Personal

Crawling Out of the Muck and Mire

It’s a new year! 2016 is over…really, it’s over. Which is quite a relief, because 2016 was a shitshow of never before seen proportions, start to finish trash-fire 100%. Most people mention all the beloved celebrities who died, but for me it’s the election of the Goddamn antichrist for President of the United States and everything that implies that really seals the deal on 2016 being the worst year ever: that and the fact that it was a bad year for me personally (the worst year of my life on record, to be clear), and many friends and acquaintances.

But it is over. 2017 is here. Three days into a brand new years. I have plans I’m trying to put into immediate action to move m’family (that’s Mikaela and myself and our furry friends) to a new location. 2017 should be a new start, filled with End Transmission Games and therefore myself making and building and releasing all kinds of cool and interesting things. But just right now, if I’m to be honest, I’m having trouble, emotionally speaking, crawling free of the wreckage of 2016 and figuring out how to operate as a real human person again which is, most likely, a basic prerequisite for game design work of any kind. What I’m dealing with is almost certainly clinical depression–I’m on more psychiatric medication than ever before in my life, and none of it is working particularly well. The temptation is there to ditch all of the pills in frustration, but I am well advised what a bad idea that would be.

As has been written about popularly, depression is less a feeling of being sad all the time and more about just a complete lack of drive and impetus to do anything that previously interested me, or even to stay awake. My vital force feels completely drained. Writing this blog post felt like a pointless exercise and probably was, but maybe I can get some traction by making myself write SOMETHING today.  I feel bad about vaguely whining out into the internet, but 350 words about how listless and depressed I am almost feels like an accomplishment relative to my gut instinct upon waking up every day, which is to go immediately back to sleep, forever. My body seems to want to hibernate until the world is less of a dumpster, but that probably ain’t gonna happen, so I gotta find some energy from some place to crawl my way out of the muck and the mire.

Transmissions From The End #00…7?

Transmissions From The End #007

SysMal Kickstarter In Its Last Week

Giant thank you, if you happen to be reading this, to everyone who helped us get this far, from the backers to the writers and artists (whose passion and dedication for their work has genuinely impressed me) to the superfans that have been with us since the old, old, old days at SUNY Purchase (for me, those were the GOOD old days, but even within our innermost inner circle opinions vary widely on that). Having been in the opposite position last year, being funded with a week left to go feels much better than the opposite. I feel like anyone reading this a) has already backed or b) is fervently never going to, but nonetheless, there will be a link a couple of paragraphs down just in case.

I have desperately wanted Systems Malfunction to be a “thing” since graduating college eight years ago (was it eight whole years? was it only eight? time is a baffling thing). And by a “thing”, I mean a thing that least SOME people, at least within the geek set, have heard of. And as I’ve blogged before, it’s all extremely relative but I digress…

I think in 2010 I decided to dedicate my entire life to ensuring its thingness. Now, six years and change of toil and failure later, its thingness is far from ensured: the argument could be made, even, that it’s never going to happen and that I should up. But this moment right now is the closest that Systems Malfunction has ever come to manifesting into the awareness of the public. It’s not there yet, but the Kickstarter isn’t over yet, either, and even when it is, that’s not where things end. I want to build communities around these games: organized play, fan forums, the works. And we want to start really building some of that infrastructure going into the next year.

Anyway, in this Update, I talk about “pipe dream” ideas we had for way past the Full Color stretch goal, in the hopes of getting backers to vote on them, in case we finish with a little extra money. You may want to check that out if you have not already.

SPLINTER QSR and Infowar

SPLINTER is a game we make that is a crazy mindf*ck that’s like an RPG inside an RPG, man! I’ve actively derided it as “too weird to sell” yet soon we’ll be not just selling it, we’ll have a free Quick Start Rules up for it, so you can sample the weirdness for yourself, including pregenerated Players/Avatars and an introductory adventure by Mik Barree. Major shout out to Rich K for making the QSR possible with his diligence and attention to detail.

Even as Systems Malfunction is destined to be a standalone game, we will continue to support the Singularity System as our preferred flavor of “use it for anything you like” Space Kablooie simulator. Its newest update–and its first update in over two years–is MOD-04 Infowar, which includes not just awesome rules for hacking using the Singularity system, but tips for incorporating PC hacking into your science fiction campaigns from GURPS to Shadowrun to Eclipse Phase.

Both of these books were meant to be on DriveThru November 9th, 2016 but um…welp. They’re now slated for a November 14th release on DriveThru, give or take a week or so. 

Time for me, Dr. D, to start running and say goodbye for a little while.

Alright, Children
The lights are out and the party’s over
It’s time for me: Doctor D
To start running and say goodbye for a little while
And I know you’re gonna miss me
So I’ll leave you with this
You know that big ball of radiation we call the sun?
Well it’ll burst you into flames
If you stay in one place too long
That is if the static don’t get you first
So remember even if you’re dusted
You may be gone
But out here in the desert
Your shadow lives on without you
This is Dr. Death Defying
Signing off

<End Transmission>

 

Lesser Evils

I got this bumper sticker at DragonCon ’04 when I ws 18 along with a lot of other cool shit that I’ve treasured for my entire life: it’s where I learned about the awesome band Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, for instance. Since then, the Elder Party’s branding changed quite a bit. They’ve stayed behind their candidate–Cthulhu for President–and changed their slogan. Pretty consistently throughout ’04 to ’12 it was: Why Settle For A Lesser Evil?

I definitely don’t want Cthulhu to be the president of the United States. Not even if I personally get to go insane and be eaten the very last. I’ve matured since I was 18But the truth is…I really, really don’t want Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton to be my president either.

Hilary Clinton to me personifies everything presently wrong with America–she’s a corrupt, war-mongering, chickhenhawk, liar (which I almost typed “lawyer”–freudian slip?) who is completely and wholly owned by Wall Street interests. She’s the embodiment of the status quo, and she’s every cancer eating away at the status quo. Also, I might as well be honest: on a more petty level, I’ve had a grudge against her on a Free Speech level since the late 90s or early 2000s when she like a lot of other “Senators’ Wives” and “Tipper Gores” she came out on Jack Thompson’s side in the “war against videogames”.

Donald Trump is almost immeasurably worse. He goes way beyond “American will continue to suck in every way it sucks now”: in him, I see something truly horrifying. I see the death of America. Probably inseparable from this is the fact that I am third generation Jewish-American (I don’t practice the Jewish faith or any faith, but I am certainly enough of a Jew for Hitler to have liquidated me in his “Final Solution”). Yell “Godwin’s Law” at me all you want, but watching Trump’s “campaign” over the last year as a populist demagogue, I see the same exact dangerous parallels that

You know what’s more important to me than–but also probably inseperable from–my heritage as a Third Generation Polish-American  ethnic Jew? The World/Inferno Friendship Society, without which there would be no Psionics. That seems like a hell of a pivot, so let me explain. TWIFS have an incredible concept album called Addicted To Bad Ideas about the life and death of 20th century character actor Peter Lorre. I hate political correctness more than maybe anyone alive (I might hate it even more than I hate Fox News). But there are lines from this album that help me understand why not only could I never vote for Donald Trump, I probably can’t remain in this country if he does (ugh, such a melodramatic phrase, yet so perfectly frank) “rise to power”. They come from the song “Ich Erinnere Mich an die Weimarer Republik”.

“Me and my friends had some good ideas
but I swear that town got so damn weird.
I got out alive in ’35
I don’t think I’ll ever go back
but I remember….

….

It ain’t no thing about the promise ring
and socialists are so boring.
Just a bunch of bullies
that I can’t stand
they got elected into office by…well, you!

“I’m a fag, I’m a Jew, how do you do?
That’s Mister Anarchist to you.
You think your scene’s dead?
Well mine got killed
by some dimwit’s Triumph of the Will.

Now every time I see a Swiss bank I spit.
You say “resist control”?
Well, I mean it.
Cause it was come as you are
in the cattle cars
and not a damn thing you can do about it.
‘Cept remember!

I am not very political, personally. At least, I try not to be. But this “Two Party System” we have, where we hold our nose, going to our polling place, and vote for the candidate we hate/fear the least? It FUCKING SUCKS and I can’t blame anyone for checking out, even for a second. The American Two Party System needs to fucking go, because at this point we’re choosing between “another four years of everything wrong with America” and “not-so-secret-Hitler“.

 

 

PHANTASM(2016) (or Whereas: “I Am Sick Of People Being Sick Of My Shit”)

“If you are not into the wacky hi-jinks then
why the hell are you into this?
Information wants to be free
charged particles expand through space
then bleed through greedy fingers
and explode in your face
I can’t wait.

Fuck yes, I went there.

What’s about 220 pages, full color, and available right here, for free and forever?

long-ago-somebody-left-with-the-cup

This ENnie Award Nominated Motherfucking Roleplaying Game, Biatch.

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The American Mercurial Speaks: Unnecessary Necessary Mission Statement – Feminism and Inclusivity

The list of people who are not welcome to play our games includes and is limited to the following: anyone that I specifically and subjectively think is an asshole and/or a douchenozzle. If you are on this list, you already know right where you belong, because I have never been the type not to say what I believe, and chances are I have personally fucking told you to “fire yourself as my fan” (see below).

That said, it is literally impossible to be on this “not welcome” list for any reason except your (shitty) personal behavior and actions. 

I have not, for instance, taken the incredibly shitty step that Posthuman Studios have of “firing” all of their fans that identify as MRAs, with a stated reason of “tolerance”. To me, “we are SO TOLERANT that everyone who identifies as this group can go die in a fire” is the very pinnacle of hypocrisy.

I was a huge Eclipse Phase fan, and am not and will never be an MRA, but I stopped supporting Eclipse Phase on that day, on principle. Because that was a shitty thing to do to a group of their fans, even ones whose beliefs I don’t share.

I also hold the radical belief that people I strongly disagree with are still the former (people).

I don’t want to repeat the giant sentence above, but I feel like I have to.

It is literally impossible to be on this “not welcome” list for any reason except your (shitty) personal behavior and actions. 

Literally no one is unwelcome in the related group of tiny, tiny fandoms that constitute End Transmission Games’ content and nascent community on the basis of race, creed, religion, sexuality, etcetera, etcetera, et al.

Let me give an example of the above without explicitly naming any full names: for five or six years, M. Hunter and Jacinda M., two now-married queer women, were members of my core gaming group. For half a decade they were queer women and they were as welcome as possible: hell, they went beyond welcome: they had the best, most regular attendance of my LARP for four years running.

Then they were shitty assholes to me and now are banned for life. Their gender and sexual identity is irrelevant to the fact that they are not welcome to my content. Their douchebaggery is. (Regular readers: you will note, this paragraph will not help me mend that particular fence. You will also note I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care how many minorities they are, fair weather friends aren’t real friends at all, and anyone who cuts you out of their life for a brief glimpse of you at your saddest doesn’t deserve your friendship.)

In Short — Everyone Should Feel Welcome And Included In All Of Our Games Except For The People Who I Personally Think Are Assholes, And Those People DEFINITELY Know Who They Are

Now I am going to talk about feminism and the risky proposition of self-identifying as an anti-feminist.

Yay.

One of the most radical beliefs I hold is that words have meanings (FWIW: I (obviously) don’t give one half of one fuck about the late Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinions, I just think it’s funny that Coheed put it to music). Holding the belief that words have actual, objective, applicable definitions is dangerously backwards in [CURRENT YEAR].

  • If I say “feminism” or “I am an anti-feminist”, and the only definition of feminism you have ever been exposed to is the memetic and epigrammatic “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”, you would be shocked, and confused, and offended that I could say anything against feminism.
  • If I say “feminism” or “I am an anti-feminist” and you think of batshit crazy, completely toxic, radical feminazis publicly declaring that it is a “basic fact” we should “recall” that “all penis-in-vagina intercourse is rape”…well that tells us a few things. It tells us that we get some of our our news from the same sources. And it tells us that you know exactly the strain of feminism I’m talking about when I self-identify as an anti-feminist.
  • If I say I’m an anti-feminist and you have no idea which feminism I’m referring or don’t even know that the second “feminism” really exists…then things get really complicated and you might assume the worst.

Spoiler Warning: For Certain Values of ‘Feminist’, I, Devon Oratz, am actually a feminist.

vs1

(Translated From Japanese) “I’m a feminist.”

I wanted to find that clip from Versus (2002) here…you know the one…but the internet wouldn’t let me. Probably for the best.

Specifically, I am an ardent supporter of women’s suffrage (first wave feminism) and a supporter of second-wave feminism, which campaigned for legal and social equity for women.

When I say that I am an anti-feminist, what I mean is that I am an opponent of radical 21st century third-wave sex-negative white feminism (whew!) which seeks to go beyond second-wave feminism and establish women as a privileged class with more rights than men.

I feel like where this argument breaks down so that civility and coherency become impossible is in the following conundrum: modern, main stream  feminism is primarily the latter (or at least the loudest VOICES in it are), but makes every effort to present itself as merely “the radical notion that women are people“. This is a textbook use of what is called in rhetoric or forensics (debate, not like, CSI) the bait-and-switch or to use the term I prefer, the “Motte and Bailey” doctrine and makes productive discussions about feminism almost impossible outside of feminist or anti-feminist echo chambers (which is therefore automatically not productive discussion at all, because it’s just jerks in a circle, doing what they do).

It disgusts me to say this on multiple levels, because I think gender studies degrees should literally be abolished (NO OFFENSE TO GENDER STUDIES MAJORS, DIFFERENT OFF TOPIC BLOG POST, DIFFERENT DAY, OKAY GUYZ AND GALZ AND PREFERRED PRONOUNZ?), but I think the way the Eskimo famously (and by the way, inaccurately) supposedly have a hundred words for snow, I personally need more words for feminism so that people don’t think I am, for instance, in favor of repealing women’s suffrage.

So, when I say that I am an “egalitarian feminist”, what is encoded in that is that I support first and second-wave feminism. Especially in the Middle East, which desperately needs a women’s rights movement. Like, 30 years ago, guys.

When I say that I am an “anti-feminist”, what I mean is that I am opposed to ” batshit crazy, completely toxic, radical feminazis publicly declaring that it is a “basic fact” we should “recall” that “all penis-in-vagina intercourse is rape”“.

I can hold these two conflicting ideas in my mind at one time. SO TOO CAN YOU.

Now, where I get into debates with my female friends who more strongly identify as (SANE) feminists than me is right here: I basically say that the toxic feminists have ruined feminism forever, and that they need to come up with a new word for the non-toxic feminism that they support. They often argue that no, it’s just a few bad apples (the bad apples are all screaming at the top of their lungs, to mix my metaphors), and they don’t ruin the bunch, so the name of the movement (‘feminism’) is salvageable, the radfems should just be kicked out of the feminist clubhouse and called something else.

radscorpion

Maybe just Radfems. I like how it implies they’re not just radical, but also possibly radioactive. Like Radscorpions, but with less hit points and a deadlier sting.

In case anyone wanted to mention the “No True Scotsman” fallacy in any way related to any of the above wall of text, I have only to remind them that I am currently dating this bonny lass, and that she is the truest Scotsman of them all.

-DTO Out

Postscriptum Editorius: Some of you infrequent readers might be all like…

56373586

Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, grumpycat.

 

Dragon*Con – Just The Best(er) Party

I can’t review my experience at Dragon*Con 2016 here beyond saying it was awesome. The con itself has left me without the energies to direct in that direction.

Instead, I can just say:
A) Check out my facebook page in the next few weeks for the story told by the picture. As a person who “doesn’t do costumes”, I wore no less than two different costumes, and they were both pretty hardcore. Nonetheless I got mad pics with people whose cosplay made mine look like the mere dabbling it was. One was the girl I brought with me, of course.

B) What I said to everyone I encountered in Atlanta who asked me how my #Nerdigras was: One time when I was 18, I went to just the best party (Dragon*Con ‘o4). Returning for the first time in 12 years, at age 30, old enough to drink and old enough to know better than to drink as much as I did, I can say only this: “just the best party” got even bester.

Appendix A.

One time I went to just the best party.
The music was good. The girls were pretty (and in costume)
The booze flowed and it lasted so long
I had a full time job in another city
I think it was in uh…game publishing!
It evolved as the days went by
It involved no hierarchy
It moved and grew to a pitch so fine
Generally encompassing several hotels at a time
Impressive. Extensive.
Nerds paid the expenses.

Appendix N.

The personal high-point of the con was selling a copy of Psionics to an on-the-job (not active duty) Florida police officer, and then showing him how much XP he was worth in the game.

Twenty.

If you were curious.

Song For The Dumped (Take This Job And Shove It)

“While we’re talking, let me offer you some free advice:
TALK LESS. Smile more.
Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.
You wanna get ahead?
Fools who run their mouths off wind up dead.

If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?
– “Aaron Burr, Sir”

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