Tuesday, August 22, 2017

[CRIT] Checking the Ability of Ability Checks

Help me out here. Tell me what’s more interesting:
  1. The Orc tries to break down the door. It rolls a Strength check. You roll a Strength check back at it to hold the door (with advantage because you’re buddy is helping). You win the contest and hold the door closed.
  2. The Orc tries to break down the door. Two of you won’t be enough, because you’re a spindly Elf and a tiny Halfling. You brace the door with a piece of lumber, buying you just enough time.
Option B is the product of the Judge’s clever riffs, critical thinking from the players, and imagery that really comes together to paint a scene. Option A is like an off-brand vanilla protein shake.
I’m not a fan of ability checks. While some might find it nice to have an abstract system to adjudicate things that practical descriptions won’t, I think a subsystem like that is a crutch. Ability checks reduce challenging decisions and harrowing scenarios by reducing them to a series of unwieldy dice rolls. And there’s nothing stopping you from using them for everything. What started as Gygax’s valuable improvisational tool became the punchline to a bad joke (“roll for Perception,” anyone?), the joke being the big ‘ol shit it took on the meta.
Ability checks were a house rule for the longest time, because a subsystem that doesn’t accomplish a specific design goal doesn’t belong in a game. Instead of going “I dunno, I make a Strength check” to resolve a conflict that isn’t covered by the mechanics, don’t use mechanics to resolve it. Focus on what the game does, not what you wish it could do. If you find yourself constantly needing something else from a game, either play something else, or take the time to understand what the game is trying to accomplish.
(I realize this makes me sound like a hypocrite because I have sheafs of house rules. But if it counts for anything, I don’t use most of the house rules on Kinks & Crits anymore. If I do have house rules, they’re usually shortcuts for getting to what I feel to be the game’s “point.”)
Even though Dungeon Crawl Classics is my favorite homage to old-school D&D, it’s very much rooted in modern d20 design. Skill checks were brought in to make good on the occupations of zero-level characters, but I think that the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia did them one better by having proficiencies add something specific to the game, instead of DCC’s method of applying to whatever the players can justify (and they will justify it). I also dislike that Thief skills were rolled into skill checks; why include something non-Thieves can’t hope to attempt in a system that everyone can use? I have a hunch that this was all done for the sake of uniformity, and to iterate a crutch that many Judges and players are too atrophied to go without (me included).

Removing Skill Checks from DCC

Thief Skills

When you roll a Thief skill, instead of adding the Thief skill bonus to a d20 roll, instead roll a d20 and attempt to get under the Thief skill bonus. If you do, you use the skill successfully. The die can be sized up or down to reflect difficulty.


Each occupation has an ability associated with it, determined by the Judge. You can make a living working your occupation, so long as you make successful rolls. You can also make expert commentary on topics in your field with a successful roll.
When you use an occupation, you roll a d20 and attempt to get under its associated ability score. If you do, you use the occupation successfully. The die can be sized up or down to reflect the general availability of your type of work, or the obscurity of a piece of knowledge.

Monday, August 21, 2017

[CRIT] Why You Should Metagame

One of the ideas in roleplaying games that really gets my goat is that metagaming is a no-no. I’ve seen metagaming policed harshly in the tabletop roleplaying community, from the members of a gaming group shutting a player down, to an organized LARP instituting warnings and demerits. Even if you haven’t experienced these extreme reactions to metagaming, I guarantee you’ve at least heard someone say “metagaming” with a derisive tone.
The reason why this phenomenon bothers me so much is because the idea that you can separate the player from the character is asinine. People cry “metagaming” whenever a character expresses knowledge that they don’t possess, but their player does. But attempting to enforce this separation is impossible: if a player knows something their character doesn’t, the character’s actions will be influenced by that knowledge, even if the player has the character act against that knowledge. Once you know something, you can’t unknow it, and it will out through gameplay in subtle ways that you yourself won’t notice.
Characters are not autonomous; they need players. But to employ anti-metagaming measures is to erase the players from the equation. Games that single out metagaming – whether through social contracts at the table or rules written in the books – are denying the very fact that they are games. There is no practical way to avoid metagaming except to violate the integrity of the game.
You can’t design or play a game without also considering what’s going on in the game space. Not only is metagaming an integral part of playing any game, but it’s something that should be done actively and constructively. If you can harness this at your table, your roleplaying experience will be significantly enhanced.
If you make the meta work for you, then you never have to fear it again.

GM Transparency

Some brave GMs have nixed the screen. They roll the dice in full view of their players. If the big boss fails their saving throw or what should have been a glancing blow beheads a beloved character, there’s no going back. I judge a person’s honesty by their commitment to a random number generated by a plastic cube.
Now go a step further and show the players your notes. When you roll enough damage to kill a character, tell the player that you want them to live, but that you need to come up with an appropriate setback together. When I run Burning Wheel I even go so far as to lay all my plans bare: “The king’s vizier is going all ‘Grima Wormtongue’ on him. Now what are some cool scenes we can have so you guys can figure that out?”
Lifting the veil – even just enough to show some leg – shows the players that the game isn’t about overcoming a checklist of encounters, nor is the GM out to beat or trick them. A lot of roleplaying games claim to have elements of collaborative storytelling, but this is only true if the players share the burden of storytelling (read: metagaming).

Player Skill vs. Character Skill

Another phrase that people love to throw around in the roleplaying community is “it’s roleplaying, not rollplaying.” The idea here is that the actions characters take should come from a player getting in their character’s head, not left up to the orbs and hedrons that burden us with random values. It’s another anti-metagaming slur that translates to “don’t let the mechanics you interact with as a player affect how you play your character.”
(This doesn’t excuse one of my biggest pet peeves at the table, which is players rolling dice to help them make a hard decision, like “if I roll 1-3 I’ll go into the cave, if I roll 4-6 I won’t.” Every choice should be difficult and meaningful – metagaming or not – and players shouldn’t be allowed to worm out of that so easily.)
I have no idea where this notion came from, since Dungeons & Dragons actively promoted rollplay up through the end of its 2nd edition, and the games inspired by that era are having a renaissance. Forget writing backgrounds and fine-tuning personality traits, you didn’t even name your character until they survived their first outing. Characters weren’t defined by what the player thought of them, but what the player did with them.
It’s for this reason that I substitute rollplay with player skill and roleplay with character skill. Games that value player skill tend to be much more engaging for players because it tests and challenges them; character development is just a byproduct of that. I feel like the best games are those that make roleplay a function of player skill by gamifying character development. That way, the characters become richer and plot denser by thinking about the game as a game, which is more natural for players than thinking about a game as not a game.

The Last Word

I feel like Stefan Poag put what I think about roleplay vs. rollplay, player vs. character skill, and metagaming in general a lot more eloquently than I have. I’ve been trying to find ways to paraphrase him, but I wouldn’t change a word of what he posted. I spied this in a post he made about liking skill checks in DCC, when I was looking for reasons to rag on skill checks in DCC. Which makes me feel like an ass.
Resolving actions ‘just through talking’ was a big part of my introduction to roleplaying games (first using the Holmes set in 1978) and was a big part of the ‘role’ in ‘roleplaying’ in those early days… and that was how we liked it. Talking like a pirate or saying, “My character wouldn’t do X because of some pre-determined personality trait” was NOT a part of my early role playing experience — even though that seems to be how many people define ‘roleplaying.’ My definition of ‘old school roleplaying’ was mentally inserting yourself into the situation that the DM described and attempting to reason out a good course of action using your own noodle and the information at hand.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

[KINK] Pride Season 2017

My Pride season as Mr. Leather Colorado 2017 began with a two-hour drive into the Northern Wastes of Colorado to pick up Pup Brick. I’d known the guy for years but never actually met him; we had recently rediscovered each other and bonded over a kink we both shared: pretending to be animals. Since this was Brick’s first Pride and we’d be mobbing it with Colorado’s gargantuan Leather Contingent, I knew this was intent on sharing the community I loved with him.
We got to Denver later in the day Saturday because it was Saturday on a Pride weekend and nothing fucking happens on Saturday on a Pride weekend. So we meandered and got acclimated to the festival. I got Pup Brick a sturdy leash made out of reclaimed tire rubber, and I saw his demeanor shift the moment I clipped it to his collar: shouldering a path through the crowds when ahead of me (leading me more than anything), strutting with his head held high when at heel (a command we had down to a subtle gesture by the end of the day, out of necessity). We got pulled aside for photos quite often, and it’s really not hard to see why; it was a power trip we rode the rest of the weekend!

Towards the end of the day I worked a shift at the Rocky Mountain Leather Alliance booth with my Title Family, it’s banners and tables a tapestry of dozens of Leather groups and events and venues local to our state; seeing them all in once place was damn stunning! Afterwards Pup Brick and I met with La Texa Dvynal and Miss Leather Colorado 2017 Cherry Chola at Black Sky Brewery, which is hands-down my favorite joint in the Rockies for two reasons:
  1. Their pizza is almost as kvlt as their taste in music (they skip any and all poseur shit that darkens their Internet jukebox)
  2. They’re steps away from Trade, a cozy Levi’s & Leather bar and my second favorite joint in the Rockies (the folks over at Black Sky Brewery are certainly no strangers to our fare)
Over at Trade, there were Leathermen aplenty, more family reunion than bar night. I noticed that Brick was more comfortable being the strong, silent type, letting me speak for him more often than not. It helped him adjust to an unfamiliar environment of grabby drunks, and empowered me to keep up Titleholder-levels of mingling late into the night. The trust he put in me was really touching, and when the night wrapped up we were wild about the dynamic we had built together. Still are!
The next morning was an ugly one. Cherry and La Texa woke us up in six in the goddamn morning; I never understood the physics behind “drag time,” but after Brick and I slept in a bit more and got geared up for the parade and went to Burger King for breakfast and those two hadn’t even finished inflating their tits, I finally understood; I’m a showpony and I don’t even go to such lengths. I have a newfound respect for the trials and tribulations a queen must overcome to get in face.
I knew that the Colorado ponies – including the membership of the Rocky Mountain Pony Herd – would be lining up with the Leather Contingent for the Pride parade, but I didn’t expect to meet Pony Charisma (one of my pony idols), Cardholder,  North American Pony Trainer 2017 Trixie Fontaine, and North American Pony 2017 Tindala, let alone gallop beside them in our asphalt marathon. I can count the number of times in my life I’ve been starstruck on two hooves, and that moment was one of them. I kept pace with Charisma most of the march, prancing for the roaring crowds; I couldn’t have been a prouder pony if I tried!
Well, scratch that: being together with my full Title Family for the first time after our contest? Icing on the fucking cake.

Brick and I made the long trek back up north (and then I an even longer trek back south), voices shot, legs like jelly, covered in hard-to-explain sunburns. I would go on to pull my first chariot for Voodoo Leatherworks (my home club) in Colorado Springs Pride, and immediately after that show up to the RenFaire in Larkspur as an unintentionally gimpy horse. I soaked up more Vitamin D in the span of one month than I had in the past four years.
But I soaked up at least twice as much pride.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

[CRIT] Top 5 Roleplaying Games

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw my 40-Tweet strong thread in which I divulged what I consider to be my favorite tabletop roleplaying games, and why. I figured I’d articulate those thoughts here as well, for people who don’t use Twitter, and for people who get agitated being spoonfed reviews 140 characters at a time.
But before I get into all that, I have some loose criteria that I use to determine whether a tabletop roleplaying game is “good” or not:
  1. I don’t have to house rule it. It is extremely rare that I find a game I don’t have to tweak to fit my style of storytelling. I mean, just look at what I did to D&D 5e and Lamentations of the Flame Princess and World of Darkness. So I take it as a very good sign when I pick through a system with a fine-tooth comb and can’t find anything I want to change.
  2. The game does what it set out to do. There are a lot of systems out there that just can’t convey what they’re supposed to! Oftentimes, these games either carry over way too much baggage from a bygone edition or era, or their designers put pen to paper with a half-baked vision or a loose grip on game design.
  3. What the game does is wholly unique. So what if a game does what it’s supposed to when the thing that it does is boring or derivative?
  4. It changed how I play. I would only ever a game to be the creme of the crop if it revolutionized how I view tabletop roleplaying in general. This might be a high bar considering the rest of the criteria that follow it, but hey, we are talking about the best here.
So without further ado, here are the picks for Kinks & Crits’ Best Tabletop Roleplaying Game Ever (So Far), all of which meet the above criteria in spades.

5th Place: Fiasco

Written by Jason Morningstar
Published by Bully Pulpit Games
Fiasco is basically a Coen Brothers’ movie in a box: a bunch of flawed assholes screwing everything up and getting what they deserve (read: each other). Playing a game of Fiasco is about building up a comedy of errors until it blows up in everyone’s faces; if you get out unscathed, you were playing wrong. The bigger the explosion, the better!
A game of Fiasco takes 4 hours, and there’s no GM involved. One-shot, no prep. If you keep the book, some d6s, and a couple of playsets tucked away in your backpack, you’ll never have a boring game night. Or any night, really.
The magic of playsets is that there’s infinite replayability. Playsets are typically designed to evoke popular films and TV shows, which means almost everyone gets what’s up regardless of how experienced they are with roleplaying games. And it is a roleplaying game, the kind that pairs well with best friends and booze.
Fiasco was the first roleplaying game that showed me just how much mileage you can get out of a character-driven game. All you need is established relationships and shared needs within an initial stable of PCs and NPCs, and you’ll have enough material to keep your game running for months. Once you play Fiasco and apply what you learn to other games, it almost feels like you’re cheating.

4th Place: Symbaroum

Written by Martin Bergstrom, Mattias Johnsson, and Anders Lekberg
Published by Järnringen
It always bothered me how low fantasy D&D is impossible. The system is so entangled in Magic User supremacy and unwieldy power scaling that keeping death a constant threat and martial classes viable is too much of a hassle. And even though I have a deep appreciation for low fantasy, I don’t want to hamstring my players to emulate it.
But Symbaroum fixes all of that. Magic is powerful, but corrupts its casters. Death is always a possibility; the strongest and the weakest really aren’t that far apart, which means every unplanned combat is a coin toss; monsters are monstrous, not fodder for a roving band of murderhobos. The world is a scary place, and the moment the players lower their guard, they’re finished.
What really kicks ass about Symbaroum is its setting: there’s barely any of it, just enough to provide a baseline that any GM can riff off of. It’s like being given a set of Legos: you may be building a specific type of structure, but at least you don’t have to mold the blocks out of plastic yourself. What’s more, just looking at the assortment of blocks you have can make your brain piston-fire with inspiration. This level of lore is my sweet spot, and I wish more games did it.
The system itself is extremely elegant and conducive to both theater of the mind and light GM-prep. Besides, who needs a map and figures with such evocative book art? Symbaroum has its own identity, and it flaunts it. When the players so much as skim through the book, they look at each other warily from across the table. They know that it’s fucking on.
If you’re into grimdark fantasy like I am, you have no excuse to not own Symbaroum.

3rd Place: Dungeon Crawl Classics

Written by Joseph Goodman
Published by Goodman Games
Dungeon Crawl Classics takes everything that isn’t fun about D&D and says “fuck it.” It is the beer & pretzels tabletop roleplaying game. Nothing could reflect the spirit of DCC better than how characters are created: you roll up four random 0-level characters per player, and whoever survives is your character. DCC is one of those games you sit down at with a stack of extra character sheets. This isn’t because it’s lethal and brutal, it’s because it just doesn’t stop.
DCC is nostalgia-inducing to me because it brings it back to whipping out a sheet of graph paper, scribbling up a map, rolling up some dudes and gaming until the crack of dawn at your friend’s house. And since DCC’s mechanics are friendly towards those inundated with d20 systems, you won’t have to be a grognard to appreciate what made old school D&D so great.
By the way, the title is very misleading. Dungeon Crawl Classics isn’t a dungeon crawl, it’s a hack-and-slash. In fact, it’s my favorite Kobold-slaying simulator of choice. It doesn’t even pretend to focus on resource management; every design choice complements the frenetic pace of the game established from the death of your first character.
Finally, the icing on the cake: support for DCC is only rivaled by Paizo’s Pathfinder. Goodman Games has scores upon scores of zany, experimental modules that you won’t find in any mainstream fantasy roleplaying market. Goodman Games’ independent status allows them to be subversive, and they use that to their advantage. Just look at all those weird tables and funky dice!
Needless to say, I’m hella excited for Mutant Crawl Classics. I feel like Joseph Goodman will give us the Gamma World we were supposed to get.

2nd Place: Torchbearer

Written by Thor Olavsrud and Luke Crane
Published by Burning Wheel Headquarters
Like I said, D&D never did the whole “dungeon crawl” thing too well because its resource management was way too clunky. This isn’t Gygax’s fault; he didn’t have decades of development in the roleplaying game industry to draw from (I mean, he’s the guy who made RPGs a thing, he had to break ground somewhere). Dungeon Crawl Classics recognizes this and rebuilds the system to be a murderhobo engine. But Torchbearer asks: what might have been?
Torchbearer isn’t only a love letter to the oldest school of D&D, it successfully modernizes the dungeon crawl. Resource management is centered around “The Grind.” You really do feel The Grind, and it organically forms hard choices that could mean life or death down the road. People have been debating over how to best handle lighting, movement, encumbrance, and time tracking for years, and Torchbearer shuts those arguments the fuck down. All there is is The Grind, pressing down on you mercilessly. Every subsystem is based around that principle. Save an arm, and lose a leg.
Adventurers aren’t glorified whatsoever. Most D&D parties are murderhobos that have the moral imperative simply because they are PCs. But in Torchbearer, the dungeon crawl doesn’t stop even when you’re out of the dungeon. You have to peddle loot just to scrape by, sleeping in the stables because the innkeepers don’t want any trouble, sifting through odd jobs for a couple months to finance another expedition, holing up for a week because you just can’t shake that crawling sickness. The world is a brutal one, especially when everyone sees you for what you really are: an opportunist.
When I need to run a dungeon crawl, I grab Torchbearer off my shelf. Other retroclones don’t hold a candle to Torchbearer because they duplicate the rules; Torchbearer emulates the Gygaxian spirit.

1st Place: The Burning Wheel

Written by Luke Crane
Published by Burning Wheel Headquarters
I’ve rewritten this entry dozens of times. To be honest, I get intimidated whenever I try to write about Burning Wheel. I’ll never quite do it justice, nor can I properly articulate the journey I’ve taken with it. I can try to tell you about this game, but the best way would be to show you: spend a few patient months with this game and a group of friends willing to learn it with you, then come back. You’ll see just what I mean.
The Burning Wheel is hands-down the most fun I’ve ever had reading a rulebook. Luke speaks with a voice that is very self-aware, waxing poetic when appropriate, and always challenging you to play the game as it was meant to be played. What looks like generic Tolkienian fantasy on the surface is actually a deep study of character-driven storytelling.
Metagaming is encouraged by The Burning Wheel, which is extremely refreshing. You are rewarded by throwing yourself into dramatic situations, and in order to properly construct these situations, the GM lays the goings-on of the world bare. In The Burning Wheel, you don’t run adventures, you weave epics, and this is too much weight for the GM alone to bear.
The rules don’t present a system to be gamed, but a crucible to be braved. Each and every rule was lovingly built from scratch, and interact with each other seamlessly, giving the game meaning. Roleplaying is hard-built into the mechanics, meaning that everything from how you grew up, to how you lay out an argument, to what you believe has gravity in the system. The learning curve of The Burning Wheel is notoriously steep, but it’s the only steep curve I’ve felt this rewarded for climbing. Once you have achieved system mastery, the game practically runs itself. I haven’t found a game since that my game group was so eager to learn.
Campaigns in Burning Wheel are meant to last a long time, because you don’t “get through” a session, you marinate in it. You critically examine the roles of the characters, the implications of their interactions, and the meaning behind it all. There’s a cosmic ebb-and-flow to it all that takes time to discover and fully appreciate, and I find those patterns in every other game I run. Extra Rotam Nulla Salus.

Honorable Mentions

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

When I first read the D&D Next playtest material, I saw what Mike Mearls was trying to do. I knew it was going to be big. I should have bought stock in Wizards of the Coast right then and there.

Urban Shadows

It’s like World of Darkness hit the gym, and got rid of its rules bloat, its lore bloat, and its system bloat. I wish I had been running all of my World of Darkness games in this. Oh, it’s also super duper queer, which is basically the new “punk.”

World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle

There’s a running joke in my game group that every antagonist is the God-Machine. This setting is responsible for the highest-acclaimed game I’ve ever run; my players still constantly talk about it to this day. It’s an esoteric cosmic engine that I will treat like a tinker toy long after I stop playing World of Darkness.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

[CRIT] Stinkhammer

It was the first D&D table I sat at where everyone went around and shared their pronouns before play. I had been invited to join a newly-formed queer D&D group, as a player. I’ve been a DM since got into D&D, so I’ve often found it difficult (to put it lightly) to transition to the other side of the screen. But there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to queer up the world’s most popular roleplaying game.
The game itself was very tropey – meetings at inns, kidnapped blacksmiths’ daughters, goblins in abandoned tombs, escorting rich benefactors through an Elven wood – but it was done in a way that felt simple and charming. “Trope” has become something of a swear word nowadays, but when employed right, they can make a gamespace give off that warm, fuzzy “embarking on an adventure” vibe.
Our DM sprinkled in a few neat mechanics to build on that vibe. The first was handing out rumours to players at the beginning of the game, which we were encouraged to let filter naturally into the party through roleplay. It gave the whole “inn meeting” trope a little extra crunch, lending authenticity to that first conversation over mugs of mead. Then, during our daytrip through the Elven wood, the DM had us go around the circle and each invent a problem, which the next player in the circle would have to solve. It was a hell of a way to make travel feel grand for once, instead an unengaging mess that was either prepped into the ground or an unwieldy mess generated from encounter tables.
But the kicker was how these comforts were subverted at the end, as a levitating bald dude in black-red robes paid a sobbing inkeeper one blood-caked gold piece for each man slain on his grounds, as goblin cohorts with red bandanas on their arms collected the dead, the same goblins that we fought in the tombs. This whole time, this innocuous, trope-laden sandbox was masking the scent of something sinister that had been lurking right under our noses.
I’m getting way ahead of myself. You see, this whole reveal felt like cosmic justice for my Half-Elf Paladin of Silvanus, Tell. Tell couldn’t handle being shunned by both sides of his heritage, so he blamed the whole thing on civilization at large, using an oath to Silvanus and the Ancients as an excuse to isolate himself in the wilderness. He’s a filthy, spiteful boy who refuses to sleep under roofs or practice basic hygiene. He’s not just stinky, he’s d4 poison damage within 10 feet stinky. The one-and-a-half people’s worth of Halflings in the party added that to the fact that Tell carries an oaken warhammer to whip up this cute little moniker: Stinkhammer.
Being a Paladin of Silvanus and an ardent isolationist, Tell’s got quite the beef with buildings. While burying Goblins in a shallow mass grave (he cares, but not that much), he muttered cryptically about a “a scar on the land that will never heal,” gesturing wildly at the tomb entrance. Tell was quick to assert himself as a warden of nature to an Ent barring their passage, and even quicker to swear an oath to Silvanus that he would bring back the critters of the forest. Their disappearance coincided with the founding of a new city deeper in the wood; not a scar this time, but a festering wound.
Then, the party reached an inn at the center of an abrupt clearing filled with withered saplings.
Four cloaked bandits brooding at a corner table jumped the party as they approached the bar. As one charged, Tell misted them with his glowing warhammer, burning with the righteous fury building in him throughout the day. His companions blanched, the bandits fled, and the innkeeper screamed “I told you not to kill anybody!”
And that was never the intent. I thought it important that the innkeeper was begging us not to kill anyone as soon as we stepped foot in his inn. So I thought it keen to relay to the rest of the group how knocking someone out works: drop them to 0 hit points with a melee weapon and you’re good. But in my mind – clouded by tropes – equated their black cloaks to more hit points, 15 at least. I wagered a smite with a melee weapon would win me a one-hit knockout, but instead it caused instant death, the damage enough to kill the poor sap twice over. Tell knocked the spine and organs out of the bandit, leaving a sleeve of skin mounted on two thighs in mid-stride, which led to the reveal that turned our happy little world topsy-turvy.
Seriously, it was never my intent to kill anyone, but according to the dice, it was certainly Tell’s. All that guff about giving the goblins a proper burial and swearing up-and-down that his brutish companions wouldn’t even snap a twig under his watch, and here he is putting a undeserved end to some desperate thug. Quite the paladin he turned out to be. We’ll see what Silvanus has to say about this, and how many bloody coins Tell is about to put in this innkeeper’s coffers.
Edit: I realized just after writing this piece that I really didn’t talk about what made this session queer. But that’s just the thing: queer D&D doesn’t look that much different from normal D&D. The only difference is that when a player or the DM says “this character is nonbinary” or “this character is black,” the response is “okay,” rather than claiming that it’s unrealistic, or fishing for some justification for why the character is like that. Character’s don’t need a reason to not be white or straight or men, especially in a world of magic and whimsy. It was just so refreshing to not only have openly queer characters, but to be openly queer at the table without some sort of tension hanging in the air.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

[KINK] Mr. Leather Colorado 2017 Fundraiser Shirts

Superhorse is selling limited-edition t-shirts to raise money for the Mr. Leather Colorado travel fund! This fund not only enables me to represent Colorado at IML '18; it also allows future titleholders to represent Colorado at events across America!
The shirt was designed by James Newland, whose take on our community's iconography is cartoony, campy, and just plain fun! I felt his art best expressed who I was and how I approach Leather.
All proceeds will be collected by the Leather Colorado Foundation, which maintains the Mr. Leather Colorado travel fund.
If you’re interested in purchasing a shirt, click below to visit my Bonfire campaign! There are plenty of shirt styles and colors to choose from.
The campaign ends August 1st, after which these shirts will never be sold again! So get ‘em while they’re hot!

Click to purchase a t-shirt!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

[CRIT] Savage Worlds House Rules

Last Updated 7/12/17
If you’ve spent more than a few minutes exploring Kinks & Crits, you’ve probably realized that I enjoy house ruling my games. My players have learned to accept that if a game doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do exactly how I want it to, then I will go to great lengths to modify it until it does. I refuse to run a system unless it fits me like a glove.
So then it follows that the less house rules I append a system with, the better I feel it accomplishes its purpose. Dungeon Crawl Classics, Burning Wheel, and Symbaroum have no house rules, for example; they execute their concepts perfectly in my opinion.
Savage Worlds is in the middle. I feel it requires a few house rules to better unify the system and to excise unnecessary fiddly bits, but otherwise I love the system as-is. I’m of a mind that the more specific the concept that a game is written for, the better the game; Savage Worlds may be billed as generic, but it captures a pulpy style of storytelling and beer-and-pretzels dice-slinging in a way no other system has.
My list of house rules for Savage Worlds is meager, but deliberate. I hope they better streamline your gaming experience!

Derived Traits


Parry is treated as a penalty to Fighting rolls. This penalty is equal to (Fighting / 2) − 2. Additionally, Fighting rolls are now made against TN 4.


Toughness is treated as a penalty to damage rolls. This penalty is equal to (Vigor / 2) − 2. Additionally, damage rolls are now made against TN 4.


Armor Damage

Each raise dealt against a character’s Toughness reduces the Toughness of the armor they are wearing by 1.
A successful Repair test restores 1 lost Toughness on a success, and 1 additional Toughness for each raise. Each attempt takes 10 minutes. Armor with 0 Toughness is not repairable, and a critical failure reduces an armor’s Toughness to 0.

Ammo Tracking

Do not track the ammunition or magazines you consume when you use a weapon with the Shooting skill. Instead, when you use a weapon with the Shooting skill, roll another die with a size equal to your Shooting skill. If that die comes up as a 1, you have to reload that weapon before it can be used again.
This roll can be modified by certain weapon properties:
  • Double Tap: Roll two dice and take the lowest.
  • Burst: -3 to the roll.
  • Autofire: Penalty equal to number of shots fired + 1.
Bennies can be spent to reroll an ammo roll.