Category Archives: Random musings

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The Times They Are a-Changin’

This blog has existed for over 6 years now. Back in August 2008 the RPG blog community has looked quite different from today. Blogs were nothing new – even back then – but there were way less active roleplaying blogs back then. It was in the same year – at least if I remember correctly – that a couple of people got together and created the RPG Bloggers Network.

rpgbloggers_member_squareThe RPG Bloggers Network was meant to be more than just a simple RSS aggregator. The idea behind the RPGBN was to create a real community and provide readers with easy access to high-quality articles. Back in the day getting accepted to join the community felt like an honor. It also had a very noticeable effect on the traffic your blog received.

In addition to that there really was a community back then. The members tried to read other members’ blogs regularly and there were real discussions going on. Sometimes the whole RPGBN picked up a certain topic and ran with it. These early days of the RPGBN brought us RPG Blog Carnivals, two volumes of the Open Game Table (an excellent blog post anthology), and several other exciting community-driven projects.

Over time the RPG Bloggers Network grew and the high standards of the early days were lowered. This was a good and a bad thing. It was great to see many more bloggers join in, but it also made it harder to maintain a feeling of community. Back in 2008 the RPGBN felt like a family, but this changed quickly. Things started to get downhill when the original maintainers of the RPGBN stepped down and sold the network. One of the reason they left their baby behind is probably that it became extremely hard to keep things running. The technology behind the main site was terribly broken and the community was probably not that easy to handle either. Continue reading

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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.

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I’m Back–Let’s talk about gaming!

The last two weeks were pretty relaxing. I managed to recharge my batteries, spend some quality time with my girlfriend, and played a  couple of exciting new games. So without further ado, let’s talk about gaming…

For some reason exciting computer and video games always seem to be released in batches. There are months without anything cool coming out and then suddenly dozens of exciting titles hit the store. In the last weeks I picked up the following video games: Ryse – Son of Rome, Shadow of Mordor, Civilization: Beyond Earth, and last but not least Destiny. I usually don’t talk that much about video games here, but from time to time I make exceptions. Either the games I talk about can be used as inspiration for pen & paper RPGs or they are of a special importance to me. Such is the case with all the games listed above.

imagesLet’s start with Destiny. The multiplayer shooter/action RPG by Bungie has a great art direction and a wonderful setting – even though a lot of the background is just hinted at. For some reason it has a certain Numenera-ish vibe to it, but perhaps that’s just me. If you haven’t done so, you should definitely check out the concept art Bungie has shown off before release – it’s just beautiful! And I am sure there’s more than enough RPG inspiration to be found in the game.

DownloadRyse: Son of Rome is a graphically impressive game, and a pretty impressive combat system which reminds me of the Batman series (Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, etc.). The main reason I’ve picked up the game is the setting. There are not that many third-person action games set in ancient Rome and it’s a lot of fun running around as a Roman soldier slaughtering barbarians. Smiley mit geöffnetem Mund
I am still pretty early in the story, but I like it very much so far. Hmm, perhaps I should eventually run a pen & paper RPG set in Rome one day.

civbeCivilization: Beyond Earth is something I’ve been waiting for a very long time. It’s pretty much a spiritual successor of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri built on top of the Civilization V engine. A lot of gamers seem not to be particularly happy with the latest installment of the series, but I totally love it. And if you are a science fiction fan like I am, you’ll surely enjoy the vision of the future Firaxis has come up with. And if you are looking for inspiration for a SF campaign, look no further.

Alas I haven’t been able to play Shadow of Mordor for more than a couple of minutes, so I won’t go into much detail here. From what I’ve seen so far, the game is fast-paced and fun, the so-called Nemesis system is a nice touch, and the graphics are not bad on the eyes either.

pic1687157_tAside from computer games I’ve played a couple of boardgames notably 1969 and Battletech. I’ve played Battletech irregularily for the last twenty-two years or so. Recently I picked up the new Introductory Box, which contains a set of high quality plastic miniatures. Even though we haven’t played the game for quite some while, we got back into it pretty quickly and had a blast. One of the scenarios we played was three Inner Sphere ‘mechs (3025 era technology) against one Mad Cat aka Timberwolf. Even though the Inner Sphere ‘mechs had two times the tonnage of the Clan ‘mech, the Inner Sphere guys had no chance. It was still a lot of fun for everyone involved.

pic1364640_tLast but not least let me talk about 1969. According to Boardgamegeek it’s a “push-your-luck style game” in which players are in charge of their nations’ space program. Even though there was some skepticism first, at the end everyone enjoyed the game very much. The rules are pretty easy and a game lasts about an hour. It’s definitely something we could play again on one of our regular pub meetings.

What have you been up to while I was away? Please share your comments below!