Happy New Year!

I’m looking forward to a prosperous 2016 and I wish you and yours a prosperous one as well!

Resolutions

I have none. I plan on getting my new company up and running smoothly. I plan on making Dragonflight and Metro Seattle Gamers bigger, better and stronger than they ever have been. 🙂 I plan on running a PILE of games. I will get back into shape and slim down, but I make no promises. Right now, I’m just sharpening the saw and pushing forward.

New Company

I have started a new company – TreChriron Technology Services. It will start in the web management sphere, providing hosting and back-end support services for Joomla content management systems for those who need a) a tech person for the back-end b) a tech person AND a web designer or c) a full on web master. The site and pricing will be available VERY soon.

Once I have about – 20 to 25 clients I will shift focus to a handful of innovations, Joomla components, and other shenanigans intended to increase my income and more importantly replace my day job. That will be some time out I imagine.

In the mean-time, I am enjoying the slow confusing work stylings of my automation job at the worlds 2nd largest retail HQ.

Gaming Enthusiasm

Not only am I working as the Technology Manager for the Dragonflight Organization, but I also have 2 regular games with a 3rd in the works. Work feverishly continues on the new Dragonflight web site.

Game 1: RuneQuest 6e using the Korantia setting. Bi-weekly on Saturdays in the south-end. I MIGHT have one seat open to an interested gamer.

Game 2: GURPS 4e using Monster Hunters. Bi-weekly on Sundays at Metro Seattle Gamers. My table is currently full, however we are trying to organize a 2nd table and I have a few interested players. Want to run some GURPS at the clubhouse? Let me know.

Game 3: Will be a Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Edge of Empire game using their nifty system with the special dice. I intend this to be a bi-weekly game on the Sundays opposite of the GURPS game. I haven’t even started recruiting for this yet!

Orca Con!! Is this weekend (8-10th). I’m running a demo of each of the Star Wars beginner games to get a feel for the system and see how people take to it. Maybe even recruit some interested players. 🙂

Kickstarters of Note

Calidar – Beyond the Skies is nearing its end (ends tomorrow in about 16 hours!). Almost at the next stretch goal which is more illustrations for each pantheon. Authored by Bruce Heard, popular author of Mystara, it is a fantasy realm of flying ships and interesting cultures. Get in on this fast!

The Scarred Lands! One of my all-time favorite settings is coming back for 5e and Pathfinder. Although I would likely convert to RQ or GURPS, it seems the book will be HUGE and chalk full of setting goodness.

That is all for now! See you around the InterTubes.

 

Failure & The Holiday Test

The holidays make me feel like a failure. Oh and they make me feel guilty.

And not because I have failed at life or did anything wrong or any of that nonsense.

I see the holidays as a hetero-normative test at the end of a year long gauntlet designed to shape us into well-honed baby-making economic widgets. Obviously that perception is slightly skewed by my overactive imagination and a dash of bitterness… but I digress.

All the commercials are about buying a stupidly-expensive diamond ring for your fiancee, or an absurdly-expensive car for your husband, or some insanely-expensive dvd-toaster-gaming console for the over-privileged demon-possessed midgets that poop the overly-priced name-brand pants we dress them in.

You get several pop-quizzes during the year. You should be courting someone by spring. The summer is for romance. The fall is for cuddling and getting to know each other. The holidays are for proposals. You need at least 6 months to plan the wedding the following summer, so timing is everything. Oh, and so is a large credit line. Then there’s the followups. There’s kids, and soccer, and scholarship funds, and life insurance and… Mid-terms, heh?

So every year for some time now I have failed that test. And for the oddest reason science CANNOT explain, I feel guilty about it. I don’t care about the test, nor do I anticipate ever passing it again, but my A-Type mental disorder (it’s not a personality. Calling A-Type a personality is like calling a heroin addiction a temporary lifestyle hiccup) still brings the guilt at every gathering, every commercial, every shopping excursion, every Christmas song that ever played in the living room of my warm perfect middle-class suburbia upbringing…

The guilt of not trying harder not to pass that test.

Why do I feel so compelled to pass this test? The rest of the year I have ZERO interest in having a family. In the traditional sense anyways. I think I participate as best I can. I tend to be generous with my resources. The rest of the year I’m a disgusting avatar of St. Nicholas himself. Yet, bring on the holidays and it brings on the fail boat USS guilty.

For the first time in over a decade, I’m actually happy.  Happier than I can remember. Sure, there’s moments. But generally, I’m upbeat, feeling good about the future. I’m worried that the holidays are going to pull my happy train off the rails. I can’t let that happen.

I realize this isn’t actually a test. It’s a choice. I know that. My BRAIN knows that. My heart, during the holidays hasn’t caught up with the brain. I still feel the guilt for some reason. The holidays are a tough time for me, but this year I’m going to confront that ugly spot. It’s high time I see the joy everyone else sees. It’s time to get over it. I see that. And frankly, things are going too good right now to let myself be derailed by my stupid.

So this year I’m going to be happy. No failure. No guilt. Just me being me and soaking it all in. So, be patient with me. I’m getting better.

Oh, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving and give all your demon-possessed midgets a big hug for me!

Love,

New Host – New Theme

I am jumping back into the world of web mastering, so I moved my blog to my host provider. Also used one of the snazzy themes. You like?

You are looking at the recently “hired’ Technology Team Manager for the Dragonflight Organization. Our first task will be to stand up the new Dragonflight Convention site. Then on to some other top secret projects of awesome sauce! Really looking forward to getting back to work with some old Emerald City Gamefest friends like Sophie, Ed and Mark!!

In other news, work at Costco HQ in Issaquah is rocking full speed ahead. I’m on the automation team now working on SAP using Worksoft Certify! This place has a great work/life balance and it’s seriously giving me the opportunity to volunteer. I really love that!

My GURPS Monster Hunters is almost up! We finish characters this Sunday. We will finish up the zombie game These Last Days and put it on the shelf for a tad in favor of busting EVIL!

My Tacoma Saturday group is switching to RuneQuest 6e using the awesome Shores of Korantia setting. I have grown ever weary of the cheesy level based HP weirdness that is D&D. RQ has been around for ages and firmly sits in the Old School camp IMHO, so I’m not wandering too far from the camp.

ADD: I’m also working on a new RuneQuest character sheet! I will update the links to the Google Drive share when it’s ready.

Ciao for now, don’t kill anybody, and remember… only YOU can prevent wildfires!

 

Dear OBS or Free Speech vs. the Outrage Brigade

I was going to reply to a post on RPG.net about the One Book Shelf (DriveThruRPG/RPGnow) online marketplace for digital RPG products (and also digital comics and fiction). Since it serves as a nice summary to my opinion and the argument I’m making, I include it here for your consideration.


Evan Waters at RPG.net: If we could stop using “censorship” to refer to a private company choosing what content it will host that might be useful in some ways.

I disagree with this assertion. It’s also dismissive. You may believe you have “the facts” but we aren’t debating “facts”. This debate (like most) is about our opinions (or presumptions even). Let me restate my position, so my OPINION will be clearer:

Because OBS effectively has a monopoly on the digital RPG business, when they remove a product from sale for #reasons they are effectively censoring that author/publisher. Here’s the association;

  • When a government removes or bans something because of moral reasons (bad language, nudity, inappropriate language or subjects as designated by the government), they are censoring. This is the common and generally legal definition of that term. However, colloquially, any person or organization that restricts your voice or removes your voice, is also censoring. The definition is a matter of both legality AND usage.
  • Generally when dealing with governments, if you attempt to bypass censoring laws/rules you will likely be fined (which can cause financial hardship) if not convicted of a crime (which could involve bigger fines or incarceration).
  • As several publishers have pointed out here and elsewhere, losing the ability to sell on OBS would dramatically affect their income. In some cases erasing most if not all the money they make. In total.
  • When OBS removes a publisher’s product for #reasons they have effectively censored them. The consequences are effectively the same. The AFFECT is no different than if you had been censored and fined by the government.
  • There is presently no alternative to REPLACE this income. So now, our publisher is not only fined but permanently restricted from earnings until they can replace the OBS marketplace (somehow and likely at great expense and taking considerable time while still having their income restricted).

But wait! It gets worse for the publisher vs. OBS;

  • US censorship rules are better defined than the current OBS one. You have a pretty good idea of what words, accounts, etc. to avoid in the first place. “We’ll know it when we see it” is not a clearly defined set of guidelines. So now the publisher has to go with “popular consensus” which is currently defined by those who are most outraged by a particular product/subject UNLESS OBS “rules” against those most outraged by a particular subject. A part of the whole gets to define the guidelines, as they go along, based on reactions not design.
  • Currently, legal or effective censorship methods in the US (for example) provide a creator the opportunity to tailor their work to AVOID fines and/or banning (or better yet, a loss of income). It’s part of the process of creating a movie for example. The rules and guidelines are either a) defined (in the case of the FCC) or involve a process of submission and approval (in the case of the MPAA). With the current OBS method, the creator assumes ALL the risk. The only way to avoid being censored by OBS is to cater to the “general consensus” as defined by a part of the whole. If you miscalculate what the part of the whole’s consensus will be, then AFTER you have spent the creative energy and resources you get punished. By removal of your income completely from the work you just invested in.
  • A publisher currently has some recourse vs. the government. They could sue or challenge the ruling. They could petition or lobby a legislator to submit a bill on their behalf. Any censorship is only as set in stone as the laws defining those rules. With OBS, because they are a private entity the publisher doesn’t have any legal recourse except to further punishing themselves; by removing their products completely and suffering even further loss of income.

We declared (and won) independence from Britain because we wanted fair laws and rules. By the people, for the people. We wanted representation. The ability to participate in a nation where instead of a few ruling the many, the many could govern together (I speak as a US citizen. I am aware that this may be completely, partially or not at all relevant to by international friends. As it’s my opinion, I’ll stick to what I know. 🙂

This whole situation stinks of the very atmosphere, the very state of what we declared independence from in 1776.

We have EFFECTIVELY created a situation where some get to rule on behalf of everyone.

I support your right to protest. I support your right to free speech. I support your right to boycott. But unless OBS can create guidelines and some recourse that protects publishers from these kinds of tactics, then in effect, those who have convinced OBS to pull a product are effectively acting as oppressors in a monopolistic regime.

This is what I want:

  • I would ask OBS to ignore protests and support the freedom of publishers to offer products regardless of content. There is no need for OBS to become a “gatekeeper”.
  • I would ask OBS to implement better, more detailed Adult Filters so customers can screen out content they don’t want to see.
  • I would ask OBS to implement an “ignore publisher” button, so those who are so offended can make fair choices pertaining to themselves. By one person voting with their choices and with their dollars, not removing a product for sale from everyone (including those who actually want it).
  • I would ask OBS to dump the “report” button and any subsequent removal of a reported product. This policy will be ineffective, will punish publishers unfairly and worse supports the current situation; an effective monopolistic regime effectively controlled by only part of the whole.
  • I would ask that OBS redefine their content policy to include the above choices AS their content policy. To clearly define that content will not be censored, but that OBS supports the rights of every customer to choose what they want to both see AND purchase. Put the CUSTOMER in charge of THEIR content!

You want us to be useful in some ways? Excellent. Then debate the actual point of contention. Those on “the other side” of this debate know full well what those of us “on this side” are getting at. I will continue to use the terms censorship, monopoly, oppressive regime and tyranny as I see fit. I am attempting to engage in an important conversation in our hobby, not argue about the use of the English language.

Sincerely,

Trentin C Bergeron – Advocate of Free Speech, Equality, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

I dub thee unforgiven

Listening to Metallica. Reflecting.

I feel like I’m missing something. Like I’ve spent this long time away in a small dark room.

They say “be yourself – nothing else matters”.

I try. Each time I poke out of my small dark room I leave so much of me inside there. I don’t feel lonely because I’m alone. I feel lonely because each day, each week, each year a little more of me is left behind. Each time I wander out, more of me is back in that small dark room.

I feel like a hollow projection sent out to remind everyone I’m still here.

I realized just now that the reason I feel like I’ve spent so much time in there is because I actually have. I remember all the time outside the room and long to feel the whole me standing back in there.

I desperately want to come out of here. All of me. The whole me.

I just don’t know how anymore.

I dub thee unforgiven.

Dragonflight 2015 (Bellevue, WA) – GURPS!

Anyone heading out to Dragonflight in Bellevue WA?

I’m running two GURPS 4e games. One FRI at 7pm and one on SAT at 7pm.

These Last Days…

First the Zombie Apocalypse begins. Then you are forced to flee the Thomas Jefferson High School “safety zone” as it’s overrun by the infected. You and a handful of survivors followed each other to a house a few blocks from the school and barricaded yourselves in. After a long terror-filled night you have a moment to meet each other, gather supplies and determine your next move.

A Zombie Survival Horror scenario for 6 – 8 players Using GURPS (the Generic Universal Role-Playing System). Pre-generated survivors will be provided! Previous GURPS or RPG experience NOT required. We will learn the basics as we play!

Do you have what it takes to survive These Last Days?

More Info:

http://www.dragonflight.org/

https://these-last-days.obsidianportal.com/

The Future of GURPS – A Response

I am responding (in general) to both these blog posts…

Jeff’s Hobby Log – The Future of GURPS

A quick word to Jeff – you could “fix” your GURPS with some thoughtful purchases from Warehouse 23 (that’s the online store where you can order physical AND electronic goods from SJGames). There are full blown rules systems for Social Engineering, Magic of several flavors, Powers, mass combat… I think maybe you’re missing out.

K. David Ladage – The Future of GURPS

…and (in general) to detractors far and wide (and near) but most importantly to my fellow fans.

Here is my take;

We do NOT need a new edition of GURPS nor do we need it to be spun off into a new company.

What GURPS really needs is a good old-fashioned passionate targeted marketing campaign supported by a throng of enthusiast fans showcasing what they are actually DOING with GURPS. As a game. That is played with people on a tabletop.

First, a rebuttal;

“GURPS does not have support from Steve Jackson Games, they are (overly, inappropriately, unadvisedly…) focused on Munckin.”

FALSE: There are currently a couple dozen combined hardcover releases, softcover releases and softcover reprints, and some 100+ electronic (PDF) releases on Warehouse 23 including the monthly release of Pyramid. Calling Pyramid a magazine is kind of like calling a Jaguar a commuting vehicle. It’s a full-blown supplement usually with several useful GURPS articles. Is SJGames throwing more money behind Munchkin? Of course! It makes more money. But GURPS is not “languishing”.

EXTRA FALSE: Not only do the developers themselves but a HOARD of freelancers, contributors, and previous authors participate regularly on the official GURPS forums. I think that counts as support. In fact, having been involved in some 50+ games in my storied career as an RPG Enthusiast that kind of participation is above average.

“GURPS is not accessible by the common gamer, younger gamer or casual gamer. It’s a well-honed tool only safe in the hands of a trained grognard.” (possibly paraphrased for comedic purposes)

BUNK: Look. People today (young people, new gamers) are not like the pioneers (40 somethings and beyond) who struck out into the RPG wilderness with nothing but a box, two booklets, some strange plastic plain polyhedrals and a white crayon. They have iPads. They have 300 cable channels. They have full 4000k CGI video games at 1 billion frames per second beaming pure full-color awesome into their brains. On tap. You think you can hand a kid today a boxed set and say “try this” and come out with a roleplayer? HAH! How do I know? I’ve tried it. Doesn’t work on this crowd. Hell, I’m struggling to teach adults these days how to play. You think our kids have ADD? You know nothing John Snow!

There is only ONE way to create new gamers properly. SHOW THEM. I’m not talking about a one hour seminar on how the character sheet works, I’m talking about handing them a character sheet, taking 5 minutes to explain dice and then PLAYING. Not only does this help ease people into the ideas, but it’s MORE FUN! More fun = better impressions. If you are a GURPS fan and GM and you hand someone the Basic Set and say “go make a character” I personally feel you should be tried for crimes against roleplayers.

Are we really becoming THAT lazy and antisocial that we want some magic pamphlet that converts looky-loos on first touch?

The books ARE a great reference because that’s what game books SHOULD be. A great reference. I want to find stuff fast. I can make a character WITH a player. I can create a campaign summary with templates and get you 90% there without you picking through the Encyclopedia GURPSica. But when you’re ready I have the Encyclopedia GURPSica! Now let me see your game do that.

RPG books should help you run the game to create a fun play experience. Your imagination should be creating the landscapes. Now they are gorgeous coffee table books designed to look through for entertainment. Does it not matter that the game should work? Is this not why we chose GURPS?

You want to support artists? Go find them on Deviant Art or various online galleries and then BUY a print from them! They make more money and the art is more portable. Create a gallery for your campaign summary and show your players what you want the game to feel like. You couldn’t possibly create a book for every occasion, but we have the power to create a game for any occasion AND stock it with the art WE want.

The books work and look like RPG books should. It’s about the game not the pretty pictures or Gygaxian prose (in contrast to my personal writing style…).

“GURPS is really best at realistic gritty stuff.”

FALSE: It’s good at that yes, but it handles cinematic action and lighter approaches just fine. Look at the above worked examples. Action! and Monster Hunters shows you how to simplify ranges, assessing difficulty and penalties and what rules to generally ignore to fit those genres. One of the PDF Power-Ups options even covers ideas for spending “points” of various kinds for improving success, scene editing, avoiding injury or death, and other “modern” system conceits. There are now three solid worked examples of how to tune GURPS for specific settings (Action!, Dungeon Fantasy, Monster Hunters). These examples are all “over the top” cinematic lighter rules settings.

“GURPS doesn’t have the Bestiary they promised.”

FALSE: Sure, there’s not “one Bestiary that rules them all”, but there are PDFs! You can pick and choose what creatures you want or want to skip. The aforementioned worked settings? Two of those have examples AND supplemental Bestiaries. There’s a series called Creatures of the Night. Some nice fellow out there converted the 3rd edition Fantasy Folk, Fantasy Bestiary and Aliens to 4th edition for the Character Assistant program. Fans are building monsters all over the place like on the GURPS Repository.

What GURPS Needs

Fans that talk about how they are USING GURPS for their games, not pixel-bitching about rules “fixes” and “what’s wrong”.

The Fans of GURPS do more damage to the brand than anything the actual game ever did to itself. There are more threads in the forums about how to “fix ST” or “why supers sucks in GURPS” and “Magic is broken” and “this or that is priced incorrectly”, yada yada yada YAWN. You can use GURPS to run the setting you want. You can use the rules as written to tune or customize the game to your needs. In fact, it does so SUPERBLY. I am constantly flabbergasted by posts by GURPS fans about GURPS!

I’m a rules-medium run-of-the-mill RPG enthusiast who also happens to be a GURPS fan. I don’t care about EVERY rule or “what’s realistic”. I just want a game that is consistent, thoughtfully designed and can be customized to the particular setting I want to run. I would like to believe that I’m “common”. In other words, most people just want to play, most GMs want to setup and run a fun game. They don’t care about the same detail or “issues” that the UBERGROGS of GURPSdom do.

GURPS needs more “common” system-medium fans that talk about “how I use GURPS” and “How GURPS fixed my game” and “How GURPS made my Saturdays awesome again” and “GURPS made my Starship Troopers RPG dream come true!”, etc. More talk and less tweaking. More enthusiasm and less bitching. More PLAYING and RUNNING. Less WANKERY!

GURPS fans need to SELL GURPS. Fan-to-fan marketing is POWERFUL. Word-of-mouth marketing is POWERFUL. Every time one of us goes off on how complicated, hard to plan, “why this is broken” side-trek we are literally discouraging the average non-tinkerers to play GURPS.

First, I propose the following fix to the forums. It should be broken up into three categories;

  1. GURPS – Playing The Game: this is where you discuss how you’re using GURPS, how to apply it to genres or settings, and other “how we use GURPS” topics. This forum is focused on using GURPS as written to create Traits that people are using for their games, actual play reports, discussion of settings, etc.
  2. GURPS – Rules Questions: this is the place to ask about rules or discuss the rules as written.
  3. GURPS – Builders: this is the place to discuss rules changes, debates, house rules, proposed fixes and other “deep dives” into the GURPS sphere. Tinkerers and Builders come here to tinker and build.

Then we can point people to 1 or 2 and caution them to wade into 3 “with the awareness of a diver on Shark Week”. Grognards and GURPSians can frolic about 3 with wild abandon extolling the virtues of “my GURPS” while leaving the rest of us “common” GURPS players to the business of just playing it.

Second, GURPS needs an old-fashioned marketing campaign. It needs ad-banners on every RPG forum in existence. It needs Facebook ads. It needs Google Ad Words. It needs Reddit presence (did you know there’s a GURPS Reddit?). It needs fans running games at local cons. It needs fans running games at local game stores. It needs more Obsidian Portal sites. It needs to Proselytize like BK sells Chicken Fries!! (OK, perhaps I’m getting too excited…)

Finally (Most importantly?), WE (the fans) need to work with GURPS like it’s a ROLEPLAYING GAME. A real dyed-in-the-wool RPG that you play. At a table. With people. And dice. We need to stop debating why ST is broken and instead write a blog post about “how I did Superman with GURPS and lived to enjoy it”. We need to stop hammering people over the head with our “toolkit” and instead show them the awesome stuff we PLAYED with it! Show me yours, I’ll show you mine.


The Industry has changed. Kickstarter and boutique are in. Mass production is out. SJGames WILL get there! I really hope SJGames gets into print-on-demand. I really hope they figure out a way to manage your PDF library so you can combine series and then print them as books. Hell, they jumped into digital publishing before it was cool (oh, SJGames, you hipster…), it only makes sense they get in on the latest revolutions.

However, my duty to the game I love really has nothing to do with any of that. My duty is to talk it up, play the hell out of it, and share the love.

I hope they keep producing the amazing supplements and ideas and options, because GURPS really is one-of-a-kind. I imagine they will. We have a lead-developer, assistant-developer and a cadre of repeat-freelancers. Steve Jackson still loves GURPS like we do. The more we play, the more people join us, the more GURPS that sells, the more GURPS that gets made.

I’m really tired of hearing about what Steve Jackson needs to do to (fix, repair, help, increase…). The GURPS team is pumping out hundreds of pages of GURPS every year!! WE need to be more supportive. WE need to get the word out, play the game and talk it up. WE need to educate our fellows about the TRUE state of GURPS.

GURPS is alive and well. GURPS continues to be well supported.

Now get off my lawn and go play some GURPS.

Sincerely – With nerdly love,