pretty puerile and ridiculous; and I'd certainly agree that this kind of subject matter is of interest mainly to a sophomoric and infantile kind of mind. When I reviewed the "Courtesans" RPG I said as much. 
But that's neither here nor there; the Swine don't give a fuck about this guy or his books except as something that gives them the chance to draw attention to a bigger cause or movement, where they can be allowed to use "outrage" over "offensive attitudes" to dictate terms to the entire hobby and control the content of games, even get to censor who is hired to work in the hobby.

They didn't want Desborough, they wanted Mongoose, and Steve Jackson Games, publishers who had sometime in the distant past hired him to write for them. They are now campaigning to essentially destroy Mongoose, to shut it down as a company, in order to make it the cautionary example to cause the rest of the gaming industry to "fear the mob". Their agenda? To get to force gaming companies to come to them to let THEM decide what can or cannot see print.

You think I'm exaggerating? Note how the recent threads with the accusations about how Mongoose supports "rape culture" (which also resulted in a mass culling of anyone who wouldn't immediately accept that premise on were matched with a thread that proposed that gaming companies should be forced to introduce a "ratings system" on their games. Note also how over on the "Something Awful" forums, who have very clearly instigated the whole movement through agents starting and fomenting the simulated "outrage" on (and taking advantage of, or rather downright manipulating, both the modclique's natural predilections for banning opposition as well as the tendency of its Tangency hivemind to get horny at the sight of anything that gives them a chance to get their Politically Correct Groovy Cards punched, its like a perfect storm), they had a thread that essentially outlines their long-term agenda for control. This thread has since been hidden away but it was called "Feminist Gaming Issues", and it went WAY beyond the initial argument made against Desborough, that portrayals of rape were not ok, into points like:

-art must be changed in RPG books to stop portraying "male fantasy" (ie. images of scantily-clad women).
There's certainly arguments that can be made about irrational or sexist portrayals of women in RPG art, but they're advocating a forced control over what should be permitted to be published.

-That, and I quote: "your bog-standard D&D session is a facet of rape culture" where "a bunch of men (and perhaps one or two sexualized women) descend into dark depths to penetrate the underprivileged, poor denizens there with their phallic objects, and use their mysterious, privilege-generated powers to oppress and kill anyone who isn't like them."
They didn't make their opening salvo with this, obviously, because pretty much any regular gamer would find this argument beyond absurd. They'd find it ludicrous, and send these assholes packing. But that's why they're starting from something that's tricky to argue against, and moving toward this kind of bullshit, with which they hope to end up smothering the hobby with once they've gained enough influence to not be stopped.

They go on in that thread to talk about the problem of "violence" and how all violence (including any and all combat in RPGs) is a product of "rape culture", and also secret racism as mentioned above. Their solution? Again, I quote: "make games that are about pure collaborative storytelling, or just existing, in a strange way"
Funny, how by what surely must be sheer coincidence, their proposed end result is exactly the same kind of games that the last batch of Swine wanted!

They go as far as to argue that people who play regular RPGs probably need therapy after each session to help them "understand" how the violence they're "perpetuating" in the game is "completely unacceptable", and that the playing of these sorts of RPGs "glorifies criminal behavior" until they stop participating in these RPGs. They presented a way of trying to hide said therapy as part of the gaming session.

They will expand from "rape is bad", which is an obvious no-brainer that they'll nevertheless attempt to twist into things that have fuck all to do with that initial statement, into overall assaults on RPGs in general using things like "social justice" and "minority issues", simultaneously viciously attacking RPGs while making a total MOCKERY of those real issues, in the same way the pseudo-artist Swines made a mockery of art, and the pseudo-intellectual Swine made a mockery of intellectual pursuits.
They'll be quite willing to drag the credibility of very real, real world issues like rape, sexism, racism, and homophobia through the absolute muck in order to engage in their pogroms against the hobby that has twice-before rejected their attempts to take it over.

So what do we do?

There are some who think that negotiating with them will make them stop. It won't, that will only be what encourages them. Others have argued that they have to be reasoned with, argued with in good faith for the "good of the hobby".

But that's just it, you can't argue in good faith with a group that has NO good faith. This is the typical naive error that the Gramscian socialist-types love to see people fall for. If the Swine are not arguing in good faith, but rather want to use the debate as a platform by which to hammer through their agenda for change (whose fairy-tale wishlist includes, as mentioned above, veto power over who gets hired, what gets published, what kind of art an RPG book is allowed to have, a near-total removal of combat from RPGs, control over all art, and mandated officially sanctioned control and quotas over portrayal of women and minorities (including fictional minorities) in all RPG products) then rational debate gets you NOWHERE. On the contrary, it becomes their weapon, to get what they want.

You can see it perfectly in the history of the Forge and their tactics, and remember these are some of the same Swine, just trying a different tactic now (as I said, before it was pseudo-intellectualism, now its pseudo-activism); they ran all over everyone who tried to engage in "rational debate" with them because they understood how to CONTROL LANGUAGE, by allowing THEM to define what a roleplaying game was, by allowing them to decide that the debate would be couched within GNS theory, by letting them manipulate all the preconditions of the debate, they were pissing their pants with glee at all the idiots who thought that trying to reason with them would work. Since, again, their motive was not "Come, let us reason together", it was to destroy the hobby as we know it and replace it with something completely different that they could be in charge of.

The way I beat the Forge was by playing their own game, better than they did. And that's how you'll beat these guys. You don't reason with them, you beat them by taking all their extremist techniques and turning it back on them; by controlling the language and refusing to give up that ground to the other side, refusing to let them claim the moral high ground while they simultaneously try to redefine the meaning of things like "rape" or "racism" into non-existence just to serve their own nefarious motives, and by making sure you reveal any and all said underlying motives the other side holds. By undermining their facade of both respectability and their (false) moral high ground at every opportunity.

That's how they'll be stopped.


(Originally posted June 26, 2012)

Friday, 29 July 2016

Why We Hate Hillary: A Guide for Democrats Who Just Don't Get It

Some democrats on my social media just don't get why Hillary Clinton is so unpopular with everyone but them (I won't say 'leftists', because usually most seriously leftist people on my social media can't stand Hillary either; the only people who don't seem to understand are people who are not so much on the ideological left as people who have some kind of lifelong allegiance to the Democratic party, or who are so inflamed by some kind of single issue, usually feminism and 'electing a woman president', that it overrides all other considerations for them).  This is my attempt at an explanation for those utterly bewildered Democrats, as someone who had been supporter of Bill Clinton both times, but still can't stand Hillary. I am mostly posting this here so that I don't have to keep trying to answer this over and over again, and the next time someone asks, I can just link this blog entry. You can feel free to also, if you find it useful.

Far from being a lifelong 'public servant', Hillary has mostly served herself all these long years. And what she has used to serve herself is the promotion of an ideology that does a disservice to individual liberty and human freedom.

Notice how, at the convention, no one mentioned the ultra-corrupt Clinton Foundation.

Note how Hillary is the last person who should be talking about how Trump's 'tweeting' habits make him ineligible to be trusted with state security, when her cavalier attitude with email security is already a proven fact!

Note how she talks about how women need to be listened to, but spent much of her career silencing the various women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment. She also condemned the women in her own party who supported Obama over her, and later Bernie over her, slandering both as traitors. So apparently women need to be listened to as long as they are in favor of Hillary ascending to the White House that it's "her turn" to have.

Note how she now says "marriage equality is the law of the land" but she voted staunchly against it until the very moment slightly more than half of democrats were in favor of it, and then flip-flopped. Hillary Clinton didn't came out in support of gay marriage, after having routinely voted against it, until 2013. Not only have I been pro-gay-marriage for about 20 years longer than Hillary Clinton, I have ongoing games of D&D that have been around for longer than Hillary has been pro-gay-marriage.

Note how she talks about the fears of Trump (who could be called an isolationist) being a warmonger, but she has enthusiastically supported every single war America has fought for the last 24 years, and voted for many of those.

But most of all, take a note of this:

The utterly fake look of surprise an adult makes when trying to humor a child, done for the cameras. This gif sums up Hillary. She's not capable of a natural kind of reaction, she always has to put on an act, always has to fake it, to give people what she thinks will win them over. But she's also AWFUL at it. She is so obviously faking surprise there that you can only assume she thinks that even her own party faithful are a bunch of drooling childlike morons. To say nothing of what she thinks of the American people.

Clinton has had one long career of treating the people with contempt. Of assuming herself and her family (including her trust-fund daughter who she got a $900K job for straight out of college in a depression) are simply above everyone else, that the people are fools that need to be controlled, ruled and lied to whenever necessary to get what she wants. And the main thing she wants is to be crowned President. She despises the fact that the American people can get in the way of that, because she believes it is her natural right to be in charge. She sees people entirely as tools or as obstacles.

She has been a typical collectivist elitist ever since 'it takes a village'. Her 'presidency' would lead to an increase in goldman-sachs corporate-collusion, continued adventuring, war, and failed diplomacy in the world, a level of favor-selling unseen in the white house since the 19th century, and a vicious and oppressive strengthening of the Nanny State, including the promotion of censorship against ideological opponents.

That is why we hate Hillary.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Canadian + Image Latakia

Thursday, 28 July 2016

DCC Campaign Update: The Chicken is now Third-Most-Useful Member of This Party

As of the end of the previous session, the PCs had been teleported by the Time Dinosaurs to the outskirts of the Tholian Underwear Factory, the location that held the secrets to the insane random-minotaur-attacks they'd been suffering for some time now.

(the evil underwear factory)

The Factory itself is on the outskirts of Thelos, the capital city of Tholia, an empire ruled by Minotaurs. The PCs noted to their surprise that this was a fairly advanced civilization, with signs of an early-20th-century tech level.  They would soon learn that humans and other non-minotaurs were, at best, treated like second-class citizens, if not as outright slaves.


-"We're missing all our magic-users"
"Ack'basha's a cleric; that's like a magic user with extra judgmentalism!"

-Suddenly, the skies part and a beam of light descends. And teleporting in: a chicken!

-"Seriously, a chicken now?"

-The chicken turns out to be a magical Messenger Chicken:
"BCKAW! I come bearing a message for the mighty wizards!"
"which ones?"
"BCKAW! The one named Bill the Elf, and the Fishman wizard, and the one known as Ropework"
"So... 'mighty' is relative, huh?"

-The message is from the "High Council of Wizards" inviting the PC wizards to the 'grand conclave'... but none of the party's wizards are there to receive it.
"You're going to stay with us until you deliver the message?"
"I will have to - BCKAW"
"I'm already regretting it, you're very annoying!"
"I was created for this!"
"To be annoying?"
"NO! BCKAW! To deliver the message"

-"Maybe we should just eat him?"
"BCKAW!! I'll warn you - this chicken was created with defense mechanisms!"

-Just then, a vehicle is spotted coming up the hill.  The PCs note it is guarded by a minotaur and looks like it might be some kind of transport, or a prison truck.

-Ack'basha stands in the middle of the road, forcing the truck to stop, and after a very brief effort to pull off a bluff, the PCs just say 'screw it' and take out the Minotaur guard.

-Zeke Bodean is hit with a rifle shot, but miraculously survives!

-The truck has three prisoners on board: a human bandit, a human candy-maker, and a halfling marine.  It turns out they were all prisoners of the Tholian empire, being sent to the factory for reasons unknown (though they suspected it was for nothing good).

-The three newbie prisoners are assumed to be new party members, as everyone knows cannon fodder comes in threes.
"Join us! Together, we will save the world many times, usually after fucking it up in the first place!"

-The prisoners do know that the factory is run by a mutant wizard who is part of the Minotaur emperor's trusted inner circle, a magic-user by the name of Pertinax. The PCs suppose he's the one behind the random minotaur attacks they've been suffering all this time.

-the chicken confirms that Pertinax had also been invited to the Grand Conclave.
"So he's powerful?"
"I wouldn't say that proves anything; remember, the chicken said they invited Ropework too"

-Ack'basha has a plan that involves Animating the dead minotaur to help them sneak past the factory gate. Slight problem: the minotaur has multiple wounds, was set on fire, and fell down a 70ft drop.
"He doesn't look very good."
"Well, If someone asks, we tell them he got a bit scuffed fixing the truck!"
"He's charred to a husk!"
"Aw, fuck it, let's do it anyway."

-The gate is only manned remotely via intercom, which means that their insanely stupid plan looks like it might even work, only as they approach a foreman at the loading dock sees them and immediately realizes something is horribly wrong.

-The PCs block the gate with the truck and then run through the lobby of the Tholian Underwear Factory. The lobby has plush carpeting, bright garish colors, and features walls lined with posters of Minotaur underwear-models.

-"Don't move! This Halfling is a BOMB!"
(incredibly, that actually works; mostly because the way Halflings are in this campaign, it's certainly believable that they'd be suicide bombers)

-When they get past the front lobby and into the showroom, the Minotaur security guards are less credulous.
"That Minotaur is shooting at Chu!"
"NO. No! We're done with that! No more of the "Chu" puns!"

-the Candy-man takes a bullet and falls to the ground, his bag of candy breaking open and spilling all over, slowly mingling with his blood in a scene reminiscent of a tragic French art film.
"he's a pinata!"
"you had to ruin the moment..."
"eww, it's all sticky!"

-Ack'Basha creates an area of magical Darkness between them and the Minotaur security guards. The PCs can't see them, but they can hear the following:
"What do we do?"
"Bob, Jim, you guys run through!"
"You bet, it's my third day on the job and I'm ready for anything!"
"Yeah, and nothing is going to happen to me because I'm only two days from retirement!"

-Some of the PCs burst through into the administration area, where a terrified Minotaur secretary screams at their arrival.
"Don't be alarmed, miss! We mean you no harm!....well, I mean you no harm. This guy here might mean you harm. And there's a couple of us back there killing some security guards that will definitely mean you harm when they get here!"

-The PCs move on to another room, a huge room full of cubicles manned by a couple of dozen minotaurs in suits and ties.
"oh shit! It's the Human Jihad, bros!"

-"Stop being so intolerant at us! Humans are peace-loving!"
"Dude, we've already killed dozens of minotaurs.."

-The PCs run for it, taking the minotaur secretary as a hostage.
"Please don't kill me please! I have a cat!!"

-"BCKAW! My innate magic chicken-sense tells me that the Wizard is this way!"

-"Chicken, which way now??"
"For fuck's sake, this is what we've been reduced to... we're following a magic chicken."

-"Please please I don't want to die! I need to know how all my favorite TV shows end!!"
"These minotaurs have a very advanced civilization!"

-The wizard Pertinax turns out to be the first truly competent wizard-villain the PCs have ever faced. When they get to the board room where he was hiding, he's already magically camouflaged and proceeds to Magic Missile the living fuck out of the entire party.

-Everyone in the party is dropped to negative HP, except Zeke Bodean who is only knocked unconscious, again.  Incredibly, every single party member manages to make their luck check to avoid death.

-The PCs wake up, stripped of their items, chained up to a wall (Ack'basha is also gagged for good measure), and the wizard Pertinax proceeds to mockingly explain his overly complex ritual to attain immortality. He confirms, proudly, that he had been enchanting some of the Minotaur underwear produced at the factory and this was how the Minotaurs were being randomly teleported to the PCs, and geased to violently attack them. All with the idea that the PCs would slay these minotaurs, making them a sacrifice to gradually empower his rite. If the PCs ended up slaying 1000 of the minotaurs, the ritual would be complete and he would attain immortality!
"That... that's so fucking retarded!"

-"But now, I must decide what to do with you... if I let you go, you will seek revenge. But if I kill you, then Bill the Elf might come seeking to avenge your deaths."
(cue wails of BWAH HAH HAH HAH laughter from all the players)

-Initially, Pertinax decides to just kill the PCs. But then his Minotaur Vice-President of Operations, Winston Minotaur, suggests that Pertinax could still get at least a few more Minotaur-sacrifices off of them by setting them up in "some kind of Thunderdome situation".

-"Once I achieve Immortality, I will overthrow the Minotaur Emperor, end his peaceful policies and once more Minotaurkind will rampage over the lesser races!"
"So wait, you're rebels against the Emperor?"
"No, the rebels are the lesser races trying to overthrow the Emperor. We're reactionaries!"

-"My friend, my skills as a Scriptural Archeologist might be of use to you if you don't kill me."
"Trust me, they're not."

-"Maybe we could be of use to your Daemon patron?"
"The Daemon of Blood and Fire does not waste his time on proles!"
"What does he waste his time on?"
"Blood! And fire!"

-Just when things are looking grim, someone sabotages the underwear pressure sterilizer!
"It's the magic chicken! He's fucking rescuing us!!"
"Yeah, and look, he found a little Rambo-headband somewhere!"

-With the factory in chaos, the PCs get freed by the chicken and start to flee.
"You guys realize that the chicken is now the third-most useful member of this party, right?"
"Yeah, it's pretty sad."
"Hey, be grateful, that chicken saved your worthless lives!"

-Having managed to escape the factory before it explodes, the PCs realize that Pertinax almost certainly escaped.  Having found some material they think will reveal his treasonous plans, they decide to make their way through the hills toward the capital city, in the hopes of revealing all this to the Emperor himself. Not so much because its the good-guy thing to do, as because they really don't have any way to get out of here until they find their missing wizards.

That's it for today, stay tuned next time for more crazy DCC adventuring!


Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Solani Aged Burley Flake

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

"Why Can't We All Just Get Along": Sure, as Soon as you Stop Trying to Censor Me

So, in the last day or so, something of a shitstorm has emerged in the hobby when a semi-Storygamer named Mark Diaz Truman posted a blog entry called "Two Minutes Hate", where he (impressively, I must say) admitted to some of the HORRIBLE behavior of the Storygaming crowd, and called for some kind of rapprochement between the OSR and Storygaming.  

This led to several people on both sides commenting on it.  I'll be fair and say that some Storygamers were expressing thankfulness for the post and feeling it reflected something they felt for a time. Others, especially the Usual Suspects of the Outrage Brigade, have already begun the process of teaching Diaz Truman the things too many of us in the OSR and regular gamers in general are already well aware of. Prepare to face a campaign of ostracism and marginalization, amigo.

On the OSR side, most of the commentators have expressed some degree of happiness with the post and begun chanting kumbayahs about how we should all just get along now and put the contentious past behind us.

Allow me to provide you with the dissenting vote.

Now, I'm not the 'boss' of the OSR and don't claim to be (unlike certain others who have tried to make the OSR their personal fiefdom). 
But for me, I have no reason to seek a rapprochement with the gang of assholes who have spent years lying about me, slandering me, trying to have me censored, trying to have me blacklisted, and, most importantly doing this to everyone else in the hobby that stands in their way of controlling it.

If the Storygamers want peace, there's a simple answer: stop trying to invade the hobby. 
Stop trying to censor games or blacklist game designers. 

Apologize for the people in your movement who have told outright lies about so many of the OSR's writers.

Nothing will be fixed as long as they keep demanding we accept their ideological agenda or be silenced. And I won't stop until they stop trying to do that. Contemptible actions demand contempt in response.

Now I know, you may be saying "can't we make peace now, instead of still fighting over ancient history"?

But the thing is, the Storygamers love-affair with censorship is NOT 'ancient history'. It is happening RIGHT NOW. There are major leaders in the Storygame movement that advocate censorship RIGHT NOW. Anyone who does not unequivocally denounce censorship and anyone who advocates it, including the pulling of games from OBS or other website, the attempted banning of dissenters from social media, or the attempted blacklisting of people from working in the hobby, will never ever see peace from me.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Bent Billiard + Image Latakia

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Break.Com: 20 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Freemasons!

So, this week on I look at the Freemasons, and try to explore and bust some myths and mysteries about them.

Were they from Ancient Egypt?
Were they the secret Templar order survived?
Do they run the world?
Exactly how many US Presidents were Masons, and which ones were they?

Find out in my new article: 20 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Freemasons!

Please feel free to like it, share it, and comment!


Currently Smoking: Winslow crown cutty + C&D's Crowley's Best

Monday, 25 July 2016

Classic Rant: You Can't Serve Two Masters

On a purely pragmatic level, you can't serve two masters at once; either the Story is paramount, or the Game itself (that is, emulation and immersion) is paramount.

If you make the former paramount, then the rules are ultimately meaningless, characters are meaningless, everything about the game is futile except inasmuch as it serves to promote "story". Character protagonism becomes meaningless (and player protagonism with it) because these only matter and should be allowed as long as they serve the Story. If something a character wants to do (or a player wants his character to do) would reduce the experience of "creating a story", it should not be allowed, and thus in a story-focused game any sense of protagonism is an illusion. 

Emulation of the world becomes meaningless, the point is no longer to create a world that is internally consistent or that feels real, except when and if this contributes to the sense of "dramatic agenda"; at any other time, it must be discouraged, particularly at any time it enters into conflict with the sense of dramatism of the Story. 

The validity of the rules themselves become meaningless; if it doesn't serve the Story for a PC to be killed in a random encounter with an Orc, then this is to be ignored for the sake of Story. Thus Immersion becomes impossible; you know your character isn't a flesh-and-blood person living in a virtual world, he's a character in a novel, who will do what is dramatically interesting, live for as long as it serves the story, succeed if it serves the story and fail if it does not.

On the other hand, if you put Emulation first, then whole idea of "Creating a Story" becomes meaningless. It takes second place to all the things mentioned above, and any story that is created is entirely a byproduct of Emulation and Immersion. Its like when you go fishing: you don't go fishing to "create a story", you go fishing to go fishing; occasionally, a ripping yarn gets created as a result of that fishing trip, but its not the GOAL. More often, you get an experience that is fascinating to you and to those involved, but utterly not-fascinating to any other poor bastard who has to hear your "fishing story", in precisely the same way that most people's stories about their PCs or their Campaigns are unbelievably dull to anyone who wasn't actually there but is forced to hear about it.

The reason for Immersion isn't for "story to be told", in fact, as outlined above, Immersion becomes basically impossible if you try to make that the goal. The point of Immersion is the point of RPGs: to bring to life a person living in a virtual world, and to incarnate as that person for a while. When run properly, RPGs are very good at that. On the other hand, RPGs are utter shit at being methods to "create story". Ironically, so are Storygames; which, as I pointed out above, is why Harry Potter or Twilight Fan Fiction are unbelievably popular, while the Forge and its games was a failure.


(Originally Posted June 6, 2012)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

A Couple of Quick Reviews of Cults of Chaos!

I'm short on time today, so I'll be continuing my blatant self-promotion by sharing with you a couple of things other people have said about Cults of Chaos!

First, we have a very short but interesting review from someone who is mainly a GURPS fan.  It presents the opinion that even beyond the OSR, Cults of Chaos could be fairly easily adapted to use as a great resource for GURPS fantasy or semi-historical campaigns!

Second, I might have posted this already but in case I haven't, Swords & Stitchery posted a commentary to the Savage GM's youtube review of Cults of Chaos.  Well worth reading!

That's all for today. Remember that you can buy Cults of Chaos on PDF from rpgnow, or you can get it in print from either Lulu or from Amazon!

And while we're at it, don't forget to check out the main book that inspired this great OSR resource:  Dark Albion: The Rose War itself!

Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Quiete + Peterson's Balkan Delight

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Forge is not an "Ancestor" of the OSR, it was its Greatest Enemy

There has been some talk on G+ about how we "need" to view the Forge as some kind of 'ancestor' to the OSR. The argument, mostly being put forth by opportunistic former Forge Swine and their collaborators who kind of like the idea of the OSR being as elitist and pretentious as the Forge used to be, is that they were really trying to do what we do at the OSR now, and that some of the ideas the Forge had about design were slightly similar in some ways to OSR ideas.

In other words, this 'ancestor' shit is just the kind of total bull that people like Ron Edwards and the Dungeon-World-style opportunists are now trying to push, that this was what they "really meant all along" and that we really owe it all to them.


The Forge is NOT the ancestor of the OSR, it is the opposite of the OSR.  It succeeds at some of what the Forge claimed it wanted to do not because it's related to the Forge but because it *DOES EVERYTHING OPPOSITE* to what the Forge's leadership demanded we make RPGs into!

To say that they're the ancestor would be like saying "Marxism claims it wanted to bring people out of poverty and into prosperity, Capitalism actually did bring people out of poverty and into prosperity, therefore Capitalism comes from Marxism!"

But this isn't true; just like Marxism failed on all its promises and murdered millions of people because its theories were fundamentally flawed, the Forge massively fucked up the hobby and produced nothing but shit games because its theories were fundamentally FLAWED.

That we succeeded where the Forge failed doesn't mean we "owe" something to the Forge or it's pseudo-intellectual 'luminaries' (now desperately holding their noses and trying to create OSR-like games for a quick buck like the good little parasites they are). On the contrary, it means we are BETTER than the Forge, we were RIGHT and they were WRONG, and we owe them NOTHING.

The Forge produced nothing whatsoever that wasn't already pre-existing in the RPG hobby or that wasn't a complete and utter failure. The Forge contributed nothing to the OSR that was not already present in regular RPGs, and on the contrary spent the decade or so of its existence as a sworn enemy of the 'incoherent', 'anti-intellectual' D&D fandom, the 'great unwashed' that they despised and wanted to force to play in the superior "GNS" way that they were selling.

Any Forgist that refuses to admit this, and wants to pretend that they were our allies for the ten years that they were SHITTING ALL OVER D&D can go fuck themselves.

These worthless little bloodsuckers want in at the table to frantically leech some bucks off the OSR's success? Fine. First they have to go to a truth & reconciliation commission and ADMIT THEIR FUCKING CRIMES.   They have to acknowledge the theory they supported was fundamentally wrong. They have to admit that they tried to force it onto the hobby and redefine the fundamental definition of RPGs. They have to admit that storygames are NOT RPGs. They have to admit that the Forge was a pretentious elitist movement in opposition to regular RPGs that despised and attacked D&D as 'incoherent', and pursued prominent regular roleplaying advocates through blogs and gaming forums (which they also tried to subvert and take over).

Do that, and then maybe they get a seat at the table. If not, they can go fuck themselves, and the OSR should repudiate them.

I won the war, they lost it. After everything they did to me and the games I love, they don't get to pretend they were always my allies and ask me to fucking thank them! I know where the blood was shed, and who was doing the knifing. If they now want to benefit from the prosperity generated by peace that was won (that I won!), a prosperity only made possible by the total defeat and failure of every idea they've ever had, prosperity that only exists because we did the opposite of all they demanded we do and proved them wrong against a constant stream of endless and vicious and dirty-fighting opposition, then the very least they have to pay for that privilege is abject humiliation.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

Friday, 22 July 2016

Now You Can Get Dark Albion and/or Cults of Chaos at a 30% Discount (Limited Time)

So Cults of Chaos continues to do very well and receive great reviews. People who got it were very pleased to find just how portable it is to any OSR setting.  Check out what Tim Brennan has to say about the possible uses of Cults of Chaos in his blog!

And right now is the best time to pick up Cults of Chaos in print (Brennan's pic shows he got it on PDF; hey Tim, you may want to pick up the dead tree edition right now!), because you can get the book with a 30% discount at Lulu!

Just go to Lulu's entry for Cults of Chaos and use the coupon code LULU30 to get a 30% discount!

Heck, even though you can totally use Cults of Chaos without Dark Albion, at those prices you may just want to pick up Lulu's beautiful hardcover edition of Dark Albion while you're at it!   Or if you prefer, the also really beautiful Variant Cover Edition!  They're all 30% off with the coupon!

So don't hesitate! If there's any of these you don't have yet, now is the time!  Note that the coupon is only good until the 24th, so don't delay!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Egg + H&H's Chestnut

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Classic Rant: My Vow for Cultural Diversity in RPGs

There has been a lot of talk lately about cultural diversity in RPGs, specifically about both artwork and depictions of characters in the setting text, people demanding that out of politically correct motives, there should be more ethnic diversity in roleplaying games.

Well, I for one refuse to kowtow to the ultraliberals who are pushing this kind of bullshit.


I don't care how much the Tangencites call me a racist, or pressure me to include white people, claim that I'm speaking from a position of "East Indian privilege" or that its "subtle racism" to suggest that just because there weren't actually any white Europeans in the Mahabharata that's a good excuse not to have them in a game based on the selfsame concept. Their absurd arguments about how this is a "fantasy setting" and that my refusal to budge on this issue while I do include many other anachronisms is clearly a sign of my extreme prejudice against whites will fall on deaf ears.

I don't care how racist it may seem to some. If it makes me unpopular on Tangency, so be it. In order to honor my setting and maintain a sense of credibility, I can't have white people in it.

Well, there's "whiter" people and "darker" people in it... yakshas are gold-skinned, and there's Pandu, who's a pretty unnaturally pale guy. But those aren't really actual white people, and I'm not trying to use them as a substitute so don't go around accusing me of that either. And before anyone mentions it: NO, just because Pandu is a very pale-skinned guy who is kind of a fuckup and gets himself cursed in a really stupid way and then dies young setting the grounds for a divisive war of succession that would bring all of Bharatan civilization crashing down; it does not mean that I'm making him symbolic of white people nor am I suggesting that all white people are kind of fuckups who piss off mystics and then get magically cursed and die from having sex leaving defenseless sons to the mercy of their blind uncle and evil cousins who want to usurp the throne (that should probably be theirs by right anyways, because the uncle was the elder son who was denied the throne only because of his blindness). Its just a fantasy story! I'm not implying that all white people are somehow like Pandu, and if you think that, its pretty clear that you are the one who has a pretty warped set of perceptions.

Shit, some of my best friends are white people. I have nothing against them. But I just don't feel like some politically correct asshole should be able to FORCE me to include them in my RPG setting, just for "ethnic diversity" for its own sake.

I mention a distant kingdom of southeast asians... does that help?

Anyways, to conclude:I'm not a racist; but I won't budge. No White People in Arrows of Indra. If that makes me unpopular, so be it, but somehow I trust that white people who game will care more about whether its a really good game (which it will be) than about whether or not there's a white person on the cover, or a kingdom of white people in the book.

 I think that gamers are gamers first, and that gamers of all stripes are interested in the same thing: that the game be awesome. That's why lame, prefabricated PC-settings where "diversity" is more important than the setting actually making sense, or kicking ass, tend to do rather poorly. And why I feel fairly certain that white people will buy Arrows of Indra even if they don't feel "represented" by the skin colour of the characters in the setting. They'll still relate to the characters and peoples in the setting of Jagat as adventurers, rogues, heroes, kings, merchants, priests, magicians, soldiers, people with families, people with duties, dark secrets, problems, struggles, all the things of the human condition. I don't think you have to be East Indian to feel a connection to the setting, because regardless of skin colour the setting is a human setting. Whether its the Mahabharata, the Iliad, the Arthurian legends, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or Game of Thrones. We all get this stuff.


(Originally Posted April 18 ,2012)

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

RPGPundit Reviews: Alpha Blue

(note: I can think of no better moment to post this review of Alpha Blue, a product that was once the victim of censorship in our own hobby, than today in the wake of Twitter's utterly unjustifiable censorship of noted conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos. Whether you agree with Milo or not, whether you like Venger's game or not, the censorship of dissenting views by the Regressive Left, in something as large and influential as Twitter or as small and seemingly inconsequential as the RPG hobby, is appalling and indefensible to anyone who believes in the values of the western enlightenment society)

RPGPundit Reviews: Alpha Blue

This is a review of the RPG "Alpha Blue", writen by "Venger As'nas Satanis" (yeah, seriously), and published by Kort'thalis Publishing (continuing with the love affair with unnecessary apostrophes).

This is a review of the print edition, which is a 112 page softcover, with a color cover of some kind of very scantily-clad cyborg elf chick surrounded by tentacles, on some kind of space station.

The interior art is black and white, and mainly in a similar style to that of the cover. It mostly depicts one of two themes: either really weird looking vaguely Lovecraftian (or maybe Giger-esque) monsters/aliens in a sci-fi environment, or sexily semi-dressed women (humans or near-humans) also in a sci-fi context. There's also a couple of pieces that are very blatant references to popular sci-fi staples: there's one image (of a scantily clad warrior-queen of some kind) which features what are very obviously original-series BSG Cylons.  Ming The Merciless makes an appearance oogling a nude woman with an early-1980s hairstyle.  The 4th Doctor is present (iconic scarf and hair and all) being manhandled by a couple of scantily-clad babes, one of the robots from The Black Hole makes an appearance, and there's a couple of others that are probably references to other classics as well.  The art and the choice of cameo appearances make it very clear that the setting of this product is meant to hearken back to the late-70s/early-80s sci-fi style.

This product has not been without controversy (and not because of the artistic cameos, though other aspects of the artwork may have had something to do with it).  After its release, a group of Regressive Leftists got this product pulled from OneBookShelf (that is, from the storefronts of RPGnow/DriveThruRPG).  It was eventually reinstated, after myself and a few other prominent figures in the hobby (mostly from the OSR) made an intense and directed campaign to not let this act of censorship stand.  But regardless, it is a product that certain people had targeted as a way to make it impossible for YOU to even have an opportunity to read it.  They felt they knew better than you did as to what's best for you, and better than all of us as to what's best for the hobby.  In other words, they are a gang of totalitarian fucks.

At the time, I had not read Alpha Blue, I was simply opposed to censorship on principle.  Whatever Alpha Blue says, whatever kind of game it is, I defend its right to exist and the right of others to purchase and read it.  But now, it's time for me to take a look at it not as a salvo in the ideological war against leftist fascists, but rather as a product, to judge its quality.  Let's see if I think it's worth buying as more than a political statement.

So the first 35 pages of this book are dedicated to the basics of the system and character creation; and I guess the first thing to note is that Alpha Blue is NOT an OSR game.  I've seen a lot of people sounding like they are mistakenly thinking it is. But in fact, the game uses the dice-pool system very similar to the one found in Crimson Demon Slayer (another of Venger's games).  There is a very brief set of "OSR conversion notes" but these are actually to explain how to convert material FROM an OSR game to use it in Alpha Blue's home system, and while you can get a few hints from reversing the instructions it's not really even enough to effectively convert the system over to D&D-style rules.  So I have to say emphatically that Alpha Blue is in no sense an OSR game.  Of course, the setting itself could be used with some kind of OSR sci-fi ruleset.

The system mechanics are based on dice pools, where a player will normally roll two d6s for an average check, or just one if they are at a disadvantage, or three d6s for some big advantage.  Some legendary creatures or objects might roll four or five dice.  Only the highest result is counted. Any sixes are re-rolled and the total number of sixes rolled are considered in some elements of task resolution to reflect extra-good outcomes. Once per session, each player can choose a single roll where they "steal the spotlight" and roll double the normal number of dice that would usually be allowed them.

Generally speaking, 4 or more on a result is at least some sort of success (3 is actually "mostly failure" while 4 is "partial success"). What number of success you get determines how much damage you do in an attack (a result of 1 on an attack is a fumble, and you have to roll on a table to see if you did damage to yourself). Armor mostly reduces damage, though some force fields can instead divert attacks (causing a penalty to the to-hit roll).

Characters have 25 hit points to start, and gain more as they level up. You die at a negative value of your level in hit points, though there's also some chance that a 'dead' character might still be revived through high-tech healing and cybernetic or organic replacement parts. These replacement parts have a chance of causing physical or mental side-effects.  There's also a simple saving-throw mechanic to avoid massive-damage or instant-death scenarios.

So, the system is very simple, and not absolutely atrocious as far as dice-pools are concerned. But I'm left questioning why the author couldn't have used the OSR; after all, he could have made an OSR-based system that was very innovative and whatnot while still being fundamentally an OSR game (something along the lines of my own "Appendix P" rules found in Dark Albion).

Character-creation is very freeform, there's no attributes, or set skills. Instead it's all done through a set of random lifepath-table rolls. There are two 'basic career' tables: Scoundrel or Respectable. A human gets to roll twice, and it can be both rolls on a single table, or one of each.

Sample random Scoundrel roll: Gambler & Con-man
Sample random Respectable roll: Diplomat & Templar (space-priest)
Sample random Mixed roll: Assassin & Interior Designer

Each table roll also generates starting "Blue bucks", your cash.  Scoundrels make twice as much money, but for each roll you take on the Scoundrel table you have a chance of being wanted by the law.
There's no further 'skill' considered apart from career; it's up to the GM to decide if your career gives you any special knowledge or edges.

A character also has three other options besides human; in any of those three they would roll only once on the occupation table (choosing either Scoundrel or Respectable).  The other options are "alien", "mutant" or "something special".
The "something special" is a random roll with only four options: Psionic, Zedi, Noble, or "Better Lucky than Good" (which seems out of place with the other, as it's not an actual occupation, but rather just a special ability, allowing you a once-per-session re-roll of an unfavorable roll).

The Mutation table has 100 options, and a "mutant" character would roll on the table 3 times. Some options are a lot better than others.

Random Mutant powers: seizures (the character has a 1 in 6 chance of having a seizure lasting several minutes, each 'scene'), extra eyes (1d6 extra), flesh melted off (the character is now just a walking skeleton).
Random Mutant Powers 2:  Tech crash (disrupts all technology within 5' of you), death frenzy (you go into a berserker rage when you're at negative hit points), danger sense (you are aware of dangerous situations a few seconds before they happen).

Aliens are generated through several tables, with the starting note that there's a 1 in 6 chance that your alien cannot survive in an Earth-like environment (meaning that on the space station and other Earth-like conditions he will need to wear a special protective suit). Basic alien form is rolled on a d30, then you roll for rough size, and on a d100 table for a random "alienism" (a weird quirk of your species).

Sample Alien: can survive in earth conditions, aquatic (fish like), approximately rat-sized, alien cultural trait: always respects authority figures in public.

After you've chosen your basic occupation/race, you roll on a random table-set to determine what your "prior experience" has been. This is done by mixing an A/B/C option of table results with a d6, d8, and d12 check. The d12 determines more or less how things went for you in the past, and in an homage to Traveler it's possible that you might have to make a roll to avoid having died during character-creation!

Sample prior event: "the first time you had sex with an alien life form... you got lost in the great wastes... being irradiated by a lethal dose of gamma isotopes (33% chance of death!)"
Second try: "Your native dome was bombarded by heavy artillery and... you were taught the way of the Zedi... a group of of alien humanoids took you in helping you make your way through the galaxy (good for 1 re-roll!)"

After this you roll for your basic fashion style (the idea being that "looking groovy, radical or groovoradical" is very important in the retro-70s sci fi genre). These are also done by a series of rolls.

Sample fashion: Casual skintight space pajamas in flesh-tone and sky-blue with an orange sunburst, made of alligator skin.

You also roll randomly for your 'weapon of choice'. In the Alpha Blue system most weapons do the same amount of damage, so the selection is purely a question of aesthetics.  All characters start with one weapon, but can purchase more.

Sample weapon: Spectrum "liberator" ray-gun
2nd sample weapon: laser crossbow

A very brief and general list of basic equipment is included.

You can then optionally roll for "astrology" to see your star-sign. Curiously, Venger chose to just use our real-life western-astrology star-signs, and the descriptions of each sign fit the traditional descriptions of characteristics people born under that sign are supposed to have.

Then there's also a table for "Known associates" (though it should actually be "known associations", as it isn't about what people you're connected to, but what organizations).  This table has two parts, one where you roll for the group (which includes examples like "The Robot Development Cartel", "Alpha Omega space-college fraternity", "The Imperial Fleet", "The Knights in White Satin", "The Defenders of Atari", or "The Last Starfighter Guild"); and the second where you roll for the nature of your relationship to that group (which can include things like "Master/slave", "Nemesis", "Relative", "Friend", or "Shared a cell").

There's also a random table of "things robots were built from", which includes options like "gumball machine", "A/C unit", "Cash Register", etc.

After this, just to remind us that this is supposed to be a Very Naughty rpg, you have a table of sexual fetishes you roll on to see what you're into.
Randomly determined examples: Witnessing car crashes, feet/shoes/etc, Cheerleader/Girl Scout/Private School/Nurse or Stewardess outfits, Furry fetish.

There's also two smaller tables, one entitled "what part of a woman you like the best", and the other entitled "For the ladies and gay dudes... what's your type"?  Samples from the first include "legs", "butt", "breast" or "other"; while samples from the second include "scruffy", "rugged", "clean cut", or "intellectual".

Then there are some more conventional tables. Your character can start out in debt, and there's tables to determine the type of debt and what is threatened to be done to you if you don't pay up. There's tables for getting work as an assassin or bounty hunter, and also a list of suitable male and female sci-fi sounding names.

So, while dice-pool systems are not my favorite, I'm glad at least the character creation is not point-based! Also, it's mostly random and could be resolved quite quickly, both of which are features I consider very positive in RPG design. Some redeeming qualities there.

After this, we get to some details about the universe of Alpha Blue.  The book informs us that "as you may have already noticed, the universe is full of assholes". We get a detailed listing of the various asshole organizations that can be found therein.  This includes the Federation, the Draconian Empire (vaguely reptilian aliens who are hot for humans), the Krylon Protectorate (vaguely reptilian androids that are at constant war with everyone), the Interstellar Caliphate (who literally space-jihadis), The Brain Bugs (evil mind-controlling aliens), the Mega-Corporation Conglomerate (an interstellar super-corporation called the "Micro McDonald Disney Walmart Cola mega-corporation"), and the Clerics of the Seventh Age (a space-based religious cult). We also learn a little about hyperspace, and a black hole that leads to an evil universe ruled by a kind of Great Old One. We also learn, in keeping with the 'rumpy bumby' goofiness of the setting, that humans are most notable as a species by virtue of the fact that they can interbreed with just about any other alien life form.

We get some random tables as well, including tables to determine reasons for inter-species breeding, random tech device names (stuff like the "permutation converter cube"), random weird effects of radiation, and a 'what are the sensors scanning' table. There's also information on things like memory crystals, cloaking devices, star-quakes, time warps (with a "what fell out of the time warp" table), derelict-spaceship tables, and a "things inside an asteroid" table. There's also information on the Terra Nostra (the Earth-based space-mafia), the unification wars, and the mining ship Crimson Dwarf.

Next we get a large section on Alpha Blue itself.  We're informed that Alpha Blue is a huge space station, built almost 100 years ago (the present date is 2269), with a population of half a million inhabitants.  It was originally created as a kind of therapy station for the clinically oversexed; but gradually turned into a space brothel. In the present day, Alpha Blue is like a Space version of Las Vegas, where you can satisfy all the decadent desires (gambling, intoxication, fashion, entertainment, and of course sex).  Being quite the sprawling station, it has some areas that are fairly bourgeois and respectable, and others that are lawless and dangerous.  Being a den of vice, crime (organized or otherwise) is rampant.

In this chapter we learn about prostitution, currency, law (or the relative absence of the same), the central computer system (named "Jason", which tends to have odd mood swings), and the revolving door of Alpha Blue's captains (apparently its a position that regularly vacates). We're also told about the Orgasmatron (a kind of orgasm-simulating chamber, that can cause hallucinations and might accidentally teleport you to Metebelis III), sex aids (like Penetration Blue, the Mind Condom, or Blue Dreamers), and smoking (no one in the future smokes cigarettes, instead the personal hookah is the preferred method). There's also random tables for other drugs, venereal diseases (including the "Vulcan Nerve Pinch"), and random (potentially sexy) events, as well as a table for reasons someone might be on Alpha Blue.

There's likewise tables for first-experiences on Alpha Blue, random overarching plots, complications, a table of random alien inhabitants of the station, what's on Alpha Blue's TV station, random robots and their quirks, random parties, random sexual activity, random events done by someone intoxicated, and more.

Anyone who's read previous reviews of mine knows how much I'm liking the insane number of random tables this book has. They're also generally good tables, in the sense of how they are constructed, with enough options and variety, and some of them covering very general topics while others go into very specific topics; in other words, a good range.

We also get a breakdown of some of the locations on Alpha Blue. There's Casino Royale Bleu, the spa, the library, the 'Blue Julius' smoothie bar, the Blue Velvet Lounge, a list of random weird drinks (a sci-fi companion to my own Fantasy Drinks table?), the Space Station Restaurant and Bar, the Blue Light District, the Orgasmatron Stations, Central Control, the Blue Balls court ('Blue Ball' being a favorite sport on Alpha Blue), the medical and bot-repair bays, the exercise deck, the Alpha Blue university, the Alpha Blue mall, the gift shop, the Alpha Blue Quasar Palace cinema, and the Holodeck (with a "holodeck glitches table").

Then there's even more random tables: a table of criminal motivations, a table of therapy-bot advice (there's also a Priest-bot for Catholics), a table to determine how much of a 'freak' a given sexual partner might be.  There's also information about sanitary products, hot sauces, memory-erasing pills, sports, a sleeping princess in a cryo-chamber, some weird movie-watching mind-control crystals, the heroic 'Knights in White Satin' and the villainous 'Knights in Black Satin' and the neutral 'Knights in Alpha Blue Satin', arena games, the illegal "blue market" (it's a bit unclear just what would actually be illegal on Alpha Blue?), the Pleasure Dome (a section of the station which has a never-closing 24-hour orgy), the station's observation deck, Alpha Blue's force fields and weapons, life support, its science lab, teleporters, quarantine, docking bays, the "Blue Flamingo" shuttlecraft, gravity and maintenance, the slave auction (seriously, what the fuck could possibly be for sale on the 'illegal' blue market if slavery is ok??), the Ultra Room (a room for voyeurs), and space poker (unfortunately, "space poker" is really just Texas Hold-Em).

So far, Alpha Blue paints an interesting (if slightly sophomoric 'naughty') picture. But what can you actually do there in terms of adventuring?  The next section has some of Venger's proposals for that, in the form of 'scenario star seeds'. Examples involve being hired to go on missions to given worlds, for corporations, accidentally ruining utopian planets, etc. Likewise, some adventures on the station: for example, the popular entertainers known as the Blue Humanoid Group come to the station, but one of their members goes missing; or a dark cult is impregnating women on the station to create a race of magical star-children; or having to thwart the terrorist machinations of space-jihadis.

A couple of sample NPCs are also included, with backstory, in case the GM wants to use them.

There's also details of a few special items, including the "Throbbing Blue Jelly" and the "Rape Machine". The latter is pretty much what it sounds like, an automated penetration device (the book is mercifully devoid of further schematic details).

This section ends with some very basic stats for dangerous creatures and villains.

We also get a section with "campaign advice", where it suggests that Alpha Blue can be used to address some of sci-fi's 'deeper questions' like "does god exist", "how can we continue to survive in an uncaring universe" or "are we really all that different"?
I thought this was amusing, given that the setting is a giant space-brothel.

There's some advice to show rather than tell, to sometimes ramp up the menace, and to keep things moving, all of which are fine advice though very generic.  There's some guidelines to archetypal personalities to apply.
There's also the advice that the first time a PC tries something, it should be consequence-free, but then after that all bets are off; I find this utterly terrible advice, frankly.  First, it's totally anti-emulative: the risk should be what the world says it is, not what is convenient to the GM or player. Second, this particular advice has the additional negative quality of confusing Player expectations: the GM is how they view the world, and if the first time they try a dumb thing they get off free, they'll expect to get off next time as well. The GM should always be consistent with consequences!          

The book ends with some schematics of the space station; though its just a diagram of floorplans, with no descriptive element.  There's also character sheets.

So what to conclude about Alpha Blue? Well, in the first place I'd unquestionably state that there is nothing that would merit the censorship of this book. Of course, almost nothing merits the censorship of any book!  But there was certainly nothing in Alpha Blue worthy of it ever having been censored, even temporarily, from OneBookShelf.

Now, as to the product itself, I will say that I think that Alpha Blue is a very interesting setting. It has a delicious level of gonzo to it that would fit right at home in my DCC campaign.  But I think that it probably would have been more interesting if it hadn't had the focus on sophomoric sexual nonsense. You could still have kept that as a kind of background element, but if the book had not wasted as much time on relatively immature sexual childishness, it could have dedicated a bit more space on making the game setting more interesting in terms of adventuring.  Because let's face it, most gamers are really not going to be all that interested in playing out the results of their character's roll on the 'sexual fetish table', and would be more interested in playing some 70s sci-fi high action. There should have been a bit less of the former, and a bit more of the latter.

The other thing I'd add is that honestly, Alpha Blue would have been better as an OSR product. Now, you may take this as a personal taste, and I guess on the most superficial level it is.  I play OSR games, and of course I'd rather the game was some variety of (perhaps very rules-light) OSR rather than its own system.  But this is not just personal, it's also a question of utility.  The OSR is incredibly popular right now (and tons of people play the D&D system), while the Alpha Blue house rules are not.  They aren't awful rules, at least not for a dice-pool system, but I think more people might be willing to take the plunge on Alpha Blue if it was set up with the rules system that they can mingle with all their other OSR products and games.  Alpha Blue has an old-school '70s aesthetic, so it would have been a perfect fit.

Now, the good: even if you take out all the tables related to eye-rolling benny-hill type naughtiness, this book comes with TONS of spectacular random-tables that could be of use for any number of sci-fi games.  The setting itself, divorced of the excessive sleaze, is very interesting, and a GM who wanted to could ignore the nudge-nudge wink-wink schoolboy salaciousness and you'd be left with a great premise for a sci-fi campaign.

Ultimately, whether or not Alpha Blue will be worth buying for you will depend on how much you want to either engage with the smarm or surgically reduce it; and whether you will be interested in playing with the house system or doing your own work to adapt it to another system (OSR, for example).  If you're already running a sci-fi game (or planning to), and your game has a 1970s-style softer sci-fi feel to it along the lines of old Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rogers, you could use the setting material and random tables to enhance your game.

And of course finally, you may just want to buy the game to tell all the Regressive Leftist censors of the Outrage Brigade to fuck off from our hobby.


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