Fandom & Gaming

Luck Deficit Disorder

Once upon a long time ago we were in the midst of a D&D campaign, one of the players was famous for losing characters. To be fair to him, they were all his fault. In this campaign he was going through characters pretty quickly, he’d rolled up six or so and the last one we pillaged a crypt and he’d pulled a necklace off of a remarkably well-preserved corpse. We were a ways down the hall when he said he wanted to go put it back because he felt like taking it would jinx him. We allowed as how we weren’t going to go back with him, but we’d wait a couple of minutes. We hear the crypt stone slid aside, then screams and the sounds of something being devoured. So, being good companions, we shrugged and moved on. Now he was without a character left to play. So, we let him play the pet pig from one of his characters. That pig was amazing, racking up the battle glories as we fought our way out. We were a week out of the closes town, too busted up to hunt, when we ran out of rations…and then he really was out of characters.

© 2017 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

Fandom & Gaming

Gaming Loophole

Once upon a very long time ago (I was 14 or so) I was playing with a fairly new DM that let my character amass entirely too much power and swag. To counter this, he told me when I hit my next level he was going to take my character and retire it to demi-god status. I was a bit heartbroken, it was incredibly overpowered and badassed and what kid that age wouldn’t want a character like that. I was dodging fights and still gaining XP and coming closer to that dreaded time of surrendering the character. I think I was within 25 points when a random encounter roll put me in the same room as a succubus. He looked at me in horror and asked if I was going to kiss it to lose a level and hold on to the character a while longer. Kiss her? Hell no, I’m going to sleep with her! was my enthusiastic reply. Yes, I lost about 3/4 of my levels, but I still had all the swag and gear, so he still had to put up with me. He never got the character, I moved first, and nobody else would let that sucker in their games, but I made the most of the time I had him, and gloried in the stress I caused that poor rookie DM as he tried to find ways to kill it off.

© 2017 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

Fandom & Gaming

Meteor What?!

One upon a long time ago, I was on a deployment and we were playing D&D one night to have a little fun and kill some time while we waited for the aircraft to return. I’m DMing and running an NPC in a wizard duel with a player, I go to throw the spell and brain-locked on the game. Finally I yelled out “Meteor Bukkake!” At least one double-nostril spray of mountain dew and I had a few minutes to kick start my brain while everyone is laughing. I still can’t think about a meteor swarm without a chuckle.

© 2017 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Fundamentalist Fans Can Fracture Fan Genres

There’s something I’ve noticed over the years, fans of different genres like to look down on each other. Kevin Smith said words to the effect that a con is someplace to see Star Wars cosplayers look across the floor at Star Trek Cosplayers and call them a bunch of freaks. If you want a good look at the scrapping between these two fandoms, watch Fanboys. Does it in a pretty funny way too. Personally, I haven’t sold my allegiance to any one fan genre so I spend a lot of time rolling my eyes at such shenanigans, but when I watch the infighting between fans of a single genre I really roll my eyes.

Using Star Trek as an example, back in the days of BBS groups, FidoNet and internet news groups you saw the golden age of fan bickering. It still goes on but its where it became a popular way for fans that like the same thing to bitch at each other about it. Sadly, fandom almost reminds one of the history of religion. Yes, you read that right, religion. You get a bunch of people that believe the same thing, but find ways to disagree about the best way to believe it. So, you wind up with squabbling that results in schisms and now a bunch or people that believe in the same thing segregating themselves from each other. Sad to see fans acting like religious extremist fundamentalists, but it happens.

You see a great example of the phenomena in Monty Python’s magnificent, The Life of Brian. The People’s Front of Judea mocking the Judean People’s Front as “splitters.” If you haven’t seen this, I thoroughly recommend watching the movie, but YouTube usually has clips of the scene, until Congress makes that a stoning offense anyway.

When it gets really silly is when I’m at an event of some sort and I see a couple of people show up and I hear somebody say “Oh, if they’re going to be here, I’m leaving.” That saddens me. First of all, it feeds stereotypes about gamers, and nothing is worse to fandom as a whole as when stereotypes come to life. I mean, a lot of fans are unfairly labeled as immature or nerdy or geeky or a multitude of other less than pejorative terms by those outside of fandom for being fans of these things in the first place. Bad enough to listen to a NASCAR fan talk about buying generic beer for a month so he could afford the new Dale Earnhardt commemorative plate badmouth someone that picked up a replica phaser or an anime boxed set without having to listen to fans of the same genre pick away at each other for being fans and not doing it right.

If I need a disclaimer here, yes, I made the NASCAR comment to illustrate a stereotype, not to pick on NASCAR fans. I have nothing against NASCAR fans, and I’m happy that being a fan makes you happy. I will say a few people with NASCAR bumper stickers need to stop driving like the road between their houses and Wal-Mart is the Talledega Superspeedway.

Moving on.

The ability to take things that should unite us and using them as a tool to further divide us really demonstrates that human foibles are alive and well and being used by insecure people to try and ruin not only the ability of others to have fun, but themselves as well. So, here’s a few ideas to combat fan fragmentation, or to coin a new term, FanFrag.

The Alliance and the Horde are tools of a game company to generate rivalry among fans and make money for a game company. Standing around screaming at each other based on which side you follow rather than discussing the game is fine and dandy if you’re roughly 16 or under; otherwise…really? And people wonder why the gamer stereotype is an unemployed guy that lives in his parents’ basement?

Further disclaimer, I don’t know any gamers that live in their parents’ basement. In fact The overwhelming majority of gamers that I know hold regular jobs, games don’t come cheap after all.

Addressing the phenomena I mentioned earlier about leaving a fan event because someone else showed up. Yeah…kind of special. I’ve seen this one, more than once, somebody walks in and instantly I’ve heard “If they’re going to be here, I’m leaving.” It gets even more interesting when the person entering sees the one that says they are leaving and they leave too. I don’t think any of us should have to make nice and talk to people they don’t like; but, what use is there in leaving and surrendering an entire event to them? You can’t have fun and avoid people that piss you off? I mean, I don’t want to sound condescending, but unless somebody is under a court order not to be within a specified distance of each other, there’s some serious maturity factors involved here.

This isn’t limited to WoW players or even gamers, there’s a lit of bickering between fans of one Doctor over another, old series versus next generation, D&D 1E vs 2E vs 3E vs 3.5E vs 4, fast versus slow zombies, and so forth. There’s no genre safe from this fundamentalist mentality, Star TrekStar Wars, Anime, Furs, Lord of the Rings…what’s that, what do LoTR fans have to argue about? Have you missed the eternal debate between the Winged and unwinged balrog factions?

Fan events are held by people that are trying to get together and share their enjoyment of a genre, so why allow something that gives you pleasure to be turned into something that makes you leave someplace in a snit? Stay, be an adult and share the enjoyment of others that enjoy the same things as you do. Let other people get their unmentionables in a twist; because, when they storm off in a huff they surrender the playing field to you to share your views of your fandom while they slink off to sulk alone.

And if you find yourself suddenly standing in front of somebody whose beliefs run contrary to your own, be civil. You have no idea how much that pisses them off.

© 2012 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

Fandom & Gaming

My Lifelong Battle Against the Chain-Mail Bikini

Back in about 1979 or so, in my teenage years, I found myself in the oddest of arguments with someone who’s name I can’t recall, but I do remember that he smoked mind-boggling amounts of marijuana. I can’t say he was a pothead or stoner, because quite frankly that just doesn’t capture the scope of the amounts he consumed. Cheech & Chong amounts.

Damn, I went and got distracted again, you’d think by now you leaned to rein in my digressions, but no, there you go being an enabler. Wink

Anyway, so I was discussing the seeds of a concept I had for not only stories, but this way-too-cool game I found out about called Dungeons & Dragons. First of all the Sinsemilla Kid wasn’t at all approving of D&D, he said it would do weird things to my mind.

Oh sweet irony.

But, his main objection, as he thumbed through the latest issue of Heavy Metal was with a notion I had that the bad-ass sword-swinging knights in vast amounts of steel and leather would be men and women that had proven themselves in huge nasty battles with each mile of entrails and barrel of blood lovingly documented.

I said I was a teenager, you expected anything else?

So, the aforementioned weed-chimney looked at me like I was insane. “Chicks can’t be knights.”

Wait-a-friggin-minute… did he just look up from Heavy Metal, a magazine depicting women that made Barbie look properly-proportioned, and telling me that my notions of fantasy reality are skewed? Ok, this is a debate I’ve had many times, but I once again raise my standard and say “DOWN WITH THE CHAIN-MAIL BIKINI!”

One of the more interesting parts of writing fiction, especially fantasy is that you get to build an entire world, you draw the maps, place the oceans and mountains and forests, and then you tweak and tinker and consider things like would jungle and desert be found in close proximity? What creatures will there be, and why? Its not enough for me to know there is a dragon, but how they came to be, and what can they do, and how hard would one be to kill?

But how does one justify women in something that could only be referred to as a chain-mail bikini? I mean is it that hot there? Why doesn’t it cover the more likely targets for an attacker, like the gut and lower back? Padding. No I don’t mean a female warrior should stuff her bra, I mean that chain resting on skin is nearly no protection at all. And with the little bit of her covered she’s going to chafe, sunburn, windburn, roast, freeze and attract the attention of everything that could be considered the wrong sort for miles around.

Fantasy has to have fantastical elements, but a woman dressed like that is only handy for attracting the interests of teenagers and teen-agers that grew up and now have really bad comb-overs and only emerge from their mom’s basement to go see who’s wearing the hottest Xena costume at the upcoming Con.

Well, that may be harsh, but c’mon!

The formula that makes fantasy work is having a proper mix of the real and the fantastic. Build a world that has understandable structure and laws so that when the really weird starts to happen the reader doesn’t roll their eyes.

It’s a little something I like to call blue-collar fantasy.

By the way, women can be knights and kick some serious ass.

© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.