Sunday, August 2, 2015

What Must They Think of Us When They Read Such Things?

Oppenheimer (Now I Have Become Death, The Destroyer of Worlds) by Yuri Leonov

This morning I was looking into an issue that had gotten my attention. Nothing very contentious; but it was, nevertheless, interesting when I noticed the conversation following a familiar route. Two individuals were discussing a rather innocuous rule variant that one of them had come up with when some self-important bastard came blundering along and began castigating them for not running the game as it was written. They were perverting the game and undermining the foundations of trust developed between the players and Game Master. What's worse, they were cheating.


Over and over again he kept coming back to that word; almost as though he were chanting it before them and in doing so it would drive them back from the heresies of modifying the sacrosanct text of Tweet, Cook, and Williams. He was apocalyptic in his writing and soon his friends joined in the conversation. "Have you considered how this undermines the game," one demanded. "If we go down this route what's next? Guns? Would you bring guns in a fantasy game?"

I sat there reading it with a slacken jaw, openly gaping at my screen as I read this mind-numbing assault on two people who had dared to consider a change to the grappling rules of Third Edition. I was shocked by the fanatical devotion to . . . a game. A game that had a major revision in less than five years and that had errata published for it with such regularity that I have a whole notebook filled with the stuff. This game was perfect as it had been written? This game?

The two kids who had started the whole thing were taken aback - how could they not be? They had done nothing more than attempt to provide an alternative solution to a rule that has been the consternation of every Third Edition player I've ever met and yet here were these assholes frothing at the mouth over the idea that something might change in the game by the hands of a pair of Dungeon Masters. 

I swear to it was as though they used that word like an insult when they wrote it. It positively dripped with venom. "This," one of them railed, "is why I hate that D&D still uses a Dungeon Master. Any time that you have a game left up to Dungeon Master fiat it's just a matter of time before it goes down this route!" Now they positively chanted, "Down with the Dungeon Masters! What did they ever do for the game other than corrupt it's purity with their house rules, home spun adventures, and god forsaken settings?"

Someone spoke up, a beloved elder from the early days of the forum it seemed to me, "Well as you know such systems are fraught with these sort of opportunities for corruption and the malign influence of an individual's whim."

"You see," the positively jumped on top of each other to shout it at the two heretics, "not only are you going against the rules as written but you've proven the inferiority of Dungeons & Dragons as a role-playing system! It's not even role-play! It's roll play!" The laughed out loud and then filled the page with LOLs as they made jokes and questioned the faithfulness of mothers who couldn't remember to let God immaculately conceive their children for them as their own had. 

Then a new voice chimed in. It castigated them for making sexist jokes and rebuked them before new gods and codewords that sent them mewling off in the distance. The two kids thanked this new comer only to find themselves receiving the full brunt his wrath. "Don't you know that D&D is nothing more than a shadow play of colonial oppression where race wars are played out and misogyny is at the heart of every adventure? Haven't you ever thought deeply about anything in your god-damned lives?" The kids stopped responding as her friends joined in and began crowing about the superiority of playing games of self-discovery where everyone pretends that their parents touched them and that football was a sport but far behind more invigorating physical contests: like chess.  

I would have linked directly to one of these conversations so that I could say, "Look at the thrice damned, fedora-wearing, neck-beards," but it happens so often that to do so would be like pointing at the sky and telling you that round thing up there sure is bright. I am truly flabbergasted at the sheer volume of encounters that I have read like this over the past few days as I attempted to explore what's so exciting about the fabulous world of forums. Christ almighty why would anyone want that level of mind-numbing frustration? 
"Well I think you're just not understanding the issues that surround the integrity of the game if you modify it . . ."

"Clearly your male privilege is blinding you to the problems inherent in the game . . ."
God help me but if I had run into people like that when I first started playing I would never have picked up dice again. Instead I would have gone back to drinking heavily and playing poker for money like I had for the past fifteen years! What must people think of this hobby when they run across that? What must they think of those people who write such insipid ramblings? 

What must they think of us?


  1. I believe you have had the proper response to all that flinging pooh. Step out of the room.

  2. I think the folks who consider it cheating want it to mean something when they say "I am a level 16 cleric." If somebody ignores or revises rules, it makes their sense of achievement shrink, and their notion that others will respect it diminish. To protect that, they scream "CHEATER" at those who modify or ignore those precious rules that give their achievement the structure it needs to stand in their own mind.

    For the record, when people try to cred their D&D (or any RPG bona fides) by noting their class and level, I want to shoot them (which is why I don't own a gun). YOU are a goddamn player, and whatever level your character(s) have achieved is not a credential, it's a contrivance of a generous GM and lucky dice.Get over it, you are only making yourself look stupid.

    1. The whole idea that someone would think getting to level X in D&D (or any other rpg) is something to crow about blows my mind.

    2. "I won Dungeons and Dragons, and it was advanced!"

  3. "You realize you're making asshats out of yourself because of a silly imaginary game? Seriously, it's fun, but in the end IT'S FICTION. Get over yourselves."

    Then walk away casually.

  4. Do you read such drivel through a purple haze? IfyouknowwhutI'msayin.

  5. And the morale of the story is: don't read certain messageboards???

    1. Then a question: Which ones should you read where this shit doesn't happen?

    2. It's kinda why, aside from EN World on occasion, I don't peruse messageboards anymore. Those kinds of exchanges can be depressing. Its one thing to discuss rules--what words, what doesn't--but somewhere along the line (and I think its happening more and more in recent years, at least as far as I've noticed) gamers start talking in absolutes (NO DM IN D&D? OMG! HERESY!) or bringing in politics.

      I just want to say to these people:
      Please, just go play these games. Have fun. The only thing that really matters is what works for your immediate group of players.

  6. I once got in a discussions over the word "Privilege" on a forum, and was told that my opinion was clouded by my own "privileged life."
    Which I understand in the context of current usage me being a white male assumes some forms of privilege yes. I also quickly realized that the people I was conversing with knew nothing and would never know anything of who I am or where I came from. They were only spraying their terms and their opinions blindly and thoughtlessly into the void. I left the forum, and have never been back.
    Nothing comes of blind commentary.

    1. "Privilege" is the vogue way to attempt to shut someone down. In another era they would have called you a communist to achieve the same effect. It's a terrible state of affairs because the word should have a meaning and it should be something that is discussed in a way that helps people think deeply about their own world views. As it is, though, it's nothing more than a chant screamed by assholes so that can prevent someone from fully participating in the conversation.

    2. It's the exact opposite of the intellectual rigor than much of the internet likes to lay claim to.
      It's Weak Sauce.

    3. Preach on, Holmes, preach on!

    4. It is unfortunate that the legitimacy of "privilege" as a real thing that warrants discussion is undermined by assholes who want to weaponize it as a way to "win" arguments. By "win," I mean shutdown serious discussion. The real difficulty is sorting through who is trying to have a legitimate discussion & who is just being an ass as it allows one side to dismiss the other side all to easily.

  7. With the advent of the internets and media that allows everyone to live under a microscope it has become harder and harder to be exceptional, to have a voice that matters and to stand out from the pack. This is how some people do it. Hatred, Bile, Social Shaming and arguments. Everyon wants to be an expert, everyone want everyone else to acknowledge their thoughts, but the fact remains - very little of it really matters.


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