Gamers. The Nicest White Terrorists You’ll Ever Meet

I shouldn’t get embroiled in this, especially right now, but this has been turning up everywhere and passed around by people who should know better. So here we are.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to take a look at this: “Tabletop Gaming has a White, Male Terrorism Problem”. Then take a look at the gallery below. Then reflect on why ‘listen and believe’ is such a terrible idea, what has happened to the atheist/skeptic community and pause to recall the depredations of Wertham, Pulling, Thompson and Sarkeesian.

That’s as much time as I’m going to spend directly on that post, and I’m not even going to make the usual set of debunkings and rationalist arguments. I’m not going to point out, at length, the inherent racism and sexism of the article or that its accusations are just that – accusations.

I am, however, disappointed that so many people unquestioningly and uncritically regurgitated that post everywhere, and that the slightest bit of misapprehension or skepticism has been – as usual – characterised as misogyny.

Instead, let’s talk about something positive.

I’ve been gaming for some 30 years. In all that time I’ve found gaming to be a very inclusive, very liberal, very accepting, very caring place. All my best friends are gamers, indeed I think all the best people are gamers. I’ve never, in any other area of life, met such an accepting, open, warm hearted bunch.

Gamers are awesome.

Sure there are creeps and very rare nasty incidents, but by and large we take care of our own and we don’t need to stoop to bullshit to do it.

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I’m at a LARP which is winding down. We’re chatting and waiting to leave, one of the girls is just quickly pulling on some jeans for the walk home when a guy oversteps the mark and tries to wedgie her.

He’s lucky to still have his teeth.

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We’re in a big, packed hall when a woman suffer a wardrobe malfunction. Without a word being said a group of burly chaps form a human changing screen so she can change into her spare clothes without being seen.

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A couple break up minutes before a game session. We cancel, we commiserate, we make sure they’re both OK and can both get home safe.

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“That guy’s creeping on me.”

We haven’t seen it, we’re not about to just throw him out, but we take it in turns to keep an eye on him. Turns out he is a creep and a few quiet words later the problem is solved.

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The non-gaming girlfriend of someone at the event turns up, drunk, sits down at a table and – unbelievably – gets a vibrator out of her handbag and sits it on the table. Switching it on. Without prompting someone sits with her to talk to her, distract her and to ‘disarm the device’ so everyone else can carry on unmolested.

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The guy causing problems is obviously and pitiably, quite mentally ill. He’s taken aside and gently – and with compassion – calmed down and banned from attending, with the minimum of fuss and drama.

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This is the gaming community I know. The one I’ve encountered year in, year out. In America, in the UK, at LARP events and conventions, at tabletop games big and small, at stores and model shops and trade fairs. Its a community where people look after each other and when there’s a problem they come together and they deal with it, as a group. As friends and colleagues and people with a common cause.

Gamers want more people to be gamers and it doesn’t take pointless policies, spurious accusations or abject virtue signalling to make it so. Indeed that tends to create the opposite. If you pretend there’s a problem when there isn’t, or you make it seem bigger than it actually is, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Imagine, if you will, a restaurant that made a big song and dance over how they took steps at every stage to ensure nobody was poisoned. Nobody expects to be poisoned when they eat out and most places don’t act like this is a big threat. So what’s going on at this place that they have to make such a big fuss about it?

Gaming is great. Gamers are great. Encourage and spread the good and there’ll be more of it. If you’re going to spread the bad, be sure of what you’re talking about and be sure you’re advocating things that will make people safer, rather than merely making them feel safer – at the expense of the things that make gaming great.

#RPG Some old, free games you might want.

NevercoverJust a reminder of these old games that exist.

The third – and probably final – edition of the Neverwhere RPG, produced with permission and available for PDF only. This is the final, comprehensive edition of the game with an improved system, more detail an expanded A-Z and advice for running the game in tabletop, online or as a LARP.

Neverwhere has been a massively influential book on my life since it first came out and a touchstone novel I return to again and again. Especially the section on Blackfriars.

Free to download

 

106454A personal game about depression and its effects intended to help people with invisible illnesses broach the subject and explore it in a way they can have power over it.

ImagiNation is set after the fall of mainland Britain to a strange reality breakdown. The barriers between imagination and reality, dreams and nightmares have shattered and strange things dreamed up by people caught in the event teem across the land.

Only those who are already ‘broken’ can hope to cope with exploring, understanding and combatting this strangeness for the sake of the huddled refugees that sit and wait and watch from the smaller islands around the coast.

A game of mental illness and art using The Description System (Neverwhere).

This game is available FREE so please promote, download, host and spread as far and wide as you can.

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In Memoriam: Craig Green

311785_10150362606105516_1867577023_nI just found out that my friend and long time member of my roleplaying group, Craig, died last week of natural causes. I tend to withdraw when something shocking like this happens so I’m kind of hurrying to get my thoughts down before that happens, so I apologise if my eulogy is a little crude, unflattering or disjointed but I wanted to say something immediate and honest rather than to wait. I wanted to give a human reaction instead of a measured or artificial one.

I never liked Craig when I first met him. We were both very active players in the Camarilla LARP society and my characters often found themselves at odds with his characters and – in the manner of the way that organisation went – that meant we often found ourselves at odds out-of-character as well. I found him camp, pretentious and later when I was the one Storytelling for him, he was an obtuse and difficult bastard with bizarre characters that were really difficult to create or moderate stories for. Still, he won over friends and we shared friends and seemed to relax into a kind of reasonably affable détente.

Once I left the Camarilla I didn’t see much of him that often. I moved out to the countryside and couldn’t travel much any more while he cemented his friendship with our mutual friends and so – once I started seeing them more again and roleplaying with them, he was present. To the point of house-sharing with them and becoming part of our regular gaming groups.

We moved from that détente into friendship, though not a particularly close friendship (I always felt he disapproved of me in some way for some reason) and I began to appreciate his presence. He was still a difficult bastard with whimsical, hard-to-gamesmaster-for characters though, which often led me to tear my hair out to the point I was nearly as bald as he was.

However much he’d rub me the wrong way, Craig had a mastery of the art of joke-sniping, sliding a humorous comment into the middle of a conversation only to have it detonate as a laughter bomb in the middle of you talking. I appreciated his kindness and willingness to help others – he was a nurse – and his constantly upbeat attitude which I could never (and will never be) able to replicate. That most of all, that ready smile and that wicked glint in the eye.

He’ll be missed for all that.

He is, just about, the first peer I’ve lost to natural causes. I’ve lost people to accidents, to suicide, to many unnatural causes but never really, until now, to the simple failing of the body. It’s strange that, that should be so affecting, but it is. More so, even, than when someone has taken their own life. Perhaps because it’s just so arbitrary and bloody unfair.

The deaths of others always end up being about those of us left to carry on, those who remain.

That’s OK.

That’s not selfish.

Our memories and our stories are the closest thing to immortality that exists. We influence and affect one another, we teach each other things and give each other stories. We pass those stories on and so our friend live on, through us. Echoing into infinity.

#RPG – Review – Alpha Blue

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Well, from this cover I can clearly see this will be wholesome, uncontroversial fun!

I’d promised Venger a review of Alpha Blue but hadn’t gotten around to it [I got a comp copy, full disclosure]. With Alpha Blue being the latest casualty of policy changes at Onebookshelf and a general, puritanical string to genre and pop culture lately I got the motivation to go ahead with the review. I’m hoping to get hold of Venger for a quick interview about the situation and how the policy works in practice in the near future. If I manage to get the scheduling to work I’ll let you know what’s going on, here.

So Alpha Blue then. It’s a bit of a hard product to review. It’s a science fiction setting that grows out of a science fiction location, with a basic RPG system tacked on. Like my own game, Machinations of the Space Princess, it’s inspired by the camp, pulpy, rather naughty science fiction of the 60s, 70s and 80s – in fact it would make a perfect setting and location for use in MotSP.

The system isn’t really that important here, but it’s a simple D6 based dicepool system that’s perfectly adequate to the task if you don’t have another system you’d prefer to use. The meat and bone of the whole thing is very much the setting and the elements that stem from it. The rules cover all the basics you’d expect, combat, social interaction, cybernetics, science fictional and psychic powers and weird alien abilities. Just not in any huge depth. The tables here can be used for inspiration whatever game system you decide to use.

The universe is detailed fairly quickly and draws obvious derivation in many regards from well-loved films and TV series from the time period. There’s a Federation (in which, amusingly, Earth are the paupers and dead last in terms of culture etc), Draconians – recalling Buck Rogers – and a bunch of other ideas familiar and new, as well as a little bit of near-to-the-knuckle satire and fun-poking of politics and of other game settings (the bit on ‘Space Muslims’ being especially biting).

Alpha Blue itself is a space station – of sorts. This place wanders around the universe, albeit not at an especially hurried pace. Alpha Blue itself is a commentary on our collective hang-ups about sex. Following mankind’s inability to handle its own sexuality, Alpha Blue was constructed as a safe outlet of all of mankind’s collective, pent-up, sexual energy. A combination of an asylum for the oversexed and – eventually – a sort of ‘space Vegas’ where anything goes. It’s now another drifting space station, albeit with an interesting past. A haven for deviancy, criminals, gambling and adventurers.

Alpha Blue itself is very well detailed, while remaining open enough for you to add, alter or incorporate your own material. It’s very much more of a ‘toolkit’ book than something to use straight from the pages. It’s a hard book to review since its main use is as inspiration and a review that revealed too many of the easter-eggs and references within it would spoil the experience of reading it.

Alpha Blue goes a bit further than I normally do in some ways, but that’s mostly a result of my own cowardice and self-censorship. That’s probably why it has gotten into the trouble that it has (though speculation is that it’s a reference in a single paragraph in the book to a ‘rape machine‘ used by an evil faction). It also wears its influences on its sleeve a little more directly than I normally would, in the illustrations within it’s easy to recognise figures like Ming, Klytus, Dr Who and Buck Rogers. The whole thing – and much of the terminology – is somewhat taken from The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue (a porno film with 70s-tastic soundtrack which, if you’re utterly desperate, you can watch on Xhamster.)

All things considered it’s a campy, openly sexual nostalgia fest, probably best approached as a series of inspirational tables and setting components to kitbash into your own settings.

Presentation wise it could be a little cleaner and the art is of very mixed quality. Some of it is very good, some of it is very bad and some of it just doesn’t seem to fit the science-fantasy theme (being, perhaps, more suited to an occult themed book)

Score:
Style: 2.5
Substance: 4.5
Overall: 3.5

#TheTriggering – Commemorative Discounts!

triggeredThe Triggering is a social media event (#TheTriggering) proposed by libertarian commenter and reporter Lauren Southern as a sort of ‘online demonstration’ in favour of free speech and free expression and to raise awareness of Social Justice Warrior interference and threats to those fundamental human rights and to a free internet. Lauren knows better than many the kind of problems that face free speech advocates having both been thrown out of a protest for staging a counter-protest and, more recently, being assaulted (with a bottle of urine no less) for having a different opinion.

The ‘public square’ is increasingly in private hands and under private control, but is also being used by proxy to censor and control opinion. Whether it’s Twitter’s dubiously Orwellian ‘Trust and Safety’ council or Zuckerberg cooperating with the German government to suppress negative stories about immigration, we have to admit that there is an issue and it’s an issue that has been thrown into sharp relief by the conflicts on college and university campuses and the febrile atmosphere surrounding almost any piece of entertainment that intersects – however fractionally – with PC hotbutton issues.

You don’t have to agree with people to agree that they have a right to speak. I’m a left-anarchist and a pragmatic socialist, yet I support Lauren Southern’s right to espouse her Libertarian ideals. I worry about the demonisation of immigrants, but I believe people have a right to express their concerns about that (and genuinely worrying stories are being suppressed there too). There’s suggestions recently that media companies, including social media companies, are going to collude to exclude and undermine Trump now. I would gladly gnaw my own leg off if it would prevent Trump being president, but he has a right to express whatever opinions are most popular at the time and will win him votes. That’s democracy, that’s freedom, that’s the principle of free speech.

I’ve made games and presented ideas that people find objectionable and I’ve been censored, pilloried, boycotted and banned for it (or, more often, for ideas that people have assigned to me) so I’m presenting some of those ideas (games) under discount to participate in #TheTriggering because not only have these games ‘triggered’ people, but shilling a product on a hashtag will ‘trigger’ a whole other set of people.

Exercise your free speech and free expression today. Say something controversial. Air an opinion that might upset someone. Buy some porn, read 1984 or Huckleberry Finn, post a ‘problematic’ joke. Flex those rights and shake the tree, see who actually believes in free speech and who doesn’t.

And for those SJWs blocking the tag, or anyone that posts on it… you’re proving that we don’t need censorship and that you’re capable of maintaining your challenge-free bubble all by yourselves. You’re also proving the need for this event – which I hope becomes as annually celebrated as Draw Mohammed Day.

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DISCOUNTED GAMES FOR #THETRIGGERING

Discounts are available for 48 hours ONLY, ending on the 11th of March.

The Little Grey Book [Pay What You Want]: A simple party game that plays off the hypercritical panopticon of social media.

Hentacle [Marked down to $2.50]: A comedy print-and-play card game of tentacle rape, which is such an absurd concept it’s just inherently laughable. Apparently some people fear for the welfare of drawings and genuinely fear being molested by cephalopods. #TeachOctopiNotToRape

Cthentacle [Marked down to $2.50]: A slightly different and simpler/faster version of Hentacle, but with a Cthulhu theme and many, many horrendous Lovecraftian puns. Of note is that poor, dead racist HP Lovecraft’s head used to be used as the World Fantasy Award prize, but this was changed due to conerns about his racism. Short of a visit by Herbert West I don’t really see how Lovecraft’s racism could really be a problem for anyone any more. He’s dead. Then again #RhodesMustFall so apparently we have to erase history and ignore influential figures for wrongthink. Down the memory hole…

Privilege Check [Marked down to $2.00]: The less privileged you are… the more privileged you are. This was the basic hypocrisy behind ‘the progressive stack’ which came to prominence during the Occupy movement. Equality, apparently, is not a good way to treat people and the best way to cure *ism is to be *ist. Irony is missing from a lot of dictionaries it seems. This game triggered the hell out of a lot of people when it came out and it’s a bluffing/tactical card game that mocks the progressive stack.

Gamergate Card Game [No discount, sorry!]: This was SO triggering that it, unlike the material above, was censored off my usual sales site. This despite it containing no graphic depictions of tentacle sex, nor any off colour jokes about racial/gender/etc politics the way Privilege Check does. Just invoking the name of the consumer revolt was sufficient to bring down a gang of crybabies to get it taken down.

If you’re interested in our other products, though none are really as controversial, you can grab our catalogues, which make it easier to find stuff than using the site navigation.

2016 Catalogues for Easy Purchasing

We’ve put out two catalogues today to make purchasing our products easier.

THE MAIN CATALOGUE contains everything we’ve ever made (so far) and links via the titles to PDFs, hardcopy books and physical card and board games.

THE PUBLISHERS CATALOGUE contains links to all our stock art, with preview pictures. This is a much easier and faster way to locate our stock art than the existing search functions or scrolling/page breakdown on the websites and is highly recommended.

Everything Postmortem Studios, all in one place.

Enjoy!

Zelart Scholarship Winner 2015-2016

176195This year’s winner is Erika Markkinen, a talented young artist and tattooist from Finland.

Erika is heading back into full-time education to train in digital media and has had some recent setbacks including a nasty car accident and some broken equipment, and so best fit the criteria for the award (supporting young genre artists in education).

Erika’s piece is available for sale HERE and she is available for commissions and, if you’re in Finland, tattoos.

(Full disclosure: Erika has worked for me before on FLICKPIG, where she did outstanding work drawing an adventuring party of humanoid pigs. I consulted with several people to avoid positive discrimination on my part).

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176194The runner up, who kindly donated their submission to support the scholarship was Inna Vjuzhanina.

Inna is a brilliant colour artist with some outstanding work who is, nonetheless, struggling at the moment to find commissions. If you look at her work this is somewhat hard to believe. Here portfolio contains many outstanding pieces of work, which can be viewed here. She also sells prints of her work which can be found here.

Her donated piece can be purchased and downloaded HERE.

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The scholarship faced a lot of challenges this year. It was extremely hard to get entries for reasons that aren’t 100% clear, but we did – even – face active sabotage with an apparently obsessive troll trying to ‘warn people off’ from applying and casting various aspersions. This is an enormous shame and a horrible thing to do as it only ends up hurting the very bright, young artists we’re seeking to help.

I hope we can up our game next year, perhaps by contacting colleges, schools and universities more directly, and earlier, to encourage both donations and applications.

Advice welcome.