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Archive for January, 2009

And now that it’s officially Saturday, I’ll go back to my political soapbox.

For the first time in years, everyone in this country has been swept up in the maelstrom of politics, economics and reality. There’s no more standing on the sidelines – people are losing their jobs, their property and – in some cases – their lives and the lives of their families. The shelters of apathy and intentional ignorance are no longer safe.

On one front, you have a virtually limitless war going on in the Middle East, as well as a fight brewing between old Cold War enemies. On another, the economy is falling apart in some places, and barely holding together in others, as corruption and stupidity are worth more than jobs or fellow citizens. Then there’s the growing divide between people who call themselves different political terms.

The reality is that the situations we’re in are literally all moronic. And somewhat ironic.

There’s call of some sort of “revolution” by radical, noisey, dishonorable monkies who think they are somehow more right than others. You see it on the TV and the Internet. Rise up, they say, rise up and dispose of the system. It makes for good television – I give them that. The media is literally thriving despite the fluctuating markets. It doesn’t matter who you blame – CNN, MSNBC, fucking Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the View, whatever your flavor of hatred this week – because we’re all to blame.

And who the fuck are you going to revolt against? As many cries as there are for it, there’s at least five dozen different beliefs as in what the God damn solution is. Talk your little fat heads off, please. You pull that pin on that grenade (I find it an appropriate euphenism), you better be prepared to have 59 other grenades thrown at you. The revolutionaries will eat each other alive until there’s no one left to flock to their piss poor banners. And just get a lot of people killed, hurt or lost in the mess.

So I emplore you – if you happen upon this blog and this post – that you sit the fuck down and think about reality and the fragility of the moment. You are not indestructable. The US is so far from indestructable. Your friends, your families, your ideas – they are all so very not indestructable. These little “revolutions” stupid, outspoken people are planning – they are very much like nuclear weapons.

No one in range is going to survive the outcome if they go off.

Visionaries … JFC, none of the little organisers of coups and revolutions and all that jazzy bullshit are real visionaries. Sadistic, narcissitic whiners full of crap and hate – that’s what they really are. Those shitheads don’t have a clue, and they don’t have the guts. A real person would stand up peacefully – it takes more courage to do things the right way than the violent way.

If that offends anyone, good. Take your crap and go peddle it somewhere else. Preferrably not in my country, you little ungrateful, glory-seeking parasites.

And now that I’ve said my little piece for the weekend, I’m going to switch gears again and let you know that I welcome all intelligent, optimistic people to share their thoughts and prayers with me. We’ll get through this, and we’ll do it with our wits and our minds. And most importantly, with honor.

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Today, instead of talking about politics and video games and other stuff, I’m going to talk about my new book that I’m writing. It’s called Interrupted Invasion Intercepted. Written entirely by me, this scifi epic of epic proportions will epically thrill and amaze you.

Allow me to sample the first few pages for you:

Prelude: The Beginning

It was an era of peace.

The inhabitants of Earth had just mastered the mastering of the red lasers. With such technology, humanity was able to advance science in directions of crazy magnitude. Computers were faster, energy cheaper, and medicine more mediciney. Longer life spans and greater propulsion meant space travel – that had once been out of Man’s reach – was now possible. He could grasp it. With one hand.

Humanity explored a few systems in their neck of the galaxy. Although they had made great strides in space-traveling, there will still many limitations that prevented them from traveling too far from their home system. Colonies were established on the most hospitable planets, and small bases for mining or collecting resources were created on hostile planets and asteroids.

With an influx of trade and expansion, Mankind formed a formable federation. Their space-traveling fleet continued to grow, and the resources flowed faster and more efficiently. This great empire of Earth people was prosperous and mighty. Science had prevailed, and would continue to prevail.

There were lasers to master and conquer!

Unfortunately, what humanity didn’t know was that – just beyond the fringe of their beloved space-taveling empire – waited another race of sentient super beings. Greedy eyes looked with greed upon the riches of the federation, desiring to own it all in their scaley hand. They would replace the fleshy hand of Man that grasped with their own.

These lizard creatures – known as Outafringians – prepared for war with the humans. You see, they had mastered the blue laser, and longed to use it to rain death down on their new most hated foes. Blue lasers are more powerful than red lasers, and Mankind had a long, long way to go before they discovered this new technology. Slithering in the dark places behind planets and moons, the Outafringians mustered their own unique design of space-traveling ships. The Armada had been called, and it would soon zoom in to crush the foolish humans!

Was it cruelty that beat in the thick cold-blood of these aliens? Or was it something else?

During the First and Only Hundred Years of the Hundred Year Space War, the Outafringians had encountered another race. Similar to the lizard people of Outafringia, this new lifeform would have found peace with their neighbors. The only problem was that they had mastered another form of laser – the green laser – and the Outafringians realized that no peace could exist in the galaxy while green lasers were lasering around. Thus, war was declared rather quickly.

The destruction and death caused by the Hundred Year Space War eventually sapped both races of all their resources. Lasers consume quite a bit of energy, and destroy quite a bit of matter. Eventually, the other race could not withstand the blue lasers of the Outafringians, and they were forced to flee their sector or perish. The Outafringians would have pursued, but without enough resources, they would never be able to catch up. So they let their enemies flee into the darkness of black space, and focused on rebuilding what had been carelessly wrecked by blue and green laser alike.

Book cover (both front and back) are forthcoming. And I will post a ranodm chapter here and there for you to read. So check regularly and check often!

Or check the Battle Forum thread I have made for the manuscript copy.

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I Impeached Ur Mom

I know we’re all tired of hearing about Blagojevich, but the state of Illinois won a piece of my heart today. They tossed ol’ Blago out on his ass, and swore in the new Governor, Quinn. Now that that’s over, we can go back to more important stuff.

Blackwater now faces being booted from Iraq, as both the Iraqi and US government have slowly become hostile towards the security firm. See, causing chaos and killing people indiscriminately isn’t good for business. The only problem is if Blackwater loses the Iraq deal and their lawsuits, then they will be down about $381 million. That’s not good.

And finally, my role with beta-testing Paizo’s Pathfinder modules and offering suggestions is expanding – I may take an editor role. Which means I actually get paid to read role-playing games. I already do that in spades, so I’m going to look it over carefully and probably say “yes.”

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I’ve been reading the Mouse Guard comics of late, so when I was at the comic book/game store, I picked up the Mouse Guard RPG. Just expanding my present RPG library (which is pretty diverse, if I had room to unbox all my books). I have a shitload of RPG books on my computer in the form of PDFs, too.

It’s kind of funny to see uneducated morons on the Fox Forum suggest that putting a tax up to cap the price of oil would be some sort of effective way to fix our foreign oil dependence (which makes me laugh because these same fucktards don’t really care about it – they are just looking for a way to criticize Obama). That will never work, because the Middle East will just figure out a way to counter the tax and continue to force feed it to us.

These same morons are also proposing that instead of a stimulus bill that works to keep money in my pocket that it should give huge amounts of money to employers as incentives to employ more US people. Look, as the economy is now, the present retarded trend by CEOs and small businesses is to OUTSOURCE and pursue GLOBALIZATION. They’ll take that incentive money and put it in their pocket and then go hire some guy in India so they don’t have to pay HEALTH INSURANCE or RETIREMENT to American workers. See those words I emphasized? Yeah, those are the areas maybe we should work on to fix the problem, not fucking just give money left and right to businesses to try and encourage something they’ll never fucking do. No matter how many rules you put on it, they’ll figure a way to get their cut and break the rules.

Iran’s President makes more ridiculous demands, which just confirms – to me – that the guy has no real power. The Iranians just like to let him distract us from whatever the real issue is in Iran.

Patience and persistance pays off. The Russians are withdrawing their threat to arm the Polish border with missiles, mainly because no matter what we do, they can’t afford it or maintain it. You have to read between the lines with these people. Which is hilarious, and a black eye to the oh-so-cocky Putin.

The Dems are petitioning citizens to sign up to tell Rush Limbaugh to shut his fucking cake hole. Which isn’t a bad thing – it’s better than when Arlan Specter and the GOP cronies tried to have a law passed to protect Bush during the criticism of the war in Iraq. This is a petition – it’s a piece of paper that says, “Hey, we think you fucking suck now STFU and leave people alone.” Freedom of Speech goes both ways – you can be a caustic, noxious turd on the radio, and we get to sign petitions to tell you to go the fuck away.

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And I absolutely love the Limbaugh fantards who are saying something like, “Dems, go do something constructive,” like a political party with thousands of volunteers can’t do more than one thing at a time. If you like saying that when a political party is doing something on the side, you’re a God damn idiot who should just perish in a fire.

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The recent 15 civilian casualties in Afghanistan has prompted an on-going look into the most current raids. SecDef Gates knows that we cannot continue to go this route – we must emphasize greater care when mounting assaults on militants in the region. Obama’s trying his hardest to make in-roads with the highly skeptical Middle East, and I think he’s doing just about everything he can do.

Surprisingly enough, one of my more neo-conservative, Republican coworkers came up to me today and said that he’s on my side when it comes to the economy. With every state losing plenty of jobs in December, it does not look good for the middle class. He’s worried about his job security – and he doesn’t think the current Republicans care enough to do anything about it. This  does not bode well for the over-oppotunistic GOP who think that in 2 years they are going to win back all their seats. Especially in Nebraska, since we moved into purple territory during the 2008 election.

One thing that strikes me as positive with Obama is that the Republicans seem more amiable to him. Of course, he’s reaching across party lines by compromising, and that’s something that Bush couldn’t do (not that he wouldn’t, I just think he was incapable of it). The stimulus bill is a good example – he knows what he has to do to get things rolling.

And if he stays this way, and keeps making smart decisions, maybe I’ll be less hard on the guy by May. MAYBE.

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Now you too can watch the shenanigans going on at the Vatican on YouTube.

* The following IRC discussion is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach *

McClaud: Now you too can see Two Cardinals and a Cup.
Nekomatic: … That’s horrible.
McClaud: XD
Halcyon: … …
Halcyon: ewwww
McClaud: it’s the new way to determine who the new pope is
Halcyon: O_o…two cardinals crap in a cup and whoever willingly eats it becomes the pope?
Nekomatic: LOL
McClaud: LOL

Anyway, I want to slip out of my normal role as Global Intertubez Discussion Guy and talk about what bugs me lately about RPGs. So bear with me, and realize this is my personal opinion and style which may not be particularly your cup of tea.

Out of six basic attributes normally used in RPGs thanks to the d20/D&D model, three of them are really arbitrary and hard to role-play if you are not really that intimate with them to start with. I’m talking about Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Yes, the ones that a lot of people who min/max in RPGs often refer to as “dump stats.” I understand that these attributes are extremely odd in the manner that – unlike the other three (STRenght, CONstitution, DEXterity) – they are not easy to visualize and verbalize.

With STR, CON and DEX, these attributes mostly dictate things like Hit Points, bonus damage, encumberance, resistances, saves, etc. These rarely push a skill check like the others. When you want to push a huge boulder out of the way, saying something like, “I push on the large boulder trying to move it,” is easy. The DM calculates the odds, we roll vs our STR, and success or failure is assessed.

Now, with something like Charisma (CHA), it’s tougher. How does the player convey his attempt to woo the princess using his CHA and how does the DM react to it? Some players are really bad at role-playing social encounters, and that’s understood. The odds are, if players are horrible at social encounters, then DMs tend to avoid putting players in those situations. And the game actually loses a lot when that happens. I mean, rolling to see if you woo the princess by just saying, “I woo the princess” then roll vs CHA, it loses something in the translation and becomes just a game mechanic (much like a boardgame). Same goes for INT or WIS when encounters call on players to act smarter or wiser than they really are.

So how should a DM make these stats have worth, other than something that boosts spell, skill and reaction tests? So they don’t become the least attended attributes or dump stats?

In my games, my solution is to redefine what decades of role-playing has set in stone. The old definition of Charisma, as seen in most Player Handbooks and by most gaming groups, is the smooth-talk ability and beauty of the character. My definition is that aside from those obvious features, Charisma is a personal aura. Thus, a character with a CHA of 16 isn’t necessarily sexy or beautiful outwardly, but NPCs feel something outstanding about the PC. Whether they fear the PC or feel safe around the PC is situational, but something clicks in the NPC that makes them more amiable or pliable to the PC. Think of Snow White’s evil mother – she’s super beautiful, but everyone reacts poorly to her. She probably has a CHA of 7 despite her outward beauty.

INT works in a similar fashion. The player may be exceptionally quick-thinking and smart, but his character may not have a high INT. So how does one role-play or treat the low INT? Simple – the DM encourages the player to act less intelligent in-character. Or more intelligent, if the player is not as smart as his character is. It’s perfectly okay if you have no idea where to look for a clue, but your character has an INT of 18, to say, “I’ve read about this before,” and turn to the DM for a hint (or a bonus). I give XP rewards to people who have vastly different INT scores than their characters and attempt to role-play appropriately. Sometimes, the clever player catches on and starts knowing how to ham it up (“I know what it says, and it says,” turning to the DM to finish the sentence).

WIS is a little harder, perhaps the hardest. Wisdom – as defined – is the culimination of experience. Since XP is how we represent growth in an RPG, then why do we have Wisdom? In reality, Wisdom is just a placeholder for personal will. It should be renamed as Will. We use WIS to determine saves and faith-related stats (for clerics and such). It’s really all about the willpower and instinct. So people with low WIS are not really dumb as much as they just don’t know how to react from the gut about the situation. When attacked by magic or trying to resist strong urges, they often can’t. They just don’t have the will to do so. Confidence really should be key in using WIS in social situations. Low WIS = less internal confidence. Characters with low WIS tend to sound less wise and confident than those with high WIS. And tend to be less willful as well.

How do I deal with the dump stat gamers? Well, I’d like to see someone who dumped one of the three go into a store or forge and expect to buy something like someone with the average in those attributes. Here’s a more realistic expectation with me (using a score of 7 or less on each stat):

CHA of 7 or less
The shopkeeper senses something off about the character and doesn’t want to deal with them. If forced to deal with them, the shopkeeper doesn’t listen to bartering. He wants the character out of his store without taking a loss. So this character should be ready to face hostility and a firm price on items.

INT of 7 or less
That same shopkeeper listens to the character and realizes he’s got someone who doesn’t know the value of the money in his/her purse. So the shopkeeper starts the price high, and uses logic to confuse the character into accepting that high price. Even if he just sold a shoe in front of the character for less, he spins a tale about needing more money from the next guy. The player with a character with INT of 7 or less better be ready to pay more and be confused more.

WIS of 7 or less
The shopkeeper watches the character and realizes that he’s got someone he can sneak things by or cajole into buying. He shows his wares of less quality disguised by a magic trick to the character. When the character avoids buying stuff, he begins telling a tale of woe or trying to get the character’s emotions swayed. While the less intelligent characters are dupes, the less WIS ones are saps. Players with characters with WIS of 7 or lower better realize that they don’t have the will to resist tempting offers or emotional baggage. Most of all, they are not really sure if a story is possible or not.

Yes, I’m a hard-ass when it comes to being a DM, but my rewards are always telling a better story and having to rely less on a character sheet and more on yourself.

You run the character – the character does not run you.

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I mean, why do we keep comparing this economic downturn to the Great Depression? While it seems like the same outcomes are likely, the reality is this is not the same situation that will have the same consequences. So let’s just back up and stop trying to say, This is the Second Great Depression. We should call it what it is – a banking failure (and kick Merril Lynch people in the nuts for using our tax money to give bonuses to the dicks who fucked it up in the first place).

And I totally don’t believe that the answer to fixing the problem is the large tax cuts proposed by Republicans. I know why they proposed such deep cuts – it’s to the benefit of their constituents. I think “great tax cuts” has become synonymous with “help the rich” and thus should be avoided. If the Republicans want to get better PR, they need to stop being so transparent about who they really work for (the better answer – for both parties – is to stop working for the rich).

The UN is raising money to help Gaza. Which perhaps that is the best idea I’ve seen from the UN in a long time – why not ask people for help instead of insisting on it? The Hamas seem to be pissed at Obama since he’s not caving into their demands that we just roll over and let them destroy Israel. Which I think speaks highly of President Obama in that area. He’s even working with the Pentagon on a reasonable withdraw from Iraq (I hate these kinds of articles, because the opening seems like it’s saying that Obama’s going to withdraw in 10 days, but at the bottom of the article, you see that Crocker admits Obama’s pace seems reasonable and safe).

Isn’t it the place of the #2 guy to tell the #1 guy that he disagrees with him, and not wait until the #1 guy is on his way out so it only adds to #1 guy’s already negative image? GG, Cheney, you dick. Nice fucking friend you turned out to be.

Don’t look at this article for the article itself, but for the hilarity that Fox News is really just a clever guise for luring in morons and getting them to post their stupidity in front of the rest of the Internet. When I read the comments of articles like this, I’m almost certain that Fox is now a front such evil plans to expose neo-con dorks, and I’m actually loving it. There’s no way Fox News does this on accident.

In the wake of the anniversary of Roe vs Wade and all the peaceful rally hubabaloo, people are still hot on the topic. Now, here’ s a guy who sloppily tries to make Christians think about how the legality of abortions should processed. It’s a trap, and then stupid Christians come along and comment on the trap like a bunch of dumb sheep. We’ve opened Pandora’s box on abortions now. With chemicals to induce micarriages now introduced in a cheap and safe fashion, outlawing abortion will be like the War on Drugs. It won’t work, it won’t ever go away, and it will only get tons worse.

My solution? Birth control, and then if the woman gets pregnant, offer an alternative to abortion (such funding ADOPTIONS for the kid). However, greedy people means no adoption funding which means more abortions. Endless cycle ensues. And pro-lifers will always be thwarted, because they are sideswiped by the retarded religious view on birth control and greed.

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