Sunday, October 27, 2019

Why I Am NOT Going to See the Joker Movie

Featuring a full post.

It starts here.
Let me preface by saying that this post is not about the new, 2019 movie, Joker.  I have not seen the Joker movie and I don't know anything about the film.  This post is specifically about the character the Joker, that has been with us for some time, and which was transformed specifically from an ordinary criminal clown into something darker by Alan Moore's story, The Killing Joke.

Let me also preface by saying that I am a white male, and that I was, once, a young white male.

Of late, I've been harried on twitter and elsewhere for my decision not to see the new movie, usually with the argument that I cannot "have an opinion without giving it a chance."  My position is that almost certainly, nothing about the basic character of the Joker is changed in the new film ~ and this, in my opinion, is borne out of the excitement and anticipation I heard from fans prior to the film's release, and the excitement and satisfaction of those exact same fans who saw the film.  Clearly, these fans, prior to seeing the film, wanted to see more of the character they already knew, and clearly, they came away from the film having seen more of the character they already knew.  I do not need to see a hammer fall to know that it will when I let go.  Therefore, I do not need to see the Joker film to decide how I feel about the character, the Joker.

Unlike those who are most vocal about the character, I was alive and well and 25 years old when Tim Burton's version of Batman came out with Jack Nicholson playing the part.  I experienced the fan-boy gushing about the "new darkness" of the character then, with all the hype and tribalism that created, in which my generation happily ditched the campy Cesare Romero character in favor of this exciting, bold, vicious, madcap insane version.  It was blatantly clear in 1989 that this love-affair was pursued by a particular kind of white male, who gushed exhaustively about the character's free use of violence as a form of expression.

I did see the film and I considered it a vapid mess.  It drove the coffin nail in the lid with regards to Tim Burton and me, beginning a long, unpleasant series of multiple experiences being in rooms with white males expounding the genius of a character that randomly and "cleverly" kills people for no particular reason except as a form of personal expression.  It doesn't matter if they die, it doesn't matter who dies, all that matters is that they die in a way that's interesting.  This baton was thereafter taken up by a host of serial killer movies that spawned throughout the 1990s, including Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Natural Born Killers, Citizen X, Kiss the Girls and Copycat.  The genre began to falter after 2000, as the plots grew weaker and more esoteric, culminating in 2007's Zodiac, a serial killer film that hardly shows any serial killing.

With the passing years, Nicholson's version of the character grew less and less popular with the new generation, so that these conversations about the brilliant, wonderous magnificence of the Joker diminished ... and I might have been happy except that Christopher Nolan picked a very capable actor to play his Joker in The Dark Knight, where again the character was darkened with a sharpie sufficiently enough to inspire a whole new generation of specifically oriented young white men to again take up the Joker's cause celebre.  Once again, I was told the new film would be "terrifying" and "brooding," just as I had been told about Burton's vision ... and once again, seeing the film, I found it a ghastly mess of plot holes, irrelevant philosophy, prattling bullshit and insipid dialogue and writing.  None of that mattered, however, because the Joker was alive and well and deeply beloved again.

So, again, I found myself in the same round of endless crappy discussions in rooms with white males about how murder and irrational behaviour is really an exciting art form of a sort, or at least transformatively a form of release and structured anger against the establishment.  I hadn't realized it at the time, but there were certain comparisons to be made with those white men who did not realize that Fight Club was a morality play against fighting, and not an invitation to stupidly fight in small darkly lit basements.  I did not make that comparison in 2008.  I had not yet been woke.  I remember my principle thought at the time was that if we could simply castrate all the dumbfuck white men who loved the Joker's character, we could fix many problems of the world within a generation.

It was clear after 2008 that the Joker's popularity was gathering speed.  Unlike Burton's introduction, Nolan's version had the benefit of youtube and social media.  Nicholson was rebranded "camp," reducing that depiction to the level of Cesare Romero, and I did get some satisfaction from the world deciding, at last, that the 1989 film was actually shit, along with the three films that followed.  I had said so from the beginning, and mostly using the exact same phrases that are often used today.  Apparently, I was ahead of my time.  Sadly, I'll have to wait until 2038 before the social version of today's media turns on Nolan and acknowledges that that movie was shit, too.

Is the reader, no doubt in love with the Joker, good and ramped up now?  Well good.  Buckle up.  This is just the beginning.

Further clarity about the Joker's character was made possible by 2016's Suicide Squad, in which Jared Leto's character is presented with such bold, pornographic delight as to spectactularly outline with crystal clarity the innate fascination with the character of young white males.  In particular, the flame war that ensued surrounding that character.  I won't go into it.  We were all there.  Most importantly, the flame war demonstrated that the Joker was not merely a character, and not merely a series of artistic versions spawning back to the 1940s (literally, April 25th, 1940).  The original was a psychopath with a warped sense of humor, who became Romero's goofy prankster as the comics industry was "cleaned up" post-war.  By 2016, the Joker had grown into a form of political identification ... and one that could easily inspire direct violence and irrational stupidity on a deepened scale.  Not only did Holmes want to be the joker; there were thousands of voices on the internet ready to defend Holmes' right to want that.  We were through the looking glass.

So I began to pick the matter apart from this new perspective, not having any real answers to provide.  I already did not like the character ~ so anything I was going to say would undoubtedly be biased ~ as surely, the Joker-loving reader considers me to be now.  And yet, what is a Joker-lover except biased?

I am not being bombarded with demands that I see the new film, Western Stars, despite my not liking Bruce Springsteen, either (who is also hallowed by a particular kind of white male).

True enlightenment came about a year ago, when I was working at a retail store as a writer and client manager.  One of the co-workers there learned of Todd Phillips' coming film and at once proceeded to orgasm all over himself about the choice of Joaquin Phoenix as the character.  Phoenix has a peculiar reputation and it was assumed that he, in particular, would really be able to relate to the Joker character.  This was encouraged by this teaser trailer released in 2018, that my co-worker played repeatedly on his desktop without headphones.  The English version seems to have been scoured from the net, but it was alive and well last year.

Nothing about this teaser suggested I had any interest in watching the film.

Because my co-worker was willing to argue, and being a young white male, we had about a dozen back and forths about the Joker, what the Joker stood for, who liked him, why, what the best sort of movie about the Joker would be and so on.  My co-worker was, yes, a white male, 33 years old, but somewhat less than grown-up because of his age, having spent his life mostly in jobs that enabled him to play at being an I.T. guy.  He had most of the characteristics of this sort of person.

I began to organize a theory.  The Joker, I reasoned, appeals to white men because, as a whole, white men feel dissatisfied by the present political state of the world.  They are told day and night that they have a certain "entitlement" on account of being white, which they don't personally feel as they look around at their minimum-wage, heavy labor jobs in which they have no actual power and for which they receive no appreciation or attention.  They do not realize that their expectation of power and attention is, itself, a function of the entitlement they feel.  If they weren't white, they wouldn't expect these things, or get mad when they don't manifest.  But they cannot understand this.  They just know they're unhappy and that they hate what they see as a constant, rancorous persecution of their innocent existence.

And, in fact, it is innocent.  They did not choose to be white and they did not choose to be entitled.  It was foistered on them without their complicit approval.  But innocence in birth and status does not translate to social responsibility and educated awareness.  Their innocence is not the crime, but their insistence of being innocent, their declarative shouting that they have a right to be innocent, the facile resistance they have towards having anything but innocence, determines ultimately that they really aren't any more and that they're using this bullshit innocence as a shield, protecting them from waking the fuck up and realizing they are still responsible for the sins of their parents.

In the Joker, these white men see something they can identify with: a character who resists the system, but not for political reasons, not for class reasons, not for the sake of money or authoritative power ... but purely for the priviledged right to resist, in part because that resistance doesn't have to be justified or explained or defended.  White men want to be angry and to fight back, but they don't want to talk about it, because talking only leads to arguments they cannot produce logic against.  The Joker doesn't argue.  He doesn't explain.  He doesn't have "reasons."  He is pure rebellion, in the can.  He is the angry white man's poster boy.

For non-white men and for women, the Joker is way, way too close to the toxic, randomly encountered white male asshole who decides today is the day to gang together to mock a woman, push a black man down a hill, paint 'slut' across a woman's doorway, torch a Semite's car or pour a milkshake over an Oriental's girlfriend, while grinning and strutting like a cock on the walk ... much like the post Burtonesque Joker tries to look in every fucking scene of every movie I've seen.  When combined with cruelty and violence, laughter and fun-times are cruel faces stuck on top of cruel intentions.  This was made more than clear decades ago by Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.

In the short run, white men can really warm themselves to the character ~ but in the long run, the Joker is a really lousy poster boy.  There's no real pay-off to emulating or behaving along the Joker's example.  As much as white men might identify with him, most are smart enough to know they can't randomly and creatively kill strangers.  Most white men aren't really this character.  They know where the line is.  They go and see the Joker and gush about him vicariously.  Not realistically.

Still, that installs an awareness of how impotent white men who bow to the system are.  That's fine for a guy like me, who finds other reasons to feel empowered, but for a lone white male who can't find a better icon that the fucking Joker, this is a bleak, scrubby, salt-sown field.  Not one damn thing is going to grow here except an inability to take effective action and a pervasive sense of being unfairly judged.

Sooner or later, that's going to result in violence: violence against others or violence against self.  And this is not good for anyone's soul.

But I am not going to take a political stand on this issue, or promote censorship or tell anyone else to see the newest film.  At the same time, however, I am not going to be told that I cannot make up my mind about something toxic just because I haven't swallowed this shit.  I've swallowed enough already, to know what the fuck it is.

Monday, October 21, 2019

An Answer to Lance

This is an answer to Lance in the previous post, who wrote:
It's just that you would probably get more readers if you weren't so abrasive.
But then again, sometimes people need to be called out on their stupidity/childishness before they can change. I wouldn't have stopped fudging or using the screen if it weren't for your blog specifically. I had been reading his blog and others long before I discovered you, but none of those other blogs fundamentally changed how I run games.

This is why I'm not "nice."  I've heard from the beginning of this blog that I would get more readers if I wasn't so abrasive ... but what kind of readers?  For what purpose?  Is my goal to get readers in order to entertain them with interesting stuff that they can conveniently forget later on?  Or is my goal to remind readers, and those who won't read, but find it difficult to ignore me because I'm always there on the blog rolls of people who do read, that SOMEONE on the internet does not buy the bullshit.  And that someone isn't going away, he isn't cowed by criticism ... and worst of all, he is obviously not stupid.

Whatever my detractors might say about my former vitriol (and it IS much reduced from five years ago), they can't say that I don't understand the game, that I don't think about what I'm saying or that I can't write.  This means, they have to detract me for being, yes you guessed it, "abrasive."  As though this alone is a crime.

And why do they want me to be less abrasive?  Is it for the benefit of my message?  No, they get the message anyway.  They wouldn't know I was abrasive if they weren't here, reading me.  No, they want me to be less abrasive because that would make THEM more comfortable.  But Lance ... I don't want you to be comfortable.  I want you to be uncomfortable, for the reason you just gave.  So that you will change.  Hopefully, for the better.

I read the Alexandrian's post about fudging.  Justin's is friendlier and more polite, and his points are just, and many of them are points I had considered making in the future.  But none of the points are particularly pursued, are they?  He skirts the edge of the subject.  He gives the surface reasons for why people fudge, but he doesn't actually come out wholly against fudging, does he?  He actually supports it, in some degree.  And he certainly doesn't call out anyone for being a bad DM, or selfishly glomming onto power; these things are there, but they're not specifically called out.  He doesn't want to offend anyone.  It's a problem of mechanics, or misunderstandings, or treasuring the wrong aspects of play, or the result of a mistake.  And he's not wrong.

His post is something like the old commercial that told us that this egg is your brain; and that this egg in this pan is your brain on drugs.  The commercial was very memorable, it still is, though it is more than 30 years old.  It spawned hundreds of comedian's jokes and parodies, it is instantly recognizeable as a commercial and it's been picked by TV Guide as one of the top 100 television advertisements of all time.  It's cute, it's direct, it's doesn't offend anyone on television with images of people suffering from drug use or the deaths resulting from using drugs.

Does it work?  I can't find anyone who says so.  And that is the problem.

I did not grow up in the internet world, I grew up in the one of that commercial.  Justin, who is a way smarter businessman than me, charges $1 per post if you want to read his post a month before it comes out on his blog ... I would never, ever think of that.  Justin is cooler, he's way more popular and he's connected with the role-playing culture like I never will be.  But his writing is bland paste.  There is not one person in the comments that unreservedly agrees with his position ~ and he makes no attempt whatsoever to suggest his opinion is more than just another asshole in the room.  He doesn't believe what he's saying to the point where he is willing to fight for the principle he's arguing.  It is all just air to him.  One word strung after the one before.  He won't mention the subject again for months ~ and when he does, he won't have anything new to say.

I'm angry because fudging is fucking wrong.  It isn't just a little bit wrong, it isn't acceptable in "some" circumstances, it doesn't serve as a useful technique sometimes, it is absolutely and unequivocably wrong.  And those who practice it do so because they a) Can't see that it's wrong because they have willfully deluded themselves and b) They don't care that it is fucking wrong because they have willfully deluded themselves.  Every argument for fudging is a textbook case in moral deficiency.

I'm not gray on this issue.  I'm not hesitant on this issue.  I don't give a fuck if this inconveniences what liars and self-promoted autocrats want to believe, or think they have a right to believe, because this isn't about finding reasons for why lying to people who trust you is "sometimes" okay.  A liar is a liar.  If a DM will lie about a die roll, they will lie about anything.

And I know that you know this Lance. Your own comments say so.  But I feel I must stress that in some things, abrasion is the right fucking response.  In some things, especially with things where people brazenly argue their privilege to be entitled, judgemental assholes, it is time to stop qualifying your statements and start punching them in the face.

If I'm going to be honest, that's what I think is an appropriate response.  IF your DM deliberately lies to you, because he thinks he has that privilege, punch him right in the face.  Because that's what it takes with some people.

And ... because this is the internet, where rhetoric is far too often taken as exact intention, I'll say that no, I don't want anyone punching anyone in the face.  But I want to express that at some point, mere argument won't work.  It simply won't.

Friday, October 18, 2019


From a DM defending fudging in an answer I received from Quora.
If I am focused on the story, I don’t want to kill off characters. They build up contacts, gather information and drive the story forward. Replacing them will disrupt the story. I am ok with a character death for a stupid action or a story reason, then I accept the disruption. But in most cases, I want to build on what is already there instead of introducing new characters on a regular basis.

Remember, here we are talking about a game.  But obviously not the player's game.  The DM here blatantly exposes his bias, his will to control the game, his personal entitlement where the story, the contacts and its possible disruption are concerned.  Note the language.  The DM is "ok."  The DM is "focused."  The DM is very clear on what he wants and what he will accept.  The players' opinions are not mentioned.  The players' acceptance is not solicited.  It is all "Me me, me me me."

Yet if the reader will take a look at the whole answer from the writer, it is plain the writer believes they have given this considerable thought and that they have the right perspective on the matter.  And this is the effect that total power has:  the delusional aspect that, having total power, and being determined to use if for what's "right," gives superior knowledge of rightness and utter blindness to what is plainly a selfish perspective.

This is why we don't fudge.

Monday, October 14, 2019

What to Do When You Do

Let's say for the sake of discussion that as a group of characters, you've decided to settle down near the town of Odda, the example from the last post.  Let's say the party isn't concerned about its distance from Bergen because they have a light schooner and can make the journey in near a day.  Let's say the party has just had a recent adventure in the town and has just gathered a few henchmen, and now they'd like to have a general meeting point for the main party and the secondary party, for further adventures in the area.  Let's say the mountains and tundra to the east provide lots of opportunities for just that.

And let's say the party has already explored the area, so we can freely give them the map shown on the left, indicating type-6 and type-7 hexes surrounding Odda.  Most of them are forest-based but one is in high country with less trees.  We count a hammer in every hex and 30 food (as opposed to "30F" which should now be understood to mean something completely different), amounting to a total of 1350pd (45pd per food), with a rural population of some 210.  Odda has a population of 862, so the small region is food-abundant, able to export food outside as the production is more than Odda's needs.

There are four coins in the area and we can postulate 15 active support persons per coin, supporting families that number three times that on average, or 60 persons per coin.  These are probably all based out of Odda ... so we can postulate that Odda's population of 862 includes 240 bourgoise and 49 of the aforementioned food-producers.  Most of the labor operating in other hexes would be based in Odda as well ~ earlier we described these as 5 persons per hammer, and each of them has three times as many dependents, so this accounts for another 20x8, or 160 persons, a quarter of which are not at home a lot of the time.  All told, 449 persons.

I said during the mapping coins post that the coins accounted for everyone related to making money and controlling money, so what about the other 413 persons in Stavanger?  We can't call them government or officials or guards ... these are accounted for already.  They're not farmers or foragers (all the food is accounted for), they're not scouring the countryside for valuables.  Who are they?

A small number, perhaps 2-3%, about 16 to 24, fall into two categories: they live on charity or they have enough money that they do not need employment.  This includes beggars, of which there would be only two or three that would be tolerated, the local cleric, his second and their one servant, and those who are living on investments, sinecures or are simply rich.  If the player characters settled in the area and simply hung around, they would fit into this third category.

The remainder are dependents whose principle wage earners are elsewhere ~ perhaps working aboard ship in the North Sea, or working aboard a trawler outside of Stavanger, or working some small mine or trap line further afield than those near Odda.  A few might be in the Norwegian army; one of the houses may have ten servants and seven members and be owned by a noted minister in Copenhagen.  Each of these would send money home to support their dependent family, who use the money to buy food in Odda.  That accounts for all the extra people.

There, now we have a good, solid concept of the town, how it makes its money, where the food comes from and who is doing what.  These are things the PCs can know without harm ... and we can even give them numbers as this only contributes to their "feel" for the place.

We were talking about settling down.  I'd like to run through some of the ways the players might do that.  Let's do it in point form.

Continued on the blog, the Higher Path, available through my Patreon. Please support me with a $3 donation and gain the complete series of estate posts related to the post above, as these have all been written.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Locations and Towns

Featuring the full post.

Like rivers, my 20-mile scale maps indicate various villages, towns and cities within a country, which get special status because they were important enough to be included on 1:4,000,000 scale maps provided by Rand & McNally mapmakers in the 1950s.  This is as good an arbitrary measure as any, because it is not my arbitrary measure and R&M knew more about why to indicate some locations and not others than I could ever hope to know.

These locations get a special status with regards to my population numbers, my infrastructure and my geopolitical boundaries because they were so included ... even if they happen to be immediately adjacent to another town of equal or even larger size.  For example, Flekkefjord in Agder [Vest-Adger in modern times] is only 20 miles from Lyngdal, which appear to have been about the same size in the 1950s; but Flekkefjord has a much longer history and so it got chosen and Lyngdal didn't.

[An annoying thing about Flekkefjord came to my attention just two days ago.  I plotted the town along with hundreds of others in 2010; but as it turns out, I have it about 35 miles east of where the town actually is.  I most likely misread the latitude when I plotted the town, and am only learning this now.  This messes with a lot of details having to do with maps I posted just a week ago, as well as my infrastructure numbers ... but I just know I'm going to obsessively fix the error, even going to the point of reposting maps and adjusting those numbers, just because.  Damn it.]

I wrote on Wednesday that benefits do arise from towns ... and that references those specific towns that do appear on a 20-mile scale map.  Sometimes, they do.  Rarely.

Because the infrastructure calculation originates with these towns, they are bound to benefit from the distribution of more important hex types, which in turn are already accounted for.  It wouldn't make sense to give a settlement, just because it is a settlement, an extra benefit.  Therefore, I don't.  Usually.

But ... a population center is going to have a minimum level of coin associated with its existence; and occasionally a pre-assigned population center turns out to be in a type-5 or type-6 hex, because the population of that center is very small and it is somewhat remote.  Odda, in Hordaland, is an example (shown here in 6-mile hexes).  None of the surrounding hexes are especially settled; the land is rough and somewhat obscure, with Odda enjoying the benefit of having a lake on one side of its location and the Sorfjorden on the other.  The vision of the town is so pretty I feel I have to include a picture:

Most of the time, a pre-determined location like Odda winds up being on a body of water of some kind and I don't need to adjust its benefits by adding a coin.  Odda's one coin originates with its location on the coast and lake (no, it does not get two, it is still in a type-6 hex).  All of the non-wilderness hexes exist because Odda was noted on a map in 1952.

Now and then, however, I get a location that isn't ~ technically ~ located on a body of water or a river.  Voss, or Vossevangen, is about 40 miles north of Odda.  While it is located on a small body of water, the Vangsvatnet, this wasn't large enough to be noted on the 20-mile scale map ~ and like I said with the last post, you can't walk fifty feet in Norway without a risk of getting wet.  We have to draw the line somewhere on what is a sufficiently sized body of water to count as a coin benefit.  And yet Voss is clearly an important location regardless ... so the coin it doesn't get from water and wouldn't get from being in a more important hex, we grant because it is one of those Rand & McNally locations.

That's a lot of explanation for a very simple thing.  But as I thought about it, I saw so many angles for how I could be misunderstood, particularly in readers thinking that every important location ought to be granted a bonus coin, so that Odda should have two and not one ... the only rational approach was to explain it very carefully.

There is another point I'd like to make about towns that won't take quite as long.  The groups mechanic does create a number of type-1 to 4 hexes that don't have population centers at all, because they cluster around larger settlements like Stavanger and Bergen.  And because the benefit for hex type grants these 6-mile hexes with coins, my answer has been to posit that a town does exist in that hex.

Take this area around Bergen, for instance.  Bergen is the only pre-determined location for the area, but the distribution of hexes creates quite a number of type-2 to 7 hexes scattered over the islands and coastland.  The coast is so complicated that my eyes tend to cross when I look at this too intently.  There are five hexes, apart from Bergen, that have a coin benefit from being a type-1 to 4.  In those hexes, I've searched on google maps and turned up actual place names to act as the "designated location" in those hexes: Knarvik, Hosanger, Bruvik, Salhus and Glaevaer, all real places.

In game terms, these are real towns, indistinguishable from any pre-determined town that would be in a comparable hex.  Salhus, for example, would be larger than either Odda or Voss, with a great deal of industry and commerce, as indicated by its four coins.  But it is shown here as a brown circle rather than a black, as a reference to it being a satellite town of Bergen and not an original town showing on the 20-mile scale map.

The last benefits come from trade references ~ but before I get into that difficult subject, I'd like to bring some of this conversation back around to the players, and how they might address the problem of picking a hex to play in and establish themselves and their "estate."  We can talk about references, and about the scaled effects of multiple benefits, afterwards.

I've included the full length of this post from the blog, the Higher Path, to give the reader a sense of what they're missing.  It's only a $3 donation through my Patreon per month to consistently see posts of this quality.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Mapping Coins

I've written about this before, so I won't dwell, but I wanted to comment on the ground work the Kleivaland post provides for game play. The space is defined; the characters arrive looking for something, or on the way to their quest. The farmer offers vittles, the hunters can serve as guides; they tell some frightening urban-legend type stories about whatever the party might be interested in. It sets the scene for a tense encounter once the hex is crossed or more thoroughly explored. It gives the players a tactile place to return, perhaps so that they don't need to make their way fully back to town.

Intricate design allows an improvement in the game's texture; that is the reason to go gritty. It is the reason why there are not just two or three hex types, but many ~ which in turn are modified by the presence of hills, water, climate, proximity to civilization and so on.

Following up on yesterday's post, we have to talk about rivers and the presence of coins ... which I must admit has been the most elusive part of this design. For this, we'll need a hex that borders on a river ~ I'd like to pick a type-6 hex, simply to talk about an expansion beyond our concept of the type-7 already discussed.

This is a forest hex in Agder, on the Lygne river as shown. The hex receives 1F and 1H from the temperate forest, with 2F from being a type-6 hex. It also receives 1 coin symbol (1C) from being located on the Lygne river.

Should we expand the hex out into two mile hexes and build hexes, most likely we would produce a growing settlement producing a considerable amount of food, running along the river (not everything has to be random!), with some hunting as the forest will support one or two camps. In all, the hex produces enough for 21 single farms, 7x the previous type-7 hex. We can easily imagine there would be some small hamlet of 15-20 buildings here.

Continued on the blog, the Higher Path, available through my Patreon. Please support me with a $3 donation and gain the complete series of estate posts related to the post above, as these have all been written.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Core Benefits

The next element I should clear up is how the type-7 hex in this post gets rated with 1 food and 1 hammer.  Opening with a caveat, this is a system with several versions that I've posted on the Tao of D&D, because I keep tweaking and adjusting it.  Please always know that a concept isn't the final word until it appears on the wiki ... and is then edited and changed on the wiki.  As long as I'm still talking about something on the blog, I'm still in "design mode."  The blog is the workshop; the wiki is the storefront.

Let's call food, hammers and coins "benefits."  6-mile hexes are assigned a symbol for each for a number of reasons: 1) the natural vegetation; 2) the hex type; 3) the presence of a significant river; 4) the established presence of a settlement, prior to mapping the 6-mile hex from its 20-mile hex predecessor; and 5) the presence of a trade reference, as part of my trade tables.  I'll need to explain these things before we can continue.

This image on the right describes a simple set of vegetations from which we can derive benefits.  The regions themselves, whether or not exploited, represent both a food source and a source for minerals and other raw materials; the assignment of hammers and food for these vegetations takes this into account.

Tundra, at the top, adds 1 hammer symbol per 6-mile hex (indicating the collection of minerals and other raw materials).  Boreal and Temperate forests add 1 hammer and 1 food.  Tropical forests are considered impractical sources for locating raw materials without clear cutting or development, so they only add 1 food.

Grassland provides the best possible benefit, granting 2 food symbols (as discussed in the previous post), as plentiful forage can be found in both plant life and large game.  There is not enough of the former in a Chaparral environment, reducing the benefit to 1 food.  Deserts provide no vegetation benefits.

Continued on the blog, the Higher Path, available through my Patreon. Please support me with a $3 donation and gain the complete series of estate posts related to the post above, as these have all been written.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Binary Numbers

I feel presumptive writing this post ... and, I guess, I feel like I should apologize or something. This issue with binary numbers feels like an elephant in the room; I've never felt the matter was rightfully explained and I want to be clear about why I'm using them and how. So, spoiler alert, I'm going to write about very simple math ~ please feel free to skip this post. [There is a bit at the end that explains why I'm using binary numbers for my mapping].

In any case, the worst we're going to do is addition.

I'll begin with the obvious. We use a ten-based number system every day without much thought that the number of symbols, 0 through 9, are arbitrary. If we discarded the 9, there would be nine symbols remaining in what we would call a nine-based number system. The math we use everyday would be just the same ... but, admittedly, it would be weird.

Binary is a two-based number system, using only 0 and 1. Most talk about binary nowadays ends up being about computers, because a two-based system is perfect for a machine using electrical impulses ... but we don't have to talk about any of that. Suffice to say that the math in binary works like the math in the base-ten that we use.

When we see the number 123, we don't stop to think about it, but we're fairly clear that this is 100+20+3. It helps to think of this as three columns, as shown:

While some of you are having flashbacks to grade 9 math class, I'll take the next step and explain what happens when we add 123 to 869 ... the sort of thing that we do every day without a moment's hesitation. We begin by putting one number above the other, so the columns line up; then we start with the 1s column, adding 3 + 9 to get the product 12. We then divide the product by ten, putting the 1 in the 10's column and the 2 in the 1s column.

We don't think of it as dividing by ten. We do it so habitually that we just automatically divide the number 12 in half, putting the numbers where they belong, without a moment's thought. But we are dividing that product by ten.

The rest is clear. We add 2 + 6 + 1 (that we've added from the 1s column) which gives us 9. We write this in the 10s column. Then we add 1 + 8 to get 9, so that our final total is 992. And I'm sorry ~ I know this has to be old hat to most of us. But it's necessary we're all on the same page.

When we count in base 10, we count 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on. And this seems obvious too. But with binary numbers there is no 2 and no 3 or 4. So how do we count in binary? Well, how do we actually count in base-10?

Continued on the blog, the Higher Path, available through my Patreon. Please support me with a $3 donation and gain the complete series of estate posts related to the post above, as these have all been written.

More recently, I've begun distributing previews of a project I am working on for book publication, "A Rational Guide to Sex in RPGs," of which I am providing previews according to the $24 tier I am also offering on my Patreon.