Any minority (players) in our group?

Discuss Mongoose RPGs here, such as the OGL rulebooks, Jeremiah, Armageddon 2089 and Macho Women with Guns
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Postby Gist_Engine » Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:26 pm

Just Old Bear wrote: When you own the rights you can make anything canon that you want to. That's a reality I had to come to terms with 4 years ago.
I have to totally disagree. Strom is right. If you own some legal rights that were passed along the capitalist byway, then you can decide what is canon "officially."

Canon as far as fans of the spirit are concerned, however, would be a totally different matter, and the original author is the only true source of this canon. The writings of the guy who gave birth to the Hyborian vistas are the sole authority. The world is nothing more than those stories. When Howard took his life, the possibility of new canon ended. People who own Van Gogh paintings can't start making pastiche paintings and then call them "canon" or "original" works of Van Gogh art. Art, in spite of capitalism, does not work that way.

All those other Conan stories, games, and visuals can be fine and dandy, but they are still glorified fan fiction.

And, if we are using the religious analogy: The Islamic scriptures feature Jesus, but I doubt Christians consider that "canon" simply because the same character is prominent. Also, the Hebrew Talmud and Midrash are weighed differently (although the two aren't always considered hierarchical in many traditions nowadays). Also, Hindu scripture fits into various levels of "heard scripture," "traditional scripture," and "hearsay scripture," very few pieces falling into the paramount canon. Just smushing it all together as "canon" is very irresponsible.

Look at the Highlander movies, for crying out loud. Look at Sherlock Holmes.

Let us take the dirty Marvel universe as an example, where every year editors have to clear house and start deciding which stories should be canon and which forgotten. In that case Marvel owns the characters. Many writers and artists take their perspectives on Spiderman, creating who he is. Stan Lee and Ditko may have created the guy, but he was always a group-owned and group-written character. A company with legal rights goes through and decides which writers count, and that is alright. If we were talking about Spiderman, sure, legal rights are the same as artistic rights.

But, Conan was not developed that way. The Mongoose Conan RPG is Fan Fiction. Legal fan fiction. But fan fiction. Good fan fiction. But fan fiction. They just have the government's patent office on their side... But (did I say this yet?) fan fiction.
Last edited by Gist_Engine on Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Strom » Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:33 pm

Just Old Bear wrote:
When you own the rights you can make anything canon that you want to. That's a reality I had to come to terms with 4 years ago.
I must be misunderstanding you JOB. CPI - Malmberg - bought the licensce and then published the unedited Conan stories first to reintroduce Conan and Howard to a new generation. After establishing the canon stories, they have dabbled in pastiche efforts always with a understanding of the established canon. The Dark Horse Conan and the Mongoose Conan RPG are two examples of canon first, pastiche second. I can not think of one pastiche example that is passed off as canon with CPI's newest efforts. Just because runes help Conan in the TDK Conan game doesn't mean magical runes are part of Conan's canon.

LSDC tried to expand the Conan legend - I liked Conan of the Isles - but really we never know what happened to Conan after Hour of the Dragon. Tom, Dick & Harry could write a story after Hour of the Dragon that Conan was transported to the Young Kingdoms were he bonded with Stormbringer and that story would have as much credence to the Conan canon as LSDC's efforts.
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Postby Old Bear » Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:56 pm

Strom wrote:
Just Old Bear wrote:
When you own the rights you can make anything canon that you want to. That's a reality I had to come to terms with 4 years ago.
I must be misunderstanding you JOB. CPI - Malmberg - bought the licensce and then published the unedited Conan stories first to reintroduce Conan and Howard to a new generation. After establishing the canon stories, they have dabbled in pastiche efforts always with a understanding of the established canon. The Dark Horse Conan and the Mongoose Conan RPG are two examples of canon first, pastiche second. I can not think of one pastiche example that is passed off as canon with CPI's newest efforts. Just because runes help Conan in the TDK Conan game doesn't mean magical runes are part of Conan's canon.

LSDC tried to expand the Conan legend - I liked Conan of the Isles - but really we never know what happened to Conan after Hour of the Dragon. Tom, Dick & Harry could write a story after Hour of the Dragon that Conan was transported to the Young Kingdoms were he bonded with Stormbringer and that story would have as much credence to the Conan canon as LSDC's efforts.
I'm not saying *everything* produced is considered canon. The point I was badly trying to make is that canon is at the whim of the owners. I would however say that should the owners decide to commission a work based, as you suggest, for the latter part of Conan's life in official terms that might be considered canon. Whilst many of us would profoundly disagree with such a thing we couldn't stop it.

I'm not for a second saying I like such a situatiuon. Conan is as important to me as it is to many of you. One example of this was the original map commissioned for the Conan RPG. At the time no official detailed map of Hyboria existed, and at one point it was going to be the official map of Hyboria. Whether that is still the case I don't know, but it shows how things can move on and adapt.
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Postby Old Bear » Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:04 pm

Gist_Engine wrote:
Just Old Bear wrote: When you own the rights you can make anything canon that you want to. That's a reality I had to come to terms with 4 years ago.
I have to totally disagree. Strom is right. If you own some legal rights that were passed along the capitalist byway, then you can decide what is canon "officially."

Canon as far as fans of the spirit are concerned, however, would be a totally different matter, and the original author is the only true source of this canon. The writings of the guy who gave birth to the Hyborian vistas are the sole authority. The world is nothing more than those stories. When Howard took his life, the possibility of new canon ended. People who own Van Gogh paintings can't start making pastiche paintings and then call them "canon" or "original" works of Van Gogh art. Art, in spite of capitalism, does not work that way.
That would be all well and good if the fans all thought as one - but they don't, do they. I've actually met people who liked Conan of Venarium.

I happen to emotionally agree with you, but in practice if you, me and Fred Malmberg stood in one place and you and he were aarguinbg over canon. and Fred turned to me and asked me which of you was correct, I might have had my head in a bowl of soup but the answer would still be, 'you are, Fred'.

You cannot compare ongoing fiction with a single painting. If Robert Jordan got hold of a van Gogh and drew on it with felt tip we'd all be able to see the mess.

It would have helped if Howard had mapped out in detail all of Hyboria. then there would be no trouble. But he didn't. There are great holes that have needed filling, and others have stepped into the breach.

There used to be, and probably still is, a pecking order for canon: Howard first, naturally, and where he left things blank, Sprague de Camp is the next step, followed by the likes of Poul Anderson and Lin Carter.

My biggest concern is that Turtledove was the first one to get to Cimmeria in any detail. Imagine that becoming accepted as canon, because if it did future writers, games designers et al would have to follow it, like it or not.
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Postby Gist_Engine » Fri Mar 14, 2008 7:51 pm

Well, the map Howard himself "OK'ed" was printed in the Del Ray books, I believe. And, from what I've read, his version was available for quite some time in less popular forms.

And, yes, I agree that someone has authority to dictate Conan canon (yeesh, typo waiting to happen!), but I can still side with someone who considers non-Howard additions as dubious. If your dear pal Fred decided to release a press statement that Conan was actually an alien this whole time, it would become canon for those with "official" sensibilities, maybe. Still, Strom made a good point that those interpreters have done (some more than others) a good job distinguishing themselves as adding to the canon with quasi-canon narratives.

I just don't think the legal rights should even brought up in a forum like this. Who cares what some Fred has to say? Maybe you all who know the dude, but I would rather judge all Conan by how it reflects, not refurbishes, Howard.

If someone is trying to "figure out" the racial, social makeup for Hyboria, Howard is where to go. Sure, you can see what others have done with Conan in the character's history (more overt sex, bodybuilder actors, etc.), but each fan has to draw a line somewhere.

Sure, fans won't agree. So what?

Anyway, I think we've exhausted this. Yes, we agree there are official authorities who get to say what they want. But they will rarely overcome the esprit of the original pieces.
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Postby Old Bear » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:34 pm


I just don't think the legal rights should even brought up in a forum like this. Who cares what some Fred has to say? Maybe you all who know the dude, but I would rather judge all Conan by how it reflects, not refurbishes, Howard.
"Some Fred"? :shock: Seriously, you're from Texas, and Austin probably means the Cowboys, right? Anybody there not take notice of "some Jerry" when it comes to ownership?

As for bringing in legal rights, if you are talking about Conan canon then it's unavoidable, unless of course you don't wish to face reality.
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Postby Gist_Engine » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:47 pm

The Cowboys are in Dallas, the Spurs are in San Antonio, the concrete is in Houston, and a world-class university is in Austin. I root for the Detroit Tigers, so I have no idea who "Jerry" is.

And, no, I have no idea, nor do I care, who this Fred is who seems to make a living selling the ideas of someone else. If I "owned" Conan, I would probably do similar things to what he does, choose licensing deals based on supposed quality and potential for building up the asset. Still, I would not consider any work I did "canon." That is just silly. There is a difference between a King and a Steward.

And, no, it is not "unavoidable!" Canon has nothing to do with the current capitalist owner. Yeesh. I understand what you are trying to say: authority rests in authority. Yes, we get it. Yes, Freddie has the legal rights, so he owns the official canon. Fine. I'd agree with you if we were talking about the Bible. In a council in the 4th century, some religious leaders decided to choose some of the popular texts of the day and make them "canon" and throw out those texts that didn't fit their theology. Cool. Yes, those in power make the canon.

But, again, that was a committee. When it comes to a fictional character created by one author, then the canon contains only those works by that author featuring that character. Period. Why is anyone arguing this? Would you rather I use the word "corpus?" The Conan corpus? I would actually prefer the reverse. You and Freddy can control the corpus- all the texts officially recognized as "Conanish." Howard can retain the canon.

It is the same with any fictional character I can think of (those birthed by one author, as mentioned before). The stage adaptations of Oliver Twist have been ENORMOUSLY successful, but if someone mentioned the "canon" then everyone would naturally bring to mind Dickens.

We are arguing semantics, and I think only your proximity/familiarity to those "in power" is what keeps this going. I'm done.
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Postby Strom » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:56 pm

Good points by all but I think you are incorrect in your description of CPI and Fredrick Malmberg, Mr. Bear. I met and talked to Fredrick at the '06 centennial celebration at REH's house in Cross Plains and he expressed a sincere desire to focus on REH's Conan and REH's prolific storytelling as a priority over pastiche. His creation of the REH Foundation and the publishing of all of Conan, Kull & Solomon Kane's, stories plus the two volumes of the Best of REH stories are just another example of the current ownerships commitment to not only Conan but under appreciated talent of REH. I think he would respectfully acknowledge that REH's Conan is canon.

The biggest example of CPI's commitment to canon is that no pastiche Conan has been published since CPI took over. Even though I am convinced it would sell very good - I know I would buy them. I think though, that CPI will not be able to resist the temptation of pastiche when the new Conan movie comes out.
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Postby Gist_Engine » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:59 pm

A level head. Thank you.
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Postby Old Bear » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:50 pm

Strom wrote:Good points by all but I think you are incorrect in your description of CPI and Fredrick Malmberg, Mr. Bear. I met and talked to Fredrick at the '06 centennial celebration at REH's house in Cross Plains and he expressed a sincere desire to focus on REH's Conan and REH's prolific storytelling as a priority over pastiche. His creation of the REH Foundation and the publishing of all of Conan, Kull & Solomon Kane's, stories plus the two volumes of the Best of REH stories are just another example of the current ownerships commitment to not only Conan but under appreciated talent of REH. I think he would respectfully acknowledge that REH's Conan is canon.

The biggest example of CPI's commitment to canon is that no pastiche Conan has been published since CPI took over. Even though I am convinced it would sell very good - I know I would buy them. I think though, that CPI will not be able to resist the temptation of pastiche when the new Conan movie comes out.
Everything you say is quite right. I have had the same experience talking with Fred myself, about a year before you, which suggets he is consistent. Overall I too believe that his heart is in the right place.

That said, have you seen the artwork for the Aquilonians to be used in the new Funcom game? It's the same theme handed to Mongoose for use in the Aquilonian book. Is that how you ever envisaged Aquilonian knights?

It may well be that I have been somewhat jaded by exposure to the intricacies of the top end of the gaming business, but the net result is that I don't have much time for people with their heads in the clouds. I'm not for a second suggesting that is the case with you, but I'm afraid when I hear people talking about something like they have some kind of ownership of it then I tend to speak up.

I can only speak from experience, but Vincent Darlage will tell you that experience is considerable. Don't mistake my cynicism for a lack of love for Conan, though. I'm right up there with the rest of you, and more than anybody I fought the corner for Howard (and to a lesser degree Sprague de Camp and Carter) - and mostly I lost.
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Postby Old Bear » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:52 pm

Gist_Engine wrote:The Cowboys are in Dallas, the Spurs are in San Antonio, the concrete is in Houston, and a world-class university is in Austin. I root for the Detroit Tigers, so I have no idea who "Jerry" is.
Guess you're not a football fan. My bad. I figured everybody your way had heard of Jerry Jones.
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Postby Strom » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:47 pm

Just Old Bear wrote:
Strom wrote:
Everything you say is quite right. I have had the same experience talking with Fred myself, about a year before you, which suggets he is consistent. Overall I too believe that his heart is in the right place.

That said, have you seen the artwork for the Aquilonians to be used in the new Funcom game? It's the same theme handed to Mongoose for use in the Aquilonian book. Is that how you ever envisaged Aquilonian knights?

It may well be that I have been somewhat jaded by exposure to the intricacies of the top end of the gaming business, but the net result is that I don't have much time for people with their heads in the clouds. I'm not for a second suggesting that is the case with you, but I'm afraid when I hear people talking about something like they have some kind of ownership of it then I tend to speak up.

I can only speak from experience, but Vincent Darlage will tell you that experience is considerable. Don't mistake my cynicism for a lack of love for Conan, though. I'm right up there with the rest of you, and more than anybody I fought the corner for Howard (and to a lesser degree Sprague de Camp and Carter) - and mostly I lost.

I completely understand your points and throughly respect your experience. My comments originate as a fan of the character perspective and a viewing of the actions of CPI in comparasion to the prior ownership of the Conan license (another CPI but a different company). I'm really happy with the direction the current ownership is going with the license, putting Howard first before pastiche. Conan is done now - with REH books still coming - so CPI can explore more pastiche efforts now.

I would love to hear some of the issues that were bandied about with the creation of the RPG but I can understand that it's probably best left to decipher on our own, based on what was printed. I'm happy with the limited inaccurracies but I am not a purist since I enjoy numerous pastiche products - and crave more!

As to the Aquilonian makeup with the MMO, I realize that it isn't as close to the original work as it should be but it is closer than Turtledove's complete revamp of established canon. Try to be close and especially close when you you are working in the medium of prose that the product was created in. There's really no excuse for not following Howard's established canon when you are writing a story, IMO.
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Postby Style » Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:38 am

**sigh** This was an interesting thread on race until it became a religious argument about REH vs Pastiche. :(

Through the years, I've gamed with four black males, all of them for extended periods. However, they were some of the whitest black men you've ever met. One has a white wife, two white gfs, the other an asian gf. For all four, practically all their friends were white. Only one of them actually talked like a black man, i.e. if you were talking to the others on the phone and didn't know them, you'd think you were talking to white guys.

I can't speak for europe, but rpgs are just not part of the culture of the minorities in America. If you're an American minority, and you're playing an rpg, chances are your white friends exposed you to it.

Oh, and I have a Jewish fellow in my current game. Does that count? ;)
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Postby Hervé » Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:11 am

Style wrote:
I can't speak for europe, but rpgs are just not part of the culture of the minorities in America.
Well, I can't tell about whole Europe, but I live in Marseille, wich is much a cosmopolitan city. As I run a gaming shop, I see a lot of gamers of every origin. But anyways I think that tabletop gaming, being an "intellectual" hobby, depends more on education than on race. Unfortunately, we live in a world where social inequalities are strong. In our "white" lands, it is still the racial minorities that generally end at the lower end of the social ladder, having thus a restricted access to education.
The term of "minority" speaks by itself... :cry:
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Postby Old Bear » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:08 am

Strom wrote:
I would love to hear some of the issues that were bandied about with the creation of the RPG but I can understand that it's probably best left to decipher on our own, based on what was printed. I'm happy with the limited inaccurracies but I am not a purist since I enjoy numerous pastiche products - and crave more!

As to the Aquilonian makeup with the MMO, I realize that it isn't as close to the original work as it should be but it is closer than Turtledove's complete revamp of established canon. Try to be close and especially close when you you are working in the medium of prose that the product was created in. There's really no excuse for not following Howard's established canon when you are writing a story, IMO.
Absolutely agree on all points. I too would love to divulge many of the conversations but professional courtesy forbids it.

I too think that Howard's established canon should be stuck too without question. I don't believe it is acceptable to either put modern values on writings from 80+ years ago or alter elements to make it more 'commercially' viable, as I think may have been the case with Turtledove.
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Postby The King » Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:07 pm

Just Old Bear wrote:My biggest concern is that Turtledove was the first one to get to Cimmeria in any detail. Imagine that becoming accepted as canon, because if it did future writers, games designers et al would have to follow it, like it or not.
This is a bit what I feel when I read that the guy wrote the saga of Titus Crow (I don't remember the name) is considered a spiritual son of H.P. Lovecraft.
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Postby Style » Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:52 pm

Hervé wrote:I think that tabletop gaming, being an "intellectual" hobby, depends more on education than on race. Unfortunately, we live in a world where social inequalities are strong.
I would say that cost is at least as much of a limiting factor as education. As you say, social inequalities are reality. Another reality is table top games are not cheap. Sure, you don't have to buy a book to play, but the GM will require at least one book, and very few players go with out making at least a few purchases.

There are cheap alternatives out there. My current system of choice is Savage Worlds, and the core book for it is just $10 (and it is the equivalent of the phb, dmg, and mm rolled into one). There are seemingly endless other free systems out there if you do a search. But these are games that (relatively) few people are playing. If you're playing a rpg, chances are you're playing D&D, and if not that then some other "for pay" game. Mongoose's book prices in particular are on the high end. In recent years, one of the more common ways young players have been exposed to rpgs is through the card game Magic, which also is a pricey hobby.
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Postby Gist_Engine » Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:50 pm

Yeah, and that sounds so weird to me. I got into gaming with TMNT and Other Strangeness, which followed the Heroes Unlimited d20 rules, which I think Palladium put out. I was 10 and had one book. Never needed another with the dozen or so players we had over the years. I started D&D and had one book. Never needed another with the dozen or so players we had over the years. I played Vampire: The Masquerade once, but those guys had one book, and last I spoke with them, they never needed another one (I guess they upgraded or whatever into the new Vampire world, maybe).

I blame D&D, Wizards of the Coast specifically, and games like Magic with the Pokemon "gotta catch 'em all" mentality. Since when are role-playing games for collectors? Even "collectible card games" are what we call the rpg-esque games like Magic. That is just people falling for the capitalist bullshit.

I'm sorry, but I will never buy a campaign or scenario book. I write my own. As for those games that intentionally follow a universal campaign, ie White Wolf's recent line and Cthulhutech, they can be good or bad. It does feel cool to follow along in a campaign you know hundreds of others are playing. It is good when you report your outcomes or something, like wargamers do. The wargaming model is awesome for getting lots of people involved in one war. I haven't been impressed with how RPGs do it so far.

Still, people, you can resist. Do you need a fourteenth prestige class? Do you need someone to tell you how Persians, I mean Turanians, dress? Do you not have Wikipedia? Still, I've heard more and more about RPGers who "collect" gamebooks. I just think that seems weird.

Anyway, just so you know, all the poor kids I grew up with played RPGs, and money was not an object. We shared the same damn books for over a decade.
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Postby Style » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:09 am

Gist_Engine wrote:Anyway, just so you know, all the poor kids I grew up with played RPGs, and money was not an object. We shared the same damn books for over a decade.
I'd say that's rare these days. As you mentioned, it's all about money. D20 is intentionally designed so that the more books you have the bigger your advantage. For this (and several other reasons), I've parted ways with D20, and not looked back.

By the way, I was thinking about it, and the four black men I've played with were all college educated. So maybe Hervé was on to something.
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Postby Gist_Engine » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:00 pm

Well, looking at your own situation and generalizing is not always the best way to go about ethnographic research. College educated minorities are exposed to other cultures, roommates, and ways of living, which might be more of the impetus than simply being intellectual or educated. There are plenty of factors (economics being a huge one) that constitute the role-playing game culture, and I'm sure you can find a book at the library about it. I know at least one person who got a PhD with similar research, and I have seen dozens of books. Any work on subculture would mention it.

I wouldn't consider role-playing games "intellectual," but I know what you mean. But often times education and an interest in role-playing can come from the same cause, for instance a love of reading. If you love stories and ideas, you will be more likely to stay in school, and that love might introduce you to rpgs.

I still think the European foundation of role-playing myth is huge. I love being a part of the past, which, by extension, is "my" past. My family is Welsh, and that gives me even more right to brag and interact with mythic Europe. I could see how Native Americans or Blacks would not have that drive to relive European history or glamorize/romanticize the same histories. Seems normal. Who is designing games that will change that?

In fact, this issue is not as much "what do you feel keeps minorities away" as we are asking. I'm sure people have pretty much figured it out. People are individuals, but groups are rather predictable. And I'm sure the recent books (not by BADD or the like) will agree on the dynamic that creates rpg culture.

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