Monday, 3 August 2009

Knights and Knaves and Lunacy

There's been some hilarious and depressing stuff at the Knights & Knaves Alehouse recently. Via Kellri, there's this amazing thread, where a handful of reasonable people try to have a discussion while surrounded by jibbering, bile-filled idiots. It reminds me of one of those chat room discussions on circa 1997, where you'd have two people in a room having a pleasant conversation, punctuated by obscene and nonsensical comments in the background from adolescent boys. Then there's a thread accusing Zeb Cook of being a liar because he doesn't think the 2e ranger was based on Drizzt. (Can you get a more geeky discussion subject than that? It even beats "That idiot thinks Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk!" in the nerdliness stakes.)

And finally there's a nice dollop of Old School Orthodoxy on top, to finish off a particularly bitter-tasting and stodgy cake. Yep, if it was ever in doubt: the OSR isn't so much a revolution as a counter-reformation, and I sometimes get the feeling that some of its supporters rather wish they had the methods of the Spanish Inquisition at their disposal, if only it was legal.

I'm not a member of the Knights & Knaves Alehouse but this sort of thing makes me want to join in. Far more entertaining than what's on TV, at any rate.


  1. @noisms: I learned many things from reading those two threads, chief among them the revelation that folks at K&K really don't like Dragonsfoot. Sad, that.

  2. K&K was founded, at least in part, in reaction to issues with Dragonsfoot, so that's not really all that surprising.

  3. ...But Captain Picard is beter than Captain Kirk! ;D

    But anyway, I've been coming to largely the same conclusion as your second-to-last paragraph.

  4. I like Knights&Knaves. I like Dragonsfoot. I like OD&D Discussion, and I Like the Swords&Wizardry forums, especially since Mythmere went out of his way to invite me there.
    We gamers tend to be self-selecting, sorting and congrecating with like minded others. Each of these sites will develope it's own flavor and specialties, and each is valuable to me in differing ways. If you need your armor repaired, go to the dwarves. If you need a new bow, see the elves. If you need a scroll deciphered, it's the wizards for you. If you just want a good ale, the gnomes are waiting.
    It dosen't matter where you go, there's gonna be some half-orcs waiting to start trouble.
    Steer around those who would interfere in your quest, intrepid adventurers!
    Also, that 2e guy wrapped himself in steaks and walked into a bear den. I don't go to ENWorld and say 4e is teh suxxxorrzz!

  5. Wow. That thread's an eye opener. Some people I know and respect come off well; others embarrass themselves. It's depressing to watch. :(

    Note to self: avoid K&KA, they can smell 2E on you and it enrages them beyond all reason.

    WV: trarbri - an Irish Gaelic dialect word meaning 'word smiting'. Originally used to denote a public contest of abuse between two rivals, it has recently come to mean 'flame war' among .ie netizens.

  6. Just realized:

    I like the Old School Renaissance not because I really care about one system more than another but because they write about more interesting things on their blogs.

  7. I really tend to ignore all that crap. I've got my games, I read cool new material online and in fan mags, and I follow the conversations I want to on blogs. Unless you're in the mood for a knock-down drag-out flame war, that stuff doesn't do much for me.

    That thread is a weird mix. It's like people calmly fighting a forest fire, except that for every 8 minutes someone comes through dumping buckets of lighter fluid on everything.

  8. Patrick: I don't really spend much time at Dragonsfoot, but from a distance the two sites seem practically interchangeable. Except that one has a whiteish design and the other a black.

    James: What issues exactly? I'd be interested to know.

    Rach: All the real Star Trek fans know that Picard is better than Kirk. ;)

    E. G. Palmer: If you're talking about Breault (sp?) I think that's a bit harsh. He was trying to defend Zeb Cook's reputation and that's a worthy goal - I love Zeb Cook's stuff. Of course, he also made (valid) criticisms of Gary Gygax, which was perhaps a fatal error.

    Chris: That's the thing stopping me from joining. Fear of the pitchforks.

    Zak S: Yeah, non-OSR blogs tend to be really anodyne. (Not all, but many.) You need a bit of vitriol in there to keep things interesting.

    Zach: Look at that, two Z's in a row.

    I keep up with these things out of amusement, mainly - I do love spectating at a good flame war. You're absolutely right about that thread. Strangest mix of reasonableness and fury ever.

  9. I'm with Zak S. I dutifully go along for the ride whenever a new edition comes out, but the OSR blogosphere is just such a better read. (While there are very notable exceptions, a lot of 4e blogs just contain a lot of bland observation, uninteresting personal detail, tired speculation, or poorly conceived houserules.)

  10. E. G. Palmer: If you're talking about Breault (sp?) I think that's a bit harsh. He was trying to defend Zeb Cook's reputation and that's a worthy goal - I love Zeb Cook's stuff. Of course, he also made (valid) criticisms of Gary Gygax, which was perhaps a fatal error.

    Am I going to have to start sticking those smiley face things at the end of every sentence?
    I already ticked off Rach once. Et tu Noisms?

  11. Sweet merciful zombie gerbils. As if I needed another reason to avoid K&K at all costs.

    @Chris: Yes, exactly. It's safer over here, where they can't hunt you down on your own blog (as effectively) for daring to like 2e.

  12. Not having been involved in the old school scene at the time, I can't comment with any authority on what precisely caused the split from Dragonsfoot. I believe that it was at least partially a spill-over from the C&C/OSRIC brouhaha, but I think there was also a sense that Dragonsfoot was losing its focus and becoming too diluted by 2e players. K&K is where all the hardcore Gygaxians wound up, but only after several other attempted online venues didn't quite work out (again, for various reasons).

    Even I often find the Alehouse a little too intense and doctrinaire for my liking too (take that as you will), but what everyone needs to realize is that it's a very focused and well established community. The guys there all know one another and have a certain rough and tumble way about them with which the regulars are all comfortable. To outsiders, it all probably seems ridiculous and even a little pathetic but I suspect lots of closely-knit communities feel that way to outsiders.

    But K&K nevertheless remains one of the most lively old school discussion forums around. It's not for the faint of heart and, as I said, even I sometimes grimace when I see what's going on there. That's hardly an indictment of the place, some of whose regulars are very sharp and imaginative within the context for which the forum was created. I can't judge them too harshly.

  13. Dave Joyd: I've noticed the same thing. I wonder why. Maybe by definition the kind of people who reject new editions are genetically predisposed towards orneriness.

    E. G. Palmer: Don't worry, I got that the smiley face was implied.

    Taichara: And yet, it's so very entertaining.

    James: My main problem with it is the hagiography that goes on vis-a-vis Gary Gygax. I have the utmost respect for the creativity of the man, but the way some of the guys over there talk about him you'd think that he was a combination of Nelson Mandella and Elvis Presley.

  14. What can I say? K&K's focus is Gygaxian D&D. I'd frankly be more amazed if they didn't revere his memory the way some of them do. Again, some of them go over the top for even my taste, but where's the harm? I'm certain we all have our heroes and blind spots regarding them.

  15. (cough)Tolkien/Mieville thing(cough)

  16. But Tolkien was a mixture of Nelson Mandella and Elvis Presley!!!

    Okay, point taken.

  17. Interesting threads, thanks for pointing them out.

    The online D&D stuff I tend to like to read is spread out over a bunch of blogs and a handful of web forums (which I'm reluctant to visit out of a general hate of web forums), so pointing out the interesting stuff on K&KA is a valuable service to me!

    Hm, is this where I strike a pose where I'm all like, "Yeah d00d I'm too cool for OSR nerdrage"? Let's assume I do that.

  18. I try to be too cool for nerdrage, but usually fail. Miserably.

  19. There are a few genuine gems of threads squirreled away on that board, but I've always been way too turned off by the constant flamewars to actually post there. I mean, I likes me some old-school goodness, and reading some of the excellent discussions on K&KA about megadungeon and sandbox design have unquestionably improved my game.

    But holy crap, the sheer heights of hero-worship and the frothing nature of the nastier posts are extremely off-putting. I can never quite shake the feeling that I'm walking into a den of rabid bears every time I visit the site.

  20. "But Tolkien was a mixture of Nelson Mandella and Elvis Presley!!!"

    No,no, Mandella and Presley where watered-down versions of Tolkien.

  21. Rob: The recent threads on Zeb Cook and Lorraine Williams are very interesting, even if you do have to ignore the rabid bears to get to the nitty gritty.

    E. G. Palmer: You're quite right, what was I thinking.