Wednesday, October 11, 2017

On Porgs

I am, not surprisingly, a huge Star Wars fan.  Like most right thinking Star Wars fans I was disappointed by the prequels and hate the remade Greedo shot first scene.  But I save my particular ire for the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.  I think they are too cute by half and really detest the idea that a bunch of teddy bears managed to dispatch a legion of stormtroopers with only stone age technology.

That said, I just don't get all the hate for the porgs that has been endemic on the interwebz since the new trailer for The Last Jedi dropped on Monday.  Okay, I get it.  Folks are worried about excessively cutesy critters again.  But really what are they basing this hatred on?

We've known for months that porgs would be in the new film.  There have been pictures of them, usually in the background of other shots taking place on Ahch-To.  In the trailer we see exactly one porg for maybe a second in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and all it does is scream.  On this basis there are fanboys* who are already declaring the film a failure.  Guys, wait and see.  Please. 

First of all, Lucas has nothing to do with the films any more and excessive cuteness is one of his particular obsessions.  Secondly we really don't know what part, if any, porgs play in the actual plot.  If this one particular one is just there as a sort of pet/mascot that's fine.  If the whole plot revolves around it saving the heroes ("What's that girl? Chewbacca has fallen down the well?") then that is a point of complaint.  If they somehow manage to single-handedly defeat a First Order army, that is a large problem.

My point, guys, is give it a chance.  Nothing else we have seen or heard so far gives the impression that porgs are a major plot element.  Both extant trailers look too dark for that to be the case.  I'm willing to bet porgs are nothing more than a minor adjunct to the story and a great chance to sell more merchandise to those fans who don't mind cute.  Heck, right now I wouldn't mind having a plush porg.

* Used as an inclusive non-sexist term of derision.  I am sure there are women who don't like porgs either.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

In which I am internet famous

I have just returned from a trip back to Ohio to see family and friends.  While I was there I had a chance to visit Leeman Kessler and record an episode of his web series Ask Lovecraft.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Gaming Quotes V

During last night's Pathfinder game we had encounters with a "helpful" dragon, magic yetis from beyond space and time, and a ginormous crab.

"It tastes like Wednesday." --Me

"I know we're playing but stop playing." --Candice

Regarding the miniature of the dragon:
"It's not a toy." --Eric
"Well it  is actually a toy." --Stephen
"No! No! No!" -- Everyone else

"A freckled yeti?" --Ashley
"That's a good name for a pub." --Me

After Susan kills the second yeti of the combat:
"You're the closer." --Fred
"New player is supposed to die, not do all the kill steals." --Candice

Val's half-orc barbarian bites the head off the last yeti:
"So the head is in one hand and the body is in the other and blood is spurting all over the place." --Candice
"Tastes good." --Val

After Val bites the head off a second yeti and holds it up:
"I name thee Maude Yetibiter." --Me
"Mine!" --Val

During the fight with the giant crab:
"It's spiky and hard." --Candice
"That's what she said." --Me

After killing the giant crab:
"We feast tonight" --Eric and me

"Ford [Eric's character] got the crab."  --Candice
"There's medicine for that now.  --Fred

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Random Tolkien Thought

I am reading a history of the Northern Crusades against the Baltic pagan tribes in the 12th through 15th centuries and I was interested to discover that the Wends, a Slavic tribe that lived in what is now eastern Germany, worshiped a forest god named Radigost.

Now considering J.R.R. Tolkien had more than a passing interest in the Baltic region, especially the Finns and Finnish language and literature, I wonder if Radigost is the source for the wizard Radagast the Brown?  After all Tolkien was not above stealing names wholesale from medieval literature.  Gandalf and all the dwarves' names from The Hobbit can be found in the Icelandic Prose Edda.  And  Radigost was a forest god it makes and Radagast was a wizard who lived in Mirkwood, so there is that similarity.

I can't prove any of it, but it makes sense to me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Gaming Quotes IV

Last night my gaming group started a new campaign.  This time we are playing Pathfinder.  Here are a few choice quotes from the evening.

Val (introducing her half-orc barbarian character): "Don't make me angry.  You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
Me: "She turns into a scientist."

Eric: "It may only be an inch long but it's as thick as a tuna can."

Val: "We should go find the man with no arms and no legs."
Me: "His name is Matt."

Candice (The GM, as an NPC looking down at the severely hungover player characters): "I see you have been enjoying the local moonshine.
Ashley: "The Old Chaotic Neutral!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Exalted and Sexuality

I recently bought a copy of the fantasy role-playing game Exalted 3rd Edition. Exalted is a game in which you play demigods in a fantasy world and can do things physically, intellectually and emotionally beyond the abilities of normal men and while I plan a fuller post about it later some things about it have jumped out at me that I want write about now, namely how the game takes a very positive view of sex and sexuality, both in the setting and the rule mechanics.

First off throughout the description of Creation (Exalted's default setting) it is obvious that same sex relationships are an accepted and normal part of life. More importantly it made obvious in the descriptive text itself rather than some special side-bar box.  The RPG industry in general has been making great efforts in positively portraying same sex relationships and differing gender roles but it is usually in the form of some special section lecturing the reader.  Rather than this though Exalted just portrays it in the descriptions and bits of fiction that intersperse the rules.  This is an even healthier view, in my opinion, in that the authors feel they don't need to draw special attention to it but just treat same sex relationships merely as something that is.

Moving from sexuality to gender roles one of the cultures of Creation are the Delzahn, a desert nomad people.  Unlike most Creation's other society's the Delzahn have very strict gender roles with the men being the classic warriors/hunters/herdsmen while the women take care of the home and related activities.  But even the Delzahn have a concept called "taking the gray" where a person can decide that they aren't suited for the role of their birth gender and can choose to act in the opposite role.  The cultural description then goes on that couples wherein one or both parties have "taken the grey" often seem to be emotionally healthier than the norm.  One could argue, with some justification, that this just emphasizes the gender binary but I still think it provides a better example of simple acceptance that some people do not have to conform to the norm if they feel it is wrong for them.

All of the above however is in the end just background description fluff.  Very positive and admirable but still fluff.  Where Exalted needs be really praised is in dealing with issues of consent in role-playing games.

Exalted has very interesting rules dealing with social interaction and being able to convince characters to act in your interest.  I will go into details at a later date but I find their social rules to both simple and unique.  Part of it involves being able to create emotional connections with other characters to get them to do what you want.  I'm sure you can see how that could potentially be abused by some people and to their credit the game creators saw the implications as well.  Unlike the issues of sexuality they went out of their way to draw attention to this with a special sidebar section of the rules that states explicitly that attempts to seduce a character can only succeed if that character's player actively consents to the seduction.  If the player doesn't want the character to be seduced because they feel that it is against the character concept or that they personally as a player are uncomfortable with the attempt than it simply does not succeed! That way the would be seducer can't hide behind "the dice said I seduced you" as an excuse and the player maintains their complete control over their own characters choices and must actively consent to any sort of seduction.  This is something that is truly admirable and I would like to see more often in other games, even ones without such specific social interaction rules.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gaming Quotes III

Note: Last night's Rolemaster session was truly epic largely because Eric the GM's plans got totally screwed over when in the middle of a combat the bad guy wizard totally botched a demon summoning and as a result teleported the party several hundred miles away whilst half melting himself into the  scenery.

"Lice! Lice! Baby" --Eric

"Frosty the snow sword!" --Val and I, describing her magical frost rapier

"The GM is laughing.  That's not a good thing, right?" --Stephen, finally getting the social dynamics of RPGs

Susan's new character is introduced to the party:
"Who are you?" --Stephen
"I don't know how to pronounce my name." --Susan

"That was one hell of a roofie.  That was a great battle.  Or party." --Fred, when his character returns to consciousness after the magical accident.

"I refuse to be killed by a plant." --Fred, while fighting sentient vines that have taken over a village.

"You still have one [vine] on you." --Eric
"I know.  I'm trying to get him off." --Fred