The End of my Tabletop Era


Today, I boxed up all my RPGs. They're still in plain sight, they're still loved and memories cherished, but the boxing, for me, means the end of my involvement with tabletop gaming. This has literally been a long-time coming: when I first started Gamegrene back in 2000, my orbit was already slowly decaying, and I hoped that dedicating a site to my love would keep things going.

More and more, I devolved away from RPGs

It certainly did, but not in any long-term sustainable way: I still bought RPGs, I still read the books, I still created scenarios and adventures in my head, and I still dreamed of running an online game somehow, having long given up the idea of a local flesh group. I hoped that newly minted oldies like Paranoia XP and Pathfinder would keep things going. They did, for a time.

But, more and more, I devolved away from RPGs. The delivery mechanism, sustained physical interaction with a small group of people, just didn't fit with me anymore. After becoming a paid programmer and writer, I holed up in my home longer and longer, becoming further ensorcelled by the Internet, a veritable money tree which accomplished many of my goals quickly and easily. My physical social interactions are nearly zero, but my electronic interactions are constant.

I still wanted to play games, and I still steered away from "the typical", playing everything from "casual" (hidden objects, puzzle and adventure, Facebook games, etc.) to console-based (both physical releases and arcade titles), to massively multiplayers (Korean dupefests, free-to-play kiddies, big budget), to transmedia, armchair treasure hunts, alternate reality games, and independent releases. I hoped that virtual tabletops like OpenRPG, Fantasy Grounds, and Wizards' vaporware would reignite interest in faux tabletop gaming; they didn't. Then I had two children. Awesome for me (roleplaying at a toddler's level!) but not so much for "real" tabletop gaming: I had even less time than I had before.

Every month, I get a PREVIEWS catalog and every month I look with extra care at the Games section to see what's new and exciting. I still buy all the new Paranoia releases, out of a sense of duty and memory, though I rarely do more than scan through them. I still check to see what Wizards' and Paizo are doing and I wonder what the hell FFG is doing to the Warhammer FRP. Solely reading new releases, however, just doesn't seem to be enough anymore. I'm in a different place now.

The memories are worth far more than the decades of monetary value

So, with some sadness at "abandoning" a hobby that has been part of me for nearly 25 years, into the boxes they go. I'll never throw them away: the memories are worth far more than the decades of monetary value (blue books and original modules, Boot Hill and AD&D 1E, etc.), but I need to clear the shelf space for current interests.

This doesn't mean that Gamegrene is dead, though if you've visited in the past few months, you'd likely think it is already. I won't pull the plug on the site: like the physical books, the bonds and discussions that have been created here are too valuable to throw away. I just don't think that, if it continues, Gamegrene will be RPG-flavored, primarily because a) no one has submitted any new articles lately and b) I've no further expertise in the matter. I could change the subject matter to relate to things more in my line of work: internet-based gameplay (be it MMORPGS, transmedia, metapuzzles, etc.), but I suspect that might drive any remaining community anyway - it'd be a Starting Over, per se. Your thoughts are welcome.

Finally, a Gamegrene sekrit

Two years ago, we published an article from Joanna Winters entitled Giving In To, Then Defeating, Player's Expectations. I am her. This article was an attempt to tease a Hunter: The Vigil play-by-post which I had internally called Gamegrene: The Compact, which would have been created and written by myself, Aeon, and gamerchick. The basic idea was that the real-life community of Gamegrene was a training area for fictional hunters and, when Joanna soon disappeared (as she did, by never writing again), it'd be made active. One of the unpublished in-game posts, from the head of the fictional compact, might explain it better:

When I originally had the idea of using the Internet to bring hunters together and coordinate their separate missions, Joanna was one of the first people who believed in the importance of what I was trying to do. Her support and her advice got me through the hard times when my dream seemed close to failure, and her unwavering dedication helped draw other people to the cause. She also believed that when the time was right, Gamegrene's readers would be receptive to the difficult truth of what this world really is, and ready and willing to do something about it. It is my deepest hope that you will not prove her wrong now, when she needs us the most.

Joanna's disappearance has deeply affected us all. Fortunately, we can do something in response to this heinous act. The decision to target gamers as a key group in the expansion of this compact was no accident. Gaming produces creative and open-minded people, with full control over their problem-solving skills and their logical and strategic minds. These abilities, when applied, are stronger and more deadly than anything magical that a witch, a demon, or a vampire can dish out. I have to believe this, or what is our vigil for?

The fictional leader would then go on to believe that there was a puzzle hidden in Joanna's last post and, in fact, there was. At the end of her article, she concludes with:

Go ahead, send the players to a dungeon, but make it one floor and one room, abandoned and with no conflict. Or, make them slave through a 20-floor dungeon, traps and treasure at every turn, with the final room containing the somber and expected single pedestal with a calmly glowing scroll hovering just above it. When that scroll turns out to be just a grocery list, like the note below I found on a phone's message pad, and not the massively powerful spell or document one would expect, the question and wonderment of "why?!" becomes the new motivator for the adventure.

258 123258-147369456-258-7415963-147359 258-7415369 1471235987-14712345789-258-7415963-321478965 14712345-14789632-14789-14789-14789632-1475963-14712345789-14712687 159357-258-159357-14789-159357-123258-14863-321456987-258-147359-258-258-7415963

"Found on a phone's message pad" is the key to solving the puzzle: if you move your finger in the direction of the numbers on a phone's number pad, you'll spell out letters for each grouping: "I THINK IM BEING FOLLOWED XIXLXTVSIKIIN", a clue that Joanna had anticipated her fate. The whole article was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek representation of itself: it defeated reader's expectations by being something more than just an article.

Alas, a few weeks into planning the play-by-post, I decided that I didn't have the actual time to keep it running in a way I deemed awesome or with justice. I shuttled the attempt but, with the article already written and edited, I published the trailhead. I felt it was good enough to be "just" an article, and the comments seemed to agree.

I think it says something about my own current interest level that it took me a fortnight to get to posting this.

I haven't tabletop gamed for six or so months--I've got open invites but I just can't seem to get to them. I have at least a half-dozen ideas for pen-and-paper RPGs in my ToDo list, but every time I check the list I slide them further down. What's taken priority? For starters, a writing job with a video game company; playing the game is pretty much mandatory. Steam came to the Mac, meaning I don't even have to boot up my ancient PC to play Half-Life or TF2 or Civ IV. I must admit, I even tinkered with Farmville. Briefly.

That's over, though. Promise.

I'm going to Gencon this year, but whereas in prior years I would have shelled out for a booth and hawked my wares, this time it's only for fun. Publishing and selling RPGs is hard work, and there's not a lot of reward on the back end. HELLAS has had some degree of success (and the recent support shown to us via the Kickstarter was amazing), but time and again I find myself trying to push things towards comics and novels and, yes, video games, rather than just another RPG supplement, just another book. Those things are just more fun to think about lately.

I suppose part of this is getting older, owning a house, being married, etc. etc. But to blame this on that would be to make unnecessary excuses. The simple fact is that pen-and-paper gaming just isn't fun for me any more. Every aspect of it is hard work, from publishing to actually getting out of the house on a Sunday and driving over to spend the day around a coffee table rolling dice.

My books are all on a shelf six feet from my computer. I can see them right now, in fact. But the people I'd enjoy them with are working, or busy, or live in another state, or have to put the kids to bed. Meanwhile Steam is hovering there in my Dock. It's just a click away. Six inches from the Save button, which is right

Well, all I can say is that we'll be sad to see you leaving these fair shores :). In all seriousness though, I regret that you're putting them away, but completely understand why.

I'm also sorry that you decided not to run the game. I would have loved that, but I can't say for certain that it would've lasted. The last play by post we did here was, unfortunately, cut short when my computer wouldn't do what I wanted it to. If you have a similar idea at any time, I think many of us here at gamegrene would love to game with you. But if you don't feel you can do it justice, I understand.

I'll be honest and say that a change of topic to a more MMO based forum would ruin what I've always loved about gamegrene. Granted, I have a strong bias against internet gaming, but I feel that talking about MMOs in some ways defeats the great thing about gamegrene - it's about people who're holding out against inevitable takeover, and refuse to be bought, run off, or crushed by the "typical," even if victory over it is absolutely impossible. That being said, however, I think gamegrene is also about honest and concerned discussion over any aspect of gaming, whether that be the recent console releases or a years old indie RPG, so I think discussion over MMOs and such would be welcome, but that it should be a part of gamegrene, not a new whole.

Since you have children, do you think you'll be breaking those games out again for them when they're older? I plan on gaming with my kids, but I haven't reached that stage in my life yet, so I can't say for certain.

Gamegrene has been a great place to hang out. It was my first love as far as connecting with other tabletop gamers over the internet goes. I love the fact there are no ads or gimmicks; and the quality of discussion is invariably very high. An interesting correlation that I think is more than mere happenstance. (Though I appreciate that there is some behind-the-scenes spam fighting going on).

However there's no denying the place has gone very quiet of late. This doesn't reflect the death of tabletop gaming, but the growth of other web-based platforms for interaction, such as blogs, blog aggregators, and social networking sites.

I am as guilty as anyone for the recent quietness of gamegrene, for two reasons; first, I've been more focussed on my own gaming blog, and other media; secondly, and more importantly, I was very busy finishing off my Masters' in Applied Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing. (Not easy when you have a family and two part-time jobs to hold down at the same time). Any spare time I had for gaming had to be devoted to prepping for that week's tabletop session, rather than writing on Gamegrene or anywhere else.

It's interesting, the whole 'drifting away from tabletop' thing. Don't be too surprised to find yourselves coming back to it in a few years' time. We now have one of our old players who a) Got hooked on Warcrack b) Moved away - back at the table. He found himself wanting to play again and skypes into our tabletop sessions. And I recently got contacted by another old player who wants to do the same. I'm working through some conversions of his old characters to 3.5e D&D and he should hopefully be back with us in a couple of weeks' time when I run my next session. Our group is snowballing to the extent that I am thinking we may have to split into two threads because we have too many players.

I am going to end this comment, with a book recommendation. It's not a book about gaming, but I think it throws a lot of light on the whole issue of videogaming versus tabletop gaming (and many other issues besides). It's the best work of non-fiction I have read in a long time - and that's against some stiff competition. Iain McGilchrist's 'The Master and his Emissary'. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It will be out in paperback later this year (not sure if you can get it in electronic format yet). Written by a man who has had a dual career - lecturer in philosophy and literature at Oxford, and practising neuroscientist. His views are controversial, but definitely worthy of attention.

@ Tzuriel

[Gamegrene is] about people who're holding out against inevitable takeover, and refuse to be bought, run off, or crushed by the "typical," even if victory over it is absolutely impossible.

I agree. Gamegrene is to the world of entertainment what the Firefly-class vessel Serenity and its crew is to the Alliance. Does anyone else find it strangely and fittingly ironic that the show succumbed to similar pressures that are threatening the tabletop industry now?

It's interesting how the struggle to create a good game is becoming increasingly difficult for everyone, regardless of the many individual reasons. I think it's a result of increased business the world around. The world is becoming more and more of a tough place to live. Decent jobs are hard to come by, even with high levels of education. All of our new communcations technology, the Facebooks and Twitters, has made it increasingly easy to stay connected with acquantances that live down the block or accross the world, in a vague, "I'm on your friends list and read you status updates when I catch them" kind of way, while robbing us of true, physical human interaction. Generally, I see that people are involved in more multitasking, more social networking, more online gaming, and less relaxing, less mediating, less personal contact, less cooperative creation.

Back in the day, tabletop gaming was if not the only, then the best way to get your storytelling and gaming fix. Nowadays, there are electronic substitutes that deliver the desired result much more instantaneously, the hypodermic syringe to the tabletop's "take two asprin and call me in the morning". For your cooperative dugeon crawling, your World of Warcrafts are immediately accessable, with no sloppy organizing locations or schedules. For your variable storytelling, you've got your Mass Effects, that always fit perfectly into your schedule. Because people can do more with less time these days, they book themselves more tightly, and finding 3 or more people that are willing to commit to a 4-6 hour block of time to tell their own story is an intimidating prospect, even for college kids who are off school for the summer and only working part-time.

But, those of us who have felt the magic time and time again know that the reward is unique, something that cannot be replicated perfectly by any other medium, electronic or otherwise. I'm going to stay invested in Gamegrene, because Gamegrene invested in me. Morbus, Gamegrene was not and is not a failure. Were it not for the fact that I stumbled across this site over 4 years ago (how I did manage to find it I'll never know), I would not be a role-player. Were it not for the kind folks here that coached me through my first failed attempts at GMing, who fed my fire and raised my vision to seek more and better quality gaming, my life would be radically different, and not for the better.

This community has touched at least one soul. And for that, I thank you all. I'm not giving up. I'm going to be a roleplayer until they have to wrench the dice from my cold, dead hands. No matter how many sessions may fail, or players I may lose, or campaigns may fall apart, I will rise again from those ashes determined to play again, to bring others to the same passion that was so gifted to me.

I am a gamer. I am a Gamegrener.

"This is a magical place." That's what I thought as I soon as I dug into one of the RPG articles here. It was pure chance that I found my way onto Gamegrene. Pure, 100% chance. Had I not found this site, I probably would have gone on living just fine.

But I'm very glad that I did find this site. It reminded me that there are people out there that care and care very much about RPGs. It reminded me how much I loved the thrill, the storytelling, the groups. And it reminded me that I wanted to impart those same feelings and love onto the friends that professed an interest in the genre. There was a sense of wonder here. As I read through the articles and forum posts, I didn't know that this place was a little slow. Grim reality made me realise this soon enough, but I refused to acknowledge it. This place seemed so wonderful that it was impossible that people stopped coming here as frequently as they once did.

And I felt a pang of regret that I had not been here during its golden days.

But I made an account nonetheless. I posted nonetheless. I thought, with absolute certainty that if anyone was here, they would answer. The possibility that no one checked the site anymore didn't even cross my mind.

The result from this journey is that for the first time, my players have told me that they are really excited about the campaign their about to participate in. A first for my DMing, certainly. And it's all thanks to this site. All thanks to a chance encounter.

It'd be a tragedy to have Gamegrene change. I feel that if it did, it'd lose the magic, the wonder that it instilled in me when I visited it. I do agree though, that a discussion about MMOs and the like could be a part of the site. But I don't think it should be the focus.

It's a bit sad, reading about an enthusiast's departure from the hobby. It's a little hard reading it too. As a new member, it's even harder. Gamegrene, in only a few days and about a week, changed my life forever.

I looked up that book, gherkin, and it looks like I'll be purchasing it and reading soon myself. Just another book on my list lol...

While I can't claim ownership of the comparison, I think Firefly is an excellent cipher for our current situation. I like to think we're not, but it's certainly possible we're a dying breed. As Lorthyne pointed out, who has the time anymore? That golden currency everybody values so much and consistently makes a living of throwing away. I'm no different. I spent all morning yesterday watching tables stay empty, attempting to will customers into being so I could go home with some money in my pocket and maybe eat without having to give up hard-earned savings. As much as I need to eat, I could've spent that morning in pursuit of the sublime and beautiful you really only find in a tactile experience, in watching a loved one smile, or letting the texture of something slide across your fingers. It's too bad, really. I find I have to cut off a part of my life to afford those things, I have to decide which hours get something amazing and which are spent in mundane realities. You can preach about making work part of the amazing, and I do have some memories and friendships from various workplaces that I absolutely cherish, but we all know that it's very rare for someone to have the kind of working existence that affords such things. I know dealing with customers who're rude, grumpy, and ridiculously particular certainly doesn't help. It's a sad thing that we've come to have such twisted values, such an emphasis on a whole lot of nothing.

But that's what I love about roleplaying. Those moments that you know you're telling a good story, that you're hitting on something that flows from everybody in the room, like some sort of group birth, and you watch it happen right in front of you, that's irreplacable. I wouldn't trade that for nothing.

Lorthyne actually turned me on to gamegrene. I found it through him and immediately fell in love with it. Before this site, I'd sort of wandered through the wasteland of typical D&D - lots of killing stuff, but nothing really interesting. Fun with friends, but the potential for so much more missed. I feel I've come a long way since then, even though two of those years were spent with virtually no gaming, and certainly no successful gaming. This place gave me my feet, though, and taught me where to go from here. It told me, contrary to what I'd heard just about everywhere else, that what I was doing, sitting around a table rolling dice and pretending with friends, was important, was valid, just as valid as going to Shakespeare or listening to Mozart. Maybe it's just here, but at least here, at least at gamegrene, roleplaying is not just a social activity, not just a fun game. It's Art, in it's purest sense, just as much as any of the great works. That's a beautiful gift, and that's what I keep in mind every time I sit at the table. That's what being a Gamegrener is. Not just any gamer, but a special breed with both the luck to find this site and the insight to appreciate it.

Like Eru, I also missed the golden age and wished I'd been there, but I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have been ready for it, and that the people I played with certainly wouldn't have made much good of it. It was just a bad group, though made up of close friends. Just couldn't hack it as gamers, though. So I missed the golden age, but I certainly had a renassiance because of it.

I have a question for you all, though, concerning this changing world. I noticed you talked about playing over skype, gherkin. I used to play with a friend over the phone (deep trust let me trust his die rolls, plus a certain religiousness we both took to our gaming), and found it to be interesting to say the least. Is it the same, even if technology, the thing that's undeniably trying to kill our hobby, is involved, even a necessary part of the experience? There's something about sitting with friends around a table that's missing over the net. Do you agree? Is that physical contact such a key part of roleplaying that not having it is to miss something important, to have a big chunk of the experience lost?

I just want to say thanks for all your great work and dedication.

In particular, I really enjoyed participating in the wonderful experiment which was Ghyll, and the brilliantly run Ninja Burger play by post (my first and only experience with PBP.. I'm definitely up for another crack at that if anyone can point me in the right direction!)

I also understand where you are coming from. I often feel wistful for the times when I had a regular IRL gaming group. It's just hard for me now to justify taking an entire day out of the weekend throwing dice while working a 9 to 6.

/me raises his glass to you all and wishes MI all the best.

@ Tzuriel - I think you'll find it's more than 'just another book'. Not an easy read by any means, but very rewarding. :-)

Regarding your question about Skype - I won't deny that it's a lower-quality gaming experience than face-to-face contact, but it's a compromise that seems better than no contact at all. We have a webcam at our end so the skyping player can see the figure set-up and we can show him any maps or illustrations as they are presented. We take his dice rolls on trust (and his girlfriend will delight on snitching on him if he cheats anyhow......). We usually have 6 players including myself at the table 'in the flesh' so the atmosphere is still very much a social one.

I don't believe that technology is trying to kill our hobby. It's a little more complicated than that. Technology itself is neutral. What is happening is that all hobbies that cannot be monetised in a way that provides an ongoing revenue stream at lowest cost through subscriptions or unit sales are being 'constructively marginalised' (I use the word 'constructive' in the same sense as 'constructive dismissal'). Technology is merely a useful tool for achieving these aims, because you can sell people virtual products at very high margins; products that offer a path of lower resistance to something that resembles 'real roleplaying' (and I say that with full awareness of the subjectivity of that notion) just enough that people will willingly buy into it because of its ease of use. Oooh, it's got cool graphics too; and it's 'addictive' (notice how the word 'addictive' has changed over the past 30 years or so, from a negative to a positive descriptor). To use a metaphor, it's like the endorphin high you get from working out, without having to do any of that tiresome working out. (And without the other benefits that working out gives you).

This leads me to what I think is an interesting observation; in the 70's and 80's, tabletop RPGs were considered an oddity by the mainstream because of their content and subject matter. At some point during the 90's, a dovetailing occurred whereupon tabletop RPGs started to be increasingly seen as an oddity not because of their content, but rather because of their low-tech mode of implementation. Fantasy, albeit in a somewhat kitsch incarnation, has conquered the world with the help of technological gadgetry; it now goes against the grain to be seen as playing out one's fantasies without digital assistance. It's almost.....perverse.

I'm not claiming a conspiracy here; I don't think the illuminati sat down at a table one day and said 'let's use technology to destroy dungeons and dragons'. It's just groupthink, or memes, or however you want to see it.

The tabletop industry is slowly dwindling to a labour-of-love cottage-scale enterprise. This doesn't actually mean that the hobby is dying. Being a roleplayer in the 70's and 80's was a lonely experience compared to the present - gamers are much more connected, and we have technology to thank for that. I am using a website to coordinate my 15 year-old campaign, with discussion forum, setting wiki and timeline that shows the activity of various groups of characters. The player who skypes in has set up his own group that he DMs, who are adventuring in the same world (though they don't know it yet, they've already met some of the PCs in our 'main' group , in passing....). If used in the right way, technology can be a definite assist to tabletop gaming.

Coda: I hear that all the *really* cool kids are buying vinyl these days.......

@ Tzuriel

I agree with Gherkin. Although technology can never capture the camaraderie and experiences that come with real-life, face-to-face contact, it does provide an avenue of opportunity. It gives people who, in other circumstances, would never meet a chance to connect. I've time and time again wondered what to do when all my players go off to college (myself included) and we drift apart. In a different time, the answer would be that we'd better be going to the same college, or else RPGs would only be cracked out during the holidays. But now technology has at least given us the means to enjoy the genre across distances. While the thrill and feelings aren't the same, it is definitely better than no contact at all.

And luckily, we can at least capture some of the lost experience contact gives with webcams and voice chat. It's not a perfect substitute, but for bridging distances to play the games we love, I'd be willing to take the compromise.

I refuse to believe that technology isn't trying to kill tabletop gaming. It always takes 20+ clicks on the "refresh" button for both my Internet Explorer and Google Chrome browsers to load Gamegrene and IPR. But for some reason, the Blizzard and Steam websites pop right up. I actually just tested them to verify my finding. Haha.

Gherkin, I reluctantly agree that the slow decline of the tabletop roleplaying industry isn't a result of some conspiracy plot to take us down, but the gentle accumulating of distractions and apathy over years. I almost wish it WAS the result of some master plot because 1) Who's better at unraveling master plots than gamers? and 2) I'd much rather go down fighting than quietly fizzle out of existence, soon to be forgotten.

I almost want to plan a game about this situation now, about a group of normal, wildly different people drawn together, either in person or via the Internet, by their common love for a hobby, object, or other activity that soon learn that the threads of the universe are only held together by this simple, mundane behavior that is overlooked by the general populace. Fighting against insurmountable odds and only seeming to delay the inevitable, they fight anyway.

Don't Rest Your Head, maybe?

Anyway, Morbus, I'm wondering if you're still planning on posting articles written by us users. I have a couple of articles in various stages of completeness and coherence. One on Gamer Evangelism, one on an idea to help flesh out characters in character creation from a different angle, a review on the new Dresden Files RPG from Evil Hat, currently en route to my house via UPS. Should I bother completing them?

Lorthyne, if you planned that game, I would totally beg to be a part of it. Just sayin'.

I think your thoughts on technology are right, gherkin. The problem is big corp! lol not really, but your observation about making a hobby "profitable" is right on the money. It's an adapt or die world out there, and who knows what will happen to roleplaying, the real kind that involves other people and collaborative storytelling. I think the actions of Wizards and White Wolf are attempts to adapt, but those will never be big corporations again, and the annual cuts Wizards doles out in its RPG department is a testament to that. Truth be told, I'm not sure this is such a bad thing. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels that there's a certain purity to these hobbies with only a few dedicated followers, instead of a massive mob of willing consumers. I'd love for a game designer to live off of just that, but I'm a realist. Artistry, the kind of dedicated artistry that is worked out of love and pursued by a curious, intelligent, creative mind is rarely a profitable endeavor. You pour blood, sweat and tears into a work of supreme importance and skill only for everyone to go see the next Transformers movie, or to go buy the latest Warcrack supplement. But perhaps that's just as well. Perhaps all those settling for such drivel over the rest would only corrupt the purity of your creation, would only twist it to their purposes and rip out everything that makes it what it is. You ever have that feeling when you found a special place, like a wild part just near your home that almost nobody else knows about and you go there and it's stillness and silence and beauty? And then some asshole walks in it, maybe just passing through, and that feelings gone? Even worse a whole passel of assholes hear it's a good fishing place and then summarily rape the hell out of it, at which point the government has to come in and put up signs saying to not fish so much, and then put up a massive fence to limit the places people can do so? And now the magic is gone, the world's invaded a special place that was just yours and those you let see it? That's what I'm talking about. I hate to say it, but maybe it's better to protect your special places at all costs and keep out all those others who seek to invade it, knowingly or not.

But then again, I'm just an old cynic is a young man's body.

I agree, though, that technology can be very useful. And, Lorthyne, that game does sound awesome. You got webcams and all that Eru?

@aeon Regarding Facebook games like Farmville: I've been known to play a ton of them... in fact, that's about the only thing I spam into my Facebook feed nowadays. Facebook games remind me of another part of my past: BBS door games, where you'd phone dial into some guy's computer to play games, post on bulletin boards, or download files. The games would have daily limits to your actions, with the implication that you'd need dial in day after day to play. Facebook games aren't much different. Just more graphics.

My books are actually closer than six feet - I can almost reach out and touch them. My office is made up of three bookshelves, one filing cabinet, eight comic book long row boxes and, now, 20 magazine boxes. 11 of those magazine boxes now contain the entirety of my RPG book and magazine collection. They're not being relegated to a basement (where I have plenty of room); they're just "away".

I appreciate, immensely, the number of nice comments about what Gamegrene has meant to you guys. They solidify what I too believe, that Gamegrene was a something special and unique, thanks to the efforts of myself, Aeon, Salvatore (who has long been absent from these waters), and all the people who contributed articles and comments. As a historian and collector of sorts, you have my promise that I will keep Gamegrene up as long as possible, if not forever. I still curate sites of mine from 1997, so I'll admonish there's naught to fear.

@Tzuriel Trust me, I regret putting them away too, and everyone's comments here have hammered the regret home more fully. I just need the space nowadays (I have many stacks of waist-high current-interest books that need to get put away) and the RPG books have served nothing more then being an art installation for the past year or so. I need to put new art there now, but it doesn't make things any sadder or easier. It sucks, I agree.

My days are far shorter than they have been in the past - I did the math and I have about three unmovable hours a day to do everything I want to do with my life. A dedicated team of game players could certainly fit a session in that time, but the odds of finding the right combination of people for my particular timeslot is unlikely. Thus, I've gravitated toward games where time or duration doesn't matter: single player video games, passive multiplayer games like Facebook, massively multiplayer "pickup groups" in games like World of Warcraft, or "always on" web-based games like ARGs, transmedia, or the like. Like Aeon says, it's a click away. Play by posts would fit into this definition, but if history repeats itself, I've done a horrible job participating in the PBPs that Aeon has run here.

I will likely game with my kids, yes, but D&D? Dunno. I've already innocently roleplayed with them, using My Little Ponies and other toys and dolls. They're into princesses and princes, dragons and unicorns, so a step-up to D&D or another fantasy RPG is entirely plausible, when they're older.

@lurkinggherkin I agree: I think the ease of blogging and other aggregating sites have steadily yanked away "free writers" - why build up another site when you can five-click your way to your own via Wordpress and carve out your own little niche on the web, potentially with Google Ads supported income? There have been other recent Gamegrene-like successes, sure, such as Gnome Stew. I dunno how they got to where they are (paid writers? parent company? advertising? an article a day?), but it certainly reminds me of Gamegrene in its hey-day.

@Lorthyne, et. al: I think I should do a new article on transmedia and alternate reality gaming. Knowing tabletop gaming for what it is, I would say that ARGs are the web-based equivalent to them. In short: they are fictional, they are interactive, and they play out through the course of puzzle- and mystery solving, exploration, and character-driven story. Because they're web-based, everyone can play whenever they'd like. New players can come in at any time, and are usually caught up by other player's efforts (through wikis or other "the story so far" posts). One of the newest ARGs that I'll be following (and have contributed money to fund) is Socks, Inc.. It hasn't started yet and, unlike other ARGs where your "character" is yourself, here the world is staffed by sock puppets. ARGs have become one of the primary game types I play nowadays. (Note: "viral marketing" is often considered a gateway term for ARGs, but they're something far more.)

Regarding "Gamegrene changing": Gamegrene has always had as its moniker "for the gamer who's sick of the typical". For a time, that meant "games that people probably haven't played", then it became more "for the roleplayer who wants Something More" and, with the current state of things, now it's back to "games that people probably haven't played". That belief, that focus, will never change: it remains strong within me today, regardless of what games I'm playing. Though I predominantly play video games, web based games, and MMOs nowadays, I still see myself focusing more on the oddities of those genres than the mainstream titles. I would accept, or write, articles based on them. I wouldn't change Gamegrene all around with a renewed focus on them because, quite simply, I don't have the time.

@Lorthyne Yes, I would still post articles written by users, certainly. Just because my books are boxed up and I'm not currently buying anything new (or, rather, am maintaining the status quo: I haven't bought a new RPG book in a year or so), that doesn't make me any less interested in the hobby or the site. If you send an article through, it might be best to just email it to Due to the lack of new article submissions, I've only been monitoring new comments on a daily basis. That offer is open for all of you, of course: you can help keep Gamegrene alive(r) by continuing to write on it. I can give you nothing more than that continued enjoyment, but would welcome you with open arms.

I think Gamegrene certainly is a special place, Morbus. I'm glad to hear you have no plans to mothball the site. It's a good place to stumble across.

A while back, I tried running a D&D game set in Narnia for my seven year-old daughter. She has a dryad bard character called Daisy Appleblossom, who has a trusty centaur companion, Rollo Swifthooves. It was nice that she actually avoided combat wherever possible and always tried diplomacy or sneaking past things. Though she enjoyed it, she is a sensitive soul and found it a little intense and scary. There came a point where she elected to stop play (this was the point where she had to sneak into a giant's lair). We left off it as I didn't want to push her into playing a game she wasn't ready for.

Today she asked me if we could start the game up again. Mum is going to be joining the game this time, too. She will be playing a friendly talking wolf called Wendy....

Oh, and incidentally - recently started reading 'Moonchild' by Aleister Crowley. Came across the character of Simon Iff and went 'Hey....that name sounds familiar from somewhere......!' (I'd previously assumed the 'Iff' in your handle was solely the Iff of propositional logic)

I find it pretty fascinating that this has been the most active, hot topic on Gamegrene for some time. It somewhat supports the idea that the Gamegrene community didn't so much die as much as dwindle away, turning frequent activists into merely forum lurkers.

I've certainly been in that place before. Silently creeping, reading, loving everything I'm experiencing, but afraid to comment or contribute on my own because of a lack of things to say or a worry that it may go unnoticed and wasted.

But by golly, you threaten to take it all away, and we all have a piece to say. Not that I'm blaming any one person for "taking it away," but merely pointing out that as soon as it's realized that this precious treasure may be lost, we all crawl out of the hiding holes.

All we need now is for Gilgamesh, Cocytus, Scott Free, Calamar, Nefandus to make a reappearance. And I always wondered what happened to Rogue Githyanki. I locked horns with him a couple of times, but actually I sort of liked that fellow.

And that old rough diamond Sifolis had a certain earthy charm about him.

@lurkingherkin My original source for Iff was from Simon Iff, yes :) More here.

I actually emailed Scott recently, telling him to get on gamegrene, but he responded that he didn't really go on it anymore because it was so quiet. It just made him sad. We'll have to start making it active again and get him back in here :).

And don't forget Theophenes! Him, Lorthyne and I, with some comments from Wyn and a few others, practically invented a world on this website. I still read that thread from time to time.

gherkin, that game sounds awesome, and you impress me as a father. I will definitely be roleplaying with my children, when I have them.

Let's start up some crazy PBP's. That'll draw'em like moths. ;P

Yeah, I've got a webcam and mic on my laptop and all that stuff. I've researched all sorts of tools to play over the 'tubes, so if anyone wants to DM or something I'd be all in for being a player. Especially in Lorthyne's proposed game. I can't stop thinking about the potential. xD

Haha, that proposed game was more of an off-hand comment than a serious proposal, but it is a cool idea. I learned a long time ago that I've never going to have enough time to pursue every cool roleplaying idea I have.

But, we could make this guy work, depending on interest level.

I have some completely self-serving ideas for plotlines and settings I would readily contribute. I like the idea of an ongoing interactive narrative, but I just would not want to run a game and deal with rolly numbery bits. See above for why.

Probably the two don't mesh well, though, so this is probably the world's most useless comment.

I think we should go for it. How do you think we should do it? There are a number of games that are perfect for the idea - Hunter, Don't Rest Your Head (as Lorthyne already mentioned), Dogs in the Vineyard, any detective kind of game, a dark fantasy setting, etc. We could do it play by post, in which case everybody gets to influence the storyline, or we could actually set up a semi-weekly game over skype or such. I'm good for either.

I've been itching to try my shiny new Dresden Files RPG, which has that blend of detective and dark fantasy. If we were to do it play by post, we would probably have to go with a low-mechanic, high-narrative system, if we use a system at all.

I'm gonna create a new thread to discuss this in, since it's kind of off-topic forthis article.

Wow... I can relate. I just cancelled out of a D&D weekend at the cottage with the guys because of work. It's early in the morning and I have quotes to prepare. I left the consulting company I used to work for and have my own company now. I ended up buying out the client list as they no longer had the technical expertise to serve the clients. I've been working 10-15 hours every day -- six days a week since. Can't complain about money, but I yearn for the days in the basement gaming, or hanging out on Gamegrene discussing ideas.

In some ways life seems a little more shallow and mechanical. I need to carve out some time to rest, re-energize, and re-focus. I believe that tabletop gaming is something special. It is a craft. When you are young it is hard to perfect the craft. When you are older you can't devote the time to it. Sure, you have your Aeon's struggling to publish a product worthy of the "craft." It is easy to bemoan the changes.

Thanks Morbus for the site. I'd like to drop in again when I have the time to talk. I just had to take a diversion to post when I saw this.

Hi all. talk soon ... I hope.

"All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind" - Aristotle, 3rd Century B.C. ;-)

Good to hear from you again Gilgamesh. I had a feeling you would drop by here sooner or later.

I believe, after giving that quote, Aristotle beat himself up at his workplace and then blamed on the manager. He either left the workplace whistling, or perhaps, being Aristotle, orating. Either way, it was awesome.

Wow. That is big news, in this small pond.

I think it is a good idea to hang onto the game gear, ya never know when you might use it again.
I'm glad Gamegrene will evolve instead of vanish, I will continue to check in on the site, and see how it evolves.

I remember when I packed up my books, after getting a real job, marrying, moving, buying a house, having kids, and my pals all doing the same.

Then, a few years pass, and I meet up with a friend for lunch, and we talk about getting together and gaming, and I decide to try to run a game. This was in 2002, 0r 2003, and I looked on the web for tools and guidance, and found this place (and others that it pointed me toward. Gamegrene helped me get started again, and is fun to visit and comment on.

I ran the game off and on for 5 years, and my old high school friends and gamers got together once in a while (about 4-5 times a year) and gamed again. Most of them had a bit of a drive to get here, so we met mid day, my wife entertained the non-gamers in the garden, the kids frolicked in the yard, and we gamed Then we threw a cookout, and broke up for the evening. It was a fine experience, and gamegrene contributed to it.

No gaming in the last couple of years though, but it could happen again.

In fact, my sons asked about programmed adventures, so i just busted out my Metagaming microquests from the late 70's and their dark City Games equivalents from today, and let the boys look them over.

Now they want me to run them through the adventures. So I will bust out my 30 yr old gaming books, and game with my sons this weekend and next. It's good to hang onto those gaming books. I have may have only gamed a couple dozen times this century, but every time brought me joy, and I expect gaming with my sons to bring me a whole different kind of joy.

So, anyway, Morbus, thanks for this site.
Thanks for helping me game again.
And good luck.
Gaming is an adventure,
Life is an adventure,
And you never know when those adventure might cross again. They did for me.

"Since you have children, do you think you'll be breaking those games out again for them when they're older? I plan on gaming with my kids, but I haven't reached that stage in my life yet, so I can't say for certain."

I just got to the stage in my life where my sons want to play. My old books are out and about again. I don't know that it will change the way they relax (we mostly board game together these days) but I am still looking forward to it.

It took me a minute to remember my password.

"All we need now is for Gilgamesh, Cocytus, Scott Free, Calamar, Nefandus to make a reappearance..."

Speak and I shall appear...sooner or later. LOL.

It's true what Tzuriel said; Gamegrene was starting to make me sad. We were all having the same conversations over and over and over again and that's normally when I leave the pub. It's nothing personal; and I'm sure you all know that.

As they say, nothing draws in the yearbook like a funeral. I can understand where Morbus and aeon are coming from though I'm never going to reach that place myself. I did however find that talking about roleplaying on the internet had reached it's limits for me, at least for awhile. The longer I was a gamemaster the less I wanted to talk about ideas with other gamemasters...not out of disrespect for their opinions, but out of sheer dis*regard* for their ideas. We had become the six blind men describing the elephant. It was starting to seem more and more as though we were constantly and consistently looking within the hobby (or each others campaigns) for inspiration. I drifted from standard idea sources, and though I could have come and shared those ideas here it would have seemed to me like showing you all how the card tricks I know are done. LOL. Selfish? Maybe. Presumptuous? Almost certainly.

But it happened. Talking shop got to be a burden on my creativity so I cast a spell and vanished.

Essentially, I dug into the storytelling art for inspiration. I scrapped all my current campaigns and hit the used book store. I bought books on sleight of hand, dramatic pacing, how to scam and con people, predictable emotional response textbooks, public speaking...I could go on. I found this really awesome book that's name eludes me at the moment that was all about the old ass art of telling stories verbally in public. This things pages were almost illegible they were so cracked and yellowed...but it described holding a crowds attention much the same way patter is used in physical magic. Then, I examined my interest in fiction in general as opposed to fantasy or sci fi or gaming in specific. The practice of breaking the concept of fiction down to small component pieces and anlyzing my psychological attachment to those pieces...and applying this to my players as well. I applied all this crap to an idea for a new campaign and it turned out amazing.

Thinking about coming and talking about that in any detail here watered it down somehow. I'm not sure how, but it just didn't feel right anymore. I have always believed in the face to face art of delivering a quality story and campaign to the players and involveing the internet in any way dirtied it up. I erased all the notes I had on my computer and wrote them in a notebook like I used to. I told my players, "no, you can't have your laptop at the table. No, you can't turn on the light, just turn up your oil lamp". Etcetera. I lost a couple players over it. That didn't bother me even for a second.

Losing my girlfriend of 11 years (one of the best players I have ever had the priviledge to run for) sucked too. Losing another player because of where he stood on the breakup sucked as well. These things all contributed to me *needing* to dramatically change what "gaming" even meant to me. I always thought of it as a story with a game tacked on. Now it's more like just a story. The game is still there, but you can't see it unless you look really closely.

I'm happy with all of this.

Where I'm going with this is that I feel bad that for so long the friendships I developed here on Gamegrene suffered through all this as well. My responses to topics became more and more harsh and unforgiving through my need to distance myself from what gaming had always meant to me. I couldn't yet explain the deep and twisted emotional connection I have to this hobby, and how that connection was metamorphising into something completely different. I'm sure it made me seem like an ass, but I can live with that. When looking at roleplaying through my old eyes it didn't look like anything I was interested in at all anymore, but I knew that I had a burning need for it to be whole again.

Sometiems you have to go away to come back again.

In the end, the solution was for me not to be involved. I had to admit that I didn't really care how other people run their campaigns, nor do I care what other people think about mine. It was a bitter pill to swallow because I like attention and like to give it as well. I enjoy excersising my right to opinionate. But, as the buddha-dharma can explain, the sorrow of longing can unmake a person. If that longing cannot be fulfilled you need to go somewhere else to fulfill it or you need to release it.

I've still stopped in from time to time, but honestly there was never really anything very new being said. Anything I could think of to say myself I (perhaps erroneously) assumed that the replies would be the same old things I'd read for years. While that may not have been fair to anyone happened. I'm back now though, and am willing to talk about this hobby we love so much again. I probably won't get as emotionally involved in explaining things as I once did; please don't take that as a lack of passion for the topic and understand it's just a lack of passion towards what others think about my ideas. It was too hard in the past to discuss my favorite hobby with other equally enthralled enthusiasts because I kept seeing as the same only with more, if that makes sense. It had become something totally different for me and I couldn't put that into words at the time.

Morbus, when I found Gamegrene what feels like a lifetime ago I immediately knew it would be part of my gaming life for a long time. It has been. Thank you for that. I look forward to the "for the roleplayer who wants Something More" stage cycling around again (I'm sure it will).

aeon, our conversations here and otherwhere on the internet have been some of the coolest I've had about gaming. Particularily our Facebook convesation about what exactly cyberpunk *is* and what it really *should be*. That campaign never got more than two sessions under it, but the player loved it for what it was.

Everyone else, I intend to actually write another article for Gamegrene some time soon. It'll be about the stuff I mentioned above because I firmly believe that other GMs may benefit from throwing out all the things they hold dear about their settings and assumptions and genre related claptrap; but I'm not really emotionally attached to whether you do or not. It's your campaign, do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law (as long as someone is mentioning Crowley I thought I'd drop my favorite quote).

The World According to Scott Free shall live again but in a drastically different way.

You make an interesting point about the repetitive nature of discussions about RPGs, Scott. Back around the turn of the 21st century, isolated pockets of tabletop roleplayers suddenly found and connected with each other, over the 'net. A great discussion ensued, between those of us who like to analyse everything, whilst the anti-analysis snobs tutted on the sidelines and declared that we were analysing our games to death and we should just play the damn things.

Nowadays, I have to say that I rarely come across any new angles of analysis, new ways of viewing these games that we play. The conversation burnt out. It was a conversation that had value, it dragged gaming under the spotlight of rationality and by understanding it in rational terms, some of us have become better referees and players (though we should never lose touch with the emotional, intuitive side that in truth provides the base reality for that rationalism, the 'whys' of what we do, otherwise it becomes an empty mechanical exercise).

Gamegrene isn't alone in this burnout. There are a myriad of gaming blogs out there in which bloggers stomp over the same old bunch of questions and argue over the same old dividing lines. I find myself clicking past them with a shake of the head. "Ah, not that old chestnut again."

These days I get most satisfaction from the online tabletop RPG community by picking up little practical suggestions here and there that I can try out in my game.

My own campaign is grinding towards the climax (if you'll pardon the expression) of a 4-year storyline (with roots stretching back another 8 years or so before that). The whole thing has become a bit of a behemoth. It's kind of a drudge on one level, I can't wait to get it all over with, mainly because of the scale and scope of it all and the headaches of managing it. But on another level it's awesome, the fulfillment of a long-held ambition to do the big, epic 'high fantasy' campaign and actually successfully bring it to a conclusion, something that's without precedent in my experience.

When it's finally over and the dust has settled, I look forward to moving on to something new and different. I have a lot of ideas bouncing around, but I'm open to inspiration from any quarter. I'll look forward to reading your article, Scott.

I'm currently also at the stage of seeing the end from where I sit behind the screen. It's exhilirating and saddening at the same time. Without dragging all the details into it, I have finally tied up all the loose ends from all my previous campaigns. Period. All of them. I used the same setting for almost 15 years so there is no small number of these loose threads. My players have no idea...they weren't there for any of it. What seems to them like the first campaign in a new milieu, is actually the last campaign in the old one. Though they'll never know it, the Big Bad Evil Guy is my old setting and my old way of doing things...and they're going to defeat it for me.

I'll explain that somewhere else on here. Who knows, it might be the first fresh roleplaying conversation on the internet in ages. Or it might devolve into a comparison of GURPS over d20, which cycles through to a debate about alignment, and ends when we all are forced to admit that none of us really has any clue what the f*%k a hit point really is.

I'm not sure what to make of all of this. I came here because I thought this was a good site for discussing my favorite hobby, table top gaming. I bounced into some sort of pity party. I really like what you had here. Instead of drifting away from it, like some sort of herd on a prehistoric plane, shedding a dying elder who can no longer keep up, how about making an effort to revitalize it. Gaming is not dead, in fact, if you spend a little time at Drive-Thru RPG, it seems clear that there are more products being put out now than ever, and I mean EVER before. It is sad to listen to all of the old warhorses profess an end to fresh ideas when they are really just falling out of the sky. I'm sorry you can't find anything fresh to talk about, but try. I mean reaLLY, REALLY TRY. It is not fair to younger players, like myself to be lured in to a site that looks R-P-G good, expecting to find like minds, and instead find a depressed circle of elders, sitting silently by, waiting for the end to come. Table top games are the oldest passtime known to man. A circle of friends seated together and sharing their ideas and their stories. It is an oral tradition that transends D&D and GURPS and Tunnels and Trolls and any other game you can think of. My god, its primeval.

Hi - can I call you d6?

I've never said tabletop gaming is dead. Quite the reverse.

It's never going to be a collosal, money-spinning, high-margin industry. Good.

The product landscape is diverse, patchy, fragmented. Excellent.

It's been analysed to death, from the design viewpoint, the theoretical viewpoint, the philosophical viewpoint, and the answer to most questions seems to be that there's no universally right or wrong way of doing things, and people simply have to agree to disagree on a lot of issues. But that's the way the world has always been.

But I don't think we are at the 'End Of History' by any means as far as gaming is concerned. There's a great deal of cross-fertilisation of gaming ideas going on out there; and you know, we may have suffered a few casualties to videogaming, yet I think there's quiet growth of 'dark matter' going on as far as the playerbase is concerned. My evidence for this is entirely anecdotal and intuitive. You are a part of it.

Anyway, welcome to Gamegrene! Yes, we're a miserable bunch of old bastards but we kind of like it that way. We've earned the right.

Now hows about stirring us up with an article to get us talking again?

"I really like what you had here. Instead of drifting away from it, like some sort of herd on a prehistoric plane, shedding a dying elder who can no longer keep up, how about making an effort to revitalize it."
-after two decades I just don't really have anything new to say on the old subjects. I've discussed so many aspects of this hobby with so many people that I don't want to talk about it anymore. As my man LG said, we've done all that. Younger gamers come along and ask all the same questions we've beaten to death a dozen times. All those conversations are still out there in the static somewhere and anyone with a search engine can find them. When I look in on those same topics now...nothing new is being said. If you want to revitalize it (conversation that is, as I've more than revitalized my own campaigns), do so. I'll gladly jump in if it isn't the same old conversation had by different people.

"Gaming is not dead, in fact, if you spend a little time at Drive-Thru RPG, it seems clear that there are more products being put out now than ever, and I mean EVER before."
-simply put...who cares? I don't give a toss about new products. I haven't purchased a gaming related book or product in almost five years. I have a formidable library from which to grab source material until the end of my life. RPG products simply do not inspire my campaigns as, at their hearts, they are all the same book. And I never said gaming is dead either...I said that I killed off mercilessly what it used to mean to me so that I could let it live again with all new (and fresh) influences. any point in gamings published history where there has been more work being published than at other times, it is precisely then that the amount of crap on the shelves skyrockets.

"It is sad to listen to all of the old warhorses profess an end to fresh ideas when they are really just falling out of the sky. I'm sorry you can't find anything fresh to talk about, but try. I mean reaLLY, REALLY TRY."
-again, fresh ideas simply do not come from roleplaying books or products. They really really don't. I remeber when I was bright eyed and bought or read everything and was inspired. It doesn't happen anymore. It isn't cynicism or being jaded's a fact. As designers and their publishers get younger they lose sight of the past...not because they can't find it and read it, but because it has less context for them. They didn't read it when it was new. As such, they don't realize that to people like me their products look like a fresh coat of paint on an old car. The things that truly *are* fresh and unique are so niche-market that I don't give a toss about them either. And I think I mentioned that now that I'm back around here I *would* in fact be writing an article (which is at the time half done) about my new take on RPG inspiration. It won't be the only one. You're right...fresh ideas fall out of the sky all the time. On all of us. Maybe that's why we don't feel the need to share every single one of them anymore. At some point it felt like there were only so many ideas and we had to pool them all together, but every person I see is an idea, and every situation an inspiration. That won't stop until the world truly does end. Why write them all down?

"It is not fair to younger players, like myself to be lured in to a site that looks R-P-G good, expecting to find like minds, and instead find a depressed circle of elders, sitting silently by, waiting for the end to come."
-first let me say that I laughed when I read this part. Not out of spite, but genuine mirth. I remember when things didn't meet my immediate expectations I thought that it wasn't fair because it felt like something had been done to me; rather than something simply happening near me. I get where you're coming from though; it probably feels unfair and there's nothing wrong with feeling that way. I can assure you that I still love talking about gaming and am by no means sitting silently around waiting for the end. I run three weekly campaigns presently, and all of them are amazing *because* I let what I thought RPGs should be like die and forged a new path through my favorite passtime. I may not have been around here talking about it, but that's because I was buried in notebooks (new and old) *doing it*. I assure you, focusing a new lens on something, then dragging that lens across all my old notes from that many years of campaigns wasn't a one-night project.

"Table top games are the oldest passtime known to man. A circle of friends seated together and sharing their ideas and their stories. It is an oral tradition that transends D&D and GURPS and Tunnels and Trolls and any other game you can think of. My god, its primeval."
-That's sort of the point I was making above in my own rambling way. I like you, you should stick around.

That's quite a story, Scott. It's good to have you back, man.

I actually think d6 has something really important to impart to us here. I'm actually quite young compared to most people on this site (all of 21), but I think what he's saying is really important. It's not fair to him, but it's even less fair to ourselves. This site should be the place for everyone who can't find what they're looking for elsewhere, who is tired of asking an honest question and getting back an advertisement for the latest edition of D&D, or a declaration that only indie games can save us. Instead of standing around mourning the fallen, we should be moving on, reinventing, like Scott, what this means to us and doing something about it.

Of course, I think most of us are doing that. Or making the attempt.

As Scott said, stick around d6. Saying something like what you've said, you've proven this is the site for you.

I think this...

"I'm currently also at the stage of seeing the end from where I sit behind the screen. It's exhilirating and saddening at the same time" the sentence that may have made it seem like I was mourning somethings death. If you've never taken a campaign for as far a stretch as the one that's currently wrapping up for me you may not understand. It's like seeing your child move out. You always knew it would happen...and then...ZANG...they're gone. I always saw the setting *as* the campaign. All the stories told within it are linked or related in one way or another and mine is finally drawing to it's close.

That doesn't mean there won't be another one though. I already have a coil book full of notes about it, and I can't remember the last time the sum of my knowledge of a setting fit in such a small space. It's disarming, but exciting. I feel like Jerry Seinfeld must have felt when he ditched all his old jokes and went strictly to new material.


Welcome! There is too much life in the RPG industry. Though, like my friends say, the hobby is fragmented ... and we "greeners" tend to sit in little obscure corners of it -- each blessed with personal short-hand style. My games don't exist without the interaction of my group. What works in your world doesn't always work in mine. The topics that interest me enough to pull me away from my business, my family, and my efforts to actually publish an alternate RPG, are those about specific gaming techniques, or new tools. A gaming technique is a way of handling the interaction, or setting up the plot. A tool, is what other people might call a rule, or entire game system.
I translate and learn; taking away concrete ideas, like little tools -- as I try to understand how I can find a common ground on all the good bits of roleplaying.

" how about making an effort to revitalize it"

I struggle. The industry is dominated by a whore and a pretender. D&D is a cheap and wanton whore who beguiles the young. Paizo, with the Pathfinder game, re-publishes derivative material in nostalgic imitation of the hobbies hey-day. Laking subtlety and the ability to take any new creative direction they are the dead-end of the industry. There is true talent in both camps, but they pander and pretend. Personally, I am not interested in either. I care deeply for the hobby, but have a limited frame of reference with the majority of its participants. These companies are still pretty strong. But they weaken, and I wait.

The young are too easily impressed with pre-digested scenarios and the hackneyed characters; while the old guard lacks any time to devote to the hobby and are too invested in their own personal role-playing-shorthand that they have refined over the years. When confronted with a choice the old return to what they know best, and the young find the shortest path to wish-fulfilment. I guess they are both looking for the same thing in their own way: validity. The old gamers want to validate their experience (as if it means anything!) while the young flip through glossy pages of easily accessible powers and characters putting all their faith it what they can see.

The young judge by what they can see. d6danny, you may have missed a thing or two on the way through Gamegrene. There is more here than a tired bunch of old men groaning about the old days of Classic Gaming. We are the vultures. I was drawn to Gamegrene because there was a stench of death around gaming. Personally, I want to kill the tabletop RPG as we know it so that something better can be born. I think we all do.

Wanna help me kill it...

Well, you stop checking up on things for a few days, and you miss a lot! Some thoughts.

The thing I've always loved about Gamegrene, the thing has always set it apart for me from any other online community is that it's a group of people that actually communicate with as much respect and dignity online as they would in person. I've long felt that there's no absolute "right" way to play a roleplaying game, and it is the fact that the Gamegrene community has always recognized that truth that brought me in. As much as most gamers will fight to the death to "validate," as Gil put it, their particular playstyle as being "better' than another, what's actually important, as Scott Free has repeatedly asserted, is that the people around your table have fun. If your group has more fun playing prepurchased modules and collecting experience points and magic items, then play that to the hilt. If you like games with more of a story focus, then go for that.

We play a lot of different games here and a lot of different playstyles, and you won't hear any dogmatism over system, genre, or playstyle being "better" or "worse" than another. You may hear some very candid, often cynical personal commentary on those things, but at the end of the digital day, no one here is going to turn into the proverbial pack of virtual forum wolves and say things like "OFMG!!11!!!1! you play 4th Ed? you stupid n00b, get off this site and go play with you minis!" With Tzuriel, I agree that "This site should be the place for everyone who can't find what they're looking for elsewhere, who is tired of asking an honest question and getting back an advertisement for the latest edition of D&D, or a declaration that only indie games can save us. Instead of standing around mourning the fallen, we should be moving on, reinventing, like Scott, what this means to us and doing something about it.".

This is a place where we have gathered because we haven't found what we're looking for anywhere else in cyberspace. We're not all even looking for the same things in our gaming. We are, ironically enough, like the cliche, hackneyed, poorly designed adventure party. We're all in the same party, somewhat artificially thrown together, working our way through the same challenges and conversations, the same events, but we all have different motivations, different reasons to be involved in the same events. Some of us may die along the way, and some may never reach their destination, but as Shepherd Book of Joss Whedon's Firefly said, "how you get there is the worthier part."

I quote Gil (welcome back, by the way!) "The young are too easily impressed with pre-digested scenarios and the hackneyed characters; while the old guard lacks any time to devote to the hobby and are too invested in their own personal role-playing-shorthand that they have refined over the years. When confronted with a choice the old return to what they know best, and the young find the shortest path to wish-fulfilment. I guess they are both looking for the same thing in their own way: validity. The old gamers want to validate their experience (as if it means anything!) while the young flip through glossy pages of easily accessible powers and characters putting all their faith it what they can see."

I that's true to a degree, but I don't really like the negative spin there. An attitude that I've noticed not just in the gaming community but in the world is that everyone seems to feel a need to prove somehow that their opinion is much more valid somehow than anyone else's. The young tend to disregard the value of the past experience of those who have gone before, and the elder generation tend to disregard the insight and fresh perspective of youth. I see that happening in this conversation. The fact is, every single person has something to learn from every single other person, and the more people involved in the conversation, the more we're all going to grow.

The truth is, there's a rather beautiful melding of two distinct generations here on Gamegrene. You have the old guard, people like Morbus Iff, aeon, Scott Free, lurkinggherkin, Gilgamesh, Theophenes, and even older, deader dinosaurs like Calamar and gamerchick. They bring their years of insight and experimentation to the table, from which I myself have greatly benefited. Then there's the young'uns, with Tzuriel and myself leading the charge, and more recently Eruantian. I'd like to be able to say that we contribute as much to the community and conversation as the old guys, but I think I'm too close to make a valid judgement. We're a small community, but we're tight knit.

I've grown a lot as a gamer from the years I've been involved here. When I look back at the first few articles I submitted for Gamegrene, I have to say I'm rather ashamed. They were juvenile, uninformed, and rather pathetic in my estimation, and I wish they would be torn down so that no one would ever stumble across that garbage. But you know what, Morbus posted them anyway, and the community was supportive and encouraging, and I got better. I feel that I'm mature beyond my years as a roleplayer, mostly as a result of the support and advice from Gamegreners.

I like your description of us as the "vultures" of the hobby, Gil. Gamegrene does have a certain fatalistic feel to it at the first approach, but there is an undeniable glimmer of hope beneath the black, slimy veneer of cynicism and stench of death. Ironically enough, I think the death talk is more representative of how we feel that the hobby is not growing to meet our individual needs as gamers than it is a claim that the actual hobby is somehow "dying". Let's be honest here, as a result of the Internet, roleplaying is far more widespread and roleplayers are far more connected than ever before in the history of the hobby. I don't believe that 4th edition D&D is any more or less combat-focused, restricting, or detrimental to narrative elements of the game than 3rd edition or 1st edition are. I think the change happened in us rather than in the games, that when we first discovered the games, they were magical and new, and that as we have evolved as gamers the games have not evolved at the same rate. But that's somewhat beside the point.

Welcome to Gamegrene, d6danny. Take a seat by the fire and stay a while. In terms of "making an effort to revitalize it," I think that's happening before our very eyes right now. I honestly haven't seen this many new contributors on Gamegrene in this short of a period of time. Ever.

I see that I didn't wholly "get" you before. I read, and was guilty of making assumptions about what I read but like that's occasionally how I am . . . a shoot from the hip kinda kid. Well, I've read again and read your replies and look forward to the sort of discussions, and articles that I am going to find here. You read my thoughts, seemed to "get me" and responded with well thought out and sincere answers. I've been to some sites where the gamers didn't really seem to be part of it, I mean sometimes they don't even seem to like it. Heck, any other site I've ever been at would have like "pow!" tried to shut me down. Lorthyne compared them to a "proverbial pack of virtual forum wolves". Tell you what, that is what I expected here and was surprised and pleased that that is not what it is. I'm sure that this is the sort of place that I can find good ideas . . . strong opinions and the sort of people that think enough of each others' opinions to give them honestly, as well. I was so busy trying to make a point about the primeval nature and integrity of RPG and group storytelling that I almost walked by the primeval campfire. Yeah, I think I will stay a while. I feel welcome and look forward to the conversations. Yeah, I'll do my part . . . try to find some articles and topics that could stir something up . . . you know, something good.

"Yeah, I'll do my part . . . try to find some articles and topics that could stir something up . . . you know, something good."

That would be great. I'll be less of a curmudgeon once I'm not so freakin tired all the time. Ah...sleep, that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care...

"Good to hear from you again Gilgamesh. I had a feeling you would drop by here sooner or later."

Thanks Gherkin. Nice to be here again. Does it feel like we have gathered for a funeral?

"The young tend to disregard the value of the past experience of those who have gone before, and the elder generation tend to disregard the insight and fresh perspective of youth"

Interestingly enough, the youngest player in my group right now is 19. She has no prior experience with roleplaying. She is amazing and a real joy to have at the table. No baggage to check at the gate, hence no "hey, I left my in my other case!"

I don't think this feels like a's more like a last-day-or-work party and we're all here to wish Morbus luck at his next oppurtunity. As long as we're here I'll buy the next round.

Or maybe it's more like a reunion concert of a really good band that decides to go on tour again? I'm sure we've at least got a couple good blues albums left in us :P

I think Scott's right. This is that kind of celebration that looks backward, takes in all the little experiences and wonders from before, then turns forward and steps confidently. Besides, we all know Morbus will be back to the office to at least visit every now and then.

I know what you're thinking, Scott, concerning your new idea. I just recently started a game for Lorthyne here and instead of developing a massive backstory and history to the world, I've been shooting from the hip, letting ideas come to me between sessions, staying up all night the night before preparing because just that night I had an awesome idea, and then learning from mistakes made in game. It's exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. I think it also helps stave GM burnout because I'm not pressuring myself to write out a history for that random story bit that means nothing, but could eventually mean something. I'll let that eventually come, instead of forcing arbitrary and quickly stale meanings now. It's a lot of fun.

Anyone else find it funny that Gil seemed to compare Wizards to the great whore of Babylon? That's kind of awesome. I think, derivative and stale as it is, D&D has its place here in the gaming community. Many of the young you speak about, Gil, discover roleplaying through those kind of games, and hopefully, expand from there. I'm just grateful they've found this wonderful place, and those who really discover their love for it stick around and become members of the community. Even if you start with the worst of art, you're still standing on the path that leads to greatness.

As far as killing it, I think that's a necessary part of all development as artists - you have to kill what you loved but held you back before. You have to realize that camera technique is superfluous, that simile unnecessary, that GMing habit useless. You might think that camera technique is really cool, that simile really clever, and that habit really interesting, but you have to kill it. So, yes, Gil, I will help you kill it, and let a pheonix rise from the ashes.

I think Lorthyne's little bit there says all that needs to be said on it. I won't tarnish it with my two cents.

And of course, welcome to d6danny! We're always ready to welcome someone who understands the community, and loves it the way we do.

I've always got a good blues album in me, Scott. Perhaps we'll sing about killing roleplaying lol.

I'm "back to the office" multiple times a day, for spam checking and updates. I'm always here spying on you guys ;)

To be's not that my current setting and campaign won't ahve exhaustive detail and's jsut that I ahven't written it yet and that's cool. Looking at a shelf of binders and coilbound books from the last one, and then down at the thin little brainstorming book in front of's f*%ing breathtaking.

Yes, exactly. The story will come, with all the history and everything. But I think I prefer this approach as it automatically grounds the narrative in the characters above the setting, so the events in the setting reflect the changes and concerns of the characters.

Gamegrene was the reason I tried to GM (without a GM book and a clue) in the first place. It was a most awesome read, and still is. Thank you all for that.

An old thread that makes for an interesting re-read.

RPG-wise, my state of things is mostly the same. I still peruse the game listings in PREVIEWS and GAME TRADE MAGAZINE, I still read RPG news sites, and I still buy new books every so often, but only to read 'em and play in my head. All my books have been "out of the box" for a few years now, mainly because I had a new shelving system that had the space for them. I've since, however, run out of space again, and I'm considering putting them "back in the box" again. I've also been considering selling them, especially given the prevalence of "everything is digital" nowadays. I just don't need to lug that stuff around anymore. I'M OLD.

Most of my gaming nowadays is board games and video games. My kids have grown to an age where I can throw most anything at them, and they're a captive audience (cos, well, they live here). I've done a few RPG beginner boxes with them (Pathfinder, D&D, etc.), have showed them the occasional Critical Role, but they assuredly prefer board games over RPGs. Half-and-half board games (think: Gloomhaven, etc.) and some of the other Legacy/Campaign style games hit our table a lot, but that's mostly "read some story at the beginning and end, and then play a boardgame", as opposed to a traditional RPG session.