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Hugh Neilson

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Hugh Neilson last won the day on September 17

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About Hugh Neilson

  • Birthday 01/15/1966

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    Canada
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    Chartered Professional Accountant/Tax Consultant

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  1. I'm reminded of the old Mayfair DC Heroes game, which had 9 stats, 3 each for physical, mental and mystical/soul attributes. One was the targeting stat, the second the damaging stat and the third the resistance stat that took the damage. The best approach may include new stats and powers that work the way you want them to work, but that's also the most "game redesign" approach.
  2. Player 1: I put 2 skill levels in OCV and 3 in DCV; I'll attack the rock-guy with an Uppercut. That makes my OCV 11, and I roll a 13 - hits DCV 9. GM: That easily hits...roll damage. [several actions later] GM: The rock-man lashes out trying to Grab PC 1 - good roll, he his DCV 12! Player 1: Good thing I stayed on the the defensive - he misses my 14 DCV. I don't see this slowing the game. If Player 1 sucks at math, it seems like another player can easily help him determine his OCV, add 11 and subtract 3d6 without knowing the opponent's DCV and jot down his DCV for him at his action. "The two normal-looking bystanders are panicking, weaving wildly in the street. One is shrieking like a little girl. Five security guards, their smoking guns indicating they have recently been fired, appear to be maintaining their composure, and are bobbing and weaving. They look pretty skilled, comparable to VIPER agents or a SWAT team. You rounded the corner just in time to see PC 2 blast one thug, who is reeling from the blow. A second thug levels his gun at you -he's bobbing and weaving much like the guards. Pulsar (someone has to be the boss..."the guy in the yellow and orange costume" will do if he has not been identified) is scampering about wildly - seems like he's more focused on not being hit than counterattacking - seems pretty average agility for a Super." If he wasn't looking for a sniper on the rooftops and didn't luckily roll a 3 PER roll walking around the corner, forget it! If he did, the best he might do is the glint of a possible weapon on that rooftop WAY over there. The distance and positioning make the difficulty hitting him quite obvious. Now, if the PC had been there all along, he would have seen what each person or group did on their action, and would not need the whole paragraph at once, if the player is actually engaged in the game. In any case, I'd rather have a slower combat with good descriptions and role playing than "he attacks; take 34 STUN, 8 BOD, 4 meters knockback". If the goal is to make combat fast, just roll an opposed "Supers Combat Skill" and describe the aftermath. What I find slows combat is poor OCV/DCV matchips (so people rarely hit) or too high a defense to DC ratio so too many hits are needed to KO. Bumping the opponents' OCVs up 2, and DCs up 3, offset by reducing their DCVs by 2 and their Defenses by 10 speeds those combats up quite nicely.
  3. OK, to play the Devil's Advocate, should the player also know the opponent's OCV by watching how he shoots, his DCs by looking at the attack itself and his defenses, STUN and BOD by how tough he looks? To me, these and DCV are all things that are far from obvious with that great level of precision. I think "The walking heap of rock lumbers forward, while the skinny guy bobs and weaves" provides a reasonable indication that their DCVs are going to differ. The common "how can something that big move that fast" thought in the comics suggests exact DCV is less than obvious. The Teleporter with +X DCV because he mini-'ports as the attack is launched seems like he would be less obvious. "Wow, he's good with that shield" seems more reasonable than "well, he has a shield strapped to his arm and you just KNOW he is super-good with it so that it will add +5 to his DCV, unlike the guy last week whose shield was clearly Armor with an activation roll". Starting these off as Inobvious (you can see some indications, but not assess with precision) also makes room for Analysis or similar super-skills to achieve greater precision, as well as IPE to make it even harder to tell (although not hitting is a pretty fair indication). I have never found the game suffers from players gradually working out the opponent's exact DCV or their exact AC.
  4. So, don't do a second Mickey Mouse cartoon, change a single word in your song or write a second novel in a series, or issue of a comic book character, or you will lose your copyright? Or does each cartoon, book or story get its own 50 years? That's what causes Superman issues - Superman and Lois - Action Comics #1. Perry White, Jor-El, Senator Sam Lane, Jimmy Olson, Daily Planet, Lex Luthor, Kryptonite etc. etc. etc., not so much. Even his chest symbol changed over time.
  5. Both JMS and WB (PTEN at the time) had to choose whether to enter into that contract. Like most choices, they have consequences. JMS may never have been able to bring his vision to the screen, in any form. had he declined to surrender the rights he surrendered. Alternatively, perhaps he could have traded away other rights to retain those ones, whether with PTEN or with another party. He could certainly have made a counter-offer to PTEN. Contracts are negotiated. PTEN could certainly say "that is the deal we are offering; take it or leave it". JMS could have chosen to leave it, and look for another organization to bring his ideas to fruition. He could have done other work, hoping to save up enough capital to leverage B5 into production on his own. But the consequences of those choices may have been never seeing his vision brought to life, and not monetizing his ideas. He chose to give up some of his rights in exchange for moving the project forward, making some money and building his reputation and personal brand. The fact that we may dislike the consequences of some of our choices does not invalidate their existence. I can choose not to work, but that choice carries some financial implications I would prefer to avoid. I can choose to work less, and earn less, which would require me to either spend less, save less for my eventual retirement or combine the two in some manner. The starting point for negotiation with PTEN was the rights that JMS had over his creation, which included the duration of the copyright. If I am the organization which will fund the development, implementation and marketing of the product, I need to consider the profit potential. The duration in which I will have rights over the IP developed is a factor in that profit potential. If that duration is lower, so is what JMS has to offer PTEN, weakening his negotiating position. A creator has only his creations to sell. The duration of copyright impacts the selling price, and his negotiating power, for those creations. If we had a few hundred years of history under the First Nations belief that no one can own land, I suspect our real estate laws would look very different today. Instead, they evolved from the English "all land is owned by the crown" model as it evolved over centuries to private land ownership, and now the land owner controls the property until and unless those rights to the property are sold. The rights to IP evolved differently, and they could have evolved in any number of different ways. They continue to evolve. It is not "right" or "wrong" that land ownership is permanent and "artistic work or concept" ownership is temporary. It is simply the current state of our culture and law. And it can be changed. Show me how the world would be a better place if, instead of developing Fringe for 2008, J.J. Abrams had revamped Babylon 5 because copyrights were never extended beyond that original 14 years, so B5 became a free for all in 2008. Or the studio simply decided to bet on a revamped B5 by someone with no original ideas of their own, since it succeeded some years back, rather than take a chance on this new Fringe concept. Or that PTEN choosing a revamped 6 Million Dollar Man/ Bionic Woman revamp (they ended in 1978) instead of B5 would have been superior. Or, taking a different approach, that a network should have taken on Star Trek: TNG if they knew anyone could create their own Star Trek and undercut them, since the original ended in 1969 so that the rights were all public domain. I am not sold that throwing other peoples' creations into the public domain would stimulate, rather than stifle, creativity.
  6. So, how does letting Mickey Mouse be used by anyone who wants to use the character fuel creativity? Wouldn't more creativity be required to create your own character than to recycle Walt's mouse? Let's rephrase for emphasis: Why is it "nonsensical" to propose treating one type of property and another type of property in the same manner? Why should the owner of an artistic work - a character image, novel or song - be less entitled to control the future use of that work than the owner of a parcel of land with a building on it?
  7. Similar to Archer's point, if I build a house on a plot of land, how long should I have the right to use, or direct the use, of that house? We could use it for low-income housing, a shelter for battered women or runaway children, an orphanage or various other public uses, or just knock it down and have a little park there. When does the real estate revert to the public domain? If I sell it, how long should the buyer retain exclusive rights to the property? Let's try some real-life examples, and maybe people can assess how their preferred models would work. EXAMPLE #1 John Lennon died in 1980. How long should his widow, children - whoever he selected under his will - benefit from his works? In other words, how long should he control who benefits from his labour and creativity? Now, contrast that with how long Paul McCartney should control the benefits from his labour and creativity. EXAMPLE #2 In what year should I be allowed to publish a game that's about 15% generic superhero setting with a few sample characters, 10% small derivative mini-adventure/adventure seeds and 75% a reproduction of the Hero System rules? Recall that Champions 1e was published in 1981, 40 years ago. Its original creators sold the rights 20 or so years ago (5th Edition was released in 2001). EXAMPLE #3 Elsewhere on the Boards, there's a discussion about the planned re-imagining of Babylon 5. Why can't CW, or anyone else, just do whatever they want with the B5 concept, characters, etc.? The original ran from 1994 to 1998 - it's been well; over 20 years. Yet the only real optimism about this venture is that J. Michael Straczynski remains heavily involved. Now, he could still be heavily involved if we ditched the copyrights, and removed any ability of JMS to govern the use of his concepts. But anyone else could also do a Babylon 5 project without his involvement, at the same time if they were so inclined. At the same time, because WB controls the TV rights, JMS has largely been blocked from using B5 for the past couple of decades. But he chose to assign those rights to WB - and WB freighted a lot of costs and risks in producing the show, which was massively different from the TV norms of the day, and consequently massively risky. Would WB (or anyone else) have fronted those costs and risks if they could not be confident they would reap the rewards if the show was a success? JMS could not have funded the project himself.
  8. Quite a change in only 3 years... https://www.digitalspy.com/tv/ustv/a855453/babylon-5-revival-wont-ever-happen-j-michael-straczynski/
  9. JMS was on record, as I recall, that each major character had a "trap door" in his grand scheme that would permit them to be written out if need be.
  10. That concept is often referred to as "work for hire". Let's say DC Comics hires me to write a new series, and I create a brand-new Superhero. I'm working for them. They own the fruits of my creativity. And I get paid whatever we agreed that I get paid for writing that series. Who got the better deal? Well, if I created, say, Cyborg, the I'd say they got the better deal. But if I created Brother Power, the Geek? Not so much. I have chosen the low-risk approach, trading away the potential benefits if I create a real winner to still get paid if my work does not sell. Maybe I really think my creation has potential. I can always self-publish and reap all the rewards. But I also pay all the costs, and take all the risks. If it doesn't sell, I may be writing for DC for a long time after to pay off my creditors. And don't think DC Comics will be promoting my indie creation with their house ads!
  11. I believe royalties are paid for the use of a copywritten work. No copyright, no royalties. Are you suggesting that, when the work passes into public domain, each use of the work continue to generate royalties for the creator? Now, let's take this one step further. The owner of real estate can receive rent, or sell the property (that is, the right to collect those rents) to someone else. Would your model permit the creator of the work to sell their right to future royalties to a third party, realizing all of the capital now instead of receiving a bit of income every year?
  12. I wasn't discussing Disney's pension obligations to their employees. I was discussing the shareholders, to whom profits flow as dividends. Pension funds acquire shares of public corporations to generate a return to fund their beneficiaries' retirement income. IRAs and 401(k)s invest in publicly traded securities. Individuals invest outside these plans as well. Every corporation has owners. The income is not retained in perpetuity by a corporation, perched atop its hoard like some mythical dragon. The income ultimately flows to the shareholders of the corporation, typically including a lot of pension funds, as well as individual investors.
  13. We don't know who Thor's creator was. Pretty sure it was a Scandanavian. Lee/Kirby interpreted him for Marvel Comics. Lots of creators have touched him over the years. Walt Simonson was a big one. Thor, the Norse God, can't be copywritten, but the Marvel interpretation can, I believe.
  14. What about the grandkids or great-grandkids? What if the creator thinks a nephew or close friend would do a better job protecting the legacy? One might also argue that the possibility that humanity might be able to win and survive compromised Lovecraft's vision, beginning a descent into crap. Too true. We personify the corporation as though it has its own goals and morals. Disney is a publicly traded corporation. How much of its profits go to pension funds? Those vile, evil pensioners living off slave labour and copyright extensions! On Bob and Sara, how many other projects did Sara back that, perhaps, were less successful, and she lost some or all of her investment? If she can't recover the losses from these high-risk ventures from the profits on the much less frequent winners, especially the incredibly rare huge winners, why would she invest in any of them? We don't actually know who created those "cultural icons", though. And they predate the birth of Adam Smith, whose works formed the basis for modern capitalism, including "ownership" concepts. How does the theory that "the creators should just freely give back the fruits of their talents to society" make sense when placed against medical doctors and professional athletes getting paid for their contributions to society? Why should ownership of wealth be perpetual? Should land be returned to the general public when the owner dies? Should it be limited to passing down to only one generation, then return to societal (presumably government) ownership? How does letting other writers use characters such as Mickey Mouse, Superman, Captain America and the Ghostbusters enhance culture, as compared to requiring those writers create new characters to add to our culture? There is a cost to extending copyright. The owners of the rights to such icons as Mickey Mouse, Superman, Captain America and the Ghostbusters are paying to extend copyright because there is value there. That value exists because the characters remain in use, continue to be published and continue to be broadcast. Many less successful properties were allowed to lapse into the public domain. Those works were not being reprinted, rebroadcast, etc. and were disappearing from culture. As an example, consider "It's a Wonderful Life". It wasn't overly successful, its copyright lapsed and the TV stations realized they could use it for free. So millions of people who would not otherwise have seen the film were exposed to it, and it became part of the popular culture. But would the networks have picked it up over other 1946 releases, like the top grossing 1946 films at https://www.the-numbers.com/market/1946/top-grossing-movies? [bad year to pick given the #1 top grossing film, with 20/20 hindsight...], had they all become public domain at once? [The actual ownership and copyright issues for the film are pretty complex, and the ensuing battles likely would not have happened, absent the rebroadcasts when the relevant rights became more valuable - its status as a derivative work itself muddies the waters further.]
  15. "Good" and "Evil" are very nebulous. If the game is to use them as absolute concepts, it needs to provide absolute definitions. We might disagree with whether "Game Defined Good" is actually "philosophical good", but if we have an in-game definition, unmodified by house rules, such as "Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others." then that is the definition. My character may believe Good is about prioritizing innocent lives over every other choice, or the "Greatest Good for the Greatest Number" (no hesitation sacrificing one innocent person to save five, or killing Hitler as a baby, or all those trope moral dilemmas), or perhaps "my country" or "my religion" above all else, but his good is a compromise, or even a refutation, of Alignment Good. The potential for disagreement is a reason to discuss and firm up Psych's in Hero as well, and evaluate the frequency and severity based on the player and GM conceptions. That may mean "I see Code vs Killing, Absolute Commitment" meaning that your character would only use lethal force (more than 6 DCs) against a known adversary who can reliably emerge uninjured; would be a vegetarian; would actively impede a teammate risking lives (including blasting an unknown enemy at full force); would save the villain from a death he has brought on himself, even at the risk of his own life - is your character that extreme, or did you want to downgrade that complication to be less severe? That's obviously a very extreme view of C v K, but so is "What? Your Paladin killed the Orc prisoner who slaughtered villages of helpless peasants? He loses all his powers and changes alignment.", and similar issues which have caused such anti-alignment vitriol by many D&D players over the years. If the GM and/or players view alignment, or psychological complications, or any other element of the game as role playing straightjackets that suck fun out of the game rather than providing opportunities for challenges and role playing that enhance enjoyment of the game, Duke's response - remove it from the game - is the right one. Unfortunately, not everyone finds the same things fun. If Charlie likes his character's morals and ethics to be challenged by a grey, dark world, and Pat does not enjoy playing out ethical dilemmas, and wants to be a True Blue Hero with right and wrong color-coded and hard-wired, either one of them has to compromise, or one of them needs to find a different game.
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