These people in Minneapolis seem pretty cool, The Geek Partnership Society. They run themed "nerd proms", gaming events, writer workshops, parties at cons, volunteer things, nerf wars, and organize getting authors and scientists to come visit some of the local schools. It's an idea with potential.

(Also, I just realized I have a "geekery" and a "nerdity" tag, and I think only one can survive. Now to figure out which.)
The game system I have the most books for I've never used is probably GURPS. Mainly because GURPS takes so damn long to make characters, I always lose patience, so I've never tried to run anything with any of my groups. But I have them more because a lot of the books are good reference for other things, and I've used them for that. And I used to work at a hobby shop, so I could get RPG books at a good discount.

No, my favorite RPG I've never played has to be Mage: The Ascension, by White Wolf. I've barely skimmed through the new WoD Mage book, I got kinda turned off by all the talk at the beginning about Atlantis. So I haven't really given it a fair shot, but I don't have $50 to blow on RPG books these days.

If I'm being honest, probably one of the biggest reasons I like Mage is it's as if Cyberpunk, Magic, and Superheroes had a kid, and it shared some of the awesomest parts from each. (1) It was the Matrix before the Matrix. It hits all kinds of fanboy buttons. I am nothing if not a nerd. Plus two of the Traditions are steampunky mad scientists and nerd mages who work their magic through computers. How could I resist?

But aside from my fanboy-isms, part of it was the timing. I started picking Mage books up shortly after I actually read the Principia Discordia through and my mind was Aflame With Possibilities. And Mage has plenty of possibilities. And a dozen or so different ways of looking at the universe, too. Most of the game that wasn't about flipping out and doing crazy stuff was philosophy. An RPG might seem a weird place to learn philosophy from, which it might be. But they also had a really cool section of bibliography showing books they'd gotten ideas from. Some of them were gobbledygook and bullshit, and some were interesting, like Finite and Infinite Games, which I actually found at the library a while before I picked one of the Mage books that referenced it.

The two things from Mage that've stuck with me the most are these. The first is part of the Virtual Adepts, the computer nerd mages. Who I always identified with, naturally enough, since they were made of writers, computer programmers, and so on. Their specialty in magic is/was Correspondence, which is looking at the connections between things. And for the longest time, I thought "lame," because it wasn't as flashy or obviously powerful as the other schools, even if it did have cool things like teleportation. It wasn't as obviously powerful or flashy or neat as the other schools got. But since I never played it, it never really came up.

Then, a couple of years ago, I was driving to work, and thinking about utterly random stuff. I don't remember the train of thought, but I realized, basically, things only exist because they interact. If they don't interact with anything else, they might as well not exist. How do we know what color something is? By how light interacts with it and our eyes. How do we know how hard something is? By how it interacts with our hands. How do we know what properties oxygen has. By how it interacts with other chemicals. If something doesn't interact with anything, it doesn't exist. And that's when I realized that's what they were getting at with Correspondence, and I felt dumb for not realizing it all that long ago.

The other is in Mage, one of the signs of advancement for your character was they'd stop needing to use a focus or special preparations to do things. Partly I just think it's a really cool effect, since as you get better, you don't really need the tools, though they may make things easier. And it also works the same kind of way as the witches in Discworld, where Granny Weatherwax could use a dented kitchen spoon as the Sacred Steel Knife, as long as she convinced the universe it was. And parts of life work that way too, as you get better, you don't need the tools and tricks nearly as much. They might make it easier, sometimes, but you can learn more by doing it without them, and sometimes they hold you back. A good artist can do as much or more with just a pencil as a newbie or a decent artist, even with all the best computer tricks.

And philosophically, it appeals, because it leaves open all sorts of different ways to end up the same general place. The tricks and tools are there to help you, and make you feel like you know what you're doing, the universe doesn't care.

My Mage books are still sitting up on the shelf, I haven't really looked through them in months. Writing this made me want to again. I wonder now if they'll live up to the awesomeness I remember and have projected on them, or not. And I wonder if I'll ever actually get the chance to run (or play in) a cool Mage campaign, and if it'd live up to the awesomeness I'd expect. Probably not, but letting things sit around as abstract ideals that never get implemented is way too Platonic and stupid. An idea of something isn't nearly as awesome as that actual something doing things. Even if it is more perfect.

So what're you people's favorite RPGs you've never played? And maybe I should look for a group for Mage.



1: There's a theory out there that all of White Wolf's games are about superheroes, really. When characters in most of them can shrug off bullets or just dodge them, and throw cars, I tend to agree.
Linkdump!

Conspiracy Documents and Fringe Theory Texts for Games (I always have to chuckle at the DaVinci Code blah blah blah books at work, I mean, dudes. Gamers have known about these things for years. And known how seriously to take them.)

What is your Dangerous Idea? (A bunch of famous people are asked for their "dangerous idea". The results vary from random libertarian propaganda to the actually interesting.)

The (Broken) Triangle: Progressive Bloggers in the Wilderness

The Texas Republican Party official platform (A truly batshit insane document. Relevant because what percentage of the current Republican leadership was spawned there? Yeah. And their priorities are truly weird, because they have nearly as many paragraphs in there devoted to making sure it's legal for parents to spank their children as they do for a bunch of other stuff. More than most of their stuff about foreign policy. And these are the goals of the Republican leadership.)

Loompanics Unlimited a purveyor of fine weirdass books, who're going out of business and having a 50% off sale. There's been things I've kinda wanted to order from them, looks like if I'm going to, now's the time, if ever.


There. That's some of the things I've been holding and waiting to post about. How about you folks?
Playing D&D last night, the other mage in our party got hit by a specifically targeted version of the Silence spell. Which I then dubbed "Power Word: STFU."

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, gas prices? Now, I know the almost $4 prices right after Katrina were just price gouging (whatever happened to government investigations into that sort of thing?) but gas was down to $2.199 (repeating) today. Of course, US gas prices have always been below the actual cost, once you include all the environmental effects from burning gasoline. But the oil companies have been extremely successful at shifting those onto the public.

Why is it so bloody hard to get 8 people who're willing to pay $3 to play in a Magic tournament? Haven't had one in the past two weeks. Part of it I'm sure is the poor scheduling at the store, and how things have gone downhill since I quit, but still. I'd be tempted to so somewhere else, but anywhere else would require a lot more driving and screw with scheduling for D&D. At least I got to trade for stuff for my decks, now if only I had more chance to, y'know, play them. But trading in Magic gives a perfect example of economics, including supply and demand, different relative values, marginal values, and so on. Well, at least if you're nerdy enough to think about it that way, which I definitely am.

If there's one thing I'm sort of learning it's that I'm never a representative sample of anything except me. And not always even then.

Also, by being out of the house from Thursday till today, I spoiled my unbroken streak of posting something, no matter how random, to LJ every day. Ohnoes!
But y'know, there's something odd about reading reports on Magic forums where somebody goes "heres my deck list i got second at states lol. [Decklist] rnd1: some scrub, 2-0. etc."

The disconnect between the intelligence needed to play Magic well and the ability to type in coherent sentences is just astounding.

It shouldn't be, since I was on IRC back when #mtgpro was infamous, but still. Dudes. Seriously. LEARN TO FREAKING SPELL. You don't have to be Jamie Wakefield, just write something coherent and interesting. At least give us some examples of what happened, tell us more about the deck, what you did and why. With capital letters. They don't bite. Really.
Um, yeah. Wizards of the Coast says they found the lost third set of the Ice Age block. In all the time I've played Magic, I've never heard of this before. But they're going to print it, and make it T2 legal. Um.

It's not April 1st, so I imagine it's true, it's just BIZARRE. I don't know if I think it's a good thing or a bad thing or what yet. It's just a thing. A strange one.

Though watching the mix of whining and "OMG KEWLZORZ!" on the WotC fora is amusing.
I was thinking about letters. Because I'm a nerd. And because I've been taking Arabic, which has me thinking about sounds.

Is it just me, or is "c" obsolete? Kan't everything it does be done by K or S? And X is too, it's either Z or KS. So I guess we could keep X as the KS sound.

What other letters are obsolete? I know, I know, I kould go check (Ah! A use for C! The CH sound can't be done by K) wikipedia under "phonics' or something, but I'm lazy. And like to just ask rhetorical questions.
So I've been playing FF7 a bit. And I haven't bothered to rename the characters when they show up, even though they give me the option. There's not really much point. Naming the character something different doesn't change what happens, their personality, or their interactions. That's all pre-scripted. I might as well just leave their names alone too, that way I know which character everybody is talking about when they talk about stuff. If I name Cloud "Smith", he's still spiky-haired, has an impossibly huge sword, and does exactly the same things. There's very little room for identification with the characters, as a consequence of the more developed plot.

As opposed to FF1, where the characters had... well, no development. And their names were 4 characters long. But because of that, their name was much more important. My most common party member names were Rune, Xana (White Mage), Lore (Black Mage), Myst (also Black Mage), and... I forget. I could go boot up the cartridge to check my last save. But since the characters had no pre-scripted development, they were pretty much blank slates for you to project onto. Their names and your actions and imagination told you who they were, not cutscenes. Which gives the freedom to produce things like 8-Bit Theater. Something like that would NEVER work with FF7 characters.

Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. But the experience in something like FF7 is much more movie-like because there's fewer options. With more options and customization, the game becomes much more personal.

And I am WAY overthinking this when it's 1am and I haven't finished my homework or studied for my quiz for Arabic tomorrow.
Today was the Ravnica release event at the local hobby store.

Details inside, so as not to bore the non-Magic people )

And I went on IRC for Magic because I was geeking, and heard the best use for the Pro Tour Player cards. Nobody wanted them at the store, so I ended up with a bunch. Use them for tokens. I should snagged them all. "I attack with Kai, Dave, and Terry." Heh.
Yes, I realize the game's been out like ten years. I hadn't played it, and still haven't much. One of my friends loaned me it and his playstation 1 to play it, since we were doing an RPG set in an FF-like universe. Which seems to have died, but.

Blocky chibis!

The enemies in the beginning have the CRAPPIEST guns and missile launchers ever. "Machine gun! 4 damage!" "... Dude, that's not even a scratch."

Also, I find it amusing that there's a dating sim subplot to it.

Also also, there's a bunch of cursing. I didn't remember that from the brief bit I played before.
A series of random short things about today, to keep from posting 80 one sentence posts.

--

There was a guy on the sidewalk as I was driving in to work today. He was carrying a sign, and had several more propped up against telephone poles and things. A one man anti-war protest, on some random street corner out here. The sign he was carrying said "Do unto others..." on one side, and "Thou shalt not kill." on the other. Couple of the other signs said things like "War and Greed are un-Christian."

I dunno how much difference he made, or if anybody else ever stopped and helped him carry signs, but good on him. I'm not quite sure what I think on the war in Iraq right now, but that's mainly because it's been so incredibly fucked up I don't know if there's any good solutions at this point.

--

US Copyright law is largely bullshit right now. Why are movies and music and books like 50 years old still copyrighted? The publishers have long since made their money back on them. Most of the creators are dead, and the ones that aren't, honestly, I don't think it makes THAT much difference. Why should we let immortal corporations charge us rent for our culture? They're not contributing, in fact, they're stifling new creation. If there's any moral or economic reason why, I'd like to hear it. Aside from "The companies make lots of money and give lots of it to Congress and most people don't notice enough to pay attention to the issue."

I could go on about this for hours. And probably will later.

--

I have several pieces of surfer Buddha things I need to write up, but haven't gotten to. So I expect when I do, it'll ramble, and I'll probably miss half of what I was planning to say, as conversations veer off. Also, they involve a lightsaber, and why Luke Skywalker kicks ass.

--

I am sure my abilities at wiping down tables and flipping chairs from constantly helping the cafe people close will look excellent on my resume.

--

I wish I had a scanner. Then I could do a very badly drawn journal comic. Or I wish the cool mac app that Eric Burns is using for the Adventures of John Stark was for PC, not just Mac. Or I had a Mac. But me am poor, no wasting money on anything computer-ey right now. I have more interesting things to blow money on.
I got my first batch of Magic Player Rewards cards in the mail today. They're pretty! I got textless Hinder, Pyroclasm, Terror, and a spirit token. Plus the nifty clear plastic DCI card, though I think I'm gonna hang on to my old Mana Membership cardboard thing too, just 'cause I've had it for like eight years now. I wish the local shop had actually run some tournaments in the past like, two months. (There's either been not enough people, or the person supposed to be running them wasn't here, or...) 'cause then I'd have probably gotten a third set of cards. And maybe even the shiny Hypnotic Spectre. I haven't seen it yet, but me want. I hope it has the old art. The new art is really cool, but it looks like a Nazgul, and looks a LOT bigger than 2/2.
In some ways, I hate all the little extras in games like FF7. (Which I'm playing because a friend loaned it to me with his Playstation, because he figured I should play it, since we're playing a quasi-FF7 Exalted game.) The problem with all the little extras is they turn on my nerdish collecting instincts, and I don't want to miss any of the options, even when the options require you to pick one over the other. So I end up using the vast powers of the interweb to find all the secrets to make sure I don't miss them, which means I really don't get the joy of finding them. Though sometimes, the "joy" of spending hours poking at almost identical pixels is overrated.

Or maybe I'm just indecisive.
Don't Tempt me, Bruce.


Batman is comedy gold.

(stolen from this post over on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily which is full of strange comic book crack!)

A quote

Oct. 2nd, 2005 12:21 pm
"For a lot of Western otaku, Japan fills the same function as Middle-Earth or Starfleet or twelfth-century England does for other flavors of geek: it's a fantasy world where everything is attuned to their desires and, if they could magically get there, they wouldn't feel like outsiders anymore." - Shaneon Garrity
You get a mini-review of FF7: Advent Children. Minus spoilers.

Okay, for starters. I never actually finished FF7. I only ever played it over at a friend's house, and I only got to the point where you leave the first city. Midgar or whatever. So, Sephiroth? Never met him. Don't understand why he's so "OMGWTFBBQ" to fanboys and fangirls. Standard issue uber-bishi. Which can be cool when done well, of course.

So, with that in mind, the review.

The animation was amazing. Incredibly realistic, including movements, but it still had things that made it seem stylized and animated. Which is probably for the best. The fight scenes were amazing. Kicked the Matrix sequels asses everywhere. Though there were a few "gravity? What's that?" moments. Okay, a lot. But that's anime.

But looking back on it, there wasn't that much there there. It was all about Cloud, with most everybody else only showing up as a cameo to help fight a big monster, which Cloud did all the real damage to, anyway. Which is kinda sad, I liked some of them more than Cloud and their entrances were cool. Then they wandered off after that fight. Such is the fate of the cameo. And most of the plot was strung between just to get from one badass fight scene to the next. The fight scenes were truly badass, though I had to get over my suspension of disbelief before I could appreciate them. (Cloud got shot in the face, and it just broke his glasses. Right.)

So, I guess it's sorta like a cheerleader you don't know that well. Pretty but vapid, though there might be more to her if you knew her well.
A Neil Gaiman quote, ganked from the Girl Genius Mailing List...

"Last time I was at Comicom, there were like 5,000 people there, and the audience was going to try and cut me off with stuff to sign. They had to figure out how to get me off the stage. All of a sudden, I'm getting to the end of the conversation. Dave McKean and I were doing a Mirrormask thing and we're ready to leave the stage. I look up and they have a bodyguard line of 30 Klingons. They're six-foot six and four-feet wide and they have the foreheads and they had linked arms. We were being lead off behind a human wall —a Klingon wall—of Klingon warriors. And I thought, how good does it get?"
There seems to be something about tricksters and hats. Fedoras in Anasi boys, Robin Hood and his cap, jesters and their cool hats with bells, and Fors and his big giant hat. I think part of it comes down to attitude. In this day and age, very few people wear hats. At most you'll see people in baseball caps, or perhaps those big straw hats for people working in the sun. The hat itself has gone by the wayside. Hats require attitude. Hats draw attention. Hats demand something from you.

And they're also really easy to take off and ditch and almost completely change your appearance. Especially the big goofy attention-grabbing ones. They won't remember you, just "That guy with the goofy hat." There are times that comes in handy.
Just go read this old article from the Duelist. Mind Over Magic It's got a lot of ideas in it that are similar to ones I've been poking at. A good chunk of everything is decided by the "inner game" like if you bother to even try in the first place. Which I must admit I'm not the best at, but it's another of those life lessons I've picked up from that silly game.

And I think I have that issue of the Duelist around somewhere still.

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