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Month: November 2003

A likely story

Many, many, many, many, many people have expressed their displeasure with the rules of Quidditch. “Bah,” I have always said to myself. “Games don’t always make sense. Games evolve. The other players are important if the golden snitch isn’t caught.”

After having learned about Eton’s The Wall Game, which has been played at Eton for over three hundred years, I no longer feel any need to defend the existence of strange and nonsensical British schoolboy games. The Wall Game even has a method of scoring points which essentially ends the game in one fell swoop: scoring a goal is worth ten points, as opposed to the more common shys (worth one point), and games are generally scoreless ties anyhow. So if you score a goal, you’re going to win.

And the method of scoring goals is not symmetric between the teams. So quit picking on Quidditch.

Australian visitors

Australia and the US have agreed that Australian detainees at Guantanamo Bay will be tried by US military tribunals. There are a number of points in the agreement, including a promise that the US will not seek the death penalty for any Australians. Also, the media will be allowed to observe the tribunal and the accused may have a cleared attorney as an advisor to his defense team.

The press release makes it really clear that these are case specific assurances which do not apply to Guantanamo Bay detainees in general. Pity.


There is a certain irony in the fact that the Crank Dot Net weblog is maintained using m4, make, and perl. What kind of a crank uses UNIX macro languages and makefiles to produce a weblog? But never mind that; it’s a very useful weblog if you’re searching for crankery.

WISH 73: Critical shift

This week’s Game WISH is about player-driven shifts:

What’s the biggest PC-driven shift you’ve ever experienced in a campaign? If you were a player, what made you feel like you could successfully change the GM’s world? If you were a GM, was this planned or something the PCs surprised you with?

Probably unsurprisingly, my example comes from a Feng Shui campaign. (Shifts in the world are built right into the background.) Brad was the GM; the PCs were Transformed Dragons who were not part of the Ascended. Ascended — think Illuminati, but with a ruling class made up of animals who had transformed into human form. Brad made it really clear from the beginning that he wanted to run a world-changing campaign, and we took him up on the offer by going back to the 1850s juncture and working to make demons part of society. The plan was to increase the ambient level of magic so that we could take our true draconic forms once again.

This had some unfortunate side effects, including making it possible for the Architects to take power in the future, but we hadn’t really figured out the real consequences of what we’d done before the game ended. It was a blast working on the grand scale, however.

As I mentioned, we felt we could do what we did because the GM told us so and we trusted him. Carl’s UN PEACE game also featured some pretty noticable shifts; in that case, he presented world-changing events as a consequence of our actions rather than as a reward. I.e., we found out pretty quickly that as five of the 400 superhumans in the world, we had to be careful what we did in order to avoid changing the world in ways we didn’t like.

Interesting contrast there, come to think of it. My followup question would be “Were your PC-driven shifts rewards, consequences, or both?”

Spam lines

Sure, spammers are scum of the earth, but the plight of the guy who made death threats kind of warms the cockles of my heart. Welcome to the real world, in which making death threats is not considered a normal element of discourse. I’ve been on the company’s of that sort of thing a little too often to feel sorry for Mr. Booker.

Use that net

Did you ever read Usenet? Miss those newsreader days? Population: One is now available via NNTP. It is perhaps a bit quixotic of Dan to scrape weblogs rather than slurping up RSS feeds, but it’s a kind of quix I have to admire. The old diesel engine of blog syndication, as it were.