Archives : November 2003

2003 November 11

Lest we forget

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, an armistice took effect on the Western Front of the Great War, beginning the end of the most horrifying conflict the world had ever seen. In the course of this war, ten million men were killed and more than twenty million were wounded in the mud of the trenches. This day is thus remembered, variously as Armistice Day, Veterans Day, and in Canada, Remembrance Day. This poem is traditional. It probably has more resonance for me than any other.

"In Flanders Fields"

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
A lark, still bravely singing, flies
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, saw dawn, felt sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

                Written May 3, 1915 after battle(s) at Ypres,
                by Maj. (Dr.) John McCrae of the              
                1st Canadian Field Artillery Brigade          
                Published in "Punch", Dec 8, 1915

    November 11 . . . LEST WE FORGET

2003 November 26

Master and Commander

Hm. Sorry it's been two weeks since my last entry. I guess I'm finding I only feel properly motivated to post when I'm enthusiastic about something -- mere news is work to write down, and if I'm already feeling kind of cranky, I blow off optional work. I do have a whole bunch of semi-news stuff to report in a post, but this is not that post. This is a movie review post.

So, Master and Commander is a movie I've been waiting for ever since I first saw it announced. I love Age of Sail stories, and this one was based on probably the best series of novels about that era, the Aubrey/Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian.

Naturally, I was nervous.

I'm happy to report I didn't have to worry. The movie rearranges the books somewhat, but I think it captures the spirit. Crowe is excellent, the dialogue is dense with strange naval jargon, the South Pacific is gorgeous, and HMS Surprise is a wonder to behold. If you think you might like this movie, I don't think it will disappoint you.

I've seen some political bloggers complain that this movie makes the French out to be evil or inhuman; I think they're too caught up in their own arguments to let the movie stand on its own. It's the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars -- of course the French are evil. Anything else would play false.

2003 November 27

I'd like to buy an enemy, please

Bryant Durrell has a wacky idea for an RPG mechanic -- players spending XP on buying better enemies:

I wonder if it would be feasible to write a system in which experience points were spent, not on the PC's power level, but on the power level of the PC's opposition? (I must pause to cite Trollbabe here; the concept of Scale is pretty darned relevant to this line of thinking.) The mechanical details of battling a street urchin would be the same as the mechanical details of battling a master villain, but the scope -- the effects of victory and defeat -- would be far larger.

That is, instead of buying a higher number for your swordsmanship skills, just directly buy yourself a better class of opponent: Bill Ferny becomes a scrub, and now you fight on equal terms with Uruk-hai.

I don't know if it's a good idea, but hey, interesting. From a certain perspective, this is what Nobilis has done -- every normal human has been compressed down to one description: Aspect 0, and in the context of combat there isn't really anything else you need to know about them.

Also from a Nobilis angle, Javern Spithorn's Sunset Leap is great stuff.

2003 November 29

Airship Voyages Made Easy

The web is a wonderful thing, part XVII: Airship Voyages Made Easy, a pamphlet by Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, c. 1936.

At the beginning, it is hard to realize you are on board a Zeppelin; the comfort and protection from the weather, the spaciousness, the elegance and neat equipment, the well-appointed cabins, the courtesy and deference of the ship's company who are only too ready to help, awake in you a new conception of pleasurable travel. A new anticipation of excitement mingles with the atmosphere of farewell. You are conscious that in a few days, thousands of miles will be traversed and you will arrive in a new country. Instinctively you approach the large windows and become interested in the preparations for departure.

Contains everything from advice on how to get to the airport and what kinds of personal effects to bring ("One hint to the men: a lot of time is spent in looking out of the window at passing ships and other scenes of interest below. Many will find a comfortable cap an advantage."), to a walkthrough of the marvelous vessel.

Dammit, I have to run a game with a scene on a Zeppelin.

2003 November 30

real fuckin' punk gaming

oh, sweet jesus, I'm dyin' laughing. kill puppies for satan:

don't try to tempt people to sin. it's a union thing, and believe me you don't want to scab on demons. just kill puppies and leave the rest to the professionals.

if you can't begin to guess what i might be talking about -- okay, it's game rules -- you may well not find it as funny as i do.