All posts by Kit

Creating alternate timelines is weird

Like, narratively weird.  As a sci-fi writer, the thing that gets into my head is… where does the energy come from?  A fair number of sci-fi stories – and this has been brought on by me (trying) to read William Gibson’s Agency – a future alternate timeline has a bit of a cottage industry of going back in time and messing stuff up to “see what happens.”  It is established that these alternate timelines are physically real and distinct.

So, every time some hobbyist gets an inch, they can go and create – materially, physically create – an alternate timeline?

WHERE DOES THE ENERGY COME FROM?!   How is all the free energy not the biggest point of all of this?!

Ahem.  That is all.

Thoughts on A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

I’ve finished reading A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling, a seriocomic take on the Libertarian Free State Movement by illustrating what happened when the “Free Town Movement” came to Grafton, New Hampshire.

In short, it’s a funny book if you like black humor. (I do.) I am also amused that a couple years ago, I was seriously considering writing a novel that would be a spiritual successor to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The question central to the novel would be, “What happens to Galt Gulch if it was based on other libertarian attempts to create a utopia?” I planned for it to be a horror novel. A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear is, essentially, what I was going to write, except funny, and with bears.

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Differences Between Writers Running TTRPGs vs. Other People Running TTRPGs?

Apropos my last post about being critical of D&D Twitch games: my wife opined that the character group’s extremely diverse background is mirrored by computer RPGs like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Even though there is considerable racism in the setting in both games, it never throws back on the player character. Like, you can drag your Krogan around everywhere, and no one in Mass Effect will shut their doors as you approach, even though in dialog with the character, they’re likely to rattle on about the discrimination they face. So, she thinks that this contributes to the willingness of GMs to tolerate high-diverse groups without consequence.

I think this is likely true. The circle has closed, particularly for D&D, from influencing how computer role-playing games run to being influenced by CRPGs. Now it’s an ongoing loop, I think, with the two feeding on each other. The game I run, Cypher System, is clearly influenced by CPRGs.

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Bein’ Critical of Twitch-streamed D&D Games!

OK, then, more talk about tabletop RPGs on Twitch. This is where I get critical.

Most games on Twitch are Dungeons and Dragons. This is expected. I don’t play D&D anymore, and I haven’t for several years – and even when I did play it, well, I have been told I don’t play it in a very D&D way. I now have a much better idea of what that means.

Because, here’s the thing, when you start a game – and many of them do start in this exact way – saying a tiefling, a dragonkin, and a drow walk into a bar… that’s not the lead-in to an adventure. That’s an introduction to a fantasy-themed joke.

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My favorite D&D Twitch stream is…

Critical Botch, GM’d by Brandon Culter with players including Peter Avalon, Orange Cassidy, Leva Bates, Chuckie Taylor, Colt Cabana, and Trent.

They are professional wrestlers.

What I enjoy the most is the sheer honesty of the feed.  In my four-decades experience from coast-to-coast, if you pick up a D&D game, this is what it looks like.  Critical Botch is what D&D looks like.  No prevarication, no bullshit, this is what D&D looks like.  (Well, excepting that the players are probably, on whole, far less attractive than the overall hotness that is the AEW cast.)

It’s silly but also funny and fun.  Y’all rock.

Twitch TTRPGs, Critical Role, and the Mercer Effect

I’m trying to get into the habit of doing more frequent blog posts. I struggle with social media – because it’s toxic, which is by now simply an established scientific fact – but I’m a fuckin’ writer. I’m a content provider. So, I need to do a few more blog posts. Y’know. Provide content. This one is about Twitch TTRPGs.

Because I’m a grognard, I only recently learned about “the Mercer effect.” It’s what happens when a person watches and listens to the webcast Critical Role, a D&D game involving a group of voice actors. After watching the show, some people hook up with a D&D group and then leave because the experience of a normal D&D group is nothing like what happens on Critical Role. The gamemaster is named Matt Mercer, after whom the effect is named – which he finds heartbreaking. He loves Dungeons and Dragons and is simply looking to put on a show, a show he gives away for free, him, and his fellow performers. Even when I’m highly critical – which I will, because I’m a critical person – I absolutely, positively, do not doubt his love of the game or his sincerity or pain that he’s causing people to dismiss TTRPGs because they’ve followed his show.

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Speaking out about my childhood sexual assault

Today’s post is talking about times I was sexually abused. So, yeah, fun times!

I’m doing this because I haven’t said anything about my sexual abuse, not publicly, anyway. I’m doing it because abuse thrives in silence. I’m doing it as a deconstruction of masculinity, which teaches stoic silence in the face of pain is better than admitting when you were hurt as a means to end violence – which is a technique invented by abusers to help cover up their crimes. Those are my reasons, now to what happened.

This happened when I was a young boy starting from the time I was about seven and lasting until I was big enough to tell people to fuck off, so about thirteen (I was precocious in that regard.)  I had a cousin (twelve years my senior, so he would have been nineteen when this started) who would fondle my arm and thigh while describing the times he’d shit his pants and asking me about how I shit and if and how often I had shit my pants.

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Police use of chokeholds as torture

Let’s talk about strangling people. More specifically, how cops strangle people and how it’s a vicious cycle leading to torture and murder.

I’ve been in enough jujitsu classes to have been strangled a fair bit. I’m almost a connoisseur of strangulation. Which is to say that I know what happens when a person gets strangled.

In short – you freak the fuck out. You want it, you NEED it to stop. Panic sets in almost immediately. This is a big part of the reason how waterboarding works. When you can’t breathe, even if for a few seconds, your body freaks the fuck out.

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Police and bad apples plus fixing the system

Some jobs can’t have bad apples.

Imagine you walk into a doctor’s office and you’re told, “Well, sure, a lot of doctors are good eggs, but a lot of other doctors are, well, racist. If you’re not a white person, they’ll either refuse to treat you or make your condition worse – not as an accident but maliciously, sometimes severely. And now and then, somewhere between a thousand and fifteen hundred times a year, they’ll decide to kill you, again, often with malice aforethought. BUT, I, who am a good doctor, will not do anything to fix this situation, because all the other doctors won’t like me, so I tolerate and, indeed, through the continued support of the organizations to which we mutually belong, encourage their racism and violence – and will indeed defend vocally and, occasionally, with the violence of my own those ‘bad apples.'”

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