The Alexandrian

Among those looking to denigrate video games (the newest of artistic mediums), a favored tactic is to compare it to other forms of art and point out its various inadequacies. Those interested in defending video games as a new art form will often point out that video games are still in their infancy and comparing its output to mature forms of art is unfair and misrepresentative.

The common rejoinder at this point is that other forms of art don’t really show a lot of growth or development. Literature, for example, has been producing timeless and classic work for thousands of years and there’s really no strong indication that works produced in, say, 1800 were inferior to works being produced in 2000. If other forms of art don’t improve over time, why would we expect video games to improve over time?

Literature, however, is a bad example for comparison because the history of literature is literally prehistoric. At best we might be able to take a peek at Gilgamesh, but even that is clearly the pinnacle of a long storytelling tradition.

If you’re looking to compare the current evolution of video games as a medium to other mediums, then you need to look at other mediums that we actually have some ability to analyze.

WESTERN THEATER

The earliest antecedents of theater are lost, but we actually do have access to some really early stuff. Based on oral histories we know that the earliest Greek plays emerged when individual characters stepped out of the choruses that were used to recite narrative stories.

In the works of the earliest extant playwright, Aeschylus, we can still see the technological limitations of his artform. (For example, he was only able to use three characters at a time, which severely limited the dramatic situations he was capable of constructing.) Tracking from Aeschylus to Euripides to the Roman playwrights who followed we can see that there was a rapid development of the artform over its first century or so: Dialogue becomes more natural. The transitions between scenes become more complicated and, simultaneously, elegant. The evolving stagecraft allowed for the presentation of more dynamic and varied sequences of action. And so forth.

FILM

An even better example, however, awaits us in film because our historical records of its development are so much more comprehensive.

Film is invented in the late 1880s. As an entertainment industry, it’s generally agreed that 1895 is the starting line.

1895 – The DerbyThis was released in the first year commercial motion pictures became a reality. It’s basically the film equivalent of Pong.

1902Voyage to the Moon: This is cutting edge stuff from 1902. Compared to video games, that’s basically Pac-Man. (It comes 7 years after the first commercial films; Pac-Man is 8 years after Pong.)

1922Nosferatu: Twenty years after Voyage to the Moon, you can see that the art of film has developed significantly. In gaming, this is the equivalent of Final Fantasy VII. (If you need to, take a moment to compare Pac-Man to Final Fantasy VII.)

1941Citizen Kane: Twenty years after Nosferatu, this is widely considered the landmark at which the modern art of film came of age and pioneered a lot of what are now considered basic film techniques. (If you’d prefer to go with the golden year of 1939, more power to you. It’s about a 20 year gap either way.)

What’s the video game equivalent to Citizen Kane? Well, from a purely temporal standpoint we’re talking about a game that will be released in 2019 or 2020 or thereabouts.

CONCLUSIONS

You can see the same sort of progression in, for example, operas.

What are we seeing here? Well, I think it actually boils down to something quite simple: You have a technological breakthrough that creates a new medium. Neophytes converge on the new medium in great excitement at its potential, but their use of the medium is still primitive and borrows heavily from existing media. (Early Greek theater is choral storytelling plus characters. A lot of early film is basically a filmed stage play with a couple of flourishes.) This stuff appeals to a relatively small group of really dedicated fans.

About twenty years later, those fans grow up and start really experimenting with the new medium. They test its limits and push the envelope. Their stuff is still pretty primitive, but it’s good enough that it finds a mainstream audience.

About twenty years after that, you’ve got an entire generation who grew up on the new medium. Not only are the creators from this generation ready to polish and hone and perfect the techniques the pioneers of the previous generation were experimenting with, but the audience has also matured to the point where they’re capable of really appreciating the new medium.

Sound familiar?

The next 20-30 years are going to be very exciting for interactive entertainment.

49 Responses to “Thought of the Day – Gaming as an Art Will Mature”

  1. Brooser Bear says:

    Justin,

    Literature might be literally pre-historic, but the novel as a literary genre only goes back to the 17th/18th Century. Modern Literary Theory is even younger, and goes back to the 1960′s. Michelle Focault M.M. Bakhtine, and Umberto Eco. Literature reflects cultural evolution and is still very much a growing baby. Theater has a richer history than literature, reflects more of the human knowledge due to it being a performance art, not to mention the technological advances brought about by the desire to improve the stage, I am thinking specifically, French theater at the time of around Louis the 14th.

    With regards to video games, I am afraid that Diablo has killed PLanescape: Torment. CRPG’s are a form of interactive literature that attempted to approximate the pencil and paper gaming experience. They didn’t succeed, since the AI is no math for a human DM, but it surpassed the human gaming in one important respect: When a bunch of people get together to play D&D, there is a drag, that takes an ideal presentation of an ideal adventure and reduces it, often to the level of a boring meeting. DMing is a skill, Story-telling is a separate skill, ability to write a new adventure is another skill yet and ability to lay it out in game germs is a sub-skill of that. Communication is a separate issue. In addition to that, everyone, the DM and the players has different motivations as to what they want out the game session, and all have own emotional needs and personal agendas. All this creates static, that interferes with the ideal game session experience. CRPG’s fixed that. Most of the time, computers feature a good story, a faithful and objective implementation of the game mechanics, and without that static mentioned above, I had a more satisfying experience playing Fallout, Planescape, and Baldur’s Gate than I had, easily, with half the human gaming groups I played with.

    The problem is that CRPG’s are being turned into arcade-style shooters. Diablo outlived and out-sold Baldur’s Gate and Black Isle Studios. Not only that, but the WOTC version of D&D is essentially a PNP version of Diablo. Once upon a time I offered to donate $1,000.00 to a game designer so that he can start working on my beloved Fallout 3 (That would be like the Fallout 1 and Fallout 2). That game designer had set me straight, and told me that it would take a 2 million dollar budget to get a team to work on the new Fallout prototype. He also that Planescape:Torment (My favorite CRPG of all time), did not sell well, and that if there will be any Fallout 3, it will be as more of a traditional arcade shooter, which was what we got.

    So, will advances in interactive technology make for better video games? Absolutely. Are there going to be more and better CRPG’s? Only if they will be first person shooters. The Last Of Us is the prime example of that trend. I am hoping that a hidden object or an adventure game studio will undertake a CRPG project. I am partial to Nevo Soft and to Zemnott games to come up with something. Zemnott’s Mahjongg Roadshow has an excellent game that shows that they can do more.

  2. Neal says:

    @ Justin,

    “What are we seeing here? Well, I think it actually boils down to something quite simple: You have a technological breakthrough that creates a new medium. Neophytes converge on the new medium in great excitement at its potential, but their use of the medium is still primitive and borrows heavily from existing media. (Early Greek theater is choral storytelling plus characters.”

    You’ve mentioned something along the lines of this before, namely, something to the effect that some styles of gaming seem to be overly borrowing from art forms like novels, or cinema, etc. I’ve thought the same thing. Half the reason seems to be an emperor’s new clothes kind of deal, where you have game designers trying to stand out from the crowd to create the latest fad (that nets them cash).

    If there is a cycle of how many generations it takes for people to get used to a new medium before they turn out the highest quality products, and ideas on trends you’ve spotted that seem to be solid enough to continue for rpg’s (anything from Old School, or New)? Any newer trends that seem to be interesting?

    Your preference for gaming seems to be the various 3.x iterations of Wizards of the Coast’s brand of D&D. Any thoughts as to why that edition ceased to be produced, is it still relevant, and are any of it’s aspects likely to be included in future versions of D&D (or other games?) My own view is that Robert Kuntz, Gygax’s co-DM and former marketing executive, is correct about marketing and product bloat leading to loss of profitability of each succeeding edition after a few years, and a need for “corrections” and a continuous stream of new editions endlessly replacing each other. Should anything be salvaged from the various 3.x editions, or is Kuntz right, that the later editions of D&D weren’t really designed to be long-term viable and were innately flawed throw-away commercial junk?

    I’m sure some of the ideas from later editions could be recycled. You’re much more of an expert on these, what are your thoughts?

  3. Leland J. Tankersley says:

    There is a big difference between “viable as a game” and “viable as a business model.” I think it’s clear that the post-3.0 evolution of the D&D game (by which I mean the motivation for developing new versions of the ruleset) has been driven primarily by economics. A company driven by the bottom line (and by a parent company concerned solely with growing or at least maintaining a revenue stream) can’t be satisfied with providing twilight support for a mature ruleset; they are like sharks in that they have to keep moving or die. These motivations have little or nothing to do with the quality of any given edition as a game qua game.

  4. Neal says:

    @ Leland,

    Agreed. The corporate mindset of ‘industry,’ vs. a hobbyist mindset of quality/fun gaming are two usually mutually opposed things. I’d be a lot happier to see more non-industry games, adventures put out by hobbyists making a few bucks (or none) if they feel they can manage it.

    Was the 3.x business model that different from 2.0? I’ve never played either of them, and missed out on both those eras. Some people talk fondly about parts of each of them. Anything worth salvaging?

  5. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal,

    In my experience, every DM introduces his or her own philosophy into the game they run. Almost everyone I played with, introduced at least some house rules. This is fine, DM’s model reality, after all. If you want to play D&D, pick any edition of rules that you like and play with it, from the original White Box to the Latest D&D 5.0 or whatever. Having looked at editions up to D&D 3.5 at the time, I decided to stick with AD&D 1st/2nd RQ. It had the most extensive description of Monsters, Treasures, Magical Items, Spells, best approach to design, and the book were pennies on the dollar on e-bay. My D&D collection spans everything from White Box to DMG I and II under 3.5. I don’t need anything else and the publishing companies be damned, I write my own stuff no player could anticipate.

  6. Neal says:

    @ Brooser Bear,

    I’ve never met anyone that didn’t house rule at least a few to many things in D&D, either. Something I remember reading described the situation approximately as: “If the rules for AD&D were impossible for anyone to use as written, the rules as written for OD&D were impossible for anyone to UNDERSTAND.”

    What about AD&D 1e gave it the best approach to design? From everything I can piece together about the various editions, I’d probably agree with that, overall. But, that may not be saying very much. I found AD&D to be a real mess as far as any kind of consistency or logic, went. Makes me think that Tim Kask wasn’t the only one abusing substances back in that era.

    I’ve wondered if Gygax didn’t have a touch of the other kind of 3 letters using A’s and D’s (A.D.D.). Seriously. He had a clear fetish for list making, which is typical. His writing is very disorganized. He describes hating school, and discipline, and that matches up with A.D.D., too. Normally, though, people with A.D.D. tend to be sympathetic and empathic to others, and he was clearly not that kind of human being, so that probably blows that theory all to hell.

  7. Mark D says:

    Oculus Rift offers some interesting possibilities, for both film-making and gaming, with the caveat/constraint of near-universal motion sickness when you involuntarily shift the user’s point of view.

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/02/whats-the-future-for-virtual-r.html

  8. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal,

    AD&D 1st Edition was NOT written to be read from cover to cover. It is laid out more like an engineer’s handbook – a bunch of equations and formulas that you can not read from cover to cover. You can flip the pages and consult the formulas when laying out a new network or a power grid, and a legendary expert in the field might know all these equations by heart, but most mortals – flip the pages.

    Same with the Gygax 1st Edition books – You have a particular situation in the game – whether how far you can travel in a day, or chances of someone catching a disease, or hiring a siege engine and a crew, you flip the pages, find the appropriate section and – you get your precious game mechanic!

    You said that AD&D is impossible to play using all the rules. You have to realize that Gygax came from the insurance actuarial background, and his combat and saving throw matrices were influenced by the actuarial tables. I actually use all of the combat tables and modifiers, including the use of surprise and initiative, and the weapon vs armor chart. Of course, I am not a human computer and don’t calculate anything during the game session. I take all the modifiers and put them together into “to Hit” and “To Be Hit” tables for each individual player, for each weapon etc involved. I keep it next to a table of handy tactical modifiers. When I DM, I just roll the die while I am story-telling and the number needed is on my heads up display. By the same token, things like search checks and perception checks, I do secretly so that the players do not know if they succeeded or failed or if there is anything worth searching for.

    DM is a story teller, and dice are his tools. What makes Gygax’s DMG unique is a whole bunch of tables to generate random dungeons and the atmosphere in them. Initially designed to be used for solitaire D&D play, Gygax’s Dungeon Masters Guuide has a large section dedicated to detailed description of the dungeon labyrinth as well as a detailed description of the treasure and magical items, organized into multiple tables that list hundreds of random magical items, all of which you could never able to use in a single campaign, rules for generating random demonic creatures, dozens of sinister magical artefacts, akin to the Tolkien’s Ring, hundreds of spells listed in schools of magic and with unique material components, hundreds of monsters, an elegant table for generating random treasure hordes (much easier than in the WOTC balance-oriented version), The unique feature of Gygax’s D&D are these detailed descriptive tables to help the DM. Second edition Dungeon Masters’ Guide removed most of these appendixes, and they never came back, as the marketing types decided that it is more profitable for the DM to buy published adventures rather than write their own, and that there is more money in making supplements to customize player characters, or game aids aimed at players as opposed to game aids aimed at the DM.
    In the final analysis, Gygax started a trend of helping the DM generate his own adventures. This trend was picked up by Moldway, who did an extremely elegant and informative section for DM’s dealing with D&D adventure writing. This was followed by writing guidance and advice in most of the 2nd Edition supplements, which abruptly ended, when D&D went to its table-top miniature game roots with the third edition. The best and most sophisticated advice on adventure writing and design is contained in the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide supplement, under the section titled Underground Adventure: Campaign Considerations, the book delves into such advanced writing topics as setting, plot, campaign design styles etc. To be fair, there is plenty of adventure design articles on the Wizards of the Coast website, but the quality of thought and sophistication of the writing listed above is simply not there. Finally, Gygax introduced skills as Non-Weapon Proficiencies in his Oriental Adventure (you would do well to get a copy of that particular edition of the book (authored by Gygax), as it features Gygax’ best writing on AD&D. Anyway, the skills as used today by WOTC and in Runequest, feature things we do every day, and come down to “Perception Checks”, or any other kind of a uniform skill check. Gygax, on the other hand, envisioned Non-Weapon Proficiencies with a bit more sophistication and with a different frame of reference. You would use a NWP to create a painting. If you fail the proficiency check, you got a painting, but it’s boring, sub-par, derivative, nobody would buy it. If you pass, the painting is good enough to hang and display, and you might even sell it or gain some recognition. A bit different from a perception check or a prestige character feat in its role-playing implications. Furthermore, most proficiencies had its own article and its own game mechanic, so each Non-Weapon Proficiency was like its own mini game with its own modifiers to support role play. I am not sure if this was a quality of design unique to Gary Gygax, or unique to the AD&D 1st and 2nd Edition.

  9. Neal says:

    @ Brooser Bear,

    “AD&D 1st Edition was NOT written to be read from cover to cover. It is laid out more like an engineer’s handbook – a bunch of equations and formulas that you can not read from cover to cover. You can flip the pages and consult the formulas when laying out a new network or a power grid, and a legendary expert in the field might know all these equations by heart, but most mortals – flip the pages.”

    Hmm. If it’s actually the case that a gaming handbook for players is intentionally written to not actually be a tutorial for the players, but merely a reference work along an engineer’s handbook… then it’s poorly conceived and written players’ handbook. That Gygax intentionally designed it that way doesn’t really add up. He may have done it that way because he didn’t conceive how to teach very well, but that doesn’t speak well for his skill as a designer. There were clear errors of design and logic, just look at the 1.6 oz gold piece coins! Why not just make each coin weigh 10 pounds, each? Or moving from OD&D’s 1 minute turn to a 10 minute turn? The only reason I can see for doing that is to pretend that AD&D is a brand new game from OD&D. Tim Kask had a lot of revelations on Dragonsfoot about how the games were the same game.

    “I actually use all of the combat tables and modifiers, including the use of surprise and initiative, and the weapon vs armor chart.”

    Recently, I was reading something at Dragonsfoot, where Gygax was quoted as ridiculing and disavowing anyone using some of his own design work:

    Col_Pladoh Jun 25, 2005 1:30 PM

    Aargh!

    Forget weapons speed factors. I must have been under the effect of a hex when I included them in the bloody rules :?

    The first system for determing what happens is the best one, the only one I ever used. If the weapin-wielder has the initiative and strikes the spell caster, the spell is blown. If he mosses, or the spell caster wins, the casting time allows, then the spell is activated and takes effect.

    Cheers,
    Gary
    …………
    I’d never heard the DMG was designed primarily for solitaire play. Is that something Jon Petersen mentions in Playing at the World? I’ve used (think most people have) the random dungeon generator in the DMG, and it didn’t work very well. Don’t know anyone that enjoyed using it. It does offer some tables for ideas to stock a dungeon for players, if the Ref is willing to spend the time to flesh out the ideas.

    I’ve got the B/X books, and Moldvay’s advice to DMs is pretty succinct.

    “… when D&D went to its table-top miniature game roots with the third edition.”

    Actually, I think that’s a bit of a myth. Gygax, himself didn’t even use miniatures in his own OD&D or Advanced D&D games. Chainmail used them. So, D&D becoming a miniatures game wasn’t part of the original design. People used lead figures to define their character, like a token, or to denote marching order. Later, battle mats might be used, but it wasn’t intrinsic to the game before then.

    “Finally, Gygax introduced skills as Non-Weapon Proficiencies in his Oriental Adventure (you would do well to get a copy of that particular edition of the book (authored by Gygax), as it features Gygax’ best writing on AD&D.”

    I’ll add it to my list of books to get.

    I do like the old school approach of making rulings and decisions on the fly, where possible. It maintains immersion better, than a constant need to stop the flow of the game and refer to a rule book. The referee should be the ultimate authority, not a 3rd person authored book. Gygax vacillated in various contradictory statements, on whether he believed in the value of independent referees and their campaigns, or his more corporate line, of all things being ‘officially sanctioned’ by his AD&D rules set.

    In any case, Gygax was preferable to most of what came later. His system didn’t allow one to use all the rules, without creating certain insoluble contradictions, so if you accepted that the Ref could house rule things, that solved most of those problems.

  10. Brooser Bear says:

    Gygax likely threw together a bunch of articles on game mechanics into a reference work. I don’t have a problem making sense of it. I am a sucker for realism and for narrating the flow of real life-like events involving players that flows from their decisions. To that end, not only do I use speed factors, but also reach (something Gygax did not have) – a spearman can hold, and potentially kill a swordsman at bay and never risk getting hit, unless the latter closes the distance, thereby putting the former at a disadvantage. 10 Minutes is the exploration turn. Combat rounds are 60 seconds each. At this point I am using adv math modeling to speed up detailed NPC generation and characters being fired on by massed archers. I have used non-linear algebra to establish the relationships between basic sis character abilities and the derived abilities, such as relationship of STR and DEX to Agility, to bring the character abilities in line with the current findings in psychology and physiology. I am having lots of fun and I get awesome narrative results and players with mouths agape.

    Random dungeon generator might not work, but a lot of people have used the “dungeon stocking” tables as a guilty pleasure, to the undoing of James Maliszewski.

    I don’t know if you are aware, but WOTC has produced lines of miniatures to tie in with the D&D game, some come with the character stats and their use is highly encouraged in gaming.

    D&D/WOTC is not the best designed or the most elegant system, nor is Warhammer. Paper and Pencil role playing has moved on, but the D&D is serving as a drag on the hobby, dominating the scene commercially and overshadowing more interesting and innovative games. If you have money to spend, check out the Dust Devils, Ars Magicka, and the whole group of other indie role-playing games, that break away from the fantasy warfare gaming altogether and offer something different, like Dread.

  11. Yora says:

    90% of everything is crap. And I think we’ve been having 10% of really good games regarding artistic merrits for quite some time. It’s not something to look forward to, it’s more like something to appreciate now.
    If people are saying it’s just too new to have had the chance to create great things, that’s being blind to what is already there.

  12. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    Re: range factors spearman vs. swordsman, I do these, too. Something I recognized was a problem for D&D over 30 years ago.

    Any reason you use adventure turns of 10 minutes length? I think it’s sound, mind you, and also use the 10 minute adventure turn. Just wonder if you have a special reason for it.

    “Random dungeon generator might not work, but a lot of people have used the “dungeon stocking” tables as a guilty pleasure, to the undoing of James Maliszewski.”

    How does this undo Maliszewski? His problems seem more along the lines of deadlines, absenteeism, and the enraged mob of old schoolers with torches and pitchforks. I’m not sure what to think about that guy. I don’t think he’s as bad as many have made out. He had a history of missing deadlines, but I don’t think it was malice. I think he had a nervous breakdown at the very minimum, maybe some other issues on top of it. Not that you’d know it from any comments people were making about the guy at the time. They tore the poor guy to bits. He may have been a bit on the rigid side, with an ego, but he struck me as honorable, more so than many of the bloggers online. Some claimed he had stiffed people in the past, but I couldn’t find any details to support or deny it, either way. Maybe, with you being a lawyer, you might know more about the issues involved?

  13. Neal says:

    Yora,

    I hear ya. Any particular ones you like and recommend as stand out examples?

  14. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    Oh! Duh! Right, Maliszewski and his tons of empty rooms, exactly 2000 coppers guarded by a room full of rats, as uninspired dungeon stocking. Been a while since I kept up on what was going on with him. Tenkar’s Tavern really ripped him a new one over that. I think Tenkar is a former/current cop, or something. Which explains some of the adversarialness.

    Wonder when this blog is going to start responding to queries again, and putting out regular articles on good adventure design tips, choices & consequences, strength of encounters vs parties, hex crawl issues, spelunking, handling node based design, etc.

    A lot of good articles back in the day, hope this dry spell in articles and failures to communicate with posters, isn’t a sign that this blog is on it’s way to petering out and withering away.

  15. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal, there is a thing, called Entrepreneurial Spirit. If you are top flight, you go out, and start a successful manufacturing business that generates patents and new markets. If you are middling, you play the ponies on Wall Street or sell cosmetics or carpentry tools to your friends and neighbors. If you are pathetic, you charge your friends and family for DMing. Somewhere from Middling to pathetic are people trying to make money off their hobbies or marketing types, pretending to be hobbyist. Just as love and fear can not dwell in the same heart, growing friendship and the desire to make money off that person can not grow at the same time.

    I don’t know, why Justin is not responsive, perhaps his stage acting career has taken off. If you miss James Maliszewski’s writings, he is on Live Journal, as his own self. Maliszewski was a failed businessman and his LJ writings are a better look inside his soul than Grognardia. For starters, J. Mal was an insider. He got hired to write role playing game products for a living soon after college. Unlike the rest of us, who have written unpublished manuscripts, wrote to game publishers about getting jobs as game designers etc. I am guessing, that Grognardia was born when Maliszewski struck off on his own to be the solo game designer. He had people work for him. He had people do volunteer work and help him as a fellow hobbyist. He had a bad reputation among publishers even before his final debacle or not meeting deadlines or delivering product as promised. He raised fifty thousand dollars to publish his home campaign and failed. I think that he may have realized that it took more money than crowd-sourced fifty grand to publish something that looks like vintage AD&D modules in this day and age. I love working on my Midlands campaign, but it is a hobby and is not publishable, nor commercially viable. I do not fancy myself a publisher of D&D games, nor do I need to be entrepreneurial to make my money. D&D itself is a fairly complex phenomenon, there is a lot more going in a D&D game than D&D. For that matter, Paizo Publishing CEO hits the D&D gaming blogs under the nom de plume and runs four separate blogs to support the hobby, again, under a pen name. I find that sad, and it takes away fro the character of the person engaged in that type of guerilla marketing.

  16. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    “If you are pathetic, you charge your friends and family for DMing.”

    HAHAHA!

    Yeah, I can see it now, a lifelong career of making your parents, siblings, wife and kids pay you to run dungeon crawls and story arcs for them. You have a financial incentivization to run nothing but James Raggi-style kill-fests:
    “Ok, punk, you feel lucky today? No? Then cough up another 15 cents and I’ll add +2 to your odds of not dying from the venom in that spider bite. Well, you make your save on the spider bite, but the ceiling caves in on you and 300 stirges exsanguinate your party into raisin-like shriveled husks. Too bad. For another $5, I’ll let you guys roll up another party. Oh, and by the way, you just made a deal with the devil and 13,000 zombies are released and devour the countryside.
    Nice going, Ace.”

    “I don’t know, why Justin is not responsive, perhaps his stage acting career has taken off.”

    That’s probably the reason.

    “Somewhere from Middling to pathetic are people trying to make money off their hobbies or marketing types, pretending to be hobbyist.”

    Interesting comment. There’s only one person I know of that fits the description of a marketing executive of a Fortune 500 company, who is also running his own RPG company, the producer of Dungeon Crawl Classics, Joseph Goodman, of Goodman Games. I’m not familiar with the Paizo guy, so was this whom you had in mind, or are you referring to some other “marketing types.”

    “Neal, there is a thing, called Entrepreneurial Spirit.”

    Yeah…. I’m not unaware of such things. I’m reasonably insightful. Recall you were the one saying that Gygax was uneducated and repairing shoes for a living, and I filled you in on the fact that he did that and then went to night school, got his college degree, and became an insurance adjustor.

    I looked up Maliszewski on live journal, and all I’m finding is something from 2008, saying he’s moved to Grognardia:

    “FYI

    Oct. 5th, 2008 at 8:19 AM

    I’ve more or less abandoned this journal, although I’m not planning on deleting its contents, on the off chance that someone actually cares about any of my old entries. My current online home is at Grognardia and I’m likely to continue devoting the bulk of my public musings to that blog, as I have been for the last seven months.”

    I’ve heard something about Maliszewski having problems with delivering things to other publishers, but never found anything specific. You know of any actual details?
    I’ve also heard that he didn’t pay artists for work they did, but again can’t find much on actual documented details of who was involved, if it’s actually true.

    What exactly does J-Mal reveal about his soul on Live Journal, that sticks in your prodigious legal memory, as being noteworthy of whom he actually is as a human being? Not trying to be too facetious about legal minds, but I’ve never met a lawyer, yet, with a poor memory. It seems to be just about a near requirement to perform the job of functioning under pressure and on the spot in court rooms.

    “Just as love and fear can not dwell in the same heart, growing friendship and the desire to make money off that person can not grow at the same time.”

    So, you’re saying you shouldn’t trust anyone trying to sell you a game supplement, since they aren’t your friends, and it’s just common sense they should be expected to take advantage of you and screw you, when and if they get the chance? I’d say that’s probably true most of the time.

  17. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal,
    I was aware, that Gygax worked in the insurance industry, but that does not make him educated. What makes him totally uneducated as far as business goes, is that he taught himself shoe-repair, so that he could quit his job and spend more time on D&D working from home. His motive behind that was his pathological mistrust of banks and lack of faith in the financial system. This post-WWI mindset, that being a small shopkeeper will make you rich, and his mistrust of banks, kept him from applying, for what today would be a $10,000.00 USD business loan, and instead giving away shares of his venture in idiotic partnerships with people who would turn on him, bringing in the Blumes and Lorraine Williams on board. With his own gamers he was an absolute backstabber, consolidating his hold on the game so that he could capitalize on it, and then he gave away the store, because he couldn’t handle small business finance and maintain creative control over his product. All the good that night school did him.

    You missed the point about the would-be marketing types. I am saying that there are too many hobbyist trying to monetize on their hobby, and also there are industry insiders posing as mere hobbyists, and a good number of blogs are run by people who have been paid or are hoping to get paid in the role playing game hobby. I wasn’t talking about folks like Joseph Goodman, with corporate backgrounds, and the CEO of the Paizo Publishing I was talking about, is a gal.

    What I am saying with regards to the mercantile nature of the gaming scene, just another element that makes the D&D gaming scene not what it seems.

    Real J.Mal as seen through his live journal is a typical insider – got a paid writing gig fresh out of a private school, was amazed at how much money he was pulling in and at his published work on his study shelf. He did what he had to do to promote the hobby that was paying his bills, eventually let the power of his position corrupt him (taking goodies for review and keeping them, etc), got greedy and went in over his head. Don’t care for him one way or another.

  18. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    “I was aware, that Gygax worked in the insurance industry, but that does not make him educated.”

    You were aware of him working in the insurance industry as an underwriter, which requires a college degree, after I’d informed you about it. Before that you were saying he was repairing shoes and had no education.

    He had a college degree. That’s an education. So, by definition, he IS EDUCATED.

    It’s almost a tautology to say having a college degree is having an education.
    If you want to quibble, that it is Larry Summers 3 separate doctorates, or it wasn’t Harvard, well, yeah, it wasn’t. Everyone at Oxbridge is uneducated, then. And don’t even get me started on those lowly Princetonians. If he wasn’t a business major, neither was Einstein, or almost everyone else who is widely considered to be educated. Come on… enough with evasive legalistic tactics of changing the definition of your arguments to suit your current changing positions of the moment.

    “and his mistrust of banks, kept him from applying, for what today would be a $10,000.00 USD business loan, and instead giving away shares of his venture in idiotic partnerships with people who would turn on him, bringing in the Blumes and Lorraine Williams on board. With his own gamers he was an absolute backstabber, consolidating his hold on the game so that he could capitalize on it, and then he gave away the store, because he couldn’t handle small business finance and maintain creative control over his product. All the good that night school did him.”

    Well… almost everyone in business either fails and goes bankrupt at least the first or second business they begin. Most other people going to night school, Harvard, or anywhere else do poorly in business, too. That isn’t an argument justifying whether someone is uneducated, or has a marginal education. Business school grads running fortune 500 companies into the ground abound. This is a universal phenomenon, not restricted to night school shoe repair men.

    As far as Gygax being paranoid of banks, that’s something I hadn’t heard, but it seems plausible. I know he didn’t like debt, and the Blumes behind his back were big on racking up debts. I was always amazed he couldn’t get the $1,000 together to afford to buy on Don Kaye’s wife’s share, and had to bring the Blumes on board. What you’re saying about him being unaware/paranoid of the bank loan may finally explain that. As far as that goes, you’re right, it’s HORRIBLE business sense! Penny wise and 10,000 pounds of foolish. And it cost him everything in the end, didn’t it… But, since he was so manipulative and abusive towards his gamers, he deserved every bit of it and more.

    “You missed the point about the would-be marketing types. I am saying that there are too many hobbyist trying to monetize on their hobby, and also there are industry insiders posing as mere hobbyists, and a good number of blogs are run by people who have been paid or are hoping to get paid in the role playing game hobby. I wasn’t talking about folks like Joseph Goodman, with corporate backgrounds, and the CEO of the Paizo Publishing I was talking about, is a gal.”

    I looked up the Paizo CEO, and yeah, she’s a blonde pudgy person. I didn’t miss any points about the marketing types, I was asking for further details on your vague-ish comments on the subject. If that’s your thinking, then you’re missing the point.

    Re: J Mal promoting the hobby that paid his bills, that seems to be unavoidable once they start taking the checks. And, I’d heard something about people complaining he was asking people for expensive free copies of out of print (or just old) game books for reviews pretty excessively. From his site, people were offering to send him the copies, I doubt anyone expected them returned, or they could just have faxed him the data after scanning it. I haven’t been able to corroborate any of that, though. I don’t doubt it is probably true, which makes the guy lots less appealing as a human being. Still wonder if he didn’t wind up with a nervous breakdown maybe compounded by some kind of binge, when everyone wanted to know why he wasn’t producing the megadungeon after receiving $50K.

    Is J Mal doing anything currently on Live Journal, or is the 2008 the end of it? As far as I could tell, he just disappeared after going into some kind of psychic catatonia. There were reports, unconformable, that he’d ripped off artists, and not fulfilled previous publishing obligations, but nothing concrete about it any place. I don’t doubt there’s a strong possibility of it being true, I just can’t locate any data for it. Have you found anything that demonstrates previous financial moral turpitude?

  19. Brooser Bear says:

    I knew about Gygax’s experience with actuarial tables before you told me. A lot of people in small business fail, but not the way he did. Blumes may have had extravagantly ran the company into debt, but they were indulging the attitudes that Gygax himself has fostered. He had a sociopathic attitude towards other gamers, and that recklessness likely reflected itself in his corporate acumen or lack thereof. I don’t think that Maliszewski had any kind of a nervous breakdown, just couldn’t handle the responsibility of the massive project that went way over his head, somebody, equally incompetent, took over. Point I was making, is that too many bloggers in the old school renaissance are blogging with the agendas I already mentioned.

  20. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    Alright.

    People that fail in small business, usually go bankrupt. Which is about on par with how badly Gygax failed. You can’t fail worse than losing everything you put into a company, and all the debts to your family and friends. I don’t think Gygax owed anybody else, since he went the equity-shares route, so he actually did better on that measure.

    There’s the Death Valley Curve, where entrepreneurs can’t become profitable or at least become self-sustaining within 2 years. The statistics for small business are dismal. Something like a 90-95% bankruptcy rate in the first 5 years, or less (most of them, much sooner, like within 2 years). Anything involving technology is a fraction of a 1% success rate, something about 1/10 of 1%. Keep that in mind if you ever do investing in business.

    As far as Maliszewski not having a nervous breakdown, just realizing he was in over his head, you might be right. I can’t find any real data that incriminates him one way or the other. The guy who took over Dwimmermount, I know even less than nothing about. I think he tried to make people whole, but I’m not positive.

    Doesn’t seem there’s any sign of J Mal currently posting on the internet, either, but maybe I’m just overlooking it somehow. Do you know of any current stuff he’s posting? It’s all interesting tracking down how the industry actually works.

    You have unpublished game stuff, you say? Why not put it out on Lulu, and see if you can break into self-publishing. Justin subsidizes his lifestyle of acting via his published work, so it’s doable. Not sure what Raggi, and others pay their artists, but for the print work, it’s something like 2-3 cents a word. Maybe art is 50 bucks for a moderate size pic. Not sure where you find this stuff out, either. Another mystery. Go publish your stuff, it should be interesting. Leonine churches and their inquisitions and bears.

  21. Neal says:

    @ Justin,

    What do competent artists doing black and white, as well as color pics get paid for game books? Is there some kind of commercially accepted rate to go by? Where do you find out answers to questions like this?

    You hired a few of them to illustrate your blackbook, how did you figure the costs, by size of the picture, whether it was in color, any other considerations?

  22. Neal says:

    Justin,

    What do competent artists doing black and white, as well as color pics get paid for game books? Is there some kind of commercially accepted rate to go by? Where do you find out answers to questions like this?

    You hired a few of them to illustrate your blackbook, how did you figure the costs, by size of the picture, whether it was in color, any other considerations?

  23. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal,

    Small business entrepreneurs go bankrupt. Not what happened with Gygax. His company took off the ground, it went multi-million corporate entity, AND he was forced out, of the company, all his intellectual property taken out of print so as not to pay him any royalties. Savvy the difference? Not that this is the first time it happened. Consider the relationship of the Republic Aviation (a WW2 aircraft manufacturer/designer) and its relationship to Alexander De Seversky, its founder. He was a war hero, naval aviation pioneer, and a racing aircraft enthusiast with money, who lived fast, started a company, and it was taken out of his hands, when it was big for him to handle, and he was never that good with the finances. Of course, he was respected and venerated by the board of directors more than KFC’s Colonel Sanders. At any rate, what happened to Gygax and TSR is totally different from the examples of entrepreneurs going bankrupt that you cite.

    Maliszewski still posts on Black Gate, a fantasy book review website.

    Midlands is unpublishable as a fantasy game setting. It is too derivative of Central and East European history, too intertwined with Gygax’s AD&D and AH’s Runequest, and features real world religions as in-game pantheons for Clerics, that nobody in their right mind will publish it commercially, I will have to pay out a lot of Royalties, and I will be embarrassed peddling little known history as a product of my own imagination. I feel great though, concocting D&D’s equivalent of Angel Dust!

    With regards to getting published, I do have a literary quality novel and a role playing supplement in that home brew campaign of mine, and I am confident that I will be able to get it in print via a mainstream publisher.

    BTW, it’s Leonian Church, not Leonine. St. Mark’s Lion is featured on the Papal Coat of Arms.

  24. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    Ok, I can see the Gygax thing is different. The guy got rich and he still got screwed over by his confederates, in spite of his massive success. And, not only once, but TWICE! Blumes and Lorena Dill-Bobbit Williams. She not only put his stuff out of print, but once he left the company in disgust and powerlessness, they put out that Greyhawk Dungeon spoof, that insulted him. Then, she spent millions just pursuing him with frivolous lawsuits (more or less. Dangerous Dimensions does use the abbreviation of: “D-D,” which Gygax claimed was unintentional. Yeah… nobody warned him prior to attempting to market it, or anything…).

    I did register that Gygax screwed up when he didn’t get that 1,000 bucks together in the first place to buy out the controlling share from Don Kaye’s wife. It seemed insane to me that he couldn’t find someway to get such a paltry amount of money, or he couldn’t wait a few months to put it together, rather than bring in new ownership/equity. BAD decision. Especially, since he was such a control freak. If he was paranoid of banks, I guess that begins to explain why he avoided the debt for a piddling $1,000.

    At least after he blew his cash, he could still get people to recognize his name and buy his Gord the Rogue books (which I hear are about as good as you’d think Gygax is capable of producing…). Or his other wild runaway gaming successes: “Cyborg Commando” ! One of the most widely voted Worst Games Ever Written, in unofficial polls on the subject. I gotta own a copy just for that reason.

    Tim Kask, Gygax’s first editor of The Dragon magazine (when it was still “The” Dragon), made fun of Dave Arneson “The Loathesome Toad,” for not having any successes after OD&D. However, neither did Gygax. There was this perfect storm of Fantasy and Gaming in the late 60′s and early 70′s, with Tolkien being reprinted, and everybody thinking his pipe weed was about stoned hobbits. Fantasy fed gaming, and later, cheesy gaming fueled bad fantasy. Trying to get gaming off the ground in the late 80′s would have been a different phenomenon entirely. I think it would have worked, but it probably wouldn’t have ever been so big as it was in the early 80s.

    As far as Midlands being derivative of Central and Eastern European history… so what? That’s not copyrightable stuff, and Russia, Poland, etc aren’t going to sue you for their cut. If they try it, you’re a corporate fighting paladin, so kill them. D&D is pretty much western Europe plus pulp history & Tolkien in some spots, and nobody gives a damn. There are plenty of derivative games based on D&D (most of them) and various elements of Runequest (like D&D 3.x using explicit models from Runequest, according to Cook, I think). Don’t think you’d owe royalties on it, since copyright law doesn’t cover ideas, just exact wording/ systems. You can put it out on Lulu, and not have to worry about getting a 3rd party publisher. You can afford those costs, you charge enough ;)

    You’d be the second lawyer/game writer. The other one is David Kenzer, with his D&D semi-clone Hackmaster. I think he’s got specific quotes about copyright law and why he can publish his stuff without lawsuits. Think of it this way, anyone that thinks you’re a pompous blowhard now, won’t believe how insufferable you become, once you publish an actual RPG. You just don’t get many opportunities in life to mess with people’s minds like that. I shudder to think what kind of mutant horror would have a swollen head that big… ;)

  25. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal,

    I think that Gygax needed $2,000.00 USD, about $10,000.00 USD in todays money. Even in my younger days, when I was a morose national guard thug driving a truck making $7.00//hr. while going to college, I could have raised ten grand if I needed to. Personal contacts aside, I walked into a bank one day in my work clothes, and parlayed by $135.00 weekend drill pay into a $ 4,700.00 dollar personal loan, and I wasn’t even trying to be a businessman. That’s why the whole Gygax and TSR fiasco is beyond comprehension for me.

    It was disgusting of Kask call Dave Arneson a loathsome toad, when then man was down. Typical pathetic behavior of toadies and ass-kissers. I was mystified by D&D, and the Midlands campaign has actually managed to recreate some of that sense of mystery for the players as they try to make sense of that fantasy world. When I was kid, I could not get enough of fantasy movies. There were too few of them in they 1980′s. Looking back at it now, most of them featured poorly choreographed battles and cheesy costumes, but the 1980′s produced a few excellent fantasy films. I am thinking Sword and the Sorceror, Dungeons and Dragons 2, the one featuring Jack Palance, I forgot the name. With regards to the fantasy literature being overly dominated by the Lord of the Rings, this seems to apply mostly to the D&D fantasy gamers, who seem to be predominantly from a certain demographic. Consider the other authors, who moved the genre forward: Ursula Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, among the others.

    With regards to Midlands, it is not about anybody suing me for copyright, I just can’t put my name on what I know to be derivative, corny garbage. Of course, I can put in more work and make the setting more dynamite (come up with less derivative and obvious names, for most part), the setting is awesome, and only those familiar with the culture of the ancient Slavs will see anything familiar. That’s not the issue. If I ever decide to publish Midlands the Campaign Sourcebook, I have no problem hiring a copyright lawyer and negotiating with the Gygax estate for a cut of money I haven’t made yet, it is just that the project still requires a lot of writing and development, and I consider regular prose writing more important.

  26. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    Well, what exactly did you do in your ‘thug’ days, break legs? I guess driving a truck would make you a teamster type, so that fits.

    I don’t think you need to worry about any kinds of settlement to the Gygax estate. You could probably publish a non-open game license kind of thing that is another version of OSRIC, and tell them to sue you, if they could find any reasons to. If they decide to do that, you win, and sue them for malicious prosecution and take their assets in compensation, if they don’t have the cash. I don’t think Gygax’s final wife, Gail, is loaded with cash to engage in frivolous and expensive lawsuits. Gygax was saying he didn’t have $300,000 to buy a bar, at one point on Dragonsfoot. He blew all his cash on mansions, rooftop swimming pools, and while still married, on foreign beauty-contest winners/(whores). THAT’S where his cash disappeared to.

    I never saw any of those films. I did see Excalibur, which was poorly rated, at the time. The Jack Palance movie was “Hawk the Slayer,” which I never got to see, either. And I own the film version of Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose.” Not a fantasy, but a pretty cool medieval mystery. It’s even got Inquisitors! Perfect for the part, F. Murray Abraham. His malignancy towards the rest of the cast and the director led him to destroy his film career during the making of the film. Just about no one wants to hire this guy for another movie, since. Jean-Jacques Annaud is on record, as saying how abusive Abraham was, and that wrecked his reputation.

    Jack Palance, by the way, is Ukrainian, born: Volodymir Ivanovich Palahniuk. Which is probably why he’s got such unusual looking facial features (mongolian-pecheneg-caucasoid mix). He once joked that the studios had to explain his face by telling people he’d been in a horrible WWII bomber accident, and he’d had facial reconstruction for burns. His comment was that, “if they did that, why didn’t they do a better job?” He also played Attila the Hun in Sign of the Pagan, somewhere back in the 50′s.

    If you consider regular prose writing more important, then when do you publish it, and how much does Gary’s wife get not to sue you over it?

    From what I hear, she’s a peach. Gygax wanted a bunch of his work to be donated for public use after his death, and stated so, and she snatched the various IP properties back and won’t release them.

  27. Brooser Bear says:

    If I ever decide to actually publish Midlands Campaign Sourcebook, I will work with the publishers and the lawyers to do whatever is ethical and proper with the Gygax estate. The fiction that I author and hope to publish has nothing to do with D&D, and even Midlands, the novel has nothing to do with the game. I have come to realize from working on both, that a novel and the D&D campaign are totally different media. What works in one, does not work in the other. Time flows differently in the game and in the story, and each covers different events. That’s just the way it turned out.

    Excalibur and the Dragon Slayer were both awesome early fantasy films that ushered in the fantasy movies of the 1980′s. Sword and the Sorcerer was the best D&D movie made by a non-D&D producer. D&D movies were bad fantasy films, except one that was made specifically for D&D fans.

  28. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    Well, perfect ethics is all to be lauded. You still don’t owe those guys a cent. Perfect ethics prevents them from stealing anything from you on any claims of copyright infringements. That’s frivolous and unsupported by the laws. Ask your buddies, I’m sure they’ll give you 15 minutes free out of professional courtesy? Give it a try, and come back and tell me different. Dare ya.

    Yeah, novels and games don’t run the same at all. What works in a novel, usually doesn’t in a game. Novels have interesting twists that the author can predetermine how they’ll play out. Players are unpredictable, so you don’t get the same dramatic predetermined results. Sometimes, they’re just as good (or better), but they surprise you. I actually prefer that to a scripted encounter outcome. By a lot.

    I think I’ll have to invest in those movies. Excaliber, Dragon Slayer, Sword and the Sorcerer, and Hawk the Slayer. Some other flicks I liked for adventure settings were: Road Warrior

    Here’s a documentary you should see that gives a great Hexcrawl movie in the modern era. “Sky Above, Mud Below.” It’s very different, and it has it’s own pace, but it’s amazing. French expedition across New Guinea in the 1950s, all filmed. Mountain Pygmies, Head Hungers, Cannibals, Warring Tribesmen, People that not only live in the neolithic, and have never Seen metal… they aren’t even advanced enough to recognize something as ancient as “the AXE.” They show one tribesman a steel axe and he decides it’s too weird, and he prefers his stone adz.

    Of course, cannibalism is just a bigoted western myth, except for the fact that these people don’t deny they were cannibals…. The tribesmen who killed and ate one of the Rockefellers admit they did so, when he crash landed his plane on their coastline. Plus, the New Guineans have all those heads and skulls of enemies at their longhouses, so no one can deny they are/were head hunters at the very least. For that matter, the Celts in the Roman era, were heavy duty head hunters. So were the Japanese samurai, at least for trophy purposes right after a battle.

  29. Neal says:

    I think it’s just Post-Colonialilist-Post-Modernist cultural imperialism to imply that there’s something wrong with others because they kill and eat people. Damn racism. All cultural attitudes are equally valid, especially if someone else’s culture requires them to render you into food to be eaten and your bones kept as knick-knacks. Ed Gein was heavily inspired by these exemplars of noble primitivism, and all he got for emulating it was a prison sentence in a mental hospital. It’s an outrage.

  30. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal, with regards to writing vs role playing, it is not that players can surprise you in role play, while you control the narrative in story telling. The difference is in the narrative focus. IN D&D, of necessity, the narrative is generated by the game mechanics of exploration, search, encounter, and combat, and is concentrated in the present and in the future planning, mapping etc. This kind of stuff would bore the reader silly as a written novel about the game world. Most of the novel occurs in the recent past and in the minds of the characters, not the game mechanics, so you deal a lot more with the past, the world around players, things not explored during the gaming proper.

    With regards to copyright ethics, to run that sourcebook, I would be quoting the Gygax-sourced material directly, combat tables, etc and there is no getting around the Gygax estate IPR in this instance.

    With regards to cannibalism, most people don’t get it. Religious ritual aside, cannibalism is practiced on the intermittent basis, where the environment does not provide enough protein in the diet. There are part of the world, where the environment will not support mammals, and people shipwrecked there have and will starve to death unless food supplies are dropped from outside. Simply not enough game or edible plants per square mile to support a single human-sized mammal. There are areas of Africa, where the environment is so poor, that it produces enough starchy root vegetables to support the human population, but not enough protein or vitamins – centuries old persistent chronic child and adult malnutrition. This situation has been remedied since the 1960′s by the introduction of UN administered nutrition supplements for children and of fish farming. It is in these regions, that indigenous peoples traditionally prepared maggots and caterpillars for food, when other meat was scarce and non-existent. Cannibalism was practiced in these regions, when during a famine and after a local battle, women and the elderly would cannibalize the fresh corpses for meat, before burial. At those time, adult male warriors had the first dibs on food and would be the last ones to resort to eating the dead. Such is the nature of historic cannibalism. Ritual cannibalism is practiced as a sort of communion – during the burial, the surviving relatives would imbibe the brains of the deceased, so that their spirit would live inside them. This practice proliferates Kukri or the Laughing Disease, which is prion disease akin to Mad Cow Disease and the Fatal Familial Insomnia, and is 100% lethal to its victims. Authorities in places like Papua, New Guinea, where ritual cannibalism was practiced, have done public education campaigns in the regions where ritual cannibalism was practiced, and nowadays, most ceremonies forgo this type of a communion ritual, OR they substitute a cleaner and potentially less lethal substance.

    I will check out Sky above and Mud below.

  31. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    “Neal, with regards to writing vs role playing, it is not that players can surprise you in role play, while you control the narrative in story telling. ”

    Sure it is. Players in a sandbox rather than a scripted approach of one encounter leads to the next mandatory encounter approach, surprise you with their choices, all the time. If you have other approaches to setting up the environment, that may change some things, but certainly with an old school approach, this very much applies.

    “With regards to copyright ethics, to run that sourcebook, I would be quoting the Gygax-sourced material directly, combat tables, etc and there is no getting around the Gygax estate IPR in this instance.”

    Ok, if you quote them verbatim, you can’t get around that. Solution: Change things enough that it’s a retroclone style of change. Either use OGL, or change the rules with a few tweaks, that your copyright attorneys approve, prior. If it’s still too risky, then change the numbers around a bit more, and you have a different game.

    I think the disease is called Kuru (laughing sickness). Kukhris are a type of forward curving knife used by Nepalese, probably indirectly from Alexander’s troops wielding the Xiphos and Makhairas from his campaigns around 300 BCE.

    http://myblades.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/kukhri-india_01.jpg

    http://www.earmi.it/armi/glossario/immagini/xiphos.jpg

    http://topicstock.pantip.com/wahkor/topicstock/2008/09/X7044940/X7044940-
    87.jpg

    As far as preparing maggots and caterpillars for food, it sounds like a good solution. I’ve eaten termites, so I wouldn’t be too squeamish about that. Corpses might take a little getting used to chowing down on, though.

    “Cannibalism was practiced in these regions, when during a famine and after a local battle, women and the elderly would cannibalize the fresh corpses for meat, before burial. At those time, adult male warriors had the first dibs on food and would be the last ones to resort to eating the dead. Such is the nature of historic cannibalism.”

    Never heard of these African regions, but it makes sense. Jungles are notoriously poor places to find protein, but plenty of starches that support population sizes that will be chronically malnourished. Millennia’s worth. Why would the men be the last to be cannibals, and the elderly and women, the first? Don’t dispute it as a fact, just wonder why they’d come up with a ritual like that.

    Another place where cannibalism has been documented is in the U.S. The four corners region, by the Anasazi. From the Navajo word (Anaasazi) for “ancient ones,” “enemy ancestor.” Nobody is sure what they actually called themselves. The Anasazi are one of the ancestral populations of the present day Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, Keres, Jemez, and Tanoan speaking Pueblo Indians (Amerinds, Native Americans, etc. Most people in this group choose to call themselves, “Indians,” interestingly enough). The four corners (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona) region went into a 300 year long drought about the year 1150, and warfare and cannibalism reaching extremes of civilization collapse in the late 13th cent.

    For years the stories of cannibalism were dismissed, but the evidence kept getting stronger. Excavated human bones that had been shattered and roasted, as if to remove marrow for food, like animal bones routinely were. Those bones were not given human burials, but were thrown into waste pits. Some of the bones were roasted skulls of children, thought to be those of invaders like the Shoshone, Utes, and Paiute tribes, who may have migrated from the modern California area. Beyond that, human bones were found that had been stewed in boiling water for hours, and had signs of ‘pot washing,’ which is abrasion from being stirred in a ceramic pot over a period of hours. Excuses were made this was a ritual. Finally, a human coprolite was found in a residence from the period 700 years earlier, and it contained human hemoglobin that had been digested in quantities that could only come from eating human remains. No more excuses and wishful thinking. Cannibalism is fact.

    In Europe, Herodotus mentioned the possibly cannibalistic Androphagi. Who dressed like the Scythians (a North Iranian people), but had their own language. Darius the Great waged war on them into Southern Russia, for incursions into his empire. They were supposed to have been brutal, to use human skulls for cups to drink from, and wear human scalps on their chests for napkins. Maybe some of that is even true, who knows?

    The Greek word Androphagoi may be a translation of mard-xwaar “man-eater” from Scythian. From mard-xwaar can be derived the Russian name of the Finno-Ugrian Eryza and Moksha peoples of east-central European Russia. The modern Mordvins occupy the same region. (This stuff on Mordvins is courtesy of wikipedia. You’re the Eastern European gaming campaign & cannibalism expert).

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/Muromian-map.png

    Weirdly, the Slavs don’t appear to be in very much Russia, at the 9th century in this map. Guess, they invaded from Eastern Europe, and wiped out the natives.

    Here are some Erzya women. Look at those TEETH! Cannibals. Especially the one on the far right.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/61/Erzya_women.jpg

  32. Neal says:

    @ Justin,

    I posted a response I’d spent a fair amount of time researching to Brooser Bear a few days ago, and this site stated that it would be “Published Pending A Review.”

    When do I find out whether or not it passes muster with your review process? I don’t think there’s anything objectionable in the post, how about just hitting the Return key, and letting it be read? If there’s a problem, could you respond as to what it might be?

  33. Neal says:

    Cancel that. For some reason this site showed only 30 posts on this thread. Only after I just sent the most recent post, did this site update the thread to include the post that was dated 2/21/14. Bizarre. I know you stated you had previous problems with this server, is this still an ongoing problem?

  34. Brooser Bear says:

    @ Neal,
    I didn’t see any response after my post of 02/20/2014. If it doesn’t show here, e-mail to me directly or go to Midlands.

  35. Brooser Bear says:

    Neal,

    I stand corrected. I used the wrong word for the Laughing Sickness. Khukuri knife I knew. In the modern era it was used by the British Nepalese Gurka soldiers and also, the French Moroccan Gourmier soldiers. There is also an Indo-Nepalese cousin to the American Bowie Knife, called the Bhuj, it is a Khukuri family hand axe kind of a thing. I first got introduced to exotic weapons with the Tunnels and Trolls. rules light, weapon table fascinating game that inspired me to actually research the magical names their weapons table was full of. Anyway, D&D stuff is at the end of the post.

    Cannibalism is much simpler than the historic record. It is a matter of survival. The male warriors were the last to partake in human flesh, because they were larger and stronger, and could take by force what they needed. So, they roasted a piece of bush meat, while the women and the old would have to go off, filet a fresh corpse, and enjoy themselves a piece of rump steak. Much like homosexual love in prison, cannibalism arises spontaneously out of necessity – Germans under Stalingrad, Russian POW’s in Auschwitz – you see a corpse that’s less than 24 hours dead, cut out their inner thigh and buttocks, and you got your instant filet mignon. That was the classical sig of cannibalism in WW2 – corpses with pieces of inner thigh and buttock removed.

    Got your post, finally. Slavs are there, on the map, listed as Slavonic Tribes. They were just part of the indigenous tribal landscape in Eurasia. Slavs gad the misfortune of taking up slash and burn farming, while the other tribes, forerunners of the multitude of the Russia’s ethnic groups – Moldavs, Lizghins, Mordvins etc remained nomadic. Note that there were no Cossack and Ukraininan tribal forerunners, that’s because these groups formed around 1400′s for Cossacks as the frontier militia and Ukrainians formed as a culture with its own language roughly around Gogol’s (great Ukrainian author) time. He used Ukrainian local color in his stories and the parents stated giving their children Ukrainian names after he became extremely popular. What is now known as Tartars, were actually the subjects of the Khanates (such as Kazan on the map), and themselves were an amalgalm of various ethnic groups. Anyway, people collectively known as Eastern Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians) had the misfortune of being stationary farmers and being raided by the nomads. Much like Navajos raiding Pueblo and other Native Americans, anyway. Slavs were getting robbed and pillaged, and so, they invited Vikings to rule them in exchange for protection. There were two groups, the Viking mercenaries who worked in the Byzantium, known as Varangians, who introduced Slavs to hard liquor and who gladly ruled them and kept the raiders at bay and dominated the native Slavs in Viking fashion. Ironically, Russian word for Varangians is Varyag or Variag. In Tolkien’s fiction, Variags are the obscure semi-undead evil tribals from the North East. The second wave of the Viking influence were the followers of Russ (Red Beard). He was a fundamentalist worshipper of Odin, who believed that Valhalla is in the East and can be reached physically by going East. Russ’s traditional Viking culture with its long ships, weapons and armor and trade, has influenced the Slavs military and mercantile culture. Russ’s dynasty formed the Rurik royal family, which terminated with Ivan the Terrible, who accidentally murdered his son and heir in a fit of rage. The second early major influence that influenced the modern, were the Tatar-Mongol invasion, so called, because as they advanced, the Mongols absorbed local Tartar tribes into their fold (both were brothers in Islam) and the phenomenon was similar to the Comanche Indians, when during the US and Indian wars, various tribes of the Southwest formed into a large “Comanche” raiding tribe, that only came together for mutual protection in the face of a greater outside single threat. So, no cigar here – Slavs WERE the indigenous people, conquered by others, who eventually formed into a nation by virtue of them becoming stationary and bound to the land that they farmed, invaded by others, who have given up independence for survival and opened the door to many centuries of tyranny, but had they remained nomadic, they would not have become a great nation. The last thing that Ivan the Terrible did for the Russian people was that he destroyed the city-state of Novgorod, which was ruled by guilds and had the beginnings of a Swiss-style democratic system. This was part of Ivan the Terrible’s campaign, in which he turned into a feudal society just as the West was entering the early Renaissance.

    With regards to players surprising the DM, it only happens is the DM is a poor narrator and a bad conversationalist. Essentially, your argument is – DM draws a dungeon and players decide to go explore the forest. Players can not surprise me even in a sand-box, as a consequence of my DMing style. Let us say that I got a party of a thief, a fighter, and a magic user. Before we even begin adventuring, I tell them about their world, where they are, the beginning events that will push the character – say RENT IS DUE. I also tell the players that they have to role play their level advancement – i.e. they must find thieves guilds, wizards guilds, bodies of fighting men that they all participate in between the adventures. Players have to tell me how and where they look and I tell them what is generally available that they know of, they can tell me where they go and what they try to do, and make decisions based on the information that I give them. How can they surprise me? They are choosing from a set of options I give them. They can propose courses of action and I can improvised that part, but responding to their queries and improvising encounters/events up to a point. If I am not sure, I ask a question to elicit more information. You want to join a guild? What do you do? We are talking between adventure time that can span days and weeks. I look for a Magical College, I go to the tavern, I go to the fair I go to the jousting match I go to the Baron. then what do you do? Generally, as a sandbox runner, you have already outlined the major landmarks in the social terrain. You are also aware of the major issues that the players will encounter: This guild here is a puppet of the assassins guild. Assassins are killed on the spot as taboo violators and the guild will try to enslave the players. This guild is affiliated with the corrupt local merchants and they act as highway robbers ambushing the wealthy and isolated patrons of the corrupt merchants. These boys get rid of their opponents by ratting them out to police. Wizards college costs a lot of money beyond the player character’s means. The warrior join a local mercenary company and pay for his training, and to make money he can undertake a dangerous mission. And so it goes. This is a sandbox, and players can go anywhere and do anything, but they must plan and prepare for it first. The sandbox exists as a bunch of brief notes and outlines, that gets more detailed as the players actions get more detailed. Most of the real interesting sandbox play occurs as conceptualization via role playing encounters where DM can improvise easily. Eventually the players will arrive at a concrete course of action, of having to get equipped, travel for some purpose, or go on a mission. At that point the session ends and the DM needs to prepare by fleshing out the relevant details (maps, room keys, encounter tables) that haven’t been covered yet. I am a big fan of sandboxes, so the player get to set the agendas for their characters and explore their options, but I am the DM and I control the conversation, so the amount of surprise that players can accomplish is a lot less than what you think or in traditional D&D.

  36. Neal says:

    I have a copy of Tunnels and Trolls fifth printing from 1979 right on my desk. I remember the Bhuj! Bizarro looking meat cleaver kind of thing. T&T had all kinds of weird weapons (think they even had a category of weapons Called that…)

    I didn’t know the Germans or Russians in camps were cannibalizing people in WWII. I knew the Japanese were rumored to be doing so, in the Philippines, against civilians, and some Russians in Stalingrad’s siege. Nor, that the classic evidence of it was a removed inner thigh or buttock. Since you’re mentioning the various ethnicities within Russia in the same conversation, along with filet mignon human steaks, I think that calls for someone to pass the ethnic Tartar Sauce.

    Yeah, I knew about the Vikings going down the Volga and colonizing Russia and Ukraine. They founded Kiev as a trading outpost, I think. I thought another idea about the origin for the name of “Russia” came from the Swedish word Russe, which meant ‘rower,’ as in a rower of a drakkar longboat.

    Novgorod was a Swiss-style democracy? Didn’t know that. Ivan, I had read was a pleasant sort. He was fond of taking his enemies into the frozen winter, stripping them naked and dangling them from ropes, where they had hot water thrown on them. The water froze and then more hot water was thrown on, until their skins detached and fell away from their flesh. You gotta love the history of any place that calls it’s rulers by epithets like “Bob the TERRIBLE,” or “Tyler the Impaler.” At the very least they have to be called “Vlad the Dracul.” Me? I’d settle for being “Neal the Nasty.”

    I use sandbox style adventuring. I didn’t meant that the players surprise you, and you’re flat footed, cause they went to the wrong location. I meant, they surprise you in GOOD ways, by coming up with innovations to problem solving you didn’t anticipate, and it keeps you from being bored by predictability. I like the randomizations, so as a Ref, I can participate in the unfolding drama, and nobody knows who survives, nor how the puzzles/challenges get resolved, if they do, nor where the party wanders to.

  37. Brooser Bear says:

    Wikipedia Bhuj! It was essentially a short scythe, built as a hand axe, with a stiletto in the handle. It would make an awesome magical item for a major NPC antagonist!

    Russian POW’s were cannibalizing corpses in Auschwitz. German soldiers cannibalized their own corpses during the last winter, when they were surrounded in the city and had no supplies and were slowly freezing to death. Unlike the popular portrayals, Russians during Stalingrad had the best winter clothing, good food, high morale and a decent field hospital system to deal with the tremendous Russian casualties. Most were evacuated to safety within 24 hours of getting injured. This happened AFTER General Chuikov’s Siberian troops arrived. Stalingrad was a deliberate trap, and it turned the war for the allies. The big three were in no doubt that Germans were doomed once they fell for it. There was both, coherent strategy and tactics derived from mathematical models. Stalingrad was at cross-roads – Germans could have bypassed it and drove South and properly secure against counterattack to get the Baku oil fields, which would have solved wartime Germany’s petroleum shortage. At the same time, Army Group South could have taken the Caucasus and cut off the land route to Iran, and disrupt the convoy runs of lend-lease supplies from Tehran. Germany accomplished exactly the same thing during WW1 with Gallipoli, which collapsed the Russian front during WW1. Germany could have also stuck to the original plan and taken Moscow, which would have persuaded Japan to declare war on Russia and attack from Far East. I don’t know if that would have won the war, but the Japanese air raids from the East would have changed the way the WW2 went.

    Tartar Sauce is ethnically French, as is Steak Tartare, as is Crème of Tartar. It started with the Asians – Mongolian – Tatar people shredding their steak prior to cooking to make it easier to cook quickly as the fuel in the steppes was scarce. Steak Tartare initially referred to shredded or cut steak as opposed to an Entrée Cut – original name for a steak. When the shredded meat recipe reached the German port of Hamburg, they called it Hamburg Steak. Tartar Sauce was called that, because it had chopped pickle relish, i.e. a rough consistency like the shredded steak. Crème of Tartar is the powder that is scraped from the barrels where the wine was aged, which was first used by French as a secret ingredient in the French baking, is called that, because it consists of Tartaric Acid, which called that, because it was first isolated by an Ottoman Alchemist, who lived in Persia, and hence, known in Europe as a “Tatar”.

    Nah, forget Neal the Nasty, too unoriginal. How about being so horrible and unbearable, possibly demonic, that your name becomes its own word. So, when someone is being like their worst selves, they will be told – Stop being a neal !!!

    I agree, that the player original thinking surprising you or taking you in the wholly unexpected direction, is one of the rewards of the game. I too enjoy the randomizing effect on the narrative as a result of game mechanics. It is an essential engine that makes the variety to ensure the continuous descriptive narrative necessary for the flow of the game. Essentially, role playing is a story told through encounter tables. With regards to party members dying, it is undesirable, when the player spends two hours developing a character with a story background and a skill set. If a player character gets killed, I want it to be the result of the player’s actions and mistakes, not the die roll. For that reason, Midlands combat is gritty and detailed, Weapons vs Armor etc, critical hits, weapon reach, weapon speed, tactical movement and formation – all to make combat deadly, unpredictable, and graphic. However, any tactical thinking on part of the players or the DM is reflected in the game mechanic and the die roll.

  38. Neal says:

    “There was both, coherent strategy and tactics derived from mathematical models.”

    I’m not big on much wargaming, and know only a bit about the modern history of warfare. What are these mathematical models you are referring to? Just moving around counters on a map and saying “this many will die of attrition by this date, and this many by this date, so they’ll have this many casualties and lose this battle and that will cause Germany to lose the war?”

    Yeah, I knew about tartar sauce not actually being related to actual tatars. Just figured it was WAY to apropos to miss out on tying into the conversation. I think the Tatars were confused with Tartarus, the planes of hell, by the Europeans during the Mongol invasions.

  39. Brooser Bear says:

    You are confusing logistics with original tactical planning. What the Red Army command did, was figure out, how many rifles have to be shooting at the Germans to keep them tied down in a stalemate. What the Russians did, was cross their troops to the German side, and hold beach-heads. Not to move forward, not to retake the city, but to keep Germans in a firefight, sending in more and more troops thinking that they were on the verge of break-through. So, it was down to the raw numbers – so many rifles here, so many rifles there, must be kept firing at the German positions, and provide them with the air cover and rive transport to maintain and keep these shooters. This was AFTER the bitter house to house fighting, where the Russians fought to death, and were driven back across the river. Hence the beach heads. Germans could have moved around and maintained their offensive to the North and to the South, but Soviet propaganda made a big, big deal about the Battle for the City of Stalin and Hitler decided to take it at all costs, sending in enough troops into the meat grinder to lose 2000 dead per day, during the worst periods of fighting, causing draft riots in Germany itself. On the Russian side, casualties were appalling, but morale was high. Soldiers were treated with respect, they were armed. Rations were adequate and Chuikov appropriated clothing used by construction workers in the Arctic as winter clothing for his troops (elite troops). Even the condemned prisoners of the penal battalions had sufficient winter hats and coats, and were armed with submachine guns for taking the Mamayev Kurgan. I saw this myself on the declassified photos after Kurgan was taken. Incidentally, condemned men eagerly signed up for the SHTRAFBAT, because after the first combat injury other than a scratch (obviously) the soldier was treated like any other casualty, and if recovered, was given a full pardon and assigned to regular military units. They were also eligible for combat decorations, which were inevitable if anyone survived their suicide assaults on German-held fortifications, and there were plenty of survivors. This would create problems for career criminals after the war, because some of them became commissioned officers and NCO’s during the war, and returned to their underworld lifestyle after. Problem was, the underworld considered them sell out traitors and expelled them. Enough of them survived combat that they formed their own underworld and went to war against their former brothers, eventually killing off the old school.

    Anyway, the Russian soldiers dying in Stalingrad were better fed and better outfitted for the winter than the Germans. Upon arrival, they were treated with camaraderie and respect, and since training was nil to none, they were given a pamphlet on how to stay alive in the urban combat. And the advice was effective and practical. In the end, Russians won the battle by encircling the city and waiting for the Germans to run out of food and ammunition, while destroying the Luftwaffe transport planes and the German attempts to break through the encirclement from the outside. The German lines were pushed West by about 100 miles, when Von Paulus finally surrendered.

    Ironically, the Russians did not celebrate the victory at Stalingrad or in the War in general for 20 years, not until 1961 or 1962. Then there was the first Victory Day parade after the big one in 1945. The first Soviet history of Stalingrad was only published timed to the celebration. Von Paulus was so disgusted with Hitler, that while a POW in Russia, he formed and chaired the German Officers Anti-Fascist Committee. He was also invited into the Soviet war college that prepared generals as a guest lecturer. After the war, he continued his academic career in East Germany. Many people are not aware that after the war, there were enough former German military and Gestapo officers, who for whatever reason chose to settle in the East Germany, considering it to be the more German and the purer of the two, also considering Western democracy a corrupting influence on German people.

    The movie Enemy at the Gates was totally wrong. Horrible. The deal behind it was even worse. The movie was actually loosely based on the novel, War of the Rats. Somehow the film studio paid Russia for the rights to make a film based on Enemy at the Gates, but loosely based the film on the fictional novel, so loosely, in fact, that the historic and social insights into the Soviet Culture that made David L. Robbins writing so awesome, if historically inaccurate, were omitted from the film, to replaced every negative Soviet/Russian stereotype in the West. Hence the awfulness of the film.

  40. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    I have that movie, Enemy at the Gates. Since I don’t know almost anything about that period of history in Russia, there was no way to tell what was bullshit, and what was accurate.

    How did the Russians make the Germans believe that a breakthrough was imminent? I didn’t know that the part about Stalingrad must be defended at all costs, was Soviet propaganda. Maybe it wasn’t just propaganda, and the Soviets really wouldn’t tolerate it’s fall to the Germans? If it was a ruse, it seems to have worked.

    What’s the deal with the stories I’ve heard that Stalin had troops poised to invade into Germany, but Hitler preempted him? Is that true, or was Stalin overconfident, and didn’t anticipate Hitler’s betrayal of their little alliance?

    Re: Gestapo officers remaining in Eastern Germany. Assuming they were allowed to repatriate to the west, I’d think many of them were wanted war criminals, and staying in the East, was MUCH preferable to being sent to prisons (or after the founding of Israel, being hauled off to trial in front of the Jewish family survivors of their kidnappings and executions. Followed by hangings).

  41. Brooser Bear says:

    The stuff about Hitler pre-empting the Soviet strike was the official German reason for the war. This is bullshit. Germans did a lot of prep work to invade Russia. Red Army and Wehrmacht conducted joint military tank and aviation exercises in the Moscow Military District. Germans were receiving military training in the USSR sidestepping the Treaty of Versailles. This was BEFORE 1935 and well before the Soviet-German non-aggression pact. In 1935 the SS broke into the Wehrmacht headquarters and reviewed the training files to see, which Red Army officers had the closest working relationships with the Germans. SS then manufactured documents, purporting to be Hungarian Intel papers in a suitcase that a diplomat supposedly left on a train. The papers purported to show that there was an impending military coup against Stalin. In fact, there may have been a possibility if a coup and Stalin wanted to get rid of the Generals in the Ukrainian military district. They were led by Tukhachevsky and were the Russian proponents of blitzkrieg and may have been eager to take war to the capitalist West in general and Poland in particular. This may have been true, because when Stalin came to power, his most powerful opposition were the Trotskyites, who wanted the primary goal to be the export of the Revolution to the West, while Stalin wanted to make the USSR the showcase of communism. In any case, Stalin promptly used the Nazi-manufactured evidence to get rid of his general staff in 1937. In addition, Germans had initially intended to start the Barbarossa in the beginning of May, but Hitler had to intervene in Greece to help Mussolini invade Greece and the war on the USSR was delayed by about six weeks.

    There is some indication, that Stalin was hoping for a War In The West, that would exhaust the France, Germany and UK, and then the USSR would sweep in with the humanitarian aid and relief and bring the Socialism to Europe. The Soviet satellite states after WW2 were accomplished primarily as a result of that foreign policy planning. Another thing about Stalin was that he was afraid of Hitler. Like Churchill on the other side, he was hoping that Hitler would invade the West first. Stalin took the Chamberlain’s appeasement policy as betrayal and an attempt to steer Hitler Eastwards. Stalin saw Czechoslovakia with its Blue Line of fortification, as a defense against Germany and backed the Czech government, which was both, multi-cultural, industrial, and democratic. When the question of ceding the Sudetenland to Germany came, Stalin wanted to back the Czechs and start a war with Germany. When the Western Allies decided to appease Hitler and sacrificed the Czechoslovakia, and the Blue Line, which Germany took without a shot being fired, just like they did the Maginot line, Stalin realized that the War was inevitable, that he needed time to prepare for the war, and that Western Europe would not help, so he signed the Non-Aggression pact with Germany to buy time, same reason that Hitler signed it. Incidentally, when Czech Republic was eviscerated, Poland’s General Pilsudski played the same role as Stalin did when Germany took Poland. So, in the months, weeks, and days leading to War, Stalin was building up the Red Army and at the same time was terrified of provoking Hitler. To that end, Soviet border troops were forbidden to return fire on the Germans, when German spy planes crashed, the German pilots were given first aid, fed, and driven back to their positions. There were warnings of the impending German invasion, but Stalin ignored then for fear that if he struck first, he would lose, and be viewed as the bad guy, who started the next big war. Incidentally, when the Jewish resistance and the Hugarian Jewry tried telling the Churchill and the Brits about the Holocaust, the Brits turned the blind ear and refused to negotiate for the lives of the lives of the Hungarian Jews being deported to Auschwitz. SS wanted to trade 100 Jews per a single army truck. They wanted a deal for wither 1000, or 10,000 trucks that they promised to only use on the Eastern front and not against the Anglo-Americans. Churchill refused to receive the emissary, or even look at the evidence, because Churchill and Roosevelt feared, that the SS will leak any evidence of negotiations between Nazis and the Anglo-Americans to Stalin, so as to convince him, that the Western Allies are negotiating a separate peace with Hitler behind Stalin’s back and sue for separate peace with Stalin. This was 1944 and the Red Army was advancing beyond its territorial borders.

    Russians convinced the Germans that the breakthrough was imminent, because the German High Command was underestimating the Soviet military reserves and thought that Stalingrad was just a pocket of resistance by a few fanatical red army soldiers. In reality, Hitler’s invasion was a disaster for the Russians, but they had made some preparations. Most were of logistical nature. They planned and executed a successful evacuation of factories, its’ workers, and any communists, Jews, families of the Red Army officers and party leaders, and anybody else who wanted to flee East. Evacuation was beyond the range of the German aviation and in paces it was a confused disaster, because the Germans were advancing too fast, and also because some people, including some Jews, stayed behind, confusing Nazi Germany with the Western Democracy and comforts of the higher standard of living. But overall, manufacturing was successfully moved East to Siberia, where it resumed production really quick. Second big decision that made part of the Soviet strategy, was to Sacrifice the Western military districts and evacuate the Eastern military districts to safety. The current soldiers of the Western Military District were supposed to die, and hold the advancing Germans at all costs. In the meantime, recent high school graduates drafted in 1941 were sent into the military units East of Urals, where they were taught to drive tanks, be aircraft gunners, radio operators, and NCO’s. They were the core of the resurgent Red Army, and only saw combat late in 1942, in Stalingrad, or more appropriately, encircling Stalingrad and overrunning the Romanian and Hungarian contingents that were caught by surprise and surrendered, as they were guarding the German 6th Army’s flanks. These were the so-called Siberians, who fought under General Chuikov.

    The reason that the Soviets decided to have a fight for Stalingrad, was because it was safer than having the main thrust of the German military aimed at Moscow or to actually have to fight for the oil fields in Baku. Wouldn’t you make a big deal about Stalingrad and defend it at all cost by turning it into a SYMBOLIC PRIZE for the enemy to go after?

    With regards to former Wehrmacht officer corps, and not just the Gestapo and the SS, we are talking things like German Air Defense colonels, who ended their war in Norway choosing East Berlin. I mean migration of German veterans from places like Austria and the Western front. With regards to the retribution for the Holocaust, and for the straight dope on the Israelis, the Justice, and the Eichmann, you should read the book called, Hunting Evil. Basically few Nazi War criminals faced justice, if they survived the war, and they had a lot of help. SS personnel were at real risk on the Eastern Front. There are stories of the SS officers committing suicide when their regular army counterparts were about to surrender to the Russians. Former Gestapo were terrified of being turned over to the Russians and the American and British interrogators used the threat of hand over to the Russians to get confessions out of the former Nazis they were interrogating. In fact, a Gestapo agent, who tortured or killed an American or a British commando or an intelligence agent had better chances in Stalin’s Russia than with the Western Allies. That’s is because the Western Allies were operating on the assumption that Nazis were a criminal organization, and the war was illegal, ands therefore you can not use the defense that you were interrogating a spy, or an assassin, or a terrorist. If you tortured or executed an Allied agent operating behind the enemy lines, you were charged as a common murderer, or as a military personnel committing a war crime in executing a regular POW. The logic was – Nazi Germany was an illegal State, the war was illegal, you were not acting as a Gestapo Counterintelligence agent. but rather as a private individual, who tortured and murdered another person, with the end result a death sentence for a civilian murder or a war crime. In the USSR, by comparison, unless you committed genocide by carrying out mass executions or other atrocities, you were not sentenced to die, but given a 10, 15 or a 25 year labor camp sentence for taking part in an illegal war. In that case, your chances of survival were better than a death sentence, and most German POW’s were pardoned and repatriated back to Germany by 1955, except those who chose to remain in the Soviet Union. There were those, who preferred Russia to Germany.

    What I just described, applied only to those SS and Gestapo, who dealt with the captured British and American commandos and radio operators. Death Camp investigators got a lot less resources and were assigned a lower priority by the Allied Command (Western). At the same time, former Nazis were enjoying popular support from among the occupied Austrian and German populations, who sheltered them. In addition, the post-war German government officials on both sides of the Iron Curtain developed a doctrine, that the SS were misunderstood idealists, who blindly followed a charismatic leader, and had to be “sheltered from the excessive and unreasonable wrath of the victors”. West Germany managed to convince the Western Allies, that with the advent of the cold war, it would need its former Gestapo and the Nazis to establish the security apparatus to keep the communists at bay. Former military leaders, like Admiral Doenitz, were pressed back into government service to oversee the rebuilding of the West German Navy. Former Gestapo found shelter in the Gehlen Group, which founded the West German security and intelligence service. Former Gestapo sold themselves to the British and the American Intelligence services as the experienced experts, who dismantles the Soviet intelligence networks in the West. In the East, the lead interrogator for the Stasi security service was a former Chief Gestapo representative in Auschwitz concentration camp. The founder of the East German Institute for the Study of German Culture was a former General of the SS. I suppose that the former Gestapo professionals sold themselves to the KGB, by convincing them, that they are experienced experts at capturing the saboteurs parachuting from the West.

    With regards to how the Justice for the War Crimes and the Genocide was handled, an example of the SS General Bach Zielewski is educational. He was the SS commanding officer, who put down the Warsaw uprising in Poland. We are talking the Polish National Underground, not the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, two separate uprisings. Anyway, Bach Zielewski’s troops killed civilians so as to raise the enemy combatant body count for the units under his command, while in Byelorus and in Poland. He was arrested by the Americans in 1945. Turned State’s Evidence during the Nurenberg Trials, was never charged with war crimes in exchange for his testimony; Helped Goering commit suicide, and was released by the Allies in 1949. In 1961, Zelewski was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the execution of 10 German communists before the War. The Allies let the German Courts try the former Nazi war criminals, and like the Allied intelligence services going after those Nazis who murdered their own, the German and Austrian Courts gave the Nazis stiffer sentences for killing their own citizens than for any genocide committed in the East. For an average Nazi or a German soldier, who did not take part in genocide or war crimes, it was better in the West, since at worst, they were deemed Nazis by the Americans and had to undergo a 2 year de-Nazification program. All of the German POW’s got ten years in prison in the Soviet Union. That meant ten years of labor camp, and depending on where you were sent, that could be a death sentence, or no big deal, just working at a construction site in some large city that was destroyed by war. Food was bad at times, but it was the same food as the local people were eating, so no harm no foul there. Unlike the Gulag camps, the POW camps had medical and nursing staff and were doing their best to take care of the POW’s. In the first years after the war, there were shortages of good quality winter clothing and medicines, but that again, is understandable due to wartime shortages. As to the former Nazi war criminals in the West, only 7% were ever identified and brought to Court, whether acquitted or not.

    It was a lot easier to survive as a former SS war criminal in the post-war world that it was to be a Jew or a Gypsy in a Nazi occupied territory. Read Hunting Evil for the most up to date information on the subject.

  42. Neal says:

    “Wouldn’t you make a big deal about Stalingrad and defend it at all cost by turning it into a SYMBOLIC PRIZE for the enemy to go after?”

    Yeah, of course. Like I said, I just didn’t know that it wasn’t as symbolic as the Russians made it out to be. Like I said, it’s not a period of history or locale, that I know mountains of information about at this point.

    “Basically few Nazi War criminals faced justice, if they survived the war, and they had a lot of help.”

    Yeah, like the Catholic Church, setting up “The Rat Line,” to enable them to escape to Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, etc. Why the church did that is a mystery to me, unless the Nazis knew of embarrassing church involvement, or just anti-semitism by the church that preferred to help nazis escape justice, or maybe it was just for stolen diamonds and gold tooth fillings given as payment to the church. Despicable, and it’s never been answered for.

    “Former Gestapo sold themselves to the British and the American Intelligence services as the experienced experts, who dismantles the Soviet intelligence networks in the West. In the East, the lead interrogator for the Stasi security service was a former Chief Gestapo representative in Auschwitz concentration camp. The founder of the East German Institute for the Study of German Culture was a former General of the SS. I suppose that the former Gestapo professionals sold themselves to the KGB, by convincing them, that they are experienced experts at capturing the saboteurs parachuting from the West.”

    Ug. You’re probably right. I hate to let these monsters off the hook, but if they hadn’t been cooped, who knows how much more territory or secrets Stalin would have snatched during the cold war. As far as the SS being misguided idealists, there isn’t any excuse for that. They were sadists, and racists, pure and simple. Eastern Germany, under Stalin, shouldn’t have allowed them any place to hide. One way or another, I think they were viewed as manpower for armies on each side.

    How does somebody named Bach ZELEWSKI, running a sizable part of the SS, as a General, pass himself off as 100% mythical “aryan stock,” when his name is that of a slavic subhuman? You wonder how they failed to notice that. “hmmm, I wonder if any of his ancestors were subhumans? Nah, good German last name like Zelewski. Must be aryan.”

    Your knowledge of all this stuff, is pretty impressive. Is it because you’re Russian, a closet war gamer, or both?

  43. Neal says:

    Brooser Bear,

    Re: Books to read up on, like Hunting Evil, but on a gaming subject. Which books have you read/heard others speak of well, for inspiration in running campaigns? I’m mostly looking at post apocalyptic stuff, or things with a low magic perspective.

    I’m also trying to track down information from any location on unpreplanned emergent properties generated by random lists and encounters. Know of anything along those lines?

  44. Brooser Bear says:

    Hmmm, I am not a closet gamer, but a serving Russian-American officer with a military and a minor aristocratic lineage on both sides. Russian equivalent of the Southern old boys, who live in decaying plantation homes, speak with a Louisiana accent, and send their kids to The Citadel or the Virginia Military Institute for college. History is our stock in trade, and it has paid me handsomely, not in academics, but in practice. Those, who don’t know it, are sitting ducks.

    If I understand your question correctly, the American concept of the Apocalypse, is the Russian concept of Rasrukha, or the destruction wrought on the land by war. Historically, War is the Apocalypse, ad people live in post-apocalyptic conditions for a time. To run your post-Apocalyptic campaign better, you need to know about life during war when people wade through the rubble. Here is my inspirational reading list:

    In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars: Kevin Sites – this is a must read.

    My War Gone By, I Miss it So, Military adventurism in the Balkans by a restless British army officer.

    The same guy, who wrote Emma Gees. Read that and his other novel more military adventurism.

    Bernard Cornwell, read the Grail Quest trilogy and his other stuff. Historic fantasy set in 100 Years War. Heavy on realism, no magic, still modern fantasy for the improbability of the events that unfold.

    Henryk Sienkiewicz, a 19th Century Polish author, who wrote the Teutonic Knights, an excellent medieval adventure novel, but this is a historic novel (past genre) as opposed to Bernard Cornwell’s writing.

    For the weird and the post-apocalyptic visions that will surely surprise the gamers, try Inhabited Island, Beetle in the Anthill, and Roadside Picnic, by Arkadii and Boris Strughatskii.

    For a dated vision of the Nuclear Apocalypse, try Warday (most realistic), The Stand (Stephen King’s melodrama) and the Swan Song (Robert McCammon’s most fantastic and most grotesque of the three).

    Try Hiroshima for the historic account of what a nuclear bombing does.

  45. Neal says:

    “History is our stock in trade, and it has paid me handsomely, not in academics, but in practice. Those, who don’t know it, are sitting ducks.”

    How does that pay handsomely, and how is anyone a sitting duck for not knowing military (or other) history in your stock in trade? Presumably they know about Trojan horses, so I’m sure they won’t accept any gifts from you filled with spying devices, or midget minor Russian aristocrats with Louisiana Hots drawls, inside them.

    Thanks for that reading list, I’ll check those out.

    Any idea how somebody named Zelewski, was given any kind of command in Nazi Germany? Their motto was Slavs are subhumans. It was (one of) their justifications for invading Poland and Russia and sending Slavs to the death camps as slave laborers.

  46. Neal says:

    The germans all had to prove their ancestry back to their great grandparents (but not before that…) to prove they weren’t part Jewish. Obviously, you have forced, as well as “voluntary” conversions going on for hundreds of years, you will have ethnic admixtures. No German is devoid of Slavic ancestry from the east, Jewish from all over, Italian from the south, during the Roman era, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian from the north with the Viking raiders, French from wars back and forth, and the mercenaries that came with invading armies, too. Not to mention Mongols outside the gates of Vienna, who did their share of rape, that spread genes through the region, in the recent past. And the Turko-Mongoloid Huns from around 400 CE, invading and beating back the Germans at that time.

    If you are carrying around a Slavic name, there isn’t much chance that you don’t have a direct paternal ancestor who was himself a Slav. And not much chance of hiding that fact as soon as people looked at your papers, or asked you what your name was.

  47. Brooser Bear says:

    I get paid handsomely via my salary, benefits, and other intangibles the employer does for me. Why? I make better decisions than my adversaries.

    Bach Zelewski had Kashubian Polish noble ancestry. Since he was in the SS, and he wanted to make himself look better, and since the SS was founded as the blue-blooded and professional (shall we call it an Elven) branch of the Nazis, Bach Zelewski appropriated a surname of his Aristocratic ancestor. When dealing with the blue blooded set, better a claim to Polish nobility, that no nobility at all.

    Ironically, Nazis did not discriminate against the Slavonic origins of the Germans who lived in Poland and other East European German enclaves when compared with the Baltic Germans, who lived in Germany, who were seen as uneducated and boorish. A case in point is Horst Kopkow, who was born and raised in Poland, was grew up a German nationalist in Poland, lost two of his older brothers in WWI fighting for Kaiser, married his long-time girlfriend from the League of German girls, and became a prominent figure in Gestapo counterintelligence.

    With regards to the Nazi racist ideology that led to Holocaust, Nazis practiced scientific racism, and tried to implement the racist theories of the Jim Crow South and the worst of the European colonialism into practice. It was a trend of the times, that the Nazis categorized people on the basis of their race, as it was interpreted by Nazi ideology, the Soviet Russians classified people based on their socio-economic class, a set of ideas and principles, still used in modified form to vet people for security clearances the world over, and Americans classified people based on their performance on various psychological tests (not to mention Jim Crow laws in the South). Americans were the fist to use tests to classify their inmates and the soldiers. More specifically, the early version of the ASVAB pencil and paper test, help the US military recruit its submariners, radio operators, gunners on flying fortresses, infantry men, etc. In the end, US had a superior and a more effective military, which still is, superior personnel selection just one of the factors. Fantasy role playing with its modeling of player characters and character classes is another outgrowth of that personnel classification system.

    Anyway, Nazi system of racism was a lot more peculiar, than that peculiar American institution, or what you (or any other modern laiety would suppose). Go online and read the Wannsee Conference protocols to see how the Nazis were defining who is Jewish and who is not. It was a contrived ethnic stereotype dressed up as a racist stereotype to serve an ideological prejudice harkening back to medieval aristocratic attitudes that defined a target population and determined their legal status. It was intended to enable the Nazis to adjudicate those of partial Jewish ancestry to see, who will be German and who will be Jewish, based on their moral character. Grand plans collapsed almost from the start and in Auschwitz during the extermination of Hungarian Jews, the Nazi SS staff would joke and brush aside the Hungarian Jewish veterans of WW1 with German combat decorations on their way to crematoria. If you read the Wannsee protocols, you will notice that the architects of the holocaust intended a special exemption for the Jewish war veterans of the German army to live among the Germans (after mandatory sterilization or a pledge not to have any children).

    AsWW2 progressed, Nazi racism took a subservient role to the wishes of the political leadership and the occupational police. Nazi SS//SD officers were trained ahead of their time as intelligence analysts, but their area of expertise was to investigate one’s ethnic origins and to target populations for extermination. Having said that, when the Nazis occupied Kiev, they did not bother with the vetting. They simply asked the local populations their nationality. On the spur of the moment people told the German officials, that they were Ukrainian, Russian, Cossack, or Jewish. Jews were isolated, ghettoized, and eventually murdered. Russians were treated like slave labor, and Russian POW’s were put on death march to Auschwitz. Ukrainians were treated like second class citizens. They were allowed limited rights and limited self-government. Ukrainian village elders were allowed to go among the Red Army POW’s on the death march West and claim the Ukrainians. Usually a Ukrainian elder’s say so was enough to get the POW released to their custody, to be taken to their village and used as farm labor. All kinds of things happened. You had genuine nationalists picking out their own from among the mass of the POWs starving and freezing to death. You had village elders helping marry their village girls, you also had (a good number) of village elders, who were actually Soviet intelligence agents in place or communist sympathizers, who rescued either communists, intelligence operatives, or other POWs, who would make dedicated resistance members. The Nazi racial policy towards Ukrainians in this instance was similar to their policy in France, were the French POWs, with the exception of Jews and communists were allowed to return home after the fall of France. That was for the white French. The Black French POW’s (French soldiers from the colonial Moroccan and Senegalese units, and also French of the African and Sub-Saharan descent) were kept throughout the war in the Nazi POW camps along with the Russian POW’s. About 200 black French POW’s were forcibly sterilized.

    This higher status of the Ukrainians (relative to other Slavs) with the Nazis, reflects the historical alliance between the Ukrainian Nationalists, who fought against the Poles and the Russians, and the Germany, going back to before WW1.

    By comparison, the Cossacks (declared as a separate race, by the Nazis) and ethnic Germans who settled in Russia from the time of Peter the Great, were given full citizenship of the Germans in the Nazi Third Reich. Cossacks were theorized to be a sort of Aryan indigenous people and were meant to be allowed to roam Europe and put down the opposition to Germany. Ethnic Germans on the occupied Soviet territories were gathered into new Germanic villages as Himmler’s personal pet project, and he made himself a scout leader of the Hitler Youth troop that he organized there. SS expected these people to live as German peasants and to work in the fields as the German rural folk, and sent them care packages, consisting of warm clothing and goods taken from the Jews who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ethnic Germans in Russia paid dearly for this, even those, who did not collaborate, when the Soviet government confiscated their property and forcibly resettled them far east in Central Asia.

    Cossacks fared no batter, but their story is far murkier. These were the real thing, as opposed to the Russian nationalist skinheads and police auxiliaries (who were a fixture in the Soviet society), who now don the Cossack uniform and imitation whips, imitated both, by Russian and Ukrainian nationalists. Cossacks under Soviet communists underwent a process similar to the one, that put Native Americans on the Reservations. There were about 22 Clan Elders in the Eastern Ukraine and North Caucases. The reds told them to form a communal council to deal with the central authorities, so that the 22 elders should get together and come up with common agendas and resolutions for dealing with the State. Along come three young officers, who saw WW-I as cavalry officers in the Russian Imperial Army. They declared the 22 Elders as communists, put them up against the wall and shot them. Fifty years later, Saddam Hussein, feared, respected, and ruled in favor of the Iraqi Clan Elders (Bedouin origins). In the 1920 or so, this action, both, decapitated the Don Cossack leadership and started a real nasty, Balkan style vendetta that fed into and became one of the most brutal chapters of the Russian civil war of 1918-1924. Not quite Tolkien’s version of Frodo coming home after war of the ring ;-) )).

    Anyway, after the Civil War, Cossacks got a bad reputation as the violent holdovers from the tsarist regime, though exception was made (we are talking people drinking in bars and kids jockeying for popularity on the basis of their parents), for the Red Cossacks. Having said that, when Soviets came, they took the Cossacks guns away, took their horses away, took away their tax exempt status and special provisions, that made the Cossacks the Slavs equivalent of the British Yeomen and Archers – freemen loyal subjects of the crown etc. By the time Germans got there, there were still Cossacks. who survived the Civil Wars and Stalin, and maintained the informal networks (so that you could not falsely proclaim yourself a Cossack any more that you can falsely proclaim yourself a Hells Angel and not suffer any negative repercussions). So, Germans came in WW2, resurrected the old men in Cossack livery to hold a parade and attend church services. Enough younger guys stepped forward to form their own militias, who worked with the German police and successfully fought the Partisans in Italy and Yugoslavia on the German behalf. The end of the war found them in Austrian Alps, interned as displaced persons and enemy collaborators. There were a lot of genuine refugees, former POW’s, slave laborers who were shipped from the occupied Soviet territories to work in the Nazu factories, anti-communist Russian emigres, who lived in Austria and Germany, but mostly people, who migrated West with the retreated Germans. There were a lot of those. There are aerial photos of the streams of civilian refugees from Ukraine fleeing along with the retreating German soldiers and collaborationist militias. Had these people been left alone, they would have settled in Western Europe, would have Russified it, and that would have changed the landscape of the Cold War, which followed shortly thereafter. However, Stalin was convinced that so long as there were anti-Soviet emigres left in the West, the Soviet State was in danger of being overthrown by expats. Churchill, on the other hand, did not want the RUSSIANS in Europe, in any shape, type, or form, and so, in the Spring of 1946, the British Army did a dragnet patrol operation from the town of Salzburg eastwards, where the was the greatest concentration of Russian speakers. About 50,000 were rounded up and interned in displaced persons camps near the town of Linz. Three days later, the British infantry loaded these people, most of them in a hysterical state, onto Soviet army trucks, which took them east into the Soviet zone of occupation of Austria. This was a British operation and US Army did not really want to participate. The American guards forgot to close the gates of the Cossack camp at night, and according to the Soviet sources, the Cossack and other camps were swarming with the Soviet intelligence infiltrators. Once the mop up operation got underway, the gates were locked and security became real with the arrival of the British troops. The only Americans were an Armor unit that was left rudderless for three days, as the commanding officer and his staff left the for Italy for three days for a divisional conference, and the American tankers were left under British control by default. Mainly sitting on their Sherman tanks, and watching the forced repatriation. You can read the report, Massacre of the Cossacks at Linz, on line. There were rumors of a so-called Judenburgh Masacre, supposedly the Soviet NKVD troops shot some of the Cossacks on the spot. There is an account by a American veteran of WW2, who claims that they heard what they thought was an echo of machine gun fire from the wooded mountains in the Soviet area of occupation. They looked at each other and thought that it couldn’t be, the war was over and the Russians wouldn’t be shooting unarmed civilians. There is no evidence of any massacre perpetrated by the Soviet NKVD in the Judenburgh area, and the mainstream (i.e. academically accepted Western Sources), give no indication of mass burial sites in the Judenburgh area dating to WW2. The real problem with this hand-over was that British handed to Stalin ALL of the Russian speakers, that they rounded up, but not all of them were Soviet citizens. A lot of Cossacks were born in Yugoslavia, Poland, and France, and were citizens of those countries, and Soviets had no jurisdiction over them. Because of that, there was some inquiry into the events, which noted, that there was no massacre, other than the usual unpleasantness of forced repatriation, of people who were passively resisting by holding on to door handles and trees, and of the British soldiers hitting them on the hands and on the head to get them into the Soviet trucks. For his part, Churchill claimed that Stalin fooled him, by claiming that all of the repatriated persons will be treated “Justly and according to the law.” Of all people, Churchill was the least likely to have trusted Stalin, and only went along with it, because he was pursuing his own agenda. As to the treatment, Soviet authorities treated all of the POW’s and people who were abroad with suspicion. They were interned in filtration camps, where secret police investigators tried to figure out whether you collaborated or were recruited as a spy. Generally, two witnesses from a POW camps were required to clear your name by positively affirming that you DID NOT collaborate in any way with the Nazis. In that case, you were patted on your back and sent on your way. If you could not find two witnesses, because you were the sole survivor of your group, or you did ugly and bad things in order to survive your captivity, you got a ten year prison sentence, and were shipped off to GULAG. With regards to those who actually fought on the German side, men were tried, and unless they were notorious war criminals, got between ten and twenty-five year sentences, while their families were sent into deep exile in the Soviet Far East. Whoever survived their prison sentences, were settled there in small mining and lumber towns. Such was also the fate of the Ukrainian nationalists, who kept up the guerilla warfare against the Soviet authorities well into the 1950′s and 1960′s. Unless they were involved in murders directly, they were sent to prison, possession confiscated and families exiled, all trace of them erased. In the 1970′s Soviet sociologists stumbled upon these communities, where families and children were still forbidden to leave these towns and return to their native lands, or any where else, and the Soviet sociologists found themselves a little Russian Appalachia. So it was not as bad as some would think. And if you read the American descriptions of some of these Cossacks, they had wives and concubines, they were wearing silks and furs and covered with the precious stones and jewelry, no doubt looted from parts of the German occupied territories, where they policed. This is not from a Soviet account, but from an account given by a group of American sailors, who were transporting some of them by boat, who thought that these were “gypsies from another age”.

    Anyway, anecdotes aside, the Nazis lived and died by papers to the detriment of common sense. You were, what your documents said you were. For instance, in Ukraine, where these was a great deal of collaboration with the Germans, and the former Soviet factories worked willingly and their workers were paid in the Soviet currency, which Germans still circulated, there were two Polish engineers, who, it turned out after the Liberation were two French Jews, who somehow escaped from Nazi custody, got a hold of forget Polish passports and fled EAST, and got themselves hired and no Germans were the wiser. Once the Soviets came, they two identified themselves, were taken to the French consulates, who authenticated them, and were quietly repatriated back to France. Now ask yourself, in a Nazi police state, how could the Germans not tell a Frenchman from a Pole? By the same token, there were Soviet Jews, who were active in the Soviet society, more or less assimilated, who had enough sense to move to a different town, get a set of fake papers that identified them as Ukrainian, and quietly survived the Nazi occupation. It’s not that Nazi police were stupid, they went by what the papers said you were, common sense be damned, either that, or it was precisely that Germans had so much variety in their ancestry, as you said, that it was impossible to tell, whether a Semitic-looking person was a German or a Jew. But this is not, where it ends. During the height of the Battle for Stalingrad, the SS Waffen stopped the German Army column of supply trucks, declared the truck drivers to be Jewish, and shot them. The German army had a severe shortage of men and it took them three weeks to get the replacement drivers and drive the supply trucks to their destination. It wasn’t that the German army was stupid, they did not hire Jews, they were either Russian or Ukrainian Hiwis, one of the 150,000 or so locals who were employed by the German army to provide the essential services during the battle of Stalingrad and were paid salaries. The reason that SS shot these drivers was most likely a power struggle between the authority of the SSPF (General of the SS and Police Leader) the highest Nazi police official in the occupied region and the German Army Command, who had the authority overt the battle area and the immediate rear. Another example of the Nazi political power in action was the fate of a certain “Father Nikolai”. A high official on the German Government of Ukraine had a favorite assistant named “Father Nikolai”. He claimed to be the refugee from Communism from South Ukraine. Other Priests noticed that he knew nothing about the South Ukraine, and knew little about the Liturgical services. They surmised that he was likely a Soviet Agents and informed the local Nazi police. The police conferred with the Nazi official and they contacted the Gestapo to investigate this “Father Nikolai”. Gestapo conducted a discreet investigation and reported that the Father Nikolai is not who he claims to be, that he is likely a Soviet intelligence agent, and that he should be arrested as soon as possible. The local Nazi official disagreed and told Gestapo to cease this investigation. And they did. Gestapo counterintelligence could not overrule the Nazi Governor’s office.

    With regards to your other question, as to what the Nazis had over the Catholic Church, the answer is nothing. Fascists in general and Nazis specifically, reflected the attitudes and prejudices of European conservatism, which was polarized to the right by the Socialist progress in Europe post WWI and by the attempted Socialist revolutions in Central Europe. Anti-Semitism expressed by the Nazis so genocidally, was always there in the background in the conservative circles of the UK and France. Catholic clergy feared and hated the Bolsheviks, and with a good reason, and backed the fascists governments in places like the Spain, Portugal, and the Balkans. Cardinal Pocelli was the conservative (even by Papal standards) Pope during WW2, and he, like others saw Hitler as a Bulwark against Bolshevism. Churchill was hoping to drive him East, Stalin was hoping to drive him West, and Pocelli made a deal with Hitler that he will forbid any criticism of the Nazi Germany by Catholic clergy, and in return, Hitler will keep the Catholic Churches open in the Third Reich and he got permission from Vatican to arrest and persecute those Catholic Priests, who disobeyed Vatican and voiced criticism of Nazi Germany. Unbeknownst to the Pope and the other Nazi Clergy, Hitler despised the Catholic Priesthood and planned to deal with them the same way that dealt with the religious Jews, but only after victory was his and he didn’t need Vatican any more. If this had happened, and the Vatican officials found themselves on the next train to Auschwitz, Hitler probably would have went down in history as the Antichrist. But Nazi Germany had lost, and the Vatican Cardinals found themselves enabling the ratline. It was quite simple: There was a Croat Cardinal in Vatican, and he helped Chetniks escape to Latin America, simply because they were HIS people. There were one or two Austrian Cardinals, who helped the Austrian and German Nazis escape. Again, they were helping their own, without taking any money whatsoever. Later on, they rationalized, that they were helping the oppressed flee their persecutors, as the Christians are ought to do; that they did not know the true extent of the Nazi War Crimes in those early days, etc etc. Allied intelligence services have made use of the Vatican rat line as an afterthought and were not the organizers of it.

  48. Pteryx says:

    There is one significant difference between movie evolution and video game evolution: video games became weighed down by high budgets and corporate expectations of massive profits in a short time sooner than movies did. For decades, movies relied on staying power over immediate attention-grabbing and didn’t cost as much proportionately to make as they do today. Video games, by contrast, don’t seem to be in a position to settle into such a period; they’re already being treated as a commodity to be pumped out as quickly and impressively as possible, and between any given video game platform becoming obsolete within five to eight years and paranoid characterization of every illegal download as a lost sale, this doesn’t seem likely to change soon.

  49. Brooser Bear says:

    Also, I think that videogame industry doesn’t have same access to financing, that the film industry does, and also, movies had time to mature into genres with audiences that watch them, video-games are influenced by the instant fads, and are tied to and get dated by the technology they rely on. More movies get transferred to DVD than videogames getting accessible in Windows 7, for instance, the text-based original Wasteland, or Mac based Fahrenheit 451, which are classics.

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