Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Brutal Legends of Our Beginnings

Lately I've been playing a lot of Double Fine's Brutal Legend (which if you've never played you totally should check out) and I've come to believe that one of the things that has been missing from my favorite role-playing games is a sense that the world has a history that occurred long before my entrance into it. I don't mean just that the world has an sense of recent history with conflicts between nations, subterfuge, and racial / clan rivalries that color the way that the world functions; instead I'm talking about a deeper mythology that underpins everything. This mythological foundation to the game world is one of the things that Dragonlance did really. 

My first real interest in Dungeons & Dragons started with the the Dragonlance Blue Boxed set and its setting book that told this history of the world in this really great conversational style that would become a hallmark of the types of role-playing books that I love (shout out to Kevin Siembieda and his Rifts books for putting out some of the best examples of this style of writing in gaming). The way that the story of the world was written and the brilliant art that TSR coupled with the book kicked my imagination into overdrive. I've spent years taking its tantalizing descriptions and expanding them in my head to form my own understanding of the world. And yet I don't feel like I've ever had that level of engagement with my favorite setting: Greyhawk. 

Don't get me wrong I've put in a lot of hours shaping the world in a fashion that suits my sensibilities but there's always been this blank spot in my mind when it comes to making the world have that same sort of place that Dragonlance, Iron Kingdoms, Warhammer, and Rifts have occupied. So I'm asking for you help today. Do you know the legends of Greyhawk? What are its mythological foundations? Who created the world? What history exists beyond the Suloise and Baklunish Wars?

Help a brother out. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

What's Weighing on You, Holmes?

Lately I've been reading a lot from people who want me to only read people of color, or to only have books with people of color as the leads, or that focus on minority groups / issues / what have you; and it's gotten me to thinking that a lot of these people must have terrible imaginations and nothing going on in their lives for this to be the thing they've latched onto as the solution to the world's problems. I've read authors who are gay, female, of races different from my own, from cultures I've never encountered and many of them have been fun to read - but none of those factors were what lead me to read them. I've got books that I've deeply enjoyed with lead protagonists that fit just about every possible spectrum and not once have I picked up a book and read it because the lead fit one of those categories. Why?

Because I'm not a moron. You see the only reason why you should ever pick up a book to read is because the story appeals to you.

Like I love post-apocalyptic fiction so I read a lot of stuff like Spider Robinson's Telempath (thanks to +Jeffro Johnson  for peaking my interest in Spider to begin with), Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren, and Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz. These books are filled with all kinds of protagonists that range across the political / cultural / racial / sexual landscape; but you know what? I didn't pick any of these books up because of who the protagonist was and what category they could be placed into. I picked those books up and read them because they sounded fucking amazing. Check out this blurb for Dhalgren:

The world has gone mad, society has perished, savagery rules over all. All that was known is over. All that was familiar is strange and terrible. Today and yesterday colide with tomorrow. In these dying days of earth, a young drifter enters the city . . . Dhalgren. 

Jesus! That hooked me and then I read the first page and knew I had to read Delany. His writing is so, just, breathtaking. I'm 23 pages into the book (second time trying to read it since the first time was interrupted by my son being sick and me forgetting everything else) and I have already gone through a weird sex thing with a tree-ish lady, picked up a hand-held death glove, and jumped through broken glass. This book is fucking amazing!

Did I know ahead of time that Delany was gay or that he was black? Fuck no! And even after finding it out I still don't care. Those things don't matter to me because what matters is Delany's work. He has produced a thing of beauty that stands outside of himself, pressing back against the world and reshaping our expectation of what should come next. Dhalgren is strange, and terrible, and wonderful all at the same time and to cloud that up with bleating on about the author's skin color, or his sexual preference, does a disservice to it by distracting from this beautiful thing he's accomplished. And that's what you miss when you get wrapped up in the "Message First" crowd.

They don't care that Dhalgren is a work of brilliance. I mean, it's nice and all, but what really matters to them is that Delany is black and gay. SO WE MUST READ HIM! And you absolutely should read him because Dhalgren is amazing but you're going to miss out on it as you try to warp everything into you message about his race and sexual orientation shaping his world. You're going to miss out on the fantastic weirdness that permeates every page and the beautiful turns he does with such little effort. Let me put this another way, focusing on Delany's race and sexual orientation over his writing would be like focusing on the way that Philip K. Dick died instead of his writing. You're not doing either author any favors and you're only taking away from what they've done.

Stop it. Just read books that sound good to you and worry about the rest of that noise later. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The World Should Be Interesting

I spend a lot of time thinking about the world of Greyhawk and how I want it to feel for my players and lately something I've been spending a lot of time pondering is the way that people look. You know, fashion. Which is an incredibly odd thing for a flannel shirt and overall wearing hippie like me to be concerning myself with; and yet there it is, right at the forefront of my mind. On the one hand I have this very traditionalist bent in my mind where I want the people of Dyvers (and of Greyhawk in general) to dress like they're living in the middle to late Middle Ages with pantaloons, and blouses, and lots of curly long hair like you might see on the cover of the wife's latest trashy romance novel. Then I have this side of me that says, "You've got guns, and lasers, and sexbots, son. Why the fuck do they have to wear that boring shit? Why would they?"

So then I spend a couple of hours looking at fashion sites and wondering if maybe I shouldn't set myself on fire instead as that seems like it might be a better use of my time. I mean have you spent any time looking at fashion online? Don't get me wrong, some of it's perfectly okay and there's nothing wrong with the occasional dude wearing a purse and prancing like a show pony but so often it's just ill fitting foolishness that no one can wear or hope to wear. And then I think, but wouldn't it be cool if people did?

Menswear – Mugler SS12 via catwalk yourself
I mean just think about if you saw a group of guys walking towards you on a dark night in a world where people can cast magic spells and shake the heavens with their anger at the gods. Men like these go from looking like a sideshow afterthought into a terrifying sight - and that's what I'm looking for in the fashion of my world. I want there to be more in the world than just a bunch of hillbillies in overalls and tee shirts working on their broken down pickup trucks. I want the world filled with a diverse style of dress that will let my players know that when they encounter someone dressed in a certain way that it means something. 

Fall-Winter 1990 Haute Couture Christian Lacroix via mississipy.livejournal.com
Just look at this dress! If I saw someone dressed like this in my game than I would immediately assume that she was some sort of nobility or wealthy individual AND the confidence she exudes standing there! That's the sort of thing that I want in my games. 

Chanel pre-fall 2013 via mississipy.livejournal.com

And just look at this woman here from the Chanel pre-fall 2013 collection. Tell me that if you saw this woman walking down the boardwalk that you would be surprised if she pulled out a wand and started casting spells at you. I mean the look screams out modern witch in the best way possible and she is pushing that whole narrative with that pissed off look on her face. It's just what I'm looking for in my games because it presents this whole new realm of possibilities that the old pantaloon and blouse look never did for me. 

I guess what I'm saying here is that I'm looking at fashion websites for inspiration and while about two thirds of it makes me want to slit my wrists there's this last group that just is really just what I need. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

I Saw Star Wars [Spoilers Inside]

Spoilers


Spoilers


SPOILERS!




So I saw Star Wars and enjoyed the fuck out of it. I loved the explosions; didn't fucking care that the main Chick was stupid good at everything; and hated that Han went out like a bitch. In fact that's my only real complaint: Han Solo died like a pussy while he gently caressed his murderous son's face. 

Fuck that. 

He's mother fucking Han I-shot-first-and-fucking-loved-watching-the-life-drain-out-of-his-eyes SOLO. He gets stabbed with a god damned light saber his instinct is to pull that gun off his hip and empty the barrel into that dick's face. 

You know what would have made it a lot fucking better too? Godzilla. 

Planet with a sun draining laser beam? Godzilla will take that blast and fuck the planet to death.

Star destroyer breaking up in the atmosphere and killing hundreds of innocent people? Godzilla does that every day. Why are you crying about those people this time? What? Did you forget that Godzilla hates you more because you're whining about the fucking force and some chick who can do everything?

What I'm saying is that this movie could have used a lot more Godzilla and Han shooting people in their stupid fucking faces. 


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Overheard in the Lunchroom

The other day I was sitting in the lunchroom talking with my friend M when I overheard a conversation two of my co-workers were having and I thought it would be fun to share it here.

------------------- ------------------- ------------------- -------------------

"I'm so damned tired of this election bullshit already."

"I know, right. It's like every time we turn around one of those dumbasses is on TV trying to out crazy the other guys."

"True facts."

"So do you think that Trump would play a Barbarian?"

"Totally. That guys all, 'Rargh, Mu-slims ain't rights!'"

"Truth!"

"What about Obama?"

"Bard."

"Really?"

"Oh, yeah. He talks a good game; most people love him but nothing meaningful ever gets done by him."

"What about Hillary?"

"God she'd totally be a fighter running about in a pantsuit just hoping that everyone else would listen to her for once and do what she says."

"But they never would."

"Not one fucking time."




I love my geeky co-workers. 


Friday, January 1, 2016

Stones Carried in Wheel Barrels


It's 2016 and that means that it's time for all kinds of resolutions, predictions, and regrets that haunt us for years to come. But if you're looking for that sort of thing then you'll have to check back later because today is my day for looking back on some of my favorite things said at the table over the last year. So here they are, in no particular order, some of my favorite things said around the table, the characters (and occasionally the people), and what was happening for a bit of context. Hope you enjoy them.

****** Dyvers, the Home of Classy Happenings ******

This might not be the right time or place but I hope that your wife gets gonorrhea and that they change it's name to her's so that generations from now people look at each other and say, "Did you see that skeezy bastard I went home with last night?  I hope he didn't give me Helen!" 
-- Sir Roderick Stone, said before the King on his majesty's wedding day. 

I heard the King likes to fuck pigs.
-- Megan, Destroyer of Virginity and Slayer of Orks, as she attempted to enter the King's hall with her seven prized boar.

Brother I hope that God-damned bus hits you on your way to church and that the Devil wakes you up each morning with a gentle caress along your cheek while whispering, "Isn't this nice Steve? Don't you think we should re-do the living room? Maybe in 100 year old oak floors and mauve?" And that no matter what you do he's never fucking happy.
-- James Holloway, the Gay Bard, upon learning that he wasn't the first in the group to see Star Wars

Yeah, well, your brother's dick is bigger.
-- Alissa Lexington, the Elder, said to her husband after he told her that he thought her sister was hotter than her and that she should lose some weight. 

Does anyone else smell sulfur? I'm allergic you know.
-- Nevil Stone, the Diabolist. 

So I hear that your Mother gives great head.
-- Staff Sgt. Sarah Jones in reply to Ambassador Ambrose of the Sartan Empire's demand that she surrender.

Fuck a bunch of ice.
-- Ozark Pizark, Captain of the Galloway Cruiser, after being told that there were ice bergs nearby.

So does your Butler always fuck owlbears or is this just something he does for special guests?
-- Milo Barker, envoy of Dyvers, upon meeting the Mayor of Greyhawk.

Look, if you're going to be a bitch about it then fine; you go in there and fuck it.
-- Megan, Destroyer of Virginity and Slayer of Orks, as she shoved the complaining wizards into the pit with the Rock Troll.

If my Bard only sings Death Metal can I use intimidate instead of perform for my checks? Pretty sure that's the sort of character I'm playing tonight
-- Poot, my brother, as he sat down at the table with his Half-Orc.

Have you ever taken a shit so big that it grew legs and climbed out of the bowl so it could slap you across the mouth? Pretty sure that just happened to me. 
-- Grodnar the Flatulent, as he opened negotiations with a war band of goblins that had surrounded the city


Stay classy kids.