I’ll open with four basic observations about this book:
Firstly, The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide is not a beginner’s guide to RPGs or one of those ‘how to run a regular game’ books like The Lazy DM’s Guide. Nor is it an introduction to the act of roleplaying that tells you how to put on a funny voice or develop a character concept. The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide is best thought of as an assortment of guided exercises and theoretical essays designed to help improve your game by making you a better participant in RPGs in that the advice this book is relevant to both players and GMs.
Secondly, the author of this book James D’Amato is not a game designer but rather the creator of a series of successful actual play podcasts. He is also someone who has been formally trained in improvisational comedy by a number of august educational institutions.
Thirdly, despite having been published by Simon and Schuster and having enough of a marketing push behind it that I actually found my copy of this book in a generalist bookshop in a small British town, The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide is by far and away the single worse-organised piece of non-fiction writing I have ever encountered.
Fourthly, once you move beyond the fact that D’Amato is bad at both articulating his ideas and presenting said ideas in a logical fashion, this book is surprisingly good.
Continue reading “REVIEW: The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide by Joe D’Amato”
Origins is a series of posts in which I reflect upon my earliest gaming memories as well as the events that shaped my tastes and understanding of games. The rest of the series can be found here.
Having now written about my earliest gaming experiences, I think it might be time to move beyond origin stories and begin thinking about some of the later gaming experiences that changed the way I think about games.
Continue reading “Origins: Spot Hidden Detritus”
It’s hard for snakes who eat their own tails to get a fair break nowadays…
The Ouroboros is a symbol that is said to date back to ancient Egypt but it also appears — spontaneously it would appear — in a number of other cultures scattered across the globe. Nowadays, we tend to view it as a representation of cannibalistic futility. Of something that tries to consume in order to stay alive only for that thing to wind up consuming itself. However, this is not the only way of interpreting the symbol.
While we tend to view the snake as a thing that consumes, it is important to remember that the snake is eternal and so its consumption must be (at some point) counter-balanced by creation. Carl Jung recognised this when he adopted Ouroboros as one of his archetypes:
The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness. In the age-old image of the Ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites.
People tend to reach for Ouroboros whenever they want to stress the absolute futility of discourse and the endless cycles of re-litigation and re-iteration that comprise cultural debate. This is particularly true whenever you think about discourse relating to things like horror or RPGs: What is the point of endlessly rehashing old arguments? You’re never going to convince anyone or anything!
This may be true, but what if cyclical discourse arrising from irreconcilable differences was productive? What if it was itself apart of the creative process? What if the act of creation is born of destruction?
Continue reading “A Defence of Cyclical Discourse”
Watching the Detectives is a series of posts about drawing inspiration from fictitious paranormal investigators, occult detectives, police psychics, and monster hunters. The rest of the series can be found here.
Having too much information is the same as having too little.
Continue reading “WTD: The Wailing”
Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.
The stench bro… the stench.
Continue reading “On “Dagon” by H.P. Lovecraft”
Games Half Remembered is an occasional series about old games. Some of these games I have played, others I have merely admired, but all of them have stuck in my memory for one reason or another. The rest of the series can be found here.
In RPGs, adaptations only ever seem to work in one direction
Continue reading “GHR: Earthdawn”
INSPO is a series of posts about non-horror topics that could nonetheless be used as inspiration for a horror game. The rest of the series can be found here.
When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would not hold back. I would not fold myself into a nice little online niche, and I would not refrain from exploring the ideas that I thought deserved exploration.
With this principle in mind, I have decided to stick my head above the parapet and write about pornography.
Continue reading “INSPO: Girl Life”
A little while ago, I wrote a piece about how Nephilim – the game whose commercial failure is responsible for Chaosium no longer developing new games – is my all-time favourite RPG.
I wasn’t planning on writing anything else about Nephilim as I’m not currently playing it but then I happened to listen to a podcast that changed the way I thought about investigation-based RPGs.
Continue reading “Some Additional Thoughts about Nephilim”
For Real is an occasional series about scary or horrific culture that presents itself as non-fiction. This might include the paranormal as well as true crime and odd occurrences. The rest of the series can be found here.
Ghosts are real, regardless of whether or not they exist.
Continue reading “FR: The Battersea Poltergeist”