GLOW

Glow on Netflix—a show about women in wrestling that isn’t just for wrestling fans.

Every GM should watch professional wrestling.

Let me amend that. Every GM should watch good professional wrestling. And yes, before you ask, let me say that there is such a thing.

For most people, their experience with the genre is limited to 80’s style WWF kick-punch-repeat. Well, my fellow gamers, that’s like someone saying, “I don’t like gaming” after playing Tomb of Horrors.

When friends of mine ask me how I can watch pro wrestling, I ask them for twenty-five minutes of their time so they can watch Max Landis’ Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling. And if you aren’t a wrestling fan and you’re wondering why I am and you haven’t seen it yet, you should. Video below (probably NSFW, depending on where you work).

I could go on about this, but that’s not why I’m here. Why I’m here is to encourage you to watch GLOW on Netflix. A show that’s loosely based on the real all-woman wrestling promotion from the ’80’s. I say “loosely based” because while the show does tell the story of an actual wrestling promotion, the characters are completely fictional. Now, me being a nut for history—especially the history of the things I love like gaming and pro wrestling—I recognized a lot of what’s going on. There are tips of the hat to the actual people involved and that’s kind of cool. Almost like making a fake version of Europe for a fantasy roleplaying game…

Watching the show reminded me of running an all-woman game of Changeling a while back. Running a game for women is entirely different than running a game for men. Priorities are different. The tone is different. And watching a show run by women, written by women with an almost entirely female cast about something I love gave me an entirely different perspective on professional wrestling.

But then again, this isn’t a show about professional wrestling. It’s a show about women in professional wrestling, but it’s still a show about women. And in the hyper-testosterone world of wrestling, that’s not just a breath of fresh air, it’s like opening the door on Socrates’ cave.

I not only enjoyed the heck out of watching GLOW, I’m also grateful for it. I ran all the way through it, watching episode after episode. And I’ll probably watch it again. Seeing GLOW and Wonder Woman in the span of a couple of weeks had a profound impact on me as a writer, a storyteller, a game designer and a man.

A friend of mine once asked me, “John, why do so many women play your games?”

I replied, “I try to make games women want to play.”

GLOW isn’t just a show for women, but it is a show about women. And women shouldn’t be the only ones watching it.

Heroes Don’t Need Dice

My continuing blog about game design at Ancient Scroll is now up!

Last time we talked, you and I went over the goals Jessica and I have for our urban fantasy RPG. We also talked about how those goals serve as a compass when we got lost in the morass of game design. Well, one of those goals is about to take physical shape. That’s the goal of making the characters we play in the game heroes.

Read more here:

Magic in the City

My first journal entry on game design for a new urban fantasy game is up!

Jessica and I are both fans of urban fantasy, but if you look at the choices for games in that genre… well, there’s a problem. It isn’t a problem with the games, per se, it’s more like our problem. What is that? Well, all of those games are rooted in other people’s settings. For me, whenever I make a character, it feels a lot like writing fan fiction. I’m playing with other people’s toys. Also, I have ideas for characters that just don’t fit those settings, and I have to modify my character to fit the setting.

Read more at

My Star Trek System

A lot of folks I know are Trekkies. My buddy Chris Colbath is nuts for it. Recently, another friend of mine (Dan Waskawatzibah) has started watching Star Trek on Netflix and has begun to get the fever. He asked me, "What kind of system would you use to run a Trek game?"

I thought about it for a moment, and then remembered that I already designed one. A long time ago, I sort-of-designed a semi-hard science fiction RPG I gave the playtest name The Fifth Stat. Each race in the game had four stats–something typical like Strength, Willpower, Education and Charm–but each race had a unique "fifth stat." That fifth state made each race unique.

As soon as Dan asked me, "What kind of system would you use?" I remembered The Fifth Stat and said, "Here's how you do it."

The Fifth Trait
For humans, the fifth stat is "Hope." Mr. Heinig once told me, "The theme of Trek is, 'We're gonna make it.'" And he said it with such conviction, such sincerity, I bought it. I even started watching Deep Space Nine just because of the way Jess said, "We're gonna make it." And thus, for humans, the fifth trait is "Hope."

For Vulcans, the fifth trait is, of course, "Logic."

For Klingons, it's "Pain." For Ferengi, it's "Greed."

For Romulans, it's "Passion."

For Bajorans, it's "Faith."

… and so on. I won't give you the rest–because I plan on making it a real game one day, except without the trademarked stuff that can get me sued–but that's the basics. 

And Jess & Chris, if you guys make it out to Phoenix, I'll run it. I love you guys. The best gift I can give for my friends is games.

This one's yours.