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Off-the-cuff Forge cultural analysis

Started by Clinton R. Nixon, December 05, 2002, 02:53:34 AM

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I'm Oliver,
30 years of age, german by nationality, though currently working in Dallas on a graduate degree in molecular biology. (Been in the States since summer 1999) If I occasionally have any spare time, I spend some of it practicing longsword combat with the local ARMA study group. Should I have lots of spare time and cash, I visit my family ;) My mom actually lives in France most of the time, in the region where the Albigensian crusades happened, which sports Europe's largest contiguous medieval fortification, a city reconstructed from the ruins during the last century. Much to her chagrin, I usually set some time aside to drop by a local RPG store when I'm with her to get some french RPG stuff and chase her up the hills to see some castles ;) (Well, the latter she does voluntarily, to be honest ;) )

Tim Denee

I am Tim Denee, an 18 year-old half-Dutch New Zealander (with a tiny bit of indonesian thrown in for good measure). I lived alone last year, I'm living at home this year, and next month I'm going flatting.

I have just completed my first year of university, where I did some random BA papers (philosophy, music, anthropology). They were all interesting, but none really inspired me. Next year I'm working full time for some cash, and the year after that I'm trying my hand at a graphic design degree (I think that will work for me).

I have extremely broad musical tastes. Right now I'm listening to some Michael Franti (playing in New Zealand next monday!).

I'm a Tekken nut. I bought a PS2 solely for the purpose of playing Tekken 4 and Tekken Tag.

I've been doing Okinawan Goju-Ryu karate for 9 months. It's the best thing I've done this year. I love it. I'm currently a 9th Kyu (blue-belt). God willing (well, finances willing) I'm going with the dojo to Okinawa next year for the annual two week training camp.

I'm pretty calm/easy-going, but also rather insular. I need a lot of personal space.  On the other hand, I love nothing more than sitting around with some mates, having a few drinks/puffs, and just talking about whatever.

My top ten favourite movies include Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction, Nightmare Before Christmas, Monsters Inc, and Fight Club.

I'm a hardcore lurker at the Forge, but I don't usually have much to say.

Lately I've been in the unemployment-rut, so I haven't been accomplishing much of anything, including any of the fun RPG stuff I want to work on.

I love Bruce Lee!

Matt Wilson

I just now noticed this thread's new take. Neato. I'll join in.

I'm Matt Wilson. I'm 32 one month ago today. I lived in Rockford, MN until 1984, when my family moved to Washington. Aside from college, I've lived in the Seattle area ever since.

I spent a year in Copenhagen as an exchange student, which included gaming with Danish friends (it also included alcohol). I'm a white guy, but don't have any danish ancestry. It still strikes me as funny how many Danes asked me "so what are you doing here?"

I'm in a long-term relationship. 4-years now. Be quiet, that's long to me. She's getting her PhD in Human Geography and wants to be a professor. She's studying stuff that really challenges me, and I think that's awesome.

I got a degree in English. I work in high tech (in Seattle? No, surely not!) in Marketing Communications. I get paid to write stuff, although it's not often what I'd call "fun" writing. I lean to the left politically. I'm not religious, but I'm not actively not religious. I'm only slightly politically active, but I leave gamers alone unless they ask.

When not playing games or thinking about playing games or trying to design a game, I like to write and play music. If we're around a campfire and you've had a few beers, you might think I'm all right. Or maybe many beers. My old 4-track just died, and it really bummed me out.

I haven't said much about gaming (whoops)... Got the basic set of D&D (the one with the holes punched in the book) for my 11th Birthday. Much preferred Star Frontiers, though. The most gaming I've done in my life has been in the last few years. I like games with narrative elements, but I haven't decided about the "ist" part. I like Premise, but I want to come up with my own instead of having one supplied for me. I think designing and playing roleplaying games is a great creative outlet.


Gordon C. Landis

What the hell - though I'm waiting for some "voice from above" to thunder about how this thread is wildly inappropriate, maybe the chance to reveal a little personal info will help me understand this "internet community" thing.  I'll try and select interesting details . . . .

Gordon Campbell Landis, born 1963 in Connecticut.  We'd've probably been firmly middle or upper-middle class almost anywhere else, but here, we just squeaked into middle class.  Dad's a French/Irish American mutt, including some Native blood my grandma literally tried to erase from the family tree.  A Marshall Plan Army vet, he became an auto machinist and eventually started his own shop with a couple partners - who he can't get to sell the damn building and let him retire now.  He vividly remembers going to NYC to watch Cousteau narrate the then-silent versions of some of his early documentaries, but quit diving - and smoking - after surviving a collapsed lung.  Mom's a 1st generation Scottish-American.  She lost her only sister in her teens, due to botched anathesia during an appendicitis operation.  No, there was no law suit, they just made sure the anesthesiologist would never work in the field again.  She was a hospital nurse of various capacities for many years, then became a medical insurance reviewer before retiring.

I've got one sister (Art MFA, teaching credentials, but no jobs there - she eventually found a corporate job), and a wonderful niece and nephew.  I stumbled through about 3/4 of a college CS and/or Creative Writing education (with many fits and starts through most of the 80's), worked part time at jobs that'd look half decent on a book dust jacket (Woolworth's stockboy, lumberyard attendent, industrial painter, retail clerk/manager, and more) with a far more diverse group of folks than I met in HS, then headed out West (in '89) to work at a software consulting business with a high school buddy and his partner Dave, who was dying of ALS.  Built a bunch of department-level PC-based db apps for companies like PG&E, learned a LOT from Dave, both technically and otherwise.  Ran the business for a while after Dave died, even for a year or so after my school buddy decided he wanted out, but running your own business is a ton o' work.  Joined a software startup in the mid-90's, got the stock options, got layed off, got rehired, went through an (unneccesary but in many ways merciful) bankruptcy and buyout (yes, that means the options aren't worth squat).  I've ended up doing more managerial stuff than I ever thought I would, and we're now owned by a company HQ'd back in New Haven, CT.

Raised in a strangely traditional-yet-liberal Episcopalian church, which I think was a good thing, though I've not much use for organized religion as an adult.  I think I'd like to be a "spiritual agnostic" - I once knew a guy, a former stage magician who was into Celtic spirituality, who could pull it off.  Fully aware of all the ways people can fool themselves into believing nonsense, even how to help 'em be fooled - and yet fine with looking at the world in some very spritual/mystic ways.  But I tend to end up more with the scientific/agnostic bit.

Living with the amazing and wonderful Jenny, a California native from just outside Santa Cruz who brings joy to my life in many, many ways.  It's going on 7 years now, and having survived some recent rockiness, I think we may actually be making it work.

Started gaming in junior high with AH's wargames (the WW II North Africa game sticks in my mind), and mail-ordered one of the early vers of OD&D.  RPGs were just another slightly-geeky (like working for the school newspaper or being in the Drama club) activity through high school.  I was VP and then "co-DungeonMaster" of our school D&D club.  The 80's were rough for me and gaming (what happened to *nice* people who gamed?), but when I moved out West I fell in with some good folks (Talislanta!  SMS is from my hometown, and I never knew until I was in San Jose).

Lifelong, fairly ecclectic reader (I'm told I came back from the first day of kinderagrten crying 'cause "my daddy said they'd teach me to read and all we did was PLAY!").  Lots of fantasy, SF, non-fiction.  I retain a peripheral interest in contemporary poetry from my college education, but most current literary fiction leaves me cold.  Main thing I seem to have missed out on is comic books and horror movies - I picked up a few, but somehow they never made it into the core of my geek-mind.

I was into rock climbing and caving for years, but got out of shape and haven't done it in quite a while.  Jenny and I really enjoy trail riding on horseback - we've been in Alsaka, Idaho (several times), and (just recently) Belize on horseback, and it's just fantastic.  I'd like to own some horses someday.

And jeez, I think that's long enough!

Gordon (under construction)

Jason Lee

It's like a can't help but get swept up in it.

My name is Jason Lee.  I'm white, 6', and 180 lbs.

Those are both last names.  My biological father lives somewhere, and does something, but I can't tell you what he looks like.  I'm 26, the first decade of my life was spent moving around from place to place for no apparent reason (I think I hit somewhere between 12 and 15 public schools in my life).  Sometimes we felt like living in a tent in Oregon, or on the beach in Texas, or in a motel in Las Vegas, or a custom built log cabin in Michigan...again for no apparent reason.  People say: "Ah, a military brat", I say: "Yeah, whatever...that would have purpose".  Despite my apparent bitterness those were actually the happiest times of my childhood.  I spent the rest of my life mainly in Colorado (though, for some reason we had to move all over it too).

I dropped out of high school (I like to say I was the only drop out in Calculus...makes me feel good I guess).  I tried to return to high school after a couple years in the real world.  Now, I didn't like the treatment I received from the administration in high school to begin with, but the amazing thing is you don't know how much they treat you like dirt until you get out.  Two jobs, and a negative attitude kept me from finishing once again.  (The GED took 4 hours...If I'd known that when I was, the misery I could have avoided).

A few years later I'm done washing salad for $4.25 an hour...I work as a Unix systems administrator as a sub contractor at the mammoth beast that is HP/Compaq.

I'm firmly agnostic, but have some strong views on what 'evil' truely my views don't mesh well with a lot of religion 'as it is written'.

I'm pretty into the martial arts...getting my yogurt out of the fridge is a training exercise if someone is standing in my way.  I've slipped to practice three days a week (down from six) because of scheduling and injury issues.  Get me properly started on martial arts discussion and I'll never shut've been warned.  I was a wrestler in high school, I'm creeping up on my fourth year of Aikido, and two years ago I started cross-training in Jujitsu (so I could get more practice slamming into the mat).

I find this method of communication somewhat intimidating as I cannot cover up intellectual weaknesses with good looks, charm, intimidation, or mind reading.  I've been called Creepy Jason girlfriend calls it 'rougish'...who happens to be Ziriel (and I did kerthwap her about the marraige thing).  Now I'm getting shit because I can't even spell marraige.
- Cruciel

Jack Spencer Jr

I don't get how this tread wound up being like this, but I'll play.

My name is Jack Edward Spencer Jr. I was born somewheres in the area of Rochester NY. My parents split up when I was about 10 or so and this kind of screwed me up. I moved around a bit as a kid, not nearly as some, apparently, but enough to make me rootless, but not enough to make me a wandering spirit by nature. I had lived all across New York State, from Buffalo to NYC.

The beautiful thing about it is part of the reason my folks split up is because my father got religion out of the clear blue sky, or so it seemed. This means I firmly blame God for my troubles. Doesn't help that he got religious pretty close to the whole Jonestown thing. But anyway...

I was always pretty introverted as a kid, but I retreaded even deeper after this crap went down. But I would somehow manage to find at least one friend wherever I went.

One friend I had, Matt Evans, introduced me to D&D. I was already a video game nut. Roleplaying games seemed like a great idea for a video game. After a time, I learned to appreciate them as their own thing. The funny thing is, I was introduced to D&D shortly after the "Red Box" version, which was @1983. I didn't get into a regular game until 1993 when I met "Ted" He is the only GM I've ever played with for any length of time. This worries me because This sort of situation tends to lead one to believe that everyone else is like their group.

Lately, I've been wanting to stretch myself as far as RPGs go. This has created a riff of sorts between myself and "Ted." We just do not speak the same language anymore.

I am afraid there isn't much else to add to that, really. At least I can't think of anything. I really don't like talking about myself. I find me boring.

J B Bell

Man, this is like the old days on the 'net.  I never get to do confessionals anymore.  Cool.  :)

So, my name is J B Bell.  Yes, really.  That is on my passport, driver's license (which I have in spite of never driving, and being not really able to drive), Social Insurance card, etc. etc.  No, it wasn't always my name.  The American border guys hate it when I visit down there.

If you do net searches on me, you'll often see a "Rev." prepended to the name.  I'm a minister in the Universal Life Church from back in the day when you had to actually send in an SASE to get your ordination.  I've performed three weddings, and would probably be doing one or two more soon, if it weren't for Canada's barbaric laws about what counts as a church.  I went from being a Discordian as a joke to being a Gnostic and "Chaos Magician" for real (well, as real as that gets anyway), and a neo-pagan, and anyway, finally settled on Buddhism, where I'm quite comfortable now, except for the constant reminders of how far I have to go; but then, I figure that's part of how you know you're on a proper path--it doesn't stroke your ego.  If I'd been raised Christian, I'd probably be a Jesuit.

I rankle at religious dilettantes, but don't take it as seriously as I appear to.  I play harmonica surprisingly well considering how infrequently I do it.  Up until a year ago, I was a Unix sysadmin and figured that was what I'd be doing for a while.  A humbling year later, it appears no one in Vancouver actually pays to use Unix anymore, and if I'm lucky I'll be a bookshelver in the Richmond Public Library next week.

My wife teaches yoga and is also a Buddhist.  Like me she's also a bit hardcore about social justice issues and this causes some static with the "yoga community" in town.  It also gets her some admiration, since her political stance was shown to be sincere after I was laid off and she didn't have a comfy income to fall back on.  We've been married almost five years and are still disgustingly cute.  No kids, but we talk frequently of doing foster parenting.

Oh, yeah:  gaming.  Well, strangely enough I started not with D&D but with T&T (that's Tunnels and Trolls), which I still remember fondly.  Had a real tight group of seriously warped peers who mostly played GURPS for years until post-college years sent us mostly to California.  I rebelled and went to Philadelphia, then back home to Albuquerque at 25 or so, and met my wife and now I'm in Vancouver.  I had to sell all my guns.  I still miss them, and let me tell you other gun people, being a "gun nut" up here in urban Canada is not very much fun.  I keep my mouth shut, anymore.

On the other hand it's pretty easy to be a bi/poly person (hi, you other two), at least socially, and we have a boyfriend who is fun and exasperating.

I write a bit, tend to donate my sysadmin time anymore, and run my own little freebsd/linux/Windows (it's her machine) network.  And I do game design, in a rather desultory fashion.  Overall I like world-building better than system stuff.  I hope to someday get a degree in Chinese Medicine, get computers out of my life entirely (at least for a while), and meditate more than once in a while.

I pretty much like everyone I hear from on the Forge.  Oh, yeah, and I'm white (terrifyingly so--ancestors actually came over on the Mayflower), 32, and I shave my head to about 3 mm.  I wear glasses, and my cowboy hat excites comment in Vancouver.  It takes the edge off all the black I favor in my wardrobe.

"Have mechanics that focus on what the game is about. Then gloss the rest." --Mike Holmes

Ted E. Childers

I'm always up for sharing :)

My name is Ted Earnest Childers.  I'm 27 years old and live in Huntsville, Texas (Yep. The execution capitol of the world.  We also have a huge statue of General Sam Houston.  It's the 2nd largest statue in the US (next to the Statue of Liberty) and it's the largest statue of an American Hero).  I've lived in Huntsville since Jr. High, so it's pretty much home to me.  My religious persuasion is Southern Baptist (very pound on the podium - fire and brimstone preaching.  I love it!).  I'm also a straight ticket Republican.    

Quick History

I graduated high school is 93 and went straight to college at Sam Houston State University (in Huntsville).  Since going to college isn't free, I went to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as a correctional officer.  In 95 I decided to transfer to the University of Houston (Texas) where I continued to work for TDCJ (at a prision near Houston).  After a series of text book Murphy's Law mishaps, I ended up transfering back to Sam Houston State University (and also back to the same prison I worked at before).  After working as a correctional officer for 5 years, I finally quit so that I could go to school full time. (Although I hated working in a prison, I can't help but appreciate the experience.)

It took me 2 more years (while working at the university's computer services dept) before I finally got my degree in English.  I now work for as a manuscript editor/webpage designer/office monkey for a Master Herbalist.  Since I'm not really diggin' the job, I'm currently looking for something else.

General Interests

I have pretty diverse musical tastes.  I'm currently listening to Manowar's Warriors of the World album.  In my truck CD player I have the 3rd CD of the definative collection of The Monkees.  Last concert I went to (about 2 months ago) was KMFDM.

My favorite movie is Transpotting (with Snatch and Memento in close 2nd and 3rd).  

I love watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Enterprise, and Smallville.  I also like watching Birds of Prey, but only muted with my favorite Rammstein album playing.  

I pride myself in my rather large ultra diverse circle of close friends.  They range in religious belief (Cole is Wiccan, Jason is Lutheran) and occupation (Munroe runs a Barbeque resturant, Ryan is network support for TDCJ - Internal Affairs).  I've always wanted to surround myself with a broad range of opinion.  I mean, how boring is it to hang out with people who think like you do?

Gaming History

I've been role playing since 5th grade.  Awesomizer was the name of my Marvel Super Heroes character who had speakers in his chest.  I've always liked the name so I keep it as an online name. :)

In the past 17 years of gaming, I've played DnD (red boxed set), AD&D 2nd edition (various settings), DnD 1st edition Oriental Adventures  Marvel Super Heroes, Top Secret S.I., Twilight 2000, Paranoia, Call of Cuthulu (including Delta Green), DnD 3rd Edition, Over the Edge, Unknown Armies, Wheel of Time (d20), Rifts, Robotech, HERO, In Nomine, and hmm.  I'm sure there's more, I just can't think of em.

I've only recently discovered the indie RPG scene.  I should have a copy of Dunjon under the Christmas tree :)

I have a problem of wanting to run too many games.  Right now I'm running:

- Star Wars D20 (set in the New Jedi Order era)
- DnD 3rd Edition (set in the Scarred Lands)
- Unknown Armies
- White Wolf crossover campaign (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, and Hunter) based in Houston, TX.  (old website: )

I'm itching to run a Buffy the Vampire Slayer game.  Mostly because I'm a huge fanboy and I have a circle of gamer friends who are Buffites as well.

I sometimes feel like my life would be empty without role playing games.  Is that healthy?

Oh yeah, I also enjoy playing Blood Bowl.  My dwarf team (The Stumpy Studs) is the current Dungeonbowl champs.  I'm also the webmaster for our league ( ).

Hopes / Dreams / Asperations

I love to write.  I also love to game.  Only recently has the idea dawned on me to combine the two.  That's why I enjoy lurking at The Forge. :)

I'd love to own a gaming store with the slogan, "If you play it, we sell it!"

I also wanna get an english bulldog.  I will name him Beefum McPaddy.
To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~ Thomas Edison

Bob McNamee

I'm Bob McNamee. I'm 37 years old.  Home is in Flat Rock, Michigan, U.S.A. My ancestry is pretty well half Irish, half German extraction on both sides of the family.

My current job is a Journeyman Tinsmith working for a steel company (I make all sorts of things out of sheets of metal). Interesting previous jobs include workings as a shoe repairman, and an electronics technician in the US Air Force (a Wideband Communication Systems Specialist in military speak) back in 88-92.

I live with my wife (Pat) of nearly ten years (time flies!) and our three cats. My wife and I share a reading addiction...we met in a science fiction club back in college in the early 80's.  Our other major shared hobby is caring for the various lawn and gardens around this place (sometimes I'd like to just pave it all with green concrete...the rest of the time its beautiful).

We like BBC Amercia, the Sci Fi channel, the various Discovery channels etc.

I'm a big fan of the UK (my wife is from there...)...enjoy the beer a lot.(though I dirnk fairly little, maybe a six pack a month) (side note: I'm also a bit of a homebrewer)

Hobbies etc...I dabble in lots of things. I pick up various musical instruments (bamboo flute, guitar, pennywhistles, harmonica...even a bit of violin) from time to time and play with them, but I'm really just a dabbler ... I paint on canvas, and on the computer. I also create 3D computer rendered pictures.
My permanent hobby (beside RPGing) seems to be woodcarving. That one's a recent addition in the last couple of years, but really soothing. I find I can't stay away from it for long.

I started RP-ing back in 79? with the D&D boxed set (It had a dragon in the box and a module Into the Unknown B1? and 6 poor quality dice, that I still have althought th 20-sider is nearly round). Quickly moved to AD&D GM-ed that through high school ,with a little Traveller and Champions. In college (for engineering) began playing in a long Traveller game, and GM-ed two long running Champions campaigns. During the AF time I played a little Warhammer Fantasy Role-playing. Once out, and back up in Michigan I've played a few one-shot games and two D&D 2nd edition campaigns that ground to a halt (due to the Players schedules). I'm still planning on running a Supers genre game, but after the D&D game stopped ...interest seems to be waning...and scheduling is harder.  
My current RP-ing outlet is the Universalis game with my wife ("Temple of Bast" which will resume now that her homework load has reduced), and with the Indie Netgamers games.
Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!

Seth L. Blumberg

I can't freakin' believe I'm in the top 40 most frequent posters. How'd I get there?

Anyway, I think this thread is wildly inappropriate, but since Ron and Clinton don't seem to agree, I'll share.

29 years old; half Ashkenazi, half WASP; grew up atheist (though my parents are not), now agnostic pagan. Flunked out of an Ivy League university after one year, tried on and off to get a degree from a third-rate state school and ultimately gave up. Working as a systems analyst in the IT department of a mid-sized law firm.

My girlfriend, with whom I've been living for the last 3½ years, is a gamer and a witch, and thinking about going back to college to finish a degree in art. She's not on the Forge.

I used to sing in a choir (bass, and pretty darn good if I do say so myself), but haven't since college. I also used to do some acting and technical theater. These days, reading, gaming and helping run SF conventions are pretty much my only hobbies. I play board and card games as well as RPGs.
the gamer formerly known as Metal Fatigue

Ron Edwards


OK, that will do it. Thanks to everyone who's contributed. I decided to permit the thread to continue as it's clearly served a personal need. But enough is enough, thanks again, and if anyone wants to continue, please do so on a one-to-one basis.

Also, any such details as you folks have been providing are more than welcome during other Forge discussions, as long as they are germaine to the point at hand. That's another reason I let the thread continue - it is good to be comfortable with disclosing "ourselves" to one another. But I'd like the activity to be integrated with more substantive discussions from now on.



Jon, I realized after posting -- though after I was already in the shower -- my statement could be taken the wrong way.

I have absolutely nothing personal against nor see anything wrong with Christianity nor Catholicism. When I state I was disgusted by my behavior and actions, I mean to judge only myself directly for my narrow-minded snobbery and the "not-as-holy-as-some-but-definitely-holier-than-thou" attitude I had.

I definitely don't pin such an attitude on the faith itself (I've run into too many pagans and those of other faiths who have similar attitudes to stoop to even considering calling such a distinctly or inherently Christian problem).

Hence my embarassment and disgust are not directed towards the religion, but my towards my immaturity. In a completely similar fashion, I am likewise embarassed and regretful about certain things I publically said about a friend in high-school, which were cruel, mean-spirited and done solely to score points with the "in" crowd. I'd go back and slap myself stupid if I could.

Note I don't have a problem with Seth, Nathan or MJ...nor to my knowledge any of the other Christians of any stripe on the Forge. Nathan and I have even gone a few rounds privately on evolution and Biblical error, but we're still good friends.

My best friend in this world, in fact, is a devout Roman Catholic, and he has tried to save my soul. This doesn't annoy or enrage me, in fact I consider this a sign of respect and friendship from him. I politely asked him to never, ever do it again, but it's really a non-issue -- we mutually understand and respect one another's faiths and beliefs, and that's why I understand why he had to try and why it did not bother me.

Now, a complete stranger or passing aquaitance trying to do so will tick me off, because there is no mutual respect or understanding inherent in such an event, for obvious reasons.

As to my leaving Christianity, or rather, finding Paganism, that's best discussed elsewhere, I think. Here's a link to an essay I wrote a few years ago about it -- keep in mind this was written as a response to a number of jugheads who kept posting proselytization material on a discussion site meant for Paganism and Wicca.

It's not the whole story, but I've added some notes to it at the bottom to address more of the backstory/prelude to it, and some thoughts and reactions to the event from my perspective today.

If you, or anyone else, wants to discuss it with me, feel free to PM me or e-mail me.

Edit: sorry, I often leave post windows sitting for a while before posting my response, so I didn't see Ron's message until just now.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Ron Edwards

Hi Raven,

No problem. I suggest making use of the handy preview feature before submitting, especially if you let that post-window hang about.

But the thread is now closed.