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Kirt Dankmyer

A member registered Apr 01, 2015 · View creator page →

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I released a satirical "game" for the Not A Game Jam. It's a single-player journaling exercise about white RPG authors who want to write games about samurai.

I was originally selling it for $1, but it's free/PWYW now!

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The best psychic anime cyberpunk RPG on the market right now. Period. There's something explosive and free about Ascendency that screams "a straight cis dude did not write this, roll with it or die". Where most cyberpunk games are content to weakly imitate William Gibson, Ascendancy is a breath of fresh air blasted upside your head with hurricane force.

While we've been working on a different game together for quite some time, my wife and I recently released The River, which is a diceless space fantasy game where the player characters are all star wizards trying to save the source of magick itself from a threat no one else sees, in the hive of scum and villainy that is the Grey Zone. The game is diceless in the sense that mundane tasks are resolved without randomization, while all magick is resolved using a card-based system. There's actually two completely different magick systems that draw from the same poker deck (with jokers).

Trello works really well for Microscope and similar games, and the GM of my Sprawl campaign is using it to record NPCs, sessions summaries, rule variants, etc. The card-based perspective takes a little getting used to, tho.

Yeah, I think the fact that the X card has issues doesn't mean all safety tools are bad. I think regular check-ins are an important thing and something I've been trying to build into my games lately, on top of an X-card-like mechanism. I think the Twitter thread that Sterling quotes is less an argument against safety tools in general and more an argument against a particular class of safety tools. It's perhaps not surprising that the earliest version of the tools available aren't perfect.

It's free and works on the more popular browsers, without a client, which is is why it survives despite the fact it steers like a cow.

Fantasy Grounds costs money and requires downloading a client.  It's the primary alternative you hear about. No go if you're poor or have an OS they don't support.

Google turned up this thing: ... It's free and while it requires downloading the tool, but it's a java client so it should run various systems, and they have a Discord for support. I haven't tried it so I can't vouch for it, but it sounds better than any alternative I've seen so far.

I mean, I assume you've been here, but I haven't heard much about any of these other tools.


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And I also think the thing about safety tools is they push against some toxic elements in the RPG community, and, by extension, the community of any other game we might be talking about, like miniatures wargaming. I mean, you may remember discussions of the Social Contract from the Forge, which was really in some ways just pushing back against the fact a lot of people go into games with a host of unspoken assumptions which leads to all sorts of problems.

Look, you've been deep in the OSR community and I've been on the edges of it, so let's not mince words here. :)

I think we both know there were some seriously toxic elements of that community, and some of those elements still remain, tho hardly unique to that community. There are people out there in the general RPG community who use RPGs to intimidate people and fuck with them and worse. Again, this isn't just the OSR; don't get me started on some of the stuff that's gone on in LARPs. Safety tools are a way of saying this table isn't going to tolerate that shit. RPGs need safety tools not just because of the uniqueness of bleed, but because of the shit people have done in the past. Even if you don't ever use the tools, by having them available you're acknowledging that you care about people having fun and not having their PTSD buttons pushed at the very least. 

If chess has a history of bullying, it probably needs safety rules too. I'm not familiar enough with chess to say. Like MagpieMirror Test says above, maybe tournament rules serve as those, I dunno. But considering that chess still has the strong male/female imbalance that one see in a lot of geek hobbies, and problems with sexual harassment, maybe it needs safety rules as well. It's a little different because chess is considered a sport and it isn't typically played in the same ways, and with the same amount of personal identification, tho again, I'm not steeped in that culture, so I may be wrong. But there definitely seems to be some serious issues, as this article shows. CW: sexual harassment

We talk about this in terms of RPGs because we're mainly RPG nerds. But to answer your question, any game hobby (and game) that has a toxic culture problem might need safety tools for reasons on top of some of the more general ones that make them good for RPGs.

I hope it's clear I'm not aiming any hostility at you! If you sense any anger in this post it's directed at the sort of people who make these tools even more necessary. 


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Hey, I'm Kirt (he/him), aka @xiombarg on Twitter. I cut my teeth on 1st edition AD&D but I've always been more of a science fiction nerd, so I moved into Star Frontiers and then sideways into the World of Darkness and then really sideways into indie RPGs during the days of the Forge. I wrote Unsung and some much smaller, now forgotten games during that time period, some OSR stuff more recently (mostly because a friend of mine is into it), and gotten back into writing indie games with the recent game jams, which is good, since my writing wasn't really reflecting my play preferences which lean more in the PbtA direction.

Also, I guess I like writing run-on sentences for introductions?

Very late to the party here, and I think from the deleted posts you've dis-engaged, but real quick, as to why D&D would benefit from narrative tools, well, it's because approaching fiction as a story comes natural to us as humans. People embellish anecdotes and give them a plot because a simple recitation of events can be pretty boring, unless those events are pretty damn amazing, and even then, it's better with a plot.

So, it's very natural to think that as the gateway to the hobby for many, it might be better to talk to people in the sort of language they're used to from other media, rather than in the simulationist wargaming language that is its default. You may disagree, but wargaming, like hardcore strategic boardgaming, is an acquired taste, and while it's a taste I like, among many, it's going to be confusing to someone who isn't already steeped in its culture or isn't coming from a wargaming  or tactical / strategic gaming background. (My personal problem is that D&D is a terrible wargame, and I like more narrative games just as much so I'd rather play those than D&D, but that's another, uh, story.)

Of course, the one attempt to make use of the lessons learned from a medium that was heavily influenced by D&D, video games, resulted in 4e, which became one of the more reviled editions, even though that arguably was the best modern language for thoughts like "this monster doesn't have any context other than it being a cool monster to fight." (Personally, I felt like 4e came a lot closer in spirit to the way things were done "back in the day" while accepting modern innovations, but it appears if you can't kill a 1st level PC with a simple orc stab, it's not D&D or something. But again, my personal preferences are another story.)

There's a strong element of wanting to eat one's cake and have it still sitting untouched on the plate in some elements of D&D fandom, where fans want to claim D&D is good for deep story but don't want to engage with any tools that make it easier to do that, and still want it to be a tactical wargame, without engaging with any of the innovations in that realm since the 1970s. And that's on top of the whole "adventurers as colonizers" problem.

I don't think you need a BA in Art, Media, and Culture to understand that. Mine was a double major in Computer Science and English, by the way, in case it matters. ;-P

Man, for me, it really has to have been back in the heyday of the Forge.

You can't beat a cozy space exploration game. Great stuff.