Interlude: Pre-Rolling

The author, Brent, a large blonde beardy man with glasses, wearing a grey wizard's hat.

A cunning new hat appears!

Back when I ran a whole lot of Pathfinder on a regular basis, I got in the habit of pre-rolling a bunch of d20 rolls. Before a session I would roll the d20 a bunch of times, say twenty or thirty, and record those numbers in order. Then when I needed a roll for an NPC or a monster, I would simply use the number at the top of the list, cross it off, and carry on. Because I wasn’t stopping to make dice rolls all the time it gave me a certain flow in my GMing; I could glance down, see if something was going to succeed or fail, and continue on without breaking my description. If I started to run out of numbers I would simply roll some more during breaks or when the players were discussing their plans.

I don’t run a bunch of d20 based games these days, but I was thinking about this the other day and wondered if it could be applied to players. What if players pre-rolled a bunch of d20 rolls at the start of their Pathfinder 2e/D&D 5e session? Then as the session goes on, whenever the GM asks for a saving throw, skill check, attack roll, and so on, the player can just pick a number out of their pool. And at the end of a session any unused numbers are tossed, players re-rolling new numbers at the start of each session.

All the elements of a “traditional” check are still there: the player has rolled a d20 and applied modifiers to see if they beat a target number. But pre-rolling grants the player extra elements of choice and control. They can decide how important success is at any given moment. How badly do they want to pass this skill check? Or is more interesting to fail now, maybe preserving success for a future moment? Do they save that Nat20 for a saving throw or an attack roll, and do they use it early in case the session ends before you get the chance?

Added to this, what if you had them pre-roll a set number of times, say ten or fifteen. During play they get the choice: you can roll for this or use one of your pre-rolls. But, once all your pre-rolls are used up in a session, that’s it, you don’t get any more until next session. Do they take their chances or use a pre-roll for assured success? Suddenly that Nat20 pre-roll becomes a precious thing indeed, assuming you can use it before the end of session. And maybe that becomes a way for the GM to reward players, granting allowing them to take one or more pre-rolls into the next session.

Of course this can be done with other systems besides d20 Fantasy. Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek Adventures, Cypher System, for instance, could all use pre-rolls this way. It could also work with Powered by the Apocalypse systems, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the specific game.

I know one argument against this is the potential to lose those amazing moments of rolling a clutch Nat20 or the humorous Nat1 that comes at just the “wrong” time. I would say those moments are still possible, especially if the player chooses between rolling or not. And if you roll a Nat1 during pre-roll, now you can decide: am I going to leave that there and ignore it, or am I going to deploy that a narratively fun moment? A good GM could even make that the basis for allowing a player to carry a good pre-roll to the next session, rewarding the player for using a low roll in an interesting way.

This is something I’m mulling over, but what do you think? Drop a comment below or give me a shout on Twitter, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Let’s Stat at the Beginning, Part One

20230118_113939Back in the Before Times (2022) I talked about taking on a little personal project, to approach D&D 5e as if I were doing a developmental edit on a manuscript. Basically, taking the “just house rule it!” advice we’re barraged with on social media whenever a problem with the game is brought up, and going full out. And given the latest business with the OGL I would be lying if I’m not now approaching this project with a certain amount of glee.

There are a number of places in the rules I could start my revamp. In fact, today I was originally going to revisit two previous articles I wrote about keeping the Stats versus ditching the Stats. But I think a better place to start is with the Stats or Ability Scores themselves, and ask some questions.

From the start Dungeons & Dragons as a game had two big influences: wargaming and bioessentialism. Unsurprising when one of the game’s creators, Gary Gygax, was both a wargamer and a bioessentialist. This isn’t a primer so I will leave it to you to go look up terms which might be unfamiliar. Suffice to say, both of these things contributed to the Ability Scores as we know them today, with all the inherit problems therein. Couple that with multi-edition design choices favoring nostalgia over an honest look at whether these abilities are still useful as they are (spoiler, they aren’t), and right from character creation we are saddled with problems.

Because ability scores are the first thing players generate for their characters in most games, those scores set the tone as far as what type of game can be expected. They signal to players what the game considers important; simply put, if it isn’t important a game doesn’t stat it. By asking you to generate a Strength score, for instance, the game signals that raw strength will be important or useful in the game. So let’s look at what 5e considers important:

  • Strength: raw physical prowess
  • Dexterity: agility as well as hand-eye coordination
  • Constitution: physical endurance, mechanically it also affects hit points (a topic for another article)
  • Intelligence: supposed to indicate memory and reasoning ability, but often defaults to a nebulous idea of how “smart” a character is
  • Wisdom: they don’t really talk about what Wisdom is in the game, jumping almost immediately to the skills and other things it affects
  • Charisma: meant to measure force of personality, but in practice often tied to physical beauty and “sexiness”

Before we look at anything else, we can see that based on solely what D&D does as a game, the first three Ability Scores fit. As the game focuses primarily on combat, for instance, it makes sense you would need to know how hard a character can hit (Strength), whether they can avoid a hit or hit at range (Dexterity), and if they are struck, how well they weather that hit (Constitution).

The remaining three Ability Scores are almost specific to particular character types, as opposed to being generally useful in the same way as the first three. Intelligence is of primary use to wizards and other skill-focused characters, but lies flat on the page for anyone else. Similarly, Wisdom is ill-defined except as the province of the religious folk in the game and otherwise doesn’t come into play except to punish physical-type characters. Charisma could be an Ability of use to everyone, and given how hard folks argue that D&D “does emphasize roleplaying, actually!” you might be forgiven for thinking its presence supports this. But I would argue that, when a particular ability is almost universally considered a “dump stat”, you might need to revisit whether it is working as intended.

So basically we have three Ability Scores which are of vital importance to every character, and three which are situationally important but depending on party build, may not be important to everyone, or even anyone. And yet, every character has to generate these scores, useful or not. Seems like a bit of a time waster, huh? Especially when you consider that, having rolled up these numbers, you never use them again. Oh, you use the bonuses they represent, but the Ability Scores themselves are never rolled against or have any effect on gameplay.

So why have them? And if we’re going to keep them, do we need to keep these ones, or are there better ways to start building a character for the game 5e says it is? What type of game does D&D 5e say it is, anyway?

You have probably heard of the Three Pillars of the D&D game: Exploration, Social Interaction, and Combat. These three pillars are meant to be the focus of gameplay, and there is an expectation good designers and GMs will incorporate all three in a balanced fashion into their designs. In reality, 5e strongly supports the Combat pillar with the bulk of the ruleset dedicated to how that works, allocating only a fraction of its total page count to the other two pillars. When someone is telling you to “just houserule it!” or “make up something that works at your table!”, it’s almost a guarantee it relates to the Exploration or Social Interaction “pillars”.

But what if we took the game at its word, that these Three Pillars are actually equally important? What Ability Scores would we develop to drive home that importance and balance right from character creation?

Come back next week for Part Two, and we’ll look at some options.

Dungeon23 and Me

The Crossroads

The Crossroads

If you’re hanging around TTRPG twitter, chances are good you’ve seen the hashtag “dungeon23” about, along with its companions “city23”, “setting23”, and so on. Search those hashtags and you’ll find all sorts of settings, locations, monsters, magic items, created by the folks taking part, as well as discussion about the ideas behind the projects. But in short, the initial idea was to create a dungeon room a day for 2023 and by the end you would then have a Megadungeon of 365 rooms in which to play. There are variations on this initial idea, thus the extra hashtags, but the overarching goal is simply to create a little bit every day, whatever that looks like. Some folks are using dayplanners to track their progress, others are using journals at hand.

Even though I don’t normally take part in year long challenges like this, I’ve decided to do #dungeon23. It’s been a while since I have sat down and created dungeons, encounters, anything like that, and I like the idea of a quick, simple bit of daily creation. I have been at it since December 28 and so far none of this has taken me more than five minutes each day. But even now, just eight days in, I have an encounter area I could easily set before some players and give them a fun, challenging bit of mystery, horror, and combat.

I’m not creating a dungeon per se, though I’m sure a dungeon will come into it at some point. I actually started with a crossroads, and after populating that with various encounter sites I then detailed one of those sites, The Boggin’s Bottom. From there…we’ll see. But it’s been interesting to write this in snippets and discover connections between sites, and create potential avenues for expanding out of the crossroads as I go.

In order to keep things simple and to use up materials that have been living in storage, I am using only the following items:

  • four Pilot Fineliner pens in red, green, black, and blue
  • a leftover three-ring binder from college
  • various pages of scrap graph paper, punched and put in the binder
  • various mapping aids at hand (a ruler, bottlecaps, etc)

I could get fancy and put in all sorts of highlighted texts, use nicely formatted pages, all that. But I enjoy the concept of using aJan 4 dayplanner, even if I’m going another route. So I wanted something simple like that, but would help me use up some of my large stock of old stationary. Seriously, I have graph paper older than a lot of folks playing in TTRPGs right now, so it needs to get used.

As to how I’m doing this, I am sticking to some simple “rules” for myself:

  • One room, encounter area, or unique location each day, no more
  • Simple map drawing and two lines of description, at most.
  • Colour coded writing: Black for general descriptions, Green for items and treasure, Red for encounters/monsters, Blue for any in-game text (writing on walls, contents of letters, etc)
  • Colour coded mapping: Black for man-made structures, Blue and Green for natural items/formations, Red for traps or dangerous spots.
  • Once I’ve filled a page, that specific location is done, move on.
  • Roughly every week, I can include a page of additional items, encounters, etc. The daily encounters cover the obvious, surface things about a location. But I wanted some options in case the players decide to dig deeper into something, so I or any other GM wasn’s caught flat footed.
  • System neutral, but with an eye toward usefulness with systems like Trophy Gold, Mörk Borg, and so on.

But that’s just how I’m approaching this. If you search any of the hashtags you’ll see a variety of approaches and takes on the initial concept. Frankly, I’m as excited to see what comes out of this from other folks as from myself. I’ll admit to a certain curiosity about who will still be doing this by next December. But there shouldn’t be any judgement attached if someone starts and then stops it. These types of things aren’t for everyone; frankly I’m not sure it’s for me. But I am enjoying it so far and it is just enough forward momentum each day to keep me interested and thinking about the next bit, so far without anxiety. So I’m hopeful I can keep going and I look forward to seeing where things take me.

Looking Forward

Dorklord_Canada_Logo_Wht_BG_Lo-Res.jpg-01This past year was a hell of a ride, and almost nothing about it I would have seen coming from where I was in January 2022. I had just cleared 2000 followers on Twitter, there were so many friends I hadn’t met yet, so many projects coming that weren’t even on my radar. And so many hills to climb that I couldn’t have foreseen; health issues for myself, a cancer scare in the family, going suddenly viral on Twitter. Safe to say, 2022 did not at all go how I figured it might at the start of the year. And as you would expect, that brought both the good and bad.

But rather than linger on all of that, I want to look forward to 2023. After the chaos and derailment of much of the past year, my overarching goal for 2023 is consistency. Achieving that is going to require two things from me: a) doing the thing when I say I’m doing the thing, and b) knowing when not to agree to or take on the thing, so that a) stays achievable. Or more simply put, I have to manage my time and effort so when I say I’m doing something, it gets done.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stay huddled in a corner not doing anything. Over at The Rat Hole I outlined some of my plans for my articles there. Some of that work is going to overlap with projects I already have in mind, because one of the ways I’m going to achieve a) and b) is by using any particular project in as many places as I can. As I said in yesterday’s post, expect a lot more crossover between The Rat Hole and here, but also on my YouTube and Twitch channels.

So what do I have planned? Right now, I have two projects and a more general goal set.

  • Continue producing the Wanderhome Actual Play we presented this past December, whatever that looks like.
  • Revisit an idea I had a few years back called “The Back Catalogue”.
  • Continue to edit for Indie TTRPGs but also get some experience working on projects for larger companies

The Wanderhome AP is going to be the trickiest one to pull off as far as supporting everyone involved so they can do their best work. Put plainly, we need to raise money in order to make this the amazing project everyone involved knows it can be. So that will be a huge challenge. I’ve never crowdfunded anything before; forget learning curve, I may very well be scaling a learning cliff. It might not work, but it definitely won’t if we don’t try.

The Back Catalogue is an idea I had over a year ago and then promptly got too busy to work on. But my thought went something like this: Indie creators are sort of forced into a loop of creating and promoting The Next Thing if they want to gain and keep attention in the TTRPG space. That doesn’t give them much time to promote things they created even six months or a year ago, never mind further back. So what if I did a video every couple of weeks where I picked a creator, and instead of talking about their newest shiny, I do a deeper dive into their previous works, their back catalogue? That could help get their neglected gems out in the world again, and the video would stand as a great intro to their body of work. And if one of the creators I feature also has a new project coming out, I can pair this with an interview over at The Rat Hole to give them as much of a boost as I can.

And finally, more editing! This is more of a goal than a plan, but I feel the need to stretch some more as an editor. While I love working with Indie creators and plan to keep doing that, I plan to go after some freelance work from some larger companies. I want more experience working on larger projects, get a better sense of that entire process. The only way that’s going to happen is to go after it, so go after it I shall.

 There are some other projects I’m still planning out. I had talked about a project called TTRPGeneology which I was going to produce with a friend. Their schedule unfortunately doesn’t allow for working on it now, so I am taking some time to do more digging around and planning. During a hiatus we had taken I had already decided I wanted to fall back into a production role instead of on-screen talent, so that gives me the option to make this project much more inclusive than previously envisioned, which is all for the good. And I don’t mind the extra time; I think this is one of those things that needs to stick the landing from the first show so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.

But planning is downtime work. I’m going to focus on the three things above. I thing those, combined with my plans over at The Rat Hole, are going to yield some excellent things this year. Moreover, I’m excited! Like, “I can feel the excitement through my SAD” excited, which is a hell of a thing and does not manifest often.

In any case, that’s what 2023 is looking like around here. And of course, I want to play games with folks, run games for my friends, all that. So as I am so fond of saying on Twitter: Allons-y!

Solo Saturday Part Two!

Dorklord_Canada_Logo_Wht_BG_Lo-Res.jpg-01This past Saturday was Solo Saturday the First! By every metric I care about it was a rousing success: folks came by and engaged, I had returning viewers, some of the creators dropped by at various points, money was donated to Extra Life, I got new followers, and I played four excellent games. It was a great day!

It was also my first stream as a newly minted Twitch Affiliate, which was fun. I still have to poke around my channel and figure out all the bells and whistles. But that’s something for me to pull together over the next several weeks.

But it definitely went well enough that I’m going ahead with Part Two this coming Saturday, November 26, at 10am MST/Noon EST.


Finishing out my Extra Life Game Day line-up, I have four games on the schedule (all times MST):

In between games I’ll also talk about Extra Life, chat about TTRPGs in general, and talk with chat. But while I am talking with chat there will also be…


This is the one thing I forgot to do last Saturday! Every two-hour block I’ll run a giveaway for a $10 gift card for DriveThruRPG. You must be in chat to win, and if there is no winner in a block, I’ll add $10 to the next block’s gift card. No purchase or donation necessary, just be in chat and be willing to share your email address with me so I can send your gift card.

That’s it! Swing by and enjoy some great games next Saturday, follow the links and pick up the games and play along!

Solo Saturday!

Tomorrow, starting at 10am MST/Noon EST, I am playing eight hours of Solo TTRPGs in support of Extra Life! There will also be chatting, and prize giveaways, and stuff.

“Oo, stuff! Tell us more about the Stuff, Brent!” I will, I promise, but let’s take things in order.


Picking up from where I left off in my Extra Life Game Day line-up, I have four games on the schedule for tomorrow (all times MST):

In between games I’ll also be talking about Extra Life, chatting about TTRPGs in general, and talking with chat. But while I am talking with chat there will also be…


Every two-hour block I’ll run a giveaway for a $10 gift card for DriveThruRPG. You must be in chat to win, and if there is no winner in a block, I’ll add $10 to the next block’s gift card. No purchase or donation necessary, just be in chat and be willing to share your email address with me so I can send your gift card.

“But Brent, what about the Stuff? We want the STUFF!”


20221029_142353As promised, let’s talk about The Stuff. A few weeks ago I cleaned up all of my loose dice and put them back in a large candy jar I use to store them, pictured here. There are a lot of dice in there, in fact there are…actually, why don’t you tell me? Check out this post on Twitter for entry details and the Prize pack. Some pretty sweet indie TTRPGs up for grabs, so don’t miss out!

That’s it! I hope to see you tomorrow on stream and as always, feel free to drop an Extra Life donation if you are so inclined.

Retooling the Draconic Ampersand

Dorklord_Canada_Logo_Wht_BG_Lo-Res.jpg-01I have been playing roleplaying games for most of my life. It’s been my passion and my inspiration since I was ten years old, dreaming of dragons and the deeps of space. Unsurprisingly, I have played a LOT of Dungeons & Dragons in that time. It was my first TTRPG, for a while my only TTRPG. It has sat in the tabletop space, its gravitational force at times waning but never absent. I have at times loved the game and hated the game, and sometimes those times were the same session of D&D. I’ve played it, I’ve DMed it, I’ve organized game days and cons around it. I’ve used it to draw folks into the hobby and I’ve seen it become the vehicle which drove some people out.

“It’s Complicated” doesn’t begin to touch how I feel about Dungeons & Dragons.

One thing that has come up in discussions around D&D’s unsquared corners and oddly built steps, though, is the common refrain from many of the game’s stalwarts whenever someone brings up an issue with the game rules.

“Well, if you don’t like it you can house rule it!”

Now, I’m not opposed to house ruling in principle. In fact it’s been part of the hobby since there was a hobby. I don’t even think I was six months into playing Basic D&D before I was suggesting ways we could do what I considered cool new things in the game. Of course, back then we house ruled not so much to change rules as add to them; the environment was not as supplement rich as it is these days, so we often had to build out aspects of the games we were playing ahead of any “official” expansions, if they ever came. So we love a good house rule around these parts.

I do think there is a discussion worth having about whether I should have to house rule a game for which I paid fifty dollars a book, but that lies outside the scope of this post. Consider a pin firmly stuck in it, we will return in a future article.

So no, I don’t oppose the idea of house ruling per se. But I was giving this a good think the other day and it niggled at me that so much of the house ruling going on is piecemeal in nature. And I mean, of course it would be. It’s happening at individual tables, as differing mixes of player and DM come up with their personal blend called “D&D”. I’ve even done it myself, both at the table and in one-off articles on bits and pieces I would change in the rules.

So all of this is to say, I got to thinking what if. What if someone (spoilers, dear reader, that someone will be me) treated D&D 5e like a broken down classic car. You haul it into your garage and look it over. All the parts are there and more or less functional, and in its current state it is certainly fun to drive. But what if someone…okay, fine, I…took it and instead of fixing a tire here or and a door there, I overhauled it from top to bottom? Just dove in, pulled it all apart, and rebuilt it from the ground up. What would that look like?

“But Brent,” I hear you say, “Why wouldn’t you just write your own fantasy TTRPG? Then you could make it however you want.” And you’re not wrong. But in my heart I know this about myself. I am maybe a second tier writer, and on really good days I have flashes of first tier writing. But I am a first rate editor. There is nothing I love more than digging into a big old pile of words and figuring out how to make them better than they were before. Basically I want to take the D&D books, starting with the PHB, and treat them as something I have been asked to developmentally edit.

Because lets face it, there are so many parts of D&D 5e that exist solely as artifacts to keep older players happy with the game. Let’s take an example I talked about in an article on The Rat Hole years ago: Ability Scores. As I opined then, they serve no purpose in and of themselves. You generate them when making your character, the ability score tells you the bonus you get in that ability, and then you never use the ability score you generated ever again. Sure, the game tells you to raise your ability scores at certain levels, magic items can raise them, etc. So then you blow the dust off this unused bit of crockery, quickly calculate your new bonus (ie, the thing you actually use during play), and toss the ability score back in the cupboard until you need it again.

So why have them in the game? Because so many old gamers would get grumpy if you took them away, it “wouldn’t be D&D anymore!”

I’m proposing to go ahead with this little project under the belief that: a) keeping old gamers from getting grumpy should never be part of a healthy design philosophy, and b) it not being D&D anymore might not be the worst thing.

Keeping the classic car analogy going, this is something I’m going to tinker with in my spare time. Of course I’m going to talk about it here and likely over at The Rat Hole as well. And when I have something in a readable form, I’ll post up a design doc so folks can watch as I add, remove, and flat out redesign all the parts to this classic.

I know other folks have looked at D&D and made their version of a “fantasy heartbreaker” inspired or in spite of it. Maybe this will come to nothing in the end. But from where I’m sitting now it looks and sounds like fun, so I’m going to give it a go. Stick around to see how it all works out.

New Plan!

Logo for Extra Life fundraisingOkay, so last Saturday was Extra Life Game Day and my plan to stream Solo TTRPGs went amazing!

For the first six hours. Then a migraine showed up and ruined the party for everyone.

Obviously this bummed me out for a bit. But I am not one to roll over and give up. So I have come up with a new plan! I’m going to break up the remaining 18 hours of streaming I promised to do over this Thursday, and the last two Saturdays of November, with the usual Thursday night shenanigans thrown in. It’s going to look something like this:

Thursday, November 10

Thursday, November 17

Saturday, November 19 (all times MST)

Thursday, November 24

  • 6pm MST/8pm EST: TBD

Saturday, November 26 (all times MST)

That’s the new plan! Hopefully spreading it out will make it less likely another migraine intrusion will occur. And I think it gives more folks the chance to stop by and catch games they want to check out. And of course, hopefully donate to Extra Life, which is the reason I’m doing all this in the first place.

I’ll tweet out the games and times much like I did last time. I hope you’ll stop by if you can!

There’s No “We” in AI

Dorklord_Canada_Logo_Wht_BG_Lo-Res.jpg-01AI generated art has been the hot button topic in the TTRPG space for the last little while. There are, as so often happens, respected voices in the industry coming out on all sides of the, well, let’s call it a “conversation” to be polite, which it mostly hasn’t been. And that’s understandable, especially as more details about AI sites and how they operate become available.

For those who aren’t on top of this newest development in AI: these sites use keyword/keyphrase searches to amalgamate images from across the internet to create “new” art matching the prompts you gave. As you refine your prompts the AI refines its “creations” and you get closer to the image you want. That’s a very simple breakdown of how it works, you can certainly find a more in depth explanation with clever use of your internet search engine of choice.

People who support this new development in the TTRPG space talk about how it opens up opportunities for them, giving them access to art assets they wouldn’t otherwise have. And at first it can be hard to argue with that, especially when quite a few of these creators come from the marginalized areas of our hobby. When they just want to get their game to market, what harm does it do if they use AI to give themselves a snazzy cover they otherwise couldn’t afford?

Opponents to AI art generation will point out the harm is two-fold. First, if TTRPG creators can write some clever prompts and click a few icons and out comes an art, why would they ever go through the bother and expense of hiring an artist to do the work instead? So the income of artists in the TTRPG space is impacted. Secondly, and at the same time, the AI is “creating” its “art” by doing what computers have always done best: performing millions of calculations and grafting together bits and bobs from various existing art on the internet. Not only is the AI blocking future income for artists, but simultaneously it goes back and steals previous art, often from the same artists.

One could argue that, initially at least, there won’t be a noticeable financial dip for freelance artists. The creators most likely to use this technology first are the ones who couldn’t have afforded to buy art in the first place. But that drop will come when, around the time a small or Indie TTRPG publisher would normally “level up” their products by reaching out for their first pieces of art, they instead keep using the AI. One doesn’t have to get hit by a falling rock to know this avalanche is coming.

I’m not an artist so I can’t speak to whether what an AI generates could be considered art. And frankly I don’t think that argument is important, at least in relation to the TTRPG sphere. What I am is someone who helps publish TTRPGs and has plans to publish my own work in the future. And looking this new tech over and weighing up all my options, I can say without doubt that I will never use AI generated art in anything I publish. Likewise, I wouldn’t knowingly buy any TTRPG that relied on AI images for its graphic design.

Why? I could certainly make the points that have already been made by other artists and creators. There are any number of ways for TTRPG makers to get free and inexpensive art for their projects. Searching DriveThruRPG and Itch will get you access to any number of art bundles, most artists I know with a Patreon have a patronage level which gets you stock art you can use, there are stock art sites…the list goes on, right down to just not using any art in your game.

I know, I know, but if I can be honest for a second? Great art has never saved a bad game for me. If I had a bad time playing your game, no amount of pretty imagery and clever layout will make me pick up that game again. Contrariwise, I come back to games with little to no art constantly because I love the game. One of my favourite games is the ashcan of Crossroads Carnival by Kate Bullock. Beautiful, haunting,  game, the art is sparse. Which fits the game very well, but if the game wasn’t as excellent as it is I would never give the visual aspects of the game a second thought.

Back to why I won’t use AI art. Like I said, I’m not interested in whether it’s art or not, and I think the argument that it will open up opportunities for small creators is shaky as well. Some have tried to say that this is just the march of progress and artists will have to adapt, likening this moment to the invention of steam-powered looms in the 18th century and the effect that had on cottage artisans. I tweeted my reaction to that analogy already, but in short for those who don’t want to click through: the only way that analogy holds up is if the machines created roved the countryside, stealing and stitching together the textiles of cottage weavers. It is not the same and saying it is shows an ignorance of history, economics, and people.

The reason I won’t use AI art is actually pretty simple. I’m most interested in how this affects people in our space, or dare I use that supposedly dirty word, community. And a large portion of our community, the artists themselves, have told us this will directly and indirectly harm them. That’s it. And if we actually want a community and not just a mob with similar interests, we need to listen to them. We can’t call ourselves any kind of a community if we don’t listen to the folks being harmed and take steps to mitigate or eliminate that harm. Marginalized or not, small creator or not, and especially because there are options available, if you have to hurt someone in order to publish your game, is it worth it?

And when the AI comes for the one aspect of your game you currently control, the words, will you still feel the pain is worth it? Think that day isn’t coming? There’s that ignorance of history again.

One thing I want to note because I’ve seen the use of AI-generated art excused because the creators in question are “hobbyist” or part-time creators. I think that’s part of a larger discussion for another time, because discourse about who is a “One True TTRPG Creator” keeps popping up. But I would make two points really quick. One, if someone steals from me, I don’t care if they only steal in their spare time. And two, likewise, once they’ve stolen from me it hardly matters to me whether they fence the stolen goods or not. They’re still stolen.

So that’s where I am with all this. I’m not sure how this is going to play out in the TTRPG space, but I get the feeling it’s going to be messy and noisy. I think we weather the storm by thinking of people first, especially if you have a hard time thinking of artists/creators as people and not just a Twitter handle.

New Year, New Look

Dorklord_Canada_Logo_Wht_BG_Lo-Res.jpg-01Today is my birthday, which seems like a great time to introduce the new site and new look for Dorklord Canada. If you follow me on Twitter you might have known I worked with Allie at ATG Studios to get a unified look and feel to the DLC brand (I almost put brand in quotations, but I didn’t. My online presence is a brand, nothing wrong with that). Allie delivered beyond anything I envisioned and I love the new look.

I’ve spent the last few weeks updating all my online locations, editing some, deleting others, even creating new ones. It feels so good to look at all the spaces I exist online and really see myself there, see the person I want to be looking back at me.

Moving forward, my online presence will focus on the TTRPG hobby and community, focused but not limited to:

  • How TTRPGs can be used to help us improve, individually and collectively
  • How the games of the past connect with the games made today, and what we can learn from both
  • Using my presence in the TTRPG space, whatever that is, to encourage the community to grow and foster marginalized creators
  • Have fun. They are games, after all.

That’s just some thoughts I had today, I’m sure I’ll think more thoughts, I usually do.

So what’s new on the site? I got rid of a few outdated pages and replaced them with more relevant ones. The whirlwind tour:

  • About DLC – I had created a carrd page to hold links to all my stuff, but why use that when I have a website all my ownsome? So About DLC will be the living (regularly updated) repository for everywhere you can find me online. It’s the first place you should look if you need to know something about me; if you can’t find it there, shoot me a DM on Twitter.
  • Need an Editor? – I have no plans to stop freelancing as a TTRPG editor and this is where folks can find out more, or contact me with questions or work.
  • Support – This page outlines some ways in which I can immediately offer support if you’re running a TTRPG charity or fundraising event. And if you like the work I do and can offer a bit of support, this page offers some places to do that. Not going to lie, I’m sort of excited by the TeePublic store. Yes it would be cool if folks got stuff with the DLC “Dragoonie” logo on it, but mostly I’m excited to order my very own Dragoonie mug!
  • Extra Life – My fundraising for Extra Life is ongoing so I decided it need its own page. This is also a living page, I’ll update it with new information and events for whatever year we’re in. If you want to find out what I’m doing for Extra Life, this is where to go.

Basically, my website has become the hub for everything Dorklord Canada, as it should have been. Not that social media, especially Twitter, won’t continue to be my main point of contact much of the time. But if I want something to last beyond Twitter’s cicada-like lifespan, this is where it will live.

And with a solid base under me, I have plans for the future. Keep an eye on my Twitch and YouTube, as well as some other place to be named later. But I am making plans with some amazing folks to make some amazing things. I hope you’ll stick around to see them.