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.


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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?)


“Historic” Watch: HBO’s Rome @StreamOnMax #GoodWatch #HBO #Rome #RayStevenson #tv #television #RIP

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Ray Stevenson’s death has inspired many articles on his career. I read a couple and saw that he had starred in HBO’s Rome. It’s a show I’d (somehow) never seen, so I decided to binge it this past week leading into the Memorial Day weekend.

Despite strong liberties taken with actual history, it’s a pretty good show that reflects Roman life accurately and is both well-written and well-acted. So, it’s surprising it lasted only two seasons. One article explained that: It was simply too expensive for its time. That is, they couldn’t afford to make more episodes.

As always, YMMV. R.I.P Ray Stevenson

The best part of the show was the name of season 2, episode 4: Testudo et Lepus. Go Terps!

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Dungeons & Dragon’s (and My 1st Edition) Treatment of Medusae #ADnD #1e #3e #4e #DnD #RPG #TTRPG #Medusa #Greek #mythology

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One of my favorite villains is fantasy roleplaying is Medusa. In Dungeons & Dragons (“D&D”), that’s a species of creature. In Greek mythology, that’s the name of one of three of her kind, known as Gorgons. Most of you know this, but for those that don’t, here’s one of many videos on them. While I respect the work game designers do, I’m always going to prefer mythological creatures to those game designers invent. Mythology got me into D&D, not the other way around.

3.5 Edition D&D

I love the way D&D has treated medusae generally. I vaguely remember an article in Dragon Magazine during the 3.5 Edition D&D (“3.5e”) days with a writeup on their ecology, which included their male counterparts, the maedar. I never got to use that article because it came towards the end of 3.5e, and I was so caught up in running Living Forgotten Realms and other canned adventures that I didn’t write much of my own material. I always wanted to write a medusa as a BBEG.

4th Edition D&D

In 4th Edition D&D (“4e”), I loved how 4e’s game mechanic was applied to the medusa’s petrifying gaze attack. In 4e, save or die was jettisoned and replaced by what you could call “save thrice in a row or die.” That is, you got three saves over three turns before you were killed, dominated, or whatever. If you saved successfully once during that run, you shook off the effects (though relatively rarely, you still might be subject to an aftereffect on a successful save). This worked really well with the medusa because each failed save during that three-round process resulted in increasingly bad effects. That is, on the first failed save, you were slowed (i.e., speed cut in half). On the second, you were immobilized (i.e., speed of 0). On the third failed save, you were petrified. This gives the player a means to immerse oneself in the action, as the cascade of worsening effects can give you the feeling of slowly turning to stone. (FYI, medusae weren’t the only creature to use this cascade.)

1st Edition D&D

I’m running 1st Edition D&D (“1e”) for the first time in 40 years, so I had forgotten quite a bit. There are a couple of things about medusae that I relearned. First, their gaze attack targets a single creature, whereas in later editions it attacks multiple targets. Second, the gaze is active, not passive. That is, a character merely gazing upon a medusa doesn’t harm the character; the medusa has to intend to petrify the opponent. (See Monster Manual II, page 55 for more information.) While these represent a break from mythology, as you’ll see, they worked to my advantage. One other thing to note is that I house ruled petrification to use the 4e system of slow progression to being petrified.

B2: The Keep on the Borderlands

Going into last session, my group and I knew that we had reached the end of the adventure. So, I told them that I’d be railroading them a little bit to make sure we wrapped things up and that a particular encounter occurred. That encounter was with spoiler alert! a medusa – I named her Xisper – who was captured by inhabitants of the Caves of Chaos and chained to a wall. She used her gaze attack against one PC, but he saved successfully. Some of the PCs held true to their good alignment and refused to allow anyone to kill her but indicated that they’d leave her to her fate, so Xisper immediately went into negotiation mode. Long story short, that negotiation led to them freeing her to clear out the gnoll infestation (the one area the PCs never addressed) and gave me the perfect recurring NPC to bring back at a later date. She’s undoubtably evil, but alignment in my game world is always more complicated than the books present, so she could still be of use to them, and them to her. This is even better than a BBEG.

Xisper will return.

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ChatGPT Part 3: George Carlin Does Quantum Mechanics #AI #computer #QuantumMechanics #physics #ChatGPT

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I took a CLE this afternoon on the intersection of what we call artificial intelligence, and in particular ChatGPT, with the law. They mentioned that the engine flatly declined to do so, presumably because Carlin dealt in offensive material. I didn’t buy it, so I logged back on and asked it to, “Explain quantum mechanics in the style of George Carlin.”

Not artificial.

The topic was just the first thing that popped into my head. The answer follows, and I have to say that it’s pretty spot on despite avoiding all profanity.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, gather ’round, ’cause I’m about to blow your minds with some quantum mechanics. Now, let me tell you, this stuff is like a crazy trip through the Twilight Zone. It’s the weird science that’ll make your brain do somersaults and leave you scratching your head, wondering what the hell just happened.

So, picture this: the world we live in, right? It’s all about cause and effect, right? You do something, and something happens as a result. Simple, right? Well, hold on to your hats, folks, ’cause quantum mechanics says, “Not so fast, buddy!”

In the quantum world, things don’t follow the normal rules. It’s like a wild party where everything goes topsy-turvy. You got particles that can be in two places at once, and they’re dancing around like they just don’t care. They’re like, “Hey, I’m here, and I’m there, and I’m everywhere!” It’s like they’ve got some sort of quantum GPS or something.

But wait, it gets even weirder. These particles, they can be connected in this funky way called entanglement. It’s like they’re doing some sort of quantum tango. You mess with one particle, and the other one, no matter how far away, feels it too. It’s like they’re having a long-distance relationship, but without the heartache. They’re all linked up, and it’s like they’re telepathically communicating. “Hey, buddy, I’m changing over here, so you better get ready for a change too!”

And then there’s this thing called superposition. Now, this ain’t about being super and posing for pictures, folks. It’s about particles being in multiple states at once. They’re like the ultimate multitaskers. They can be spinning up and spinning down at the same time, like they’re breakdancing or something. It’s like they’re saying, “I’m up, I’m down, I’m left, I’m right. You never know where you’ll find me!”

Now, I gotta warn you, this quantum stuff can mess with your head. It’s like trying to juggle a bunch of invisible bowling balls while riding a unicycle blindfolded. But hey, that’s what makes it so damn fascinating. It’s like a cosmic riddle that keeps us scratching our heads and reaching for the stars. So, next time you’re feeling all smug about how you’ve got this whole cause-and-effect thing figured out, just remember: the quantum world is waiting to throw you a curveball. It’s the ultimate reality show, and we’re all just trying to keep up with the mind-bending madness. Thank you, and may your quantum adventures be as wild as a George Carlin rant!

I asked a couple other questions, and it was consistently good. Somehow, it still stayed clean despite me asking for the origin of the word, “fuck,” in the same style, reusing the word and its variants only when backed into a corner. Go figure. Also of note, I asked it to explain string theory in the style of Bill Cosby, and it refused.

I read it in George Carlin’s voice, and so did you.

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A Creul Irony #health #fitness #diet #firstworldproblems

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Here’s a first world problem.

I used to have a nervous habit of shaking my leg and can’t count the number of times people have complained about it. I recently noticed that I no longer do it and probably haven’t for years. Based on certain changes I’ve made in my life, that’s not surprising, but its absence snuck up on me; I didn’t notice that I had stopped.

Anyway, the internet read my mind (as we know it always does) and placed a Joe Rogan video in my YouTube shorts stream. The health expert being interviewed mentioned that your calf muscles use an inordinate amount of energy relative to similarly sized muscles, and as a result, you can burn a lot of calories because of that nervous tic. I did some internet research and found several articles confirming these findings. Here’s one with six ways to burn calories.

I have a multitude of posts talking about my weight loss, weight gain, gym time, etc., and now I’m forcing myself to shake my legs with the intent to burn between 50 and 400 calories a day. These numbers represent the lowest and highest estimates I could find. Keep in mind, though, that fidgeting isn’t the solution to a slim waistline. It’s like a multivitamin: It won’t give you everything you need, but as a supplement, it can fill in some missing gaps.

Hooray for anxiety!

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Birthday Epilogue #aging #happybirthday #birthday #office

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Because I was out of the office on my birthday taking a “continuing legal education” course, most of my coworkers didn’t get to celebrate it. So, they decided to decorate my office, which I saw today.

The first thing I noticed was my wall.

That seems normal enough. The window did as well.

Soon thereafter, as I gazed across the room, I found myself asking, “What the shit?!”

Are my coworkers in love with me?

That Post-It note is literally an apology from our receptionist for how over the top the decorations were.

Wait a second. Why all the pink?

For this next one, here’s some context. Everyone has a nameplate that I designed a couple of years ago. We printed them in black and white, so it’s black lettering and imagery on a white background. Recently, I changed mine to white lettering on a black background. It’s looks awesome, and everyone was jealous (even though I copied it from a coworker that sits at the end of the office where no one sees her nameplate). It’s sort of like going from Adam West’s Batman to Christian Bale’s Batman. Well, Patricia apparently asked, “Why don’t we screw with Rob’s nameplate. He thinks it’s great, so let’s ruin it.” (Seriously, she admitted to it.)

What the shit?

Now, anyone that knows me knows I’m not what’s commonly referred to as an alpha male. I’m kind of an asshole, so sure, I have some similarities, but I’m no alpha male as that term is commonly defined. So, why am I an “alpha attorney”? And even if I am, why is there a Hello, Kitty image beneath it. Someone’s confused (besides me).

Of course, I’m not angry. Despite recent societal trends, I remain focused on people’s intent, and in this case that was trying to be funny and nice. Why would I be angry about anything they did or might do? Still . . . .

What the shit?!

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Birthday #aging #happybirthday #birthday #cake

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Here’s something I haven’t done since the late 90s: Baked a cake.

The top layer is French vanilla, the bottom layer is triple chocolate fudge, and the icing is milk chocolate icing. I even did the same thing with a few cupcakes I was able to make with leftover batter. Surprisingly, the layers came out well in the cupcakes.

There might be a cupcake missing.

I don’t really celebrate my birthday, but I knew I’d have to break my diet today anyway, so I went all in. I think is shows how long it’s been since I did this . . .

. . . but it tastes as good as anyone else’s.

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Vlog: 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons Resources Update #RPG #TTRPG #DnD #ADnD #1e #vlog

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Another vlog. This time, it’s an update on the status of my digital tools for 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons. When you’re finished with the video, return here for what follows.

Here’s a screenshot of the PC screen for the character builder:

Westlocke is a pre-generated character from module S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

And here’s Westlocke’s current character sheet. The data I said would be missing has now been added, and you can see that the character sheet is, as I like to call it, “one-stop.” You don’t have to look up spells in hardcover books if you’re using my character sheet, even if those spells come from magic items.

More coming!

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Funny Story for You #realestate #law #inherit #grammy #family #litigation

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In the early 2000s, my paternal grandmother died. Because my father had predeceased her, his share of her property flowed down to his children, leaving me with a 1/12th interest in her home. I was an attorney at the time, but not yet working in real estate, and it simply wasn’t on my radar scope. It never appeared on my radar in part because my crazy uncle just continued to use the home as a storage facility and paid taxes.

Fast forward a bit. My uncle stopped paying taxes at some point, so in 2017, the house was sold in what Pennsylvania calls an “upset sale.” The sales price was ~$8,500 to pay off the tax bill. Of course, I didn’t know any of this was happening because the relevant Tax Claim Bureau didn’t notify any of us of the sale as required by statute. After the upset sale, the purchaser sold to a third party (remember, a house the upset sale purchaser didn’t really own), who then has to get that sale confirmed by the Court. That’s when we all found out about this. We were served papers earlier this month for that second case, but the plaintiff on that second case doesn’t really own the property. The original purchaser at the upset sale didn’t meet the requirements of the statute.

I work primarily in real estate at this point. I know what these plaintiffs are. They prey on unsophisticated and financially insecure families to make a six-figure windfall. I have no sympathy towards them and will happily take the house back if it comes to that.

To give you some perspective, I’ve been told second hand that the house is on the market for $171,000, but it’s worth (depending on who you ask) anywhere between that and $253,000. Let’s assume the plaintiff can provide an appraisal that state’s the house is worth $171,000. This jackass plaintiff stands to gain at least $125,000 from the sale of this home, and I’m sure he’s done that many times prior. My share of that $171,000 is 1/12th, which comes to $14,250***. On the other hand, my cousin’s share is 1/9th, so she’s entitled to $19,000***. She’s on disability and could use the payout, so she contacted me, the only lawyer in the bunch, to see what I could do. She had already mailed her own Answer, but to be blunt, it understandably sucks, and it wouldn’t intimidate the plaintiff into a settlement.

*** Of course, to sell the house, we’d have to first come up with the $8,500 to pay the tax bill, then pay closing costs, etc., so if we did that, we’d get somewhat less than these amounts. However, I think the value of the property is much higher, so let’s ignore that.

I mailed an Answer to the Complaint on Monday, informing the court that proper procedures weren’t followed with respect to notice. However, one of my other affirmative defenses was that, even if Pennsylvania law allowed for such procedures to be ignored for some strange reason, if Pennsylvania law allows discrimination against out-of-state litigants, it violates the Privileges & Immunities Clause of the Federal Constitution, and thus must fail.

Yeah, I cited the fucking United States Constitution on a simple tax sale, and if necessary, it’s going to stick.

I don’t technically represent my cousin because I can’t. I’m not barred in Pennsylvania. However, if I get a settlement for myself, require that I be permitted to share that settlement information with my cousin, and (of course) actually share that information with my cousin, then my cousin will know what to demand ($19,000). In other words, she and I will be getting our payout. I don’t want a dime of inheritance from my family, so I’ll probably donate my settlement amount to charity. Maybe I’ll buy something worth $100 or so just for my trouble. However, I’m getting to stick it to the bad guys and help a cousin. That’s worthwhile.

The United States Constitution, bitches!

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Your Next Pluto Time @NASA @tweetsauce #science #astronomy #NASA #Pluto

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Last week, I learned about Pluto Time care of VSauce. This is the time of day at which the brightness of the Sun is the brightest it ever appears on Pluto, and that equates to around sunrise and sunset. While the Sun is about 1000x dimmer on Pluto than on Earth, the Sun still brightens Pluto at noon (Pluto time) about 300x more than our Moon brightens Earth.

Do you have nothing better to do than learn your Pluto Time? Then go here: My next Pluto Time is at 8:01 pm tonight.

And there it is. You can certainly read a book in this light.

I bet it gets really dark on Pluto.

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