Questioning Startups

With Game Tech Hub, we have been interviewing startups to join our first cohort. This is similar to how we have interviewed companies for our long-running SIEGE Investment Conference. I heard a lead for another accelerator talk about how he did not like to question startups about their ideas. He thought that investors who did so, trying to poke holes in it or offer other suggestions, were mainly trying to make themselves look good and were failing in their role as mentors. In my experience, the purpose of these questions is exactly the opposite. It is the investors’ attempt to determine how open the founders are to feedback, how ready and able they are to take advice. Other investors have told me that one of the greatest threats to new companies is the owners’ hubris and inability to accept input from others. How founders respond to questions about their central idea, often one of the concepts that means the most to them, is a great indicator of how easily they can accept feedback and coaching across the board.

Hasbro and the D&D Open License

The news that Hasbro is considering significant limits to the Dungeons and Dragons Open Gaming License is not a big surprise. Holistic Design used the OGL for WOTC’s D20 Modern system long ago (no, not for Fading Suns). We wanted to explore some modern themes (terrorism, the impact of war on individuals, clash of cultures, etc.) and it provided an easy way to do so. Our Colombia, Afghanistan and Somalia books were not big financial successes, but creating them gave all of us greater insights into those complex situations as well as what people who fought there suffered.

While I worry about creators who risk having their main income sources curtailed, I do look forward to what they might come up with if they reject whatever terms the new OGL requires. We used the Modern D20 system both for its ease of use, and so we could focus on creating source material instead of rules. However, had we developed our own rules for these books, combat would have no doubt been deadlier (leading more players to try to resolve conflict without fighting); it would have caused significant trauma; and we would have tried to more accurately represent the chaos of combat.

Good luck to all the OGL creators. I can’t wait to play what comes next.

For our unreleased FBI book

More Thoughts on AI and Fading Suns

In one recent conversation of current artificial intelligence trends, the discussion turned to how AI would contemplate religion. This is on of the robots I enjoyed designing for Fading Suns – a golem programmed to both accept and analyze the precepts of the Universal Church. PCs who encountered it would find it the most fervent adherent to its tenets, even while trying to legitimize its contradictions. I never got to have PCs point out that its own existence is anathema to many in the Church 🙂

I look forward to seeing how people put AI to use analyzing belief, and not just having it describe religion and spirituality.

Thoughts on a New Work Day/Year

No, this is not part of a new year’s resolution to blog more 🙂 Just a few observations while working on Jan. 3.

  1. It is easier to get big tasks done today. While I had a couple calls to take care of, I was able to devote more dedicated time to tasks requiring concentration and focus. This was both due to the lack of interruptions and also being refreshed from the holidays. I have also been looking forward to these tasks, so I am sure having my brain dwell on them whilst traveling helped.
  2. People are definitely making resolutions. The gym was more packed than I have seen it since the pandemic. I go to a large chain gym, but attendance there has really dropped off over the past couple years (as has maintenance, cleaning, etc.). However, today would’ve been crowded even for 2019. I wonder how long until the resolution crowd disappears … If you are part of that crowd, keep with it!
  3. I thought it was a back-to-school fall thing, but everyone is still talking about artificial intelligence. We may have reached the tipping point where AI usage goes mainstream. Fingers crossed that creators’ rights get respected.
  4. This blog post was not generated by, nor influenced by AI. Fnord.

Emperor of the Fading Suns Livestreaming

Livestreaming our old Emperor of the Fading Suns game has been a blast, mainly because of the fun people who come join me in chat. The next is 8 pm EST Wednesday, Dec. 1, on No previous knowledge of Fading Suns required.

With the support of House Hawkwood and the Merchant League, Yusara al-Malik has declared herself Empress. Already embroiled in wars on multiple worlds, and battling yet another rebellion on her homeworld of Istakhr, can she build up her forces and survive until the coronation? 

You can just join us for this episode or watch previous episodes at

You can also get your own copy of EFS at