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Rogue Manifesto


The Rogue Manifesto

The Rogue Manifesto harkens back to the early days of Rogue Cthulhu, when we were a very angry group of gamers, aggravated beyond reason by the inequities of the then RPGA dominated gaming landscape at Origins, and by the ineptitude of the administration that was in power at Origins at the time. Since Rogue has been on its crusade we have witnessed a great many changes at Origins, and hopefully we have had a positive impact on gaming in general. The new organizers at Origins have done a great job in trying to address the problems of the past, and we have seen great strides made in improving the quality of role playing at the convention, mostly due to the dedicated work of gaming clubs like ours. Today we are a much happier gang of rebels, and so the Manifesto no longer reflects our current attitudes, as the landscape has changed greatly since it was written. We take pride in knowing that we had a hand in bringing about those changes. This article remains on our website mainly for historical purposes. 01-20-07

Text revised and updated on 9-14-00


... So, what the hell is Rogue Cthulhu? This is who we are. This is what Rogue is all about. 

. . Rogue Cthulhu is an organization of gamers committed to providing and supporting quality role playing games at conventions. It is also a movement to raise the standard of quality in role playing events presented at conventions, and to make those conventions more responsive to the public that makes them possible. Rogue Cthulhu focuses these efforts, at least for now, on the Call of Cthulhu role playing game by Chaosium, and at the nation’s second largest gaming convention, Origins.

. . Rogue Cthulhu writes, produces organizes and presents its own original Call of Cthulhu adventures, as well as showcasing worthy adventures submitted by authors from around the world. We plan to make Rogue Cthulhu the premier event organizers for Call of Cthulhu games at Origins. We also plan to make Origins the largest and best Call of Cthulhu gamer gathering in the country. In the near future, we plan to expand our field of influence to other conventions and to other game systems.

... So, why are you on this crusade anyway? Let me tell you the story of how it all started.
. . It was the summer of 1996 when several of the core Rogue members went to the Origins gaming convention, in Columbus Ohio, for the first time. There we played in lots of Call of Cthulhu role playing games which, at that time, were all being run by the RPGA Network. The RPGA had an enormous area where their games were held, and lots of staff persons running around with important looking ribbons hanging from their badges denoting them as Game Masters and Volunteer helpers and the like. Despite the fast that there were dozens of people with these ribbons, and that there were several different rooms in which to organize the games, and that one of those rooms was dedicated as a Headquarters, from which one would assume everything would be well orchestrated, no one seemed to have much of a clue as to what was going on. This was only a sign of things to come.

. . While the most of the games were at least moderately enjoyable, some were just horrendous, and nearly all had some sort of problem attached to them. Sometimes the adventure was poorly written. Sometimes the game was poorly run. Some times the game was hard to find. Sometimes the scheduled adventure was substituted with another. Sometimes the game was canceled altogether. Sometimes the GM never showed up. Sometimes the GM had just been handed the module, sight unseen. Sometimes the GM had never even played the game system before. Any combination of the above was possible, and such failings were taken as commonplace. Never once did anyone tell us that our event ticket could be refunded if the game was canceled. And never once did any of us see a single prize be awarded for any game, even though all the games were advertised as having prizes for the “winner”. Regardless of any inconvenience or difficulties we, the players, were subjected too in the course of trying to play our game, the officials would become uniformly disgruntled, and some even irate, if ever we baulked at filling out their “survey” at the end of the game.

. . This situation did not improve with passing years. In 1997, we got even more of the same. The high turnout for Call of Cthulhu games prompted even more events to be run, and the ineptitude of the organizers prompted even more of those events to be run badly. Our first game of the ‘97 con was one such event. We left home at 4 am to be there in time for the game that started at 8 am, just to find that game had been canceled. The group of players (not just our own) were livid and nearly cause a scene that would have disrupted the entire play area. Only after convincing the organizers that we would NOT be turned out of hand, did anyone make any attempt to rectify our situation. Another game was substituted to placate the players. Unfortunately for us, it was one that we were already scheduled to play later in the weekend. Chalk up another wasted event ticket, bought and paid for.

. . This year (97), the RPGA’s “surveys” became a bone of contention again. We didn't like filling out surveys. We didn’t like the whole idea behind the surveys. We didn’t like the whole idea behind the point system that the surveys were designed to promote. Our feelings were, that we were not RPGA members, and we got no benefit from filling out these surveys. There was no stipulation in the registration book about having to fill out a survey in exchange for getting to play the game. We didn’t feel obligated in any way to fill out a survey. So we didn’t. All weekend. And boy did it piss off some GMs. The whole thing came to a head when in one of the games, the GM stopped the action at the absolute climax of the game. The adventurers were cornered in a building. Their guns were drawn. The bad guys were pounding at the door, and just as they broke down the door pressing the adventurers into a fight for their very lives, the GM says, “OK, we only got about 20 minutes left, so we’d better stop now and fill out our surveys”. Needless to say this brought on a rather heated argument, especially when we refused to fill out the damn surveys. It was at this point that it became painfully clear to us that the RPGA wasn’t interested in Role Playing games, they were only interested in assigning themselves “points”. The ranking system and player data collection had become more important than the games that had brought people here in the first place.

. . We wrote a letter to the convention organizers (Andon Unlimited) and told them how we felt about their RPGA events. Of course we got no official response from them, and no improvements were made, but we did get a response of a sort that came in the form of an article published in Dragon Magazine . Issue #239 featured an article in the RPGA Network news section that addressed our letter almost point by point. The funny thing was, the RPGA was taking credit for doing a great job on each and every count of which we had reported their proficiency as gravely deficient. In other words, they were patting themselves on the back for being great in the same areas in which we said they sucked. Well that just took the cake!

. . After getting pretty much the same treatment in 1998, we said, “Enough is enough. Someone has to show these slobs how it’s done.” On the day we returned from Origins in 1998, we decided that someone was going to have to be us. We immediately set about forming what was later to be called “Plan A”, and thus Rogue Cthulhu was born.


... So, how did Rogue get where it is now? This is how the plan unfolded.
. . We started out as a couple of pissed off gamers. Disaffected youth who felt like they had been sold out by the industry they loved. All of our correspondences reflected this attitude. We didn’t feel we had to answer to anyone. We didn’t need anyone’s permission or approval. We were going to do their job better than them, because we cared about gaming, and we wanted to show them just how pissed off we were that they had strayed from the righteous path. We felt that the industry had failed the gamers, and that the gamers were going to have to take it back. We chose the name “Rogue Cthulhu” because if fit with our anti-establishment attitude.

. . “Plan A” was pretty simple. Write a scenario or two and take them with us to Origins. Play in the usual CoC games hosted by the RPGA. Expect to have at least one of the games canceled out from under us. When said cancellation occurs, whip out our scenario and commandeer a table. Give the other players what they paid for. End of plan. Plan A was simple, but short lived. The more we thought about it, the more we thought we could do. We had already wrote letters to Andon Unlimited (now WotC Events Management), and nothing improved. So we wrote to Chaosium, and asked them to consider running their own games. They replied that they didn’t have the manpower, but that they would be glad to support us if we wanted to take up the mantle.

. . We posted a web page declaring war on the establishment, and rallied supporters to our banner. We knew we were not alone in our disgust. We had talked to many other gamers at the convention for the past several years, and most of the people we talked to felt the same way in varying degrees. The most commonly heard phrase in these conversations was, “Yeah, the RPGA used to be a good organization”. As we had expected, the supporters came. A trickle at first, and then more and more. Not all were up to the task, but a few gems emerged from the rough. Enough that we could say goodbye to Plan A and retool our thinking on a much grander scale.

. . Chaosium offered us prize support, and help in negotiating with Andon if we wanted to run “official” Call of Cthulhu games. We made it clear to them that their “sponsorship” was appreciated, but that we were going to do it our way, and we were going to do it with or without them. But hey, never turn down help. So we forged a strategic alliance with Chaosium. We actually got quite a bit out of it. They turned in our adventures to Andon along with their demos, and listed them as Official Chaosium events. They helped us negotiate with Andon for a private room to play our games in (even though it never quite happened). They gave us prize support for our games, and offered some free swag to our game masters to help us with recruiting. The operation was growing by leaps and bounds. Our plan had snowballed from one or two adventures to 30 games featuring 10 new scenarios, including a pre-release scenario from Chaosium.

. . Although most of the response we got from our web page was positive, it was clear that not everyone appreciated our enthusiasm. One RPGA member who saw our page was offended by our open hostility and posted a message saying so in our guest book (the first of it’s kind). Less than 24 hours later, our web page was ejected from the GeoCities server where it was being hosted. GeoCities claimed it was a “hate site” and that it violated their user agreement. We would agree that the site was heavily opinionated, but a “hate” site? Our words were strong, but not KKK strong, and we didn’t say anything on our site that wasn’t true. Of course we just posted the site on another server. We were back up and running in less than an hour.

. . In addition to a handful of RPGA supporters who didn’t appreciate our statements, within a few months, we also attracted the attention of Robert Weise, the Director of the RPGA. He was upset that we were blaming his organization for things which he claimed they had no control over. He said that the RPGA didn’t run those events, that they just leased them to Andon. That was odd. It sure looked like it was run by the RPGA. All the GMs and volunteers were RPGA members. The RPGA had a headquarters there. Andon had a huge administrative staff upstairs in the main hall. They wouldn’t need a separate one just for RPGA events. They didn’t have one for any of the other Role Playing Game events. We brought the Dragon Magazine article to his attention, in which the RPGA claimed responsibility for doing such a great job of running their events at conventions. He said he had not seen the article and that he “might have trouble finding a Dragon Magazine” up there. Yeah, sure. He tried to dodge every bullet we lobbed his way, except one. The RPGA surveys and their point system. BLAM! Direct hit. Of course he saw the whole thing from a completely different perspective and could not be convinced that the RPGA was disaffecting there membership, especially at the entry level, by these practices. For him too, it seemed, the points were more important than the games.

. . We exchanged letters with Weise several times and we updated our page to reflect his claims that Andon was to blame for all the problems with the way the games were run, but we were not convinced. In addition, the position he took on the few issues he did take responsibility for, did little to improve our perception of the RPGA over all. He still writes us occasionally, probably after hearing a complaint from one of his membership after viewing our web page. He continually urges us to spend more energy promoting ourselves in a positive way, and less energy tearing down the RPGA. Well, Bob, positive self promotion is a good idea, but we’ve still got a lot of angst and frustration to burn off, and so far we haven’t seen things improve much on your end. At least not at Origins.

. . An entire year went into preparing for our first show. But we were competing with an organization with vast resources of money, material and manpower, and who had over 20 years to hone their craft. Our adventures written and rehearsed, our game slots scheduled and registered, we were ready to take on the gaming public. It was they who would ultimately decided if our cause was just and our efforts worthwhile. Rogue Cthulhu made it’s public debut at the Origins 25th anniversary, in Columbus Ohio, in July of 1999. We hosted 30 Call of Cthulhu events and serviced over 120 players that year, and not a single event was canceled do to the lack of a GM to run it. By comparison, the RPGA hosted 6 CoC events and only 44 total events. And the rest, as they say, is history.


... So, how can I get involved? Join the movement. Go Rogue
. . You can show your support for the Rogue movement in many ways. First of all, you can come and play in our events. Without an audience, we have no show. We are doing this because we like role playing games, but hosting a billion role playing games is meaningless without players to enjoy them. We can only grow as far as the players will support us. Visit the Schedule link to find out more about the games we are hosting.

. . Secondly, you can write and adventure and submit it to us to run at a convention. We are always in need of fresh material. The more adventures we get submitted to us the less we have to write ourselves, and the more time we will have to make those adventures the best they can be. Visit the Submissions link to find out more about how to submit an adventure for consideration.

. . Third, you could volunteer your time at the convention. We are always in need of Game Masters and helpers. We can only service as many players as we have Game Masters to go around. You could also volunteer some of your resources (money) to help us with our efforts. Rogue is an all volunteer organization, and all of our expenses come out of pocket from the members. Visit the Volunteers link to or write to us to find out more about how you can help us at the show.

. . Fourth, you can submit a piece of Lovecraftian artwork. We like to hang posters of Cthulhu art in the room where we play to add atmosphere. We may also be in need of some artwork to use on upcoming publishing projects. We like to showcase as much of the Mythos genre as possible whether through art to hang on the game room wall, art to adorn this web page, t shirts to wear or sell, buttons to wear or sell, sculpture decorate the tables or give away as prizes, or writing adventures for the role players to enjoy.

. . There may be a variety of other ways in which you can show your support for the Rogue movement. Let us know you are interested and tell us what you think you have to offer to help make this the best Call of Cthulhu gaming club out there. 

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