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Tuesday 13 August 2013

Roll To Save vs Council Tax

Roll for Initiative.

I'm currently playing two tabletop RPG campaigns, and gaming has been part of my life for, basically, over half of it.  Most who know me will agree that I'm an avid gamer.

It was while discussing character generation, however, that I came across a revelation. Recently I've talked a lot about lessons that I've learned from various places, and it occured to me that a lot of the advice I was giving people - and the epithets I often use when talking character and game - can be applied to real-life scenarios as easily as they can to a game of Loungerooms & Lizards*.

Note: The game I am referring to in this case is Pathfinder, which is basically D&D. Other systems have other lessons to learn, of course. Pathfinder is just what I am playing the mot of right now, and is the system that provoked the thoughts that led to this whole ramble in the first place.

*Basements & Basilisks. Warehouses & Wyverns. Kitchens & Komodos. Gardens & Geckos. Studios & Salamanders. This is fun.

1) Use Your Stats. You are stuck with your ability rolls - but they don't dictate the rest of you. Work with what you have, recognise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses. Low Dexterity implies that deciding to become a lead in a royal ballet corps is perhaps a bad choice, though a consequent high Charisma means that a career in performance is certainly not out of the question. This, however, ties into...

2) Remember Advancement. It's not just a case of having the potential to get better - it's almost a certainty. It may seem difficult to achieve a given goal, but as long as you are realistic - not fatalistic, not optimistic, but realistic - what can be achieved might surprise you. Have your goals in mind with every step you take, and always have something to strive for.

3) Career Is Not Class. When someone asks: "What do you do?" They are often meaning your career. But often, what people "do" is not their job. Their job is what allows the to do what they "do". Remember: in Pathfinder, profession is a skill that anyone can take, regardless of Class. If you want to be defined by how you earn your pay, that is different - that is when a career and a Class are the same thing.

4) Class Is Not Character. While stereotypes exist of what certain Classes act and think like, they are not binding. Nor is life. How one should act in certain situations - while guided by social convention - is up to the individual. Not your job, nor your interests, should tell you who you should be. Influence? Certainly - a Cleric is almost certain to demonstrate certain religious traits, a Fighter is almost certain to be somewhat more martial. However, they are not the be-all and end-all by any means.

5) Pick Your Battles. A Level 2 Fighter cannot solo a dragon of any description; nor can a Level 16 Fighter call any number of goblins a challenge. That said. A Level 2 Fighter might WANT to solo a dragon, for the sheer amount of loot that will come of it - while the Level 16 will get next to nothing for the horde dead at his feet. The balance is to take on a challenge that can be overcome but is also worth the fight. This can apply to both combat and other challenges.

6) The Journey Trumps The Destination. If everything up until the end objective is a drag, and only the final pay-off is a worthy experience, then this game won't be much fun for you. You need to make your journey as fulfilling as you can - because you never know, that last confrontation might not be one you win. Make the journey one that makes the falling worthwhile, and then you need never fear losing.

Just some thoughts.

Saturday 3 August 2013

A Nerdfighter's Epiphany

So I am a Nerdfighter. Not a very active one, but one nonetheless, as an ardent fan of both Hank and John Green and their works. I believe in what they do, I believe they have the right idea, and I think the more people get on board, the better.

But I'm not here to talk to you about being a Nerdfighter. ("Do you accept the Greens as your lords and saviours?" I can think of few worse candidates for door-to-door religion than me.) I'm not even here to talk about both of them - sorry, Hank. Nor am I here to talk about John Green as a person: I'm here to talk to you about John Green's writing.

His books are listed as Young Adult, which I think is good, because if I had learned the lessons his books have taught me when I was a Young Adult, then I might have ended up being a better person.

Only one of the man's books have lasted me more than two days, and that one is co-authored - that isn't the reason why, though. David Levithan's contribution to Will Grayson, Will Grayson was hugely affecting in its own way. It was a harder read, because it dealt with several things that I have quite intimate experience of - but then, so do the rest of the books. Just not in the same direct way.

The man is just so good at people. How we're all different, and weird, and how we're also very much the same. How when it comes down to it, we don't need to have a lot in common just to get along with one another. How, sometimes, we're our own worst enemies - and sometimes we don't have enemies. Sometimes things just happen and we are left to try and make sense of them.

Almost everyone will deal with terminal or serious illness in their lives - either affecting them or someone close to them. So at first, The Fault In Our Stars seems to trivialise something so very important; but this impression doen't last long, because that's the point. It take away the immediate thoughtless solemnity and replaces it with actual applied understanding of what it means to be a grenade, primed to hurt those you love the most - or how hard it is to convince the grenade that you can bear the shrapnel, for their sake.

Almost everyone will also be affected by a simple feeling of not mattering - of wanting to matter, and finding that we don't, to our own specifications. Of wanting to set our own terms, of setting a bar that we have to cross to be in the realm of People Who Matter, and then doing just that. We all know life doesn't work that way - but An Abundance Of Katherines teaches us why, and then teaches us that it's okay, because that isn't what mattering means anyway.

And this is why I think, if one wants to be a better person, and understand persons better - that they should pick up at least one (or preferably more) John Green book. You may end up with tears of some form or another staining the pages. It will be worth it. If you aren't touched, moved, or galvanised into some form of feeling or understanding - hell, just give it to someone else...

(I'm not telling you why Will Grayson, Will Grayson hits close to home, by the way. One part of it should be obvious from the blurb, another is a big plot twist that I won't reveal.)

So go and read this man's work. If you do nothing else - at least give it a shot.