My Way or the Highway?

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Hi guys and gals! We know we have been having some non-fun things to say lately, but they needed to be said. That being said, I just ran into one of those “my way is the only way to play” players/GMs. What a waste of space! Gaming is too broad for my way to be the only way. That is why we try to make it clear that anything we say is pure opinion or advice (basically, we are giving suggestions that you are more than free to ignore). Anyhow, here are three reasons why that way of thinking is total bullshit:

1. It is arrogant. You have to be the height of self-serving to think that only your way of thinking is the only way to think. Hell, that is the reason why logicians call out fallacies, not thought processes. If no one is allowed to game different than you, you will find that you are lonely. Being a stuck-up dick doesn’t do any good for anyone.

2. Others know the rules, sometimes better than you. The best GMs I have sat under accepted that they were not perfect. If they messed up a rule, they accepted it when a player could prove they were using it wrong. Most of the time, the players just ran with the GMs ruling, but sometimes the rules are important (like knowing when proficiency is counted in 5e). Trusting others to know the rules is a trait that is important in RPGs, since it can take the burden off of the GM “to be perfect.”

3. It ruins the fun for everyone. At the end of the day, RPGs are about having fun. When you demand that others accept your way of play, you kill that fun. What is fun for me may not be fun for you. The asses who demand that we play their way (or their game) don’t get this, at all. They simply want you to have fun their way. If it isn’t fun, it is on you, not them. This goes directly back to #1.

How do you feel about people who demand you go their way or the highway? As always guys, follow the rules (no ad hominem, no bringing traits into it [race, religion, ect], don’t be a dick). We do hope to see you at the game table.

 

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Community Standards

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Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. So, if you follow the Facebook page I got off on a good rant at about midnight last night about SFF community members. The SFF community has turned into a bastion of anti-religious nut jobs who hate Christians in particular. That leads me to this post. There are no community standards anymore, unless you count the standard of forcing leftism onto the community. For all the talk of tolerance, diversity, and acceptance in the geek community, it is full of spiteful and intolerant asses.

I am sorry to say the following things, but they are true (as seen from someone who experiences them, regularly):

1. White men will have no place in the community. As the push for a more “diverse” community comes forward, it is going to continue to push white men out. Like video games before it, people need a boogeyman to blame for the lack of African-Americans, Latinos, and other races in geek culture. While it is nonsense that there are none of those people in the culture, it makes a convenient excuse to hate white males. In the great “intersectional” Olympics of victim hood, white males are the bottom rung. The more the poison of social justice leeks into the community, the worse this will get.

2. Conservatives have no place at the table. How dare a geek think that conservative values are correct!? This is the greatest sin one can commit (it is actually a tie between this and #3). If you are libertarian or conservative, you are heartless and don’t care about your fellow geeks. This is because conservatives often don’t believe that skin color or sexual orientation (or anything like that) impact your value as a person. The social justice movement that is leeking into geek culture prizes superficial matters over substantial matters. They are the same people who post tweets about how Texas got what they deserved by way of Hurricane Harvey. In reality, they dislike conservatives because we can, by mere existence, expose them for the intolerant bastards they are.

3. Christians will be driven out! It is acceptable to drive those with whom you don’t see eye-to-eye with out, and Christians often hold  views that many disagree with. These can be over abortion, gay marriage, or even sexual activity. What these have to do with being a geek is beyond me. That is why idiots will defend an openly hostile jackass like Phillip Pullman, but state that CS Lewis was trying to indoctrinate children. Pullman agrees with their very humanist worldview. They hate Christians because Christians hold a truth claim. In a world (and with a movement) that is built on the concept of subjective truth, truth claims must be rejected. Not only must the claims be rejected, but those who profess them must be driven out.

So, how can the culture survive this? What can we, as part of the culture, do to stop it? Well, simple:

1. Stand up for those who are subjected to this nonsense. When you see a person being debased for his skin color (no matter what it is), his political beliefs, or his faith, say something. Social justice advocates do this because, like the spoiled children they are, they have never heard the word NO. They are so used to coming into an area and demanding changes, and then seeing those changes happen to appease the mob, that they don’t know how to handle a culture that says “We won’t do it.” Everyone has intrinsic worth. Everyone is worthy of dignity and respect (at least the amount they have earned). Until the culture is willing to defend everyone, we will continue to see the “war” that has been going on in video games and comic books, and it will start (or rather continue) to seep into other parts of the culture.

2. Encourage those who are down and out. Make sure that those people know that a majority of the culture doesn’t think like that. I believe that most people are decent human beings. I believe that most geeks would defend other geeks if they saw ill treatment. If you see someone who is beaten down, do what you can to make them aware that you care. Make them aware that you don’t approve of them being mistreated. It is amazing how far a simple comment or a simple touch (if you are physically close) can do to help someone who feels hopeless.

3. Change the world around you. Why do you think I make posts like this or videos like last week’s? Trust me, they are not fun to type or tape. We need people who strive for real change. Is there injustice in the world? Hell yes. Should we want to change it? Hell yes. Is telling people they are bad for being [Insert ID Politics here] going to do it? Hell no. By doing the two things above, you can change your world around you. Being decent is our strength, and not being “diverse,” or close-minded. True diversity happens when people stop focusing so much on (pardon the pun) skin deep parts of human beings. MLK said it best, there comes a time when we must choose to do what is expedient or what it right? Which will you choose?

We are what we are. We are shaped by the things around us, and the people around us. Some of us were raised in the Church, and some of us were raised as atheist. Some of us were raised in the inner city and some of us were raised in the rural south. Some of us had strict parents and some had parents that were much more lenient. No matter what your circumstances, you have dignity and worth. It is time that other geeks realized this about each other. It is time that we, as a community, stand up for decency and drive the people who would cripple this community out. If you, like me, are tired of seeing people give up on geek culture, you can do something. It starts with the individual. It then moves on to the culture itself. Be the change that you think the culture needs.

Using Descriptions in Games

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Hello guys and gals! Legacy has been busy, even though we have been silent. We have done a couple of update videos, and lament that we were unable to keep up with #RPGaDay2017. That being said, we were reading a question today on a Facebook group and had to address it in our own way. The question was “Do we have to say ‘You see’ when you describe?”

 

The answer is: NO! Below is a three-fold method for giving great (and strong descriptions) without saying “You see” or “You hear”:

1. Describe the room as if you are entering it. Don’t look at the room as if you are telling someone else what they are seeing. Imagine you are walking in for the first time. You can say “You see a desk with papers on it.” or you could say “There is a cherry desk with papers scattered over it. Many of the sheets are haphazard on the top, some of them even falling to the floor around it. The chair behind the desk is old and falling apart. The smell of must is strong in the room. Upon closer examination it is clear that there is a stain on the desk, and it appears a lot like blood…”

Now, which one would you rather hear?

2. Don’t be afraid to use big words. Many GMs try to use small descriptors. Don’t be afraid of big words. You should say “euclidean” instead of “strange dimensions.” Sometimes big words give a much brighter image. The person you are talking to isn’t just “sad” they are “melancholy.” Robin Williams stated this best in Dead Poet’s Society:

So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.

3. Use the environment and mood to your advantage. People don’t need to know what they hear or see. They need to know how it feels and smells. Hearing a scratching noise on a closed door is ten times as creepy when you describe it as also coming from the room that smells like rotting fish. You don’t just notice the painting, you notice it in the half-light that is coming from the burned down candles in the corridor. You can hear the scream, but it should be echoing because of the high ceilings.

By simply using the words that you know, and adding in a little environment, you can create descriptions that pop! As always, we welcome your opinions but follow the golden rule: DON’T BE A DICK.

 

 

 

Comic Books Part II: Characters

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Comic Books, Part II: Characters

So, on my last part of this series I discussed story arcs and why they were so important to what comics I read, and what ones I love. This time I am going to cover the ground of good characters. This might be a tad touchy, but in reality this is like anything else we do here at Legacy (it’s our opinion).

Characters can ruin a story that is compelling simply because the characters are flat or boring. Worse yet, they can be being used as a prop to advance an agenda or make some point. Those characters tend to be very one dimensional. So, what do I think makes a good character? Well, I am glad that question gets asked, because here is the three things:

1. Characters must be compelling. That means they can’t be a stereotype or one dimensional. Characters that are predictable are boring and they don’t accomplish the goal of furthering the story. Most characters like that are there for one thing: filler. They don’t really feel like part of the team, or a real villain. A good example of this type of character for me is Cyclops through most of the 1990s.
2. Characters must have a decent background. A character without a background is just shallow. Who cares about a character who doesn’t have an explanation for why they do things? Gambit would have been boring as a character had they never developed his background with the Thieves in Louisiana. You can look at early comic development to see how to master this. The First Appearance of the Juggernaut is a great example of development of a background (Professor X).
3. Characters need to have purpose. Characters that do things with no real goal drive me nuts. When you find yourself reading a story and the characters don’t seem to accomplish anything it makes me quit. So many comic book characters find themselves in story arcs that don’t really fit them. You saw it in Secret Wars and the Infinity Gauntlet. Some of the characters felt forced into the events. Civil War was the same way.

So, what drives you to particular characters? As always follow the rules guys!

Great Modules for RPGs

Hey guys (any gals listening!). We have been through a few rough months (surgery is a bitch!) Now we have our chance to come back with a bang! We are going to discuss pre-made modules and give out a few suggestions from different systems. So sit back, grab the popcorn and see what you think!

 

Harlequin Adventure Series 

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Description:

Harlequin: 

“Imagine a hatred that has endured for 5000 years….”

The shadowrunners are sent on a string of missions, collecting obscure items, all seemingly unrelated… or are there? From the streets of Seattle to the frigid heights of the Bavarian Alps, from the magical mayhem of Columbia, Missouri to the headwaters of the Amazon, the adventure unfolds.

Who would go to all this trouble to destroy one man… and why?

  • A datafile
  • An ancient magic tome
  • A Flower
  • A collection of Elven ears
  • The manuscript of a soon-to-be-released bestseller
  • A young woman of mysterious heritage
  • A world-famous Elven social theorist

All are pieces to the puzzle.

Finding them is one thing.

Putting it all together is another!

 

Harlequin’s Back: 

Harlequin’s Back…
…and the world may never be the same!
It’s long been said that trouble follows Harlequin around like a loyal dog, but this time he’s taking the lead and dragging some shadowrunners along on his waking nightmare. It’s clear that the level of magic is rising in the Sixth World, and bigger magic makes the world a more dangerous place. But the particular danger Harlequin’s worried about isn’t supposed to be a problem for another two thousand years…

My Thoughts:

So, these two adventures are considered to be some of the best modules ever written. Even if you are not a fan of Shadowrun, these adventures are what Shadowrunning is about. As you can from the above descriptions, these adventures are designed to test you in every way (Matrix, combat, social, and knowledge. They even threw in some magic).

Dark*Matter: The Killing Jar

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Description:

This first stand-alone adventure for the DarkMatter campaign setting reveals a disturbing reality beneath the blissful ignorance of everyday life. A case of grand theft auto quickly escalates into a more serious investigation, leading heroes to a sinister forensics lab, a forgotten burial mound, and into a conspiracy of lies best left buried.

My Thoughts:  This is one of the best modules that TSR put out in the 1990s. It was deep and took quite a bit of quick thinking for the players to get to the bottom of it. This module is a great introduction in the world of Dark*Matter!

 

The Darkening of Mirkwood

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Descriptions:

The Necromancer may have been cast out of Dol Guldur, but a lingering darkness remains over Mirkwood, a shadow that will grow ever longer as the years draw on – unless a fellowship of heroes step forward and hold back the gloom.

The Darkening of Mirkwood is a complete campaign for The One Ring, set in Mirkwood over the course of three decades. It allows you to tell your own epic saga, following your heroes in their quest as the tale of years unfolds before them.

This supplement includes enough adventure material to keep you playing for months or even years, as well as new rules that give your heroes a real stake in what happens to the world around them. Rules for Holdings allow them to carve out their own corner of Middle-earth, whilst new options for the Fellowship Phase and Undertakings to achieve allow them to chart their own path.

Visit the Parliament of Spiders, do battle with the Nazgûl, meddle in the affairs of Wizards and enter the Halls of King Thranduil. Stand firm against the Shadow and maybe the Darkening of Mirkwood can be averted. Falter for even a moment and all that you know and love will be lost.

My Thoughts: This module is freaking beautiful! It takes place over the 40 years after the Necromancer was banished. The system gets a ton of play in it (there are plenty of modules that don’t do it) and it feels like you are playing around in the books.

 

DCCRPG: Frozen in Time

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Description: 

Eons-old secrets slumber beneath the forbidden Ghost Ice. Since the time of the Elders, the local tribes have shunned the crawling glacier, knowing it as taboo land that slays all who tread its frigid expanse. Now, the Ghost Ice has shattered, revealing hints at deeper mysteries entombed within its icy grasp. Strange machines and wonderful horrors stir beneath the ice…

My Thoughts: This module is perfect for running a funnel (even though it is rated for 1st Level Characters). Think “Barrier Peaks” without all the nonsense. The game is about exploration as much as it is about combat. It is super deadly (like most DCC modules) and plays well every time.

 

Comic Books Part I: Story Arcs

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Comic Books, Part I: Story Arcs

If you are anything like me, you love comic books. Everything about them makes you happy. The heroes, the villains, the regular folks, and even the (or more importantly) stories. So I decided to talk about what draws me to certain comic books or comic lines. We are going to start with this part discussing Story Arcs.

Story arcs are the most important part of the comic for me. The characters can be great, and the villains can be compelling, but if the story sucks, then *yawn*. That is why I find so much of modern comics boring. They don’t seem to have the same flair as the stuff I grew up with. Not that there are not good stories out there (Court of Owls comes to mind), but most of it is just middling.

Some of the best stories that I grew up with came from Marvel in the mid-1990s. Phalanx Covenant, X-Cutioner’s Song, Age of Apocalypse, The Infinity Gauntlet, Fatal Attractions, and Infinity War all come to mind (and yes, most of these were X-Men events!). As you can also see, I was heavily influenced by the X-Men TV series from 1993 (who wasn’t!?). But what made these so cool to me?

Well there are three things:

  1. Compelling Heroes and Villains–  The Heroes and Villains were very well defined and furthered the story line. None of the people involved felt forced or felt like there was no reason for them to be there.  As stated above, compelling heroes and villains don’t make good stories, but they sure as hell can make a better one.
  2. Detailed stories– The stories don’t feel shallow or short. Many of them are what are called “cross-over events” that involve several different teams or heroes. Take the Infinity Gauntlet, it wound up taking three cross-over events to settle that in totality. A lot of the newer cross-overs take way too little to tell the story (the new Secret Wars being the exception).
  3. No agenda behind them– There is no agenda behind much of the 1990s stories that caused me to fall in love with comics. Nobody wants to read a comic telling them what to think (or most anyways). Comics are designed to help escape and be entertaining. Even the few that had a message were not ideologically driven. They told their stories and messages with a touch that didn’t exclude people nor make anyone feel like the publisher didn’t like them. Some of the newer cross-overs have turned into political talking points, and they have demonized people with whom they disagreed with. I mean, having Kitty Pride attack a thinly veiled head of the Heritage Foundation was kinda crappy.

All of that being said, everyone will have different reasons for reading a story. You may disagree with point #3, and that is fine. You don’t have to agree. I am simply stating why I love comics and what drew me to them in the first place. We welcome comments on why you first came into comics and in particular the story lines. As always guys follow the three rules:

No Ad Hominem Attacks
No making fun of someone else’s race/religion/creed/ect

No being a dick

Using Time in an RPG

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Time is an important part of gaming. It is so important that it is often divided into several different types. For example, Dungeons and Dragons uses Rounds, Actions, Down Time, and even general Time. What is the difference and why does it matter? Well, simply put, the issue of time can be vital because of how it impacts the story.

How do you use time in an RPG to advance a story? Well, if you are me (and you are asking me, or at least reading my opinion) you do it in four major ways:

1. Time is a pressure to keep the players moving and acting.

The concept of time, for me, is best used to ensure that the players (or rather characters) don’t dawdle.  Making them move along or getting them to understand that something will happen in “48 hours” or “the guards will be here in sixty seconds” is the primary driver. You can’t spend forever at a door deciding to enter it if you only have sixty seconds. You also can’t waste time if you get a note saying that they will kill the princess in two days. Time becomes a valuable asset in those cases.

2. Time is a measure of success 

How fast can you get to the princess? How much damage can be done by the opposing army if you take your time? These questions deserve answers. Not only do you need to know how much time you have, there are things that happen in the background. The Evil Overlord isn’t sitting on his thumb and spinning while you come to attack his tower. You must be able to determine what happens during the passage of time.

3. Time is a tool for tracking

Time is not only good for knowing what is going on when. It is also a great tool for tracking. How many days ago did you get that note? When did that poison get into your system? Time is how you track that. I got Mummy Rot three days ago (or 36 hours), so that would be 4 checks (going on 5). They said 48 hours to get the money to them, and we have been on the move for 21. That leaves us 27 hours to accomplish the mission. Tracking what you are doing is vital to the game.

4. Time is a great equalizer 

Not only can you use time to track, measure success, and move the story along, but you can also equalize things with it. If you want to know how to do this, it is simple enough. Time can run out. You fail to save the princess. You die of a disease. The BBEG gets his plan rolled out. Don’t be afraid to do this. Make the players suffer for their mistakes, and for dragging their feet.

Old Modules!

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So, here we are again. The blog keeps refusing to die! Okay, not really, but it does get treated like the dog that only shows up when you leave trash on the front porch. That being said, I am back for this limited time engagement. So what is this all about? Old modules, of course!

Old modules have a great place in our hobby. Everything from OD&D modules to the newest modules have brought a great set of story lines to our hobby, and often they bring it with a sense of wonderment. So, why am I focusing on older modules? For the following reasons:

1. Old modules are some of the best materials I have ever fooled around with. Take the above picture. The DL modules led to the creation (or at least aided in) of one of the best novel series (in my opinion) of all time. They give us some great stories, villains, heroes (for those with pre-generated characters), and even locations. Hommelt is classic, and it all started with Temple of Elemental Evil. Venca is a dirty bastard because he is who he is (thanks to Bruce Cordell for that!). The Hickmans brought us Strahd. So often we think of modules as something that is not creative. It can be the opposite a lot of the times.

2. Old modules bring about a ton of nostalgia. There is nothing wrong with going back and experiencing what made you fall in love with gaming in the first place.

3. Old modules seem to be better put together than modern ones. While I have a lot of love for some modern modules (looking at Beyond the Rim here!), I have seen what a master writer can do when he is given the reins. Cordell, “Zeb” Cook, Monte Cook, Bill Slavicsek, and others have made sure that some things are burned into our minds. For that matter, they have created some down right evil things.

 

So what modules  do I suggest? Here is a short list:

–Dragons of… (The DL Series)

–Paladin in Hell

–Dead Gods

–Klick Klack (Alternity)

–The Killing Jar (Alternity)

–Mask of Nyarlthrotep (CoC)

–Horror on the Orient Express (CoC)

–D1-Q1 (AKA Queen of the Spiders)

–Giovanni Chronicles (V:tM)

–River Running (MERP)

–A Fragile Peace (LUG Trek)

 

Feel free to tell me your favorite old module, and if you feel up to it, why! As always don’t be a jerk about it, and respect one another (as best as you can!). We hope to see you around the game table.

WE ARE BACK!

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Alas, after a much too long hiatus we are back! Amazing what happens when life gets hectic and unable to be contained. School is done (yay, a BS in Justice Studies with a Concentration in Law & Process) and we are ready to get back to doing gaming stuff. In fact, we already have one game getting ready to start up in March. We are also starting the process of associating with The Society of Extraordinary Gamers (Extraordinarygamers.net).

We are also doing four events at MACE West (http://www.justusproductions.com/category/justus-events/mace-west/). We will be doing an Edge of the Empire game and a Star Wars Armada demo on Friday; Saturday will be Dark*Matter, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and Call of Cthulhu 7th edition; Sunday will be Edge of the Empire (run by yours truly) and Numenera (red is our events).

We also will be redoing the Podcast, and placing it on SoundCloud. More information will be available as we get it done. We hope that you stay with us, and we hope to bring you plenty to think about as we go forward!