Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Basics of Using GCS: Equipment

This is part 2 of my introductory series to utilizing the program GCS for creating GURPS Character Sheets. In it, I'll be covering the options for editing equipment to suit your needs.

Other Parts:
Part 1: Introductory Basics


Equipment:

Adding equipment to a sheet is the same as adding any other entry to your character sheet- either dragging the entry onto the sheet with the mouse, or hitting CTRL+SHIFT+C.


A bog standard edit equipment Window

The top half is the same for all equipment and encompasses the typical stats that would be applicable to equipment regardless of function- price, weight, quantity possessed, and so on. There are really four things to note about the top section:

  1. The notes field will show up under the item in the character sheet view- useful for noting specific rules or bonuses the gear might give.
  2. The Extended Value and Extended Weight fields will dynamically update with modifiers added through the modifier tab
  3. The checkboxes for Equipped and Ignore for Skills will make the item count or not count against encumbrances. The equipped box will also clear any skill bonuses for equipment that give those if it is unchecked.
  4. CTRL+UP and CTRL+DOWN will increment and decrement the uses of an item on the character sheet, making it easy to use the field to keep track of things like say, shots remaining for a gun.

The Melee Weapon and Ranged Weapon Tabs

Now let's break down the Weapons Tabs:

This first section is where you add the usage of attacks. Some weapons have different styles of attacks- such as stabbing with a sword instead of swinging it- and others have numerous types of ammunition that can be used (such as the Buckshot/Rifled Slug shown above). 

The red circle in the image above shows where the + and - buttons to add and remove a weapon usage are located. They do not render (but function) properly on some Windows computers, a known bug.




The second section deals exclusively with the damage line that will show up on your eventual sheet. Most of what is here is strictly what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG). All of the fields have helpful mouse-over text to denote what they are.


This last section hooks up the specific piece of gear to the skills on the character sheet, so that its specific entry in the weapons on your character sheet can be calculated correct. (Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that I never did this for the Slug usage option, which is why it displays a level of 0 above.)

As shown above, you can specify way more than just 1 of these- allowing defaults to be handled pretty elegantly.

The first box (going left to right) is for the skill, and the second is for a specialization, if any. Both of these fields are case sensitive and won't work well with typos or misspellings.

The third box circled in red is the one you want to edit to emulate bonuses such as weapon bond that improve skill ONLY for that particular piece of gear. (EDIT: Turns out with a recent update the features tab now has a selection for "to this weapon" for Weapon Damage Bonus and Skill Level Bonus, which is awesome and makes the work-around above obsolete for some use cases.)




GCS will default to displaying the highest valid option on the final stats on the character sheet.




The fields for a melee weapon are very similar, but omit rate of fire, range, and such in favor of Reach, Parry Modifier, and Block Modifer fields. Again, most of the fields are WYSIWYG. 

Prerequisites:

This tab allows you to specify traits that are necessary to use the item. Without them, the item will show up in Red Text on the character sheet. This is normally more of a concern for checking for advantages or skills, but maybe your sword requires Magery or high IQ to wield or something. Fairly self-explanatory.

Features:



This tab allows you to attach bonuses and penalties of various types to the item, which will always be in effect as long as it's equipped. This is best suited to bonuses that are passive and constant, such as the DR afforded by wearing armor, or the Strength Bonus granted by wearing enchanted gauntlets.

Notably, the "Gives a weapon damage bonus of" field is where you'd want to look for setting up traits such as Weapon Master, Trained by a Master, and the damage bonuses afforded by Karate (although some skill entries also use this field, so make sure you're not double-dipping if you want to avoid GM ire.)

Modifiers

This is the latest addition to the equipment tabs, and it's a doozy for all of you who want a Bedazzled Light Halberd. Some of the options overlap with those in the Features tab- but modifiers allow you to affect the weight and value of the equipment at the same time, making it very flexible.



Take note of the Extended Value entries above- they differ quite a bit from the base Value and Weight!


Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Basics of Using GCS

Someone on a Discord server I frequent was attempting to learn the ropes of GCS, and was unimpressed with the level of documentation available on how to actually utilize the program.

I've been using GCS for years as I've found it to be a very convenient and powerful tool for making character sheets. I consider myself a bit of a GCS power user, so here's the start of what may become a series of posts on the basics of using the program. (In fact, part 2 dealing with equipment is now up!)

When you first create a new character sheet, you'll be presented with a blank sheet filled with some pregenerated character fluff (Height, weight, eye color, etc), and baseline GURPS stats.


Click to Expand

Of note, the Master Library contains the bits and pieces you'll most likely want to add to a character sheet- advantages, disadvantages, and skills. The libraries for Basic Set Advantages and Basic Set Skills will likely be where you'll spend the majority of your time searching for what you want to add to your characters.

Most tabs will have a blank line at the top that functions as a search bar, as well as a drop-down that usually filters by categories.

I've typed warp into the Basic Set Advantages Library here



On a character sheet, blue text means that that field can be directly edited. The fields for your stats (ST, DX, IQ, etc) will decrement unspent points appropriately as they are increased. Additionally, GCS will update derived stats appropriately (increasing DX will increase related skills, and basic speed calculation, for instance).

Some traits have way more modifiers
than others...
To add something from a library to the character sheet, you can either drag and drop it onto the sheet, or hit CTRL+SHIFT+C. Depending on the trait being carried over, a dialog box might open with modifiers related to the trait- CR ratings for disadvantages, enhancements for advantages, etc.

To edit a trait in GCS, either double-click on it, or select it and hit enter.

For advantages and disadvantages, the top portion contains fields for how to price the trait, as well as fields that help with categorizing it.

The dialog window that opens will also usually include the following tabs for most traits, including equipment:
  • Prerequisites- These will turn a trait red if your character fails to have the listed traits. (Example: Cinematic combat skills without Trained by a Master or Weapon Master.)
  • Features- These are how you can tell GCS that an advantage should give a modifier to a character- such as voice improving reaction modifiers and giving bonuses to certain skills, combat reflexes increasing defense scores, or the damage increase Striking ST gives to attacks
  • Modifiers- these are the limitations and enhancements present on numerous advantages and disadvantages
  • Melee Weapon and Ranged Weapon- these tabs allow you to specify that an attack should appear on your character's sheet, and allow you to define the statistics of those attacks
  • User description is a field that allows for entering notes.
Skills have largely the same dialog window, but have a tab for Skill Defaults, and the top portion has different fields specific to skills, which I'll drill down deeper into in a future post.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Modeling Osteogenesis Imperfecta in GURPS

Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a congenital disease where the body doesn't produce collagen in sufficient quantity or quality, depending on the specific type the subject has. Due to this, people with the disease break bones very easily. It's more commonly referred to as Brittle Bone Disease.

OI Can generally be split into 3 Types:
  • OI Type 1- the mildest form of the disease.
  • OI Type 2- normally fatal within the first year of life
  • OI Types 3+- Moderate to severe types of the disease with differing clinical presentations

My friend has OI Type 4, which is a moderate to severe type. She broke her foot attempting to walk across concrete in socks. Accidentally kicking the leg of her bedframe broke her toe. A fall in the kitchen broke her elbow. She's cracked ribs, herniated a disk in her back, and had a metal plate in her elbow to correct a break from before I met her. To say that OI doesn't seem like an appealing Player Character trait is entirely accurate, as I'll illustrate below.

OI leads to numerous effects that could be relevant to a GURPS character, which I'd consider core to the trait:

  • Propensity for bone breaks
  • Hypermobility (A propensity for dislocated joints)
  • Chronic pain
  • Distinctive Blue Sclera
Let's start by modeling the bone breaks. Let's flip Injury Tolerance (Unbreakable Bones) on its head, and then address the duration of crippling injury.

Injury Vulnerability (Easily Broken Bones) [-10 or -20]: Your body is especially vulnerable to crippling injury.
Mild: Your limbs become crippled when they take damage over HP/4. Your extremities become crippled when they take damage over HP/6. -10 Points.
Severe: Your limbs and extremities become crippled when they take damage over HP/10. -20 points.

Injury Vulnerability (Long-lasting Crippling) [-10]: When you roll HT to see if a crippling Injury is Temporary or Lasting, you at HT-4.

Now for modeling the frequent dislocations, I suggest using the rules for Bad Back- the rules fit suffering painful dislocations very well.  

Likewise, Chronic Pain also works right out of the basic set. I could see mixing the triggers of Bad Back and the effects of Chronic Pain to simulate bouts of pain triggered by unwise physical activity, which is true to my experiences with my friend.

Distinctive Features covers the Blue Sclera as a Quirk.

Now in real life, OI can lead to additional effects, some of which will come down to a case-by-case basis:

  • Hunchback, per basic set, in the case of deforming types of OI
  • Lame (Crippled Legs or Paraplegic), or One Arm, or No Manipulators in the case where OI leads to compression of the spine, resulting in nerve damage that causes one to use the use of their arms/legs.
  • Loss of Basic Move

And for Cinematic Icing:
  • Flexibility (Double-Jointed), if the Hypermobility has beneficial uses, although people with Ehlers' Danlos Syndrome are better fits for it.
  • Bonuses to Weather Sense, or Detect (Low Pressure Atmospheric Conditions) since we all know bone breaks react to atmospheric pressure.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

My first rules botch- Stratego

My mother has a battered set of Stratego, an older version released sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. A blue bomb piece was missing, but we usually compensated by making red remove a bomb as well. I was taught by my mom, and frequently played with my cousin Sharon while she babysat me as a young kid.

Stratego seeks to emulate Napoleonic Wars of attrition, featuring a constrained map where pieces move one square at a time and the main approach to your enemy is three two-square wide channels with impassable lakes or the board edge to the left and right.

The victory conditions in Stratego are simple- kill every piece your enemy has that can move (Flags and Bombs are immobile), or capture the enemy's flag.

Stratego is a meat grinder. The strength of pieces is known only to their player- and all pieces are rated on a 10-point scale for strength. In older versions, smaller numbers were stronger, much like AC in 2ed AD&D (Which I'll use here). You can only discover the strength of opposing forces by attacking- a risky venture as discovering that you just walked your 7 into your opponent's 2 means losing the 7. Ties result in both pieces dying in a Pyrrhic Victory.

My family generally played with the following understanding:

  • Scouts (9) can move and attack in the same turn
  • Bombs destroy any attacking piece that is not a Miner (8). When attacked by a Miner the Bomb is removed. Bombs are not removed upon killing attacking pieces.
  • Victorious attacking pieces advance into the square of the defeated piece
  • Victorious defending pieces do not advance into the square of a defeated attacking piece
  • Moving a non-scout piece to the far end of the board (similar to a pawn advancing in chess) allows you to rescue a formerly captured piece, which is placed on your starting side of the field. This may be done 3x per game, but each individual piece may only rescue once.

But, Sharon and I didn't read the rules closely enough, because there's this cool piece called the Spy.

At the top of the Stratego foodchain, you have the Marshall (1). The Marshall is a force of nature, capable of cutting down swathes of troops, only challenged by Bombs and the enemy Marshall in the absence of the Spy. 

The Spy is squishy, and dies to any attack, while also dying when attacking other pieces. But, if the Spy Attacks the Marshall first, the Marshall dies. At that point the Spy can just sit around body blocking, preventing Scouts from blazing across the battlefield and taking unprotected flags, or something I guess.

But Sharon and I didn't understand the rules that way. We'd unknowingly played with a much deadlier set of rules:

If the Spy Attacks, it wins (except against bombs). If the Spy is attacked, it dies.

This made a game that was already a stark look at attrition and added a game of monstrous glass cannon chicken into the mix as well. The spy could annihilate and cut through an opposing enemy army, but any scout could quickly end its reign. Attacking the wrong bait could cause the Spy to advance into the defeated piece's space and fall victim to a piece lying in wait.

Previously, the Spy was best used hidden, unobtrusively placed to sneak out and get the drop on the Marshall, a contingency to the piece in the game meant to be a force of destruction.

With our rule, what was an elegant and subtle duel became a frantic dance to find an opening that would allow for taking out one of the deadly duo, without losing half of your own in the process.

Now that I'm significantly older, I've played Stratego with both sets of rules. As far as screwing up rules go, the unintentional change we made to the Spy wasn't game-breaking, unlike the scores people who never ran auctions for unpurchased Monopoly properties (let alone the insanity of allowing free parking to accumulate a pool of money).

I'd say that this rules botch is a viable rules variant. It can overall speed the time a game of Stratego takes because of the rapid death experienced by armies as the deadly duo comes through town, and it simplifies the Spy's role by making its interactions with other pieces more universal. Highly suggested when playing with young kids looking for a more action-packed board game.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

My Players, and Working with them

Every gaming group is different. I do believe there is a spectrum that most people fall on between Thespian Method Actor and Hack N'Slash Munchkin. It's safe to say that a normal distribution is probably appropriate- most players appreciate a mix of both, and the populations of fanatics tapers down on either side.

That said, groups also differ on how they approach problems, how much they like to plan and prepare, and even on how much in-character banter they want to have.

So I'm going to talk a bit about my players, and how I adapt my games to run more smoothly with them.

As a Group:

  • Group preference is for text-based campaigns. When I floated using voice chat reaction was nearly unanimous that text was the preferred medium.
  • Pace of play is fairly slow and methodical- while not nearly as slow as PBP, it's still objectively on the slower side.
  • Every player is capable of not being in the spotlight. It is hard to overstate just how easy this makes things for me. Try as I might, occasionally someone gets injured and has to recuperate, a single PC dominates the screen time of a session, or someone gets stuck on overwatch outside while the stealthy party within aces things and no outside threats emerge. None of my players have ever raised this as an issue.
  • Engagement is generally high- this is aided strongly by the text format and the maturity of my players. It's highly unusual for people to be unaware of what's going on in game- largely sidestepping issues of having to catch people up on recent events because they went to go pee, or were stacking dice, they got bored because their PC had nothing to do, or had to help their roommate snap out of a flashback.
  • The group is Focused. Everyone is highly aligned on the group goal, and having their PC contribute to the mission. This group does a really good job of not deeply exploring what I consider to be roleplaying empty calories- wenching, asking what booze is available at the bar, etc.
  • The group thrives off preparation, planning, and executing their strategies. While willing to improvise when needed, they generally take a very methodical approach.
  • Pinebox as a campaign doesn't have a huge emphasis on Roleplay, with more focus on the tasks at hand for the PCs. That's not to say that the Players don't Roleplay their characters, it's that they've rolled with the pacing and campaign structure. This goes back to how focused they are.

Individually:

I'm going to use the PCs names as pseudonyms for my players to maintain their privacy.

Gaston is the newest player to join the group, currently playing the team doctor/demolitions expert. He's attentive and does a really good job playing up the generous/selfless nature of his character. Being last to the table and chargen, he filled in missing skills for the group, and has crushed it ever since, which isn't always easy in my games. I might encourage him to consider playing a face the next time a new campaign comes around.

Otto is one of my two players who have stuck around since Agency 17. Otto's instincts for combat tactics are among the best in the group- if he's thinking it's a good time for a retreat, it's probably time to get out of dodge. Otto frequently keeps me on my toes, oftentimes recalling old plot points, NPCs, or piecing things together from clues. He pays way more attention to things than he lets on.

Alex is a long-time IRL friend. His flexibility and overall competence has allowed him to fill numerous roles within the group- from skulk, to hacker, to combat heavy. It's really hard to single out things that make him such a good player, although I will say having the shared context of knowing him about a decade does make dumping specific things into the game much easier. For example, I knew he'd know what the Mirai Botnet was when I referenced it in-game.

Hassan has continually been the one stuck with the leadership role in the group since they participated in my Agency 17 campaign. I largely think this is due to his good executive function and capability to break problems down into actionable items. We have a rapport where he seems to just innately get how things function in my campaigns- which means that if he whips up a plan, there's a high chance his enemies are going to be in for a lot of pain.

Kujo has had the most PC deaths/injuries out of any of my players, a consequence of their preference for playing combat heavies. Kujo is starting to grow into being the closet thespian of the group, steadily improving their roleplaying and characters since their beginning losing their PC session 1 of Prohibition Mob. Kujo's often responsible for bringing a little bit of zaniness to things, helping bring humor and vibrancy to what's going on, all while being just as laser focused as the rest of the gang.

Accommodations :

Currently, we've been playing Pinebox for 122 weeks- 2.3 years. At this point we've settled into a steady rhythm, so it's not so much of active accommodations as it is continuing what already works.

  • I generally allow the players ample time to plot, plan, and discuss their next actions. Obviously this doesn't apply when combat's going on or they're on a crashing plane, but there are very few situations where they're rushed.
  • I put a large emphasis on allowing the players to decide how they want to pursue their goals. While the campaign has rails ("Your objective is to prevent Imprint Technology from being finalized"), those rails aren't very restrictive. As the plot demands I might throw constraints at them, but the onus is on them to decide what they're doing.
  • I do my best to telegraph information to my players when appropriate. They're playing badass operatives, they might just have a hunch that someone approaching them can throw down without needing to roll. Their planning habits also thrive off having information at hand.
  • I occasionally skip skill checks when it's obvious success would be trivial for their characters.
  • I stop play when it's clear that I'm getting gassed or need time to plan out ahead.
  • I allow the players to create unfair situations for their enemies and then curbstomp them.
  • I don't fudge results in combat, and the group has occasionally gotten caught with their pants down, wound up in an unfair situation, and almost got hosed because of it. ("Overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.")
  • Enemies generally don't have good enough intel on the players to specifically plan for their individual capabilities.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Observations on GMing Mistakes and Momentum of Play

Some sessions are going to be less energetic than others. Maybe there's a person at the table having a difficult day. Maybe there's multiple players having difficult days. Outside of the external factors, campaigns will naturally ebb from high energy to low, as the story has its beats, rising actions, climaxes, and the fallout.

That said, if a GM mishandles things, it can completely grind a group's momentum to a crawl.

Preparation, usually the lack thereof:

It's on the GM to prepare enough that they can give the players avenues of action that they can take. This varies depending on genre, but if your players can't seem to come up with something to do, chances are there's not enough prep going into the campaign.

For a dungeon crawl game you should likely have an idea of the dungeon the group is going into, a sense of the denizens, or at least the capability to improv on the fly. For games not quite running on the Felltower wavelength, you really should be fleshing out factions, NPCs, and providing hooks.

It's entirely possible to have players who are looking for a quasi-sandbox experience who will hit that wall of not knowing what to do next- even if they are fully engaged actively trying to find a direction.

If your players seem interested in a hook you improvise the shit out of that hook, even if it's not necessarily what you had in mind, or anything you had planned. That interest, that desire to explore and check things out, that's the flicker of momentum starting. A hook meant to develop sessions later is probably better used now if players would otherwise be twiddling their thumbs.

Be practical about your preparation. You really don't need a full character sheet for most mooks or minor characters. It's often times safe to not have full character sheets even for important NPCs who can be reasonably expected to not participate in combat. It's perfectly fine to only lay out combat traits for combatants, and maybe note important social skills for a character who only serves as a merchant, informant, quest-giver, etc.

Furthermore, If players aren't going to interact with it, don't make it a big focus of your preparation. Having the players being adjacent to the most interesting thing going on in the campaign world is often a bad idea, unless that most interesting thing is invariably deadly (plague, mustard gas, swaths of destruction*, etc). It's pointless to make complex magic systems if your players don't want to interact with a byzantine magical system and instead wonder why their death spells get less DPS than an assault rifle. It's a bad idea to create a massive cosmology/pantheons of Gods if people are largely interested in playing secular or atheist characters.

Leave room to react, only the most linear of games allow for planning things out like a TV show. Games are volatile. Some settings allow for resurrections, some don't. It's not particularly fun to have to ass-pull or fudge something when the dice say that a critical (N)PC just ate a x4 damage headshot putting them well beyond -5xHP. Planning too far ahead isn't practical, especially if it's predicated off actions the players are *supposed* to take.

"I don't want to prep too much until I know what the PCs are doing"

So, this at first brush seems like a chicken or egg problem. GM doesn't want to over-invest in prepping in areas where it won't matter (good), but likely doesn't prep enough for the current situation (bad). I see it as coming from a few factors.

Lack of group direction/purpose. Everyone meets in a bar and then just randomly decide to join up together and form and adventuring crew? We've all heard this cliche, and it's a rotten way of starting a campaign unless you've got a good crew of thespians who want to hammer out why everyone's working together in-character for a session. I vastly prefer having strong purpose for the existence of a group of PCs. 

"You're part of the clandestine organization Agency 17, the existence of which is hidden even from the other 16 members of the US Intelligence Community."
"Prohibition has rocked 1920s New York City, leading to ample opportunities for criminal enterprises and their members to catapult themselves to wealth and infamy."
"You're a group of Augmented Humans hand-picked by an angel to fight off the forces of Hell."
This is almost entirely on the GM, right from campaign conception. Unless you're starting session 1 with a strong sense of what the PC purpose is, or an iron-clad** way of determining it through play, you're already behind the eight ball.

Related to overall group purpose there's Lack of Immediate direction. This usually results when players don't have paths, hooks, or things to do/react to. The players might be rip-roaring to do something, stacking dice and browsing on their phones while the group spins its wheels, but without something to actually *DO* it's pointless. This is almost always a result of not enough prep.

Players need information and context to make decisions. In a linear game, some of this can be taken away ("Your next mission is..."), but for many games players are going to be on the hook for choosing their next objective or goal, and they need a solid informational ground to stand on. They need to know the situation, the NPCs, the factions, maybe cultural or geographical details. It is explicitly the GM's job to provide these details.

Other Momentum Killers:

  • Allowing players to spin wheels too long, and/or rehash the same conversation multiple times while discussing plans
  • Not allowing players enough time to incubate and ruminate on plans
  • Not allowing players the capability to follow up on things they find intriguing
  • Allowing too much focus on extraneous BS (seducing wenches, drinking plans, trivial travel plan details, etc)
  • Specifically tailoring challenges so that a single player has a bad time (because once they clock out, risk of others doing the same goes up)
  • Being overly adversarial with players (Are you here to beat them or provide a fun experience?)
  • Not properly adjusting your campaign style to ensure it suits your players (grimdark campaign + players who just want to goof off = bad time)
  • Making or allowing others to make a player uncomfortable.
  • Not recognizing when things aren't working well and changing course/stopping

*A friend of mine knows someone whose Ranger's favored enemy type is Swaths
**Seriously, if you initial sessions happen and the group doesn't gel or establish a purpose, wrap things up cause you likely just scuttled the campaign right out of the gates.

Friday, April 19, 2019

My thoughts on the SJG/Bill Webb partnership

Like I imagine most of you do, I follow diverse types of people on social media. Two circles I tend to follow closely are GURPS content creators, and those interested in left-leaning politics.

One of my politically minded friends (who is an Exalted aficionado and kickass GM) replied to the following tweet:


https://twitter.com/dorkland/status/1117096486876086272

This obviously caught my attention. GURPS is by far my favorite RPG system, I run it, I play it, it has been my go-to for close to a decade now. I very much like a lot of what SJG does.

But stuff like this is troubling. I've been party to some discussions on the matter among my circles, and seen some of the various posts from those involved.

The central talking point was a single incident of harassment that took place in 2017, at PaizoCon. The victim in that circumstance clearly wants to be done on it and move on, a sentiment I heard expressed as a reason to let the matter drop.

Matt Finch, a partner at Frog God Games, wrote the official statement from Frog God Games:

https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/rpg-industry-sexual-harassment-mentzer-abuse-and-what-do-we-do-about-it.817741/page-35#post-21452429

It's a very measured response, very carefully tailored to make it clear that Finch took the utmost care to be sensitive of the victim, while also very carefully avoiding implicating Webb or shaking the hornets' nest in any way. It's 'empathy' draped in the careful maneuvering of a lawyer seeking to reduce the exposure their client might present after screwing up. Finch is NOT unbiased/impartial, given that he's a frequent collaborator with and an employee of Webb. The conflict of interest there cannot be ignored.

Webb certainly could have attempted to rehabilitate himself- laying low, giving a genuine apology, demonstrating that he's learned from his mistake and changed how he behaves. Instead, his business partner blandly apologized on his behalf.

The line "Bill does deeply regret his actions, and understands that they were inappropriate and upsetting. " has all the sincerity of a defense attorney spinning things to his client's advantage.

The stoic silence, predicated on "Mr. Webb is also under instruction not to discuss this matter in public, in case peripheral details... might allow the identification of the person..." doesn't excuse that an apology could have been made by Webb. You don't have to discuss details to express remorse, and I suspect Bill only regrets that it blew up in his face in a very public fashion.

So it's one incident of harassment, the victim doesn't want it dredged up, Bill's business partner is convinced of his sincere regret, Bill is keeping his mouth shut, no problem, right?

I find the undercurrent beneath all of this frightening- where are the people saying that Bill's belligerent drunken behavior is being exaggerated, skewed, or is inaccurate? It seems very clear to me that Bill's public behavior is consistently toeing the line of how one should conduct themselves at conventions. I would not be surprised in the least to learn of undocumented/unreported incidents, most of which weren't severe enough on their own to present a problem, but as a pattern are very insidious.

I'm inclined to pay attention to that undercurrent.

Enter SJG and The Fantasy Trip. They're an older company, with a founder who is in his grey years, and let's be honest, they're very much a company that hasn't changed much over the years.

But they really should have seen this backlash coming. Times are changing, and with more mainstream attention zeroing in on Dungeons and Dragons and tabletop gaming in general, the behavior of your business partners isn't really something you get to be ignorant of.

Steve's response is pretty lame, more or less stating that people being mad about harassment is no reason to cut off a business deal. The olive branch of giving refunds is a little muted given that they're still putting people on the hook for fees and whatnot- wouldn't want their customers' moral fiber cutting into the business' financial ledgers, after all.

Phil Reed statements in this thread are the closest anyone has gotten to actually stating that Bill Webb's actions at Paizocon were truly egregious. Given even that, the statement is still too sterile to really paint SJG's response as anything but tone deaf at best.

The Tabletop community is still small, especially once you look at authors churning out RPG content. There's not many people who walk that walk professionally, and that contributes to the formation of an echo chamber. Maybe SJG didn't hear the rumors, the undercurrent, and was blindsided by the accusations, being trapped within the chamber. Maybe the other voices in the chamber are downplaying Webb's actions, and propping up Finch as a reputable source even though Finch's neutrality is disingenuous and deceptive.

That said, I'm not particularly sympathetic that SJG is feeling quite a bit of heat over this. They should have known better than to collaborate with someone who makes the spaces we nerds like to inhabit unsafe for some of the more vulnerable members we share it with. I hope that the wave of refund requests prompts them to rethink their business deals with FGG, and that they will pay more attention to these types of concerns in the future.

I'm certainly going to think hard before putting down money on the next Monster Hunters or Action PDF that tickles my fancy.