28 March, 2018

A Faustian bargain. A deal with the devil.

What is it, precisely, that makes a Fasustian bargain Fasustian? Any bargain involves exchanging X for Y, and that’s cool. But a Faustian bargain is more than simply an unfair or ill-considered bargain. It’s more than simply that X was actually worth more than Y. It’s that X was the thing that gave Y its value. That when you surrender X to get Y, Y becomes worthless because you have surrendered X.

Wilde (I think) does this in “The Gift”. The classic is the exchange of your soul for power. Once you have surrendered your soul, any power you might wield you only wield at the command of the one to whom your soul now belongs.

Awesome as Y might be, if you surrender the entire point of having Y in order to get it, then you have made a bad bargain.

No, I will not lend you my fucking lighter.

14 November, 2015

The fuck is this, dude? It’s 3AM in a deserted, dimly lit car-park. Are you a mugger, or just an idiot? I smoke. I buy a lighter. I just do not understand smokers that don’t.

“Box of matches is 30c!”

A box of matches is 30c? A pack of cigarettes is fifty bucks! If you have enough money for smokes, then you have enough money to exercise ordinary prudence and buy yourself means to light them. What were you thinking? “I’ll just rely on other people for free shit to the absolute limit I can”?

People begging for shit. They are all your absolute best mate in the whole fucking world; unless you don’t give them what they want, in which event you instantly become a “cunt”. I just can’t help feeling its all a little false, you know? Just makes me a little sadder each time. It’s why I don’t go to Civic.

The fact that I have stuff and you don’t does not entitle you to my stuff. No-one takes care of me. I do my own laundry, pay my own bills, and because I choose to smoke take care to have what I need to do that with. The day I simply run out of money, I’ll hang myself. It’s the only manly thing to do.

No, I will not lend you my fucking lighter. Sick of this shit.


9 November, 2014

You know that reddit is censoring posts, right? That means that this is going to be deleted. So I’ll post it here as well.

[–]PieceOfShoe 1 point 3 days ago

This is not Mozilla. It’s an opinion peace on an open blog that they run. The blog post even got called down by them later https://openstandard.mozilla.org/our-sincerest-apologies/. I’m having the hardest time trying to find out what GamerGate is. So much noise out there on this topic. Anyone explain it to me like i’m 5?


[–]PaulMurrayCbr 2 points 10 minutes ago*

Like you are 5? Ok.

Some people make computer games. Some people write about whether the new computer games are good or not. People who write about the games need to be fair and treat the games all the same, otherwise there’s no point reading them.

Well it turns out there’s this girl who makes computer games, and she kissed a boy who writes about computer games so he would write nice things about her game. It turns out she kissed a bunch of other boys too, and even some girls, and the boy found out and got mad and told on her.

A lot of people are upset because girls can get whatever they want just by kissing the boys, and that’s not fair. And other people are mad at them because they say that girls should be able to kiss whoever they want and it’s not fair to tell on them.

Then all the people who write all the stories about games got together and said that all the people who like games are bad for being mad at the girl. The people who play the games are mad at them because the people who write about games were rude to them, and they thought that those people liked games and liked the people who play games and it turns out they don’t like them at all.

And they are mad that it turns out that all the stories about the games are not really true about whether the games are good or not – it’s really just about who is kissing who – so people who are boys and make games can’t get good stories no matter how good their games are.

And they are also mad because it turns out that all the people who write about games talk to each other secretly and decide together what games are good and what games are bad, so you can’t really believe any of them.

And it turns out it’s not just the people who write stories about the games – it’s the people who run competitions for the games with big important prizes, and the people who make the big websites for games. It turns out that there aren’t really a whole bunch of different websites by a whole bunch of different people – there’s just one really small group of people, and they are all part of the whole kissing and not telling the truth about the games thing.

You see, it’s not just bad for the boys who play the games and write the games if a girl can get nice stories about her not-very-good game by kissing the right boys (and girls). it’s bad for those girls too, because boys only want to be kissed by girls if they are young and pretty, and not all girls are pretty and no girl stays young for very long.

But all the girls who are saying that it’s unfair to tell on girls who kiss the boys to get stuff from them are mad at all the people who say this, because it reminds them that they are not going to be young and pretty forever either, and they don’t like to be reminded of that.


CanCon 2014

28 January, 2014

(NB: I am drinking at the keyboard again, so this post contains a little language)

CanCon 2014. I signed up to play PFS, this year.

Saturday, played the intro game with my new character, Zack Jackson. In the evening, DMmmed it at a table at which a couple of guys (at least) were themselves DMs. No pressure.

Sunday, played an afternoon session, but the noise was so bad I left the table. Could not, could not hear the DM. I’m a bit deaf, or something, but it wasn’t just me – he was reduced to playing D&D with the player sitting next to him, who would play chinese whispers to get the info around the table.

No fun, especially when PFS modules feature slabs of colour text which a DM is supposed to sit there and read out. I’ll tell you – when I ran games, I would print copies of that shit beforehand and just had it around the table.

Actually – I’ll go off an have a mini-rant about it. Here’s a typical example:

The Pathfinder Society has turned its attention to the Ruby Phoenix Tournament—a world-renowned fighting competition, held once every ten years in the city of Goka on the eastern continent of Tian Xia. More specifically, the Decemvirate is interested in the incredible prizes available to the tournament’s winner—a choice of treasure from the legendary vaults of Hao Jin, the Ruby Phoenix herself. As part of the preparations for the tournament, Pathfinder Society agents have been deployed across the Inner Sea and beyond to seek out forgotten lore, allies, and magical items to be used by the Society’s tournament representatives.
Venture-Captain Amara Li, leader of the Lantern Lodge and Goka native, has uncovered information about one such item hidden amid the reaches of the Wall of Heaven—an Iroran relic known as the Braid of a Hundred Masters. Organizing the search from her base in the Dragon Empires, she intends to send a group of Pathfinders to the high mountain range in search of the braid’s ancient home: the Clouded Path Monastery. The two-week-long journey to the mountains began in the cosmopolitan city of Goka, passed through the surrounding villages and farmlands, and led thousands of feet up into the tallest mountain range on Golarion; all that remains is the final day’s journey up from the base camp.

This is box text. You are supposed to sit there and read it out to the players, like it’s fucking story-time for kids at the local library.

I mean, let’s take this bit:

Organizing the search from her base in the Dragon Empires, she intends to send a group of Pathfinders to the high mountain range in search of the braid’s ancient home.

This is so wrong. How are characters supposed to know this? They just by magic know what Amara-Li’s long-term intentions are? This is DM background – absolutely should not be box text that you sit down and read out to the players.

And frankly, you sound like a dick reading it out. Nobody actually talks that way “Organizing the search from her base in the Dragon Empires, she intends …”. Try it now. Look around, to see that no-one is watching, and read it aloud. You feel like a fool, right?

It’s a classic violation of the basic rule of storytelling: show, don’t tell. Box text should be limited to what players see and hear and know. If it must have background info, it needs to be in dot point form.

So module writers, you don’t make the DM read out “Organizing the search from her base in the Dragon Empires, she intends …”. The right way to do this is to have as one of Amara Li’s possible answers to the characters’s questions: “Oh, I’ve been organising it from my base here for years!” You don’t say “As part of the preparations for the tournament, Pathfinder Society agents have been deployed across the Inner Sea and beyond to seek out forgotten lore, allies, and magical items to be used by the Society’s tournament representatives.” as box text to be read out – you let Amara Li say “We have pathfinders looking all over for something to give us an edge – lore, allies, magic items. All the other competitors have been doing the same, naturally.”

Fucking dreadful. As I said – I would copy that shit into a document, print out a couple of copies and hand it around the table. The intro stuff I would leave on the table before game for payers to look at while I was housekeeping.

Oh – off on another tangent – PFS modules have a nice way they use knowledge skills for background info. Here’s an example:

Diplomacy or Knowledge (local)
10+ Nobody has seen the monks of the Clouded Path Monastery in years. In the past, the monastery often sent a small group of them to the mountain’s base camp to trade for the goods the monks could not produce for themselves in the harsh mountain environment.
15+ A demon of ice and snow made flesh, called Shang Xu by locals, prowls the mountains. Since the monks disappeared, it has come down to raid the farms and villages on several occasions.
20+ The “demon” is not a demon at all, but rather a raving yeti that has established its territory well below the icy altitudes in which its kind normally hunt. With increasing regularity, the beast has attacked travelers in the low mountains and even settlements high in the foothills of Clouded Path Monastery’s peak.

I would print off a few copies on this on strips of paper. My attitude is that if you know something, you know it, and during briefing of course you are working with your knowledge. Making players guess that the specific K to use is K(Arcane) is bullshit – like the character has different DVDs in their head and just overlooked referencing the right one. Instead, I’d just tell the players to roll “K(local) or diplomacy”, “K(Arcane)”, or whatever the module specifies. If anyone got 20+, hand them a strip of paper. 15-19, I would just fold the paper under to hide the 20+ info and hand that out. Etc. Then the players can RP their characters pooling what they know about the situation. And I don’t have to sit there and read out box text which, I hope I have made clear, I despise doing.

So, getting back to CanCon 2014, we have a DM with a cold (conventions are disease vectors) attempting to read out torturous, narrative colour text in an environment which, from an auditory standpoint, I can safely compare to being inside a jet engine. I’m reduced to shouting at the player next to me “Purple? Did he say something about something being purple?”

Worst of all, the module was all about exploring a tomb and solving riddles written on the walls in ancient Orisani. You have to be very clear about the text of those motherfuckers, or you wind up decapitated.

When I noticed myself getting frustrated and pissy, about to stand up at the table and yell at the top of my voice at the DM “I’m sorry – did you say something as purple?” (as if the entire con is supposed to STFU because I’m trying to play Pathfinder), I cut my losses, packed up and walked out in the middle of session. Made sure to apologize after. I behaved badly. I feel bad about it. I wish I were a better human being.

I believe Venture-Captain Ben will be having words with the CanCon organisers next year. Not that it’s thier fault either: CanCon is a bit of a victim of its own success. The tables were too close together, but they were all full. Next year, they should grab one of the other Buildings at epic, too. Moving the roleplay groups (PFS and DWO) into the building with a bar would be utterly, utterly awesome.

And, that was it. That was CanCon 2014.

Shout out to Andrew, who permits me to exercise my amateur rigger skills most years (you want to tie down a load, speak to a truckie or a motorcyclist).

Guess who?

20 July, 2013

A clue: guess who.

The year has not been kind to her. No longer merely carrying a little extra weight. No sir. Didn’t recognise her as being the same Annette. Still aggressive, still playing games.

It was an odd night overall, really. Good looking-woman, face like a newsreader (felt like I recognised her from somewhere) wearing fitted clothes that felt like armour. And Ms blonde person. It’s all a bit of a blur, really.

Screw this. I should write some more about Eunice.

No more Holy Grail

9 February, 2013

The Holy Grail is closing.

It’s – kinda weird for me. I have been going there for 15 years. Maybe more. I was going back when it was good, when it was half the size and you had to dress up to get in. People packed in, bar staff dancing on the bar. Good times.

It never really recovered from the expansion, you know. The atmosphere was gone. Even so, it coasted along for years with the crowd it had. Believe it or not, it was classy: $5 cover charge on even a regular night, $10 if there was a band.

I remember when Holy Grail Civic was good – Swallow on stage, so many people the whole place was a mosh pit, looking like nothing so much as the thunderstruck video. Then Ian got rid of the live bands and put on a DJ, and the drug users took over the place.

Civic closed, and Kingston has been a dive for a long, long time. Three quarters empty, piped rap and R&B, Ne-Yo, Usher, and Whitney’s “I wanna dance with somebody” on high rotation. So, not a big surprise, really. Ian is an old man, now. Perhaps being shmoozed by chicks who want to hang out with the owner has lost it’s zing.

And now? I dunno. Some of the most important changes in my life had that place as background. Being in a band, my deconversion. Spend a lot of time there. Spent a lot of money, too. I spent my thirties there. And in a few days, it will simply be gone.

Dear Person Who Sticks Notes To People’s Motorbikes

27 October, 2012

A note for Monday night, to stick to my bike. I hope whoever-it-was reads it.

You are mistaken: this carpark does not have a motorbike parking area. Perhaps you are thinking of the bicycle rack yonder. If I were to plonk my bike there, I’d get notes from the cyclists! From the fact that you think that motorbikes (even mine) can be parked there, and (of course) from the smiley-face on your note, I surmise that your car is covered with parking dings. Not only are most bikes too long and wide to fit in these spots, they are motor vehicles, with engines, and you cannot simply lift them into place as you can a bicycle. It is geometrically impossible to park this bike in that bike rack. I can tell that just by looking (although I have in fact also given it a go, just to be sure). But you cannot.

However, I invite you to try. I’m in the Good Games store, playing D&D. I’m the overweight middle-aged bloke pretending to be a half-orc cockney criminal. Wander over, ask for Paul, and I’ll run this bike over to the rack, turn it off, and film you while you try to wheel it into a spot. This offer is conditional on your agreement that I may post the resulting hilarious video on YouTube with the title “Woman thinks cycle rack is for motorbikes”.

So. Given the completely obvious fact that that’s a cycle rack, not a motorbike parking area, I’m sure you agree that have as much business using a parking spot in this carpark as any other ACT licensed road user, operating an ACT registered motor vehicle, who is a customer of one of the stores here. I reject your “othering” language – the world is not split into car drivers and motorbike riders: we are all legitimate road users, and I am not a 2nd class citizen. I am no more “inconveniencing car drivers” than – well – than you, when you use a parking spot.

It’s funny that if I were driving myself around in some m-fking enormous 4WD and making it impossible for the cars parked next to me to even open their doors and generally being an environment-wrecking pest, you’d have no trouble with me using a spot; but even though bike – especially scooter – riders will often double up and fit two or more in a spot where there is no bike parking space, it all “damn motorbikes using our parking!”.

It’s always just setting yourself up for disappointment, to expect appreciation. I might as well park like a spatially-challenged soccer mum and be done with it.

Anyway. I have my my iPhone, and am totally ready to start filming.