Fate vs D&D (well, mostly Elf vs D&D)

May. 21st, 2017 09:23 pm
elf: Life's a die, and then you bitch. (Gamer Geek)
[personal profile] elf
I've been looking a lot at Fate Core rpg system recently. I sponsored the "Wearing the Cape" superhero game on k'start, and I've looked at a few of the other systems.

I have a friend who's putting together a group for a game to be podcast, maybe vidcast; originally, it was going to be Hero, but wow is that troublesome for fantasy gaming (yeah, there's books, and we looked at 'em and even tried to work with them, but he wants some unique magic details, and that means writing the system from scratch, and Hero's got a lot of number-crunching once you go down that path). We looked at GURPS, which I love - he thinks it's okay, but again, would need to rewrite the magic system. Right now, he's looking at 5e, and seems to think that the magic system is easier to twist into what he'd like than those two. I'm trying to pitch Fate, because I think he wants a strongly narrative game more than one where your stats define what you can do.

Key point: If you want a D&D game, play D&D. If you want a D&D-esque setting but do not want classes, levels, initiative rolls, and saving throws - don't play D&D. Find a system that covers the style of play you want, and use that.

This is mostly me grumbling about D&D )

Books and the Talking-About Thereof

May. 19th, 2017 04:32 pm
elf: Quote: She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain (Fond of Books)
[personal profile] elf
I have [community profile] sps, which stands for "Slushpile sleuths," an ebook review forum created a bit before the big ebook craze. It's been sitting dormant for almost 5 years, and I'd like to change that.

Option 2: Make a book-review tumblr. Pros: Better outreach. Cons: You can't archive on tumblr, can't find anything later, and it takes to serious discussion rather like airplanes take to lakes: Sure, it can be done, but even when it works, it's pretty damned obvious to everyone that it's not how things were intended to happen. Other pros: Nobody cares if you post 30 words or 300.

Not sure where to start, and that's what I want to get feedback about. Should I just... post some reviews of books I've read? I think I'm not going to post Amazing Serious Reviews like [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll does. (Srsly. Looking for reviews? Start there.) I can write like that, but it's not fun for me; that's not how I think about books (first). I'd rather do fannish-style squee or rants.

I'd also like other people to be comfortable posting reviews, which is one of the reasons I didn't get in the habit of posting there - I didn't want to have it overwhelmed by my posts alone. But it's gotten pretty obvious that the choice is "fill it up with my posts" or "leave it dead." And looking around, none of the active book-focused comms are specifically for reviews. ([community profile] book_reviews hasn't been dead as long as this one, but the owner has been inactive since 2010.)

Why I'm suddenly noticing a community I started over 5 years ago and have barely touched since )

It'd be nice to revive a book review comm for the New More Active Shiny Dreamwidth. Extra participation would be more than welcome.

New Book Wednesday on Thursday

May. 18th, 2017 07:39 am
marthawells: (Reading)
[personal profile] marthawells
Book Recs

(If you've been following my book rec and new book listing posts for a while, you may have noticed this already, but while most book lists emphasize books by popular straight white men, this one emphasizes everybody else. I include books by straight white men, but in about the same percentage that other book lists include everybody else. I also try to highlight books that are less well known.)

(I only link to one retail outlet in the book's listing, but most books are available at multiple outlets, like Kobo, iBooks, international Amazons, Barnes & Noble, etc. The short stories are usually on free online magazines.)


* Story: Ravana's Children by Ian Muneshwar


* Preorder: Jade City by Fonda Lee
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone -- even foreigners -- wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones -- from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets -- and of Kekon itself.


* Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn, illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag
It is eight years after Colleen Cavanaugh's home world was invaded by the Derichets, a tyrannical alien race bent on exploiting the planet's mineral resources. Most of her family died in the war, and she now lives alone in the city. Aside from her acquaintances at the factory where she toils for the Derichets, Colleen makes a single friend in Jann, a member of the violent group of rebels known as the Chromatti. One day Colleen receives shocking news: her niece Lucy is alive and in need of her help. Together, Colleen, Jann, and Lucy create their own tenuous family.


* Preorder: The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
or as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction. Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?


* Substrate Phantoms by Jessica Reisman
Jhinsei and his operations team crawl throughout the station, one of many close-knit working groups that keep Termagenti operational. After an unexplained and deadly mishap takes his team from him, Jhinsei finds himself—for lack of a better word—haunted by his dead teammates. In fact, they may not be alone in taking up residence in his brain. He may have picked up a ghost—an alien intelligence that is using him to flee its dying ship. As Jhinsei struggles to understand what is happening to his sanity, inquisitive and dangerous members of the station’s managing oligarchy begin to take an increasingly focused interest in him.


* The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
As the daughter of a time traveler, Nix has spent sixteen years sweeping across the globe and through the centuries aboard her father’s ship. Modern-day New York City, nineteenth-century Hawaii, other lands seen only in myth and legend—Nix has been to them all. But when her father gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end.


Other Stuff

My cold was better enough that we were able to go out last night and visit one of our friends in the hospital (we have a lot of friends in the hospital right now). He was doing really well for someone whose arm was broken in three places.

Murderbot still seems to be doing well (knock on wood) and I hope the second printing arrives soon. There's also going to be an audiobook (I don't have any other details yet).

Some reviews:

- LadyBusiness

- Pretty Terrible

- Amazon Book Review: The Best SF & F of May: 6 Top Picks

- The Qwillery

Not much to share

May. 17th, 2017 12:40 am
cyrano: (Hunny Pot)
[personal profile] cyrano
I've been pretty head down for a while, and I expect that won't change dramatically soon. Dealing with moving, trying to get back into equilibrium with my meds, passive-aggressively trading snide comments with my body. You know, the usual. If I generate something exciting (Aside from GotGV2--that was exciting!) I'll let you know.

Book Bundle

May. 16th, 2017 02:25 pm
marthawells: (Default)
[personal profile] marthawells
I have a massive post-con cold, but remembered I needed to post about this:

https://www.humblebundle.com/books/super-nebula-book-bundle

There's a Humble Book Bundle to support the Nebula Awards, and The Cloud Roads is part of it. Basically, you can pay anything over a $1.00 and get a large amount of DRM-free ebooks, and have part of your payment go to charity. As of today (May 16 2017) there are seven more days to buy the bundle.

Survivor Stories Interview

May. 15th, 2017 08:46 am
marthawells: (Default)
[personal profile] marthawells
I have an entry in the Survivor Stories Interview Project by The Pixel Project.

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW)

http://www.thepixelproject.net/2017/05/14/the-survivor-stories-project-2017-martha-wells-52-usa/

Some good news, for once

May. 13th, 2017 12:15 pm
elf: Rainbow fist (Join the Impact)
[personal profile] elf
[personal profile] twistedchick posted a link about a SCOTUS ruling: Same-Sex Adoption Upheld By U.S. Supreme Court (diff link, same story).

Synopsis: Two women were married; had child together - one was birth mother; the other adopted. They divorced. Birth-mom moved to a state that didn't allow same-sex adoption and attempted to cut off visitation. Other mom sued, and it bounced up through the courts to SCOTUS.

Unanimous decision, no oral arguments: NO, states cannot dissolve families that were recognized in another state. Georgia's "cannot adopt" rules do not mean that Georgia has the right not to recognize Alabama's legal adoptions.

*\o/*

Some nice ponderings from this: Read more... )

Coyote Cinema: Zootopia

May. 13th, 2017 12:58 am
cyrano: (Coyote Cinema)
[personal profile] cyrano
This was so much better than it had any right to be. Somehow I missed the theatrical release--it may have got caught up in the publicity for 'Sing' or something else animated that looked mediocre--but we had guests tonight who corrected that. This is another Disney effort with a lot of inside jokes, and some really gut-punchy jokes about races and relations. I didn't expect the plot to deliver much because curse of low expectations on animated kids movies, but the story was really good. Plus Idris Elba shouting.
elf: Subvert (Subvert)
[personal profile] elf
The Libertarian Futurist Society posted a 15-year-old essay about how all true/hard SF is properly libertarian. (I was alerted to this by this post; I don't go looking for libertarian screeds.) It's... fascinating. I was especially caught by this part:
SF is a radial category in which the prototypes are certain classics of hard SF. This is true whether you are mapping individual works by affinity or subgenres like space opera, technology-of-magic story, utopian/dystopian extrapolation, etc. So in discussing the traits of SF as a whole, the relevant question is not “which traits are universal” but “which traits are strongly bound” — or, almost equivalently, “what are the shared traits of most of the core (hard-SF) prototypes”.
That makes sense - it ties strongly into [profile] shweta_narayan's post, Let's talk about category structure and oppression! which mentions that we group things according to similarity with the core category traits:
The "bird" category has (somewhat culture specific) internal structure. For example, most Americans will agree that a robin is a better example of a bird than an albatross, and an albatross is a better bird than an ostrich. (And while bats are not birds, they are better birds than horses are, and horses are better birds than refrigerators are; so the gradations continue to some extent outside the category boundary).
Her post continues to point out that an ostrich is every bit as much bird as a robin, scientifically. That it is our cultural biases that treat some birds as "real" and others as "funny weird maybe-fake" birds. Albatross, kiwi, penguin, emu, and peacocks are all just as much "bird" as robin, sparrow, and crow. Science and hard analysis of traits gives us one answer ("these are all birds, because of genetics") and culture teaches us something else ("some of these are real birds; others are only 'technically' birds").

Back to the "about SciFi" essay. It starts with the statement that some traits are central to SF, not because they're universal but because they're the most meaningful (a reasonable enough claim) and then goes to claim that libertarian politics are "strongly bound" to hard SF, and that only SF that supports libertarian ideals is true SF, because only it gives the proper framework because
"hard SF has a bias towards valuing the human traits and social conditions that best support scientific inquiry and permit it to result in transformative changes to both individuals and societies. Also, of social equilibria which allow individuals the greatest scope for choice, for satisfying that lust for possibilities."
I can posit that hard SF is about "heroic people solving problems with science." I'm actually rather fascinated by the idea that the Justice League is a proper SF saga. Where I disagree is the notion that libertarian politics bring about "social equilibria." Author has apparently misunderstood "equality" to mean "white dudes get to do anything they want."

I'm not up to sorting out historical errors, and definitely not interested in wasting time making a list of them to argue with old white dudes who want to insist that "their" literary genre needs to inspire everyone else for the same reasons it inspired them.
"SF’s libertarian tradition: ornery and insistent individualism, veneration of the competent man, instinctive distrust of coercive social engineering and a rock-ribbed objectivism that values knowing how things work and treats all political ideologizing with suspicion...."
Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing has all of these traits, and I suspect that it'd be immediately rejected as a work of science fiction at all, much less hard sf, because its foundation isn't "US-flavored men-first society is best." Sense8 has these traits; I doubt they'll be lauding it as a new hard-SF series.

The "libertarian" definition of hard SF isn't about "objectivity;" it's about "making sure SF supports my existing biases about how the world works." The author/site owners (and more importantly, the crowd that supports this essay and others like it) seem to think that 50's America had no coercive social engineering - that the concept of "nuclear families" and "men as outside-job-havers and women as stay-at-home child raisers" is an innate part of the human condition rather than a system created to force half of society to provide unpaid labor.

It seems to think that an objective approach to how-things-work will reject all spirituality. In an interesting twist, it will accept the possibility of ghosts, aliens, psychic powers, FTL travel, teleportation, mysterious disembodied entities with tremendous power, and memory transfer - as long as these things are claimed to have some aspect that a human dude in a lab can put on a chart. (Human woman in a lab putting things on charts only counts if dudes can replicate her results.) If they are perceived and practiced without that, the "libertarian hard-sf" fans claim they belong to some other genre, even if the characters practicing them claim, "This is science; it's just science you don't understand yet, that you don't have tools to measure."

Cool Stuff Friday

May. 12th, 2017 12:13 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Friday is trying to recall French from high school, 25 years ago…

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Arrow 5:21 partial reactions

May. 11th, 2017 03:45 pm
elf: Dust sprite being squished by rock (Keep Trying)
[personal profile] elf
I haven't finished watching the newest episode of Arrow. This is partially because someone finally tripped me into Sense8 and I've been binge-watching that (up to season 2 ep 3; no spoilers please I'm watching as fast as I can), and partially because

OLIVER QUEEN IS A FUCKING IDIOT

Which I pretty much knew, but I don't like being reminded of it 7 minutes into the episode so strongly that it blocks out my ability to pay attention to the actual, y'know, plot going on.

spoilers and ranting inside the cut )

OOCQoTD

May. 11th, 2017 09:14 pm
emceeaich: (manga steve)
[personal profile] emceeaich

Goose society is surprising complex. Well, aside from the poop and anger issues.

Les Imaginales Schedule

May. 11th, 2017 01:37 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Next week, I have the honor of being part of Les Imaginales, the international festival of fantasy literature in Épinal, France. In fact, I’m doubly honored, since Le Bibliomancien (the French edition of Libriomancer, translated by Lionel Davoust) is one of six finalists for the Prix Imaginales award in the foreign novel category.

Les Imaginales has posted my schedule for the fair. Here’s everything I’ll be up to in France:

Tuesday, May 16

Thursday, May 18

  • 10 – 11 a.m. Coup d’envoi des Imaginales (Opening kickoff)
  • 11 a.m. – Noon. La fantasy…

Friday, May 19

  • 2 – 3 p.m. Livres et lecteurs… (Books and readers)

Saturday, May 20

  • 9 – 10 a.m. Petit Déjeuner avec Jim C. HINES (Breakfast with Jim)
  • Noon – 1 p.m. Entretien avec Jim C. HINES (Interview with Jim)
  • 4 – 5 p.m. Ils viendront vous traquer… (They will come to hunt you down…)

Wait, what? Is Google translating that last panel correctly? What kind of festival is this?

Anyone know of any good bodyguard services in France?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Traveling with Depression

May. 10th, 2017 10:05 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

I’ve talked before about dealing with depression. Last week’s trip to Buenos Aires, combined with next week’s trip to France, got me paying attention to the ways depression impacts and is impacted by travel, especially bigger trips like these.

It hit me the most on my first day in Buenos Aires, after I’d been dropped off at the hotel. I was exhausted from the flight. I’d missed my pills the night before during all of the travel chaos. I had nothing scheduled that first day, and I was alone in a new city where I didn’t know the language.

This blend of exhaustion and anxiety is just the type of situation my brain-weasels love, and as I settled into my room, I could feel them digging in. I knew intellectually that once I was out interacting with my publisher and doing the press interviews they’d lined up for me, my brain would snap into Performing Writer mode, and I’d be okay. But for now, all I really felt like doing was locking the door, turning out the lights, and waiting for tomorrow to arrive.

Intellectually, I had a pretty good idea what was going on in my brain. I knew I was tired and jet-lagged and overwhelmed, and I’ve gotten better at recognizing when depression is getting the upper hand. Unfortunately, recognizing the problem doesn’t make it go away. In at least one way, it made things worse, because it fed right into the self-recriminations.

  • “Think about all the people who were so envious of you getting to come to Buenos Aires, and now that you’re here, you’re depressed? What’s wrong with you?”
  • “Here you are in a brand new country, and all you want to do is hide in your hotel room? Sad.”
  • “Maybe you should stop accepting these invitations. Let someone who’d appreciate them go instead of wasting these opportunities on you.”
  • “Coward.”

Knowing it’s the depression talking doesn’t make it stop. Knowing the self-recriminations are a trap doesn’t stop them from pulling you down.

Ackbar: It's a trap!

Eventually, I made myself leave the hotel and go for a walk. Just a few blocks to look around and get my bearings. (And yes, to catch a few Magikarp.)

It helped. The brain weasels didn’t vanish, but they quieted down significantly as we wandered and looked around, absorbing the new sights and sounds. I knew I needed food, so I wandered into a McDonald’s.

  • “What kind of loser goes to another continent and eats at McDonald’s?”
  • “Pathetic.”

I needed that dose of familiarity, and after staring at the menu for a few minutes, I went up and asked, “Habla Inglés?”

She had just enough English to tell me she didn’t speak English. Pretty much the equivalent of my Spanish. But I managed to order anyway. She asked a question. I had no clue. But after a few rounds and some hand gestures, I realized she was asking for a size. I pantomimed small, medium, and large, saying them in English without thinking, then asked for a medium.

She got a big grin on her face and repeated “Medium,” adding, “I spoke English!” She was so excited she forgot to charge me. (Yes, I reminded her.) The whole exchange left me smiling.

#

This is such an odd post to try to write. I had a wonderful time in Buenos Aires. I’m so happy and honored that I got to go. I was also depressed about the trip, especially that first day or two. Both of these things are true.

I’m going to France next week for Les Imaginales. I’m feeling anxious. I suspect the depression will hit me in much the same way, especially that first day when I’m exhausted and have nothing scheduled. I’m mentally berating myself about feeling stressed instead of excited. I know, intellectually, that this will be another wonderful experience.

But brain weasels don’t give a shit.

  • “Now you’re depressed about going to France? You are such a disappointment.”

It’s just over five years since I got my diagnosis. Since I started taking antidepressants and talking to a therapist. It’s frustrating to be reminded that, like the diabetes, this isn’t something we’ve been able to “cure.” Instead, it’s something I try to manage. Like the diabetes, some days I do better than others, and some situations make it harder to manage.

To everyone I met and talked to in Buenos Aires: It’s not you; it’s me. You were amazing, and I had a genuinely great time, despite this chemical imbalance in my brain.

And to the brain weasels, I’m sure I’ll see you again next week. Hopefully I’ve learned enough to get you back into your cages. But just in case, maybe I should Google the McDonald’s closest to my hotel in Paris…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Wednesday

May. 10th, 2017 07:32 am
marthawells: (John and Ronon)
[personal profile] marthawells
Well, this is an interesting Wednesday. I hope we still have at least a sort of democracy by this time next week. I feel like a screaming goat on an emotional roller coaster.

Anyway!

On the book front, Tor.com, the publisher of The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red announced a second printing on Monday. From what I can tell, the ebook sales are still going really well. Reviews help, so if you read it please consider giving it a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or whatever site. It's still 9 short of the magic 50 on Amazon. (Though since Amazon won't tell anybody how they do anything, I don't know if 50 is the number where Amazon will start recommending it or not. Trying to figure out what Amazon is doing is basically like divination using a random number generator. Magic 8-Balls make more sense.)

I'm behind on my book rec posts (see goat, screaming, roller coaster) so don't have one today, but I do have a Raksura Patreon story almost done and I'm going to try to get that finished and posted before we leave for Comicpalooza.

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Madeline the Edifying

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