Ongoing Chatter #87: February 3rd, 2020 - ?

12/14/2001 — I started the Chatter section on July 27, 2000 when I noticed that the rest of my site was sometimes getting cluttered with lots of text. I'm a talkative guy, after all! Eventually the page got too large, so I started making separate entries. Then it got to be too much work to make separate entries, so I stopped posting altogether. Now I'm back to a (new) single page (the old entries are still available from the main Chatter page). New entries will be posted at the top, pushing older entries down. When this thing gets unweildy, I'll archive it and create a new page - Chatter #87. I hope that's not too confusing! ->PM


See the main Chatter page for an explanation of the changes I've made in Chatter. Short version: I'll be making ongoing posts here until this page gets too big. Then I'll start Chatter #88. New posts will be at the top of the page, pushing down the older posts. So you can come here to see what's new about the site. In a general sense, that is! The detailed site history is still the place where I'll track every new change. I'll also be announcing upcoming projects here.


March 29, 2020 - Redesign

Okay, I've started the redesign after all. I suspect that the major problem is the heavy use of tables. So I took the main page and de-tableified it (yes, I know that's not a word). If you'd like to compare it to the original version, I've left that up as well. I suppose that I should go through the HTML and clean up whatever FrontPage put in there, but one thing at a time.

March 28, 2020 - Me and RQ

I haven't been free to talk about this for a long time, but I guess I can do it now. Nobody's likely to read this anyway.

I was introduced to RuneQuest in college, and fell in love with the system. It became a lifelong passion for me. After college I became an evangelist of sorts for the system; I ran quite a few RQIII campaigns, introducing a lot of people to it. Most became enthusiastic converts.

Of course I dreamed of writing for Chaosium. I revered Greg Stafford, and everyone else associated with RQ. So I was thrilled when I started writing a zine for The Wild Hunt, and actually got to interact (via zine comments) with Chaosium people. I even received some review copies from Chaosium, which was really exciting.

But when I received a request from Greg Stafford himself, I was beside myself. I'd recorded a video of Pat Robertson on the 700 Club about roleplaying games; he asserted that roleplaying characters were examples of demonic possession, and invited the afflicted to place their hands on their TV screens and pray the evil away. This was followed up by a heartwarming scene of teenagers burning their "D&D" books. I remember noticing that there was Call of Cthulhu and Star Trek material among the kindling. Greg was part of the committee to protect roleplaying games (or whatever it was called), and he asked me for a copy of that video. So I sent him a tape.

I should probably explain that this was long before YouTube or anything like that.

Years later I attended the first RuneQuest Con, in Baltimore. It was my first time meeting many RQ luminaries; a momentous experience. I got to see both Greg Stafford and Sandy Peterson GMing. Stafford, I noted with interest, had great force of personality; he almost seemed like a cult leader, in terms of personal magnetism. His style of GMing was almost poetic. Sandy's style, on the other hand, seemed brilliant and clever. Unfortunately I didn't get to see Steve Perrin GM. I'm not sure if he was there.

A LARP was run at the con, Home of the Bold (I think). I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that Stafford had my character arrested and tortured to death. I played an escape option and got away, but he appealed to the GMs and tracked me down to force me to stay in prison. That meant sitting in a guarded area for quite a while, and then being given a new character. It seemed petty of him, but I was still in awe. So I didn't hold a grudge.

A few years after that I really crossed him. I'd applied to be a playtester for one of the new versions of RQ; this was during the long dry spell between RQIII and whatever finally got published next. I think that dry spell lasted about ten years, during which the only RQ activity online was the RuneQuest-Rules email list (which actually still exists) plus some RQ websites - of which mine was, I think, the oldest surviving. Anyway, I didn't get a reply to my request to be a playtester for quite a while. Finally I stupidly posted that I thought that I might have been blackballed or something.

Later, one of his friends told me that Stafford apparently was having a really bad day when he read that. Whatever the reason, he flamed the living hell out of me in a public forum. Called me a psycho. Said that I claimed to be the "savior of RuneQuest" (I hadn't). I was devastated, and then furious. His friend later told me privately that Stafford would probably realize he'd overreacted at some point and make things right. But he never did.

Skip to a few years further down the road. I have to be careful with this, because there were other people involved; I won't be using names. Someone had a very rare, possibly unique piece of RuneQuest history - a large document. I volunteered to help preserve it, and spent weeks scanning it page by page. A friend helped work on the scans after I completed them. Basically it was a labor of love. We were trying to preserve something major in the history of the system.

The person who'd initiated the whole thing (and who had the document to begin with) suggested that I invite various RQ luminaries to comment on the scanned document. I agreed. Long story short, I ended up being threatened with legal action by Stafford. I was ordered to provide my work to him, and to erase all of my own copies. I was offered the chance to get the commentary and edit the document, which would I would then give to him - he would consider different ways to distribute it. I may have been offered some share of the profits, if any. But the whole affair sickened me. It was just one more nail in the coffin of my idolization of Stafford.

After that, I couldn't stand modern RuneQuest. I'd disliked the Mongoose editions from a mechanics viewpoint, and I'd come to loathe Glorantha long before - again, it was a world I'd loved, but Stafford managed to put me completely off it with his retconning. I playtested the new Basic Roleplaying that was put out by Chaosium when Charlie Krank was in charge at Chaosium; I thought it was well done, and I used some elements from it in my later campaigns. But then Stafford became President of Chaosium again, and I was completely done.

I still use the old Avalon Hill edition of RuneQuest III - or I would, if I had a campaign to run. But the prospect of getting involved with modern RQ leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. I made mistakes, no doubt about it. And I know that there are a hell of a lot of people who felt that he basically walked on water. But I still feel that I was wronged by a very arrogant man.

March 27rd, 2020 -

New machine: I finally retired my old desktop. It was still working (which was a minor miracle, after 14 years!), but it was becoming impossible to keep using an XP machine in the modern age. Too many things just wouldn't run on it, including Netflix and Hulu. When I started getting warnings that even YouTube wouldn't function any more, I knew it was time to get something new.

The store that I'd been getting my systems from for about thirty years was PCs for Everyone. They'd started out as a small place near MIT; my tech friends tended to go there for parts. They made good, solid systems that were designed to be user-upgradable. They went online-only a while back, but I still bought my systems there. Their repair facility was actually not too far away.

But they disappeared completely a few years ago. If I had the technical chops, I'd have built a new machine myself - but I don't. If my friend Virgil was still alive, I might have asked him to help me do it - but he's gone. So I picked up a new system from Micro Center over in Cambridge. It's running Windows 10 Pro, and it's the first system I've owned that lights up. I couldn't resist. It's a PowerSpec, incidentally, which are the house-brand systems of Micro Center. So far I like it a lot.

More frequent updates: One thing that had become a real problem with my old system was that it couldn't even run a modern FTP program any more. So if I wanted to update this site, I had to use a laptop that I'd picked up a while ago - and that laptop is awful. But the new desktop doesn't have that problem, which is why I'll be able to update the site more often. I only wish that I was running a campaign; that would give me some inspiration for material to post here. But until I find some new players, that's not an option.

Complete redesign: As I mentioned on the main page, the site desperately needs a complete redesign. It's not mobile-friendly. But FrontPage Express, the program that I originally used to design and maintain it, is comically old and out of date. I could use recommendations for modern web-design software. If anyone is actually READING this and has a suggestion, could you drop me a line? I've Googled for possible software, but I don't trust Google any more - all I seemed to get was ads.

February 3rd, 2020 -

New decade: Or the end of the last, depending on how you look at it. I figured since it has been eight years since my last entry, it was a good idea to start a new Chatter. A lot has happened.

Personal: I got divorced four or five years ago, and Sebastian has been living with me full-time for the last three years. He's 18 now, a senior in high school, and thinking hard about college. He's also still a definite geek, like his dad. We live in North Attleboro, MA.

Virgil: Sadly, my friend Virgil Greene died last year. He'd survived non-Hodgekin's lymphoma for years and had been cancer-free, but when the cancer came back the chemo was apparently too much for his heart. He's interred in Malden, Massachusetts. If you didn't know him, I wish you had. He was a well of knowledge about genre TV, anime, and science fiction and fantasy in general. A shy, kind, and very bright guy; when he first started GMing he wasn't very good, but as time went by he improved enormously. Although I'm not sure that he ever ran a long-term campaign; he might not have had the self-confidence for that. But his one-shots were a lot of fun.

His article "Vampires: The Varieties" appeared in his zine "The Eight-Track Mind" in the Interregnum APA, and was quoted as a source in a graduate project on vampires. Unfortunately I can no longer find a copy online. I'll keep looking. However, you can find one of his zines in the first and second issues of Interregnum on this site - and I've just discovered another eight complete issues on my hard drive, so I plan to post them before too long. I'm sure there's more of his writing in them.

He was tall and had curly red hair, until the chemo turned it snow-white and straight. Sometimes people thought we were brothers. He had a much harder life than anyone should have had to endure. I miss him.

Google Plus: Google terminated the Google Plus social media service last year (or was it the year before?). I will never forgive them for that. That was a healthy community, the best place I had to talk with gamer friends online. And not only did Google kill it off, they moved up the termination date twice. They also deleted an unimaginable number of entries and posts. Although they offered an option to download your own content, that option was so absolutely flawed as to not be an option at all. I lost everything. And sadly, everything that my friend Virgil wrote was lost too - a huge amount of work.

On top of that, Google's phones have gone from being outstanding and reasonably-priced to completely undependable and grossly over-priced. The last two that I bought died in less than a year, and Google wouldn't stand behind them. I was a very early Google user, and a constant advocate for them for many years; it took a lot for them to turn that around to the point that I absolutely hate and despise them. But they did it. I guess I should have been tipped off when they dropped "Don't Be Evil" as their corporate motto.

If you're wondering, I switched over to OnePlus phones for me and Sebastian. They're affordable, have incredible features for the price, the OS is updated quickly, and so far they've been remarkably sturdy and dependable.

My problem with RuneQuest: I've held off talking about this here or anywhere online for at least twenty years, but I guess I can talk about it now: I stopped supporting RuneQuest as a commercial product because of a very unpleasant personal tangle with the creator of Glorantha. I'm not the only one who saw his vicious side, and I assume I'm not the only one he threatened with his lawyers. He's dead now, but I'm still disaffected enough from the modern system that I don't want to support it. I suppose that I shouldn't hold a grudge any more, but that sour taste in my mouth just won't go away.

Avalon Hill's RuneQuest III is still my favorite, although I also like the multi-genre edition of Basic Roleplaying that Chaosium published before Stafford took it over again. I should admit that I was a playtester for that one.

Gaming: The Cave of Worlds ended unexpectedly thanks to some remarkably bad behavior by some of the players. It was a real pity, because it was such a great campaign. I started a new campaign with the remaining players; it was an ultra-tech setting that was partly inspired by Lawrence Watt-Evans' highly imaginative novel Vika's Avenger, which I strongly recommend. I called it the Dolman City campaign, set in an ancient and partly-ruined city on an alien planet that had been colonized by many species. I also drew on the works of Cordwainer Smith, Roger Zelazny, and Gene Roddenberry, among others. I'd never run a science fiction campaign before, but I was surprised at how easy and fun it was. Unfortunately after several years things went bad, and I gave it up. In part I was dead tired of trying to keep some of the players from each others throats, and of trying to keep the PCs together. A game needs to be fun for the GM as well as the players. Once the spark finally got killed off by complaints, I finally lost any tolerance for GMing for that group again. If I could find a new group of players with good group chemistry, though, I have a new campaign concept in mind. I've put up some flyers, but so far haven't received any inquires.

Previous Chatter

Chatter Index Next Chatter



Alternate Rules

Chaos Project

Character Sheets

NPCs & More



Rack & Rune

Peasant's Progress



[email protected] Copyright 2020 by Peter Maranci. Revised: March 29, 2020. version 1.3