Completely unrelated to the usual subject of my blog this week is something I’ve thought about a couple of times in the last few weeks.
Watching Cosmos (A Space Odyssey) last night, I was impacted by the discussion of the sense of smell. Mainly because I don’t really have one. I would guess, from reading up on Wikipedia, that I’m not actually Anosmic (no sense of smell), but probably Hyposmic (having a diminished sense of smell). Yeah, I know you shouldn’t diagnose yourself, but this is an issue I’ve had as long as I can remember, so I think I’m safe here.
When I was eight, we got into an accident. This was in the days before mandatory seat belts. My brother and I were both ejected from the vehicle, but we both survived. However, I did hit my head (go fig), which is one of the causes of hyposmia. I don’t remember sensing odors after that (I don’t really remember smelling things before that, either). At least, I don’t remember pleasant ones. I can remember noting the smell of my first kiss’s breath (her breath was very clean smelling), and I can smell bad breath, flatulence, and body odor. However, I couldn’t smell the gas leak in my car a few weeks ago. I can’t smell old cigarette odors (part of how i got sick again this winter), or flowers. Trying to describe an odor to me is like trying to describe a color to a blind person. I have no references. Sodas and foods have different flavors for me, so I know I have some sense of smell, but not a strong one.
A few weeks ago, someone was talking about smelling lilacs, and I couldn’t smell them. I got jealous of the people I was with. I don’t get flashes of memory when an odor wafts by, because I can’t smell it. It makes me somewhat jealous of the rest of you who can. My memory is pretty much entirely visual, with some auditory (like song lyrics). Women’s perfume does nothing for me.
On the other hand, because I’ve never had a sense of smell (as far as I can remember), I don’t miss it, most of the time. However, on occasions when it’s discussed by others (like recently), I do. I wonder what it’s like. Something I’ll never know.
I was looking for an ethernet cable in some shelves I’ve got, and I found an old journal I started in high school. I haven’t taken the time to look at it yet, but I’m interested in giving it a peek. I know I have some stuff on a very Moorcock-derivative setting in there, but what else is there? I don’t remember any more. Hopefully, I’ll make time to take a look tonight.
I did get some writing in on the StarSea. After some comments on my Facebook, I started thinking about space obstacles and such, as well as starting to timeline who the Ür met first. That led to my rethinking who is what (that is, what the origins of some of my species are). The Starborn are probably going to become dragonkin, and the dragonkin are going to become half-Ür, or something like that. Humans are pretty much already set as the most likely species to have met the Ür first, as I’ve already had the idea that the Ür manipulated the spaces of humans to create the giant races. They’ll probably be manipulated in other ways as well.
I think that’s all for tonight.It’s late and I want to get out and watch the Lunar Eclipse. Later.
I kinda got to looking at videos about this program from seeing stuff about it on the Gamerati Facebook feed. I’d love to have something like this or Masterplan for the Mac. Sadly such a thing does not exist.
This video, in my opinion, is some great general advise for creating worlds and plots, not just in using this program, but even with just 3×5 cards.
The past couple of weeks have been hard. After I got sick, my mother got sick, which resulted in two different trips (and stays) to the hospital. I have had issues with my paycheck, my car, and work. Work has actually been very busy, with all the GMC auto recalls, but I haven’t had much free time while there. Most of my time has been spent driving has been short, local runs from various locations to dealerships. Between all of these things, I’ve been a bit stressed and a bit distracted. And frankly, there have simply been days I’ve either been too tired or whatever to post. My reminders to post have come up, and I’ve delayed and delayed, until I simply decide it’s too late to post this week. These are terrible habits, I know.
Most of my writing has been on Wednesdays. I’ve gotten off early the past couple of Wednesdays, and I drop by the FLGS to wait for my Living Forgotten Realms game, and write while I wait. It’s kind of been convenient, but it is limited. I only get a couple of hours in, rather than the amount I have gotten in the past. I make do with what I can.
The FLGS recently started selling individual Pathfinder Battles minis, and I found one that I had to have, as it’s a perfect fit to the StarSea. Here’s the image of the figure:
And here’s the link to art the mini is based on: Tsadok on Obsidian Portal. I prefer the mini, all things considered. In fact, the art is pretty crappy. I like the coat (although I think the bell cuffs would look better as bell gauntlets), the breastplate and the weapons. I found him quite inspiring, even though I’m not really going to focus on pirates. Sure, you can play and write pirate stories in the StarSea, but my focus has been on philosophy, and I’m going to stick to that for now.
In those few hours at the FLGS, I’ve managed to rewrite my definition of magic in such a way that I can explain the mechanics of Corruption. I realized that if I make spell difficulties a little higher, players can be tempted to use Corruption to accomplish more difficult spells. Stress to a new track can be levied, similar to the magic rules of the Voidcallers in the FATE System Toolkit: the difference between the roll and the difficulty becomes stress, and the spell is successful, if the character chooses to invoke the World Aspect related to Corruption. If the character doesn’t have the stress to take the hit to his morality, he gains a consequence. If he does not repent his sins (i.e. do what’s necessary to “heal the stress track”), he becomes a corrupted villain in the GMs control. He can also take stress from doing things that display callousness or excessive hubris, for which I’ll need guidelines. The only other thing I need is a seduction system, or at least some hints for seducing the players.
I’ve also been trying to hammer out the astrography (I made that one up) and the path the Ür have taken through the StarSea, so I can determine how the races have been encountered and potentially enslaved and modified before being distributed throughout the StarSea. That seems like a lot of extraneous detail, but I feel that I need it, whether the readers ever see it or not. I feel I need it because I have a couple of race ideas that may have been modified by the Ür, or maybe even created by them.
Finally, I picked up the Cubicle7 Anglerre books in PDF format from DriveThruRPG before the license ended. There are a lot of good ideas, but I’m not sure I want to include as much rule and world creation writing as is in those books. I may refer GMs to those books if they want more info. However, there are some ideas in there I may incorporate myself. I have read through them thoroughly, as they’re pretty long, but a flip-through was enlightening.
The Boy hasn’t requested us to play his game, so I have written anything about it. I have a feeling that Kindle games have taken the place of that game, and I am totally cool with that. I think I need to discuss it with him before I totally drop it, though.
That’s all I really have at this time. Later.
So, last weekend was a killer. Promptly after reading an article about not allowing distractions to keep you from writing, I was forced to allow distractions to keep me from writing. Sort of.
Friday had me doing a little yard work while I babysat my mother and then waited for her to come back from dialysis. Saturday was D&D for Kids and our regular home game. Then Sunday, I ended up sick as a dog, again after yardwork. There was no relation between the yard work and the illness, I’m sure.
The stomach flu was pretty nasty, and while I was really sick only Sunday night, I was in pretty bad shape Monday, and basically laid around and recovered. I worked Tuesday through Thursday (which means I got some good thinking/writing time in, while the past couple of days were pretty much social and chore time.
Tuesday, something made me remember a class I’d had in college regarding morality systems. Maybe later this week I’ll write an article I’ll stick up on my LiveJournal on morals and politics that I owe a friend, but I was thinking about these systems in relationship to the philosophies of the mystic Orders of the StarSea.
I haven’t cared for the alignment systems of D&D for a long time. The original Three Alignment System, which became the Nine Alignment system, has been problematic for me, and especially so after said class (in fact, at that time, I was playing World of Darkness games). The original system was obviously based on Moorcock’s Lords of Law and Chaos (since those early alignments were named “Lawful” and “Chaotic”) with “Good” and “Evil” being added later. I found eventually found the systems flawed and too dependent on DM definitions. For example, I always hated “Chaotic Neutral” or at least the way most people played it (as an excuse to behave in a random manner). My definition of Chaotic was always as a counter to Lawful’s “society first” orientation. Chaotic alignments are very individual oriented in my mind, which I think was supported in Second Edition. Admittedly, there’s going to be a bit of DM/GM with any morals or philosophy system, but I’m hoping to define things in such a way as to make it easier for prospective DM/GMs.
The book we used in the class, Applying Moral Theories by C.E. Harris, Jr., puts forward the idea that all morals systems can be boiled down into one of four basic systems: Self-Interest (or Egoism); Natural Law; Utilitarianism; and Respect for Persons.
- Egoism is based on the standard that what is moral is what is good for the individual acting. Thus, morality spawns purely from the individual.
- Natural Law is a moral system based on the idea that people are naturally inclined to do good, and not following this natural inclination is immoral. Most religious systems have some variation on this, such as attributing the aforementioned inclination as god-given (whether Yahweh or another such god).
- Utilitarianism is can be summed up as “the Good of the Many outweigh the Good of the Few.” An example of this in the book is the justification of torture to get information to find the location of a bomb, as the torture would save the most lives, while potentially destroying the body of the tortured and the spirit of the torturer.
- Respect for Persons is based on the “Golden Rule” idea: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” By this system, living creatures (and especially human beings) should have their lives treated with respect, and not as a means (as in “the ends justify the means’). In other words, the person behind the counter should be treated as a living being, and not a robot taking your money for goods, and they should treat you as more than the source of their paycheck.
The book examined each moral system, and how it worked, and whether it was internally consistent, as well as how it appears in the real world, with real world examples from the headlines of the times.
So, the other day, I started a bit of codification of how I thought of each Order in respect to these four systems, and as I write up the Orders and their codes, I will be referring to these notes to keep the codes in line. For example, the Jedi Order of the Star Wars movies seems to be fairly utilitarian. The Jedi are expected to give up their emotions to protect the society around them, and the use of their mind control powers on criminals (in the Jedis view) seems pretty casual (for example, when Obi-Wan Kenobi mind controls the barfly trying to sell him thermal detonators in Attack of the Clones). The Sith in those same movies are very much followers of a Egoist moral system: only they seems to know what is good for anyone else, and their personal pleasure takes precedent over the injury they might cause to another. Any cutthroat tactic is allowed to achieve they ends the Sith wants.
Finally, I also got a really solid concept for at least one of my iconic characters for the StarSea. Iconic characters have become a mainstay of gaming since White Wolf Games Studio started using them in the World of Darkness games in the ’90s, and I have to say that I like them myself. It gives the author a way to really direct the future DM/GMs and players as to how the setting works and feels. I figure I need a number of these guys, so that I can give my audience a feel for four or five different factions. I’m sure as I get to firming up my ideas, the iconic character concepts will flow a little better.
Anyway, I have to get up and drive in the morning and it’s getting late, so I need to cut this short. Later.