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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

RPGPundit Interviews Rob Kuntz, Part 1 (of 3)

Robert J. Kuntz is one of the founding fathers of the hobby. He began playing D&D in the second ever game of the Greyhawk campaign, DMed by Gary Gygax, in 1972. His character was the fighter Robilar. Within a year he was one of the first people on Earth other than Gary Gygax to be running a Greyhawk campaign, with Gary Gygax as one of his players.  His material in that campaign had an influence on Castle Greyhawk and many other elements of the Greyhawk campaign. He was one of TSR's first six employees. He co-authored the Gods, Demigods & Heroes sourcebook (and later Deities & Demigods), and contributed to the module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

He was also the first player ever to successfully beat the Tomb of Horrors.

His current publishing company is Three Line Studio.

1. Would you care to give my readers, those who may not be well versed in the old-school history of D&D at least, an introduction? Who are you, why were you important, and what are you up to now? 

A: Well you have framed the question most interestingly!  I will take a slightly different tack in answering, that to expose why and I am still important and without going into Narcissists's reflection mode.

That importance lies specifically in the province of a personal "design history" and thus is an incomplete summary at best as I am not dead yet nor am I inactive on that particular creative front and others, quite the opposite.  The real defining point for me as a creator is to have accumulated ranges and degrees of knowledge via my experiences, my many and varied journeys in design, and that these inform me of what I have done and thus what there is to improve upon, or avoid, for future Odysseys.

For concrete historical examples--my publication and industry achievements in a nutshell--one might refer to my company's link, from my bio there.

As far as what I am up to, any interviewer opens a Pandora's Box with that question.

Including this interview I have no less than 10  projects going on and at different stages for each:  they include RPG matter/adventure design,  designing an AD&D tournament, a screenplay, consulting material for a film, two books on design theory, a nifty boardgame, a detailed, and recent, pitch for a comic book series to a person of note in that industry, a forthcoming interview with Casus Belli, managing the business affairs of Three Line Studio with my wife, Nathalie (which we consider a project in itself!), and the most pressing, finishing a book on D&D History (as yet untitled, I call it THE BOOK) that I have been contracted for and that will be published in about 6 months.

I recently released an updated version of my GENCON VIII tournament module, Sunken City, along with the major debut of the El Raja Key Archive DVD, an electronic accumulation of 1,000 images of texts, maps and manuscripts that had been preserved (scanned) over ten years of auctions and date as far back as 1971.  Following that I released Dave Arneson's True Genius, the first book written on the man, and which examines and describes the RPG core system he created, this via a systems thinking view.

I have recently returned from AthensCon where I was a special guest.  While there I did a workshop on D&D wherein pre-RPG game system models are compared to Arneson's/OD&D's model, a panel discussion/Q&A, and ran two adventure sessions based around one of my Castle El Raja Key's redesigned levels, The Lake Level.  Everyone had a blast with it and the convention was really great, one of my better cons since Lucca Comic and Games.  I'll be returning there next year to run the aforementioned AD&D Tournament that I'm designing.

2. I'm going to want to know more about what you're working on now. But it can't be denied that you're also one of the living Founding Fathers of RPGs.
 So, to look a bit at the early days first: how did you get into RPGs? What were your early play experiences? What work or contributions did you do yourself in old-school RPGs?

A: I met Gary Gygax and his family in 1968.  That began a long and fruitful student-teacher relationship between us.  In mid-1972, and as the last editor of the Caste & Crusades Society's newsletter, the Domesday Book, I published an article in issue #13, Facts About Blackmoor, by Dave Arneson.  This was the first of two Fantasy-themed articles to appear in that issue. DB had until that point been an avenue for articles on Medievalism including a pre-publication version of Chainmail (Gygax and Perren) before its final, and updated, commercial release through Guidon Games.

Whereas one of the articles was a miniatures battle report, and in installments, deriving from a Tolkienesque campaign being run by Walter J. Williams using the full Chainmail rules (with the Fantasy supplement), Arneson's was more intriguing.  He provided a map detailing the village of Blackmoor and the upper-works of its nearby Castle Blackmoor, and with a list of the village's/near-surrounding area's inhabitants.  This is the very first indicator to what we in Lake Geneva (the LGTSA) were to learn in November of 1972 about what Arneson and his players were involved in, which was essentially the historical advent of the RPG in the Twin Cities.  When Arneson and David Megarry ran us through our first RPG in the Village, Castle and Outdoor of the Blackmoor milieu, this in November of 1972, we were bowled over; and this event began the furious correspondence between Arneson and Gary that led to their partnering in creating the first commercial RPG, Classic Dungeons & Dragons.  I stress first commercial because Arneson and his group had soundly laid down the architecture for the first non-commercial RPG via Blackmoor about 1.5 years before we experienced our first comprehensive adventure in his campaign-world.

From there the concept's direction starts to fall more under the purview of Gary and the LGTSA as we go about play-testing it from our end (late 1972-early 1974).  It starts with 10 pages of redefined rules (Gary's preferred mechanics), pretty much what we see today as an inverted pyramid scaling, this without unsettling or changing Arneson's systems architecture (the mechanics are in fact the sub-systems).

In that mix I became the primary play-tester as "Robilar" and within 4 weeks (very early 1973) I had also created my own castle--Castle El Raja Key--for Gary and others to play in and for me to play-test the concept from another angle.  Gary then conferred the co-DM mantle for Greyhawk upon me in late 1973 and we merged many parts of my levels and ideas into Greyhawk even as I was creating my own FRP World, Kalibruhn, from the top down. I was going "gonzo" with the idea at the time, and a lot of that is covered here.

After the publication of D&D came its supplements, notably Greyhawk which sold 9 copies for every copy of D&D that was sold (at a 90% clip).  My most noteworthy contribution is the use of the polyhedral dice as hp determinants for each class.  That came about during a phone call between Gary and myself as we were struggling to balance the classes for our release of Greyhawk--in OD&D all classes had d6's for hp determination.  I pointed out that magic-users should get 4-sided, thieves and clerics 6-sided and fighters 8-sided, and so was born that sliding scale.  There are other contributions that cut across a lot of design areas, but that's an important one still in use to this day.

I do get into much more detail about those days and our experiences--IFW, C&C Society, LGTSA, TSR--in my upcoming, "THE BOOK".

3. And have you been gaming ever since? If so, had you continued to be involved with the RPG hobby as a whole this whole time? If not, what brought you back?
Also, what do you think of the current state of the RPG hobby? Is it better now than in the old days, or worse, and in which ways? 

A: Well, yes.  I never stopped.  I ran several companies, Creations Unlimited, Pied Piper Publishing and now Three Line Studio.  I have been online since 1996.  That was with the Greytalk-L. I was on Dragonsfoot for, errh, about 11 years, had a Q&A forum there but it really outlived its usefulness.  I also had my own forum for PPP, now closed and archived, and I even subscribed to theRPG Site, yours, but I rarely get away from the Ruins of Murkhill these days.  I also have an old blog, Lord of the Green Dragons, retired, and a newer blog, Lake Geneva Original Campaign, but I don't post there as much as I have in the past.  Too busy with so many projects. I lost count of words written at a million and volumes of work sold at 3 million.   It's been quite a ride; and the taxi meter's still running.

Current state of the RPG hobby/industry, depending, is either fluid (hobby) or median (industry).  I would say that the hobbyists are taking the chances with newer designs and betting the line on their gut feelings, just as Arneson and Gygax did.  The established industry RPG companies have less inclination to do that, but that has traditionally been the case with the establishment, which is why they are called "the establishment".  Whether that is good or bad--which is a rather limited view for a summary and perforce skips to a generalized position--also depends on what lens one is viewing that through:  hobby or industry.  There's much variation between the two which makes for many interpretative POVs.  I personally feel that we have sometimes, in both realms, become trapped in a cycle, but that's my designer side speaking.  The market loves sustained and established, slow moving cycles and for obvious reasons.  This dovetails into to the establishment view, of course, and therein lies the rub between cycle design and original design, the latter being what the OD&D RPG was all about.


Stay tuned for part 2, probably in the next couple of days!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Egg + Gawith's Navy Flake

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The History and Rule of the Clerical Order!

Today's RPGpundit Presents is a special kind of supplement for Lion & Dragon. It's pretty much entirely fluff. Though of course, you could end up using it in any of your OSR games. 

In RPGPundit Presents #24: The History and Rule of the Clerical Order, you will get a 19-page PDF providing a short history of the evolution of the Clerical order, the body of warrior-monks blessed with the power to perform miracles in the name of God, and tasked to fight heathens, heretics, and supernatural terrors alike.

You'll also get their complete constitution. All the rules they are bound to follow.
You see, in a Medieval-Authentic setting, Cleric characters should have ENORMOUS privileges. They would be the living embodiment of the power of god. They are living saints and would be treated with astounding respect.
But in turn, they would be deeply restricted by all kinds of personal and social rules; rules of faith, rules of the order's relationship with the church, and rules that would handle the order's relationship with the secular world and its Kings.

With this sourcebook, based on real medieval rules for religious-knightly orders, you can integrate an authentic kind of set of strictures to your Cleric PCs.  The rules contain a variety of possible adventure hooks relating to Clerics and the challenges that can invariably rise up with their obligations to their order.

So, be sure to check out The History and Rule of the Clerical Order on DTRPG, or on the Precis Website!

And while you're at it, be sure to pick up the rest of the great supplements in the RPGPundit Presents series:

RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia  (usable for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons

RPGPundit Presents #5: The Child-Eaters (an adventure scenario for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #17: The Hunters (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #21: Hecate's Tomb (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

Stay tuned for more next week!


Currently smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia

PS:  Because it wasn't out yet before, here's RPGPundit Presents #23: Uncanny Creatures and Objects of the Middle-Northern Wilderlands in Spanish!  You can also get it in Spanish in the Precis site!

Monday, 19 March 2018

If I'd Come up With Gender-Fluid Elves I'd Be Called Homophobic

I have to ask, who at Wizards came up with this idea that Elves are now Gender-Fluid and can change sex every day?

Because I'm pretty sure that if I had been the one to suggest this, I'd have been accused by the entire Outrage Brigade of being homophobic. Or Anti-LGBT, or whatever.

And the Brigade might have a point.  It's not exactly enlightened to decide that if there's one race that is gender-nonbinary it's the one consistently depicted as the most stereotypically effeminate. And let's face it, popular depictions of elves (D&D and in most modern fantasy) is of them as a girly-boys already.

I'm betting that the person who made this policy up is not in fact an LGBT person. It's either a totally straight white male desperate to ingratiate himself by pleasing his new leftist masters.  And indeed, the lead designer on this is known soyboy Jeremy Crawford, who recently got humiliated coming at me claiming "I did not know him" about my time working on 5e, wherein I pointed out in return that he did not know me because I was working directly with his boss, and he was too low on the totem pole for me to ever interact with him.

But it could also have been written by someone in his staff (I'm assuming he still has one or two people actually lower ranked than he is).  And in that case I wouldn't be surprised if it's a woman (straight and probably also white) who is pretending that this is about Social Justice but is really about the well known fact that women (especially of a certain social class) fantasize about male homosexuality  (so much so that most of the erotic gay literature in the world is sold to straight women, not gay men), and the notion of gender-shifting for these fangirl 'fag-hags' plays right into THEIR shipping and crossgender fantasies, with the concern for inclusion being cover for that.

And if you aren't convinced that this whole thing is a perfect case study of a meaningless gesture that also has the effect of unintentionally revealing prejudices about LGBT folk, let me make it plainer: It wasn't the Dwarves who can change gender. Or the orcs, or ogres. It wasn't the ugly or manly races. Nope.

It was the prettyboy-race of swishy forest twinks.

Doesn't that seem like an inherently problematic and toxic assumption about LGBT? And if it had been me who thought of it, and not WoTC, they'd all be saying its homophobic.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Chestnut

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Classic Rant: Real Magick ON RPGs: How I Got my Albion Softcovers

On the evening before I left home for a trip back to Canada, I found a note from the postman: there was a package waiting for me. I was pretty sure it was the Dark Albion softcovers from Amazon that I'd been waiting for.

This was a problem. I knew for sure that if I didn't pick them up somehow, it would be impossible that they'd still be around in a month's time. The Uruguayan postal service just doesn't work that way.
Unfortuntely, to get someone else to pick it up, I'd need to fill out an authorization sheet, with their ID number, AND leave them a photocopy of my own ID card.

Here was the problem: it was 7pm when I got the notice. Every conceivable place that might have a photocopier was closed. Furthermore, I was about to go to a Masonic meeting I couldn't avoid, which would last until about 1am, and then hightailing it out of town the next morning at 6.45am, long before any of the aforementioned photocopier places might open. Such are the complexity of living in a latinamerican country.

So, I quickly messaged the friend of mine who would be watching the house, and got his ID, and filled out the form. Knowing it was a longshot beyond that, I quickly did an invocation of my own augoeides, or tutelary spirit (what is often called the "Holy Guardian Angel" or "HGA" in modern magick). Having invoked, I then shifted myself into the astral plane, creating a mental image of the area that I was about to go to, the neighbourhood around my Lodge. My goal was to see if there was any direction, indication, of anything within about a 2 block radius that would be open and have a photocopier (a highly unlikely prospect). I immediately got a sense of the spot one bus stop beyond my regular stop to go to Lodge.

So off I went. I knew there was in fact a grocery store there, but was absolutely certain (having gone often) that they had no photocopier. As far as I recalled there was no other shop there except a florists, and certainly nothing that would give me cause to have any expectation of a postiive outcome.
So when I got off the bus, I look over at the opposite corner and see that there is in fact a very small kiosk (the sort of place that sells cigarettes, cookies, only very basic stuff). It seemed impossible to me that this place, that I'd never stepped into, would have a photocopier, but it was really the only credible chance. And in spite of having never even merited my notice before now, the moment I stepped off the bus the corner kiosk seemed to jump to my attention, as though astrally illuminated.

I stepped in, finding the usual (fairly meager) selection of basic necessities this kind of third world answer to the convenience store tends to have: newspapers, some sweets, flasks of booze, a small fridge with cold drinks, nothing fancy. There was a young woman at the counter; I asked her "this may sound really strange but do you by ANY strange chance have a photocopier?"

I swear to Christ this next bit happened exactly this way: the young lady grinned as if overjoyed that I had asked, saying "why yes we do!" and she stepped out of the way, waving her hand the way a game show presenter might when Pat Sajak just told you that you'd won a new car, and there right behind her counter there was an apparently pristine small size photocopier. It was as if years ago on some whim the shop owner had thought it would be a great investment for his little shop to have, only to have had it laying there untouched since that time because who in their right mind would even imagine a corner kiosk like this one would have a photocopier? 

So there you have it. I got my photocopies, left them at the house for my friend with my authorization for him to pick my mail up, and headed off into the sunset (actually, the sunrise, but whatever).

And today, my housesitting friend sent me this:

Magick, baby!


PS: here's the kicker:  about a month ago I needed to make some photocopies in that area again, and so I went to that store. The guy at the counter there said that they don't make photocopies, and haven't in years.

(Originally Posted August 20, 2015)

Saturday, 17 March 2018

I Never Thought Godhood Would Come This Easy

Them, when I Trigger Every SJW Swine in the RPG Hobby at once: "How can we take down the Pundit? I know! We'll call him The Final Boss of Internet Shitlords!"

Me: "Wooooo! I did it!! SUCK IT, MILO!!"

And all this just because I disagreed with their notion that people who don't play RPGs (and maybe even dislike RPGs) should get to be policy-determining members of the RPG "Community".

In other words, I said "D&D should be for people who play D&D".

Who knew Godhood would come so easy?


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Oversize + H&H's Chestnut

PS: of all the swine I've been dealing with, my favorite so far was this one guy, "Darren Steele". 
He demanded that we go to private DMs to talk, because he "didn't want this to be about ego or point-scoring". 
He did this AFTER he posted a link to a Youtube video he performed himself where he basically CALLED ME A NAZI IN SONG.

PPS: Before anyone tries the joke here too, don't worry, I'm sure Milo won't take my statement about him 'sucking it' literally. He can tell I'm being metaphorical because my cock isn't black.  

Friday, 16 March 2018

Continuing the RPGPundit Shitstorm of 2018

So, yesterday I literally didn't have time to blog, because I was responding to twitter outrage for the ENTIRE DAY.

It's still going on. So really, if you want to see it all, check out my tweets & replies on my Twitter account, or search twitter for it.

It's been hilariously fun.  Crushing their posts based on 'feelings' with my rational argument and mockery.

Plus made some interesting new friends, and had some very interesting conversations.

The funniest part was when Jeremy Crawford said he "never saw anything I wrote".

That's totally true, actually, as far as I recall. See, I never worked with Jeremy Crawford.

I worked with HIS BOSS, Mike Mearls. That is to say, above him. I have hundreds of emails dated 2012-2014 of Mike and I talking about all kinds of things (including some things I bet Mike wouldn't want to me to mention in this current climate). I would talk to him, and then Mike (I presume) would write to Crawford about what to do.

Anyways, keep checking it out. Back to the trenches for me.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Peterson's Wild Atlantic

CORRECTION: in an earlier version of this blog I incorrectly claimed that it was "Chris Perkins" who had written a snippy little comment about me.
As several keen readers have now pointed out, it was in fact Jeremy Crawford.
My sincerest apologies to Chris Perkins.
It's just that it's very hard for me to remember which of Mike's underlings was which.  As I said, I didn't really work with any of them almost at all. I worked extensively and directly with THEIR BOSS, Mike Mearls.
I can hardly be blamed for forgetting the name of Crawford, who was literally a man too low on the totem pole for me to interact with.

Again, sorry to Chris Perkins who as far as I know has said nothing about me.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Are CriticalRole Fans Gamers? Watch me Gatekeep!

So, I haven't posted yet today because of an epic shitshow of a Twitter fight, where I've been busy taking on all comers from a gang of hipster-gamers.

The subject? What has prompted countless tweets? Is it Trump? The environment? Transgender rights?

Nope. It's that I had the audacity to suggest, on this thread, that D&D Livestream Youtube Shows like "Critical Role" are not actually a lot like what you see in most real games; and the shit especially hit the fan when I dared to suggest that.. and I know this was crazy of me.. that people who watch these shows but don't game aren't actually gamers. 

Here's what I said:

"If they PLAY, they're #DnD gamers. If they just watch actors on a Youtube Reality-Show, they're not."

Well, you wouldn't believe the number of hipster gamer types who rushed forward howling in outrage that I would dare to suggest that people who never ever play D&D aren't actually D&D players. As if this wasn't so obvious it slides into tautology territory.

No, to them, it was incredibly offensive of me to say that if you've never played D&D even once you aren't actually a D&D gamer, no matter how many episodes of CriticalRole you've watched.

Note: I made it very clear, over and over again, that I wasn't 'gatekeeping' ANYONE who had actually played. I was saying, for the purposes of this argument, that if you've ever sat down and played an RPG even one single time I'll accept you're a gamer, but if you haven't ever, never ever, played an RPG, that makes you a NON-GAMER.  You know, because you haven't ever played.

For the whole glorious spectacle you'll need to check out the tweets & replies section of my Twitter account. Which, I don't know why, it seems you can only do if you're logged into Twitter (anyone know how to change that??).

But anyways, I've spent the whole day on this. It's been hilarious. I figured I'd get a fuckton of people pissed off when I pointed out that D&D YouTube shows are just that, shows. With paid actors and fake enthusiasm, and that they are not much like actually playing D&D, and they are almost destined to create a whole generation of disappointed players who think they should be getting the "look at the hipster-cool  nerd thing I'm doing!! OMG High-Five Wooo So Random" experience they see from the PAID ACTORS on shows like CriticalRole.

(yeah, no chance these guys are just a group of paid actors looking to make money and expand their careers by making prefab scenes and 80s nostalgia to milk rubes who think its all real)

I didn't figure I'd get a fuckton of people trying to claim that if you never played D&D in your life you are still a vital part of the "D&D Community" if you watch shows like Critical Role.  That watching the show makes you a gamer, even if you haven't ever played the game.

You know, like how if I were to go watch the new Paddington Bear movie, that would make me a reader.
Or British.
Or a tribesman from Darkest Peru.
Or, you know, a bear.

Go on, howl about how intolerant I am by daring to say that every single fucking person who's ever played is a gamer but people who have NEVER played are not. 

See this? This is the world you fucking millennials have created. Where you literally have people claiming I have no right to say SOMEONE WHO NEVER GAMED is not a gamer, if they "feel" like they are.

But fortunately, I'm the RPGPundit. And if someone actually has to be called a 'gatekeeper' for stating the moronically obvious to stop the slide into total 'up is down' relativism, I'll be glad to do it for all of you. So here goes:

I don't give a twopenny fuck about your (a)moral objections you fucking Swine. 

People who do not play RPGs are not part of the RPG Community. PERIOD. 

Fans of YouTube vaguely-D&D-themed Prefab Reality-Shows who have themselves never actually played D&D are NOT GAMERS. PERIOD. 

See that? Gate, kept.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Volcano + Blue Boar