Who will save the Children!

So Games Workshop, the EA of nerds, is releasing a range of childrens books set in the 40k universe. You reckon that people would be happy that GW, admittedly as a business,  is helping kids get into the hobby with literacy and a range of diverse characters that will give the readers characters they identify with?

Really? You answered yes? You don’t know nerds do you?

You see these books, will apparently, dilute the lore. Somehow children will make the world of warhammer more childish……

So there is a lot to unpack here and as a nerd I feel my opinion matters….which may be the point of this entire thing.

gw
First of all lets look at the elephant in the room. Warhammer 40k is often looked at as a dark satire in the vein of 2000AD, Eagle or even the work of Alan Moore. That very British use of darkness and extremes to  look at society and concepts through a dark lens.

To be fair early on Rogue Trader had bits of that and many of the books deal with very cool stuff, but it is not the bastion of dark satire it is held up to be, often it is teen power fantasies punching gods of living metal to death while shouting ‘for the emperor’. The idea that at some level some kids books might dilute the background of a game marketed at teenagers seems a little disingenuous. Sure there are demonic sex crabs and fascism is a theme that runs through the game world to the point I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Emperor is actually Nigel Farage, but really will a book about kids fighting skull faced murder bots really dilute this?

The answer is no.

Of course others will say ‘but the source material isn’t appropriate!’ as if a writer can’t deal with other bits of it. It’s the same argument as saying ‘you cant do young james bond books! Because of the content.’ Cause a writer cant do young bond without alcholalism, fucking, mysogony and murder….

Again it’s a strawman argument.

Some detractors may even point to the removal of the pole dancer sculpts of the Deamonettes (totally a 50s northern soul band) as the thin end of the wedge, that this is the slow but sure mainstreaming of GW. It isn’t. If anything GW is trying to stay afloat and make money and money is not with a vocal minority of self entitled grown children. It is in bringing new blood in, appealing to people outside the demographics you might sit in.

But also lets be very clear 40k has been around for a while and some of the customers GW sell to have kids now. Daughters and Sons they want to bring into the hobby. You know what? that’s cool, the idea you can sit down with your kid and share your nerdy hobby? To be able to sit and read a story to your daughter about a female archaeologist in the far future who fights robot monsters. To be able to talk about the imperial guard kid covering his insecurities with bravado and anger with your son. Bloody hell GW you may have made some kids books that are apparitional and positive?

But no, because gatekeepers. We can’t have nice things, we can’t move on, we can’t evolve for the better because ‘this is the way it must be.’

And this is the problem, its not the reasons given, it’s ‘OMGAHD I DON’T LIKE THIS BECAUSE IT IS CHANGE.’ And ‘OHMAYGAWD I DON’T LIKE THIS BECAUSE THIS IS NOT HOW I WANT IT TO BE.’

Grow the fuck up you gun line Tau player and get some perspective.

We exist in this weird space in nerd culture where evolution, trying new things and experimenting is…bad? I mean how did this happen? Nerd culture was a place for imagination, creativity but more and more (and I’m going to include lrp in this) we seem to be less creative and inclusive and more and more like a 50 year old accountant living in Kent terrified of change and immigrants.

If 40k is a satire, if it’s a takedown of authoritarian states, if its mocking the idea of people walking in lock step, if its poking fun at bureaucracies making giving out edicts and you don’t see the inherent irony of telling people kids are not allowed because it doesn’t gel with your gatekeeper attitude, I feel you may not get 40k or understand the term Satire.

So what am I doing? I’m email GW to say well done, I’m gonna say I will buy those books for the kids I teach, I will thank them for having a diverse cast of characters, I’m going to thank them for giving the girls in my class characters they can enjoy, but most of all I’m going to say thank you, cause if I was a kid I’d read the fuck out of those book.

Feel free to email in to so its not a vocal minority of self entitled man children shouting, cause a) fuck ‘em and b) even if it’s just for their tears.

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Warframe. Ethical gaming.

 

So i dont review computer games, i write about lrp and mental health. That’s what i do, however yesterday was pretty heavy and with the gaming industry currently being kicked to death by EA, Activision Blizzard and Take Two etc, to find something that is actually ethical, fun and stupidly deep for free is a breath of fresh air.

I mean me and computer games, if add that i go full nerd.

Thing is me and Destiny have fallen out. I don’t think isn’t Destiny’s fault. Activision Blizzard and Bungie got in between us, Destiny has changed. We just aren’t the same anymore, either of us. Destiny has become a gold digger because of the publishers it’s hanging out with and I, well i am less naive. I can’t defend Destiny’s faults anymore. My friends warned me, they told me Destiny was no good for me, i didn’t listen when they said Destiny would break my heart.

Oh how i should have listened.

 

Oh how heartbroken i was.

But it’s okay i’m seeing Warframe now. Warframe knows who it is and won’t be swayed by baubles or bright engrams.

To be fair it’s actually worth looking at Digital Extremes, the people behind Warframe, their business practices and history. Activision Blizzard or EA they are not. Go look, its an interesting story.

So Warframe, why have i fallen in love with this game?

 

Well it’s been a complicated history, i actually played it for a few weeks back when it was new and shiny and i hated it. I loved the visuals, the art style and the cool ideas, but the game seemed a little on the sparse side. So i got bored and wandered off. Why did i come back? Well mainly because i wanted something simple to blat around with and it’s free. It’s also very much improved.


But before i get into this, this is not a game that holds your hand, it has Eve online learning curves and doesn’t really want to tell you anything. It is a game that rewards research and learning about it. What’s a Cephelon fragment and how do you scan it? Well Warframe sure as fuck won’t tell you, and neither will your stupid space cat. Thankfully the forums where players help other players out are awesome and obviously there is a pile of youtube videos, just be careful to not spoil the story. Because there is one in there and its excellent. If Warframe has a flaw is it could probably do with explaining itself a lot better, but we will get to that. I mean it’s not a major issue, i grew up with computer games in cassette cases with badly photocopied instructions.

So what is it? At its core it’s a fast moving run, gun and stab mmo game with parkour, stealth, resource management and space magic. But it is a lot more than that. Under the fast moving shooter is a complicated and deep system of modifications, damage types and learning how the various powers fit together and how they interact with the enemy.

 

A typical mission will have set objectives to fulfill which you complete before heading to an extraction point. From stealth and platform spy missions, fast moving capture missions to kill everything. The joy however is the movement, jumping and flipping from surfaces, flying through there air aiming shots at enemies, wall running, bullet jumping, beautiful ‘look this is how to do it Ass Creed’ movement. The movement is fast, fluid and most importantly intuitive.

Along with movement there is solid gunplay and melee mechanics backed up with the various warframes abilities that compliment or enhance various play styles. Want to play like metal gear solid meets the predator? There’s a warframe for that. Want to wade through the enemy not caring about damage? Meet Rhino. Are you an annoying prick who needs to burn in a dumpster fire? Why not play Limbo.

 

The third strand is collecting loot to build more warframes, weapons and other things. Its very easy to feel you have to buy components to build things with the real world currency, but this is not the kind of game EA or Activision Blizzard would release. If you stick with it resources start to pour in and you realise that the limited resources early on were to stop you building everything and becoming swamped. Now it would be easy to level a criticism of pay to win at it if it didn’t have the mastery system. As you gain power you access mastery challenges that test your skills and what you have learned. Equipment has a mastery rank and you cannot access it till you have completed the appropriate mastery rank. This stops you from buying the best weapons. And to be clear when you have a robot helper sweeping all your stuff up (fuck you space cat) grinding is actually back flipping through the air with a pair of machine pistols you can’t pronounce the name of gunning down an armoured giant with a minigun while on fire.

 

The game then has good mechanics, is fun to play, has a grind system that isn’t that grindy and wants you to support the game with cash, but doesn’t hide its prices in loot boxes and is proud to say ‘ninjas play free’ or rather if play the game you never have to pay for it, but you should….because people have made a thing you are using. From my point of view i have been more than willing to pay for some cosmetic skins that i can see the price of to support a game i have put 100 plus hours into to support a company that listens to its community and conducts its business without shady practices.

 

However there are other amazing threads to this game. Visuals, storytelling, depth of the mod system and the way it introduces mechanics.

 

From a storytelling point of view it is a gold mine. It is the very definition of show but don’t tell. From when you wake up with no memory to conversations with The Lotus and Ordis the world gets built around you as you experience it. Even things like interference in a picture can yield information about someone’s past. Slowly the your story unveils step by step without huge exposition dumps, but the use of cut scenes without dialogue, chatter between characters or sudden events in a mission. Even the murderous prick <redacted> serves a story point, rather than just being a random mission speed bump.

 

All of these things build towards giving you an opportunity to ease into the world without exposition dumps and learn skills slowly so you actually have a chance when you are firing yourself out of an ancient pipe organ shooting targets to open the next one to land in to carry on up a cathedral like edifice. Any more context to that is a spoiler, just really Warframe? Why do do you hate me so much?

 

And that’s the thing you don’t need to read a book to understand whats going on. The plot is simple with emotional depth and the world is simple to understand, but with lore that is not typical of a western or eastern sci fantasy.

 

And that brings us to the art style. It borrows from the west and east. There are influences from China, India, Japan, Brutalism, Italy, Cinema and Anime. Yet it has a coherent and theoretically grounded visual. The oddity of Corpus crew helmets to the Greneer cyberpunk Tetsuo vibe they are held together by colour palette and visual cues. And it is alien. The look of this world is not typical. It owes more to Heavy Metal, Mobius or David Lynch than it does to Star Wars or Akira. It truly is an alien world to look at where humanity has wiped out wildlife and its been restocked with things created with gene manipulation. Where a dead ruling eleite used to <redacted>.  Even the ‘normal’ humans of Cetus do not look quite right. Where Mass Effect borrows from westerncentric 60s and 70s sci fi covers, Warframe seems to pull its influences from more subversive and fringe elements such as Yes album covers.

 

Oh and it’s not sexy….The characters are not over sexualised. Sure Saryn has an hourglass figure, but she also has horrific growths in her leg filled with diseases. And as you go through the game you realise that it really would not be appropriate to over sexualise anyone in it, i mean really inappropriate.  The Lotus has a boob window, but trust me if you don’t think of it as something quite weird and creepy by Pluto you may need therapy.

And then the tile sets, until recently the game was set inside well designed tilesets that were made to jump bounce and run around. They are beautiful and serve as amazing playgrounds. And then Cetus happened….the outside. Kilometers of play area with a day night cycle, no loading of zones and that thing on the skybox you can see? Yeah you will be climbing that. The beautiful golden grass, industrial machines, lakes and streams full of fish. All serve a purpose. Yes i will be going fishing, mining and hunting giant monsters….bugger guess i won’t be getting the new Monster Hunter. AAA games please pay attention. If you are doing open world MMO light stuff, the standard for a play area has been set.

 

So what’s wrong with this game? Well…..it wont hold your hand, some of its systems are obtuse and if you don’t like grind and commitment this is not for you. The grind certainly isn’ version 1 WoW, but it is there. You will spend time going ‘i want to build x and Nitan only comes from alerts, fuck you warframe.’ You will feel resource starved at the start but as you progress ou pick a lot up and resources come quick and fast, don’t be tempted to spend real money.
Also it is a deep game. Knowing how to build a weapon to gain high status chance to fuel a condition overload mod at the same time as tailoring it for armoured enemies is not something intuitive. Knowing what a Zar is? How to make one? Thankfully the community is a lot less toxic than most and help (it makes the Lrp scene look like the inferno) and resources like Warframe Wiki are really really good along with Youtubers like Tactical Potato, the beginners guide on Playstation grenade and Readheadredemptions intro video.

So It looks pretty, has great depth in mechanics and background, has an ethical business model that is considered the most consumer friendly in the industry, is fast fluid fun when you actually want it. The thing is there is a lot here in a free game. If this was on a shelf to buy i’d buy it, it’s better quality than most AAA titles, that are now trying to manipulate money out of you, has more features and frankly better game play. Activision Blizzard and Bungie are strangling their game with greed and EA monitisation documents around Anthem are leaking. Between this and Senya’s Sacrafice the AAA industries cries of ‘its expensive, we need more money’ seem to smack of lies or poor business management.
And to be clear Digital Extremes are a company, they are not your mate. But they seem, unlike the above companies, want to engage with their community, do not roll out social issues as marketing tools and put their prices up front rather than trying to manipulate the vulnerable into spending money on glorified gambling.

And when a game like Warframe says this is how much a skin will cost and you can build everything else in game OR pay this fixed price for it kinda throws Overwatch’s business model for a full price game into EA territory. But then Diablo 3 market place……

 

Oh and if you really want to see the difference between this and Destiny 2? You can move the spaceship on the loading screen since 2015 in Warframe. Just that little detail speaks volumes to the differences in approach by the two companies.

I love Destiny, i love the universe, i loved the game, but the developers and publishers are strangling it. Plus now i have a space cat……stupid bloody thing.

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My big fat white male guilt.

‘The cost of an open liberal society is that we have serial criminals. Murderers and worse. If we had a stricter society people would be less likely to display aberrant behaviour.’

 

Thats a quote from the red dragon group, the bunch of profilers who left to create a consultancy team. Why? Because in a society that is accepting we tend to overlook the strange and odd, some of which are signifiers of something worse because we want a society that is open and accepting. Which is the right thing.

 

However do we have to pay that cost? Or rather this is a serious intro into should we tolerate some of the worst behaviours in or communities and social groups?

 

I’d argue no.

 

To be clear i’m a white middle aged man, sure my sexuality is pretty fluid, but if you look at me you will make certain assumptions, unless i talk about my mental health or sexuality you are not going to judge me or sexualise me. Yes i have been on the receiving end of homophobia and two serious sexual assaults, but generally my life is peachy. You are not going to patronise me because of a characteristic or decide i cannot do something. You are not going to tell me to go home, you are unlikely to grab me. I’m lucky. I hate the word privilege, mainly because it makes me think of reward cards, but i have better odds in life due to genetics. To argue against that would be stupid. So to be clear everything going in is from a white male, sure i have been a victim of some of the things here, but still it’s not everyday.

Also i am not perfect, i have been a prick in my life, I have around the age of thirteen been very sad someone hasnt wanted to date me and felt it has been a right to be in a relationship. Yeah okay i was thirteen, but i think that speaks very clearly to the mindset that feels that entitlement. Hell i thought i was supportive of women till my friend Harriet sat me down and really explained feminism to me and entrenched sexist ideas. I was such a white knighting twat. I still am, but i try not to be.
And the last thing? Over the last year i have discovered my communication between what i trying to say and what i am saying is don’t always match up. Just saying in case someone feels what i’m saying is squanky.

So what am i wanting to get to?

 

The idea that we actually ignore socially unacceptable behaviour.

 

Now i was going to talk about this in the lrp scene, but realistically it’s not just there. We seem to be ahead of the game because we are bothering to tackle and discuss this.

So in my time i have seen racist crew espousing right wing beliefs, was one of the reasons i have taken a break from a system. I have seen women talked about along the lines of who you should sleep with depending on how skanky you are over the period of an event, i have seen generally liberal people defending casual sexism, i have heard more stories about sexual harassment than i ever wanted to, domestic violence, people being told by white middle class people what they should and shouldn’t be offended about, child exploitation and sexual assault. And we can both put names to those can’t we? Some are open secrets, some are even sick running jokes. Yeah, that’s a problem isn’t it?

 

And i’m part of the problem.

Because i dont always call people on it. Sure i have policey, like many small lrps of running a ban list of people i will not have at an event I have control over, sure i grunt the right noises, make sure policies are in place, take reporting seriously etc. But i dont always call people on stuff.

 

Why? Well sometimes it’s hard. How to you say ‘actually that’s unacceptable?’ when you are the only person in the room? How to you deal with ‘it’s okay he’s alright’ or ‘well we just keep an eye on it, we know but what can you do?’ I mean it’s uncomfortable, it’s difficult, i don’t want someone judging me because i’m spoiling their fun or pointing out that sexual predation is not okay….

Oh wait, i feel uncomfortable, i might be socially ostracised, people might not listen to me or give weight to what i’m saying? Shit poor me. I mean it’s not like anyone suffers from this day to day.

 

It’s an uncomfortable feeling being culpable. Because i am. Because if i know something bad is happening and i ignore it there is culpability. If i enable, if i support, if i laugh along im culpable.

I don’t get to stand behind the defence of ‘well im liberal generally’, i don’t get to say ‘well it’s just him and he’s generally a good guy’ and if i say nothing i have to take some of the responsibility.

 

So in education we take child protection seriously. If a child is in danger and we ignore it we are culpable, we have a duty of care. In fact im training as a designated child protection lead, and most of the horror stories end up where someone wasn’t believed, something wasn’t reported, someone didn’t act.

 

Fundamentally my silence makes me culpable and i need to speak out. To be clear not everyone can. Sometimes personal circumstance means you cant, sometime we are limited by what we can effectively do or deal with

 

So here is the other uncomfortable truth. People don’t say things because they are used to being ignored. Yeah there is a system that uses ‘don’t say anything, it will be bad for the hobby.’
How you can say that to a victim i don’t know. Or my favourite ‘Our system doesn’t have that problem’ with the golden reply of ‘Yes it does, just no one says anything because they don’t know how.’ Everytime we say ‘oh this is just political correctness’ or ‘Oh it’s just him’ we are forcing someone who may be a victim of a serious sexual assault, bullying, homophobia or racism to feel that cannot say anything. That they are isolated and have no one to speak to. Everytime we give permission or normalise shitty behaviour we are driving this more and more underground.

 

Hell even this blog is a problem. If i was a woman writing this, it would often be seen as feminist rubbish. How fucked up is that? That as a white male i can talk about women’s and minority issues with greater acceptance?

 

The third strand to this is broken steps. We dont fix the step and just step over it. We ignore that behaviour, we work around that problem person. We make sure X isn’t left alone with them, we jokingly say ‘oh well he’s just old fashioned’ when the N word gets chucked around.’ That’s an issue. Why?

 

Well that known problem rocks up to somewhere they are not known they then become a danger. People will actively avoid a system because of fear, intimidation or just wanting to avoid more of the lifelong abuse they may have suffered. When we work round the Racist/Sexual predator/homophobe/sexist etc we are really saying ‘That person should be worked round as the people they harm are less important.’

 

Yeah so this is pretty heavy stuff, but it came from a conversation at the weekend where we discussed some experiences of victims of this shit and how frustrated they were at how they had to put up with this. That their lives were being impacted by people who frankly should be burning in dumpster fires.

 

So what should we do? I think we should be able to discuss this without fear, we should make sure there are policies in place, we shouldn’t make excuses, people like me should try to do better, we shouldn’t make excuses for stupid stuff and we should challenge this stuff firmly while maintaining the dignity of our position (and by that i mean i have a awful temper and am prone to acting like a raging hot head. I should not do that.), we should be confident to say ‘actually i don’t want your money, please leave my site’, we should not expose people to frankly predatory people and we need to give victims support rather than being angry for them.

On that last one, if im angry because something has happened to someone, that’s my anger. By expressing it i’m making it about me, not what the victim needs or wants. Sure my first reaction might be unreasoning violence, but that’s my problem, not a solution and can make victims feel that coming forwards is more difficult. Again this comes from me failing and learning rather than me giving white male advice, this comes from me being told i was being a wanker more interested in my own sense of justice than what a victims needs and wants are. I am far from perfect.

Of course this is just words, unless we back it up with action its meaningless. It’s just another blog post saying ‘hey look at me i understand bad things happen and they shouldn’t i will be over here feeling smug.’ And i don’t feel smug, i just feel ashamed. I feel ashamed i haven’t said things when i could of, I am ashamed my anger and self righteousness was more important than a victims needs, I am ashamed that i don’t speak out all the time and i am ashamed that i tolerate broken steps so i don’t rock the boat. We all know who the dangerous people in our community are and yet i haven’t challenged it, their next victim is my fault as i said nothing. No number of blog posts or ‘hey you are one of the good folk’ makes that go away, those times where i could of acted are on me, always. All i can do is do better. So I will give people deposits back and tell them they are not welcome at my games, I will call out stuff in front of me and i won’t be involved in systems that don’t have systems of reporting, i won’t accept that x is ‘just a bit handsie and that’s okay’ and fuck me are open secrets of sexual predators no longer okay anymore because when five people can say x did this to me it is not silly hysterics, its a pattern of sexual harassment and assault and is a danger to others. I will try harder, i will fail, i will end up looking stupid, but embarrassment and learning is small price in comparison to people who feel intimidated and fearful everyday.

And if this is all just me being a libtard cuck, its okay you can ignore me, you can still go and masturbate to sexy black drow in your second ed d and d source books that you hide from your parents under your bed. You can tell yourself that you were right to do the things you have done, that your acts are fine, that people are overreacting.
Dont worry, your name never comes up in hushed tones. Your racism is never discussed, your sexism isn’t a point talked about by game runners, no one ever says we hope you don’t come because of your history of domestic violence and certainly we won’t be dragging your sexually preaditorial behaviour into light. You will be fine, but you might want to change your behaviour just in case.

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hADES:Odins Fall the after thoughts.

‘This will get complaints’

That is my general thought process when i write something for Hades. I genuinely spend the weeks running up to Hades terrified i have crossed a line. I actually asked a friend ‘Does dealing with the use of financial slavery in the sex industry cross a line if i use it in a game?’ I mean i only ask people who will enable me, but the thought is still there i suppose.

Well that or worrying that the spectre of nihilistic existentialism is probably not going to make the most charismatic villain.

‘Woooooo i’m the works of Sartre, fear me.’

Not that terrifying, unless you are a first year philosophy student with an assignment due or in your mid forties staring down mortality.

So the second Hades ran, it ran well i think, so i may as well put my thoughts down.

Straight off the mark i have a fantastic crew and players. The thing would not work if they didn’t get it. The crew is amazing and as a writer i’m not so precious that i won’t just let them make stuff up. It works. I trust them. Some of the encounters that went out were just crew riffing off stuff the players did and more importantly Saturday night there were crew suggesting encounters based off what they had seen or that gelled with the world and the things in it for the next event. One idea left me blown away at how clever it is.

I think this organic growth is really  important to the game and has changed my attitude to writing, the next one will be more collaborative. Previously my attitude is i’m writing it so if it falls over it’s on me and if it works it’s on all of us. Certainly the creativity in the crew room was amazing and felt as if anyone could just pitch something without anyone being rude, but also i could still say no and no one would be offended. It was almost as if a bunch of adults were collaborating.

no-ghost

And to be clear some stuff didn’t work, or at least not the way i wanted. One bad brief by me was very noticeable. The cool thing is i know that’s on me and i know how to fix it. That along with some narrative and tonal issues stemming from incomplete new ideas meant that i need to now build and scaffold around them in the next game.

I am pretty fatalistic in my post event analysis, not because everything is awful, but i think it’s very important to acknowledge what you need to improve rather than brush it off. I’m always faintly amused when people say stuff like ‘it’s the players’ or ‘crew didn’t do it right’. Rather i see it as poor briefs and not enough signposting to information. After all people can only work with what you give them.

Huh just read back over that lot and it reads like everything was on fire. Actually, other than the toilets, everything was incredibly smooth. It ran well and was a good game (I say that now, but i didn’t count the players or crew off site so one of them could be dead in a bush…) That’s down to an amazing team of crew that carry zero drama, work hard and are trusted to just do stuff while i flounce around being a creative.

The next bit that will be important is the feedback, i like feedback. It helps me develop stuff. You kinda have to be thick skinned and be able to say to yourself ‘well that’s what i wanted from the game and will stick to my vision for it’ but it highlights important stuff you may miss. Maybe that’s the teacher in me. Not all feedback is valid. For example if running a fantasy game the feedback ‘needs more spaceships’ is probably not something you are going to use. However for me it highlights stuff i might miss, if the game is running along the lines i want it to and stops me from assuming that i’m right about everything. 

I mean i am right about everything, but it’s nice to pretend to be humble. If you assume feedback is constructive criticism you are all good.

 

All of this sounds like hard work, and on one level it is. It’s really hard graft to run games. But it’s not bad hard work.

The reality is i’m bloody lucky. I get to write and run games. I get to pour out what’s in my head and other people act it out. I get to have an idea and put it in a field. You can’t really complain can you? I have people who come as volunteers and crew for me. How cool is that? I have people who pay money to make events happen and want to play in the thing what I made. I mean that’s amazing isn’t it? I mean how many people in the world actually get to say that? The idea that crew or players are a burden seems alien to me. They are literally giving me an opportunity to do something I couldn’t do without them.

Mind you that might be because I’m running small stuff i love or it could be because I would actively discourage people from playing if i felt they wouldn’t enjoy it. I mean Hades may not be for you, certainly the low combat, minimal rules and heavy emphasis on role-play is not for everyone.

And that’s okay. There is no perfect lrp that will fit everyone, I mean it’s okay to have lammies, it’s okay to have complex rules. As long as it works within context of your vision and logistics. I mean everytime i see a lammie i want to engage in Saw like torture games with narwhales, but that’s my issue.

That comes back to not everything is for everyone and that we need to acknowledge that and take personal responsibility for it. Recently i was vaguely contentious in saying that bigger games are not necessarily better and that it was better to stick to your creative vision than change to chase numbers. But then i’m a monster that doesn’t think that every game is for everyone and that trying to be Empire or CP isn’t necessarily good unless you are Empire or CP.

 

So once that’s done it’s time to write the next one with a slightly bigger player number New player tickets after the old players and invited players have decided yes or no). But before then i need to put my feet up and plan the next project. Something something sci fi something something.

 

I’m proud of Hades, it’s a good game, it works. It’s not for everyone. But what is?

 

But I’m prouder of my crew that makes it happen, who leave me in awe. I’m prouder of my players who bring it to life. Because to be proud of Hades it means I am proud of the people that make it happen, they are so intrinsically bound up in the experience of making a game that it would be arrogant to not acknowledge that.

Like i said before. Good games run off good crew and players and I just need to do my job right to provide the tools, story and support for them to do it.

 

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Anxiety, Perveseration and Catastrophic thinking.

So I write these from time to time, partly because I’ve been told they help people, but mainly because its better than letting it bounce around my head like a .22 round. Its interesting since i started writing these how many people have said ‘Yeah I know, i thought it was just me.’ In many ways that makes me sad, i’d kinda be happier if it was just me, no one should really have to deal with it (well other than us folk with it, who half the time think we deserve it for some made up sin our brains have decided to beat us with).

Hmm that analogy was darker than it should of been. Perhaps running round your brain like an excitable puppy?

The thing with depression is you perveserate. Its a real word. You keep coming back to things over and over. Its stuck there, you can’t let go of it.

The rational part of your head knows all those little things are not true, don’t matter or can be sorted. Thing is the other bit eats at that rationality.  That bit of your brain where depression lives grins and dicks with you.

Catastrophising is a term they use in CBT.

You predict a negative outcome

The negative outcome is going to be a catastrophic.

Well its not that simple, or it can be. Good examples are things like i will fail at x, everything hangs of x, everything will be awful. I mean that’s the simplified version, the here is how it works version.

Thing is if it was that easy CBT and Mindfulness or the profound words of sky pixies would fix it. Its more insidious than that.

In short those thoughts that keep sticking in your head are the worst possible outcome and they wont go away. Everything ends up muddied by them, they force their way into everything.

And it goes round your head like a hamster in a wheel (see that’s cuter than the .22 isn’t it?). You see the patterns, you fight the assumptions, but in any given situation you are often struggling to enforce rationality on a brain that is running on past experience and a fear of hoping for a positive outcome. Its exhausting. Its easier to assume that everything will fall to shit than actually think things will be okay. You aren’t dissapointed if stuff goes wrong. Trust me looking forward to stuff is hard when your general outlook is you will be let down, fail or it will fall apart.

Problem is living like that fuels the depression and anxiety, you don’t have anything to look forward to so why bother. It feeds on itself, like a really gloomy serpent with a tail fetish. probably best not to google that….

And if you do bother you are fighting that bit of you that is telling you its going to go wrong, you are going to fail, you are going to be hit by falling satellites if you go out to the shops. All the time that bit of your brain is saying its going to go wrong and you are wrestling it down.  And that bit of your brain will tell say ‘yeah you might be positive, but how about this, the past evidence says its going to explode’ and it runs round your head. You having to reconcile what your bad guy is saying, the facts and an attempt at the positive.

You perveserate on it, like touching a sore tooth with your tongue.

So what does this mean day to day? Well other than being incredibly hard work to concentrate on anything at all, it means i’m working twice as hard to focus, function or human.

It means that i will over analyses evidence and over think, constantly. Every little thing is data that can fuel this anxiety and perveseration and worse when things do go wrong it just reinforces it.

There are tricks to deal with it, writing lists and actually writing down what the worst thing that could happen and then actually checking the likelihood helps. Certainly with the more irrational moments of ‘i’m likely to be kidnapped by Scooby Doo.’ But for the ones with history? actual confirmed disasters? Yeah those ones are a bitch. You write your list, use your CBT and come up with ‘Um, yeah its actually likely cause its happened.’

All you do then is act on faith and hope.

Us depressive types don’t work on hope, its impossible to play that game.

So is there an answer to this that is helpful? Not really. Its a work hard at it and make leaps of faith. Forcing yourself to actually trust things will be okay. Its hard, but its worth it. As for the things running round our heads? Well yeah they are still there, you just fight back against them.

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It cant snow all the time.

It can’t snow all the time to paraphrase The Crow soundtrack. I’m listening to it a lot at the moment.

The term snowflake gets chucked around in lrp like it’s a blizzard, but what does it mean and why does it matter. More importantly i’m gonna expand on a friends fb post that you wont have seen, but sums up a lot of the frustration game runners across the country are having at the moment, which at its core boils down to entitlement.

So every snowflake is beautiful and unique, I can spend hours staring at photos of them. And the reality is that every lrp character should be unique and different, after all we are portraying people not our stats right?

Riggghhhht.

My character might have a phobia or spiders, yours might be lazy. We might be in the same faction and both be knights, but you are a knight  of slaying dragons and I am a knight of the order of emo. We are different. Our portrayal of them and the actions they take make us stand out. More importantly personality and emotion will define our behaviour in the face of an antecedent.  Hard skill charisma is op as oft said. Character progression is not your xp it is your characters story arc, this arc will be unique because your characters unique personality and quirks will define their actions, those actions creating a unique story and person who develops over time. yes you are a snow flake, but a good one. Your magic powers do not make you unique and interesting, the reasons you went after them, the story of how you learned them, your training montage, the old wizard who taught you how to fart magic bubbles are the important bits.

Being a snow flake is not bad.

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Being a fucking snowflake is different however…..those words uttered in back rooms across systems with venom and tears.

You see the brief is a thing, is written so we don’t get time travelling fae space pirates in a low fantasy system.

But specifically I want to talk about the most amusing of things that came up, the bit my friend mentioned. Snowflaking for in game advantage.

See if you want the thing in lrp you normally have to fulfil the criteria. You want to buy the sword you pay for it (or steal lit and deal with the in character consequences). We pretty much agree on this, pay the godamn piper before you eat your maggot filled cake.

What are we talking about?

Elves and resources. Most systems you can play an elf (or analogy) and quite often it will be hit with a ‘Must have comedy ears and probably has one less hit, but you get extra magic and lie about being imortal’. All good? Yup except there is always one isn’t there. That guy. ‘But my character worked out as a child and is half dragon so I don’t need the ears and I am not missing that extra hit.

And that is when the words ‘Fucking snowflake’ are uttered. You are an anecdote at ref meetings, you are the thing we discuss when comparing the systems we work on. Yes you are the centre of attention. Just really not in a good way.

See what you are doing is walking up to the sword seller and not stealing the sword or paying for it, you are demanding it because you are special, because you are entitled to the sword. Because you are so much better than the people who have to pay for it.

You are so important, you matter more than everyone else. Those other people are nothing more than plebs before your rp majesty. You matter more than other people. And they understand, they adore you for it. The ref team agree you should be treated differently, they tell other systems how awesome you are,  that you are a more important customer. That you are a perfect example of lrp and thus your Half dragon elf with all the advantages and none of the disadvantages is important enough to break the systems continuity and rich background for.

Oh wait no, you’re a tosser.

In the same way that ‘if you give the bad person the keys to the kingdom they will give you immortality’ You don’t get to complain it’s not fair you can’t have immortality without handing over the keys.  You don’t get to throw the ring into Mt Doom without your friends dying and becoming obsessed with the ring.  I imagine some people in this situation arguing that they are being oppressed by the game team because they can’t just use the eagles to get there…..while poor old Gandolf sits drinking an energy drink in the crew room because Frodo told him to sod off when he rocked up to his door.

Pay the piper before your maggot cake.

I don’t use snowflake as a term anymore other than in jest aimed at friends.  I use terms like self entitled, man child and obnoxious instead now. Oh and some other words not fit to publish in polite society.

And if you are sad and offended? Feel free. I’m sure you will get over it.

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Probably a bad idea to discuss.

Your genitals shouldn’t define you, its a pretty simple concept. Its like innie and outie belly buttons. I have outie genitals by the way.

Writing this I am very aware that i’m a bloke talking about women in lrp, yeah I’m also aware that this could be shockingly patronising to. So my apologies up front if I say something stupid I’ve wanted to write it for a while but stopped short each time because in my head as a guy its me talking about women’s issues, specifically a man talking about men who relegate women to the back while the men folk talk.

But a conversation this week left me reeling a bit about this subject and by reeling I mean sad and angry.

I have spoken to a lot of folk over the years who feel that they are seen as second class citizens in lrp. That they have to work twice as hard to be recognised as game runners or refs because of their gender.

This is a weird state of affairs most lrps i’m involved in women ref, npc, write plot, run battles and skermishes, do make up, make kit (by kit i’m talking about masks, soft kit, props not just pretty dresses) and doing the same jobs as their outie genital colleagues. Yet a lot of them feel they have to work twice as hard to be considered to equal.

I have seen players double check ref calls a women ref have made with a guy ref, I have seen ref meetings where female refs have been talked over , I have seen female game runners being told how to run their games by imperious blokes, and I have spoken multiple times to people who feel that its testicle club that gets seen as the game makers. That the perception is women work god, npc the ‘female roles’ and make pretty clothes.

My personal favourite was however ‘people assume I’m just x’s partner and not a game runner/writer in my own right.’
That last one hit me very close to home. It’s the reason as a guy i’m writing about something that doesn’t effect me, because it should.

The testicle collective have a responsibility to stop this and challenge this, because if we do not we are part of the problem.

So what should we do? I don’t know really but we need to have a culture change. There should not be a situation where someone has to work twice as hard to prove themselves.

We need to not talk over people, recognise that there is a problem and not be part of it.

For my part i’m going to challenge it when I see it, listen when someone says there is a problem and not just nod my head and make sure I continue to check my thinking.

And we need to. To make statements like ‘just a…’ or to expect women to meekly put up with being relegated to being seen as support cuts out some of the strongest creative minds in our community and some of the best refs we have.

Oh and if you think this is hyperbole and you don’t know anyone treated that way, maybe you aren’t listening?

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