Monthly Archives: January 2011

On ‘Rules-Lite’ D&D

Recently I’ve noticed a bit of forum discussion about rules-lite D&D. What’s weird to me isn’t that anyone would want to play a rules-lite rpg; I intend to write a rules-lite fantasy heartbreaker someday. No, what’s weird to me is the term ‘rules-lite D&D.’ In my experience, it’s an oxymoron.

I’m not really qualified to talk about OD&D, 1e, or the half dozen early pseudo-editions, but I did start gaming during the 2e era so I know a bit about it. Coincidentally, a lot of recent rules-lite discussion has been focused on 2e. To be fair, 2e does have its simple points. If you’re looking to do nothing from level 1 to 20 except roll a d20 and a damage die, and have no significant build decisions to make other than “which weapon do I hack with?”, then 2e’s fighter’s got ya covered.

But overall, even without getting into all the splat books, there’s quite a bit of clunkiness right in the core books. There’re weird pop-up rules like percentile strength, there’re different tables for everything including ability scores and XP progressions, and then there’s the sheer variety of byzantine mechanics themselves. Sometimes you roll a d20, sometimes you roll percentile, and sometimes other dice. Sometimes rolling high is good, sometimes rolling high is bad. And yes, there’s thac0. It’s not that this stuff is rocket science, but there are clearly simpler ways to resolve in-game events.

I guess that, like native English speakers, gamers who learn D&D first tend to become blinded to its complexities no matter how obvious they appear to outsiders. It’s a shame though, because I’m sure there are better rules-lite rpgs on the market which would be much easier to learn for new players than any edition of D&D.


Posted by on 06/01/2011 in Rules, Rules-Lite


Gayness is Nature’s Birth Control

I’m a rational guy, so I like to think there are reasons for all major phenomena. Even for something like homosexuality, which seems to run completely counter to the survival of our species. You’d think that the predisposition to be gay would have been weeded out by natural selection back when we were apes in Africa. So why do we have people being born gay, in seemingly greater numbers every year? I think it’s genetic birth control.

Let me explain.

Back when we were apes in Africa, one of our big problems was finding enough food. If pickings got scarce, or if the tribe got big, everybody got stressed. Most importantly, pregnant women got stressed. Stress can do weird things to pregnant women and unborn babies. How? I’m no scientist, but I believe it goes something like this:

Stomach: FEED ME!

Brain: Dude, I’m doing what I can, but we’re in the middle of a drought and there are like twenty other soccer ape-moms in this tribe.

Uterus: I’ve got a kid here, what the hell am I supposed to do?

Brain: Well, there’s nothing we can do for us now, but maybe we can help out the next ape generation.

Uterus: You mean like cutting back on social security?

Brain: No, no, we’re part of an ape not a baby-boomer! Can’t you flip a switch or something to kill the kid’s sex drive? If he doesn’t have kids, it’ll be easier for his generation.

Uterus: Kill his libido, are you kidding? That’s like saying “Can’t society exist without taxes?”

Brain: Again. You’re way ahead of the times, but point taken. What if you just redirected the kid’s sex drive? If he likes other ape men, he won’t have kids himself.

Uterus: Won’t that pretty much screw his sex life? (No pun intended.)

Brain: Yeah, but hey, sometimes ya gotta take one for the tribe.

Uterus: Alright, I’ll jigger around with the control board here, but I ain’t promising anything. I might make him gay, or I might make him the first T.S. Eliot.

The organs all shudder.

Brain: Thank the Apelord poetry hasn’t been invented yet.


Posted by on 03/01/2011 in Birth Control, Homosexuality