A brief chat

29 June, 2013

I be regular, bitches.I be regular, bitches.

So I was at The Durham. Chucking out time. Had been making eye contact with a suitably-aged woman. Not bad. I guess she couldn’t help but admire the awesome t-shit I was wearing.

Outside. More eye-contact. Then … contact! Conversation with a total stranger! How novel!

With little preamble, she made a small confession. “I’m 42”, she mentioned casually, in passing. Perhaps a warning? I don’t know. I replied: “I’m 46”.

She was taken aback. Expression of surprise. “Do you use botox?”. I was flattered. “No,” I explained helpfully, “never been married.”

She left. Beats me why.

Self ownership

29 June, 2013

Just read another adolescent rambling, an unreflective exposition on the idea of self-ownership. I say adolescent, because this:

Self ownership means just one thing, that YOU are the owner of your life – your body, your mind, your energy, and any consequent results of your life’s efforts.
If you are not sure of this – or disagree – then simply ask yourself, “if I am NOT the rightful owner of my own life, then who is?”

Umm, God? Your parents, who brought you into the world? The King, whose armies protect you from the other king’s armies, with whom you have traded your freedom for security?

I’m not saying that any of these ideas are right, I’m just pointing out that they are serious alternatives that other people hold and have held in the past. David MacGregor doesn’t stop to grapple with them for an instant, just blithely dismisses any possible other answer and runs on to expound further this cool idea. That’s what I mean by adolescent. It’s pretty typical of people who think Ayn Rand makes sense.

One of the problems with the notion of self-ownership is that ownership can be transferred. If you own something, you can sell it. If you own something, it can be seized as payment for a debt. Self ownership brings with it the idea that debt slavery is an ok thing.

Who owns a child? Who owns an incompetent – someone unable to manage their own affairs (ie, the senile, the mentally disabled)? If the child owns itself, then is parental authority a thing at all? If the parents own a child up to a certain age, then is it ok to sell your children into slavery? One workable solution, I suppose, is to say that the parents hold the child in trust on behalf of the child itself, but then you have to ask: where do the rights and responsibilities of “holding something in trust” come from?

What I’m saying is: property rights alone aren’t enough to order a society (or a life) by. You can struggle with fine tuning your definitions and your legal arguments around ownership, or you can step back and say that there are other rights and responsibilities beyond ownership, and that some things inherently cannot be owned. People. The sky. The radio spectrum. Ideas. Tunes. That while a person might have rights in respect of these things, they are not property.

There is, of course, one group of people that simply adores the idea hat everything comes down to property rights. The propertied class! The hereditary rich. In the 18th century they fled the revolutions of Europe, dropped their titles but kept their money, and proposed a new order of the ages built around wealth and only wealth. They overturned the notion of reciprocal rights and responsibilities between government and governed, and replaced it with the idea that the people that own a country should rule it, and do so for their own benefit. “Of the people, by the people, for the people”, I believe they expressed it. They crossed the sea and founded a new nation where landowners – and only landowners – vote and write the laws. And where slavery was totally a thing.

I’m rambling a bit. I suppose my only real point is that objectivism is … umm … not the only legit point of view. And that the correct response to a slick website that glibly assures you “what I’m about to present is the only possible reasonable point of view”, the correct response is “Yah, right. But what if it isn’t?”

On Hostile Waters

27 June, 2013

WARNING! This post has SPOILERS! If you have not played Quest for Perfection II: On Hostile Waters then read no further!

Well, what a great game. I think the payers really learned some valuable lessons.

They blitzed most of the game. Unlike when I played, they had a couple of archers, so the tribesman attack was no problem. And I kept rolling 2s and 3s on the mishap table. The Sczarni characters persuaded the rest that a 30 minute rest was in order, and took 20 on their search. Ding!

The incense was a bit trickier. They failed the diplomacy. Found some replacement herbs, but didn’t have the alchemy for it (they suggested they could get it done in town, but doing this just wasn’t part of the module). So the ranger snuck in (28 stealth), replaced the incense with the herbs he had collected. Job done.

They aced the customs barrier, even managing not to kill whatshisface. Drax finally got a change to use his intimidate, dangling the dude by his ankles over the dock. Ding for the Lantern Lodge.

The goblinoids managed to net 2 of them, but were pounded within 1 round – didn’t even get a chance to use Steal Fire. The Grand Lodge player botched the heal check, but second one was a success, so ding!

Had enough time to run the leech, which was similarly dispatched.

But then it all came unglued.

On the Sea of Eels, a galley came at them – flank speed. They all went down into the hold, with the notion that they would force the enemy through a bottleneck. They knew the Lingshen would not simply fire the ship, because they were after the braid.

So they huddled together at the bottom of the ships hold in a tight little bunch.

Xiao Wen flipped open the hatch and Color Sprayed ’em. Second level characters. Three out of five characters were down, including both the heavy hitters (the dwarves-in-plate). Then the monks came down and started beating the other two up. Xiao offered them a chance to surrender, which the Ninja accepted. The ranger fought on, hoping to keep things going, but the Ninja took no further action – roleplaying her alignment (lawful).

The samurai worked out after 3 rounds that he should have gotten a reroll, but no point retconning things that far. I gave him his reroll, and he made it – recovering fully from the color spray but prone. Then Xiao used Daze on the Samurai, and one of the monks threatened to coup-de-gras one of the other characters still down from the Color Spray.

(edit: the samurai resolve class feature clearly states that you must choose to use your resolve before making the save. It’s not a reroll. By the book, I should have ruled no. But meh. It all turned out ok, by which I mean ok for the lingshen.)

A truly brave effort – but it was over. The characters failed the mission. I ruled that they were briefly taken prisoner and then released. The braid, of course, taken by the victorious Lingshen.

And I think the players learned a couple of things. Last fortnight, they learned that spitting the party is bad. This week, they learned that bunching up in a tight little knot is bad.

The other very salient thing is that players must know what their characters can do. If the ranger had remembered his precise shot and the samurai his reroll a bit earlier, it might have gone down differently.

All in all, a good night.