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TheDarkness last won the day on February 18

TheDarkness had the most liked content!

About TheDarkness

  • Rank
    Negative of His Only Known Picture

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    From Chicago, currently in China, live in KC
  • Interests
    Martial arts, guitar and songwriting, fiction writing, tabletop rpg design, movies, Mandarin, Chinese philosophy, politics(grudgingly), helping my wife sleep by way of long monologues about any of the previous entries
  • Biography
    Born, survived 2016
  • Occupation
    Teacher, Eastern Civ, currently teaching ESL
  1. Favorite Moments from "Babylon 5"

    The episode where Londo and G'Kar are trapped in the lift together. I think the episode might have been called the Mad Bomber or something like that.
  2. Non-combat influence

    I generally won't worry too much about making someone buy something to demonstrate every element of this. Think in terms of real world parties/banquets. Not everyone is there because they know the person throwing it that well. A throws party, B and C go because they know A well, D through H go because they either know B or C well, etc. So, I would presume that some people there are there because of affiliation with someone else. As long as the right contacts are invited, and the right venue and cause and all are in place, then it can be assumed that the effect is to get more than immediate contacts, and some of the result is not because of the contacts A bought, but that B or C has.
  3. Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)

    As far as the false equivalency thing, I do think that is a fair statement, while also recognizing that it doesn't exonerate the Democratic party of its own flaws, I just do not see strong evidence that they are wholesale the same flaws outside of those areas where elected officials' decisions are hemmed in by the structure of the state, the military, or the current states of the global balance of power. Other than the beginning of Obama's presidency, left leaning publications and figureheads of the left made public statements against his policies and approaches. A simple search will show many figureheads of the left criticizing the ACA as too little, his military choices as a betrayal of his election promises, and, most especially, his actions intended to give GOP legislators room at the table that they then repeatedly chose not to take as pointless. One can find scores of articles from the mainstream press of the left on every one of these topics, and from Daily Show to Real Time, almost all those shows routinely criticized the Dems and Obama for these policies and for their seeming ineffectual actions in electioneering. The difference is, the left, as far as major news sources, had and have to compete with each other, and thus have no one monolithic message that can reliably be cited without ignoring countless articles disagreeing from others on the left with equally large followers. The right, conversely, has one major cable news provider, that serving a party whose political strategies are not the same as the Dems. The GOP has, for years now, based most of its actions on winning elections over establishing long-term policies that are different than the Dems. Yes, especially in regards to trade and the use of the military, both are not particularly different, but this more often than not has ties to the fact that, when dealing with the rest of the world, there are not as many options as people like to believe. North Korea and the current situation is a perfect example. I happen to know one of our country's foremost experts on that topic, especially as it relates to China. There is not an expert worth dealing with on the topic that now buys into the 'crazy Kim' propaganda in the way both sides present it. North Korea has repeatedly worked on development of nukes, followed by slowing that work in response to sanctions and aid following said sanctions. While the press and leaders have repeatedly used that as evidence to prove the 'crazy Kim' thesis, neither U.S. nor Chinese experts have considered it anything other than the actions of rational actors, even if we don't like those actions. The recent attempts to change how we deal with it have only shown how thoroughly planned out those actions were compared to new attempts to stop it by way of bombast. This is not to say that the Kim's are or were admirable leaders, but that they established a long term goal, and have largely completed that goal against huge resistance by meticulously sticking with a plan for specific results geared toward ensuring sovereignty even against three major powers, two sharing borders. Treating it as anything else has proven to be a recipe that pits those powers more against each other than against North Korea. But, this is the result of elected and appointed leaders buying the propaganda we ourselves put forward to our voters, and having to act as though it were all as simple as that propaganda portrays it to be. You'll note that the exact same 'crazy Kim' approach was seamlessly followed from the father to the son. This policy had its virtues, but the current administration has spent a lot of the capital those virtues gave. For dems, this was less of an issue, being a bigger tent party these days, there is not as often one issue, aside from equality, that all dems seem to consider deal breakers, and so playing the realpolitik of the situation was an option. For the GOP, it's become a huge issue, because, focusing on election wins more than long-term policy wins, they had to increasingly play to populist issues, and so 'we need to deal with Kim' has lead into the realization that it was never as simple as it was portrayed to be. Whereas many dem voters might support increased gun control, most elected officials on that side avoided pushing that at all, while the GOP has put big dollars behind pushing forward statewide laws that they knew would not stand the constitutional test, because it played to their base, and the ability to push those messages by way of one single major cable network and smaller news sources acting as an echo chamber and source for reading the pulse of populist messages meant that there was not competition at the top to counter such policies. The RINO label is almost exclusively applied to the remnants of the camp that Buckley would most recognize, people who actually recognize politicking a two party system as being way more complex than simply always supporting one's party. It is the nature of the different structures of the two parties and the press serving their views that the dems and the left leaning press outlets will have less party unity, and that the GOP with one monolithic cable presence and a focus on election wins over anything else will lean towards similar iterations of the same populist messages. The idea that these different structures yield the same uniformity of message is an uphill claim against the structural reality in place. MSNBC, for instance, tends to be less centric than CNN, whereas FOX must put it's dollars more behind the most popular view in place in the GOP, and will have less programming dedicated to programs that focus on views that may be more valid, but less popular. Quite literally, in the last thirty years, the Dems have not had the capacity to have one monolithic message, the GOP has increasingly moved toward purity tests(RINO) and similar messages, and these two are the results of the goals and structures of the two parties and the media associated with them.
  4. Post A Weird, Random Fact About Yourself

    I'm expecting it was the Rolemaster 'Table 97.56: Things That Don't Fit Anywhere Else Or Even Have the Slightest Reason To Occur Ever, Critical'
  5. Post A Weird, Random Fact About Yourself

    I have the mutant ability that makes the taste of almonds that aren't fresh taste a bit chemically. So almond flavoring, which is made of the less choice almonds, is repulsive beyond reckoning to me. I had no idea that I was experiencing something different than others until a friend, who is a taste tester, and actually a 'super taster' who is able to differentiate very subtle differences in flavors, explained that that's actually a thing. So there, you know my mutant power.
  6. What's the second-best superhero RPG?

    One idea that comes to mind is not clearly defining what the personality of the person they are all clones with is like. Make clear this is a metagaming thing: as soon as one player does something that seems to define some sort of character aspect, other players might take actions that change the context of that trait. Or might reinforce it. Or might nullify it completely, oh, we're not really that kind, we just like people to think we are. I'm thinking maybe a short campaign would be interesting this way. As GM, you're stuck figuring out who your villain is from what your players do. How do these traits, played out heroically by the players, make the villain a villain? That way, NO ONE is being forced to play someone they don't like, everyone is not only defining themselves, but each other AND their opposition, and driving the GM mad while doing it. And what player doesn't like driving their GM mad?
  7. Destroy Your Geek Cred!!

    I think everything in Canada comes from Tim Horton's now.
  8. Toward more dynamic combat

    I guess I was thinking in terms of some of the ideas being thrown around in which abort was, essentially, no longer tied to an action in the future. Opportunity of attack comes to mind in this. Having a rule that applies to all seems fairer to me than GM caveat having to deal with all such cases. It also would effectively get rid of gaming the speed chart, which is a good thing. No one would have reason to assume any unoccupied opponent was unable to mess with them.
  9. Destroy Your Geek Cred!!

    But a true geek would claim to have known a woman on the internet, so it's inconclusive.
  10. Toward more dynamic combat

    I would further say that, if movement is more dynamic, then what is the best move to use will be less likely to remain the same from turn to turn. As it stands, if your best move is hth or ranged, with the movement rules as they stand, that presents a picture of where you want to be every single fight, and makes it much much simpler to just use your power move every time. If the combat is more fluid, if your opponents and you have a greater capacity to reasonably use cover, then it is less likely that as often you will be in the position to use your power move, and will have to adjust. It is important to keep in mind that this alteration to the movement rule does, in fact, represent more dynamic movement. I would also say the target of opportunity rule is essential, or, conversely, I would imagine that some powers would get built that mimic this, like a triggered area of effect(not sure if that's strictly legal, but something along those lines) that only takes effect if someone is making a move through that passes close to your character while your character is not otherwise occupied. This basic premise is a common rule in many games to avoid exactly the problems associated with making movement more free. It is not a fix, per se, as reasonably representing combat. In fact, hit or miss, if they pass too close to someone who can stop their charge, their charge is effectively ended at that point in many games. Since the alteration is so clearly an increase in dynamics as far as movement goes, it is considerably difficult to argue that it will then lead to less dynamic decision-making in what power or maneuvers will be used. If your opponent can more easily break from you, this will reduce the overall opportunities to use the same hth power in successive phases. If they can more readily obtain cover, this will more readily make using a ranged blast in successive rounds less likely. If they can more readily interpose themselves between a charging attacker and their target, this will reduce the ability to take advantage of every target of opportunity. I still hold that the motivation to block or punch should be based on the situation demanding it, whether the situation is tactical or role play related(block? I'm overconfident, blocking is for fools! as an example of the latter). However, I agree that more dynamic situations should lead to more situations in which the fallback power or maneuver simply has no place in the moment.
  11. Toward more dynamic combat

    What would happen if aborting to a defense when you don't have a segment was made contingent on a perception roll?
  12. Toward more dynamic combat

    The only thing I don't think I'd lean toward using is penalizing a character for using the same thing over and over. For some things, that might work, but you quickly could face some difficulty, since many of these things can be used to cover groups of actions that really have the same effect, so it could easily turn into penalizing the build when the actual effect is presumed to vary. For example, Atom, a boxer, is basically using strike a lot. Now, I'm sure one could make or use builds for jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts, but, in a way, making them do the build that way is making them pay for some things that one could interpret as being, in game terms, the same effect. Penalizing more striking would be less realistic, not more. Likewise, in fantasy, if you don't picture your berserker sword fighter as disarming people, he or she is stuck with cutting and thrusting. In an unarmored duel, our would be swashbuckler, if we want to go with realism, is going to thrust a lot, but now he can't. I know that there are builds in martial arts to approximate all sorts of things, but when it comes down to it, if dueling with a thrusting sword, one is probably going to thrust more often than not. Motivation to change up one's combat should come from the logic of the fight, imo, and it needs to be taken into account that most builds are actually an array of narrative uses that just happen to share the exact same game effect, so penalizing repeated use may just encourage making more builds to get around a penalty, builds that aren't actually adding any narrative quality that the single power wasn't entirely able to do on its own in the first place. If there is no reason in the callibre of enemy they are fighting to see a different technique as more useful in a segment than what was used before, I tend to ask myself if the enemies are truly providing any challenge to the players. Also, if the movement rules are done as stated, then it will be much harder to actually repeat one's action segment after segment, as the other pieces on the table are not as trapped in a particular melee as before, and so some segments may be giving chase. Granted, as stated, this would add value to movement powers, but it would also incentivize area effect purchases for exactly that reason. I'm not sure what the result would be. As an aside, Nolgroth's abort as part of a multiple attack is awesome. My thoughts on the problem of combat lasting longer, endless chains of dodges(or shield use) or such: I think this is not insurmountable, but it changes the narrative structure of fighting, which can be good. If we assume every fight to be a contest between two groups or individuals until one is 'vanquished', and run the game this way, then this will mean fights will too often be long, protracted issues where defense and escape are so readily available due to being able to move more freely and abort more freely, and so to get the nice clean feeling of total vanquishosity will require a lot of slogging and lot of chasing. If we alter this, to view each confrontation as a less easily defined thing, we could change this. When the enemies are evil or have no compunctions about leaving behind a few of their own, a confrontation might start out looking like it might last a while, but quickly finish as this enemy opts out of a bad situation, then another, and the few who remain get stuck very quickly being outnumbered by the heroes. And the sheer power of movement will make escape more possible. If your knight with sword and shield is fighting his evil counterpart in the context of a larger confrontation, he might very well be trying to hold the other at bay until the rest of the party is freed up to help. In fact, he might be purposefully taking on more than he can chew, knowing that he can probably last a little while before getting overwhelmed by a more experienced and brutal knight. Yes, every battle will not measure as high on the vanquishosity scale, but when it actually does happen that foes are so thoroughly vanquished, through a little luck and some good planning by the party, the value of the victory will be worth it. So, the main effect I would expect to see is: more people escaping combat, longer battles if going to completion, greater ability for lower powered people to tie up higher powered people, more area of effects. Oh, and if you track Endurance or somehow determine this, I think that SHOULD play a big role. In which case, some fights will be won by the fighter who tires last.
  13. Some funny things about agency and identity

    I tend to agree, though I would love to see studies of the meditation-contemplation-action triad that is the norm of traditions in the East conducted. Most studies even close just study meditation as a means for relaxation, which are a bit of a waste of time, as Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism all had practitioners who rather well defined the pointlessness of that practice many centuries ago, so where the studies seek to discount meditation, they are actually proposing a strawman, and where they seek to support it, they often aren't stringent enough. But I digress.
  14. Some funny things about agency and identity

    To clarify, in Eastern tradition, thought is broken into two categories. One type of thought is considered just another sense. It is cold, and therefore my thoughts respond to this by being annoyed, for example, because I don't like winter. The other is considered the thoughts undertaken by one's Buddha nature, which is a much more complex issue, influenced by samsara(cause and effect) as the other is, but not based on ignorance, in a way twice removed from the cold, not because it isn't cold, but because the cold's relation to me isn't special and directed. Perception is just perception. Consciousness and awakeness(in short, enlightenment) are not synonymous. Thus, consciousness and the buddha consciousness are not one and the same. The buddha retains his memories because he is not reborn. He escaped the cycle. Everyone who is reincarnated does not carry their memories with them, and so, in Buddhism, that is often not the same as a soul or spirit. Now, there are groups that hold that certain affinities carry over, like judging a child to be the reborn form of their old master based on them choosing some old favorite thing of the old master's from a group of choices, but this is affinity in the nature of the being, not the memory of the being. If enlightened, one does not choose one item because they liked it in the past, that would be false, as liking it in the past has no bearing on liking it now, they choose it because in the now, it is in their nature to find an affinity to the thing. That said, we can easily get into the endless whirlpool of what buddhist scholars hold versus what rank and file buddhist practitioners hold.
  15. Some funny things about agency and identity

    Nirvana is not a place, it is a mental state. The entire mechanism for attaining good karma is entirely based on mental state and actions coming from it. The East does not obsess over agency the way the West has, because in both philosophy and religion in the West, Christianity played a huge role, and so free choice became a concept heavily focused on. Proving it, disproving it, its centrality to all things in Christianity is huge. In the East, choice is always limited by other's choices, and not looked on as nearly the same way. The selling point of Buddhism is not giving agency, it is assumed that people make choices, it's explicitly part of the problem. It is in proposing a solution to suffering. Further, throwing the sacrificial virgin into the volcano is not, by default, about agency, but, like most religious practices, social in nature. To hold this position in my society, I am expected to do these things. Some may have actually believed, but, as can be seen in modern China, where many Taoist rituals are followed, if you actually talk to people doing them, they have no confidence it actually gets that result, it's just the 'proper thing to de' as a demonstration of things like filial piety, etc.