[Letter of Appreciation] Justin R. Achilli- “Fuckedy, Fuckedy fuckfuck”*

Nowadays we take many things for granted, like having an overabundance of great game designers. Now that we know that even legends die, we must cherish the ones we have left… speaking of which: what is Justin Achilli doing at the moment, having left WW?

Justin became White Wolfs line-developer for Vampire: the Masquerade at a time, when the game was slowly making its slide from the great personal horror game to the fayboyish superhero-fantasy many (rightfully) loath. It is thanks to Justin however, that even in this dark time we got sourcebooks that equalled, sometimes even eclipsed the genius of Hagens writing. He immediatly understood something which took others (like AD&D-designers) way longer: Vampire was slowly becoming a mainstream-game and the new crowd flocking to the game couldn’t really relate to the concepts popular at its inception (which were transported by the simple fact, that many of its players and storytellers back then were well-read, introspective persons, often with an academic background). The new crowd wanted things to do, not things to feel, so instead of completely ignoring these demands, he figured out ways how they could add to the game, instead of alienating their fans by completely ignoring them or letting them run unchecked, creating a RIFTish IdiotVerseTM, with “lots of weird shit happening for no reason at all”. He chose to focus on the “War of Ages”, turning the game more into the direction of political espionage than personal drama, while still leaving the opportunity to have the personal drama happen as part of the political espionage (think: Hunt for Red October). While I personally think the degree by which he was divorcing Vampire from being about retaining human sanity and morals was a bit to much, I see where he was going and I applaud this move. I didn’t really see much of his work for Requiem, but I’m happy about the stuff he wrote for the new Changeling.

Like many gamers of his time (including Gygax himself, who created Lejendary Adventures for just this reason) Justin was deeply disenchanted by what the mainstream-D&D-crowd had become by then and spared no opportunity to distance himself from them. This, however, he did not with vitriolic rancour (a lesson some of the self-appointed pundits out there would do well to heed), but with almost affectionate irony, the way you would talk about a friend or family member to which you can no longer relate, but hey they are still part of who you are- they are not brain-damaged misfits, they are You with a slightly different fashion sense. Bashing them is just bashing yourself (okay, that sounded horrible… ahem… move on please…).

More examples of his great sense of humour can be found in his satirical card-game Grontar: The Frutang (which he developed during lunch breaks at WW) and in his personal bio on the WW site:

Justin R. Achilli (the 'R' is for Robert - it's a family name) is the worst thing to happen to roleplaying in a long damn time. He doesn't much care for systems or mechanics, believing instead that roleplaying should focus on well-told stories and interesting characters. His books have as few tables, charts and lists as possible, which easily identifies him as a pretentious, arrogant bastard who has no idea what roleplaying is really about: beating the holy bejeezus out of orcs.

Justin foolishly sows plot threads and hidden story seeds into projects he works on, for some reason enjoying the richness of world creation and mystery more than new monsters to smash to bits. Like a true infidel, he lends little credence to shrieky e-mails and vociferous, self-avowed hobby experts who know roleplaying's One True Way. He's a real heathen, preferring to see players and Storytellers make the most of their shared world rather than slavishly adhering to the dogma he creates. Worst of all, he likes to add depth by answering questions with more questions, thereby reducing gaming to a milieu to explore rather than a list to look to when you "need" to know how many Elf Points a Tree Sasquatch has.

Justin has written for and developed a variety of White Wolf titles, including Vampire: The Masquerade Revised Edition, Kindred of the East, Clanbook: Giovanni, Clanbook: Cappadocian, the Werewolf Players Guide Second EditionStar Trek, Highlander or They Might Be Giants, so he's obviously a complete idiot. As if that wasn't bad enough, he thinks roleplaying should be more than a bunch of fat dorks in Xena T-shirts because it has something to offer everyone. What a fool! and numerous others. He doesn't like

Justin R. Achilli develops White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade Storytelling game. If you don't hate him, you should. He's trying to destroy this hobby.

Thanks for the attention, class dismissed.

*btw: the quote of the day is a homage to his attempt at novel writing (Clan Novel: Giovanni)- great stuff- before I thought it impossible to do Tarantino in the written medium, but Justin proved me wrong.

For the regular readers of my blog: more musings about games after this weekend (and the local book fair) is over.


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