Author Archive

 Just a quick note (which is about as good as I am at publicity): I’ve finally said those fateful words, "Why the hell not," and uploaded 3 short stories to Kindle Direct. My intent is to keep doing this over and over with no regard for consequences or results, which seems to be about as effective as any other high-effort/low-capital microbusiness strategy. If you’re interested, here they are:

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Sometime about a year ago, I started watching Let’s Plays on Youtube, which is kind of like not playing a game because you’d rather watch someone else play it and tell you about how much fun you’re not having. I’m pretty old, so my concept of Let’s Plays comes from text reports with accompanying screenshots about how Ayn Rand is now playing Jagged Alliance 2. Now to be fair, I only started watching these because I found some videos by Paul Rodenburg aka SuperPaulGames where he plays through one of my old favorites, The Movies, and actually watches all the awful AI productions with sophomoric but funny voiceovers. From there I watched a bunch of his other LPs, then watched some other LPs, then unsubscribed from most of them because they were doing nothing but Minecraft, forcing me to watch a 5 minute intro and then screaming for 5 minutes, and/or playing Eve really badly. I had come to the conclusion that although once in a great while an LP is worth watching, most of them aren’t, which makes perfect sense since that’s most of what Youtube is all about.

Then I made the mistake of doing some of my own.

Fortunately for me, I picked exactly the wrong time to start doing game videos. Youtube had just made some very anti-uploader policy changes targeted specifically at gameplay videos, their automatic copyrighted music detection algorithm was proven to be terribly broken and abusable (and wouldn’t ever be fixed), and it was still getting a metric shit-ton of new LP vids uploaded daily, making it almost impossible to get anyone to notice. The only good thing was that I wasn’t part of a gaming network (and I don’t do that like/subscribe thing so it’s unlikely I will ever be on one), so as an independent my position got suckier, but by a lesser degree than people who were actually successful at being LPers.

But seriously, how hard can it be to be an LPer? As it turns out, I was just about as wrong on this as I am on most things.

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SInce I hadn’t updated for a year and a half before the last post, I’d forgotten that people can and will respond. First, clearing this up:

  • I do not dislike GURPS. It’s the only tabletop RPG I play anymore, although I’ve checked out the rulesets for others. Yes, including the new kids on the block.
  • I  have been playing/GMing GURPS on and off for about 22 years, 32 if you count The Fantasy Trip, so I don’t personally find it too complicated. Man, that’s depressing.
  • I do believe that GURPS is too complicated for new players, and that this can be objectively proven. The proof is that potential customers say it’s too complicated.

I stand by the idea that GURPS is uninviting to new players. However, I think this can be fixed. Here are some ideas that grew out of the Reddit thread on the idea, plus some feedback from Gaming Ballistic’s followup. Note that unlike me, Douglas Cole updates regularly and therefore has readers, so it only makes sense that more feedback comes from there.

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Note: Unnecessary followup posted.

I like GURPS, but it has a problem.

Since I started poking around in RPG fora again recently, I see it all over the place. Some say it’s a perception problem; that doesn’t mean it’s not a real one. It usually boils down to this: GURPS is too complicated.

The common answer is: You don’t use every rule, just the ones you need.

Both of these statements are true. However, the real problem with GURPS is that people just can’t seem to get into it, particularly GMs, because of the complexity issue and the impracticality of the solution to someone brand-new to the game. How can we get people to try the game without getting buried under hundreds of pages of tables and umpteen zillion splatbooks? How can you tell a new player to just take the bits he needs when he’s already drowning in a sea of useless-to-his-campaign rules?

GURPS needs to be more accessible.

Here I’ll go over some observations and opinions, decrypt the awfulness of the GURPS ruleset and its presentation, ponder why GURPS is slowly making itself irrelevant (although I still like it), and then suggest simple ways for GMs to stop wasting time cutting out the clutter and get on with wasting time building a campaign that players probably won’t like anyway.

If you just want to know how to GM or be a new player of GURPS without all the rhetoric and hyperbolic venom, go straight to the TLDR. Warning: you will still be exposed to these things, but in a more manageable quantity.

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NOTE: This was a way-too long guide that I wrote on the now-exploded 99 Percent forums in February 2012, so I’m archiving it here (rather than actually writing any new content). I still fly Merlins a lot, even in the face of the recent OMGWTFBBQ assault frigate buffs that have made low and null very T1 frigate-unfriendly, and anything posted in Fleet Finder as a "FRIGATE ROAM" actually mans "ASSAULT FRIGATE ROAM, though if you have a Daredevil maybe we’ll let you in as a +1 scout." Fuck the haters.

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1) Come up with a reasonable idea to fix a long-broken system in the game

2) Post said idea in forums

3) Get a CSM member to make a prop bet regarding a loophole in the formula

4) Post said loophole (that works but no one would ever use because it’s incredibly self-destructive)

5) Trebor Pays Off!

I think I may return it, because the guy did work on Wizardy. However, it’s Eve, and a legitimate bet. Plus, I love that comment.

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Seriously, I just forget things. I’m old. Maybe when I paid the hosting bill I should have remembered to get out of maintenance mode.

What’s worse is that I actually got emails asking me about the site. So… there. I’ll fix the remaining DB issues later.

In the meantime, Wen is way better at poker than I am and owned me on her first ever live cash game. I shall find my testicles again someday. (Reference: Ante Up pokercast, 8/25/11 episode, starting about an hour in. Shame.)

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I’m a big fan of High Stakes Poker… well, of the earlier seasons of High Stakes Poker. It was a great entry into the then-expanding balloon of poker TV shows generally dominated by tournament final tables, where the differences in stack sizes are measured in terms of exponents, as are the increases in blinds, so all you see is 10 PRINT "All In"; 20 GOTO 10. HSP was (except for Live at the Bike, web-only) the first televised cash game between actual skilled players applying their formidable experience and analytic skills to the laudable goal of taking money away from each other.

Most people who follow poker on TV point to the early days of the World Poker Tour and its use of the lipstick hole card camera as the pivotal innovation that made poker watchable. If you want to know what it was like before, just go to a cardroom and railbird for a while and see how long you can take it. True, knowledge of the hole cards is necessary to make poker intelligible to a viewing audience, but I don’t think that’s what makes it interesting in a TV show.

What makes it interesting is Gabe Kaplan.

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I’ve been getting some fun comments from someone who is so smart he doesn’t even need to read an article before criticizing. That person is the redoubtable Richard Kulisz, who has been such a good contributor that I’m glad to make a full post just about him. He’s famous too, and you can read more about his exciting career here, here, here, and here (edit: also here), just for a start. Hell, he even has his own appreciation society.

Now to be fair, his comments started off fairly rational-sounding, if not always on target. It was kind of interesting watching the mania grow and grow as the comments got less and less pertinent to the source material. The old me would have helped him along, slowly whipping him up into a frenzy through careful insertions of responses designed to trigger his hindbrain through subliminal manipulation, like "no, u." The new me? It’s not really that I’m any nicer a person. I just don’t care.

Here are some exciting excerpts from his collection of (as of this writing) 29 comments, maybe with more to come assuming he doesn’t notice that I’ve dropped him into the moderation queue and removed all his old diatribes.

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"Honey, I have an important announcement to make," I said, as I am wont to do when I am home with nobody else in earshot but Wen.

"Yes?" she tiredly asked.

"I am giving up on this whole F.A.T.A.L. exercise," I told her.

"THANK GOD."

I really wanted to try and finish, but honestly this could be the first RPG "book" that has ever made me actively angry just by reading it.  And yes I know all about HYBRID.

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