Thursday, 20 March 2014

RPG Blog Dodge

You may have observed that I don't take part in any of the "blog hop" events where large numbers of writers pledge to each tackle the same topics each day for a month.

The reason is simple. I have been blogging on gaming since 2010 and there are people who have been doing it for longer. I read more blogs than forums because I see much less repetition and sameness on blogs. There are of course bloggers who re-hash the same old topics as well. But new insight into old topics is rare, and I find blog writers doing a better job of sharing new stuff, perhaps feeling that they have more of an obligation to showcase ideas.

So I would much rather sign up to a perpetual and ongoing old school RPG  "blog dodge"- wherein you resolve to dodge the topics of:
ascending AC * what do hit points mean * what does [insert ability score] mean * race as class * racial level limits * gender stat limits * racial balance * class balance * Vancian casting * critical hits and fumbles * what good are megadungeons * lethal poison * character mortality * GMs fudging dice * railroading * where do monsters eat and shit in the dungeon * player skill dealing with traps * level draining * what should xp reward * do you use this goof-ass rule from old old D&D like brawling, weapon length, psionics, contracting diseases at taverns, etc. * sexual politics in RPG * racial politics in RPG * artistic depictions of women in RPG * real world religion and D&D * satanic panic * do you use alignment and if so what system * can rules stop bad or antisocial players * realism in D&D combat (lack of) * realism in D&D timekeeping (lack of) * encumbrance and how it sucks * wandering monsters * pretend sex and romance in your rpg *  variable weapon damage * killer GMs * Monty Haul GMs * EDITION WAR * D&D VS OTHER GAME WAR * the morality of murderhoboism * do you use miniatures * do you make the players map * skill systems * behavior at cons * should RPGs be made for soccer moms or should the long demonic tongue be unfurled overtly in abomination * [insert class/race] does not belong in real D&D * rolling vs. building the characters * omg falling damage * pant pant stop
You get the picture. Did I miss any?

Actually, for each of these topics what would be useful is a final stake in the heart, a scholarly treatment that links to examples of all the arguments from every blog, every forum topic, to wit "I have read all these topics extensively and I can tell you there are only three viable positions on this issue and each of them has six arguments and here they are." Or use that scholarly topic to come up with some completely new take on it. But don't post up your opinions and then watch the comments section fill up with more opinions and these opinions repeat all opinions for 20 years on the subject.

The sad thing? I don't know if it's true but it seems to me the way to get view bait and comments on a blog is more to hash over these issues in a combative way, than to present original content. Well, rise above! The content I treasure is unique. The blog should go beyond the letters column in Dragon magazine from 1986. The dodge starts now.


  1. You need to push this into law. Great post.

  2. Whose to say which articles are definitive, who gets the final word, and can we realistically expect such a thing to even exist? Can an issue really be said to be put to bed when the OSR still spits up gobsmackingly good ideas about basic tenets of the game occasionally? Why automatically assume people are discussing basics as blog bait when they could just enjoy it or be new to the hobby/OSR?

    Listen, I think the 'Dodge' is a fine idea, but as an Advanced OSR declaration as opposed to Basic OSR. Tired of talking or reading about the topics you listed? Then don't, but lets not try to dictate to others and scare off new voices. It smacks of elitism in the worst way.

  3. I've long wanted a collection of links where people have insightful things to say about some of these topics or people with experience share some of it. I thought Links to Wisdom might turn into that, but it never seemed to move from the "advice on running a game" into "thinking about gaming" territory.

    I don't get too irritated when I see people rehash stuff because I realize they are usually learning about those things just the way I did a few years ago. The metaphor we use at my work is "entering the conversation." But it's true, in academia there is an understanding that you are supposed to study up and learn what other people have said before trying to make your own contribution.

    At its worst I suppose that can be elitist and hierarchical, but at its best it is respectful of other people and more efficient.

    One positive way to look at it is, if these topics keep coming up, it may mean new people keep joining our little corner of the hobby.