View Profile: Mercurius - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Monday, 18th March, 2019, 08:01 AM
    I just realized that 1989 is now 30 years ago. I'm in shock. And old af.
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  • Emirikol's Avatar
    Friday, 15th March, 2019, 02:41 PM
    Running this today
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  • Emirikol's Avatar
    Sunday, 3rd March, 2019, 11:30 PM
    I use public play to find new players and to game with my son. Yea, it is hit or miss (except when I DM, then it is always a hit! ,)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Friday, 1st March, 2019, 08:56 AM
    I'm worried. The trailer looks OK, but doesn't have a feeling of magic to it. That alone is OK as trailers often (usually?) don't really give an accurate picture of the film. But the rumors are just so negative. Hopefully they're only rumors. My biggest concern is that part of the reason the original Claremont-Byrne Dark Phoenix story was so powerful is that it was after years and years of...
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About Mercurius

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Saturday, 9th March, 2019

  • 07:43 PM - dave2008 mentioned Mercurius in post Kids D&D Intro Books: Young Adventurer's Guides
    Are these rules specifically for younger players? If so I will definitely pick these up for my daughter. Shes still a little too young but I'm eating her into the game. No I don't think so and Mercurius backs that up based on what Amazon has posted. FYI, my 4 & 6 year old sons and their friends were able to pick up D&D without simplifying the game or a D&D light for kids version. I don't know the age of your daughters but I wouldn't be surprised if they could handle it. Also, there have been a couple of threads on these forums with advice for playing D&D with young children. You might want to check them out.

Thursday, 10th January, 2019

  • 10:45 AM - cbwjm mentioned Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    Mercurius One thing I will definitely agree with is that when a teacher is interested and engaging with a topic, students tend to pay attention. It's something I noticed myself as a student at uni. I don't know if I fully agree with attention spans and devices but thinking about it more as I write this, maybe people do need to switch off more. Certainly as a teacher this is a phenomenon that you would be in better position to see. All I can say is that my nieces, and nephews, despite having devices still love to read and draw and play. They aren't teenagers though. I do wonder if it might have more to do with that period of life than easy access to devices and the internet.

Sunday, 9th December, 2018

  • 08:12 AM - Quickleaf mentioned Mercurius in post How to trim 5E down to "Rules Lite" (for kids)
    Mercurius My go to source of inspiration has been James Stowe's blog: http://jamesstowe.blogspot.com/2011/09/dnd-for-8-year-olds.html He took 4th edition I believe and created simplified character sheets oriented for kids. Good stuff! :)
  • 05:41 AM - Blue mentioned Mercurius in post Optimizing a two person party
    Mercurius had an thought provoking post about going through a published dungeon crawl with a small party, possibly a two person group. http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?655479-quot-Solo-crawling-quot-Dungeon-of-the-Mad-Mage That got me to thinking. We often discuss optimization of a single character, but how about a pair of characters (only!) that need to complement each other. Say we needed to handle: RP and social skills Knowledge skills Exploration and discovery Combat where usually the foes have a lot more actions then us Healing/recovery between challengesFind/remove traps, open locks, find hidden things (Assume standard type adventures, not the DM tailoring specifically to two characters - though that does mean the might advance faster so be a bit in level above where a 4-5 character party would be.) Can you suggest character pairs that will work at (around) 6th, 12th and 16th, providing a high degree of synergy as well as covering the needed tasks? It's okay if the...

Thursday, 2nd August, 2018


Tuesday, 31st July, 2018


Friday, 16th March, 2018

  • 02:25 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post Mythological Figures: Achilles (5E)
    Like Mercurius, I was surprised to see such low physical stats. And like Polyhedral Columbia, I was surprised by the lack of allusion to Achilles's rage. But anyway, the personality traits seem to be missing. Achilles is a great warrior, but there are other great warriors in the Iliad. What distinguishes literary/mythological peronsalities tends to be their character. As a starting point for Achilles I'll suggest Ideal: Glory; Bond: Patroclus; Flaw: Pride.

Friday, 2nd February, 2018

  • 01:26 PM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...he player should describe what the character does and then let the GM determine the outcome based on what's been established and the results of whatever check may be required (Search or Perception or what have you). The player is limited to describing what his character attempts to do.This isn't how D&D handles combat (subject to a qualification in the next paragraph). In combat the player doesn't have to describe what the player does (other than the very generic "I attack with my sword"); and the GM doesn't decide the outcome - we roll to hit dice, and damage dice, and track hit point totals, and some (not all) of us track figures on a map, etc. I agree with you for non-combat, though, in contemporary D&D (I don't know that it was always thus, but it has been at least since 2nd ed and its NWP system). Also, GM fudging of hit point totals or monster to hit rolls or monster AC will tend to change the character of combat to being what you described. That's why upthread, in reply to Mercurius, I described this approach to player action declarations as the player making suggestions to the GM as to how the fiction might be developed. Okay, but if we compare the search for the letter and the attack on the orc, I don't think they're exactly alike. One is the player actively seeking something, the other is the player responding to action from the game world. What if the orc is 100 feet away from the PC and is attacking them with a bow? Is not allowing the PC to retaliate with a melee attack denying their agency? Is the player free to resolve the issue of the orc in any way he sees fit? Or is he bound by the constraints of the fictional world? Is that any different than the hidden letter? It's location determines the chance of finding it.I posted a lot about this upthread. The difference I see is that in your orc example the player knows the fictional positioning - the GM has framed something, and the player has to deal with it. (If the player declared an action to sn...

Sunday, 28th January, 2018

  • 03:44 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Okay, but please explain how one type of note doesn't constrain the DM but another type does? Again, this reads like special pleading: this thing I prep isn't that kind of thing that's prepped, the one that constrains you.I think my longer post (just upthread) explains my analysis pretty clearly. But the short version is: an encounter map I'm carrying around in my backpack ready to whip out if/when needed (or a Monster Manual, or notes about a mysterious benefactor, or whatever) isn't an established element of the shared fiction that is secret from the players and yet that might be a factor in adjudicating the resolution of the actions that they declare for their PCs. And once the map is on the table, there is no secret. The players may not like the GM's framing (it's boring, it's contrived, whatever) but they can see what action declarations are and are not feasible within that framing. So it's not like Mercurius's omnipotent GM, who - in principle - enjoys the power to mediate every action declaration through his/her conception (be it prior, or made up on the spot) of what the fiction contains and has room for.
  • 03:40 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...es a desire about the state of the fiction, and the action resolution rules then determine whether or not that desire becomes true. In conventional D&D play, I think the GM is expected to exercise a fairly strong mediating role in narrating the outcome even on a successful check (eg the GM probably decides whether or not the crossbow bolt shot the orc in the head or the chest). In BW, by contrast, the GM is permitted only to add embellishments (so if the player says, "I shoot the orc in the head", and the dice deliver a success, well that's what happened). The player asking "Is the map in the study" and then - on a good roll - fiding it there is strictly analogous to the player "introducing" (by way of successful action resolution) that the orc is dead. Now, if it's controversial that RPGing should include players expressing desires as to the content of the fiction, which then become true if action resolution works out a certain way - well, we're back at what I talked about with Mercurius, namely, player action declarations as, at best, suggestions to the GM as to possible narrations of furure states of the fiction. Under no secret backstory conditions, the player has now signaled that they wish to introduce a map, and the DM has to engage this hook and say yes or roll the dice. If the dice are rolled and successful, then the player has now introduced fiction.Well, this takes me back to the two contrasting cases, both of Circles checks that I've seen occur in BW play: (1) "Jabal the Red is leader of my cabal. I reach out to him to see if he can help us." That is direct authorship of fiction - the cabal is led by Jabal the Red. Then there is a statement of desire - the player wants the fiction to include Jabal helps the PC who has reached out to him. (2) "I wonder if any knights of my order are living around here. As we travel, I keep an eye out for any signs of them." That is a statement of desire - the player wants the fiction to include As I travel through...

Thursday, 25th January, 2018

  • 04:47 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    This was a request to comment directly on a commenter's statement that world-building by the GM was an art, was something they appreciated as a creative enterprise in and of itself, and that (one of the primary) roles of players is to explore and appreciate that effort and/or engage in a choose-your-own adventure approach to RPGIng based on that worldbuilding. - This come on the heels of (after and before further) aggressive commentary by a GM stating that THE SETTING IS MINE (and other related commentary). This was not rebuked and this sentiment has been reiterated in other forms in this thread by other commenters and throughout ENWorld's many threads (again, especially in threads that decry players for optimization).And as (I think) the one who requested the comment - thank you, it was interesting! For what it's worth, I find your analysis pretty plausible, though - as I posted upthread following Mercurius's post - I think that there may be subsitutable values of your (2) (eg "Someone's got to do it!") which then feed through, in pretty straightforward ways, into your other points without fundamental effects on them. I want to say it was one of the Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards threads of yore!That sounds right. I believe that (as relates to this thread), the pair of contentions you, I, and others were making were the following: * In D&D systems with (a) Vancian casters with Enchantment spells (especially with prolific spell load-outs) and (b) noncombat action resolution governed by a process sim (internal causality rather than genre logic) task resolution (rather than conflict resolution), Wizards/spellcasters are going to be inevitably dominate noncombat action resolution. * The only way this doesn't take place is for GMs to either (a) preemptively protect crucial plot-points/NPCs by pulling out the classic (eye-roll-inducing to any hardened, long term player) block...
  • 01:20 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...gainst a difficulty set by the GM in accordance with the skill descriptions; but that mechanical difference doesn't mean that the GM gets to make the passive check fail automatically just because s/he thought it would be better for the map to be somewhere other than the study. In other words, (i) there is not only one model for RPG mechanics, and (ii) even when the mechanics are similar (both D&D and BW use checks against a difficulty), that doesn't tell us why it is the GM's job to do the stuff you say. To be clear: I'm not asserting that there is no answer to the question. But answers that don't take account of the range of ways RPGing works will (necessarily) be incomplete. I mean, obviously setting provides depth - but it doesn't have to be GM authored to do that (witness the various examples I've posted upthread). So a more complete answer adds information eg Caliban says that many players don't want to contribute to establishing the backstory, so someone else has to do it; Mercurius says that he wants the GM to tell him the backstory as part of his process of immersion (to me that seems very similar to being told a story by the GM - I think Mercurius queries that characterisation, but from my point of view I'm still working out why, and also why it's considered pejorative - I went to the pictures recently, and had a story told to me, and that doesn't make me feel offended). Nagol gave some different reasons: GM worldbuilding establishes levers/tools for the players. It makes sense that someone else has to do this, in that being able to just deem your own tools into existence seems a bit cheat-y. To me, that speaks to a style of play much closer to classic dungeoneering, though mabye Nagol would not agree with that. Also, the very term "action resolution" is here a bit misleading. Yes a PC has declared an action, and that action gets resolved...but the resolution of that action only applies to the PC and her immediate surrounds, not to anything static withi...
  • 12:35 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Congrats. You're free to play the way you enjoy. That doesn't make your way the "right"way, but it seems that was the entire purpose of this thread - and we all knew it. Your inability to understand why I prefer to play a different way has no bearing on the validity of that playstyle. Happy gaming.Three things: (1) I've never talked about a "right way" to play. I started a thread with a question: some posters answered it (@Nagol, Caliban, etc). Some other posters - Mercurius, Lanefan - asserted or implied that by asking the question I was insulting them. To be frank, that's on them, not on me. If they don't want to answer the question "what is GM worldbuiling for", or think that the answer is so self-evident that to ask the question is to commit some RPG faux pas, well, no one is forcing them to post in the thread. (2) What makes you think I don't understand why you prefer to play a different way? When I say "This is why I don't like such-and-such", what makes you think I'm telling you why you shouldn't like it? (3) I've replied with courtesy and honesty to all your posts in this thread, and have not attacked you or your preferences (unless you consider me explaining why my preference are different an attack - in which case see (1) and (2) above). I'm a little surprised that you don't seem capable of doing the same.

Wednesday, 24th January, 2018

  • 09:01 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Mercurius If the GM has the inherent power to veto/filter/manipulate, then it is inherent that the GM is not bound by action resolution. Having regard to it when you're not inclined to overturn it is not a mode of being bound. This then relevant to your question "Why not (1) through (4)?" (3) and (4) aren't avaiable to an omnipotent GM, because they only make sense if the GM is bound. An omnipotent GM can, of course, make a dice roll or call for one from the player: but as s/he has the power to disregard/override it, it is nothing more than a suggestion, an additional factor that s/he might consider. This is why I don't like it as a GMing method: when I'm GMing I want to find out what happens; not to take suggestions, consider input, and the decide what happens. The way I do this is by following the rules for action resolution. You say that only an abusive GM would decide that "my guy wins" without action resolution: but in fact that is exactly what is happening every time a playe...
  • 07:03 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Mercurius, there are some point where I think you have mis-spoken, or seem not to understand some RPG techniques. A player's agency in the fictional world is roughly the same as our agency in the real world, and even slightly more so, as I explained. The difference, though, is that in the fictional world, there's a GM - who is akin to a hypothetical supreme being in our world.The player has no agency in the fictional world, any more than you have the power to punch Sherlock Holmes in the nose. The PC has agency in the fictional world, but it's fictional ie imaginary agency and so, as I explained to Lanefan not too far upthread is orthogonal to issues of railroading etc. (A PC might be enlaved by some other being, yet the player have unfettered autonomy, because the player determines the details of what the enslaving being asks of the PC.) And the player may or may not have agency in the real world, in the playing of the game, depending on his/her capacity to change the state of the sha...
  • 05:22 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...eed some other technique for dealing with retries. I had to deal with this fairly recently in my Traveller game, because it doesn't use "fail forward", and instead mostly manages retries either through it's rules for the passage of time - so if you're in your starship your life support only lasts for so many days, and so with one chance to fix the engines per day, you only get so many tries before the PCs all asphyxiate - or through a flat-out "no retries" rule. But it's mechanics for overland exploration don't have a no retries rule and don't have time constraints like starship activities do, and hence are - in my view - the weakest part of the ruleset, as they easily lead - I can report from experience - to rather boring play with dice being rolled although nothing significant is at stake.) It is a wrong question, Mr. Pemerton. You seem to have this black or white view of the situation: either the GM is telling the story or the players are. Neither are correct.Well, tell that to Mercurius. He was the one who said that it is the GM's story, and the players are actors - and it was that contention that I was responding to. I would work with the player to develop those religious organizations and the world in which they exist based on the player's assumptions. In some cases, I'd deliberately subvert the player's assumptions to keep things interesting and challenging. We'd play out the scenario, and I would use that predetermined setting information to inform my adjudication of the players' actions and the consequences thereof.Well, I guess all the action is in the words "We'd play out the scenario." I was wondering how, in actual practice, this would work. Eg what sorts of actions might be declared, and how would they be adjudicated? The players declare actions and the GM determines how the world reacts. How is the GM to determine how the world reacts without first determining the nature of the world? Assuming we agree that determination must take place, why do y...
  • 04:48 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Adventures that are ostensibly open world, where the players have the agency to walk away from the plot, are more difficult to run unless the players voluntarily commit to staying within the confines of the plot. The alternatives are things like railroading, moving scenery, or trusting to luck and/or skill, or letting go of the plot and leaving the players wander.Those are not the only atlernatives. A well-established alternative is the one I posted upthread (in replay to Mercurius), put forward in summary form (but in no sense invented) by Eero Tuovinen. Instead of the GM hoping to hook the players and keep them on the rails of plot, the players build PCs with "hooks" for the GM and the GM etablishes situations that speak to those player-evinced flags. It doesn't depend upon luck, nor upon any particular skill (I started GMing in this fashion as a teenager in the second half of the 80s; the player hooks, on that occasion, were provided by the Oriental Adventures character generation process). But nor does it involve the players "wandering". If the GM is doing his/her job properly, then play will be rather focused (I mean, it may or may not traverse a wide geographic scope, but whether or not it does will be a secondary matter). The ideal, of course, is that the players voluntarily stay on plot because they find said plot/story interesting and-or engaging enough to want to play it out. Which means that in a DM-driven game it's squarely on the DM to come u...

Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018

  • 11:36 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    We are talking about player generated content (shared worldbuilding with the player) - you cannot seemingly skip that stage in the debate when it doesn't suit you.Well I know what I'm talking about, seeing as I wrote the OP. I'm asking what GM pre-authored worldbuilding is for. You and Mercurius say that it one thing it does is support immersion, by sparing the player from having to generate content. I'm making the point that there are many, many RPGs in which the player doesn't have to generate content in the way you and Mercurius don't like, and yet which don't depend upon the GM pre-authoring content. The reason that I know this is because I play such RPGs. (The only RPG I'm personally familiar with that has the feature you and Mercurius object to is OGL Conan, and I've never played it.) How do I know I'm looking for a map?You declare as your action, for your PC, "I search the study for the map", or something similar. The GM sets an approriate difficulty, the dice are rolled, they tell us whether or not hopes are realised or dashed. In my experience it's quite immersive, and it doesn't require the player to generate any content beyond his/her PC's desires, and the actions that those desires move him/her to undertake. EDIT: the basic concept is no different from...
  • 11:12 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I consider TTRPGs primarily a mechanism for shared storytelling, because that's the one aspect of a TTRPG that cannot be replicated in a book or videogame. Someone has to develop the shared world in which that storytelling takes place, and it usually falls to the GM to do so.I'm not sure about the has to - can't the setting be generated in the course of the telling of the story? I will admit, for the sake of argument, that any GM who declares ownership over the campaign is overstepping. Well, that's what the poster to whom I was replying did. Mercurius also asserted that the GM is omnipotent in respect of the campaign: "One approach assumes that the GM is omnipotent, and the player's relationship to the world is akin to our own relationship to our world." I think it's perfectly reasonable for a GM to declare ownership over the campaign setting. Many of us put a LOT of effort into developing our campaign settings to include NPCs, geography, situations, maps, motivations, etc. Most players put proportionally less work into the game; they roll up their characters, perhaps include a backstory, and show up with some dice. GMing a simulated living, breathing world in which the players can explore and adventure involves a ton of work.OK - I didn't think any of this stuff about effort was in dispute. Writing is hard and takes time. But I'm not sure how that relates to the actual process of play. And the metaphors "exploration" is still in need of cashing out. The way that I "explore" Middle Earth is to read JRRT's books. How does a pl...


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Friday, 22nd March, 2019

  • 09:10 AM - Ravenheart87 quoted Mercurius in post Who Killed the Megaverse?
    I always found Gygax's downplaying of the Tolkien influence to be rather disingenuous. Tolkien was obviously a huge influence, from elves-dwarves-halfings-orcs to "You meet in a tavern" to rangers to Smaug to...well, it goes on and on. IIRC, Gygax spoke of Tolkien somewhat like a petulant teen rebelling against a parent that they want to distance themselves from but unconsciously emulate. Gygax spoke out against Tolkien because he didn't like his works - he was more of a sword & sorcery fan, and found Tolkien's works tedious. The reason why tolkienian elements were included was his players, who wanted to play such characters. His elves and half-elves were everything but tolkienian by the way - rather, they are more akin to the elves in Poul Anderson's stories, and the Basic line's elf class is pretty much Elric without a patron.
  • 02:46 AM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Mercurius in post Who Killed the Megaverse?
    I always found Gygax's downplaying of the Tolkien influence to be rather disingenuous. Tolkien was obviously a huge influence, from elves-dwarves-halfings-orcs to "You meet in a tavern" to rangers to Smaug to...well, it goes on and on. IIRC, Gygax spoke of Tolkien somewhat like a petulant teen rebelling against a parent that they want to distance themselves from but unconsciously emulate. I actually take Gygax at his word on this, insofar as he was talking about his own personal influences and inspiration. Instead, my feeling is that many of the clearly Tolkien-Influenced parts were "fan service" and not things that inspired Gygax himself. He cites Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, Pratt and de Camp's The Incomplete Enchanter, Conan, Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Michael Moorcock's Elric, and Jack Vance's Dying Earth, among other sources. Having read all of these, their influence is very clear. I do not deny there are parallels. Hobbits/halflings I'll 100% grant and there ...

Thursday, 21st March, 2019

  • 04:17 PM - Morrus quoted Mercurius in post Who Killed the Megaverse?
    I always found Gygax's downplaying of the Tolkien influence to be rather disingenuous. Tolkien was obviously a huge influence, from elves-dwarves-halfings-orcs to "You meet in a tavern" to rangers to Smaug to...well, it goes on and on. IIRC, Gygax spoke of Tolkien somewhat like a petulant teen rebelling against a parent that they want to distance themselves from but unconsciously emulate. I imagine the (threatened?) lawsuit didn't help.
  • 04:08 PM - Ralif Redhammer quoted Mercurius in post Who Killed the Megaverse?
    Same. Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings aren't just add-ons, there are huge swathes of Tolkien in the DNA of D&D. Back in the day, I hated sci-fi/fantasy melding. As a kid, it wasn't chocolate & peanut butter, but more like mayonnaise and peanut butter. As I grew up, I came to appreciate it more and more. Loved Spelljammer, The Dying Earth, John Carter of Mars, and so-on. Ironically, I think D&D would go on to actually help remove sci-fi elements from fantasy. As the years went on, it helped contribute to our concept of what fantasy was. And as the years went on, it included far fewer bits of advanced technology. I always found Gygax's downplaying of the Tolkien influence to be rather disingenuous. Tolkien was obviously a huge influence, from elves-dwarves-halfings-orcs to "You meet in a tavern" to rangers to Smaug to...well, it goes on and on.

Saturday, 2nd March, 2019

  • 12:59 AM - Rabulias quoted Mercurius in post Dark Phoenix Trailer 2
    My biggest concern is that part of the reason the original Claremont-Byrne Dark Phoenix story was so powerful is that it was after years and years of Marvel Girl, Jean Grey, and then Phoenix character development. We just didn't get enough Jean Grey to really become attached, and certainly not enough "good" Phoenix. So I just don't see how they can pull this off. It doesn't have to be a remake of the comics, but given that the comic book story is one of the very greatest and most revered superhero stories ever, they have to do something pretty damn epic. This. To do this story justice, and for it to have the impact the original story did, the third film with a character just isn't enough. It needs to be something akin to Avengers: Infinity War, built up over many years. I mean, imagine how it would be if Iron Man turned world-shatteringly powerful and evil in Avengers: Endgame and the other heroes needed to stop him?

Friday, 18th January, 2019

  • 01:47 AM - Aeson quoted Mercurius in post Solo: A Star Wars Story on Netflix
    I'm still holding out hope for a Boba blasts himself out of the Sarlac pit and becomes a pacific quasi-Taoist farmer film, but then is attacked by Darth Maul's undead lower body and called to adventure, taking on Jabba's and Leia's previously unheard of love child as his disciple... Wasn't that called Tripping the Rift?

Wednesday, 16th January, 2019

  • 07:00 AM - KahlessNestor quoted Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    I have been a high school teacher for about a decade and have seen a rather startling decline in, if not "attention spans," than the ability to become engaged in material that is not overtly stimulating. By this I mean books in general, stories that don't shock and wow you, or aren't immediately accessible and easy to read. Not all students, but as an overall trend. It is rather disheartening. And yes, I do think it has to do with access and usage of "smart"phones and various technologies that facilitate constant neuro-stimulation. So when you speak of "how engaging the book is," to me it speaks of a generation of young people who have access to endless forms of easy, passive, and creatively bereft forms of entertainment. Yes, we should find more engaging stories to read, but we also need to teach the capacity to become engaged, and this requires bringing back that old bugaboo: boredom. I'm not exactly decrepit, but I remember having to fill the boredom of those endless summers of chil...

Tuesday, 15th January, 2019

  • 06:23 AM - Zardnaar quoted Mercurius in post Solo: A Star Wars Story on Netflix
    I just re-watched the Last Jedi and it was better than I remembered. Still not very good, but entertaining enough and I wasn't filled with aggravated existential ennui. I think it is mostly due to having low expectations and be prepared for some hokey scenes - I knew to expect Luke acting like a teenager, Leia flying through space, and sad Disney animals faces, so I could brace myself. I also re-watched TFA. Enjoyable but my overall feeling of Disney Star Wars is still that it very much watches like a cinematic version of fan fic "reimagined" in the current sociocultural context, although unfortunately lacking the mythological depth and creative imaginings of the original trilogy. You missed Rogue One thats the good one IMHO.

Friday, 11th January, 2019

  • 06:42 AM - doctorbadwolf quoted Mercurius in post All the Star Trek, Always, Forever- Interested?
    Star Trek, like Star Wars, peaked decades ago, and everything since has been a lesser, paler version. For Star Wars it was the original trilogy. In my opinion, while I have enjoyed much of what came later to varying degrees, everything (and I mean everything) lessened the "artistic legacy" of Star Wars. Star Trek is less distinct, but for me the high point was Wrath of Khan. What else could it be? Everything after was a diminishing, with some ups and downs. I don't think later films and shows diminished the legacy as much as with Star Wars, but nothing really strengthened it. There were a couple later peaks (e.g. ​the Borg film), but mostly tapering off. Thinning. I watched the first half season of Discovery and haven't felt pulled to finish it. I may or may not, but it was pretty forgettable. Star Trek has always been a combination of the strength and chemistry of the central characters and the conceptual stuff; the original series (and films) had the best characters. NextGen had so...

Sunday, 6th January, 2019

  • 03:11 PM - 3catcircus quoted Mercurius in post tail wags dog: streamers want to say 'aaargh' so we are getting a pirate adventure
    Let's see, who should have a larger say in determining the direction of the game? Streamers who are a major component in the unprecedented popularity of D&D, at least since the early 80s; or, Grognards who aren't happy with anything unless the game is dialed back to the early 80s (if not 70s). Hmm... This has nothing to do with what I personally want to see published or what type of game I like to play (which is rather diverse, but aside from the issue). Let's step back from our own hopes and dreams for a minute, and understand and accept that WotC is doing a great job right now. The proof is in the pudding, after all. Stop asking WotC to fulfill your hopes and dreams, especially when you know they are idiosyncratic and/or quite divergent from the current zeitgeist, and instead use your hopes and dreams as fuel for your own games - that's the point after all, no? Except that streamers and their audiences likely don't have any more of an impact to potential sales than grognards...
  • 07:25 AM - Umbran quoted Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    So again, it depends upon what you mean by "novel." I'm OK saying that LotR is a great book but problematic as a novel. I'm not quite ready to say it is a "poor novel." Really. If nothing else, one man's "tightly plotted and well-paced" is another's "rushed and frantic." But, let me include some other relevant thoughts.... Back in the 1980s, people wore acid wash jeans, and mullet haircuts. At the time, they were awesome. Today, we laugh at them. There is no absolute high or low artistic quality to a mullet, or a powdered wig, or a hightop fade. They are all different fashions, and fashions change. Art is a part of culture. And culture changes. And any given piece of art is made within its culture, for a particular audience. Remove it from its culture and it loses impact. You can see this trivially in, say, Shakespeare, in that language change has made most of the puns in his plays absolutely opaque to a modern reader, and students need annotations to understand what is goin...
  • 06:32 AM - doctorbadwolf quoted Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    I'd probably agree with Matt (though I'm not interested in watching his video, I'm getting the gist of it from the opening post), Tolkein is one of the most boring authors I've ever had the misfortune to try and read. If you can't sleep, read one of his books and you'll be asleep in no time. As for Matt's videos. He has some good material in the running the game playlist, some of which includes bringing in 4e concepts to 5e. I've found my mirror universe doppelganger! I would counter that verbosity done well is never for the sake of verbosity. Verbosity done well fits with Le Guin's truism: it is using the number of words that fit the story you are trying to tell; story not only being plot, or "getting to the point," but telling a tale in all its depth and glory - and this includes atmopshere. If all authors used, or tried to emulate, Dickensian language, literature would be poorer for it. I agree with the last sentence, for sure. I also do believe that eloquent use of language to e...

Saturday, 5th January, 2019

  • 11:38 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    This is where I diverge with you, if only in semantics. You seem to be operating under a rather narrow definition of what a "novel" is and should be, as if all authors must follow the guidelines of novel-writing as laid out in courses and books as to what a novel should and should not be. No. A "novel" should have as it's main purpose to present a story to the reader. A good novel does this in an entertaining way. A poor novel does not. Tolkien presents his story poorly, as it's less a story and more a travelogue (as we seem to agree), therefore the LotR novels are poor novels. LotR is poorly organized, poorly paced, and not accessible. That isn't to say there isn't glorious art within the covers, or it's not worth reading, it's just not worth reading as a novel. Ask around for how many people have tried to read LotR and maybe made it through the first book only. The LotR is a difficult slog for non-Tolkienphiles.
  • 08:05 PM - Parmandur quoted Mercurius in post Spring's D&D Release Will Be Ship-Themed
    Huh? "Not good" because they're going from 3 to 3-4, with that 4th being a big "maybe?" Fewer releases would imply 2 or less meaning one every 6-12 months. How is that a good thing? As far as people "suffering from official release fatigue," I say they are a tiny minority and this is more their misperception, and WotC would be foolish to cater to this lot. The simply solution to so-called "official-release fatigue" is not to buy books you don't want. It is really that simple. Stewart was asked about this point blank, and he said they are very happy with the current rate, and it seems to be working for customers.
  • 10:53 AM - quoted Mercurius in post Spring's D&D Release Will Be Ship-Themed
    Now why would they do that? And were you coerced in any way to buy Wayfinder's? Were you unhappy to do so at the time? And will you be happy if they do, indeed, publish a nice, new and shiny Eberron hardcover and don't give it to you at a discounted rate, other than the usual ~40% off from Amazon? Your questions are based on the assumptions that the hardcover book will have contents totally different from the wayfinder's guide. In my opinion it will be simply a polished, printed version of a pdf I already have. In that case, I would consider buying it only with a discount like the 'pdf+print' programs on rpgnow or 'bits &mortar'. Anyway, no 40% discount on Amazon for USD-priced books here in Italy, sorry.

Friday, 4th January, 2019

  • 12:42 AM - Janx quoted Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    I think you're missing the point I was trying to make, and what Le Guin meant. The quantity of words used has no bearing, in and of itself, on the quality of the prose. It neither inherently adds or subtracts from quality, which has to do with how you use the words. The basic lesson is "Remove Unnecessary Words." Quite a few writers have said this in variations. In my experience (aka as mistakes made), the lesson is really a tool used on somebody who's over-written. Too verbose, repetitive variation of phrasing. Stuff that an editor can cross out and it will be shorter, simpler, better. The other use of cutting out excess isn't individual words, its sentences, paragraphs and even chapters of content that really doesn't add to the story and removing it doesn't damage the rest. It's why cutting Tom Bombadil didn't kill the LotR movie, despite lamentations of Tolkien purists.
  • 12:31 AM - doctorbadwolf quoted Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    I think you're missing the point I was trying to make, and what Le Guin meant. The quantity of words used has no bearing, in and of itself, on the quality of the prose. It neither inherently adds or subtracts from quality, which has to do with how you use the words. The quote is still about not using ďextraĒ words. It still implies that brevity is better, unless more words are necessary to tell the story.

Thursday, 3rd January, 2019

  • 01:32 AM - doctorbadwolf quoted Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    . The artistry in writing comes somewhere between every possible detail being written, and bare minimalism. The art is knowing just what to write to bring the world and story alive. Ursula K Le Guin said something to the effect that you want to use as many words as you need to tell your story, but not one word more. That tipping point is, of course, subjective, and is why we have all kinds of wordsmiths. Viva la difference! IMO, the world could use a new Dickens. Le Guin is an amazing author, but like many authors she gives advice from the perspective of what has worked best for her. That is probably impossible to completely avoid, in fact. Sometimes ďmore wordsĒ can elevate a work, without being strictly necessary to tell the story. We donít have to know about the lay of the land in the shire to know that itís idyllic and rustic, JRRT could just say that it is, but itís a better work for his loving descriptions of the place. Many great authors use eloquent prose to accomplish...
  • 12:06 AM - Jester David quoted Mercurius in post (Yet another) D&D Movie Speculation thread.
    What makes "good" comedy is a matter of opinion, but I don't think it has anything to do with to what degree they skirt around sensitive topics. Louis CK's particular brand of humor always involved some degree of speaking the unspeakable and pushing the envelope, so nothing has changed in that regard. He's lost some fans, maybe quite a few, but there are plenty of folks who still enjoy his brand of humor. I disagree that "nothing has changed" since the 90s. Sure, PC culture rose to prominence sometime around or before the early 90s, but the biggest difference is the ubiquity of social media. I'm guessing George Carlin wouldn't fared all that well against the social media tribunal. Unlike Louis CK, Carlin didnít expose himselves to women in a locked room and masturbate in front of them. Which is the primary reason why CK is on the defensive. Has he not done that, non fans wouldnít be so focused on his comedy.

Wednesday, 2nd January, 2019



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