Fade to Bright

My next blog post will be a new addition to the RPG Lexicon series, entitled "Porn Logic," which, regrettably, has almost nothing to do with sex in roleplaying games. So here's an anecdote that does. It's just a tiny moment, a single sentence, but it's one of my favorite tiny moments to recall.

With gamers I know well, a game's subject matter is welcome, sometimes encouraged, to press past the boundaries of PG ratings. Given the choice between sex and violence (American culture's two favorite ways of pressing those boundaries) I'll vote sex 100% of the time. But with newbie gamers (or experienced ones new to my GMing) I'm super extra very careful about ribald content in games, thinking twice and reading the room before I'll even hazard a risqué joke or double entendre.

And so it was, five or six years ago, when I was first introduced to Paula, the romantic partner of another gamer I knew, and he'd been telling me for ages how much I'd like Paula and that I should come around and GM some games for them. Paula was new to RPGs.

Paula's took the the open-ended nature of both Uresia and Risus character creation with gusto, and made a Penguin Sea-Monster PC (an intelligent penguin the size of a tall human who liked to refer to itself as a Sea Monster because that's a fun thing to be) who'd eventually enter the campaign lore as a legend, but this was just our Session One.

They were in the city of Shadow River, over in the Logantown district, passing Death's Dais on the way to a meeting with an important NPC, so the next bit of local scenery was Nectar's Garden, the city's famed Elvish brothel. It was late in the afternoon so the gardens, gazebos and pool outside the great stone house were bustling, and the sounds of laughter and splashing and music were unmissable on the street. Nothing naughty to be heard, just a kind of garden-party atmosphere, but the PCs knew the place by reputation, so I mentioned that.

I was only setting the neighborhood scene, but Paula's interest perked right up, and they insisted on taking a proper penguin peek. I found myself in a precarious position, with Paula's penguin peering into this preeminent playhouse of prurience! Newbie Gamer! screamed the klaxon in my head. Keep it funny, light, maybe a bit sitcom, and they're just in the gardens so it's just a garden party anyway!

To make a short story even shorter, sparkling garden-party banter did nothing to dissuade the Penguin Sea Monster's fascinations, nor did one Elf's recommendation to try the excellent neighborhood alchemist nearby before he shuttered his place for the day. Paula's Penguin wanted very much to sample Nectar's Garden's full menu of services.

So I knew what to do: fade to black. I described some elves escorting said giant penguin into the warmer chambers of the great stone house, amid vaguely-alluded-to sounds of distant pleasures, and I faded to right into the comforting PG-rated black: "And an hour or so later," I offered, "you emerge feeling very refreshed and --"

And Paula would have none of it.

Paula (quickly, with force) stood up from their chair ... planted their hands on their hips ... looked me dead in the eye and said "Oh NO you DON'T!"

Paula was on the verge of giggling, but I could tell it was no joke. "Fade to black" would not be a suitable description of this Penguin's good time!

I was still acutely aware that I was here GMing for a couple, though, plus newbie ... so I improvised a desperate dodge by describing a kind of montage of what was going on several feet above the private room full of Elves and one giddy penguin: slow-motion rubber-duckies soaring and flipping damply through the air, followed by a length of silken cord, a whoopie cushion, and a marmalade sandwich.

To my great relief, this would - barely - suffice. Crisis averted. Game continued. Paula, very much, met.

Paula's been one of my favorite people, and favorite gamers, ever since, and contributed valuably to both the 2nd Edition of Uresia and to Toast of the Town, where the legendary Penguin Sea-Monster remains the only PC in the history of my runs to charge Dolemon Drake with a penguin belly-slide, knocking him into an open sewer-grate.

Paula's also in need of help right now; please consider it. Thank you.

A couple of my photos of Paula from when I was still in Colorado.


Really Feeling the Itch

I've been migrating most of the Cumberland library to itch.io, and while the migration isn't yet complete, the most crucial files are mostly in place, so it's a fair time to finally link to the Cumberland Games page.

While I'm making the move because of issues with DriveThru (those who know me personally know my dislike of the site extends back to its founding), I'm also discovering what it's like to be working with a more modern site. Advantages of itch.io include, but aren't limited to:

  • If you're downloading a free title and new to the site, there's no burdensome signing-up-for-an-account process. You just click the download button and go.
  • The site isn't grossly biased against free titles (free titles are kind of my jam).
  • Off-site hyperlinks are allowed within the adcopy, so when (for example) the Risus page mentions the Risus community, it's allowed to link to an appropriate site (forbidden on DriveThru),
  • The mobile site works, completely. It even has paragraph breaks. This should not be exciting in 2020, yet here we are.
  • The site isn't structured around presumptions about tabletop gaming that don't apply to Cumberland (because it's originally a site for indie videogames, it isn't structured around tabletop at all, which turns out to be a huge blessing).
  • They don't take 35%. Yeesh, even the Apple Store only takes thirty, guys, and only fifteen from small developers.
Some things are the same. Search is kind of hit-and-miss, and it's a jungle to browse. There's very little by way of curation, etc. But it's mostly gains, with few and trivial losses.

So, while the circumstances that brought me to itch were unfortunate, the move itself has been exciting. If you're reading this, you've probably already got a copy of Risus or the Big List of RPG Plots, or you're a family member who doesn't know what those things even are, so, just a bit of non-scary news in dark times. Here's hoping you're healthy and well. 'Til next.


Still Super Sick, No 'Rona

Just a note to say that Sandra and I got our covid test results and we are covid-free. I'm still sick as the proverbially sick dog, with a headache that stabs like a thousand rotating swords, but whatever crud it is, it ain't no 'rona.

So there is that. Hope you're staying safe out there.