2013-04-01 : The Tower Has Fallen

a guest post by Robert Bohl

The Tower Has Fallen: Epidiah Ravachol's "Vast" Swindle

Everyone's into praising Epidiah Ravachol now, and while I can't deny he's done good things (the amazing horror game Dread, and the upcoming Swords Without Master, which lets you do pulp fantasy like nobody's business), I'm disappointed at his latest move.

I'm talking, of course, about "nanogames." Eppy talks about them like they're some exciting new way of delivering RPGs to people. I call it hipster douchebag marketing. Furthermore, I call it gouging.

Having not yet read the first of these games, Eppy's Vast & Starlit, I won't provide a critique of the game per se. I will say that these games are written under 500 words, and are designed to fit on a single business card. So fucking what? What does that actually add to the hobby?

Nothing. It's all a fucking marketing gimmick. The wonderful explosion of creativity that marked The Forge has flowered into this turd-blossom of a gimmick. A gimmick designed to rip you off. Do you know his markup on these games is hundreds of percent? Did you know that he charges the same for all 4 supplemental books as he does for the core rules? Did you fucking know that there's a whole book about sex? I mean, what the hell, Eppy, why not prostitute yourself?

Oh, you know what else? You want to download this and add it to your immense game library? Well fuck you pal, that's not an option. You want to shoot him a few dollars over the Internet? You're shit out of luck. If you want this game, you either have to hand him a dollar bill in person, or you have to make a little drawring to send in your self-addressed stamped envelope (details on the propaganda site). I mean, Jesus Christ, can you get any more cloyingly precious? You getting some weird kind of Vegan blood poisoning, Ep?

But you know, whatever. People are entitled to their bullshit schemes. I just thought you should all know. And furthermore, I need you all to know that this plot of his is spreading. Already some beloved indie stalwart game designers and well as exciting newcomers are working on their own "nanogames." I won't name names, but you know who you are.

Do you see what damage this is causing? Eppy obviously means to strike at the heart of the business model I prefer. I like writing novella-length softback books with color covers, black and white interiors, at any size other than 8.5" x 11", goddamnit! Eppy, why are you trying to destroy my medium? What the hell, man?!

1. On 2013-04-01, Vincent said:

Please remember my policy on guest posts, which is that I publish them sight unseen, without editing. I neither necessarily agree nor necessarily disagree with Rob's post.


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This makes...
SB go "Can you delete posts?"*
JB go "why even have guest posts?"*

*click in for more

2. On 2013-04-01, Joel said:

You know, I honestly thought this post would be about Storming the Wizard's Tower.

I mean, GOD FUCKING FORBID you could talk about something actually relevant and in desperate need of addressing in the roleplaying hobby, instead of these elitist turf wars, Robert.


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This makes...
JC go "If only..."*
JB go "I would LOVE a post about StWT"

*click in for more

3. On 2013-04-01, zombieshateme said:

Well I for one would like to say thank you for pointing this out. I'll be avoiding the fluff and bullshit now that I know about it.


4. On 2013-04-01, Ed McW said:

I'd just like to note that the market for ersatz punk zines really dried up after Rob tainted that particular well.  Curse you and your Cybergeneration heartbreaker, Mr. Bohl.


5. On 2013-04-01, jackgraham said:

I'm working on a game that is only 100 words long, is laser etched only onto micrometer-scale particles of my sloughed off skin, and can be purchased only by licking me. MWAAHAHAHA, fuck you Eppy!

And nanogames are awesome Gar—, I mean Rob, YOU SHUT UP.


6. On 2013-04-02, UserClone said:

Oh get down off your high horse, Bohm. You're jealous that that motherfucker m anaged to write more game on a business card than you could in a pretentiously-sized softcover, you lazy, hack, waste of skin.

I wish you were a ballchinian from the fantastic film Men In Black II, because that would make it easier to simultaneously punch you in the face and hit you in the balls. Eppy, keep on rockin'! #fanboy


7. On 2013-04-02, UserClone said:



8. On 2013-04-02, danohead said:

Shit! This reminds me, I have some drawings to work on.


9. On 2013-04-02, Fingerman said:



10. On 2013-04-02, me said:

i only play vast & starlit for the combat system


11. On 2013-04-02, borkosh said:

Ha, now you can feel my pain! All you hipster-nozzle indie game-designers discredited my beloved letter-sized 400 page glossy cover full color interior art gamebooks. How poetic for you to drown in business-card games!


12. On 2013-04-02, Paul said:

Friends, notice Rob's datestamp.


13. On 2013-04-02, Matt said:

I feel like Eppy's game is disrespectful to actual business cards.


14. On 2013-04-02, eon said:

At an important business meeting, I handed an executive my business card, only to later realize it was a copy of Vast & Starlit by mistake. My career is ruined. On the plus side, the executive had a very fulfilling and immersive gaming experience.


15. On 2013-04-02, Seb said:

Even I can see how immature this is, and I'm a teenager! Please tell me Bohl's strawmanning himself on purpose...


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This makes...
SB go "D'oh! Apr 1, I fell for it!"

16. On 2013-04-03, Greg Pogor said:

Need moar swines.


17. On 2013-04-03, Vincent said:

What on earth do you all want me to say about Storming the Wizard's Tower?

External playtesting revealed a problem in the game design that I wasn't able to fix, so, after struggling to fix it for months and months, I ultimately had to drop the project. Is there more to say about it than that?


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JC go "Last I heard"*
VB go "Yeah, no"*
JB go "sad panda."*

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18. On 2013-04-04, Robert Bohl said:

I rather suspect I know what project you dropped it for!


19. On 2013-04-05, jackgraham said:

I think Vast & Starlit could have a great future as a Steve Jackson Games product.


20. On 2013-04-06, Sean M said:

I kind of think Storming The Wizard Tower has the perfect marketing right now.

There's kind of a trend of D&D/fantasy nostalgia in things like Adventure Time and the OSR, and people want a somewhat cute, well-designed game that doesn't have the weird uncle, sexy monster titties vibe that a lot of OSR products have.

Not to say that thats a reason you should develop it if is not working out, but I suspect it will be awhile before people stop bothering you about it.


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AD go "So, put more..."*
JB go "maybe you could..."*

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21. On 2013-04-06, Vincent said:

A compelling observation!


22. On 2013-04-07, JB (Joao) said:

It is weird how it cames to happen that the games you (Vincent)  don't want to design are the ones I would like the most to see designed by you.

I am refering to Storming the Wizard's Tower and DragonKiller.

I hope that someday you will reconcile with those genres again.


23. On 2013-04-08, Warren said:

I occasionally think about "Afraid" not working out and feel sad.


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This makes...
JC go "Me too."

24. On 2013-04-17, Hans said:

Hey Rob, is there some sort of internet nerdrage about Eppy's new game(s) that I'm not seeing? Or is this satirizing something that doesn't exist? Or just a bit of fun marketing for a friend whose thing you like?

In any case, I have the V&S library, and think they're pretty fuckin' sweet, myself.


25. On 2013-04-19, Cameron said:

Hans - check the posting date.


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