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In My Humble Opinion, or IMHO, is what other, less-imaginative magazines would term "the letters page". This is your forum for telling us, and the world, what you think of Critical Miss, roleplaying, or perhaps life in general.

So that you can figure out who's saying what, we've coloured the text. This is Jonny, and this is Bubba.

Please take note of this. If Bubba says something that offends you then write to him, not me.

The reason Jonny says this is because last issue I offended someone and they wrote and complained to Jonny. Apparently they took offence to the words "Fuck Off Adam" in my response and decided to write in. Of course if he had just written to me and explained, I would have told him to Fuck off again!


The first letter on the page is from Phil Masters. Phil's letter wasn't the first one we received, but then he's famous, and quite frankly - no offense intended - the rest of you guys aren't. So we bounced his letter to the top of the list. This is neither meritocratic nor egalitarian, but then life's like that.

Phil wrote:

Interesting piece on Conceptions (which I didn't attend). Just one general thing about RPG cons, though; they vary. A lot.

It almost seems to break down to "RPGA conventions and the Others", though that may be an oversimplification. (Irish cons are sort of like RPGA cons only more cosy and alcoholic, GenCon UK is so big that there's usually *something* happening in one corner, and so on.) But non-RPGA events may be more like the sort of thing you were after.

Certainly, if you want simple scenario arrangements (for which you don't have to pay), interesting panel discussions, and no under-twelves - well, I guess I have to suggest Conjuration. But that's not until 2003, so in the meantime there's Convulsion, if you don't mind finding yourself in rooms full of Glorantha groupies. Conpulsion's often fun if you don't mind going to Edinburgh, StabCon works like a friendly six-monthly games club, and so on.

As to how the hell you find out what a con is like before you pay to go to it... Umm, search me.

Phil Masters


James Regan wrote under the heading of: "Bastards!"

You guys are going to get me fired! Here I am, only two articles (Worst Scenario and Shewers)into the new issue, and laughing my ass off. Unfortunately, since I am at work, and cruising the internet for anything un-work related is a big no-no, I can't be laughing my ass off. So I seem to have two options: laugh out loud and get fired, or internalize my laughter and risk serious injury. I hope you realize what a position you've put me in, and I hope you can be more responsible in the future.

Use your powers for good, dammit!

'Fraid we're a bit too chaotic for that...


Adam Reeve wrote to us about scenario reward inflation:

Jonny

After reading your article (and sereptitiously laughing, since I'm supposed to be working) I had a few thoughts which I'm passing on in lieu of more work.

Are all of you skiving off work?

I'm a regular player of the Rifts game. Stop laughing, now. Using the strategy of getting a good friend to buy all the supplements, so I'm not carrying a bank loan, I've got access to pretty much everything published under the Rifts banner at present. (He doesn't run Rifts games. He doesn't even read them much. Go figure.)

I have noted a serious case of power creep from the original rulebook through the various supplements. Remember, Rifts is published by one company, Palladium Books, which (although they do employ a lot of free-lance writers) does not licence their product. So the main author and company owner, Kevin Siembieda, is evidently not using power creep to compete with other writers of Rifts products.

What he is doing (IMO) is competing with himself - inducing players to buy each new book as it is published, so that they can have even more exciting and powerful characters than before. Why else buy another Rifts supplement when you own like twenty of them? (I've asked my friend but he doesn't know).

My solution to the problem is simply to ban the use of material from books I don't own - and I don't own many. I buy books I think contain balanced material. I get some complaints, but it's only at the start and I don't have any universe-eating player characters. Not any more, anyway.

I've always had a suspicion of similar problems in the D&D 2nd.-Ed. system, but here too I only every purchased the basic rulebooks, so I was never sure, and it was never a problem for me.

Cheers
Adam Reeve
Canberra, Australia

PS my favourite response is the one from Legendsmiths.

I have to say that I really loved that reply too.

PPS is there a really big games convention in the UK, which might influence the season in which I should visit?

GenCon UK is the biggest. You can find info about it at:

http://www.genconuk.com


Texas Ray wrote with the subject line of: "okay now i feel a little bad about the torturing... nah. i really dont."

dear johnny nexus,

let me begin by saying hello from the states and i love the magazine. i guess at this point i will relate an experience i had at gencon 2002 in milwaukee, wisconsin, usa; an anecdote about how i and four friends dominated a game of d&d and tortured some little twerp. the kid is probably scarred for life. even as i type this i cant help snicker. man i am a royal jerk sometimes. what can i say? the kid set off our predatory response nodes in the reptile part of our brains.

You realise that this is an explanation, not a justification?

it was a game of old style first edition d&d and i knew a few of my gaming buddies would be playing and maybe running one of the games. so i bought tickets (which they never checked, so i snuck into more games) and began play as a half orc assassin/fighter; a genuine badass. well as the game day went on more of my buddies showed up and they gravitated to my table and slipped into the game.

all in all there were only two guys out of six that i didn't know at this particular game. one was some kid (playing a gnome assassin) who couldntve been older than fourteen but he had chutzpah so we liked him, the other was some dweeb who actually shrieked like some little girl when i accidentally nudged one of his dice. he snatched up the die and ran off as if he had the runs or something and was about to shit himself. we all simply stared in silence as he ran from the table and out of the room, right at a crucial moment of the game. when he returned we asked what was wrong; he replied that he went to the restroom to wash his die off. you see no one but him was allowed to touch them or he'd have bad luck. oh my, did this set us off.

I have to confess that what he did wasn't the most sensible move from a social mixing point of view.

for the rest of the night we would take turns "accidentally" nudging his dice and watch him run to the bathroom. sometimes when he'd run back to the table we'd move his dice so he would have to run all the way to the restroom again, dice in hands.

now this dice-hugging guy explained to us that for five years he'd had horrible luck with gaming, loosing one character after another due to dice rolls. it became apparent to us that he was simply a poor role-player and would get himself into the most deadly of situation by sheer stupidity. in short: the fault lies not in the dice, but in himself.

i have to admit that after about the twelfth time sending him screaming to the toilet it wasn't quite as funny, and i genuinely started to take pity on him. despite the egging on of my fellow players i did not have my character assassinate his. but i shouldve. well, there's always next year.

the point of this story? well i read about how you refused to play Witchcraft with some rather odd fellows. i say go ahead and play, but bring friends and feel free to find your fun in the tormenting. after all its only a game and games are for fun. what's more fun than killing off an annoying character?

We didn't actually get a chance to refuse to play with them. It wasn't an option we were offered. And who are you to criticise us, after the way you treated the dweeb? :-)

i say again, i am at times a total ass. no apologies.

Exactly.

love the mag,

texas ray


Jen wrote in regarding scenario reward inflation

Any chance I could see the uncensored anonymous letter? Promise I'll keep it secret :) Not that anyone would have proof I wasn't lying even if I didn't.

thx,
jen

In a word no. I told the author that I wouldn't release the uncensored version.


Kevin wrote in with a subject of: "Cool article - Reward inflation"

Just saw your article on D20review, and wanted to drop you a line and let you know I really liked it. :-) I like the Legendsmiths response, and I am going to be looking for their products.

Another Legendsmiths fan... but it was a very good reply.

Marc Tassin wrote an excellent response to our questions, anyone who thinks like that deserves to get some of my hard earned cash.


Mad Andy wrote in regarding gold pieces

Howzit

on the subject of monetary systems in D@D, what pissed me off even more than the dumb built in one was when some moron would replace the gold standard with steel coin in his game. Did'nt the wingnuts ever realise steel and iron are far to useful to be wasted in coins?

Mad Andy

At this point I should probably admit that I don't actually know what metals are used in coins, so I'll avoid commenting. Bubba?

Iron coated in Copper for our brass coins (1p and 2p),
Cupro-Nickel (Alloy of Copper and Nickel) for our Silver coins (5p, 10p, 20p and 50p),
Nickel Brass (Alloy of Copper Zinc and Nickel) for our pound coins (1 and 2).


Oly wrote in to tell us of his experience playing Cyborg Commando

Hi,

Finally motivated myself to write in, you asked if anyone else had "experienced" the Cyborg Commandos, well I must confess I have.

Go on, tell us all about it. Let it out...

This would have been about 1988 and my group were all school friends aged around 14 or so. There were quite a few of us and we all took turns to GM various games. One of the group, let's call him David (because that's his name and I'm not a great believer in hiding peoples shame). Now David was a guy who thought that the song "My Ding-a-ling" was the height of comedic genius. That said the rest of us derived amusement from boiling golf balls and watching the rubber innards hatch out so who the hell am I to throw stones?

Exactly.

Anyway the game started badly, in fact it was bad before it started. The mood of the group was hardly the most cooperative as we gathered around the table for the afternoons gaming. I remember fuck all about the briefing though I do remember an increasing agitation amongst us players. Within a few minutes of game play outright rebellion had broken out. The cause of this has slipped my memory, I do recall the adventure being shit, the system being shit and the GMing being shit (in the GMs defence the playing probably shit too, being filled with discussion about stuff like Golf Balls and what a crap song "My Ding-a-ling" was). We didn't actually get to do a lot until quite a while into the game, at the point the rebellion was in full swing, we'd decided we didn't like the game and that we were going to wreck the game.

I tried to kill my character by running his battery down, you could somehow take out extra power and do even more super human things than usual. So I rush around leaping over buildings and being a general pain in the arse. The system foiled me though, I'd barely dented my battery. Plan B, Aliens look like Rocks, let's go sit on Rocks, we die and go home, hurrah!

Around about this point the GM took the hint and things were wound up, I don't think we ever saw the game again.

This is the same GM who once made me endure about 15 minutes of spurious dice rolling to see if my Vulcan Science Officer could handle sex with dancing girls. Not that I wanted it, I think he just presumed it would happen.

Oh and he had key pad somewhere and when we didn't enter the secret code we all got gassed and died, we asked if there was a way to work the code out and he said no, he just expected us to guess. This might well have been after the Cyborg Commandoes debacle, which makes it seem fairly reasonable revenge looking back.

He also had his Star Wars characters head blown off by an alert team of Stormtroopers about 5 minutes into my first ever Star Wars adventure. The keypad was definitely after that little performance.

Sounds more like a series of blood fueds than roleplaying.

In his Runequest Land of Ninja game I started out with a Samurai called Hitachi Toshiba, after about an hour of tedious random encounters my name had expanded to include just about every Japanese electronics company I could think of and circled around the entire character sheet.

I did once create a LOTFR Character called Yamaha Kawasaki.

Dysfunctional? Hell yes! A nasty combination of short attention spans, barely suppressed feuds, juvenile humour, bad music and golf balls. I gamed with various members of this group for years (until leaving school, going to University, finding something better to do or some of them turning into complete bastards got in the way), why oh why oh why?

I could go on with tales of our ineptitude but maybe I should go and unburden it to someone professional.

Might be an idea.

Regards,

Oly


Matthias wrote in about dicebags:

Yo!

I know, pretty dumb topic, but I just couldn't make up a better one. That's life.

A couple of issues ago, there was the problem of where to get dice bags and I got a quite interesting source: Dragon Dice.

Not sure wether anyone remembers that desperate try of TSR to stop the tide of card games in those late 90s with a "Collectible Dice game". The game was actually fun but nowaday it's as dead as Spellfire (and that means dead beyond death!).

Anyway, with each starter box of Dragon Dice there came a very nice dice bag. As far as I know there were red bags and yellow ones (possibly one was the German version, don't know) and each had the TSR-logo - and I'm talking about the one with dragon! - printed on it.

So look out, maybe in your local games store, there's still a starter left gathering dust and you can convince/threaten/beat the assistant to give it you for discount ;-)

Issue 7 was great, really loved it :-),

Thanks.

Matthias


Freak of Nature wrote in to say: "Congrats.....again"

Well, another outstanding issue this time round and only 5 or 6 weeks late [technically. I mean, you said end of '01 for it but you know, that could well have been as late as the last seconds of New Year's Eve]. Perhaps a second issue this year isnt entirely out of the question then.

Here it is!

Bubba sorry about the job. Hope you have another one by the time this is published.

I do, thank you. :)

Okay then - on to the issue. Dont let Jason whatever-his-name-was write for you again. His cliches of roleplaying was entirely accurate and i recognized myself in a lot of it. But it wasnt funny. Now, I know you dont *have* to be funny every time but it's almost become expected of you and that just wasnt up to your usual standard. [That may well be the first bad thing Ive ever said about Critical Miss.]

On the other hand I've had quite a lot of people tell me they really liked it. I think humour is often subjective, and no-one's going to like everything.

Conception. I didnt go but I know people that did and they seem to have had a lot more fun than you. The 'slave auction' system for getting into games was used at last year's GenCon in Olympia and our group [4 of us usually] managed to get into everything we wanted to, which makes me think there just werent enough versions of the games you wanted being run. Regardless, now youre familiar with the system perhaps youll have better luck in future. [Hate to rub it in, but Im going to anyway - I heard Witchcraft was great.]

Well, that will please Bog Boy. :-)

At this point the letter discusses Barcode, and says a lot of very nice stuff (really) but contains a few spoilers. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't yet read the story, but still intends to. So if you've already read it, or never intend to, you can click here to get the full text of what he said about Barcode.

For the benefit of those who don't want to read that, I'll provide an edited version of what was said here (i.e. minus the spoilers):

Barcode. Fantastic. I could criticize, not the story but the typos, but then Ive never had anything published anywhere so Im not going to. The story itself was nicely paced, the setting was almost familiar but had a few distinctive aspects which made it both unique and original [like the description of the Thames] and the characters were interesting enough that you, that is I, didnt mind them continually popping back into the story. So then, Kudos Jonny.

And back to unedited...

I really enjoyed the theory about the inflation of character rewards in modules. The responses were actually more entertaining than the article [especially that low-key, toned-down Prestige Class] but the theory itself would appear to be sound, and agreed with by several of the eight replies. Unfortunately, I havent bought or even glanced at a module in years so if things were suddenly to go the way of 160,000gp-value swords then I wouldnt notice anyway.

I think you might notice 160,000 gold pieces...

And related to the fact that I no longer purchase modules; Your adventure with Aberrant seems to have been a typical case-in-point for a dysfunctional group. Now, Ive had games that have been bad to start with and got worse through being played with a dysfunctional group [I used to play Dark Conspiracy too, though we never went to Maine] but its almost unfeasible that such a game as you described could actually have happened. Im not calling you a liar, but after your previous article on Aberrant products what on earth possessed you to try this one? From your writing it sounds like massive fun getting bogged down in all that and it certainly made for a good article, but are you being strictly honest when you say that you thought of the laundry thing *before* the change into a pillow? ;)

Hand on heart... that's basically how it's happened (I might streamline a few extraneous details) but I don't make something up. And although my players don't believe me, I didn't make up the laundry thing after the pillow change.

Alright then. Im not sure how much longer I can keep rambling here. Lets see. For reasons unknown I kept getting an error message when I tried to rate your articles so when I discovered that I could rate some of them [towards the end] I didnt anyway coz I hadnt been able to rate the rest. Sorry 'bout that but youre getting my thoughts here anyway [assuming you actually care, of course. coz youre gonna keep releasing issues regardless of whether or not I like them, right?]. Generally speaking, issue 7 was just as good as all the previous 6. Aside from the bits mentioned above, Build Your Own NAMG particularly tickled me, and the First Contact Checklist had me killing everything that stayed still for long enough [long enough being about 3 seconds]. All the regular stuff that peopl keep missing was easily up to the previous standard and, oh what the hell - it's a good mag, ok? I mean, you must know that by now!

Cool. Thanks for saying so.

:)

Freak of Nature


Cthuluclaus wrote about Scare Wolves & sundry

I must have the same calendar you were given. I too saw the advantages of the "scare-wolves" in a fantasy setting. Or in a sci-fi setting on a primitive world. Or in an alternate ...well we all know how long this could go on.

Oh...and as far as how much a gold piece is worth...just imagine if a good sized lycanthrope "clan/tribe/family" (and if they really wanted, couldn't it be large indeed) took control of the silver mining industry or guild. This would then cause the value of the silver piece to skyrocket. A gold piece may be worth $300 but how about a silver piece going for $30,000

The Star Captain's First Contact Checklist...now that brings back memories of those introduction to roleplaying errr I mean the choose your own adventure books a certain RPG company released lo those many years ago.

I love the Cyberware For A Leisure Age...One of the best I've heard of is from "Red Dwarf"...a food mixing/ chopping utensil that attaches at the crotch. How about a bionic butt knife/sword sharpener? I've added these and your offerings to the options list for the cyborgs (and armor options) for the sci fi game I'm running.

A bionic butt knife sharpener?

Here's hoping for more from you before too long...

Cthuluclaus...


Dogui wrote to say "Cheers"

I'm Dogui from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I've been roleplaying a lot less than i'd been interested in RPGs, so although i only play (actually DM) since last year, i've been reading RP stuff for years now.

First let me state that there are no such things as Conventions, or RPG publishers here. Actually we get little translated material from Spain (mostly comercially succesful games) and little games straight from USA.

No need to tell u that 80% of roleplayers can read English, and almost 99% of DMs had to teach their players how to play (me included). If u pay attention to that figures, u'll learn that there aren't many roleplayers in the country.

All that stated, i have to admit that i get a LOT of illegal material from file-sharing programs, mainly cause its impossible for me to buy them. Free stuff sucks, u know thats usually true.

Why the hell am i writing to u? First cause ur zine is free. Second, cause its makes me laugh my ass off as none other zine does. and Third, because u make RPGs look like they actually are, just a bunch of guys around a table being "teenagerly stupid" for a while, with good pals and some booze. The only thing u lack is some heavy metal on the background :)

I read ur shit, and its just interesting. I dont care about this or that book's review, since i wont see it in my life, and when i do (through my usual channels), i'll play/use it no matter what some "roleplaying expert" says. I don't care about new products, i don't care about what he/she said. I'm defenitly NOT in the American RolePlaying Circuit (american cause thats mainly what u find around the web).

In ur zine i find exactly what i would publish here, in Spanish of course. Some experiences, a lot of weird shit that demonstrates u are human, and a whole lot of other weird shit ur friends wrote, all around that weekly meeting u enjoy so much, even when u dont get to play for X reason.

But also i like the honesty and responsability on the zine. It has nothing to envy to a serious (... HAHA) publication on the street. You don't mock at people just for fun (ok, sometimes...), you guys always have a reason for what u say or don't say (ok, maybe not always...)

Ok, no more ass licking, u are cool, and letting u know about a somewhat different point of view like mine, may be good... or not.

Last, about ur convention experience. Thats how i felt the first time some freaky guy i met on the net invited me to play some Star Wars game (it was my first time roleplaying). I went there, no one even told me the basics of the system, and they just played. Most of the time i watched, and sometimes did what i was told. It seemed like i was there for something, and the other guys were getting it, but not me... and you know what?

after that, i bought my D20 D&D game, got a bunch of close friends and taught them how to play. The only thing they had in common was they they all knew me, still they love RPGs now and of course, i didnt give up playing because of that first experience... no idea where im going... maybe u should try again to one of those convention things and rock the place till u get what u want (or at least payed for)

in any case u can always build a dam and piss ur vodka on it... waitaminnit...

Lots of cool stuff to u guys,
sinceresly
Dogui


Skullcrusher wrote on the subject of "Gaming Chicks"

Greetings gang,

Just want to let you know how much of a relief it is to read there are gamers just as dysfunctional as me and my group.

I have a sneaky feeling that we're actually the majority.

Now on the subject of Women Gamers, I was browsing the web site of a delicious Actress Lexa Doig, The android on a syndicated show here in the U.S. called Gene Roddenbury's Andromeda. actually she is Andromeda...but I digress.

I went to her background page and found out she is a gamer....she likes Computer RPG's and Dungeons and Dragons, but she can't play D&D because there is no one to play with her. I personally despise D&D but would make an exception for her. Visit her sight at http://www.lexaonline.com/

Yeah, I'd probably make an exception.

Maybe we should write to her and ask her to play with us...

Just thought I might pass this along to those who are interested.

Keep the issues rolling out and Good Gaming to you all

Skullcrusher


Lord Refa wrote in about Conception 2002:

Ok, im sure you guys have already gotten a ba-ga-zillion emails about how much your experience was, and how cool conventions really can be, but just in case, i thought i'd write to you about the 2 Cons that i attend. only problem is that they're both over in the USA.

Bit of a drawback for us, but go on...

First is MarCon. BogBoy and Demonic would love it..... There's a few thousand people, i think. It's one big party, all weekend. No cliques. More wierd people, but many more normal types. It even has a significant number of women. (half of them are there to get laid) Its a great con, and you could do more gaming here than you could at Conception. The sign-up is simple and straighforward, and it works. There's one big room, full of all the games. One end has a table with all the games for the weekend listed (which i think is also in your program). Several hours before each game begins a sign-up sheet with a min and max number of players and a letter-number code, for the table you will play at, is layed on the table, and you sign your name to it to reserve your spot. this list is given to the people running the game, and when the game starts you're all sitting at the table, they call out your name, and it's all good. gaming however tends to be a side thought at marcon, its more about meeting people and the Slave Auction. you actually bid items away to charity to purchase nubile young females (well, they're pretty rare, but several go up for auction) for the night. it's in it's 37th year now, and there are very few kinks in the system. it's also THE premier party con in north america. all the games at marcon are included in your admission fee.

if you're looking for games, go to Origins. its run by WotC, but beside that it's pretty cool.... it's a similar system to sign up for games as Conception.... but, with all the additions you thought should be added. You purchase tickets for a specific game, at a specific time. they each cost differing amounts from 2-20 dollars, depending on the game. its huge, and you go to the room, in the section of the convention center that you're supposed to be at. its run smooth as hell. you can also buy generic tickets and join in most any game, just by wandering around and asking when and where, etc. just to give you an idea, the fewest number of games STARTING at the lowest hour of the day was about 10. you can game all fucking week long, from 8a till 12a. there are LITERALLY many thousand games run over this Con. some of them are probably already full, and the con is not until July 2002. they do pre-reg online, and you'll know what games you're about a week after you sign up for them. (sometimes you want in a game thats full, but they refund your credit card and notify you as soon as possible) it is THE premier gaming convention in north america.

Sounds pretty intense.

Marcon is cheaper, all tolled it's about $120 for the weekend. Origins has SO much gaming, far fewer women, though. $250 for a reasonable 4 day stint.
http://www.marcon.org/
http://www.originsgames.com/

Both are held in Columbus, Ohio in the USA. (which conveniently has an international airport) If you want to redeem your thoughts on Conventions, i highly reccomend you put down the money for plane tickets and all that. If you go to either of them, look up Hex games (the makers of QAGS), and ask around for Ross. (that's me) Wouldnt mind shaking the hands of you blokes.

Well don't hold your breath, but if I ever do get there, I'll mosey on down.

If you dont trust my word for it, ask the guys of Hex about Marcon. (this will be thier first year at Origins, i think) http://hexgames.com

Hope ive been helpful.