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Games People Play - Updated Weekly

Your weekly 1-stop for satire on roleplaying games, videogames, politics... or whatever geek stuf, really. Not for the easily offended. You have been warned.

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September 9th, 2017
Tomb of Horrors... redux.
As of the time I put this comic in the queue, I have yet to read this canned adventure, but not only acquaintances of mine confirm is a new Tomb of Horrors... also, I'd recognize that infamous Sphere-of-Annihilation face anywhere.

Regardless of whether you love or hate old ToH, the release of its 5E incarnation is always noteworthy.

@Dogbert: It reminds me of the old "women in refrigerators" trope in comics and other fiction. The supporting character who serves no purpose in the narrative but to die and send the hero on a mission of vengeance. Some GMs use NPCs and lazy ways to spur adventures, but I think a lot of them honestly have no idea of what else to do with NPCs. It's easier when the PCs are murderhobos wandering from town to town, and never see NPCs more than once.
September 3rd, 2017
Moronic Lawsuits Theater Presents
One would think people would have learned after Marvel's petty attempts to copyright the letter X and the word WEB were promptly shut down by the courts.


Regardless of what people signs, or even what government offices sign, there are many laws that are legally, constitutionally unenforceable. You're looking at one right now, Hasbro claiming the rights to an ANIMAL's name. You just can't, and even when you find a crooked-enough judge to rule in your favor, anyone can challenge in court the unconstitutionality of that ruling, and flip birds at you.

I'm tempted to create a Bumblebee OC just to prove my point, and dare Hasbro to sue me.

Twice in a Row

Tapastic is perhaps the biggest and most popular webhost for webcomics.

As of late, however, Tapastic has been getting increasingly greedy, and this is its second attempt at a power grab over its own community... in two months (the first one was a claim of Prima Nocte on its authors' publishing rights).

Needless to say, Tapas members are not stupid, and Tapas has been bleeding members ever after its first attempt (even after they backpedalled on it). Unlike their previous attempt, this new scam is not compulsory for publishing your webcomic there, but still, lots of creators that hadn't left during their first attempt are doing so now on grounds of not being willing to put up with recurrent attempts at screwing them over.

If Tapas keeps this up, they'll end up like Project Wonderful.

August 14th, 2017
Lessons learned
@Brian: We all started somewhere (my first game was an abomination). As long as we learn from our mistakes, we can happily look back and laugh at them.
Brian (Guest)
August 13th, 2017
Watching the dance.
@Dogbert: That actually happened to me once in a game, a long time ago, but to be fair to the GM, we were all very inexperienced. He was about halfway through the masturbatory battle, when he realized, "yeah, this isn't working."
Comicon Trailer Extravaganza
After Sony basically spoiled me the whole of Spider-Man: Homecoming in its first trailer, I've been avoiding trailers of movies I wanna watch, which means I had to avoid Comicon's trailers.

Fortunately, I don't give shit about the DCEU (other than WW, fortunately unsullied by Snyder), so I had no hesitation with its trailer... and it didn't fail to disappoint, with the added bonus that now they're pretending none of the previous DCEU movies existed and suddenly Superman is all hope, inspiration, and an order of fries rather than the walking disaster of the Snyderverse. Even if Snyder made Batman an even worse psychopath, that doesn't automatically restore Supes by comparison.

Coherency, please.
Vampires and Vampires
First, the good stuff:

It's a secret to none that videogame-based anime always follows the same formula:

1) Pick a videogame with GREAT story and worldbuilding
2) Ignore ALL of said great story/setting, drop all elements that made the videogame great.
3) Use some mediocre script you pulled out of your ass.

It took Warren Ellis to break this abominable mold.

Castlevania is better than good, it's better than great, it's the Castlevania all gamers who are now in their 40s used to see in their mind's eye while playing the game. The story is a true-to-source bridge between Castlevania 3 and Symphony Of The Night. The visuals have Ellis' trademark in that one in every six shots is basically a vignette (and a great one). All the imagery was pulled from the games down to the giant clockwork wheels. The voice acting is as good in english as it is in Japanese (and we have some GREAT talent in the english dub). I can't wait for the next 8 episodes in November.

The not so good, V5:

While the tidbits of the rules they released are intriguing (I like the new hunger/feeding/blood rules), they're too scarce to pass any judgement. As it stands, the current rules barely amount to a pre-alpha and in no way, shape, or form, ready for a test drive.

The ugly, the V5 playtest scenario:

Vomitive, no matter how you look at it.

As a writer:
It's a mess. If V5 is now gonna be Anarch-Centric, then why put the players as -camarilla-?? The POV is upside down. Your audience is supposed to empathize with the protagonist, not the supporting cast (and much less the antagonists).

As a game-designer:
It's a novel, not a canned adventure. The most insulting railroad since Rise of the Runelords, and the most disempowering GM-wank material since the intro of Tyranny of Dragons.

As a Vampire fan:
Whoever wrote this kinda forgot everything that made vampire cool and just stuck with Justin Achilli's desk notes. You see, Vampire The Masquerade was one of the biggest cases of Death of the Author in the hobby. Originally, ReinHagen and Achilli wanted a wangstfest about fanged emos who moped under the rain in stinky alleys for being cursed with awesome. These fanged emos were supposed to be perpetual victims of oppression from a system led by immortals from behind an eternal glass ceiling the PCs would never, ever, cross.

The rules, however, gave options to do more interesting (and less emo) things: Things from running small empires in the undercity to actually be part of the city's Primogen or even the Prince. Vampiric power games where were it was at, and those that didn't care for vampire politics just played the game as Vampions. THAT was the vampire that people remember, that was the vampire that got many roleplayers laid, and that was the vampire that put old White Wolf as a superpower in the hobby second only to d&d.

Now... the new administration wants to make vampire anarch-centric and right at the beginning of the new Anarch Revolution? Perfect! Now the game can be a revenge fantasy at the lower social strata where the players Eat The Rich, and MORE vampire politickinig and power games at the upper strata; after all, anyone who has actually read history knows how revolutions work (spoilers: They're NEVER "for the people by the people").

This playtest scenario, however, did it all wrong... I just hope the new White Wolf realizes it before it's too late.

Diablo III's New Toys
Every time you kill an enemy in the Diablo III expansion, they leave a corpse. The necro has several powers which make use of these corposes (the best, though, is making them explode). So, you make an enemy explode near the team's tank/carry and you'll kill plenty other mobs, leaving more corpses... and If you equip the right rune, detonating a corpse blows up all nearby corpses in chain reaction. So, get 2 or more necros in the same game and eventually the screen looks like you were making gore popcorn.

It took me playing with a friend to notice this peculiarity.


Credit Where Credit is Due: It's thanks to THIS TUTORIAL that I learned to make fireworks.
June 28th, 2017
Sega Forever, always, and never
First and foremost, I must say that THIS is the right way to beat emulators. THIS is what the Big N should have done years ago.

At last. Sega has a victory on Nintendo.

Now, those who grew up with Sega are familiar with the frustration of never, EVER getting a straight arcade port to a home system. Home versions were always watered down, which marked the beginning of the end as soon as Sony came around with a Tekken that was not just a perfect port, it was even BETTER than the arcade and all Sega had to compete with that was a pale, watered-down Virtua Fighter on the Saturn. And even then, while the Saturn was more than capable to bringing their arcades as-is, they never did.

And now, they have been selling old classic games on Steam for years... but NEVER the arcades.

So, yeah... don't hold your breath on the Forever service either, because Sega Forever will NOT have the arcades.

Sega will NEVER bring us the arcades.

Because Sega.


P.D: I'm aware there were notable exceptions like Sega CD's Final Fight (better than the arcade) and House of the Dead... then again, all rules have exceptions.
June 14th, 2017
Surprise me, Wonder Woman
I started working on this comic on the week I watched the movie, but I preferred to wait until it was safe to assume all the people who planned to watch the movie at the theatres already did. So...

Against all precedent and against all expectations, the movie is GOOD!

This movie is all Man of Steel should have been. Inspiring, uplifting, positive, heroic, and even knows when to take moments of levity. Personally I didn't find it "life changing," but then I'm not part of the target demo (women), and all I see is lots of little girls who now look up to Diana and superheroes, and that is GREAT.

The only "downside" of the movie was its corny-bordering-on-weeb dialogues at times which rivalled shounen anime dialogues, but then Wonder Woman's aesthetics have always been partially corny, so if you're at the movie theatre watching Wonder Woman, you should have no problems with that (also, I have plenty of weeb friends for whom this was a feature, not a bug).

At first I was afraid it was going to turn into your average weeb plot of "molly coddled teen rebels, her recklessness gets her whole kingdom killed blah blah blah"... but I was mostly pleased this was averted by a Hypolita who actually had brains in her head, and understood that 1) She couldn't fight the future and 2) All she'd do by going all "arrested development" on Diana would be harming her. Diana had to rebel twice in the movie, and both times Hypolita understood she had to yield. I liked that.

Diana's muggle companions were each one a winner and worked great as a team... when Diana gets her crisis of faith and leaves the team I swore "oook, this is where they die"... and again, the movie subverted the cliche, and the only muggle who died happened to be the romantic interest. It was sad to see Trevor go, but since Johns had already paired Diana with Supes and now he's at the wheel of the DCEU, I can see why that had to happen.

The music accomplished its purpose but it was still a smidgen short from memorable, and alas, the FX for the lasso was rather poor in the fight scenes, but I won't make it into a thing, I enjoyed the combat scenes enough (also, this Diana is better trained than The Goddamned Batman). Speaking of FX... so, considering the ending, does this mean Diana now possesses Zeus' lightning? If she does, that means she's going to be the tie-in for Shazam's movie and may be involved in Billy's empowerment.

Wonder Woman is the first actual competitor Warner has against the MCU... alas, unless Warner sacks Snyder (I wonder if I can make that into a hashtag), it's also going to be the ONLY one.

June 14th, 2017
A Boring E3
If you watched the big publishers' press conferences prior to the E3, then basically you had already seen the whole week of the event... because the main live streams (ign, gamespot, and rooster teet) wouldn't give coverage to anything else.

Where were the indies? Where were the B-listers? Where was Indivisible? Where was Bloodstained? Where were Valiance Online and City of Titans? Clearly, the official streamers didn't care, as all they did was regurgitate the pre-event presentations time and time again. So, if you wanted any relevant notes once the event started, you had to either dumpster-dive the streams on a minute-by-minute basis in hopes the press gave a couple minutes to an unmentioned game... or just stay tuned to the Square Enix Presents stream, because they actually had relevant notes and content (which is what I did starting Wednesday, mostly).

Sure, Sony and Nintendo put on a GREAT show, Devolver's parody was damn funny, and both Wolfenstein 2 and Spider-Man took the cake, but I'd have actually liked some, you know, EVENT, in the event.

400 strips!
This gag comes courtesy of some... I'll call them, "inspiring," people online whose pearl of wisdom to get players involved was turning every session into a damn hostage situation. Yeah that will work well.

Anyway, 400 strips, go me!
But his emails!
NOTE: No, I won't provide you with the URL of the article, as that would mean giving them clicks/money, thus defeating the purpose.

Let's set this straight, there's no such thing as a successful, long-lived, non-evil corporation. Is Steam evil? I'd never doubt that, but at least it saves its evil for its employees and business parters while treating its customers to affordable prices, so you can say without fear of being wrong, that Steam is factually LESS evil than the competition (don't even get me started on EA and MS).

Having said this, one would have thought that one Cheeto Mussolini and one round of French Elections later, people would know better than to fall for this kind of smear campaigns. Protip: Whenever you see a scandalous note related a public figure, ask yourself WHO WILL PROFIT FROM THIS (Spoilers: MS already tried to de-facto abolish Steam once when they were debuting their online store, and both EA and Ubi would be tickled pink to remove the "odious middleman").

Also, if said note doesn't examine the incident from all angles (including what the competition is up to), then you can be sure there's money behind that piece of "journalism."

So yeah, Polygon, I see what you did there.
We are the DC Borg, you will be assimilated
I'm still of the mind that the worst move DC has done this decade was borg-ing Dark Horse and Vertigo titles into the DCU's main continuity (I still get kneejerking whenever I see an Endless in a JLA title), and my opinion about doing the same to Watchmen is pretty much the same.

Not only that, let's remember the only reason the Watchmen were created as a characters was because DC wouldn't let Moore use their characters/universe the way he needed to tell his story, so he made stand-ins (and years later Grant Morrison did his own version using the actual DC characters Alan wanted in a similar story, read Pax Americana).

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Convergence (DC's last "crisis" event), and I'm a fan of what Geoff Johns did with the JLA, so I'm giving Doomsday Clock the benefit of doubt.

If anything, at this point, DC could screw their comicbook universe six ways into Sunday and they'd still have the moral high ground on Marvel (the comics' division, that is).


P.S: For those still wondering: The OTHER Doomsday Clock.
May 3rd, 2017
Non-denial Denials
While mr. Lee's words are technically not a lie, he didn't deny the godawfulness of his deeds.

Americanitis is just as evil as racism, except the former poses as protectiveness "because viewers are morons."
April 30th, 2017
Dancing With Myself
I was reminded of this ever so popular GM vice by a twitter acquaintance asking for the right way to do a scene like the one described in the comic.

The right answer? OFF CAMERA.

After all, if it amounts to a cut-scene and the player characters have no stake in the outcome nor permission to intervene then what are they even doing there? There's no right way to do it, if the PCs have the means to intervene but the GM stonewalls them from doing so, then he is railroading them, and if the NPCs are "level fuck you" and the PCs are lowbies, then he is dick-waving them.

As cool as such scene may look in a movie or videogame, not only passive and interactive media have different narrative methods, also different interactive media have their differences. What works in a videogame won't fly in tabletop (as WotC found the hard way *cough*4E*cough*) and viceversa.

Hell is Other Directors
Ever since Burton's Batman, superhero movies have been rid with this strange curse that dictates that part 3 of the saga is almost inevitably going to be a trainwreck. Not only that, when that happens this decade, there's a fair chance the producers did something to alienate the director.

In Thor's case, however, it wasn't so lucky, and part 2 already sucked. Now, while I understand Disney is the sole owner of the IPs now and if they want to fire the old fanbase in favor of a broader audience, they can do that. Still, I know Disney can do things with more class than this, they're better than this. They're better than Warner.

First and foremost, I must say this:

Any game setting that includes tips of the hat to the Phantasy Star series will get my attention, and Aethera does. So if you like Phantasy Star and you like Pathfinder, then get to it.

IMHO, the author should have taken the time to create a competely different magic system divorced from d&d as well as a separate bestiary (either that or just taking the Ravenloft route and banning -specific- spells rather than whole classes and spell descriptors). I'd have just banned Teleport/Greater/Dimensional, since that's all it takes for the planetary gates to keep their importance. Alas, the school I'd have removed is divination as a whole, since as long as you have it, nothing will ever be "unknowable," which is another of the game's themes.

I may still try the setting... if with a different system. The setting is good, but d20 is too much of a de-facto solution for it.

March 21st, 2017
GitS, Hollywood-style
Some people say they'll watch that movie "because they want it to be good."

Some people say they'll watch it "so they can know first-hand how bad it is."

Remember one thing, however, consumers can only vote with their wallets, and each occupied seat in a movie theater is one more reason for Hollywood executives for giving us more mediocre anime adaptations.

Paying for it is endorsing it, and endorsing it is asking Hollywood for more (and worse).

Vote with your wallets, DON'T WATCH IT.