Saturday, December 29, 2018

the axe hack

IT's just normal DND but the only weapons are axes. Everyone knows how to use axes and there are no other weapons. Everyone has an axe.

Friday, December 28, 2018

benefits of "into the spiderverse"

  1. undeniably a new success in combining film and comic mediums, on several fronts:
    1. visuals: there's a wide array of attempts and some of them are pretty successful. and most of them are used sparingly and for emphasis! and often quite elegantly. 
      1. in the early part of the film, Miles's teenage anxiety at highschool pairs his developing superpowers via the introduction of comic thought boxes... which Miles remarks on: "why are the voices in my head so loud" (paraphrased)
      2. the choppiness of the animation and a lot of the editing singles out poses etc. lends itself to the experience of reading across panels (compare to less-successful previous attempts by filmmakers who would use panel-shaped irises and stuff in like ang lee's the hulk)
      3. serialization: comics are by nature serial, and serial narratives have a lot of associations and freedoms. spiderverse summons literal serial dimensions to emphasize these associations and to play with them.
        1. it's different than just nostalgia, it's post-modern, we understand the formula and so the movie's often subversive to that understanding
        2. in this way the film shows a great understanding for the way comics work. familiarity and ease help u feel good watching it
  2. major failings: I get the sense that comic book movies main struggle is over sentimentality. U want that emotional connection to yr characters but if u fuck up the writing or pacing the long slow scenes with Aunt May or whoever are boring and saccharine. 
    1. Spiderman 2 (2004) has like an hourlong stretch where spiderman is going thru an emotional crisis and not doing any superhero antics (for example)
    2. I was in to most of Spiderverse's emotional relationships but they had 3, count 'em 3 father figures (arguably 4) and that just was too much father figuring for me. The cop father just showed up for no reason in the final extradimensional battle and didnt do anything and so we had to have that many more lingering reaction shots
  3. The film's animation techniques get self-obsessed and onanistic in the final fight scene, which takes too long as well... everything's abstract no grounding in reality unlike all the earlier scenes where it's like, Spiderman takes a bus to a forested area and swings around the trees (very good)
  4. The fight scenes of the first 2/3 of the movie do a great job of grounding the action in reality or comic book tradition, and play around with that tradition
  5. There are many funny jokes
  6. It's weird to watch a "kid's film" -style film and be entertained as an adult. Pixar
  7. Probably worth expanding the pixar comparison. Most pixar films have a better standard of quality than spiderverse did. Like a wide-eyed and all-inclusive attention to every element of the film, all the overtones neatly paired and the story well-revised.
    1. Spiderverse's good moments tho were as good as anything Pixar has done like it, and there's many good moments in Spiderverse
Overall, worth seeing, and a genuine appreciation for Spiderman reignited in my heart, albeit, yeah, by the end of the film, I was like "ain't got time for that". Plus they're gonna make a bunch more movies in this like cinematic universe within-a-cinematic-universe and they're gonna suck, all of the above is EXACTLY how I felt about the first avengers movie

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Yorgos Lanthimos "The Favorite" 2018

Oakay I figured it out folks. The issue with the film is Olivia Colman. The centre of the love triangle isn't really repulsive which is what she needed to be for this film to be on par with Y.L.'s other films. This is mostly the fault of the complete movie, Colman included, for not making Queen Anne truly terrible.

Because u see Y.L.'s other films always have that gripping disgust which they make hay with. Dogtooth Lobster Killing of a Sacred Deer all have it. The new film, The Favourite, is pretty well acted, good dialogue, great cinematography, some toppa lighting, costuming, good money but the most gross stuff is Queen Anne's gout, over-eating, and some romantic wounds like a facial scar and a hand burn.

The movie ends with a forced sex act which, to really push the grossness of it, interfades with Queen Anne's pet rabbits. That's not quite good enough dude, Dogtooth did much better, Lobster and TKOASD were much crueler. I need a Queen Anne who is fucked-up to watch, needs to be grosser. This is a less-gross film.

Image result for queen anne the favorite

Sunday, December 16, 2018

d100+ directions, higher numbers weirder

roll several times to get directions, uhhh vary it between d6, d10, d20, d30, d50, d20+25 etc., d100, as the higher numbers are wierder... example:
  1. go right
  2. there's a lot of Bandits in this zone so be careful
  3. crawl in the pipe there
  4. think really hard about ladders
...and you're there.

d 1 0 0 T A B L E o F s T R A N G E D I R E C T I O N S: 
  1. go right
  2. go left
  3. reroll (until applicable -ed) and add "two times"
  4. reroll (ditto) and add "three times"
  5. go north
  6. go east
  7. go west
  8. go south
  9. add "at the junction," and reroll
  10. walk twenty five steps thataway
  11. keep going until you see
    1. threatening graffiti
    2. the big hole
    3. all that moss
    4. fat Derrida
    5. the community board
    6. that church
  12. turn at the big rock
  13. if you see the ... you've gone too far. 
    1. big rock
    2. pile of horse skeletons
    3. stuck-in-wall guy
    4. magic fountain
    5. really large grass field
    6. hole
  14. take the less-trod path
  15. oh yeah, there's a shortcut: (reroll 5 more times) 
  16. "about a mile down the road" and reroll
  17. there should be double doors, go through those.
  18. a ... will guide you:
    1. a grey wolf
    2. a brown cat
    3. a fat dog
    4. a fat rat
    5. a talking bat
    6. a pretty lady
  19. you'll have to bribe the guard there. like $5
  20. staircase up.
  21. ...that'll get you most of the way there. (nullifies remaining directionsIf this is the first instruction: no directions necessary)
  22. at this point you should smell:
    1. bacon
    2. bread and iron
    3. waffles
    4. smoke
  23. at this point you should hear:
    1. screaming
    2. bees
    3. rushing water (a waterfall -ed)
    4. howling wind
    5. a sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, don't worry tho
    6. thunking
  24. reroll and add "...usually."
  25. you'll have to climb up that wall.
  26. there's a magic door there, to unlock it, you'll have to (roll d50 + 50, two times until applicable)
  27. should just be a hill or two before...
  28. there's a lot of Bandits in this zone so be careful
  29. there's a shortcut through someone's house... if they ask tell them 'Chinnie' sent you
  30. if you get that far it should pretty obvious where to go next.
  31. hug the treeline for a while
  32. watch out for broken glass, here.
  33. should be a red crank there, turn it, it will raise the portcullis, I think.
  34. you'll have to go and meet the jester there, I don't remember the rest (nullifies remaining rolls)
  35. follow the tracks for like a mile
  36. ladder up
  37. ladder down
  38. you'll have to go and find a ladder to get up, there.
  39. crawl in the pipe there.
  40. there should be a bridge directly above you.
  41. should be a large fuzzy crack in the wall.
  42. should be lava at this point
  43. you'll have to breeze up the way until you hit, like, pawn's five knight's gopher
  44. try to deliberately piss off Chinnie
  45. ok, there will be a delicious feast there, but don't eat anything, right...
  46. eat breakfast here, or if it's night, you're gonna wanna have some fruit and coffee.
  47. it'll be warm.
  48. .... keeps the key on their person but they'll give it up for liquor/sex/riddle/jewlery
    1. Bechelrose
    2. Donny
    3. Fat Matilda
    4. The Worst Case Scenario, Don Bluth III
    5. Chinnie
    6. A.M.Y.
  49. should be a sudden breeze, and that's when you have to drink the poison
  50. eat the
    1. meat.
    2. collected building supplies- bricks, two-by-fours, nails, wire
    3. lightbulbs (it's candy glass)
    4. cartwheels (actually a delicous cake)
    5. cake, made of wood :(
    6. fat angel
  51. dig through the sawdust
  52. some kids might try and throw rocks at you but all you really have to do is beat the shit out of one of them
  53. crawl
  54. reroll (until applicable) and add "until someone stops you"
  55. spin until you throw up
  56. hit a high note like a *imitate sound of high note*
  57. scoop water out of the dark pool, drink it, pass out
  58. kill a
    1. red badger
    2. woman wearing a blue dress
    3. known thief
    4. building (demolish a building)
    5. child
    6. fetus
  59. take the frozen path along the abyss with the falling icicles
  60. hunt some of the {minibeasts} and throw one against a wall, killing it, should knock over the wall
  61. walk down the hallway backwards
  62. jump in the pit (50% chance deceptive information)
  63. one of the screens has a door behind it
  64. pull on the chandelier.
  65. there should be a tunnel UNDER the dining room, try not to make too much noise...
  66. think really hard about ladders
  67. roll off veins table of interstices (use these for like 10 entries -ed)
  68. hedge maze! 
  69. use a tunnel under a river; roll off the veins interstice table.
  70. tunnel made of appliances.
  71. clear a path through the Room of Spoons (the auditorium from A Clockwork Orange) (next time rolled: forks, knifes, salad tongs, teapots)
  72. ring any bell.
  73. curl up into an egg.
  74. nestle into the coffin.
  75. zipline!
  76. if you're not underground at this point you miffed it
  77. thin bridge
  78. scenic bridge
  79. you'll have to find some way to move that rock.
  80. marketplace bridge
  81. shaky bridge will collapse 
  82. shortcut through palace of fire which requires arson
  83. strike the gazebo
  84. get in the coldest hole
  85. watch out for the paintings with the arms
  86. sleep
  87. jump out the window
  88. sign the guestbook.
  89. catch a rabbit to burn
  90. the guard there will ask you to get nude, but don't believe his lies...
  91. gravity switches there
  92. jump off the bridge at the part with the missing link
  93. fat cheerleader has the answers...
  94. {jerk off} into the bowl... free of charge, here's some porn... hehe
  95. come back, and find me, and hurt me.
  96. you'll have to take those pills I just gave you.
  97. you'll have to commit seppuku at this point.
  98. you can fit into the fat angel
  99. you have to let the fat angel suck someone's dick
  100. avoid the tarrasque

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

review of the carnegie international, 57th edition, 2018

Alex Da Corte's "Rubber Pencil Devil."

My brain might have to actually be different to find or read a book of poetry I actually enjoy. Maybe it's the friends I didn't keep up with or never made; maybe it's my own lack of discipline one way or another. I had a moment a few years ago where I thought I found some sympathetic poets, those connected to the Alt Lit movement, but shortly thereafter that whole establishment ripped itself apart.

Not 100% sure I would enjoy Alt Lit books now if I found them? Think for me that poetry has always been about something else, whether an idea of the "moment", like for the beats or contemporary writers, or for personal connections, or similar. Of course I've seen not a few pretty good live poets who do a good job; and I've seen a bunch of genuine good publications. But boy howdy I'm not feeling the energy to pick up anyone's book right now and get something out of it, I have to look for more online magazines that might be good...

Course with poetry it's like, one good poem can wear you out anyway. Went to the carnegie international today ended up not liking much of anything except "Rubber Pencil Devil" which lured me in. What I'm really into is surprisingly literary texts, things like comment replies, reviews, sports journalism, and yeah poetry which are short enough to shock and have something good in them. Fragments that are colorful. Video game writing like this, RPG writing, 'course for VGs it's all the critical work which is important, not the games...

... and finding something like "good writing in video games" is xtrmly difficult. Feels basically that I am in touch with all writers everywhere and no one's producing anything good, or maybe just frustrated that those networks are closed off to me, the individuals hidden... a sort of dark presence like a roving eyeball, deep hands, pouring over the flat 'net... always remember that the best writing online is blog posts by grad students or dropouts...

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

comparing rpg and poetry workflows

Was talking with my friends last night about how my workflow for rpgs is so much better than my workflow for poetry ever was.

Image result for workflow
that's a workflow.

trpg workflow:

1. draw on the osr/diy dnd community for good texts like books and blogposts
2. schedule gaming with any interested friends
3. generate fragmentary prep. post some of this on blog
4. run the game with resources from step 1 and 3 and improvise.
5. depending on what players did, set some prep goals. goto 1

steps 1, 3, and 4 will generate a constantly growing pile of resources which can be published via blog or used in future games, step 5 will generate weekly creative goals

1. read patrick stuart's "veins of the earth"
2. over like a month period got a group together
3. wrote up a bunch of veins stuff inspired by the book, mainly a starting locale
4. during our first game the players buzzed past the starting locale into some unknown tunnels, I used the veins random tables to fill these in
5. write up the tunnels proper for next week

I'm doing research, writing my own stuff, organizing it, sharing it with my friends, and contributing to the community; and I have little weekly goals.

my workflow for poetry is more like:

1. see someone else's shitty poetry
2. think "I can do better"
3. get on a writing kick and produce some stuff
4. potentially share the poetry at a pittsburgh reading
5. try to edit the poems a little. either produce a finished piece or move on

comparing the two, the biggest missing elements from my poetry workflow are:
1. a constant stream of writing that I actually like
2. a regular space and time to share the writing with friends, irl
3. regular writing goals
4. a welcoming community I can self-publish to (he has several of these, they just don't produce work he likes all that often -ed)
5. an organized space to amass all my writing
(6. the poetry workflow is completely meanspirited. -e)

#1 and #4 are pretty hard to find, I've been looking for years. #2 can be more readily arranged and like as I wrote this I put out feelers on facebook for a poetry group. but I know just like you know that knowing where to find good writing is pretty essential for an artist of any kind...

the other thing to immediately note is how important social media is. it can provide a constant stream of good writing to read, a community to self-publish to, and like google hangouts edges into a regular space/time to share the writing with friends.

there's also a lot of synergy with social media: sharing is the same thing as organizing and documenting. A constant stream of writing that I actually like is (in many cases -ed) the welcoming community I can self-publish to. etc

it would be good to find a social media community that did poetry I liked. but maybe I just don't like (other people's) poetry that much! who knows

Monday, December 3, 2018

deliverance by james dickey reviewd

deliverance is about as much as honest trying to get you into the body of a 1950 or I guess 1970s ad executive man's man like on the cover of Man's Conquest below. It's pretty much exactly that situation. But it's done honest and well, bc it it's quite openly sexual and advances that sexuality, like the guy pisses himself while he's climbing up a rock: "The urine in my bladder turned solid and painful, and then ran with a delicious sexual voiding like a wet dream, something you can't help or be blamed for." and all the prose and shit about the river's all well written that being said my eyes glaze over river descriptions. and the advancement of the rape scene is very fast.

Image result for cannibal crabs crawl to kill

It's also very OSR/DND bc members of the party get killed off, very suddenly, quite lethal, skill challenges, "I have to go kill this one guy, if I don't kill him he'll get the drop on us, I have only this one night to do it" (wholly paraphrased), definitive single attack rolls, climb checks, a hobby taken seriously...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

the house that jack built review

Why can't serial killers just relax? It's because we all must build our lives out of materials, local or no, well they become local, don't they.

Von Trier frames most scenes independently like they're little vignettes with versions of the characters, not necessarily continuous, and this is good, liberating, allows for more felt out acting I think, history between characters can be spun way or another to suit the scene.

Whereas u might imagine that the film is purely discursive for this reason-- shifting histories, tropes-- there is a literal physical piling up of these specific encounters, the titular House. More than anything feels likely to me that a good ("" -ed) man's life is a series of killed miniature lives. I feel like I've killed my family friends exgirlfriends and the same weariness a-piling up in a space beyond time. Somewhat clueless about what to do with these except the eventual, nonplussed destination of hell.

And not just friends family and ex girlfriends but protracted relationships with near-strangers. The serial killer life models our own when it comes to getting something out of it. The satisfaction is bullied by near future satisfactions and emptied by previous ones and that the various pleasures will sum up into something ultimately dead, over and over again...

(Although lately no, I'm just happy to be where I'm at... as perhaps Jack was)

critical addendum: this is as much as the above film has to say I think with the added benefits of gore and some uhhhh hit-and-miss comedy. Matt Dillon is beautiful but he's not the best actor, outclassed by "Thurm" Thurman

Sunday, November 25, 2018

thirty-four reviews

Image result for eric andre show
eric andre.

boiling point (1990)

/psychological realism doesn't have much credo and yet I find a definite gap between some director's ambitions and other's. Credit to the filmmaking practices which honor "the dreamy look" or heighten the everyday boredom we all face.

old forester bourbon

originally I thought it had a nutty taste but now I'm not so sure. all whiskey starting to taste like soda to me. tried "angel's envy" at my friend's wedding and it was like, not top shelf? but it had that tasty burn with the flavor in the high notes

dead man, jim jarmusch

my friend (roommate) kept going gaga over the textures in this film, her friend too, talking about how black and white movies often the filmmakers want to bring out the textures, three or four textures in this film, linear, floral, feathers/hair, and a weird beehive one she couldn't place

edward saint albee's "alice"

I just bought this because it was cheap and signed by the author. the bookstore I bought it from was the fence for theft from the library system I work at.

heaven can wait 1948

old style of gentleman which was a sexuality in this face and lips, delicate and gentle. kind of winning presence you immediately feel like you could trust. don ameche takes this trust and abuses it

the paintings of zak smith

I mentioned this in my "frostbitten and mutilated" review but I don't care for portraits drawn from photographs. it's dumb to say that considering how do I know what is, and what isnt, drawn from a photograph. I usually miss the appeal w.e.

squidbillies-- seasons 2&3 are good

tommy tone "bad to to the tone"

listened to this uhh twenty three times

wigle's rye whiskey

rye tastes like flowers and shit but wigle's is good enough to stay appealing. although I hate rye I can get it

stonecutter volume 5


kero blaster

bosses are good played 1/2


hate how the scope of the game narrows to be about this generic classical architecture + industrial setting especially since at the beginning it promises to be world-hopping


what's the appeal of simpleflips? he's sorta rotten at the core and always on the verge of falling over. he's not that good despite being talented. watching him is like someone trying to renovate a too-old skyscraper

tfue (a twitch streamer- simpleflips too -ed)

I keep thinking of david foster wallace's tennis youth in "infnite jest" who have nicknames and have a sort of pecking order eaten away by sheer athleticism, that there's something worth pursuing... comradely sort


talked to some maoists who might see this. afai can tell viewing the cultural revolution in a mostly positive lens is bleh, seeing anything but all the usual negative patterns of communism in the great leap forward is eye-and-ear shutting. plus all the stuff about stalin and like, didn't the bolsheviks establish a secret police almost immediately??

did some research on the movement, learned maybe for the first time that some topics are wide enough to encompass several international views. that being said I feel 48% confident that these maoists are relying on conspiracy theories to wipe clean the slates of their heroes

anarchist coffee down the street

it's actually called "artisan's coffee house". zeke is friendly but the coffee's never been good, and even the good stuff, although the chai is to die for I've heard


best bicycle shop in pittsburgh epicenter I wonder if it's the case that as an artist your job is to go find a budding community and sit over it like a fat toad sharing criticism and free talent

barry lyndon

not actually all shot in natural lighting kinda ruins the movie once my friend john told me this. that being said though:

--the scene with the german farm wife
--the scene where barry throws the glass at leonard rossiter
--leonard rossiter is so hype
--the natural-lit scene with the english flag, like the second scene
--steven berkoff

the duelists 1977

fantastic but the ending sucks

johnny depp

johnny always gives the movie something to work with albeit it's often wasted. that's all there is to say

drive (the movie)

I didn't have much appreciation for the film outside the kissing scene and the opening, however in retrospect I like some of the settings, like the pizza shop, I like bryan cranston although he's underused, and I retroactively like oscar isaac because he's my crush

annihilation (the movie)

there's only two good parts, the first scene where natalie portman is grieving, and then the videotape near the end where oscar isaac is talking to his double. I like the interior of the lighthouse, I like jennifer jason leigh although she didn't save the end

the hateful eight

"quentin taratino can just shit out good movies" - the red letter media guys, paraphrased

el topo (already reviewd, albeit this review was written before the previously published review -ed)

quite excellent and jodorowsky gives a fucking excellent performance especially in the last 1/4

fellini satyricon

I watched the opening of this movie like the first forty minutes that my free trial of wondershare file converter managed to convert every third day for about a month

impressionism about anthropology and history is the way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!

the cook the thief the wife and her lover

I watched the first forty minutes of this film an awful lot, too. fellini satyricon just stays really fucking good the whole movie though and this film only knows how to do 2 scenes

the rum diaries (2011)

this movie only knows how to do three scenes and it just vacillitates between three: johnny depp is doing something, aaron eckhart says "sea of money", amber heard blue balls johnny

aaron eckhart

kind of our george clooney if george clooney had to retire

ex machina (2014)

think about this all the time. not bcause of technology but bcause of oscar isaac weird sexiness he imposes on "domhnall". "I put a port in her and if you fucked her she'd like it". modern male tech sexuality dominance stuff like who else doin that???

the tech industry's full of nerds

guardians of the galaxy vol 1-- bad

a woman under the influence (1974)

a bunch of good scenes and can't give enough credit to how it was filmed, handheld with an attention to and somewhat sloppy focus. think about gena rowlands gesticulations. stopped at the 2/3 point never got around to the end

eric andre show

in the eric andre show, isn't he filming himself grabbing at people's genitals or getting his staff to do that? if you watch the series as I have there's a lot of eric reaching for people's genitals or his staff doing that to irritate the guests/people.

lamentations of the flame princess- good but my developing dm style, the harsh stuff, is drawing criticism... is an instadeath trap so inappropriate?

luke kennard's "cain"
Luke Kennard is FUCKING AROUND with this one. "31 anagram poems [of] Genesis 4:9-12". around each of these is a frame of red text transcribing a fictional DVD commentary. can't figure these out

wuvable oaf: blood & metal

wuvable oaf is good and queer baby

marquis de sade's "juliette"

somewhere within this tome is the chapter wherein juliette goes to visit kinda a bluebeard guy who has a castle full of human furniture. read that excerpt in andre breton's anthology of black humor. can't find that part

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Anointed skeleton Class for lamentations of the flame princess

Your corpus was blessed by necromantic energies and blessed again by an ancient ritual applied widely within Vecna’s ranks. As a result you are an animated skeleton with intelligence, devoted to Vecna, who is missing as of late. You have a gem embedded in your forehead and may be painted.

Stat adjustments:
int = 10
cha = 1
dex +2
no con score.

Skeletons are not affected by cold and cannot eat, sleep, drink, or breathe. They can speak.

Skeletons can see 60 feet without light in black and white.

Damage Reduction:
A skeleton has damage deduction 5/bludgeoning. They are destroyed at 0 hp.

You may never act against Vecna in thought, word, or action.

Starting Hp d12, minimum hp 6. Hp increase as Dwarf.

Saves/xp as fighter, BAB does not increase.

Friday, November 23, 2018

"the heart, she holler" reviewed

the heart, she holler review

i could do a review of PFFR and like vernon chatman but I don't have the biographical skills to really get anywhere with that. PFFR with uh wonder showzen xavier and the heart she holler does tv horror comedy. grossout, internitonally terrible social critique, apocalypse, extremely high joke density. heart she holler has 4-5 great comedic actors doing their damndest in a free-spirit environment. patton oswalt heather lawless jonathan hadary amy sedaris. everyone else on the show is at least a good support. 

drawing out the horror and weirdness in southern soap operas and then riffing there, bristling visual and auditory excitement. you could talk about joke structures but its sort of pointless; there are a lot of jokes. sfx are profuse immaculate and perfectly self conscious. my favorite horror bit is amy sedaris's kids who are like "the room" kids, they live their whole lives in a space beneath her well-used mattress. they're filthy, speak in neutral monotone and have quiet smiles on their faces... being led back in to their hole one says "is this part of the joke? Ha ha, I get it". 

part of horror is the bristle, taking you to that place and squeezing, "ha ha I made you uncomfortable!" its just what I needed... make it mean, make me suffer...

 .  .  .

some of my favorite tv producers like brendon small seem like they're boring california creatives. jon h benjamin the exception probably bc he's like a california creative who takes up a public persona. But they all look grapes of wrath people:

Still from "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)

Vernon Chatman.

Still from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000)

H Jon Benjamin.

Brendon Small.

Still from "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940)

Friday, November 16, 2018

brief reviews of some explicit movies

Duane Hanson's "Woman Eating"

visitor q

necrophilia scene is the best, plus all the followup. and the kid who beats his mom with the carpet beater's good. also the opening scene at the love hotel. what's not to like? the quality of the film online is not good as much as I would want it to be. 


blowjob/marching scene is good, that happens like near the end when caligula is prostituting all of the senator's wives. overall this movie is a boner (the bad kind) and malcolm macdowell's acting which isn't good anyway is destroyed by his makeup. Like there's a lot of sorta porno camerawork where the edit will go to a close up of someone's genitals. But there's also a surprising amount of restriant believe it or not, as much as it's mostly heterosexual it also at times seems like a genuine attempt to bring out some gravitas. the husband/wife newlywed rape by caligula scene is also good at least conceptually.

der samurai

a german queer cinema film, kinda low budget, has some good acting, some really good action choreography, at times, with Pit Kukowski at least. you have to give the queer message credit (the killer is the prophetic lover of the protagonist) but I think there's a more uncomfortable deeper sexuality, animal lust, that the movie doesn't credit or use. I mean yeah in the final scene Pit's dick is out and he's getting a boner but... he's not using it? 

Like, emerging queerness is alike a killer with a sword, cool yeah, it's like a wolf, little more cliche... where's the sex.


relentlessly pro-police but still a good movie. one of those films with a really complicated plot; but executed with the as-advertised genuine police dialogue. I love scenes of political power struggle set up by dialogue set up by overlapping and conflicting professional social scripts

dialogue, yet again... but also action, and music. there's a good and complete understanding of albertans and 3-4 different slices of the social pie: jocks, indians, the more traditional farmers, meth-heads. Each group, the farmers especially, has a total patter, a complex, constantly funny, wide social band of emotion. The show often kinda stops there and it's good enough, it's really fucking good.

there's this constant dreamworld of sex and young adults where all the older people are gone; there's a sense and a hint that the main family, most of the family, are survivors of child abuse... and what happy survivors... what a community, an idyll, could be, even with meth.

the show  eventually dissolves into just really good wordplay, which is like saying "my sex life eventually dissolved into just really good nipple play".

westworld 1973
best scene, the loser-turned-hero finds a damsel strapped up in a cell in Medievalworld. he rescues her and offers her water. she refuses, he insists, he pours the water into her and she short-circuits. about half the movie seems interested in drawing out that message but there's a lot of wish-fufillment too-subtly undercut by it. that being said we all know the movie's success is due to the concept which is pretty good; I mean they're running through Pompeii and everyone, robots and guests, are stabbed dead on the ground, there's some shots of them getting all stabbed to death too.

a clockwork orange

did I already review this? more and more convinced it deserves to be watched on a bigger screen, I have a chunky old huge HD crt. U have to watch from the start and focus on the red and then u can kinda not mind as it zooms out and just take the music in. and yea the rape scene that comes in a little later is well-coordinated fersure. But I really like the music am sort of convinced of Beethoven's power. But yeah other than that the social dynamics wherein these mod beefed-up guys are everywhere, are sort of the child protectors vs. ppl like alex, that's cool... you have to get into rape scenes like I'm getting into and then you enjoy the singing in the rain scene pretty much but I think I like the stuff in jail even more, not any prison-rape but just Alex studying the bible, having these slow, procedural conversations with prison officials... kubrick good at bringing those to a fever pitch

eyes wide shut

in 1080p the blue light used behind nicole kidman in the dream confession scene seems super artificial, and if you watch a documentary you can pick out the parts where tom cruise is on a treadmill and they're using front projection. thought about hyperrealism last time I put this together. specifically duane hanson's "Woman Eating", bc, you know, every scene outside of the orgy scenes are built to be hyperrealistic and that's what you can appreciate, depiction of reality with all the cues. Also Tom Cruise is eternally lovely as Bill, I noticed the moral struggle outlined in the semifinal scene for the first time a couple watches ago, Bill in his social script having to outline the moral compromise he is going to make with his superior Ziegler.

the devils 1971

pretty much perfect, the decline starts with oliver reed's limited range but michael gothard swings in and reinvents the picture. trap me in a convent, baby!!!

the plumber

better than I expected, despite the post-bourgeoise leanings it still goes on a great tear with Ivar Kants and it's quite sexual.

I walked with a zombie

hatian houseman with a guitar sings a ballad and walks up to the female white protagonist, and it's supposed to be menacing. really great scene with the white guy's alcoholism, there's drums in the background slowly getting faster throughout a dinner scene confrontation. there's that sequence where the females go out wearing lowing flowing robes towards the voodoo ritual in the woods and its quite magical, like a genre transposition into fairytale. so many scenes with the surprising good lighting. you watch old movies sometimes and this is one of those which is actually good and holds up, it's trying to make horror out of white people having to deal with black people and in the process manages to showcase some black actors / culture which is like, exceedingly rare in 1943, it's what gives the film life

el topo, the holy mountain

recently some buzz in pittsburgh about how row house cinema disclosed to its customers right before a midnight screening of el topo that alejandro jodrowsky apparently filmed live rape which is in the movie. no credit to alejandro for phrasing it that way for fifty years or whatever, and you can't know the conditions of the actress and so on, so who's to say? I'm fading into "never giving a shit about the ethics of the filmmaker, or maybe even of production", trying to figure out the theoretical props for that statement. anyway el topo is through and through a master's movie, the holy mountain is actually worse. u could say "it reclaims the western" for el topo and it'd be fair. I prefer some other movie to the holy mountain I forget what it is

charlotte rampling

you know what's funny? C.R. is really good in "zardoz". in a movie that is overfull of practical fx and a stupid hippy ensemble cast that's used quite well anyway Charlotte has these sharp three second reaction shots, does the dramatic scenes with the full of her vigor, to bikini'd sean connery. and she gets on a horse and rides the fuck out of it, furious... 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

dark souls: briefly reviewd

anyway dark souls is a game about killing  your opponents with overly slow melee attacks. exaggerated windups! yes ladies and gentleman it's largely inspired by mmos. it's just diablo.

diablo is good and what was always good about diablo was the playerbase around it. how clear it is in dark souls's intentions to create a playerbase. and how generous!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

privates on parade (1983)

everyone loves postmodernity if it means specifically: taking something old and remaking it but doing it really well. Is that what postmodernity means? yes.

a lot of the benefits are strictly technological, like just the quality and craft. but there is also the reverse of nostalgia there which is so important. it doesn't have to be more than an honest backwards look, because nostalgia is never honest.

this film tho is also really smart as well as honest like I said. it knows all the ins and outs of military stuff enough to get all the actors' military acting right, the military dialogue, the military traditions. the purpose of this accuracy is to better lampoon...

that this film is ultimately not just a lampoon is maybe overreach on the filmmaker's parts. but it's original so... at least it's original for Peter.

Image result for privates on parade

Saturday, September 22, 2018

d100 city encounters

still from 1978's "Jubilee"

if necessary roll 2d6x10' for encounter distance.
  1. saxophone music is coming from somewhere
  2. man publically selling eggs, cutting hair
  3. a mouse election?
  4. 3 card monte but the shill won't stop winning or let anyone else play
  5. something the players would really want is on sale
  6. a closed store that never opens
  7. competing funeral processions
  8. whatever building the players are trying to get to, a horde of golems are dissembling it for complex bureaucratic reasons, all the building's staff have their possessions in their hands or in piles at their feet (original, similar idea by d. sell I think -ed)
  9. fat, gross cat to accompany party
  10. man selling trained bats
  11. graffiti is obviously a url, if you follow it leads to clues (let's see you improvise THAT -ed)
  12. quality brothel
  13. street-side liposuction & other cosmetic surgeries... tummy tuck... bone reduction
  14. abandoned death ray
  15. folks burning a library
  16. lynching
  17. brick thieves tearing up a street
  18. coal truck leaking coal, urchins follow
  19. 3 card monte but dumbass dealer
  20. herd of pigs playing flutes guided by pigherd
  21. ugly and territorial goose terrorizing schoolchildren
  22. superhero makes appearance, saves someone
  23. leaping suicide
  24. leaping suicide but there's still time to save them
  25. nearby bombing
  26. violent protest + suppression by
    1. police
    2. soldiers
    3. rival faction
    4. mysterious hooded beings
  27. red neighborhood of gushing communists
  28. chase + cliche
    1. fruit cart
    2. workers carrying glass
    3. "kiss me!"
    4. banana peel
  29. evil plan they were wondering about clearly reported in blown-by newspaper
  30. bicycles recently invented
  31. demon inviting you into its well, inside:
    1. needs people to try its demon candy, effects: (will give you a package of the candy if you try one, and will let you go)
      1. horrible lust for the worst possible person
      2. eyeballs permanently switch to reverse side of head, uncurable
      3. genitals yell extremely loud next time used
      4. snake pills make snakes grow inside your body, they never leave, somewhat friendly
    2. "care for a game of chess"? willing to bet metaphysical stakes
    3. you find yourself leaving the well as soon as you climb in, and some time has passed
    4. needs someone to scratch its back, but only with their big toe... rewards demon jewlery:
      1. stinky bone attached to rope of beads, wards against good ideas
      2. toe ring that doubles your aging
      3. fat bracelet, makes you unconsciously always do rude gestures
      4. choker that completely removes the desire to do good from your brain when worn
  32. random PC has STD flare-up
  33. russian roulette street preacher (from "el topo" -ed)
  34. a bunch of kids all coming this way playing russian roulette each with a gun. they all keep winning but there's some incidental fire
  35. shore leave sailors en masse harass, cajole, befriend, fight, entertain, won't let you leave
  36. flock of schoolkids running with scissors
  37. firefighters dousing melting piano + burned pianist, another victim of the mysterious "piano killer..."
  38. fancy duel
  39. megalomaniac archer trying to find a kid to shoot an apple off the head of
  40. public execution by strangling taking really long and exhausting stranglers, officiant wants to know if PCs can help out
  41. weed-whacker style invention on the loose, pursued by inventor
  42. persistent singing merchants, as if leading up to a musical number
  43. speakeasy raid
  44. cheap crabcakes
  45. the mayor is making a speech...
    1. and an evil clown is standing behind him & to the left
    2. ...banning:
      1. knives
      2. open sale of furniture
      3. all dogs
      4. -- establishing a curfew due to the "piano killer"
    3. presenting a medal to a heretofore unknown but somehow still popularly known superhero 
    4. he's at the part of the speech where he's taking questions
  46. team of horses transporting giant stone head (from: "fellini satyricon" -ed)
  47. mass suicide
  48. man beating wife in street
  49. man beating domestic partner in street
  50. panhandler is persistent to the point of archvillainry
  51. giant scoby everyone ignores
  52. loose, wild horse is really destructive
  53. girl-watching crowd assembled and in wait
  54. the emperor is visiting
  55. public theatre performance features a real punitive amputation and then an incidental, real drama about a slave (also from satyricon -ed)
  56. old men in quantity trying to win the favors of noblewoman who is obligated to do public tryouts, she can't leave till they all go
  57. hideous, racist memorial unveiling
  58. the olympics are here
  59. fresh-faced youth recruiting for suicidal adventure
  60. near-perfect-quality fakes being painted and sold on street; these have obvious value, there's a growing crowd
  61. gang sawing off head of feminist hero statue
  62. it's one of the days where a nearby factory, or the equivalent, releases so much pollution that activity has to be limited and people with trouble breathing nearly die. 
  63. gang of artists stalking and assassinating cops
  64. street gang with rocks really trying to hurt you
  65. large and terrible fire
  66. adults egging on a child protester to stall carriages and throw rocks
  67. spies making contact but they're loud enough that it's obvious
  68. extremely powerful rare earth magnets on travelling display and for a high price
  69. accurate fortune telling from nomads
  70. feast
  71. you overhear a demonic ritual taking place in a building, they mean to cast Summon
  72. mass shooting, one shooter many victims, underway in nearby basement
  73. conmen attempting the "pigeon drop" on y'all
  74. eating contest, presumably bizarre
  75. people are chasing a feral cats to bag and burn
  76. fan of your exploits wants to join your party, has law trouble secretly
  77. crowd of your fans going "beatles"-level crazy and tearing at your clothes
  78. stand selling hemlock at steep discount + a feverish rush to buy
  79. rich and jealous lover burning effigy of copulating rivals... semiritual... 
  80. ventriloquist + dummy have stolen crown jewels and are openly wearing them (and mocking the crown). highly powerful ppl
  81. community college is offering some appealing classes
  82. band playing songs with subject matter distantly about the player characters
  83. dispute over plagiarized poetry about 10 seconds away from becoming a gunfight
  84. drug dealers offering regional variants on meth
  85. quality hand grenades for sale
  86. people are looting a gun store in advance of the cops. a battle has already killed the original perps and almost all of the staff 
  87. dedicated & doomed advance on the capital building, will result in a hours-long siege
  88. Guru CAN teach you the secret to levitation
  89. Tourists in quantity also curious about you
  90. Large public dance
  91. abandoned & spilled mailbag
  92. posters everywhere advertise a play, tickets are expensive, going gives you 1 skill point in Art Appreciation
  93. Black cat keeps crossing your path
  94. Alley tank is damaged, seeping much:
    1. Powerful glue
    2. Lantern oil
    3. Jellied Goldschläger (delicious!)
    4. Plasma (can be used to refill plasmic cores or inhaled as plasmic cores, is quite dangerous)
  95.  Economic boom! All characters offered reliable jobs.
  96.  Economic bust! All characters with reliable jobs are fired.
  97. One random character with a reliable job is fired with little cause.
  98. Chance encounter with a previous villain, now reformed.
  99. Uncanny doppleganger adventuring group encountered
  100. Police brutality.

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


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


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:

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.

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.

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.

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 (exception: OSR2 - ed).

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

fun, non-threatening combat system by peter

--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 :(

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 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

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

  • 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 
  • 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
  • "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


  • 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


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

Saturday, August 4, 2018


common dungeon elements
drawing a maze as they explore is actually fine. you can easily put things in the maze while you sketch the paths and make decisions about which way is the right way. trick is to make those decisions before the players decide which way to go if possible

difficult to come up with a good riddle on the spot

a good monster can just be something stereotypical with a twist

seriously easy to think up... again just think of it before the players encounter it. blades in the dark jab out at you... there's a magical energy field generating blades. and uh it's coming from a little magic machine running in the corner. great trap.

can actually be negotiated with players as described or invented randomly

I would say that you can actually make this up as the players solve it, similar to a maze. you see a bunch of colored blocks that can be rotated. green yellow blue orange. they correspond to... some charts on the wall. the charts? well there's a series of checkerboard patterns that have those colors... no, it's too difficult for me to draw out... yes, let's just have someone roll an intelligence check... you can bail out

secret passageways:
as convenient (goes without saying) and you get to use fiat  whether they find any in a search. it's important to use fiat. because life is arbitrary

an overall sense of dungeon logic:
will emerge as you play.


  • no prep
  • don't need to reference prep
  • dungeons are pretty random collections of elements anyways
  • surmising quickly thought-up elements into larger overall themes is actually easy
  • I might be better at improvisation than reference
  • can elide easier, bring out the important bits easier
  • can use fragmentary prep easily
  • simple stuff is probably easier to play with
  • good work flow: make or find fun fragments and improvise rest
  • credible way to run a red & pleasant land


  • some elements are hard to improvise such as riddles (solved via fragmentary prep -ed)
  • a sense of prewritten secrets being divulged is perhaps lost
  • requires the ability to improvise
  • "fairness"???

Friday, August 3, 2018

what I want and do not want in rpgs

I read " I feel the compulsion to explicitly state the things I desire in play and assumptions in the material I write, " in scrap's post and have, honestly, been gushing over the pig pip stuff zak put out lately. 

what I want in rpgs:
1. a framework of power
in the game, the king's guards can protect the king from most threats, there's a military logic behind it. you can always refer to that logic. this is how you get cool stories in like plays. in "sexy beast" a retired mob employee is being pressured by his superior to come out of retirement. the retired mobster does not want to come out of retirement because he is afraid of death, but he is also afraid of angering his superior who has the freedom to beat him up and maybe even kill him. the superior doesn't want to kill the mobster, his former friend... thus a drama. in the end the mobster kills the superior and then has to go deal with the superior's superior... consequences for the actions along a framework of power, a basis of drama like they taught me in playwriting class. 

not just the drama but also clever circumnavigation thereof... fun shit.

2. fun potential power levers
this is what lotfp has with the "summon" spell, or all the little rules which can be cleverly used, like casting "bless" to aid a pickpocket attempt. fun because they're clever, fun because they're dangerous, fun because they feel fair... that's one of the great uses of magic in games. powerful artifact has bad downsides.

honestly #2 is optional because with #1 I can just come up with fun power levers in whatever setting it is. my "top secret" campaign was one of the best bc the players would just use their knowledge of 80's airport security to bypass challenges.

.do not want:
1. railroading- a loaded term but basically any understanding applies
2. complex world of warcraft style combat which will always always be difficulty and pixel-bitchy and take too long to run.
3. non-optional homework. I should be able to drop in, having like library content to pour through can be good but I shouldn't have to or we should be able to do it quickly at the table.

interesting note here is that both categories above reflect a player's desires. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

d20 wizards

  1. wizard has a successful funerary company and uses bones but he has to eat glass so suffers digestive issues etc. spouse knows about the studies but just lumps it under "blasphemy"
  2. in a major city: a person in rags that lives under a bridge, is not bothered by local authorities or travelers, emits a not quite unpleasant radial stench, occasionally has social events, carries out all the local assassinations although only from people who can pay, does not apparently carry out assassinations in person. this person will not be moved is not assailable and seems to always be there
  3.  in the palace of papers there they is, completely cut off from the rest of the world, has traps among the papers, distilleries to produce edible glue. seeking a lost record of some rarity means tripping relatively near the wizard, who is audible. to be in the palace is to be among his things, they is the only resident allowed
  4. wizard has a rolling horizontal towertube in the desert
  5. wizard has invented skateboarding and has a modified mountain
  6. imprisoned wizard on fiendish toilet commands mirror-holding golems from an undisclosed location
  7. wizard is only local who's managed to figure out library has spellbooks and is retired
  8. mangled sibling wizard in pocket dimension uses famous saucier for edicts
  9. gordon ramsey wizard stumbles drunk into royal courts kills the monarch impregnates the spouses loudly criticizes everyone kills some eats some dahmer-style wakes up mortified leaves protected whole time by confusing veil of ego illusion. witnesses assume shakespearian drama responsible
  10. wizard's whole face looks like a village which throws stuff (milk, eggs, butchered pigs in quantity) down well mouth. casts the spells from sleeping place of feathered swine and infrequently uses summon 
  11. wizard has airship which floats by dimensional conflation only, thus airship is permanently travelling through parallel dimensions which collapse in shunting electrical shunts seconds after airship breaches them
  12. wizard is currently living as panda in imperial zoo, has a habit of getting too personal with courtesans and eunuchs and has to make big ol excuses which typically resemble morality lessons involving a wise panda
  13. christina's world wizard has muscular dystrophy and protects zone
  14. wizard is either an eagle eating a mouse or a mouse being eaten by an eagle, physically manifest as well as a throbbing psychic image in those it communicates with
  15. large diamond wizard zooms around and communicates in the booming psychic voice. not a diamond shaped like a wizard, a wizard shaped like a cut diamond
  16. wizard goes to public places cries and gets drunk a lot. otherwise stereotypical
  17. grassroots wizard is big into political organization wildly unsuccessful has caused disasters
  18. wizard tower larger on the outside than on the inside on a huge scale
  19. alan alda but he kills 
  20. reroll