Pinned Post: Looking at My Stats and Revisiting My #RPG #Copyright Posts

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The quarantine has me doing a bit of blogging lately, which means I’m also looking at my stats. With respect to my posts regarding copyright and RPGs:

The posts are broken into two separate issues. Part 1 and part 2 are about the copyrightability of RPG stat blocks, and part 3 (not relevant here) is about the OGL. As to the first issue, to date, part 1 represents ~30% of text by page count and has 17,037 hits (edit 10/20/2020: 17,667 hits), whereas part 2 (70%) has only 704 hits (edit 10/20/2020: 802 hits). Moreover, part 1 spends much of its text on going over basic copyright principles that don’t represent the actual argument. It’s clear by the stats and the basis of the criticism itself (often peppered with personal insults) that the vast majority of (non-lawyer) criticism I’ve received is from people that have read only 30% (at most) of that argument. I know it’s long, convoluted, and at times poorly written (mostly because it targets two very different audiences); and you’re under no obligation to read it (or even care about it). However, it’s all connected, and if you’re going to criticize it, you should probably understand it first.

Or not. Free speech and all that.

Endnotes:

  • Part 3 has only 703 hits (edit 10/20/2020: 849 hits), which is surprising. I thought it would be the most read post.
  • Part 3.5 provides necessary clarification and correction to Part 3.
  • Part 4 answers frequently ask questions and addresses frequently raised issues.
  • Over on a lawyers-only subreddit, the attorneys seemed to want to discuss only my side note on patentability of the Shadow of the Demon Lord initiative system. I guess it’s great that they all agree that my argument is trivially correct, but Rob Schwalb has seriously hijacked my glory. I let him have it when I saw him last February.

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An Inconvenient (Though Overblown) Truth @ITCrowdSupport #DnD #RPG #ITCrowd

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Going forward, Sundays are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, I deal with an inconvenient truth via a show that had some great moments.

May be a meme of 2 people and text that says 'Dungeons and Dragons? Is that some sort of sex thing? PULLAKU Far fromit, Jen'

Don’t shoot the messenger. Everyone’s doing it.

Of course, this is bullshit, as my experience has been that marriage is as common among nerds as it is among the general population.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

My Favorite D&D Classes @Erik_Nowak @WinterFantasy #DnD #RPG

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A few days ago, someone on social media asked for everyone’s favorite Dungeons & Dragons class (I know; not an original thought). I’m sure many would agree with me that the answer depends on the edition. I have firsthand knowledge that some would say it’s a stupid question. This post isn’t for you.

A&D

I loved the monk. I don’t remember AD&D very well, but I played it a few years back on the van ride home from GenCon (which has since morphed into an annual van trip to Winter Fantasy known as Winter Vantasy, the best 14 hours in gaming). In that game, the monk seemed as effective a class as any other. This is despite things I’ve heard about how weak the class was. We weren’t 1st level, but even if the monk is weak at first level, it’s no weaker than a wizard, and the wizard has a huge payoff at later levels. As long as the monk was useful, it was fun.

2nd Edition

I started playing AD&D in 1977, but due to the Satanic Panic, I was prohibited from playing it after 1981. Ergo, I never played 2nd edition until — I’m going to guess — 7 or 8 years ago. My friend, Erik, ran a game over the course of two weekends, and I chose a bard based on my love of the bard class in 4e (the then-current edition). I enjoyed it. I played one other 2nd edition class in a 2-hour game a couple years later, and I don’t remember what that class was. So, saying the bard is my favorite 2nd-edition class wouldn’t be much of a statement, would it?

3.5 Edition

Easy choice: the Warmage. I returned to D&D in 2005, having missed 2e and 3e, and my first character was Frylock, the half-elf warmage (with two levels of rogue). He was fantastic, and no other 3rd-edition class compared. I don’t overpower my characters, so having a character that was inherently good in combat without much work on my part kept the table from being frustrated with my underpowered characters. The fact that my dice were weighted towards rolling 1s was another matter. I also liked the versatility spellcasters got, but sometimes I get overwhelmed and forget everything I can do. The warmage was much better focused, so I was less prone to forget things. Sorry, but I just don’t like playing games to be work. Maybe the 3.5e bard would have been fund, but I never thought to play one.

4th Edition

I loved playing “leaders” in 4e, and the flavor of the bard was (and remains) my favorite for role-playing purposes. My famously low d20 rolls were offset by my ability to help the other characters with healing and bonuses, so playing leaders was a win-win for the table. Me being able to roleplay an entertainer was always fun. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I enjoyed the swarm druid quite a bit, but it was no bard.

5th Edition

The bard wins again, just barely beating out the warlock. The flavor remains the same, so I imagine I’d prefer playing a bard in any edition. It’s a bit too complicated, leading me to forget, for example, to hand out bardic inspiration, but because everyone insists I cast Eldritch Blast on every turn, my warlock often gets spoiled for me.

Verdict

Clearly, the bard is my favorite in general. I never considered playing one until 4th Edition, when leaders became my thing. The AD&D bard has such huge barriers to entry that I can’t imagine many people played characters starting from 1st level that worked their way to it. Sure, it happened, but it was probably rare. The second edition bard was fun, and I never played the 3.5 edition one. Although I’m not a fan of 3.5e, maybe I’ll play again just to play the 3.5e bard.

By the way, the inspiration for this post was an article that google put in my feed: “D&D: How to Build the Perfect Bard.” If you’re interested in boosting your bardic power, maybe that article will help.

What are your favorite classes?

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

#DruidWorldProblems @jwrp666 #DnD #RPG

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I must admit I never thought of this.

This meme reminded me of one of my favorite characters, who was the only druid I’d ever played up to that point. Named after Jeff Goodblum’s character in the Fly, Brundle was a thri-kreen swarm druid that could turn into small primates. In other words, he was a bug that turned into a swarm of little humanoids.

I played him in a Dark Sun campaign in which all but the human cleric were thri-kreen from the same hive. I was the middle child of the bunch (no acting necessary) and of low intelligence (no acting necessary), so everyone picked on me (no acting necessary). To make things easier on the DM, I wrote up the post-session journals but did so from the point of view of Brundle. The facts were largely accurate but overstated his importance and criticized the others as useless. Brundle was always the hero and leader of the group … in the journal.

4e swarm druids were the coolest druids.

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Dungeons & Dragons and Dark Sun are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

Classic Movies: Excalibur @Tubi #movie #Excalibur #music #ClassicMovie #GoodWatch

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This past weekend, I discovered that John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) was available to stream on Tubi. In case you didn’t know, Tubi is a free streaming service with commercials, and it’s often useful for watching movies showing on pay services to which I don’t subscribe. I took advantage of a rare day of not working out and re-watched it.

To me, Excalibur is a classic, and it has a moderately funny story behind it (for me). My dad was always present but never paying attention. He left our upbringing to our mother, taking interest only when our interests collided with his. So, if you weren’t playing tennis, playing chess, or visiting the Renaissance Festival, you were a nuisance. He wasn’t cruel; just uninterested. When Excalibur came out, both he and I were interested in seeing it. I was a mythology buff, and he a history buff, and the movie appealed to both of us. Well, I was 13, and when my mother found out how much nudity was in it, she blew a gasket. Of course, my dad was pissed off at me because I was the one that told her.

That was a fun day.

My Impression

Nudity aside, I loved the movie. I was familiar with the basics of Authurian legends and wanted more. The next time I saw the movie was in high school, which were the days of VHS movie rentals. My cousin and I rented it, and my view had changed. I found the base storyline just as interesting but the delivery goofy at times. Also, being a high school kid, I was a bit put off by seeing Sir Lancelot’s nut sack. This weekend was the third time I had seen it, and it was fantastic, errrr … nut sack and all.

It’s a quick telling of the Arthurian legends, taking some liberties with the story in the interests of getting the story told in less than 8 hours. What’s not to love about that? I’m sure many readers agree, so I’m not going to dwell on any of that. Instead, I’m going to point out something I found interesting and unusual.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack is, as one would expect, filled with grandiose, classical music pieces. However, what’s interesting about it is that the music never played (to my recollection) during the battle scenes. All you heard was the sound of battle, and that produced a chilling effect. Because I’m a nerd, I’m reminded of an observation Lt. Cmdr. Data made about alien poetry that often included pauses that could last for days. That seems ridiculous, but pauses do have value. They’re analogous to negative space used in graphic arts, such as the arrow in the FedEx logo between the ‘e’ and ‘x,’ and this effect was used very well by John Boorman here.

As always, YMMV, though how could you not like Excalibur?

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Paris Sucks @CSMFHT #MythologyMonday

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Here’s another Twitter handle to consider following on Mythology Monday:

A decent amount of their posts are related to mythology. They even know who to join to create the right mashups.

I love mythology.

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Art Is in the Eye of the Beholder @billyjoel @StarWars @kesseljunkie #movie #music #art #StarWars #BillyJoel

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I have a phrase I like to use. By now, you should know it, but I’ll repeat it anyway: Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. There’s a meme running around . . .  okay, going viral that completely misses this point. I’d like to trash the meme, but it goes all “sociopolitical,” and I’ve already done my annual sociopolitical post for the year. Instead, I’ll address another meme that reimagines the story told in Billy Joel’s fantastic song, Piano Man. The song is actually about Joel during his early days playing seedy bars filled with alcoholics and underachievers. The meme could be said to be sociopolitical too, but I don’t see it that way, so here it is.

Now, there’s a problem with the theory of this meme: Paul never had time for a wife. This means that if would have had a wife if his priorities are different. Also, not everyone who’s an alcoholic, failure, underachiever, or sailor is gay. That makes the statement at the end, “yep, it’s definitely a bar full of gay dudes,” to be rather arrogant, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t fairly infer that it’s at a “gay bar.” It still fits, and you just ignore the imperfections in the spirit of having fun with the lyrics.

Another Theory: They Still Live

Well then, it’s no less legitimate to instead imagine that Piano Man takes place in the They Live universe, but in a sequel called They Still Live in which a few surviving aliens have recovered their ability to hide their true selves. Joel is playing to bunch of extraterrestrials and doesn’t know it. Why can’t Billy tell they’re aliens?

Because those sunglasses are just ordinary ones. Instead of a bunch of homosexuals having a betting pool, it’s a bunch of aliens wondering when he’ll figure out that they’re aliens in hiding. They’re reluctant underachievers because they must remain in hiding until they reclaim control over the Earth. Is this a perfect inference? No, but remember, neither was the “gay bar” interpretation. This interpretation also has no clear contradictions within the lyrics, so it’s just as good. So would any interpretation in which people, extraterrestrial or otherwise, we’re in hiding. I’m sure the song could be put to use in a pretty good Al Qaeda recruitment video, and I doubt Joel would approve.

Revenge of the Sith

Let me give you another example. This one’s more on point with the meme I don’t want to discuss. In Revenge of the Sith, Mace Windu, et al. attack Emperor Palpatine, a.k.a., Darth Sidious. The others fall, so it’s just Mace and Sidious going at it, and Mace gets the upper hand. He starts to reflect Sidious’s force lighting back on him. According to the dialogue, as wells as a (long-lost) interview with George Lucas, the reflection disfigured Palpatine.

I never bought that, and I think Kessel Junkie and I have discussed it.

My interpretation from the moment I saw it was that Sidious was already disfigured from his long term use of the Dark Side. Within the movies – I don’t concern myself at all with the Expanded Universe – there’s nothing in canon to contradict that. With Mace Windu’s attack, Sidious’s power was being tasked, so his veil dropped. Everyone was seeing him for what he really was. He initially lied to Anakin to complete his turn to the Dark Side, then maintained the lie to convince others of the treachery of the Jedi. That in turn meant that he no longer had to use a portion of his power to maintain that veil. Win-win as far as he was concerned.

Am I wrong? Not according to me, so why do I care whether George agrees? Why would he care if I disagree with him?

The point is that you can interpret art, especially good art, in a way that suits you, even if it contradicts the intent of the creator. Unless you’re way off base, your interpretation is as legitimate an interpretation as anyone else’s. Whatever makes the art work for you is fine.

As long as you’re buying it, the creators won’t mind.

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Groot! @Bartoneus @newbiedm #GotG #MCU #Groot #comic #Hulk

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Ah, the Internet. So stupid at times, but also so wonderful. I recently put out a call for help based on a vague memory.

I don’t like comics, but I hate losing knowledge even more, so I really wanted to hunt down this reference. My TV doppelganger, Danny, came through.

Once I saw this cover, the memories started pouring back in. There are still some holes, so I’d love to re-read the comic, but … hey, is that … GROOT?! The “tree monster” is one of the characters I had forgotten, so this was quite a jolt. I love the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and was wondering whether that was the Groot or just another member of his species.

For what it’s worth, Wikipeida confirms this, though all but the mastermind among Hulk’s enemies were actually copies of other creatures.

I love how these two tied together. One of the few comics I’ve ever read introduced me to a character that 38 years later would be part of a movie that I love, all within the context of a medium that I don’t particularly like. What are the odds?

Well, probably not bad. Nerds do what nerds do.

I’m glad I went down this path.

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