Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mental Illness In The RPG Community

Any discussion of this topic period will immediately bring on accusations of "gaslighting!!!!!" if pointed at specific people, so let's stick with statements we can all agree with

Statement we can all agree with #1

Sometimes people in the online RPG community are mentally ill

Statement we can all agree with #2

Mental illness can cause people to experience emotional pain over things that aren't actually harmful to anyone who doesn't have their specific trigger or chain of associations. To something not ordinarily harmful.

Statement we can (probably) all agree with #3

It's not practical or desirable to talk to the entire internet as if it's mentally ill all the time and almost nobody does. You can tag specific common triggers, but ritually using indirectness, vagueness and soft probing creates a lot of other practical problems to getting anything done and creates new problems when dealing with any kind of urgent situation. It also can strike people as condescending.

Statement we can all agree with #4

If you write online, once in a while someone mentally ill will experience emotional pain because of what you write online.

Statement we can all agree with #5

Sometimes this won't be your fault, this will be the fault of the illness.

Statement we can all agree with #6

This emotional pain may cause them to fabricate or distort facts while expressing their pain. This can cross the line into libel or things like it that can cause real damage to the mentally ill person's victims.
Easy examples: "The authors of Dungeon World are trying to undermine gaming" "James Raggi hates all women".

Statement we can all agree with #7

People will (and should) rush in to reassure the mentally ill person who is caused emotional pain by the innocent thing you said. They are ill, after all, and need care.

Statement we can all agree with #8

This reassurance is hard to do without also reifying the distorted or fabricated facts they associate with their trigger and their pain.

Statement we can all agree with #9

If this is done in public but not done carefully, reassuring the mentally ill person risks victimizing another innocent person by reifying (plussing, agreeing with, condoning, sharing) the untrue things the mentally ill person said in the midst of their pain.

Statement we can all agree with #10

When a mentally ill person appears in the RPG community what should happen is their friends should take their pain seriously but not immediately accept all their fact claims. They should talk to their friend and try to connect them with help and try to do this in private as much as possible.

Statement we can all agree with #11

The online RPG community sucks at this.

Statement we can all agree with #12

The people who are attacked by the mentally ill have more of a personal motivation to do something about the situation than the people who are not.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Play D&D and Worship Satan

New shirt modelled by satisfied customer (and only neckbeard I have ever seen wearing one of my shirts) Nicolò Maioli. I asked about the quality of the print: It's perfect, no squares, not like "pro" quality but not plastic either - basically like any other metal gig t-shirt I own.

Get them here.  And on throw pillows, phone cases, blah blah blah. And they come in white, too:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Big Deal: The Drama Club Finally Comes Clean About Harassment

Long time readers will probably be aware that me and the D&Dw/Porn Stars Girls have been through a lot of harassment at the hands of prominent members of the indie RPG community, including Cam Banks, author of Marvel Heroic RPG, Fred Hicks of FATE and Shannon Appelcline and Christopher Allen, who run RPGnet.

What's been frustrating is how many of their friends, coworkers and business partners gleefully joined in these attacks (and still do). And how the prominent folks in that scene never call each other out for bad behavior.

Well, that's changed. Somebody prominent, who people listen to in the indie/postForge/StoryGamer clique has finally admitted they're fucking up.

You'll notice Mark was forced to anonymize the names for fear of attacks from his own people, but the walkout on Stacy was Cam Banks and Adam Jury (of Eclipse Phase) and Anna Kreider / Wundergeek was the one who fucked with LGBT folk after Orlando.

I was about to compare this to prominent Republicans finally admitting Trump is an ass, but that's not fair--there's nothing inherently fucked-up about the Drama Club's approach to games, it's just their approach to other humans that sucks.

As you might expect he's experiencing a lot of pushback and attacks because of this, which you can see here. (EDIT:: Holy fuck just realized one of the people harassing us works at Paizo. What the hell?)

What Mark doesn't say is where all this bad faith behavior comes from--but it's pretty obviously on display in that thread I just linked--lots of accusations and dogpiling, no links to evidence and  nobody even asking for links or evidence--and no acknowledgment of any of the D&Dw/Porn Stars women as even existing or having experienced harassment. The underlying problem here is the Drama Club's culture, which is, unlike the DIY D&D scene, avoids confronting abusers consistently-- and can be summarized as:
And a serious lack of:

Monday, July 25, 2016

New I Hit It With My Axe + Maze News + Don't Be Like Metallica

New I Hit It With My Axe today--
This one's all about Miss Mandy Morbid and the art of playing a rebel cripple leader cleric. Subscribe to Satine's channel to keep up.


Here's an in-depth interview Patrick and I did about Maze of the Blue Medusa where we talk about medusas, greek gods and that Metallica documentary, among other stuff.

And here's an Enworld thread about the Maze, kicked off when somebody said "Maze of the Blue Medusa isn't an adventure as much as it is a fractal."


There's a cheap charity Bundle of Holding featuring my book, Vornheim and a ton of other LotFP adventures including Seclusium of Orphone, England Upturn'd and the excellent Forgive Us available here. Get your weird historical horror and your warm inner glow all at once.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In Case You Haven't Heard...

Maze of the Blue Medusa is stunning.

-Vanessa Veselka

One of the biggest releases, I think, in the history of D&D publishing

-Ben Milton, Questing Beast

This book is a deep, luxurious bed for Dungeon Masters to roll in

-Jay Murphy

Nothing like Maze of the Blue Medusa has come along before….Each element of Maze of the Blue Medusa is near perfect. And I dare hazard to say that the entire thing is greater still than the sum of its parts…Maze of the Blue Medusa is in some higher tier than The Best.

-Bryce Lynch, TenFootPole

It kicks WotC's books' ass in every department, and it's made by 3 people.


After 36+ years of gaming, precious little seems "new" to me.  This feels new. 

-Tim Brannan, The Other Side

If a regular old dungeon were presented with this level of clarity and efficiency, it would be excellent, but Maze of the Blue Medusa combines accessible presentation with a dungeon that's genuinely fantastic and eerie.

-James Holloway

It's gorgeous it's thought-provoking, it contains some of the most interesting and strange dungeon rooms ever published, and above all else, it is by far the most respectfully made TRPG book in years. Bottom Line: Maze of the Blue Medusa is a masterpiece and will likely be held up as the new gold standard of megadungeon book design…

-Kiel Chenier, Dungeons & Donuts

This is news to nobody even remotely interested in interesting roleplaying at this point but it's a masterpiece, rich and strange and brutal and so very sad. 

-Stasis Engine

Maze of the Blue Medusa is fun to read, it looks wonderful, and it's designed to be useful; there are plenty of game books that fit into one of those categories, fewer that fit into two, and not many at all that fit into all three, let alone doing so while describing a setting that can provide months, if not years, of continuous play. 

-Kelvin Green

 Just freaking wow. 

-They Might Be Gazebos

It’s a work of art in the truest sense, 

-Defy Danger

Huge and very well made

-David Browe

To Zak Sabbath & Patrick Stuart:  This thing, Maze of the Blue Medusa, which you have created together is stupefying. Assimilation could change your brain.  I think it changed mine.

-Ro Annis

 Let's put it this way: it's a dungeon you actually want to read the prose in. To grown adults.

-Kenneth Hite

It may be one of the most sublimely weird things I've ever read in gaming


Forgive me for all the "unique"s and "different" and "rich" and all those words that I used but I'm just trying to--it's just difficult to really explain the vastness of these characters...If you can get through this thing and your players can tackle this you're going to have tons of stories


Every page of it is making me go wow.


Probably the single best RPG supplement I have ever read.

-Steve Sims

Clearly jam-packed with awesome ideas.

-Monte Cook

Nerds: This may be the best D&D book of the year.

-Ramanan S


-Nathan Strong

Maze of the Blue Medusa is a damn fine book.


...might actually top Red & Pleasant Land!

-James Gavin

Maze of the Blue Medusa might be the most delightfully weird gaming book I've ever read.

-Jeremy Puckett

It's definitely one of the best looking books ever published for the OSR, or for RPGs in general.

-Andy Markham

This is the most dungeony dungeon. It has everything you'd expect in a big dungeon: different factions, shifting alliances, magic fountains, cursed treasures, teleportation, strange poisons, history, traps, trick doors, secret passages, rooms with no entrances, riddles, pits, everything.

-Nate Lumkin

 fucking amazing

-acep hale

It's just astonishing. Beautiful art, evocative text, great quality, nice weight in your trembling hands and just lots and lots and lots of cool encounters, areas and--just everything.

-Karl Stjernberg

...this work achieves what Tegel Manor attempted and nobody else has gotten very close to since: an intricate, interacting environ where something new and interesting happens around every corner that still attends to the practical issues of trying to DM such a beast.

-Jeff Rients


-China Miéville


Ennie nominated for:

Best Adventure
Best Cartography
Best Electronic Book (physical ones weren't ready in time for judging)
Best Writing
Product of the Year
And if you don't have one, get one.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

You Will Not Find Its Like Elsewhere, Sir!

Some news before the meat of the post:

It's gorgeous, it's thought-provoking, it contains some of the most interesting and strange dungeon rooms ever published...Maze of the Blue Medusa is a masterpiece and will likely be held up as the new gold standard of megadungeon book design, both for its excellent writing and its hyperfunctional layout

Another review

A question from a perplexed soul that readers might help answer:

Now, on to a D&D widget:

Unusual Animals Available in the Market Today...

(in a big city, d4-1 of these will be available on any given day, in a small town, d4-3)
Roll d20

1, Lucky Chicken--This chicken is lucky. Survives danger like it has 12 hit points. 5gp.

2, Riding Goat--Trained by goblins, dyed with purple spots. Does an extra +1 damage on a gore or a bite (otherwise as wardog) but if you run into any goblins and they make a check they might get it to respond to their commands. 20gp.

3, Escape Goat--If a goat should slay a troll, it inherits the victim's regeneration abilities. This is one such individual--it regenerates at d4hp per round. 200gp.

4, Sexy Hawk--God you look good with that hawk on your shoulder. +2 charisma when attempting seduction. 60gp.

5, One-eyed Hawk--First it's a bargain second it's secretly mega-obedient, like collie obedient. (-2 Wisdom/Perception checks). 20gp.

6, Marbling horse--Or at least that's what the idiots here call it. It's actually half-zebra (thus: a zorse or zebroid)--tawny with thin black stripes. As medium warhorse, just more interesting -400gp.

7, Squealing mule--Shrieks bloody fucking murder whenever anyone comes near it with drawn steel. Probably useful if adventurers park it outside a camp or dungeon--complete pain for anyone else. Cheap-- 10gp

8, Adolescent panther--Not in any sense trained. At all. 4hd. 450gp. 475 with cage.

9, Messenger pigeon--Pretty good at its job. 10gp.

10, Truffle pig--Finds truffles! Never go hungry! Ok, kind of: truffles are low on nutritional value but make rations tastier. Assume a week's rations last 20
5 longer per truffle found. 20gp

11, Riding boar--Trained by dwarves, fur spiked with lard. . Does an extra +1 damage on a bite (otherwise as wardog) but if you run into any dwarves and they make a check they might get it to respond to their commands. 20gp.

12, Paranoid songbird--Sings pretty much only when unfamiliar creatures are nearby. Unlike the squealing mule, the intruder is unlikely to realize the bird is acting as an alarm. 10gp.

13, Canary--great for detecting poison gas. 1gp.

14, Oddspotted newt--this rare, tiny, small, fragile, brightly-colored species survives by immediately crawling into the darkest narrowest place it can find. Good for finding hidden seams in the architecture. 400gp.

15, Eastern leopard-cat--merchant selling it just thinks it's a fancy domestic cat left by sailors from Yoon-Suin. Which it is. However, it also has literally nine lives. Well, eight. It used one getting here. 10gp.

16. Frog prince--Appears to be simply a fascinating, indigo-patterned frog, medium-sized. Unbeknownst to the merchant it is frog royalty--other frogs, toads, bullywugs, blindheims, slaads and batrachians of all kinds will defer to it and pay it homage. 8gp.

17. Thrusting pheasant--Trained to peck and chase anything smaller than itself. Does no damage but irritating enough to grant advantage to anyone else attacking the same target. Allegedly bred for fairy-catching. 10gp.

18. Blue-sided viper--1 hp, save or take 2d20. Not trained or trainable. Handle with care. 300gp.

19. Amusing bunny--overweight and dalmatian-spotted, it loves to gambol, hop and romp. Anyone possessed of such a bunny will be at advantage to charisma checks of the sort where a basically decent person tries to determine if you yourself are a decent person. 5gp.

20. Literal skillmonkey--likely a variety of capuchin, it has either pick locks (1-2) or pick pockets (3-4) as a 3rd level thief focusing on those skills in whatever system, Dex 17 for these purposes. 125gp.

Monday, July 18, 2016

New I Hit It With My Axe + Kenneth Hite, Zeb Cook & a Lizard On Maze of the Blue Medusa

-So first off, here's RPG-royalty Kenneth Hite on why our "Maze of the Blue Medusa" is his "...most dangerously close and worthy competitor" .

-Second, so apparently some Ennies votes may have gotten glitched away, so check to see if you voted for Maze in Best Adventure, Product of the Year, Best E-Book (the physical copies weren't ready by judgin' time), Best Cartography and Best Writing 

-New I Hit it With My Axe is up, with historical gnotes about gnolls and Lord Dunsany (and ball-stomping).

For some reason Laney is inaccurately captioned as Stoya. That needs to get fixed.

-Fourth: if you don't have Vornheim yet, or just want a way to check out other stuff from Lamentations of the Flame Princess on the cheap, there's a Bundle of Lamentations out now offering Vornheim: The Complete City Kit with four other books as a bundle.

-Fifth: TSR legend Zeb Cook played a session in the Maze. And liked it.  
Lizards, too.