#RPG – The Politics of Postmortem Studios

f2388bfcfd4cad5fbf8dd05fa090cf7a.pngIn the run-up to the US mid-term elections, several game companies put out statements on their political stances and exhorting people to vote in particular ways. This struck me as a little crass, and somewhat beyond the remit of a games company, an entertainer or – indeed – an artist.

This is far from the first time that this has happened, with games companies ‘excommunicating’ fans with particular outlooks, or even outright telling them ‘we don’t want you’. In a time of increasing division, this is even more divisive and this seems – to me – to be especially unhelpful when games and other diversions are a way to reach across the aisle and to humanise each other.

Still, I thought it best to explicitly state my political position as a company writer, game designer, artist, employer – and as an individual. So first, my position as a company, and the one I would prefer (but not demand) that anyone who works with me adopts…

I do not care who you are or what you believe. Your politics are not relevant to whether you enjoy my games or not. I do not want to deny anyone access to my material and while it is inevitably, somewhat, coloured by my experience and outlook, I make no demands and exclude nobody. Whatever your politics, creed, colour, sexuality, gender identity or ice-cream preference you’re welcome to play and enjoy my games, to work with me ore interact in any which way you prefer.

Hopefully, that’s clear enough. The TL;DR is that I don’t care about your personal politics, and you shouldn’t care about mine. Games are a way to look past all that, see each other as people, set aside politics and other divisions and to just have fun.

So as regards my personal politics, if you care…

I am a left-libertarian on the political compass, waaaaay down on the bottom left. Ideologically I’m an Anarchist-without-adjectives, but closest to an Anarcho-Technocrat. Ideological ideals rarely survive contact with the real world however, and my guiding principle from Anarchism is to maximise freedom for the greatest number of people, which in the current sociopolitical climate leads me to adopt Socialism as the best option to meet that goal.

I am pro free speech, for anything that falls short of The Harm Principle and believe the role of the state should be as guarantor and defender of people’s rights, rather than a source of constriction, censorship or oppression – and I extend that to the private sphere. Those rights should be as equal as possible between everyone, without special treatment either positive or negative. I believe we should work as hard as we can to maximise people’s opportunities so that everyone has the best possible chance to achieve their full potential.

I’m also an atheist, apparently I’m obliged to mention that.

Overriding anything else I think or believe, pragmatism and correct information has to come first. Effective action can only proceed from accurate facts, and pragmatism requires compromise where such is possible without losing touch with those base principles.

You may have heard things about me that seem to be in conflict with these ideals. There is a lot of bullshit going around, mainly – ironically – because I choose to speak up about the regressive, censorious behaviour of others in the industry who – also ironically – often consider themselves progressive. If you want clarity, my door is always open.

Behind all this is, of course, is an argument over politics, art, political art, the ‘personal as political’ and all that jazz.

Can art be political? Sure. To an extent, we can’t help but project our own politics and worldviews into what we create. This is more obvious in some forms of art than others. That doesn’t mean that art has to be political, nor that it has to beat people over the head with politics.

There’s a term for wilfully, evangelical political art, and that is propaganda.

That’s also behind what I call the ‘Christian Rock Problem’. The reason Christian Rock is so fucking terrible is because it puts its religious message first, over and above the concern of making it any good. This is also why Rage Against the Machine’s breakout album is the only good one they did.

  • So, art can be apolitical.
  • Art can be about politics.
  • Art can be political, and that’s when it becomes propaganda.

Art to any purpose can be worthwhile and beautiful. Even a TV commercial or a cereal box, even a Soviet-era political poster.

In divisive times like this, streaming art and games according to political tribalism only stands to worsen things and to increase the polarising effects we already suffer from social media bubbles, tabloids and tribalistic news channels. Games, hobbies, sports, these are places where we can meet across these lines and understand each other – or they should be. I cannot stand that people are willfully and deliberately politicising these spaces and making the problem worse, not better.

If you are interested in my more political games, feel free to check out The Little Grey Book and @ctiv8.

If there are any specifics you’d like me to clarify my positions on, I’d appreciate the opportunity to do so. Feel free to ask below or via Ask.fm/grimachu

#RPG – Postmortem Studios November Update

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It’s November, and about time for another update, as we Brits look forward to setting shit on fire and blowing things up.

I’m trying to get my PATREON up to over $200 a month. This is primarily to support my work on YOUTUBE, but also supports my blogging and other work. You get access to periodic exclusive content, you can request video topics,  you can get discounts on apparel and books.

As for me, my endless wrangles with the Department of Work and Pensions seem to have come to a (positive) end, which takes off a lot of pressure and allows me to take more risks and invest more in my work in order to get out of that situation, as well as to farm out more work to others.

There will be plenty of openings as we move towards the end of the year and into the new year, for writers (Gor and D6 familiarity a bonus) and for artists (send me your links and portfolios!).

The Darkzel Scholarship will be coming up soon, my regular fundraiser to help out young, impoverished or otherwise hard-up artists. So keep an eye out for that. The fundraiser runs for three months and entries are welcome up to a month after. This year we’ll be returning to the format of providing a lump, ‘prize’, sum to one lucky applicant.

Postmortem Studios will have its own, censorship-free site next year for direct sales, insulating me from issues on existing sales sites – provided everything goes well – and I hope to be able to provide a safe haven for other, censored RPG and nerd-media writers there too.

Nanowrimo? Not sure, maybe, if I do it’ll be short stories.

While I have you, remember that my new Twitter accounts are @mort_post and @grimasaur, and given that G+ is going the way of the dodo, a MeWe account too. See you there!

Anyway, fire away with any questions or suggestions and I’ll try to get cracking!

#RPG – Grimdark – Characters

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Art by Maxime Defoulny

So these rules are really me brainstorming how I would need to change the rules of D&D to better fit the ‘grimdark’ setting I am intending to crowdfund in the near future.

D&D is great for all sorts of games, but as a ‘general’ rules set doesn’t particularly excel at being anything other then D&D. Lamentations of the Flame Princess and other, hardcore ‘old school’ games hark back to the extreme peril of playing low-level characters in Gygaxian misery-dungeons, and often have a grind-house/grind-core heavy metal aesthetic, veering more towards horror than fantasy.

That’s great and all, but I want to do something with 5e, to appeal to people on a basis of more than nostalgia and to provide a familiar, but different, experience for people who are new to role-playing and have entered through the popularity of 5th Edition.

There’s something of a fetish for super-difficult games in computing, from Darkest Dungeon, Salt and Bloodborne to the Infamous, Dark Souls. Tabletop games are different, you can’t learn or hone the skill of the game or learn the attack patterns of the monsters, character builds can be optimised, but that tends to diminish the role-play. Difficulty, then, has to come from the sense to play tactically, carefully, swing the advantage in your favour and to deal with difficult and horrifying roleplaying and decision making.

We need to take that, lustrous, heroic edge off 5th Edition’s default rules-set to amp up the difficulty and make people play more carefully, but without turning it into a total meatgrinder.

Let’s talk about characters then…

Species

In the setting I am envisioning you would only be able to play humans. So far as the types go otherwise, there isn’t really anything much else that needs to be done. As a default the human traits – especially the variant ones – go a long way to helping compensate for bad rolls at character creation, mixing self-determination and the ‘hardcore’ nature of the ‘straight roll’ character generation – which I would foresee being the standard rules…

To read this full article, please donate $1 a month on my Patreon to get articles like this, access to me and discounts on apparel and PDFs of RPGs. You can get many of the same perks (but fewer) by following me on Minds.com and donating 1 token a month.

#MayRPGQ2018 Who do you want to play with more than anything and why?

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Just one person, and you do mean a game, right, not sexy shenanigans?

A lot of people would have said Gary Gygax, up until his death, and to an extent I can agree with that. To see the ur-Dungeon Master’s take on how the games he spawned should be played. Then again, from everything I’ve read and seen, his way of running games is counter to what I consider enjoyable…

To continue reading this, and other articles, please consider subscribing to me on Patreon for as little as $1 a month, or on Minds.com for 1 token a month. You’ll also get access to me for questions and support, and discounts on games and apparel.

#RPG – Tales of Gor Support Groups

207667If you like Tales of Gor (the Open D6 system published by us) then feel free to join one or all of these support groups for people who play the game. I’ll be there and present to answer questions as much as I can and you can share game ideas, beasts and NPCs there between each other, along with adventure ideas and so on.

There is a group on G+ (please keep in mind that G+ frowns on explicit material) HERE.

There is a group on Facebook (please keep in mind that the above goes double for FB) HERE.

If you prefer things uncensored and unfiltered and are migrating away from the big platforms, MINDS is a new social media contender and has a free expression stance. So there’s also a group for Gor HERE.

I don’t really go in much for dividing up my fans into discrete game communities, but there is a support group for Machinations of the Space Princess too, HERE.

Hope to see some of you there, where there’s a demand I may consider opening up new groups for games later on.

#RPG Zelart Scholarship – More New Art For Sale

Another artist’s work added to the Zelart Scholarship section of our stock art collection. Giedrius has created two full colour pieces of art for science fiction work. You can use these pieces for personal or professional projects – subject to the attached licence – after purchase HERE. 

#RPG – Tales of Gor – The Turian Gambit RELEASED

221585Buy it HERE in PDF
Buy it HERE in hardcopy

Long ago something precious was hidden amongst the wagon people to keep it safe. Now it seems something else – a key to the Game of Worlds – may be hidden amongst the savage and vicious people of the Plains of Turia.

This booklet contains an adventure, heavy on tribalism, diplomacy, and ingratiation, as well as additional rules for chases and pursuits – as well as the games of the Wagon People.

Ta Sardar Gor!