Saturday, September 15, 2018

essay from last year

Foreward: I wrote this last year after seeing 2017's "It". I'm still a politically searching person and my ideas have shifted if not completely changed since writing this essay. Nonetheless I think it deserves to see the light of day especially if I don't need to edit it or be held strictly accountable for these ideas.  


 a potentially copyrighted image.

The reason we can condemn "It" is because Beverly's depiction isn't good revolutionary material-- despite having agency, she's still
>written by a cis white male
>sexualized as a child
>sexually abused and the sexual attention of all her male friends
>reaches apotheosis through weird, plausibly unhealthy sewer "orgy"

But actually it's probably arch and stupid to pretend that specific books meet some revolutionary standard over others when the practical actions of even just making life better for oppressed people hardly depend on the contents of "It", exactly, except by moving the standard of what children and women should be doing and with what sensitivities they are depicted in mass media, which arguably this standard has purchase on the way people in general behave ?

Like the argument is, if it's just a piece of fiction, not an instructional text that is going to be followed, how does it make life for anyone worse? By influencing people who will be influenced by the {bad way that Bev is written, + the actions she undertakes}?

The movie I can condemn because the way it sexualizes Bev is standard hollywood National Lampoon fare like slow mo shots, maybe appropriate for calling up a standard teenage reaction to: a girl, but unfair for not putting Bev in a box about what she should do with her teenage body??

The movie I can condemn for showing unconsensual kissing as a good thing?? Although, situationally, within the fiction, it worked out? Should movies follow a standard logic that fits within our shared values of what should happen and also what probably would happen, esp. considering the legacy of thousands of years of patriarchy?

Maybe it's that the movie seemed clueless to the issues it raised, while also depicting Bev's individual struggle with school and her father, on that basis I can condemn it:; if you're gonna depict a girl sexually oppressed at her home and by her classmates but if you don't touch on how the sexual attention of her male friends can also be a huge problem then it probably does seem naive, and a disservice to the struggle of women, if and only if the service/disservice to the struggle of women thing is actually in question.

I feel like I'm operating under the assumption that I can know what is, at a reasonable expectation, something that meets the standards of ?a generalized feminist? albeit not everyone at all I can consider a feminist (and I try to get away from that term(

well why do that?
Porpentine talked about how everyone doesn't have to put themselves under the same label, it's a marketing scam, and also how she didn't want to adopt the label of the people who severely abused her and Ill add, caused her nothing less brain damage
Also I've seen tweets that are like, it should be some larger decolonial project, not just "feminism"
Which is like enough. Maybe the struggle to have everyone agree that they are a feminist is sort of past, or passe, considering that even such huge global terms are also subject to what I call in seriousness and in huge abstraction "fashion"
>Suffice to say, if you're not a feminist, it's become the norm that you are the one who has some specific front to describe yourself, i.e. the alternative now is the Alt-Right dude, like everyone I know north and south of the train tracks is a communist by default
>That being said the actual baseses of power are conservative cocklords as much as ever.

...Which is the point I bounced off of, maybe a universal means of address politically is not what's needed, from me at least, Fuck Theory also claiming that the center is a misnomer as most people occupy a place of unknowing, not a specific political band between left and right. And not knowing, a taoist position (what isn't?), is or isn't encouraged by a break from the dichotomy of feminist/not feminist which is already built to be one-sided in Peter Webb's mysterious but sure political response?

Mass line work seems an applicable and more ideal, less "manager of poverty"-style means of activism, like as much as something can "pop off" there is the Serve The People programs, one of which even recommends as a salve to Gentrification they physically exclude and discourage hipsters/ and hipster spaces (with violence). Quaker tenets, "violence is not the answer" absolutely occupies a place of total dogmatic authority which is contraindicated by the need to not tell oppressed people what to believe in. "Violence is not the answer" as: non-proselytizing personal piece of information.

Although-- prostelytizing to march against war? Not exactly "telling oppressed people what to believe in". I believe in never committing violence, demanding nonviolence from those in authority, and never offering oppressed people unsolicited advice. To that end Quakers should organize an a large-scale alternative to the police force, tax revolt, single-issuing themselves out of sociery, or doing the most they can in such a society, attempting to change it from within? Knowledge that this will work/ won't work?

Where does the movie "It" come in? The purpose is, to point out, that the movie reinforced some old tropes that I know at least influenced my youth, like, this picture of abused people, how "love can save" etc., that despite not having a universal take on the lives of abused people, are still pretty bad advice. If you can consider the movie advice, which I sort of see a lot of these tales as in some ways being?

Like, in the original book, there's some ingrown logic of defeating the monster by standing up to your fear (which the movie largely but not totally abandons), and bc the monster exacerbates real social issues like Bev's abusive father, the book kinda functions as a fictional casebook for how people get out of these situations. So there's an implicit instructional aspect to the book, because it depicts a series of cases of real social issues wherein the protagonists follow a common logic (don't be afraid!) to solve, or at least avoid. Also the universiality of that message...

Maybe the book isn't instructional but is rather relying on the apparent and probably universally accepted practicality of the message Don't Be Afraid! to make the protagonists's victories also universally acceptable and even practical, supernatural that they may be. The trick is not to see the books as instructional but to see the common logic of our lives as making the action in a book, if so logical, meaningful. Then you could say, there's also some things that happen in the book which follow shitty logics like at least in the movie the unconsensual kiss, but they aren't instructional, they'r more evidence that the creators of the film were willing to employ shitty logic and maybe use that logic themselves.

Like kissing the unconcious girl to magically and happily wake her up follows a logic which is shitty because the logic fails to take into account that kissing unconcious people is unconsensual, and moreover, fails to take into account the worldwide history-spanning history of women's consent being trampled. Ben was, although we can assume because the moment is obviously a trope (can we assume?) actually forgoeing Bev's consent, taking a risk that he was hurting Bev, violating her boundaries (yes, even when magically unconcious).

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

spidergoat magic item market

purchasing a magic item requires paying 5,000 coins and d4 days of research simply to view d3 items for purchase. Each of these items can be bought for an additional 5,000 coins upon viewing. to find other items for sale an additional 5.000 coins and d4 days must be spent for d3 more items.

benefits: roll 1

  1. stronger: +2  armor
  2. reflecting: magic deflects off item
  3. if used to strike opponent will deal d4 extra lighting/acid/fire
  4. item has personality, knows shit
  5. opponent's weapons stick to item
  6. softens blows to wielder/wearer: attacks use next lower damage die
  7. doesn't interfere with spellcasting (if applicable)
  8. casts magic missle 1/day
  9. grants nightvision, 35'
  10. has large "A" on it; reflects spears only
additional attributes (roll 1):
  1. loved ones think you smell bad
  2. eyeballs
  3. item bruises, will die if overused
  4. can self-destruct as time bomb, 5d6 10'
  5. item is so large that it cannot fit in house, perfectly usable, does normal damage (think buster sword -ed)
  6. has many cracks in it
  7. seems very old ans cannot be cleaned, trails dust, makes things around it seem old
  8. throwing this item in a pit will "hurt" the pit
  9. feather falls - just the item, tho
  10. item occasionally goes and has its own adventures
  11. attracts mice
  12. user feels time slower, no benefit
  13. peripheral vision has clowns
  14. item poops and needs to be changed
  15. ~
additional benefits (roll on this table half of the time):
  1. sticky
  2. shitty
  3. shiny
  4. bloodlust
  5. x2 damage, x2 price
  6. destroys armor
  7. accurate +1 skill etc.
  8. vomits
  9. glows
  10. causes lust
  11. sings
  12. sticky
  13. hands attached
  14. reverse time for those struck
  15. rusty
curses (roll as needed):
  1. gets very hot
  2. half of the time, not "real", 
  3. random targets
  4. opponents occasionally get bonuses
  5. screams in pain
  6. super heavy
  7. damns you to hell
  8. eyes bleed when using
  9. occasionally hits monster with you!
  10. converts life force into more {item}

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

troika! review

what's good about troika!? it's a fresh retroclone. it has lethal combat, but everyone starts at 14+ hp. the promise of levelling (a somewhat false promise in many retroclones) has been done away with mostly. there is the initiative system that is oft-touted and I really love it for some surprising reasons*. but there's also the fairly ridiculous damage system, which although it seems awkward (you have to cross reference a roll to a table to determine damage, a modifiable roll even), it gives us what we've always wanted; sorta realistic damage values. like, a knife probably doesn't do much but it can fuck you up! it's not just a puny d4.

that being said not having a levelling system hurts my heart a little bit. I mean, there is a system for progression: you improve your skills, which means you do better on rolls, but there's no d&d/WoW classic rpg dripfeed of new cool class abilities... that appeal is near and dear to me, but we must make sacrifices...

...the argument against such a dripfeed is of course, an emphasis on picaresque fantasy "strange people meeting in strange places" which is what troika! says it's about. your characters are not starting from the bottom, they are starting as wanderers, and of the two I think being a fully-formed picaresque wanderer is preferable to an endless series of 1st level eggs.

...finally, troika! encourages planar prep, as at the drop of a hat you must be able to invent or at least remember new spheres for your friend's toons to be whisked off to in the case of a particularly bad whoops! table roll, if not for some other reason. it has that delectable rpg vibe where the rules contain in just a few places campaign-breaking levers. this is something LOTFP does that I always talk about-- that "summon" spell.

also there's a little monster manual in the back of the book bc its so concise; to paraphrase my friend, "they had the room to just squeeze a little monster manual in the back!"

*initiative system being good: the way troika! initiative works is that everyone places initiative chits in a bag along with a end-of-round chit, and chits are drawn randomly; if your chit is drawn, you take an action, if the end of round chit is drawn, all chits are placed back in the bag. this makes chases in particular easy to run; you may simply draw more chits than your opponent does, so you may get away; therefore no tedious comparison of movement speeds in order to draw an equation are necessary. many tedious elements such as these may be folded into the randomness.

....also everyone talks about how good the backgrounds are so it's a well-tread point, but the backgrounds are very good; all of the players love rolling up

Sunday, August 19, 2018

BlackkKlansman

Contrast black power with white power and don't say anything that isn't obvious: what's the point? And then Spike Lee has the police come out in favor of black power. The ending has the clips of Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer. The film is very insistent that the white supremacy of the 70's has evolved into what we have today, we see the typical piece-of-shit Klan members and sort of the rituals and banality and the one guy who's actually dangerous, and then a character study of David Duke which is interesting. But the logic of the film falls apart constantly, the writing is flagrantly flat pretty often, Adam Driver apparently decides to stop acting a few scenes in. It's not really the comedy of contrasted positions it could have been for these reasons... it's a mess with some good scenes... I like Laura Harrier a lot and I was shedding tears in the early scene at the bar which is like, she recounts getting molested by a policeman earlier in the evening, and then the whole bar disco dances.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

reviews: lotfp new yields GOING THROUGH FORBIDDEN OTHERWORLDS, SHE BLEEDS, SOUNDS OF THE MUSHROOM KINGDOM, and OBSCENE SERPENT RELIGION 2

These are mostly bad.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the role playing game publisher, reintroduced me to trpgs and I’ve bought $100s of their products and love most of them, legit lit. ok reviews:

GOING THROUGH FORBIDDEN OTHERWORLDS:
Zzarchov is talented so it’s weird to see something so bland. The crux is either melted-together maggot men, some summoned demons, or some one-off magic items. The layout is standard “constantly refer back to the map on page one” stuff. It’s a dungeon with some basic features and no strong attractions. None of this is inspired.

INTERIOR ART: Scrap Princess’s pieces are nothing special, for Scrap, meaning they’re moody and fun but nothing is huge or central it’s just accents.

SHE BLEEDS:
The most interesting of the bunch, this is basically a lotfp prestige class based around menstruation. Takeaway is, there’s no referee-only information, so this could be a very gory player’s tool and would work best as managed by a player.

However there are several unwieldy elements-- tracking rituals and the timing of the moon’s phases, overspecific bonuses/penalties. Also the blurriness of the in-fiction cult writing, like the use of capitalized pronouns and only capitalized pronouns to refer to the goddess and her cult, is just bad literary technique. The last couple pages which clarify some of this content read as sort of an apology for the unclearness of the text.

INTERIOR ART: the soft compositions of Rachael Tew here seem like DeviantArt quality, not much detailed, sketched together pictoral symbols. really did not enjoy these.

SOUNDS OF THE MUSHROOM KINGDOM:
Easily my least favorite although Raggi is usually my go-to. This just details some samey mushroom mans (I do like how they’re “mans”) and some like mushroom monsters. There’s no dungeon, nothing feels clever or interesting, it’s like a joke.

There’s a couple good bits: the psychadelic f/x table is decent, the mushroom king is kinda good.

It's like if Slügs! just had same-y boring slügs.

INTERIOR ART: Serviceable and cute and detailed illustrations by the Magnussons albeit they can’t do much to help.

OBSCENE SERPENT RELIGION 2:
My favorite of these. Rient’s writing is inspired and well-informed when describing a medieval hamlet. I feel educated on what any such hamlet would be.

Nonetheless the central premise: “The point of this adventure is to provide the players with a little slice of the world they can get invested in, then to cruelly rip it from them to see what they do about it” is flawed, for my use. No hamlet is particularly special enough to deserve all this detail in my games. To go into detail is suspicious- if we play Lamentations of the Flame Princess there’s misery around most corners.

That being said it might work. I have a player who would loves personal and peaceful detail like Fraulein Gela and she (the player) would possibly get sucked in. These characters are well-written enough to stick in my mind after one reading. The end result would be yet another terrible outcome from hope which is a commonality in the games I’ve ran.

This writing is skilled enough to be subtle, it’s effective, and simple, and the she-creature at the end is a concise image attached to a long table with fucked-up shit on it. My group might not be a match and I have doubts that the structure of the module-- luring people into safety with a detailed hamlet-- is a good bet.

INTERIOR ART: pretty good and has an impressive full-page piece featuring two snake-bellied mutants which sold me on the mutants. that full-page illustration of snake mutants is detailed and moving and graphic and beautiful. art by Journeyman


Common between the texts:

covers:  Yannick Bouchard’s covers are shocking and attractive as per the usual.
copyediting: lots of errors which are slightly inconvenient, in one case a table has a duplicated entry. the errors are often quite obvious, it’s strange to see this from this publisher

Copyediting errors.

overall: I have these pdfs in my back pocket, but I’m not tempted to run any of them, even fragments of them, very much at all. That’s a huge departure from my lotfp experience. They do not seem high quality or innovative.

thanks to +K Yani for purchasing GTFO for my review.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

fun, non-threatening combat system by peter

melee
--attacker rolls d12 and adds strengthmod + ab
--defender does same
--winner does damage to loser equal to difference between results
--you can only deal damage in melee x number of times per round where x= your bab (overcomplicated rule, might drop -ed)
--ties = miss

example: smaug has +6 to hit and he swipes at bilbo baggins (+2 to hit). smaug rolls a 10 for a 16. bb rolls a 4 for a total of  6, so smaug does 10 damage. this kills the hobbit :(

ranged
attacker rolls d8 and adds dex + ranged ab.
if they roll higher than the defender's Dodge score, they do damage equal to their result.

Dodge is a stat, for 1st level humans is like 3+ dexmod. max is 8

example: bilbo baggins shoots smaug (dodge: 4) with an arrow. BB rolls a 4 and has a ranged attack bonus of +1 so he hits (5 vs. 4 dodge) and does 5 damage.

weapons
weapons don't have different damage values but have various bonuses and drawbacks like
greatsword/greataxe +3 damage, two handed
rapier +1ab
dagger = light weapon can be used in grapple
heavy crossbow +3 damage, takes a round to reload

armor
just gives damage reduction and dodge penalties.

shield = 1 dr, one hand
light armor = 1 dr
medium armor = 2 dr, -1 dodge
heavy armor 3 dr, -2 dodge

consequences
  • ranged weapons are likely more deadly than melee
  • dodge isn't that great bc you still take the big hits
  • dodge stat max is 8 or whatever the ranged roll is if adjusted
  • dr and dodge interact strangely 
advantages
  • no need to roll for damage, potentially faster combat (depending if considering armor dr and weapon bonuses doesn't take up more time -ed)
  • less misses = faster combat
  • ranged attacks should be even quicker
  • if you're good at melee fighting you hit more, are better at defense, and do more damage all at once
troubles
  • "roll over for damage" is already a thing
  • armor dr seems like it should be folded in somewhere
  • no critical hits or automatic hits
inspired by troika! 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

TWO "K/NIGHTS": ACHIEVEMENTS IN "COMPREHENSIVE" GAMING: FORTNITE AND HOLLOW KNIGHT

FORTNITE
  • I hate the aesthetics. "It's the ugliest game ever"- my ex 
  • tactics
    • fortnite is one of the few games in my experience which takes a comprehensive view of tactics. I mean there are territories. you plan and search and decide what your encounters are going to be like. or you get spotted first, if you didn't do enough reconnaissance. 
      • if you play squads it's exponentially tacticaller bc mics
    • my brain enjoys this sort of comprehensive planning which accounts for long-range decisions. everyone's gathering materials which they'll likely never use but they need them in case they make it to the end game. you think ahead to your future15-20 mins ahead. you have to think about sightlines. you can spend time gathering your kit, getting resources, getting a positional advantage, finding targets, there's a ticking clock, you have to balance many real long-range problems at once.
    • there's several different playstyles available so there's always a sense of competing psychological contracts
  • nerves
    • it's incredible how much making your opponent panic while you don't is a winner in this game
    • majorly bc there's so much space between encounters, far more than you'd expect in a deathmatch game, it's an attitude that I saw first with Day Z that has been refined and cartoonified
  • servers
    • were good when I started, now they're still good enough, a little worrying tho
  • sniping
    • EXCELLENTLY balanced bc of bullet drop
      • it takes a while for the bullet of death to reach you if you're far away and it drops in a way that's hard to predict so it's flat out chancey to take a shot at somebody and if you do you're pretty much giving away your location
      • but if you get a headshot with the blue one it's a kill. so it's like playing the lottery resting on your nerves and skill
      • you can be mostly secure vs. sniping at distance if you take some precautions but not 100%
      • it gives you something to do to pass the time as the storm closes
      • finally it's also a great stealth mechanic.
        • like a popularly imagined sniper if you're stealthy (at long range!) and patient you can find a target and get a easy or not-so-easy chance at a one shot kill
        • if you fuck up tho you've exposed your location to a bunch of people
        • so it rewards patience, true stealth, and having the nerves and skill to pull it off :)
  • it's a game where I hate the aesthetics but I can't deny it's effectiveness

HOLLOW KNIGHT

I've been saying the word "comprehensive" a lot lately. HK is comprehensive. It feels like a total package, the developers accounted for everything and really had the opportunity to make the crowning metroidvania xperiene they wanted.
  • It's a generously big map populated by unique and uniquely behaving enemies and environmental challenges per territory with quite generous portions of environmental assets + storytelling per territory as well as secrets and music tracks
  • the boss battles are I'm sure the best in total in any game I've ever played: there are so many of them they are all unique each one has enough mechanics. they're challenging but beatable, "fair" and sometimes tightly scored. good rewards too
  • the storytelling is environmental and yeah set in the post-apocalypse but doesn't reveal too much. The survivors don't say much. There's a bunch of elements that reward deduction and flavor the whole experience. You get the sense of a large world with some real dark stuff.
  • Something about bugworld makes it simultaneously ok that there are corpses everywhere but still fundamentally creepy. Very watership down
  • I still don't like the aesthetics! I don't like the voice acting, I don't like a lot of the music, but they got me with the creepier vibes in the deeper territories and the overall work that's been put into the game: all the mechanics are tight, there's really more than enough stuff to find, yadda yadda
I think with both these games I got the sense of developers working really hard while having the funding to take a lot of care with their product. there is so much and it is so generous and well-apportioned. you sit with the other nervous teens at the feast and everybody eats