Friday, October 12, 2018

Old Shames or New Shames Which is it Really?

RPGNET where they have this habit of getting things completely wrong all the time, recently flubbed up again. The thread title is "The Old Shames of D&D", but a lot of the things they mention were not part of Old/Original D&D which started in 1974. Most of the things they mention were not part of the original three little brown books. So the title should have been "The New Shames of AD&D and later."

Lets look at a few of them. 

Drow, not part of OD&D so I never was exposed to that race, but what they said about them is this, "only dark-skinned elves are insane and evil, with sexually provocative imagery on top" which is so wrong, elves are white, hot and sexy and they are usually neutral and somewhat detached from things due to being almost immortal.

Gully Dwarves, again not part of OD&D, these "Gully dwarves are a one-note gag poking fun at the intellectually handicapped. That's literally all they are; they exist to be a race of morons you can point your finger at and laugh about because they're so stupid." What idiot came up with that! Why would you put anything like that in your game. For anyone to be intellectually handicapped is not funny, it is sad, very, very sad and one of the greatest of human tragedies.

Vistani, again not part of OD&D, "this is a race whose problematic elements are probably more obvious to European D&D fans than American ones, because the big issue of anti-Roma is more rooted there. In summary, Vistani are a race literally built around the Horror Movie Gypsy archetype; morally ambiguous "gypsies" who are portrayed as so inherently mystical that being half-vistani is treated as making you as inhuman as being half-elf or half-orc - indeed, the half-breed version is the only way one is even allowed to play a character remotely tied to them."

Let's pause here to state that roleplaying games owe a lot to archetypes, ever hear that word before. Archetypes/Stereotypes/Tropes are things that resonate with people because there is a lot of truth to them. Not the whole truth, but partly true. Writers make use of this all the time and good writers make skillful use of them. Same with roleplayers, good ones make skillful use of these things.

Gypsies aka Roma aka Travelers and their stereotype exists because it is partially true, not the whole truth, but not completely untrue either. But many people when they roleplay, choose not to run things btb(i.e. use the stereotype as is) and instead turn the stereotype upside down. Obviously, this never occurs to many, but it takes things to a new level and makes the old, new again. 

People who run these premade settings are captive to the btb mentallity. Where those who DIY are not, when you DIY you are freed from using tired old stereotypes. Vikings, Cowboys, Romans, and so on are all tired old stereotypes. DIY and be free of them.

But let's continue,

Aperusa, again not part of OD&D, "An entire culture of faithless, shifty, flamboyant, lying, swindling, scavenging, cowardly rogues... in other words, an entire culture based on the worst anti-Roma stereotypes, but presented IN SPACE!" Free yourself from this pre-canned stuff.

Gypsy Kits, again not part of OD&D, and again more of the same from above.

"Historical Fantasy Cultures", again not part of OD&D except in very generic fantasy medieval way, "but even I can't help but notice that the more direct an attempt at "historical fantasy" D&D tended to do, the worse it tended to be." Again free yourself from pre-canned settings, DIY and take references and do something new with them, do something that speaks to you.

The next thing cites evil cultures and evil races as racist. Again not part of OD&D, which was Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic. Lawful was not Good and Chaotic was not Evil. Those things came later. In OD&D "sentient monsters" were not all evil all the time btb and to be killed on sight no matter what. In OD&D, they could be talked to and dealt with and the object was not killing things. All of that was not hardwired into OD&D. The whole murderhobo thing was not the original mode of play for adults, that came later. Whether or not it is racist, to have evil races and cultures is not germane if you don't do that in your campaign. If they have free-will, then they are not universally evil. If they don't have free will what is the point. What fun is it if every encounter is combat and nothing else. Sounds very boring to me.

Oh let me interject this, "paladins and baby orcs" if you go there that is on you, the game itself does not take you there, that is a DM/players problem not a game problem. My players, including the paladins, would not kill baby orcs if I put them in the game, you know why? Because my players don't have a goal of exterminating races. Nothing in OD&D tells you to slit the throats of sleeping orcs. If your players do that, that is on them.

A point is made about "giant fantasy world-atlases" not having non-demihumans nations, just lawless zones where monsters run wild. Again free yourself from pre-canned settings and DIY and have monster nations, and trade with them. Have monster bandits, just like there are human bandits. Do something original with your dungeon. Maybe you free those poor monsters enslaved by the lich.

That just gets me through page one of 63 pages at RPGNET. I can see your chin drop to find out this stuff goes on for 63 pages (as of today).

Next up is Pathfinder, which I know nothing about, is said to have "sand and jungle orcs," again not part of OD&D, really that is the best you could come up with for Pathfinder? I haven't seen it so I can only take there word that the Pathfinder rules actually say that.

"Racial maximums for stats and class levels in and gender-based maximums for strength." Again not part of OD&D. Not part of Old D&D, these things came later.

Then they get into what they call "rape monsters" things like nixies and dryads. I will grant you that both of those are in OD&D, but I don't know anyone that ever put them in the game or ever used them as an encounter. I also don't know anyone who ever had rape occur in the game. I suppose there are people that do that, but in my experience we are there to have fun, nothing about rape is fun so it is not part of the game for us. 

Slavery, while not explicitly part of OD&D, it is part of human history and occurred in virtually every group throughout history and is part of many cultures in the world even today. So yes, many of us have slavery in the game. Our players will typically try to free any slaves they encounter by one means or another and slavers are always the bad guys.

I could go on for a few thousand more words, but fortunately for you I will not. The bottom line for me is this. One is that almost none of this was part of OD&D, so it is not OLD SHAMES it is really mostly NEW SHAMES. Two, the whole 63 page thread was because people are enslaved to btb. If book says it, then for them it is canon.

My solution, free yourself from the btb fanaticism and put down the pre-built settings and DIY. If you go through the whole thread some of it is just silly SJW nonsense the things they complain about, but other things are legit. So DIY and then anything that you personally think is problematic you can jettison. Are all of your bad guys dark skinned? That's not on the game, that's on you. What's in the rulebook doesn't really matter, because you can change it. So step up and make the game your own and DIY.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Here it is, The Complete Dave Arneson Game Day & Blackmoor Week 2018 Posting List

Reposted with Permission from The Ruins of Murkhill Forum and copied from the new blog Xizillian's Place.

Compiled Complete List (of everything we can locate).

Pre-Announcement of Dave Arneson Game Day October 1, 2018 posted on 9/22/2018

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 Coming Up!

(Eight Days a Week)(Google if you don't get the reference  ;) )

Blackmoor Week is September 24th through October 1st (yeah we know that is eight days) and October 1st is Dave Arneson Game Day. Several people who have blogs are posting in celebration of the Week and of The Day.

Day One Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 24, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day One)
Blackmoor Week Day One and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day ONE
Blackmoor Week Day One
Blackmoor Week Day ILet's Celebrate Blackmoor Week 2018

Day Two Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 25, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Two)
Blackmoor Week Day Two and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day TWO
Blackmoor Week Day Two
Blackmoor Week Day II

Day Three Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 26, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Three)
Blackmoor Week Day Three and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day THREE
Blackmoor Week Day Three
Blackmoor Week Day III

Day Four Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 27, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Four)
Blackmoor Week Day Four and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day FOURBlackmoor Week Day FourBlackmoor Week Day IV
T
he Mystery of Dave Arneson's Engine

Day Five Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 28, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Five)
Blackmoor Week Day Five and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day FIVE
Blackmoor Week Day Five
Blackmoor Week Day V

Day Six Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 29, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Six)
Blackmoor Week Day Six and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day SIX
Blackmoor Week Day Six
Blackmoor Week Day VI
When Dave Arneson Changed the World (Murkhill's tinyurl.com/DaveArnesonWeek )

Day Seven Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 30, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Seven)
Blackmoor Week Day Seven and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day SEVEN
Blackmoor Week Day Seven
Blackmoor Week Day VII
Celebrating Blackmoor Week 2018

“Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” A Dave Arneson Homage, Part 1 of 2 by James Maliszewski posted at Goodman Games

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 Blog Posts for October 1, 2018

Dave Arneson Game Day celebrated today on his birthday October 1st 2018
Dave Arneson Game Day (October 1st 2018)
Dave Arneson Game Day today October 1st, 2018
October First 2018 "Dave Arneson Game Day"!
At Last It Is Here - Dave Arneson Game Day!
Happy Birthday Dave Arneson

Learning from Dave Arneson’s Published Works A Dave Arneson Homage, Part 2 of 2 by James Maliszewski

Happy Dave Arneson Day! by Bruce Heard
Spooky Blackmoor: The Horseman of the North
David Fant, Baron of Blackmoor (Interview)
"WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?" -- DAVE ARNESON'S LEGACY (Today is Dave Arneson's birthday, also known as Dave Arneson Game Day.)

Other Posts on Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 October 1, 2018

Other posts by  

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018!
Happy birthday Dave Arneson! (2018)
GS3 Castle Newgate Gazeteer by Greg Svenson (DA Day Release) (For Members only)
Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 - Coming soon!
Blackmoor Living World (DA Day 2018 Release)
Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 - Official Discussion! 
Maliszewski on Dave Arneson Dave Arneson Game Day 2018
Living Blackmoor (DA Day 2018 Release)
Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 - Preparation Thread
GS3 Castle Newgate Gazeteer by Greg Svenson (DA Day Release)

A partial list of Dave Arneson Game Day Posts. 

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 Highlights!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Dave Arneson Game Day celebrated today on his birthday October 1st 2018

Wishing a Happy Birthday to Dave Arneson, we wish you were still with us!

So are you one of the few people celebrating today? One of the few that are in the know as to who Dave Arneson is and what he did in creating a new kind of game, in creating Dungeons & Dragons and in creating an entire hobby which has spawned countless imitators?

I have a new question today and that is, "When you found out that a significant part of Blackmoor Supplement II for OD&D was not written by Arneson and was not Blackmoor stuff, did you wonder why that was?"

The answer to that is pretty easy and the answer is IMO Tim Kask. What is IMO the deep, unabated, bitter hatred that Tim Kask has for Dave Arneson is well documented all over the Internet, much of it in Tim Kask's own words. The real reason that Tim Kask hates Dave Arneson is IMO pretty darn obvious and doesn't need to be spelled out here.

Here are the facts as best I can determine them.

At the Dragonsfoot forums Tim Kask has a Q&A thread and it is mostly very entertaining. When you look at the forum as a visitor (i.e. not logged in) the relevant passage for what happened to the Blackmoor Supplement is on page 8 towards the bottom of the page Tim Kask posted on Fri May 25, 2007 at 4:33 am. I am not going to quote the whole thing you can read that for yourselves. Here is the  IMO perfect storm that derailed the potential of the Blackmoor Supplement.
Upon going into work that fateful morning I was greeted by the grinning visages of Brian and Gary, looking like siblings from the same litter of Cheshire cats. Sensing that something was up, and that it undoubtedly involved me, and that furthermore, I might not be thrilled about it, I got ready to fill that day’s orders. At that point, I was handed one of the aforementioned baskets, filled with what I mistook to be orders. Seldom have I been so wrong. Over the sound of Brian nearly chortling to death, Gary informed me that they were now going to find out just how well I could edit. The basket contained what was destined to become Supplement II of D&D: Blackmoor 
So here we are, the two don't like each other (and won't work together) and so Blume and Gygax IMO decided to mess with Kask and Arneson at the same time. 
Sifting through about 50 odd sheets of mostly handwritten material and charts, I asked for clarification. Again I was informed that what I held in my hands was the next supplement to D&D.
Here the shoe drops 
So here I am, next week, and I sit down to go through the file. Uh oh, something seems to be amiss. I tried sorting the stuff; I re-sorted the stuff. I cataloged, alphabetized, prioritized and sanitized,all to no avail. This was a file folder full of repetitions, contradictions, duplications and complications. But not a supplement. I found three different versions of one idea, and two different approaches to another that are at odds with each other, as well as previously published guidelines. After two evenings of trying to make heads or tales of anything at all, I went to Gary and told him something to the effect that I couldn’t make heads or tails of the whole mess. And he replied something to the effect that it just needed some editing. About this time, I realized I was in deep dung.
Yeah, here the other shoe drops 
When I made an effort to get clarifications and explanations, I got none, or worse, what I got in response to my questions were responses that intimated that I must be mentally deficient if I couldn’t understand them. Finally I said to hell with that and threw most of the crap away, determined to start over and do it my way.
IMO all the previous strife between these two now came together to rob the world of what could have been a wonderful supplement. He threw it away, really, he threw it away. In that one sentence any chance of my ever having any respect for Tim Kask was extinguished. I already had zero respect for the Blumes due to IMO the disaster of having them anywhere near D&D and TSR and the respect for Gygax was greatly reduced by this chain of events. Granted Dave should have sucked it up and explained things to Kask and made the attempt to get his supplement out the door with more of his stuff in it.

But here is what we missed out on, a real supplement, an idea supplement, I don't care if there were 30 different versions of an idea, it would have been awesome to have seen all the different ways that you could look at an idea, maybe in ways that most of us would never have seen. We had a chance to peer into the mind of a genius and we lost it. It is a shame that all of this stuff did not end up published in some form, but I am betting that those were unique originals that were thrown away. The same way the originals that Dave originally gave to Gary were lost or thrown away.
This was a file folder full of repetitions, contradictions, duplications and complications. But not a supplement. I found three different versions of one idea, and two different approaches to another that are at odds with each other, as well as previously published guidelines.
Yeah, I wanted to see all of that, all of that, all of that!!!!

Here is where TSR (and later WotC many times) missed the opportunity to provide the kind of supplement that old school players wanted, raw ideas, who cares if one thing contradicts another, ideas a valuable. Especially the ideas that a Gygax or a Kask would discard.

Many of us have talked and one guy says that Dave Hargrave is the only published guy that really understood Arneson and did stuff a lot like Arneson. Both understood the grab bag of ideas good and "bad" and that any idea triggers other ideas. Most people look at a supplement and think they have ot use all of it, only a few realized that all rules are optional guidelines, especially from supplements.

Dave here is a toast to what might have been in a more perfect world.!

Happy Birthday! 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Seven)

Do you have a copy of The First Fantasy Campaign? Or have you have ever read any of it or seen it? It was first published in 1977 and you can find some information over the The Acaeum First Fantasy Campaign. Although the Acaeum is usually a good source of information, they are in error about the First printing as the first printing is all Black and White including the cover. 

The links to the correct information https://ruinsofmurkhill.proboards.com/post/25030 and https://ruinsofmurkhill.proboards.com/post/26702 are two primary links(you can find all the links in the thread) and below I will post the images. This information was posted at The Ruins of Murkhill by the former Admin The Perilous Dreamer. I believe these are scanned images of his personal copy. The images are posted full size at the forum.

Here is the cover of the real first printing (that is a fire elemental in the background behind the tree.)

The back cover

Inside the front cover (Also note the typo in the copyright statement, instead of First Fantasy Campaign it says First Family Campaign, this typo is not present in the later printing with the color cover. Another thing missed by the experts at The Acaeum. 

The Table of Contents

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Six)

The following is my opinion which I personally view as a statement of fact.

Another question that comes up is should we hold so-called "historians" to account for distorting the record concerning Blackmoor and Dave Arneson's creation of Blackmoor and of Dungeons & Dragons. 

It is a fact that Arneson is the creator of these. Gygax was shown Blackmoor about a year and a half to two years after it began and he immediately saw the publication potential. For that we can give Gygax credit, he was the impetus behind the publication, whereas Arneson was content to share it face to face. What did Gygax do, he wrote it down and changed a lot of Arneson's mechanics (but not the underlying game engine which was solely Arneson's creation), added back in a lot of Chainmail that Arneson had discarded, replaced Arneson's mechanics with the d20 roles. Then playtesting began and both the Twin Cities Arneson group and the Lake Geneva group added things to the written rules as playtesting proceeded. Things that Arneson liked were in a number of cases dropped from the written down game.

So the game engine itself, the concepts, a lot of the monsters, the dungeon crawl, the so-called "end game"/"domain game" (which in Blackmoor was present at all levels, not just high level) and many other things were the creation of Arneson. Gygax wrote it down and swapped out a lot of mechanics for his own and went to great lengths to promote Chainmail and the fiction that Blackmoor/D&D was derived from Chainmail.

Which brings us down to the present day where some so-called "historians" distort the record and will share selected and sometimes partial/censored images of documents to promote the Gygax narrative that developed that falsely claims that Gygax was the prime creative person in the picture when it was really Arneson that is the prime creative person in the creation of D&D.

We have today whole forums, blogs and so-called "historians" who are dedicated to promoting the false narrative about who created what. Should they be held accountable for fabricating a false distorted picture of Blackmoor, Arneson and the creation of Dungeons & Dragons?

It has become a custom to censor and ban anyone who disputes the false narrative and someone should ask the question, what do all these people have to gain from silencing the truth about the real creator of Dungeons & Dragons, namely Dave Arneson? Maybe they think that "Saint Gygax" is going to grant them a boon for their support of distortions that he himself started? I don't blame Gygax for any of that, he was after all human and a self promotor, he was acting in his own self interest. I can forgive that. But all these people who are furthering the falsehoods and the misinformation campaign, should we not call them to account when they are not even acting in their own self-interest, but are acting to the detriment of the hobby and to the detriment of the man who created the hobby, Dave Arneson?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Five)

As you look into Blackmoor and Dungeons & Dragons you may wonder where somethings came from or how early some ideas were around. Again the blog Hidden in Shadows is a great resource for those things.

Consider the topic of HD and Level for instance.

Infamous Characters, and the history of levels in D&D
Levels are at the heart of D&D, from experience to combat to hit points - not to mention how much the term is used for other things, such as dungeon level and magic level.  Knowing when character levels came to be in the form familiar to us from the 1974 rules would go a long way to really understanding the development of the game.

Did HD equal Level in early Blackmoor?
From my previous post, it is apparent that as Arneson developed early Blackmoor, flunky, hero, superhero did not really function as “levels” as we would think of them today, but more like level titles or social ranks – the sort of things we sometimes call tiers – that were nevertheless very important divisions as far as rule differences were concerned.   Characters also had “levels” of ability within these rankings as either “warrior” levels or “magic” levels, and sometimes in both.  It is the meaning of “level” in early Blackmoor and the interplay of level and title that I want to explore here. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Four)

As part of celebrating Blackmoor Week and Dave Arneson Game Day I would like to direct to a great source of information the blog known as Hidden in Shadows written by D. H. Boggs also known as aldarron on many forums. 

He is in my opinion the foremost Dungeons & Dragons historian of our time. I say foremost because he is an honest historian who does research and then talks about possible conclusions. Rather than the ways of most so called "historians" who start with conclusions and then appear to censor their research when they publish so that their original conclusions are always supported.

Here are some links to the good stuff on his blog that are highly recommended reading.



These are only a few of the essays written by Mr. Boggs and all of them are excellent.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Three)

When you think about Dave Arneson and Blackmoor you think about when did it all start and what was it like.

Here is an eyewitness account

The First Dungeon Adventure By Greg Svenson

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Two)

What are you doing to celebrate Blackmoor Week? Are you going to game this week? Work on that new continent of your setting that you have been meaning to get started on? Create some new creatures for your campaign or finish some random generation tables you've been meaning to get to?

Whatever you do this week, do something original in honor of Dave Arneson and his creation Blackmoor. Remind yourself that your campaign world is your creation and unique in all the world and that's the way it should be. Celebrate your right to create things from scratch and create things in accordance with your own vision of how things should be in your world and you don't have to worry or care if everyone like it as long as you like it and as long as you had fun creating it. Don't let the naysayers that want to pour cold water on your ideas get you down, just go have some fun.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day One)

Over at The Ruins of Murkhill we are celebrating Blackmoor Week and  we starting our celebration today September the 24th and running it through Dave Arneson's birthday on October 1st. This is a great time for gaming all because on October 1st 1947 Dave Arneson the creator of Blackmoor and ultimately the creator and co-author of Dungeons & Dragons was born. (yes we know that the 24th through the 1st is eight days)

If you are lucky enough to have a copy of the First Fantasy Campaign you know what an awesome world Dave Arneson created. He and his friends in the Twin Cities in Minnesota were ground zero for the birth of tabletop roleplaying. Yes, David Wesely was involved too with the Braunsteins, but you can't have credit for creating something IMO if you didn't recognize that it was a good thing and thought that seminal moment was a failure. Even more, the fact that the Braunstein event was roleplaying is, according to the tales that are told, solely because Dave Arneson recognized the opportunity and went off the rails of the planned script for the evening and turned it from a "story" into a "roleplaying game." So while David Wesely may have created the conditions for a roleplaying game to occur, it occurred because of Dave Arneson and his "shenanigans" at that event. Dave Arneson started wheeling and dealing with the other players and hijacked the "story" (the script) and something special and unique occurred instead. I say all of this without any disrespect for David Wesely, he was there and he played an important part in things. There was a synergy between David and Dave and magic happened. (Dave Hargrave took Dave Arneson's concepts and more magic happened.)

So that is why we celebrate Blackmoor Week. If you play roleplaying games, thank Dave Arneson!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Old School Star Trek Role-playing

Next up is Old School Star Trek Role-playing a fun little place, that is just plodding along instead of soaring. This forum was started in December 2009 and currently has 166 members, 372 threads and 5,152 posts. The color scheme is not the greatest for readability or for looking inviting. Only three members account for 45% of the posts. This is another unknown little forum, that just sits there in its own little backwater, not advertising itself.

So it is just on life support and it kind of makes me a little mad. There is no reason for this forum to be so mired in the doldrums. Who doesn't like Star Trek? 

It is unlike some of the forums I am looking at, pretty well organized. It has the following sections.
Old School Star Trek Role-playing
Star Trek: The Original Series 
Role-playing General 
Board and Wargaming 
Resources and Links
Game Systems
Space Patrol (1977)
Traveller (1977)
Starships & Spacemen (1978)
Star Fleet Universe (1979)
FASA Trek (1982)
Where No Man Has Gone Before (2009)
The Game Systems section is about playing Star Trek using various systems. Obviously fixing the color scheme and getting the word out would help, but something else is needed that I can't really put my finger on it. Part of it would boil down to this, are these people canon purists or are they willing to strike out on their own and carve out an old school setting in a different time frame so none of the canon characters would be living so that people could reasonably play all the juicy fun roles. Maybe that and picking a game system and then fan supporting the heck out of it. Good luck guys, this is too good to just sit here like this, give each other a swift kick and crank it back up a few notches.