I woke up today and saw the news, and it was suddenly… sane.
I am no great fan of Democratic politics. As I’m a leftist, I hadn’t seen a distinct difference between the two parties. I often have characterized Democratic politics as a “cooling off” for Republican policies – a part of the country’s rightward shift. Republicans will do something (say, start to bomb other countries with drones willy-nilly), and Democrats will freak out… but Democratic administrations will use the powers instituted by the Republicans. At that point, the Democrats shut up about it. Pretty much everything in the war on terror – drone assassinations, torture, secret and illegal detention, etc. – are now part of US politics.
Trump made me modify my view. Previously, I had considered the Republicans more doctrinarian and disciplined about their doctrine. While I found their doctrine odious, there was consistency for it. What Trump did – and this might be his lasting contribution to the Republican Party and conservatives, in general – is fracture that consistency.
Donald Trump is my brainworm. I can’t think past or around him. So, as writers do, I am writing about what I can write about.
The reason Donald Trump is so goddamn popular with so many people is that many millions of Americans have accepted conspiracy theories as real. Here and now, I’m going to argue that one of the most significant reasons that’s true is America’s relationship to religion, specifically Christianity.
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.
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.
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.
Stage two of the Vuelta a Espana has two category three climbs and a category 1 climb. It’s listed as “hilly.”
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.
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.
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.