fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Shadow person)
This today from Phillippe Boulle, cross-posting at [livejournal.com profile] whitewolf_lj:

14th July, 2005. 10:08 am.

Withdrawal of Proposed Pay-for-Play Policy



(Here's a cross-post from the MET forum on the White Wolf homepage.)

All-

First of all, let me thank everyone who has posted and emailed on this topic, both here and in a variety of other forums. Obviously, the reaction to our pay-for-play policy has been vocal and largely critical, but believe it or not, I'm happy about that. Getting feedback and comments from our fans, customers and fellow-gamers is very important to me, and in many ways negative comments are the most useful. It's also heartening to see and hear from people who obviously care very deeply about their hobby. My apologies to those I haven't had the chance to respond to personally.

Clearly, I have failed to communicate our intentions and goals with this policy -- both in discussions online and off, and in the wording of the policy itself. White Wolf has no interest in closing down, regulating or otherwise stifling the countless small, ad hoc and home-run games that have always been the heart's blood of the gaming hobby (tabletop and live-action both). The so-called "pizza scenario" is the last thing we want to have any say on.

We are interested in building a larger community of World of Darkness players and in supporting the various Storytellers and organizers who are putting on great events. We envision a time when all World of Darkness players have easy access to a panoply of organized games, when they can freely and easily communicate, when they can get neat benefits from us and from their fellow fans, and if they choose to organize games of their own, they have plenty of tools to make them successful. Likewise, we are interested in making sure that when a World of Darkness fan has to shell out her hard-earned money to play a game, she can be reasonably sure that this game lives up to the standards she has come to expect.

Based on all your feedback, it's obvious that the policy as currently worded is not going to accomplish these goals. So, we are pulling it off the table as a blanket policy. I realize that the proverbial genie can't be shoved back in the bottle, but the guidelines I handed to a few people at ORIGINS and posted here last week clearly need to be reworked and rethought, so please consider them withdrawn.

I expect to chat with some of the major LARP organizations running World of Darkness games in the coming weeks in order to hammer out license terms that address their needs and ours, and don't penalize the player community that has made the World of Darkness what it is (and that pays my salary).

Sincerely,

--
Philippe R. Boulle
Marketing Director
White Wolf Publishing, Inc.
1554 Litton Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
404-292-1819 x203 (vox); 678-382-3882 (fax)


So there you have it. Opinions?
fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Shadow person)
Roleplaying is like sex.

Except that if you charge for sex, you don't have to join the Camarilla.
fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Shadow person)
(This was sent by email directly to Phil Boulle earlier today).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Phil,

Like a lot of people this past week, I have been concerned about how the new Pay-to-Play policy affects my standing, as well as the standing of fan RPG organisations who happen to enjoy using White Wolf products.

I've been wondering about the sorts of small groups this policy could affect. I was wondering how far the exemptions go, and what the threshold is above which a licence is required to operate.

Thought then turned to what constitutes an "amateur" group. For example:

- Individuals who are amateur fans of White Wolf roleplaying, but which aren't tied down to a particular group or club (such as myself at present);

- Groups of amateurs which gather in one another's private residences to game, including games involving White Wolf products, but where small cash donations are typically asked for to cover refreshments, spare sheets etc (in other words, pretty much any average home-based hobby group);

- Small social RPG clubs which operate through a single venue such as the back of a games store, a back room of a public library etc., where the owner of the property charges rent on that property, in addition to any monies the group may ask for to provide the night's refreshments, spare sheets etc, regardless of what the club uses the facilities for, whether it's to play Requiem or Halo (or even to hold crochet masterclasses or prayer circles);

- General roleplaying clubs which are part of an educational establishment such as a school, college or University, and which are bound by the University's social club bylaws to organise and keep ledgers of cash transactions made by that club.

I then thought of the sorts of roleplaying groups I have belonged to, and I considered the following situations, which have happened in a long life of gaming:

- A club of amateurs I once belonged to had an individual whose uncle ran a gaming store across town. Now the uncle ran a 10% discount scheme, but only to family. Once every couple of weeks, therefore, when his uncle got new books in, this individual would make a run to the store on behalf of his colleagues in the club, bearing a shopping list and the requisite monies to purchase such books at a discount.

- A club of gaming amateurs I belonged to in University were required by the University's club and association bylaws to elect a chair, a secretary and a treasurer, and to keep financial records of all monetary transactions made by the club. The club had several good ideas, including raising a membership fee for the express purpose of maintaining a communal library of roleplaying game books and products for the benefit of all students.

Note: all students. Not just the members of the club. These people were making the communal library accessible to all, in order to show outsiders how much fun roleplaying could be. Memberships were offered to outsiders, but it was not mandatory for people who only dropped by for single visits.

Towards the end of my final year, the group also arranged a public roleplaying event on college grounds for charity. LARPing, CCGs and tabletop games were played, and a fee for entry was charged ... but all proceeds raised above and beyond the costs charged by the University went to the University's patron charity.

All these kinds of groups exist. Some of them have memberships numbering in their twenties, particularly the more popular academic roleplaying groups in some of the larger institutions. And not just in academia. What about amateur roleplaying groups set up in places such as hospices or at military barracks, or other places with long-term residents such as amateur RPG communities set up within the office buildings of commercial, government or voluntary concerns?

The thing about these groups and communities is that almost all of them are general roleplaying clubs and groups, and fees raised strictly for the purpose of membership and/or participation aren't charged. Furthermore, they aren't tied down to just White Wolf's product. They also play Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, GURPS, D&D, Magic: the Gathering, Halo, GTA: San Andreas ...

A blanket Edict From Above requiring that even amateur clubs such as the above require licences and mandatory subscription to the Camarilla, on pain of forfeiture of the right to enjoy White Wolf's products, is frankly going to drive every single such club and individual to simply drop gaming White Wolf and continuing gaming with some of the other companies' products instead.

There's already enough fallout over the new World of Darkness - several friends I gamed with haven't spoken to me since 2004, and consider me a "sellout" because I happened to buy the new WoD core and Requiem. The friction this policy has generated has reached down to the small community club I'm a member of, and they are holding a meeting this week to consider whether or not to drop using your products altogether, concentrate on other companies' games in future.

The policy is mooted as coming into effect in six months, but people are making up their minds now.

I might suggest that you look towards the possibility of asking individual amateurs who have proven their love for White Wolf's games on a long term basis if they would like to be the official representatives of White Wolf at conventions.

If individuals "speaking for" White Wolf, yet not under any obligation whatsoever to join the Camarilla, can be seen at conventions, it might hopefully allay the fears of other individuals that you could be trying to force everyone who ever heard the name "White Wolf" in a passing conversation to join the Camarilla and pay an annual sub fee to "the local union."

White Wolf games and products have been, to me, the source of a good deal of enjoyment to me over the past fourteen years. The past seven or eight years, since my time at University, I've almost exclusively devoted my available leisure time towards enjoying World of Darkness games.

I believe in the fun which draws people to roleplaying, and to that particular flavour of fun which is roleplaying in White Wolf's World of Darkness. I don't want to see that fun disappear. In fact, I have no wish to see White Wolf disappear, either. And if there's anything I can do to prevent either occurrence, I'll do it.

I hope I've been of help in some way. Thanks for your time.

Yours,


Fiat Knox, aka "Libra_the_Balancer."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well? D'you think it lays it out clear enough?

And will it help out White Wolf? (And if not, how long do you think it's got?)
fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Shadow person)
Over the past week, White Wolf has seen some considerable controversy on its site, all over a radical change in its policies.

Pay for Play Policy behind this cut )

Links to various fora can be found below:

Policy on Pay-for-Play Games

More on the Pay-for-Play Policy

Official Spanking of the Policy - the first thread established, not long after Origins

Opinions on the Pay-for-Play Policy

Thread on Ex Libris Nocturnis

Thread on Shadownessence Forum

[poll]: What Will You Do Now?

I've had a thought about it, and it was even easier to make up my mind than I thought. I thought it would take me the weekend. It only took me an hour offline at most.

Basically, it boils down to this, very simply.

I do not want to join the Camarilla.

I refuse to be forced to join the Camarilla.

It's not the money thing: it's the organisation. I want no part of the Camarilla whatsoever. Never have done, never will.

That's it.

The only thing that'll ever work is that WWGS

(i) separate the licences from obligatory Camarilla membership;

(ii) require that any organiser running public, professional events sign up to an agreement requiring the organisers only to adhere to local health & safety and security bylaws regards public displays, etc., on pain that if accidents to happen at events they are running, and they haven't secured due diligence for their actions, it's them alone who will have to pay the piper, not White Wolf;

(iii) establish an independent body, separate from the Camarilla, to assess these applications for licences from organisers, with the sole power of being able to grant, suspend and revoke those licences - a body to which even the Camarilla must answer;

(iv) Waive any requirement for unaffiliated fans and non-professional STs to join the Camarilla, if they choose to remain independent. Even if they end up representing White Wolf at events.

Especially if they end up representing White Wolf at events. Particularly if they don't want to be regarded as smug quislings and apologists by the unaffiliated fans attending same events.

(v) Never forget again that the main reason why sensible men and women spend upward of $40 on these bloody books is because it's supposed to be fun to play these games.

This policy has killed the joy of WoD gaming for me, stone dead. Until even just a few hours ago, it was a joy to post stuff regards High Speech, mages, Uremehir, Predators and my review of Mysterious Places. Not now.

Maybe in a while, I'll get that joy back. Maybe even in a day, or even a week. Nut not right now.
fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Default)
I just realised something these past few days.

All the movies I ever watched, all the music I grew up with, are now kind of ... ancient.

I was talking to a friend of mine, who reminded me that her tenth wedding anniversary was this year - it was held a short while ago. I asked her what big movie was playing at the time of the wedding.

Her reply: Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.

You know, the one with that Keanu Reeves chap. (H'mm. Wonder what happened to him)?

I was watching some of those Star Trek movies - you know, the pre-Picard ones. The first one was made in 1979, if I recall correctly.

That makes it more than 25 years old this year.

Looking at all of the things I have considered culturally important, I am perhaps a little apprehensive to realise just how old many of them are nowadays.

For example ...

22 years ago, in 1982, Philip K Dick passed away. His short story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, however, made it onto the big screens twenty years ago this year, in the form of the seminal cyberpunk movie Blade Runner - a movie which made bankable stars out of Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford.

In 1994, not only did we get to see Dracula, but also this was the year The Lion King made it into the cinemas.

I found myself listening to Face to Face by Siousxie and The Banshees recently - a song track which was released around the time of the movie Batman Returns. This makes it twelve years old - and the original Batman, released in 1989, 15 years old.

And it's not just movies and soundtracks which have undergone the test of time.

I was looking at the modest library of roleplaying games I've amassed over the years. I found myself looking at three White Wolf games, all set in the (original) World of Darkness - a grim, noiresque reflection of our own world.

I recall how 1993 saw the release of a game I would fall in love with - a game whose tenth anniversary I celebrated around August last year, and whose eleventh anniversary is marked by the game line's ending: Mage: the Ascension.

This year, 2004, was meant to be the tenth anniversary of Wraith: the Oblivion, the fourth game in White Wolf's WoD series. Sadly, W:tO barely lasted five years.

What happened? The Reckoning happened, now five years ago. This huge metaplot event turned the WoD on its head, set in motion cataclysmic events which led to this year's Time of Judgment and the ending of all the old game lines.

Five years ago, in addition, a new game came to town - a game I took to like a shot, a game featuring the most ordinary people thrust into the most extraordinary situations.

I am, of course, referring to Hunter: the Reckoning, the game of the common, ordinary man forced to see the Truth about the WoD.

Five years old this year. Happy Birthday.

15 years ago, in 1989, I suffered a crippling setback when a story I wrote got rejected. It was the first of many rejections, and the old story's now lingering in some back drawer: but at the time, I felt the world was coming down around my ears. I felt that I might never write again.

And now, I'm starting all over again. I've been using the Hunter game to hone my writing abilities, to give myself confidence, to show the world that I can write.

Recently, I entered a writing competition launched by the BBC. I submitted a story outline for a short tale I've already written, but which I'd need to convert to a screenplay if I ever got shortlisted.

Last year, a competition entry I submitted to a magazine came fourth, just bubbling under: the editor returned the tale with a letter telling me it was a fine story, and regretting that it had been a difficult choice to choose someone else's short story over mine in the end.

But looking back at these films and shows, these books and games, I realise something. They've stood the test of time for me, so well written were they.

And now it's my turn to write the books and stuff that will stand the test of time to come.
fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Default)
... with an Eastern flavour recently crossed my path.

The last one to have such an Eastern flavour was the Hengeyokai Breedbook for Werewolf: the Apocalypse, a book which detailed the Hengeyokai of the Far East.

To anyone familiar with Eastern mythology, hengeyokai are shapeshifters from Japanese mythology - in other words, the werewolves, weretigers, werecats etc. of the East, including such mythical beasts as Tengu ravens and the tricky Kitsune foxes with their many tails.

It was the Hengeyokai book that was the inspiration for my posting with the hand grenades battle manoeuvre, and generally to poke fun at that whole manga scene.

Well, not long afterwards, I bought myself a copy of World of Darkness: Demon Hunter X. If I thought Hengeyokai was bad ...

Last week, an inspiration came to me for a parody of the organisation listed within World of Darkness: Demon Hunter X: a team of dedicated agents known as Strike Force Zero.

As a result, I penned the following spoof article, which had me giggling uncontrollably all night long ...




A cell of Strike Force Zero prepares to boil a cup of tea


Shiro, the Handsome Leader: Get ready!

All: Strike Force Zero, GO!

Shiro: Kettle!

Tanaka, the Rebel: In position!

Shiro: Water!

Machiko, the Token Female: Pouring! [pours water] Water in place!

Shiro: Tanaka, status!

Tanaka: Containment secure! Kettle is full and ready to activate!

Shiro: Giant, power circuits! Report!

Giant, the Bruiser: Power conduit all clear! Ready to go!

Machiko: Current holding and steady!

Shiro: Psyop, tea status report!

Psyop, the runt (read that again, I SAID RUNT!) with the speech impediment: Reep doo wah b'ding briiiiit -

Tanaka [wry grin]: What - EVER ...

Machiko: All systems reporting ready!

Tanaka: Set!

Shiro: Activating kettle ... NOW!

[Shiro pushes button on side of kettle]

All [to the accompaniment of kata style flourishes in unison]: RAPID! WATER!! BOILAGE!!!

[Optional DVD ending cut from original Japanese anime footage]

[Kettle inexplicably morphs into unstoppable 500 foot Mecha Samurai colossus of metal, steam and plastic that promptly goes on the rampage and trashes half of Tokyo]





Says it all, doesn't it?

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