Category Archives: Reviews & Culture

WotC Fan Site Policy Uproar

WotC’s Fan site Policy, as many have pointed out, is actually a license. It prevents you from using some images on your site, yet if you use it, you assign all your writings over to WotC. Not a fair trade, in my opinion. I will continue to write about what I want to write about, the way I want to do it. I will not use copywrited images or material to do it, so WotC has no fear from me. I do not plan to buy 4e, but would buy more PDFs of AD&D and OD&D, if they are ever made available again. If not, then I will make due with what I have, or use one or more of the retroclones.

Greywulf’s Lair [old link: http://blog.microlite20.net]  has an interesting idea, about a “Happy User Policy” [old link: http://blog.microlite20.net/2009/08/07/dearest-wizards-these-are-my-terms-conditions/]. This sounds like an idea related to Net Promoter Score. NPS is the current focus where I work, and the idea is to make customers so happy with you, that they tell all their friends, such that they are a free sales force. It also requires converting disgruntled customers to ahppy ones. Basically the idea is, don’t jerk your customers around, or they will find a vendor who will treat them right.

The level of quality Greywulf is asking for, is on the same level people keep asking for from Microsfot Windows. An OS that does not crass, get viruses, or slow down with time. Like so many have turned to the OSR instead of 4e, many in the computer realm, have turned to Linux and other free alternatives. Surprisingly, in the realm of Operating Systems, free has what the fee-based Windows has not been able to do. Microsoft gives the impression that they care more about money than customers. WotC gives the same impression. I am not a lawyer, but a smart lawyer could draft a license that does not stir up a hornet’s nest. WotC needs to get a lawyer with knowledge of the internet. Look at all the fury over Facebook’s license/policy change. Facebook had media coverage, the whole D&D thing will probably not get much traction in the media.

There is also a petition to WotC to drop this new license. I do not think this will have much traction with WotC. The numbers who agree to the license will be a stronger determinant. If it is only 100 people who have low traffic websites, WotC will take notice. However, if it is 100 very high traffice sites, then WotC may see it as a win. As with everything, time will tell how this plays out.

I do not see WotC listening to fans who do not agree with them. I hope for the sake of the hobby I am right. As it is, I don’t plan to spend the money or time to learn a new rules variant, so 4e and its successors will have little direct impact on me. If I can’t find a local group to play with my rules of choice, then I won’t play. I can spend my time polishing my campaign setting, or I can go read a book. I like writing about my reminiscences and ideas. It helps me flesh things out. If no one reads this blog, I am okay with that.

Pantheons in Roleplaying

I do not like the idea of using the pantheons of real, yet dead religions, such as the gods of the Greeks, Vikings, Sumerians, etc.

There are several reasons for this. D&D already has a bad name and is wrongly associated with devil worship. Invoking the names of the gods of other religions, some of who are mentioned in the Bible, Apocrypha, and historical writings, just adds fuel to the fire. Both the Monster Manual and Dieties & Demigods/Legends and Lore, use these historical names. Tiamat, Mephistopheles, Zeus, etc. are all from historical religious writings.

While one could use a the structure of those historical pantheons, for their ready made stats in various game source books; change their names, to avoid continuing the stigma. It takes a lot of effort to come up with a religious structure from scratch. Yet, there has to be some framework of dieties if a player wants to be a cleric. For the humanoids, I go with the materials in the various source books. For the humans, I am torn between finding the time to develop my own, or just picking and choosing a few from the Greyhawk setting. After all, keeping prep time to a minimum, to maximize play is the key. A DM does want a life outside the game, right?

As a Christian, it does bother me to speak the names of historical deities while roleplaying. Roleplaying is not the same as having a literate discussion of the religion of the ancient Greeks.

That is one aspect of roleplaying where I think we should draw a line. Granted, we are all free to run the rules as we see fit for our own group. For my campaign in the works, I will avoid the use of any historical religious names, for both a clean conscience and to avoid the appearance of evil, for those who would judge our preferred game without all the facts.

Some may view this as a naive view of the world, but if we want our game of choice to be an option for the people of faith in our communities, or at least move them to a neutral and accepting frame of mind, we should keep such things in mind. Granted, there have not been a lot of movies about the dangers of D&D like in the 80s. However, I still do not feel comfortable discussing D&D with those who are more likely to look down on it.

While I have not run into outright anti-D&D sentiment in a long time, I have been an “in the closest” gamer for years. It was really bad when my wife questioned my beliefs when I mentioned that I like D&D. She like many from the 80s, bought the line of the movies and sensational headlines.I think I finally have her convinced it is not devil worship or evil, as she has not complained about having my books openly displayed on the shelves in our computer room. Yet she did state she did not want me spending hours wrapped up in those books. (She understands the time sink problem.)

How does your family, friends, and community react to D&D?

Time Sink

Rather than decry D&D as evil in itself, a college roommate, who is now a missionary to Russia, said that the biggest problem with D&D (and all roleplaying games) is that they are a time sink.

It takes a lot of time to put together an adventure, and then a lot of time to get together and play a session. There are any number of activities and hobbies that are also time sinks, so it is not just roleplaying games.

One can spend too much time watching TV, or on the computer, or fixing the old car in the garage.

Back during the First Great Awakening, playing cards, and parlor games had a bad name. From my reading on it, it was a problem for the Christians to partake in those activities more because as a believer in the reality of Hell, any activity that was not directly related to saving souls was of the devil. I think the one thing those who thought that way were missing, is that we all need to step back and have periods of diversions from everyday life. Even Jesus took time away from his earthly ministry to get away from the crowds swarming to get a miracle or hear him preach.

(Yes, I am a Christian who likes D&D. I am not trying to convert anyone, just pointing out that we Christians can get too caught up in our agenda and lose sight of the world God created, and the people whom we are to serve. Here is another disclaimer – I was a pastor for ten years. I did not mention my like of D&D, as some could not handle it when I mentioned that I liked “The Simpsons”. After 3 years of seminary, one can theologize about anything.)

It does not matter what the activity is in which one is engaged. There is nothing evil with having fun and blowing off steam, in a responsible manner. (I know some of my fellow believers would call me a heretic for that statement. I am not sure what Bible translation they would use to back that up.)

The problem comes with lack of balance. If you are in a job that demands a lot of time aware from family, even if you can bring the work home, if you are not “present” with them in an engaging way, what message are you sending.

Striking the balance of being a good spouse and parent, while still having individual “me time” is tough and takes making priorities and tough choices. Does one choose to follow one or two TV shows for each night of the week, and spend a couple of hours on the computer each night, or find activities to do as a family?

Just asking some reflective questions, and proving my point to myself. I can do better.

Writing things out is something I picked up in college. Once I write until the pen stopped, and whatever was on my mind was laid out, I could set it aside and forget about it and get to sleep. I do not do that near as often, over twenty years later, but I should, as it is so unburdening.

This is not a tell all, or Oprah moment. While I am not perfect, I do make an effort to be engaged with my family. Like all fathers, I have my “Cat’s In The Cradle” moments, when the stresses of life consume my thoughts. I know that I am far from the worst father in the world, but also far from the best. I do have moments with my sons when I know they truly appreciate me. I know it will get better as they get older. As I often tell them, “Your parents get smarter the older you get.”

Time flies so fast. I find it hard to believe that I am in my mid-40s. It is already August! I know why so many men fail their families and chase after younger women, they cannot accept who and where they are, and are chasing after youth. While a younger women might be exciting, you lose the benefits of having a woman your own age, who can relate to your life experiences. I see that with my children when I make a cultural reference from my youth, they look at me with blank stares. It is hard enough to keep up with changing technology at work, let alone all the things on hundreds of channels and millions of web sites. Life is too short to drop the life you chose in the past, for a “newer and better” life. I could not keep up with the culture in my high school days when we only had 4 or 5 channels, and dozens of radio stations. I can tell you if certain songs are from the 80s, but I may not know the name of the song, and many times won’t know which group.

As the subheading of this blog says, “Ramblings of an Old Gamer”. This one was all over the map. A combination of stress, tiredness, and a cold coming on, plus the late hour. I want to keep going with a post a day for as long as I can, with some relevance to gaming. This post took an idea and found the quickest tangent I could fine, being nearly all stream of consciousness. I hope I made some sort of point here.

Now if I had a bunch of monsters to go kill, that would alleviate some stress!