Are Dragons for White Kids with Money???
May 15, 2017 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Daniel Jose Ruiz has a great article on Geekdom and Race. D&D has taken strides toward diversity in its artwork, and some Friendly Local Game Stores are thinking about how to be more welcoming, but the angry white male gamer is an ongoing problem.

Here are a few links related to diversity in tabletop gaming.
posted by rikschell (81 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, been going around recently: Roll Like a Girl.
posted by bonehead at 8:34 AM on May 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


I've been playing d&d for about a year now, and it's my first time with any kind of gaming like this. I love to brag about my group in contexts like this, because we're about half women, not all white, not all cis, and mostly pretty queer. And my best d&d friend outside of the group is also not white and not straight, and the game I sat in with him had similar demographics. So my experiences in-game have been pretty good.

BUT every time I try to learn more about gaming or step outside my little circle, it's like encountering literal land mines of trash, some of it built into the actual game (can we talk about the Sanity checks in Delta Green? Despite my chill group, I've been unable to really convey how using PTSD or alcoholism as a literal character "flaw" unsettles me and how offensive I think it is that a real life thing that many people deal with every day is reduced to some kind of roll with a whole lot of potential for super shallow role playing. That depends on the group, I'm sure, but I've been looking for intelligent discussion of it and haven't been able to find it. Just as a specific thing that I'm giving the side-eye to, like "this can't possibly be as bad as I think it is. Right? Because maybe I'm missing something and this is done well and with sensitivity." And... I'm shocked that the answer is inconclusive. )

That said, we're in the vague planning stages of a short game of Monsterhearts and it's explicitly queer, as are the other games from the same creators.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 8:48 AM on May 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Thanks for this. I'm a middle aged white cis guy who just started playing tabletop D&D again yesterday for the first time in decades. We have a gay black man in our group who plays a Tiefling, and a trans woman who plays a paladin of some sort (she couldn't make it yesterday, so I have not met her yet). Three of the rest of us are cis-white males, and one cis-white female, so a pretty diverse group.

We're playing the temple of elemental evil campaign with a DM with encyclopedic knowledge of the rules. But the setting so far is kind of disappointing, typical middle european medieval village. I actually love that setting, but when you RP in a small medieval village it's quickly becomes very been-there-done-that, get me to the combat! How many dark taverns with ale-drinking white people can you imagine in your head?

Still, having a blast. I'm a dwarf cleric from Amn, which I have always thought of as Moroccan-esque, heading north to a strange land to sort out the troubles happening there.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:48 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Per the op's D&D + Race + Artwork article from 2014, I have seen someone online note that, since the original Player's Handbook release, the publishers have stepped back their efforts and have gone much more traditional Euro in their character art. (I don't have a citation for this, unfortunately.)
posted by HeroZero at 8:56 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


BaldursGate! It's about purity in iron mining!
posted by benzenedream at 8:56 AM on May 15, 2017 [22 favorites]


Part of the problem with D&D as shorthand for any sort of tabletop roleplaying is that it does take a lot of money to get into - the books aren't cheap.

I spent a lot of my gaming time in college, where 90% of the people I played with were women, and mostly queer women. It was a shock when I left that bubble and tried to find a group, and even though I tried to make it work (brushed off comments from the DM asking if I wanted to hang out in the kitchen instead, any male character deciding to automatically flirt with my character and then getting angry that I wasn't reciprocating), it didn't. So I didn't game for about six or seven years.

After a number of false starts, my husband is trying to start a game, but I'm specifically letting him find his feet without me being around - even if I don't think he would be overly favorable towards me, there's just so much shit involved with sleeping with the GM (even now! We aren't in high school anymore!) that I just want to bypass that completely.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:03 AM on May 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


My gaming group is composed of myself, my husband, and two groups of friends that have somewhat merged: those I've known for almost 15 years, and those he's had since college, almost all of whom have migrated from Virginia out here to Arizona. We're pretty light on POC, but plenty of gender and sexuality diversity.

I know I've been super lucky in that I've only ever had brushes with the kind of misogynistic ass-hattery many others here have had. And as a large group of gamers from our late 20's to early 40's, we don't have time for that kinda B.S. We have limited time and that time is going to be used to play some games! If I could spread my good luck around to ya'll a bit, I totally would. Having a solid gaming group is wonderful.

I do have to comment on the whole "sleeping with the GM" thing is also baffling to me. You have to be harder on them than anyone else in the group. What's the point of having a close relationship with someone, knowing all sorts of things about them, knowing what their joys and fears are, and not exploiting that (in a non-triggering way only!) for better roleplaying?

Or is that just me and Mr. Objects? Are we weird?
posted by sharp pointy objects at 9:26 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I played D&D (Basic and AD&D) as a youngling in the late 70s and 80s, quitting the game around the time 2e came out. I'm a white straight cis guy, and D&D for me was wrapped up in the teasing and bullying "nerds" like me got at that time.

When my son went to middle school, I discovered that (in some places anyway) nerds are celebrated now. It literally made me weep when I found out that at the end of the year the class put on a nerd-themed party with skits about Darth Vader at Hogwarts and such. Then he joined an afterschool D&D club (run by a genderqueer person of color) and pulled me back into the hobby. I love the collaborative storytelling and improvisation at a good table.

(The books aren't cheap, but Wizards of the Coast provides free basic rules that will let you play the core game without any investment at all!)
posted by rikschell at 9:33 AM on May 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Part of the problem with D&D as shorthand for any sort of tabletop roleplaying is that it does take a lot of money to get into - the books aren't cheap.

That's true. But the 5th Edition basic rules are free as a downloadable PDF. It doesn't have all the options as the $50 Player's Handbook, but it's the same set that I started with in Basic D&D all those years ago.

This Friday I ran a game for three first-time players and three veterans. Everyone was white and, I think, straight -- though everyone is welcome at my table, and if a queer person of color asked I'd run a game for her in a heartbeat -- but all of the new players were women, and one of them I met at the march the day after the inauguration. Of the group, only the experienced couple bothered to buy the PHB, and I think it was more that they planned to anyway and I just gave them a reason.
posted by Gelatin at 9:33 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


In college I played with a great group of people, a few asshats, but mostly just quality. Stepping out into the wider world of gamers after that was a horror show. I honestly met group after group of horrible people, heard about and dealt with such awful shit, that I just gave up. I know there are great, fun, decent people playing, but after several years of not finding them in city after city, I've given up. Gaming, as an escape, seems to draw some seriously shitty people.
posted by Lighthammer at 9:37 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


My lovely wife doesn't play, so the whole "sleeping with the DM" thing usually isn't an issue. But my daughters do, and I totally agree that knowing someone well offers plenty of juicy opportunities for the good kind of drama. The adventure I designed to introduce D&D Next -- the playtest version of 5th Edition -- to my daughters, who had previously played 4ed, and their friends involved saving a pair of watchdogs from a band of goblin raiders, which I set up specifically to invoke my younger daughter's love of animals. I knew she would stop at nothing to defend them, and I was right -- she was a hero that day.
posted by Gelatin at 9:38 AM on May 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also, my wife and I own a yarn shop, and for a long time I was amazed at the overlap between nerds and knitters. Every geeky subculture has its own knitters: Doctor Who, D&D, Star Trek, Star Wars, GoT, etc. I think in a lot of ways it's a defense against the toxic masculinity that pervades geek culture. It's a way of carving out a safe space, primarily for and by women, from that often-hostile environment. It makes me sad to see what angry white male nerds do, because it's exactly what was done to me (and probably done to them) so many years ago.
posted by rikschell at 9:39 AM on May 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


if you want to avoid the comic book guys, red-pillers, and gamergate types in tabletop, try to find a small-to-medium local con with an explicit Code of Conduct. (my local favorite is Big Bad Con)
posted by murphy slaw at 9:43 AM on May 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


That's true. But the 5th Edition basic rules are free as a downloadable PDF.

Yeah, but if you're trying to find a way into the game and you don't have any experienced players to direct you to the free PDF, you're going to look for the books. I know this from giving free gaming nerd advise to non-gaming nerds trying to start something - the question I get is "wait, do I really need ALL of this stuff?" the answer is no, and then I'll sometimes direct them to something that works better with the type of game they actually want to play. There are plenty of cheaper systems, systems that are more novice-friendly, and systems that allow for easier customization out there. D&D isn't the system for everyone.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:44 AM on May 15, 2017


My first (and only) experience playing tabletop D&D involved the DM killing my character off immediately and then having the monster who slew me immediately disappear into an alternate dimension so that the rest of the boys could play without any interference from a girl.
posted by xyzzy at 9:56 AM on May 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Players do need the Players' HandBook to play properly. The free download works well enough for a session or two, but it's no replacement for the PHB for even a starting player. The PHB lists in Canada for $57 (CAD), though it can be had for around $30 new on many sites. It goes on sale around the holidays too.

I don't know why WotC sets such high prices for the core books. I'd have thought that a low cost to enter for at least the PHB would make sense. You can theoretically play with that one book alone, though the other two of the core books really add a lot too. But the books are a non-trivial expense to get into the hobby even as a relatively affluent adult now, even leaving aside knowing to buy dice and everything else.

TSR used to have the boxed sets to get kids into the hobby: everything you need in a box, including a premade adventure and dice. Now, it's all separate and there's little to guide an Aunt or Grandfather who wants to get a game for a kid's birthday without knowing a fair bit about it from the beginning.

There's some inside baseball history. The old boxed sets weren't quite the same game as the AD&D books and always struggled as a lesser product. But there's no reason a well-written player/dm guide + adventure + 7 dice couldn't be put together. There's even now a lot of secondary material in the core books that could be reserved as the "upgrades" over a minimalist box set product.

Any it would go a long way to making the game accessible for those without the privilege of wealthy parents or relatives.
posted by bonehead at 10:00 AM on May 15, 2017


Ever since AD&D 2e I refused to own more than two books. I used to run at convention as "AD&D variant", with variant being shorthand for "I own two books, the PHB and the GM's Guide and if it's not in those I neither know about it or want to know about it. Any rules 'mistake' I make and choose not to correct is now a house rule and we will moving on and shutting up." ("Variant" take up a lot less space.)

I enjoy worldbuilding so I saw no reason to outsource that part of the GMing experience, which also helped.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Part of the problem with D&D as shorthand for any sort of tabletop roleplaying is that it does take a lot of money to get into -

And as much or more so, resources of time and space. I loved playing D&D when I had long summer vacations that seemed to stretch out endlessly, now—and speaking only for myself—I'd find it really hard to devote—or even want to devote—the kind of time it takes to running or playing any kind of campaign, not to mention one that wasn't Tolkien or Conan manqué. I know people with jobs and lives do it—an old friend of mine has been running a campaign for years. But I can't imagine it. That makes me a little sad. But not sad enough to give up other things.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:06 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


But there's no reason a well-written player/dm guide + adventure + 7 dice couldn't be put together.

Like this, you mean?

And while I agree that $50 for a book can be a steep barrier to entry, it pales before the amount of money people regularly spend on video games, and I've never seen that criticism brought up on MeFi.

I'm very grateful for my racially diverse, gender-balanced weekly game.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:09 AM on May 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Bonehead, there is a Starter Set ($19.99 US, $22.95 CAN), which is just as you describe, not all the PHB +DMG +MM rules, but enough to get started and a starting premade adventure.

The main stuff left out of the free Basic Rules are extra classes, races, and backgrounds. As is, there are tons of options and spells. Maybe I see it differently because I had plenty of fun with the four basic classes back in the day.

The main reason I buy all those hardcovers is to support the game. One of the problems Gary Gygax had keeping TSR going was putting out enough product to keep the company afloat. When your game is based on selling a set of rules and then telling players, "use your imagination, make up the rest, and keep playing for years on end," that does not bode well for the bottom line. From what I understand, 3rd edition had the opposite problem: so much product the game became impossible to keep up with and play. 5e seems to be keeping a good balance, though I'd love to see the reintroduction of some of the different settings, like Eberron, Dark Sun, and Spelljammer. I missed those the first time around and they look like you could really tell some diverse stories in those worlds! The one they have release for 5e, Ravenloft, is just a generic horror theme with vampires and werewolves. Lucrative, I'm sure, but dull.
posted by rikschell at 10:10 AM on May 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't know why WotC sets such high prices for the core books.

One of the things that I think made the 3rd edition of D&D so popular was that they deliberately sold the core books at a loss - $20 each. (At least at first, I can't remember if they increased after a while or not.)

And there is a D&D Starter Set with basic rules, a pretty good adventure and other goodies that is currently selling for new on Amazon for $15. Don't know if it is written so my 10 year old self could get into it like I did with the old Red Box, though.
posted by charred husk at 10:10 AM on May 15, 2017


My 8 year old daughter suddenly wants to get into D&D. We got her the starter set (which was about $20, came with the dice, an adventure, some starter character sheets, and a rules guide ) and I've been trying to work my way through the rules with her. She's a pretty fantastic storyteller but I can absolutely see how she would be annoying to play with if you were between the ages of 16 and 35. I have no idea how to go about finding games that would be appropriate for her to join - I'm more than willing to host a game but how do I find other kids? (I should probably turn to the green, eh?)
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:18 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


And while I agree that $50 for a book can be a steep barrier to entry, it pales before the amount of money people regularly spend on video games, and I've never seen that criticism brought up on MeFi.

If the discussion is why D&D isn't seen as accessible to working class/poor kids (as it is in the FPP), you've got to talk about the money. If the only visible way to play is spending $50 a book, then yeah, Dragons are for White kids with money.

In my mind, the answer isn't to fight the idea that $50 is a lot to spend on something, it's to make the less expensive options more visible and accessible.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:20 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


There are companies such as Evil Hat (Fate), Buried Without Ceremony (Monsterhearts) and Magpie Games (Urban Shadows) that emphasize diversity. And their games tend to be either low cost or free on the Web.

But D&D, especially 5th edition is still very retro, and an exercise in nostalgia. So Its not surprising that its new art direction is going in the "Make D&D white again" direction.

But then again, in Twitter I hear creatives such as Molly Ostertag, Ursula Vernon and Cat Valente mention playing D&D. So D&D has a weird pervasive element to it, even as is not particularly welcoming.
posted by happyroach at 10:26 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


TSR used to have the boxed sets to get kids into the hobby: everything you need in a box, including a premade adventure and dice.

They still do.
posted by Gelatin at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


"So Its not surprising that its new art direction is going in the "Make D&D white again" direction."

Any real evidence of this?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:57 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The starter boxset for 5e is pretty great, though the rule book it comes with is pretty stripped down. That said, they publish (excellent) free rules now as a PDF you can grab, so maybe that's not such a big deal. As others have noted, the barrier to entry now for D&D is quite low. You can play without any of the big hard cover books. The indie RPG scene is huge now too. You can get free retro clones of basically any edition of D&D you want to play.
posted by chunking express at 11:01 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't believe there's any sort of national/global non-profit for tabletop RP like there is for LARPing? Camarilla specifically is what I'm familiar with, though that's for adults only and is World of Darkness game-centric.

I mention this, because the Cam (or Mind's Eye Society as it's now called), has a clear code of conduct, rules, and procedures for what's supposed to happen to resolve issues when someone ends violating the rules and codes.
Something like that would be great for tabletop. It could provide real benefits for local chapters of mature gamers looking for other similar peeps to play with, and perhaps other gamers kids to form kid-friendly groups for, if most were willing to swing the $20 per year membership fee.

The old stand-by methods of finding gaming groups: word-of-mouth, or the corkboard in the gaming shop with handwritten "Looking for player/GM" notes isn't working anymore. If it ever really did for anyone who isn't a white cis male.

Makes me want to try something like that kind of non-profit, I can certainly afford the website fees at least to start with, but I'd have no idea how to even start.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 11:03 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


"So Its not surprising that its new art direction is going in the "Make D&D white again" direction."

Any real evidence of this?


Nope. Several and many of the Player's Handbook character illustrations are distinctly nonwhite when humans are involved, and the theme continues throughout. Now there are distinctly awkward race issues when dealing with non-humans (There are black elves, but they're evil. There are black dwarves, but they're basically evil as well. Etc etc..), but those have been baked in for decades and are starting to get a bit more nuance and less 'black is evil' over recent times. Now WotC isn't currently as aggressively progressive as their previous publisher Paizo, for example - the Pathfinder ruleset in particular (basically DnD 3.75 edition, when Wizards of the Coast decided to grunt out that 4th edition nonsense to everyone's disgust) has 'iconics' that are prewritten characters with fleshed out backstories to serve as the example for each class, and the collection is not just racially diverse, but also has a solid amount of queer/trans/etc representation as well. However, claiming 5th edition is trumpian-racism-laden is wildly unfounded.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:20 AM on May 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


As others have noted, the barrier to entry now for D&D is quite low. You can play without any of the big hard cover books. The indie RPG scene is huge now too. You can get free retro clones of basically any edition of D&D you want to play.

Real question: Say you are a 12 year-old, or the parent of a 12 year-old that'd like to play a tabletop game. You have no experience of this, maybe know where there's a games store is in the mall, but they mostly have board games. There is a Barnes and Noble. You do have the internet, but don't really know any of the terms. What's the place you look? Do you think it'd be easy for a newcomer to figure out?

You also only have one 12-year old who would like to game. Where do you find a group?

The barriers for tabletop gaming are low if you have a nerd (and probably a white dude) on your side that's willing to help you out. If not, they can seem pretty damn high.

Saying that the barriers are low is then putting the blame on why there isn't more diversity in gaming - in class, in gender and gender presentation, in ethnicity - on the groups of people who don't game, as opposed to where the the blame should be - on the groups that are still trying to maintain those barriers - by harassment, by directing people away from lower cost and more inclusive systems, by expecting even newcomers to have a pretty deep understanding of gaming culture.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:29 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The people behind D&D right now (Mike Mearls and friends) all seem really great and positive people. They seem to take making the product more diverse seriously. The players handbook was a big step forward here. I haven't heard anyone complain about the newer books being a step backwards. I'm also curious where that is coming from.
posted by chunking express at 11:29 AM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


RPGs are generally something you learn by having someone else teach you the game, sure. They are a weird game to play or explain, I think. But white people don't have a monopoly on being nerds. (Or do they?) My friends and I all played D&D (and then Magic: the Gathering) when we were growing up in the 90s. And none of us were White. I learned from my family friend who's also a brown dude. I grew up in Toronto, though. So maybe diversity is easy if you are somewhere diverse.
posted by chunking express at 11:34 AM on May 15, 2017


I was remarking yesterday that WotC is doing an excellent job of putting women and (to a lesser extent from what I have seen) PoC front and center. They are doing a high profile event/product release next month where two days of games will be streamed featuring well known podcasts and gaming groups. The two MCs and DMs for the event are both women..

Even in terms of making the game accessible to new people that may not have a ton of cash, their Adventurer's League is fantastic. Of the game stores I frequent, I see AL prominently advertised.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:38 AM on May 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


There are black elves, but they're evil. There are black dwarves, but they're basically evil as well.

The evil dwarves in question, the duergar or gray dwarves, are described as "ashen-skinned." The customarily good dwarf races, the hill (gold) dwarves and mountain (shield) dwarves, have "brown" and "fair" skin respectively. (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, p. 103-4)

The barriers for tabletop gaming are low if you have a nerd (and probably a white dude) on your side that's willing to help you out.

I'm a white dude and a nerd, and I'm on your side and willing to help you out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:48 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Part of the problem with D&D as shorthand for any sort of tabletop roleplaying is that it does take a lot of money to get into - the books aren't cheap.

As a kid, my group played Basic simply because we couldn't afford the Advanced rulebook. I still hold a bit of a grudge.

I solved the problem of girl participation by being the DM. (The group reflected the demographics of my neighborhood, and so was half- to majority-black.) This was one of my very first ventures into social/group nerditry, and when I think of the bullet I dodged by its working out that way... I mean, I discovered the gender shittiness of the community soon enough, but at least it wasn't at, like, age ten.
posted by praemunire at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


But white people don't have a monopoly on being nerds. (Or do they?)

I really liked the OP. I was going to quote a few sections about this, but I really suggest reading the entire thing.

I'm glad you had a good experience growing up, and it's more of what we need in the world. But yeah, there's still a lot to unpack with nerdiness still being seen as 'acting white' and racism in nerd communities. It's not a universal experience, but it's one that still exists.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:04 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


The two organizations for D&D play are the DCI and/or RPGA (Duelists' Convocation International and Role-Playing Game Association, respectively.) They were basically the groups that ran the Magic card game and D20 events and seem to have merged at some point. Many conventions will have an RPGA track, usually containing mega-campaigns set up so people can bring the same character to multiple conventions.

You may also be able to search for local events labeled "D&D Encounters" - those are usually run at gaming stores by volunteer DMs who get paid in game materials.

In New Jersey there is a group that runs D&D games at local libraries, specifically for younger players. If someone with younger kids is interested, I can ask around my local connections if they know any similar groups in your area. Most of my connections are local to the NY metro area, but there's always a chance.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


The thin line between fandom and fascism has been noted since at least the 60s. In Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, not only does alt-historical SF writer Adolf Hitler's novel become a Hugo-winning smash, but Spinrad's framing introduction goes so far as to note that the "costumes" become perennial favorites at cons.

It's really a brutally vicious sendup of its audience, and more deserved with every passing year, sadly.
posted by Naberius at 12:21 PM on May 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


If the discussion is why D&D isn't seen as accessible to working class/poor kids (as it is in the FPP), you've got to talk about the money. If the only visible way to play is spending $50 a book, then yeah, Dragons are for White kids with money.

I don't think it's this. As a PoC lady who's done a metric fuckton of gaming in my life, I have to say that D&D is /specifically/ less welcoming than other types of tabletop gaming, and I think a large part of that has to do with the specific nature of D&D itself rather than the cost of the books.

My WoD games were much, much more diverse, for example.
posted by corb at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


I haven't waded through it to see what it does and doesn't address, but Mike Mearls did an AMA on reddit today.
posted by nubs at 12:29 PM on May 15, 2017


When my son went to middle school, I discovered that (in some places anyway) nerds are celebrated now.

I wonder how much of this would be true if pop culture didn't associate computer programming with getting really rich from a cool start-up.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:31 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you're concerned about the cost of WotC books, there are a lot of amazing alternatives. 5e is probably the best D&D edition in decades, but there's a whole community devoted to forking off those decades-old editions. By making use of the OGL (open gaming license) provided by WotC, they are legally able to start with 1e or Basic/Expert/etc., and build from there.

Some of these rulesets are close clones of the old games, and some take them in entirely new places. There are probably hundreds of these in the thriving OSR (old-school revival) scene, but a few of them really stand out. Three I'd highlight:

- Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Simple as simple gets but with some extremely clever and subtle innovations.
- Labyrinth Lord: Close to a clone, the main advantage of LL is that so many adventures and supplements have been written for this system. Of course, since all these systems are nearly compatible, you don't actually have to play LL to run LL adventures.
- Dungeon Crawl Classics: This is my favorite. It's a fork from D&D 3.5e (and thus less old-school than many of these others), and it makes extensive and super genius changes on top of this. I could go on for hours about why DCC is the best tabletop FRPG on the market, but that would actually deserve its own post. FWIW I'm going to GM several DCC adventures at Gen Con this year, and I couldn't be more excited.

The best thing about OSR are the adventures. The best OSR adventures are significantly better than anything WotC or TSR has ever put out. My gateway to the OSR would be Deep Carbon Observatory. This unassuming book is a work of pure genius, and I don't feel that I am exaggerating. DCO may be my favorite OSR adventure, but there are plenty of contenders.

One warning about the OSR: This community is full of old grognards. There's plenty of new blood, but also a sizable group of people who go back to the 70's. That means you'll find plenty of crotchety politics, too. I'm not a fan of it but I find it easy to ignore. YMMV
posted by Edgewise at 12:36 PM on May 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Some corners of the RPG world are really awesome and inclusive. And some continue to be strongholds of unapologetic centering of male whiteness, where any suggestion of, say, maybe not having all the women in the art be half-or-more naked in cheesecake poses, or that cons have an anti-harassment policy, or that we should avoid casual racism in settings like having barbaric brown cultists as pervasive villains is Social Justice Warriors gone mad.

can we talk about the Sanity checks in Delta Green? Despite my chill group, I've been unable to really convey how using PTSD or alcoholism as a literal character "flaw" unsettles me and how offensive I think it is that a real life thing that many people deal with every day is reduced to some kind of roll

There's a lot I find troubling about the gamification of mental illness in Lovecraftian gaming. Yet I continue to be attracted to the genre, including the element in which contact with the Mythos damages your psyche. I'm still wrestling with this one.
posted by Zed at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Um. Given that we're talking about expanding TTRPGs beyond "Middle-class white male gamers", I would *really* hesitate before recommending Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I mean, for some people "Grindhouse horror with cheesecake/softcore illustrations" might not rankle, but it makes D&D look like a paragon of anti-patriarchal equality.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Speaking as someone who has played a lot of different tableop RPGs in his life and is edging back into them, I have to say that one of the big learning along the way was that D&D - like any tabletop RPG - is a game engine designed around telling certain types of stories; in the case of D&D, those stories are faux-medieval european sword & sorcery/high fantasy types of stories. You can use D&D to tell other types of stories, but it won't work as well, and if the types of stories told best using D&D don't interest or intrigue someone, then it isn't going to work for them. You need to find the best match of game engine to support the story you want to co-create.

Fortunately, we live in a time where there seems to be a host of RPG systems being created. Unfortunately, D&D has a big reputation and casts a long shadow; it's often seen as the gateway into RPGs or that it should be an experience that every gamer has to have, which shouldn't be the case.
posted by nubs at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


I want to pitch in that not only does that starter set exist, but if you aren't seriously rushing your players, that cheap little starter set can last a gaming group for AGES if you're playing weekly or biweekly. And for me as someone who'd never DMed and not played a ton before that, it felt super accessible to play and everybody had a great time.

My WoD games were much, much more diverse, for example.

WoD was easier to play online, which I think helped a lot of people get into it via the internet long before there were things like Roll20. It's sort of funny because there was a lot of ethnic stuff and whatever that was really horrible in early editions, but the core of the game rewarded story and character interactions, and those things tend to reward a more diverse group who's more into cooperation. My online gaming groups got more interesting when we had people from different cultural backgrounds, when men and women were both playing, when there were queer people and trans people who were talking about those things and playing them authentically... even though there were a lot of assholes, too, the experience was still a net positive. And WoD these days has gotten some amazing thematic stuff going and is also taking being respectful of other cultures a lot more seriously, which is good. Between those two, I'd take a good WoD game if I could find it.

I like D&D a lot, but the system tends to be too mechanics-heavy for that much story. On the other hand, if you can't find a very serious group of serious roleplayers, I think D&D is more fun to play while hanging around drinking with people you like.
posted by Sequence at 12:54 PM on May 15, 2017


I think D&D can be more problematic partly because it's the hegemon, the 800-pound gorilla of RPGs, and the little guys are free-er to be alternative and try new things and possibly fail. But it's also partly because it's a game that was created at a time and for an audience that wasn't much interested in diversity. Now it's been patched and repatched, but the game is structured for a combination of exploration, role-playing, and combat. It's a flexible game, but only within parameters. A D&D campaign with no combat is going to go flat pretty quickly without heroic intervention.

D&D leans heavily on tropes from other media (as do most RPGs), so if you come to the table having never experienced fairy tales or fantasy stories, you'll be pretty lost. But it does allow players to inhabit the story in a way that no other medium has done. I feel like it connects with the oral storytelling of wandering minstrels, or Homer. But that means we have to try to include more stories, broader tropes, settings that are cross-cultural in ways that traditional fantasy is not. And we have to do that without descending into exoticism, Orientalism, appropriation, whether within the confines of D&D, OSR, or some other style of TTRPG.
posted by rikschell at 12:56 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Zed, I feel like that's been the difficult part to convey; I'm interested in the game and can see a way to play with some kind of supernaturally-induced madness, but when I'm reading the handbook and it's like "you've seen too much violence and now you're an alcoholic, roll once every day to see if you get your fix or not," (paraphrasing but just barely) I'm pretty stunned by it, as an actual real-life alcoholic. But the person trying to start up the game is a, let's say, old-school gamer, and his response is, "Well just don't play it, then." Which is really frustrating because I'm clearly pigeonholed into this "easily offended" stereotype when that's definitely not the case. Aside from really facile rolls like that to determine limitations based on specific "damage," the conditions are barely defined. There's no reason they couldn't be "disorders" with supernatural names and thus making room for being more creative, instead of the implied "pretend you're an alcoholic and didn't have a drink so are cranky so roll at a disadvantage all session."

D&D is also nice because it's a huge universe to play around in, and you don't HAVE to be limited to the standard narratives. Our DM was recently a little surprised when we encountered someone he had been planning for us to fight and instead we were like "Hey, join us on our boat!" And the dice said "Okay." So we had an ancient demon friend. Who was kind of a jerk.

My character is a half-orc monk, who, when I noticed in the players' handbook that orcish doesn't have a written form, has made it their life's work to develop a written language so the orcs might write their own history instead of their enemies doing so. So far they've set up a scholarship fund for orphan half-orcs like themselves.

I swear to god I'm pretty fun to play with.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:04 PM on May 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


I would *really* hesitate before recommending Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Well, I recommend it for people who aren't bothered by that stuff - hence my warning. FWIW, at conventions, Lamentations attracts a pretty diverse group of players for OSR. I'm not going to defend it any further than that, though. I trust mature adults to make their own decisions.
posted by Edgewise at 1:05 PM on May 15, 2017


... [loftp] makes D&D look like a paragon of anti-patriarchal equality

The "iconic" characters for Lamentations of the Flame Princess are all women. The cover of World of the Lost is two black ladies killing dinosaurs. There is lots of art with violence and gore and boobs too. No doubt. There is also cool stuff of women doing D&D nonsense. I think it's disingenous to imply the game is anti-women.

I agree with Edgewise that the scene around it is reasonably diverse. (As far as old-school D&D gets, perhaps.)
posted by chunking express at 1:11 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


If the only visible way to play is spending $50 a book, then yeah, Dragons are for White kids with money.

Considering that I grew-up fairly dirt poor, "WT"... Not always the case... Back in the day we had the library or school library photocopier... So... one or two people would buy the handbooks (D&D, Warhammer) and then others would photocopy the shit outta them... (Admittedly, probably harder to get away with such blatant IP piracy these days)

Now... while the official PDF is free but limited, I can pretty much guarantee you that someone, somewhere has scanned the full books into PDF (or better yet... ePUB)... Because, one can pretty much find every historic edition of every RPG ever published, if one so wishes... The secret protocol rhymes with "hit-or-rent", but starts with a "b" - or even better for RPG material, I find either the electronic donkey or mule networks to be even more relevant...

But lastly... Not every player in a group needs to be clinging to their "mint-condition" personal copy of a PHB...

We shared them with each other... The GM/DM would always have a copy too... And, frankly after preparing your character, how often do you need to reference the book during a game, after a playing a few sessions...
posted by jkaczor at 1:19 PM on May 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


I really liked the OP. I was going to quote a few sections about this, but I really suggest reading the entire thing.

Yes, I read the article too. Thanks.

As others have noted you can get into D&D without paying WotC or anyone else any money. Nowadays I assume kids would hop on YouTube and watch (intersectional) Satine Phoenix teach them how playing the game works. This is like the golden age for D&D.
posted by chunking express at 1:27 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


how offensive I think it is that a real life thing that many people deal with every day is reduced to some kind of roll
We can try to minimize our exposure to die rolls for real life things by sticking with fantasy RPGs, but it's not enough. "Knives or cutting instruments" account for about 1,500 murder victims per year in the USA alone. "Blunt objects" are another 500, "Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)" a bit more. If a die roll can unacceptably trivialize life's most horrifying experiences, we can rule out D&D character classes from fighters to old-school clerics to monks. I'm not even sure magic users get a pass; "fire" is the weapon of choice for a hundred or so murders a year, as it was for a few of the most lethal mass murders in history.

What other significant RPG mechanics come to mind immediately? Thievery? Healing? Hunger? How many are there that can't be described as an oversimplification-for-gameplay version of a sometimes-extremely-traumatic reality? The point of a die roll in these things isn't "1d20 is a good reductionist model of the way a body responds to medicine" or "guess your real-life loved ones' Constitution stats weren't up to par, ha ha". The point is to allow role playing, even of a "real life thing" if that's a direction the group wants to take, while still enabling the kind of unpredictability which can allow players to feel as if there are real uncertainties and real risks in the stories they are creating. The uncertainties and risks aren't even close to realistic (and can't be; any models that were would be too hard to calibrate or evaluate) but in the end "that's up to the next die roll" is the only alternative to "that can't be part of the game" or "that's up to how cruel- or soft-hearted the game master is".

To be fair (or perhaps to undercut myself entirely), I personally would love to see more Pathfinder (or D&D, any version) modules with the traumatic edges filed down. I've played much more HeroQuest with my nieces and kids, because there's always someone in the age range for which "cartoonish fantasy violence" is as dark as I want it to get, in which case "that can't be part of the game" really is the best solution. The Pathfinder Beginner Box adventures were just about perfect for younger players, but most of the published modules and adventure paths are too hard for me to edit-on-the-fly for age appropriateness.
posted by roystgnr at 1:35 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just so folks know, Lamentations of the Flame Princess's James Raggi has an AMA going all week. I'm a completist for LotFP but the art is NSFW and should be treated as if it has TW: Extreme Violence on it. But it is definitely not meant to be titillating, the emphasis is definitely on shock. Also the new book, Veins of the Earth, has art entirely by the trans artist Scrap Princess.
posted by graymouser at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


If you want to talk about being excluded, try asking people with poor eyesight. Rules, manuals, gameboards, cards, everything game related has become more detailed and rules dense, which makes our hobby increasingly difficult for older gamers, and everyone reading this is going to hit this wall.

It's a huge problem, not just for rpgs and board games, but also video games and comics, and I don't see anyone talking about it at all. Example, examine your favorite board game and ask yourself whether you'll be able to read all the information when you are 60. Depressing. For video games, it's going to be mental/physical reflexes. For LARPING, it's going to be everything, but especially hearing.

The entire gamer/geek/nerd culture is about to see the first wave of casualties, and it's not going to be a pretty sight.
posted by Beholder at 2:04 PM on May 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Rules, manuals, gameboards, cards, everything game related has become more detailed and rules dense, which makes our hobby increasingly difficult for older gamers, and everyone reading this is going to hit this wall. It's a huge problem, not just for rpgs and board games, but also video games and comics, and I don't see anyone talking about it at all. Example, examine your favorite board game and ask yourself whether you'll be able to read all the information when you are 60. Depressing. For video games, it's going to be mental/physical reflexes. For LARPING, it's going to be everything, but especially hearing.

I'm kinda hitting that already; my worsening eyesight now requires progressive lens, and yeah - the type in these damn books is too small at times for me. That being said, I think there's solutions for some of this we already know: large print; digital copies of things that allow for increased magnification; and different styles of games as well. My video gaming habits are skewing pretty hard these days towards strategy/turn-based games (which I always enjoyed, but now moreso). I was never a "twitch" gamer anyways (as anyone on MeFightClub who played TF2 with me can attest), but there are video games out there that don't require lightning reflexes.

Gaming - like a great many cultural things - will change as the population ages, and the products will change with it. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure there's a YouTube series out there now about playing D&D with seniors...
posted by nubs at 2:30 PM on May 15, 2017


can we talk about the Sanity checks in Delta Green?

Do you know the history of it? I'm unsure how much of that is a rhetorical question.

If it's totally a rhetorical question, yeah, absolutely it can be seen as problematic and reductionist to a point of trivializing a real problem. Per roystgnr, whether other RPG mechanics are any worse is a good question. But sure, it's got real problems.

If you don't know the history of Delta Green, it started as a supplement for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu that moved the 1920's backdrop to the modern day. This was a fresh idea once upon a time. The original CoC made this literary type of insanity a major game mechanic - the Lovecraftian idea that these creatures were so alien that merely looking at them cased people to "go mad". I actually don't know how widely Delta Green uses the sanity mechanic but in the original CoC it has less to do with PTSD and thing people do to each other and more to do with reading books that revealed the true horrifying nature of the universe and seeing the Great Old ones etc. It was pretty disconnected from reality in terms of how actual mental health issues work. You could kill a hundred people and never had to take a SAN check but read one page of De Vermis Mysteriis and you're risking going catatonic.

As other have said, D&D is the thing everyone goes to when they talk about RPGs but is it the best system or setting for everyone who wants to roleplay? Not by a longshot.
posted by GuyZero at 2:40 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


All I can add is this
posted by mbo at 3:29 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Rules, manuals, gameboards, cards, everything game related has become more detailed and rules dense

There are a LOT of modern tabletop RPGs that have gone in the direction of being less rules dense and lots of them have books whose readibility is decent (I say as someone who recently got his first pair of progressive bifocals).
posted by Zed at 3:44 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


To people who follow the political/business side of the hobby, is there an organization that represents the interest/concerns of elderly gamers? There most certainly needs to be one, I think.
posted by Beholder at 4:20 PM on May 15, 2017


I think there is a major difference between proportionate inclusion and proportionate interest. There is a bit of the tail wagging the dog in that statement, in that companies need to decide how they can grow their business, and if it is instead of building a diverse portfolio of customers instead of a reconditioned version of the same games hell bent on extracting wealth from the same customer base. This reality is across AS A fantasy computer games as well as pen and paper games. This is also where the indie markets show some growth, but show scant margin for both dev teams and investors.

So inclusion....inclusion is good. Inclusion does not mean proportional representation nor does it mean proportional interest...

I'm all about increasing diversity... but what is the financial path between the desired future state and now?
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:38 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Nanuk, that is really interesting to me. Reading a biography of Gary Gygax made it clear that he didn't really have a financial plan to make D&D long-term profitable. In a lot of places, FLGSs are still the hub of the hobby, and they have to make money too. Only hardcore gamers can try lots and lots of different games: most people want to find a well-run campaign that can fit in their schedule and play it for an extended period, I think. Cons are a great way for people to try new things and publishers to reach audiences, but cons have the same problems FLGSs have. How can TTRPGs reach into new spaces and find diverse audiences without being middle class hetero white gamers proselytizing?
posted by rikschell at 5:13 PM on May 15, 2017


If you want to talk about being excluded, try asking people with poor eyesight.
posted by Beholder at 2:04 PM on May 15 [2 favorites +] [!]


I see what you did there, and it was magnificent.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:41 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just so folks know, Lamentations of the Flame Princess's James Raggi has an AMA going all week.

Thanks for the info, graymouser!

Also the new book, Veins of the Earth, has art entirely by the trans artist Scrap Princess.

Great catch...SP also did all the art for that adventure I lauded earlier, Deep Carbon Observatory. I really love Scrap's style. Here are some images from DCO:

The writing and the art complement each other so well

Something you don't want to meet

Looks cute, but...

The cover of DCO...don't ask me what it is, but it works

Veins also has the same author as DCO, not-that Patrick Stuart.
posted by Edgewise at 5:51 PM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'll also take issue with the "with Money" part, it can be the cheapest hobby there is when you split the one or two books you need among your friends and buy only a set of dice for yourself. And D&D's history as a low status pastime has meant the groups have been dominated by the "poor kids" in my experience.

Open Legend is fantastic (much better than D&D in many ways) and completely free (and open source) and the (new and tiny) community is great. It is also classless so there are no racist dated tropes to deal with.

But every horror story about gaming stores or the overall community is absolutely right as far as I have seen. For the most part it is terrible. This is almost certainly because it was so low status and looked down on previously, this was where the most terrible people who no one could stand (or were scared to be around) ended up because nowhere else would have them. The unfortunate nerds and awkward folks who were also there didn't have the skills or ability to kick them out. I'm convinced similar dynamics are at play with video games and comics, but RPG gaming is where it is turned up to 11.

If you've ever read any of the "what's your worst gaming group story" threads on rpg gaming forums you get educated in the fact that generally awful people, serial killers, serial abusers, unhinged psychopaths and dead eyed murderers have hobbies too. I'm fortunate enough to be someone who can be unconcerned by most trigger warnings, but I never read those threads anymore.

Luckily you can buy stuff online and play with your friends and never have to interact with these people if you want. Because I'm afraid I partly agree with the cop in this link, you are entering a place that shelters outcasts, and some of them are outcasts for a reason. Good on you if you try to take these spaces back, but have no doubt that this is considered a brave act for a reason.
posted by Infracanophile at 5:51 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I DM a weekly D&D game at a FLGs. It started as Adventurer's League, so we had a couple of regulars and a rotating cast of whoever happened to drop in. Eventually we started to firm up more and more regular players and we started thinking of each other as comrades, if not friends. Then one week, the stepdaughter of one of our regulars (she played at a different table) told us Mark was dead. I looked in the local paper and he flipped out and threatened his stepkids with a gun, took some pills and ODed. It really shook us up.

But it brought us together. We started really getting to know each other as people, really getting to be friends. And Mark's character became one of the most evil villains of the campaign.

I think it's a valuable service to take in new players. We had a sweet guy from Venezuela who was worried about his English, but he added so much to our group till he had to move. We've got a father and daughter playing together for the first time. An older guy, a couple of teen boys, a couple of guys in their early 30s. I'd love for it to be more diverse, but I love the people we have.
posted by rikschell at 6:12 PM on May 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


I wrote a really long ramble about my all-white, all-male, all-het and mostly defunct group which was mostly a whinge about how they just want me to run dice-heavy roll-play murder hobo business and it's boring. But I realised that all I want to say is that I want to play story games (FATE! Hillfolk! Literally anything not D20!) with people who aren't like me. I'd like responses to my complex, paranoid cosmic horror spy world which go beyond 'blow shit up or have sex with it' and maybe go into collaborative world-building...

And now I'm whining again.
posted by prismatic7 at 8:30 PM on May 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


If anyone wants to learn the new version of the Delta Green rules, you can download a free PDF of them here, which includes a quick start scenario and pregenerated player characters: Delta Green Need To Know

There are so many other amazing and fascinating RPGs out there that you should check out.

Want a Japanese fantasy RPG stylistically similar to Studio Ghibli films and old JRPGs? It also has BEAUTIFUL art. Check out Ryuutama.

Want to structure a RPG like a serious dramatic TV show with complex narrative arcs? Try Hillfolk.

Want transhuman sci-fi horror where you can play an uplift octopus that fights rogue AI war machines in the Kuiper Belt? Try Eclipse Phase. (I've written for this one)

Want to rewrite Shakespeare while playing both the character and the actor playing the character? Try The Play's The Thing.

Every genre from drama to gonzo fantasy, to western, to economic horror (Red Markets, which a good friend wrote)

I am a RPG podcaster and I basically make my living writing and talking about RPGs. If anyone wants help finding a good RPG, feel free to memail me or ask here. D&D is fine but you're missing out on so much by not seeing what else is available!
posted by clockworkjoe at 10:50 PM on May 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


she would be annoying to play with if you were between the ages of 16 and 35

Eh, my group is doing a Pathfinder campaign right now with one player's kids, so it's half players that are about 40 and half 12 or under, and it's going fine. The older players are there to guide the younger ones a little about smart choices--and we're experienced enough to roll with it when they choose to do something bizarre that has big bad consequences. They love it, and that fills my heart with joy. But it's still a test of their concentration some days, playing for 8 hours, so we just make the sessions a little shorter than normal if they get squirmy.

We had a sweet guy from Venezuela who was worried about his English, but he added so much to our group till he had to move.

I am so impressed when playing tabletop RPGs with people for whom English is not their first language. Everybody in this thread knows how complicated and/or vague the books can be. I can't imagine trying to play in a language other than my own.

I can pretty much guarantee you that someone, somewhere has scanned the full books into PDF

You know, for some crazy reason, I had that same impression! I am surprised when I see that someone has paid for a rulebook nowadays, just like I am surprised when I meet another person who buys CDs.
posted by heatvision at 3:46 AM on May 16, 2017


I'm all about increasing diversity... but what is the financial path between the desired future state and now?

A sure path to obsolescence and going out of business within 15 years is to keep on pleasing just the same group of middle-aged white dudes.
posted by Zed at 5:32 AM on May 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


We tried to get a MeFi RPG Slack running once..
posted by Karmakaze at 6:13 AM on May 16, 2017


I was going to say, there was an attempt like a year and a half ago to have a Metafilter Looking For Group RPG thing, maybe it's time to get that running again.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:30 AM on May 16, 2017


I'll throw in some love for Swords and Wizardry, another low cost gateway drug into D&D style RPG.
I'm still kicking myself for missing this Kickstarter.
A new edition with all women designers and editor.

Oh, and I'm up for playing some Call of Cthulhu online (maybe via Hangouts?), or even being the Keeper if folks don't mind a beginner GM.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 6:39 AM on May 16, 2017


Just as another alternative, Gamers Plane is a site for play-by-post RPGs; the guy behind it has built in support for a reasonably robust set of different TTRPGs.
posted by nubs at 9:41 AM on May 16, 2017


Given all the concern about the high cost of entry for tabletop RPGs, it's worth noting that all the core rulebooks for Pathfinder are available free online. And as a queer gamer I'm constantly pleasantly surprised to find queer characters all over the place in the canned campaigns/scenarios.

I'm also pleased that I've been able to find diverse gaming groups. The real hazard is when you go to pickup games at your local hobby store, where I'm treated to an endless stream of misogynist and homophobic "jokes."
posted by zeusianfog at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yeah, as much as I love the idea of the pickup games, I can see how disastrous that they might be for being inclusive. I have always been lucky (until lately, I guess, where being middle aged adults means gaming availability is hard) to have good friends to play with; and even then, in retrospect, some of what happened at the table while we were in our twenties was not always the best - though we at least were never as bad as some of the other tales I have heard. No excuses, just some gratitude I guess that I missed some horrible shit.

To throw out another suggestion - Stars Without Number (pdf), a free space operaish RPG. I haven't played it, so not sure if it is any good - perhaps clockworkjoe has an opinion.
posted by nubs at 12:53 PM on May 16, 2017


And one last thought - I'm finding that no matter the system, there seems to be a youtube video of somebody playing it these days. So if people are wondering about a particular system, there are examples of actual play out there with the huge asterisk of the fact that how any given group is playing may not necessarily be a good example.
posted by nubs at 12:59 PM on May 16, 2017




All girl D&D actual play video blog.

Wow, they actually have the goofy outfits outsiders seem to imagine RPG-ers wear!

There's a comment I've taken a couple of stabs at and deleted about RPG-ing being a cheap hobby or not. I know how many free games are out there and how good many of them are. Lots of them can be played with just paper and a few 6-sided dice scavenged from a board game (or no dice at all). Which is great... if you have a net connection and a printer.

Obviously, everyone reading this has the former. I'd bet most of us have the latter. It's easy to kinda take that for granted. But a whole lotta people don't have them. And then, unless they have someone who does have those things curating, the fact that there's no charge for them isn't doing any good.

IIRC, a couple years ago someone tried kickstarting printing up a game as a short booklet and shipping them free to schools, but it failed... probably in part because it was a proprietary game from a new company. But doing something like that with some kind of open source game would be a good idea.
posted by Zed at 7:39 AM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


See also: Shield Maidens, with all women players. I also discovered Venture Maidens, an all woman real play podcast/twitch stream. I've only listened to the first three or so episodes, but I've been enjoying it (the audio quality isn't always the best, sadly).
posted by nubs at 8:02 AM on May 18, 2017


When one talks about gaming being an expensive hobby, the question has to be asked, "compared to what?"

* Miniatures? These can cost hundreds of dollars, leaving paints out of the picture.
* Model making? I can easily spend a hundred dollars or more just on a good paint set, and more in the actual models.
* Model railroads: if you haven't shelled out at least $500.00, you aren't even a beginner.
* Bicycling: Mountain bikes start at $200.00, plus the repair kits, locks, helmet and silly clothes.
* Gardening:pots, tools, fertilizer, plants...can spend a hundred or more per season.
* LEGGO: Don't even touch those- they're the crack cocaine of hobbies. It always ends up with the guy triple-mortgaging their mother's house and living in a van while they build something like a life-size model of the Millennium Falcon in the garage.

And those are cheap hobbies. Anyone want to take a gander at archery or golf or classic cars or yachting?

Next to that, 50 dollars a person is a pretty cheap buy-in. Or $25.00 ($10.00 PDF) for Dungeon World, which has free online playbooks for the players, and which I think does the whole dungeon crawling mileu better than Da&D ever did.

But this gets into the fact that gsmers are some of the most bizarrely miserly people out there, and that attitude infects even new gamers. Offer them a free game, and they'll complain about the cost to print out character sheets. I have no idea how to fix that.
posted by happyroach at 5:01 PM on May 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


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