Saturday, May 8, 2021

Narrative Warfare: Jeffro Johnson Reveals The Roots of RPGs & Their Role In The Culture War

Jeffro Johnson, author of Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons has again been savage on Twitter. This thread starts here.

And rather than have you swim through that cesspit for this gold, I'll quote it below, after the jump.

Aaron Clarey bemoans the destruction of ballroom dance by freaks that have decided to arbitrarily repudiate sexual dimorphism. If you want to perpetuate this element of culture, you literally have to start your own dance and gatekeep out the weirdos. EVERYTHING IS LIKE THIS NOW.

The average fantasy consoomer that grew up up the the 1980s or later in America almost universally assumes that Lewis and Tolkien more or less invented fantasy, that everyone after them builds on and/or reacts against these two men. This is not the case.

This narrative didn't just happen. It is a byproduct of the memory holing of pre-1940 science fiction and fantasy. This earlier phase of the genre was produced by a varied group of authors hailing from such diverse regions as New England, the South, Texas, and the Prairie.

Once upon a time, creators were not selected by a small clique in NYC. No matter where you were from in the US, there was a major influential author from YOUR REGION. And he wrote characters that were like YOU and that reinforced the culture and values of YOUR PEOPLE.

If you have heard about these authors at all, it will typically be second hand through the SNEERING criticism of GROSS MUTANTS, hateful outsiders that slandered better men. Pulp writing may be synonymous with bad writing today, but it objectively better than that of its critics. (Ed.: Emphasis is editorial.)

When science fiction and fantasy were merely popular stories read by people of all ages for enjoyment, there was no need for fandom. The genre immediately became niche when it was first subverted, weaponized against legitimate culture. THEN the weird, cultish following developed. (Ditto)

It's not a coincidence that nearly all narrative-endorsed authors from 1940-1980 aggressively pushed incest in their stories. One of their most celebrated stories features a leftist utopia powered by a child molestation which none dared to challenge. Bizarre. (Ditto)

Fantasy and sci-fi blew up in the 80's due to D&D and Star Wars, no thanks to "fandom". But pop culture means something entirely different to a generation that is uprooted, disconnected from extended family, suffering through the blast effect of widespread divorce and abortion.

The ranks of the culturally denuded swelled in the nineties. And then somebody somewhere figured out how to turn some of these big media brands into a de facto replacement for identity and religion. "Fandom" returned, but at a scale that would have been unimaginable previously.

This is how you get to Star Wars themed weddings, of course. Your extended family means as much as to you as your faith. You are from nowhere. You live...anywhere. But hey, at least you grasp that the original trilogy (sans enhancements) has enduring cultural significance!

How can you know it was ever any different today? Well, there are moments where the narrative breaks down; sometimes spectacularly. The genesis of the RPG hobby in the 1970s is one of those things, a recapitulation of the representative and geographically distributed pulp era.

The primary literary inspirations for Traveller weren't Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. They were E. C. Tubb, Poul Anderson, and H. Beam Piper. The supposed "golden age" of science fiction held little to no sway over the definitive science fiction role-playing game. (Same)

The primary literary inspirations for Gamma World weren't Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. They were Brian Aldiss, Andre Norton, and Sterling Lanier. The supposed "golden age" of science fiction held little to no sway over the definitive science fantasy role-playing game. (You can figure it out by now.)

The science fiction authors singled out by Gary Gygax in the now notorious Appendix N of the Advanced Dungeon Masters Guide? Stanley Weinbaum, Jack Williamson, Fredric Brown, and (the biggest of all) Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Incidentally, Gary Gygax writes in the DMG about taking his players to adventure on another planet, it was one created by Jack Vance that dominated his campaign's play. Further, when Marc Miller needed inspiration for the Scout career, he consulted this same book and author.

So when these guys in the 1970s sat down to forge the games that would allow them to play out the space adventures that fired their imaginations, the SF authors that your magazines, articles, and local branch librarian told you were important figured very little in their schemes!

Further, the young people that would take up these games in the years following their development would lack the kinds of literary resources and fluency that the games' creators would take for granted. There was a tremendous cultural gap between these two generations.

Of course, anyone curious about why the older games were so much richer and more intriguing than later derivatives wouldn't have to delve to deep in order to unearth a TREASURE TROVE of the best fantasy and adventure fiction ever written. Positively mind blowing stuff!

One thing that will shock you is how many GOOD authors there were, how many SOLID stories were packed into the better magazines. You were told that "90% of everything was crap." But that dictum only applies to the more "serious" magazines that you are "supposed" to like.

(The following adds context to the above narrative about the ghettoization of SF in the 1940s.)

Communists infiltrated Hollywood at the same time that they took over science fiction. Just about everything written 1940-1980 was colored by an aggressive culture war that was meant to undermine and discredit the legitimate pre-1940 culture.

Big think, ain't it?

Narrative Warfare has been going on for generations by the enemy, focusing on cultural subversion via the emerging weaponizing of psychology that is the Public Relations industry and its government propaganda counterpart that first manifest in its modern form the late 19th century wars and emergeing corporate powers alongside dime novels, horse operas, and other popular entertainment.

If you think this is overblown, I point you to the above. The enemy sucessfully memory-holed the authentic American literary culture, and if not for a pair of accidents--D&D and Star Wars--that hole would have been sealed shut permanently. The enemy subversion of both properties into their present state is, from their perspective, the correcting of an oversight.

And that oversight would have itself been successful had it not been for the enemy's incompetence in managing turnover in technical regimes; had OldPub and Amazon gotten along, the opening for indie publishing to breakout wouldn't have happened, the breakout would never have occured, and we'd all be--at best--marginalized Cassandras like Alex Jones as we go on about the true history of American literature and no one listens.

But we're here now, and we did make that breakthrough, so we are putting out the real history where people will heed what we say because the enemy hasn't destroyed the evidence yet- and now it is impossible to do so.

If you're at all worried that this cannot be wholly reversed, consider this: the strength of our position is that we can demonstrate by doing that we have the correct position, in exactly the same way that someone frustrated about not getting a specific item in a game because they're looking in the wrong spot is proven wrong by taking them to the correct place and getting it there. We can--and we do--show them the old literature, and through showing them that old literature they see the connection between the real roots of RPGs and the RPG medium.

As it is with RPGs, so it is generally. We that remember the roots have a duty to reconnect rootless nations with their real culture, returning a posterity that was stolen from them and grounding them where they belong, just as we have a duty to expose the traitors and invaders that stole what is ours from us and to expel them--permanently--from what is ours.

And then we lock the gates behind them as they leave, weld them shut, and shoot them if they ever approach again.

What was done was more than fraud. Willful and deliberate destruction of a culture is part-and-parcel of committing genocide, and as our enemy is so keen to cry about being the victim of this it is the tell that this is what they have done--and are doing--to us in classic DARVO fashion to gaslight us. Its presence in RPGs seems minor, even trivial, but it is not; it is part of the larger destuction of a real culture with real impact and value, and it must never be tolerated.


  1. Thank you for showing the connections to the RPGs. I remember back in the day all of Sci-Fi worshipping Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein and neglecting those before. Now when the stories of perversion are being revealed about these "grand masters" it is all too clear what was going on and you have provided the final pieces of that particular puzzle.

  2. I've normally tended to think of Sturgeon's Law as a relatively innocent interpretation of the Pareto principle, which BigPub has tacitly endorsed because it serves their interests, but it's interesting to consider that there is a malicious angle to it.

    The simple self-serving explanation would be that it reinforces the heroic myth of industrial quality control, and intimidates independent creators from trying to go outside the ecosystem. But it's also a cover for the systematic suppression of older popular literature.

    It might also be worth considering that Sturgeon's Law is poor business practice, as well. It basically states that a 90% rejection rate is proper. If the potential sales value of each item in a submission pile falls into a classic 80/20 Pareto distribution, then the top 10% will be worth 73% of the total yield, while the next 10% will be worth 7%.

    That might not seem like much. 80% rejection earns only 10% more than 90% rejection. But most businesses don't earn more than a 10% profit margin. 10% is a lot more than it sounds. It could turn out to be everything, after expenses. Respect the B tier.


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