Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Toxic Landscape

Looking back over my recent posts, I can see they haven’t been entirely negative…the only real “negative posts” this month were this and this…maybe this one, too. But it sure feels like I’ve been more negative a late.

Even my pistol post seemed to be a big fat complain (namely: why are there no guns in D&D?). And certainly some of my recent play reports have a bit of a ranty tone at times.

I don’t want to rant.

I mean, for goodness sakes, my Seattle Seahawks are still somehow perched atop their division despite being .500, and the much touted 49ers team (picked by pundits to win our division the last three seasons) is in the basement at 0 and 5.

[and to the San Francisco fans out there, there are sportscasters that still believe the Niners can win their next six in a row and end up on top of the division. I DO like Mike Singletary and appreciate him sticking with Smith rather than buckling to the crowd like some wuss; whatever his faults Smith gave the 49ers their best chance to win Sunday]

Anyway, that's all okay-to-good, PLUS I had a good time in Spain, PLUS I still have a job in this crummy economy, PLUS my family is healthy and happy, PLUS, I’ve got a decent game group going, PLUS my book’s still selling like hotcakes and I’ve gotten more offers for on-line distribution (Black Blade press most recently)…despite the 2nd print run not yet being completed (sorry, folks).

So I have a lot to be thankful and happy about and no real cause for griping/complaints. It is autumn in Seattle, my favorite time of year as oysters and Dungeness crab are back in season and I prefer my weather overcast and rainy (that means more indoor time and I’m an indoor kind of kid). Autumn does, unfortunately, suck for my beagles, who hate-hate-hate being outdoors in the rain…but they have a pretty cushy life other than that, so they can just suck it up.

So what’s the deal, JB? Why all the ranty-ness in the blog lately?

I don’t know. Stress? Anxiety that the “other shoe” might drop at any time? Or perhaps just a silly notion that things could be better than they are, especially in the areas I care about (like film and RPGs and politics). I mean, my life is pretty darn good, and I wish it could be this good for everyone. And yet people continue to vote Republican and support WotC’s “RPG” industry, even though both these things are against their own best interests.


Ah, well…frankly, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of my “toxicity” of late is due to my own irritation with myself over my lack of writing. Last year, I was working on the B/X Companion project and (if I remember correctly) I ended up losing a lot of time in the fall months, being distracted with trips and in-laws, and holidays, and…well, and ridiculous distractions. And this year is actually starting to look a bit similar. Crapola.

For example, do you folks know how damn difficult it is to avoid being completely derailed and side-tracked by the Star Wars discussions being thrown in my face by both Maliszewki and Rients? Holy God! I was looking at all this same stuff last year when I was considering writing B/X Star Wars (ripping off the best parts of Saga SW, WEG SW, and B/X)…and these guys are just giving me more fodder for my imagination! But I have managed to temper my Quixotic-ness and will be avoiding writing any space games until I’ve completed the three books I’m working on…sheesh guys!

Then, there is the whole 4E Gamma World thing…you know, people may think I’m a curmudgeonly bastard but I CAN look on the bright side of shit like this. And the bright side is, I find this particular offering to be fantastically inspirational. That is it inspires me to write my own version of Gamma World…except better.

But don’t get me started on THAT again. I’ve blogged before that I put several pages of writing into a new edition of GW (called GW7, though this was long before I got on my 64-page-or-less kick). “Doing Gamma World Right” has long been a romantic idea I’ve cherished in my heart, and one that is probably ridiculously unobtainable for a great many reasons.

Still GW4E makes me want to give it a shot. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if “inspiration motivated by anger” is a good enough motivation (it hasn’t been helping my Land of Ash writing lately). Certainly, I find nothing particularly inspiring about the artwork I’ve seen for GW4 (and some of the pieces…like the ‘roided chicken advertising the Famine in Fargo “expansion;” just makes me more irritable).

Now, the ad for the new Fallout video game I DO find inspiring (artistically) for post-apocalyptic, mutational horror…and I’d be willing to bet that FO does GW4E better than GW4E, anyway (seeing as how both are based on video game-type systems).

But, as I said, I do NOT want to get started down that particular apocalyptic road. You know, Chgowz’s recent post is a good one, and good food for thought: the end result of all this “retro-cloning” might just be to return us to our gaming origins. After all, what is Labyrinth Lord but “house ruled” Moldvay/Cook? What is OSRIC but house-ruled AD&D? I am currently playing house-ruled B/X myself and find it perfect for my purposes. What kind of benefit could there possibly be for doing a re-tread of “old school” Gamma World?

All such a thing would be (were I to write it) would be a house-ruled version of the 1st and 2nd edition game. And people interested in GW might well decide they preferred the original GW…or, at least, original GW plus their own house rules.

Anyway, the REAL stink of the thing is that GW was never really “my game,” to begin with. I love the idea of a post-apocalyptic game. I love some of the systems in the game (including prestige and the combat matrices based on weapon type). But I have never had a huge love of “humorous” RPGs, and GW is soooo cheesy, it’s hard to take it seriously at times. It is so random, that it’s hard to actually DO “serious” with it. It’s still D&D…but with mutations instead of magic and ancient tech instead of magic. A hodge-podge in serious need of editing.

Mmm-mm-mmm…okay, time to leave the conversation before this, too, devolves into toxic negativity. Next post: something upbeat and jazzy…like firearm rules!


  1. When the whole TARGA/Porn fuse was lit, it took me awhile after backing off to realize that I had already reached a point where I was "done" with the rules-navel-gazing and now I was more after just "doing" my thing and having fun.

    With the FFG/MG announcement of S&W going commercial, it really cemented that for me. I don't need a "Complete", I already have it with the old books. The clones did an awesome job of getting me back excited and playing, but at the end of the day, those games have already been invented.

    The excitement is in looking at how other people play, in looking at their house rules and their experiences, at looking at the crazy stuff Alexis does and the whacky stuff Jeff Rients does and the cool things that I ready around the web.

    I really was going to title my post "The end of the clones" but I thought that would just cause a bunch of shit... but it's the truth, to me. LL isn't going to change all that much, neither is S&W despite the wee-ism's of the fanbase and the initial burst from FFG. At the end of the day, clones have just made the older editions more accessible.

    If I were an RPG publisher, even guys like Raggi, I'd be fucking nervous about this. I'd also be looking at settings, at making new games and new frontiers - at finding new ideas to express. I've spent so damn little this year on RPGs and I know I'm not the only one.

    Good blog!

  2. You know, I was right with you until you mentioned the crabs and oysters... Feckin' bastard! Would love to get some fresh Dungies out here... Then again, fresh bluefin tuna and shrimp off my coast ain't so bad... lol

  3. I thought ranting was the whole reason blogs were invented.

  4. @Gratuitous - Nope, that is why bosses were invented. And yes, I am having a truly miserable couple of days. ;<

  5. @ ChicagoWiz: Thanks! Good blog yourself!
    : )

    I agree with what you're saying, which is probably why the books I'm currently working on are NOT retro-clones. As for those with a vested interest in the "clone industry," I'm pretty sure they'll continue to make stuff compatible with multiple systems (including the originals), so perhaps they'll be okay...

    @ Stephen: Shrimp?! The cockroach of the sea? Surely you wouldn't compare such to NW oysters...hell, they serve ours in the finest D.C. restaurants (at least, the last time I was back East).
    ; )

    @ Grat: Dude, blogs were invented for narcissist hack-writers and shameless self-promoters! Jeez!
    ; )

    @ Alan: Hope it gets better man...c'mon your birthday's coming up soon, fellow Scorp. Get yourself something fun!
    : )