Sunday, July 7, 2013

Songs of Tasque Post-Game #1

Disclaimer: A fairly lengthy discussion of tabletop RPG adventure design follows. You're welcome to continue reading, at risk of your own boredom. Mooncrash players, do not fear spoilers.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Under Review


Did you read Hull Damage? Did you like it?

If you just grunted "yeah" at your computer, well, hey, thanks, I really appreciate that.*

Have you, perchance, written a review about your thoughts?

The internet is curious. Well, maybe not THE INTERNET, per se, but I'm curious and I'm on the Internet. Some portion of the Internet is curious. The T, perhaps.

Here's a link to the Amazon page, where people are most curious about your thoughts. Why not express them?

Thanks for taking the time. The internent thanks you too.

*if you didn't like it sod off

Friday, July 5, 2013

Worldbuilding Idea

Inspired heavily by Quantum Thief.

A city where the tradition law enforcement (an organized police force) is replaced by a small band of well-funded, high-functioning vigilantes (effectively superheroes). Officially licensed by the government, the vigilantes nevertheless remain autonomous, are only answerable to themselves and solve their own disputes internally. At the same time, the city retains control of the legislative branch, allowing them to create the laws the vigilantes must enforce.

Potential conflicts include:
  • a corrupt government forcing the vigilantes to enforce their fraudulent laws
  • corrupt vigilantes, refusing to acknowledge the potentially positive laws of the government
  • obvious inter-vigilante group conflicts the government is powerless to resolve
Could be slotted into any setting, really, but I like the fantasy aesthetics here best; masked avengers, wielding rapiers and shuriken seems visually pleasing. A Mooncrash city could function this way, as could a Palmlander city or even one of the boroughs in Thousand-Name Town.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Input Update

What I'm Reading: The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi. Interesting post-cyberpunk, but insanely inaccessible. Reads very much like Transmet, with all the humor, perversion and fun filed off, if you can still imagine Transmet under those conditions. It's effectively a very simple tale, complicatedly told, which is my very favorite format; a woman breaks a thief out of prison to commit a crime for her shady employers. Sounds simple, but add in enough quantum mechanics, sentient AI, nanotech foglets, identity pirates and bizarre, otherwordly tech, the novel becomes surprisingly difficult to swallow. The story's certainly picking up, but initially, I was somewhat moonstruck.

What I'm Listening To: Boss Wave, by Xilent. I'm on the record as disliking dubstep, but I actually find that opinion softening somewhat, in my old age. There's a certain undeniable energy to the genre that I'm finding a useful inspiration for my late-night writing binges and far be it from me to deny what works. This track, in particular, has a nice retro wave to tide me over and I'm far from ready to divebomb into Skrillex just yet.

What I'm Watching: Last Exile by Gonzo, I guess? As stated on this blog previously, anime is also incredibly hit-or-miss for me and Last Exile, a WWII-esque zeppelin drama, is precisely the correct amount of straight-faced fantasy for me to click into. It's far from the greatest thing I've ever feasted my eyes upon (for some reason, this series' version of Captain Emo McDarkPast is particularly grating on me), but I'm interested in the aesthetic and the ask-no-questions nature of the worldbuilding. Plus, the missus likes it, which is always a plus.

What I'm Playing: Fractal, by Cipher Prime. Puzzle games, especially when devoid of narrative, are typically my anathema, but the visual aesthetic here is so gorgeous I couldn't resist. When I purchased the Bundle containing this one, I assumed it'd be my least favorite but, with the shitty gameplay of Organ Trail, the forgettability of Stealth Bastard and the pretentious bullshit of Aquaria, I find that its, in fact, devoured more of my time than any of the previous three.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stick Before Carrot

There's a niggling thought that's been growing on my mind lately.

Imagine, for the purposes of this analogy, that I'm obsessed with bumblebees. Bumblebees feature prominently in all my work; protagonists are beekeepers, the colors yellow and black are constantly used to evoke bee imagery, analogies to bees, honey, hives, queens and the business thereof are a running theme not in merely one work, but in everything – my novels, my screenplays, my stage plays, my D&D campaigns.

Seems kinda excessive and arbitrary, doesn't it? This is how I'm beginning to feel about violence.

Now, don't get me wrong – the metaphor's not perfect. Violence, as a storytelling device, can be extremely effective and should, by all accounts, be regularly employed. There's literally no cheaper, faster and visceral way to raise the stakes of a scene than to involve violence or the threat of violence. It's been a pervasive theme throughout much of my work and will doubtlessly continue to be.

The trick is, after so much constant exposure, the violent taste, if you will, starts to go bland.

I don't object to its use on ethical grounds; I'm a firm believer that fiction is a fertile ground to safely explore content, themes and ideas that would be openly hostile, offensive or dangerous in the real world, applied with real world logic.

Nazis are a wonderful example of this phenomena; an absolutely deplorable group, who committed unspeakable, but nevertheless very real and salient atrocities, are frequently reduced to cartoonish, moustache-twirling villains in popular fiction, despite the actual seriousness of the underlining subject matter. I feel the same way about violence in fiction; perfectly safe to explore, all in the well-defined bounds of make-believe.

I'm merely growing bored of the tropes and conventions there associated. As interested in innovation as I am, I'm beginning to wonder why I feel the need to wearily shoehorn the inclusion of one particular theme, such as bumblebees, into every since work. I'm honestly interested in exploring a story whose conflicts and subsequent solutions are entirely non-violent.

That being said, conflict is the spine of all narrative and violent conflict is the spine of most narrative, so I'm far from excising the tool altogether. I simply wonder if this isn't a direction towards which I should naturalistically be spreading.

Now, off to write a bar fight scene.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Marketing Sponge

I find myself bizarrely susceptible to incredibly gimmicky marketing strategies.

Cinematic game trailers, for instance, remain incredibly tantalizing, despite being almost entirely unrelated to the actual experience of playing said game. I don't care how epic this is – the game's physical gameplay is so distinctly different, they might as well be advertising different products.

Gamification works wonders on me. Goodreads, Obsidian Portal and the site I linked to yesterday, 750 Words, have skyrocketed by reading, DMing and writing respectively, all in the name of some arbitrary bullshit achievements less useful than that fucking certificate they toss you in the original Pokémon Red & Blue for catching all 151 of the buggers. I will plow through novel after novel, simply to claim that I've read 50, 65, 80 books a year. I will catalogue every minor detail of my campaign world, down to excruciating fineness, to an audience uniquely incapable of understanding the nuances, as I actively endeavor to keep that information from them. I will plunge fearlessly forward in Galactic Menace, to collect pointless avian-themed badges of no intrinsic value.

Lastly, goddamn bright colors, particularly on food products, but also book covers, game posters, film trailers, all of it, reels me in like a big stupid catfish. The missus and I once purchased those tiny tubs of bright colored juice one finds at the supermarket, intended for five year olds, on the brightness of the blue ALONE. They were wretched. We were duped of our $0.79.

What's even more frustrating about the whole exercise is that I'm painfully aware of these facts, but unable to prevent my only susceptibility nonetheless. As these things are duping me, one portion of my moronic brain is repeating that I've higher cognitive powers than this and what am I doing et cetera, but the reptilian half of my brain just wants lights, points and colors, no matter how arbitrary they might all be.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Opinion opinion opinion opinion joke opinion.

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