Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Pet Peeves

I've been a little grumpy as of late (work's been busy). That being the case, I'm going to indulge the peevish side of my nature to rant about a few of my 'favorite' peeves. Not all of them relate directly to Star Wars, but most do. Also, most apply to movies as well as games, so I'll probably talk about both as we go.

1. Not all NPCs should be inept.

Star Trek is probably the most blatant offender in this regard- but it seems to be standard in a lot of Sci Fi and action movies- and games for that matter. While I agree that the 'heroes' should be the major focus of any game (or movie), I'm really tired of the cliche that everyone BUT the heroes is at best inept and at worst a complete moron. How many times do we see it in Star Trek? It seems like anyone who ISN'T part of the Enterprise crew is a doofus or insane or a traitor or a combination of those. I can see a GM wanting some 'contrast' in his campaign- perhaps even playing the bad guys for buffoons on occasion, but I'm a strong believer in the maxim: A person is judged by their enemies. People who triumph over idiots aren't nearly as impressive as those who face deadly (and smart) foes- and actually win on occasion. But foes shouldn't be the only people who are competent. It's perfectly fine to make allies competent as well. Yes, they may occasionally need help from the players, but I personally think it makes for a stronger and more 'realistic' setting if your allies are someone you can count on as well. In the Star Wars movies, you have to look no further than folks like Wedge Antilles and General Veers for examples of what I'm talking about. Neither of them are the main heroes, but neither are they inept. In fact, they're both pretty badass in their own way.

2. A 'strong' female character doesn't have to be a badass bitch.

a.k.a. the Mara Jade rule. It seems to be a long-standing tradition among many fanboys that in order to be 'strong', a female character needs to be a bitch- tough-as-nails and unapproachable (except, perhaps, for that one guy who will win her heart- usually a fantasy-alter-ego of the fanboy in question). Thus, you have a slew of characters across many genres who fit into this stereotype: Mara Jade, Xena, Lara Croft (at least as depicted in the movies), Emma Frost, etc.. While I like all kinds of different characters, I'm pretty sick of this particular type. A woman doesn't need to be a 'badass' or 'mean' or unwomanly in order to be strong. For a great example of this, look at Ripley from the Alien and Aliens movies. Here you have a woman who is VERY brave, and proves to be very tough, but she isn't 'butch', she isn't mean. She's smart and a natural leader- neither of which is undermined by her caring and motherly nature. And I'm not saying that a woman has to be 'motherly' and 'soft spoken' to be cool, either. Just that they CAN be cool if they're given a character OTHER than the stereotype that seems so popular.

3. "Dark" does not necessarily equate to "cool".

Oh, I've ranted on this before. And I likely will again, but I'll keep it short here. I HATE the notion that a lot of folks have that evil characters (like Dark Jedi, for example), are innately more 'cool' than good folks. I've seen this before in play- people really don't play 'evil', they play 'people who dress in dark clothes and brood' oh, and who are usually devastatingly beautiful and handsome, but just... misunderstood. Bah. Again, its annoying. Good guys can dress in black, too. That doesn't make them cool- an original concept and characterization does.

4. Bounty Hunter "Honor".

Another thing I've run into in gaming. This ties in with the above peeve. Folks LOVE bounty hunters for some reason. Many to the point where they attribute to the whole profession some kind of noble 'code of honor'- equating Bounty Hunters to a 'rogue knight' of some kind, fighting for a higher ideal. I call BS on this. Seriously, these guys are mercs, pure and simple. Sure, you may have your occasional paragon of virtue who plays by his own code of honor, but I tend to believe that most of them are in it for the money (at best) and for the violence (at worst). This certainly seems to be the case in the Star Wars movies. Jango Fett, Boba Fett- they weren't concerned with honor or any of that crap. They were in it for the money- and perhaps for revenge, neither of which are noble ideals. As far as 'honor among hunters' goes, Jango shot one of his own people (Zam Wessel) in the neck with a poisoned dart. Yeah. Lots of loyalty on display there.

5. Enough with the Twi'leks already.

Yes. I understand that since the days of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, exotic alien women have been a major draw of sci-fi. But seriously, enough with the Twi'leks already. For that matter, enough with the chicks with head tentacles. Seriously. What is it with the head tentacles?

6. A rulebook is not a novel.

This one is solely aimed at gaming products. When I buy a rulebook, or an adventure, I don't want to have to sit through someone's pages and pages of prose in order to get an understanding of what the hell it is that the book is about. In my personal experience, White Wolf is the worst offender in this regard. Their rulebooks seem to me to have turned into novels. In order to glean even the basic rules, you have to sit through several pages of (in my opinion) amateurish novel writing. A rule book should be just that- a book that clearly and concisely states the rules. I like examples, yes, but I want them to be short and relevant to the point being made. Short stories definitely help in setting the 'mood' of a particular setting, but if you are going to use them, for god sakes, intersperse them throughout the text AS short stories. Don't write a freaking novel and scatter the rules throughout it.


  1. Hey man, I've been pouring over your blog for the past two days in preparation for my upcoming campaign, and I must say it’s an inspiration. If you get a chance shoot me an email at, you mentioned in a post that you utilized some alternative rules for tramp freighters than what the Galaxy Guide listed and I’d like to get your feelings on the subject. 