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Showing posts from October, 2020

Are OSR authors against kids playing their games?

When the OSR is criticized on any grounds, the one consistent response is, “Yes, there have been problem people , but the OSR is just so creative !” I am not sure that it’s more creative than other gaming movements (and let’s leave aside how weird it is that there are gaming movements), but I do admire many of the products of OSR designers. When buying RPG products, I prefer to support independent game designers, authors, and artists. I’m turned off by the glossy and superheroic styles of D&D as it has developed in the hands of the Wizards of the Coast. As my kids have discovered the fun of role-playing, I would like to support independent creators by buying their products and distributing them to the younger generation. I want independent creators to succeed. That seems to put me in harmony with OSR designers.   But it seems that every time I pick up an OSR setting or an adventure to give to my kids, for their use, I find something that’s not suitable for a father to give to his k

Fantasy as a Response to Sexism in Role-Playing Games in 1979

 Marc W. Miller co-founded Game Designers' Workshop and was the lead designer of the first successful science-fiction role-playing game, Traveller (1977). People still play it. In 1979, Miller was asked to submit thoughts on role-playing games to the new magazine Different Worlds (#1). In this short, reflective piece, he made one of his main points about "the subject of sexism in gaming." He wrote, Wargames (by that, I mean the boardgame end of the wargaming spectrum) are generally played by males; women simply aren't interested. Fantasy role-playing games are an entirely new field, and don't yet have the barriers to women that the other games do. I think it's very important to keep the FRP field open to women, and that means an almost conscious effort on the part of designers. If you look at modern fantasy literature, you can easily find women working and fighting as central characters, not as hangers-on. Such activity is rarely historical, but it is a refle

The Topless Ladies of '70s Role-Playing Games

This entry includes forty-year-old drawings of naked women that appeared in role-playing game books. My remarks here are intended neither as prudish nor as endorsement. I think nudity is fine, and sex in role-playing games is fine, if everybody involved is on board. People should enjoy their fantasies. This is merely commentary on a conspicuous aspect the culture of role-playing games in the 1970s and very early 1980s. I think about why fantasies are the way they are. At the same time, I really am glad my preteen daughter doesn’t have to deal with this shit when she looks up her abilities in the Fifth Edition. Not just my daughter, but also my son, my wife, and the kids that my kids play role-playing games with. Gamers' imaginary breasts The original D&D books featured a drawing of a bare-chested amazon beside a “beautiful witch” (shown immediately below). This set a standard and sent a message about the game’s possibilities.   OD&D: Men & Magic, 1974, p. 27.