Maggie passed away a little more than a year after Bunny, on July 13th, 2022. I didn’t have the heart to write this at the time, but I wanted to memorialize her before the year ended.
Month: December 2022
I’ve been thinking about Delta Green in relation to copaganda for a long time. That is a different blog post, because it’s a long topic, but recently I started wondering about collective action in the Delta Green world. As a practical matter, I believe that mutual aid is a better environment for mental health than any police force. What would that mean in relationship to the Cthulhu Mythos?
Let’s start with the existing rules for using Bonds.
A Delta Green Agent can reduce Sanity loss by projecting trauma onto a Bond. This weakens the Bond, because it’s meant to represent the tension between the horror of the Mythos and the people or groups an Agent uses to maintain connection to their normal life. That makes sense in context but doesn’t allow for the concept of a group which is explicitly there to support members against those horrors.
An Agent can repress temporary insanity the same way, with the same consequences.
During downtime, there’s a rule for Agents who focus on ordinary obligations and relationships: they can Fulfill Responsibilities by working to support a Bond. This rule works as is to represent mutual aid.
There’s also a rule for generating new Bonds, which weakens one other Bond. That contains an assumption which I think doesn’t necessarily hold for mutual aid groups, because they’re groups that exist in order to strengthen community-wide connections.
Finally, Delta Green is a special kind of Bond: “Powerful Bonds form between people who have to look out for each other to survive.” Oh, hey, there’s what we’re looking for. The special rule here is that Agents who suffer trauma develop and deepen their Bond with Delta Green, again at the cost of weakening other Bonds.
Put all that together and I think we have the makings of a community-oriented house rule.
A Special Bond: Mutual Aid Groups
Powerful Bonds form between people who have to look out for each other to survive, but even more powerful Bonds form between people who choose to help others survive. Collective action with full knowledge of the Mythos in mind creates a powerful structure for cushioning the impact of the horrors your Agent faces.
Your Agent may take a Bond with a mutual aid group that is aware of the Mythos as a special Bond. This may be at character creation, particularly if the entire group wants to be part of a mutual aid group, or during play as per the usual rules for gaining Bonds. Bonds with unaware mutual aid groups are treated as normal Bonds, with the exception that they may convert to a special Bond at any point if the group discovers the Mythos or a portion thereof, and elects to take on fighting the Mythos as a core cause for the group.
Every time someone in your Agent’s mutual aid group undergoes a catastrophic trauma, there’s a chance your Agent develops or deepens Bonds with their teammates. Such traumas include those listed on page 37 of the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook. The rules for this are the same as the rules for the Delta Green bond, except that your Agent does not lose points from other Bonds. Also, reducing Sanity loss or repressing temporary insanity with the help of this Bond does not weaken other Bonds. An Agent cannot reduce Sanity loss by more than the value of the special Bond, even if they roll higher on 1d4.
All other rules for this Bond are as per the rules for the Delta Green Bond.
Your Agent may not have a Bond with Delta Green and a Bond with a mutual aid group. However, other Delta Green agents may have Bonds with your Agent as part of their Delta Green Bond.
This new type of Bond is clearly superior to other Bonds, including the special Delta Green Bond. This is intentional. I don’t think it means Agents can defeat the Mythos: you still have to spend Willpower Points to reduce Sanity loss, and those aren’t an infinite resource.
It would be possible but awkward for a Delta Green agent to also join a mutual aid group. This is intentional and true to life.
The obvious campaign frame here (which I may write up at some point) is a mutual aid group which discovers the Mythos and decides they need to fight what is obviously a fascist tendency. There are plenty of non-pacifist mutual aid groups.
- Mutual Aid, by Peter Kropotkin
Movies reviewed this week: Ride the High Country, Shame, The Lady Eve, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, A Most Wanted Man, The Platform, The Mighty Peking Man, and Challenge of the Masters.
Nah, I don’t do these on a schedule or anything.
James Fallows writes about word processors … in 1982. Paywall, sorry. Really good reminder of what computing used to be like. The Sol-20 he was using was a pretty important machine, historically speaking.
Do you interact with other human beings on a regular basis in any way? Read this piece. It’s aimed at engineers but it’s good general advice, which I can summarize as “learn to write well.” You know how you can always find the rough spot on a floor by walking on it barefoot? People notice bad writing, spelling, and grammar even if they don’t know they notice it.
Disney ran a booth at New York Comic Con to advertise the new Guardians of the Galaxy rollercoaster, and the whole thing was an interactive roleplaying experience with a lot of levels. Disney Imagineers have been exploring this area for a while; the high end version is the Galactic Starcruiser, for example. A lesser-known version was the Legends of Frontierland experiment. It’s interesting watching them try new things.
I am currently watching the classic movie serial Les Vampires on the Criterion Channel, and I’m looking forward to rewatching Irma Vep when I’m done, and then I’m looking forward to watching the new TV show also named Irma Vep. Olivier Assayas did a great interview with the LA Times about the interplay between them all. It’s meta, and I do love me some meta.
If you like fanfic and creepypasta and meta-discourse about the nature of fandoms, you might enjoy Northern Caves.
If you like housing developments, you might enjoy reading about Corviale. One kilometer long! It was completed about a decade late for my Delta Green Years of Lead game.
The song coverage is more varied than I’d thought. For example, Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy has all three levels of coverage. “Johnny Strikes Up The Band” has line-by-line lyric tracking, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” has no lyric tracking, and “Werewolves of London” has syllable-by-syllable lyric tracking.
“Werewolves of London” is in the Sing: Classic Rock playlist, for what it’s worth.
It seems more and more like the process that generates a Sing-compatible track is either manual, automatic but time-consuming, or costly in terms of licensing. Otherwise surely you’d want every album with a playlist song on it to be fully enabled, to give explorers like me the sense that there’s a ton of coverage?
Movies reviewed this week: They Call Me Trinity, Day of Wrath, Arsenic and Old Lace, Bullet Train, A Matter of Life and Death, Unfaithfully Yours, Bay of Angels, Felicia’s Journey, and Infernal Affairs III.
I am not a karaoke aficionado, for the record; I just like singing loudly to the music of my childhood.
So I updated my Apple devices today, as one does, and with the updates came Apple Music Sing. It’s pretty cool; like it says on the tin, for songs it works with, you can turn the vocals way down and the lyric display shows you where you are in the song — down to the syllable — and you can sing along. Nice.
You do not get any cool mixing, which is a shame. You kind of want to be holding a microphone and you want your vocals to get mixed into the backing music and maybe add a little autotune? I don’t know how that stuff works but I know I’m always flat. But it’s still fun. I just lost half an hour to it.
The question on my mind, of course, was “what songs work with this?” For starters, Apple has a bunch of playlists:
They’re what you’d expect. Popular fare, nothing too weird, certainly enough to make me pretty happy.
What about your own library? Not the streaming stuff, the actual library that only weirdos who used to buy CDs have? Welp, nope, this is an Apple Music feature so it doesn’t work with your antique library, even if you have Apple Match and you’ve synced with the cloud and all. I checked a couple of Boston songs which worked when streaming but not when looking at my library. Fair enough.
What about more obscure streaming stuff? It apparently depends, but here’s something interesting: there are two classes of song that support Apple Music Sing. More popular stuff supports the syllable-by-syllable tracking of the song lyrics:
But, say, “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?” from Fairport Convention’s Unhalfbricking only goes line by line.
And coverage is spotty: Richard and Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out The Lights doesn’t support Sing, but their I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight does. The former is licensed through Rhino and thus Warner, while the latter is by way of Universal — maybe that’s the difference? No, because Hokey Pokey is on Universal and doesn’t support Sing. So who knows?
There’s no way to tell whether or not a song supports Sing without popping it open, and you can’t tell whether it’s syllable by syllable or line by line without playing it.
All in all I like it.
Movies reviewed this week: Maya at 24, Taipei Story, Infernal Affairs II, Performance, The Menu, and The Lair of the White Worm.
I was writing this up elsewhere and I thought it’d be worth saving here too. This particular version is prompted by the release of the 2022 Sight and Sound poll results.
- The Master — my favorite PTA. Is it the best? Easy to argue that one, but it’s messy and sprawling which I love, and it has my favorite actor of all time, who I still mourn.
- Tokyo Story — what an incredibly heart-rending movie. The sadness lies in the stillness. It is as calm as The Master is messy.
- In the Mood for Love — the greatest visual director of our time (I kindly assume he’ll make another movie some day) and two of the best actors I’ll ever see. Nostalgia. Coincidence. Sadness.
- Crash — my favorite expression of Cronenberg’s thesis statement: mankind will evolve into something else some day and we’d best be ready for it. I love the chilly violence of the Toronto highways in this.
- Beau Travail — not just for that final scene, although I will happily explain why Denis Lavant is remarkable for hours, just ask me, see if I won’t. If there’s a common theme to these first five movies (and there is), it’s desire. Claire Denis knows how to put desire on screen.
- The Third Man — I swear I didn’t notice until I was making this post, but this list can be divided into arthouse and genre, and we’re now in the genre section. For a long time Casablanca was in this slot but The Third Man replaced it for me. Vienna as a haunted house.
- Brazil — this is the movie that taught me there was more to life than the multiplex, and I still love it for the messy excess of it all, plus it’s about rebellion and I find that still resonates with me.
- The Big Sleep — yeah, the plot makes no sense, but I’m not in it for the plot. I’m in it for Bogart and Bacall and a poisonous toxic Los Angeles and the snappy dialogue. And for Dorothy Malone.
- City of God — did you hear about the time a couple of Brazilians took the pyrotechnic effects from The Matrix and the disjointed narrative that Tarantino didn’t invent anyhow and bent them to their whims to tell a story about their homes? It’s really good.
- Lawrence of Arabia — I have been lucky enough to see this in 70mm on a high quality screen three times, and if I could only ever see one movie like that again it’d probably be this one again. For my money, there has never been a better epic. Those dunes.
Holy Motors, Hiroshima Mon Amour, 8 1/2, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and Three Colors: Blue could very easily be on my top ten as well.