My Answers To Some Questions by Venger Satanis

I saw on G+ a mention by +Venger Satanis, of a new article over on his blog, about the latest OSR teapot storm, about transparency and the difference between news and paid advertising at Enworld.

I try to stay out of disagreements on the internet; but these questions struck a chord with me, and I will answer them the way I understood them. I don’t personally read Enworld. (I just looked at Enworld and their front page is a wall of text that makes my head hurt trying to focus. – Yet another reason not to read it. I’m not claiming any prizes for design on my blog, but I don’t get a headache trying to read it.) I tend to stick to the OSR related blogs that have old school games and clones as a focus.

  • Does this kind of thing (payola) bother you?
    Any site should adhere to transparency and honesty in who funds the site, and if recommendations are from a compensated review, etc. If it was a site I followed and I found that they did this, it would sour me to further interactions with that site.
  • How susceptible are you to hype, advertising, promotion, and the like?
    I may be a fish on a hook when someone in the OSR points out something they like, that I too find compelling. But I also know that about me, and can control myself. But flashy commercials, even if very clever, don’t entice me to part with my money. I have always been skeptical of them.
    I don’t like all the same things that some OSR bloggers like, and they don’t like some of the things I like. No amount of hype will be me to buy something that I look at and say, “Eh.” There is no accounting for taste. We each have different aspects to
  • Do you prefer to only hear about games from big companies with lots of advertising dollars behind them? 
    See above. Basically, word of mouth and seeing something for myself does far more than glitz to get my money.
  • Why are labels, brands, and officially authorized/licensed take-your-pick important to the average RPG consumer?
    I don’t understand it personally. Just like I don’t get how back in the 80’s girls wearing poorly made jeans that cost $50 looked down on my sturdy $10 jeans that lasted until I was out of grad school. I’m sure different people have different reasons. I bought the Greyhawk Gazeteer, but it was mostly about the maps. There are cool ideas in there, but my group had progressed to doing our own fleshed out worlds.  I know some people really like the organized play, but some of the descriptions of what is required seem far to over the top for me. I’m not one to drink the Koolaid.
  • Would you agree that creating a sense of immersion is a high priority in RPGs?
    I come from the era of theater of the mind with only a few maps and minis. Most of use love to read and have fertile imaginations, and don’t need fancy books with slick covers to bring things to life in our mind’s eye. The art may be cool, and don’t get me wrong, Trampier, Sutherland, and others of the old guard gave us iconic images that set the tone. But where we took it in each of our groups and shared experiences at the table, was far beyond that. Much of the new are is very good, even excellent. I am sure it sets a tone for those whom that it their first experience.
  • Would you also agree that rules-light RPGs are more immersive because they present less obstacles, procedures, and time devoted to looking things up?
    Immersion is created at the table. If the GM and players don’t cooperate in that, it doesn’t happen, or not very deep. What I mean by immersion is the willing suspension of disbelief one has with a movie, play, book, etc. That feeling of being able to see the action in your mind’s eye and feel a mutual sense of “we are in this thing together” with the GM and other players. This can happen with roleplaying at any point on the spectrum from merely describing what your character does, to actually “becoming” your character at the table.
  • Since crunchy and rules-heavy games are three times less likely to bring in new roleplaying blood than simple and rules-light games (yeah, I just made that statistic up – but it seems legit to me), why continue to support the former over the latter?
    There are those who like that style of play. If they ceased to get support, I am sure they would complain as loudly as those of us that don’t like that style of play. I’m all for finding the style of play that works for you, and rules that support either or both make more sense to me.
  • Is authority more important or valuable than autonomy?  
    GM’s and their players should be free to do what they want with the settings they use. If the final authority does not lie with the GM, then it isn’t an RPG I’m interested in.  One can use any setting for their campaign, even copywritten and trademarked material, if it is just the group around the table. If one goes to the expense of buying an “official” setting, one can use as little or as much as they want.
    I have read complaints that if players kill a significant monster or NPC in the prior adventure, they have no impact on that same creature being in the next adventure in the series. If the GM is not giving the players an easy kill, it should stand, if it is plausible that they defeated that NPC. Taking that power away from the GM is the biggest flaw, from my understanding of those things.
    Of course, one can take those published adventures and use what fits in their own campaigns. A subsequent adventure that the “unkillable” NPC is required, either cheats the players, or requires the GM to devise a plausible explanation why that NPC isn’t dead. However, how many times can a different dead NPC “not really be dead?”
    If the NPC is central to the following story, then it is requisite on the authors of the prior adventure to lay out all the ways it is impossible to defeat this NPC. However, to paraphrase von Moltke, “No plan of the GM survives contact with the players.”  Players never do what you expect. Unless you railroad to the point of eliminating player choice, the player’s don’t do what you expect. Even if you give them two clear options, they always find three or four more you never thought of.

Those are my answers to these eight questions. If you care what I think about this latest kerfuffle, then keep reading. Otherwise, stick to the reason for this blog: games and having fun.

My thoughts on this latest tempest:

In the era of the internet, if you spew B.S. someone will call you on it. If you don’t like it: Ignore those who call you on it, whine about it, or don’t do it anymore. Just don’t expect me to care when someone calls you on it.

The thing they should realize about +Erik Tenkar is that as a retired police office, he is trained to investigate and present evidence to the prosecutor. Erik knows the difference between slander and libel, and that truth is the only legitimate defense. Since they can’t sue, they whine. Enworld isn’t the only one in the S.S. Whines A Lot, from what other teapot storms have indicated.

I should probably steer clear of this, much as I try to keep real life politics out of my game discussions. This is the RPG version of politics. In that same vein, no matter what you do, think, or say, someone, somewhere will read all or part of something online, and accuse you of saying nowhere near what you said or meant.

Logic and reasoning are wasted on some people. As my mother used to say, “Common sense ain’t so common.” [My mother only used ain’t in things like this. If you knew her, you would understand her point in using it in this case.] Today, what so many people call common sense is just a catchphrase to use against those who disagree with your position. Ad hominem arguments, even crude and backhanded ones, run counter the the common sense demanded by truth, logic, and reasoning.

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