Showing posts from March, 2023

Washington & Nashville

Content Warning: Violence, racism, transphobia I remember January 6 because it was Three Kings' Day. I was home for Winter break. Although I'd usually spend time off visiting my partner or going out with her or my friends somewhere, I try to make an effort to be like proximal to my family on holidays. But, wouldn't you know it—they're storming the Capitol! We crowded around the TV watching the news for hours, sort of bemused and entertained. The whole thing was spectacular, both in the sense of it being an event, and in the sense of it feeling unreal: it was an artifice of culture industry and political fantasy (these things are 1:1, thanks Debord) brought to life. My mom said something funny: "They wouldn't get away with this if they weren't white." Back in 1954, some Puerto Rican nationalists stormed the Capitol to assassinate representatives during the height of the independence movement. Well, that's slightly inaccurate; it was after the US mil

Assistance Advantage

Just a thought, while thinking about how assisted checks work in Fifth Edition : gaining advantage from assistance should take the lowest of the two characters’ bonuses, not the highest. Using this new math, an assisted check with +0 is generally as capable as a non-assisted check with +4 ( not without some nuance ); though the +4 character succeeds more often with higher target numbers, while the +0 pair of characters succeeds (slightly) more with lower difficulty classes. This could represent a tradeoff between consistent, aggregate effort or raw individual ability. Reasons why I think this would work well: It is for weaker characters’ benefit to seek help at tasks they otherwise could not do. It may prove more difficult for stronger characters to accept help than to do something themselves; if their bonus is +4 greater than their potential helper, they would not benefit from the help. To optimize chances of success, strong characters should work together to get the highest pos

Avoiding Homogenous DIY Play

I think there’s a tendency that once people get into the blog sphere, which is predominantly OSR in its practices and conventions, they all of a sudden become Gygaxian dungeon-crawlers with a thirst for adventure that only gold can satisfy. Like, I understand the extent to which D&D has informed the aesthetics and dynamics of fantasy, but I know for a fact that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (it’s not mine, at least, and I can think of others). Rather than trying to align ourselves to some Gygaxian line, I think it might be worthwhile to consider broader concepts and applications of DIY play which are not so restrained. This isn’t going to be a long post; I’m just going to be spitballing. Broader Principles of Play Non-fidelity to texts: One of the most touted mantras of the OSR is “Rulings over rules”, but I’ve noticed that this slogan has sometimes become a dogma rather than a word of caution. We shouldn’t feel stuck to doing what rulebooks say if we can think of something be

The Communist Manifesto: An Informal Review

Was rereading The Communist Manifesto because it had been a couple of years, and I wanted to distract myself from a barrage of awful news in my corner of the world. Afterwards, I reflected on why it advocated for this or that policy, and thought about whether the platform would be sufficient in our times. I don’t have any major point to make here really. If you have any videos of baby animals being cute, that would be nice. Just so I can mark this as an informal review: you should read it because it's good. Marx and Engels offer a succinct summary of history as class struggle, explain the different material interests underlying different notions of socialism (from bourgeois socialism to feudal socialism and more), and sketch out the Party's political platform. I'm focusing on the last bit, but just know that in general it's a worthwhile text to read or revisit. It's not just an introductory thing! Maybe it's not as concerned with a structural/immanent critique

Southern Mac & Cheese

This is a cross between two recipes. One of them required more ingredients that I don't usually have in my apartment [1], and the other one was like super plain and also locked behind a paywall once you open the website a couple times [2]. Literally like if you don't have any spices, what's the point? Anyway, posting it here is easier than having notes on my phone or a text file on my computer! Goodbye recipe screenshots. I'd probably want to give the first recipe a go for Thanksgiving though, for like the extra effort. I want everyone to love me for it and promise not to be rude to me as a person. Maybe this will persuade them! (Half-joking.) Ingredients 8 oz elbow macaroni. ¼ cup (1 stick) butter. 1 large egg. 2 tbsp flour. 1 cup whole milk. 1 tsp cayenne pepper. 2 tsp garlic powder. 3 tsp onion powder. Salt and pepper. 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese. 1½ cup Mexican blend of cheeses. French onions (optional). Directions Preheat oven to 350° F. Cook pasta al dente. Put

Thoughts on RPG Reviews

I posted a review of Frontier Scum on Bones of Contention just over a week ago! Well, sort of a review. I'm not really that interested in the game itself which, as I say in the introduction, is "totally serviceable". The wording and placement of that whole mini-discussion was intentional on my part, to signal that there is not much remarkable about the game as such (the rules and all that) if not for its presentation. Overall, I'm a very easy-to-please player anyway and don't care much about rules if they're not going to annoy me. It's not a bad rulebook; it's a fine rulebook. I don't know if good rulebooks even really exist. But I think my attitude touches on a certain discourse about reviews, and whether reviewers should play games or adventures prior to reviewing them. The main reason why this has become an issue is because big-name reviewers tend to be commercial, not wanting to say anything too critical about works, often being paid by publi

Dice User Experience

Just thinking about dice. I remember seeing advice, like six years ago at this point, that you can use d6 (with modifiers) to replace other dice as far as like weapons go since the average is the same. This rationale sort of persists from the Fifth Edition crowd into the later OSR crowd, that since OD&D only used d6 so should you—and modify the d6 as you want. Personally, I like d6 for being common and predictable, but lately I have been wondering if there isn’t something more user-friendly about using differently shaped dice instead of adding or subtracting from d6. Variable Size Average d6 Only d4 2.5 d6 – 1 d6 3.5 d6 d8 4.5 d6 + 1 d10 5.5 d6 + 2 d12 6.5 d6 + 3 Let’s take d6 + 1 for example, the much-maligned basic bitch magic sword. As such, you roll d6 and add 1 for a result from 2 to 7. Rolling d8 has the same average, but it has a range from 1 to 8. In aggregate you’re going to roll just about as well, but you have the chance of rolling

Switching from Spotify to the Open Seas

I heard that Spotify is switching to an annoying interface and I didn't want to keep paying $10 a month for it, so I'm switching back to VLC and downloading MP3s like I used to do in high school. I didn't want to grab individual songs to start with because it's kinda tedious, so I thought about which couple of albums I could listen to if I had nothing else. In alphabetical order! Aly & AJ, We Don't Stop. Carly Rae Jepsen,  Dedication. Carly Rae Jepsen,  Dedication Side B. Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion. Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loneliest Time. Daddy Yankee, LEGENDADDY. Fall Out Boy, Folie à Deux. Rosalía, MOTOMAMI. LMAO, I didn't expect to be on CRJ lockdown for the afternoon but I guess I couldn't help myself. After that, I added a couple songs by Bad Bunny, Cardi B, Chloe Moriondo, Doja Cat, The Killers, Lil Nas X, Matchbox Twenty, Paramore, Rascal Flatts, Speedy Ortiz, Taylor Swift, and others. Every time I start with a new library of music like this,