Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Meaningless Problems that Wastes Far Too Much of Our Time.



Over the last few days I've been spending a lot of time exploring role-playing game forums and I'm amazed at the arguments that develop in this hobby where we spend countless hours debating meaningless concepts and attacking things we don't like. What's a Sandbox Game? Why do we always kill Monsters / Players / Non-Player Characters? How do you deal with the Quantum Ogre? Why aren't you Old School / New School? Aren't the guys in TARGA / RPG.net / the RPG site / Your Dungeon is Suck all a bunch of assholes? Who does +Zak Smith / +James Maliszewski+Erik Tenkar+Geoffrey McKinney think he is? Why doesn't everyone want to be a Story Gamer / Hack and Slasher / Free-form, Anti-social, Anarchist?

It's wild to see people losing their minds during these discussions and acting like holding  a different position from their own is the same thing as a hate crime. Yet here I've been reading through these forums and watching people working themselves into a frothing rage because some poor corn gobbler had the temerity to actually like Dragonlance and hate My Little Pony.

Look, I love reading these crazy threads where people feign tears and clutch their figurative bibles to their hearts as they proclaim their opponents fans of the Devil, bestiality, and all things anti-Gygax! So what's your favorite debate? What discussion sucked you down the rabbit hole and got you way too involved?

57 comments:

  1. Half the posts on my bog over the last month have got me worked up. :) ... And I definitely need to stay away from ENWorld. I can't seem to avoid getting sucked in.

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  2. heh - 5e and "that which will not be mentioned for fear it will issue a Fatwa upon us" ;)

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    1. Actually, the best near argument for me was at NTRPG Con the other week. I'm in the hotel bar with my wife, eating pub grub and drinking beers, when this guy comes up from behind me and says:

      "Hey, your Erik Tenkar!"

      "Yep, that's me"

      "You're scruffier in person than in that interview on Youtube I saw you on."

      I had no response. My wife made me buy a shaving kit on the way back to the room.

      Moral of the story - if you aren't a neck-beard, shave at gaming conventions ;)

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    2. Hahahahahhaha!

      That's just so great on every level! :D

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  3. Discussions like those you have described have turned me off gaming and RPG communities online. Petty banalities drive you nuts.

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    1. eh, all it shows is that the OSR encompasses more play styles, more systems, more gamers, more personalities and most importantly - more gaming - than one would expect if all they looked at was their own small corner of the hobby.

      the best thing about the OSR being decentralized is that's it's harder to kill than a Tarrasque ;)

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    2. It's not just the OSR where these discussions occur as I've seen them all over the place and from all manner of posters. I honestly think that part of the problem is that we've got a lot of people who would rather find a reason to put up walls between us then to say it's okay to like different things.

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    3. sure, because walls allow one to attempt to control a segment of a community instead of being a beneficial part of it. I suspect it comes down to power and ego.

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    4. Oh, absolutely.

      Which is so weird when you consider that the people most intent on putting up those walls often are the ones who go on endlessly about how they've been an "outsider" all of their lives. They don't celebrate their love of games but morn everyone else having them.

      A little off topic but this discussion reminds me of an old friend of mine who used to say, "Divisions only weaken us when we use them to define us. What makes us strong is celebrating what makes us similar and enjoying our differences." She was talking about politics but the sentiment works for everything.

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    5. Insightful observation.

      There is always a desire to define things - it's human nature - but broader definitions often work better than narrow ones when dealing with human interactions.

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  4. The one that always gets me is when someone vehemently asserts what "Old School" gaming - usually specifically Old School D&D - is like, down to the details...and those details often differed greatly from anything I experienced while playing during the same era. Just accept that what you experienced was unique to you and your group, and quit trying to tell me what it was like - I was there, too. Don't project what your group did onto all "Old School" gamers (whatever those are).

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  5. I got sucked into a conversation that I want back when someone(s) told me I was essentially playing Dungeon World wrong. This, of course, makes me think of all the other threads that go into how you are playing D&D wrong, you are playing FATE wrong, etc. etc.

    I call these Steve Jobs moments after the infamous "you are holding the phone wrong" email.

    My favorite time sink was a person in a Yahoo group basically telling everyone that they are playing every game wrong, including his own RPG. It's the only time I've ever seen anyone say plainly what all the rest of us are thinking we rail on someone for playing our favortie game wrong. I say we because to my shame, I kept telling people in the 90s that they were playing AD&D wrong because they followed the book. :S

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    1. Awe!

      Just out of curiosity who was the person in the Yahoo group you're talking about?

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    2. I have to look it up. It's an RPG Design group, I think. He has been working on his own system for 10+years (maybe longer), that has a GM, but the GM has absolutely no powers to do anything except describe what is happening.

      I'm looking up the name of the game now.

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    3. That doesn't sound very fun for the DM . . .

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. Okay, i am confusing two different people. The guy that has been working on his own system since 2001 is not the same as the person that said everyone is playing all rpgs wrong.

      I can't find any existence of the person that kept telling all of us we were playing everything wrong, so I figure he left the group.

      The other gentleman is working on a very extensive game with a very detailed character creation system. It is not my cup of tea, but he is not the "you're holding it wrong" guy. His system does *not* take away all power from the GM.

      Confused again. :S

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    6. Cool.

      That said systems with "very detailed character creation" always scare me because those words scream: you will be making a character for six days before you can play!

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  6. I am not a fan of the Old school (OSR or what ever ) versus Story Game dynamic. People get really into it and I have never seen the point. Were all playing RPG's, does it really matter?

    Also to second some of the the respondents, arguing about the "right" way to play a game is silly. Telling me how to GM or how to play a character, is silly. Give advice, give pointers, share what works for you, but please refrain from telling me my fun is wrong.

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    1. But your fun is totally wrong! Look, I'm going to go on the internet and prove it by finding a bunch of jerky-jerks who agree with me and think you're crazy. I'll be back in six hours even if I don't find anyone who agrees with me and tell you you're full of shit.

      Be prepared for the pain, Holmes!

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    2. No, Lets be very clear here. My fun is dirty and off putting , but not wrong..
      ;)

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  7. I remember, before my friends and I discovered D&D, that we basically played RPGs with Star Wars figures, and G.I. Joes. We would set up lots of guys, make all kinds of terrain and scenarios, and we would come up with our own silly rules for these games. Never once did any of us go, "That's not in the rules! You can't do that!" It was all about imagination, and creativity, and fun.

    I know it's a vocal minority, raising a bunch of non-issues, but one thing all the infighting does do is ostracize and intimidate people new to the hobby. One of the first things people do these days is, after they get their first taste of something like RPGs, they take to the internet to research and absorb something new and fascinating. The vitriol, bickering and all around shit behavior will drive away all but the most curious of people.

    Who cares which edition is best? Who cares which rules suck? Just drink a big old cup of shut-the-fuck-up and PLAY! Figure out what works best for you and your group, give a gigantic middle finger to all the Moaning Myrtles, and just play the goddamn game.

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  8. I have been avoiding fights now for about a year. Sure a good old spat increases my views but I get nothing out of it emotionally anymore.

    I don't read message boards much anymore. Did a lot of that in the early 2000s but got over it. I still pop in every so often, but I rarely engage.

    Though there were some boards that I was "banned for life" from. They are not even around anymore, so I guess they made good on that promise.

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    1. "Banned for Life?" Wow, they must have really thought that would bother you.

      People are dumb sometimes.

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  9. I used to get into it about everything. But lately, about the only time I get even remotely confrontational is when I am calling someone out on the douchebaggery you describe. Which is ironic, since that usually starts a massive flame-war about what being a douchebag means.

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    1. "Well, what you fail to realize is that a douchebag is actually a cleaning apparatus that helps people prevent infections and fungal growth. So it's actually a compliment."

      Fucking die on your way home in fire.

      Perhaps it's a good thing that I don't engage on forums . . .

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  10. Hey damnit, I grew up in Wyoming, went to many UW games... why ya gotta use a you-dub picture?

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    1. Because there was no one else on the internet who screamed out "Fuck what you guys think!" more than that man right there. Dude is freaking boss in my book.

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    2. LMAO it's cold thar in Laramie! And at 7200+ feet elevation it's not the most friendly place.

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    3. Have you been down south to one of the big SEC stadiums in late August when even god hates the sun and humidity?

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    4. ROFL I live in Phoenix now... let's talk heat...

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    5. A dry heat that bleaches your bones . . .

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    6. Yeah, its really not bad until monsoon season in late July/August when we get humidity too. Ugly little secret that no one ever mentions when talking about this place.

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  11. "I don't usually argue on the Internet. But when I do..."

    "...I ramble about the moral, ethical, and psychological implications of obscure rules interactions until everyone gets real quiet or goes away."

    --Dither

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    1. Don't even get me started on the implications of being reduced to 0 hit points by attacks that deal Psychic damage.

      --Dither

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    2. I believe the expression is, "Your head asplode."

      --Dither

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    3. Ha!

      Honestly though, what the heck are you on about? I've never even heard of that debate.

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    4. 4e Bard has a couple of at-will powers (Cutting Words/Vicious Mockery) that deal psychic damage. Sure there's magic involved but in both cases the flavor text says you yell insults at them. What does it mean if you kill a creature with one?

      You demoralized them to death?

      --Dither

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    5. Ah!

      I have no idea but now I can't stop wondering about it. Do you remember who was the main author on that book? I don't have any of my 4e stuff with me and I'd like to track them down and ask.

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    6. According to DDI:
      "Vicious Mockery" was printed in PHB2
      (Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt)

      "Cutting Words" was printed in PH Heroes: Series 1
      (Not sure about this one, I've seen it referenced digitally but I've never seen the product itself.)

      In the grand scheme of things, I don't care because the Powers system is great for leveling the playing field for PCs who use ability scores other than Strength to kill stuff.

      But it DOES make for an interesting thought experiment to puzzle out exactly what the implications ARE of each energy type (force, fire, cold, acid, lightning, radiant, thunder, necrotic, poison, psychic) and what they actually DO to a body. :D

      --Dither

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    7. Thinking about things is a very real danger of spending any amount of time conversing with me. ;)

      --Dither

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    8. I asked James Wyatt this morning so hopefully he'll get back to me later with an answer.

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    9. >>But it DOES make for an interesting thought experiment to puzzle out exactly what the implications ARE of each energy type (force, fire, cold, acid, lightning, radiant, thunder, necrotic, poison, psychic) and what they actually DO to a body. :D<<

      I posed this question awhile back somewhere with respect to the damage you take from handling the Wrong Book in 1e D&D... didn't get much useful feedback, really. Say you describe it as "a bone-chilling eldritch cold, sapping your soul" and some wiseass pops off with owning a Ring Of Cold Resistance so he thinks he doesn't take any damage. NNNRGH!

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    10. Psychic damage is ultimately one of the least spectacular energy types when you get right down to it -- if you break someone's brain (or whatever passes for a central nervous system) they'll just kind of fall over dead/catatonic without a mark on their body. Maybe a little "psychic nosebleed," but no more.

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PsychicNosebleed

      --Dither

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  12. Oh my god! I "like Dragonlance and hate My Little Pony"! Now begin the flame?!?! :-p

    Honestly, I look on the web, blog, forum or community for ideas, suggestions, maps, materials to be useful for play and only interesting to read and 99.9999% of the time I keep me at safe distance from any futile discussion on "my gdr is more 'big' than yours! ";)

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    1. I had an old girlfriend that used to love arguing on the internet. One day I asked her why she spent so much time on forums fighting and she said, "Because I have the biggest metaphorical cock in the world and all these bitches need to choke on it!"

      Hell of a woman; just too bad we weren't good for each other.

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    2. Mmmm... this type of reply do think me that many people are looking for the redemption of a real life that does not give them too many satisfactions and seek revenge in a field they believe, and maybe even they are, to be experts. :)

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