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Wondering where I have been?

Tweet of the Day: At the Bias: Mansplaning and the Power of Naming


Well I have been streaming! Yes, I have my own gaming stream channel and the game that I’m playing right now is Apotheon, a Greek Mythology based sidescrawler/platformer game.  You can join the stream at 9:00 p.m. Eastern (U.S.) or catch the VoDs on the channel: https://www.twitch.tv/lessonslearned1


And here is last night stream:

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TV Tropes Monday: The Paladin



Tweet of the Day: Wasted Youth 

The Paladin, that staple of modern fantasy stories and video games, thanks in large part to our old friend, D&D. The Paladin is a heroic champion of good, nearly incorruptible (we will get to that later), fighting the worse evil can offer with a stout heart secured in the knowledge that he is always right. They are the embodiment of the knightly ideals, chivalrous, honorable, and good to a fault.

And there lies the problem.

For you see, a character that starts out (at least in the archetypal/stereotypical sense) as perfect doesn’t have any character flaws that can lead to character growth. It is an unchanging character with little to offer except as either a path for the author to define what they thing is good and right or as a foil to the villains. So what can we do to change that? They are three common paths of character growth/change for the Paladin.

  1. Corruption: The Paladin falls from grace and either embraces the darkness, often becoming a champion for the other side, or finds a path to redemption.
  2. Changing World: It is not the Paladin that changes, but the world around them. Their church, order, nation collapses or they find out it is imperfect all along. Here the Paladin doesn’t change much, but must persevere in a world that actively fights them at every turn.
  3. Breaking the Haughty: The Paladin thought they were perfect, that their world view was incorruptible, but it turns out they were and are only human. Here the Paladin doesn’t fall out of grace so much as realize that they must temper their world view with the realities of the world they live in.

I for one like both a well crafted redemption arc (Avatar: The Last Airbender comes to mind), as well as a good character that faces the challenges of a world that doesn’t fit their views. Then again, the Paladin unwavering commitment to their ideals is perfect for a Greek style tragedy as well. Your choice writers, your choice.

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Tropes Monday: Tropes Vs. Women Comes to an End


Tweet of the Day:  The Mismeasure of Media 

Tropes vs. Women, a web series helmed by Anita Sarkeesian has come to an end. Long time readers know that I was and still am a fan of the series due to its concise, critical analysis of tropes in the medium of video games from a feminist point of view. The video games industry needed a series like this and we got it. But the criticism did not escape the ire of those who thought that nothing short of fawning genuflection of all things video games was a threat to their very existence and a direct attack on those who enjoy them. For those of us who didn’t have our heads so far into our own puckers, this series was a refreshing and at times painful look at our favorite pastime.

It also encouraged me to get into the business of game criticism and for that I thank you, Ms. Sarkeesian.

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Space for Rent: I Am Not Straight, I Am Heterosexual


Tweet of the Day: A Handmaid’s Tale Is a Warning to Conservative Women  


“I am a Christian.”

Are not Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Mormons, Mennonites, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, and Quakers not Christians? Or are they not the “right” kind of Christian? Which means that those other denominations are “wrong” somehow. It is true that any statement of identity is but inclusionary and exclusionary, that is, it defines those that share the identity as those that do not. But some, like the statement above are more about exclusion than inclusion, about separating what is “true” from what is “false”.

I’ve come to see the next statement in a similar manner:

“I am Straight.”

Why? Well lets look at the definition of the word:

Definition of straight

  1. 1a :  free from curves, bends, angles, or irregularities straight hair straight timberb :  generated by a point moving continuously in the same direction and expressed by a linear equation a straight line the straight segment of a curve

  2. 2a :  lying along or holding to a direct or proper course or method a straight thinkerb :  candid, frank a straight answerc :  coming directly from a trustworthy source a straight tip on the horsesd (1) :  having the elements in an order the straight sequence of events (2) :  consecutive12 straight dayse :  having the cylinders arranged in a single straight line a straight 8-cylinder enginef :  plumb, vertical the picture isn’t quite straight

  3. 3a :  exhibiting honesty and fairness straight dealingb :  properly ordered or arranged set the kitchen straight set us straight on that issue; also :  correct get the facts straightc :  free from extraneous matter :  unmixed straight whiskeyd :  marked by no exceptions or deviations in support of a principle or party votes astraight Democratic tickete :  having a fixed price for each regardless of the number soldf :  not deviating from an indicated pattern writes straight humor a straight-A studentg (1) :  exhibiting no deviation from what is established or accepted as usual, normal, or proper :  conventional; also :  square 5f (2) :  not using or under the influence of drugs or alcoholh :  heterosexual

Notice a pattern here? Many of these definitions are about moral character more than simple geometric description. Words like “normal”, “correct”, and “trustworthy” pop up. It becomes even more apparent when you look at the antonyms:

Near Antonyms improper, incorrect, indecorous, naughty, unbecoming, unseemly; corrupt, debased, debauched, degenerate, depraved, dissolute, libertine, perverted, reprobate; unprincipled, unscrupulous; atrocious, infamous, villainous; base, low, mean, vicious, vile; blameworthy, objectionable, offensive; iniquitous, nefarious; errant, erring, fallen

Antonyms bad, black, dishonest, dishonorable, evil, evil-minded, immoral, indecent, sinful, unethical, unrighteous, wicked, wrong

So when I use the term “Straight” I am not really saying anything about myself. However I am making a statement about others, a purely negative statement. I may have not meant it as such, and neither would you, but the more I think about it, the more it becomes apparent to me that it is an exclusionary word, a term of moral judgement more than a word that defines me in any meaningful capacity or with any accuracy.

I am not saying that you should not use the word, only that after some thought I have come to this conclusion.

So what do you think, oh gentle reader?


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TV Tropes Monday: Second Law My Ass


Tweet of the Day: Industrial Fantasies East and West 

Asimov’s Three Law of Robotic Ethics are as follows:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

These “laws” seem pretty reasonable. After all we wouldn’t want our robot servants to turn into murder machines with a misspoken command or a press of a button. But if your goal is to create a interesting robotic character, then your robot buddy will simply say, “Second Law My Ass!” A perfectly obedient robot makes for a boring, and therefore, poor character. However, if you introduce time tested servant tropes to the mix, such as the snarky butler with little apparent respect for his “master” then you have a better dynamic. It also sides steps the idea that an intelligent construct who “must” obey every order given to them is essentially a slave.

Yes, it is as bad as it sounds, and then some.

So give the old law a swift boot to the rear and inject your robotic characters with a heaping dose of personality.



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TV Tropes Monday: Synthwave


Tweet of the Day: Star Trek and Nostalgia 

Synthwave, what we thought the future would sound like back in the 80s, but wait…it is the far away future of 2017!

I am confused. Amused? Yes, but also confused. If you remember the 80s (like old geezer me does) you remember the soft saxophones, the electronic beeps of early home/personal computers, and the ever present beats of a million Yamaha synthesizers. It was also the decade of Reaganomics, Red Scares, Cyberpunk  ™ (by CD Projekt Red), war in the Middle East, and the last bloody hurrah of the Cold War. But like any retro-inspired movement, it not quite the 80s, just an above average imitation of the era. What sounded cutting edge back then now is quaint. Some of the sounds of the 80s were due more to the limitations of the technology as well as the colliding social trends that a deliberate attempt to create a genre. And as synthesizers plus electric guitars infused pop culture, there was a backlash that led directly to alternative rock music scene of the late 80s which then exploded in the first half of the 1990s.

But the reality is that like many rethreaded concepts of the not so distant past, it is people like me, who remember our childhoods as we pass through our collective mid-lives, that power such genres and those who are hearing them for the first time and sounds fresh to them. With so many other icons of the decade such as Aliens, Ghostbusters, Transformers, and Star Wars coming back a second time around, it is no wonder that memories of the music that served as a score for the decade also linger on.

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TRAVELLER: Out of the Box–Start Small

Great article about starting small in both RPG games and in writing in general.

Tales to Astound!

mars-1280x800-planet-space-12178 One Planet Can Be a Whole Lot of Adventure

Traveller presents a specific, terrifying possibility for the Referee based on two facts.

The two facts are:

  1. Space is big
  2. The Player Characters can go anywhere

The terrifying possibility is that the Referee will be responsible for creating literally hundreds of worlds before proper play can begin.

I would offer something else: Start small.

“But,” you might say, “space is big. The Third Imperium is big. How can you be playing Traveller if you start with something small?”

Since the Third Imperium is big we’ll use that setting as an example. I’m not saying this is the only way to set up a Traveller setting. But I do think is both efficient and sanity preserving for any Referee who wants to get a game of Traveller up and running.

Part of the lure of…

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