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GFL – Page 0010

Looking For Group - Wed, 01/29/2020 - 14:30

Grouping For Looks is a page-by-page retelling of the Looking For Group saga through the lens of a mirror universe where Cale is a goateed tyrant and Richard is a holy soul trying to set him on a good path. […]

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Categories: Web Comics

At the High Point Inn

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 01/29/2020 - 12:11
By Bill Reich Self-Published OSR Level 1

This fourteen page adventure is set in an inn. There’s a fight, I think, that happens? In the inn? More than that I’m not sure. I’m not even sure what system this is for. It’s very hard to figure out what is supposed to happen.

As best as I can tell, you go to an inn to stay the night, someone hires you, or tries to, for protection. AT some point during the night three dwarves staying in the inn star a fight. Or kill the guy? Or something? It’s never really stated. This is really as close as the adventure gets: “If Barnart Hartwell is alone in the Taproom, the dwarfs prevent him from sounding an alarm that might warn other inn residents. Barnart may survive an attack by these ruthless, practiced fighters.” So ….

This IS, I think, all there is of the adventure. Arrive at inns common rooms. Maybe get hired. Hear and/or engage in a fight with three dwarves.

And now on to the system. It’s listed as OSR and the cover states OSR/D20 systems. But then it talks about air, body, and power magic. That’s not OSR/d20? And a point of magic protection and two points of undead protection? That’s not D&D? Or d20? Mineral fiber and plat over fiber? Is that some system? It’s got AC, HD, and HP, as well as a single “Save” number. Weapons are d4/d8. Spells include some recognizable ones and “Darkness Globe,” I have no fucking clue what system this is for. Money is in $, 80$ and such. No clue.

The first two or three pages are oriented at the players, I think. I think it might be read-aloud. I think. It’s not formatted like that. But it does use language “Upon entering the taproom you recognize …” and other first person kind of text that seems oriented toward telling the party what they see, feel, think or do. The lack of … understanding? Formatting? Provided to differentiate the text is one problem and text that IS read-aloud that tells the party what they think or feel is another common mistake. There’s also this weird abstraction of detail that’s present. Or time dilation? “Table H is the rowdiest table in the room, what with three dwarfs playing cards and drinking by-the- mug lite. Later, as they switch to a by-the-pitcher dark brew, the table quickly fills with bronze coins. You hope that they are not mean-spirited when drunk.”  Note not only the “You hope …” text but also the “Laster, as they switch to … “ text. Rather than playing EITHER section out in the game both are summarized. The You Hope portion should be something that the players actually feel, rather than being told that they feel. The “Later …” section should come through roleplaying. Instead it’s this weird time compression. And almost all of the first few pages are like this, the text weirdly summarizing things and telling the party what they think … without any regard to the formatting. It’s almost like there should be a boxed about the first two pages of text, to indicate read-aloud.

Later, during the night, “Any PCs in the corridor come to the aid of Hobson and Bifur.” Uh, no I don’t …

There are some timelines present, and some NPC’s, as well as a summary sheet of a BUNCH of NPC’s. I THINK the party is supposed to talk to people and that there are supposed to be differing alliances from the NPC’s and the party talking to them is supposed to do something, like make the fight larger? But that’s conjecture, there’s nothing like that. I’m just guessing because there are a lot of NPC’s presented and some kind of political overview about internal and external dwarf factions. I have no idea about the timeline. Someone takes a bath at 3am? Is that relevant for some reason? The action happens before then, pretty sure, based on the timeline. 

So, the system seems all over th place. The text is all over the place. I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen in this “sandbox” expect for a fight … lethal, non, no clue. It seems like the NPC’s and timeline should interact with everything somehow, but it’s not clear how. 

This is $.5 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. Pages two and three are that weird maybe read-aloud? Page six has an adventure overview section that details the action? I think? Based on this can you run the adventure? Because the other other pages don’t really help much more. At all.


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/300900/OSR-At-the-High-Point-Inn?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Barbarian Life

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 01/29/2020 - 12:00

I can't believe I haven't mentioned it before, but I couldn't find it in a search, so here goes Roy Thomas's Barbarian Life is subtitled: "A Literary Biography of Conan the Barbarian," but what it is a sort of a "director's commentary" on Marvel's Conan the Barbarian series.  It's two volumes, both now available in Kindle and soft cover. The first volume covers the inception and first 51 issues of the title, while the second goes up to #100, and Thomas and Buscema's final issue together.

Fans First: My Love of DC

Cryptozoic - Tue, 01/28/2020 - 16:51

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary as a company, members of our team will be sharing which properties they’re fans of and how that fandom has played a role in their work at Cryptozoic. For our first installment, I’m going to tell you a bit about my love of DC.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Modification Monday: Christmas Soldotna

Knitted Bliss - Mon, 01/27/2020 - 11:00

www.knittedbliss.com

Original Pattern: Soldotna Knitter Extraordinaire: Claire (Ravelry profile, instagram) Mods: Modified the yoke chart to include hearts and bead berries, and changed the colouring to be a Christmas sweater. Great close up photos and info on the mods can be found on her project page, here. What Makes This Awesome: What a brilliant idea- make

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Exit Dalrock

The Rational Man - Thu, 01/23/2020 - 23:47

This is truly depressing.

Yesterday Dalrock announced that he’s stepping away from his blog. Not only that, but he’s contemplating deleting the blog and over 10 years of what can only be described as seminal work in explaining contemporary Christianity from a Red Pill perspective.

I’m not sure what prompted this decision. I want to chalk it up to burnout, but I’m afraid that doesn’t explain the desire to erase a body of work of Dalrock’s magnitude. Everyone gets burned-out at some stage and 10+ years is a long time to sustain a blog that’s as well-thought as Dalrock’s.

I’m talking with Dal via email now and I’m trying to make sense of this decision. Several people have already begun to archive the ‘best of’ Dalrock for posterities sake, but I’m not sure this aligns with his desire to remove his work entirely.

I’ve been friends with Dalrock for 10 years and it’s no exaggeration to say that no one has done more seminal work on examining Red Pill intersexual dynamics in the context of mainstream Christianity than Dal. His blog has been the go-to place for discussing the Red Pill within a framework of Christian convictions for as long as I’ve been blogging. In fact, we both began blogging at around the same time and we used bounce ideas off each other on the old RooshV forums in a private discussion sub Roosh himself had set up for the likes of myself, Dalrock, Roissy (for a brief time) and various other Manosphere notables of that time.

When I first launched this blog I gave serious consideration to include some section or dedicated space to issues of Red Pill awareness and how religion (Christianity in main) is intertwined in it. I gave up on that idea in the early days of The Rational Male because Dalrock had so thoroughly covered what I knew then would be a necessary part of what was becoming the “manosphere“. And to be completely honest, Dalrock did it better than I had the time to invest in making it worthwhile. So I stuck to my policy of never discussing religion (or politics or race) in specific unless it crossed over into intersexual dynamics.

In these 10 years the one forum or commentariat that I participated in with regularity was Dalrock’s comment sections. I would relate the ideas he was developing to Red Pill concepts and he in turn would use my ideas to better illustrate what he was seeing transpire in Christian dating, Christian marriages, romantic/chivalric idealism and secularism transforming intersexual dynamics in a Christian context. A lot of this came to a head when he (and I) began challenging a new generation of ‘masculinity pastors’ and their own misguided ideals, and their efforts to turn the Manosphere into their pet ministries. It’s these grifters who’ll be toasting the demise of Dalrock’s blog the loudest this weekend.

When I began work on my upcoming 4th book about the Red Pill and religion my first impulse was to coauthor it with Dalrock. I asked him more than once to consider going in on the book with me, but his desire for privacy and anonymity had him decline my requests. Instead I asked if he (and various other men I respect in the christo-red pill community) would be someone I could quote and consult for the book. This he agreed to. In the new book I quote Dal’s blog quite a bit; particularly with regard to scripture and his concepts of marriage and child rearing in our brave new world of gynocentrism.

Dalrock filled a unique position in the ‘sphere. He more than myself has always been a thorn in the side of Trad-Cons & Red Pill Pastors (Warhorn) and their efforts to force-fit their old order beliefs into what the Red Pill was making more and more Christian men aware of. The Red Pill has never been a threat to faith, but it has been a threat to men who’ve built social and personal frameworks around a church culture that validates their Blue Pill conditioned lifestyles. If Rollo Tomassi points out how the Feminine Imperative has replaced the Holy Spirit in contemporary church culture and doctrine, well, he’s just a sinning PUA who can be dismissed. But if Dalrock rips back the veneer of ‘Christian Kosher’ Feminism that pervades the modern church, that’s when these guys have to do their homework.

All that’s gone now. And, potentially, all of that work is at risk of being deleted. All of the well-thought articles that held feet to fire and challenged an increasingly more feminized church (and their male feminist ‘christian’ apologists) to seriously look at itself are going away. And as I said, I’m sure the grifters are rejoicing and seeing it as a sure sign that God is at work in the Manosphere.

Blogs are Dead

I’m wondering if the age of blogging is at an end. 12 years ago blogs were the way to express ideas to a wider audience. Twitter and most of the social media we take for granted today was around, but it was certainly less endemic as it is now. Hell, even YouTube was still privately owned back then. If you wanted to build an online media brand you had to really believe in what you were doing to make the effort worthwhile. Blogging has always been a labor of love. That’s especially true today because everyone on social media today is their own Brand of Me. If all you do it curate an Instagram account with no other function than to show off how great a life you live, congratulations, you are your brand. It’s second nature to us now, but it used to take a lot more effort to relate your digital consciousness to an audience. That was what you used to blog for.

Now, even the most basic social media accounts can be ‘influencers‘. In fact it’s become so endemic that big name brands and their social media PR specialists have figured out that tween-age girls like to think of themselves as ‘micro-influencers’ and “hire” them to represent their brands for as little as a 30% discount on the product itself. As I mentioned in last week’s post, the barrier to entry has been reduced to almost nothing these days. But that ‘nothing’ barrier removes the process necessary to really develop one’s passions, or develop what one thinks about their beliefs. Content is king, but just calling it “content” reduces passions and ideas to a commodity. Are you a content provider or are you an ideas person?

The commodification of ideas, beliefs, imagination, creativity, etc. is really where this ‘sphere and countless others are heading. It’s not hard to start an online brand. Drop-shippers are all basically selling the same Chinese product, but the brand, the logo, the competition is all just a popularity contest now. Want to be a Red Pill dating/life coach? Just read passages from The Rational Male verbatim on a 5 minute video shot on your iPhone 7 and call it your original work. It’s not plagiarism, it’s content deliverables, right?

The easier things are to produce, the more real creativity suffers. Assuming most people in the future actually have original content to deliver, the process also makes them beholden to prioritize the production over the actual product. Blogs are not very good at that kind of prioritization. I was always amazed at how Roissy/Heartiste could produce a blog post a day right up until ‘his’ deplatforming last year. Most of those daily posts were just current event filler crap and C&P’ed comments from his threads, but in between it all there were the occasional strokes of genius. And those genius posts became fewer and fewer in the last 4 years.

I’ve never posted for the sake of posting. Traffic has never been my priority on this blog. Neither has monetization. The message of this blog and my thoughts have always taken precedent. In almost 10 years I’ve never written an essays for an audience. I put forth what I think needs to be considered and hopefully people can use that information to construct a better way of living with it. But in the coming decade pandering to an audiences’ sensibilities will be the only thing most content producers will focus. Audience engagement and content providing is already trumping any real discourse.

And this is the real hard thing to accept about Dalrock’s retirement and deleting himself; it’s 10+ years of real, passionate, ideas and necessary debate that’s been instrumental for men in understanding the state of Christianity, church culture, Red Pill awareness and so many other related issues:

When I think of the wholesale destruction of Dalrock’s work I’m reminded of how violent members of a conquering tribe/nation/religion are prone to destroy the artistic and intellectual works of the society they’ve overthrown. The first order of business is to erase the art, the ideas, the ‘gods’ of the defeated tribe, or to plagiarize the best of it and erase the rest. Burn the books, destroy the symbols, appropriate and assimilate the ideas; in the end it’s an indictment of the one who’s doing the erasing. I have no doubt that once Dalrock’s work is gone there will be ‘grave robbers’ lining up to distort what he built to fit their own narratives and provide them with content to call their own.

And all for what? Roosh has decided to erase himself recently as well. All the work he created that was so influential in the ‘sphere, now that’s traded for a new kind of nihilism. And all the usual moralist suck ups are ready to see him as the Prodigal Son. See? We were right all along. Our faith is validated and confirmed! But all the same problems that brought us to questioning that faith are still where we left them. Only now there’s no one left to point out their inconsistencies. No one’s left to identify the Blue Pill conditioning that’s prompted so many men to leave the churches. No one’s left to call bullshit! Only those grave robbers are left; the same guys who’ve been apologizing for never understanding the Blue Pill or their compromised masculinity because their faith and existence depends on it.

Blogs are dead. Long live The Rational Male.

Just to allay any concerns, no, I’m not shuttering this blog. I’m still going to be writing here and elsewhere. I’m not unpublishing anything. Maybe blogs are now a dead media, but I do my best thinking here. And yes, I fully expect some ‘coaches’ will be lifting my material to fulfill their content quotas. Just be sure to remind them where they’re sourcing it from whenever possible.

I will apologize for not posting as consistently as I have in the past, but this is mostly because I’ve been focusing on the latest book. Like I said, I don’t post for the sake of posting. I craft my essays and I don’t publish them until I think I’ve stated what I needed to state.

Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

Epic Spell Wars: Become a Wizard Contest

Cryptozoic - Thu, 01/23/2020 - 17:00

Enter our Epic Spell Wars: Become a Wizard Contest by letting your imagination run wild as you create a name and description of yourself as a Battle Wizard. One Contest Winner will be chosen by Epic Spell Wars creator Cory Jones to appear in an upcoming ESW game. Enter by March 18!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The New Age of Enlightenment

The Rational Man - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 22:45

The Old Order

I can remember a time back in the 1980s when I would visit my mother for a weekend and she’d insist my brother and I go to her church on Sundays. At this point in her life she was very much an Evangelical Christian. I would go with her because my mom’s side of the family had always been the religious side, and that was just part of who my mom was. I did have a basic faith in God and Christianity at the time, but my father was a card carrying atheist (and nominal Unitarian) for his whole life, so I had a pretty eclectic religious education when I was a teenager.

My father was a skeptic by nature and a lot of my own questioning nature was indirectly influenced by him. I can remember going to my mom’s church and suffering through the worship music to get to the sermon. I actually enjoyed the sermons because they gave me something to chew on intellectually. Not that the 15 year old Rollo was much of a thinker at that time, but I always had basic questions for these guys after the speech. When I got a bit older, in my early 20s, I started wondering who these ‘pastors’ really were as people and what made them qualified to deliver sermons. I really wanted to talk with these guys, but doing so meant I had to sit through their hard sell about how Jesus had saved them from themselves. I always thought this was kind of silly considering most of these guys weren’t much older than me. How hard a life could these guys really have lived by 25?

Most of these pastors weren’t used to was really having to engage much with their congregations beyond what was required of them to maintain appearances. I don’t mean that they were inaccessible; most of them had something outside of church that kept them involved with people. It’s that prior to the internet the way a pastor, or a church, did business usually centered on a man delivering a message (presumedly inspired by God) and then shaking hands with the faithful after the sermon was over as they filed out the door. End of sermon. End of discussion. 

If you wanted to talk about the sermon, or, heaven forbid, criticize the interpretation or message in some way that was a conversation relegated to your family, or perhaps a home group discussion. Assuming you even were in a home group or had a few peers you could discuss it with, you always risked running afoul of someone whose ego-investments in his/her faith would put them on edge by questioning it. The old order of religion, not just Christianity, used to be based on respecting the man delivering that message as God’s ordained spokesman, or reading whatever book he might’ve published, processing it yourself or with a handful of other believers, sussing things out and waiting for the next message on the next Sunday. There was very little engagement about articles of faith or doctrine unless you were a guy on the inside.

All of this changed with the advent of the internet and the globalization of mass media and communication.

Today, there’s hardly a pastor (mainstream or obscure) who doesn’t have a blog or a YouTube channel on which he (or she) contemplates his last/next sermon. In the 80s-90s even the most introspective religious leader would have only a handful of people to bounce ideas off, but today a sermon is almost focus grouped before the guy walks up to the pulpit on a Sunday. Meanwhile, that same pastor is engaged on two or three social media accounts discussing everything from religion, to politics, to praying for his favorite NFL team to make the playoffs.

The old order of how religion was done has given way to a new, globalized process of how we do religion. Today anyone, believer or not, has access to that pastor on a moments notice. Didn’t like the message? Thought the interpretation was inaccurate? You can tell him on his blog’s comment thread or fire off a tweet to start a discussion about it before he can even drive home from church. 

This is the age of globalized engagement – and this new paradigm is fundamentally altering old order institutions. What the Guttenburg press did for religion by publishing the Bible for the masses, now the internet has done for the old order way in which people can engage with the process of their beliefs – and not just religious belief.

The New Enlightenment

February of last year I wrote an essay about the Global Sexual Marketplace. In that post I described how globalization isn’t just about economics or demographics – globalization also applies to intersexual dynamics. Gone are the days when a young man or young woman could expect to meet one of the handful of eligible, single people in their high school, small town or limited social circle to pair off and start a family with. In the old order young people were stuck with the choices of a limited Local sexual marketplace. Today, with our instant, robust forms of communication, a worldwide sexual marketplace has now opened up the romantic prospects of virtually anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. Don’t like your prospects in your hometown? Now there’s a whole world of men and women waiting to meet you. The old order of intersexual dynamics has fundamentally shifted and all in less than 20 years.

The rapidity of this shift is what I believe is at the root of the problems that surround the new way of doing the old order institutions. As a global society we are still reluctant to let go of the falsehoods of those old order institutions; even in light of the new order evidences and data collected as a result of this unprecedented access. While we attempt to reconcile our old order beliefs with what a global information network confronts them with, we cling evermore tightly to what we thought we knew because it formed the foundation of who we are. And as we try to make sense of it we are presented with both true and false narratives that pander to the fact that this information and technology is progressing at a rate that most human beings’ minds were never evolved to keep pace with.

My good friend Aaron Clarey (Captain Capitalism) recently published a tour de force article on women entering into and dominating most of the future of Corporate America, and how men ought to welcome this change. It’s a great post, so definitely go read the whole thing, but after I’d finished it I was struck with the idea that what Clarey was on to was describing an old order institution (Corporate America) and how we still perceived it from an old order understanding. On the surface it seems counterintuitive to think of women assuming authority over what was the Male Space of Corporate Culture as a good thing. Cap was being facetious for the whole thing, but his point was really this: women have coveted the reigns of Corporate America for a long time now, but their feminist thirst for power (Fempowerment) is based on an old order understanding of what Corporate America really is, or will eventually become. Like a debutant late to the party, the status and prestige that the Feminine Imperative sells women to believe is inherent in Corporate America is all old order bullshit. So, yeah, have at it ladies. The information age has stripped back the curtains on the Corporate America you assumed all that student debt to participate in.

Academia is another area in which this old order vs. new enlightenment understanding is taking place. Prior to 2000 if you heard a particular professor had a reputation for being tough, you had to get it from a third party. Today we have rate-the-professor.com or something similar. Now you can see how well a teacher performed from students who took their classes from a decade ago. 

GlassCeiling.com is an aggregate of current and ex employees rating the work environment of damn near any company today. Yelp.com does something similar to a businesses performance. And as a result most of these companies hire specialized personnel to maintain their online reputations – and this is the paranoia that comes from presuming old order impressions of a company are relevant in a new order paradigm.

Analog Thinking vs. Digital Thinking

“In the future, everything that can be digital will be digital.” 

I’m not sure who originated this quote, but I can remember it being tossed around in graphic design circles as early as 1993. Back then the print industry was transitioning to a digital way of production. Adobe Photoshop was at version 3.0 (when I started using it) and QuarkXpress was revolutionizing pagination for pretty much every publication at the time. The writing was on the wall. I was fortunate to be coming into my career on the cusp of the old order traditional ways of creating ads and publications (stat cameras and pasteup galleys) and learning their digital equivalents in design applications. I had to get real good, real quick, not only in terms of understanding the hardware, software and networking, but also in using it to create effective, creative, advertising. A lot of my contemporaries struggled with this transition. My mentors in design were old school designers. They taught me a lot with respect to effective advertising and design, but they couldn’t teach me the new tech that was changing every 6-8 months. Whereas in the old order a design agency only focused on print media and employed a full complement of professionals for each aspect of production (photography, typography, pasteup, pressmen, etc.) now I was responsible for all of these jobs and more to come as the internet opened up more new media to desktop publishers like me.

I had to get real good, real fast, and maintain my creative edge all while expanding into more and more new areas and methods of producing what I do. The old order designers either adapted or went extinct. Since the early 90s this narrative has played out across countless professions and trades. I can remember listening to Lars Ulrich from Metallica complain about how Napster’s peer-to-peer file sharing of MP3s was going to be the death of the music industry. The old order musicians weren’t ready to accept the realities of “everything that can be digital will be digital”.

Analog business models, analog thinking, that have formed the basis of who we are as a society are still in place today. In some ways we can force-fit those old order ideas into our new order digital reality, but eventually that old order thinking reveals its age. College professors, church pastors, your 9-5 corporate American cubicle supervisor, the self-help guru you think has some sort of relevance, the old pop psychologist whose heyday was in the last millennium, all these personalities and an endless number more are all struggling to stay relevant against the information that the new order of 2020 confronts them with.

It’s not that these people are luddites. They embrace the technology and the new means of disseminating their craft, their ideas, their ideologies, in the digital age. It’s that their thinking is still mired in the analog age – an age in which ideas were formed on information that was limited to what generations that came before could gather with the means they had available to them then. The ideas of an analog age are what we’re presently trying to force-fit into the new understanding presented to us by this digital age. We enjoy the luxuries, sensations and entertainment that the digital affords us, but we immerse ourselves in it without realizing how our old order thinking defines why we enjoy it. Our analog selves, the product of millennia of evolution, still defines what our digital selves are without realizing the dangers inherent in our engaging with it. As such we get digital addictions – pornography, social media, ‘engagement’ – and we make our analog selves dependent on a digital economy.

How many YouTube content producers rely on their ’side hustle’ revenue to pay their bills today? How many self-published authors have quit their day jobs to write for their new employer, Amazon, today (Amazon owns 86% of the publishing market today). How many former cubicle workers decided it was more lucrative to start an internet business than continue slaving away at a corporate gig that only made their bosses rich? Today, we’ll readily shift to the digital world to sustain us financially – in the end we don’t have much choice – but it’s the old order thinking that pervades this new “reality” and causes problems.

The number one way that couples meet, since 2005, is online. Via Tinder or Match or other net based ways. Gone are the days of boy-meets-girl, eyes fixed on the other across a crowded high school gym dance floor. Gone are the days of meeting your “bride” at church camp. Those are old order romanticisms, and ones that we still want to force fit back into our new order reality. We think in analog, but we live in digital.

Barriers to Entry

Another thing I did at age 15 was play a lot of guitar. My teenage, MTV fueled, mind really had a love for music. The heavier the better. But the barrier to becoming a “Guitar God” like my heroes was something that was very prohibitive at that time. If you wanted to get good; good enough to actually get a band going, you had to seek out a guitar instructor at the local music store who hopefully shared your taste in music. Beyond a once-a-week, 1-hour lesson, you had no other means of learning an instrument than practicing on your own, buying a book of guitar tablature from the music store, or endlessly wearing down a cassette tape by going back over the song you wanted to learn again and again. And all this was the process of learning to play just a song you liked. I had to learn how to compose a song, write some lyrics, form a band, learn to promote it, and somehow figure out how to scrape up enough money to record a demo in a music studio. The barrier to entry was very steep. You had to love the art so much that you would dedicate a good portion of your life to mastering it.

Today I can go on YouTube and find a 9 year old girl in a country I’ve never heard of before play Eruption by Eddie Van Halen, note for note, because she learned it from another YouTube “content provider”. We have far more resources to understand how to be competent in, if not master, virtually anything today than at any other time in history. We have access to the entire world’s aggregate of information in a device that fits in our pocket.

In his book, Mastery, Robert Greene describes how the barriers to entry into previously prohibitive arenas of life are gone in the digital age. And just like the music industry of the 70s through the 90s, old order industries and institutions have had to cope with the restructuring of their businesses and lifestyles as new generations of digital savvy (if not digital thinking) people become competent in, sometimes master, what took them decades of perseverance to master themselves. What we see in this shift is the Barons of the old order media, industries and institutions  – who jealously guarded their own knowledge-base – attempting to force-fit their analog thinking into a digital mold.

As a result, conflicts arise. When Über revolutionized the idea of ride-sharing in the digital age, the old order taxi companies enlisted every legal tool in their arsenal to fight the inevitability of their old revenue model disappearing. We see the same scenario play out in everything that can be digital becoming digital now. Even the old order institutions that built their mastery and prosperity on a successful pivot to the digital (the early dot coms) are finding that even newer aspects of the digital now threaten the successes of that initial pivot.

Content is King

Mastery is now easier to attain than at any other time in human history. The old order, analog thinking masters strictly limited teaching their secrets to anyone but the most worthy of apprentices. Those apprentices had to had the most serious dedication to their interests and would likely do menial tasks for much of their apprenticeships just to be in the presence of their mentors. That hard-won mastery is gone in the digital age. That’s not to say that practice and dedication aren’t still necessary for mastery today, but the barriers are largely removed. As a result, we are now encountering a generation of self-appointed “masters” in arenas wherein previously the title of that position of mastery implied respectability. Again, old order thinking predisposes us to believe that if a self-declared master online grants himself a title we should presume he “did the work” to earn that title.

For all this easy access to competency, mastery, information-based skills, what we find lacking is real, valuable content. It’s great that we have access to the tool boxes of old order masters, but what do we build with those tools? Thus far, not very much. Usually those tools build rehashes of old order ideas to be sold as something novel in the digital age. When I’m critical of the Success Porn grifters of this digital age, what I’m really drawing attention to is the reselling of old order, tired ideals. Motivational speakers, new age gurus, self-help “coaches” of today, are really only selling the same old order thinking in a more convenient, more easily disseminated digital method. The content is old. The religion is old. The thinking is old, and it’s thinking that is still firmly rooted in an old order understanding of how the world ought to be based on the limited information set available to the people creating it at that time.

The ease of the digital new order makes us lazy. For all of the access we have now, for all of the information we have, we’ve never been more unmotivated. The process of mastery, the process and dedication needed to attain it, used to contribute to the creative impetus required to use it. Today we’ve never been less creative in our thinking. It’s why we keep returning to old order stories and movie franchises. We just retell the same old order thinking stories in more advanced and colorful ways with the technology of the digital order. But we just repeat ourselves; or we add some social justice twist to stories that were timeless because the art took precedence over any other consideration.

The Red Pill

In the earliest days of the seduction community the forums that sprang up around men looking to get laid was an extension of this old order vs. new order thinking. The internet and conversation forums dedicated to Game, pickup artistry and dating were a predictable application of attempting to solve old order problems (getting laid) with new order information. Men in particular wanted to figure this out, so, as expected, they would coalesce and compare notes across the planet, each sharing their personal experiences with other men. Then further combining that experience with data available from psychology, anthropology, sociology, evolutionary theory and dozens of other related fields of study to provide a global consortium of men with a more accurate database on intersexual dynamics than they’d ever had available to them in any prior era.

Up to this point (I estimate 2001 or so) men had to figure out the dynamics between themselves and what women were becoming since the Sexual Revolution. And most of that “figuring it out” was based on limited information, based on old order thinking. The old challenges of understanding ourselves doesn’t change, but the way we think about those challenges is in constant flux; and that changing has become increasingly more rapid in a global age.

With that change comes conflict with the old order thinking. In terms of the Red Pill, old order thinking manifests itself as Purple Pill regressiveness. Often times the new Red Pill awareness conflicts with the old order thinking that present generations have based their existences on. They refuse to acknowledge the data we have access to now that we didn’t when they were forming beliefs and ideals that would form their personalities and ego-investments. Yes, there are certain timeless truths, but we must hold “common sense” to the same scrutiny we would apply to new ideas in this age. When I identify a person or a concept as Purple Pill this is what I mean by it; usually, it is an old order ideal being force fit to conform to align with new order data. 

We desperately want our belief sets, our ideals, to be confirmed by the information we have access to in the digital age. Sometimes this does happen and we feel validated for it, but more often we see that our efforts in building a life according to the old social contract or an old order way of understanding ourselves and the world is invalidated. And this is what either builds us up anew or forces us into stasis in our lives.

The Red Pill has been redefined in many ways on many occasions over the past 20 years to fit the sensibilities of people who really want to give a new validity to whatever pet ideology they think it should apply to. Most of these people have no business calling anything “red pill”, but they’re attracted to the concept as a proxy term for ’truth’. 

Initially, in the earliest days of the SoSuave Forums, we used the Matrix analogy to describe how a guy who still believed and still behaved according to his old order understanding (his conditioning) of intersexual dynamics was stuck in his ignorance. The old way of thinking about women – that up to that point was based on limited and largely inaccurate information – was still what a Blue Pill guy would accept as reality. It required a guy to “unplug” himself from that old order-informed way of thinking and transition to a new awareness of intersexual dynamics. Hopefully that guy could live a better life (even save his own life) by using the information in that new order tool box. Thus, we have the Red Pill analogy, but what the Red Pill really describes is exactly the casting off of an old order ignorance in favor of a new order thinking predicated on information we were limited from in prior ages.

We are entering a new, digital Age of Enlightenment. I know a lot of the Manosphere would tell us we’re heading for a new Dark Ages of degeneracy and decay. Enjoy the decline, right? If this is true and we are spiraling to more ignorance, depravity and superstition on a now globalized scale it will be the result of not changing our ways of thinking according to the new data we have access to today. It’s never been easier to become what we want to become today, but with that facility comes lethargy, a lack of creativity and insight, and self-gratifying sedation. Just because we’ve been enlightened by this new, globalizing knowledge-base doesn’t mean we know how to apply it.

If we do enter a decline it will be the result of an inability to unplug from a comforting old order way of thinking.

This essay is from an abridged preview of my upcoming book The Rational Male – Religion.

Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

Respect Reconsidered • Part II

The Rational Man - Wed, 12/18/2019 - 00:47

Respect comes very cheap today. In the last essay i made the case that there are gendered forms of Respect, each with their gendered understanding of what a universal idea of respect should entail. The same misunderstanding applies to our gendered concepts of Love; each sex presumes the other accepts and acknowledges their own ideals about love – men approaching love from outwardly expressed idealism, while women’s is rooted in inwardly (though increasingly outwardly) expressed opportunism.

For the most part this division of approaches to Love is something both sexes hold personally, and unless that person is an artist or a poet the expression of that approach to love is something we reserve for those we come to love. Love, like religion, is usually something we have a personal belief about, but it’s generally something we don’t broadcast to those we don’t love.

Respect is different. Our ideas of what defines respect is something we will broadcast because that ideal for Respect is something that’s socially expedient in getting the things we want. The first time I was told, “You don’t respect women!” was when I was 19. Even then, in my Blue Pill delusions, I saw a contradiction. The women (and sometimes men) who were telling me I didn’t Respect women were almost always after something. No one tells that you ought to be more respectful because they want you to be a better person, nor are you corrected because the ideal of respect was even a primary concern. No, people tell you to show respect when they want something or they have an interested invested in you deferring respect to the person or thing they believe you ought to be paying respect to.

Pay Tribute or Pay Respect?

In fact, the idea that one ought to “pay” respect to something or someone else really sets the context for the utility that Respect represents to them. You “owe” respect to an ephemeral ideal in the same way you “pay your dues”, like a personal debt that someone insists you owe because you want to be reverent of the concept of Respect. And this basis for Respect is why I say Respect has been cheapened today.

Even when I was 19 and women would attempt to shame me into deference to women with Respect, I saw the contradiction between women and men’s concepts of Respect. My male idea of Respect was one of the few things my father had imparted to me. So, naturally, I questioned the idea, “What do women actually do that’s worthy of my respect?” Respect was earned. Lord knows I hadn’t done much to deserve anyone’s respect at 19, but I did know that deeds and acts were something a man had to do to gain respect – and maybe somewhere along the way acquire integrity (another container word). My smart ass response was “I don’t know any women who deserve my respect.” And that was true, but every Blue Pill conditioned guy I knew then would tell me, “You’ll never get girls to like you with that attitude mister.”

So, basically, if I wanted a girl to be intimate with me I had to feign respect for her because she’s a girl? The Blue Pill teaches men, yes, and the better you are at pretending it the more a woman will appreciate you. This is where the debasement of Respect (as an ideal) in our feminine-primary social order begins. Unmerited respect for women only reinforces the Women are, Men must become principle. Men must become, men must qualify, men must perform. As such, male respect is something that is almost always in flux. Women’s respect just is, and thereby female respect is something more static.

Respect for the Sake of Respect

In a gynocentric society the predominant definition of respect, the one that is transferred to virtually all aspects of that social order, is the female concept. Automatic, deferential, but ultimately unmerited respect simply for being – female respect – is considered a useful tool, but cheapens the ideal of respect and what makes a person respectable.

When I outlined the difference between male and female concepts of Love, one of the first things men do is get indignant. They don’t like the idea that women don’t share their own ‘love for the sake of love’ idealism. My point was that women “fundamentally lack the capacity to love a man in the way he thinks should be possible for her.” This is difficult for a Blue Pill conditioned guy to wrap his head around. Much of who they are was built on the premised goal that women will “love him as much as he loves her”, so to suggest that this isn’t possible for him means that “women fundamentally lack a capacity to love men, period.” They conclude that if women cannot share his idealistic approach to Love then they cannot legitimately love him. His concept should be the only acceptable concept and therefor rejecting his concept is rejecting its legitimacy.

This same singleminded interpretation applies largely to women and their form of respect. If men would hold a woman to a merited, male, standard of respect, rather than a default deference to respecting her for no measurable reason, then those men don’t believe in Respect at all. It’s her way or it isn’t real.

Most men are afraid to appear disrespectful to women. This fear is compounded by the mass effect of a globalized sexual marketplace

When I was 19 I was concerned that I’d done something wrong. Why would women presume I didn’t respect them? I was perceived as a Jerk and I just knew that that wasn’t what women really wanted. I didn’t know it then, but this was a shaming tactic being used to keep me in line as a prospectively useful Beta. In a way I suppose it was a meta-shit test. An Alpha man wouldn’t care if women thought he was respectful. A sure sign a guy is Beta would be reflected in how he responds to being accused of disrespect of women (really ‘womankind‘).

In truth, a default respect for women is really worthless from a male perspective. I’m sure that just my typing this out will be enough to trigger most women, but if you are triggered, it’s more important to consider why you are. A default respect for females may seem like a socially correct perspective for an “upstanding leader of men” Blue Pill Alpha archetype, but it is men who adopt the attitude that women must qualify themselves to him who engender genuine respect among women.

Flipping the Respect Script

This is an important lesson in Game as well. One of the first things many of the old school PUAs would teach an AFC (Average Frustrated Chump) is to flip the script with respect to who is qualifying whom. The natural presumption for most Blue Pill men is that they must always qualify to a woman. Usually this entails proving his quality in various ways (buy her a drink, pay for dinner, carry the conversation, etc.), but the operative assumption is that she is the one whose Frame he is entering into. The PUA fundamental then was to flip this ‘natural‘ script; to get her to pursue him. In doing so, her subconscious confirms his high value – why else would she pursue? If a guy could cleverly tease this pursuit out of her it then creates a perpetuating feedback loop about him [until he fucks it up somehow by reverting to qualifying to her].

Flipping the qualification script with a woman presents one very difficult hurdle for the AFC: he must risk offending the social convention that tells him he must never disrespect a woman. This is where the larger, social, respect dynamic becomes apparent.

From a Beta male, Respect is cheap. Most Betas’ attention comes for free and is steeped in the idea that he must never upset the respect dynamic. But just like love, attention and interest, women don’t value Respect that is easily had. Too much circulation makes the price go down, and scarcity makes the price go up. We constantly tell men to make, and consider, themselves ‘the Prize‘, but to do this a man must risk offending a default female respect to shift the Frame to a default male respect. This is counterintuitive part of unplugging and learning Game.

That deference is what is expected. To respect women is common. What is uncommon is a lack of female respect. Therefor a default respectful deference is basic and plain to a woman. But it is the man whose respect a woman must earn who make the most significant impact and inspire the greatest emotional investment on her part. As I’ve stated in many essays, never deny a woman the satisfaction of believing she’s figured you out with her feminine intuition. Women expect a worthy Alpha to command respect amongst his peers, but also to expect her to earn his respect. And in her meriting it, she then holds a new respect for him.

Respect, as social dynamic, is an attempt to govern the terms of communication. Respect also has its utilities. It’s a rational for an easy dismissal of uncomfortable facts. For instance, Mansplaining presumes a lack of respect for women by a man who is trying to define what ought to constitute respect. It is a means of controlling a narrative. A “lack of respect” is an easy way to poison the well in any debate and also serves as the basis of a lot of straw man arguments.

Higher Love

Respect is defined by the party who decides what it is, and who should have it. In this way Respect is intimately linked with Frame, and since women’s form of respect is the socially predominant one today, the starting point of most intersexual exchanges begins with the presumption that a woman should control the Frame by means of a default, unearned respect. And to some hopelessly Blue Pill men who invariably mix that conditioning with religion, this respect then becomes a form of Reverence for the female.

In Part I of this series I dropped this line:

God is Love
[…] I’ve been exploring the way men and women idealize the concept of divine love from a god or some metaphysical source. Each sex has a gendered concept of love that they believe the other sex shares with them, but in fact doesn’t naturally come to without some education or experience.

To which a commenter left me this in the comments thread:

“God is love”. Rollo, this is just one more on the heap of things I am struggling with regards to my “christian faith”. I am very much looking forward to reading Alpha God and eventually your 4th book.


Unconditional love is the main message of the new testament. Could it be that Christianity is really that feminized not just by “the village” and feminized church today but actually? Could the New testament be a watering down of the old Jahve Religion? 

Zoltan

While I’m not planning on exploring Red Pill concepts of “unconditional love” on this blog, I will be picking apart the implications of how men and women’s differing concepts of love come to define, or set the understanding of an ideal of a ‘higher love’ (don’t sing the song, don’t sing the song,…).

So what does this have to do with Respect?

Everything if you consider the gender whose definition of what Respect should be is the socially predominant on at any point in history. Performance defines men’s existences. Performance determines respectability for men and earning one’s way into Heaven might be the highest form of respect, right?

More next week.

Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

Respect Reconsidered – Part I

The Rational Man - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 22:36

Thank you for your patience in my absence. I’ve been focusing intensely on the 4th book for the past 2 months and I will be for the foreseeable future. The good news is I’m ‘in the zone‘ so to speak. I have the ability to occasionally get myself into a flow state where an idea I was originally working on branches off into other ideas that I have to follow or else I risk losing the branch altogether.

This is just how my mind works. Regular viewers of my podcasts understand this in real-time. I can start off with a solid premise – often one I’ve been considering (repeating) since the early days – and as I’m making it I consider how it affects other ideas and I have to follow that thread. I know, it’s annoying sometimes, but I do my best to organize my thoughts once they’re all out on the table.

I do this in my ideation process when I’m writing too. Right now I’m looking at no fewer than eight notebooks (9 if you count my gym log) that I keep to return to when I’m exploring ideas. Two of these are full. The oldest I’ve had since my first book was published, but I keep returning to it because I scribbled down ideas regarding religion and the Red Pill back then. This was from an era when I was much more active on Dalrock’s blog and I was hammering things out with a lot of guys struggling with Red Pill awareness, and reconciling it with their religious convictions. It was then I came across an unpublished reconsideration of the concept of Respect. I titled it Respect Reconsidered with the intent of coming back to an essay I wrote in 2012 called Respect. This original essay was inspired by some of my earliest conversations on the venerable SoSuave forums circa 2002-2010. I still think it holds up pretty well, but my reinterest in the topic of respect has come anew from my working on this fourth book.

So, at the risk of giving away a little bit of book 4, I’m going to delve into the concept of respect today.

God is Love?

Book 4 is about squaring Red Pill praxeology (deal with it) with religion. As a part of this I’ve had to re-outline my original premise on Love and how men and women approach love from different concepts. I wont bore you with reiterating it here (there’s a whole category on love in the side bar), but suffice to say that men and women come to love, and have an understanding of love, based on gendered ideals that are specific to our biological and psychological differences as men and women. Most intersexual conflicts between men and women are rooted in the presumption of a mutual, commonly understood concept of what love is to both sexes. The truth is men and women hold differing mental models of what legitimate “real” love means to them. Each sex arrives at this understanding as a result of their experience as a man or a woman, and then molded by outside influences and innate idealism.

This was an important distinction to consider while I’ve been exploring the way men and women idealize the concept of divine love from a god or some metaphysical source. Each sex has a gendered concept of love that they believe the other sex shares with them, but in fact doesn’t naturally come to without some education or experience. It’s this presumption and misunderstanding that is the source of conflict between men and women and how they expect the other to Just Get It with respect to how they’d have the other sex love them.

But if men and women have different, innately gendered concepts of love is it possible that there are other higher concepts they might not share the same ideas about, but presumes the other sex just gets? I believe so, and Respect is at the top of the list of those higher concepts.

Respect is earned?

When I was having my now infamous discussion with Andrew Tate a month ago we (quite unintentionally) hit upon the concept of respect and how men and women view it differently. A lot of my female viewers – particularly the newer female viewers – despised the truths that we were discussing about the nature of women:

“No woman would ever agree to ‘share a hot Alpha’! Any woman who would must not respect herself.”

“No woman wants to have sex with a guy she doesn’t respect! If she’s not fucking you with any real desire it’s because she doesn’t respect the guy she’s with.”

“You can’t expect a woman to submit to a man she doesn’t respect.”

These were a few of the comments and responses that got me thinking; Respect is an idea that men and women hold different concepts of as a result of our innate sexual differences. The criteria that would prompt respect in a woman is not the same that prompts it in a man.

A lot gets made about mutual respect being a keystone of a good relationship. It’s one of those sayings like “Open communication is the basis of a healthy relationship” or “Relationship take a lot of work.” Respect is another truism that sounds right. Because it’s so ambiguous, and it’s generally only legitimized according to one sex, it’s easy (mostly for women) to use a “lack of respect” as leverage or an alibi to excuse behavior or a misunderstanding between men and women.

The concept of respect today is cheap. We use it far too readily to explain away why we, or someone we identify with did what they did. We use a convenient, subjective understanding of respect as a qualifier for describing what we agree or disagree with. And we use this cheapened “respect” to grade a person’s integrity according to what we think others should agree or disagree with – usually by how it aligns with our own interests.

Male Respect is not the same as Female Respect

The popular concept is that Respect is something that should be a default setting. People deserve respect. Disrespecting someone, or ambiguously implying a ‘dis‘ might be enough to get your ass kicked. Today’s globalized concept of respect is the subjective female concept – respect is always on. This is a respect based on ‘grace‘, it just is, and it should be freely given to discourage the idea that anyone is greater or lesser than another. We all deserve respect is very much a collectivist form of respect.

At first I thought that maybe Respect was something being confused with common courtesy, but no. There are two main dictionary definitions of what respect is, and this is where we will see the gendered difference between these concepts:

Respect

1. A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

2. Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.

Courtesy

1. The showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others.

Courtesy and the feminine form of Respect (2.) are very similar. Today’s global respect is rooted in the feminine form. I’ll explain this below, but a default respect based on race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, religion and other aspects of human diversity is the feminine concept; unearned and by default always ‘on’.

Women just are. Men must become.

This is an old Manosphere maxim. I’ve used it many times to describe the male Burden of Performance. To be a human male is to exist in a dominance hierarchy until your last day. Men must perform. In fact, it is part of our inborn nature to want to perform for women because it is the most deductive way to solve men’s reproductive problem. When a young boy sees a pretty girl for the first time his natural impulse is to find a way to draw her attention. Ride a wheelie down the street on his bicycle or some other, usually risk taking, feat to prove physical prowess and a capture her attention. Most male animals do some form of this showing off to get a female interested in eventually breeding with him. The PUA concept of Peacocking and why it’s effective finds its roots in this dynamic. Call that being a Dancing Monkey if you like, but performance comes naturally to men.

Competence, physical prowess, creative intelligence, dominance, social proof and preselection are the metric by which we rate a man’s respectability. The Burden of Performance is not only about women determining who they’ll choose to mate with, it’s also about men’s merit-based ranking of respectability and admirability. This applies to all social interactions (family, career, military, athletics, etc.). It is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements that makes a man respectable. How we define this respectability by context of cultural, moralistic or personal metrics is the topic for the next essay in this series.

Male Respect is for Male Space

Of course, this definition can apply to exceptional women, but this concept of respect is male in origin. This male form of respect is part of a male dominance hierarchy. Women can insist on being included in this definition, but it rarely works out in their favor – at least not in the same way that a default female form of respect works for women. One reason women (the Feminine Imperative) insists on assimilating Male Space is in order to restructure it to have access to this male form of respectability. The problem is that in restructuring that space to accommodate their deficits, women fundamentally alter the nature of that male form of respect.

TheWarrior Princess strong female lead mythology that Hollywood writers think is empowering to women isn’t believable because our hindbrains understand the deception that’s being played on it. We’re supposed to respect this fictitious archetype in a male form of respectability, but it falls short for us because 100,000 years of evolution prevents our hindbrains from suspending our disbelief.

We know what usually happens when women are called to measure up to a male Burden of Performance. Today, transgender male athletes competing and dominating in female-division sports are a sharp reminder of this performance-to-respect distinction in gender. The gynocentric element that squawks the loudest about gender being a social construct is the same element that complains about male athletes putting female athletes to shame in the same sport or activity while masquerading as female. As a result, we don’t respect men who pretend to be women, and then outclass them in competency, in order to appeal to a male form of performance-based respectability. Our hindbrains, men and women’s, reject the legitimacy of what we’re expected (by a gynocentric social order) to respect by merit.

Men earn no admiration from beating girls, but women always are afforded admiration for defeating men. Why? Because our hindbrain presumes a state of performance superiority on the part of men.

Female Respectability

Women’s respectability comes by default.

Respect by virtue of just being female is due to all women, irrespective of performance. In a gynocentric social order this form of respect is the common one applied to social forms of respect. I’m still on the fence as to whether common courtesy is a part of this form of respect. As I mentioned above, default courtesy and respect are due to any and all based on race, creed, religion, etc. This is the due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. So it could be that courtesy is the expression of this default respect when we’re talking about larger narratives of respect (race, religion, culture, etc.) In either instance, respect is unmerited and really cheapened in a feminine-primary context.

But for women, just to be a female is to be entitled to respect; and only in the circumstance of intra-sexual competition among women is this form of respect ever challenged. Default respect for women is utilitarian for virtually all women. The entitlement to respect is constantly leveraged for advantage and special dispensation among women with men.

Women just are, is the premise here. Female respectability is never merit based, though it can be lost if a woman is convinced that she “has no respect for herself” or if someone casts that woman as self-loathing, but this is only effective when it comes from other women. In a feminine-primary social order men can never challenge a woman’s respectability without the risk of incurring some social backlash or damage to his own performance-based respectability. And labels of sexist, misogynist and chauvinist await any man who would challenge the default respect that is due to women.

Chivalry, Virtue and Female Respectability

A lot of this impression is the result of the old social contract and men’s evolved instinct to protect women. This protector instinct will also be the topic of another essay, but suffice to say that the evolved imperative to protect women (sperm is cheap, eggs are expensive) crosses over into the chivalrous notion of protecting the honor of a lady. At various points in human history (western and eastern) this protector instinct has crossed over into societal practices. During the era of Courtly Love a woman’s virtue became something to defend – and by defending that virtue a man merited respect by earning a woman’s favor. I’ve detailed this dynamic in prior essays; the romanticized form of Chivalry was a means to female power in an epoch when the entire social order was effectively a Male Space. Romanticized Chivalry was the feminism of its time.

The Feminine Imperative understood the protector tendency in men and exploited it in the practices of courtly love or romantic love being elevated to a requisite criteria for male respectability. The social pedestalization of women that forms the basis of the old social contract we know today was started in the ideals of romanticized chivalry. A big part of men’s Burden of Performance under the old social contract was his dedication to protecting a woman’s honor if he himself was to be respectable in the male form of respect.

Feminists will of course bleat that “In the past women were treated like property“.

Yet at some point along the way, even while a woman was a man’s ‘property’ (arguable) she was still held above the male form of respect and a female form of respect became her due. Even in the old Patriarchal Abrahamic religions wives and most in-group women were held in high regard and served as role model archetypes for female respectability. The only way to really lose this due-respect was to be a prostitute or an adulterous woman – both bad bets for men’s parental investment trade-offs and ensuring his own paternity in the long run. Being a nag was also something a respectable woman would avoid, but the operative here is that, default respect for women didn’t require anything like the male Burden of Performance.

Respect Your Elders – “Okay, Boomer,…”

One last point to note is that respect for one’s elders used to be included in this default form of respectability. This is no longer the case today, at least for men. My theory is that by virtue of being older the presumption was one of attained wisdom. Maturity implies mastery, or at least it used to. So, a default respect for one’s elders entered into religious canon. Honor thy father and mother, for instance, is a reflection of this default respect.

But in today’s gloablizing social media marketplace being old is a weakness and a liability unless what makes that man respectable is relatable to his prior performance. And even then respect is just a courtesy if it appears at all. Default socialized respect for women is generally a given in gynocentrism, but mature men are held to the performance burden of young men, because we have such access to seeing this performance difference in real time today.

There is a similar questioning of respect based on a position of authority for men. School teachers, martial arts instructors, policemen, civil authorities and military officials are examples of this diminishing respect. There is a saying that even if you don’t respect the man you should respect the office, but today this is no longer the case. Position no longer indicates respectability the way it used to under the old social contract.

Next week, I’ll be publishing part two of this series.

Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

Unconscious Contempt

The Rational Man - Sat, 11/16/2019 - 04:23

Today’s essay was inspired by the lead image you see here and the subsequent exchange I had on Twitter about it. What you see here is a rather nebbish looking husband, I presume post-surgery, recovering from his vasectomy in bed. He is surrounded by cutesy post-it note jokes his wife left him (kind of like the notes your mom might put in your school lunch when you were a child) on a plethora of sugary snacks from the pantry.

The number of kids we’ll be having in the future – Zero

Forgive me if I Snicker

Sorry your dong got dinged

Good-bye to your swimmers

Mini Nonuts

Your berries got crunched

These are just a few of the ‘jokes’ his wife spent an awful lot of time creating.

Beta men and their wives joking about their vasectomies has become the meme du jour on all the usual social media sites where women congregate to appease their egos, gloss their girlfriends’ and commiserate about their fates of being wives and mothers. Before I dig in here I think I need to point out the utility that social media has evolved to serve in most women’s lives now. There was a time when a woman’s indignation needs could be met by daytime television, talkshows and romance novels when living vicariously through their girlfriends’ lives wasn’t sufficient. Today, women’s innate need for indignation is provided on-tap courtesy of the internet, social media and cutesy-but-insulting images of a husband are almost passé. I know, I’ve discussed this topic on a few podcasts, but it’s becoming increasingly more important for a man to understand what social media is providing to women’s nature and how their relationships are indirectly influenced by the exchanges their wives and girlfriends are having online.

I’ve seen a few of these “I got a vasectomy and my wife thinks it’s funny” social media posts before this one. Creating little post-it note jokes to apply to the snacks in the pantry might seem cute, but why is this even a thing? Why is it women/wives think it’s cute to publicly ridicule their partner about the impotence he elected to have? Amongst the Facebook and Instagram shots of her life, amongst the motivational quote memes, and among the complaints about kids, marriage and domestic life a moment of ridiculing their husband seems par for the course. And it’s all acceptable so long as the context is one of being ‘all in fun’.

Marriage today is a dicey proposition for men. I talk and write a lot about the overwhelmingly high risks of life and livelihood men should consider when it comes to how we do legal marriage in this era. MGTOW or not most men understand that marriage is basically for women now – at least with respect to the legal protections and the win-win incentives that are advertised for women. If all a woman ever did was read about marriage from social media and popular culture one would have to wonder why she would ever want to sign up for a lifetime of dealing with a husband, or the caricatures of average men, at all. The contempt for men, even in the most good natured, humorous, ways is palpable on most social media. It’s entirely acceptable, even expected, to deprecate the foibles of men in marriage. We literally can’t do anything right in a ‘female correct’ online world.

And like the “child-in-a-man’s-body” that women complain about, most of these average husbands are okay with being the butt of the joke. In fact, most are enthusiastic about their self-deprecation because they’ve been conditioned to think that doing so endears them to the women who married them and proves they’re “secure in their masculinity”.

Can’t you take a joke?

The first thing any woman, and any Beta male, will say is, “C’mon Rollo, it’s all in fun. Imagine being so humorless as not to get this? Who hurt you?” I think there’s an underlying acknowledgement of the passive aggressiveness that inspires this ‘humor’. When a comedian like Dave Chappell throws caution to the wind and does a 90 minute comedy routine that is funny as hell, but attacks the unassailable ‘correctness’ of our present social narrative we laugh along knowing the latent message of the humor. So, what is the latent message of making a man’s (elective) impotency a joke?

Imagine what the outrage would be on social media were you to make ‘cute’ jokes in the same way about your wife’s uterine ablation or tubal ligation. At the very least women wouldn’t think it was funny. No one tells women, “Lighten up. What, are you so insecure in your femininity that you can’t take a joke?” When a woman is rendered infertile it doesn’t occur to anyone to make light of it, but for a man to be neutered – and at the mutual agreement with his wife – we find the hit to his masculinity hilarious. Why is this?

I realize I’m focusing on one incident here in this image posted on r/funny, but this is an example of a larger dynamic. It’s socially acceptable to ridicule the impotency of Beta men. As I detailed in Selective Breeding, women will openly attack men’s genitals as a reflexive response to the possibility that a lesser man might try to fool her Hypergamous filters. A guy getting kicked in the nuts by a woman is always funny.

If women’s existential fear is being tricked into reproducing with a Beta male, then forcing herself to settle on a suboptimal man must inspire an inner conflict in her. There are lots of controversial self-help books published by women on both sides of this conflict. Some argue for women to accept a Beta guy and just make the best of it, others (especially religious books) argue that a woman should never compromise herself and wait for the best man (the ‘soulmate’ husband God has preordained for her) to present himself to her.

In Selective Breeding I made the argument that women’s existential fear is the possibility of having her Hypergamous filter (feminine intuition) fooled by a Beta male and becoming saddled with his shitty genetics for the rest of her life. This is a primal, evolved, fear for women that manifest itself, often unconsciously, in many of women’s behaviors that we either take for granted or we have social conventions that accommodate them. Decidedly gynocentric societies will legally mandate against this existential fear.

But what about women who are already married or pair-bonded with men that their evolved subconscious knows is a suboptimal choice for her? What about women who are trapped in a marriage with a guy that her hindbrain confirms is not the ‘best she can do’? How does that primal fear of being saddled with a faithful Beta manifest itself? 

He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.

Sigmund Freud

Unconscious Contempt

I would argue that women today have never been more comfortable in expressing their contempt of the men they married. My recent essays on Polyamory and the deconstruction of men’s Paternity imperatives have been an exploration of how a feminine-primary social order is reimagining itself with respect to how men and women will come together and form families in the future. People will claim that women’s lack of respect for the masculine is the result of generations of men not living up to some old-school ideal. That might be so, but women have no respect for the masculine, the male experience, simply because they have no need to. 

Why do women feel comfortable – to the point of taking it for granted – in expressing contempt for their husbands? We can argue the basis of where this passive-aggressiveness comes from, but why is it okay to veil this contempt in humor?

why do we as a society normalize hating your partner wow i am so bothered this morning pic.twitter.com/gbdcu5Ddmd

— happy nicksgiving (@nickykens) November 13, 2019

Before I get run up the flagpole for being a humorless boor let me reiterate that I’m not saying men ought to read more into things like this. My point is the bigger picture here; why do we find this funny at all? I believe it’s a form of anxiety release for women who’ve committed to a lifetime of parental investment with a man that her hindbrain knows is less than what she believes is best for her.

These images were pulled from an Instagram account called Motherhood Through Letterboards. What’s interesting about this is the contempt for fathers and husbands that bleeds through what we should probably have a sense of humor about. You can have a look at some of these to get the context, but the latent purpose of this exercise is a release of the anxiety created by women’s pairing and reproducing with men that their hindbrains cannot accept as Alpha.

Again, we talk a lot in the Manosphere about how social media contributes to the gross overinflation of women’s sense of self. It’s easy to see how women overestimate their sexual market value, and then conflate it with their personal value, but there’s more to this than just the woman on OKCupid who thinks she’s a 9 when she’s really a 6. There comes a time when that woman with the overblown sense of self must “settle” on a man who her hindbrain believes isn’t the best she could do. The metric by which she judges what is the best she can do is also subject to this ego-overinflation.

The main reason most women agonize over the question of whether she should “settle” for Mr. Good Enough is rooted in this Hypergamous conflict that usually comes at a time in her life where her SMV and her options with men are decaying. Today, the reason we see the age of first marriage being pushed later and later in life for women is due to women prolonging this indecision. She knows she can do better than the less-exciting Beta who seems like her best option in her Epiphany Phase because she’s had better in her Party Years. She also knows she can do better because social media and a constant steeping in the new Global Sexual Marketplace has convinced her she’s actually a 9, not a 6, and anything less than perfect is a waste of her potential. All of this plays on women’s primal, Existential Fear of pairing with a suboptimal mate choice – for life.

But now she’s committed. She married the only guy who would date her in that phase of her life given her circumstances. She married the Beta in Waiting, who’s overjoyed that he’s finally found his Quality Woman who appreciates his type. He’s thanking God for bringing him a woman who tells him “I’m done with the Jerks” and wants to do the ‘right’ thing now – while her hindbrain is contending with her existential fear becoming reality due to her own necessity. Now add 1-2 children into this mix (his or not) and you get this passive-aggressive manifestation of her existential angst.

Fortunately for her there’s an unending number of women experiencing exactly the same unconscious contempt for the men they married online in dozens of popular social media groups. The desire to “punch him in the face” is always tempered with “love”, humor and platitudes about relationships always being “hard work”.

End Note: Vasectomies

I feel it’s incumbent upon me to address what will be the predictable binary responses of literalist critics here:

• No, I’m not saying don’t get a vasectomy.

• No, I’m also not saying that if you did get a vasectomy you’re a pathetic loser Beta.

I will however point out that when I see stories about how a Beta husband did come to the decision to get a vasectomy there are always a lot of subconscious reasonings that go along with it. For all the notions of egalitarian marriages and self-praise for being rationally evolved above the hindbrain interpretations, on some level of consciousness a man electing to sterilize himself is a confirmation of the value he puts in his masculinity. This is why women think it’s funny to ridicule your impotency. Her hindbrain has 100% confirmation that you know your reproductive viability has no value.

A man’s reasons for getting a vasectomy may be valid and in some ways empowering for him. I imagine there’s at least some confidence to be derived from knowing you wont be held responsible for any “accidental” pregnancies. I get why men would opt for it, but the way a woman’s feral brain interprets a man sterilizing himself is what I’m getting at here. You may think, “Well, I don’t give a damn what women think about it.” Fine. Totally valid, but I’m outlining a woman’s instinctual response to a man permanently preventing his own reproduction. There is a subcommunication underneath this decision that denotes emasculation, and this is what women resent.

In some ways I see wives celebrating their husband’s vasectomy for reasons that have nothing to do with improving their sex lives. In the original Twitter thread I had men tell me that they got a vasectomy at the suggestion of their wives, believing it would lead to greater sexual frequency (or any sex in a sexless marriage) only to admit that it never improved anything for them. So, why the goading to get a vasectomy? The dots I keep connecting are a subconscious desire on the part of women to geld a husband to ensure he never reproduces with other women. It’s almost like a service she’s doing for the Sisterhood. She’s making sure that her mistake never becomes any other woman’s mistake.

Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

Rob Kuntz & Arneson's True Genius

The Viridian Scroll - Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:24
TLDR: this book is a hot mess, but buried in it is an interesting, if IMO flawed, perspective. 




CaveatThis is my reading of Rob Kuntz' book: Dave Arneson's True Genius. It was not an easy work to unlock. Any errors in representing it are mine. I am very critical of Rob Kuntz in this summation and review, even though I found some of his thoughts "interesting." I don't want anyone to interpret my dislike of this work, or its execution, as in any way devaluing Arneson's contribution to D&D. It has been established in very authoritative forums (like Peterson's Playing at the World) that Arneson contributed a number of critical, innovative, and formative ideas to role-playing in general and D&D in particular.
Who is Rob Kuntz?Rob Kuntz, as a teenager, lived with Gary Gygax's family. He was there when Dave Arneson demoed Blackmoor to Gary in 1972 and was an early playtester, taking part in Gygax's Greyhawk campaign of the same year. He literally saw the birth, a good portion of the evolution of D&D. Rob also worked for TSR from its founding through 1977.
Part 1: Assertions About GygaxIn Arneson's True Genius, Rob Kuntz makes the following claims:

When Gygax used Arneson's ideas to design D&D, he did irreparable harm to Arneson's legacy and the entire potential future arc of the hobby by:
  • "Redacting" Arneson's ideas. Gygax built a marketable system of role-playing by taking what was already established – wargame rules – and adding to them some of Arneson's ideas that were groundbreaking but neutralized through systematization. Kuntz refers to this as "enchaining" D&D and reducing it to a "market +1" state. Meaning Gary used Arneson's ideas to make the next predictable market thing.
  • Setting the precedent for the industry. The fact of D&D's success created inertia that moved the entire hobby community in one direction and defined the role-playing industry. This financially-proven groove meant that other possible futures were left unexplored, e.g. one that extended from Arneson's way of playing the game. 
  • Discouraging others from creating. When Gygax created AD&D, he moved D&D from an open system – which encouraged players to invent – to a closed system – an "official" rules set that discouraged innovation and established TSR's intellectual property. This was directly contradictory to an Arneson's open and flexible system ideas.
  • Doing all of this in bad faith. Gygax (like Arneson) never played D&D by the rules he set forth. In selling the D&D rules to the world, Gygax actively suppressed the true style of play in which he and Arneson indulged themselves and their players.

My Impressions of the Book and the Above ClaimsDave Arneson's True Genius is frustrating to read because of its poor organization, vague ideas, and ridiculously stilted and ornate language. Some paragraphs are so convoluted that I had to guess at their meaning after several failed attempts to decode them into English. The entire book has only about 55 pages of actual (widely-spaced, large font) text, and they contain the same half dozen ideas repeated throughout. 
The argument that Gygax damaged Arneson's ideas, and his future potential, and hoodwinked us all by selling us a set of rules that falls short of the Platonic ideal of a role-playing game is academic, rhetorical, and immature. It boils down to crying over what might have been. This is especially silly when one realizes that Arneson had decades in which to present an alternative by a) fully describing his original play style and b) building on it. Arneson failed to do either of those things in any way that engaged or inspired a significant portion of the community.
In assuming that the move to a closed set of rules (with AD&D) was solely about denying the creativity of DMs, Kuntz misses that it enabled a more communal, common play experience and the production of adventure modules (some of which Kuntz helped write). Otherwise he makes a fair point about the shift in corporate attitude regarding extensive "home rules."

As for the accusation that Gary never played his own rules as written, I say "a designer designs." It's no wonder that both Gygax and Arneson sessions were more "R&D" than "QA."

Part 2: The Garden of Eden When he is not blaming Gygax for putting D&D on the wrong path from the outset, Kuntz is lauding Arneson's genius, ascribing to him amazing feats of intellect without actually describing most (any?) of them. In trying to imagine what we missed due to Gygax's nefarious activities, Kuntz suggests that any forward trajectory from Arneson's conceptual model would essentially end in a recreation of "the human brain." Any "throttling" of the system would damage its potential.

If we were to indeterminately throttle his [Arneson's] conceptual model into the future what we would note as an end result would be akin to a massive array of information having multi-functional processes interconnecting at all points. Eventually we would have the workings of the human brain (Kuntz, 41).
It sounds like Kuntz is talking about artificial intelligence or perhaps a Futurama-like visualization of Arneson's brain in a jar. It's a game of passive-aggressive keep-away in which Kuntz tells us we have done/are doing RPGs all wrong while simultaneously telling us it's virtually impossible to describe the right way – the Arnesonian way. "... what system(s) organization transpires in their [TSR/WotC D&D] place would be anyone's guess (Kuntz, 40). [Emphasis mine.]

To read him in a more charitable light, the best possible role-playing system would be one that exists only in the heads of every DM running a game and would be entirely unfixed – free to evolve and iterate as needed. Kuntz calls this the "Garden of Eden" state. Mechanics are fluid and the hivemind of players both allows for expansive movement by invention and contraction by a general consensus of best methods.

To me, this is the real meat of the book. The thing I was waiting for. Perhaps the best way to read Arneson's True Genius is to just start on page 40 and end on page 48.

My Thoughts on the GardenThis Garden of Eden argument reminds me a bit of Dawkin's Selfish Gene (1976) in which he invents the term meme (with a meaning quite different than it has in today's social media) and discusses the way songbirds communicate ideas through imitation and innovation without losing an innate quality of sameness. I kind of wish Kuntz could have made his argument (only) along those lines. Had he simply defended role-playing as an activity owned by everyone – and left off blaming Gygax for bottling spring water – he might really have been saying something important.

As it is, Kuntz' writing reads like an academic fever dream that would be "like, really deep, man" after the joint has been passed a few times around the circle. He is reluctant (unable?) to quantify anything about Arneson's genius and leaves it almost entirely to broad, unsupported, and ultimately meaningless declarations.

Sadly, I would have to say this book is an embarrassment and possibly does more harm to Arneson's legacy than good. And yet, if you can get past all of its flaws, there is at least one clever thought in Kuntz' rambling manifesto.

AftermathThe final few pages of the book are an attempt to debunk Arnesonian D&D as a derivation of Chainmail and/or Brauenstein. The conclusion is that they were influences, but not ingredients, and I'm fine with that. The argument isn't worth reading.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Lords of Mars

The Viridian Scroll - Fri, 09/06/2019 - 00:19
I made a new game.





I'm almost too tired to talk about it right now, so I'm just going to let you have a look! It's a pastiche of John Carter of Mars based on Nate Treme's Tunnel Goons. More on the making of it, and its future, tomorrow.

Enjoy. Comments, typos, etc. welcome.

Get it here: https://rayotus.itch.io/lords-of-mars





Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Herbert Zamboni

The Viridian Scroll - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 15:25
TLDR: It's a monster, it's a puzzle, it's either one depending on how you approach it. Neat design.

This morning I played in an online game of Delving Deeper with Cody Mazza of the No Save for You podcast. (He and I talked about Delving Deeper recently in a two-part episode.) Cody was running Greg Gillespie's excellent megadungeon, Barrowmaze, so I don't know whether to credit him or Greg with this idea.

The party is following the tracks of a rival gang of explorers. (The Bogtown Bastards if you must know. Curse their rotten hides!) We came upon a room at the East end of a hall, with an exit to the North. In the middle of the room (and filling most of it) was a huge quivering mass of flesh and several dead bodies. We needed to get to the door on the other wall, but were understandably reluctant to try and pass this quivering mound. I suggested tossing in a body in the corner opposite the wall we wanted to get to. The mass grew legs, stood up, shambled over to the fresh corpse and then dropped down on it. While it was raised up, we saw faces of other dead people in its belly. Yikes!

I named it Herbert Zamboni – because we plan to come back with a monster charm spell and use it like a zamboni to clean out the hallways for us. Even this time around we used it to polish off dead bodies so that they wouldn't reanimate as zombies, which is something that seems to be happening in the Barrowmaze. After leaving the dungeon it occurred to me that it might actually BE the thing turning corpses into zombies. Like maybe it eats corpses and poops out zombies. We'll see.

Anyway, I liked the fact that this encounter was either a monster or a trap, depending on how you approached it. We could have tried to fight it or burn it, but instead we decided to trick it. (I only had 2 hit points, so you had better believe I wasn't going to try and fight this bugger.)

I drew a picture of Herbert later. At the last second I added some subtle/weird eyes. Or are they nipples? Or maybe both - eyples that lactate milky tears. Shrug.


Herbert Zamboni
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Strategic Review 102 Summer 1975

The Viridian Scroll - Sat, 08/31/2019 - 23:24


Contents:
  • Expanded to 8 pages 
  • An opening memorium to Don Kaye
  • Editorial from Brian Blume to assure everyone that TSR is not in it for the money 
  • Survey for the Strategists Club awards banquet 
  • Cavaliers and Roundheads rules additions
  • News from around the Wargaming World
  • Q&A about D&D rules
  • New Ranger class
  • Creature Feature: the Roper
  • A treatise on Medieval Pole Arms (as promised)
  • Additional unit organizations for Panzer Warfare
  • Ads for Origins I (Baltimore, MD), Gen Con VIII, a game by TSR called War of Wizards, and the Tactical Studies Rules catalog: Cavaliers and Roundheads, D&D, Greyhawk, Tricolor, Warriors of Mars, Star Probe, Chainmail, Tractics, Panzer Warfare, Boot Hill, Classic Warfare, dice and miniatures

Items of  Interest:
The loss of lifelong friend Don Kaye was a huge blow for Gary, just as the business is really taking off. Gary and Don needed capitol to start TSR and Brian Blume bought in for 2k, each partner owning a third of the company. Don was fairly reluctant to partner with Blume at first. Don died of a heart attack shortly before a surgery scheduled to correct it, and his third of the business went to his wife. She didn't want to have anything to do with it, so Brian persuaded his father to buy out Don's share, making the Blumes a 2/3 controlling interest in TSR. This would cause problems later.

One account I read said that Don worked on Boot Hill before he died, but credit on the 1st edition is reserved for Blume and Gygax.
The Wargaming World news is varied but mentions an early zine by Flying Buffalo and the ongoing shift in wargames to sword & sorcery and science fiction themes. 
The D&D Q&A is probably the most valuable and interesting part of this circular. It opens with an explanation that Chainmail is for large-scale battles (1:20) and that the "alternate system in D & D be used to resolve the important melees where principal figures are concerned." It then goes on to say: 
When fantastic combat is taking place there is normally only one exchange of attacks per round, and unless the rules state otherwise, a six-sided die is used to determine how many hit points damage is sustained when an attack succeeds. Weapon type is not considered, save where magical weapons are concerned. A super hero, for example, would attack eight times only if he were fighting normal men (or creatures basically that strength, i.e., kobolds, goblins, gnomes, dwarves, and so on).Considerations such as weapon-type, damage by weapon-type, and damage by monster attack tables appear in the first booklet to be added to the D & D series -- SUPPLEMENT I, GREYHAWK, which should be available about the time this publication is, or shortly thereafter.Initiative is always checked. Surprise naturally allows first attack in many cases. Initiative thereafter is simply a matter of rolling two dice (assuming that is the number of combatants) with the higher score gaining first attack that round. Dice scores are adjusted for dexterity and so on.
After this is an example combat between a single hero and a bunch of orcs, who swarm the hero and try to grapple him! Two hit, but when they roll the grapple check the hero shrugs them off. There are lots of little interesting notes, like how many orcs can attack at a time and that the one who attack from behind get +2.

How to do saves and morale for monsters is clarified. Experience for magic items discussed. And the fire-and-forget spell system is rehashed, noting that wizards can only cast a memorized spell once but can memorize the same spell multiple times.

The most important thing here is to see what parts of the rather fuzzy rules set confused people the most (or mattered to them the most).

The Roper and Ranger are cool additions. Oddly enough the illustration above the roper is a dragon and purple worm. Huh. I would think a roper would be pretty easy to draw – easier than a dragon anyway. Joe Fischer, a name you see a lot in early Dragon articles, wrote up the ranger. The emphasis is on traveling light and operating alone at low levels; they can only own what they carry, can't hire men at arms or servants, and can't work with more than one other ranger. They do, however, get tracking and some followers and spells at later levels. The followers table opens up the idea of unusual companions (e.g. lawful werebear, pegasus, hill giant, etc.).

The Pole Arm article is about as tedious as expected. Stats and special notes are given for 12 different pole arms. Several others are mentioned as variants.

In TSR news we find out that price of dice is rising!
Finally, be prepared for an increase in the price of multi-sided dice sets. The volume of business we do in dice is increasing, and what has been carried as an accommodation has reached the point where it is barely breaking even; then the manufacturer upped our price by some 35%. The cost will go to $2.50/set immediately.
According to an inflation calculator, that's about $12.10 in 2019. So it was fairly high; given that you can buy a basic set of dice for around $9 or less.

I wondered if War of Wizards was any good. The advertisement promised $5 pre-release rules sets for a game that would cost at least $7 on release. Heading off to Boardgamegeek, I found some pictures and discovered that it was written by M.A.R. Barker of Empire of the Petal Throne fame. Players over at the geek rated the game a measly 4.7. The games counters (cardboard chits) are horrendously bland, but everything else looks pretty good. The battle takes place on a 20-space track, and there are 71 different spells to choose from. There were two editions published back in the day, '77 ad '79. And Tita's House of Games published an edition in 1999. 


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Strategic Review 101 Spring 1975

The Viridian Scroll - Sat, 08/31/2019 - 03:57


This TSR house engine began as a six-page, two-column circular with clean, sans-serif fonts. Printed before the Greyhawk and Blackmoor supplements, it provides an interesting look at D&D in diapers.

Contents included:
  • News – primarily plans for future publications 
  • A "Creature Feature" in which the Mind Flayer made its first appearance
  • A summary of changes to the new printing of Tractics
  • A discussion of spears in Chainmail, which ends in a promise to really do pole-arms justice in the future (which had me snickering, knowing just how much space they got in AD&D)
  • Two and a half pages on "Solo Dungeon Adventures" 
This last article and largest feature of SR101 was penned by Gary Gygax, with thanks to George A. Lord and play testing credit to Rob Kuntz and Ernie Gygax. Most of the three pages consisted of random dungeon generation tables that would later appear in the AD&D DMG, roughly three years later.

Some of my own earliest solo explorations used these tables and I found them to be quite workable. I was using the DMG versions, but I may have to give these precursors a whirl.

One thing I have to say, I love the look of this zine. I wish that Dragon had adopted some of the same no-nonsense styling. But I realize I may be in the minority in that wish.

Look for more of these posts as I continue my forensics into early D&D. It's, quite frankly, fascinating to see the ideas come together.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Philippe Druillet Is a Genius

The Viridian Scroll - Thu, 08/29/2019 - 19:35
TLDR: Druillet's Lone Sloan is all about the drawings, and the drawings are INCREDIBLE.

This isn't really RPG related, and yet it seems like something I want to talk about in this space.





Let me talk about the story first. An interstellar rogue is approached by some red priests to rip off the emperor of a pleasure planet. It gets messy. Despite all the high action, the story is a bit plodding at times, but by the end it all kind of comes together in something pretty cool. And, honestly, it read like an RPG session!





The drawings have that kind of greebly-vastness that only certain artists can pull off. Every panel is packed with squiggly details that suggest as much as delineate, but are nonetheless exact in their own way. Not just noise in the same way that the best punk music or stoner rock isn't just noise.





The panel layouts are incredible. They have a kaleidoscopic symmetry that reminds me of the work of Joseph Stella.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Evolution of D&D in a Nutshell

The Viridian Scroll - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 16:57
Click to embiggen.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Yokai Goons

The Viridian Scroll - Tue, 08/27/2019 - 16:20
TLDR: It's hard to pick a favorite Tunnel Goons hack, but this might be mine: a two-page ghost detective game set in the Meiji Restoration period of Japan (follows the Edo period). 

Yokai Hunter. In format this free game is two tri-folds: one for the player(s), referred to as the "Hunter," and one for the "Grand Master."

Front of the Hunter's Book: woodcut by hokusai, 1834.
Let's start with the latter, the GM tri-fold. It contains a summary of 10 different types of Yokai (supernatural creatures); 2d8 (15 total) missions; a summary of the historical period; further information on how to create Yokai, hunters, and NPCs; and cogent advice on running the game, with questions about the setting the group can/should explore.

The Hunter tri-fold contains a character sheet; d20 table of names, ages, and occupations; an equipment list; and the core rules. I have already talked about Tunnel Goons in previous posts. Yokai Hunter differs quite a bit from the original game, taking Nate Treme's invention and making the system into something with the right bells and whistles for a period ghost hunting thing. Here are some of the highlights.


  • Sentence-based character concept: "I'm a [trait][occupation] who [something from your past] and seeks [a goal]. E.g. "I'm Hachiro a nervous smuggler who is hunted by a former patron and seeks anonymity." (Hunters where ritual masks when they hunt so I imagine my character "hiding" in this role, drawing on his family's knowledge of ghost hunting. His dad wanted him to go into the family business, as it were, but Hachiro turned to smuggling to get rich quick – and because ghosts scare the bejeebus out of him.)
  • Path-based stats: Courage, Self-Control, and Wisdom. These are somewhat self-explanatory, but they are used in interesting ways. The system describes them as follows: when you roll dice "the GM will indicate which path you should follow: Courage (for actions that involve impetuosity or anger), Self-control (for actions in which it is necessary to remain calm and control one's impulses), or Wisdom (for actions that require certain knowledge or prudent and thoughtful behavior)."
  • Special Equipment. When you acquire an item you test Wisdom and, if you pass, the item grants a +1 bonus, situationally. This is a really interesting way to codify magic items into a system in an unexpected and fun way.
  • Resolution gradation. Not sure what else to call this. The author Chema González (aka Punkpadour) has essentially worked PbtA resolution categories into Tunnel Goons. 10+ you succeed. 9 = you succeed, but suffer a consequence. 8 or less you fail and the situation escalates.
  • Advantage/disadvantage. And Chema throws in this mechanic, which has become really popular in designs since the introduction of D&D 5e. The hunter rolls an extra d6 and discards one – highest if disadvantaged, lowest if advantaged.
  • Cursed die. And Chema adds a cursed die that starts at a d8. Basically you roll it "when you want to bet your very soul" in an action. You can't roll it while advantaged. The die, however, works like advantage – you drop the lowest one in your pool which contains 2d6 and the cursed die. If the result of the cursed die (whether you succeed or fail) is higher than your current Curse Resistance you attract bad luck and lose a point from your Curse Resistance tracker. I'm not going to get any further into this mechanic. You can read it for yourself, but you basically have a pool that shrinks as you become more cursed and is replenished only through ritual cleansing at a holy site (at a cost). And the cursed die changes sizes based on your points. It's cool.

So, what's not to like. Well, I do have a small reservation about two things: 1) having both + and advantage mechanics in the same system and 2) having difficulties that exceed 10 when 10 is a success. (What does it mean if you get an 11, but the difficulty is a 12? Did you get a mixed success, as in a 9?) But beyond that – and I don't really know if any of this is a problem without playing the game – there is nothing to not like. Which is to say, everything about this game just sings to me. It looks fantastic. 
BTW, the art, font-choices, and design sensibility are all wonderful as well. The character sheet is really attractive and makes the curse mechanic much easier to grok. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Solo Play: Eternal Caverns of Urk Part 1

The Viridian Scroll - Sun, 08/25/2019 - 20:30
The mad prophets have sentenced me to walk the Eternal Caverns of Urk until I receive a vision from the First God. I fear I will not return, and if I do I may be no longer sane.

[This is a solo play narrative, making use of Nate Treme's Eternal Caverns of Urk zine. My character is Kesh the Domite. HP 10, Brute 0, Skulker 1, Erudite 2. Items: mirror, flask, cloak uneven gray. I tried to stay in first person, but probably messed up some.]

Beneath a merciless noon sun I stare into the dark, cool void of the cavern's mouth. The rock in this region is chalky, formed into great boulders and plates of rainbow hues. Black moss coats the entrance. I remind myself that I have been commanded to enter, but my feet are unwilling for the moment. I check the meager "gifts" I was given when parting from the prophets, the only things I was allowed to bring: a flask of clear liquid (water?), a small mirror, and the strange cloak of striated gray that they insisted I wear despite the heat.

I step inside. The air is cold and mildewy. I will soon be grateful for the cloak I think. And the use of the water seems obvious enough, unless they have given me poison, or more likely some form of dream nectar. What of the mirror? Of what possible use could that be?

I walk for some hours, leaving the light behind me. Moving in total blackness by the touch of my fingers on the wall I begin to think I can see floating lights. At first I am convinced they are random flailing of my optic nerves, but they resolve into softly glowing eyeballs the size of beer barrels.

At first I am too terrified to move, but they keep their distance. Watching. One of them bounces and gyrates in a crazy motion, never breaking its steady gaze upon me. I walk forward, but this seems to displease them and they bar my way. Another takes up the crazy looping antics of its peer, but with a sinuous grace in place of the frenetic hopping of the former. When it stops I start to walk forward again, but quickly see them draw together. So I imitate their ritualistic dancing with some moves of my own. Katas I learned from my youth. Concentrating on my breathing and execution to calm my fears, I go through the 39 stations of the most complicated routine I know.

[This is the first roll I made other than generating random stuff. Turns out these giant eyes were into dance battles. I got by with a 10, including a +1 from Skulker.]

The eyes glisten around me. Then they all weave and bob excitedly, looking at each other as much as me. And for a miracle they arrange themselves in a broken line ahead of me, softly lighting my way.

And I go forward.

The cavern is wide here. Filled with strange yellow fungi of many hard-edged facets. Their geometry seems something more than random and I contemplate them for some time. The air here has grown warm and humid. And glowing drops of water fall form the ceiling in a florescent rain. Parched, and unwilling to drink from my flask, trusting this unnatural water over the unknown liquid in the gifted flask, I point my face toward the cavern ceiling and drink.

My heart freezes as I see a flabby mantis clinging to the ceiling. Inverted over me and frozen in with it's thorny forelimbs reaching toward me. Had I not looked up ... I shudder to think.

I tuck and roll forward into the yellow "trees" as the mantis springs forward and down. [Roll+Skulker, Success - barely] He misses, but quickly recovers and scuttles across the ceiling, hunting me. The cuboid blooms of the trees are between us, giving me cover. The mantis stops, seemingly befuddled, and stares in my direction with that strange pinched face. Suddenly there is a small voice ...

In my head! "Come out little one. Show yourself to me. I am no threat to one such as you. We will be friends."





It's a soothing voice, but something tells me not to trust it. [Roll+Erudite, Success - barely]. I know better than to come out, but I find myself unable to move. I call out loudly. "Help!"

For some minutes the voice keeps trying to coax me from my spot. I bite my cheeks and pinch myself to keep it from soothing me into feeding myself to this psychic monster. After an interminable time, I hear soft, thumping footsteps. Then a loud crack and the mantis drops, almost on top of me, stone dead.

"I say. Come out of there young fellow. You can't go messing around with these Prizing Mantises you know. Dangerous stuff. Luckily I was returning from my hunt and heard your call. Come with me and we'll get you a stiff drink. I expect you could use one!"

I hear the fruity, mellow voice of this rescuer long before I see him. It's a rather nice voice and I stand up, revealing my location. "Thank the prophets that ... Oh, hi there."

I went a bit speechless at this point. Before me is an 8' tall fellow covered in pink fur. He is extremely round and a bit bear-ish, but with two, short horns curving over his fuzzy dome. Despite his fearsome size, he somehow seems a bit comical to me, standing there in a fussily-stitched vest of green and holding the smoking barrel of some metal staff, but something tells me not to laugh. Bad manners I think – but it's more than that. I sense a vague danger. "Thank you for the rescue. And yes, I could use something to drink. How far is it to your home?"

He informs me that he and his people are camped just a few caverns further in. And that they would be welcome of some outside news. So I walk along with him, skipping to keep up at times. His gate is awkward but covers a lot of ground. As we walk, he prattles on endlessly about the flora and fauna of the caverns. As if educating me.

In fact he is telling me things I had no way of knowing ere now, but somehow it rubs me the wrong way. Like he is some pompous professor trying to fill my head with useless facts that he will test me on later. I try to listen, but I spend more time sizing him up than absorbing his words.

When we reach our destination, I am shocked at the level of comfort represented by something so hastily called a camp. Slender lightweight rods support little gaily colored cabins of silk. There is a small fire, hardly needed for warmth here, but the flames are licking at pot of something that smells incredible! A spicy stew of some kind that promises to be both hearty and energizing.

[Took a break here for tonight. I think I'm in trouble as these fellows are into taxidermy.]
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