Nuadha's Tale

Ignorance can be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. -Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, June 29, 2002

The Pledge of Allegiance
I posted this months ago and felt, since its been in the news again, that I should pull it out of my archives and post it again.
A friend's blog mentioned how Dr. Pepper is getting blasted by the religious groups for ommiting "under god" from the Pledge of Allegiance", which they are printing on their cans. It seems to me that Dr. Pepper understands the seperation of church and state better than the people running our country.
Historical facts about the pledge:

  • Written in 1892 as part of a ceremony honoring Columbus Day
  • Written by the Rev. Francis Bellamy, a prominent socialist who had been kicked out of the Baptist church for giving speeches like "Jesus the Socialist."
  • originally read, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Originally, the pledge was supposed to be recited while giving a "stiff, uplifted, right-hand salute."
  • The salute was dropped from the pledge in the 40's for obvious reasons and the words were changed from "to my flag" to "to the flag of the United States of America."
  • The line "under god" was added in 1954 by Congress and President Eisenhower under pressure from the Knights of Columbus.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses who objected to state-ordered oaths were beaten in the 30's and 40's for refusing to take the pledge. The Supreme Court ruled in 1940 that they could be required to take the pledge but reversed their decision three years later when harrassment of the church increased.

Give us this day our daily idiot...
One of the arguments being used by people supporting the "under god" bit in the Pledge is that because it is memorized and said by rote, it is not a prayer and therefore doesn't violate the seperation of church and state (beside the obvious fact of stating that a god exists). Hello? Haven't they ever heard of the Lord's Prayer? When I was growing up, the Lutheran Church we went to started every service with it. It was memorized and recited by rote. Are they saying that the Lord's Prayer also isn't a prayer?

Friday, June 28, 2002

Creative thinking may simply mean the realization that there is no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.
-- Rudolph Flesch

Thursday, June 27, 2002 has its own enchantment and the first few notes of an old tune are all that it requires to transform any place in to a place of magic, even if that location is no more than a windowless office cubicle...
-Charles DeLint, "Ghosts of Wind and Shadow" from Dreams Underfoot


There's a lot I want to write about. I want to let you know my thoughts on life, the universe and everything. Unfortunately, when work sucks as bad as it has the last couple of days, I have no energy to post on my lunch and no interest in posting at home. I'm alive....barely.

There's a lot going on in the news these days (G8 summit, corporate scandals, etc.) and the government has already issued another terrorist warning to distract people from hearing it.

I don't have much time for bloggin', but I wanted to share this story."

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

I talked to my Mom today and I guess my dad's being a real jerk about everything and refusing to give C all of the kids stuff. She got most of their clothes, but hardly any of their toys, books, movies, etc. I'm thinking of calling him but I don't know if I can do any good. At least, I can try.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

I got a call from my Mom at work today. The state is trying to reunify my neices with my sister and has returned them to her. This was done because my dad was playing mindgames with the girls. He wasn't be physically abusive or anything, just giving them guilt-trips for wanting to return to their mother. So, they are back to my sister. I have mixed feelings on this. I seriously doubt that C is anymore equipped to be a parent than she was last year, but I also believe that (when safe and possible) a child should be returned to their parent(s). I don't know if they are safe with C.

US Fights to Keep Millions Starving!
I heard on Counterspin on the way home that at the world summit on hunger held recently in Rome (which, of course, got very little news time here in the US), the US delgates seem to have as their main agenda to make sure that there was no wording that food was a basic human right. Other delegates were quoted as saying that the US team were the worst example of political arm-twisting they had seen in their careers. It's good to know that our government is working hard to protect this world for the WTO. (The main cause of hunger in the world is poverty, something that Free Trade would encourage in third world countries to mantain a cheap workforce.)

Ambercon North
OK- So I think I've decided which games I want to run. This is one more than I was originally planning.

1- "Morpheus Calling" - Same as ACUS
2- "Blood and Darkness in the Dreaming City" - As described below.
3- "Nobilis" - I have to run it, I just have to.
4- A more traditional Amber game. I may run "The Heist" again.

The deadline for game submission is the 30th. I better decide.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Graphic Novels- Nuadha Recommends
I'm taking a break from cleaning the computer room and after moving all my graphic novels, I felt like mentioning to you some of my favorite graphic novels. For those of you who may not know, graphic novels are larger comic books that sometimes have original stories and sometimes (more often) reprint several comics in a collection.

  • Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid- This comic is amazing. I consider it one of the best superhero cimics ever written.
  • Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits by Garth Ennis and William Simpson- reprints GE's first story arc for Hellblazer. John Constantine (the main character) learns that he's dying of lung cancer in the first issue.
  • Hawkworld by Timothy Truman- On the world of Thanagar the elite live in the cities in the sky while the "lesser" races struggle to survive below.
  • Michael Moorcock's Multiverse by Michael Moorcock, Walter Simonson and various artists- Moorcock writes good comics as well.
  • Jack Kirby's New Gods- reprint's the early New Gods comics from the sixties in black and white. If you don't know, Jack Kirby was co-creator of The Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four and tons of other classic comic books. In my opinion, New Gods was his best stuff. There are some people who believe that George Lucas basically just ripped off New Gods when he made Star Wars. I think he made Star Wars different enough but New Gods probably had an influence.
  • Orion: A Hero Reborn by Walter Simonson- Walter Simonson continues the saga Kirby started in the New Gods as Orion has his final (?) fight against his father, Darkseid.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

I started painting my new Necron models today. I painted my old ones gold. I went with silver for the new ones. I'm drybrushing them. Drybrushing is an easy miniature painting technique that looks really good. I drybrushed all the Genestealers and Tyranids in my Tyranid army and they looked great.

Djinn's Dirtbag Party and a Fear of Crowds
(Warning- I started blogging about the party and went elsewhere. Sometimes you just gotta write what pops in your head, I guess.)

I had a great time at Double-N's birthday bash. I'm not usually comfortable in larger groups. I don't know why, but I've always been that way. When I'm with a couple of friends, I can talk people's ears off. Get me in a group of 6 or more and you rarely hear a peep. However, with this group I don't clam up as much as I usually do.

I think I have a slight phobia of crowds that may play in to why I become uneasy. I'm not saying that it was some huge crowd at the party, just that it may explain a little. Everyone seems to have some things that scare them. The only thing I can think of that makes me really uneasy is large groups of people. It's not like I'm frozen with fear or anything. I'm just uncomfortable. In fact, the only time I remember having any truly phobic reaction to a crowd was at a Lollapalooza. I was in the crowd when Alice in Chains started playing. The crowd was huge and everyone was puching to get closer to the stage. Suddenly I freak out and start hyperventilating. I don't know what's wrong. I just gotta get out of there. I work my way out and go to the most secluded place I can find until I get my wits back. I listened to the rest of their show as far away from the crowd as I could.

I remember when I was a kid, my family used to go to Eastern Market in Detroit. Eastern Market is a big open air market with tons of farmers selling fresh produce. We would go on a Saturday about once a month and I hated it and I knew why. It was the crowds.

I just remembered where this probably all comes from. I remember going to Detroit Tigers game when I was about 6. Before going, my Grandma had told us about how people sometimes fall down as the crowds are moving out of stadiums and because the crowd behind is pushing so hard to get out, people can't stop and the poor person gets trampled to death. So, as we were leaving, I noticed how it was. Everone was smashed up against eachother and pushing to get out and I realized that it was true. That could happen. I think that story and the realization that crowds really are like that terrified me. Like I said, it's not like I'm having nightmares each night or I get frozen with terror in larger crowds or that I even really think that has anything to do with why I feel so awkward at larger parties. It's just an observation. I also noticed that I was much more comfortable when the party broke up in to smaller groups.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

WISH- Successful NPCs
I think one of the things that I have found in my games is that the more enjoyable (non-villian) NPCs have unique voices. I don't just mean that the GM uses a different voice when they speak, (although I do think that is very important) but the character also have a distinctive personality that sets them apart from other characters (PCs and NPCs) in the game. Just because a character is a close friend to a PC, doesn't mean that they think exactly alike. The character should have at least a few traits that come out when they speak. When I speak in character for that character, I feel the character is a success if I don't have to tell the players what NPC just said that even if there is a roomful of them. For example, in my recent Changeling campaign the characters were dealing with several NPCs. One NPC was Samildanach, a werewolf who would spend most of his time in Wolf form. Having grown up as a wolf, he distrusted humans, was uncomfortable in human society and tended to speak in a growled voice. He was the grumpy one who was always wanting to "just get this over with." Another NPC that was along on their wild ride the last couple of adventures was Chase, a young Satyr stoner. He was lecherous as most Satyrs are, but the thing that put him apart from the Satyr PC already in our group was his enthusiasm and pure energy. He talked a mile a minute and constantly threw himself on poor Birch and later on poor Drusilla. He pledged his undying love for Drusilla That lasted about a whole adventure...until someone else caught his eye. While Denon was wallowing in drink and self-pity, while he was still pledging his love for Mera even as he started a relationship with Ling, Chase was....well....chasing a new fling and if his eternal love shot him down, there was always the next one.

Another thing I think is important for an NPC is that they have a real relatonship with a character, not just be there to supply them with quests, clues, etc. One of my favorite NPCs of all was Nall, a chimerical (dream) cat with wings. In my first Changeling game, a player created a dog-pooka named Buck. Buck was a gamer, through and through. He loved video games and roleplaying games. He also had a 3 point chimera that the player said "you can design." The first game he describes his character playing video games, trying to get his mind off of the weird reflection he saw in the mirror (he recently discovered his Fae self by finding a dog-face looking back at him in the mirror). I decide that now is the time to spring his familiar on him. being that his character is into video games and anime, I think of something I saw in a video game recently, a flying cat. A flying cat come bursting through his window to land on his bed. "Hey Buck, how's it going?" He chases the cat around the room until he tires out from chasing it. "How do you know my name!?" The two bicker and fight for most of the campaign. Nall seems to be around only to insult and harass Buck but on several times he pulls Buck's butt out of the proverbial fire. Then near the end of the game, Nall disappears for sometime. When Nall returns, Buck tries not to show how much he missed him but the two are both obviously happy to be reunited. The PCs go off and save the world, but in the process Buck sacrifices his dreaming self. The final scene of the final game has the PCs visiting the human Buck in an insane asylum. Buck is heavily drugged and watching tv in the common room. A winged cat is sadly curled up on his head waiting for him to remember his true nature. I think what made Nall so successful is how much of a relationship he had with the PC. Ideally, every character should build bonds like that. It really gives the game some depth.

Nobilis- A Decade Long Obsession
1992- Jason, a friend of mine reads Upon a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony. He tells me about it and we agree that the concept of playing incarnations of ideas and concepts would make a great roleplaying game. Together we start designing a campaign for GURPS. The game never starts.

1994- After hearing about it for years, I decide to start reading Sandman comics. I am instantly hooked and the "GURPS: Incarnations" starts floating around in my head again.

1997- Carla and I join MK's Amber game. Talking to MK one day about Ambercon US, the Incarnations idea returns to me as a possible Ambercon scenario. This time, I base it more off of Hindu/Buddhist Mythology than the modern fantasies of Piers Anthony and Neil Gaiman. Carla and I don't end up attending Ambercon until a few years later and by then I no longer want to run "Death in the Lotus Vale." I keep saying, "Maybe next year."

2000- I finally read Upon a Pale Horse. I had tried to read it back in 1993 and it didn't hook me. This time it does. This forces me to reevaluate my opinions of Piers Anthony, whom I had previously judged off of the few Xanth books Jason forced me to read. I also read Bearing an Hourglass. I don't like Hourglass as much and I don't continue with the third one. Hourglass starts out great, but half-way in to the book it takes a nosedive. I'm sure it probably ends well, and keep wanting to finish it, but I never do.

Early 2002- My Changeling game is wrapping up and I have worked in the Fates. I decide to read With a Tanged Skein. It's excellent and it gets me thinking about what to do with the next game. If the characters re-create the world, then maybe next game they can replace the incarnations. I email and ask for their "words" to get an idea what incarnations they could be. I later decide to do the next game more low-key in power than "The Shattered Crystal" and drop the idea. Still, I plan to work Incarnations in to the background of the next game.

Today- I have Nobilis. It is a very well designed game in the type of setting I have been wanting to run for years. It is much better than the GURPS game would have been or the Amber-based "Death in the Lotus Vale." The setting and rules give enough limits to challenge the characters while allowing them to be god-like and work almost any kind of miracle. "You want to hide the moon in your cloak? No problem."

Work was busy and slow. I had a lot to do and yet the clock still seemed to move in slow motion. After work I went to Borders in AA to pick up Nobilis. On the way there, I stopped at Wizzywig, an anime/Japanese import store that recently moved across the street from Borders. I looked at a few Final Fantasy figures that I'm missing (Yes, Matt, I don't have them all.), but did not have the extra cash.

Yoshitaka Amano
While I was at Wizzywig, I remembered that Amano's World recently said something about Amano art cards that were released. I found some, but they were $4.50 a pack and each pack only came with 8 baseball-card-size cards. They weren't even really marked up much from importing. The price on the pack was 400¥ which is about $4. I bought a pack anyway. I got a card of Elric on his Ruby Throne and one of Vampire Hunter D, but the ones that realy impressed me were the ones of characters I didn't know. Best of all, it was all Yoshitaka Amano art I had neverseen before. This means of course, that I will probably buy more cards even at the ridiculous price.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you like.
-Mark Twain

All stats are created equal, but some are more equal than others.
(I seem to be in the mood to write about roleplaying today....)

Practically all roleplaying games use stats and there are very few that seem to actually keep them balanced. Most systems seem to have just tried to make stats as balanced as they can. Sure, Str in GURPs may not be as important as Dex, but it does have it's uses. In the Champions/Hero system they tried to balance it out by having some stats cost more than others. Amber on the other hand has the auction system to balance stats. If the players don't think Strength is going to be as useful as Warfare, they won't bid up as high on the stat. Of course, most Amber games don't use auctions or ranks. The auctions are time consuming and keeping track of the current rank of a character as new PCs and NPCs are added is a pain.

Personally, my theory on attributes in the Amber DRPG is if two PCs who spent equal points in different attributes face off using those attributes, the thing the GM should be comparing is the ranks of those attributes. If one character spent 40 points to get first rank Strength and the other spent 50 points to get second rank Psyche and they face off using those attributes in an equal situation where neither attribute has an advantage then the character with the first rank attribute should win. (I can't think of a situation where neither would have an advantage, but this a hypothetical question, no?) Now, if a PC and an NPC face off with equal points spent, than the PC wins. That's "main character power."

Now maybe that person who spent the 50 points for a second rank ability gets upset because he spent an equal points as the first rank character. That player should remember that the reason he has second rank was because he and at least one other player thought that first rank in that ability would come in to play more often. The character who has the first rank took more of a gamble that the ability he bid up for (Strength in the example) might come in handy. It did in this case.

So, since I don't need to worry about ranks unless the PCs are fighting eachother, I don't figure the NPCs in to the ranks. That makes figuring out who has first, second, etc. a whole lot easier.

"What if a player has a power that boosts an attribute?" Well, all of the powers in Amber come with a drawback. If th player is using an existing power to boost an attribute than it already has its flaws. If it is a brand new power, I would have made sure that attribute-boosting power would have enough of a drawback to balance it at character creation. So, if it can improve the characters ranking, it should have a worthy disadvantage. (Perhaps it only lasts for a very short time and leaves the character exhausted and vulnerable after using it....) Also, just because that character temporarily has a higher rank does not mean he instantly wins. The actions of the attacking and defending characters has to be taken in to account as in any fight between characters. If the defending character doesn't make he mistake of underestimating his new high-powered opponent and stays on the defensive he may be able to make it a test of Endurance or be able to stall until help arrives.

Better GMing
This is something I thought of a while ago to help me find those descriptive words I find myself reaching for in game. In the old days I used to draw maps of all of my major scenes in a game. I don't do that very much these days but I can take the same level of preparation to prepare for the game. What I can do is take one of the writing exercises I read in Writing Down the Bones and apply it to GMing. Before the game, I can picture the location or scene in my head. Once I have it in my head just the way I want it, I'd write down as many descriptive words or phrases I can about that scene. Then I'll have a good list to work from during the game and I can pick and choos from that list. I don't know if that'll work or just be awkward. It may be tough to stop and look at the list in game, but by writing the list, I may be able to remember the key ones better when it comes up in the game.

Rules for the GM
These are rules to strive for. I'm not the best at following these rules, but I know that these are the things that make for a good GM. I point this out now, because this next one is something I'm always trying to improve at.

Rule #5: Describe! The players can't see the world unless you give them a description. Give details. The more you tell them, the better they can "see" the scene and the more the game comes alive. Try to give colors, textures, smells, etc. It's not neccesary to spend a lot of time setting the scene but by adding a few sentences you can really add a lot. Try to make the details fit the character. If a character is known for spotting clues like Sherlock Holmes, make sure they notice something that noone else would have noticed. If a character has an extraordinary sense of smell, describe to the player a faint smell in the scene. Something like "the faint lingering smell of an incense stick that had been burned in this room within the last couple of days" can really help that player get into character. Likewise, if a character has a hobby or intererest, try to give the player a detail that has to do with that interest, something another character may not care enough to notice. If they are in to plants describe the plants that are nearby or the lack of flora.

Remember to describe things from that characters point of view. If you use terms or words that the character would not be familiar with, the player may know what you're describing, but the character won't have any frame of reference. If a character from a low-tech setting sees a skyscraper try to think of what it would like to that character. That skyscraper, if seen at night, could look like a "huge dark tower that reaches up so high it dwarves any tree you ever seen. It's surface reflects the moonlight light as if it were made of a dark stone that's highly polished." As the character approaches he may realize that that dark tower is "made of the smoothest glass you ever seen and is somehow made of this glass."

If there is likely to be action in a scene, be sure to describe items nearby that could act as cover or as a makeshift weapon. This allows the player to be more descriptive in their actions. Instead of "diving for the nearest cover" the player can "run to the end of the dock and leap behind the shipping crates." Instead of "picking up the nearest thing I can use to defend myself", the character can "throw open the door to the broom closet and grab a mop."

Superhero Quiz take 2
Thinking it was way too cliche for me to get Superman, I changed some answers that had other answers that were fitting as well and got:

The Original Animated Superman

Take the Cartoon Hero Quiz?.

The Man-O-Steel

Take the Cartoon Hero Quiz?.

Oh yeah....

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I gotta get outta here....
-Dwight Fry

I am the authority on all things in my department. When anyone has a question, they come to me. All day long people ask me questions and I give them answers. It gets to the point some days where I can't even hear them. In a daze, I turn and look at them but I don't here a word they say. I am the oldest turtle in the pond. They see me as wise but I am deaf. I've heard the questions so many times I can't hear them anymore. I need to get out of here.

I have a copy on hold for me at Borders. I am really looking forward to getting this book.

Two bits of news from NPR this morning:

#1- Al-Qaida is having problems recruiting lately.
#2- Israel is going back in to Palestine. Apparently, Sharon has heard about the Al-Qaida recruitment troubles and is trying to help them. (OK, so that's not how NPR said it....)

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Tuesday Night Firefight
I spent most of tonight playing GTA3 and most of my time during that trying to beat one particular mission. It was very frustrating. I came close a few times.

I also put a few of my new Necron Warriors together. The new warriors are plastic. It's been a while since I put plastics together and I forgot how much more I like plastics. Pewter minis are a lot harder to work with.

It's been slow the last couple of days. I should be happy, but it's eerie. It's like I'm in a horror movie. Things have gotten quiet all of a sudden. The zombies have stopped clawing at the boarded up windows and we're looking at eachother, wondering if the coast is clear. This can't be good.

I forgot to bring lunch from home. I usually buy the Veggie-burger from the deli downstairs, but I was in a weird mood today. I ended up ordering french fries. The lady at the counter smiled. "Is that it? Not much of a lunch..." I picked up a banana from the fruit bowl they keep at the counter. "...and a banana." A healthy lunch.

I had better luck this week at Chainmail. I also found some more used Necron minis. My goal: Universal Domination on a budget. The answer: used miniatures! I found an open but unassembled box of Necron Warriors (normally $24) for $10.

Leave comments!
Nuadha's Tale now has comments. "..and there was much rejoicing."

Monday, June 17, 2002

There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?
-attributed to Woody Allen

The last game went smoothly, although I'm not sure it was as climactic as I had hoped for. It became a timing thing at the end. To end the game in a timely manner, I rushed the ending because I had spent too much time in the preparation. All in all, it wasn't bad and I hope everyone is looking forward to the next game. I am trying to theme the next game more like the books of Charles DeLint. The game will be based in the fictional New England city of New Tara, a medium-sized city that you won't find on most maps. Most of the residents of New Tara are aware of their city being more magical than most and are used to unusual things. No, there aren't newspaper articles on how to protect yourself against vampires (we joked around about that last night) but many people will tell you to be careful who you associate with when your out clubbing. "Vampires? Sure, they probably exist. I've heard of weirder things."

The biggest change the players made in the world has to do with the relationship between the supernatural and the real world. They made a world where the Weaver and the Wyrm are balanced and because of this so many of the supernatural wars aren't happening. The usual White Wolf setting is such a bleak world with groups like the Technocracy (the most powerful servants of the Weaver) and Pentex Industries (The most powerful servants of the Wyrm) fighting for control of the world. Now that those forces aren't at war, the World of Darkness has become a World of Hope. There is still evil in the world, but not of the all-powerful variety that the Wyrm and the Technocracy represented.

"It's a very small magic."
"It destroyed my world."
"Well, okay, it's a medium-sized magic."


Sunday, June 16, 2002

Roleplaying yourself
You can't completely help it. The characters you play will always seem to have something in common with you. I think that is one of the parts of "getting in to character." The more you get in to the mind of your character, the more your character gains some of your way of thinking and acting. I think it is like how a movie actor lends his voice and style to each role he plays.

A huge difference between an actor and a roleplayer is that the actor always knows the kinds of hardships and loss his character will face. If his character is going to die, he knows that from reading the script. So, when he plays the scene of the character dying he has already prepared for the death. When stuff happens that hurts the character, the player is bound to feel a bit of the characters pain. That's part of roleplaying. The actor does it to, but he had time to prepare for it.

Personally, I like playing tragic characters. When I was involved in my high school Drama department, I always went for the tragic parts and I am told that I did a very good job with those parts. Most of the roleplaying characters I make have some huge tragedy. I don't know why. I don't think I'm working through issues or anything like that. Maybe it's just that pain and suffering come easier for me or seem more real to me. Who knows?

Work sucked. After work, I went to the demonstration at the Federal Building in Ann Arbor for the release of Rabih Haddad. If you haven't been following this story, Rabih Haddad is one of the many Arab Americans that has been the victim of racial profiling after September 11. An Ann Arbor teacher and humanitarian leader, his story has gotten a lot more press than most of the men the government arrested without charging them of a crime. He was arrested back in December and has still not had his trial six months later. The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful.

Carla and I went out for lunch and stopped by her craft mall. We also went by Jo-Ann's where Carla picked up some craft stuff. There was bird in Jo-Ann's that was flying around the place. The bird flew back and forth from one side of the stor to the other looking for a way out. I asked one of the employees what they do when a bird gets in the store. She said that this was the first time it had ever happened and she had no idea how they would get it out. I worry about that bird. We also stopped at the hobby shop where I was hoping to pick up some flourescent green paint for the guns of my Necron miniatures, but they were out. It's weird seeing all the Necron minis and Necron related stuff selling out. The rest of the evening was spent playing video games, cleaning for the Changeling game and reading.

I'm about to go mow the lawn. After that I need to finish getting ready for Changeling. After today's game, we're taking a couple months off before starting the next game, which will be a mixture of returning and new characters. The current title for the game is "Kingdom of Lost Children."

We are the stuff that dreams are made of.
-William Shakespeare, "The Tempest"

You wish to see the distant realms? Very well. But know this first: The places you will visit, the places you will see, do not exist. For there are only two worlds- your world, which is the real world, and other worlds, the fantasy. Worlds like this are world of human imagination: Their reality, or lack of reality, is not important. What is important is that they are there. These worlds provide an alternate. Provide an escape. Provide a threat. Provide a dream, and power, provide refuge and pain. They give your world meaning. They do not exist and thus they are all that matters.
-Neil Gaiman, "The Books of Magic"

Friday, June 14, 2002

Rules for the GM
Rule #4: The players should be right some of the time. They'll enjoy the game more if they aren't always wrong. If the players come up with a good idea, let it work. Even if you originally thought that there would be only one way they could solve the challenge you gave them, there's no reason you have to make that one way be the only way. Reward the players for creative thinking. After all, roleplaying is supposed to be more of a creative exercise than a problem-solving exercise, right? If the character has to keep trying idea after idea until they hit upon your solution, then the game won't be much fun and the story won't go anywhere. If the player only needs to come up with one good solution, then the story should move along at a good pace.

Along the same line of thinking- If a player decides to prepare for some threat and goes to all the trouble of explaining the preparations, then by all means have those preparations come in handy or at least have some involvement in the story. The things that the character has prepared may not come in to play the way the player thought it would, but the player will still enjoy the game more by seeing their actions have some effect on the story. Once again, this rewards creative thinking. For example, your player decides that his character's home needs a new upgraded security system in case the game's main villian decides to sneak in and attack him in his sleep. The player goes to all the trouble of describing this elaborate new system. If you have no plans on having the main villian doing something so mundane, there's no reason that another NPC couldn't decide to sneak in and steal something from the character. With his new "stealth suit" the NPC was sure that no security system in the world would have been able to stop him...

Another weird bit of news
Romania is building a Dracula Theme Park in the hometown of Vlad Tepes. I never thought Vlad the Impaler and Mickey Mouse would have so much in common.

Digging a whole to Hell
It's true! I read it in the Weekly World News!

Thursday, June 13, 2002

What Type of Villain are You? /

Wednesday, June 12, 2002


Too many people are only willing to defend rights that are personally important to them. It's selfish ignorance, and it's exactly why totalitarian governments are able to get away with trampling on people. Freedom does not mean freedom just for the things I think I should be able to do. Freedom is for all of us. If people will not speak up for other people's rights, there will come a day when they will lose their own.
- Tony Lawrence

In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.
- Reverend Martin Niemoller

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
- James Madison

Scary World
The news these days is getting scarier and scarier. Ashcroft seems to be getting away at completely ignoring a little document called the Bill of Rights. "The dirty bomber" has been detained without any allegations against him. Ashcroft is trying to hold him as an "enemy combatant" so he can legally hold him without evidence or a trial until the end of the war, a war against a secretive enemy that the government is constantly warning us can stike at any time. Of course, they can keep this "war on terrorism" going as long as it is politically convenient for them and as long as they can keep using it to blindside us from the illegal actions they are taking.

Now, some people are saying "why should we care about this dirty terrorist? He's shouldn't have the rights of a US Citizen." Of course we should care about this alleged terrorist! If the man has not been tried or convicted, he still is entitled to his rights and if Ashcroft is allowed to take this man's rights away than he can do this to anyone who he feels like declaring an "enemy combatant." Peace protesters getting in the way? Well if they question the actions of the United Stated then they are possible terrorists! Arrest them! A trial? They'll get one as soon as the war is over, as soon as the Ministry of Homeland Security (minihome as it will be known in the newspeak dictionary) has rounded up all of them terrorists. Trust big brother Ashcroft and enjoy your soylent green....or else.

Bill of Rights
It's the law:

  • "No person deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" -Article V
  • "The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial" - Article VI
  • "The accused shall...have Assistance of Counsel for his defence" - Article VI
  • "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." - Article VIII

Another example of these laws being broken.

The pigs are trying to sneak in at night and change the constitution. They've been proving for years that some animals are more equal than others. Now, they are at it again. The constitution has never said "unless the accused is accused of being a terrorist." Don't believe them when they tell you it did.

What stupid online quiz are you?
What stupid online quiz are you?

I am strong. Almost invincibly so. To attack me physically is foolish. I am not however without my soft spots. I am quiet by nature, but am in command of great force. All I ask is a little peace, and a little solidarity. Deny me my space, and I just might get angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

What's your superpower?

Final Fantasy
I knew there was a reason I liked Quistis.

It's Quistis!

The Final Fantasy Girl you relate witht the most!

...and I still don't like Squall because of the way he treated Quistis.

brought to you by ka-chan

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

I have gone to the "break room" 3 times now and each time someone has something microwaving for 4 minutes. The "break room" on the floor I work is more like a closet with a microwave and a fridge so I don't want to stand there and wait, butsince there is only one microwave for the entire floor, you almost have to.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Baby Reagan
Please tell me this is a joke.

Things To Do in Michigan When You're Dead
Warning: May offend some readers. Read at your own risk.
I've been thinking a lot about dying lately. I'm not being as morbid as you may think. I just know I'm going to die. Hopefully it won't be for some time, but no matter what I do, the same ending awaits. I've been meditating on that and it's a bit liberating, even comforting. I know that when I die it will be a natural part of living. It's not something I can't completely avoid.

One of the things that keeps coming to mind, is what will happen to my body after my death? I won't be using it anymore, so I would like to see my remains go to good use. I used to think that I wanted to be cremated, but wouldn't that be wasteful? Perhaps I can have my body given to science, but then they may try and resurrect me or use my body for "evil" purposes (too much comic books...). I don't think I can legally will my body to the zoo to feed animals, can I? It may sound horrible, but isn't a body just meat after you die? Could I stop a living breathing animal from dying to feed some carnivore if I don't remain so attached to my body? If I could, I would.

Why do so many religions put such reverance around dead bodies? Why do we lock them up in metal boxes to waste space in a graveyard or tenderly hold the ashs of our loved ones in urns? Does being near a dead body make us feel closer to the person? I would rather be close to the memories of their lives and be happy for them that their spirit has gone on to whatever mysteries await us after our lives end. What do I believe happens? I don't worry about that too much. I do believe in reicarnation, but I don't think it matters too much. What I think does matter is how one lives their life today.

I guess thinking about dying makes me more aware of living. Each moment we are alive is one more moment that will never come again. Each moment that I spend alive gets me closer to death. So, I guess I should live in the now and enjoy every moment for even this body is only a temporary thing. I won't always experience the simple joy of breathing. After all, I know how this tale ends. It's not such a bad ending. It's just completeing the cycle, right?

Blood and Darkness in the Dreaming City
I have a possible idea for a Dreaming City adventure at Ambercon North. Here is the beginning of the description:

"Welcome to Murias. Located halfway between the ethereal realms and the waking world, Murias has become a haven for magical creatures and humans who search for something more than the mundane world offers. The walls of Murias keep the residents safe from outside threats, but sometimes nightmares find their way in to the dreaming city. When this happens, the job of keeping Murias safe falls to the Demon Hunters, men and women with amazing powers who stalk the creatures of darkness."

I'm going to add some more when I figure out more of the plot. The game I ran at ACUS was a pulp noir mystery where this game would be more action/horror based.

Video Games
Final Fantasy Tactics- It's not my all-time favorite video game (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is), but it's close. It's certainly my favorite Final Fantasy. (although it's such a completely different game than the other FFs)

Devil May Cry- I rented this game for the PS2 over the weekend. It's a very cool game and has been added to my PS2 want list with Grand Theft Auto 3.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Weekend Update

Nothing too exciting. Besides the matinee of Spiderman yesterday and a wild weekend of Playstation 2, I went to Pandemonium for a Chainmail tournament today. I won. The first couple of games were close, but I completely decimated my last three opponents.

Friday, June 07, 2002

A Titanic Struggle with Terror
Who the heck writes Baby Reagan's speeches? "Titanic?" Probably a fitting choice of words. He's gonna sink us.

Caught Fresh Air on NPR during lunch. It was pretty thought provoking. The guest was discussing the effects of Marijuana and he was telling how the chemicals in it affect memory. He was saying that these same chemicals have also been the ones that allow us not to remember everything. "Would you really want to remember every face you have ever seen, every ad jingle you have ever heard?" He said that these chemicals are what allows our mind to edit our memories and why they have been so useful for treatment of certain kinds of pain. It allows the user to forget the pain. It also induces a "zen-like" state where you don't think about the past or the future. You only experience the present. This is why food can became so flavorful and silly things seem so interesting. You are merely experiencing.

When Terri asked him, "Doesn't it also cause you to forget things you'd rather not?" He replied, "Of course!" He referred to several studies on college students that smoke marijuana. He said that Americans seem to have a tough time believing that some things can be good AND bad. Every plant will either save us or doom us. He said that the ancient Greeks had a much healthier attitude towards drugs. They remembered that Wine could make you feel good and that it could turn men in to animals. They treated wine and intoxicants with respect. Not fear, just healthy respect.

I wished I didn't have to return from break when I did. I would have liked to have heard the rest of the interview.

Rules for the GM
Rule #3: The GM is (almost) always right. Player catch you in a mistake? Did your NPCs do something they shouldn't be able to do? Did the NPCs know something they shouldn't know? Were they two places at the same time? You could just admit you made a mistake or you could act like that was meant to happen. Act suprised and pleased that your clever players caught on to your subtle clues and make up something later to explain it. Depending on the setting and the scenario there are many ways to explain strange things that seem like GM mistakes at the time. In Amber and other settings with a lot of intrigue there are tons of conspiracy theories that could explain things. In games with lots of weird technology and special powers you can go really crazy with your ideas. You don't have to explain things right away. Just keep the players occupied and be careful not to clear up the strangeness right away. This leaves the player with a mystery and gives you the chance to figure out what really happened. When you figure it out, let the players start uncovering the secrets behind the mystery.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

According to this thing we have on the wall at work, to figure out how much water you should be drinking you take your body weight in lbs. and divide by 2. That's how many ounces of water you should drink today. That means I should be drinking over 100 ounces of water a day. That's a lot of water.

Gaming- Ambercon North
I have to decide what games I'm going to run. I will probably run 3 games like I did at Ambercon. It seems to be a good amount and it leaves me time to play in a few games. I have several ideas but which ones do I use? Do I reuse scenarios I've successfully run in the past or try something new? All three of the games I ran at ACUS could easily run again at ACN, but I wouldn't want to run a bunch of repeats. I'm thinking I may run "Morpheus Calling", a new scenario set in "The Dreaming City" and something completely new. I think that would leave me enough familiar ground.

Yes, I'm nervous, but I'm not letting that stop me. I've had a hernia surgery which is supposedly much more painful, but a vasectomy.....that's not someplace I want a doctor taking a knife. It will be worth it.

Playstation 2
Grand Theft Auto 3 rocks. It's evil. It's a sick, sick, sick game. I love it. I love playing driving games that let you go anywhere you want without sticking to some track. I think that's why I like Crazy Taxi so much.

Final Fantasy X is a beautiful game. I won't start playing it until Carla's done but I can already see that I'm going to like it.

I bought a game called Maximo the other night. It's a 3D version of the old Ghosts and Goblins game. Suprisingly, it's really good. It has much of the old-school feel. You get a limited amount of lives and continues to beat the game with and its tough!

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Doctor's Appointment
I went to the doctor's this afternoon. The sore throat isn't anything serious I have to worry about. The main reason for the appointment was to get a referral for a Vasectomy. Why did I have to have an appointment for that? All he did was ask if I talked about it with my wife. I told him yes and we agreed we don't want kids. Boom. I have a referral. Pay the man for the office visit. What a rip-off. I wonder if I could have just sent a check in the mail with a letter saying "Yes, I'm sure and so is my wife." It would have saved me taking time off work.

I laugh at you now but you know I'm dying to borrow your CDs. Of course, I have two resin statues of FFVII characters, so I guess I still rate pretty high on the geek scale.

Why I Don't Drink Spring Water
Save America's

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Rules for GMs
Rule #2: Improvise! It sounds cliche, but too many GMs don't do this. They stick to what they have written and if the players don't cooperate, they're lost. I played in a GURPS game once where the GM started the scenario with a run-in against the game's main villian, a powerful telepath. My character whips out his gun and shoots him in the head. End of scenario. The GM throws a fit. Instead of improvising a way to keep the character alive or coming up with a new villian who happens to have similar abilities ( a brother maybe?), the new campaign ends one hour into the first game. This is why I write very little down. I try to have names for NPCs, purposes for them in the scenario and a general theme. Everything else is usually made up on the spot. Different GMs will be more comfortable with different levels of improvisation, but if you are GMing you have to always be ready to change the story or a character on a moments notice. Major villain about to get shot in the head during trhe first game? It's a good thing one of his assistants is a telekinetic and can stop bullets with his mind. What? Was that really something I planned before-hand? Of course it is. ;)

Sore throat today. Real sore. This stupid sickness just refuses to leave.

Rules for GMs
Rule #1: The player characters are the most important characters. Their struggles and sacrifices should never be overshadowed by the actions of NPCs. If the world needs to be saved, its the job of the PCs to do it They are the main characters and as the main characters the story should revolve around them. There are very few exceptions the rule. For example, if the character "saving the world" could not do it without the help of the main character, then they are still involved with the big plot. However, if wether they succeed or fail doesn't affect the outcome, what was the point.

Of course, everything doesn't have to be a "save the world" scenario. They could be doing "small jobs." The point is that if they are doing small jobs that is the most important thing going on that they know of. If the plot focuses too much on the bigger actions taken by NPCs then they weren't really the main characters and you have cheated your players.

(OK- That's really my commentary on MK's campaign. It was fun at times but my chief complaint is that in the end the plot was really about Corwin, not our characters.)

Monday, June 03, 2002

Didn't play tonight, but swung by the hobby shop to drop off some minis that a guy in the league was buying off me. While there I found some old Necron models in their used miniatures section. The army is coming together. The universe will know horror.

One of the guys in the league smiled when I told him I wasn't playing tonight. "Giving us a chance to win a few games before stomping all over us, eh?" They fear me. This is good.

Before I post about anything else, Carla has exciting news. Go read her blog.

OK. Done? Good. Now on to my weekend update-

Started feeling a bit better. Carla and I went to Macaroni Grill for dinner and we were going to see Spiderman. We changed our mind and went to Target for a PS2. Knowing I still wasn't feeling too great, I was planning on going to bed early Friday Night. Instead, I ended up staying up late trying to figure out why my Mac didn't want to start up and playing Grand Theft Auto 3.

Last game of Methuselah's Children. More detail to come.

I woke up tired and groggy. I had plans to do a whole bunch of things like yardwork and an oil change for Carla's car. Ended up doing none of the above. About noon, I realized that I just wasn't going to wake up. I felt like I hadn't slept at all the night before and I was fighting to stay awake. I did eventually get up and change Carla's oil. The only thing that got me motivated enough to do that was Carla reminding me how much money we would spend having the oil change place doing it.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

:: how jedi are you? ::