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A Moment of Triumph
My first success in the counter-spoliation of my favorite hobby
I recently exceed 4,000 subscribers to Tree of Woe, mostly free but a strong 10% paid subscribers. That number is far higher than I ever imagined it would be. Even so, the earnings from Tree of Woe, while absolutely a valuable contribution to my family’s finances, don’t suffice to support me full time — and, frankly, given the esoteric and iconoclastic topics I discuss, I don’t think they ever will. Instead I make my living as a tabletop game designer and writer of escapist entertainment.
As such, from time to time, I have opined on issues related to geek culture, comics, and games. Two years ago, I wrote an article entitled The Spoliation of Pop Culture. There, I wrote:
With near-total control of the arts, entertainment, education, and media industries, America’s progressives have won the culture war and begun to claim their spoils of war. They have identified every valuable expression of American culture and are busily repurposing these expressions for their own use. And, again, who can blame them? Spoliation is what conquerors do.
But what if you are today a consumer, or — God forbid — an artist, writer, or other creator, who does not share the new values and new views that are appropriating and replacing the old? What if you want your truth and justice the American Way?
You have three choices. First, you can seek to enjoy the best of what is offered by the new, while ignoring the parts that offend you. You need not worship Ra to be impressed by the majesty of Great Pyramid; you need not embrace progressivism to enjoy The Boys. Even if you want to eschew Hollywood, a tremendous amount of foreign content is now available, which can offer escape from America’s culture war while still entertaining.
Second, you can find solace in the great works of the past. We are blessed (for now, at least) to have access to everything that has come before. Never has it been so easy to find a book, a comic, a game, a movie, or a show from any prior period. Have you read everything by Jack Vance? R.E. Howard? Jack Kirby? Have you watched the greatest movies of the 20th century? You’re missing out.
Third, you can create and/or consume new works made with the values of old. My own upcoming graphic novel, Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron, embraces truth, justice, and the American Way wholeheartedly and I will unabashedly recommend it to all of you when it’s ready. If you like comics in general, the Arkhaven platform offers an incredible selection by the likes of the legendary Chuck Dixon and Joe Bennett. If you like books, writers such as Misha Burnett, Nick Cole, Larry Correia, Jon Del Arroz, Alexander Hellene, Sarah Hoyt, Tom Kratman, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Jon Mollison, Brian Niemeier, Bradford Walker, John C. Wright, and others are producing new characters and stories of excellence, some in classic formats (such as PulpRev) and others in new formats (such as the Superversive Movement). We are, sadly, underfunded in the development of movies and TV shows, but perhaps if Gina Carano’s new film is a success that will change. Perhaps a billionaire will read this article and decide to fund a right-wing entertainment empire for the deplorables…
I wrote that essay in part to inspire myself to create better material — works of lasting value that advanced the art and culture of my chosen field. Today I’m happy to report my first real success in that effort.
The Adventurer Conqueror King System Imperial Imprint (ACKS II) is the second edition of a tabletop role-playing game I first published in 2012. I began crowdfunding it at noon on Tuesday, October 24th. My goal was to earn $50,000 in the first day and $200,000 in the 30-day term. But ACKS II succeeded beyond my wildest expectations; it earned over $200,000 in its first 13 hours.
I suspect the vast majority of my readers here at Tree of Woe do not regularly play tabletop games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or Rifts. However, I also suspect that many of you are around the same age as me — which means you almost certainly did play or get exposed to games like D&D in your youth, and you might have children who are interested in playing those games now. Therefore, I hope what I have to say will not be meaningless to all of you.
And what I have to say is this:
ACKS II is my magnus opus. It is almost 1,500 pages long across three hardcover books. It has taken over a decade of research and writing to create. I am pushing 50; my father died at 55. I have no idea whether I will have the time and energy to create another game of such sweeping scope and ambition in the future. Everything I’ve got, I’ve put into this.
If you have enjoyed my deep dives into ancient philosophy, military science, geopolitics, economics, and wargaming, you will find that ACKS II encapsulates my learning and theories into a fun, playable game that lets you advance from lowly adventurers to mighty monarchs.
If you are someone who once enjoyed tabletop RPGs, and has been waiting for a great opportunity to get back into the hobby; or who has fond remembrances of the games of your youth, and wants to introduce them to your children, nieces, or nephews; then I hope you will take a moment to check out the Kickstarter page I’ve set up for my project.
And if you like what you see, I hope you will support it as a backer. Click the image below to check it out:
We will resume our regularly-scheduled Tree of Woe content next week when I have the time to pay it the attention it deserves. For now, thank you all for being readers — in a world that is so hatefully divided, it is a pleasure to have found an audience.
Contemplations on the Tree of Woe is a reader-supported publication. Normally I put a joke here but I am feeling very earnest today so this one is just straight-up. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.