Saturday, July 28, 2007


Watched Pan's Labyrinth. Great movie. With help from Harry Potter and Zompist, it's triggered a couple of thoughts.

The basic struggle--political, moral--is between those who think that people are equal, and those who don't. However. The very act of fighting for the prior conviction tends to convince people of the latter.

People in power, as a general rule, think they're better than other people. Why else would they be in charge? Those who challenge them, then, tend to hold the opposite conviction.

But revolutionaries are not average people. And it's one small step from "not average" to "better than average."

I don't know which side I'm on.

I don't know which side I want to be on.

I don't even know which side I'm supposed to be on.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Schism Is Back

Seriously! Schism! It returns!

It's a science fiction story comic. Updates on Saturdays. And after six painful months, it has finally started updating again!

With any luck, it won't slip back into inactivity again. But for now--joy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Quotes III

"I don't want to attain immortality through my works. I want to get it by not dying." Woody Allen

"Incompetence is not a defense." Designated Sidekick

"The less I know about Japan, the better of a person I am." David

"Here, eat cake. It solves problems." David

"Nothing bad can happen to you on the internet. There is an internet in the way." quantumelfmage

"A blurdy blurdy blur!" Captain Blank

"If I were a Death Eater, I would have been sure to research my own jam preferences before impersonating myself." Albus Dumbledore

"The pope does not have power over time." Captain Blank

"Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain!" Arthur Weasley

"Free at last! You're all dead, but we are free at last!" Richard

"You can't pull an echidna backwards through a cardigan." Tanya Cochran

"The threatened houses are now out of the woods. The woods themselves, however, are still largely on fire." Los Angeles Reporter

"We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses." Carl Jung

"Edge will retain, probably by escaping the cage rather than by decisively defeating his opponent." Paul O'Brien

"If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge an evil mutant." Paul O'Brien

"Pudding is the only substance that is transdimensional by nature." Evil Jon

“Turning people inside out and sideways is wrong, and I can stop whenever I want to.” Dr. Bonefish

"Everyone knows God is larger than normal people, so he needs larger cookies." quantumelfmage

"Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced." Barry Gehm

"Time magazine won't put headless corpses on the cover! It doesn't play well with their target demographic of people with heads!" Desmond Fish-Man

"When the Phantom Stranger is at your wedding it means one of two things: either you are really really cool or your marriage is not going to turn out well." Scipio

"On second thought, let's not go to Guam." quantumelfmage

"And by halflings, you mean horrible subtraction errors." Oddysey

"Unfinished jokes and lies are probably an acquired taste, humor-wise." Tycho

"As long as we live in a culture where the good guys sometimes sound just like the misogynists, the misogynists are never going to get the message that they are not normal and that most people–strong, successful men included–do not hate women." Kate Harding


"Begone, demon, or be plagued with high interest rates!" Lars Sturtz

"More games should feature bears attempting to maul the good guys." Jeff Rients

"You want the demon alive and uncancelled." Ray Chason

"Can't sleep. Future will eat me." Kestrel

"Writers write. Bees bee. Bears bear. It’s pretty simple." Kevin Arbouet

"No officer, it was failure to yield to bears." quantumelfmage

"You've definitely got to swoon like a man." Michael Oliver

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This Feels Like A Manifesto

I don't use the phrase "spitting mad" nearly enough.

It's not like I don't have occasion to. Take this Livejournal entry. A fairly typical demonstration of female objectification, notable primarily for the excellence of the visual aids, and the obtuseness of the commentary. Spit-inducing enough in its own right.

But scroll ye down to the comments section. Therein, you will find similarly familiar responses--and the inevitable admonition that we're all taking this too seriously, because it's "just fiction."

Excuse me? When did you join the human race?

I run into this every single day. Not just in a context of feminism--everywhere.

"It's just fiction."

"It's not important."

"It's not real."

"It's just art."

"Spend your time doing something important."

Well, sorry, but fiction is important. Stories are important.

Art is important.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I saw a yellow Camaro yesterday. Didn't have racing stripes, but it did have flames on the side.

Other points of interest:

There is a road known as "Boot Road."

The King of Prussia has a mall.

Delaware is full of lies.

It takes 19 calories to flip someone off.

Just thought I'd change it up a bit.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

That Space Marked "Other"

Apparently, "superpowers" is not an acceptable reason to take a yoga class. Who knew?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Games I Want To Play

Recently, I wrote a long, rambly list of games I want to run. It's probably incomplete; sometime I'll sit down and write a decent list, with numbers and things. But in that post, I mentioned that I have another list. A much shorter list.

Games I want to play, rather than games I want to run. There's some overlap, but there are also things I want to play that I'd never think about running.

Like horror. I want to play a horror game. I'd have no idea what to do with that, as a GM, but I'd sure like to play in a well-GM'd horror game. Just because it'd be kind of different.

I want to play in a supers game. This one is a point of overlap: I'd also like to run a supers game. I like superheroes.

I want to play an Eberron character. Already mentioned this one.

I want to play something Ocean's Eleven-like. The whole well-laid plan, absurd heist kind of thing. I really enjoyed playing the parts of the Star Wars campaign that were like that, when we would come up with some crazy plan to sneak into some place. Partially because whenever the campaign moved in that direction, my character got to shine, but I really like that kind of character. Lying all the time is fun.

So I'd like to play a game that revolved around that. Like every adventure was a different heist, and either the GM would come up with a bunch of locations and we could decide which one to break into, or the GM would just give us this week's location and we'd break into it. This is another concept I wouldn't want to GM myself; I just really want to play it.

Can't really think of anything else. This is by no means intended as a complete list of things I would play. It's more a list of "things I would play based on concept alone." Other games, I'd play for the people I'm playing with. Normally, I wouldn't play with people I don't know. But any of these games, I would consider joining a group just to play.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Things Done Differently

For the most part, I'm happy with the campaign that just ended. I had fun, the players had fun, and some neat stuff happened. However. As there's always room for improvement, I do have a few specific things I wish I'd done differently.

One of them is Session 17. While it's not like it went badly--to the contrary, it was one of the more amusing sessions--I do wish I'd done something along the lines of this new technique Robin Laws has devised: You Have Already Planned. It would have been more in keeping with the style of the campaign, less absurd, and probably more fun, particularly for Captain Blank, who got stuck in a bad position at the end of it. We managed to salvage it, but note that the fight in the next session was not a purely in-character matter.

This hand-wavy off-screen planning thing is brilliant. An interesting way to divide player knowledge and character knowledge. I am almost certainly going to include it in the next campaign, unless I run a campaign without appropriate hijinks. But that seems a slim possibility, since all the good campaigns I've run featured hijinks. The ones that lacked hijinks were pretty awful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Drafts Up The Wazoo

I have 95 un-posted drafts. 95! It's crazy!

A lot of them are just things I thought were funny, and might build a post around at some point. "Kung Pao Squid," that kind of thing. Observational.

Some of them are half-written posts that I will probably never get back to, because the moment has passed. Like how the culture's monster of choice says a lot about the zeitgeist. Or something. It wasn't a very good post; that's why I never finished it.

Occasionally, I will write a full post, complete, and then not post it. Doesn't happen very often, but it does happen. Sometimes I forget about them. Sometimes I'll write it and then think, "Nah. I don't want to put that up."

And sometimes I'll write something and then pull it down later. Which people may or may not notice.

Anyway: lots of drafts.

Really don't have much more to say.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Not That I Need A Reason

Transformers is awesome.

I've seen it twice already. I may go see it again in theaters, and I'll definitely watch it twelve times when it comes out on DVD.

I spent a long time trying to figure out why. I have two posts, 500 words, trying to explain why. Like I had to justify myself. Pointing out all the reasons why it's good, all the aspects of it that are good.

Except that's not why I like this movie. I could go on and on about the acting, the writing, the music, the cinematography, whatever. It's good, it's not good, ultimately, it doesn't matter. Because that's none of that is why I like the movie. It may be what allows me to like the movie, but it's not why.

I like this movie because I can honestly imagine hanging out with the Autobots. Doing this, just chilling, whatever. I can imagine enjoying being around them.

It hit me, as I was trying to explain why I like this movie, that this is what defines the stories that I truly love. Hulk, Hellboy, Animorphs. There are others. X-Men satisfies this criteria, to a somewhat more limited extend, and Oblivion probably falls in this category. Maybe Reboot. But those are the main ones--and now Transformers falls solidly in that category.

These are stories that I desperately want to be real. I feel like that in a general way about a number of things: robots, AI generally, (friendly) aliens, space travel. (This is why I read science fiction. I want it to be true.) But these are specific stories that I want to be true. These are characters that I want to be real. These are people I want to meet.

That's why Transformers is awesome.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


My fourth campaign is now over, officially. It's the second campaign that I actually finished, rather than just dropping and never getting back to it.

I want to say that it's the first campaign I ever planned to end where it ended, but I'm not sure that's true. If I remember correctly, the first Outlaws campaign did have a planned endpoint, at least roughly, but that's all this one had at first.

This is the first campaign I planned to finish when I finished it. Which I consider a greater achievement than finishing it where I intended to finish it, and more important. "Where" is just a personal goalpost. Getting too attached to it is a bad idea, better to let the ending grow out of the game itself.

But "when?" "When" matters to everyone. I know I'm going to have a situation like this come up again, when I know I'm only going to have sixth months to run a game, because people are moving, or someone else has a game they want to run. To know that I can pick a mark and hit it, that's a powerful thing. That's a valuable thing.

What Is This "Plot Hole" That You Speak Of?

I don't understand the concept of a "plot hole." When I see what other people tell me are these things called "plot holes," I don't think, "HAHA! TEH SUK!" I think, "Huh. That's interesting. I wonder what that means?" And I'll think about it for a bit, and it'll usually inspire some insight.

At least, I think that's what I think. I can only assume that this is what people are talking about. People will say, "Oh, that movie had so many plot holes in it, nothing made sense," and I will have, literally, no idea what they're talking about.

This happened with Transformers, (Great movie, go see it.) which inspired this line of thought. I am told that this movie's plot is full of holes. I have no idea what this means. Where are these holes? Would someone care to enlighten me on this topic?

And, heck, does anyone have an example of a plot hole in a general sense? In a movie, in a book, anything. Examples are the key to learning!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Campaign Planning

The campaign's wrapping up, so that means I need to start thinking about the next one.

I won't actually need to have a campaign ready for at least another couple of months, maybe more. I don't plan on doing another one this summer, and it may take some time after that to get a group together. There's always the possibility of an internet campaign, but that brings up its own set of considerations.

Like how I want to run a supers campaign, and no one in the current group is really into that. I, of course, think it's just because they're not giving it a chance; if they'd just try it, they'd see how awesome superheroes are. But if they're not interested, they're not interested, and it'd be a lot less hassle to find some people who are interested in supers and teach them roleplaying games. Preferably something freewheeling and snappy, like what I've heard Truth and Justice is like, because that's how superpowers are handled in the comics books. It's not a science, it's "wouldn't it be awesome if?" I could, I suppose, use Mutants and Masterminds, which might be easier to convince people to play as it's mostly d20, but it just isn't quite as intriguing.

I don't really want to run Arcana Evolved or Dungeons and Dragons again. Not for a while. I may feel different after the GURPS campaign, but for now I want to get away from the combat, the number crunching, and especially the magic. If I do end up running a d20 campaign, it'll be either Iron Heroes or d20 Modern. Both mean no magic to deal with, and both reduce the number crunching. (Iron Heroes has nifty villain classes; Modern has zillions of pre-made stat blocks.)

Of course, seeing as I mostly play D&D, and that's what I have books for, my planning tends to run along those lines. Superhero stuff is different, of course, but when I think fantasy I tend to think, "How would this work with D&D?" (Or Arcana Evolved, or Iron Heroes.) So I have a couple of potential campaigns that I've developed for D&D. I could go back, take the concepts, and rework them for another system, but that just seems like unnecessary work. One revolves around an arcane aristocracy and the infernal and celestial powers meddling with it, drawing mostly on Girl Genius and Dune. The other has less material for it, but it's mostly my latest version of this ancient kingdoms in the desert idea I've always liked, built around Iron Heroes. And that wacky-crazy megadungeon I want to do.

Then there's Eberron. Which I'd really rather play than DM. (There aren't many things that fall in this category, but they are there.) Elves in Eberron really rock, and, of course, there's the warforged. Unfortunately, I often get frustrated playing, because there's an element of "that's not how I would do that."

Probably when it comes time to actual run a game, I'll have some completely different idea of what I want to do, based on whatever weird obsession I've just developed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wrestling Rambling

I've been reading a bit about wrestling in the past couple of days. I found If Destroyed, Still True, (great name) which has a lot of information about wrestling, among other things, through Fraggmented. (Have I mentioned Fraggmented? I should, sometime. It's a really great blog; talks a lot about status quo, and storytelling engines, absolutely vital concepts.) And Websnark had a post about the Chris Benoit . . thing, and there was some information about wrestling in general in that.

It's fascinating. I knew professional wrestling was "fake," and that there was some kind of good guy/bad guy thing, but I hadn't realized the complexity of it. Managers, interference, ongoing story-lines; it's not just a win/lose thing, there are all these shades of distinction, the difficulty of victory, the kind of interference. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it's a wealth of detail I'd never properly intuited.

Particularly, it occupies this interesting space between reality and unreality. It's set-up, but everyone knows it's set up. That's part of the point. It carries conventions of the fictional experience--"What are they going to do next?" rather than "what's going to happen next?"

This has certain advantages over the real. You can be somewhat certain that, whatever does happen, it'll be interesting. (Or, at least, you have someone to vent at if it's not.) There's a certain sport in reading the author's mind, figuring out the intent behind actions and what's coming up. There's a level of detail, of interaction between levels, that can't be present in an un-manufactured storyline.

But then, in the case of wrestling, it's not completely manufactured. People get hurt, people die: reality controls the story. No fiction is completely manufactured; even writing carries the fingerprints of the author, reflects the forces acting on the author. But wrestling isn't just indirectly influenced by reality, it directly confronts reality, molding it into something different, sometimes stranger.

And, ultimately, "the point of the stories is to create a context in which the wrestling matches "matter." And that's all. The stories are the means, the wrestling is the end." (J

It's similar, somehow, to what I discussed a few days ago about fictional characters interacting with reality. In some ways, it's a mirror image of that phenomena. One has fictional characters acting like they're real. One has real people acting like they're fictional.

That's true of all acting, but most acting doesn't have people being hit over the head with chairs. Wrestling seems to have its own place on the continuum.

A couple of twists: Vince McMahon is both in charge of it and a character, which is it's own separate universe of weird. And, of course, Japan has a truly bizarre take on the sport.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

That's Not How Money Works

Apparently, Fox thinks they're allowed to deface U.S. currency for profit.

I know a bit about currency. Part of my elementary education. Mostly what I remember is, "Money is fancy! Don't mess with it! The Secret Service will get you!"

I don't recall, "Unless you have a really good reason! Like money!"

Mostly, I like how they didn't intend to “suggest that there was any approval from the U.S. Mint or the U.S. Government.” That's what money means: the U.S. Government has approved this metal. They say it's worth something. Otherwise, it's not money. If something is on money, and it still functions as money, that literally means, "the government is cool with this."

Note that the Franklin Mint is a private company--that's not entirely clear in the article linked. New York Times has a better article (meaning: not cribbed from the AP) but you have to sign up for a free account.