Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Complete Moron's Guide To Being A Grognard

With the invention of the internet by Bill Clinton in the late 90s, one side of D&D has been given a whole new level of accessibility:


Wait, no.

Edition wars.

Never before could so many people tell so many other people their game preferences were garbage. As the internet lay across the world like an invisible, bodily-fluid-stained bedsheet, one type of gamer found ascension.

The grognard.

What's a grognard, you ask? It means "old soldier who complains a lot" in French, and to the average gamer, by which I mean the average gamer who plays Dungeons & Dragons or another roleplaying game which isn't as important, it's someone who prefers older editions.

Really prefers.

Now, this isn't necessarily an old people thing - I have several hip young grognard friends. But it's not something you can just fall into. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and assistance from other grognards.

I can't teach you everything. There are some things you have to learn yourself. But this is a start.

STEP ONE: You Really, Really Prefer It

First, obviously, you pick your edition.

It has to be an older edition. Newer editions are, by definition, terrible. So if you're a D&D player (non-D&D examples postponed until I can play a White Wolf game without thinking the word "yiff"), you want to go back to the glory days of 3.5, or 2E.

Now, start liking it. Start liking it hard. Picture this: I really like Eclipse Phase. If Posthuman Studios showed up at my house, I would make out with each and every one of them.

You have to like your edition at least three times that much.

If your edition were Godzilla, you have to be Ms Godzilla. Your edition is so awesome it eats dinosaurs and shits lasers. If your edition were a tornado, your ability to hate it would be Missouri.

Once you're feeling the love, it's time for...

STEP TWO: Everything Else Is Worse Than Hitler

This isn't just a game. It is an religious experience. Changing the game is sacrilege. Liking another edition is motherfuckin' blasphemy. Anyone who likes another edition is not only wrong, they are committing edition genocide.

Read that paragraph, feel that paragraph, until it actually makes sense. Hitting yourself over the head with your core books helps.

It is not enough to really like your edition. You have to hate all others. You have to get out there and tell people, with cleverly reasoned logical arguments, why they are wrong and their editions are awful. You have to show people the light.

If you're having trouble, here's a quick reference for the kind of thought patterns you should be going through.

Older Editions: Good but flawed games, a part of (insert tabletop game here)'s long heritage of excellence and quality. There are rule and balance issues, but nothing that can't (and shouldn't) be fixed.
Your Edition: Streamlined and perfected previous editions to create the tabletop equivalent of an orgasm. Any flaws are either imaginary or trivial matters blown out of proportion by haters.
Newer Editions: Dumbed-down stupid games for babies. Perfectly fine rules ditched in favour of making the game more like an MMO. Way too complex, full of glaring rules errors caused by its unnecessary simplification in the name of "balance".

Which brings us to...

STEP THREE: Love Conquers All, Especially Logic

The following is an actual argument for why 4th Edition's writers are terrible designers from a real person. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Sister_Acacia> Warlock curses have to be used on the nearest enemy. Enemy == Any creature that is not an ally. You are specifically stated to not be your own ally. Therefore you are your own Enemy, so must target yourself.
Sister_Acacia> It's STUPID. We KNOW how it's SUPPOSED to work. But that isn't what they wrote.

Here is the thing: Your edition is the best. Why would you even play the other editions? Therefore, nobody should expect you to even play other editions to know how they are wrong. Skimming the core books, reading about them on the internet, or asking someone else what they are like (preferably a fellow grognard - we'll get to this in a bit) is perfectly fine.

So seriously, write what you like. Think 3.5 fighters are perfectly fine and wizards aren't that powerful in comparison? Go ahead, post that. Is your main arugment for hating the latest edition that it just doesn't "feel" right? What the hell, knock yourself out.

The best part is nobody can prove you wrong. If someone posts a response which appears to, say, find glaring logical contradictions in your argument, or point out Gygax never said that, or make a convincing counterpoint to your proposals, well, fuck them.

Never "admit" you are wrong. This is the Internet. Do you know, really know, who you are talking to? Can you prove they are not some kind of internet vampire who drains the life force of those it perceives weak? No. No you can't.

So if you happen to come across a post like this, take a deep breath and post as many of these as you can:

  • I am simply stating my opinion. Opinions cannot be wrong.
  • This is just how I feel. This is what it feels like to me. You don't understand me, mum.
  • You are such a corporate sellout, just like (insert company here).
  • That's just your opinion, and your opinion is wrong.
  • I'm sorry (favoured edition here) was too deep for you.
  • If I wanted to play a videogame I would resubscribe to World of Warcraft, you MMO-loving turtlesurfer.
  • My edition is clearly the best, despite its "flaws". Therefore, you are wrong.
  • Show me one person who agrees with you/who actually likes this! (Or some variation. Increase number as needed to at least n+1, where n is the number of sources damaging to your case.)
  • Thanks for misinterpreting my post. Nobody understands me.
  • Really? Because my group tried playing this game, and we stopped after ten minutes.
  • You are a heretic!!

Honestly, you would use the keyboard to wipe your bottom and then use your hands to press the POST button once you have recovered from the pain and it would still be just as solid an argument as, say, anything a WotC developer posts about why they made the game-destroying rules changes that they did. Probably better, really. On that note:

STEP FOUR: You Are The Core Audience

You bought the core rulebooks. They owe you, now.

Something a lot of people forget when they are talking to a grognard is that they are talking to a true fan. If you weren't a true fan, you wouldn't have purchased all the older books, would you? You wouldn't have been around for that. You probably would have been off writing wanky meta blog posts, or something.

And who is most important to the company? The true fans.

When you make a new edition, you are trying to bring in more fans. Same reason Blizzard pumps out more WoW expansions. The problem is, unless you consult the community and listen to reason from long-time fans of your game, you are clearly going to make mistakes and alienate your core fanbase.

Well, that's what they did. They have abandoned you, and by extension they have abandoned the core principles of the game and sold their souls to the roleplaying game devil (sacrilege, remember). Therefore, you know better than them.

If you're complaining about the game, especially on the Internet (which is, let's face it, where you are anyway), be sure to mention this. A lot. "Open letters" to the developer of your choice, calls to have whoever came up with this garbage issue a public apology before being fired and demands for a reprint of all your favourite books (they sold so well the first time) are all good.

Don't be afraid to give the company of your choice financial and business advice. If they knew how to do business, they wouldn't have lost yours.

STEP FIVE: Grey Is A Stupid Colour For Dumb Babies

Learn to think with binaries.

There is a right and wrong. Specifically, there is your way, which is right, and then there is everything else, which is wrong. No middle ground.

You cannot like the latest edition and the older ones. You can't say there are huge flaws in a product and like it anyway (unless you're a hipster, which makes you wrong). You can't have broad tastes; once you have found the perfect edition, why like anything else?

It helps if you can come up with a condescending nickname for people you don't like. Broad categories work - equating opponents to animals, pre-sapiens homo, or the disabled is fine. Depending on your tastes, there may already be a special, clever, mature term for people who like the edition you don't:

  • 4rries
  • 3tards
  • 2dimensionalobjects
  • 1flyingoverthecuckoosnest

If you're up to it, you could also come up with some arbitrary terms to define what is and isn't an RPG, at least to you. Don't worry if they make no sense. The important thing is that things you like are covered by the "good" term.

STEP SIX: Finding Fellow Grognards

Once you've started to get the hang of it - you might want to start by practicing in a mirror, or shouting at a teddy bear or small yappy dog - you want to find an online community, if you haven't already. People to sympathise with you, pad your ego, and mentor you in the ways of the grognard.

This is tricky.

Ideally, what you want is an active community with a large percentage of people who share the same views as you and a low percentage of people who disagree - forums who ban the latter are perfect, but good ones are harder to find for some reason.

There are plenty of places who are fine with you grognarding it up, though:

  • Paizo Messageboards: Perfect for the pro-3.5 grognard, you cannot swing a lolcat around this forum without hitting someone who believes Pathfinder is "true" D&D and Bulmahn is Gary Jesus. You'll have to be familiar with Pathfinder's product, but let's be honest, if you bought Wizard's books you already are. EDITION WAR SLAMWICH!
  • ENWorld: Here the posters you're looking for are not so much "grognards" as "rubbish". Amidst the sea of awful posts, you will not attract too much attention and ire. Perfect for the starting grognard or fourteen year old.
  • RPGnet: If you post something grognardy here, you will get sucked off faster than Jason Bulmahn would if he asked for one on the Paizo boards. Oh, and if you like actual RPG discussion this place will suffice too I guess. (What is wrong with you?)
  • TGD: The Gaming Den is basically ENWorld for people with self-diagnosed Asperger's.
  • Blog Communities: There are quite a few shitty D&D blogs nobody reads out there. Make friends in the comments pages! If you find a grogblog that resonates with you, maybe the author hangs out in some other community and you can go there to find some new friends.

REMEMBER: Practice Makes Perfect!

Obviously, I can't teach you everything. I am but one man - though I hear the ladies prefer the term "one sexy chunk of man meat" - and grogging is one of those things that takes a while to master.

Don't worry too much about it. What's important is, you're playing what you enjoy, and that's a good thing. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Fuck that other guy's game choices though.


Anonymous said...

Huh I now the word Grognard differently.

It means a real traditional gamer.
Who plays ASL and looks down on children's games like D&D in general.
He even gets some solo play.

He would never touch a computer game that isn't made by SSI,paradox of tarn addams.

Ettin said...

The word really gets around!

Jenx said...

Awww come on now, why the hate on /tg/? Yeah it's still 4chan, but I've had some pretty fun reads there.

Also I'm not sure if I'm completely correct on what the guide is saying - if I do not much care for any D&D, does that make me wrong or REALLY wrong?

Ettin said...

I kid! Mostly. I used to post heavily on /tg/, but now I browse it occasionally. I was put off after 4th Edition came out and every other thread was a troll thread, and every other one of those was LogicNinja on a personal crusade to defend 4E from a horde of trolls.

Also, that just means either:

a) You like a different game more, and if that game has editions, find-and-replace "D&D" with that game and you're good to go, or
b) According to step 5 you are clearly wrong for trying to occupy a middle ground that doesn't exist.

Urch said...

I hate pathfinder because of the people who play it now. But that's less mechanics and more snobbery.

Jenx said...

@ Urch
Actually the same can be said for most games, really. Well except F.A.T.A.L. That one's just shit.

I kinda stopped visiting after the edition wars bullshit too, mostly since I didn't care either way. That and after Dorf Quest ended I barely had any other reason to stick around. Haven't been to that place in ages, I just check suptg to see if someone archived something interesting - the coward's way out, I guess, but who gives a fuck?

Hyaenadon said...

Much warhammer threads these days...