Where I’m at with #FireMikeMearls

I was going to write another #FireMikeMearls tweet but I felt like I needed a bit more room today, so you get a post instead.

I’m not going to spend time summarizing the situation. By now you are either familiar with what’s going on or you aren’t. If you are a summary is wasted space and if you aren’t, searching the hashtag on Twitter will get you up to speed. If you need to do that before reading further, go ahead. This post will be here when you get back.

This may not be a very cohesive post; I’m going to talk about things as I think of them. To start, I am 100% in support of firing Mike Mearls from his position at Hasbro/WotC, as a first step in cleaning up their corporate culture. If it can be cleaned up, and we’ll touch on that in a bit. And firing Mearls is the minimum the company has to do right now. He should have been fired years ago when the harm actually occurred, but Hasbro/WotC shat the bed on that situation, alerting anyone paying attention to their obvious lack of any sort of harassment policy or procedures.

Before we go further, let me establish that I have some experience with harassment policies and procedures through my job. I work for my municipal government, and we have a clearly defined policy and several procedures in place to deal with workplace harassment and misconduct. Every employee is aware of what their rights are and what they can do if it occurs or if they witness it happening.  Through my position I have sat on committees reviewing our procedures, so I am probably more familiar with the details than most of my co-workers. In addition, I am a shop steward for my union, and it is my responsibility to understand and carry out my union’s policies and procedures around workplace harassment. That means helping the victims of, but also identifying and penalizing the perpetrators of.

So when I tell you that, as an outside observer, it appears that Hasbro/WotC either doesn’t have policies/procedure in place, has them but didn’t bother to follow them, or has ones so bad they aren’t worth the stale bagels and coffee consumed at the meeting that crapped out the policy document, I have a bit of experience in that area.

When I send a tweet with #FireMikeMearls in it, I don’t think that’s the end goal. Not even close. Because Mearls is just the most egregious symptom of a larger problem. He doesn’t work in a vacuum, there are higher ups and co-workers who have allowed him to retain a place in the industry and our hobby. The fact that his actions around Zak S are simply one example of Mearls’ poor judgement (at best) and active support of abusers (at worst), makes the tacit support of his peers disappointing.

But that’s actually all the time I’m going to spend talking about Hasbro/WotC’s corporate culture. If I thought they could be saved, if I thought they were worth saving at this point, I could look at my own workplace policies and make some suggestions around fixes they might try. But if you’ve built an unsafe house, you don’t try to repair it. You tear it down and build a better house. Frankly, I don’t see anyone at Hasbro/WotC having the guts to do that.  Believe me, I’d love to be proven wrong.

So if I’m not going to talk about that, what are we doing here? I want to spend some time talking about what I plan to do going forward in the hobby. Because while I maybe should have come to this sooner, it’s come to the point where I can’t put it off: I can’t support Dungeons & Dragons anymore. Which is sad. Dungeons & Dragons was the game that got me into the TTRPG hobby, it was my first and my most often played, through forty years of gaming. But as long as Hasbro/WotC demonstrate their complete lack of connection to or concern for their player base, I can’t support them.

“But Brent,” I hear you say, “You can still play D&D and never give the company another dime.” And you are right. But monetary support is only part of the picture. I am a big believer in modelling the behaviour you want to see. If I talk about Hasbro/WotC needing to face consequences for their lack of action, then turn around and shout, “Roll for initiative!”, that doesn’t model good behaviour in my eyes. Rather, it shows that I am willing to justify folx being hurt as long as I get to remain comfortable playing my games.

So going forward, I am going to be writing about other games in the hobby, and framing my player/GM posts to relate to these other systems. I’ve been guilty of writing posts where I assume the Dungeons & Dragons style of play as the baseline, and have talked about campaign creation and game mastering from that standpoint. But something my #ReadIndieRPGs videos demonstrated quite clearly to me, was that D&D is not our hobby’s baseline, and hasn’t been for some time. I mean, I knew that (and indie creators have certainly been yelling it at me for a while), I just hadn’t thought about it consciously before. So expect me to better live up to the site’s name going forward.

I’m also going to stop running/playing D&D, though that will take a bit more time to transition. One campaign has been on hold, and won’t be an issue to just stop. The other is active, however, and since I haven’t even discussed this with my players yet, it isn’t going to stop on a dime. Luckily we have a session tonight, so I can start that conversation and hopefully find us another system that suits our needs. I have no doubt we will.

Update: We had that discussion. This group of players does not follow the goings on in the TTRPG industry, and so were unaware of any of the issues surrounding Zak S/Mike Mearls/et al, so I had to fill in some background. Gratifyingly, however, once I did there was unanimous agreement that we should drop D&D like a moldy apple and switch to another game. For those curious, we have settled on The Black Hack for now, and are excited to see where these new, much simpler mechanics take us.

Because guess what? Did you know our hobby and industry has other games besides D&D? I know, it blew my mind as well! Not only are there other games now, there have always been other games! Growing up in the hobby I played a decent percentage of all of them, and I look forward to getting back to some of them, trying out their updated versions, or diving into newly designed games. This is the perfect time for me to get a Ryuutama, #iHunt, or Flying Circus campaign going, for instance.

What I don’t plan to do is dog pile anyone who still plays D&D, or independent creators who still publish for the game. You’re all adults, you all get to make your own decisions about these things. Not all indie creators, especially those in marginalized communities within our hobby, have the luxury of being able to just stop. Many creators have commitments in the pipe and can’t just cancel an entire project. I get that, and I have no beef with you. That said, if you come after me or anyone I know because of our decisions around this game and the hobby; if you try to brigade me or anyone else for using the #FireMikeMearls tag; if you’re just generally a shitty person about the whole thing, regardless of the “side” you support, I will call you out on it, report you, and block you. I have no time for any of that, and my Block Party has unlimited seating and all the warm Diet Fanta you can drink.

That’s where my head is at right now. I’m still reading threads and listening to various people in the hobby and industry to get their takes. But I wanted to take a moment to get some stuff out of my own head, maybe help me think a little clearer around the subject. Because this current situation is a) not a new one in our hobby, and b) something that is a source of and caused by the history of bigotry and colonialism that has long been present in the hobby and industry. There are better qualified people than I talking about that subject, so for right now I am listening. But I will have more to say by and by.

As always, feel free to shout at me here or on Twitter. We’ll talk more soon.

#ReadIndieRPGs Master Post

I was cross posting my #ReadIndieRPGs videos here up until about Day Twelve. I stopped because I knew I was going to do a master post, listing everything I read with links to the videos and the games. It seemed to me a master post with everything in one place would be more useful to anyone coming by the site, even if it meant less daily traffic.

I’ll talk about my thoughts on #ReadIndieRPGs in another video and post that on the site as well. For now, I wanted to get this listed in one spot because I feel that if you are new to indie RPGs and want to explore what’s out there, this list is a good place to start. Not entirely unintentionally I managed to give a good cross-section of types of games, solo vs. group games, and so on. And many of these creators have other games as well, which I encourage you to check out.

A quick guide to the links below. If you click on the Day you’ll go to the video I recorded. If you click on the game title you’ll go to whatever page has more information on the game and a way to purchase it (where this is multiple locations I have opted to link the location which gets the creator more money). If you click the creator name you’ll go to whatever page best shows them off, usually their website or Twitter page. Specific entries might have other information. Enjoy!

Day One: #iHunt – by Olivia Hill and Filamena Young

Day Two: savior – by Kate Bullock

Day Three: Succulent Sorcerers – by Diwata ng Manila

Day Four: Hot off the Press – by Margaret Catter

Day Five: TTRPG Safety Toolkit – by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk

Day Six: A Hero’s Journey – by Jessica Marcrum

Day Seven: Session Zero by Meghan Cross

Day Eight: Purplest Prose by Pamela Punzalan

Day Nine: Station Hunt by Graeme “POCGamer” Barber

Day Ten: Breakfast Cult by Ettin

Day Eleven: Solar Convention by Will Sobel (published by Gallant Knight Games)

Day Twelve: Camp Xander by Raven Norris (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Thirteen: you will die alone out here in the black by Ben Roswell

Day Fourteen: Wu De The Five Powers

Day Fifteen: Wishing Well by Riley Hopkins

Day Sixteen: all we know are the things we have learned by Blake Stone

Day Seventeen: Paleo Party by Dyer Rose (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Eighteen: Oathbreakers by Jamila R. Nedjadi of Sword Queen Games

Day Nineteen: Yule Army by Secrets of the Masquerade (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Twenty: Keeping the Lights On by Hekla Björk Unnardóttir (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Twenty-one: Flying Circus by Erika Chappell (published by Newstand Press)

Day Twenty-two: Los Arboles by Mercedes Acosta

Day Twenty-three: Sandwich County by Flowers

Day Twenty-four: Banquo at the Feast by Marn S.

Day Twenty-five: The Steadfast & the Rebellious by WH Arthur

Day Twenty-six: 99 cent Chamber of Death by Christian Guanzon

Day Twenty-seven: Stewpot by Takuma Okada

Day Twenty-eight: Ego by Sandy Pug Games

Day Twenty-nine: Troika! by the Melsonian Arts Council

Day Thirty: Ryuutama by Atsuhiro Okada

#ReadIndieRPGs – Catching Up

I took a few days away to relax and regroup, get my bad brain back in order. But I am back, and here are videos for Days Ten to Twelve to catch me back up. Day Thirteen resumes our normal one-a-day schedule.

Day Ten

Day Ten is here! As foretold in The Prophecy we are reading from Breakfast Cult by Ettin. Breakfast Cult is played using the FATE Accelerated rules, and each player takes the role of a student at Occultar Academy, Earth’s finest occult school. Hilarity ensues.

If you you would like to play more from Ettin, check out their Itch page and give them a follow on Twitter. I recommend Retrocausality or Oh, Dang! Bigfoot Stole My Car With My Friend’s Birthday Present Inside.

Day Eleven

Day Eleven is here, Ambassadors, and it is time to attend the Solar Convention. In this one-pageRPG by Will Sobel, published by Gallant Knight Games, you will argue and cajole your fellow players to advance your government’s agenda at an intergalactic conference. Good luck, Ambassador! You can keep track of what Will Sobel is up to on Twitter and find more from Gallant Knight Games on DriveThruRPG.

Day Twelve

It’s Day Twelve! Get your bunks squared away and head to the mess hall, we’re having breakfast at Camp Xander, by Raven Norris. You play camp counselors at a camp for monstrous children, with all the hilarity and pathos that ensues. If you would like to find more from Raven Norris you can follow then on Twitter and check out the San Jenaro Co-op compilations. Volume One has another game by Raven, Eggsecutive Powers, and Volume Two contains On Loan and Deathseekers.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPGs – Day Seven: Session Zero

Day Seven! We made it through the first week, which means twenty-three more days of Indie goodness to go! Today I read and talk about Session Zero by Meghan Cross, one of the best character story generators I have come across. If you would like to see more excellent games by Meghan Cross please check out her Itch page or follow her on Twitter. I highly recommend The Silent Garden and GayMerGirls, both brilliant games.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPGs – Day Five: TTRPG Safety Toolkit

Welcome to Day Five! Today we deviate a bit and read from an indie TTRPG resource, if not an actual game. But since it helps make your games safer and therefore better, it’s on my list!

The TTRPG Safety Toolkit is a resource created by Kienna Shaw  and Lauren Bryant-Monk. The TTRPG Safety Toolkit is a compilation of safety tools that have been designed by members of the tabletop roleplaying games community for use by players and GMs at the table. You can find it at bit.ly/ttrpgsafetytoolkit.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndirRPGs – Day Four: Hot off the Press

Day Four dawns! Grab your books and feed your algebra homework to the dog, we’re going back to high school with Margaret Catter’s Hot off the Press! You can check out more of Margaret Catter’s work on their Itch page (https://margaretcatter.itch.io/) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/mcatterdev). I particularly enjoy “It’s Dangerous to go Alone, Take This” which is a micro RPG using whatever the GM has in their bag or pockets at the time.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPGs – Day Three: Succulent Sorcerers

Welcome to Day Three! I was hoping by this point to be celebrating Spring by reading from Diwata ng Manila’s Succulent Sorcerers, but since it’s -20C here on the Canadian Prairies maybe I’m trying to conjure it instead. You can check out more of Diwata ng Manila’s work on their Itch page or on Twitter. Besides other games set in the “succulent” universe, like Bonsai Brawlers and Petal Paladins, you can find excellent games about relationships and mechs.

If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPG – Day One: #iHunt

I was inspired by the #ReadtheDMG videos that went around last week. I wanted to do something similar to celebrate and encourage folx to read and play Indie RPGs. Once a day, all through April, I will record a short video reading a passage or two from RPGs by some of my favourite creators. If you’d like to join in the fun, please post your videos using the same hashtag so everyone can find you.

In the meantime, please enjoy my NSFW (language warning) video for #iHunt.