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.
  • Stat blocks for the 5e Monster Manual are here.

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The Choice . . . . @StarTrek @pepsi #StarTrek

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Star Trek: The choice of a new generation.

The next one, I guess.

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The Strange and Terrifying Creatures of Native American Folklore @MythsExplained #MythologyMonday #MythologyMonandæg #folklore

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Last week, I discussed the Shishi, pointing out how Americans get exposed only to western mythology. That’s not exactly true. We get only western European mythology. Nothing’s more west than America itself, and there are untapped storylines from pre-USA civilization right here on our continent, all of which are great for movies, RPGs, etc. Here’s a video from last week on native American folklore.

Of course, it just has to start with the wendigo, but that one has its own video on the same channel.

Characters like the deer woman are most fascinating to me. Much like the night hag from folklore and the 1st Edition D&D Monster Manual, the character’s threat arises as a reaction to bad behavior on the part of her target. In the context of a role-playing game, that’s the kind of story that writes itself. The PC behaves badly in a particular way, and the DM sends the appropriate monster to exact punishment. If the PC’s sin calls a creature far beyond their power level, that’s on them. (I know. Modern gamers don’t like to “lose D&D,” so you may have to power her down so there are no real consequences. *sigh*)

Keep looking for more.

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Cats from 1st Edition AD&D Oriental Adventures #DnD #RPG #ADnD #Caturday

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Recently, I discussed the introduction of eastern folklore and mythology to the MCU, and specifically discussed the shishi in Shang-Chi. This inspired me to crack open my new PDF of 1st Edition AD&D‘s (“1e“) Oriental Adventures, which I’d never read before. So far, I’m impressed, though I’ve just scratched the surface. Three new races, 10 new classes (10!), a bunch of new spells, and 31 new monsters. I find myself wondering whether the typical 1e player considered this book bloat, but I digress. Today is Caturday, so here are the cats that appear in Oriental Adventures.

Hengeyokai (p. 12)

One of the PC races, the hengeyokai (I’m assuming that’s also plural) are shape changers. Though not lycanthropes, they have the same three forms: animal, human, and a hybrid of the two. One type of hengeyokai is a cat, which must be chaotic (of course), and while naturally dexterous, has a penalty to wisdom (exactly what you’d expect).

Not particularly wise.

Generals of the Animal Kings: Tiger King (p. 120, Level X)

Oriental Adventures states that

The oriental mind has organized the world into a unified whole. One particularly strong belief is that of the Celestial Emperor, a powerful being who heads the Celestial Bureaucracy, a type of government of the spirits. Like the bureaucrats of the real world, these spirit officials can be corrupt, disobedient, just, or incompetent.

Oriental Adventures, page 116

Yes, I know. The “oriental mind.” *sigh* Anyway, one part of the bureaucracy are the generals of the animal kings, and the most powerful (by XP) type of general is the Tiger General, who suppresses rebellions or doles out punishment. He appears as a giant, anthropomorphic tiger wielding magic, scaring the hell out of characters with his appearance, and regenerating 5 hps/round. The best part, however, is that he wields a +5 vorpal sword (+8 to hit, 3 attacks/round). There could be more than one of them, and each one is always accompanied by 100 tigers. Good luck with that.

Shirokinukatsukami (p. 128, Level IX)

This one’s weird. Okay, it’s all weird, but this is really weird. The shirokinukatsukami has “the body of a horse, the face of a lion, the trunk and tusks of an elephant, the tail of a cow [intimidating!], and the feet of a tiger.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s enough to count as a cat. It’s a shame this book doesn’t provide a picture. Good luck visualizing that.

Google is your friend.

It can have up to 5 physical attacks per round, casts a lot of spells, regenerates, +3 or better weapon to hit. . . it’s a bad ass, which explains why there can be no more than four in existence at any point in time. This is also explained by how difficult it must be to build something like that. Fortunately, its lawful good, so your PCs should be okay even if it shows up.

Neither of the monsters appear on the random encounter table. They aren’t the kind of monster you’d want to randomly drop on a party. They deserve planning.

That’s it. Oriental Adventures has a ton of new material, but not a lot of cats.

Booooo!!!!!!!!!.

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Returning to My AD&D Database #ADnD #DnD #RPG 

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My brain had to take a vacation for a couple weeks, but I’ve finally returned to my 1st Edition AD&D (“1e“) database. Having recently discussed the shishi, it was a nice coincidence that I finished Fiend Folio‘s oriental dragons last night. There were a couple of things that bothered me in the technical writing (e.g., is their lack of infravision a mistake?), but there was a creative choice that bugged me as well.

In my conversation with Tanya last Friday, she pointed out how eastern culture has far more good-aligned dragons than the western world. This was my understanding as well. Then why are all but one of the oriental dragons neutral along the moral axis? I get why Sobek, the crocodile-headed Egyptian god of the Nile, was made evil in most (every?) editions of D&D. He looked evil, and they needed a balance between good and evil gods for that pantheon. His evil fulfilled a narrative role, and there was plenty of material presented to accommodate some wiggle room. Besides, DMs are free to change it. No harm done.

That doesn’t seem to apply to neutrality, though. Sure, if the Fiend Folio had gone into depth as to the role their neutrality took, then there may be a narrative value to that change. Instead, it appears that they were made neutral simply because none of the chromatics or metallics were neutral. If you’re introducing a different culture into your game, it makes far more sense to remain loyal to it, at least until you’ve got a certain minimal level of material. That is, to start, it’s better to give DMs something authentic/faithful so that they have the right feel for that material before you or they make it their own. As with the Egyptian pantheon, oriental dragons should have been a balance of good and evil, and if one of them was made neutral, it wouldn’t have struck me the wrong way.

Note: I’ve never opened the 1e Oriental Adventures, though I recently bought the PDF from the DMs Guild. I say this to point out that I have no idea how an expansion of those cultures played out in the D&D world beyond what’s in the Fiend Folio and 1e Deities and Demigods.

My conclusion is that I’m going to have to do some personal research and, depending on what’s in the 1e Oriental Adventures, may modify these dragons. I definitely like oriental dragons and intend to use them.

No subdual for you!

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My Lifetime List of Concerts @PhilCollinsFeed @tonybanksmusic @officialmatm @genesis_band @billyjoel @jimmybuffett @davematthewsbnd @DavidLeeRoth @sammyhagar @IronMaiden @JWatsonRanger @pinkfloyd @GreatWhiteRocks @38SpecialMedia @Wolf_Trap #concert #music

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This post was inspired by this tweet.

I’m constantly listening to music, and yet I’ve never really enjoyed going to concerts. I love it when a bar has a live band, but I don’t buy tickets and go to concerts. It’s just never been my thing, except when it’s critical that I see a band live. I never saw my two favorite bands, Rush and Fleetwood Mac, in concert, and with Peart dead and Buckingham probably out for good, I never will. That’s a shame, but here are the concerts that I’ve seen. All of them were must-sees for me.

October 10, 1986: Billy Joel, Capital Centre, Landover, MD. The Bridge tour. My first concert was for what was at the time my favorite artist. I saw this with my sister (foreshadowing!).

August 9, 1987: Night Ranger/Great White, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD. I was there the night before for Howie Mandel, then I came back the next day for this concert, which was also my first date. I chose Night Ranger over Chicago because I really wanted to see the Outfield (though I did, and still, looooove Night Ranger). Unfortunately, the Outfield cancelled and were replaced by Frehley’s Comet, who also cancelled, leaving me with Great White. I didn’t appreciate Great White then as much as I do now. Still a great show.

December 13, 1987: Yes, Capital Centre, Landover, MD. This was the Big Generator tour. Earlier in the week, I was on the University of Maryland’s radio station (my cousin knew the DJ well) hyping the show.  

June 1, 1988: Pink Floyd, R.F.K. Stadium, Washington, DC. A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour. A holographic dogfight? Yeah, I had to see that, and I had to see it outdoors. Surprisingly, this was only the second best visual concert I ever saw. The best was . . .

August 8, 1988: Iron Maiden, Capital Centre, Landover, MD. This was the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour. It was the most impressive visual show I’ve ever seen, and the music was fantastic, and I was on the floor (10th row, IIRC), but my strongest memory relates to the concert t-shirt I bought there. As I was leaving the show, someone told me that I was wearing it backwards. I wore that damn thing backwards the entire night. I’m such a dipshit.

August 7, 1989: Mike and the Mechanics/The Outfield, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD. Vindication! I finally saw the Outfield! Oh, and MatM was pretty good too. I especially remember how much better All I Need is a Miracle is live. Unfortunately, there’s a weird and tragic memory attached to this concert relating to the first time I had ever really experienced death. This gets a bit convoluted, but bear with me. I never liked the Outfield song, 61 Seconds. So, every time the cassette tape reached that song, I flipped it, and it placed the tape exactly at the start of All the Love, which was a huge hit for them. As a result, I never heard Mystery Man until the concert. I loved the song, but for whatever reason took notice of the repeated, stressed use of the word, “goodbye,” in the song. It turns out, a friend (18 years old) was killed in a car accident that morning. That messed me up for about a week.

August 26, 1992: Bruce Springsteen, Capital Centre, Landover, MD. Springsteen is really good, but for whatever reason, this concert was just meh to me. In fact, I’ve said elsewhere that, prior to Genesis the other day, I had seen only 11 concerts. This is one of the ones I forgot because it had little impact on me. The other was . . .

August 11, 1995: Jimmy Buffet, Nissan Pavilion, Bristow, Virginia. This should have been my answer to the “worst concert” question from the tweet, but I didn’t recall the memory quickly enough. Buffett thought he was in the deep south, and almost all his songs were country music. I wasn’t a fan of it. He also played his biggest hits — Fins, Margaritaville, etc. — in the middle of the set rather than as encores. It was a rather strange choice. I still enjoyed the show because, well, it’s Jimmy Fucking Buffett.

June 12, 1999: Guinness Fleadh (Chicago: Van Morrison, Hootie and the Blowfish, Steve Earle, Black 47, Elvis Costello et al.), Chicago Motor Speedway, Chicago, IL. This was amazing. There was a ton of variety in the music played. I went because my late cousin, Ann Marie, came down from Madison, WI for the show and asked me to go with her. Elvis Costello was a huge disappointment. He played every song by himself on an acoustic guitar and spent more time complaining about modern music than he did playing. He was a buzkill. Van Morrison and Black 47 (who I had seen in a bar about 5 years earlier) killed it.

June 30, 2000: Dave Matthews Band, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL. This was an incredible show. You have to like his music, of course, but they’re remarkable musicians. Also, Al Green showed up and sang with the band! For this one, I had a regular seat, but Alissa snuck me onto the field.

August 8, 2002: Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth, Nissan Pavilion, Bristow, Virginia. The place was surprisingly empty, but that allowed me to enjoy the show more than otherwise. (I really don’t like going to concerts.) David Lee Roth spent most of his set hitting on a particular woman in the front row. Ummm . . . the years had not been kind to her, but she was giving him the pop he wanted, so he maintained focus on her the entire show. We were all hoping that Michael Anthony would join Sammy for his set. He had done that at a few shows, but we weren’t among the lucky ones.

August 14, 2006: Billy Joel, Verizon Center, Washington, DC. My only repeat concert, I saw this with my sister and her adult son. We were behind the stage, so we saw the TV screen that provided Joel the lyrics so he didn’t have to remember them. Look, the guy had a lot of material going back over three decades. I don’t blame him. He played everything everyone wanted to hear. I missed Allentown due to a bathroom break, but my sister had it worse. She missed her favorite Joel song, Pressure, during hers.

July 30, 2017: .38 Special, Wolftrap, Vienna, VA. .38 Special was actually the opening act, and I left after their set. I was more interested in seeing the new Game of Thrones episode than I was sticking around. I saw what I wanted to see. The parking at Wolftrap sucks. Otherwise, it’s a good venue.

November 18, 2021: Genesis, Capital One Arena, Washington, DC. I’ve said enough about this already.

But I really don’t like attending concerts. 🙂

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