#RPG – Space Princess Featured on Game School Podcast


My RPG  – Machinations of the Space Princess – was featured on Game School. Listen to me take Satine Phoenix through the game, and talk about the design philosophy and decisions behind it.


#RPG – Tales of Gor Update


Onebookshelf Buckles

Onebookshelf, owners of DrivethruRPG and RPNOW appear to have buckled to the threats and fainting of the usual mob after the recent ‘Tournament of Rapists’ issue.

You can read their blog on the issue HERE and take the following notes.

  1. The blog makes a somewhat spirited defence of the sanctity of free expression…
  2. …but then buckles.
  3. The existence of the adult filter was acknowledged, but why this isn’t/wasn’t enough/sufficient was never really explored.
  4. They’re making a change – though it’s not justified or understandable in the context of the earlier comments.
  5. They’re keeping it simple ‘I don’t know what offensive content is, but I’ll know it when I see it’. This is better than hard and fast, gameable rules, but gives a publisher no solid ground to stand on when developing.
  6. They’re relying on complaints – which is going to encourage brigading and faux outrage.
  7. They’re not grandfathering old content, which puts any and all existing products under threat.

I’m slightly relieved, but mostly incredibly wary. This is the comment I left on G+

This sounds reasonable, but we’re already seeing the creep. The ‘slippery slope’ seems to have started with the actually inoffensive GG card game and that led on to this.

An open marketplace of ideas is simply too valuable and OBS occupies a position akin to Steam, just for TTRPG material. ‘Lord’ Gaben recently intervened to save the controversial game Hatred from being knocked off that platform.

Obviously I have some skin in this, controversial topics are a flame to my moth. I’ve made games about school shootings, mischaracterised online controversies, tongue-in-cheek tentacle sex and I have a huge, potentially ‘offensive’ project in the form of the Gor RPG imminent any day, which I now have cause to worry about.

People brigade products trying to get them banned or censored all the time. So automating the process could well be a bad thing.

You already have an ‘adult’ ghetto. As I understood it adult products shouldn’t get the full auto-promotion treatment and this product was not initially tagged.

Why isn’t this ‘back-rooming’ enough? How much of this is down to pressure from white-knight companies and why do they feel entitled to interfere in this way and why are they allowed to get away with it?

I’m now in a position where I don’t know if some of my all-time best selling products are going to be attacked, whether new products will be at the mercy of the fake-outrage mob and upon what bases you’ll be making decisions!

Perhaps it might have been better to keep more separation between RPGNOW and DTRPG to allow one to be more corporate and the other more indie and open.

Real talk, there aren’t a lot of other effective sites to sell on. e23 and Paizo sales never remotely match sales on OBS and other options like Gumroad don’t remotely match them. IMO this gives OBS a position of great responsibility to creators and it remains endlessly disappointing to me that so much of this pressure comes from creators – who should know better.

I guess we’ll have to see how things shake down, but this is incredibly worrying for anyone who likes ‘controversial’ (interesting) topics.

This may not sound like much, but it’s a significant defeat for free expression in tabletop gaming and will encourage the kind of censorious prigs what have been causing so much trouble across all manner of media in recent years. It’s not a good day.

Tournament of Fainters


CORRECTION: The product WAS properly tagged as ‘adult’ and so already ghettoed and shouldn’t have been visible to anyone not wanting to see adult material, which makes the explosive fuss even less understandable.

I can’t let this pass without comment, even though my commentary is going to be decided predictable and is also going to be misinterpreted.

So a new product game out on RPGNOW/DrivethruRPG called ‘Tournament of Rapists‘. I have no idea if it’s any good and frankly, so long as the content is legal, I don’t care.

There are two actual mistakes that have been made. It wasn’t properly tagged as an ‘adult product’ and it went through the press-release process under automation. This was likely a mistake on the publisher’s part, not anyone else’s.

It’s part of a line of products dealing with similar dark anime/manga tropes and is meant for people who like that sort of thing (and no, that doesn’t mean they’re creeps or dangerous or anything else, any more than someone liking horror films makes them a serial killer).

Predictably, the response of the usual suspects – and others caught in their comet tail – has been outrage, refusing to sell via the company any more (we’ll see if that happens) or refusing to buy there. The same tactics that were used against the Gamergate Card Game (which should have been nowhere near as controversial as this is).

Mr Wieck, bigwig at the site, as responded that banning this would be a slippery slope, but that slope has already been slipped. These censorious muppets have been emboldened by the company yielding over the GGCC and feel they can do the same here again. Where WILL it stop? What about the back catalogue? How long and how well will the termites feed?

It doesn’t harm anyone to have this product on sale.

Anyone who chooses to read it has to make a conscious decision to purchase it.

If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. It’s really that simple.

You don’t have to make a big song and dance about it, you don’t have to try and force the company to censor creative output. Just don’t buy it. Go ahead and criticise if you want, but attacking the maker’s character without basis, threatening people and whipping up a mob is, frankly, bullshit.

A free creative market has enormous value.

Grow up.

The test of your beliefs is how you apply them to people you disagree with. If you truly believe in free expression – as most of you claim – then let it be. If you don’t want to censor – and it IS censorship – then don’t.

Really, just don’t buy the bloody thing.

And yes, your fussing and fainting IS ‘SJW bullshit’, it always is.

#Fiction Old, Fat Punk Released

Derek, Tim and ‘Trol’ are three ageing rebels, hitting their fifties. Disillusioned by the way the world has turned out and the frustration of their teenage dreams of a better life or a revolution.

All they have left are stories of past glory and pints of cheap beer at one of the last punk-pubs in London.

Watching a riot unfurl on television, to no point and no effect, their frustration boils over and they decide to do something futile and stupid, a grand, nihilistic gesture of futility.

Comedy, social and political satire, and frustration all meet in this story of a ‘revolutionary caper’




Lulu (Hardcopy)


#RPG – New Podcast Out: Game School


Disclosure: I dare to call Satine my friend, she’s on the podcast, has done some work with me (Machinations of the Space Princess) and I consider her an all-round awesome human being. Plus she’s hotter than jerked Azer. I don’t know Chad Parish from Adam though.

There’s a new podcast series out that is, essentially, a ‘review show’ but the format is something different and awesome.

The hosts (Satine Phoenix and Chad Parish) get a designer on, talk about their game, go over some of the design principles and ideas and then go over how to make a character and play a short bit of the game – a couple of scenes – to show how it works in play.

It’s a novel and fantastic way to get across both the essence of a game and the intentions of the designer and I heartily recommend listening in.

Linkypooh HERE.

#Gamergate Vindicated at Airplay

CMenzR7VEAAiqCpHere’s some initial thoughts on what went down at SPJAirplay and it should be read or viewed even by people who are sick of the whole thing or have written it off as a misogynistic hate movement.

The Society of Professional Journalists held an event in Florida, part of which was a separate event to discuss Gamergate. Gamergate representatives were chosen by popular votes on Chans, Reddit and Twitter and anti-Gamergate… refused to come. Even with offers of having their way paid, despite any and all inducements to do so. This may have been a tactical mistake.

In its final form the event became more like a panel of Gamergate involved people, trying to explain to conventional journalists a) what Gamergate was b) why it was more important than it seemed and c) why the media had failed so hard to report well on it.

There were two panels, the first explanatory and giving examples of some of the ethical breaches Gamergate has been concerned with, the second supposedly to try and find solutions and new practices, though the second panel was very poorly handled by the moderator and then interrupted by a ‘credible bomb threat’ (according to the local police department).

The event was simultaneously a huge vindication of everything Gamergate has stood for and argued, and a disappointment.

Gamergate’s ethical concerns regarding cronyism, corruption and collusion were agreed upon to be unethical, chuckles were had at the expense of Gawker Media (and others) and Gamergate got a well-earned morale boost and stamp of legitimacy from the SPJ.

This was a win.

The more frustrating part was the second panel. Panellists Cathy Young, Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Sommers tried to explain Gamergate contextually by reference to other problems and other, similar movements (such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter) but kept getting shut down before they could make their points, by the moderator.

It seemed obvious to me what they were trying to establish:

  1. That these issues are serious issues not just in games journalism.
  2. That it is possible to report on these issues in a more sensitive and balanced fashion.
  3. That these were, perhaps, more understandable and analogous situations via which conventional journalists might be able to understand Gamergate.

To take one example that the moderator seemed very keen to avoid, the problem of radical feminist influence on media in general and with special reference to Rolling Stone’s rape-reporting scandal the issue of blindly believing what you’re told, reporting it as true and causing a great many people a great deal of harm on the back of irresponsible reporting is obvious and a window into the sort of biased, activism-distorted reporting that has plagued discussion on Gamergate.

Thwarted at every turn trying to make these points, via constant interruptions from the moderator (who I think was trying to fill in for the lack of anti-Gamergate) the conversation finally had to turn to more simplistic examples of better ways to report on internet affairs… only to be interrupted by a bomb threat.

Every precaution had been taken, the police had been pre-warned of hoax bomb threats but this final one – the tenth – containing details on the venue and other warning signs, was enough that the police had to act. Everyone was evacuated out into the terrible heat and continued the discussion in smaller groups wherever shelter could be found.

Videos of those discussions haven’t emerged yet, but hopefully these small group discussions were productive.

The bomb threat was likely simply third party trolls, upping the ante having been shut out of the chats on streams and so forth. Another high possibility for me would be the conspiracy theorists who have – unfortunately – been lurking around Gamergate since Common Core and DARPA were mentioned. We shall see if anyone ever gets caught for these hoaxes though. It’s probably best not to speculate too much.

Something has changed though.

Gamergate is vindicated as an ethics/consumer movement.

Some parts of the media are now reporting more sympathetically.

The spin of anti-Gamergate on Airplay, and older events, is now ringing even more hollow.

The Gamergate meeting in Birmingham will likely be the endcap on my more active participation. Many of Gamergate’s goals have now been met and with Airplay I think Gamergate can smugly consider itself – rightly – legitimised and vindicated.

Gamergate won the war, on all fronts, and now there needs to be a negotiated peace. Hopefully we can continue what’s started with SPJAirplay – a conversation instead of a confrontation, a move to understanding and mutual tolerance that hasn’t been possible so long as Gamergate has been blamed for the actions of trolls and while ideologues have cowered behind automated block lists.

I hope some people will join me in trying to start conversations, and I hope some on the other side (rather than simply neutral people and journalists) will contribute.