Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Value of "The Razzies" and Criticism of Bad Movies

            I went on Rotten Tomatoes (a website who people really misunderstand the use and value of) to look at the winners of the annual “Razzie” awards.  These awards are often given to high profile flops, vanity pieces, movies that made a ton of money but were garbage in the eyes of the reviewer community, or in this year’s case a propaganda film made by a convicted felon who somehow is still politically relevant.


            The point is, this is a booby prize, you point to something everyone knows about and say that it sucked, people then talk about the hows and whys of sucking, segway into lesser known movies that were worse, and then hopefully everyone learns something about how you make a movie.
            Discussion and reflection of what you like, what other people like, and what technical proficiency that goes into making things is important.  Talking about this stuff makes you smarter and helps you to learn how to express yourself on other topics, it is why I have written so many movie reviews, not just to tell other people how I felt about some throw away junk entertainment, but to talk out what it is I liked about the throw away junk entertainment.  I am exploring my own values and tastes thru a medium of film criticism.

Here is a criticism from me to "Dawn of Justice".
I have seen every live action and animated portrayal of this character.
This is the worst one.
            These things are subjective.  As pretty much all art is.
            Then I read the comments and some common bugbears made themselves apparent.  I see a lot of comments with the words "bias" and “objective”.
            I don't think people know what those words mean.

            The Razzies are an opinion piece, awards given in a facetious spirit to mock movies whose quality didn't measure up in the film criticism community, but often times had a disproportionate amount of success.  That is bias toward their own opinion or toward certain film making conventions they felt fell short in the execution of the movie.
            If you, like the commenters, liked one of these movies (Dawn of Justice has a shocking number of idiots wanting to throw themselves on their own swords to defend it) go ahead and like what you like.
            If you hated a particular movie that was not chosen (or even nominated) instead of commenting about the award's biases, how about instead use these awards how they are supposed to be used, as conversation starters.  They are a joke meant to provoke good natured discussion about what we like and dislike about movies.

            The Razzies are not "official" or "influential" or part of some conspiracy.  If you don't agree that is fine, but don't just rant about "objectivity" like there is some kind of scientific process for measuring the quality of a film, just point to who won, explain why you think that movie was picked, and then explain why you would have picked a different movie.  This helps you and others understand your world view.
            It is supposed to be fun.

            Have fun.
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons: "Alignment" part 3

            I have played Dungeons and Dragons for more than 15 years.  Lately, I have not had access to any other players and so I have just been kicking around ideas that normally would be in a game and instead I am just going to post them on my blog.  This is going to be a reoccurring thing as I just keep hammering out things and not all of them can be turned into elements in my “random fantasy novel ideas” folder.

What Have I Got: A Web of Alliances
            Last week I talked about some other morality systems in geek culture, the not so black and white dichotomy of “Babylon 5” and the traditional virtues and vices of “World of Darkness”.  This week I am going to take a look at an iconic franchise in RPG’s, “Fallout”.
            Traditionally in RPG’s a computer or the Guy running the Game, let’s abbreviate that to Game Guy or GG for short, need a way to evaluate in shorthand how the world views the player character(s).  Are people afraid, hostile, friendly, guarded, or horny?  The spectrum of human emotion is a broad one dictated by the personal philosophy of the observer and the reputation of the observed.  How do you try to box in these things?
            Dungeons and Dragons tends to rely on alignment for the default.  If you are a good person and you meet an evil person they will at best see you as na├»ve at the start, maybe someone to exploit, maybe a direct threat to their interests.  There is variation based on how much depth the GG wants to give them, but that will usually be the rough starting point.  Chaotic people clash with Lawful, Good with Evil, and Neutral people presumably clash with other Neutrals about what not to feel all that strongly about.
            That is the thing about Neutrals.  You never know where they stand. It sickens me.
            Anyway, here are two examples of how the Fallout franchise has handled that question.  One is complete shit and the other is adequate.  I then give a bit of an insight into my own attempts to harness one of these systems in my own games and the pitfalls I found with it.  There is also a lot of "Skyrim" discussion in there too.
This is what "Web of Alliances" traditionally means.
This will make more sense later.

Fallout 4: “I didn’t bother”
            I chose not to give any thought to Fallout 4, because I played that game as an extreme loner and therefore missed out on most of what they decided was important, specifically how your NPC allies feel about you.
            Hey, Bethesda, if you want to make interpersonal interaction and team building a core component of the game’s story maybe don’t make “Lone Wanderer” a perk at all.  Maybe gear your game mechanics to couple with your other game mechanics…. and the story instead of having such obvious divisions between each of the parts.  And cut all the bloat, it is impossible that anyone in development thought “Ghoulish” was worth anything, whoever was pushing for it should be purged.
            One of these days I should go on a long rant about “Fallout 4” and its numerous bad decisions and how they kneecap the ever loving hell out of the good decisions which made the game fun.  One of these days.
Endurance 9, are you high?
If you are going to have a shit perk you should at least make it the lowest ranking one.

Fallout 3: “Murdered by an entire village over a fucking fork”
            There is a youtuber I follow who made a 90-minute video delving into the depths of “Fallout 3 is Garbage (and Here’s Why)”.  You don’t have to watch it, but I feel it does present numerous things about not only “Fallout 3” but the rest of the Fallout franchise and its value as a game series and story setting.
            I never really connected with “Fallout 3” for many of the reasons he points to primarily because of the shallow binary choice aspect to it.  Blow up a town that has done you no wrong or don’t do that.  This is not a meaningful choice.  The idea that doing evil, especially in a covert fashion, would have any effect on how people look at you is questionable considering the amount of anonymity that the setting would afford people in it.  “Karma” is a terrible system.
            I mentioned my issues with the bad over simplification of the morality system in 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, but “Fallout 3” takes it a step even further.  The game’s AI is too stupid to have a rational reaction to minor transgressions.
            Go ahead and steal something, doesn’t matter if someone sees you, you lose karma.  Go ahead and steal something while someone looks, and even if the object is literal garbage they will lynch your ass.  I have been stabbed by the town doctor because I grabbed the controller weird while shifting in my seat.
            This is the limitations of the technology, obviously you can’t make fully thinking individuals, especially in town that could be obliterated at an early stage in the game.  A massacre committed by you.  For no reason.  But, I point to this because this sort of draconian blunt simplicity is used by lazy players and GG’s without thought.
            It is not fun to punish characters who are not playing the way you think they should with wildly disproportionate punishment or knee jerk in game terror.  It is also not okay for players to get a kick out of brazenly derailing the game because, “My character is going to steal, and I am willing to burn this whole village down if they tell me not to take apples without paying.”  Hey, dipshit, while you are trying to shock humor everyone with your edgy character everyone else is waiting to get on with the story.
             (If it is not clear I am admonishing my younger self for having committed these sins, I am trying to help you learn from my mistakes so that you can be a better player).

Fallout New Vegas: “You can tell a lot about a guy by the company he keeps”
            This system… actually works really well.  If you don’t know much about “New Vegas” (understandable, because at the time of its release it was way too buggy and as a result failed to gain the traction I feel it was due) let me tell you a bit about it.
            In it the post-apocalyptic Mojave Desert.  You are a mailman that has survived being shot in the face and buried in the desert.  You are now out for revenge on the guy who did it and along the way you meet a variety of colorful characters and learn the intricacies of numerous factions.  There is a war on and thru chance you are drawn into the conflict as an agent for one of the 3 primary factions… or you are out for you.  You’ll need resources, allies, and an army to win the war for your chosen side and that means either killing or winning over the numerous groups of the wasteland.
            There is no good and evil (well, there is certainly an evil side, kind of hard to spin the faction with all the slavery, misogyny, cultural extermination, mass murder, and luddite sensibilities as anything other than “evil”) instead you are viewed as being on good or bad terms with each primary group.
            The three primary factions differ in notable ways.  The democratic New California Republic are nominally the good guys but they are stretched thin and plagued with numerous frailties, it seems inevitable that if this war isn’t what beats them then something down the line will.  There is Caesar’s Legion, dozens of tribes banded together into a grand autocratic military that is sweeping the nation, they are the aforementioned “evil” side.  And there is the leader of the powerful city state of New Vegas, the notorious Mister House, who wants to run New Vegas as a model of pre-war glory, utilizing his robot army to protect his glitzy city from all threats.
            Taken along with the option of, “None of the above” you can actually populate the traditional alignment system of Dungeons and Dragons with each faction, House is Lawful, NCR is Good, Caesar is Evil, and taking control and pushing out the others is Chatoic.

            If it were at all possible, I think this sort of system would be ideal for Dungeons and Dragons.  It is not possible.  A GG would have to first think up all of the factions, their priorities, and their primary members.  They would have to have a key central conflict, WAR IS A GOOD ONE, and the players would have to understand each one, which is difficult because inevitably one of them is going to look worse than the others from the start.
            For an instance of how difficult it is to create a real parity, think of the Imperial Legion at the start of Skyrim, it is really hard to justify why your character would work with them after they were about to have you executed when you were not even on the list to be executed, and it is really hard to justify joining the Stormcloaks if your character is anything other than a Nord or maybe an Orc.  By the Eight they yell, “Skyrim is for the Nords” when fighting, naked jingoism is not attractive.  Make Skyrim Great Again, I suppose.

            Beyond that, a video game can keep a score card in the background keeping track of favors and favor that the player has done and curried, a DM would be punishing themselves if they tried to keep track of all of that information in any consistent fashion, how do you measure the weight on an action or a trespass?  And good luck getting all the players to agree to help any particular faction, better luck trying to get them not to follow only one, better-better luck keeping them all from descending into backstabbing.
            How do I know?  Cause I tried it.  Woof!

The Red Crusade: “Unfortunately the experiment ground to a halt”
            I had a war campaign that I put a lot of creative energy into and while I still consider it a great idea (I will one day just make a multi-week blog about the details of it once I get past all of these more general topics) the campaign eventually slowed down and then stopped.  It was not entirely the fault of the premise, we all had lives and there is only so much mental energy two lawyers, one physicist, and a graduate student can put into Dungeons and Dragons.  That being said let me show some ideas and my big failing.

            There were two big sides, the Maunder Empire which resembled Rome or Byzantium in a state of confusion and in many ways collapse.  They were the Lawful to Lawful-Evil side of things, but they had their strong points (if you were Human or Halfling and really liked having a well regimented society with great architecture and functional utilities).  They are led by the nephew of the previous emperor and up till recently they were the most powerful military on the planet, it is only because a dozen things went wrong all at once that they did not handily win the war.
            Beyond the “We are really good at illustrating all of the best things about orderly state run society, but are kind of racist” there were parts that were far more open to reform and even saw the war as a time to push thru new ideas.  It had an evolving status quo.

            The other side was the Alliance, or “Barbarian Horde” as they were called by the Empire.  They were made up of a diverse group of beings from the neighboring continent that had pushed off the colonial yolk of the Maunder and were now on a counter invasion.  They were led by the Infamous Red, a half red dragon who married High Empress Jessica, daughter of the now dead previous Emperor.  The validity of the marriage was suspect (as Jessica was 13 when they got married), Red wanted to install himself as a Governor General with Jessica as a puppet ruler.  He is the Chaotic to Chaotic-Evil side of things.
            That being said, Red’s side was far more diverse, Jessica is legitimately in love with Red and is no longer a child (she is currently 23 and their marriage was non-sexual until she was an adult) and is looking forward to being the figurehead of an empire while most of the real work is done by her friends in the Alliance.  The Alliance was all about democracy, plurality, and choice.  But they were also brutal, and many members had a biological need to destroy many, Many, MANY functional structures and upend the Maunder civilization that would cost millions of lives.  And that is assuming they would all manage to keep moving in the same direction rather than stall out or implode.

            In addition, each side had sub parts, The Empire had 12 different regions, each under siege from some other threat (Yuan-ti, Demons, Undead).  The Alliance had different racial factions (Catfolk, Humans, Goblins), and there was a half dozen smaller satellite countries that had pro-Empire and pro-Alliance positions within each (and I based all of those countries off real life countries).  There were also monstrous powers, churches and cults, and criminal organizations, all of these were exploiting the chaos of the war to push their agendas.  My creativity went into bloated and complex overdrive.  My players couldn’t keep up and became less interested in seeing any nuance.
            The party never even thought that joining the Empire was an option.  Even though one of their first and greatest allies was a Colonel in the Empire and that most of their crew and allies were educated in the schools and colleges of the Empire.  And this really comes down to my fault I guess.  I did the same thing “Skyrim” did and had them start off in an island prison run by the Empire called The Salt Box along with a bunch of other political dissidents.  They escaped the facility, destroying it utterly in the process, and became a group of mercenary adventurers with a crew of political dissidents.  KIND OF HARD TO LOOK AT BOTH SIDES WHEN THE FIRST IMAGE IS OF THE WORST PART OF ONE SIDE.

            I tried to keep the idea of working with one side, then the other, but ultimately it proved a bit fruitless.  The party committed to one side completely, so much so that one player COMPLETELY ignored a major plot that I had designed specifically for his character.  He didn’t think it furthered the interests of Empress Jessica enough and he was playing things Lawful Stupid.
            That issue with his character kind of percolated into why I dislike the traditional alignment system so much.  Because his version of lawful as being so inflexible and single minded and my conception of lawful as being flexible enough to act without direct orders but be conflicted about it were so at odds with one another that it killed the story dead.

Next Time: My Favorite Solution
            I should have kept to a golden rule, “Keep it Simple”.  But “Simple” is the issue I have the problem with.  I like complex, my mind gets off on seeing the linking parts and contrasts between actors in a story, and while I did resent that my player did not take the quest hook I kind of resent that his behavior up to that point hadn’t keyed me off to what he would do when I offered it to him.
            There is no perfect solution here.  But I do think that there is a better system that Wizards of the Coast already has, and has already put a lot of thought into.  So next entry (and perhaps the last on alignment) will be the system that I wish they had just integrated into Dungeons and Dragons back in 4th Edition.
            WHAT COULD IT BE!?


The Beg for Attention:
            If you venomously disagree with me, please tell me why in the comments.  Feel free to leave links to your own blog on the topic or articles that you have found helpful.  Or write your own counterpoint to all this (or parts of it) and come back and post a link. 
            Maybe you had some kind of knee jerk visceral reaction to my bad mouthing of “Fallout 3/4” maybe you would like to air your grievances in the comments.  I actually do read the comments, maybe even respond.  Sometimes I think about them for a while, ruminate on them, and then perhaps integrate them into my thinking and grow as a person.  Not often of course the vast majority of internet comments and culture is toxic waste and really needs to have been spanked more as children.
            Alignment is the most debated thing in Dungeons and Dragons because, as I wrote, we all have personal values.  So share your feelings much as I have and experience the glorious indifference of the internet.
            Have Fun!


            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

To Senator Rubio (Refugees)

            Several weeks ago I was so repulsed by the executive actions taken by President Trump in regards to banning travel and refugees from numerous Muslim majority countries that I did something I tend to view as the activity of only loner kooks, I wrote my senator.  Unfortunately, I am from Florida and the senator I had to contact was Marco Rubio-R.  (Our senior senator, Bill Nelson-D I took for granted as not supporting the idiot flailing of our current president).
            I did the somewhat crass thing of pointing out how Rubio had run against Trump specifically because of policy positions like this one, and how he is a child of Cuban parents who under a ban of this type in their era would have been kicked out of the US.  I am playing the bigotry card, but I also think that in debating a bigoted policy that is allowed.  I then posted some select parts of a speech he gave with emphasis on certain parts added.
            I am disappointed that he has taken no initiative in the past few weeks.  His absence from the public eye or public ridicule/feedback has been conspicuous and noted.  I take issue with such behavior.  Presented below in the letter I sent to his Washington office.  Feel free to criticize me, feel free to copy the text and send it to protest the Muslim Ban Order, or feel free to shrug and continue living your lives.
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.



(My Name)
Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy
(My Address)
(My Email)
(My Number)

January 30, 2017

Senator Marco Antonio Rubio
Junior United States Senator of Florida
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

To Senator Rubio,

Senator, I would like to express my deepest disgust with the current treatment of refugees by the executive branch of the United States.

President Trump has begun dismantling carefully and deliberately constructed diplomatic institutions and has allowed white nationalist sentiment to dominate his policy decisions.  This is untenable.

To turn away those in need violates every moral consideration that the Republican Party claims as its guiding stars.

These people are homeless, they are made to go thru thorough vetting, and there is no reason to believe they are any threat.  Pointing out that they share the faith of a current enemy and to claim that as a reason why to turn them away is bigotry.

Up until last year I had been registered as a Republican my entire adult life.  But when I saw that now President Trump had gained the nomination of the party, I turned away in disgust.

You did your best to draw people away from Trump, and I ask that you do your best to draw them away again.

Your family, as you have often stated, left Cuba.  Had this sort of ban existed at the time you would not be an American citizen today.  Your family would have been turned away.  To claim otherwise would be dishonest.

You can justify to yourself that there are some fine differences between the two situations, I can draw a few myself, but that sort of hair splitting is dishonest.

I ask that you hold and display convictions you have professed to have.  I ask that you position yourself as the future of the Republican party that does not turn away homeless children.

I beg of you to not let the fears and bigotry of white supremacy and nationalism destroy the Republican Party and the country.

Does it not worry you, that the act of me sending this letter perhaps will result in me being put on a list somewhere?  That the idea of speaking opposition to persecution of the innocent and the abandonment of the helpless may harm me and others like me?  This is not noble.  This in not normal.

Citizens are being asked for their papers.  People are being held against their will because of the nation of their ancestry.  This is not normal.  This is not okay.

With sincere hopes,

(My Name)
Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy
(My Address)
(My Email)
(My Number)

“So, from a political standpoint, the easiest thing to have done in this campaign is to jump on all those anxieties I just talked about, to make people angrier, make people more frustrated. But I chose a different route and I'm proud of that.

“That would have been -- in a year like this, that would have been the easiest way to win. But that is not what's best for America. The politics of resentment against other people will not just leave us a fractured party, they are going to leave us a fractured nation….

“…I ask the American people: Do not give in to the fear. Do not give in to the frustration. We can disagree about public policy, we can disagree about it vibrantly, passionately. But we are a hopeful people, and we have every right to be hopeful. For we in this nation are the descendants of go-getters. In our veins runs the blood of people who gave it all up so we would have the chances they never did. We are all the descendants of someone who made our future the purpose of their lives. We are the descendants of pilgrims. We are the descendants of settlers. We are the descendants of men and women that headed westward in the Great Plains not knowing what awaited them. We are the descendants of slaves who overcame that horrible institution to stake their claim in the American Dream. We are the descendants of immigrants and exiles who knew and believed that they were destined for more, and that there was only one place on earth where that was possible. This is who we are, and let us fight to ensure that this is who we remain. For if we lose that about our country, we will still be rich and we will still be powerful, but we will no longer be special.”
            -Senator Rubio, March 15th, Miami

Sunday, February 19, 2017



    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Dungeons and Dragons: "Alignment" part 2

            I have played Dungeons and Dragons for more than 15 years.  Lately, I have not had access to any other players and so I have just been kicking around ideas that normally would be in a game and instead I am just going to post them on my blog.  This is going to be a reoccurring thing as I just keep hammering out things and not all of them can be turned into elements in my “random fantasy novel ideas” folder.

What Have I Got: Alternatives to Alignment
            Last week I wrote an overly long diatribe explaining the ins and outs of the alignment system as it has traditionally existed in Dungeons and Dragons and how that concept would be visualized in real life.
            I also explained (it was a really long blog) about how this alignment system is not known too well in the wider popular culture, so many works of fiction speak to broad concepts like “Light and Dark” or “Order and Chaos” or “Justice and Chaos” or… Honestly, there are many examples of Dark and Chaos being looked at as the real “villains” and not too many that focus on Light and Order being the bad side of the coin.
            I wanted to point out some alternative morality systems that exist in games and nerd-ness that do not necessarily gel entirely with Dungeons and Dragons’ alignment system.

Babylon 5: “Who are you?” and “What do you Want?”
            “It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, ten years after the Earth/Minbari war. The Babylon Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully.
            “It's a port of call, home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last best hope for peace. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.”
            This is the standard opening of each episode.  Personally I would have moved some words around as I think “all alone in the night” is the strongest possible line to end on.
            “Babylon 5” is considered a classic of Science Fiction at this point.  20+ years ago the idea of writing a long form story as a TV show was put into motion and was hampered considerably by the limitations of budget, special effects technology, budget, lack of an internet to serve as a reference for the audience, budget, poor acting from outside the core cast, and budget.
            To me this show is the best example of a conflict between Law versus Chaos as identifiable philosophies that could be applied to Dungeons and Dragons and Roleplaying games.  I would even encourage the primary races to be adapted into Dungeons and Dragons as familiar tropes that are often given greater depth and complexity, and are useful to lampoon silly aspects of politics.
            This section is going to talk about the central conflict of the first 4 seasons of the show, it would have been all 5, but the show was going to be canceled and so the central arc of the show was hammered down into season 4, and when it was renewed for a 5th season there was a lot of filler… I digress.
            If you are interested in watching “Babylon 5”, and many fans of Science Fiction as a genre would say you should, please skip this section.  But I should tell you that if you decide to watch the show you really need to brace yourself to swallow the many limitations of the series as a byproduct of its era.  The story is worth the trouble.

            The primary conflict of the show is between the mysterious and menacing Shadows and the ancient and cryptic Vorlons.  The Shadows appear as massive insects with dark ships and powerful weapons, they ask you, “what do you want”.  The Vorlons are rarely seen, hidden away in methane rich atmosphere and inside of a cloaked containment suit, they ask, “Who are you”.
            It is revealed that they are each part of a group of aliens called The First Ones, among the first space fairing races in the galaxy who (when the other first ones left to explore other galaxies) stayed behind to shepherd the younger races.  They each took conflicting ideologies and decided to play them out with the races of the universe to see who was right.  The Vorlons expounded peaceful cooperation among the many races while the Shadows encouraged Darwinian competition.
            Shockingly, the war began because the Vorlons started meddling in a rather abhorrent fashion, they genetically altered the younger races to see them (when out of their suits) as angels, a telepathic trick but an effective one.  That sort of manipulation couldn’t stand and deciding that the Vorlons cheated the Shadows decided to win the argument via open war.
            In short, the Vorlons won, but it was a pretty hectic path to get to that point.  A lot of time travel.  Anyway….

            Ultimately the level of genocide, destruction, manipulation, and bald faced terror caused by the conflict between the two sides meddling in the affairs of the younger races… Let’s just say that while order thru peaceful coexistence and advancement thru Darwinian conflict ostensibly look like Lawful-Good versus Chaotic-Evil it quickly turned into Lawful-Evil versus Chaotic-Evil as entire planets were being expunged for the sake of “peace”.
            What is the point of all of this?  The questions of “Who are you?” and “What do you want?” are the best possible questions to ask when writing characters.  What social forces and moral codes define you?  And what desires and goals would cause you to grow beyond who you are?
            I would suggest that these two questions should be asked whenever making any character that gets more than a line or scene, both in games and in writing fiction.  Nobody really gives a shit about the cashier your heroes buy snow caps from, but if you can’t answer why the cannibalistic serial killer thinks he needs to eat his victims you should maybe take another run at the script.

World of Darkness: Virtues and Vices
            I am not as big a fan of “World of Darkness”.  It has a simple system that does a good job of getting supplements grafted in but I generally feel a lack of motivation when I am playing something that essentially takes place in the real world but with monsters.  Which is ironic because that novelette I wrote and posted on this blog is more “World of Darkness” than it is anything else.
            In WoD the morality system takes on a classical Western view of the 7 Heavenly Virtues from which you pick one to be central to your character and the 7 Deadly Sins of which you pick one to define your transgressions.  Taking instances in the story to act in favor of these aspects of yourself is rewarded (in a way that affects the story, not just the, “I go pray for an hour to satisfy my sense of piety” stuff you get from players that then expect a pile of experience points for playing their cleric right).
            For instance, being put into a situation in which you can chose to satisfy the mission or be bought off by a villain who is okay with letting you have a cut of the money.  To a person running/writing the game it is of value to know that certain players make Greed such a motivating factor in their personality.  It is fun to know that you can use these simple guidelines to make the mission more interesting and reward them for such “weaknesses”.
To say that the 7 Deadly Sins are used a lot in fiction.  Accurate.

            This is a better story telling element than typical alignment.  GOOD LUCK trying to predict how a “chaotic” person will interpret bribes.  And watch as a “lawful” person justifies a chain of lies and deceit to their party members.  But if that “chaotic” person instead has Greedy-Diligence on their sheet you can put them in a situation in which they have to choose between accomplishing their goal (diligent) and satisfying their desire for material wealth (greed).  Or if instead of “lawful” you have Prideful-Kindness watch as they do good deeds but reveal in the attention it gives them.
            Not every combination is going to result in interesting internal struggle, Lustful-Humble is not going to cause anyone any interesting conflict unless their sexual partner wants them to brag while in bed, “Yeah, that’s it, tell me how great you are!”  Beyond that, classical virtues and vices are so well known that they work as game mechanics, but in general writing exercises they are perhaps too basic to be compelling.

Next Time: Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas
            There are other ways to do “morality” and the Fallout games back when they were RPG’s instead of a shooter with RPG elements.  To say it was thin would be accurate.  That being said it is important to contrast the two of them and then point to Dungeons and Dragons for further contrast.

The Beg for Attention:
            If you venomously disagree with me, please tell me why in the comments.  Feel free to leave links to your own blog on the topic or articles that you have found helpful.  Or write your own counterpoint to all this (or parts of it) and come back and post a link.  If you like “World of Darkness” feel free to share why in the comments.
            If you have any interesting moral conflicts from pop culture you would like me to talk about in the next entry post those suggestions too, but if I get too many I might end up with another entry in the series.
            I made this entry a great deal shorter, because it is hard to write a 4,000-word blog every week.  And I imagine it is hard to read 4,000 words by some random dude talking about DnD and Babylon 5.  Hopefully it was okay.


            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Punching a Nazi?

            I am firmly in the camp of punching Nazis.

            If this idea is somehow offensive to you, I don’t care.  Once Someone’s worldview includes the systemic genocide of entire cultures you are "Hostis humani generis" and will not receive the protections of the social contract that you wish to destroy.

            What’s more, I am partial to extending this use of violence against people who don't consider genocide a deal breaker. If you are willing to vote or defend someone who wants to commit genocide just because it does not target you, you are guilty of conspiracy.

            There is no middle ground in this area for debate.  One side wants to exist, the other does not want them to exist.  There is no meeting in the middle when one side's stated position is, "wipe them out” just as there is no just compromise position between “everyone having equal protection under the law” and any position which takes away basic liberties.

            I do not oppose them for what they are but who they chose to be.  Because of the values they have taken on as their mission statement.  None of this should be tolerated, and should be opposed with proportionate violence.

            We did not win World War II with hugs.

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Government and Balloons

            I am going to write a bit about some of the United States’ history with balloons.  It is more entertaining than you might think.

            During WWI the use of airships to carry explosives was first fully realized, for some reason the idea of aircraft as useful for anything other than scouting had not come into effect yet.  Seen as a new sort of sport but not something of warfare, WWI changed that.  Scouting, dogfighting, and bombing all bloomed.  Airships and balloons were a part of this.

            But the whole operation/technology was dependent on Helium.  This gas was critical to their use because it would not explode unlike the more common Hydrogen.  The United States Congress ordered that a stockpile of Helium be created and maintained so as to always stay at the forefront of airship warfare.

            Since lighter than air bombing craft were rendered obsolete by the existence of B-52's and similar flying fortresses the Helium stockpile was not used for military purposes. However, the stockpile was still on the books and was kept because of federal law that nobody ever edits.  If this is starting to sound like a dark comedy about how bureaucracy creates needless things and then forgets about them like a turbulent child, you’ve guessed where this is going.

            Flash forward to the 90's. The end of the Cold War resulted in the largest draw down of military arms in history as numerous air craft, sea craft, land craft, and NUKES were all decommissioned.  Peace at last.  Peace at last.  God be praised we have peace at last. This allowed the US congress to finally start looking for useless junk to cut from the budget and what did they find?  A shit ton of Helium.
            So, the Helium stock pile was to be sold at bargain basement prices to the free market. This caused all helium manufacturing businesses to disappear because contrary to what you may think, that shit is actually super useful and valuable.  This did have the side effect of making coolant systems a lot cheaper, coolant systems like those found in MRI machines.  This is why MRI's are ultra-common now, they were cheap for hospitals to buy because of Helium prices falling.

            Flash forward a little further, turns out the stockpile lasted for longer than the Government anticipated, in part because decommissioned NUKEs produce a lot of Helium. But just a couple years ago the Helium was going to run out. This stupid century long waste of money would be over.... NOPE!!!!

            Since the cheap Helium had knocked out all the civilian manufacturing for the product and there were now numerous high tech industries that required a supply the Government is now going to have to start manufacturing the Helium just to give out in order to keep a large sector of the tech industry from suddenly crashing do to not having access to a critical material. And no new market source of Helium will crop up so long as the government is selling it cheap. So now we are all stuck in a loop because someone thought blimps were critical to national defense.


            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons: "Alignment" part 1

            I have played Dungeons and Dragons for more than 15 years.  Lately, I have not had access to any other players and so I have just been kicking around ideas that normally would be in a game and instead I am just going to post them on my blog.  This is going to be a reoccurring thing as I just keep hammering out things and not all of them can be turned into elements in my “random fantasy novel ideas” folder.
            Last week I talked about healing as a game mechanic and how to adapt variations of this mechanic from video games into Dungeons and Dragons.
            This week I am going to focus on something that is quintessentially Dungeons and Dragons but falls into the strange limbo of being both a game mechanic and part of the metaphysics of the game’s various worlds.  Today I am writing about Alignment and the morality presented in Dungeons and Dragons.
            This blog bloated like a tick so I had to ultimately split it up, this week will be an introduction to the concept with some discussion of things in other worlds of fiction and some real world stuff.  Hopefully this will be informative (even educational) while not being offensive to anyone.  Hopefully.

What Have I Got: Moral Dilemmas
            I think I might on some level be a Martian or other alien life form that only looks human. My morality or solutions to various issues tend to fall outside of the black-grey-white spectrum.  Base assumptions about what people consider sacred or inexcusable tend to fall on my unsympathetic ears.  Aside from the Golden Rule I tend not to care about people’s possessiveness toward objects or people, I don’t care about traditions be they religious or communal, and I find people’s willingness to kill over maters of personal insult/pride to be baffling.
            I have Personal Values.  We all do.  On some level we have rules that we follow because somewhere in our brain we are performing a calculation and at the end of all that mental math and gymnastics we reach a conclusion about what we need to do or what rules we need to follow to continue living our lives comfortably and without guilt.  Some of these values have literal price tags, “How much money would you go down on a guy for?” being an example (that is a link to a SNL standup routine, it is funny).  But there are some things that some people will NEVER COMPROMISE.

            Take the movie that was based on actual events, “Hacksaw Ridge”.  Desmond Doss is a man so detesting of violence that he swears never to so much hold a weapon, but will risk his life to preserve the health and safety of those around him because his other values, those of patriotism and community, compel him to act but not in a way that brings harm.
            Would he ever compromise his values against not killing?  Who knows, but he didn’t waver in his commitment to try and save as many lives as he could.  In Dungeons and Dragons this aversion to violence almost exists outside of the game’s ability to handle conflict.  So much so that they had to release a book specifically for such levels of “goodness”, the Book of Exalted Deeds.  This is an example of compromising two “Good” values, wanting to help others and not wanting to hurt others taken to extremes, but with the added context of a war making each value harder to uphold.

            Conversely, one of the more popular television shows of the last 20 years is that of “Breaking Bad”.  A chemistry teacher, Walter White, is diagnosed with cancer so severe he is likely to die in less than a year.  Rather than spend his finals days discovering religion, trying to see the world, and showing love to his family, he instead decides that since he will die anyway he is freed from having to play by society’s rules.  He embraces the technical skills he had been wasting as a teacher to become a drug kingpin via the mass manufacturing of the highest quality drug on the market.
            Walter is motivated to create a legacy of wealth and power for his family, but he is also driven by his own pride and often his own twisted sense of acceptable or ethical behavior.  Sure he goes to war over the murder of a child drug dealer, but he also harms people and children or allows bystanders to die for no other reason than to cement his control over his industry and allies.
            Walter “Heisenberg” White, is motivated by a cavalcade of different forces (I would argue pride more than anything else, seeing his family as an extension of his own ego) and all of those conflicting aspects of himself and his world drive him to do actions that in a vacuum could be seen as monstrous and in context seem rational but self-serving.  What his Alignment would be according to Dungeons and Dragons slides based on the season and the severity of what he is willing to do and who he is willing to work with to accomplish his personal goals.

            Popular culture as whole does not have the same knowledge of Alignment that a typical Dungeons and Dragons player does.  When someone like the Joker says he is a servant of chaos, deriving joy from the creative destruction of society and the murder/suffering of innocent lives, saying he is chaotic-neutral because he doesn’t bother to use the term “evil” in his blathering misses the point.  And the idea, “He is doing it for laughs” also misses the point.
            The destruction of civilization and the murder/suffering of innocents because he believes in some form of proactive ultra-nihilism is about as evil as it gets.  Chaotic Evil certainly because his methods are erratic, colorful, and frequently inefficient for the purposes of his own sadistic delight, but he is unquestionably evil.
            Same for Darkseid, Thanos, Red Skull, and most comic book villains as the over the top and theatrical nature of the medium makes Evil a more tangible and present force.  Even those villainous characters given greater depths, motivations, or internal logic are still causing suffering for their own gain.  Suffering that is often perpetrated on a personal and spiteful level and they sometimes derive pleasure not just from attaining their goal but in the act of causing suffering.  If someone does massive harm for no other reason than they delight in the committing of the harm, that is unquestionably evil.  They could even be so evil that they would be classified in the Book of Vile Darkness.

            Humans are complex.  We all have different values, and the price tag to compromise those values varies wildly.  If you believe that dying in service to your fellow man, rather than fighting back will get you to Heaven then there really is no earthly thing that can measure against Heaven that would compel you to kill.
            If you think that you can get away with making millions and all you have to do is poison someone or blow them up, maybe you will, maybe you won’t.  Maybe you just need to know that they are a shitty person before making the decision to act.
            Maybe, if there is no greater joy than hurting someone, and the whole world is one big joke on everyone, then trying to argue the sanctity of life to change your view of the world will fall on your deaf ears.
            All of these things are being encapsulated by Dungeons and Dragons’ Alignment system.  And it is heavy stuff to try and cover.  Hence why I and many other nerds don’t really care for alignment as it exists in the system.  I would suggest that perhaps there is a system that is better that already exists and is owned in another property by Wizards of the Coast, the owners of Dungeons and Dragons.  That might have to wait for a lengthier discussion in another blog entry.

Third Edition (and most of DnD): Two Dimensional Morality
            Dungeons and Dragons has traditionally had a two axis system of morality.  The y-axis from up to down describes your Good to Evil alignment, while x-axis from left to right describes your Lawful to Chaotic alignment.  Let me give each of these things some minor dimension.  This is as simple as I can boil it down and to the best of my understanding, if you have a variation on this share it in the comments or write your own overly long diatribe and post a link.  Let’s start with Good and Evil.

            Exalted, beyond being just Good you embody altruism.  You are so much about helping others you are willing to make personal sacrifices to secure the health, safety, and even happiness of those around you and even beyond those around you, extending your care and concern to the rest of the world.  Doing the right thing means doing what is best for the most possible people and taking every step not to leave people behind or neglect anyone in this benefit.
            Good means you are altruistic.  You are about benefiting the group, and you consider yourself part of that group.  This group can be your community, your country, or even the whole world.  Generally speaking, you want to secure the health and safety of those around you while maintaining your own (after all, your own ability to help others ends when you die).  You look for the best solution for everyone even if it is not necessarily the best solution for you specifically.  Doing the right thing means going beyond yourself and beyond simply making exchanges.
            Neutral, you seek to better your own standing, but not at the expense of anyone else, or at least not at the expense of someone who has done you no injury.  You see helping others as an investment and you want a return on that investment, likewise you accept aid that you expect to pay back with interest.  Doing the right thing means doing your fair share and expecting others to do their fair share.
            Evil means you are selfish.  You seek to benefit yourself even at the expense of others who have done you no injury.  You’re not stupid, and will not go out of your way to hurt anyone, but if the benefits of hurting someone outweigh the costs then you will.  You don’t take deals unless you see a benefit for yourself, and as much benefit as possible.  You will encourage cutting others out of a deal if it means keeping more benefits for yourself.  You might help or aid others that you see as extensions of your own ego (your party, family, community, nation, political party) but that is still seen (at least internally) as benefiting you or your long term goals; so even your generosity could be seen as a selfish act.  Doing the right thing means doing what is best for you even at the expense of others, sometimes especially at the expense of others if you consider those others a real problem.
            Vile, more than just Evil means you embody destructive behavior.  You will cause harm to innocent people even if doing so will cause harm to you.  You delight in the harm you are causing, even thinking that the harm itself is the reward.  You still have the ability to think in the long term, and might concoct elaborate mechanisms to grind out misery and suffering, but ultimately if Exalted and Good value all, Neutral values a few, and Evil values themselves, Vile values harm/entropy/suffering as a concept and furthering harm/entropy/suffering is doing the right thing.

            Compared to that, at least from my perspective, Chaotic and Lawful are FAR MORE DIFFICULT to explain, and as a result I feel are more often misunderstood.  This leads to them being played badly when people choose this axis as their guiding star of role playing: Chaotic people who are erratic to the point of insanity and Lawful people who are inflexible to the point of insanity.
            GUYS, IT’S A GAME ABOUT TEAM WORK AND GOING ON ADVENTURES.  IF YOUR BEHAVIOR IS IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK WITH, YOU ARE RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE AND WILL END UP BEING “THAT GUY” WHO NEVER GETS INVITED BACK.  Even Chaotic Evil Party members should be able to view their party as an extension of their own ego (“their win is my win”) so stop stabbing each other in the back and play the game.  If you don’t think your character would work with other people, congratulations you made a bad character because the whole game is about working with a group to go on adventures, make a character that wants to work with other people because they see them as useful.
            So let’s start with the most basic assertion and work from there using examples when I feel it is necessary to illustrate the point (there will be lots of examples).  Generally, I will take this stance: Lawful is about means and Chaotic is about ends.  Neutral is about the big grey area between the two.
"You know what has been fun since we stopped inviting that bastard Gary to play?"
            Lawful wants consistent, reliable, and efficient behavior to guide them.  Lawful are the type who don’t have to grapple with temptation because they have convictions, they make up their mind and they follow thru, they want others to follow thru on their own convictions, even if those convictions are different (essentially, “I may not agree with keeping Kosher, but if you say you do, I would lose some respect for you if I saw a bacon cheeseburger in your mouth”).
            Lawful people keep traditions because either they see the reason for them, or at least trust that there is a reason for them.  But they will have their limits (“I know it is tradition to sacrifice a bunch of children on the solstice, but how about we revisit this tradition and maybe make it more modern?  How about we just burn effigies instead?  We could even make a craft festival for the best wicker person to burn.”).
            They follow the law because they would prefer a world where everyone followed the laws (for instance, “I don’t smoke weed, because it is illegal, if it were legal, I would probably try it… But it’s not.”).  But they know that some codified laws were written by self-serving people and are bad for the system, so they will seek to change those laws an oppose those officials as best they can in legal ways.  And if there is no legal outlet to oppose corruption and bad laws, they will form an organized rebellion and rebel.
            Following the written law most of the time does not necessarily mean a Lawful person will capitulate to or endorse tyranny, they just want to exhaust all legal methods for reform before resorting to insurrection (the best example I can point to on this topic is Optimus Prime, he did not like the “Functionalist” government of Cybertron, but could not support the terrorism of Megatron before at least trying to fix it the “Right” way, while Megatron saw the need for a radical upturning of the system immediately because of the horrifying and monstrous treatment of Cybertronians by their government; if you don’t know much about the IDW Transformers series you might want to check it out).
Things go in an interesting direction at times.
            Chaotic does not care if, “We’ve always done it this way” or “It’s tradition” or “It’s the law”.  They do what they think is “right” (see the Good and Evil entries for the “Doing what is right” bits).  Generally speaking, they will see “Malum En Se” crimes as lines that should not be crossed except in extreme/dire circumstances, but “Mala Prohibita” laws are at best meaningless scribbles.  (Those links lead to definitions).
            This is where I am going to take a controversial stance and say this, “Chaotic people write the most rules”.  A Lawful person does not have to be told the specifics and details of a Law, “Usury is bad, okay, I will make sure not to loan shark”.  Chaotic people will find work arounds.
            A Chaotic person will justify what they are doing whatever way they need to in order to get around the law as written.  “I wasn’t loan sharking, I was lending money to my friend for an emergency and they agreed to pay me back plus 15% very quickly, it is an agreement between friends, I love this guy… whatever his name is.  He is a dear friend.”
            In a society where there are lots of Chaotic people, there are a lot of minds trying to find work arounds to rules that had very specific intent, but those laws were written with the expectation that Lawful people would follow the spirit of the rules.  So, as Chaotic people challenge stuff in courts, Lawful and Neutral people will give them the benefit of a doubt, but to combat future use of that work around they will update the legal code.  ERRATA EXISTS IN CHAOTIC SOCIETIES MORE SO THAN IN LAWFUL ONES, BECAUSE LAWFUL SOCIETIES DON’T NEED RULES SPELLED OUT TO THEM.
            Chaotic people are utilitarian, they will go around rules that they feel are getting in the way of their goals (serve the world, serve a few, serve themselves; you know Good or Evil goals).  They know that rules exist, they may even like that they are less likely to be murdered because police are around to aid them if somebody tries to kill them, but rules against random sins (“What do you mean I can’t brew my own moonshine?”) or making a little money unscrupulously (“What do you mean I can’t brew my own moonshine?”) that shit is only to be followed if they run the risk of getting caught and facing a penalty bigger than the profits.
            Here is an example of a Chaotic company.  A company sets up shop in a country and pays their employees below minimum wage.  Those employees are desperate for work and thus work for less than the law says.  The government fines the company.  The government’s fine is for $100, but the company saved $110 by paying less, so they still profit $10, they are still not following the law about the minimum wage.  Why would they?  They got caught and still made money.  Do you think they feel shame?  No.  Do you think the will bother to follow the law in the future?  No.

            Neutral as can be inferred, is the middle between the two extremes.  They see no need to codify more laws than are necessary to secure a functioning government.  They are comfortable with gray areas of who is in charge, where boundaries are drawn in inhospitable territory (they will get a bit more exact of who owns what when natural resources or paradises exist), and generally don’t seek to circumvent written laws either.  They are more likely to abandon or ignore laws that become outdated, but might not go to the trouble of actually striking them from the books or rewriting them.  “Well, I’ll be darned.  Long Pants.
            Let’s look at an example of some thinking that falls in between two extremes.  There are (generally speaking) two philosophies to Law.  The first is Common Law also called Case Law.  Common law relies on the interpretations of the people who have to follow the law, those who have to enforce the law, and those who wrote the law to try and determine the most functional application of that law.  This means at each level, the cops, the juries, the judges, the appeals process, and the Supreme Court all get to look at how the law relates not only to the written law but every instance of the law being used in a court and seeking clarification of “what they meant”.  I would classify this as EXTREMELY Chaotic; it is (on paper, but with some exceptions) the system of the United States.  There are interpretations of law at every level of the system.
            The opposite force to Common Law is Civil Law, in which the Law as written is the way things are and there is little room for claiming a misunderstanding or arguing an interpretation.  Civil Law is far more common in Europe.  I would consider Civil law to be Lawful by the standards of Dungeons and Dragons.  So between these two where is the Neutral?  Neutral can be found in the execution of each.
            Neutral legal systems would be more apt to read the rules as written but would allow for mechanisms like Jury Nullification (when a Jury refuses to convict because they object to the law as written), they would cordon off legal interpretation only to the highest of courts and only in rare circumstances, and they would have a supreme set of guiding principles or baseline document (constitution) that would serve to trump lesser laws (these factors pull the United States back toward Neutral from purely Chaotic; and again, this is all an interpretation).
            Unfortunately, being an American I lack enough experience with the day-to-day functions of Civil Law to see where the Neutral parts come into play.  The on paper philosophy of Civil Law reads as Lawful to me, but if you have any experiences you would like to share, please write them in the comments.

Fourth Edition: “Let’s make morality even thinner”
            Let’s talk about the stupidest aspect of Fourth Edition, they took the paper thin, two dimensional (yes I know that paper thin and two dimensional mean the same thing) moral code of Dungeons and Dragons and made it one dimensional.  They collapsed the particle stream into a wave form and it sucks!
            Lawful Good -> Good -> Neutral -> Evil -> Chaotic Evil.
            Fucking weak.

            Let me start again.  Alignment is not really necessary to roleplaying well.  Aside from the whole “it is a game mechanic, the Paladin class is kind of built around the concept” there is no reason to really have it at all.  But if you are going to have a roleplaying game, maybe stripping out ideas tied to roleplaying is not the wisest strategy for making the game compelling.
            Dungeons and Dragons is about writing stories with your friends, complexity in narrative is an asset to that process.  I kind of understand what they were trying, they were making the system simple in order to be accessible, coupling this with the simple and balanced (but bloated) game mechanics.
            This is stupid.
            Feel free to make game rules simple, that is good, but don’t strip out the morals and ethics.  Audiences, especially fans of fantasy and writing, have never been more savvy.  TV, thanks to streaming services, are going thru a golden age of long form narrative with morally complex characters.  PEOPLE PLAY DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS TO WRITE THEIR OWN MORALLY COMPLEX CHARACTERS!  DUH!  FUCKING DUH!
            If anything you should have taken the opportunity to introduce more complexity to narrative and motivation.

Next Time: Alternatives
            I was originally going to write a blog on the Alignment system that illustrated the simplicity and complexity of the traditional system and then propose several pop culture references and debates about morality that I find fun… AND THEN, suggest what morality-as-game-mechanic that Dungeons and Dragons should adopt, and then throw in some examples of how it could be done.
            I started to creep up on 6,000 words and anticipated another 2,000 would be needed.  So I decided to snap this section off and just make a two-parter (maybe more).
            Hopefully, this was enjoyable enough that the idea of reading a SHIT TON MORE does not offend your eyes, nor does the idea of having to wait a week to get it.
            If you would like I can recommend another article that I have given to my players forpast games to help them grok what this subject is about.  It does a good job of explaining how the alignment system was written from a very “Lawful Good” world view and how to re-write the system to suit the world views of a Chaotic Evil or Neutral person who do not think of themselves as “Evil” or “Neutral”.  I think it is a good article.
            There is also this blog entry that is far shorter and points to how alignment should be an aspect of your character, and that motivation (become king, be a man, go thedistance, etc.) is more important to your world view than “I’m Evil”.

The Beg for Attention:
            If you venomously disagree with me, please tell me why in the comments.  Feel free to leave links to your own blog on the topic or articles that you have found helpful.  Or write your own counterpoint to all this (or parts of it) and come back and post a link. 
            If you have any interesting moral conflicts from pop culture you would like me to talk about in the next entry (I have a small section on “Babylon 5” and it might make the cut) post those suggestions too, but if I get too many I might end up with another entry in the series.
            This is the most debated thing in Dungeons and Dragons because, as I wrote, we all have personal values.  We all have things we will not do under any circumstance (even if we don’t know it yet because we have never been tested) so if you disagree with me that probably means you are Evil and should be careful not to run into some jerk off who is playing a merciless Paladin because that guy will read your aura and murder you without provocation.
            Have Fun!

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.