The New d20!

D&D 3.x was nearing the end of profitability, but then Pathfinder put on vinyl siding, didn’t push the game design, and they are now in the business of making money.

Most of the d20 hype and supplements have concluded. Some games that were derived from d20 (M&M) live on, but it was a thing, and it ran the course. Many publishers were created specifically to publish d20 material, it was all the rage.

And then it died.

Or became Pathfinder.

And there was and is FATE.

And now? Now, we have PbtA, or AWE, or whatever it is called. Indie game design is filled with games derived from D. Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World. Or FATE. Or variations of Avery Alder’s incredible game designs.

This too shall end.

Designers will move on.

These are wonderful tools, but push yourselves.

I strongly believe that neither d20, PbtA, FATE, GUMSHOE, nor any other system that allows for open-source is all that.

Excite with new games. excite with innovative mechanics.

I roamed the Dealer’s Hall at GenCon and came away with very little. I picked up many games and flipped through them, only to shrug and put them back. It wasn’t that there were not games that didn’t appeal to me, rather, none of them made me excited to see what the designer had done.

I want to see a beautiful mess of a game more than I want to see how someone tweaked PbtA to work for their genre.

d20 games all have a similar feel in relation how the gameplay is. This is not something up for debate.

PbtA games suffer from the same thing.



Familiarity is a wonderful thing, and there is not one designer out there who owes it to anyone to do something I would consider innovative or exciting. But, if the gameplay of your game is innovative and exciting, that is something to be proud of.


The Line In The Sand

Harassment in Hollywood has opened the floodgates, and even though the RPG industry is small, it does not seem immune to the level of ickiness that has run wild through Hollywood, and politics, and business, etc.

You can draw your own conclusions.

You can decide to support companies that gaslight victims. You can support groups of people who continue to count among their membership individuals with questionable histories.

You can decide to take a stand, or you can get outraged and do nothing.

Does the company who handled things poorly have some supplements coming out that you want? So, you know….

Personally, I have a line in the sand, about all of these things. I am going to do my best to believe victims, because not doing so seems to feed into this horrific bullshit that has gone on.

I am never going to say I am flawless, but, I am listening. I believe you.

I am going to no longer patronize companies, or groups, or individuals who have done shitty stuff.

Are you?


At The Gaming Table: The X Card

This article is making the rounds by gamers about how to deal with unwelcome situations at a gaming table.

And of course, there is the X-Card.

What I find lacking in the first article is the fact that saying “we don’t do that here” is fine and dandy for the GM, but what about the players? Empowering the players seems to be the point of the X-Card, and of creating ┬ásafe space at the gaming table.

True Story: I was running a game that took place in a real world type setting and had planned to do something relating to a real world event/ holiday. One of my players asked me if this was my plan, and if it was, not to do this, because, she connected very strongly with this day in a way that one might not know or suspect.

Expanding this, bad shit happens in the world. If I decide to set my game aboard a plane, someone might have plane issues.

And, in no way and I making light of them.

I have a friend who refuses to see any movie with an animal in it, as he hates seeing cruelty to animals, which often happens.

That’s legit.

All of us carry baggage.

The X-Card allows my friend/player to say “NO!” when the GM (me) centers a plot idea around a specific date. (Fortunately, she told me this in advance, and I adjusted).

But, there is no way to tell what might affect some people. What I, as GM, might take issue with is not what you might take issue with.

More to the point, many RPGs are about killing. Player characters kill other creatures, some of them even sentient.

If I don’t want to participate in that, I should avoid most games. I can accept this. I will own this. But, I also will not show up to play at a game where I know there will be killing. That puts a real damper on the fun for everyone else.

If a (narrative, collaborative, player-focused) game deals with a bastard child of a demon, ┬ánon-consensual sex may indeed be part of the equation. And, here is the thing- we don’t have to relive it, we can acknowledge this is bad shit, and it’s a way-too-common trope, non-consensual sex, but, ignoring this seems dishonest to the fiction. But, how many people will foresee this unexpected result.

If one doesn’t want to deal with non-consensual sex, perhaps don’t include bastard children of demons.

PreppiePunk deals with some dark shit, I will acknowledge this, but there are no fucking murder hobos.

No one is killing anyone.

What is the body count at your table?





PreppiePunk: HP Academy

In addition to all the classics of the School Genre of fiction: Dead Poets Society, Catcher in the Rye, Gossip Girl, etc, there is a sub-genre that deal with malevolent and/or occult happenings at these schools. The question is, or rather was, would the greatest game ever about Prep-school students be able to handle it, wor would your favorite game designer need to doa a shameless cash grab, launch a kickstarter, just to reskin the book with an extra section on shit like this? Maybe I’ll get some self-proclaimed punk-rock/ rock-star game designers to write a couple paragraphs for me.


It’s all right there.

During the “I Never” phase what happens to the game if #16 was

“I never took part in an occult ritual.”

1370744-1281659695How does this change the cooperatively-created “setting” of your game, and the expectations, as well as the fiction that springs from your game?

  • St. Trinian’s
  • Harry Potter
  • Morning Glories
  • School for Good and Evil
  • Gemma Doyle
  • Vampire Academy
  • Fallen
  • Rosario + Vampire
  • The Magicians
  • Night School


Spring Break at GenCon!

PPunk17_Streamlined_RPGNow - Untitled PageThat’s right!

PreppiePunk at GenCon: RPG17109230

But what about They Might Be Giants, they are playing at 8pm on Thursday.

TMBG is the equivalent of most Super Bowl halftime shows of late, artists that were relevant 25 years ago.

What acts would be better suited for skipping the most important game at GenCon.

Funny you should ask.

  • Patton Oswalt stand-up set
  • Brian Posehn stand-up set
  • Chris Hardwick stand-up set (fuck a live-action D&D game with these three and maybe Wil Fucking Wheaton and Blaine Capatch and why not, Vin Diesel)
  • Weezer (noted D&D players)
  • Gerard Way- not only is he from My Chemical Romance, but is overseeing a whole line of DC Comics.
  • Marilyn Manson
  • James Franco- just being James Franco
  • Zak Sabbath
  • Tom Morello
  • Adam Warrock