It's like for games where people might get freaked out. (For some people: all games.)
It's a card you hold up when the game is genuinely traumatically freaking you out and then everybody dials back whatever the offensive thing is.
The theory is: sometimes if you're freaked out, you're too freaked out to explain to your fellow gamers that you're freaked out, so you use this card to say it. X! And they all then know that means stop.
So recently this person (a storygame fan, naturally) suggested that the X-card should be mandatory for all games.
And I was like "Well then why not for all activities ever? I mean, you can be doing anything and then be triggered and then not be able to explain why?"
And they were like Yeah, the X-card should be mandatory for all activities.
So this is the cutest opinion in the history of games.
But then I was like--y'know what, I know lots of people who have triggers. Maybe it would actually be a good idea if there was just a trigger ap that actually called up a message saying "Hey this is difficult content for me" with translation options.
Mandatory though. Online RPG people, jesus.
That would make murder trials hella fun, right?
The customer value chain.
I’ve found this model useful in my thinking so many times. Also known as the Buying Hierarchy, it’s a model that illustrates a common evolution — though not perfect nor universal — in products and markets where an original innovation provides a performance or functionality benefit over what others can provide. As a result they can charge more as no one else does it.
When others come to deliver that too, then the focus for the customer can move to which delivers the most reliable quality. When the reliability is the same from different providers then we’ll choose the one that is more convenient.
Only once all else is equal does the lowest price option become the winning one. At this stage you’re selling a commodity where people could choose to get the same thing, just as easily, for the same quality in several places.
There’s a business to be made at each stage, but it’s sensible to know where you’re competing.
The original model is from Windermere Associates and widely shared by Clayton Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.
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I'm starting to realize I really like settling arguments in favor of people who are wrong.
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At noon today it is one year hence that Goddess called my Eternal’s mother home.
One Year Hence
One year arrived
The time approached
The moment came
The tears fell
The sadness arrived
One year passed
The pain settled in
The loss deepened
The tears never stopped
The ache was constant
One year darkened
The light dimmed
The faith was shaken
The joy wasn’t to be
The trails began
One year hence
The tears never seem to stop
The hurt never seems to lessen
The agony never seems to go away
The loss never seems to leave
One year …
A Son remembers his mother
A Daughter remembers both mothers she’s lost
A Father remembers his love
A Family remembers
Every day of every year.
|New painting for Demon City, click to enlarge|
The left side of the brick represents the second you were born, the right the second you die, the brick itself all you might've experienced and the path of the straw all that you did experience.
This tunnel through the gelatin is the path of your life. Now imagine a second tunnel, shaped like a crazy straw--carving likewise broadly left to right but looping and wild--intersecting and sometimes overlapping the path of your life, but rounding off and taking its own route at many places. This tunnel is the life of someone else you know.
Your story and another person's only have to agree when these paths overlap. Only if you both witness the same event will your stories need to be alike in order to maintain a sense of an objective and sensical world. If your father was alone in a field and says he saw a length of rusted wire, this cannot threaten your sense of reality if you were a thousand miles away at the time. Why wouldn't your dad have seen a wire?
Your exact position in any given space and at any given time, like your experience, is unshared and unique to you. You experience the look of you favorite picture and the taste of your favorite food in ways that do not necessarily precisely match the experience of any other creature that ever was or will be.
Imagine now further, that due to your unique pattern of shape, mass, and velocity, the precise physical laws that govern your existence are also unique to you. You move in a reality envelope where the air is generally 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen and free-falling objects where you are gain speed at 9.8 meters per second squared and fireflies glow golden with a darkening around the edges and people, when you ask for directions, are generally kind.
The truth is this: it is not necessary that everyone share these rules, all that is necessary for the spreading network of reality to maintain its shape is that the rules of the subrealities experienced by everyone in the one greater reality look the same when and only when they intersect.
Having a cigarette on the train platform at 10am, you tell your sister there's no such thing as ghosts--and your sister says there is. You are both right--by the rules governing your tunnel through the gelatin there can be no ghosts, and by the rules governing your sister's tunnel there can be, but so long as you both agree there are no ghosts to be seen right now on this train platform at 10am, reality holds.
The farther from things with which one might interact, the farther the unique curve of an individual's unique set of laws might bend from the norm. This isn't because things change as you move away--it's because this is always how it was going to be. The universe is organized in such a way as to keep consistent. Your father was always going to be alone when he saw the rusted wire, and your sister was always going to be the last one to leave the office when she heard the voice that wasn't a voice from that white face pressed against the far side of that window.
Divagations from the understood are less likely when more disparate bystanders appear whose subrealities the larger reality needs to satisfy. This is why the greatest wonders and terrors are witnessed lonely hills, in basements, on dead streets when the background music of life seems to have dropped away and a sneakered footstep sounds as clear as a nail being clipped...or in the presence of severe ranks of disciples who have trained their souls to follow a single and common path. And, likewise, this is why such events will never be believed or understood in the wider world--at least until the last generation discovers the implications of whatever rules they earned that position by ignoring.
By this token the many systems of supernatural and metaphysical wisdom recorded across human history are not so mutually-exclusive as they might first appear. What the Babylonian heresiarch inscribed on a tomb wall, what the Han dynasty sculptor cast in impure bronze, what the Elizabethan witch-hunter printed and circulated--these things are as real as anything in a life that we have not lived can ever be, as are the declarations that these things are impossible. They are simply rules for tunnels that never intersect.
What then is necessary to summon demons is to observe carefully the reality you are in, and look for the rules that have always been there--as a character in a book might guess the ending by discovering the genre he's being written in.
Once these rules begin to be found, the adept will grasp that all activity has a second meaning. Gestures, decisions, echo forward in ways not previously understood--for you, and for anyone who will encounter you. Even your words are a dialogue in a performance judged by new gods.
To know these things, the research must be done, the books read, the practices observed, but most of all: experiments must be conducted. And what will be unleashed is what was meant to be and what is then wrought can only be no more than what should have been.
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This story should have been shared on the Tale last week, or at least that was sort of the plan. But things conspired against me, and so it’s appearing one week late. Or rather, it will be shared one week late, but still appear to be on the right day and time otherwise. Time is, after all, an illusion—some would say lunchtime is doubly so *winks* —but, perhaps, sometimes there are good things to be found …
The day had arrived.
The day arrived when, as always, she’d asked for nothing special, for that was her way; a day in which she didn’t see the point of everyone making a fuss, going out of their way. Gifts weren’t needed—they weren’t what was important, after all. She understood what did matter, this year more than ever, it seemed, all things considered.
The birthday wishes came; really, they were what she cherished most of all: to know—but she always did—that she was remembered and loved, for she loved them all so very much.
Except, this year, other things changed. Those changes happened … afterwards.
The day after Tera’s birthday was a day she spent alone. It was a tradition of hers, one that had started a long time ago. It’s hard to lose one’s mother when you are but a child. One tends to grow up very quickly afterwards. There’s an emptiness that begins to form, one that simmers and bides its time. There’s little that can be done to hold it back, or lessen what comes from that emptiness.
Except where there was a mother that knew of that emptiness, of what it brought.
The day after Tera’s birthday always, but always, arrived with a single sealed envelope. Addressed very simply in a hand that was unmistakable, but then the hand of one’s mother is unmistakable.
Except, afterwards, on this birthday … there were two.
If the hand that wrote upon the first envelope was unmistakeable, then the writing upon the second was even more so. The hand was that of her Eternal’s mother, the addressing upon that letter quite clear.
Having a second mother—one that guided you through the trials of being an adult, was there to share in the love, laughter and joys of becoming part of a family—was a gift. Being loved by a mother, called daughter, cherished as much as her memories remember she’d been when she was young, was a gift for always. It was a gift through the good and the not so much so. Now, in the afterwards, a gift from a mother was joined by a gift from … a mother.
She’d always opened the single letter alone, not sharing what it said with anyone else. The words were, after all, meant for her. But now, afterwards, that wasn’t the thing to do. Her Eternal needed to be there.
He’d always respected her time alone, and this year he expected the day after Tera’s birthday to be the same. But in the afterwards of Tera calling to him, asking him to sit with her, he found himself looking at a card, addressed in a familiar hand …
… addressed to him.
They opened their letters, read them in silence. Afterwards Tera placed hers on the table, and he followed. Then she picked up his, and Keith did the same.
The words from the past met with the words of the here and now. One spoke of the hopes held for her daughter, the other the prayers for her son. Both spoke of their love for them both, one not ever having met him, the other grateful for having been there for both of them. Both mothers told of them being there, not leaving. They both understood that the words would be read in the afterwards of their being called by Goddess.
Neither of them worried about themselves.
They wrote of the afterwards, the days of longing, the emptiness within. But also was told of the joy of family, of the hope they had that in the afterwards there was something better to be found. Something they hoped would, in time, help with the afterwards.
In the afterwards, the two Eternals talked about what came … afterwards.
At the end of the day that followed Tera’s birthday, she’d always taken the letter from her mother for that year and carried it to the place where she’d placed every letter from every year since her mother’s passing. A bundle of cards, bound by an old red ribbon, one that had once held a ponytail in place a long time ago.
In the afterwards, that ribbon never was used to bind a mane of ebon hair again. It found its place in binding together the words of a mother to a daughter. Now, in the new afterwards, the ribbon held that multitude of cards … and one more: a card from a mother to her son; a card that spoke of hope in what would come next, a promise made to a son and, through that promise, one for a daughter as well.
Afterwards, things did get better.
And, in every afterwards to come, it would be a little more so.
If you're eager to see this finished so you can use any of this stuff on a three-shadowed Qlipoth, donate to the Demon City Patreon.
Note that "Calm Check" is how much seeing the animal in the wild freaks people out.
And remember: in real life animals are our friends and we are far more dangerous to them than they are to us--except for ones from Australian who can fuck right off.
The browse line.
A distinctive line below which you don’t tend to see leaves or branches in places with animals that like eating leaves or branches. Basically, caused by animals eating as high as they can reach — except for where there are giraffes where trees don’t stand much of a chance, even spiky ones.
Here's one: RPGs are full of ranges--Silence 15' radius, the Ruger is accurate up to 1000' yards...ever wonder what various ranges actually look like?
Somebody was writing an article about how big don't-sell-drugs-to-school-children zones should be-(a subject upon wish I have no opinion I which to discuss with game bloggers), but they did provide a useful illustration of some ranges:
And now, a word from our sponsor:
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Draw smooth lines.
…by using the natural geometry of your joints. It took me a while to figure out that it’s easy to draw lines in some directions and hard in others. And most of the time it’s simply down to respecting the pivots of the elbow and the wrist. And also why we tend to angle our notebooks so much to the desk, and why, if you want to draw a smooth line at another angle, you’re really best-off just turning the paper.
As a corollary, I figured out that by looking at angle of most of Leonardo Da Vinci’s cross-hatching you can see that he was drawing left-handed.
This post presumes you already have a firm understanding of why you should cut ties with social media. If you aren’t there yet, you probably don’t need to read on. But perhaps you’d be interested in the following articles on happiness, avoiding depression, etc.
If you already know that social media is making you miserable and you’re just trying to find a way to escape then read on and follow this 5 step plan.
1. Tell your real friends your intentions. It’s crazy, but people might think you are unfriending them if you shut down your accounts. Do it in a non-judgmental fashion. “I just gotta lay low for a while.” “I’m spending too much time staring at my phone.” Keep it simple, you don’t need to tell them that social media has become a leading cause of depression. They might not want to hear it, and that’s fine.
***Whatever you do, don’t pull one of those bullshit things where you post on social media that you are leaving social media. People will just think you’re fishing for attention. Because you probably are just fishing for attention.***
2. Turn that shit off.
3. Make a list of what you’ll be missing.
You probably use social media for a number of reasons. Your original reason like connecting with old classmates that you haven’t seen in years was probably replaced by things like:
- Spying on ex GF’s, BF’s, your kids, spouses, lovers.
- Reading news (i.e. watching John Oliver clips)
- Reading fake news
- Collecting likes. And spending meaningful events in your life (like vacations, weddings, births) thinking about how to frame that moment on Instagram or Facebook and what you’ll say.
- Looking at things you could buy.
- Getting invited to events that you don’t want to go to, but… FOMO.
- Looking at pictures from events that you missed that make them look way more fun than they actually were.
- Taking 5 minute breaks from work.
4. Figure out healthy ways to replace what you’re missing.
- Email an old friend that you haven’t connected with in a while.
- Spend meaningful life events being present and undistracted by technology. Maybe just bring a camera or nothing to the beach or Disney World for one day to see how it goes.
- Actually watch the concert or game you have attended. Especially if your friends or children are participating.
- Stay informed on things you care about by subscribing to RSS feeds on a tool like The Old Reader! There’s almost infinite amazing content on every topic you can imagine. But you’re probably missing most of it while obsessing over random crap on Facebook.
- Go for a 5 minute walk outside. Even if the weather stinks. Walks in the rain can be pretty awesome.
- Meditate for 5 minutes. Just focus on breathing and clearing your head. No iPhone app or expertise required.
5. You’re free! Just because social media is a growth area and a new technology doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. I mean, seriously, your parents are watching you again! You’d finally broken free and moved to a different state. And now they know about everything you do.
Hell Rose by NanFe
As found at:
My favorite succubus character of the month by far.. Her overall look is just so strikingly seductive…
Drifting by idomuchris
As found at:
Just a really moody, almost tragic feeling piece of succubus art…
There are some images of Morrigan Aensland that appeal to me. The ones that I enjoy the most are one is which they seem to be like a portrait of her. Focusing more on her personality rather than her cleavage appeals to me. This week’s Succubi image is an excellent example of this…
Vain Princess by TOYDREAMER
This work is called Vain Princess and is by an artist on DevaintArt called Toydreamer. You can find the original page with this art here on DeviantArt and this artist’s page can be found here.
Just one of the most wonderful images of Morrigan that I have in my collection really. Her expression, that little smile, the tilt of her head, the overall confidence that she expresses in this art reflects so well her personality. There’s a strength, a certainty within her form that comes out in this work.
Capitating eyes, lovely detail in her hair, skin tones, wings and the curve of her clothing. A wonderful creation that expresses that Morrigan isn’t just pretty to look at, she’s a force in her own right and that is forgotten at one’s own peril…
|This is a new painting I made for Demon City, click to enlarge it|
Nearly the entire plot of Get Out is just the slow revelation of a specific ecology, despite not starting with a murder. (Spoilers) The daughter brings unwitting but able-bodied black victims to the house, the parents auction off the victims to aging friends, and--aided by hypnosis and surgery--the brains of the villains end up in the bodies of the victims. The "house servants", rather than a rotting corpse, are the first clue.
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...mostly. The trick is they makes use of one key choker: the party is already in the dungeon. Though it's actually a metaphorical dungeon--they're not in a physically restricted underground maze, but they are unwillingly inside the villains' scheme when the adventure begins.
These are written for the Demon City project (donate to the Patreon here), but can apply to pretty much any game...
In the Invisible Dungeon, the trick is the players don't know it.
At the beginning of Alien, the Company has just woken up the crew to go investigate a distress call which it knows is dangerous ("crew expendable" according to the secret orders) and, as I noted in an earlier entry, when Get Out opens the photographer is already on his way to the girlfriends' country house which will lead to the party which will lead to him being auctioned off. From the main characters' POVs these are, at the beginning, more or less ordinary situations.
In practice, starting the players in a situation where they don't even know they're in trouble is different by just a hair, in terms of preserving meaningful choice, from being told "Hey we're running this module so you want the gold from Blastoskull Manor", but once the set-up is done, the Host should respect player choices and the scenario should be designed so that any player choice thereafter fuels the adventure.
Dungeons offer choices, but the also have walls: likewise, the Invisible Dungeon should be designed ahead of time with some barriers to escape the villains' dastardly scheme. If the crew of the Nostromo decided to leave the Alien planet without going into the egg chamber what would happen? Well the Host would've had Ash (the Company's secret android) secretly try to kill whoever made that decision and/or somehow get the crew back to the planet to investigate--possibly by sabotaging the ship. If, near the beginning of Get Out, Daniel Kaluuya had decided to, well...get out, the family would've tried a combination of physical force and hypnosis to prevent it (which they do, later in the film).
Now, in a genuine railroad these prevention schemes would automatically work--I recommend you not run things like that. Let the situation play out however it plays out--and if the party escapes the Invisible Dungeon you made early, you switch to a story of pursuit. Even dead bad guys have friends. It's easy to imagine a continuation of the truncated Alien story above where the Company tries to hunt down the crew who've seen its robot go berserk and it's easy to imagine a sequel to Get Out where the police are asking around about this photographer kid who was apparently around at the old country house when that family got killed.
However, the point of prepping an adventure is to prevent having to do all that improvising of new scenarios all at once, and to have players encounter things as well-thought-out and complex as your downtime allows. To get that to happen, it's as important to promise "treasure" inside the "dungeon" as it is to build walls around it. In mass media, this is less necessary than it is in a game--unlike players, movie characters don't know they're in a movie and will walk right into the heart of darkness if the screenplay demands it. Hosts have to be cleverer than screenwriters.
A simple way to do this is to turn an avenue of investigation into a trap. For example: a witness (secretly a villain or villain's pawn) tells the players they saw the gunman flee into a warehouse. The warehouse is a fiendish Saw-like. The (evil) clerk tells the players the records they need are kept at the country courthouse, upon entering, the guards lock the doors and the cell tower is sabotaged.
Another way is to build a breadcrumb trail out of things the players will want to follow even if it has nothing to do with the investigation. The lifeguard with the big blue eyes invites you down to the (wereshark-infested) island for a weekend. You have to know your players and their playstyles pretty well in order for this to work, though.
What not to do is simply decide, after the fact, that whatever the players felt like doing it will turn out to be the trap--this creates a situation where you've artificially removed players' choices, and in the long run this makes them think about their decisions less, and makes a game of decisions and investigations less fun. If the witness is a pawn of the villain, there's always a chance a clever player could find that out, if a clerk is evil the players theoretically might find a way to discover that before heading to the courthouse. If you respect the rules of the imaginary world, the players will learn to investigate it with care.
If you want the Invisible Dungeon to last longer than a single session then it helps to have the villains have some plan for the party besides just killing them. A horror bent on seducing the party members, quietly grooming them for membership in a cult, driving them insane or (as in Get Out) showing them to prospective buyers can maintain a ruse of harmlessness and mystery far longer. The players will know something is wrong (they're playing Demon City, after all) but they won't know who the danger is and who's a harmless NPC.
And there should be, occasionally, harmless NPCs--not just to throw off the players, but also because friendly non-player characters are part of the advancement system.
Wallet, Keys, Pants
In this kind of format, you wake up missing your wallet, your keys and your pants. Or something equally valuable. You may also wake up far from home. Unlike the Invisible Dungeon, the players immediately know something's wrong. The Invisible Dungeon works by luring the PCs in with something they want, Wallet, Keys, Pants works by taking away something the PCs want back.
The advantage of this format is it's easy to add obstacles (the characters were asleep, you can surround them with challenges and terrors) and easy motivate players to face them (they need to find their stuff or escape or both).
The disadvantage is--unless you do it as the opening of the entire campaign--you need to get the characters knocked unconscious. It's no fair just deciding in the middle of a campaign that last time they slept this happened, you have to have the bad guys creep in--roll to see if the PC notices--inject the benzodiazapines--roll to see if they wake up with the pain--and sneak them away to the getaway vehicle.
The wallet, keys, pants option is also a good adventure format if you finish a combat with all the heroes knocked unconscious.
Aside from the beginning, the Host also has to answer a few questions: why did the horror leave the PCs alive? Did something go wrong mid-kidnapping? Does the horror have only an animal intelligence, and so left the party alone at the wrong moment? Do they want something more complex from them than just their flesh? After that, the WKP adventure consists of the same kinds of clues, hazards and a fights as any other adventure--just put these things between the party and whatever it is they want