Tuesday, 14 January 2020

My hobby, your hobby and gatekeeping...

This post, or variants on it, are really getting old fast. But since the audience for this blog largely isn't intended to be the one for my wargames blog or podcast? here we go again.

The image on the right, and its associated product, seem to have stirred a wide range of reactions among the RPG hobby. If you've been living under a rock for the last while, it's a supplement for the Critical Role world.

I will unashamedly confess, I'm a #critter. Critical Role is largely responsible for reminding me what a fun hobby RPGs are, and in addition, for demonstrating that, for me at least, D&D 5E was well worth checking out. I'm also an old school DM with (until I got rid of it in the early 2000s) about 4 shelf feet of 1st and 2nd Edition books and scenarios, and a sprawling homebrew campaign that ran for a decade or more across four different parties including play by email (before a long break). Heck, in my day you didn't stream your D&D session: you wrote it up for Usenet (thank goodness my writing's improved since!). That makes those of us who posted our session-by-session write-ups to rec.games.frp.archives the Critical Role of the era. (Yes, this is a joke, get over it :D)

Look. Just stop it, ok? No-one's asking you to like it. No-one's making you buy it. It does not diminish the hobby. For goodness' sake, it's the top selling book on Amazon [Other retailers are available. Support your Friendly Local Gaming Store.] It's bringing people into the hobby.

What? It's not your hobby?

OK. Here's the thing. The hobby is bigger than you. And: trust me on this from experience with being chairman of a wargames club, and with some of my current players who started out as Critters... it does not matter in the slightest what brings people in to the hobby, be it CR, some old D&D setting WOTC haven't republished yet, OSR or whatever for RPGs, whether it's Bolt Action, Warhammer 40K or X-Wing for wargames... We have three new members at our club this week, who want to platy Warhammer Fantasy. Personally? It's not my bag. At all. But we're not going to turn them away! Enough people down the club play it they won't lack for opponents, and there's enough other games going on around them to capture their interest in other things. We have people who joined us three years ago to just play Warmachine who've since built English Civil War and WW2 armies...

If you think your bit of the hobby is better than what brought someone else in? Great. Prove it. Show them by your example. Introduce them to your passion.

But don't belittle theirs. Waving a knobbly stick and yelling 'Get off my lawn"? Really not a good look on you.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Ambar Campaign - second session

And why NOT reuse a bit of wargames scenery :D
(Hey, I'm a computer scientist, I count from zero :D)

I was all set and kind of planned for Saturday's session until a shipping notice from eBay told me that the Reaper figures I'd ordered weren't going to arrive in time. So that fun little encounter was put off till next time, which handily means less prep. This time, though, I had to write a few notes, and design another more major encounter in case they got that far. Amusingly, I spent almost as much time realising I'd now come up with enough of the Tarani language (borrowing words from Hindi and Urdu) that I needed to write myself some notes on the language structure. As yet, none of them speak the language, but there are some interesting subtleties waiting for them when they do.

As you may recall, we left our heroes debating what to do with the bad guys - namely, hand them over to the watch, as their priestess, C, gets on with the local watch (she heals them, they like her). After some scratching of heads and figuring out how to read a paper left in a language none of them speak (see above, but B has Comprehend Languages), they headed for the marked lodgings out by the Eastgate, cased the joint a bit. spoke to the owner, decided to wait...

And back came the three bad guys they'd handed over to the nice but dim watch, having been let go on... someone's orders. Clearly of a mind to collect their stuff and bug out. The party were of a different mind, needless to say. Upshot, three dead cultists, some language help from the landlady who was half-Tarani, and a couple of bits of paper.

One was a credit note (clearly for emergency funds) on a Tarani merchant in Ambar - yes, Ambar appears to have invented banknotes, which I had great fun with: "It is as good as money! A credit note on Master Bishen is better than gold!" The other was another map, which they went to investigate the location of. This turned out to be a ruined, rumoured haunted temple on a cliff-top: as they approached, half a dozen skeletons arose to engage them...

Whew. That was possibly a bit close to a TPK. Admittedly, C as the only person with healing was perhaps unwise to wade into combat, but some good dice rolling from the skellies did drop C, B and A, the party tank to zero. Fortunately the remainder of the party managed to pull things together, aided by the ranger K grabbing A's warhammer (ooo, look, bludgeoning damage!) and laying about her with it.

Thoughts arising:

  • I do need to mount the spare TV on the game room wall. I want to do it anyway, so I can watch what I'm doing when streaming wargames, but it would have been great to be able to toss portions of the city map up on it, or even initiative displays. 
  • I need to figure out how I'm awarding XP.