Latest From Prestige Studios (Part II)

-Action Report So Far-

“Bringing you the latest on Prestige Studios’ Journey To The Forbidden Jungle (MA15+, V/S/L), already in progress…

Having rested and refreshed themselves, the party made their way down a flooded passageway, followed unnoticed by Coleoid Gatherers. They arrived at the aquatic lair of a Keening Sidhe, which unleashed its harrowing wails upon them. In the ensuing carnage, the Coleoids were hunted down and exterminated, and the party prevailed over the Sidhe without anyone drowning. Metropol agent Yntrew Tilt was instrumental in tracking down the Coleoids and exterminating the survivors (in spite of their protests).

After briefly considering an assault on the Coleoid stronghold in the western portion of the level, the party instead journeyed south where they encountered a clutch of Softshell Nursemaids. After a pitched battle, four softshells were dead and one pacified with a Wand of Friendship: one of the dead softshells was then necromantically raised by Varatha Luka. Confronted with three doors (west, east, and south) the party found only a dead-end to the east and had no wish to contend with the Headless Hydra to the west, so they went south, into the Hall of Thrashing Canes.

Fenx was nearly killed by unluckily springing the eponymous trap, but quick action from Sarima and Yntrew ensured the others were able to save her life. The party then found a good sized cache of treasure–including a Zgzz 5409 Sharder PDW, a Wand of Sheepishness (hilarity ensued in its identification), and a mysterious ivory cube–and a rubble chute leading downwards over a hundred levels, which they slid/crawled/flew down to discover what awaited below.

The party explored most of the first two floors of the tower of Arth, defeating Infinity Spiders, Dark Tenants, and strange dimensional anomalies. Departing the tower to the south, they found themselves on the grand highway in the Duchy of Reo, apparently located around four hundred levels above where it was supposed to be. Yntrew spotted a pick-up truck with a mounted gun driving southeast on the highway. Inside he saw Maurice Beauxxhome, the party’s rival.

The party made their way uneventfully north on the highway to the capital of Vendare. There Viperius broached an audience with Duke Jon Brunis, Duke of Reo. At the audience, the party learned of the bandit attacks along the southern caravan route that were plaguing the Duchy, and pledged their assistance in dealing with the problem: which Maurice Beauxxhome was already on his way to confront. During the audience with the caravan merchants, a mysterious assailant attacked the Duke and those gathered with a powerful Firebolt spell, and managed to escape somehow using a magical Cloak. The Duke and the party survived the Firebolt attack.

After gathering provisions, the party were dispatched south towards the village of Waycombe, in the vicinity of which the merchant caravans had been attacked. It took the parties nine days travel on the roads (-18 Subscriber Points for resting each of the nine nights) to arrive at Waycombe. On the way the group triumphed in battle over a Morkrim raiding party and a pack of feral Whistle Wolves. They also heard rumors at an inn of a great power rising in the Southern Swamps, the “Lizard King”. At the Great Bridge over the River Ardo, the party was ambushed by a strong force of over a dozen Salamandrea Survivors, but were victorious.

Just outside of Waycome, the party found Barto Trume, the last survivor of the force of fighting men that the Duke of Reo had sent to deal with the fighting men. Trume told them that he had escaped from the bandits, whose base was located in a copse just north of the inn in Waycombe Village.

Arriving in the village of Waycome, the party found it nearly deserted. They learned from the last remaining inhabitant–an innkeeper on his way out of town–that the town had been depleted by bandit attacks until no one and nothing was left. The party struck out outside of town to the southeast, and encountered Stefan Demanis, a quite insane Tzaetzi hermit that they convinced to lead them to the Lizard King somewhere in the southern swamp. The party then camped for the night a few miles north, where they were very nearly eaten by a wandering Ophidian Coatl.

The following evening the party headed north to try and deal with the bandit base located north of the now-abandoned Waycombe Inn. Using stealth, Yntrew Tilt quickly eliminated the two Ophidian bandits that he found in the field.  About to provide first aid one in order to interrogate him, Yntrew looked up to find himself face to face with a full-grown Swamp Baphomet. The Baphomet snared Yntrew with a Captivate charm. Now viewing the Baphomet as his best friend, Yntrew returned to the inn to lead the rest of his party into the Baphomet waiting ambush…”

See the latest you’re missing from Prestige Studios…

-Action Report So Far-

“Bringing you the latest on Prestige Studios’ Journey To The Forbidden Jungle (MA15+, V/S/L), already in progress…

The expedition team sponsored by Comte Lania Anjou arrived at Level 1,011,999,451: Leason’s Folly surprised to find the temple of the bat dark and abandoned and the return Port nowhere to be found. Overturning the altar to find the treasure hidden beneath, the group then descended through the third tier of Upper Tamoachan, narrowly winning a grueling battle against a Darkwood Sentinel and a clutch of Corpus Vines.

The team then passed quickly through the Second Tier of Upper Tamoachan, pausing only to slaughter a dazed Gorgolint and harvest its valuable tusks. The journey through the First Tier of Upper Tamoachan was more eventful, as Occam’s Razor was reduced to dust by a powerful Banished in the Apartment of the Ages. The survivors won through past a Death Blimp and other hazards to encounter a pack of Rookery holdouts, with whom they rather expensively negotiated for directions. They then found the stairs downwards to Lower Tamoachan guarded by a new horror, a Helminth Majority. After a narrow victory over the majority, hours of gruesome exploratory surgery were performed on Viperius to remove the numerous flatworms that had burrowed inside her.

The team has now reached Level 1,011,999,465: Lower Tamoachan. There they have overcome a choir of Chorus Leeches, a hallway brimming with the Electric Dead, a squadron of Dark Walkers, and a devious trap to make it as far as the Great Hall. There, the entire party was nearly brought low by a pair of Grimstalkers, but as Viperius, Hegik, and Fenx lay sundered and bleeding, through a heroic effort Yntew Tilt broke free of his Hold and defeated both wounded Grimstalkers, delivering the performance that would graduate him to the Minor Leagues and Ascension Level 4.

Having rested and refreshed themselves, the party is now in the Great Hall of Level 1,011,999,465, ready to seek a way downwards to the Duchy of Reo, still several hundred levels away…”

Splinterpunks (A Brief History Of The DicePunk System)

Join me chitlins for a  bit of an open-ended game design ramble.

Somewhere around 2004, at the tender age of 18, on my laptop at the house of one John Jemmott, I set out on one of my first fumbling forays into designing my own tabletop roleplaying game. A few things about this roleplaying game:

  • Its primary design goal was to be as dirt simple and accessible as possible. It didn’t actually fail at this design goal, per se. Ironically, at the same time, this place called The Forge was in its heyday, a bubbling cauldron of game design: many of the games being designed there had similar design goals, but due to a shared design environment and certain shared assumptions, they came out almost unrecognizably different.
  • I gave it a name that, even as a dumb teenager, I should really have known was very, very taken, and had been, even at that point, for nearly as long as I had been alive. This should have been clear to me at the time, because when you make a game system that uses six-sided dice, the d6 System is a rather obvious choice for a name. But of course I didn’t even google it, because derp.
  • The end result was a very poorly designed game indeed. There were things I liked about it, sure. Design features that I carried over into the many, many tabletop RPGs and LARPs that I went on to design over the next five years: only having four attributes, instead of the 6+ that most “traditional” RPGs carried around, not having a set skill list, but rather using easily generated (if arbitrary) custom player-created skills, and maybe one or two other things. But it had serious problems, too.
  • Namely, the core mechanic was shit. You rolled 1d6 and added a bonus from +0 to +3 against a target number from 3 to 9 assigned by the GM. The reasons that this is absolute shit eluded me then, but are obvious to me now. First off, you have at the outset a “bonus” that is 50% of the size of a very small random number generator range. From the outset, you are very likely “off the RNG”, i.e. “off the reservation”. Secondly, a tiny RNG range means very little granularity. Finally and perhaps most importantly, using a roll of 1d6 for the core mechanic, you have a perfectly flat distribution of results like with 1d20 (without the d20’s advantage of granularity), rather than the nice pseudo-Gaussian or “bell curve” distribution you get with 2d6 or 3d6. In layman’s terms, average results are more likely with 2d6 or 3d6 due to something called “binomial distribution”. Because average results are more likely, it’s less swingy, and random chance hold sway less. (I’ve always been math averse, but you can’t spend your entire life playing games where you roll dice to see what happens without accidentally learning SOME math.)

Now, over the next ten years or so the “d6 System” (Devon Oratz, 2004), no relation to the D6 System (WEG, 1996) was gradually refined and in the process renamed into the more betterer DicePunk System. This system forms the core of a couple little indie games you may have heard of called Phantasm(2010) and Psionics. But midway through this process of refinement, something dumb and stupid happened.

In 2008, I designed a game called SPLINTER. This game was weird as shit. It was so weird, it needed TWO core mechanics: one for the “real world”, and one for the “game world” wrapped up inside that one, like a cocktail weenie inside of that delicious croissant biscuit stuff. For the “real world” mechanic, I used an intermediary stage of the system I’m discussing. It had a few improvements on the (har har) “d6 System” but it had not yet reached the stage of refinement that the DicePunk System is operating at.

This, obviously, annoys me to no-end. It means my company publishes two games that are compatible with the DicePunk System and each other (great), a third game that uses a completely separate system (whatever), and then SPLINTER, which both has its own system and uses a half-formed, half-baked precursor of the DicePunk System, which is terrible, and confusing, and terrible.

BUT I AM FIX.

The following documents convert SPLINTER’s Earthside rules to use the proper DicePunk System instead, including an overhaul of the rules for (yes you heard me right) “Player Creation”. No need to thank me, I did this for my own sanity. But hopefully a more permanent and prettier application of this patch will be forthcoming in the near future, with you know, layout and stuff.

Rulesburst – Playing A Player

The Id, The Ego, and the Avatar.

Stuff Goes In, Games Come Out

Resolution 2016.1: Blog More. 

To make this easier, I’m going to try to stop waiting “until the stars are right” to make a blog post, and that includes that I’ll stop waiting until I have a fascinating topic. Loads of internet folks have huge followings just for consuming media and pontificating on it publicly, and while I doubt I’ll achieve any such following, I can do one better: I don’t just consume stuff and pontificate on it, an alchemical process in my brain cave turns stuff into game content. This is happening constantly, so there’s no need for a special occasion to “blog” upon. That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, maybe this will be a one-off or a very occasional thing.

Ok, let’s go!

Watching

The Simpsons: Is there any doubt in anyone’s minds that this is the greatest American comedy program ever made? Almost 30 seasons at my fingertips means countless hours of binging. I always have this on in the background even if I’m not watching it: it’s comforting to me. I don’t really like Season 25 and on: it’s not the quality of the episodes, which is eh (debatable), it’s that seeing the Simpsons talk about smart phones and twitter makes me feel like I’m living in a parallel dimension. I remember too vividly when the family couldn’t afford cable. Season 10 and earlier are pure comfort food for the troubled mind and the quality of the next 6-8 seasons is surprisingly high too. The mix feels a bit off in the Season 18-Season 22 range, like maybe the cynicism is a bit too high. This bears further investigation.

Fargo: I watched the entire first season (amazing, my favorite part was all the subtle and not-so-subtle hints that Malvo was not even human, and when we saw the wolf in the finale I exclaimed half-ironically “It’s Malvo! He’s taken wolf-form!”) and now I’m slow-crawling my way through the second. It’s definitely entertaining, but I’m not convinced yet it’s of the caliber of the first season, I’m giving it a fair shake. I’m definitely wondering what the fuck is going on with these UFOs.

Oh, the whole “rain of fishes” thing in Season 1 really messed with me, because like an unthinking dolt I actually believed that the series–and the movie it was following on–was “based on a true story”. Then I reread those ponderous opening captions more closely. “This is a true story”…no, it fucking isn’t…very, very tricksy.

Parasyte: The MaximI’m not a big fan of anime in general (although I have watched a TON of it over the years) but I can’t recommend this series strongly enough. Like the manga it’s based on, it hooks with black humor (VERY black humor) and body horror but over the 24 episode run it morphs into something very different…almost like a very philosophical and very dark “boy and his dog” story. It’s chock-full of fascinating characters, interesting philosophical underpinnings, and cool gory tentacle fights.

Oh Yeah: Like everyone else, I saw the new Star Wars.  It was alright. I’m not a Star Wars fan and I never have been, so in that sense my opinion doesn’t really matter. But…I can’t deny that it’s a good film. It’s just so formulaic and so manufactured…it is exactly what needed to be made to erase the “old shame” of the godawful prequels and make the franchise economically viable. But however deftly it accomplishes its goals as a piece of commercial entertainment, it also seems totally uninterested in being art, which is why it’s no surprise that it isn’t.

Reading

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker: I was looking for this one for a while before I got it for Christmas. I’m not sure if it was actually hard to find or if I just wasn’t looking that hard. Anyway, I was hoping it would add some insight to the movie it inspired, “Hellraiser”, which is a solid flick (unlike its many sub-par sequels) but I thought might have suffered a bit for having been made at the time it was made at (the 80s) with the budget it was made with (not a whole heck of a lot). I was particularly hoping for some more insight about the Cenobites, AKA the Theologians of the Gash (what a phrase!). Anyway, no luck there. The Hellbound Heart is an excellent novella and “Hellraiser” is a very faithful adaptation by its author. About the biggest change I spotted was that Kirsty seems to just be a friend of Rory’s rather than his daughter, like she is in the film version. The novella ends just as abruptly as the movie, if not moreso.

Sandman: Overture: Neil Gaiman wrote a new Sandman storyline for the first time in two decades. Did you know that was a thing? I didn’t but then I got it for Christmas out of nowhere. Now you know it is a thing. It’s a prequel. Go read it. Anyway, to my surprise, while I wouldn’t for a second have read it if Gaiman’s name wasn’t attached, the words really weren’t the big deal here. This is the prettiest comic book I have ever seen by a huge margin. I am not a big art guy as a rule, but the art is BEYOND amazing. I would describe it without irony as hypnotic. This is a picturebook that any adult could stare at for hours.

The Dying Earth by Jack Vance: So I finally got a copy of this. I’m only about ten pages in, but damn. Did you know this Jack Vance guy invented “Vancian casting”? That’s the magic system that Gary Gygax chose for Dungeons & Dragons, and which has been wedded to the game ever since. The idea that wizards memorize a certain number of spells which they then cast and then “forget”? That comes DIRECTLY from here. Pretty cool, right? That’s why I wanted to read it. Anyway, as I said I’ve barely got a toe in and shit is crazy. Everyone is a wizard and a high level wizard and one guy’s brain can know about four spells at a time and another guy’s brain can know about four or like six if he takes kind of crappy ones and everyone is making ladies in vats because I mean why not and some of the ladies are defective and kill the other vat-ladies and they’re like “oh shit gotta make more ladies cause we’re wizards and that’s what you do” and the shit is just nuts. I’m only like 15 pages in and we’re already at like…peak wizard. Or if we’re not…damn.

Thing I just learned: Vecna is an anagram of this guy’s name. I mean holy shit, you guys.

Playing

-Videogams-

Currently NOT Playing Fallout 4: I abruptly stopped playing this about three weeks ago for no particular reason. I didn’t finish it, I had four characters in various factions of various builds at various levels of progress and I was having a grand old time. Then, suddenly, I lost all interest in continuing, like the bottom fell out. It could be burn-out, I guess, but I don’t feel burnt-out. What’s going on here? Am I going to die?

Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup: Roguelikes are a perennial obsession of mine, and DCSS is the greatest roguelike I have ever played. I am not sure if it is THAT hard or I am THAT bad at it or some combination of the two, but I’ve been playing this game on and off since at least…2012…2011?…earlier? More off than on, sure, but still logged at least a couple hours. Now don’t laugh, but I finally got my very first rune of zot…yesterday. (I’m playing a MiFi for those in the know. Apparently, MiFi is the “master race” based on the results of the 2015 Crawl tournament: Minotaurs and Fighters scored by far the most ascensions.) Cataclysm: DDA is still amazing and Dwarf Fortress is still crack, but DCSS is definitely the “traditional” Roguelike for me. I tried Nethack and I definitely was not able to ‘hack’ it.

Anyway DCSS has somehow taken over from my Fallout 4 as my primary timewaster instead of more like a cofeebreak kinda time-waster, which is astonishing. How does this happen. How does a $0 game with graphics that would not have impressed in the year 1990 take away my attention from a $60.00 cutting edge AAA Bethesda game? I don’t get it.

Halo 5: Guardians: Late to the party on this one, just got an XBone. The lack of couch co-op is fucking UNCONSCIONABLE and I hate that I’m playing this because I do not want to support that kind of shitty and awful design decision but I’m too much of a junkie for the ongoing story of Master Chef and his quest to serve the galaxy cuisine.  Anyway, not done yet, but I just want to say that Cortana “turning evil” is a plot point I have been feverishly awaiting since the trailers for Halo 3 like circa 2007 or earlier.

-Tabletops-

For all you kooky kids who think that “tabletop games” means board games, when I say/hear “tabletop games”, I mean/think “tabletop roleplaying games”.

HERO System 5E: Sleep No More Season 2: This is a horror campaign I am GMing heavily influenced by Call of Cthulhu and even more heavily influenced by Delta Green, although there are other influences mixed in to create what I hope is a uniquely intense horror melange. Intensity is the byword of this campaign. This campaign has been going strong since around late August/early September, and six more sessions are planned before the “season” ends. The first Season of Sleep No More was played back in 2011: this second season has been set in the same universe, but a different part of it, and no PCs have directly carried over.

Singularity System: Systems Malfunction currently exists only in the form of a Singularity System tabletop campaign (but this should change in the future!). Mikaela is GMing and I am PCing: my PC is the captain of a stealth courier ship and we’re adventuring across the galaxy for profit, making enemies left and right! Sessions have been kind of far-flung and scattershot so far, so I’m hoping the schedule will tighten up going forward.

Dungeons & Dragons: I was supposed to be playing online in a 5E campaign but it seems to have fallen through, so I have been running some 3.5 dungeon crawling action for Mikaela as a solo campaign, heavily informed by item two in the above category. Playing with some fun house rules and custom tables, partially made up as I go along, which is not what I usually do, and which has been pretty fun.

Listening

Psychic Warfare by Clutch is an unbelievably kick-ass rock and roll album by a mind blowingly awesome band that just seems to keep churning them out like clockwork.

“Firebirds! Energy weapons!
Both of these things are interesting to me!
I don’t care how you get them
I need them both and I need them urgently!”

Who could possibly disagree?

 

 

Short But Random

The SPLINTER RPG actually has two firearms, one called a Blunderbuss, and one called a Blunderbus (sp) in the upcoming Sometimes Little Wondrous Things sourcebook. This isn’t an error or an accidental duplication. These are two conceptually and mechanically distinct guns. The Blunderbus with one s is a sawn-off single shot 10 Gauge shotgun affectionately referred to as a “Blunderbus”. The correctly spelled weapon is the real thing, circa the 1800s or whatever.

Just, y’know, in case you were wondering.

Open Letter(s) to RPG.net

PART THE FIRST: OPEN LETTER TO ADMINISTRATORS REGARDING #GAMERGATE

RPG Net Administrators:

I have been actually persecuted due to an issue with your site’s Rule 2. Specifically, with the last sentence of your site’s Rule 2 which has actually drifted very far from the first sentence of Rule 2, a very reasonable and laudable prohibition against making attacks against other gamers. The final sentence of Rule 2 is a horse of a very different color:

“Support of Gamergate, Stormfront or any other hate group is not tolerated and will result in banning.”

Gamergate is not a hate group like Stormfront and lumping it in as one, in list form, as though it was a given, is patently ridiculous. The unsupported statement that Gamergate is a hate group is what is known as a false premise. It’s also a very radical, extremist hardline stance to take. Even if you guys don’t like Gamergate, not everything that you guys don’t like is a hate group.

Anyway, if we were to accept for one second the premise that Gamergate is a “hate group”, who is it that this group hates?

Please take the time to watch this video, just slightly over five minutes. Can you please tell me what is the group that the people shown in this video hate?

In the interrim, until this rule is changed, I am willing to follow your unfair and unjust rules and restrict my protestation about them to channels other than RPG.net. Please do consider this matter separately from my appeal.

PART THE SECOND: OPEN LETTER OF APPEAL

RPG Net Administrators:

Sending a second appeal e-mail because my first was lost in transit or ignored. Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail upon receipt of this e-mail so I will know that it was not lost in transit or ignored.

The substance of my appeal is as follows:

The mission statement of the RPGNet forums appears at the top of your rules and guidelines page, and since it is relevant, I feel that it should appear at the head of this appeal as well:

“To keep the forums friendly and welcoming to as wide a range of gamers as possible.”

It will be most clear how this is relevant in the closing paragraphs below.

I have absolutely not demonstrated a “consistent and determined effort to display simmering hostility and contempt for fellow RPGnet posters”. This is, I must suppose, projection on the part of the person writing it or at the very least an incredibly uncharitable analysis of my behavior. It is not clear from either my posts or my signature that I am doing this deliberately, because I am in fact not doing any such thing.

I know with total certainty that I have not demonstrated any such thing because I do not feel any such “simmering hostility and contempt” for fellow RPGnet posters. What I have demonstrated is a consistent and determined effort to add value to RPGnet through my membership and contributions, and to participate in discussion of RPGs there, because that is my actual goal.

If I had been banned for one month, I would not had felt persecuted. If you had asked me directly at any point to change my signature–which, for the record, did not refer specifically to #Gamergate but to larger issues of censorship, freedom of speech, political correctness that #Gamergate is caught up in–I would not have felt persecuted.

But what happened is this: I noticed that there was a climate of hostility towards pro-freedom of speech arguments on the forums. I noticed that I was red-texted several times for simply expressing my honest opinion in what I genuinely thought was a civil and non-controversial way. Innocent, friendly, and light-hearted comments were read as contemptuous and hostile even though to my mind they obviously were not. Meanwhile, users taking the opposing position responded to me in a way that seemed much more overtly and clearly catty and hostile, and did not receive red text. It seemed to be from this pattern of unfair moderation that it was not my conduct was at issue, and that it was my opinion which was getting me “in trouble” with the site staff when I voiced it.

As a result, I changed my signature. I did this for what I thought were reasons of transparency and honesty as much as self-preservation. I did not want to continuously be drawn into arguments where I would get infracted for having the “wrong opinion”, but I also did not want people to assume that I agreed with some of the toxic fascist bullshit I saw being flung around casually just because I said nothing. So I changed my signature to state basically: “There are topics on here I won’t discuss because I’ll get in trouble for having the “wrong opinion”. That doesn’t mean I agree with you.” And I solicited productive discussion via PM. Because I actually enjoy discourse with people who disagree with me. I think that opening yourself up to other people’s viewpoints is how you learn things and evolve your own perspective.

Over the several months that this was my signature, I was not once directly asked to change it. I inferred from a few people’s comments that it might be taken as surly or confrontational, so I modified the wording to be less so and assumed we were good.

Then, a duplicitous and self-righteous weasel conducted what you correctly define as a “personal inquisition” with me as its target. Nezumi instigated a discussion with me about #Gamergate under what I foolishly assumed was good faith. In good faith, I had a discussion during which I did not so much as “advocate” for #Gamergate as I laid out the reasons I did not believe it to be a hate group. Incidentally: #Gamergate is not a hate group, and your definition of it as such in Rule 2 is extremely problematic, but this has been reserved for a separate e-mail.

At several points during this conversation, which had a long and awkward silence during the middle of it, I made sure that the other person still wanted to discuss this, still felt that this was productive, and so on. My conduct during this private discussion was as you can see for yourself what I can safely describe as exemplary. The exact opposite of harassment. In the end, I was the one who ran out of steam and willingness to debate this: the ideological gap just seemed too far to bridge. Some weeks later, this person asked me if they could share our conversation elsewhere. I asked them why and for what and told them that no, I felt very uncomfortable about that. They then publicly posted my private message of withholding consent of the conversation being publicized as though I was somehow the asshole.

Shortly thereafter, presumably as a result of this incident, I was banned from RPG.net. Permanently banned. Prior to this, the harshest infraction I had received was a one-day suspension several months ago. I had absolutely no idea that discussing #Gamergate or any “banned topic” via PM was against the rules, as several posters agree here that they never would have assumed that. I had no chance to correct or remove my signature. The last red text I received, chronologically, was a request for more substance to a post about why I don’t think that *World games are very good, which I had no chance to provide, because I was permanently banned. 

Let me repeat something here: “I had absolutely no idea that discussing #Gamergate or any “banned topic” via PM was against the rules, as several posters agree here that they never would have assumed that.” I was also confused by the fact that it had been pointed out to me that #Gamergate was not on the Banned Topics list associated with Rule #3. This made me think that open discussion of #Gamergate was fair game anywhere, let alone via PM. I will admit that I am used to online spaces that are less heavily moderated than RPG.net, and while I have made the effort to read RPG.net’s rules several times, it seems I have also managed to misread them several times.

Several posters–in fact most posters– in your recent trouble tickets thread on this topic interpreted the rules the same way. To quote one user “I would have never guessed from the rules that banned topics are banned in PMs too, because I expected they are banned because they make thread explode, not because they are “literally verboten”.”

Conclusion:

“As you note in your own sig, you don’t feel you’re a good fit here. We concur, and as such, you are permanently banned under rule 10.”

I am assuming here that Holden is being facetious. I am assuming that the reason for my being banned does not come down to the fact that you don’t like me and you don’t like what I think. If that were the case, this entire appeal process would be a ridiculous waste of my time. More importantly, it would be eminently clear that you were interested only in creating an echo chamber for people who agree with each other to preach to the choir, not in an online community where diverse people of diverse opinions are welcome to flourish.

Let me be absolutely clear: it does not escape me that there is a serious culture clash between my values and the values of RPG.net’s moderation team. This culture clash is not enough to motivate me to accept my ban, let alone to voluntarily post elsewhere short of a ban.

Sometimes my rhetoric can get a little heated, so I want to restate that while I do not approve of RPG.net’s policies or its attitude, I still want to add value to the community as a member. The reasons for this are simple: RPG.net is two hundred times larger than the next largest general RPG discussion site, making it valuable to me for both personal reasons (as a gamer that wants to discuss games with other gamers) and professional reasons (as an independent publisher of RPGs, one who has supported RPG.net with thousands of dollars of ad revenue over the past year, as a matter of disclosure). This might seem like a novel idea in this age of “safe spaces” and balkanized internet culture, but a fundamental disagreement with the leadership of a community is not enough to make me want to avoid that community and post elsewhere, nor does it render me incapable of participating in productive discussions in that community.

As you can easily infer, I do not think that the rule against support of #Gamergate on your site is fair. However, as a US Citizen, I am very used to the idea of having to follow rules and laws that I think are unfair. I am willing to avoid all discussion of #GG on RPG.net until such a time that the rule is changed. I am willing to modify my signature to remove the invitation to discuss controversial topics via PM: clearly, this was too much good faith on my part in any case. I can accept never mentioning #GG on RPG.net again. There are many, many other avenues for me to discuss it.

At this point, it seems clear that if you uphold my permanent ban, you are doing so not because you are concerned about me discussing #Gamergate in topics nor because you are concerned about me discussing #Gamergate via PM, but because I privately hold the personal opinion that #Gamergate is not a hate group. (To state the obvious: if I am lying about my willingness not to discuss GG on RPG.net, it would hardly be strenuous for you to reinstate my ban.) I would hope that you are just as deeply uncomfortable as I am with the idea of banning someone for your site just because you disagree with them. 

Sincerely,
– Devon Oratz