Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Went Down to the Crossroad...

The link above has nothing to do with the post other than being the source of the title, but if you're not familiar with the song that's only one dude signing and playing guitar. 

What the post is really about is some navel-gazing that I embarked upon this weekend, that I have now chosen to inflict upon you before I say goodbye.  It started where I commented after mistakenly putting words  into Zak S.'s mouth on his blog.  I pretty much bailed on the discussion once I saw that I was projecting my own feelings onto the author's post and Zak, for his part, seemed more inclined toward semantics than a discussion.  Maybe my clear foul-up and having compared his preferred online activity to sniffing stale farts got us off on the wrong foot, never to recover.  So things go, I suppose.

Normally I put this sort of thing behind me quickly, not being much for internet-based, nerd-rage fueled debate even if it might look to you that I'm the one picking a fight and even if the fight actually proves to be over something worth the effort.  But as I posted my final comment and welcomed the first two players into my living room that evening, there for our Saturday-night game, I couldn't help but shake this nagging feeling that things were off.  That while I was maybe barking up the wrong tree in that particular comment thread I was still hinting at a legitimate dissatisfaction and some unfinished business. 

Put simply, I suppose I have been suffering from a prolonged sense of loss.  I have been missing the energy, enthusiasm and sense of discovery that seemed to permeate the OSR phenomenon, as I once perceived and interacted with it at least, for quite some time now.  I see the further winnowing down of those bloggers whose blogs I once cherished into oblivion, inactivity, lack of inspiration, commercialism and/ or persistent cliques as a perhaps inevitable but still sad phase on the life-cycle of any movement as conspicuously narrow and self-referential as ours.  Everybody's either becoming a Buster Poindexter or bailing or losing the fire but still slogging on.  I know it's a rather subjective state that I describe, and allow that your perspective on it may be completely different... but I'm not the first to notice this or blog about it.  Its just now becoming more of a personally held belief.

There are notable exceptions, of course, and I suppose I'll still be checking in on you few from time to time.  Also, I'd say I have found a friend or two and at least one satisfying and prolonged online D&D playing experience along with a million little ideas and some fresh perspectives on how I run and construct my own game.  I've gained, in sum, both a renewed focus on the aspects of gaming that I previously found to be important as well as a new appreciation or recognition of those that hadn't occurred to me. I'm working on my game now harder than ever, but that means that my focus is largely inward.  After months of hardly reading more than a few blogs, resisting mostly the Google+ phenomenon and all but abandoning my own little blog, I can say without much reservation that I'm pretty much finished with discussing RPGs on the web.

So, being at the crossroads now and suspecting I'll have little more, if anything, to add to this modest corner of the modest corner of the web, I just want to thank those of you reading who have written and shared something I've used or that got me thinking on things or even truly inspired me to add something to my game.  Most of you I have thanked individually along the way as a good idea got ahold of me, generally through your comments.  I had begun and then deleted a long series of individual shout-outs in favor of the more succinct:  if your blog shows up in the list on the right then I appreciate something you wrote or did over the course of the past few years.  Missing would be some few inactive blogs that helped light the initial fire.  

This is not a hissy-fit or anything.  I won't shut this thing down and delete it, I'm not angry or resentful.  I'm just saying I probably won't have much more to post anymore and I'm no longer going to fool myself into trying.  What time I spend online related to RPGs will be here and here, and these will generally lack the broader appeal I had always hoped for with the blog, so I don't expect much interaction there.  Take it easy everybody, and good gaming. 


  1. You've gotta do what's right for you, man. I'm sorry to see you go, though, because of the OSR crowd I've read, you were consistently one of the least polemical and alienating to someone thoroughly un-OSR like me. Good gaming!

  2. He does that when anyone has the nerve to challenge his latest pronouncement. G+ is a dutch oven but who cares? The blogs are still thriving and you're free to do whatever you want with yours!

  3. Okay, but please I beg you ... fix the title.

    Back in the day there was a music video which I know I have on a VHS tape somewhere, but which I cannot remember the name of now.

    Briefly: a sad-looking man sits in an empty shack, and a deformed person walks in. The man reaches out his hand, the deformed person lunges out, devours the hand and instantly transforms into someone beautiful and perfect. The sad man's hand grows back, and the next deformed person comes in. Outside, there is a long, long line of grotesque people waiting to do the same.

    All art is like this. All art is exposing yourself and letting yourself be torn to pieces, to someone else's benefit. It's not the nerd culture - it's because you possess something worth devouring, James, and it hurts like hell when someone does that and then gives you nothing in return.

    Most people online, it takes just a couple of months for that to sink in; for most people, someone comes along and bites their hand and spits it right back in their face. For those who have something to give, like you, it takes longer because you can see that they are really enjoying that meal, and though it hurts like hell, it almost seems worth it to give them what they want.

    But it DOES hurt like hell. Any sane person begins to think, after that line has walked through long enough, that they have a choice. They don't have to hurt anymore. I respect that desire to keep your hands to yourself, James. I respect not wanting to spend all your energy growing your hand back.

    Keep coming around and playing the campaign. Chew my hand for awhile, and when you're ready to take all that talent and smarts you have and apply it to something else, to give people a good meal, you'll be ready. Blogging isn't the only way that's done.

  4. I've found the video. You can find it on my site here.

  5. I'm not an OSR kind of guy. I enjoy reading a variety of blogs, and take the time to comment when I feel I have something to add, when I want to thank someone for posting, or when I think an alternative viewpoint needs airing.

    I've enjoyed your writing, and the dialog in comments. I hope we don't lose your views and insights because of a failed dialog. There are plenty of those on the internets. I also hope we don't lose you over the diffusion of the OSR.

    To be honest, I think the OSR reminded WotC what they might have left out of 4e D&D. That is, the story. The magic of a rich setting that everyone wants to explore.

    It was pretty clear to me as a reader that you run a game with a rich setting. One I enjoyed reading about. We can't play in every game we want to, but it's nice to read about them.

    Thanks for sharing, James!

  6. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words folks. Please don't think this is an offhand decision, or caused by some internet tiff. Really, it's just the realization of what's been happening to me all along.

  7. It seems unfortunate but alas all things must end.

    Ah, that's a load of crap. Look, if you're done doing what you do and you think your energies are best used elsewhere, close up shop and move on.

    Bare in mind, that's one less flexible, open minded OSR guy out there for the rookies to read.

    Personally, I am so not-OSR it doesn't bug me on that level but you know what does? Including me, I am seeing 3 people who aren't so pro-OSR coming here to say farewell. In my opinion that's a sign my brother.

    New blog. Non-OSR focus. Come on over to the Light Side of the Force where we discuss and like new ideas and everything doesn't have to be metal to be cool.

    Just an idea. What do I know? I got over 6000 page views on a month where I talked about nothing but role playing The Muppets.

    Live Long and Prosper.

  8. Things do actually have to be metal to be cool.

    But anyway. Sucks to see one go. I don't want to have to move you down to the bottom of the blog list.

  9. There's one more category of blogger I missed above, and that's the blogger focusing on play. I guess that's really what closing down shop here is all about for me. I've already been playing on another blog and will be posting more campaign material moving forward (no musings, no house rules, no ephemera) on my campaign blog.

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  11. Yeah, I guess this feeling didn't last too long after-all. : )