Introductory Taunts

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

Never write a review. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Last time, on FATAL & Friends...

Golden Bee posted:

Alien Rope Burn, I'd like to officially call out whoever gave you this challenge as an asshole. This thread is now a Wick Occupied Landfill.

Evil Mastermind posted:

I think this may be the first time something like this has been asked in F&F history, but...

Please stop posting Play Dirty.

theironjef posted:

No never stop. This is a billion times better than another argument about whether the skins are actual or symbolic.

Golden Bee posted:

Evil Mastermind posted:

I think this may be the first time something like this has been asked in F&F history, but...

Please stop posting Play Dirty.

Halloween Jack posted:

You guys got your eleventy volumes of James Desborough, I get Play Dirty.

Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Don't stop until your dark work is complete. See this through to the bitter(-that-he-isn't-in-charge-at-AEG) end.

AmiYumi posted:

This thread has gone from, like, 3-4 replies a day to over 100. The people have spoken!

The Deleter posted:

Evil Mastermind posted:

Please stop posting Play Dirty.

One Year Later...

John Wick posted:

Never read reviews. They're usually written by someone who has no idea of the blood, sweat and tears that make up the creative process/has a personal agenda to praise or condemn the product because of the author or company that produced it/or is a blithering idiot.

"'Treacherous, honest and sadistic.' Hm. Sounds like a dream date..."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

If you don't like something - a roleplaying game or anything else in the world - you have the right to express your opinion. You also have the right to keep your opinion to yourself. Consider carefully which right you wish to exercise.

If you choose to disregard these rights, anything you say can and will be used against you. And don't raise a fuss when it happens. You opened your mouth, you accept the consequences of doing so.

So, I'm going to start with a digression.

Last time, I was like "you know, let's not be too hard on him, since this is over a decade ago and the anecdotes he cites are from before even that ". Since then he went on a bitter breakup with mainstream gaming (as much as there is such a thing), broke up with his wife, worked for Neopets. It bugs me when people hold up, say Sean K. Reynolds's feat point system as an example of his design philosophy, because even he's better than that these days. Still not to my taste, mind, but better.

So, has Wick changed? Well. Yes and no. And that "no" means I don't really need to put that qualifier in here. I'm going to try not to helldump but I'll be doing this as I go through it, unlike my Rifts reviews, where I write up most of the text in advance of posting. So it'll be rough(er). I don't have a time limit this time, but I want to have it done by the end of the year. I'm not much for Christmas, but if I was, you could consider this my gift to SA.

And due congratulations to Wick for both funding and fulfilling a Kickstarter, something some other designers seem to struggle with. Whether or not you like what he writes, he does get it written.

Is this gift a white elephant? Well, let's get to it.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 1: "'Treacherous, honest and sadistic.' Hm. Sounds like a dream date..."

First off, this book has some layout gimmicks. First off, every page has a set of dice and a descriptor at the top and bottom. The dice are different on every page so you can in theory open the book and get a die result, though somewhat weighted because the book is roughly 110 pages and there's got to be a few duplicates. Or you can flip to three pages and get three descriptors for an NPC personality. It's cute, but I don't think people bought this as a gaming aid, so we can give that feature a pass. I suppose it would be useful if you got caught without your dice and this book somehow.


"Forward". I'm not sure if that's a typo or if somebody's just trying to be cute.

There's a introduction by Jesse Heinig , who worked on the original Fallout and used to be a line developer for Mage: the Ascension . He talks about how "Playing Dirty" is forcing people to make hard choices with consequences where there isn't an obviously correct answer. Fair enough. But I don't think anybody opened this up looking to hear Heinig (sorry, Heinig), so we can move on.

It's time for the main event.

Introduction: The Magician

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Listen closely now. I’m going to tell you a secret.

Ah, the "I'm going to tell you, the reader, something in confidence" bit. Even though you're writing it down, in a book, that anyone can read. Yes. It's a bit he's used before on a number of occasions before, and I won't be surprised if we see it again before the book is over.

So Wick describe in how once, millennia ago, we believed in the power of the shaman. Actually, it turns out a great number of people still do, but from the Eurocentric perspective of most of his audience I suppose that holds true. Unless you count things like Sunday morning Christian mass. But I'm digressing. So the shaman had the power of stories to draw you into the uh... the... uh... what is it? Oh, yes. The invisible world . Okay, that totally is Christian mass. This reminds me of how a friend compared RPG meetings to Sunday mass. You know, stop, have the social catch-up with your community, maybe breakfast, then go in and participate in ritual with invisible beings.

He goes on about how stories and words influence the way we think-

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Five hundred years ago, romantic love was not going on a date. It wasn’t getting a burger at the drive thru. It was a dangerous thing. It was something that could get you killed. Five hundred years ago, the word “love” meant “lust” because that’s how the people in charge of the language wanted it to mean.

But the bards of Britain changed that word. They were able to redefine that word. They did it with language. And now, the old idea of love is impossible for us to recognize.

Is that true? Somebody look that up, I've still got more Wick on my plate.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

You are not just a game master. You are a shaman.

I'm a wizard ? Holy shit, when do I get to cast summon faithful bear -

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

You use language to change the hearts and minds of your players. You invoke emotion within them with just words.

... well that's dissapointing. I was hoping for a magic bear. So, yes, he's mainly just saying being a gamemaster is super special because words change the world and are also magic things that create invisible realms, etc.

From there we move on to when he was writing for Legend of the Five Rings . Used to be if you wanted a good laugh, you walk up to an AEG staffer and say "when is John coming back?" Now that Fantasy Flight Games has the license, I guess you can't do that anymore.

So Matsu Tsuko was a badass samurai who, after becoming a badass samurai, then proceeded to make a mistake at every decision tree she was offered, aside from her original choice to become a badass samurai. (Even that was for the wrong reasons.) So Wick writes the end of that storyline where she gets to a point she realizes what a fuckup she is and decides to commit seppuku. The lead designer, however, is troubled by this. He points out that players from Tsuko's clan will be really upset by having her, in Wick's own words, "going out like a punk". Wick counters with that he has to, knowing the emotional reaction it'll get. It's a similar storytelling style that you see in a lot of writers I don't need to mention. "Where do I go with this story I'm stuck on? Well, what's the worst thing that can happen? Let's go with that."

Wick points out that she was mostly just art on cardboard, a concept and an idea, but that she was more meaningful because people believed in her, figuratively if not literally. So he points out as a GM that's what you want out of a game, and so you have to make characters seem authentic and exciting, and to do that you have to learn about storytelling tricks to do that. He brings up that we're hard-wired to see false threats and that our minds can easily be tricked into seeing imaginary dangers. He extrapolates this into people wanting to believe in impossible things, brings up the Flat Earth Society, how we form images of people we haven't met, etc. GMs are magicians or shamans or wizards or whatever.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

We are not just Game Masters. We are magicians.

It's honestly not the worst start. Some GMs could use the pep talk (and some really, really don't) and it's not the worst mindset to look into if you can manage to cut out all the smug bullshit. After Play Dirty I'm kind of braced for grade-a cowpies, and I'm totally not down with the whole "magic = stories = more magic" angle, but he could do worse. I'm sorry. Let me clarify. He will do worse. Hey, it's the image he wants to project. It just may not be recieved by many folks the way he wants it. But we'll get to that, too, very soon.

Actually, you know what? Magicians work fucking hard at their craft. Penn Gillette once described becoming a magician as being somebody willing to practice a given trick well beyond what would be considered sane, describing how he practiced a single trick for eighty hours over and over to make sure that it never goes wrong on stage. I'm not a magician and neither is Wick. Magicians - the good ones, anyway - work fucking hard at what they do. Ugh. Let's not do them a disservice by claiming me sitting down and reading a book or do and doing some dodgy method acting is equivalent to stopping a bullet in my teeth before an audience of hundreds. I'm a guy that pulls out a statblock and scribbles some names and places them into a .txt file and rolls some dice. I've done it for a long time and I like to think I do well at it. But I'm no magician.

Next: "I'm a bully."

"From Mamet, to Sheldon, to me. To you."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

The next time you get pissed off because someone slammed your favorite game/TV show/movie/book, stop and take a moment to remember the moment. Then, multiply that emotion by five thousand. That's how it feels when someone slams something you created.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 2: "From Mamet, to Sheldon, to me. To you."

I'll just let the tape run for a moment here.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

I’m a bully.

That’s right. I’m a bully.

I use my authority as the GM to abuse the trust the players give me. Since I’m a physical wimp, I take out my frustrations on others with intellectual muscle.

I’m a bully.

At least, that’s the impression you’d get about me from the internet.

But I find that most people who have that impression haven’t really ever read anything I’ve written, or if they have, they carry some kind of baggage with them before they’ve read it.

For example, I’ve tried to use examples from my own games in both the previous Play Dirty book and in the GM sections from my roleplaying games. I use examples from games I’ve run because I agree with Machiavelli’s approach to instruction: use real examples . Don’t do what Plato did. Don’t make up a fake continent and use hypotheticals. No. Use real examples .

Therefore, when I talk about the principles of my own Game Mastering techniques, I use anecdotes from my games. I mean, what I am I supposed to do? Use examples from other people’s games?

OK. I’ll do that. Right now.

Okay, let's stop the tape.

What am I supposed to take home from that? That there are no examples from his games where he doesn't come across as a bully? Or does he think those are the only ones that illustrate his principles? Or, most likely, those are the ones that build upon his self-illustrated image as this Machiavellian master storyplotter? Well, we don't get to find out.

Once we're past the initial snippiness - geez, Wick - this chapter is actually pretty alright! I'm just going to say that off the bat. Not all of its ideas are original, mind. For example, Wick talks about the convention of "friendly games" in board games (with take-backs and the like) and brings up the idea of having "friendly games" in The Houses of the Blooded (that's his game of playing nasty nobles, in short) where players voluntarily work out who their enemies are amongst the other players. The alternative is "cut-throat" (one t plus a dash, for whatever reason) where it's every tragic homicidal noble for themselves. But "gloves on, gloves off" modes exist in a number of RPGs, it's just a different implementation for his particular game.

Oh, and this is a "lesson" he learns from somebody else's boardgaming habits which is the "example"? Really? He hadn't heard of that before in games? Odd.


Wick explains that he's frustrated with LARPs, because they're chiefly PVP, instead of PVE like most tabletop games.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

(Hopefully, we've all moved past the "GM as enemy' phase.

But he points out that it's hard to build fiction without trust, and LARPs often actively discourage trust. And he's going to tell us how to work around that!

Open Secrets

So he explains in many LARPs, a group of players investigate a given plot and basically take it aside with the storyteller and monopolize it, because the plot is often where the cool stuff is going on. However, these scenes are often secret or exclusive, while everybody else is left sitting around.

Instead, Wick explains in the Houses of the Blooded LARP, these things are announced and everybody can sit in and watch, with the caveat that it's out of character knowledge. Players can use espionage abilities (which are a given in that game) to learn what happened in that meeting, but otherwise it's OOC. Basically, he wants people to have their secrets and plots exposed because it's more entertaining and investing for all the players when they get to see the story.

He points out you can do the same in tabletop by making sure secrets are open - there are no private scenes, that people can know each other backgrounds, and so on, and encourages GMs to have their players share.

And finally, he points out in LARP he often has OOC communications for people to talk to each other and get explanations of what was happening so people understand everything that's going on. Having run LARPs, this is pretty interesting, and I've been for "open backgrounds" in games for awhile now. It's something I'd be glad to give a try if I still did. Somewhere, sanity overtook me and I don't run LARPs anymore.


Similarly, he talks about letting people work out their own enemies in PVP roleplaying. He likens it to professional wrestling, and explains you might want to actually suggest ways or plots for your enemies to undermine you (privately? it's not clear.) if you think it'll make for a better story. Which is fair, but it's a little confusing on how it's actually implemented.

The Morley-Wick Method

Wick talks about going to a LARP with his friend Sheldon where he was bored, despite having worked out an intricate, exciting character (at least to him), and then realized the most popular characters were often the most shallow. Or so he thought. He then realized that their characters where icebergs (my term, not his) with a lot of depth nobody could see.

Play Dirty 2 posted:

I think Sheldon also nailed down the guy who could solve our problem. David Mamet. The director/screenwriter. His books and essays on “the method” approach to acting really inspired Sheldon, which in turn, inspired me. Using Mamet’s critiques, we came up with a solution to our problem.

Mamet? Oy.

What's Wrong

So Wick talks about method acting, and the issue with it being that the subtleties of a character done through it can be lost on the audience until the author or director or whoever reveals the character's secret or backstory. But how in RPGs (LARPs, particularly), you often keep you secrets close.

Play Dirty 2 posted:

You are, quite literally, playing with yourself.

He mentions this might make sense in PVP LARPs, but makes very little sense around the table, and that one might want to break from the "method acting" school of roleplaying. Once again, a solution is offered...

Character Background

Wick suggests restricting backgrounds to single pages, or even index cards, so they're easy for other players to read and pick up on. There's also a little note about keeping backgrounds slim so characters can make revelations during play. He doesn't actually explain how this relates to Mamet , but this is a very rough implementation of practical aesthetics, an acting technique championed by said director.

And that's that. It's pretty long, but outside of the waaaahmbulance screaming by at the start of the chapter, it's solid advice, I think... if meandering and somewhat lacking in practical implementation. It all comes down to two things: making sure the story is inclusive and that players are encouraged to make their characters exposed. It won't fit every game, but it's not bad.

"Huh.", I thought when I first looked at this. "This is looking up. This is advice I might conceivably use! Maybe he is better at this now." Well, yes and no.

Next: "The most powerful item in the universe. Good luck!"

"Go figure; I’m an antagonistic game designer, too. Dammit."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

Never read reviews. Read the book yourself and make up your own mind. The minute you let other people think for you is the minute you give up.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 3: "Go figure; I’m an antagonistic game designer, too. Dammit."

Episode 2: Power to the Players

Wick brings up that he often gets asked "How do I keep my characters from getting too powerful too fast?" And he questions whether or not that's actually a problem at all. He points out the GM's role is to be antagonistic, and says most people don't know-

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Some games assume an antagonistic role between the players and the GM. There’s no problem with that if you know what the antagonist’s job is. Most people don’t. These are the same people who think “ironic” is a synonym for “tragic.” Or folks who think “tragic” means “something bad happening.”

The GM’s job is to be an antagonist. But what does that mean? It means that his job is to challenge the characters by putting them in situations that force change.

Man, those dummies, Wick is gonna show us how it is.

So he brings up Othello - the play, not the game - and how he finds the main character kind of (emotionally) weak and unsympathetic, while he finds Iago charming and more sympathetic. He's digressing. He says as much. But points out that Iago's role is to change Othello's role. Generally, these changes make the protagonist stronger, unless we're dealing with a tragedy, Wick tells us.

So he brings up Batman as an example of a character that's really powerful in-setting, but you can challenge what he'll do when his beliefs and principles are challenged, which is what makes him interesting. He also brings up Indiana Jones, who is very skilled but the fact that his conscience will always drag him into trouble. That no matter what the numbers on a player's character sheet are, their code and values can drag them into interesting dilemmas.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

And just to make sure you do remember it, let’s make it as big and plain as possible...


It's a fair thing to point out but there's a lot of meandering and condescension here. Trust your readers to understand things in regular type, Wick. Please. And yes, the chapter is this short.

Next: "Now, I’m not going to insult your intelligence."


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

If you've never gone through the grueling process of writing, designing, developing and publishing a roleplaying game, you don't have the knowledge necessary to properly critique one.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 4: "Psychopath."

Episode 3: Four Simple Questions

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

So your players want a dungeon crawl, do they?

Leave the city behind, go trekking through the wilderness until they find a deep, dark, and dank hole in the ground? Go lurking through there, looking for loot?

Okay. We can do that. Sure we can.

And there are things we can do to make sure they never get this stupid idea again.

Just kidding.

“Give the players what they want.” That’s our motto here.

Like an evil genie, no doubt.

”Why are we doing this?”

Now, Wick asks his readers if they would leave their lives to go murder people in a foreign country for, say, several hundred K. And this, of course, is a metaphor for dungeon delving. The metaphor is flawed, I think. Alaskan crab fishing would probably be a better metaphor, or any other high risk, high reward business, like mining or working on a oil rig. Whether or not dungeon-delving equates to a genocide expedition is pretty setting-dependent.

Digressions! I got some.

The point that Wick’s making is that adventuring isn’t glamorous. Or he doesn’t think it’s glamorous. I dunno. I think if you walk out with all those geeps with a holy avenger strapped to your back- well. If I disagree with every part of this we will be doing this into 2017. Or I’ll be. So he brings up an example, because Wick likes examples even when they’re self-aggrandizing and unnecessary. Man, did I jump to that? Well, it’s the impression that I get.

He talks about a novella he wrote for Wicked Fantasy where an adventurer is trying to get the band back together again, but one of his compatriots has become a wealthy courtesan and is not really interested in fighting orks and getting muddy (Wick always spells it with a k because His Orcs Are Different, I guess) when she can just make money having wealthy men fuck her instead.

The point when he gets around to it is that motivations stronger than geeps (or at least why they want those geeps) are important to making dungeon-delving interesting. He gives an example of a character he made-

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

I once played a thief (not a rogue; rogues are wannabe thieves) who was the son of a tavern keepers.

Ah, yes, the fine difference between rogues and thieves, and after Play Dirty I… I… goons, give me strength.

So he’s got this thief (ngh) character whose motivation is to get into a dungeon to free his dad from dad’s gambling debts and make sure the tavern doesn’t close. Which is fair enough. But I summed that up in one sentence where it takes him roughly a full page of storytelling .

And then there’s one pass-agg dig that if you don’t have a nuanced reason for venturing forth into a dungeon then your character’s just a murderous psychopath. Thanks, thanks. I mean, this isn’t bad advice but you could have done without the nonsense about how awesome it is to be a courtesan and not an adventurer or a thief and not a rogue or w/e.

”Where is this place?”

This is a bit he calls the “The Dirty Dungeon” (as opposed to those clean, sterile dungeons, I suppose) where he has the players do research on their dungeon (or mission in some games) and he gives them a bowl of tokens. They can basically invent things about the dungeon based on their research by giving him a token (he mentions Hershey’s kisses, because he likes using those as tokens), but for every five tokens, he gets a “complication point” where he can contradict what they know or otherwise add a unknown flaw to their plan or research.

Wick mentions this is a way to build an adventure built on what the players want to see and save on having to do detailed dungeon prep in a way that works it into the story. It’s a neat idea and there’s really no nonsense in his description.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Of course, a common question arises whenever I detail this little trick. “What about the jerk that doesn’t play fair and screws it up for everybody else?”

I always have the same answer.

“Why are you playing with that guy?”

This is good stuff. This is what the rest of the book should be like. No faffing about with long-winded back-patty examples. “This is what you do, how it works, and why it works.”

”What’s That Smell?”

was the name of Wick’s first d20 adventure which was supposed to blow the gates of the D&D doors down and be a wake-up call to the genre. If you haven’t heard of it, that explains how successful it was at that.

Wick goes on about how you should make your dungeons nasty and unpleasant - bodies of failed adventurers in various states of decay, nasty biting insects, black mold in the air, animals caught in traps, all sorts of things to distract or weaken you before you even get to the - ngh - orks.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

The preferred spelling, by the way, is “ork”. Not “orc.” That’s the elven spelling. We’re racially sensitive here. Oh, and you don’t want to know what the elven word for “human” is. Trust me.

There’s no reason stated to make things as macabre and unpleasant as possible, other than I guess the Wickian notion that dungeons should be nasty, brutish, and shit. I guess it’s to make them more memorable or evocative? Sounds legit. It’s interesting advice but it’s going for a very specific feel. It also kinda feels a little like a way to maybe work in some pass-aggery to players wanting a dungeon crawl, but would Wick do that? Nah, he’s better than that.

”Who’s Holding the Light?”

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

  • GM: So, you turn the corner and you see a dozen orks going over the bodies of another group of adventurers!
  • PLAYERS: Charge!
  • GM: Who’s holding the light?
  • PLAYERS: What?
  • GM: The orks can see in the dark. They don’t need lights. You do. Who’s holding the light so you can see?
  • WIZARD: I need my hands to use magic.
  • FIGHTER: I need one hand for my sword and the other for my shield.
  • THIEF: Don’t look at me! I can’t sneak around while holding a torch.
  • CLERIC: I need both hands for my shield and hammer.
  • GM: So, who is holding the light?
  • GM: Okay, while you figure that out, the orks get initiative
Ah, yes, punishing characters for an OOC mistake made by the players that would be blindingly obvious to the characters (getit). That’s some elite pro boutique GMing there.

So he points out the details are important in making a dungeon crawl less rote. Like the time a friend’s character was stripped naked ( Tomb of Horrors ) and another character got stuck looking up his butthole in a cramped tunnel. So the advice here is “don’t forget about darkness, also buttholes”. Really it could all just be folded up into the above section of unpleasantries anyway, have insects bite right up people’s buttholes in the dark while they’re slipping on the moldy blood of their adventuring kin, that’s world-class master taster GMing.

Whoops, sorry, took that a line too far. Pretty sure Wick isn’t recommending that. Pretty sure.


Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

So that’s just a brief glimpse at a few things I take into consideration when running a dungeon crawl. I’ve got a few more, but I’ve run out of words and I don’t like taking up a stranger’s time.

But, if you’d like to see more, give me a ring.

Just be sure to bring candy.

Maybe… just maybe, he could cut out an example or how he feels about orcs or rogues and fit in one of those ideas. But that would be helpful, wouldn’t it? It certainly wouldn’t leave room for his “keep ‘em wanting more” schtick.

I like the player-built dungeon. Most of the rest is alright advice that needs to be condensed into something more coherent and nuanced, and kill the digressions, Wick. Just kill them with fire. The elven name for humans? I could care less, but that would require brain surgery.

Next: “I’ll kill you if I can.”

"Don't blame me, I'm an old man. I forget things."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

Before you buy a book, read a few pages first. I always look at the character sheet before I buy an RPG. That one page usually tells me all I need to know about a game.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 5: "Don't blame me, I'm an old man. I forget things."

Episode 4: Get a Helmet, Part 2

This is a later parallel to “Get a Helmet” from Play Dirty , as John points out. This is apparently inadvertent. You can go read my writeup first if you’ve forgotten . Or if you just want to watch some Boy Meets World . You could probably use the Boy Meets World . Give yourself a Boy Meets World break.

Meanwhile, I still have to keep on with this book at this point.

John Wick tells us not to kill off characters, because you have all the power and it's not really interesting. Except when it is. Or something. But mostly not to. Not without good reason, anyway. He brings up that in 7th Sea they codified that characters won't die from random rolls, because they're heroes.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Imagine Conan being killed by a kobold. Or Elric failing to detect a trap and dying from the poison needle. Or Raistlin failing his saving throw and getting burned to a crisp by a wayward fireball. As stupid and ridiculous as that sounds, that’s exactly what happens in so many roleplaying games. A failed saving throw, a missed Perception check, a random knife hit when the character had only a few hit points left. These kinds of deaths are meaningless. Worse, they are the very definition of absurd.

Which is a fair point to make. And so he brings up an idea called "dire peril" which was invented by Jesse Heinig for Chill 3rd Edition but I know I've seen it in other games before. "Dire peril" is a flag that's raised for a GM who wants to say "this is a dangerous situation and you could die in this scene." Now, I'm skipping ahead slightly to reveal that "dire peril" is intended at least somewhat as a red herring. Maybe in Chill it'll have teeth, but the intent is to raise the stakes, not necessarily just give yourself the green light to start dropping rocks on characters. He has examples. 'Course he does.

The first is a Vampire game and- actually I'm going to hop back several chapters (Wick calls them "episodes", but eennnnhhh to that). Wick said something curious in Chapter 2. I meant to note it at the time because it's a genuinely good point to make, not that there's much elaboration on it. But it actually fits better to bring up right now. He said:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

"Why the hell do starting characters suck so much?" So we can wade through the suck to get to the awesome? How is that fun? But, I digress...

Time to contradict that. Wick talks about running a Vampire game where a player wanted to play a mage. He told him no, instead allowing him to play a sorcerer (a lesser mage, for those not hip-deep in games created by a man with a dot in his name). However, Wick's intent was to let him play a mage, but-

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Nick’s character was approached by a real mage, who informed him that Nick’s magical conman was nearly ready to become a mage himself. But this would present a problem. As soon as his “avatar awoke” (translation: he becomes a mage character), reality would notice and immediately try to kill him. He would be attacked by all sides. The whole world would, in fact, become so antagonistic, that even crossing the street would be a deadly exercise.

I told Nick that for this entire session, the Promise (mentioned above) was null and void. I was going to do my best to kill his character. Then, I took a mage character sheet from my pouch and showed it to Nick. “But if you make it... if you survive this session... you can trade in your sorcerer character sheet for this one.”

I'm rusty on Ascension but I dooon't think that's how that works.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

I then looked at the other players and told them, “If you try to protect Nick, if you get in the way, you’ll be collateral damage.”

The rest of the game was a race. They tried to find a hole in the wall to dig in and hide. That didn’t help. Vampires found them.

They tried leaving the city. That didn’t help. Werewolves found them.

They tried hiding in plain sight, standing on street corners. That didn’t help them, either. Vampire hunters came looking for Nick’s friends and, somehow, all of their crossbow bolts and fire bombs seemed to find Nick instead.

- uh. Well. They do make it through and nobody dies, and he got to play a mage after running through Wick's gauntlet.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Nick earned that character sheet. And, if given the opportunity, I would have killed his character. Not because I’m a jerk, but because I made a different kind of promise.

“I’ll kill you if I can.”

The sincerity of that statement means a lot. And it should not be used lightly. Nor should it be used too often.

I don't get it. There's no way you can't kill a character as a GM if you really try. "Reality drops a flaming 747 down on your block. Roll soak. Wait, no, don't. Aggravated damage." That's not an sincere statement. It's a false flag. Saying "I will let the dice kill you" or "this is an earnestly deadly situation you could die in" would be sincere. But the "if I can" part of that statement doesn't work unless you're playing one of those few games that put restrictions on the hazards you can throw at the PCs.

The other example goes back into the Houses of the Blooded LARP he runs. There was a time when some folks wanted to poke in a ruin for artifacts, but he invoked dire peril because they were "poorly equipped" and they backed off. He talks about a regular player he has who decided for a change of place to play a duellist that hated sorcerers. (In the setting, sorcery is illegal, but everybody does it anyway, because sorcery is rad.) So she duels and kills them. Then she finds out the character she's working under is a profilic sorcerer, and when she goes after him, John walks around after holding up a sign that said Dire Peril. And I guess people were cowed and it was awesome and stuff, and she cuts a few people down (who volunteered to be cut down in that scene, we're told).

And so, yeah, dire peril. And that's where we end here. I know I've seen it before, but if somebody could pinpoint it for me, that'd help.

Next: "We want them alone and shivering and terrified."

"Tell them that John guy suggested a whole ton of stuff that was just terrifying."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

Never say "I didn't like it".

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 6: "Tell them that John guy suggested a whole ton of stuff that was just terrifying."

Episode 5: Happy Halloween

So Wick talks about running Call of Cthulhu every Halloween and, well.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

It’s a tradition. Something I’ve rarely broken. Every year, I dress up in my “Man in Black” outfit (black pants, black shirt, black vest, black jacket, black tie, black hat and Yellow Sign pin) and I tell a story of man’s futile attempts to understand the universe.

I'm pretty sure that's not- that's not what the song is about-

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

But this year, for various reasons, has proven to be a year of breaking traditions. I’m forty-one-years old this year—forty-two on December 10th—and the whole three hundred and sixty days seemed to be a hovering point between the magic and mysticism and absurdity. Forty is the year a man is old enough to start learning magic. At forty, he is mature enough to understand qabalah. It is the year of the Magician. Forty-two, of course, is an entirely different number with its own significance. And so, at forty-one, it seemed a good year for breaking as many traditions as possible.

So, he talks about running a game called Schauermarchen which is about kids being hunted by a scary man in a suit in a small village that is also a industrial hellscape. We'll find out more about the jerk in the suit later. I had to look that game up, by the way, Wick doesn't explain it clearly. (The name translates to "horror story" in German, for those wondering.) He talks about how this let him do different things from Call of Cthulhu , but never explains what that difference might be . See, when you write an essay, usually at the end you bring all your points together but in Wick's case they often just trail off in different directions. So that game is not actually mentioned for the rest of this article, and I don't know why he brought it up. Product placement?

The Haunted House

This part is about using haunted house tricks, and how you should be like "Gee I read some of this John Wick guy, he has some good horror tricks but some of it is tooooo scaaaaary but some of it was pretty good." and that will freak people out. And things like leaving the temperature uncomfortably cold or keeping the lights low or playing in an unfamiliar location. Like the bathroom. Not making that up, his suggestion. Or telling the Bloody Mary story to a player and removing all the lightbulbs in the bathroom.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

One of my players went into the bathroom…and found that the lights didn’t work. All gone. She didn’t go back in the rest of the night.

Was she scared, or did she just not want to shit in the dark? I know what Wick wants me to think, but I also know what I'm thinking, and they're not the same thing.

Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima

So you turn off the lights and try and get complete silence and darkness and he then directs us to play this:

Ooops. That's embarrassing. The link in the book doesn't work. And it's a PDF, so I can click on it and know the link is as intended. Well. Let's do a search. He then directs us to play this :

Oh shit, John is looking at my review and he's doing it from inside the house and he's all in black with his Yellow Sign pin on, oh no ... so this is by Krzysztof Penderecki, a modern classical composer who did a lot of haunting and spooky music (as heard in The Exorcist or The Shining ). He doesn't bring that up, mind, but just tells us to play his stuff. A lot of it is fantastic stuff, but I think I'd find Threnody a little too distracting at the table for more than a minute or two.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Play the whole thing in complete darkness. Just let them sit there and listen. Then, halfway through the listening, get up and take their character sheets away. One at a time.

Play the whole thing? It's nearly nine minutes long (or seventeen minutes in not-allowed-to-check-your-phone-time). Also try not to trip over shit in the darkness or bang your leg when you get up to take away character sheets. He also mentions using glow sticks (and credits John Tynes) or phones solely to light the play area. Which is a fine idea.

The Character Sheet

He mentions taking away character sheets to create uncertainty (as noted above) and if people forget what they have on the sheet, tough titties. Which leads to situations like "Do I have pick lock?" and Wick describes smugly saying "Roll and find out." Well, Wick, I'm pretty sure I know whether or not I know how to fucking pick a fucking lock . Just play Dread or another one of the sheetless horror RPGs out there, that's just obnoxious way to approach a solved problem.

The Ringer

So you have a friend hide in the closet and you're like "And then there's a knooock at the doooor!", and your friend then knocks and BAM PSHHHHHH MINDS BLOWN. Look, I don't mind using cheap theatrics but like play it up as a fun thing not like a some kind of mystic secret from the horror sifus of terroria.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Just remember this: your players want to be scared. They have shown up on Halloween to play a horror game. If they don’t, they should go play a roleplaying game where  they  get to be the serial killer.

You know. A game where they wander around murdering everything in sight, plundering from the dead bodies, and moving on without any consideration for the life they just took or the moral consequences on their conscience, becoming more and more powerful with every murder they perform.

Oh, if only I could think of one.

That game would be really scary.




John is like the guy who can't stop talking about his ex. They broke up years ago but he still watches in on what she does on Facebook and sneers and jibes. It's not healthy, John, you need to let D&D go. You have different lives now. Move on. But he won't. We'll see.

Next: "Please don't make me be a jerk."

"They were all written almost half a century ago, we’ve all heard them, and John Cleese is a lot funnier than you."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

Just because you didn't like something doesn't mean someone else won't.

Saying you don't like something isn't a comment on the quality of the subject, it's a comment on your own personal tastes. There's a difference. Recognize it.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 7: "They were all written almost half a century ago, we’ve all heard them, and John Cleese is a lot funnier than you."

Episode 6: Con Games

So this is about running convention games. Apparently they're terrible and harrowing to run. I haven't experienced this much. Generally you have people who have financially and temporally committed themselves to playing a game and are interested more often than not. In my experience, folks who aren't into it are usually tired or feel obligated, but most people are great.

John's Table Rule

So John presents his "contract" as a suggestion to use.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Entertain Us

Your job as a player—and my job as a GM—is to entertain the other people at the table. We do not sit down at the table to entertain ourselves. There’s a word for that and you can do it in your hotel room all by yourself.

If everyone at the table has this goal, we’re golden. Everyone is looking to entertain everyone else. Th at includes you on both sides. So, go out of your way to find out how the other people at the table play, what makes the game fun for them, and make it happen. Remember that right now someone else is reading the same words you are and they’re trying to think of a way to help you have fun at this table. Make the job easier for them and tell them.

Be the player that others go home and talk about in an awesome way. “Man, we’ve got to get that guy at our table.” Or, “Dude, I met this lady at the con and we’ve got to play with her.”

I like how it opens with a pass-agg jab right in the second sentence. The general notion is fine, but let's not compare people to public masturbators right away. It's not polite, even if they are.

Player Advice

He has some advice for players. First, don't make him correct your behavior, because he'll get so mad at you. Yosemite mad, perhaps. Oooooooooooo. The other is "no segues", so no Monty Python, no talking about recent TV shows, and no-

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

No war stories about other games. You do this and you will get the Glare of Doom. You don’t want the Glare of Doom. Trust me.

Telling people not to trade war stories at a con is denying our cultural heritage. Also, "Glare of Doom"? What? I remember when I was fifteen and I thought it was funny to stick "of doom" on everything. "Poke of doom!" And then you try and poke your friend. Yeah, that was funny. I was so clever.

GM Advice

Let's see, he advises games being less than three hours to make sure you don't lose people's attention. Also to end on a cliffhanger. That seems like a jerk move.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

A cliff hanger at a con game? Yup. You’d better believe it. I want you walking away going, “Man, I wish we didn’t have to stop!”

When I hear that, I know I’ve won.

Ah, yes, the "pull out before your partner climaxes" GM technique. He also advises us to get rid of... well, I'll let him say it.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

If I even see a cell phone, on or off, I stop running the game. I just stop.

I stop and look at the player.

I don’t say another word. I cross my arms and just look at them.

If that doesn’t work, I pick up one of the black go stones I carry with me to conventions and I start counting down from 10.

I seldom reach 7.

If he reaches 0, what happens? Does he explode? Or does that end on a cliffhanger, too?

On a more more productive note, he mentions using in medias res and basically constantly keeping things in motion, moving from event to event, and to keep the amount of events low because it's better to end early- wait what about that cliffhanger, can't you always just fall back on that? He notes you should "turn it to 11" (A British comedy reference? For shame!) by doing silly things like wearing special hats or wigs for different characters.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Wear not just a shirt, but a jacket or a vest (or both), and use various combinations for each character.

Whoa. Keep your shirt on, Mr. Wick! I don't know what kind of reader you think I am! ... he also talks about ignoring rules and letting people succeed where expedient.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

One of the best games I ever ran. I'll tell you someday.

That's cool, I'm good, tho. He then brings up using tokens to reward good roleplaying, like that hasn't been in every game for the past twenty years. Only he suggests making Hershey's kisses instead and people can eat them (he mentions using these as tokens repeatedly). Question is: do you want to eat a kiss from John Wick?


Lastly, he brings up advice on being the best roleplayer award at a con table is to play a dwarf, since that's basically carte blanche to be a loud, boisterous stereotype. (What if there's no dwarf? I guess you just play an Italian-American stereotype instead. Eyyyy.)

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Be loud. Be boisterous. Swear on your beard.

(Ladies, swearing on your beard might not be a SFW activity. Up to you.)

Next: "Thank you, Wolverine."

"And isn’t that what being a hero is all about?"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

"Don't use profanity. It makes you sound like the inbred hick you really are. (From Sam Clemmens: 'Better to keep your mouth shut and appear to be an idiot than to open it and remove any shadow of doubt.')"

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 8: "And isn’t that what being a hero is all about?"

Episode 7: Sylvie Hates the Bye-Bye Box

Well, this is going to get a reaction. So, just so you know I'm not making anything up, To show I'm not exaggerating or cherry-picking or putting words in John's mouth for this, I'm just going to put the original video version of this article here. You don't have to watch it, I'm going to summarize it below. The text is a bit more detailed but not much more. It gets really detailed so I'm going to just boil it down as thick as I can.

So, he starts out discussing how his cat (the titular Sylvie) hates their cat carrier, or as he puts it:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Sylve hates the Bye-Bye Box. You’re gonna hate it, too.

John has a friend named Chris. Chris has a sixteen year-old daughter. Daughter is in a GURPS high fantasy game dad runs. Dad lets his daughter's character have a magic stone that has her regenerate lodged in her heart. Also, she feels no pain because of that. Dad is bugged that now his daughter charges heedlessly into battle in a game that doesn't generally reward that. But John has a solution for Chris.

First, Chris has to take all of players aside, excepting Chris' daughter, to explain what's going to happen. There's going to be an evil wizard with precognition who's going to conquer the world, but he foresees that the daughter's character will stop him. The precog, as precog does, leaves out some important details, but that's the gist. So he lures her into a trap where he paralyzes her and then proceeds to kill all the other PCs (their players being secret ringers by this point and in on the plan). Why the baddie doesn't tear the stone out, why he doesn't throw her in a volcano - the fantasy rubbish bin for anything deeply troublesome - I dunno. He thinks this is the plan to go with:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

When the last friend falls, the wizard binds her with the chains. Then, he takes her out to the center of the ocean. He puts her in a wooden box. He seals the box with a magic seal. And he throws the box out into the ocean.

It falls into the water and slowly starts to fill with water. The cold water freezes her skin. It fills the box.

Up to her chin. And she’s bound and helpless.

Up to her nose. And she’s bound and helpless.

Over her nose. And she’s bound and helpless.

And she begins to drown.

And because the stone in her heart allows her to heal, when her lungs expand with water and eventually explode, her lungs heal back up.

She can’t die. She keeps on healing.

Suffocating. Healing. Suffocating. Healing.

No matter how hard she tries to hold her breath, her lungs expand with water and explode. And heal again. And she’s drowning over and over and over again.

She can’t escape. And she’s drowning.

And she’s drowning.

And she’s drowning.

200 years pass and she's dredged up by the descendants of the former PCs, played by the other players in a dark future. Wait, didn't they all die? Did they all have kids before that? Well, no time for details. Anyway, wizard has magic-hunting monsters he's used to wipe out the wizardly competition. These monsters sense that she's awakened and they're coming for her, and the wizard is too powerful to defeat at his point. Once again, the other players are ringers, and all of these new descendants are destined to die getting her to the ritual space she can use to go to the past and change the past so that she's in a time and place to change her heedless charging-in ways and defeat the wizard.


So, what did Chris actually do? Well, the scenario was much the same - except replace wizard with vampire and she became a living blood bank for 200 years instead. John describes running a very familiar scenario for his own daughter, Aurianna, only this time involving a Lich baddie with vampire henchfolk who use her as a faucet for 200 years, this time having both vampires and a wizard.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

As a follow-up, I should also mention briefly that when I visited Chris and his daughter this year, and I asked her about the incident, she laughed and told me, “That was mean... and awesome!”

I trusted Chris to adapt what I had given him to best fit his daughter. It’s that kind of trust that makes a good GM. Someone who knows you, knows your character, and wants to help you get the most out of the experience.

Playing dirty isn’t just about bullying players and their characters. It’s about creating dynamic and dangerous scenarios that players will remember forever.

Wick closes the chapter with another anecdote where he was in a Legend of the Five Rings LARP where he's playing a respectable noble who's secretly a sorcerous murderer. When he was talking to his daughter about the traditions of their clan, he suddenly reveals out-of-character that he's the villain all along, and he's just sent her (in-character) father to murder the detective on his trail. She's shocked, but he explains that he wanted her to be in on the story, to have the feeling the audience might knowing his secret deviltry, since she wasn't in a position in-character to stop him (not knowing any of this as a character).

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

It was a dirty trick; the second I’d helped play on Aurianna. Hopefully, someday, I’ll get a chance for a third.

I expect people will have things to say about this chapter, so I've kept my own commentary to a minimum. Oh! And this is about the half-way point of the book.

Next: "Some segments of our tribe like to break us up into 'races' because it means they can lie to themselves and feel 'superior' because of stupid things like skin color or culture. Idiots."

"I said, 'Go on. Kill them. They’re worth 100 XP each.'"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

Never review a roleplaying game you haven't played.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 9: "I said, 'Go on. Kill them. They’re worth 100 XP each.'"

Episode 8: The Kobold and the Beautiful

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Believe it or not, I have friends. Yes, after all the nasty things you’ve heard me say and do—only a third of which are actually true—there are people who still speak with me and even enjoy my company.

And so Wick brings up The Kobold Death Maze from Super Genius Games which is part of their "One Night Stand" series, which... get it? Because sex? But he thinks it would be more fun to play the witty kobolds trying to outsmart the adventurers. The idea is that you take a module like this and hand it to your players (without studying it), and have them be able to study the map as their home and create kobold characters. Meanwhile, the GM devises a group of adventurers to assault the dungeon. He also suggests you can make a generational game, where each person represents a different group of kobolds, goblins, or orcs.

While he points out the idea of a reverse dungeon isn't new, but sees it more as a way to question people's notions regarding "monster" races and sees the idea of having "killable" races as little different than racism against human minorities. He also points out the that good races even get to be better-looking and more privileged.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

If you don’t believe fantasy fans think dwarves are pretty, just do a Googlesearch for “Gimli slash.” Go on. I dare you. Or, I’ll introduce you to some of my gay friends who like “bears.” Oh, yes.

It seems he assumes none of his readers have been exposed to queerness, or the lewd side of fandom in general. But you know, condescension doesn't come with an off switch on some folks.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Orks are evil creatures made by evil gods to do evil things. I kid you not when a Brand Manager for that game with two initials once said, “The reason orcs (sic) are chaotic evil is so my daughter doesn’t have to feel any moral qualms when she slaughters them.”

Just replace the word “orc” with “Jew.” Go on. You know you want to.

Uh. What? I mean you might not want to start comparing the holocaust with the fates of imaginary monsters on a tabletop. One is a fictional tusked green person, the other is an actual living nightmare that really happened . But he complains about how making a race of "Jokers" or "Lecters" - his interpretation of "Chaotic Evil" - because you'd never have any society or culture. Think of the troll mothers! Think of the troll children!

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

“Okay, John,” you’re saying. “Enough with the lecturing. Where’s the GM advice?”

Buddy, this is the GM advice.

I'm not your buddy, guy!

The idea of having more nuanced fantasy races isn't terribly new. It goes back to Trollpak for Runequest . Or Orcs of Thar in Dungeons & Dragons . Even new material like Number Appearing for Dungeon World or (noted goon game) Fellowship . I remember a similar screed to Wick's in GURPS Fantasy , though at mercifully shorter length. This is why when Wick presents it as a shocking turn, I sigh. My last fantasy game had people playing giants and dragons and shadowfolk. I even had a plot where oppressed giants struggled to improve their borough peacefully in the face of prejudice and poverty. A bugbear was one of the most memorable PCs I ever got to see in a D&D game. This is not a revelation. This is a screed.

So he talks about running a D&D game where he does a bait-and-switch where they march off to dungeoneer a cave and run into sad orcs bemoaning the fact that local humans have murdered and robbed orcs in their caves and it turns out it's the orcs who need their help! Whatta tweest!

There's also a friend's game where the characters were sent to fight orcs by a (human) king only to find an army, and instead of looking for kingly help, they decide to stop the invasion by themselves. Even though they're impossibly outnumbered. His friend is planning out the TPK, but Wick convinces him the better option is for the orcs to turn out to be merciful, honorable sorts who capture them and eventually let them go, while the king is a big jerk that doesn't even try to pay their ransom or rescue them. Whatta tweest!

Then there's an idea where hobgoblins discover some macguffin and become more advanced or powerful and attack human communities and come with a terrible disease and are taking over kingdoms and guess what it's like the Europeans extermination of indigneous peoples in America, only the hobgoblins are guess who? Guess? Can you guess? And if you try and negotiate they're like:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

“You’ve been slaughtering our people for generations. You never negotiated. You killed us, stole our property and land. Now, it’s your turn.”

Whadda tweest!

So John says fantasy gaming divides sentient beings into monsters and races and that's awful. So:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think of your Monster Manual as nothing more than elf propaganda. It’s the equivalent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion : a document designed to perpetuate hatred against the goblinoid races. Unfortunately for your players, it’s the only reference they’ve got. It’s what they’ve been taught since they were children.

The orks are evil. They’re out to get us.

The trolls are evil. They’re out to get us.

The goblins are evil. They’re out to get us.

This book contains all the information your PCs have on orks and goblins and their kin.

Belaboring is when you make a point and then repeat it over and over as if that gave it more weight.

You do it once.

And you do it twice.

And you do it three times.

Because three is the magic number and you're forty-one and that's the number of the magician and Eris and-

I find it curious elves put "% lair" and "number appearing" in their racist screeds. Maybe they've done the research, though.

Speaking of belaboring, I get the idea of revisionist fantasy (in mean revision in the sense of fictional revision and not historical revision). It's pretty cool, actually. But it doesn't need to be inserted into every fantasy game. In Legend of the Five Rings by John Wick, goblins actually get a pretty nuanced little society, but they're still created by an evil god to overthrow humanity. Some are smart, some are brave, some even come across as sympathetic, but no matter what, in their heart of hearts they're born to tear humanity down and put all of our heads on decorative pikes. In 7th Sea by John Wick, you have creatures like sirens that are at least least halfway human in terms of morphology, but in their heart of hearts they just want to pull people off of boats and eat their flesh. Having a generic evil race with no explanation is often sloppy worldbuilding, but it all comes down to what sort of story you want to tell .

I mean, I know Wick has run a lot of Call of Cthulhu . Has he run a game where the deep ones turn out to be a poor oppressed minority genocided by Navy torpedoes, or where the mi-go are just looking for human volunteer brains to help them save a dying race? I mean, the idea of H.P. Lovecraft writing his stories as racist screeds isn't much of a stretch, given he was a literal racist . I'm guessing probably not, because that's a clever enough idea to put in here, one that's barely mined at this point. A lot of it seems to be rooted in that Wick hates the shit out of D&D and just wants to undermine it. And it's fine to hate D&D and want to change it! It's got a lot of bad ideas! But just about every basic twist on D&D has already been done at this point.

Wick has a constant "well what if the bad guys were really the good guys is your mind blown up like Mauna Loa yet", and like, it's a neat card to play but he already wrote an entire game about that . It's called Orkworld , and though I think it fails as fantasy revisionism it functions well enough as a game. Even if he's running D&D , he could easily have people play ork (yeah, I'll write it with a k in this context, since his orks don't match up all that well to traditional orcs) characters instead of trying to bait and switch and play the "ohhh I bet you didn't know your characters are actually figurative Nazis" card. And is it really necessary, now that World of Warcraft has included playing orcs and trolls and goblins in a game vastly more popular than D&D will likely ever be?

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Remember: any game that divides sentient species into two groups—”races” and “monsters”—is dividing sentient species into two groups . And one of them is clearly good and the other group is clearly evil?

You’re smarter than that. You’re better than that.

And you can use it.
Smarter than all those other dopes that run games as intended, amirite?

Next: "So, let’s make cheating a rule."

"Then, the Earth blows up."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

Go out and buy a copy of Pendragon, Over the Edge, Ars Magica, Conspiracy X, Call of Cthulhu, Champions, Twilight: 2000, Delta Green, the James Bond RPG and Brave New World. They are great games.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 10: "Then, the Earth blows up."

Episode 9: The Little Things

So this is a chapter of short ideas. Some appear in games he's written, but have apparently been revised. Let's get to them.

1. Cheat to Win

Wick brings up the idea of fudging, and offers to instead create a mechanic that enables it instead of have it be literal cheating. So when a GM fudges an NPC's roll (and it has to be an important roll), they get a cheat point which they can use to impose a failure on a PC's roll. The player still gets to narrate the exact terms of the failure, however.

There's a big issue with this - it's a mechanic that just allows the GM to exert more mechanical control over the game, essentially. And it's totally just under the GM's control and judgement. And yes, while you should have a GM you can trust, mechanics are there to at least provide the illusion of fairness, and this is just "GM chooses who fails on both sides of the fence instead of one". Not great, in my opinion. Next!

2. The Other 100 Points

This is from 7th Sea , where at the start of a game, players are asked to divide 100 points between their preferred themes, like "Action", "Intrigue", "Mystery", or "Romance". This is largely just a quiz to get some idea of what players want from a game in terms of genre or themes. But he also suggests they can also get "Plot Points" divided upon amongst the themes they've chosen that can be applied for a bonus on their rolls.

It's got the "Favored Enemy" issue, though, where it presumes a balance of a given element in a game, and I'm not fond of those. If the GM can really offer an equal amount of action, intrigue, mystery, and romance, then it works. But I prefer something like FATE's aspects where the player gets more control regarding when they come into play.

3. The Character Quiz.

This is your standard sort of character quiz - "Name something your character doesn't want to lose.", "What is your character's favorite food." but the difference is that there are attached bonus, so maybe you get a XP bonus when your character is defending what they don't want to lose, or a die bonus after eating that sort of food.

Not much to comment on. It's an interesting idea to spice up older games, but it seems like it'd be unwieldy to keep track of after you get past question #5.

4. Foster's Village

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

The Legend Jessie Foster (yes, he’s real)

Who? Was this guy mentioned in Play Dirty ? I don't remember.

Google search for "Jessie Foster" turns up a story about a girl going missing in 2006. Searching for "Jessie Foster RPG"... there's a link to Wick's blog.

John Wick posted:

One night, Jessie and a few friends went to a strip club. As usual, the ladies were very fond of Mr. Foster and his friends commented. A wager was put in place: whether or not Jessie could bring one of the strippers home with him.

Closing time found Jessie giving money to his friends. “Sorry boys,” he said. “I’m not bringing a stripper home tonight.”

He smiled. “I’m bringing home two.”

Uh. Okay.

John Wick posted:

I was at a party here in Phoenix: my first Dark Ones Party, in fact. Jessie brought me with him.

On the way to the party, Jessie told me, "Ninety percent of women are bi-sexual."

I laughed. "What about the other ten percent?"

"They don’t know it," he told me.

I said, "That’s funny. Good one."

Foster shook his head. "I’m not joking," he said.

Later on, as I was walking through the party, I saw Jessie on a couch. On his lap were two women, completely and amorously engaged with each other.

Mr. Foster smiled at me. "Ninety percent," he said.

Uh. This is supposed to be funny, I guess?

John Wick posted:

We were at a convention negotiating the drinking of a bottle of American Honey. After negotiations, Jessie Foster was responsible for the contents of the bottle disappearing in less than a minute.

Shortly thereafter, he decided to crash the (over 100 person) Poker Tournament. As he passed from table to table, Mr. Foster arranged to have every woman sit on his lap.

At one point, the organizer of the tournament approached me. "Look, we all love Jessie, but he’s disrupting the tournament." I agreed to try getting him out of the room.

I put my hand on Jessie’s shoulder with the intention of saying, "Hey, it’s about time we get out of here."

But Jessie looked at my hand. And then, he looked at me.

He looked at my hand. And then, he looked at me.

And with the friendliest voice and smile, he told me, "I know kung fu."

And at that precise moment, I knew he was telling the truth.

Later on, after the rest of us mere mortals had succumbed to slumber, Mr. Foster made his way back to the poker tournament. The details of that event, I cannot speak of with any authority.

So, Wick's manic PUA dream friend (credited in Blood and Honor and Curse of the Yellow Sign ) runs a GURPS con game which is based around one community of villagers and keeps the setting persistent and assigns characters to people so if they play more than once they play the same character and it's super-amazing?

You had to be there, I guess.

5. My Trek Game

So Wick has this idea for a Star Trek game where the players discover a plot to blow up the Earth, but the Fed doesn't believe them, and the Earth is blown up, and somehow that disables all Federation ships, and then the Cardassians and Romulans invade and the Klingons have a civil war and the Vulcans surrender to the invading forces and can the plucky players forge a rebellion to rebuild the Galactic Republic because this sounds a lot like some other franchise .

I don't know Wick closely, but let's see if I can spot the pattern: And yeah, he has spoken on hating Trek .


This chapter started out so well, not great, but... well, it's time to ride the crapslide downhill.

He brings up having a guy in costume show up at a game's climax. Or:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

There was the time I ran Chill and I had a squirt gun filled with fake blood. The PCs were locked in a house with a werewolf outside. I arranged for the lights to go out (the owner’s wife shut off the power on cue) and I hit everyone with the fake blood.

Many years later, I pulled off a similar stunt with a different ringer. I went to one of the players and fi lled her in on the plan. When the lights went out, she pulled blood packets out of her pockets, slapped them all over herself and splayed herself on the table. When the lights cameack on, she was right there, in the middle of the table, covered with blood. One of the players fainted.

I ran a Call of Cthulhu game in the middle of the woods once. It was a summer camp and the leadership asked me to run a “scary game.” I conspired with the youth (and a couple other leaders) to sneak out after hours and haunt the small fire circle with strange sounds and lights. Camp kids freaking out the camp counselors. There’s a little revenge for you.

There's the time he apparently had LARPers with foam swords bust in on a Legend of the Five Rings game.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Had a player with a PC going crazy. I switched out his regular dice with blank ones and got the other players to agree with whatever I said he rolled. I swear he spent thirty seconds honestly believing he was nuts.

Original ideas like:
Oh! I've got one! Let me try! What if you ran a World War II game and it turned out Hitler was a good g- no? Nobody wants to go with that one?

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Oh, there’s just so much more I could share! But the hour is getting late and deadlines loom. Maybe next time, my friend. Maybe next time.

No. Please don't.

Next: "We make it personal."

"No joke. This was their plan."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

It's the Moral Majority's opinion that roleplaying games are the tools of Satan. Saying "It's my opinion" doesn't save you from being wrong. You have to defend everything you believe in this life. Everything.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 11: "No joke. This was their plan."

Episode 10: Kick in the Heels

So Wick talks about wrestling and the "heel" and "babyface" terms, which is a way of just saying "bad guy" and "good guy", and talks about the structure of how they escalate the conflict. This doesn't really have much to do with much but other than saying you have to build up villains that the heroes want to defeat, and pointing out how they do the buildup of animosity in wrestling.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

We’re not going to give them villains.

We’re gonna give them heels.

Uh. Those aren't... really... different. I guess what he means is "villains that make things personal". But it's a bad phrasing, because he'll just go on to refer to them as "villains" throughout most of the article.

NASA and the Grinning Man

Apparently when Wick runs a World of Darkness game, a player makes sure to get a NASA contact because he has a villain so bad the players want to launch him into the sun. Yeah. I know when I worked for NASA, I launched all sorts of things into the sun for friends. Remember Jefferson Carter from Play Dirty ? Well.

An illustration of Mr. Finger from the book.

He has this recurring character named Mr. Finger, who based on a childhood nightmare of Wick's, a slender, pale man with a dark coat and bowler hat. And he shows up under different names in a lot of his writing - examples include Curse of the Yellow Sign , Houses of the Blooded , No Loyal Knight , and Schauermarchen .

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Don’t get me wrong: this guy is a monster. A horrible creature that epitomizes evil. I played him for a Camarilla LARP as a Sabbat vampire for a while (in this incarnation, he was a Tzimisce) and I got honest-to-Discordia requests to “please keep Mister Finger away from me.”

I took that as a compliment.

Sounds like a nuanced, interesting villain, the kind you get when you "embody evil". (Maybe in your own game you could make him the good guy!... my suggestion, not Wick's.) Apparently what makes him special is him making things personal.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

He doesn’t kill heroes—oh no!—he kidnaps them. Then, he cuts off a finger and sends it to the other PCs with a note that says, “One a day!”

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

When my friend Steve had to take a two-month break from another WoD game I was running, Mister Finger used fleshcrafting (a Tzimisce power) to mold Steve’s character into a ball of flesh, put it inside of himself, and went around pretending to be Steve’s character. The reason? He wanted to get busy with another PC who shared the True Love merit with Steve, and since Steve’s PC was inside the villain, her true love radar said, “Yes, this is your lover.”

He goes on how it's important for a villain - wait, I thought we weren't giving them those? - to make things personal through crippling a hero or hurting the things they care about. He goes over a long list of examples of villains he thinks accomplish this - Darth Vader, Kayser Soze, Joker, Hannibal Lecter, John Doe (of Se7en ), the Bishop of Aquila (of Ladyhawke ), Max Cady (of Cape Fear ), etc. He writes that villains should see the heroes as potential (if failed) peers or as a thin connection they have to the world or... enh, I'm done.

At this point I was feeling really uncomfortable with this chapter and I couldn't put my finger on it. Part of it is that Mr. Finger feels more like a vehicle for sadism, a boogeyman who does bad things because that's what it says in the script. The whole fleshcrafting bit didn't make a world of sense, the true love element didn't make any sense (if love is a magical bond, how is it fooled by a mansuit?), and his rapey ways are really fucking unpleasant, true, but that wasn't quite it either. Then it really hit me.

All throughout this book and its prequel, we see the tricks - and they really are tricks - that Wick pulls out. There's a common thread to them, and that is: if Wick wants the game to be a certain way, if he wants a given plot to go through, if he wants the setting to work differently or what have you, he'll make happen. If he doesn't approve of how you play, he'll punish you for it. We've seen him make confederates of an entire group to pull one over on a single player. He doesn't seem to approach his players openly and honestly when he has issues with a player or a game. He seems to use his position as a hammer to get his way.

Now, I'm not saying Wick is the worst GM or that nobody has ever enjoyed a game he's run. He's pretty engaging on a personal level. I think he honestly wants to run a good game and tailor it to his player's desires. And he obviously works at going the extra mile. But from everything I can tell, his way comes first, he wants to be the center of attention, and he's not willing to let the dice or the rules or what's on a character sheet divert that. He has to feel like like conductor, not entirely in control but the editor-in-chief. So when he does something nasty to a character, it doesn't feel like the character ever had a chance to escape that fate. Midnight? Midnight was going to end up a blood faucet to vampires. There wasn't anything she could do. There was nothing his Champions players back in Play Dirty could do to stop Jefferson Carter until he wanted them to. He's telling a story and you're just getting to pitch in with dialogue. It's like comic writers from back the '90s who were forced to come up with dialogue after the artist drew the story pages with no input.

What Play Dirty and Play Dirty 2 want to be is a set of books about unending the status quo, about shaking up the player's expectations and keeping them engaged. And to some extent, they are. But what Play Dirty and Play Dirty 2 ultimately end up being is a guide on how to use the GM's role to force your expectations and desires on your players.

This is chapter 10, the final numbered chapter, but it's not done. We still have a long chunk left in which Wick details how he constructed an entire campaign. Let's see how it goes.


"You were murdered by that psychopath going around calling himself 'Mister Finger.'"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

John Wick posted:

If you can't defend one of your opinions, no matter what it is, don't get angry when someone else comes along and shows you how wrong it is. You have the right to express your opinion, so don't get offended when they express yours.

There's no Episode numbered here. Appendix I, maybe.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 12: "You were murdered by that psychopath going around calling himself 'Mister Finger.'"

The Glamour Girls

So, John's wife Ro asked him to run a small game for her and her friends. He offered to run any game he had on his shelf. She chose Changeling: the Lost , which he compliments. And so he started out a game set in St. Paul / Minneapolis in a small neighborhood called Dinkytown, surrounded by vampires.

He doesn't get into this, but I'm going to sum up the cast in one place to keep them straight.

An illustration of the main cast from the book.

The Player Characters

The Non-Player Characters

The Setting

He discusses the concept of Changeling: the Lost . You can look up its own F&F if you want to know more; if the specifics become important (they mostly aren't) I'll mention them. He notes that he sets all of his World of Darkness games in the Twin Cities (St. Paul / Minneaplois) since he knows it pretty well, but his players don't.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

I can call on memories for details. Also, it invokes reality (there really is a St. P/Mn) while at the same time having that “Far Away Land” sense to it. It’s really there, but it’s also strange and foreign.

In any case, specifically for this game he's using the Dinkytown neighborhood, which is sandwiched between two college campuses, and right between two vampire domains (each ruled by a vampiric "Prince"). However, the world of faeries is closer there because, and previous Changelings have set up a contract that bars the vampires from interfering there. Mind, though, the vampires are eager to find a way to break that contract and munch on young collegiate blood. He also notes that his version is different than the real world, changed by his memories and what he wants to add.

Speaking of which, there's a coffee shop run by Barnabas and a pub run by Jack. Barnabas is rumored to be the figure that set up the contract but the truth isn't clear, past that...

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Step 1: Ask your players questions.

Step 2: Listen to what they say.


He notes he wanted to play off Changeling's themes of abandonment and loneliness, as well as "female archetypes".

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Nobody ever talks about the Faerie King. There are no stories about him. It’s always the Queen. Powerful. Terrible. Beautiful. We’d be dealing with that. Arcadia, in my mind, is a very feminine place. Cities are masculine with their geometry and cold concrete. But Arcadia is lush and growing. Green and warm. Playing off those two very different settings would be fun.

Also, I wanted to give the orphan girls (Lost Girls) father/brother figures. Barnabas and O’Bannon fit perfectly.

He notes Jack could die and literally pull himself out of a hellish crack in the ground a day after, which is in fitting with his 7th Sea incarnation (who can die and rise again the next day). He also credits a lot of fairy tales and NPCs based off of them, but most of them aren't relevant, so I'll move on.

The Cast

I covered most of them, but he discusses their relative experience levels and how the characters they made queued him on to what they wanted to see the game. Ro was given opportunities to protect herself and their neighborhood. Jessica got a "past life" bit to play with her backstory. Emily often got chances to shine or show off, but since she was a new player, he kept in contact with her out of character to try and make sure what he was going really did engage her. Surena was an actress and he tried to give her chances to improv.

The Rules

Mostly, Wick threw them out. He kept the basic roll trait + skill mechanic, but generally let people spend Glamour when appropriate to make magic things happen, like charming somebody or changing their looks. He also focused on it more with different players. Ro knew the rules and so he let her use them. He let Emily, as a new player, spend a Willpower point if she wanted to just succeed and ignore rolling. Jessica liked to roll dice to prove how good whe was with things and he let her use them whenever it would hightly that. Lastly, he let Surena dictate the effects of a given roll (bad or good) as that highlighted her ability to improv. He brings up the idea of letting each player work with the rules at a level they're comfortable with.


Noticing that the group liked talking in character, he would let them go off and discuss things like the plots or even things like TV shows in character for long periods of time.

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

At one point, one of them said, “Uh, maybe we should do something? I dunno. About, you know, stuff?”

I laughed for ten minutes.

He talks about just letting them go on and only stepping in when they were ready to take action. He also brings up discarding ideas of his based on their conversations and instead inserting theirs. He points out that though a lot of things were occurring, plot was secondary.


He focused on creating NPCs that either clashed or would cooperate with the group, and those they didn't show much interest in often got discarded and resolved "off-screen[/b]

William Tamerlane

He talks about loving the story of Tam Lin, and without getting into the weird specifics of it, it's about a woman who has a dalliance with a servant of the faeries, Tam Lin, and has to overcome trials to free him from a Faerie Queen.

And so, the group had snuck into a vampire domain for an open mic night where they gathered Glamour (faerie power) from the creative wellspring. However, it was too late for buses or an easy cab pickup, so they start walking home when a man falls out of a window into a trash can, breaking his leg. Specifically, a changeling.

He points out he put this in so Ro could exercise her role as a protector, and so they carry him back, but they notice he's got bite marks all over him. They start getting nervous and get on the bridge (a border point)and that's when they're confronted by a female vampire that demands him as her property. They talk back and forth for a while but-

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

The mean vampire lady (who bears a strong resemblance to the Faerie Queen) told the Girls there would be consequences for taking her toy away. She made the sky thunder and the ground shake, but the Girls stood on their side of the bridge and told her to sod off.

(If memory serves, that was the actual phrase they used.)

That first game session ended with the Queen and her little vampire buddies walking back into the darkness, but not before she paused and gave them a warning.

“This bridge will not always be here to protect you.”

Then, she faded away into the darkness.

Yeah. Foreshadowing.

And so they find out how the vampires used their blood to enslave him and feed on changeling blood, which is a delicacy for them. They worked to have him break his bond with them, and he became a recurring cast member. As he listened to them discuss vampires, he decided to work to make his vampires more traditional, to give them traits they could test and discover when confronting vampires (garlic, crosses, etc.), as well as surprises like invisibility (Obfuscate). He felt having vampires have a society was atraditional enough that it'd make a good surprise.

Later on following a car crash, they're kidnapped by vampires who have set up a secret hospital to imprison changelings, and though they get free with magic, it sets the state for a confrontation. He notes that having them wake up in the hospital and seeing it was a lot more impactful than just, say, having Tamerlane bring it up, and demonstrated vampiric control over the mortals in their area.

Speaking of Tamerlane, he escaped to go back to his master. Though they rescued him from a vampire holding him hostage, they killed the vampire, breaking their contract and now giving the vampires open season on their neighborhood. And so they'd have to work to build a new contract on their own by dealing with the respective Senechals of each domain. The one from Minneapolis was Mr. Finger, highlighting the "wild and untamed" themes for that domain, and the one for St. Paul as Anton Fix, a figure that highlighted manipulation. Of the two, Anton Fix was the more compassionate one, even if it was only slight.

There's a lot of talk on the contract itself (including the full contents) but that's not so important. They agree to allow Mr. Finger to take one person from Dinkytown per year (pretty much anybody who happens to cross the bridge), but only after they get him to sign of on a guarantee of safety for themselves. Anton Fix gets some stiff negotiation, and when he's stymied by Misty, he has this reaction:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Mr. Fix told her that perhaps Misty was more valuable as a hostage. “I know a few people who would be interested in you showing up in Minneapolis,” he told her. Then, he told her to call Dinkytown and tell them he wanted a ransom for her return. She used her cell phone and called O’Bannon.

“What’s wrong?” he asked over the phone. When she told him, he said, “Put me on speaker.” And then, he started yelling.


Mr. Fix said, “I think you should… ”


Mr. Fix said, “Now, listen… ”


Mr. Fix said, “I don’t think you… ”

“DONE!” And then the phone went dead.

Fortunately, the Girls did escape—with some help from a mysterious homeless man named “Adam”—but before they got back, Jack was already blowing up buildings. Security cameras showed him walking into the Prince of St. Paul’s rumored abode, holding something in his hand. Security guards rushed to him and he pushed a button. He detonated, taking the rest of the building with him.

The next night, he was back.

After that, negotiations with the Prince of St. Paul went a lot easier.

William Walker

He also talks about a recurring character named William Walker, a cop who also moonlighted as a mage. He noted he did his mages a little differently:

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Essentially, he could alter chance (Mage fans would call this “Correspondence”), but at a price. He never hit a red light, always seemed to be in the neighborhood when they called him, seldom missed a shot with his pistol. He also wore a ring that triggered their Faerie Sight, but it wasn’t Faerie magic. It was something else.

No, they wouldn't call it that.

Apparently the car accident was his fault due to luck's lashback on him. Misty gets a similar ring to his off of a dead body they find when looking for escaped changelings (fleeing their masters from faerie) which turns out to belong to her dead mother, and putting it on gives her a position as Lady Fate, a member of a secret society dedicated to defending humanity from the various monsters of the setting, but also gave her flashbacks to previous wearers and their personalities. Walker's ring was that of "Lord Strange", and comic fans probably get the in-joke from there.

The other tie-in goes along with another John Wick game, Flux . Flux is based around the idea that the world periodically changes between realities, but only a few people notice. It's basically a tool to shift between different games and lives with the same characters. And in getting a view of different realities, she see that one of Lilith's former selves had been killed by Mr. Finger. He emphasizes doing this made Mr. Finger a much more tangible threat, but also established Mr. Finger as another figure that could sense the changes between realities.

Because of course he could.

The Changeling Killer

Bringing up fetches - faerie similacrums left behind in place of people when they're kidnapped to become changelings, Wick had just read Slasher for World of Darkness , which he recommends. A killer starts offing their fetches, and when they find him, it turns out to be a man Melanie is (or was) dating. He had discovered changelings and was killing their fetches to consume parts of them to try and become a fey being himself.

He points out that he wasn't killing real people, and that technically he hadn't committed a crime - that all of his victims (the PCs) were very much still alive. But at the same time, it proved he knew all about them and their secret nature. They couldn't figure out what to do, but eventually decided to dump him into Faerieland. A fate worse than death, potentially, but poetic. But at the same time, it drove a wedge in the group, with two disagreeing with the action taken.

The Big Ending

And so he hinted at a big change coming, and Lilith figured out a means for them to keep their memory over the transition to the next world, and when it occurred...

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

Well, that’s another story. Let’s just say I pulled my Pendragon books off the shelf.

Suffice to say, the Glamour Girls campaign came crashing to an end, but not an end. More of a transformation. They were still “them,” but everything was different. Jack O’Bannon was still there, but different. Barnabas was there, but different. Even William Walker was there, but something was wrong with him. Another problem to solve.

Old faces, new problems.

And Wick gets his choice of game after all.

Next: John Wick's 10 Commandments

John Wick’s 10 Commandments

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier Part 13

Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier posted:

John Wick’s 10 Commandments

Thou shall...

... pick a gaming day and keep it holy.

... only kill a character when you have a damn good reason.

... steal good ideas from other media and make them your own.

... read and play as many games as possible so you may expand your knowledge and skills.

... listen to your players and figure out what they want. Then, give it to them.

... change, adapt, modify, edit, remove and erase any pre-conceived plans if your players come up with a better explanation for “what is happening.”

... take any and all opportunities to make new gamers.

... give your players something beautiful to care about with all their hearts and souls, then give them a villain who crushes it mercilessly and laughs in their faces. This is the key to all drama.

... never allow table talk once the game starts. Also, make them put away their laptops, cell phones, tablets and any other distractions. When it is time to tell stories, it’s time to tell stories. Their email can wait. If they can show that kind of respect in a movie theater full of strangers, they can show it when sitting together with their friends.

... always remember that we tell the tales of heroes to remind ourselves that we too can be great.

Play Dirty 2 isn't without good ideas, but there's a lot of dross to dig through to get at them. The big flaw is that Wick wants to teach through anecdotes, but too often gets distracted from making any sort of point with them. It really shows in that the best ideas and techniques are discussed only briefly, but whenever he goes at length, he gets caught up in minutae and braggdacio and One True Waying.

And with that, Play Dirty 2 is done. Or, more importantly, I'm done here.

Next: Time for me to go wash and wash until I am clean.