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Thursday, January 28, 2016

SOME FACTS CONCERNING RPG PUNDIT'S INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY

I first came across RPG PUNDIT's blog, when I came across his excellent review of the Dungeion Crawl Classics (DCC) role playing game. I thanked him for the excellent review, and then commented on one of his posts, to which he called me "an idiot or a parody of an idiot."

Later I read the reviews of the Arrows of Indra game that he had written, and saw that he was widely panned for ripping off The Empire of the Petal Throne game, when it came to the spells used in that game, especially the Second Level spell list. I asked him about it, and he never responded to that issue.

On January 26, 2016 he posted on his personal blog and casually trashed post modernism and what he considers weakness and decadence of the modern Western culture. Some posters acknowledged his statement, but nobody called him on it. So, I commented, noting that German military officers in WW2 had expressed the same sentiment about the West, namely, that athletic and disciplined youth raised with values under Naziism will triumph over the undisciplined, decadent and weak youth of the democratic west. That proved totally wrong during D-Day.

In response to this, RPG Pundit has accused me of calling him a Nazi in his true Coprolalian fashion (involuntary compulsion to say obscene words and phrases).

I responded to his and another comment, by explaining that I didn't call him a Nazi and that this was a common sentiment in Europe on the eve of WW2 among people who supported strong men and totalitarian leadership. I also explained that it's not disrespectful to quote anything in a Democracy, and wuoted President Kennedy, who said that an error becomes a mistake only when it is covered up and therefore he gave license to invstigative press to expose incomperence and corruption in American society.

I was amazed that RPGPundit deleted this comment. It was pure political discussion, there was no name calling or criticism of his writing that he was promoting. There goes Mr. Free Speech enemy of censorship.

Another interesting thing that I noticed, was the review of the How To Game Master Like a ... Boss book, that he posted on December 12, 2015. That review seemed unethical to me. It was self serving. On the surface it seemed like a positive *** Star review, but in reality RPG Pundit put the book down, negatively comparing it to his own writing.

One thing I noticed how there is no real discussion of any ideas on his blog. He does not share his experience as a DM, or his knowledge of the writing craft or game design with his readers. You can not walk away from his blog and learn to be a better DM. It is as if he does not want to share his ideas with you, because he is afraid that you will steal them. He blog writing is all editorializing and baiting The Forge games against the Old School Renaissance.

I think that he does that, the abusive language, the story-game baiting, and the controversy in order to promote himself and market his writing.

Total subjedctive speculation here, but I am thinking that politically he is an angry religious conservative and possibly a Eurosceptic.




9 comments:

  1. Sometimes I think that we use the same brain, Brooser. I've got an article that I wrote and is waiting to be published much like this one, only not so direct. I never heard of him until I started blogging again. He is teaching me about some stuff, but I tend to ignore most of his work as it isn't relevant to anything. His campaign against story games was rather pointless, it always led back to "You are stupid if you play them." While I did find some of this thoughts made a point, he tends to alienate his audience, and he isn't the only one who does it. I have seen people review products in a way that you could tell that they hated what they did, and they now hate role-playing but they don't leave. Instead they do their best to spread their poison in a way that is reminiscent of watching Jerry Lewis go to hell every year on his TV special. If the hobby makes you THAT angry, then quit, especially when you're dealing with products that you modify yourself. It's just crazy!

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  2. If he is working with you to teach you stuff, then it speaks in his favor. Generally his website is about self-promotion and marketing of his writing. He is both a failed scholar and a failed teacher, hence his intense dislike of the Western students, since he couldn't find common language of them as a teacher.

    He studied Catholic theology and graduated with honors, but I could not find any of his published academic work. Hence, he is unpublished. His political views are miserable, as they are extreme, and his intolerance is bourne of his lack of real world experience. I believe that he owns a game store in Uruguay and he worked with a college or a municipal youth center to include role-playing as part of their approved activities. He was once asked at an interview aboutg the native Uruguayan RPG games, and he didn't know, because primarily he is promoting his own games and other games that he can market.

    His religious beliefs are ill defined as well. He displays all the trademarks of Catholic conservatism, and yet displays the knowledge and fascination with the occult and medieval witch-craft. At the same time, he is dismissive of Buddhism and Eastern Spirituality in the way of fundamentalist Christian. Case in point, he wrote a faux Ancient Indian version of the B/X D&D, and did a competent job of it, but it did not capture the essence of Ancient Indian spirituality that would have made it into a unique game. Consider the imagery: a wise man of experience is hanging by his teeth from the tree of knowledge over the abyss. He is bound in a cocoon. If he speaks of what he knows, he will drop into the abyss, so wiose men hang there for eternity like the fruits of the tree... and there is so much in that tradition, to make a role playing game based on it, a truly mind blowing experience!

    In a Gygax fashion, RPG Pundit pillaged the Hindu religious and mythological books for the heroes and monsters for his game, but he missed the forest for the trees... it is as if he lacks any faith or spirituality... or belief... based on his knowledge of Medieval Christian theology, he can qualiofy for a religious scholar, but he calls himself a historian of religion.

    I believe that he alienates people and is hard to work with, because he himself was alienated as a child and a young adult. There are two kinds of leadership - Charismatic and Competency based. Top leaders come out of the first, people who are kept out of the old boys networks gravitate towards the second, believing that if they are good at what they do, they will get promoted and accepted, but of course, they have an additional hurdle, because they are outsiders to begin with. And so, our dear Pundit, half Polish and half Latin American was not hip with kids for whatever reason, and so he immersed himself in conservative religious study, taking all the abuse of the proverbial nuns and elders. Fully expectring the same respect himself, whe he took the mantle of teaching, he found that the new generation of kids, raised in modern Canadian traditions were not putting up with his nonsense, and Pundit FAILED. He failed to adapt and he failed to find the common language with his students, so he went raging right wing conservatism, which is how he clashed with other game designers.

    Notice how his sense of humor is shot, the lot of the fanatics and emotionally injured.

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  3. But Brooser, how do you really feel? I am Catholic. I enjoy the ritual, traditions, and mysticism of the church, however I have broken from much of the modern tradition of today. I believe that Jesus is the way, and we are to be pacifists. Our sacrifice, as dictated by Him is to forgive. This is not what the church teaches. While I love the church I am at odds with how they treat others, not with understanding and forgiveness but with bigotry and socially excepted bigotry is the worse kind.

    Religion and the fantasy genre is at odds because one encourages free thought, and the other does not. Engaging in acts of fantasy allows you to question reality and see the world for what it really is, which terrifies the Church, which has never truly understood it. I do see how Pundit is torn between two factions, but to be honest I think that he has just decided to take the cheap way of getting attention by being controversial, which, honestly, works every time. People enjoy a good idiot.

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  4. I am open to Christ. My G/F is a Christian. A serious religious scholar of the ancient Biblical texts. She rejects Eastern religion and philosophy, as well as other world faiths with a passion, while I was studying and practicing it since adolescence. Nominally I am Russian Orthodox Christian, but that church is now both financially and politically corrupt, since it backs new Russian fascism of the pro-Putin variety. Catholic church too, has its own right wing fanatics, as well as the left wing ones in the Liberation Theology. Catholicism has a 400 year tradition of Catholic Education, which the Soviet Communists tried to emulate, and failed, and which the post communist Russians are trying to match with their so-called Patriotic Education, and are failing. Pundit's Catholic political conservatism is a variety of his political beliefs, differing from, say, Christian Fundamentalism of the Evangelicals. I was only talking about his conservatism and possibly dogmatism, as opposed to him being Catholic.

    I don't think, that Religion and Fantasy have to be on the opposing sides. My campaign features real world religions, several denominations of Christianity, as well as Islam, Shamanism, and something unique to the Campaign setting. I had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to use Theology as a skill available to Clerics in terms of game mechanics.

    I despise Pundit, but I think that I might be more fortunate than him in life, in terms of work, education, and life experience, so maybe I should be more gracious than he is.

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  5. I think that it was the Gentleman Gamer on Youtube that spoke of religion in Forgotten Realms and pointed out that the gods that probably get the most reverence aren't the Player Character ones, but those associated with the trades. Even in the city of Zhentil Keep known for its evil, would still welcome a cleric of farming, because at the end of the day, they still have to eat.

    Fantasy religion is extremely interesting, trying to figure out the exact duties of a cleric to the Lady of Pain, what possible purpose could this type of cleric offer to society that would keep them from being lynched? Pain is a good thing, it lets us know when we are in need of help. Perhaps the clerics would be required to attend torture, keeping the victim alive so they can extract the information needed? In this context I can see the clerics of a LG deity desiring their presence in their temples regardless of the fact that the Clerics of Pain are NE.

    "I had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to use Theology as a skill available to Clerics in terms of game mechanics."

    What did you end up coming up with?

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  6. I will start with the simplest first: Theology has two applications - You roll theology when arguing with another Cleric to prove your point and win the argument. Second application, You roll Theology to get a modifier to the Cleric's Prayer when he or she is trying to work a miracle or a good work (a clerical spell) that he or she hadn't tried yet.

    Second point. I decided that a fantasy deity's strength depents directly on the number and strength of believers and worshippers of that being. If nobody worships that deity, it falls into a sleep, then a coma, then into nothing as the people (sentient creatures) forget that being. That's how gods die in my fantasy world. So, deities work miracles to protect, serve, impress and harness the faith of their believers. If you take that model, then the Religion is the fantasy equivalent of our own world politics, especially the politics of the great political machines, where political party clubs and backroom bosses churned out assistance and favors to people living in rural and urban squalor in order to get their vote.

    Now, picture this scenario - in a fantasy world there is a peasant or a noble prince or some other activist trying to become a leader and create a political movement for a better future. What's a deity to do in a world full of magic and mystery an dmiracles, where a mere mortal is competing with the divine for attention? Will a self-repecting deity make the bed and prepare for eternal sleep?

    I don't think so. Give the would be political leader a stroke? Have his or her horse throw the politician to break his back a la Christopher Reeves? Incinerate the bastard onm the spot? Turn the would be mortal Furhrer into a cockoroach? The possibilities are endless, but you can see, how the deities would replace human politics if the devotion of the believers matters to them?

    Which brings me to a God of Pain. More on his later. But if we have deities which compete for human worshippers, what about forces embodying the collective conscience of plants, animals, and oher forces in a fantasy world? Start hunting Elephants into extinction and the lightning strikes you! Why do we assume that the fantasy consmos is ruled by anthropomorphized beings dedicated to the service of the humanity? How about a great chain of spiritual being, that starts with the embodiment of forces unique to the cosmos of the fantasy world that yiou are running. From these primordial and powerful, but deeply uninterested forces, there devolve lesser and more recognizable deities, but which still may embody forces other than humanity, and from them are lesser deities still, which humans can worship, and which may serve interests of the other animals as well, think Cat Lord from the Fiend Folio, Lord and Protector of Cats. And from this you can have Gids defending and fighting for humanity and lesser beings of all sorts, demonic or angelic, carrying the bidding of the infinite amount of spiritual forces fighting to shape the fantasy world.

    And Clerics of Pain. Desperate or delusuonal humans creating a cult to worship some deity for non-humans? How do you explain evil? Why the Evil Deities? That's another discussion. At least in Midlands, there is more going on than mere Trade Gods, and you can see, where Monotheism of Christianity or Islam will take hold in a fantasy world - these very strong religions, keep the demnons, all of the other forces, at bay - literally.

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  7. Were your gods ever human once?

    As far as my game goes, I'm not sure if a god can die. Another god might be able to slay him, if he is foolish enough to let him. A god can also become imprisoned, and potentially loose his personality over the eons. A god whose worshipers are wiped out will lose his domain in the Planes and be forced to exist on the Prime Material plane, what he does with himself is his own business.

    What a better question might be is are the Gods creatures of freewill or not? In regards to Pagan deities, I don't think that they are. Perhaps if you slay the God of Murder, then you must take his place. This would imply an overlord, a mystical being who the gods must answer to, or who dictates the works that they do. One that does not do the bidding of men, but a mysterious force that only gods know.

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  8. I think that so long as a deity has faithful, it can not die. It's avatars may be defeated, but to kill a god, you have to kills all of its followers, or destroy the force that sustains it. Consider Ancient Romans completely wiping out the original Druids, or Saddam Hussein's troops draining the Marshes in the south of Iraq, He wasn't killing any spirit of the Marsh, merely the spirit of the people, who lived there. Do you see the potential for some truly horrific violence among the mortals in a war between deities?

    The question regarding the free will of the gods is a great one. I think that deities have a free and capricious will, in a cosmos full of forces struggling against each other in a conscious flux. Like any violent eco-system out there, they will exercise their free will like the Ridley Scott's Alien, when there are no consequences to that deity, but so long as a being has the protection of a strong religion or other such champion, the capricious gods will exercise inrfedible restraint. Think of a demon, that will not harm a true believer, but woe to a wizard who will summon it, and not be adequately protected from a demon's wrath. By summoning they violate the precepts of the major monotheistic religions and lose its protection.

    Were Midlands gods ever human? Another fascinating question. How do you define gods? Demi-Gods? Titans? Half-Gods? I love Baldur's gate the CRPG, and I know the story of Bhaal, Bane, and Merkul. That's a great story, ut it does not make them divinities. There are men (any sentient creature, including Mind Flayers and Beholders), who reach Immortality. Wizards who run out of time and become Liches to keep up their research foever, High Vampires, who ply trade and powser in the world of men, just like Elves, from behind guards and other barriers to keep them from the unwashed masses. There are men, who reach immortality without losing their life to undeath. There are circles of men, but not Immortals, who can create reality with mere collective thought. Off limits to players and they have to discover them as part of the campaign. and of course, regular champions and super high lever charcters. Demons who may have been mere mortals in the beginning, like Centobytes, not of Christianity, but of celluloid. There are limits to how high a man might reach, and most of the humanity in Midlands (and Goblins and others), generally stick to counterpatrts of the real world Christianity, Islam, and there are some Zen monks plying their trade by using some exotic humanoid creatures. There are also the other gods uniquely Midlands, and they were never mortal to begin with. Neither they are human in any way shape or form, but they appear as such to men.

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    1. One thing to consider is the sheer superiority of the divine intellect over that of men and even that of 1000 year old Elves. I don't like the idea of levels, especially level restriction for the Magic Users. Theoretically, a 1st level magic user can learn the Fireball spell, but it's not easy. The great equalizer is COMPLEXITY. Based on schools of magic and the Magic User's skills, there is a cetait skill level, at which a Magic User acquires a new spell of the same level from a specific school, if they have a good rendition of the spell in writing, that they can study. So, after a period of study, the wizard throws dice, and he eather learned the spell, or he didn't. It takes about 3 weeks to master a first level spell, for a magic user of the same level. Same magic user can try to learn a second level spell, but it will take 3 months and his chances of learning it are Halved. Under this system, a Fireball is a 5 level spell, because in AD&D, Fireballs spell is acquired at the fifth level. A first level Magic User CAN potentially learn a Fireball spell on his or her own, but after six months of full time study, the chance to learn that spell is 1/16th of the skill to learn the 1st level spell on percentile dice (roll under). At the genius level, we are talking about a 2% chance per six months of study. A good teacher and regular practice sessions can add a few percentage points as a bonus. Difficult, but not impossible. Under the same system of complexity, 9th level Magic User Spells are really 18th level spells, and for the first level mage, it will take 7561 years to get an astronomically small chance to comprehend and cast that spell. WE are beyond Elf years, we are into Lich years here. To make the matters simpler, an NPC dedicating their whole lifetime to mastering a ninth level spell has a 1 percent chance to cast a spell if their make a critical success first. Critical failure will bring dire consequences.

      Of course, Gods can alter reality at will, and their god-like abilities make them infinitely smart, wise, and inhuman. Some of them can communicate with us, at our own level, of course, but that mask of humanity hides something terrible and terrifying to mortals, even if the deity in question is benign and altruistic.

      What this infinite intellect gives gods is the ability to shape reality and to calculate all of the potential consequences. In a lot of cases, the complex realities will dictate their actions, maintaining the cosmic ecology, but that only hides their free will, which can come across as thiundering rage, when it is finally allowed to be expressed. Gods do not have eternal memories, they have eternal patience, and also, the eternity. Part of what makes them inhuman.

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