GeekNights Tuesday - Moon Hunters (2016)

Tonight on GeekNights, we review the surprising and unique Moon Hunters, from Kitfox Games. It's on sale on steam right now for $2.24! In the news, Luke Crane made a bad situation worse that has shaken the tabletop rpg world, 3 million new users joined Roll20 during the pandemic, and you should check out these five great tabletop rpg kickstarters that weren't canceled by their creators:

Things of the Day

Episode Links

Are you going to put a disclaimer on the Luke Crane episode?

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I want to give some socially-distanced fist bumps to @SkeleRym and @Apreche. Normally I like to build up a hopper of favorite podcasts in case I need a serotonin boost and I much prefer binging than current listens. When I read the show notes, I had to listen; I have to admit, I was curious as to whether y’all would even discuss this at all, not knowing what level of closeness you had to Crane. I didn’t know how difficult that would be for you to do that and highlight your involvement with him, given that he was a guest for multiple episodes.

What @Starfox asked may be a good idea; I can definitely see the merits in doing something like that. I know that one of the gaming podcasts I listen to had Zak S. on for an interview/promotion of his game years before his whole thing happened, and they apologized in a news segment of the then current episode and went back and added a disclaimer to their episode with him on it. Given the different level of severity between allegations of Zak S. and what Crane did, personally I would have deleted the Zak S. episode (in addition to the coverage of why and so forth, obviously). I have to admit that your story with Crane’s behavior at a panel is kind of troubling; it COULD have been an innocuous comment on the flow of a presentation, but it would also have me taken aback. It’s not a downer to address the topic given how fucked up it is, it’s important information. Not knowing the motivation is almost worse than knowing; at least if you know, you can actively combat it and cut ties, with every certainty, you know?

I do have a question for you though, regarding the games Crane has been a part of. I have said elsewhere on this forum that BW and the games associated with it are some of my personal favorites. All of the games seem kind of tainted now, to some extent for me. I know that there is an argument, that I agree with in most circumstances, that separating the creation from the creator is a way to still enjoy things. Otherwise, no one could ethically enjoy a Hitchcock or Kubrick film. People with power and authority, more often than not in my experience, are also not good people. Always push for better, obviously. But I wonder about the ethics of even playing BW games anymore. Like, do I just play it with people that I know and who have already played BW before? I certainly wouldn’t stream it or AP it, were I the type to do that. That seems a line too far.

I know this is kind of a selfish question, because really I am having trouble deciding whether or not I want to keep the books that I have, should I cancel my TB2E (if I even can), etc. What are your thoughts on your own future playthroughs of BW, if you even still regularly play BW? Side question: what do you think this looks like for BW’s future and Luke’s future in the games industry? For the next, idk 5-10 years? Y’all are much more plugged into the industry than I am, so I’m curious about your predictions, if you feel comfortable speculating.

Sorry for the long post, I know I tend to ramble. Sorry for taking up so much space.

Oh also, as far as Our Traveling Home goes, it seems awesome. If you’re the type to listen to APs, the One Shot podcast has episodes running it, I think as promotion for the game. I do like that podcast, because they play a game that deserves more hype generally, either coming out soon or out for while and less played. A couple of years back they started highlighting marginalized creators as well, which I liked. I think they even did a year of solely games designed by BIPOC or transgender creators. They seem to be good people!

You have to decide these sorts of things for yourself. There is no right or wrong answer.

It’s true that there is no moral consumption under capitalism, but that isn’t some get out of jail free card where you can be like “Fuck it, everything is immoral, so I’ll just consume whatever I feel like.” Everyone has to draw their line in a different place for their own reasons. For example, someone might want to boycott Amazon, but the circumstances of their life perhaps relating to location, disabilities, etc. dictate that that would be a tremendous burden to them.

I will cut someone off who has directly fucked up and engaged in harmful or abusive behaviors. I will cut someone off who expresses or spreads abhorrent ideas. I will cut someone off who aligns themselves with, or gives aid to, the people from the previous two sentences. But I’m not going to cut someone off because of their consumption choices.

Do you know how many people I would have cut off based solely on their usage of Uber? And people would be right to cut me off based on things like buying hockey tickets. Maybe the people who eat at Chick-fil-A deserve to be cut off though…

As for TB2E, I think if I had not already backed it, I almost definitely wouldn’t back it now. But since i have already, and also can’t deny I was actually excited to play it, I don’t think I’ll cancel. I think other people have tried to cancel, but I don’t know if they were able to or not. My worry now though is will there be anyone to play it with? One thing is for sure is that I will not be promoting it. If this incident hadn’t happened I probably would have come on the podcast and been all like “Check out this TB2E! Whoah!” That is definitely not happening.


That’s fair. And yeah, for clarification, I wasn’t asking because I needed guidance, necessarily, as I am kind of a book hoarder and have had fun with those games in the past. I know which way I’m leaning in that respect, I’ll put it like that! It’s definitely true that there isn’t such a thing as moral consumption under capitalism. I was more interested in your own personal feelings towards running BW games in the future, especially for people who haven’t played it before, which I feel I can glean yours based on your response. My own personal gut is telling me that running it for new people is not something I’m comfortable with; it just feels kind of bait-and-switch to be like “hey y’know that awesome game? It’s by a guy who enables a shitty person and is fine with their shitty behavior! When are we playing our next session?” People already familiar with it and its baggage, now? They have the information and know what they’re getting into already, so I’m more comfortable with that.

And yeah, finding players for TB2E will be difficult for obvious reasons. It’s one of the drawbacks I guess of the way kickstarter works. Don’t get me started on that lol. I backed DARK by Will Hindmarch I THINK like 8 years ago and…yeah, that’ll never come out. Which is unfortunate because that game looked so cool, but the taint of what’s been happening is such that idk if I will even want the book if it gets completed, let alone play it. Now, I can just play Blades In The Dark. C’est la vie, I guess.

I sprang for the big daddy DM for the TB2E set, too, and was super excited to pour over that material. Now? idk. Maybe I can convince the one other person I know who had backed. Otherwise, my prediction is that it will lay dormant on my shelf collecting dust. Like most of the others lol. But, like you said, I almost certainly wouldn’t have backed it now. I’m hoping that, since Crane isn’t the sole designer on it (as far as I understand it) that should make it an easier and less guilty play, for me at least.

I know of one instance of someone successfully canceling their TB2E pledge.

Having rather enjoyed Torchbearer 1e, I’m still looking forward to 2e.

Games by BWHQ have always been hard to pitch to players, for me anyway. Is this going to be one more obstacle to convince myself to suggest their games? I’m still working that out.

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That also brings up a good tought. “The Sword” is what I had been using for 10+ years as not only “intro to Burning Wheel” but also as “intro to indie TTRPG.” Something I can just pull out at a convention with any random group and get rolling right away. Going to need a new demo to fill that purpose. Open to suggestions. Lady Blackbird comes to mind.

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Regarding pitching it to others, yeah, it is usually a big ask in the first place in my experience. One of my players, who was in our initial play of it that we were in at DragonCon in like 2003/4 (?) wasn’t super surprised. They pointed out that, despite us all really liking the game, none of our group really vibed with Crane in that con game and he came off like kind of an asshole. Plus, at least their copy of Dungeon World is published by BW, so they have business connections. It shouldn’t have caught me off guard, but I have to admit I guess I thought Crane had more…idk, if not “honor,” then at least being able to “read the room” enough that he wouldn’t get caught up in this, y’know?

I love Lady Blackbird. That game is probably what I would move to, were I in your position. It’s super light, but can be very deep. I ran a three-shot and one of the players by the end of the last session was very caught up in the story, to the point that they had to kind of clear their throat and wipe their eyes. Probably one of the better arcs of any game I’ve run tbh!

I’ve been thinking really really hard about Burning Wheel because I took its philosophy into other aspects of my life, and turned it into something profoundly more productive than I think even Luke realized it could be when he wrote it. I’m leading with that because that means I have pretty strong biases and possibly a greater degree of emotional investment in this topic than others, so, grains of salt.

If you think about the purpose of a tabletop RPG, like what this game format allows us to do - it’s a tool that allows socially awkward and marginalized nerds to practice their social skills in a safe environment with rules and boundaries. We practice being our best selves in an environment of mutual emotional vulnerability. Games teach us real-life skills, and so RGP’s, by allowing us to create proxy people, teach us the skills of life. They let us learn how to actually be people, and to think about how we conduct ourselves.

Out there in the real world, when interacting in intersectional spaces, we often have to think about what it means for us to be our “best” self. What does that look like, anywhere we are? This is most critically necessary for privileged people interacting in spaces with marginalized people - those in the margins ask that you self-analyze and commit to improvement, and take steps in that direction.

Burning Wheel very literally teaches you how to do that. Character Priorities are Player Priorities means that you pay attention to what the other people at the table are telling you is important to them, and you take that as inspiration for your own actions. Boy, sounds a lot like taking the cues that marginalized people give you in intersectional spaces, doesn’t it?

In order to play Burning Wheel effectively, you have to clearly articulate what is important to you, you have to advocate for it in a shared space, and you have to carve out space in your own story to allow you to be influenced by others. You have to give up some of your own ego in pursuit of developing a version of your priorities directly inspired by other people at that table. You create a persona that explores what matters to you, and you evolve it depending on how the people around you react and how you allow that reaction to guide you.

I mean really, look at what I wrote. That’s what’s happening at the Burning Wheel table. I’m not exaggerating, it’s just what the Burning Wheel philosophy is supposed to do. Luke wrote about it, more or less exactly as that.

You can take those lessons into life and, guess what, if you keep other people’s priorities in mind while also advocating for your own, turns out it will make you a better person. You will learn to actually give a shit about other people and their feelings, but also to not be a home to literally everything that comes your way. It’s all about boundaries and choices and consent.

I’m a community leader elsewhere (I’m a Laurel in the SCA, for anyone who knows what that means), and I have taken the lessons of Burning Wheel into a LARP-adjacent space that focuses on personal growth and development, and have actually helped people become legitimately better people with these lessons. I emphasize an idealized version of the medieval concept of Franchise (appropriately expressed in BW as the Noblesse Oblige trait) - the people around you need you to play a certain role, and if you listen they will tell you what it is. You can’t completely live your life for someone else, but you can decide what your Best Self looks like, and you should carve out a vision of you that puts forth who you want to be, inspired by the needs of the people for whom you want to be that person.

The shit really does work if you dig in and figure out what it’s telling you to do.

Luke betrayed those principles that he enshrined in that book, but that does not actively negate the value of those principles. In many ways, I think it underlines the importance and value of the Burning Wheel approach. This is exactly the kind of betrayal of principles that would earn you a Persona point and then set up an arc of painful redemption. Well fuckin guess what, life is you writing the story of yourself, so Luke needs to decide who Luke is and what that version of Luke would do to be the best Luke possible.

That’s a lot of complicated feelings but what it boils down to for me is that I am, in my mind, separating “Luke Who Wrote Burning Wheel” from “Luke Who Showed The Internet His Ass,” and then also telling people that Present Luke needs to take a hard look and live up to the promises of Past Luke.

And Burning Wheel is a whole set of tools telling you how to do that effectively.

I’m not about “separating the artist from the art,” fuck that. Art is political and politics is telling people what you’re about, so your art is you.

Luke Crane can both be the guy who wrote the incredibly impactful Burning Wheel, and also the guy who totally fucked up living up to his own ideas. That’s honestly extremely human, almost comically so. His need to learn and grow does not change the value of the previous thing he made.

I think you can use it as a convention demo, but if you do, you need to be honest about the situation and let players decide if they want to engage content from that kind of creator. I do think this is different from the usual situation like this, though, in that the actual philosophy of Burning Wheel is so radically opposed to Luke’s conduct in this situation that you might not actually know one proceeded from the other.

At least with JK Rowling, you can look at the Potter series and say “actually that was a pretty racist depiction, and also this part actually seems anti-Semitic,” but I’m pretty hard-pressed to find an example in Burning Wheel where ignoring other people’s feelings and priorities in favor of your own is actually lauded or encouraged in any way.

tl;dr: Don’t separate the artist and the art, but instead recognize that people are not entirely bad or entirely good, and that we all have different versions of ourselves at different times. A good thing can come from someone who is otherwise a fuckup, and we can consider the good thing good while also holding the fuckup accountable to being as good as the thing they made.

Basically, hold people to the standards they already set.


I get that. As a disclaimer, I’m not replying to argue or fight or whatever, I’ve just been chewing on your response and sharing what I can come up with, etc. I feel like our experiences with the rules of BW are similar, which is part of why I also feel so conflicted in everything going on around Crane right now.

It doesn’t sound like we are advocating for two different things, though. 100% separation of art from artist was less what I meant, and more the sort of compartmentalization and contextualization that I understand you to be describing. Trying to kick caffeine is not going well for me, and I keep losing words haha. But does something that Crane did in 2021 affect my memories of experiences with my friends in college and grad school playing this game? Or take away how I can appreciate what a game has to offer? It doesn’t, obviously. I can always use those philosophies when running and playing other games. I do feel conflicted enough in introducing someone new to the BW game itself because of that baggage now, though. Like I said previously, modeling the habits that I have taken from BW in other games, I’m comfortable with that. Maybe playing BW with other friends who know what is going on and have already bought in, I feel way less conflicted with.

As far as accountability goes, I mean that’s how I was able to come up with a convoluted method like I did to justify my own actions. I’m not going to purchase anything else from his company that I haven’t already bought. But then, I don’t get the feeling that he makes enough from BWHQ alone that that would have any impact, nor do I think that it would have much effect on him even if I told him why, based on my limited interactions with him. I don’t think he should lose his job at KS over it, unless he somehow abused his position over there in some way. Unfortunately, in this capitalist hellscape, boycotting new products is really the only recourse that I can see. I hate that so many people are working on that Harry Potter game that will probably flop, if the internet is any indication. People boycotting her and everything connected to her is really the only recourse because she is unrepentant and unrelenting.

Crane’s flippant reaction to being called out for it was not great and seem more in line with Rowling’s behavior than what you’d expect from him. The reasons he gave for cancelling, I believe, were all refuted, so he was probably lying about the reason for the cancellation. I’ve seen a bunch of replyguy apologists making up reasons for the project and inclusion of Koebel, that just aren’t there, too. Funnily enough, it’s always the female designers that have these apologists screaming at them, imagine that. One of the wilder ones that I’ve seen is that it was performance art and we just don’t get it, that he was making some grand statement that you can’t make a perfect RPG without including people that the community doesn’t like or feel comfortable with. Which to me is kind of a garbage stance to take.

I have to admit, though, that on some level, I don’t think that he ever intended to make something like this. I didn’t notice Koebel’s name in the credits like others did, but I had a weird spidey sense tingle that made me not contribute to it. The tone of the pitch was almost petulant and condescending, but he sometimes pitches with roleplay so I wasn’t too bothered about that. But looking at fulfillment on the campaign, there were some wild dates there. Only the first tier is in this year, and the rest vary wildly, like as far out as DEC 2025 despite not offering anything else and just get more expensive. It was weird enough and so short a campaign that, considering the head of community of Kickstarter was creating it, it didn’t give me good vibes. Idk if he was planning on using it as a way of publicity, or making a statement, or what, but there seems to be indication that it was not an actual product that was going to reach fulfillment. If that IS the case, boy, I need to rethink my connection to this game, because that means that he dangled work in front of (presumably) freelancers that he knew wouldn’t be happening, which is despicable. You don’t mess with freelancers, and especially not in the current world. I can’t verify that, other than drawing the conclusion that people were contacted and lined up to participate, and who knows, maybe he was going to actually fulfill. Again though, from my limited interaction with him, he seems smarter than that; he would have to know how the community would respond to including Koebel in such a deceptive way.

That’s a long way for me to get to my core dilemma, which is “what now”, largely? I don’t know or can’t think of a way to meaningfully and reasonably hold someone accountable for their actions when they go so far out of their way to make it clear that they don’t give a single shit what other people think of them. And maybe it’s just me, but that is the distinct impression that fits with what little I know about Luke Crane. He isn’t an idiot. He knows what he is doing. 20-ish years of his past work would indicate that he plans meticulously and cares a lot about what he is doing and less so what other people think or are interested in. So idk. For right now, I think I will continue my plan of “no introductions, hidden playtime” and no purchasing new product. If something comes out about this that makes it worse, or if he somehow decides to act like a reasonable person, I will revisit. But that’s all I got for right now.

Almost certainly, he got pissed and threw a hissy fit and cancelled. That’s how it works when a privilege-blind white dude gets caught showing himself to the world.

Yeah, that’s a wicked garbage stance to take, and is 100% the problem with what Luke did. It gives cover to these shitty people to defend other shitty people and insist we keep them in our space, as though we owe it to them.

We don’t. Fuck that noise.

Yeah, introducing new people is a sticky wicket. There are other indie games that espouse similar principles, so you could always recommend those.

Me, I’d likely talk about the situation up front, run the demo, and then encourage people to pirate the book. Shitty? You bet. Watch me care.

That’s not about the money, either, because I strongly doubt BWHQ actually makes significant money. IIRC, Luke was famously against having BW in any electronic format because he feared piracy, and he is also the type of metal nerd who goes out of his way to buy things on vinyl because of the obscurity. I know this, we’ve talked about it before - so I suspect that is also a degree of intentional obscurity there.

The core principle of indie RPG’s - at least, the community from which Luke evolved - was that artists needed to maintain control of their game, instead of giving it over to the audience. If you want to jab someone in a sensitive place, you can’t do better than directly hitting them in their artistic inspiration.

I am in no way encouraging anyone in this group to pirate anything.


Me, I’d likely talk about the situation up front, run the demo, and then encourage people to pirate the book. Shitty? You bet. Watch me care…The core principle of indie RPG’s - at least, the community from which Luke evolved - was that artists needed to maintain control of their game, instead of giving it over to the audience. If you want to jab someone in a sensitive place, you can’t do better than directly hitting them in their artistic inspiration.

Huh. I did not consider this tactic, but fuck yeah. I’m a few years too young to have been a member of the Forge, but that is definitely a common enough thread from those guys that I had not considered.

I am in no way encouraging anyone in this group to pirate anything.

Absolutely not. No one here would, ever.

Not proof but from the horses mouth at a panel at… I wanna say PAX2018 in the kicksterter room. “Burning Wheel and indie rpg’s generally don’t pay the bills”.

I guess he could have been lying, but honestly I doubt it. The co-presenter (guy who did Betrayal on a House on a Hill) wholeheartedly agreed.

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If you want to know how much TTRPG money you can get:


Amidst all the timely discussion of Luke Crane I have some simple recommendation questions:

  • For The Wizard’s Grimoire kickstarter would I be happy with the “interface” of the PDF/plain text or is physical better. The best device I own for this is an iPhone SE (2016)
  • I’ve been sold on Moon Hunters - is the sale soundtrack worth it also?

I don’t know. I played the original game by printing out the pdfs and then added on a notebook and a pencil. The zine edition is going to be different, at least in some ways.

Listen to it on YouTube and decide if you want to pay for mp3s of it.


Pretty slick game.

If anyone wants to team up for a games, let me know.