[Next] Let's talk about the Gauntlet Forums

As Story Games has announced shutting down, I went over to the Gauntlet forums and signed up.

I don't know how I feel about the rather "cute/modern" layout and interface (though it has some nice "bells and whistles"), but it seems like a vibrant community full of story gamers (including former Story Games regulars like Jason Morningstar and Bill White).

They also seem quite legitimately interested in discussing actual, progressive game design.

Does anyone have any experiences to share with those forums?

Might they be a good place to "migrate" to? Why or why not?
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  • They’re very progressive. That may be value-neutral, or not, depending on your tastes - both directionally, and as a matter of degree. Some people want progressive issues interwoven frequently and at length in their game discussion and design; others do not, YMMV.

    You may think my choice of neutral wording indicates criticism of their political stance.
    It doesn’t, quite. Our politics are directionally aligned, I just have no taste for treating all gaming as a political activity.
  • Thanks! That's interesting. Is it a general sense, or did you have some kind of particular experience there?

    I read quite a lot of material there today (and even posted some), but didn't see any political content at all (even in subtext).

    I like a few of the design features of the forum's layout (although I'm still not too sure how to actually browse the forum):

    * When there is a quote in someone's post, you can click the arrow beside it to immediately scroll to the post it's quoting.

    * At the bottom of any discussion, the software suggests other topics you might like to read. (A nice way to "get around" related discussions, if the algorithm works well.)
  • Talking to @Aviatrix who hangs out there had given me the impression that this was a place that used a bunch of tools like Google Hangouts or Discord etc which I won't touch but they seem to have a normal discourse forum as well.
  • I signed-up over there, but it is going to take a bit to get used to the interface. I also signed-up at Fictioneers.

  • That's interesting. Is it a general sense, or did you have some kind of particular experience there?
    I’m speaking from my experience on their slack and discord channels. I haven’t gotten a taste for the fora yet, but I am generalizing that same crowd, same culture.
  • I like the Gauntlet Forums. I have been on their slack channel for a while but I folks are much more inclined to have an extended dialogue on the forum, which is my preference.

    Conversation seems to focus much more on comparing systems, hype for new releases and GM/ facilitation advice. There are things I appreciate about Story Games that I haven't seen much of at the Gauntlet (yet): intensive workshopping of designs, theory about what works and why, etc.
  • Perhaps we can bring some of that over there. Can you see any reason it wouldn’t be welcome?
  • Right now the forums are a bit less theoretical, but IDK, I'm not always up for theory (praxis, yeah.)

    The Gauntlet has done a lot of work within their community (which is primarily the vast number of online games organized through it) to institute a genuinely caring and hygienic play culture. That doesn't mean that stuff doesn't happen, but it does mean that as a community there's a genuine commitment to creating that kind of space. It also has a high proportion of queer and female participants, and some prominent people of color in the leadership.

    The Gauntlet basically does two kinds of games: OSR, and Indie. There's never been any D&D on it; it's a kind of quirk of the community. There's not a lot of play of stuff in the square trad space, or hybrids like Fate. A lot of the OSR gaming gets done via lighter, more indie engines, like World of Dungeons or Into the Odd. There's also a fairly healthy amount of OSR design stuff--my friend Richard wrote a terrific OSR take on a post-apocalyptic Oz where you lived beneath the fallen Emerald City.

    Indie games run the gamut from PbtA to just about anything that can conceivably be played online. It tends to lean heavily into PbtA since one of the rules of running games there is you have to keep an open table and if people RSVP they get to play (there's a limited number of slots, of course), so PbtA tends to facilitate that easily. I know that when I put up Monsterhearts games they literally fill within five minutes.

    In terms of design the concerns tend to be more practical than theoretical and concentrate on the actual design of games. There's several really decent games that have come out of the community: Fraser Simmons "The Veil" for example; more recently, the wuxia PbtA "Hearts of Wulin" and a twisty dark little descendent of Cthulhu Dark called "Trophy" about treasure hunters making an "incursion" into a forest that doesn't want them there. (I haven't gotten to play it, but I've heard good things.) All three of my games got playtested on the Gauntlet and they published one of them in their monthly magazine, Codex--which I highly recommend, it's really good. (I think the issue my game is in--Glamour--is currently PWYW on DriveThru.) I have an upcoming article on how to use "Good Society" to play Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and the Codex Volume One kickstarter will have a digital article about my Kingsport setting.

    The forums have been a pretty lively place with some good discussion of stuff, I think, so they're definitely a place to think about spending some time with; also, a lot of the people there are just really cool and fun to talk to/play with--my online games have definitely been improved by getting to play with some people multiple times, like the two members of what I call the Kingsport Drama Society (because of their awesomely emotional play in my Kingsport games, and others). It's also a great place to pick up some online play, if you want to; for that it helps to contribute to the patreon because at the $8 level you get first crack at signing up. That said, quite a few games (I think over 50%) eventually take someone from the waitlist, so it's possible to get into games even at the lower level.
  • @Paul_T I don't think there's any barrier to bringing more theory discussion, so long as it is accessible (defining terms, assuming no knowledge of other forum discussion). I think the main thing that is needed is a critical mass of interest. And there is some design work going on in the community (I think Trophy is really good and second @Aviatrix in recommending the Codex zines) but I haven't seen a lot of it on the (relatively new) forums.
  • The Gauntlet forums look pretty well-developed, and from the discussion there, it seems like a lot of their members would be open to participating in the sorts of topics we've been hosting here lately.

    I'm gonna give 'em a try.
  • Yeah, with the important caveat that you won't get much D&D traction there :)
  • Yeah, I’ve started reading and posting and I’m very pleasantly surprised so far.
  • Thanks, Aviatrix! That’s a really nice overview. Much appreciated!
  • I also want to build on @Aviatrix's observation that most of the games played/ analyzed/ discussed in the Gauntlet are OSR or Indie. I have found this to be true, but without a rift between the two scenes.

    Some folks play both, others have a preference, but there’s no tension or tribalism that I’ve noticed.
  • edited May 29
    @Paul_T, etc.
    I would rather use Fictioneers than Gauntlet. We already know Aslf (Tod) and his message boards work similar to SGs. If we need to make adjustments to the forum Tod can do so.

    Plus it would be all of the Story Game Forum members going over to Fictioneers, so rather than trying to blend our culture with the Gauntlets culture, we could retain the distinctiveness of SG.

    The Gauntlet focuses on specific RPGs like PbtA (which I love), but we want a Forum that is as comfortable discussing D&D as it is discussing indie games.

    We could continue to keep the focus on the games rather than getting sidetracked by politics...if people feel like talking about politics they will have the Gauntlet, but Fictioneers can be a place that mirrors the SG culture (ie Game focused).

    All we all have to do is sign up at Fictioneers and move over. Easy. Job finished. We just have to all decide together and actually do it.


    Edit: I don’t know. I checked out the Gauntlet and it looks like it has a lot to offer. Maybe we should all sign up for both Fictioneers and the Gauntlet. Fictioneers could have more of the SG Forums vibe, which would be nice to keep going.
  • Actually, I'd like to get community input on the forum categories. But I'll do that here.
  • This isn't meant as a slag on Fictioneers and there are several reasons why Fictioneers might be a better place than the Gauntlet for you / us.

    But specifically about the politics thing:

    that way if people feel like talking about politics they will have the Gauntlet, and Fictioneers can be a place that mirrors the SG culture (ie Game focused)

    The risk with that mindset the politics on the non-Gauntlet place will end up being "anti-sjw" (or whatever their endonym is) which is prob the most annoying political position of all time :bawling:
    maybe we should all go our separate ways after all :bawling:
    me and emma could go to a molotov-throwing bash-the-fash site where we can discuss the gaming (that we have zero things in common regarding) :bawling:
  • an OSR site that's super gay does sound kinda appealing ♥

    i haven't been too impressed with the games that have come out of there though like the vagabonds of dyfed
  • edited May 29
    I'm not really sure what you're saying, @2097. But if you'd like some bona fides, (1) I am an anarchist, and thus a leftist; (2) I was an organizer for OCCUPY, during which some of my proudest work came from forging communication and cooperation between groups of differing political views (including a cooperative march with a local chapter of the Tea Party); (3) while I appreciate the OSR and built Venger Satanis' website, I don't play OSR games personally, nor do I have much truck with its afficionados (FWIW, I also built Ron Edwards' current site). But ultimately (4): I'm about game design and theory. That's it. As far as design tenets go, I view the entire toolbox, I don't divide it into two opposed sides. I've designed super-crunchy "trad" games like CyberSpace, super-lite "modern" games like Pocket Things, and hybrid games like DayTrippers. I have no interest in talking politics online, except inasmuch as it may pertain to design theory and diegesis, and I'd be willing to establish some guidelines strongly suggesting that such conversations be taken elsewhere. In fact, you are welcome to propose verbiage. But I'm going back to my own thread now, since I feel like Fictioneers keeps hijacking this one.
  • edited May 29
    @2097
    It wouldn’t become “anti-sjw” or “sjw,” because the focus would be on games like it is here at SG. There are hundreds of sites to discuss politics and one can find RPG sites that are very friendly to whatever one’s politics. Story Game Forum discussions have been able to stay focused on the games because they limit the subject matter to the games themselves. It would be extremely easy to let our political views divide us and have the community end. Alternatively, we could come together and continue to discuss our shared interests in games, and continue to enjoy and learn from each other. I think those that want a similar experience to that of SG should all transfer over to Fictioneers and continue the community essentially as it is. I think most people would like to have a place to continue to discuss games in the way we do on SG.
  • AsIf said:

    I'd be willing to establish some guidelines strongly suggesting that such conversations be taken elsewhere.

    Oh I meant the other way around. so many games these days are inherently political that it becomes weird to not talk about that. and a lot of the time "non-political" can end up being too conservative or even reactionary for my own view.

    but i'm gonna take a break first & foremost. i don't get ANYTHING else done when i'm on s-g. (hmmm except that now that work on that cjw game s-g is doing more help than harm)
  • I just might have room in my schedule for two forums I like to use. :)

    Also I have gamed on The gauntlet once before and they seem like really nice folks I'm happy to support what they're doing over there.
  • Kenny_J said:

    I just might have room in my schedule for two forums I like to use. :)

    Also I have gamed on The gauntlet once before and they seem like really nice folks I'm happy to support what they're doing over there.

    I agree, both forums look like they have a lot to offer.

  • Gauntlet Forums are great, too. However, it feels different than Story Games and has a different focus. I enjoyed both types of discussions for different purposes.
    Maybe Fictioneers can take up the SG-style conversations.
  • What do you feel the difference is?
  • Gauntlet seems good! I don't know about the entire credit earning thing they seem to have though. Feels weird to me. But beside that it seems pretty sweet.
  • Paul_T said:

    What do you feel the difference is?

    Well, it is more focused on practical aspects. SG is certainly diving deeper into theory and maybe a broader range of topics. There is a slight PbtA bias (so far) on Gauntlet. Also more US contributors (so far).
    While SG discussions mostly steer away from political opinions, there is a certain position shining through contributions in the Gauntlet forum. People are considerate and nice. I just would prefer to keep social/political opinions or positions out of game design discussions. That's my personal preference.
  • Interesting, thanks!

    I'm finding lots of really fantastic "practical" discussion of gaming with a very self-aware perspective. Here's an example of a great thread with some top-notch advice, for instance:

    https://forums.gauntlet-rpg.com/t/advice-for-transitioning-from-gm-to-player/1424/22
  • edited May 30
    That Gauntlet thread reads like a church sermon, Paul. Just kidding [grin].
  • I have been reading the Gauntlet slack and forums for a couple of months now and I would echo others' sentiments about the culture. I'm of two minds about it- I think that tabletop RPGs are a great space for non-conforming people. In fact, I've always been jealous of theatre, and cosplay for the diversity of their spaces compared to many of my interests.

    On the other hand, the culture seems to be concerned with "identity" to the detriment of other topics. People write games about "being a virgin", "being a bear", or "being a werewolf". While this is clearly an important component to roleplay, and a departure from mere escapism, I think that games can be much more than this. Games can be used to pose and frame difficult questions, to question institutions, and bring to light some of the real achievements in art and literature.
  • EricJ said:

    Games can be used to pose and frame difficult questions, to question institutions, and bring to light some of the real achievements in art and literature.

    Maybe this is sorta a Maslow's thing. If you're not OK with who you are, or if "who you are" is someone that society treats badly, it's hard to deal with other questions.

    I'm in a pretty chill place with my personal shit somewhat together [as in: I have accepted that I'm crazy & lonely & broke] so I'm like "OK let's deal with climate change" and my friend who basically hates himself (b/c internalized classism) is like "No way how can you even care about the Earth when the Earth is such an unfair place?" and I'm like "But how can we fight amongst each other when the whole ship is about to go down" and we had kind of a falling out and I was privileged and it's all so unfair. It is. It is hard to save each other when we have to stress about food for the day.
  • Games about identity and games about larger issues aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, focus on identity is important in the discussion of a lot of issues.

    There's also the fact that given the common assumption of playing a character, a character's identity is an important part of playing them, and is important to the character, whereas bigger themes are more a player-level concern than a character-level one in most situations.

    It's also very much worth noting that any game where the player plays a character can be boiled down to being about identity. DnD is about being a fantasy adventurer. Apocalypse World is about being a sexy badass in a post-apocalyptic world. etc, etc, etc.
    Playing a character is a very identity-focused activity. A lot of games and players just don't word it that, whereas the Gauntlet typically does.
  • Games about identity and games about larger issues aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, focus on identity is important in the discussion of a lot of issues.

    Yes; oppressive structures on a macro level impacts the identity experience on the micro level.

    It’s also very much worth noting that any game where the player plays a character can be boiled down to being about identity. DnD is about being a fantasy adventurer. Apocalypse World is about being a sexy badass in a post-apocalyptic world. etc, etc, etc.
    Playing a character is a very identity-focused activity. A lot of games and players just don’t word it that, whereas the Gauntlet typically does.

    Brilliant insight!

  • Emma and Sandra,

    I'm really enjoying your commentary here in this thread on politics, identity, and attitude. Well said! Many excellent points.
  • edited May 31
    Even as a storyteller, identity is key. You can't hide forever behind the screen : your style is going to show. That's your narrator persona. Same goes for game design : you can't hide behind the mechanics, it's you setting up the rules.
    But what 2097 said : the question how do you manage priorities between this and that. I like J-L Godard's take on it : "Ne pas faire de films politiques mais faire des films politiquement" (it's not about "making political movies", but "making movies in a political way").
  • Can one use HTML on Gauntlet?
  • I think just markdown formatting?
  • @moconnor You've lost me sort of now. Can you show me an example?
  • Just tested, HTML tags work, as does markdown.
  • I see. I will try again. Where did you do it? Let me look, please.
  • edited May 31
    "

    Otherkind

    "

    Yes, Otherkind dice are the **greatest**.

    # Learn by failing

    "The advancement rules in Mouse Guard and Torchbearer requires both successful and failed attempts at a skill. "
  • In Gauntlet, the Otherkind and Learn by Failing, look the same.

    I used h1 tags on Otherkind to make a header.

    # is header1 in markdown.

    **this** is bold in markdown.
  • How would you do a popup?
  • Regarding identity, I think it is an important subject and it is perhaps true that until you come to terms with the issue, you can't move beyond that. At the same time, I think the field is vastly richer than identity. It's possible to invoke ideology, history, culture. We can
    talk about psychology, personal growth, and the displacement of one identity for another (champion boxer to father).
    Games about identity and games about larger issues aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, focus on identity is important in the discussion of a lot of issues.
    Well of course. My point is that it's possible to become mired in that limited facet.
    It’s also very much worth noting that any game where the player plays a character can be boiled down to being about identity. DnD is about being a fantasy adventurer. Apocalypse World is about being a sexy badass in a post-apocalyptic world. etc, etc, etc.
    Playing a character is a very identity-focused activity. A lot of games and players just don’t word it that, whereas the Gauntlet typically does.
    Even when you're playing a character in an RPG, there are hopefully other concerns than just mere identity. The examples you cite here are invoking the view that roleplaying is a vehicle for adolescent escapism. While there will always be elements of that, I would prefer there to some elements beyond that.

    We can talk about how focused on identity the gauntlet is, but it is certainly possible to become mired in identity. See narcissus.
  • As a queer female designer, I often am not allowed to not have my identity impact how my games are understood or even if they get heard from, so I'm a bit jaded about requests that we remove "identity" from discussion of game design as if it were KFC's 11 herbs and spices or something :)
  • Agreed, Avi!
  • As a queer female designer, I often am not allowed to not have my identity impact how my games are understood or even if they get heard from, so I'm a bit jaded about requests that we remove "identity" from discussion of game design as if it were KFC's 11 herbs and spices or something :)
    No one is suggesting that identity should be removed from the discussion. I've affirmed over and over again here that identity is a significant component of roleplay, and it is in design as well.
  • Also Aviatrix is working on a larger structure issues game, the Red Carnations on a Black Grave game.

    And I'm working on that climate game
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