Category Archives: News & Reviews

My Two Cents on #Gamergate

I actually didn’t want to write about this subject on the blog. But there’s a saying that the evil ones can only prevail if the good guys do nothing. And since I consider myself one of the good guys let me share my thoughts on what currently happens in the larger gaming community.

For the longest time I have tried to avoid the whole affair. I’ve spoken out against ferocious attacks against members of the gaming community before and got a lot of flak for it. It’s also a very complicated issue and even if you have the best intentions not to step on other people’s toes, it’s hard to avoid when things get heated. Oh boy, things are heated, right now.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: the personal attacks against people like Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, Felicia Day, and others are NOT OK. Constant harassment, rape threats, death threats, false accusations, releasing other people’s personal info on the internet without their consent, etc. is NOT OK. Under NO circumstance these methods are a valid form of discussion. These are things you just don’t do. The people employing these tactics to silence their opposition are the worst of the worst of the gamer community and still way too numerous.

And don’t try to sell me this bullshit about journalistic ethics. This whole #gamergate thing is about harrassing women. Why there is so much hate in the gaming community against women is beyond me. I have the impression that things are a little better in the roleplaying games community than in the video games community, but I might be wrong. Personally I was always glad to have female players at the game table, and I always tried to make them as comfortable as the male gamers. If you want to live out your immature male sexual power fantasies, please do it elsewhere, there’s no place for such rubbish at my game table.

Is there sexism and misogyny in games? Yes. Is it as bad as some people claim? I don’t think so. But I am open for discussion. Are some – mostly male – members of the gamer community downplaying the actual issue? Yes. There is a real issue here. An issue we should openly discuss. Alas at this moment we’re probably beyond that. The lines are drawn, the trenches are dug, and the term gamer is probably forever tainted with a whiff of misogyny. And we are not really closer to tackling the real issue here.
My sympathies go out to everyone who had to suffer from massive attacks from the #gamergate mob.

One last thing: some people will probably try to attack me because someone I defended in the past has thrown in his lot with the #gamergate movement. I still stand to what I’ve said back then. The accusations against this person have been totally unfounded and he has been subject to very much the same attacks women like Anita Sarkeesian are suffering from right now. I think he’s in the wrong now if he sides with #gamergate, but that doesn’t invalidate anything I’ve said in this post or before.

First Look: Corporia

imageToday I was contacted by Mark Plemmons, designer of the urban fantasy RPG Corporia. He’s a fan of my blog and wanted me to have a complimentary copy of his game. As an avid collector of RPGs I was more than glad to accept his offer. So I downloaded my copy from DriveThruRPG and checked it out.

My first impression: wow, what a great-looking game! Corporia uses mostly photos for its artwork, which I usually don’t like, but in this case it’s done well – very well. But before I get into details, let me tell you what Corporia is about. It’s an urban fantasy roleplaying game set in “The City”, a metropolis rules by an alliance of mega-corps. One of the leaders of these corporations is CEO Lance Martin, who is actually an reincarnation of Sir Lancelot du Lac. The players are members of an elite supernaturally-powered special ops unit which is owned by the aforementioned Mr. Martin. The players got their powers through a phenomenon known as the Flux, which is also the cause for mutated humans, monsters and other things that go bump in the night.

imageI haven’t dug too deeply into rules or background yet, but what I glanced so far looks very promising. The rules system used doesn’t look to complicated – which is always a plus to me – and the premise of a near-future corporate setting combined with Arthurian legend is pretty brilliant. The game makes use of character archetypes which should make character creation a pretty quick process. The archetypes in the core rules are Badge (employees of private security companies), Hacker (exactly that), Headhunter (employment recruiters and assassins), Journo (reporters, journalists), Knight-Errant (reincarnated medieval knights), Lister (celebrities), Radical (everthing from punks to idealistic college professors), Runner (professional couriers, traceurs), Sorcerer (your regular 21st century spellcaster), Suit (corporate execs), Thinker (basically all kinds of researchers), Witcher (more traditional spellcasters), and Zero (blue-collar workers who are keeping The City running).

The 211-paged PDF contains everything you need to run a game of Corporia including all the rules, a detailed description of “The City”, a GM section containing Adventures, NPCs you can use as allies or enemies, and an extensive index. Overall Corporia looks pretty exciting. At the moment I am focused on other games, but I am tempted to give it a thorough read so that I can run it at one of our next RPG pub meetings. If you want to learn more about Corporia, you can check out the publisher’s website. The PDF version is available at DriveThruRPG and sets you back mere $9.99 which is a more than fair price.

1st Kellercon in Limburg

Yesterday the first Kellercon has taken place in Limburg, Germany. We chose the name Kellercon because the location was the Villa Konthor, a local whisky pub, which has an excellent vaulted cellar we use for our monthly RPG pub meetings.

Even though the location was a perfect fit for what we had in mind, attendance was not as good as we hoped. Due to the beginning flu season and scheduling conflicts a couple of our regulars couldn’t make it. Luckily a couple of new people showed up and quickly signed up for the game sessions we were offering.

poster_kellercon_a3About half an hour after the con had officially started four players had signed up for my Numenera game and we decided to start. It took about thirty to fourty-five minutes to go over the rules and give the players an overview of the setting. Aside from my girlfriend the other players were new to the game but picked the rules up very quickly. I had decided to run “Into the Violet Vale” which turned out to be a great choice. The adventure  had been designed with a con game in mind and it was very easy to run. The player characters were all pregenerated but the players quickly filled them with life and had a lot of fun. Especially one player put a lot of effort into roleplaying his quirky and definitely creepy nano. It’s a performance I’ll definitely not forget and which is pretty rare for con game. I hope I’ll meet this gamer again at our next event. Overall I am very happy with my choice of running Numenera. It works great as a con game because of the simple mechanics and the “everything goes” attitude of the setting. And the most important thing was that everyone at the game table had a lot of fun and enjoyed themselves.

Later in the evening it was my turn to play in someone else’s game. Mirko, our local Call of Cthulhu expert, ran a very interesting scenario of his own design. The investigators were all wine connoiseurs who had been invited to a private wine tasting. Things started pretty normal, but after the host had suddenly disappeared, things went downhill quickly. I don’t want to spoil anything, in case Mirko plans to release the adventure in the future, but let me tell you that it was one of the creepiest Call of Cthulhu adventures I ever played.

Overall I see the first Kellercon as a success. About 23 people attended, which is not as much as on our Free RPG Day event in March, but everyone had a blast. We also met a few new people who will probably show up to our pub meetings in the future. So I wouldn’t mind to organize a second Kellercon next year!

For more information on our regular RPG pub meetings and other events in the Limburg area, please check out our blog.