Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Sartorial...

Some in the non-gaming-blogging world are not too keen on men wearing pointy shoes:

Watching a grown man trip down the sidewalk in court-jester shoes made me giggle. And these style mavens were soooo serious, dahling...

Have men become a group of effeminate elves? The shoes curl up at the point. It’s embarrassing for women to wear those sorts of shoes. On men, it takes 50 million years of mammalian evolution to suppress the primal urge to laugh and point.

Fashion, however, is utterly a matter of taste, as is most of what we call masculine or feminine. As far as this native-born Texan is concerned, you can take my pointy-toed, 1.5 to 2-inch heeled, decoratively embroidered boots after you've pried them from my cold, dead hands.

Fashions change. Today, the Utilikilt folks are waging a guerrilla marketing campaign to convince Americans that kilts are manly. The ancient Romans of the early Republic would have needed no convincing, however, as they felt that "bifurcated" garments like pants were feminine. They also felt the toga was the final word in conservative, serious clothing and wore socks with their sandals. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they really do, in fact, change.

Clothing and fashion are fun to play with in RPGs, too. Want to make a place seem a bit alien? Have people dress oddly. Pierced noses, formal tattoos, body paint, and odd headgear can all lend an air of the exotic. It's even more fun if those odd twists of fashion actually make sense. Things like pattens or chaps make sense in the right environments.

Unfortunately, you can take it too far. Nobody wants to read your five pages explaining the fashion faux pas of the various lands and cultures of your campaign. Dribbled in as these different places are visited, however, can be fun. As with all else, moderation.

Yeah, I know, the players assuming that the wonky LotR movies' bizarre waistcoats-and-cloaks fashion is all the rage in your campaign world can be very annoying. But it is their game, too, and too much oddness makes the game impossible to invest in. If your players are a bunch of anthropology majors and fashion mavens, sure, go hog-wild with sadors and philactories. Otherwise, less is probably more.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

So Let it be Written, so Let it be Done!

Here's a neat post from a guest-blogger at Chatty's blog. Gaming via text-chat in real-time (meaning, not play-by-post or email) has long been my preferred method of gaming, and Mr. Salazar hits on a lot of the reasons why. All the things I'd like to do, and linger on, in an RPG, are just easier in text. The small nuances, the subtle points of conversation or locale, the intricate puzzle presented as an ornate piece of jewelry, all are far easier to do in text than speech. And I love having recorded logs of the action.

It is a slower way to game. Even if you're not doing the play-by-post thing, play-by-text-chat is still far slower than speech, even if all the players are experienced typists. But the pros far outweigh the cons to me. I'm seriously considering running my Moldvay/Cook/Labyrinth Lord game this way, with something like OpenRPG or maybe just an IM client.

I'm looking forward to seeing what else Mr. Salazar has to say on this topic.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Lots of chatter these days about music to play in the background while you game, or just for inspiration, including some rather, er, odd choices. I mean, yeah, it's catchy, but I'm not sure if it's the music I'd want to listen to while I was gaming.

But then, I should talk, because my players were always dropping in my Murphy Brown collection of Motown hits. Aretha Franklin beltin' out "R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!" doesn't exactly invoke images of stalwart heroes delving into the depths of orc-infested ruins.

And what music really gets me in the mood for gaming? It's purely nostalgia, I'll admit it, but it's '80s pop, especially Phil Collins. Why? Because that's what was on the radio when I was really getting into the game. I remember exploring the Palace of the Silver Princess while Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" played on MTV in the background. We heard Madonna's "Live to Tell" in the hobby stores we visited.

(I'm apparently not alone in this. When discussing Scylla and Charybdis, a friend of mine first thought of "Wrapped Around Your Finger" rather than Homer.)

At the same time, though, I listened to Thistle & Shamrock every Saturday night. I was really into Celtic music back then, and that also heavily influenced my gaming style. That was the music I imagined in the background when I looked at the art of Elmore, Parkinson, and Whelan. I wasted quite a bit of time trying to reproduce the stories of King Arthur with AD&D. It was a poor fit, but I kept plugging away at it, since I was too cheap to buy Pendragon, and the music of the Boys of the Lough, Silly Wizard, and Clannad was usually playing in the background.

And today, as I work on my Moldvay/Cook/Labyrinth Lord hack, with its ancient and tropical setting, I'm pulling up a lot of Oriental and Middle Eastern influences: the Dhol Foundation, Dead Can Dance, and Ofra Haza. I still pop in some Phil Collins when I need a little hit of those days-gone-by, though.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Defending the Indefensible

Neil Gaiman talks about Freedom of Speech, and its limits, here.

Good stuff, important stuff, especially for those of us who indulge in imagination and the fantastical.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

How to Make Your Significant Other a Gamer

Yeah, ok, so I said I wasn't going to post much, and my heart is breaking and the world is tumbling down around my ears, and then I see this.

Hope it puts a smile on your face, too.

Weathering the Storm

Sorry, folks, but blogging is going to be light, if not non-existent from now until probably the new year. Bad stuff happening in the troll household, but we'll get through it.

'nuff said. Game on, and have a great time, y'all.