Monday, November 21, 2022

Four Questions from a Dark Forest

A lot of people (six) have said that the alternative structure to social media is a "dark forest", where communities live in private discord servers and chat channels, never to be broadcast to the world. This is extremely stupid because actual conversations between real people standing next to each other on the planet I live on, Earth, are also not broadcast to the world, and they often don't take place in forests.  Nor are they secrets. They are just regular conversations.  What I say to the lady at the donut shop and what she says to me is not broadcast to the world.  And if I write about it here, I'm not reporting, journalistically, on what happened in that conversation, but just giving my perspective and processing it into a form where I would like to comment on it.  

It's in that spirit that I here (mis-)characterize and then answer four questions that someone on a chat with me asked the chat, because I think they're interesting questions. Here we go.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Lovecraftian horror tabletop RPGs and "what if we made losing Sanity good?"

There's a perennial discussion that arises around Lovecraftian horror that takes as its central question the following:

In Lovecraftian horror stories, since what seems to be insanity is actually insight into how the world really works, couldn't we replace "insanity" mechanics with some kind of "clarity" or "insight" mechanics?

This blog post is my long way of saying "I don't think so."  

Before we get started, as always, please don't take my comments to be about the advisability of a game design direction. I have nothing to say to game designers; they have bigger problems to worry about  than anything I could raise.  As always I'm really talking about campaign construction within constraints of group decisions, what game you've decided to play, etc. If you're going to play this type of game, here is my advice. I'm definitely not saying anything about what type of game should be designed or selected.  People who say "well, let's just not do Lovecraftian horror", cool, don't do it. Nothing that follows applies to you.

Review: World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour

Cubicle 7 came out with two really interesting Call of Cthulhu supplements over the last few years in their "World War Cthulhu" line. One, The Darkest Hour, focused on World War II.  The other, Cold War, was focused on the postwar conflicts of the world.  Both were remarkable to me as an aficionado of historical settings for RPGs as they seemed to embrace what  made the original Call of Cthulhu's 1920s setting work.  They didn't grab for the obvious "Nazi sorcerer will summon a monster and win the war" nonsense that has been thoroughly played out and was never really worth pursuing in the first place.

Nevertheless since the materials have gone out of print, it's now difficult to access my 2016 Feature Review of The Darkest Hour on  If you're interested, it's below the cut:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Fate Core Is Good, Actually. A series of play principles by JDCorley

People always yell at me when I say "but Fate is good, actually". Then I explain how I run it and they look really thoughtful and have to sit down for a while.  Here's how Fate is good, actually, at least when I run it:

Saturday, February 16, 2019