I have a fondness for DCC which will always be the apex example of an OSR game in my mind. It is charming, weird, playful, and a bit incoherent; but its incoherence stems from a deep-anchored chaos that determines its style and feel.

ACKS does not occupy the same galaxy of concepts as DCC in my mind; your work on and emphasis of simulationism is only a single, if prominent, example explaining the totally different feel of ACKS from DCC.

It is most practical in the current context to consider "OSR" not as a historical moment but as a "living" philosophy which is a rough constellation of ideas evolved from "We're Not 4th Edition D&D." The main thrust against 4E D&D was that it wasn't D&D. The problem is that it was also a very tightly designed game, in many respects, and its more prolific detractors shunned that in favor of deep chaos. These points are irrevocably wound up in the meaning, presentation, and expectations of "OSR."

Today, Rule Zero and "rulings, not rules" and all the other undermine-your-own-game nonsense is unfortunately a core component (even if only implicit) in the OSR mindsphere. Your work on the role of referees, and thus your attitude towards these ideas and where they lead, aligns you strictly against the mindsphere on this and many other points.

Essentially, it may be worth considering positioning yourself as an ALTERNATIVE to the OSR mindsphere. There are many factors to weigh, but apparent misalignments of this nature can create serious friction.

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While ACKS is definitely an OSR game, it doesn't really fit in with the main stream of the OSR, you know? Questing Beast is currently the gateway to the OSR (to my limited understanding) and I wouldn't be surprised to hear he'd never looked at ACKS. You went in a different direction than nearly everyone else, and you've wound up in vastly different places because of it. Add to that all the fundamentally new school people who saw OSR as a less mechanically rigorous way to publish adventures, and it's not hard to see why ACKS doesn't come up that much.

I don't think it's your supervillain status, because I've seen a few recent blog posts begrudgingly mentioning Zak S (trigger warnings firmly attached, don't you worry), who is probably more reviled than you, and I suspect that it's because his stuff better matches the "rulings, not rules" crowd's ideals.

Basically, you're the weirdo in the corner of the OSR fraternity, scribbling out your math assignment while everyone else is getting drunk. Congratulations.

P.S. no, I don't know how to fix that.

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I also think you should reach out to the Wandering DMs podcast, I have no idea how much reach they really have, I just want to see you and Delta argue about the proper way to use PCs in wargame rules:D

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Sep 8·edited Sep 8Liked by Alexander Macris

Hello Mr. Macris,

Since you asked, I'd like to offer my two cents. I mean Everything I say genuinely, but please take this with a grain of salt, as my knowledge is rather superficial regarding your background, ACKS and how you fit within the wider OSR scene. Hopefully, something can be of use.

With that disclaimer, I would say you suffer from a lack of visibility. A few years ago, I was into RPGs and OSR and all of this, and I had unfortunately never heard of you. I can't comment on the state of the hobby now since I don't pay attention anymore; having no one to play with as a teen can undermine even the strongest obsession, but I digress. I learned about you through your appearance on Walrus's show to talk about RPGs - which was brilliant enough that here I am. This lack of visibility might be due to a conspiracy of silence, which, considering your "supervillanous" reputation, is not impossible. But frankly, building Normie appeal is the wrong strategy for long-term success anyway, so it matters little.

I would recommend building connections and reputation within the broader "Dissident Right" (or whatever it is that we call ourselves these days). If they consider you a villain, I don't see the point in trying to gain their affection. We have a strong and building literature scene with many publishers putting out fiction and non-fiction, but we need a presence in some other aspects of culture. We must aim at total spectrum dominance. I think you are the perfect candidate to spearhead this charge into RPGs. You're already in the industry, you know what to do, and you have a good philosophy: simulationism (which, since built on reality, is inherently right-wing). Maybe do a series of interviews/shows about RPGs, your philosophy of simulationism, and talking about ACKS II and how we can colonise this space. It would increase the view count on your project with frens, which are less likely to try and subvert your project while protecting against potential subverters that will inevitably come with success. We cannot allow what happened to RPGs and Nerd culture, in general, to happen again as it became mainstream.

I would also push into Actual Plays and their like as well. This kept the embers of my interest in RPGs going even when I couldn't play. It creates familiarity with the system, which is an excellent way to get new players. But beyond that, if it's good entertainment as a SHOW, that's just as good. I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to listen to these types of series as a sort of modern radio play. I don't care as much if it is scripted so much as it's a good story with good voice acting. Liking Critical Role doesn't necessarily mean that you'd enjoy D&D but that you like a well-acted-out, fleshed-out story with the Mercer effect as a good example. The issue, of course, is that it's built and run by Californian actors and all the baggage they bring as a result. Having a right-wing version of Critical Role would be awesome, especially if we can get people already well-known on the scene with good acting skills to be a part of the project.

As for your work, I like the sound of ACKS and look forward to having a look at your Kickstarter campaign for ACKS II. I also completely agree with your position on simulationism, and this was something that has always bugged me about RPGs, whether reading, playing or listening to them. On another note, do you have any stuff on Ascendant? Articles, videos, Actual Plays and so on. It looks very cool, but I couldn't find much stuff about it apart from the website, which, if I am completely honest (apologies), could do with some work.

In conclusion, building an audience with the dissident sphere and investing in Actual Plays and their like, especially as shows and entertainment. I look forward to whatever you do and wish you the greatest success. Hopefully, what I said can be of some help to you.


Simon Van de Graaf.

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Hi, author of the Ponderings on Games blog here. Thank you for the kind words! For what it's worth, it's definitely unawareness, not a deliberate snub. I know *of* ACKS, but not much more than the fact that it exists. Even in a relatively niche space like the OSR sub-set of TTRPGs, there are simply too many games for one person to have read them all. Doesn't help that so many of them are rules-light retroclones, where analyzing the rules is just not that interesting.

I'll have to look into your game before I write any more about the space though, that's for sure.

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