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D&D General Thaco the angry clown... really?

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Here's the problem: You're claiming sole ownership of a definiton
No, I'm not.
on a slang term that doesn't have an "official" definition in common parlance
It's a phrase derived from comedy. It has a definition. The one I presented. It's not that I "own" it, just that I happen to know it because I spend an inordinate amount of time in that space. If you were to jump onto a comedy forum and spotted someone using a gaming term wrong, would you be "claiming sole ownership" or simply pointing people to the right definition.
though it appears to in academic fields.
And comedy.
It's not necessary to be combative on this.
I'm not being combative. Are you?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Imagine you're a transperson in a comedy club.

Now the audience just spent the last 10 minutes laughing and cheering a comedian who made jokes about how transpeople aren't human, they're a danger to society, and they need to be murdered.

Do you think you might be worried about going to your car?
So rather than doing a comedy routine they're engaging in stochastic terrorism. Got it.
Being offended isn't 'they said a mean thing and now I'm sad'.
Not quite, but basically, yeah, it is.
It's 'I'm persecuted and afraid for my life and people who make these jokes having a platform and being supported on that platform is an indicator that my life is in danger. Also, the crowd has just been incited to violence against me."

This is what people mean by 'privilege'.
That's not being offended. That's being persecuted and afraid for your life after a stochastic terrorist attack. They're different things. Words have meanings. Don't muddle them up.
It's your privilege that you don't have that experience so you don't see the harm in jokes.
That's your privilege in assuming a whole lot of things about me that you really shouldn't.
That's why people are 'offended' and aren't okay with people making harmful jokes.
Jokes aren't harmful. They're jokes. If you define "joke" as stochastic terrorism, that's on you. Not the jokes.
This, Thac0 the clown, this isn't it.
Agreed. THAC0 the Clown is both hilarious an completely not-harmful.
 
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J.Quondam

CR 1/8
It's a phrase derived from comedy. It has a definition. The one I presented. It's not that I "own" it, just that I happen to know it because I spend an inordinate amount of time in that space. If you were to jump onto a comedy forum and spotted someone using a gaming term wrong, would you be "claiming sole ownership" or simply pointing people to the right definition.
Your "right definition." For a term that's long since escaped comedy.

I'm not being combative. Are you?
Maybe. :sneaky:
 


Azzy

KMF DM
I think some people have a clear distaste and resentment for grogs. I hate that.

that said, I don’t think it’s WOTC for the most part. And after reading what Chris Perkins said about Easter eggs from older editions in Witchlight, I am pretty convinced THACO is just…a joke.

They also talk about Warduke and Kelek. As a former LJN action figure owner, I am similarly not feeling the hate, sorry.

it’s a joke/reference about an old game mechanic. It’s almost FOR older gamers not to persecute them.

The negative stuff is out there for sure. Just not thinking this is that.
This, all of this!!!!!
 


Hussar

Legend
So you think the old grogs are in a similar position of power (within this micro community) as the writers on staff at Wizards of the Coast? Okay. That's certainly a take. Can't imagine how you got there, but whatevs.
Well, considering a group of them split off from the fanbase, twice, creating competing communities with OSR and Pathfinder, and had a definite hand in the failure of 4e, I'm not sure how you think they don't have power.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Well, considering a group of them split off from the fanbase, twice, creating competing communities with OSR and Pathfinder, and had a definite hand in the failure of 4e, I'm not sure how you think they don't have power.
Good thing I never said they had no power. They clearly have less power than WotC. Since punching up or down is only about relative power, that's all that matters.
 

Hussar

Legend
Good thing I never said they had no power. They clearly have less power than WotC. Since punching up or down is only about relative power, that's all that matters.
So, the group that can influence the fanbase to the point of carving off significant portions of the gaming population, at no financial cost to themselves has less power than the company that produces material for that fanbase and has a vested financial stake in keeping that fanbase. Oh, and, let's not forget, that if we accept that neckbeard grognard is the group that's being attacked, this is the group that played gatekeepers to the hobby for decades, keeping away women and minorities from the hobby through incessant attacks and bad behavior.

Methinks you have an odd definition of relative power.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So, the group that can influence the fanbase to the point of carving off significant portions of the gaming population
Uh...do you mean the self-inflicted wound of Pathfinder? Yeah, attributing that to some grogs is more than a bit of a stretch. WotC did that do themselves. Do you mean the minuscule OSR? Last time I checked WotC was a multi-billion dollar company with 50 million+ fans chomping at the bit for the next D&D 5E release. The OSR collectively has...what...a few thousand fans that can scrape together a few thousand dollars. Yes, I'm quite comfortable saying that the mammoth gaming company that is WotC has more power than the OSR and/or Pathfinder/Paizo.
Oh, and, let's not forget, that if we accept that neckbeard grognard is the group that's being attacked, this is the group that played gatekeepers to the hobby for decades, keeping away women and minorities from the hobby through incessant attacks and bad behavior.
Right. And now they're aging and mostly scuttled off to the periphery of the hobby and trying to gatekeep their ever-shrinking corners of the community. And all the while D&D 5E has increased sales year-over-year, increase its fanbase to larger numbers than even the height of the D&D craze in the 80s saw. It's increasingly younger and less male-dominated. Yeah. Again, WotC has far, far more power than the grogs. And that's fantastic.
Methinks you have an odd definition of relative power.
Methinks you attribute way too much power to the aging and increasingly irrelevant grogs.
 

Punching up, punching down....this is neither. There is no punching of any sort going on with this. It's just an in-joke for people who have been playing D&D a long time. Like the Gazebo monster card in Munchkin. ("Oh noes! Munchkin is making fun of people who have never had a lawn!")

I can't help but think the "outrage" here is really just a weak form of protest about orc changes.
 

the Jester

Legend
Thaco is 2nd edition. Not 1st or OD&D. The grogs they are making fun of are also themselves. The older grogs would not be thaco folks.
Um, actually....

I am like 95% certain that THAC0 first appeared in the 1e days in Polyhedron.

Can anyone check me on that?
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
Um, actually....

I am like 95% certain that THAC0 first appeared in the 1e days in Polyhedron.

Can anyone check me on that?

From this I get a 1982 reference in tournament modules. I can confirm there was a "To Hit A.C. 0" column in the 1e DMG appendix E with all the monsters in it. Sounds like it wasn't in the original 1e rules but they added it in during 1e when they realized it saved you time on attack matrices.
 


Just a thought, but they might be poking fun at the RPGPundit, one of the consultants they removed from the 5e Players Handbook. He checks off just about every box, including always having a pipe in hand. :)
That certainly would be a good explanation of the pipe. However, given what Mistwell posted about this THAC0 character, I'd have to say no. Firstly, if it were Pundy, #9 would be that THAC0 thinks children are like swine(a common Pundit epithet), not roaches. Next, #8 would be people who touch his pipe would have their kneecaps bashed in with a rusty-nailed spiked baseball bat (or something like that, specifics escape me, but IIRC his being kicked off big purple was because he threatened violence of this sort). #7 is right off, as Pundy definitely does not say little and absolutely minds other peoples' business. #6 would just be a non sequitur unless I missed a tale, as nothing I know about him relates to this. Beyond that, the biggest reason I don't think it is him is that he isn't important enough for them to bother taking potshots. He's a guy who talked his way onto the 5e playtest (pretending more importance in the OSR community than he had), complained bitterly about how they didn't accept any of his proposals (right up until he realized he had to latch himself, lamprey-like, to 5e to have any cachet, and then he changed his tune), and when asked about him, everyone at WotC seem to not remember him (and this sure looks genuine, not like a stealth insult). He's just not relevant to anyone or anything excepting as he can make people think he is, which seems to be his entire business model.

For reference:
It's not significant. He's mostly just an extra and if PCs knew everything about him it would spoil almost nothing. But he's at a location where PCs are likely to encounter him. There are a lot of choices a party can make as to where they go and what they do at the carnival, but THAC0 is located somewhere that the PCs are likely to at least briefly encounter him.

THAC0:

1) Sits right outside the door to [an important location] blowing bubbles with his bubble pipe.
2) Does not get along with Burly, another guard.
3) Thaco is the longest-serving Witchlight hand,
4) Nobody knows THAC0's history and scarcely any dare to ask, for he almost never speaks and harbors a malicious streak that is kept in check by Mister Witch.
5) THAC0 paints his face with a grin and puffs on a bubble pipe.
6) THAC0 retired from performing and no longer stages his knife-throwing act due to an unfortunate incident that took place in the Big Top some time ago.
7) THAC0 prefers not to talk and when he must he says as little as possible. He thinks everyone should mind their own business.
8) If anyone tries to touch THAC0's bubble pipe they will lose a finger.
9) THAC0 cannot stand children and think's they're like roaches.


For me, I am an old player who started with OD&D/Basic and played a lot of AD&D 1e. And...I found this amusing. You gotta be able to laugh at yourself. This is not bullying, it's just a silly ribbing inside joke.

Yeah I had a severely deviated septum for most of my life. That was just a poorly considered way for the kids to mock the bullies.

I've never been persecuted for mouth breathing though.

I haven't had to fear being murdered, beaten, or sexually assaulted.

I haven't needed to worry about how I was going to feed and shelter myself, etc.

People complain about people being offended by things and having thin skin when those jokes and remarks are literally life threatening.

And then turn around and say they are being oppressed because a clown in a story references an old game.

The privilege on display is just remarkable.
I really don't want to armchair psychoanalyze the gaming community, but I see a parallel to something that happens at my work. My job as a manager of upper-middle-class IT professionals, most of whom were 'very bright young (mostly-)lads in high school and college, breezed through a computer science or software engineering or computer engineering or similar degree, and kind of arrived at the good life at age 22. Still, they were picked on for being nerdy as a teen, and the accolades and affirming life-benchmarks* have kinda dried up in adult life, and quite a few of them have decided that they are a kind of targeted group (else why doesn't adulthood automatically feel easy and fulfilling?).
*SATs, ACTs, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests, or that IQ test they took as a teen and 'honest-truly, all the library ladies helping proctor the test had to come and make sure I wasn't cheating because it was the best they'd seen.'

It seems mind-blowing, but I have to remember that they didn't have an abortive college experience and work with people very different from themselves or have girlfriends who had experienced past sexual violence or go through alcohol dependence and end up being sponsored by someone from a minority community and get even a window into the lives of people with genuine procedural and systemic disadvantages*. As in, they genuinely don't realize how sheltered and insular their self-declared victimhood seems.

I hate the term privilege. I think it does nothing except stop the conversation. Sadly, I think the 'right' term is one that requires explanation (so maybe isn't really right), and that is 'luxury.' Not luxury as in gold-plated watch, but luxury as in 'the luxury of.' The luxury not to really worry about finding another job if this one disappeared. The luxury of knowing that if you are pulled over while driving, nothing bad will happen to you if you haven't been doing anything wrong. The luxury of not having to wonder if that person complementing your looks will try to assault you if you turn your back. The luxury of (and this one threw me*) being able to wear a ratty outfit out into the community without the police being called. *I went to the park to play basketball with an African-American doctor neighbor-me in a college sports mascot-branded shorts and a plain white t-shirt and hoodie sweatshirt and him in a $300+ athletic suit. I poked fun until he explained that it was to not normalize what I was wearing for his son, who if he went to the park dressed like that might have the police called on him (and then have a non-trivial risk of being subject to police violence or extreme charge for trivial offense which could follow him into adulthood).

So, yes, people casting a joke made at the expense of their preferred table-top RPG playstyle* as an -ism is pretty privileged, but I don't think using that terminology really helps anything. Or at least it would take a much larger conversation about what is and isn't a real life challenge (and which struggles are based on group identity, rather than universals like 'teenagers are awful to each other, especially if they belong to different sub-groups').
*Yes, I know some people are saying it isn't about playstyle but instead age, but I am unconvinced.

Anyways, I've had pretty bad allergies my whole life and also was something of a mouth-breather as a kid. I don't think anyone every made fun of the mouth-breathing. I got called 'Sneezy' (as in the 'Snow White' dwarf) in middle school, and 'Crybaby' because of the watering eyes. Never the mouth-breathing, though.
 
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Jahydin

Explorer
This entire situation reminds me of the Mike Mearl's Tweet that also upset a bunch of grogs back in the day:

"Funny how many of the same “fans” who insist on gatekeeping via rules complexity and lore density also have a problem with women in tabletop gaming. Hey guys! You’re all fired from D&D. Find another game."

Some who read it took it as: "all fans who like complex rules and dense lore have a problem with woman", completely missing the ""fans" who insist on gatekeeping" part.

This clown is the same deal. Just like OP said, the reference was as subtle as a brick through a window. But it's more than just "fans of older editions of D&D". Reading the stat block also tells us it's fans who hate that kids are having fun with the new system and hate the system cause it's accessibility allows "normies" to enjoy it as well. The first is plainly said and the latter from his "gatekeeping".

Worth noting, the current 5e lead designer, Ray Winninger, resurrected the Role Aids line in the early 1990s, "determined to recreate it with AD&D material that was more sophisticated than what TSR was offering at the time" (from Wikipedia). Don't think the mean clown was aimed at him anymore that it was at us!
 


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