2019-01-11 No Fantasy Heartbreaker

In 2002, Ron Edwards wrote Fantasy Heartbreakers. This was the same year self-publishing started with Lulu, 2002. This was the time when people started hearing about blogs. Movable Type was founded in 2001, Wordpress was founded in 2003, Google bought Blogger in 2003, I founded my website in 2003... Important stuff! :)

In the essay, Ron argued that all those role-playing games that were very close to D&D but not really all that different made him feel heartbroken and sad. Remember that the year before was the founding of RPG Now in 2001, the shop that sold PDFs. Thus, now was the time were everybody could be a publisher and new things could be attempted and in his post he pushed people to do it.

I guess it all depends on how you reacted to it and how you feel about your reaction years later. Personally, I didn’t have much of a reaction to it. I remember not quite understanding whether these games were a good or a bad thing and these days I get the impression that it is still undecided. We want both new and exciting things, but we also want small and incremental changes, we want other people to write glorious stuff for us, and we want to write our own stuff that suits us and our situation particularly well.

Anyway, in 2019 Luka Rejec wrote A Bad Turn of Words: Fantasy Heartbreaker. He recommends we stop using the self-deprecating words to talk about our own work.

Authors still self-deprecatingly make a nervous chuckle and say how their little game is “just a fantasy heartbreaker.”

Well, it breaks my heart to see writers and designers use that term.

I have done it, too: Writing Your Own RPG Rules.

When I skim the post by Ron Edwards again these days, I am struck by the intro, because it hits close to home:

“impressive in terms of the drive, commitment, and personal joy that’s evident in both their existence and in their details - yet they are also teeth-grindingly frustrating, in that, like their counterparts from the late 70s, they represent but a single creative step from their source: old-style D&D.”

Yep, that’s me. 😆​

I guess I just didn’t take it too personal. But I’m older now, and much calmer. The reaction you have to the text really is key.

Anyway, Luka then got attacked on Twitter for his blog post and then he wrote a blog post about treating online space like offline space, Talking Online: The Park and the Dark Forest.

“When we are attacked online, we have a right to stand up for ourselves and ask why. When someone makes an accusation, the burden of proof is on them. When somebody harasses us, we have a right to demand a public apology.”

I totally agree with him. And I really like what he writes and draws online. Recommended! Note that if you follow the links I provided you end up on two different blogs.

And if you want to know more about my position on writing online, on providing evidence, on making accusations, an all of that, then you can always read the grab bag about the OSR and DIY D&D from 2016. Yikes!



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