The Authorised Book of James
1In the beginning were the dice and the figures, and the dice and the figures were without form or purpose.
2And Gary Gygax didst create the rules, and the rules were okay, and form was created.
3And Dave Arneson did create Castle Blackmoor, and purpose was created.
4And they didst write Dungeons and Dragons, and roleplaying filled the world.
5And strife didst arise, and jealousies, and confusions, and lawsuits did follow, and happenings did occur that men may not talk about under the terms of legal settlements made more than a score of years later.
6And Dungeons & Dragons begot Advanced Dungeon's and Dragons; and Advanced Dungeon's and Dragons begot Traveler; and Traveler begot Champions; and Champions begot Hero; and Hero begot GURPS; and GURPS begot Vampire: the Masquerade; and the systems multiplied across the land.
7And through it all, the roleplaying endured and continued, and stagnated, as convention became cliché and cliché became rule. Until a Prophet arrived to lead us to a better future.
8And his name was James.
2And he didst write Interactive Fantasy; and it was good.
2But the people were not ready, and the Prophet's words were rejected; this was the first of the sins of gamer-kind.
3And he didst create Hogshead Publishing, and the license for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay he didst acquire.
4And he didst reprint.
5And he didst write.
6And he didst rewrite. Men had worshipped the Enemy Within Campaign as believers worship Gods, but the Prophet knew it to be a false god; for he didst burn the barge that rail-roaded plot.
7Thus he set players free.
3And the Prophet didst take his thoughts and words to the people; for he was a self-described rampant self-publicist.
2And one Saturday morning he didst leave his Clapham abode, and didst travel westward out of London crossing the Thames near Runnymede and alighting in Egham at Royal Hollaway and New Bedford College.
3And there he didst address a gathering at a convention called Killercon; and he didst describe how to get published in the roleplaying industry.
4And in the audience was Nexus; and this was the first time he had known the Prophet.
5The Prophet's words fell on fertile ground. Nexus was working on issue two of Critical Miss; but had become deeply depressed over its progress, and thoughts of abandonment were strong in his mind.
6But the Prophet said, "Do a webpage!"
7And Nexus went and did his webpage; and he called it Issue 2; and it was pretty good.
8And he did issues 3 to 9; and they were pretty good also.
9And a guy from Mongoose Publishing did talk to him in a pub, and didst say, "You should write for us!"; and he did. Instead of Issue 10.
10And so the guidance of the Prophet blessed him.
4The Prophet had been sent to our Earth to free our roleplaying from the conventions that bound it; he created a line called the "New Style" that would show us the path to freedom.
2He published The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which had no games master, and Pantheon, which had no games master also.
3He published Puppetland, which showed us what we might be, and PowerKill and Violence, which showed us what we were.
4He showed us Youdunnit; again he was teaching us that we needed not a games master.
5But we didst fail him; for while the NewStyle line gained critical acclaim they didst not change the way we roleplayed.
6And the Prophet didst publish Nobilis second edition, a work so beautiful that it drew gasps from all who saw it, and was left on coffee tables by men who had told their girlfriends that their hobby was interactive storytelling.
7And the Prophet didst tell us that if Nobilis was not a success, then we had no taste.
8But many of our world understand not that Nobilis needed no dice; they were critical and called for it to be converted to D20.
5And so the Prophet didst leave our roleplaying world, for we were not worthy of him.
2The head of the hog he sold, for we were not worthy of it.
3The books in the warehouses he did pulp, for we were not worthy of them.
4And on the site that men call RPGNet he didst tell a poster than he was leaving because of: "...cunts like you!"
5And then he was gone from our world.
1And the Prophet didst produce a fanzine called Sound & Fury; and it was good.
2And the Prophet didst write Mutants in Avalon for Palladium Books; and it was good.
3And the Prophet didst write Mutants in Orbit for Palladium Books; and it was good.
4And the Prophet didst write a Sonic the Hedgebook gamebook entitled Metal City Mayhem; and it was good.
5And the Prophet didst write a Sonic the Hedgebook gamebook entitled Zone Rangers; and it was good.
6And the Prophet didst design a card game entitled Once Upon a Time; and it was good.
7And the Prophet didst do proofreading for the SLA Industries Key of Delhyread by Nightfall Games; and it was good.
8And the Prophet didst do proofreading for the SLA Industries Contract Directory by Nightfall Games; and it was good.
2And the Prophet didst do writing and editing and the layout and provide additional material for the Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay supplement Dying of the Light; and it was good.
2And the Prophet was the project leader and didst produce the layout of the Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay supplement Apocrypha Now; and it was good.
3And the Prophet was the author of the Warhammer FRP GM's Screen & Reference Pack; and it was good.
4And the Prophet was the author and editor of the Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen; and it was good.
5And the Prophet didst perform editing on the New Style game Violence; and it was good.
6And the Prophet didst perform editing and design the layout and provide additional text for the Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay supplement Marienburg: Sold Down the River; and it was good.
7And the Prophet was the editor and didst design the layout of the New Style game Pantheon and Other Roleplaying Games; and it was good.
8And the Prophet didst design the layout of the Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay supplement Apocrypha 2: Charts of Darkness; and it was good.
9And the Prophet was the editor and didst design the layout of the New Style game De Profundis; and it was good.
10And the Prophet didst perform graphic design and layout and was a design and development contributor for the second edition of Nobilis; and it was good.
11And the Prophet didst perform graphic design and layout and was a design and development contributor for the Nobilis Game of Powers; and it was good.
12And the Prophet didst provide logo and layout design for the Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay supplement Dwarfs: Stone and Steel; and it was good.
1There are six holy relics; the greatest is the sixth.
2The first of the holy relics is issue two of Sound & Fury.
2The Prophet was only a teenager when his genius produced his first work; as was Nexus also.
3Nexus didst collect fanzines; the addresses he found in the small ads page of the magazine White Dwarf, which was not yet crap, and had not yet surrendered to the forces of anti-gaming darkness.
4It was there he found the address for the Prophet, though he did not yet realise that the Prophet was the Prophet; in his ignorance he thought him merely some bloke who had done a fanzine.
5He didst order Sound & Fury; and the Prophet didst send him Issue 2; and Nexus didst receive Issue 2; but he knew not what it was that he had received.
3The second of the Holy Relics is the Sonic the Hedgehog gamebook.
2Bubba didst attend the charity auction at Dragonmeet 2002, and didst witness the offering of a Sonic the Hedgehog gamebook that the Prophet had written.
3Nexus had not yet arrived at the auction, for he was talking to a representative of Mongoose Publishing; but Bubba knew that Nexus loved the Prophet very much.
4And Bubba didst bid for the Sonic the Hedgehog gamebook, and his bid was strong, and his bid was true, and his bid was successful; for there were few Irishman in the audience, and the hall was full of Englishmen, whose wallets were weak and whose manhoods were cheap.
5And Bubba didst purchase the Sonic the Hedgehog gamebook; and he didst ask the Prophet to write in the book.
6And the Prophet didst inscribe his work with the words, "To Jonny Nexus, the only man I have ever loved."
7And for that Christmas, Bubba didst give the Sonic the Hedgehog gamebook to Nexus, a present to be.
4The third of the holy relics is the Hogshead Publishing banner.
2Nexus didst arrive in the auction room at Dragonmeet 2002, and saw, inscribed in golden thread across a black cloth measuring some six hands by three, the Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay logo.
3And he had recently returned from the land of Ireland, and had grown used to the Irish way of bidding, and had not yet come to learn of the ways of the English, and so he didst shout a bid of fifty pounds.
4And the people of the hall gasped; for they were English, and tight, and unused to the ways of the Irish.
5And so it was that Nexus purchased the golden banner of Hogshead.
6And he didst place it upon the bed in his spare room, that visitors might know of his love for the Prophet.
7And the visitors were sore afraid; and said so.
5The fourth of the holy relics is the annotated galley proofs of the Prophet's first novel.
2Nexus, and his companions Bog Boy, Mark, and Stuart, had flown by jet plane to the land of Ireland, to Cork its ancient capital.
3And it was on the Thursday that they met Stephen, who told them that they would find little to do the following day because, "You bastards burnt it all down!"
4And on the Friday they didst journey around Cork, and they didst find little to do, and that night they didst tell this to Stephen, and he didst tell them again, "I told you! You bastards burnt it all down!"
5And the Prophet had travelled to Cork also; and he was a humble man, for his greatness did not prevent him from staying in a simple guesthouse. And it came to pass that this was the same guesthouse that Nexus and his companions were staying in. And Nexus was very happy, for he loved the Prophet.
6And it was at the breakfast of the Saturday morning that Nexus spoke to the Prophet. Nexus didst not eat, for he is a freak who eats not of the food that other men eat. But he didst come to the dining room and partake of the banana, that he might spend time with the Prophet.
7And the Prophet didst favour Nexus, and didst tell him of his works, and didst describe the Warhammer novel that he had recently completed; it was the Prophet's first novel, and the Prophet was rightly proud, for it was a fine work. It was the work of a Prophet.
8And on that Saturday night was the auction; and it was chaotic; and it was loud; and it was smoky, for this was before the smoking ban; and Stuart and Nexus didst arrive late, and could find seats only at the front, far from their friends who had found places at the side of the hall, and who - quite frankly - had been drinking heavily for several hours.
9And the Prophet was conducting the auction; and Nexus was beside the stage; and the Prophet knew that Nexus loved him, and used that love to manipulate Nexus into bidding. He said it was for the children, and thus did Nexus purchase a set of cards for a crap card game, and a set of Dork Towers in languages he spoke not. And so didst Nexus spend several hundred euros.
10And then it was that the Prophet announced the next item; and the next item was the annotated galley proofs of his first novel. Nexus was not quite sure what galley proofs were, but he knew that he loved the Prophet very much; and he knew that these were the galley proofs of the Prophet; and he knew that he wanted them.
11And Nexus was sore afraid, and didst fear for his wallet. For he knew that this was an Irish convention, full of people who were generous of heart and pissed of mind, and whose wallets were open and flowing. Doubt he felt, until he felt the eyes of the Prophet upon him, and he knew that the love in his heart were sustain him, and that his wallet would be true.
12And he didst bid, and bid again, and the price didst rise and rise; but a bastard at the back there was, who countered each bid of Nexus with bid and counter bid.
13But Nexus's heart was true, and the questioning glances of the Prophet didst sustain him, and he didst prevail over the bastard at the back; he didst bid three hundred and twenty euros, and the galley proofs were his.
14And the Prophet didst utter Nexus's name for the first time since bidding began, and he didst shout, "Sold for three hundred and twenty euros to Jonny Nexus!"; and at the side of the hall Bog Boy did flinch with shock and surprise, for it was he who was the bastard at the back; he had been trying to buy the galley proofs as a present for Nexus, knowing not that Nexus was the other bidder.
15And at the end of the auction Bog Boy didst tell Nexus that he was the other bidder; and Nexus didst exclaim, "You twat!"
16And Nexus didst approach the Prophet and he didst ask the Prophet if he had knows that it was his companion that had been his opponent, and asked if that were why his name he had not uttered until the bid was won.
17And the Prophet confirmed that he had known; and he reminded Nexus that it was "for the kids".
18And Nexus was full of love for the Prophet.
6The fifth of the holy relics is the annotated proofs of Nobilis second edition.
2Nexus didst purchase these at Dragonmeet 2003; and he was rightly proud.
3For Nobilis was the Prophet's greatest publication.
7The sixth, last, and greatest of the holy relics are the ashes of the page that the Prophet had torn from a Warhammer rulebook, and had inscribed with a barge.
2Nexus had travelled to Dragonmeet 2005, and had gamed the whole day; a text message had arrived, from Bog Boy; it informed him that the Prophet was in attendance.
3And the Prophet was conducting the auction, but Nexus was not there; he had travelled to Wagamama's to eat, for they were prepared to feed a freak such as he.
4But Nexus didst return, and the Prophet didst greet him by name, and Nexus was happy, and Nexus didst bid for the t-shirt that was on offer, for Bog Boy had told him it was the shirt of the Prophet; and Nexus did win the t-shirt, and he has happy, but he knew not if it was the Prophet's t-shirt; so it was not the sixth relic.
5And Nexus and his companions didst bid for other items; and they did win, for the others at the auction were English, and therefore tight; but these were not the sixth relic also.
6And then the Prophet did announce four Warhammer books: Warhammer, Realm of Chaos, and Hordes of Chaos. Twice. And the bidding was strong, for Bubba didst wish to buy it for Nexus. And Bog Boy didst ask the Prophet if it contained the barge, and the Prophet didst rip two pages from the second copy of Hordes of Chaos and exclaim, "Not anymore!"
7And someone didst say that they would pay two pounds for the torn out pages; then Paidraig and Bubba didst say they would pay fifty pounds to see the Prophet burn them.
8And after the auction's end the Prophet didst draw a barge onto the pages.
9And those present didst leave the hall, to the open area outside. There were thirteen that accompanied the Prophet outside. They are the sacred Thirteen, whose names will be forever remembered: Nexus, Bubba, Bog Boy, General Tangent, Alice, Paidraig, Gar, Malcolm the Unbeliever, and the other five. And Nexus didst preach to them of what was to happen, of the creation of the sixth and holiest of relics.
10And Bubba didst take from the Town Hall, a bin, upon which was set an ash tray; but Nexus didst refuse this, saying that the sixth and holiest of relics could not be contaminated with fag ash.
11And Bubba didst agree, and didst sacrifice his god-son Aaron's Christmas present, for he didst produce a tin, upon which was inscribed the markings of Yu-Gi-Oh; and all agreed that this was a worthy container for the sixth and holiest of relics. And the torn pages were placed within its confines.
12And the Prophet didst ask for a method that he might light the pages; and Malcolm the Unbeliever didst offer his cigarette lighter, and the Prophet didst light the pages.
13And the pages were resistant to burning, and doubt was among the crowd, but someone said, "They'll burn."
14And they burnt.
15And it was noted that the flame that burned the pages burned with an unearthly shade of green; and all present agreed that this was a deeply, spiritual sight; even Malcolm the Unbeliever.
16And when the pages were burnt, Nexus didst attempt to put the lid onto the Yu-Gi-Oh tin. But the metal was hot, and Nexus was unable to do so.
17And Malcolm the Unbeliever didst take the tin from Nexus, and he didst place the lid onto the tin; for he Scottish, and tough.
18Thus was created the sixth and holiest of relics; before the Prophet and the Thirteen.
19That night, in the Goat pub, the Prophet affirmed the significance of the Thirteen with the words, "Twelve is so passé!"
1And the prophet did send a document unto Nexus, which said:
2Yes, I sank your fucking barge. You deserved it. It was a piece of crap, you hadn't paid the taxes on it in years, and the bilges stank.
3The best place for it was the bottom of the Reik. For some godforgotten reason your GM didn't put it there, he was stupid enough to leave it afloat.
4That wasn't what ruined your character's life. You did that.
5The Enemy Within campaign is, as noted, superb.
6From your article you don't appear to have played through any part of it, except for the bit in 'Death on the Reik' where the PCs acquire a barge and the incident in 'Carrion Up the Reik' where it gets torched. It gets torched for a specific reason: to get the PCs away from the river and off to Middenheim, where they can take part in the splendid adventure that is 'Power Behind the Throne'.
7Because if you don't take their barge away from them, they're going to keep pratting around on the river, buying and selling ever-larger cargoes like some demented bunch of early Renaissance Elite players, for their entire sodding lives, boring the pants off their GM and not going through the kind of violent, dreadful existence that is the proper fate of authentic Warhammer FRP characters.
8Did you go to Middenheim? Doesn't look like it. Which, when playing a short adventure that was specifically created as a bridge between the end of 'Death on the Reik' and the start of 'Power Behind the Throne', seems a bit dim.
9For those who don't know, DotR ends with the PCs finding a letter that implies that something fishy is going on in Middenheim, and PBtT begins "So you arrive in Middenheim." Clearly something was needed to fill the gap between the two.
10Something that would separate the PCs from their fucking barge.
11I did at one point think about having the barge captured by big smelly river-pirates, who would tie up and forcibly bugger anyone who tried to take it back off them.
12This would probably have done the separation job better than simply torching the thing, but I realised it would be tricky to get the Odorous Piratical Sodomy table past Games Workshop's RPG licensing department. So arson it was.
13Did you ever work out how the barge caught fire? Or more particularly, which trusted retainer of which major trading family chucked the oil-lamp into the boat's forward hold, and why?
14Or did you bother to read the paperwork you'd signed the evening before, which guarantees that the person who had hired you to transport some cargo must pay for repairs to any damage that comes to your barge while it's at his dock? Evidently not.
15For fuck's sake.
16You do, however, seem to have got part of the point: you note that Warhammer FRP isn't like D&D, and the monsters don't automatically carry gold and magic items.
17D&D is about quests for glory and riches; WFRP pretends to be the same, but in fact is about the PCs' day-to-day fight for survival in a universe that hates them.
18If you don't finish each adventure worse off than when you started it, your GM is doing something wrong.
19If you find yourself in a WFRP adventure and not knee-deep in shit then duck, because another load is past due.
20And if you do something really stupid like getting addicted to drugs because they give you combat bonuses -- and I've heard some really idiotic reasons for getting hooked, but that one takes the tab -- then you deserve everything that's coming to you.
21In other words, my hat is off to your GM. He's running Warhammer FRP the way I run it, and it sounds like he's doing a good job.
22From your description, right about now your characters are somewhere towards the end of the second adventure of the Doomstones campaign. Wait till you reach the last one, that 's all I'm saying.
23You think you've suffered? Wait till you reach 'Heart of Chaos'. Your characters will hate it.
24You will love it. Because let's be honest, if nothing bad had ever happened to Fat Gregor, he wouldn't be half as fun to play, would he?
25Go on. Buy another barge. I'll fucking sink that one too.
2And Gar didst send a text unto Nexus, which said:
3I'm still in the Vatican, and trying to decide the best method to move stuff.
4There's some music thing I said I'd go to, but that's not over until ten.
5I could head into pub and drop bags in Bubba's car if it's there.
1At Dragonmeet 2005, Nexus didst play Dog Town, by Cold Blooded Games.
2And his character was an asshole, and he didst shoot a Puerto Rican in the brain; and in the chest; and in the abdomen; and in the manhood.
3But the Puerto Rican had partaken of angel dust, and he had the strength of ten men. And he didst take the bullet in the brain, and still he stood. And he didst take the bullets in the abdomen, and still he stood.
4And Nexus didst shoot him in the leg, and he fell, but he was still defiant, for the angel dust was strong within him.
5And Nexus didst remove the Puerto Rican's pistol from his waistband, and didst retrieve from his car the drill he had stolen earlier, and he didst return to the Puerto Rican, and didst attempt to use the drill to render unto the Puerto Rican what was due to him.
6And the drill was strong, and Nexus's aim was true, and the drill did penetrate the Puerto Rican's cheek and didst mangle his tongue. And Nexus was resolved to kill the Puerto Rican, and he didst strike again, drilling through the Puerto Rican's hand, and again, drilling through the Puerto Rican's nipple.
7A fourth time Nexus struck.
8And this time the Puerto Rican fell to the ground; lifeless.
9It was on this day that Prophet created the sixth and most holiest of the holy relics.
2What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason!How infinite in faculty!
2In form and moving howexpress and admirable! In action how like an angel!In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of theworld! The paragon of animals!
3And yet, to me,what is this quintessence of dust?
4Man delights notme: no, nor woman neither, though by your smilingyou seem to say so.
3Trust not the tall one from the western islands.
2He will claim to be the Prophet's friend; and he will claim to stay at the home of the Prophet.
3But he is not the Prophet's anointed one.
1And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It's, like, a sea-thing that sticks to rocks, right?"
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "You are correct on both points: I'm not aware of any non-GW books which deal with souce-material on Chaos; and all our new WFRP material, up to and including our website and adverts, is vetted by GW. It's their trademarks and imagery we're making money from, and we're happy to let them keep tabs on us in return. In four years they've only turned down a handful of things."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Pure poetry."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It's because he's a cunt."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "And I'm vegetarian (living proof that if you eat your greens you grow up big and strong), so let's have some meatless stuff or I shall be forced to vent my displeasure upon you."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Steady, worthy, reliable, trusty.... What makes me so fond of the word "erstwhile" is not that so many people derive the wrong meaning for it from context, but that almost all of them seem to derive the *same* wrong meaning."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Check your attributions: I did not write the paragraph you claim I did."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "If Baron Munchausen does well, then I will be reassured that the games market is prepared to accept (a) new RPGs without massive promotion budgets; (b) new humorous fantasy-esque RPGs; and (c) my style of humorous writing... and I'll get back to work on FRUP. If not, if Munchausen tanks commercially, then FRUP is dead in the water."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Oi! Some of us are very grateful for that rule. Mind you, those of us in the upper-middle class have been screwing the working classes for _centuries_."
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Man, you have clearly never read "Spawn of Fashan"."
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Jeez, Phil, just because I stuck a nail in your eye over the Recon thing, there's no need to trash our customer-base like that. And every 13-year-old WFRP player I've met could drink you under the table anyway."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Satire works best when it is difficult to discern it from truth."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Mothers are definitely the finest and best authority in many things, but I'd venture to suggest that copyright law isn't one of them."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "You want a copy of "Fanhunter", the Spanish RPG of being resistance fighters after the Vatican declare SF, RPGs and some other stuff I forget illegal."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "A few months ago, my wife started to use the term "fantasy role-play" as an insult. In a couple of weeks, once the papers have cleared the court, my wife will be my ex-wife. I'm not joking."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Trust me, you don't want to know about the number of "My name's Hogshead, it's great to find other Hogsheads on the net, tell me about your family" emails we get. Maybe they really do have the head of a hog, or at least the brains of one."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Oh no! I failed my Saving throw versus Northern line trains that terminate at Kennington!"
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Same edition since 1985; old management gets approval over everything the new management produces for the game; new supplements and rules additions being published regularly."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "A few weeks from the first of this year? You're working on temporal displacement equipment, right?"
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I regard it as the finest RPG ever published (it was designed by Sandy Petersen, and published by West End at the height of their powers) and I'm by no means the only professional games designer who thinks so."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "In our experience of games-continuity, fans will insist that every new supplement be absolutely 100% accurate to every single point of continuity ever mentioned over the previous twenty years, no matter how minute, out of print, fanzine-based or stupid, including -- nay, particularly -- ones that were discussed with one of the artists over a drunken breakfast and never written down. Then, having read the new supplement and nit-picked about it, they'll go away and rewrite it all to fit their own campaign, in which the Emperor has been replaced by a mutated Squig and everyone's deaf and fights with shears. On Mars."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I used to have a dog (a long-legged wire-coated working Jack Russell) who would join in conversations. The family would be sitting around talking, and he'd jump onto the sofa, cock his head on one side and go, "Aroo whoroo worororow" in what was, for a dog, a fairly good approximation of human voice-sounds. To his ear, I'd guess, he was just doing what we were doing, and since we talked to him, he should be allowed to talk to us."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "What gamers want and what gamers say they want are two very different things. Some of our slowest-selling books are the ones that came top in the polls of our players' most-demanded releases."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "That's not as bad as the mistake on the cover of our latest big book. We typoed the ISBN. Oops."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "People are running "Nobilis"; we'll be running demos in the trade hall throughout the convention (look for the Travelling Man stand). Likewise Warhammer FRP, SLA Industries, and whichever of the New Style games we feel drunk enough to play. Raven are not involved in any part of organizing these games, or taking bookings for them."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Can someone tell me when the more vocal members of the UK hobby became a bunch of crotchetty old moaners and killjoys? As near as I can work out it started at some point in the last 6-8 months, which would imply a convention in the first two months of this year. Though Phil Masters has been showing symptoms of this for well over a year, which may finger him as the Type-odd Mary of the infection. You'd think these people had never encountered *real* spam. Matthew, Alex: my advice is to keep posting. Your messages are informative and useful, and they're better written and more amusing than almost all the criticism levelled against them. This industry needs to get decent product information out to players; if gamers don't know what the products are or don't know that they exist then the odds are they won't buy them, and the market shrinks a bit more. With many people out of reach of a FLGS, the internet is the best way of getting that information to people who may be interested. Everyone else: there's a [next post] button, and I suggest you learn how to use it. Twits."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Gen Con in Amsterdam will get fewer people from the UK, certainly. But I suspect the total headcount at Gen Con Europe 2004 will be higher than 2002 or 2003."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I seem to recall that for the second edition of Deities and Demigods, the author admitted in the preface that because AD&D was a fantasy game, if he didn't know what the accurate version of a mythological deity was, he just made it up."
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Careful now, Al. You're channelling Robert there."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Slaine? A comic about mostly naked, sweaty, muscular men, with enormous weapons, twisting and writhing, covered in other people's body-fluids? Of course there's no reason you should be ashamed. I can understand why it would be such a seminal influence on you at an important time in your life."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It's curious, then, that in twenty years of writing professionally for more publications and publishers than I can remember, and several years of copy-editing for book, magazine and newspaper houses, I've never come across a single place that didn't follow this rule. Every style guide on my shelves includes it. Oxford and Cambridge agree on it. It is literally rule number one in Strunk & White. It is about as fixed as a rule of punctuation can be and everyone agrees on it apart from you and Mr Watch's agent. Why is it that you can't see a statement without disagreeing with it, Mark?"
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I am consoled by the fact that near the Kyle of Tongue in Scotland is a formation of mountains which, if you lie on your side on the deck of whatever boat you happen to be on, looks exactly like Alfred Hitchcock."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I think it was more influenced by the fact that the reasons for going to war were completely unproven (WMD; links to Al Qaeda) and in some cases demonstrably untrue (the UK dossier plagiarised from a PhD thesis about the previous war; the forgery of documents alleging that Iraq tried to obtain fissionable material from Nigeria, which Bush mentioned in the State of the Union address despite having been briefed by the CIA that they were fakes; etc.) Mind you, the way that Bush's dealings with the UN made him look like an irresponsible and stupid cowboy certainly didn't help."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Wait till OPEC switches currencies. At that point the shit hits the fan, the US economy goes Weimer, and the current administration activates Phase 2. Around then, I would recommend emigrating to Mars."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Dragonquest, published by SPI. I believe you're describing the second edition; the first was boxed."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It was the good Baron who also climbed down from the moon with only a short piece of rope: he tied one end to the moon's horn, climbed down to the lower end, then cut off the upper end and retied it to the lower, repeating the process until... but a gentleman never spoils another gentleman's story."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Aoogah! Aoogah! Person who can't write without using emphasis! Seventh word of book! Reject! Reject!"
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "This isn't casual conversation. This is the internet, where being informed takes ten seconds longer than not being informed."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I once dared to criticise my (ex-)wife's creative and innovative use of commas and she refused to show me anything she'd written ever again. And she claimed to be a professional journalist."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "In the Days Before The Web and before I knew other people had got there first, I worked out a design for a pump-action crossbow that used a roughly similar principle to the Chinese one, at least for the magazine. The main difference was that mine had a ratchet-system on the string-drawing mechanism -- three or four "pumps" of an under-stock grip (like a pump-action shotgun) would draw the string back all the way. Lower rate of fire, greater accuracy and oomph, and much cooler to use. Never built it, but thought seriously about it earlier this week while talking to a certain mobile-phone company."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Well, yeah, but if you're wifi-ed up in an airport lounge and can't get access to your regular news-server, Google groups is a web-based way of accessing and posting to Usenet. Grandad."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Not so hard. Buying one Britannica with addenda and cobwebs will get pretty close to 50kg, and I speak from personal experience."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Sonar."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I once did three and a half days -- 84 hours -- without sleep, and walked away from it with a world record. I believe one of the other participants (there were nine of us, plus a support team) may lurk here."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "A former flatmate of mine once described himself malaproperly as an "illegible bachelor". The punchline: later he got a job as an editor."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "You're right, ten million quid wouldn't get you far in your quest to shut down Games Workshop. It made more than that in profit last year alone."
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Little Wars the first published set of wargames rules, written by one of the most famous SF authors of all time. (Also Floor Games, the prequel, which describes something roughly half-way between RPGs and god-sims, but alas doesn't provide any rules for them.)"
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Well, yes, But that's because SF&S is something else."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I'll have a cup of coffee. Hold the whey."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I bought an as-new Psion 5MX on eBay a couple of months ago for just over UK£100. Keyboard feels weird, but then I'd been pounding on my old Psion's one for six years or so, so it'll take a while yet to soften up."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "That's foxes."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "This sentence contains 'and' and 'and and' and some other words."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "You're welcome to argue with a book published in the mid-1980s. I'll stay out of it."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "A friend of mine has the same kind of USB storage unit built into a (not really very chunky) pen. "I keep all my writing in my pen."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I riffed on that in Mark of Damnation (Black Library), which is at least partly about the nature of identity and how we see ourselves. The book starts off in remote-third and for the first half the protagonist is only referred to by his surname, deliberately to distance him a little. There are occasional insights into what he's thinking or feeling, more of them with each passing chapter. Then the protagonist has a complete Long Dark Night of the Soul, almost literally: almost an entire chapter takes place in his head, concerned with his thoughts and emotions about his existence and identity, and during it he's only called "he" and "him". For the rest of the book the reader sees the world through his eyes, and he's referred to by his first name. I think it works. Nobody's yet mentioned it to me, which is the point: they're not meant to notice."
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It was literally a few weeks ago that I glanced at my mother's maiden name and consciously realised for the first time that she had lived the first 35 years of her life as B. A. Whalley."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Depending on the cropduster, they can be very hard to shoot down and remarkably effective. The British Navy was still flying single-engine open-cockpit biplanes as attack aircraft -- the Fairey Swordfish, the plane that sank the Italian fleet and crippled the Bismark -- right up to the end of WWII."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "In the words of Blyth Power, it's the one about the horse."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "An arrow, possibly even with yellow/black feathering and a metal head, has passed clean through his hand. Those are the cues I picked up from a first reading. A second reading hinted that it might have passed through his hand and into his body, but I'm not sure."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "How do you know they weren't?"
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I could be wrong, but I thought Lotus AmiPro (now WordPro) beat Word to the punch with that, and also with drag-and-drop text editing and customisable smart-icon bars."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Of course. Characters go to taverns to loosen up a little or get tight, right? And all the taverns round here sell nuts."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I should also say that $0.03/word, signing over all rights and having the living shit edited out of your work by someone you've never met are all completely standard for people writing straight RPG material."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Those notes sound like mine. I use my word-processor's Notes function to add little post-its throughout the text at the points where changes need to be made (I always work in a single document for the entire book, so I can zip from beginning to end without having to open other files.) But I don't revise anything except the most minor of points until I've finished the first draft. Because I do a lot of writing in coffee-bars, cafes, buses, the tube and so on, and because I don't carry my reference notes with me, anything I can't remember becomes XXX or, if I'm feeling particularly energetic, YYY, ZZZ and other three-letter combinations that make the spellcheck barf. My first drafts are kind of ugly."
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "They're entertaining with the hindsight of history, but living under them can't have been much fun. Now for genuine entertainment you need a real royal house like the Normans: real men with a lust for life and a flair for leadership. You should be working hard to put us -- uh, I mean them -- back in charge as soon as possible. And while I'm writing, can my family have our chunks of Lancashire back, please?"
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Thanks. Well (he preens) I've already had books out in Russian, Czech and Polish, none of which my brain can even begin to parse in any meaningful way -- and a friend's Russian wife, who for years had regarded my writing with nothing but contempt, started treating me with a sudden respect when she saw my name on the cover of a hardback in her native language, which was nice -- but yeah, this one's going to be weird. I don't even know what Korean looks like. Mind you, I've yet to even see a copy of the Spanish edition of this particular thing (Spanish sales in the last quarter: one copy) so I may never find out."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Chipping Sodbury is quite fine as well, and has a good rugby team. And there's the sadly overlooked Six Mile Bottom outside Newmarket."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "The Da Vinci Code is much the same. It takes the two central characters a third of the book just to get out of the Louvre, because they have so much underpinning-of-plot to do first. And I'm always reassured that an author has done his research on tricky matters like the finer ins and outs of the Knights Templar and Opus Dei when he gives guns to the British police and doesn't understand how passports work. It also cheats the reader: two-thirds of the way through one of the characters suggests a possible way the plot may resolve, and another discounts it as impossible. And lo, when you get there, it turns out that was the secret all along. It's annoyingly page-turny though."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "And speaking for those of us who have been in publishing on this latter side of the pond, it's utterly baffling too. This may explain part of the problem."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It's not asking for the best joke, it's asking for your favourite one. Besides, "What's brown and sticky?" "A stick" is funny in almost any context, and is pretty much by definition the stickiest joke in the world."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "I can safely say that without the seven years I spent studying Latin, I probably wouldn't know what "ablative" means."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Well, I got an email from my editor on Friday telling me that the deadline at the end of this month is not, as I'd thought, for the completed first-draft, but the day the book is due to go to the printers. I foresee a couple of horribly brutal weekends in my immediate future, but mostly because one of them is a family reunion."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "The jacket-blurb for the UK edition of Niven and Pournelle's Inferno gives away the last-page plot-twist."
2And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Speaking as the director of Gameforce Ltd, I can tell you the company doesn't object."
3And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It may be published in Britain, but that doesn't mean it's printed here. I can't speak for Mongoose, but in eight years of running Hogshead we printed exactly one book -- our first one -- in the UK. We learned our lesson fast. Canada, China, Thailand, Spain... in fact almost everywhere does printing cheaper than the UK, and right now with the dollar so amazingly low I'd be surprised if the Swindon crew aren't sending a lot of work to the USA."
4And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "You're in the wrong newsgroup. Not obvious from its name, I know, but there you go. Sorry. Try http://www.gamefaqs.com which rocks."
5And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It would be barbaric if it was true. However, while the law does apply that way to trademarks, copyright cannot be lost through violation. If it was otherwise, the likes of Kazaa would have meant that the Beatles, Britney Spears and pretty much every recording artist ever no longer held copyright over their songs."
6And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It depended on the GW store and the staff. Some places denied the existence of WFRP, since they couldn't find it in stocklists (though in our experience that happened a lot less after we started getting regular mentions in WD). Others would cheerfully point you at the closest local stockist. The GW store at the company's head office in Lenton stocked the Hogshead edition of the game for a while, though it was the only one in the UK that did."
7And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Moving the production from UK to US printers meant a switch from A5 to 9"x6"; and we added pages because the sales figures of the first issue indicated there was sufficient demand to increase the print run and page count without increasing the cover price."
8And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Irrelevant. I said the weapons-list was a hotch-potch. You said they were all C15th European. I pointed out that some of them aren't. QED. Sorry, you can't argue with that. Whether bo-sticks were there before or after the arrival of the monks is irrelevant, they are neither C15th nor European."
9And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Though it's worth observing -- once -- that the virus-spam is accurate in one respect: Xenon 2 was one of the great shoot-em-ups of all time."
10And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Back when I was running Hogshead, we used to get a lot of requests for free product for "convention prizes". The amount we gave out was based on the size of the convention(*), and our rule of thumb stated that anything less than 40 people wasn't a con, it was a club meeting."
11And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Some of you with good memories may remember that back in the mists of time, before the Olympics, before even Big Brother, I was asking for help with my inability to get a US copy of Samba de Amigo to play on my UK Dreamcast, using DC-X. I've finally answered the question: my Dreamcast was screwy. This problem has been solved by getting another Dreamcast. However, I have a follow-up question. The game seems fine in Arcade and Original mode, but during Challenge it has a habit of aborting the game and taking me back to the 'Detecting Maracas' screen. I'm assuming this is a crash, but am not sure why it's doing it -- I'm using the 'Cha-Cha Maracas' rather than the Sega ones but have never heard of this problem before. Has anyone else ever experienced this, or should I just assume that my new DC is screwy as well?"
12And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "It's quite a nice room, actually: bright light, plenty of natural daylight, plants in pots, good security... I even brought in a popcorn- maker the other day. The carpet could do with a clean, though."
13And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Munchkins play the Glass Bead Game?"
14And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "If you're going to rewrite the calculating-attendance rules like that, why not count Gen Con visitors each time they leave and re-enter the main building? You'd get well into five figures that way, but it doesn't alter the fact that Gamesday still gets three times as many actual people paying to come in."
15And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Anyway, unless you're a special guest then you have to sleep with the committee to get in."
16And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "These days we play Ars Magica about once a fortnight (it's supposed to be once a week, but either the GM doesn't have enough players or the players don't have a GM), and I give talks about games design on a regular basis, to an audience of one person (my wife) who doesn't understand and, I suspect, doesn't care much either."
17And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "If a GW boxed set costs £7 to make, then I reckon it's underpriced. We aim to price our products at ten times the manufacturing costs -- that's a fairly standard mark-up in many areas of publishing -- and we're not exactly wildly profitable."
18And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Do you perchance write extensively for it, Phil?"
19And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Hang on. You said, "GW... feed the net with dis/information". If that's the case, show us the disinformation. Don't just tell us that somebody wearing a GW tee-shirt told you."
20And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "And you know what? All those expensive CD-ROMs -- they cost about 15p each to make. We're being ripped off!"
21And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "Does "grumpy" fall into the same category as "angry"?"
22And on Usenet, the Prophet didst say: "According to the latest edition of Debrett's, the only range of toys it is socially acceptable to display on your mantelpiece is Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys, and only then if they're in their original packaging. And on lace doilies."