Still Alive

Posted: 2022-09-20
Word Count: 611
Tags: cartoon i-have-opinions netflix obsession rpg she-ra tv

Apparently I haven’t put anything onto this blog for over a year. There’ve been a few articles in the queue, most of which I kept tweaking and rethinking. Since I have more urgent things to do, probably for the rest of the year, I’m going to put them out there now and move on.

Beyond that I’ve fixed typos and brainos in a few other random articles. (Yes, I reread my own stuff.) I can’t remember which ones I fixed, but if you read this blog and noticed a change … congratulations.

Also, there were a few articles I’ve had in “draft” status for YEARS. I’ve decided to simply throw them away. Below are summaries of the two I was most reluctant to abandon.

She-Ra Season 5

Neflix’s She-Ra, which I non-reviewed previously, exceeded then defied expectations in Seasons 4 and 5. It’s great. Everyone who likes anime/cartoons with female protagonists should watch the whole thing. The final episode ended a bit abruptly, but even then I really wanted to know what happened next, and more importantly what happened before (SPOILER) and what would happen after the end now that She-Ra (SPOILER) and the Horde (SPOILER).

But the series has been over for two years now. Thanks to quarantine and other circumstances I’ve been streaming a lot more shows since then. I really don’t care enough to edit 1500 words of gushing into something readable.

“System Sorta Matters”

Since about 2019 I’ve been picking at an essay entitled “System Sorta Matters”. It was inspired by an earlier tabletop role-playing game argument online (my first red flag) with two extreme positions:

  1. System Doesn’t Matter: Every tabletop role-playing game is fundamentally the same. Because of Rule Zero, the Dungeon Master1 / Game Master / whatever can simply Make a Ruling to overrule the Rules As Written.

  2. System Does Matter: Every tabletop role-playing system2 shapes the kind of games played (and perhaps playable) with that system. No matter how many “house rules” the Gamemaster adds – and there are limits to what they can come up with at the table – the assumptions, vocabulary, and fundamental mechanics of the original Rules As Written remain.

As my summary – and this whole blog – suggests, I lean more toward the “System Does Matter” camp. A lot of games published since 1974 consider what other roles one might want to play in a “role-playing game” and therefore what game mechanics support those roles. Today’s games encompass far more genres, themes, and goals than “old school” dungeon crawls.

But I really don’t feel like revising nearly 4000 words trying to explain, with examples and logical arguments, something that only a troll or compulsive contrarian would deny. Of course Traveller isn’t just D&D In Space. Of course the rules of RuneQuest, GURPS, and even Tunnels & Trolls3 shape the character of their respective settings Glorantha, Banestorm (among others), and “Trollworld”. Of course a game using Cypher System, Fate, GUMSHOE, Powered by the Apocalypse, or the Year Zero Engine (to take five examples) plays very differently from The Most Popular Role-Playing Game™ … and that’s what the authors intended. I can’t believe I was about to, never mind thought I somehow HAD TO, explain it that much.

  1. I’m going to go out on a limb and say proponents of this position have seldom if ever played any RPG besides Dungeons & Dragons, any edition. ↩︎

  2. One extreme proponent of “System Doesn’t Matter” even denied that RPG rules form a “system”. They’re just rules and the DM can change them however they wish. ↩︎

  3. Ken St. Andre “less complicated” answer to D&D notably eschews tactical combat, a cornerstone of most D&D editions. ↩︎