Issue 177 finally came in!! I say finally, but it really wasn't that late. Especially considering that GenCon was this month and the guys were all over there. And as normal it totally kicked butt. First of all the cover was a throwback to the Holmes boxed set with Dave as the knight and Brian as the wizard (of course) which just set my old school spidey senses all a tingle. I won't allude to what the title means, but let's just say the Knights are in a deep pile of ogre-doo. You'll just have to pick up a copy for yourself to get the full story, but the development is beautiful. I can't wait to see how it plays out in future issues. And we still get more Lost Strips, which I personally love. There have been a few letters asking to cut down on the Lost Strips, but I say keep 'em coming! I mean I think the reason we are getting to see them is that Jolly has stacks of them that we might not otherwise see. I know that they aren't directly connected to the main storylines at present, but the background, color, stories and depth they give to some of the characters is well worth the reading.
And Jolly's Strongbox of Doom in this month's GameMaster's Workbench is awesome! I mean how in the heck did he come up with that! The closest I got to something like that was designing a book tote for all my 1e books way back in the day. But it never got made. The Strongbox is not only so kewl it reeks of geeky goodness, it looks immanently useful as well. That is definitely something I'll be building soon. We also get a cool interview on Hawk the Slayer--a movie every gamer worth his salt has seen at least once. Some new Hackmaster tidbits that make me eager to see the new PHB. I haven't been able to get that in the budget yet, but I want to get a look at the PDF before the official release, so I'll be buying asap. Some good coverage on Maptools as well, which I am trying to familiarize myself with so I can run a Skype game. So that was very timely.
But what gets my real attention this issue is Jolly's editorial in Cries From The Attic. Oh man, I wish I could reproduce the entire article!. All I can say is that I agree completely and wholeheartedly. Basically Jolly writes about those who complain to him that KODT's portrayal of the adversarial attitude of GM vs Players is "bad" for RPGs. He then explains that for many, many gamers this "adversarial attitude is exactly why we game. We like that and thrive on it. I know I certainly do. It's what keeps me coming back to gaming and to KODT time and time again. And the more I take a detailed look at the games on the market today the better Hackmaster looks exactly for this reason. Of course if you have read my blog with regularity, you know how I feel about this issue. The game was designed to be competitive. You don't have to play it that way, but in my opinion it was designed to be played that way. And as Jolly makes clear, this type of gaming is reflected in KODT. I want to publicly thank Jolly and his little quickling helpers for putting the rag together for us each month. Out here where my gaming comes in seasons and I sometime go months without a fix during the summer, KODT is my lifeline. It is like manna from gaming heaven. And as for some critics saying they would never game at their table ... Well, all I can say is that THE MODEL for my ideal gaming group is exactly like the Kinghts of the Dinner Table. I am in fact going to start a game a once a month at my FLGS and am trying to put up a notice that will attract my own KODT-like crew. I think I'm gonna call us The Paper Paladins, but I'm not sure. Anyway, here's my totally loyal shoutout to Jolly for this excellent and timely editorial. I love it, and agree with it from the depths of my gaming heart.
And Jolly makes another great point I wanted to hilight: the GM in such a game is not really "out to kill" the players. That would be entirely too easy. He has total power after all. No, the GM is out to create and fairly run a challenging fantasy world. He represents all the forces that the players pit themselves against. This is a competition of sorts, and the players will be doing everything they can both ingame and out of game to prepare for, outwit and defeat those challenges represented by the GM. Nor the players to "cheat" to get over on the GM. Cheating is anathema in Hackmaster, it is one of the things that will get you kicked out of the Hackmaster Association as a player or a GM. Jolly is much more eloquent than I, and he makes a wonderful analogy by referring to the Rocky movie to make this point, so please read it. In fact his editorial is so good I wish they would make it available for public download so I could link to it, and refer all those whiners out there who criticize Jolly's, Dave Kenzer's, KODT, Hackmaster and my style of play to go read it.
'Course the whiners don't really matter I suppose. Gamers who can't see the joy, excitement and satisfaction of playing this way will probably never get it. That's okay. There are plenty of other games and ways for them to play. I can game and let game. But, let's make it clear, I play KODT style. I always have and likely always will no matter what game I play. If I can't play a game that way I won't play it. And lots of others play KODT style too. And truthfully, I'm really pretty lenient at my table. You can burp at my table, cuss within reason, fart out loud, spill your Dr. Pepper, touch my dice by mistake (once), throw your own dice all over the room in frustration, even admit you like DnD 4e. And none of that will get you kicked out. But whatever you do, please, don't do that at my table. Go to your own table to play that way. Only real gamers play here. ... Okay that last remark was sarcastic. ... slightly.
"Roll for initiative monkey boy!!!" -- Bob Herzog