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.


An underground temple

25 June, 2013

So, we all wandered down into this hole. Below, a small underground lake with some islands.

Fight fight fight. Swimming was very inconvenient for the guys wearing armour, until Eunice – for the first time ever – used a ritual: Tenser’s Floating disk. DM ruled that eunice could stand on it and direct it mentally, so in effect we had a boat to ferry people around.

Next island, fight fight fight. It became clear that these islands were a submerged structure, possibly a temple.

Next island – a doorway. A trapped doorway. Eunice triggered it and was dazed, seeing a vision of her room at home. Character wise, she now has a bad case of homesickness.

Beyond the door, a passage down to a big underground room. An abandoned temple of Lolth. An altar at the end, with a statue of a spider. Shoop touched the altar, and the statue shrank to the size of a small token, which went into the bag.

We got a wave of, of “yes, this is what you are supposed to do”. Halaster seeks to displace the gods, and even Lolth is on team divine, it seems, plotting against him.

I don’t doubt that that token will come in handy when (if?) we finally find the Drow. But they are deep underground, and Eunice wants more than anything now to go home.

crunch

(Pinged to level 5. The psion powers are useless! Picked a daily that involves pushing things, because forceful orb and orb mastery. Retrained that lightning spark power for a power that involves pushing people, because the forceful orb doesn’t apply to the “Forceful Push” power – it’s not an implement power, and because the rest of the part fucking hates the lightning thingy. For the treasure hunter special, I took skill focus (perception), because skill focus doesn’t stack with psionic skill thingy so pointless having it on thievery.)


Kingmaker. Take 2

24 June, 2013

Exiting the portal, we discovered that three days had elapsed. This is good news and bad news. Bad, because each day that passes on prime is another night of nightmares, chipping away at the resolve of our subjects.

Good, because it means the en of the month comes around again, and we can kingdom-build and loot the treasury.

After a day to recuperate, to grab Zutteger’s Picnic, and to take in tow Jope’s new cohort – a healer named Gruyere, we reentered the portal.

This time, we faces the treants fully buffed up – protection from lightning, resist elements, stoneskin, the works. And there were only three of them. Not only did we take them down handily, but Kalos (who rolled a 1 on his perception) completely demolished a regular tree. With a lance.

Way to go, Kalos.

The map indicated that ahead of us was a path leading to a mushroom garden. With our superlative knowledge of dungeons, we were aware that mushrooms tend to give off poison spores. Gruyere gave us all a Delay Poison. Inside a wall – which Switch blocked off with a Wall of Stone, a host of little mandrake men assembled themselves into a gargantuan Mandragora. It attacked Rainor, who was standing on the wall, and then sort of poured over the top – a Cloudkill (via Shadow Conjuration) having no effect on it.

Now, Jope had thought it would be a good idea to cast a Silence. Switch didn’t like the idea, because it interferes with spellcasting. When, oh when will the party learn that she has a dreadful grasp of tactics? The Mandragora released a scream that nauseated everyone in range, and nausea pretty much disables a character. The next few rounds saw the nauseated characters running away, unable to do anything, while the Mandragora pummelled team shiny at will.

Eventually the nausea wore off, and His Majesty strode in and trashed the thing.

Oh, and Gruyere gave everyone a Neutralize Poison. Wise move, because more than half of us were hit by its natural attacks, which would have caused confusion when the delay poison wore off.

Jope clubbed the impromptu door open, and inside the garden was a wide path of dead fungi left by the shadow cloudkill.

So. It took us about four hours to get here. Four days of outside time. I say we move forward to the next spot on our map (the tower?), take our bearings, then teleport back to the entrance of the realm and do some kingdom building. With so many citizens succumbing to nightmares, we are going to need a whole bunch of new statues.


GoodGames – Eunice finds a … thing

19 June, 2013

Very straightforward game – we beat up an Illithid. A single one. Took the whole party to do it.

The dwarves gave Eunice a shiny, earlier, but Eunice doesn’t really have a lot of use for dwarvish shinys. Shoop found something interesting on the Illithid, and swapped it with Eunice. It’s a Bag of Holding.

I have finally christened my cheap-ass sewing machine, and sewn together a Bag of Holding for Eunice. I’m quite pleased with it, it’s suitably Illithid, suitably … wrong. I had to compromise, seeing as I’m dealing with conventional materials – boring real-world matter. But you get the effect, I think. More I shall not say.

Oh – except that it’s purple.


Kingmaker

18 June, 2013

Just briefly:

We went through the portal to Nerissa’s demiplane. Found Zutteger’s footprints and followed. Encountered some pixies, which we frightened off, and five lightning treants which creamed us. We did manage to take down two, but had to flee back to the portal which (thankfully) opened to let us through.

Jope will now be on his sixth cohort, who will be built as a healbot.

The only high points for me were using a metamagiced Scorching Ray – these things were immune to fire and healed by electricity, but thankfully not immune to sonic – and summoning a Wall of Iron with a Greater Shadow Conjuration. Took the treants one round to punch through, but got the paladin out of there without his having to take AAOs.

It’s a nice comedown from being world-striding 16th-level demigods.