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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Spread It Far. Spread It Wide.

In February 2017, I made a comment that turned out to be so popular it was even quoted by Kathy "Fight Like a Cornered Cat" Jackson on her Facebook page:



I had largely forgotten about it until today, when my friend Jacob Miheve tagged me in a Facebook comment because he remembered the quote but not verbatim.

Since the subject was once again relevant, I decided it needed to be made into a picture. My own meager talents were insufficient, but the help of Jacob and Kathy turned my words into this beauty:


Spread it far, spread it wide.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Reaching My Limit

I will put up with a lot of crap on my Facebook wall. So much so, in fact, that my friend David Blackard has told me that I have "the patience of a saint" for putting up with people for as long as I do.

What's ironic about his statement is that I am inherently impatient and don't like it when people disagree with me such that my first reaction is to go "No, you're full of crap, go away"; but because I am aware of my impatient, dismissive nature, and because I do not wish to live in an echo chamber (the first rule of Dunning–Kruger Club is that no one knows they're in Dunning–Kruger club), I tend to let people disagree with me -- no matter how much I find it grind-my-molars irritating -- until they breach certain pre-defined "no go" zones. And when that happens, I take swift and decisive action, which can range from deleting the post and telling them "Don't ever do that again" to blocking them.

One of those limits is verbally attacking my friends. Names which I'd allow against me aren't allowed against my friends, because I figure it if hurts my feelings perhaps I'm just sensitive, but if it pisses me off to see my friend treated that way, you're done.

Another such limit is to go out of your way to misgender me. While it can be difficult to get my pronouns correct in person if I'm not looking my best, it is entirely another thing to look at my female name and my feminine portrait and go "You know, it would cost me absolutely nothing to be polite in this text-based conversation, but I shall make an effort to be insulting."  I've actually had people argue with me over what I actually am!

The third limit is the one which prompted today's post, and that is when someone makes a blanket "You are X and you should feel terrible for being X, you worthless person" statement. Usually these have been people telling me that I'm mentally ill because I'm transgender (I beg to differ, and prefer to think of myself as having been born with a birth defect and am trying to make a difficult life more pleasant for myself), but given the most recent tragedy there's a fair amount of name-calling and finger-pointing at responsible gun owners.

Here is what pushed me to my limit today:

Why, how dare I want the means to preserve my life against violence! How dare I kill another who wishes harm upon me! Why, if I were truly enlightened like Jd, I would offer myself up as a human sacrifice before the criminal who wanted me harmed, because my death would be moral. And if I disagree, why then I shouldn't sully the title of American by claiming it as my own; I should rather emigrate to a less-enlightened country or else exile myself to death in the outermost darkness.

Needless to say, this raised my ire to such a degree that I briefly lost my composure and indulged in some very un-ladylike f-bombs:

Any morality which requires me, a non-criminal, to die because it makes people feel better is a direct threat to my existence and I won't tolerate it. I probably could have continued to debate this... person... but the moment someone outright tells me that they prefer my death, I cease to give a shit about anything they do or say.

One of these days, people will push me until I get so upset that I will actually answer the question "How many people have to die before you will embrace gun control?", and they will be horrified at my response. But that, dear reader, is a subject for another day.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Past Two Days Have Been Terrible

I'm not just talking about the tragedy in Florida over Valentine's Day or the sadly-not-surprising revelation that the FBI had not one but two hot tops about the shooter, one five months ago and one a month ago. Those things are awful, yes, but the past two days have been terrible for me, personally.

Wednesday was bad because it was Valentine's Day, or as I like to call it, Singles Awareness Day. I have a long track record of not liking the Hallmark Holiday and being reminded that I've just spent another year romantically fallow.

But Thursday was even worse. I had an appointment with the plastic surgeon in order to see what could be done about the scarring. I was worried because he had said that the swelling would have disappeared in January, yet the wound had stopped shrinking by Christmas but still looked pretty big. Still, I went in with hope. Perhaps he could stick a needle into the puffy bits and drain them?

Instead, he was very dismissive about my feelings and my appearance, and basically told me that there's nothing he can do. It's still swollen because it's all  scar tissue, you see, and surgery would just cut into it more and create another scar, and it's so thick that a laser wouldn't do anything for it and there are no drugs which can shrink it.

The only thing that he says can be done is for me to massage it as hard as I can several times a day and just hope that it breaks down the scar tissue.

In fact, here's a quote that summarize the entire appointment:
Me: So what you're saying is that I'm stuck looking like this...

Him: Uh-huh.

Me: ... and that I'm screwed.

Him: No, not screwed! You still have full function!
In other words: Everything works, so who cares how it looks? Again, the feeling which I had from him -- and my mom agrees, because she was with me -- was that he really didn't much care, like I wasn't worth his time. Perhaps I was cutting into his lucrative face lift and boob job schedule?


And so this entire experience of being told that my face looking like a chew toy was just the way it was going to be, too bad so sad get out of my office, left me feeling like ugly, worthless crap. I pulled out my bottle of Emergency Rum and started drinking until the evil thoughts went away, and then I went to bed at like 4 am.

I got up around noon to drink some water and use the bathroom. Then I went back to bed (not because I was hung over, but because I just didn't want to deal with anyone or anything) and didn't get up until 5 pm, because I needed to get dressed and walk the remaining dog.

I still feel like ugly, rejected, spoiled meat. I don't know if I'm ever going to feel better again.


The only thing I can do at this point is to go find another plastic surgeon and fill out more paperwork and pay another first-time patient fee, just so I can get a second opinion and maybe find a doctor who gives a shit about my face, because I cannot believe there is nothing which can be done.

I think I'm going to finish off the rest of the rum and then sleep some more. At least I don't feel hideous in my dreams.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Black Panther: An Addendum

This is inevitably going to be a three-part series, as the review will be up once I've seen it. 

One has to be very careful when picking one's words when talking about something like Black Panther. What was just another high concept super-hero movie in a universe already extraordinarily well-established has, thanks in large part to the cultural critics that have been chapping my ass for the past few years, quickly become an exceedingly commercialized rally point for a puzzling social movement.

Marvel, to its credit, has very little blame in this aside from introducing an already-beloved character in a giant movie and translating him very well to the screen, putting out the requisite toy line, and picking a strategic song for the trailer.

One must be very careful, for example, these days not to imply that "collectivist identitarian" is a flattering term for someone that someone else would rather prefer to call an "asshole Nazi," regardless if both terms apply.

Inside joke, dear readers. I apologize.

But can we talk about Black Panther for a moment?

You're right, we can't. We can't, for example, bring up the fact that Wakanda is a stupendously rich nation in the middle of some very poor nations. We can't bring up the fact that Wakanda is an xenophobic ethnostate with possibly the strictest immigration laws outside of Dr. Doom's Latveria or that, in the MCU, it had no outreach to poor countries despite its wealth until Civil War. We can't talk about how Wakanda zealously defends its borders, notoriously slaughtering intruders, or how T'Challa himself is the ruler of a Patriarchal society, having literally inherited his powers, tech, and position from his own father.

But I suppose if one side can twist things in its favour, the other can do so just as well.

Did they, though? Have we asked actual
Africans how they feel on this?
That'd just be awkward, though. Not that that first side isn't finally getting around to not-good-enough-isms.

In that spirit, I'd like to make it very clear that when I review Black Panther, I intend to hold it to its own merits: Did it tell a good story? Did it fit well in the greater MCU? Did it work well on its own as a movie as well as setting up story threads for future movies, as I expect to see it represented heavily in Infinity War? Does it tie up loose ends from previous movies?

What I'm not going to do is blame any shortcomings on "Trump's America." Seriously, it makes me ashamed that 3/4 of me comes from the same place as you, Ed Power.

When I go see Black Panther, I'm going to see what I hope to be another highly-entertaining entry in the MCU saga, one that I can appreciate as a fan and as someone who has been reading books  starring that character since I was a teenager. The last thing I want is for the movie to fail, because that's going to basically be Ghostbusters 2016: Round 2, and I've had just about enough of that.

I want it to succeed. I want it to be good.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Courtier-ing Perfection


Thanks to all the wonderful feedback I've been given since last week, the "made on a dare" Courtier class is well on its way to being a polished, playable bit of gaming.

Significant changes include:
  • Shield proficiency added and use of shields does not interfere with Suave Grace. 
  • Suave Grace also provides an AC boost at certain levels, like a monk. 
  • Rapier Wit is now a swift action, inflicts precision damage, and causes the Shaken condition instead of a flat penalty. 
  • Strong Convictions now fully adds a courtier's CHA bonus to all saves. 
  • Equestrian Invocation has a greater overall duration. 
  • Chivalrous Sacrifice has been reworked in a manner that is hard to summarize. Lots of clarification has been added and (hopefully) the broken elements removed. 
  • Odor of Ardor's DC has been rewritten to make it have a chance of success. 
  • Stunning Display has had its duration modified to be more in line with other abilities. 

Big thanks to everyone who helped out. Keep them coming -- I think we're about ready to stick a fork in this one!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pathfinder: Morale in Combat

I remember back in the day (Get off my lawn, etc etc) when monsters in D&D had a Morale stat that the DM would check to see if they fled combat past a certain point. 3rd edition did away with that, which means that Pathfinder did as well.

Now some people might say "That moves whether or not the monsters retreat into the ream of the GM where it belongs", but I say "Fer cryin' out loud I'm dealing with running an entire world and trying to mangle six PCs, maybe I just want a quick and dirty way of deciding if a critter runs away that is a little more developed than flipping a coin but less brain-intensive than a case-by-case judgement call."

So I present to you my quick and dirty morale rules for Pathfinder.

NPC Morale Rules
Undead, constructs, oozes and the like do not make morale checks.

When the following occurs:
  • A leader/ champion/ cleric/ pack alpha is killed
  • One of their number is brutally killed by PCs (such as being one-shotted)
  • Several of their number are badly hurt (reduced to 1/2 hitpoints or less)
  • Several of their number are killed by flashy magic (like Fireball)
  • They are clearly outnumbered (2:1 odds or more)

Then have the next creature in the Initiative order make a Will save against DC 15.
  • If it succeeds, it continues to act as the GM feels appropriate. 
  • If it fails, it runs away (withdrawing if possible) and the next creature on its side to act has a cumulative -1 morale penalty to its Will save.
Does this mean that the more wise opponents are, the less likely they are to run away when clearly outmatched?  No. A successful save doesn't mean it will act suicidally; it means that it won't panic and rout. A fighting withdrawal is still possible, as is surrender.


A leader can try to rally its troops with an Intimidate check, DC of 10 + number of creatures which have already run away. Regular success stops the need for further Will saves; each 5 over the DC returns 1 fleeing creature to combat.


As a rule of thumb: If the PCs reduce a creature to half its hit points or less, or actively try to make it run away through demoralizing tactics and good roleplaying, it counts as a defeat and grants XP. But if PCs are steamrolling through everything in sight and sensible monsters would think 'I would rather run away than be slaughtered' then the PCs get no XP, probably because it wasn't enough of a challenge.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Swagger?

It would appear that the Courtier, my version of the Old Spice Gentleman, has prompted some questions from D&D grognards. I decided to post them here so you could see what I was thinking when I designed this. 


Why Appraise and not Perception?
I picked Appraise because the character ought to be able to know quality when he sees it. After all, the Old Spice Man says "The tickets are now diamonds!" and he probably know how many carats they are.

Perception isn't a bad choice, but it's not very common. It's not like the courtier spends a lot of time looking for traps or ambushes; he's more "sense motive" than "perception", if you know what I mean. 


It really doesn't make much sense for the Courtier to have any armor proficiency if wearing it completely gimps him (we're not just talking losing the Charisma modifier to AC; per Fancy Clothes, he has to wear nice outfits to use ANY of his abilities).
He has to wear nice outfits, yes, but that does not preclude wearing armor; you wear armor over your clothes, you see.

My original idea was indeed "no non-masterwork items" but considering that masterwork armor costs 150gp plus whatever the armor cost, I felt that would be unnecessarily gimping a 1st level character. After that, PCs usually upgrade to MW and then to magical, so it was kind of a non-issue there.

What I might do is, since I stole this idea from the monk (just replaced WIS bonus with CHA) that I also steal the "AC bonus per level" idea. Plus there are all sorts of magical items which would help: Bracers of Armor provide armor bonuses but don't count as armor; Amulets of Natural Armor provide another bonus; and of course Rings of Protection provide deflection bonuses.
UPDATE: I have since decided to add an AC bonus per level, like monks get.


Shields? Medium armor too. It is a frontline character and needs to be able to survive. Should at least be able to wear what a cleric can.
Nah, I disagree. The whole idea is basically "Armor? Why would I wear armor? It prevents people from appreciating my fancy clothes!"

Assuming a CHA of 18 (+4 bonus) and a DEX of half that, we're looking at a base AC of 16, which is about right for a first-level ranger. But you've convinced me somewhat; I will allow the courtier proficiency with all shields, which will give an additional +2 AC. 

For Rapier Wit, I'd suggest starting at -1 penalty and increasing by an additional -1 every 4 levels to a max of -3. 
That's not a bad idea. I shall consider it. 

I'd suggest that Strong Convictions simply adds Charisma bonus to saves like the paladin. That's a real bonus. This is a dexterity and charisma character. 
I considered that. I was worried it might make the character too powerful and/or steal some of the Paladin's flavor.
I'm actually rather torn on this. What do the rest of you think?

Instead of Equestrian Invocation being a 1/day spell, give it a duration in hours based on the Courtier's level. 
That... is a very good idea. I think I'll change that. 
What do you think of "At 5th level the courtier can summon a mount, as per the spell, with the duration being the courtier's level in hours and dismissable at will (minimum expenditure of 1 hour/summoning)" ?

The only thing I see unbalanced is the 4x move for Chivalrous Sacrifice. I'd put it at 1x move. Maybe scale it up to 2x, then 3x with the improved and "not dead" versions
That's not a bad idea. I did it the way I did it because I wanted the Courtier to be able to use Chivalrous Sacrifice despite having already moved that round (because otherwise we're introducing unnecessary bookkeeping into the game). I figured a 1/day ability which hurt the character would balance out the "nonmagical teleport" aspect of it.

This is another of those "I need to think about it" things. 

How about letting Chivalrous Sacrifice be performed 3 + CHA modifier times per day?
Assuming a CHA of 18, that would be 7 times per day. Seems a little too "battlefield teleport-y" to me.

Perhaps if I let each use of Chivalrous Sacrifice  be just the full move, like suggested above, with additional uses increasing its range by a full move?

Hell, I should probably change the wording on Chivalrous Sacrifice because as written it can already get past guards and work through cracks and bards. This wasn't too much of a problem with the 1/day, but if I increase the frequency that's going to be abused.

Yeah, it's definitely going to need some work. 

Chivalry Is Not Dead is way overpowered. 
Perhaps. It's a capstone ability, though, and as written it's not terrible with the 1/day limit. More uses than that, though, and it probably is. Perhaps I'll limit the "no damage" to just once a day with other charges being half damage?

Post your thoughts below!

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