Wednesday, October 30, 2013


That’s the word that’s been on my mind of late: grotesque.

Not because of that travesty of a performance for the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football a couple days ago (though “grotesque” would certainly go a long way towards describing the play of our offensive line). Nor was the word on my mind because of my sympathy for the St. Louis sports fans that same evening…sure, they might have been expecting a loss for the Rams, but as America’s Greatest Baseball Town (self-proclaimed), I feel for them watching the Cards lose on the same night.

[and let’s be honest, here…as a Seattle-ite, I really can’t bring myself to root for Boston. Yes, they have great beards and bats, but cheering for the Red Sox in the World Series would be almost as bad as cheering for the Yankees or the Rangers. Almost.]

Still, the word is embedded into my mind due to recent television broadcasts, even if they’re not sport-related: I’ve been watching the FX TV series American Horror Story: Coven.

Grotesque. It’s the best word I can use to describe it.

And yet, great television. I say this as a person who does not particularly like horror stories…at least not of the cinema variety (I’ve read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft but I’ve yet to watch a single “Saw” movie). Hell, I think I’ve only watched three zombie films in my life – Night of the Living Dead, The Re-Animator, and 28 Days Later – well, unless you want to count that Friday the 13th movie with the Alice Cooper soundtrack. Oh, yeah, and The Omega Man with Charlie Heston (though that’s because of my post-apocalypse fetish). I’m just not that much into “scary” type movies, let alone those designed to disgust or shock folks.

The American Horror Story franchise (can it be called such after three seasons? I guess) seems to have been created at least partially with that in mind. Made by the same folks who created Glee, the writers wanted to do something…um…a little darker. Yeah, I’ll say.

I didn’t watch any of the earlier seasons of AHS…hadn’t even heard of the show before a couple days (despite constantly referencing television programs on this blog, I don’t watch that much TV…just more than I should and a lot more than I used to). I found it while surfing around the On Demand section of the TV guide one night after I’d gotten my sick child to sleep and was suffering from coffee-induced insomnia.

[oh, yeah…hi there, people. Sorry about not blogging the last couple weeks. Life’s been crazy-hectic as usual]

ANYway…great show.  Yes, twisted and grotesque, but still great. I suppose it falls into that “dark comedy” category that I am (generally) a fan of, at least in moderate amounts. And it has great writing and performances and a horrific manic-ness highly reminiscent of some of the darker Story Now indie-games. It’s like watching a show that was based on play reports from a few sessions of Ron Edward’s Sorcerer RPG. And I really do mean that in a good way.

It’s positively inspiring. It’s given me a huge swath of ideas for a new gaming project.

Yeah, even though I haven’t been blogging (or writing at all) the last couple-three weeks, I’ve actually been immersed in gaming. I’ve been reading (and rereading) a lot of games, both old and new. Some I’ve owned for a while: Sorcerer and its supplement Sex & Sorcery, 3:16 Carnage Beyond the Stars, InSpecters, Holmes D&D…just to name the ones in my backpack at the moment.

But mostly I’ve been reading new stuff that I’ve purchased or borrowed: Polaris, Trollbabe, Mouse Guard, the short-yet-sweet Bad Attitudes, and the 7.5 edition of Tunnels & Trolls (which I’ve never before owned in any edition). Heck, just picked up a copy of Jorg Dunne’s Western City yesterday while looking for a used copy of EverWay. I’ve been looking at how games “do what they do” especially with regard to explaining/molding game play, paying special attention to rules and writing for “scene framing” (a term that I’m coming to hate, actually, though I understand the reason behind the term’s use). I’ve been reading a LOT lately…more than I have in a long time.

I’ve also been reading other blogs, outside my couple dozen that I normally scan (though I admit at this point I’m just “lurking”). I’m still hopeless when it comes to this whole “G+” thing, but I’m getting sucked in to some of the conversations going on in that realm of Ye Old Internet. It’s a tad disappointing how much I still need to learn about 21st century technology.


Did I mention I’ve been gaming with a pair of complete newbies? I had four players at the bar the last time I got out (two Thursdays ago), two of which had never played an RPG ever. Ever. Hell, they’ve had barely any exposure to computer RPGs…the barest basics were absolute mysteries to them. Fortunately, my latest rework of D&D (designed at new people) seemed to draw them right in and “worked.” But man-o-man, it sure has given me a lot of food for thought on how to meet my objectives of game design (i.e. designing for the non-gamer). I’ve spent so many years playing with people who had at least SOME background in gaming (at least the slightest of inklings) that I just have a huge blindside when it comes to the total novice. Hell, even when I was introducing B/X D&D to my teenage nephews for the 1st time, they had some ideas of class and level and “ability scores” from video games they’d played.

The new RPG gamer needs something better than Pathfinder. I’m sorry, they do. Grotesque.

All right, I’ve got to go…lots of breaking news stuff on the home-front which I’ll blog about later (in the next couple days). Have a good evening, folks.

Oh, yeah…good luck St. Louis!
: )
Need more beard?


  1. Horror has never been my genre'. I think I've read two of King's books. I have no real interest.

    But this 3rd season of American Horror Story sounds like it might be worth looking into.

    1. I didn't particularly care for the first two seasons of AHS - the first one was weak throughout and the second one belly-flopped at the halfway mark - but this one is MUCH better. It should be mentioned that each season of AHS tells a totally different story (although with some of the same actors playing completely different characters) so you needn't worry that you missed anything by just starting with this season.

  2. Heh, I was born in Connecticut. If I can't root for my beloved Ms, then it's the Red Sox.

    OK, now that I got that out, on to finish reading your post. ;)

  3. Newbie players need Mentzer's Player's Book. I know because that's how I started, and how I induced other newbie players to the hobby (including my wife.) And it works :)

  4. @ Antonio:

    Ha! I actually used Mentzer to introduce MY wife to D&D...though we used the introductory scenario, rather than the solo adventure of the player's guide.

    Yes, there was a time when I was VERY "pro-Mentzer," folks.
    ; )