Merry Christmas

I just got what may be circumstantially the worst Dirty Santa gift ever.

It’s a little wooden box that reads “No sense in being pessimistic, it wouldn’t work anyway.” No other phrase better captures where I am in my life right now.

Cirsova is my little happy place where I pretend to be okay. Normally, I spend most of my time living under a rock. That’s where I’ve spent almost all of 2013, anyway.

I’m taking the rest of the year off. Cirsova will (maybe) be back in 2014.  Merry Christmas.

(No likes or comments, please. These will be deleted.)

Thebes, Plataea and Against the Giants

So, not only am I reading History of the Peloponnesian Wars, I’m also reading “…and the sky full of dust”‘s real play of Against the Giants. Every so often, I’d see a post and think nothing of it. When they got up to around eighty sessions or so, I was all “Wait a minute, I though Against the Giants were con mods, there’s something else going on here…” So, I started back at the beginning and have been working my way through. Well, it turns out that they’re playing the anniversary “Against the Giants: Liberation of Geoff” campaign, which places the heroes in the position of a resistance force slowly gaining strength to where they are actually ready to begin the true struggle Against the Giants.

So, how does this tie into the Peloponnesean Wars? Well, I just finished Book 1, and the incident between Thebes and Plataea got me thinking. What a great setup for an epic campaign!

For those who don’t know, let me recap what happened between the two city states. Thebes (a Spartan ally) and Plataea (an Athenian ally) were only 8 miles apart (maybe they can make a movie about this and call it 8 Mile). While the war had officially broken out between Sparta and Athens, neither of the main players had made a move yet. Thebes, however, decided that now was a great time to strike a blow against their rival before they had a chance to make preparations. They sent a small contingent of soldiers who marched into Plataea pretty much unopposed, thanks to the help of a few traitors who thought that the Thebans would kill all of their political opponents. Instead, the Thebans made an overture to the citizens to peacefully join up with the Spartan Alliance, an offer that was too good to refuse. Except it wasn’t. The Plataeans knew that the only thing worse than having the Spartans after them was being punished by the Athenians for breaking their alliance. The Plataeans also figured out that there were only around 300 Thebans in the city.

Covered by rain and darkness, the citizens of Plataea conspired against the Thebans whom they had just welcomed as liberators. They tunneled through the walls of houses, carefully set up barricades in alleys and avenues, and, just before the dawn, attacked the Theban contingent from all sides. They overwhelmed the Thebans, who scattered through the city, lost and trapped. They were all killed or captured. The Theban relief force, unaware of how badly things had gone, originally intended to take hostages from the countryside to exchange for their men, but the Plataeans said if anything happened to their countryside, they’d kill all the captives. Both sides agreed that the other would be spared. Well, the Plataeans killed all of the captives anyway. What a mess!

Eventually, though, the Plataeans got theirs for breaking the oath when the Spartans tore the place down stone by stone.

So, gaming…. right.

-The characters start out as citizens in a town invaded by foreign power.
-Resistance fighters attack large contingent of lvl 0 or 1HD invaders.
-Pursue through an urban maze
-Find out that your actions have brought the attention of a much more powerful foe upon your city.

I don’t know, maybe I ran out of steam on this.

Webcomic Wayside Woes

Once upon a time, I used to really like webcomics. I even followed a lot of them. Sometimes life just gets in the way, you don’t follow for awhile, the next thing you know there are a million pages that you haven’t read and don’t think you’ll ever get time to read, so you just give up.
Most of my webcomic reading happened in late highschool and early college. It’s shocking to find that many comics that I read back then eventually had some kind of an ending. It’s even more shocking to find out that some of them are still going on!

A lot of those comics I liked usually had either massive cases of Cerebus Syndrome or drastic art-shifts that were so off-putting that I just never could keep going.

Megatokyo – Followed this starting around 00 maybe. At the time, it was probably my favorite webcomic. The departure of Rodney Caston, though, was immediately and harshly felt. I don’t remember how long I followed it after the massive directional shift, but it probably wasn’t more than a chapter or two. I’d stopped following it by the time I got to college.

Exploitation Now – Back when Megatokyo was the biggest webcomic next to Penny Arcade, Michael Poe, the guy who did EN had some ads on and did a guest strip or two for Megatokyo. It was risque kinda dirty raunchy and I was a teenager. Ironically, it’s the one of the only webcomics I’ve ever followed to the end, partly since it was fairly short (only a 3 year run), and despite how bizarre everything turned out, I think I actually cried at the end. I followed Errant Story (which also concluded recently) for a chapter or two after EN ended, but just never kept up.

8-Bit Theatre – I think I made it up to the Vampire. Or the Mind Flayers. I don’t remember, but it had become walls of text that were hard to keep interested in, and the further behind I got, the less I felt I had to keep reading it. It felt more ‘relevant’, I guess, when I was going on my classic FF kick, when between my last year in High School and Freshman year of college I plowed through the first 6 Final Fantasy games. Ah, the halcyon days of the 30-40 hour RPG!

Achewood – This was, for a time, one of my all time favorite webcomics, but a few years back it went into a bizarre death spiral. Supposedly it came back, but I don’t think it could ever be the same.

Penny Arcade – There was a stint where I read Penny Arcade. I’d quit reading by the time the Dick Wolves controversy errupted. While I don’t see myself ever going back and re-reading a ton of Penny Arcade, nor would I go out of my way to defend them, I will observe that there seems to be a cottage industry of people who preface posts with “Now I’ve been a fan of Penny Arcade for years, but ::outrage outrage outrage::”.

The Lounge – The Lounge felt like if Michael Poe had written No Pink Ponies. For some reason or another, I stopped following this around the time it decided to develop a plot. If I had all the time in the world, I might read it.

Wendy – I read this for awhile, but it never went anywhere, so I guess I stopped following it.

Girly – The bumps for this on Dinocomics looked cute so I checked it out (yeah, I know, it’s a Wendy spin-off). Anyway, I enjoyed it until the radical art shift. I get that Lesnick wanted to move away from anime style, but the first chapter after he changed styles was an ugly mess. Apparently it concluded? Not all that interested, though.

Marry Me – I don’t remember how I even found this, but it was cute and short. I ended up getting the graphic novel when it was finished to support the author and artist. There were a few sporadic epilogue updates, but I stopped checking ages ago.

Dreamless – By the same writer as Marry Me, but a different artist. Interesting concept, and if I had time, I’d pick up and follow it again, but I don’t so I won’t.

No Pink Ponies – By the same artist as Marry Me. It was a cute comic about a young woman who opens a comic and gaming store. Like the Lounge, only a lot more family friendly. The main reason I stopped following it was its incredibly erratic update schedule.

Erfworld – The first chapter of this was great. Then there was an incredibly long interlude between chapter 1 & 2 that was filled with a novella’s worth of text. I didn’t follow it when it moved to its own site.

Order of the Stick – One of the best Fantasy/Gaming comics ever. I tell myself I’m still following it, even though it’s been a year and a half since the last time I read it. That’s, what, 40 pages? One day I’ll catch up.

Dr. McNinja – I loved this, but just lost the time.

Dinocomics – Ryan North is a philosopher king. Unfortunately, this was another victim of not having time to devote to comic reading.

Rusty & Co – Every once in awhile, i catch up on this one!

Gunnerkrigg Court – This is another comic I’m intent on catching up on, especially since I got into it around chapter 6. I followed religiously until a few years ago (see time).

Axe Cop – A few years back, I read all of Axe Cop in one go. “That was off the wall and pretty awesome,” I said, as I never checked it again. This one might be worth revisiting someday. I don’t know.

More than anything, I guess this is a list to remind myself of things to look up again if I ever have the time. Maybe. I don’t know. Life is too short for some things, but a few of these might bring a smile to my face if I made some time for it.

Thoughts on Phil Robertson Being Fired From His Own Show

First a disclaimer: I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty, and, much like with Harry Potter until two years ago, all I know about it I know through ‘cultural osmosis’. That said, Phil’s recent firing from his own show, which is the most popular TV show in the history of the Human race, strikes me as incredibly fascinating.

Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty family were already filthy rich before the show. A&E has way more to lose than the Robertsons.

What baffles me is A&E saying that the words of the star of a reality show about said star does not reflect the attitudes and beliefs of the show about the star who said those words.

Without getting into my own gender identity (people have assumed, based on my writing here, that I’m a woman or gender-queer), I have no problems with what Phil said or how he said it.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying?”

Here, the beard is simply expressing his own preference and his bafflement that others would prefer otherwise. I’ve heard homosexuals express their bafflement at heterosexuals, too. While not every heterosexual male might put it in exactly those words, that more or less sums up the paradigm of heterosexuality which, whether you believe sexuality is binary or not, is the predominant orientation and opinion.

“But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

One could attack this rhetorically, exploring ideal of hedonism, eudaimonia and such, but let’s just say that this is an expression that he is admitting that he doesn’t get the appeal because it doesn’t make sense to him.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Here he goes a bit more ideological, because he believes that sexual amorality tends to spiral out of control. And whether or not you believe that homosexuality is sexually amoral, there is lots of evidence sexual experimentation, promiscuity, pornography and such do have the tendency to spiral out of control. Robertson simply believes that rather than run the risk of ruining ones life it is better to adhere to a sexually moral code of behavior which, in this case, excludes homosexuality.

“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

This is a pretty basic and pretty common belief in Christianity. He’s not singling anybody out, he’s not slandering anyone, he’s just saying what his faith believes. If there’s no God, then there’s no problem. If your God does not have a problem with what you’re doing, there’s no problem either. Gods don’t tend to agree; that’s why there are so many religions.

Glaad is out cheering that discrimination will not be tolerated. Yay for A&E and all that. Phil Robertson was fired for expressing his sexual preference and religious beliefs. If anyone was discriminated against for his sexuality or beliefs, it was Phil Robertson.

As for Phil, no matter how this turns out, he’s still gonna be filthy rich, he’s still gonna have a ridiculous beard and he’s still gonna shoot ducks in the swamp, and the people who get super bent out of shape about what this guy says need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask themselves “Who is REALLY the one acting like a cartoon character here?”

Krampus is ruined and you nerds ruined him

That’s right, all you nerds and hipsters going “Hurr, hurr, Christmas is here, time for the Krampus!  You guys knew there was a Christmas monster, right?” have turned a delightful holiday tradition into an annoyance, just like people who get butthurt over something as innocuous as charcoal-black menservants ruined Zwarte Piet.  It’s time to let Krampus go back underground for awhile.  Let him play some dives under an alias, record some new tunes, drop an EP or two, and maybe then he will be welcome once again.

In the meantime, might I suggest folks move on to ruining the jólaköttur, who is far more internet friendly.

kitty in santa hat

As soon as he wakes up, Yule Cat is going to kill everyone who didn’t get flannel shirts for Christmas.

A Post about the Future

Every so often one still comes across some post bemoaning the death of the OSR. They’ve slowed to a trickle by the end of this year, but every once in awhile some guy gets all weepy about the Grognardia archives or something.  Consider the Dyvers list, which shows that there are still hundreds of blogs out there. Sure, several of them may be “going dark”, but for every gaming blog that has died, there are dozens of others still going strong.

I think that people confusingly correlated the publication of clones to the community as a whole when they proclaimed the OSR is dead.

There IS a decline in the publication of new clones & “OSR Heartbreakers”. A big part of this is that there are already LOTS of good OSR Clones and OSR Retro systems out there already to choose from. I would not go so far as to say that the market is saturated, but between Basic Fantasy RPG, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, Lamentations of the Flame Princes, Blueholme, ACKS, BBRPG, DCC and several other acronyms I’m forgetting, chances are most gamers are going to find what they like without having to go out of their way to write a new system. Add to that that Wizards finally reprinted darn near every edition that the OSR draws from, and you’ve got choices gallore! And I’m pretty sure that Pathfinder and the plethora of d20 stuff has the 3e crowd sufficiently covered until the end of days.

There has been some backlash caused by a number of kickstarter debacles, including games that funded but were never delivered and established gaming companies using it essentially as a pre-order system (which was NOT its original intent), but that doesn’t mean that there are suddenly less people out there gaming. Just less people taking a chance on developing new systems for which there is shrinking demand, simply because people don’t have time to run all the games they have, much less try out new ones.

So, where does the community go from here? Obviously, modules for existing systems will be where the bulk of creative energy will be directed. Most of these will not be so ambitious as to need kickstarter, but you’ll find some good ones out there hosted on blogs or at DriveThruRPG. Interestingly enough, 4e will be the final frontier for the OSR, as long as we’re talking about retro-clones. As Wizards drops support for the red-headed step-child of D&D, I predict that in 2014 we’re likely going to see some reimaginings of the 4e system.

Plus, all of the above assumes that gaming is limited to the D&D sphere, which it most certainly is not.

GP, XP and the Minimum Wage

In Dungeons & Dragons, the Gold or Silver Piece as a unit of currency has a fixed and finite value, not only as a unit of wealth, but a unit of weight and unit of XP. 1 GP = 1 Unit of Weight = 1 XP. The typical conversion rate for GP to SP is 1:10, meaning that 1SP = 1 Unit of Weight = .1 XP.  Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the US dollar.

Up until about 50 years ago, the US dollar was $1 = .7234 Troy Oz. Silver. And until the mid 30s it was as much as .7735, given the presence of silver dollars. Today, however, the US dollar’s value is a purely abstract derivation of a function of time and labor’s perceived value. To be specific, today, the US dollar is valued at roughly 8.276 minutes worth of labor performed at the bare minimum of competence to complete an assigned task. The US dollar is NOT a unit of concrete value but rather a division of time.

One of the old standards one hears about for the value of old Roman currency was that a Denarius was roughly one day’s wages. So, we’ll take the Roman model for the following example.

Imagine that a silver coin has been struck: The Silver Hour. The Silver Hour is round, weighs a single ounce, and it is universally understood that one hour’s worth of labor will be worth at LEAST one Silver Hour.

Of course, there are issues of liquidity. Certain goods and services might be worth less than one hour’s worth of labor, and therefore worth less than one Silver Hour.

Someone has the brilliant idea that goods and services instead should be priced in Silver Slices and the Silver Hour may be split by striking it across three times, so that the Silver Hour might be made of 6 silver slices.

Businesses no longer pay their laborers in Silver Hours, but in silver slices. Prices for all goods and services are now in Slices, but everyone knows that those six slices make up an Hour.

Along the way, someone says “Six slices to the Hour is not enough! It is only fair that labor be valued at 8 slices to the Hour!” So they took the Hour and split it across 4 times with two X’s. Now an Hour was worth 8 slices. The merchants and the wage payers all knew what had happened, but since all things were priced in slices and not Hours, they had to raise the number of slices in the price of all things.

Somewhere along the way, the Silver Hour becomes forgotten, and the slices are no longer slices and are no longer silver, but all things are priced in slices, rather than hours. “8 slices were not enough,” people said, “Let us have 10 slices!”, so they were given 10 slices for their hour. Because they were no longer slices and no longer silver, people did not understand how their many slices could be worth less than a Silver Hour. But the more the Hour was broken up, the more slices everyone had, but there were never more Hours than there had been before. The slices were becoming so small that they were slivers, but people were told “What matters is how many slivers you have, never mind the Hours!” until the Hours were sliced so small that each sliver was worthless and no one could amass enough slivers and slices (now made of base-metals, not silver) to pay for simplest thing.

Yet those who said “Let us stop slicing the Hour, and let the hour be worth an Hour!” were shouted down, as they would be depriving those who had the many slivers of but a few Hours of saying “We have many slivers!”, though those slivers were smaller and smaller and bought less and less.

This is what we’re doing with our dollar every time we raise the minimum wage. If the minimum wage is raised from $7.25 to $10, we’re not giving everyone another $2.75 an hour in the sense that we’re paying them for 20 extra minutes or so that don’t really exist every hour. All we’re doing is changing the value of a dollar from $1 = 8.276 minutes of labor performed at the bare minimum of competence to complete an assigned task to $1 = 6 minutes of labor performed at the bare minimum of competence to complete an assigned task. The real losers are any individuals on a fixed income, including all salaried adults and the elderly living on their retirement savings, whose dollars, when they earned them, once represented a significantly higher fraction of an hour than they currently do.


If someone handed you this and later gave you the other half, you don’t magically have two pennies.

Fun fact! There were more “billionaires” in Zimbabwe during the 00’s than in most western countries combined, and if we raised our minimum wage to $1bn per hour, we could have that many billionaires too!