Shared posts

23 Sep 15:10

Dunbar’s number: 150 The evolutionary psychologist Robin...



Dunbar’s number: 150

The evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar identified that an average person’s social network appeared to follow simple scaling laws from the closest friends — who you would seek personal advice or help from in times of severe emotional and financial distress — through your superfamily (or close friends), to your acquaintances (or clan), whom you might invite to a party, to your most casual friends (or tribe). At each level, the number of people typically increases by about a factor of 3. So you might have 5 close friends, 15 in your super family, about 50 in your clan and about 150 in your tribe.

The 150, with some variance, seems to be around the limit for the number of people we can keep track of and reasonably call part of our social network and maintain as a cohesive group. Partly perhaps due to limits of our memories and also to the effort it takes to maintain the relationships.

There are many instances of the ~150 in action, for example, in challenges of transitioning companies as you exceed 150 employees while maintaining cohesiveness, the size of Neolithic farming communities and the basic unit size of Roman armies.

The number is actually 148, but 150 is catchier and seems fine between friends.

23 Sep 01:41

Tales: Kraken Good Time

The final boss of a side quest we had embarked upon put our party of five up against a massive Elder Kraken.

The battle raged for several rounds, and was not going in our favor, with my Kitsune Swashbuckler only getting the occasional hit in as he clambered over the massive creature, our sp…

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22 Sep 00:18

Cat Toy Story – DORK TOWER 13.09.18

by John Kovalic

HEY THERE! Dork Tower has a Patreon campaign, with amazing backers who help these webstrips happen. We’re nearing three new comics every week!  Check it out,  and join the fun! FUN!

21 Sep 01:56

Tales: Are You Sure About That?

My cousin loved D&D. One of his favorite hobbies was painting figurines to use in the game. He would come to our place every now and then, so my parents could run a game with him (my mother was the DM).

One day, he decided that he really wanted to play with a lvl 20 party and, after some ca…

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20 Sep 16:56

Catatonic Water – DORK TOWER 11.09.18

by John Kovalic

HEY THERE! Dork Tower has a Patreon campaign going, with amazing backers who help there here webstrips happen. And there’s bonus comics, bonus content, and swag! Sweet, sweet SWAG!  Check it out, why don’t you? Join the fun! FUN!

20 Sep 00:41

Laws and Sausages - 704

by tech@thehiveworks.com

New comic!

Today's News:
18 Sep 02:38

Beverages

If I wait a while, it's not so bad, because then it's just shaped like me, plus some pipes and tanks and probably eventually all of Earth's oceans.
16 Sep 15:09

Fix wobbly tables by rotating Since I learned this remarkable...



Fix wobbly tables by rotating

Since I learned this remarkable trick I actually find I quite like getting a wobbly table for the chance to retest this simple, and still kind of remarkable, fix. A number of smart people have spent probably more time than justified demonstrating that, for a four-legged table with even length legs on uneven ground, as long as the ground is not excessively bumpy you’ll be able to fix your wobble by rotating the table up to ¼ turn.

Now, it’s definitely true, that if you have a square table, not a round one, or, say, two square tables next to each other, it’s not always possible to start rearranging the café, but…when you can it’s really neat to see it work. Give it a try.

HT: Iqbal Gandham

15 Sep 15:02

Ego Vs. Mogo

by Ross


This was a match up that I teased way back in STF #33, and I have always meant to get back to. We've seen Ego make his film debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2,  now it's time to have some Mogo love on the big screen.  Let's hope he can get at least a cameo when The Green Lantern Corps finally gets to the movies.  I loved his animated appearance when Mogo Doesn't Socialize was adapted.
13 Sep 19:54

Tales: Piety Required

About a year ago I introduced my kids to role-playing games. I thought sharing something from my childhood that we could do together would be fun. At the time they were struggling to get along with one another, approaching Dwarf vs Elf levels of antagonism. It was getting bad.

In real life …

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13 Sep 19:53

Philosophy, Branding, Activism, Progress, Debate & The Future of Games

by Zak Sabbath
The Nice And True Thing

The other day on some social media, a popular author wrote a nice and true thing.

They were talking about some piece of entertainment for young people and noting--accurately and nobly--that it had casually inserted support for a progressive point of view in it. To be clear:
  • It was good that the piece of media did this
  • They deserve recognition for having done it
  • It was worth pointing out
  • I believe they pointed it out wholly sincerely
  • I believe this was something a big part of the commenter's audience probably needed to hear
...and the feeling I felt reading it was personal exhaustion. Nothing political, just wugh, meh, click.

Because despite all that, it's not a conversation I'd have with anyone I know irl--nor do I think it's a conversation the person who wrote it would have with anyone they chose to hang out with in real life. It would be really boring: Do you approve the Obviously Progressive Thing That Everyone We Hang Out With Would Approve Of? Yes, I do.

Nobody here at D&D With Porn Stars, for instance, sits around talking to each other about how sex work is work or that it'd be nice to be able to cam and then deposit using a bank like normal people. We know that. We say that publicly if we feel there's some important reason to point it out, but it's not a conversation we need to have, to each other, or even to our friends.

I've met many of you reading this. Few of you need to be convinced the president's immigration policies are terrible. It's assumed and known. Talking about it would be like complaining it's raining: we all wish it would stop, that's a boring-ass conversation. We're smart people with more to contribute than trading what is, in our own sphere, universally accepted wisdom.

But on social media? Day in, day out: RAIN IS BAD. IT SHOULD STOP. 30k Likes.

The author of the opinion I began this blog entry with wasn't starting a conversation that interested them, they were broadcasting a message. A cynical take would be this was branding ("performatively woke" in one alignment tongue, "virtue signalling" in another) a less cynical take would be that it's activism (that is: trying to enact large-scale change by spreading a message).


"Messaging"

Activism is an unalloyed good, branding is a bit more suspicious, but no matter what else they are, both branding and activism are a commitment to repeat yourself.

...and, simply as a person writing blog entries, that is not something that holds my interest.

I'm not saying they're not worth doing, just that--as activities per se--they're no fun.

Saying "pay your fucking freelancers a fucking living wage and you'll get better content" (which you will) isn't fun. Going "Maze of the Blue Medusa is back in print!" (which it is) isn't fun. 

These things have to be done once in a while, but they aren't why I started this blog. And reading and trading messages like this isn't the main reason I read these blogs or any social media. I've started to block people who do nothing else, not because I disagree with them (I don't) and not even because the messages they're broadcasting make me think about things I'd rather not (they don't), but just because: I'm here for conversation and these kinds of messages aren't part of an interesting conversation--even if they're part of an important one.


The Philosophical Process

So why do I do this?

I presume most of you know this, but I'll recap to be clear as possible.

Other than simply trading useful content (which is a lot of what we all try to do here on the blogs) I basically believe in what we might call the philosophical process, and I believe it can makes play experiences (including mine) better.

The process is this:

Somebody makes a claim about how games work.

Somebody else makes a contradictory claim.

They ask questions and present evidence to prove their claims, one or both are proven wrong.

If both participants do not stop and pursue the conversation back to their different opening assumptions, both learn if either position is true* and everyone watching also learns.

The sum total of knowledge in the community is increased, it spreads, everyone learns something, and new and better ideas can be built on top of the assumption that this thing has been settled.

(*or at least as true as we can tell right now)

For example, ideally:

Socrates: "Tomb of Horrors is unbeatable."

Plato: "No it isn't, I beat it in '82, here's the actual play report. Here's three more from other people. Do you think I'm lying or fabricated these documents?"

Socrates: "No. I guess I was wrong. I'm sorry. Tomb of Horrors is beatable, just really hard."

Everyone intelligent watching: "Ah, we see: Tomb of Horrors is beatable, just really hard."

Kotaku, i09, Geek & Sundry, Matt Mercer, WOTC, all other media sources: "Tomb of Horrors is beatable, just really hard."

The first thing any third party new to RPGs and eager for information Googles: "Tomb of Horrors is beatable, just really hard."

...and from then on, if anyone ever says Tomb of Horrors is unbeatable and doesn't acknowledge the error, they are immediately treated as if they just said camels were reptiles and must then either admit their error or be resigned to a life of never being trusted ever by anyone and as soon as their screen-name comes up people just block and move on. Constantly, forever, in perpetuity, unless Plato is proved to have forged his evidence.

And, most importantly, people considering buying Tomb or playing Tomb or creating something in line with its principles have real information to guide them.

The goal is never to persuade. The goal is to provide all the information to anyone present who is intelligent enough to make decisions based on information.

This is the process working. This process, though imperfectly, has worked often in the past--many gibberish ideas have been put to rest in the last ten years. RPGs apparently can be a spectator sport, 5th edition wasn't a flaming commercial wreck, you can make good money creating independent RPG products, sexy girls really do play D&D (one works at WOTC now), more than one prominent gamer-puritan is guilty of sexual misconduct, Tomb of Horrors is beatable, nobody's found good reason not to use split-column tables, you can fit several days' adventure comfortably on a page, etc. These things are facts, not opinions.

Evidence has been presented, refutation has not been forthcoming, the information has spread, peoples' behavior has changed in response to them. Like any engineering knowledge: new things can be built because we now know these are facts. 

Progress happens when what was previously in dispute is settled and things can be created knowing this or that piece of intellectual machinery is solid, will hum, the motor will go. Then you make the next thing.

It's easy to dunk on that as a "debate club" style conversation, but it's also impossible to defend the alternatives.

There are reasons not to have conversations about your game ideas in dedicated gamer-spaces that work like this, but none of them are good reasons:
  • People are just publicly venting (at the expense of authors, gamers, products and anyone googling to help them run a game)
  • People want to build community around their opinion more than they want it to be accurate (flat earth societies)
  • People have mental health issues and so just need to talk shit (and don't have a support system outside the online game community)
  • Ok, this is possibly a good reason: They're being funny (though admit it's in front of an audience where there's almost no genuine social reward for being funny--or a lot smaller social reward than if they just went the fuck outside and were funny in front of actual present people).
Most public game conversations in the online game space about what you think is true should work the way I described above. It should be philosophical. It should be directed toward solving the problem posed by opposing ideas. And if that means a weeks-long knock-down drag-out fight, have that fight, if that means you throw up your hands and go "Well we don't have enough information to know who's right" then you do that. Otherwise: seriously ask yourself why you bothered to write anything at all. What were hoping to get out of it? If nothing? Go do something else, don't be an internet addict. Improve your fucking life. There are soooo many more fun things to do with your free time.

If it's worth logging on, putting in your password, showing up and saying a thing in public about any game--no matter how silly the game (and, yes, this is a big if)--it's worth doing everything possible to be sure the thing you said is true.

(Note I'm not talking about genuinely idle conversation--like "Yo, do you think Drizz't is bi?"--I mean the far more common kind of conversation: the one where someone claims to know how a game or a part of a game or a kind of game works.)

Either you care about the dumb game thing you said or you don't. If you cared enough to write that owlbears are racist, then you can't jump ship and claim you don't care it's just elfgames when someone questions it. That doesn't help anyone and just adds noise other people have to filter out when they need actual information--it makes their life harder. It's basically spamming on behalf of a nonexistent product. Literally nothing improves, and some things get worse.

Some FAQs pop up in the comments below. If you're like "But what about..." check them.


Pro-Noise

Needless to say, the idea I've outlined above is immensely unpopular--almost as unpopular as the results of it are popular (many fine independent products that exist in their present form due to things learned during straightforward debate, nothing good's ever come out of the other model, which is:

Plato: "Here is my essay where I say Tomb of Horrors is beatable"

Socrates: "Here is my essay claiming Tomb of Horror is unbeatable"

Plato: "B...but you ignored all the evidence I put forward in mine?"

Socrates: "I don't have to debate you, you're not my dad!"

Hereabouts Dog Corpse Libertarianism tends to rear its head:

"You can't make me talk in a useful way!"

"No, and I can't tell you not to fuck a dog corpse on a public sidewalk either, but I can say it doesn't get you anywhere."

Most places tolerate noise and misinformation more than they should. On forums it's for the comfort of those whose urge to hang out there unhealthily transcends their urge to use hanging out there to collect anything they might use in a game (including mods, who want to hang out there so much they do real work for free)-- but, more importantly, because two decades of internet and two years of ascendant fascism have gotten everyone used to the idea that it's hip, noble, and activist to avoid debates.

Originally the idea was about avoiding debates with people whose starting premises were openly opposed to your existence (I, too, see no point in debating someone who wants me in an oven) but we all know there's literally nothing anyone doesn't like that can't, at a stretch, be characterized as Naziism--especially in an environment with no debate--which is a Get Out Of Jail Free card for people who don't actually have any reasons for saying what they say. I don't have (huf) to debate you.

While I will briefly note that debate-avoiders' much-cited boogiemen--trolls and right-wing lunatics--are very easy to send packing in debate (they jump the rails into personal attacks or failing to answer questions immediately, invalidating the rest) that's not my point here today.

My point is just: People avoiding debate has consequences. And the consequence is: the work gets boring and worse. The messages become repetitive--the messages become messaging, the only goals can be maintaining an achieved level of theoretical perfection--incarnating known values that are supposedly shared, rather than applying acquired collective wisdom to new problems. The stupid are attracted (the messages are easy to parrot) and the intelligent are repulsed (nothing of value is at stake, nothing can be resolved, no new information is being generated, no new action can be taken).

In other words, if people don't kick the tires, any discussion of ideas is just reducible to activism or branding. One-way communication. The supposedly wise educate the supposedly ignorant and the best they can hope for is to clone themselves.

And before I just go "Fuck it" and leave everyone to these consequences, I figured I'd make sure I laid out my case for not letting that happen as clearly as possible.

Have conversations. Have them until there is no possible question left to answer. And if people won't do that: treat them like they're in the way. Because they are. Do something about them. Otherwise this amazing proliferation of people being creative for fun and occasionally profit will disappear.
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13 Sep 14:30

Grrl Power #666 – Demon stuff!

by DaveB

Grrl Power #666 – Demon stuff!

I hadn’t planned on cutting away from the battle again, but someone pointed out that page 666 was coming up, and I knew I had to do something featuring Dabbler. (Even though the actual number of the beast is 616 but someone translating something one day decided 666 was punchier and just changed it. It’s almost like the whole thing was made up or something.) If I can figure out how, I’ll bump page 663 up to 665, so the pages cutting into the battle scene will be back to back.

Anyway, back to this page. Dabbler’s apron isn’t censored for the sake of the comic, it’s supposed to be actually printed that way, so anyone looking at it in real life would see that Japanese mosaic effect and will fill in dirty stuff to the limit of their imagination. Imagine it was a picture of a tentacle, or a picture of two butts touching, if you’re Tina Belcher, or a picture of a ▛▓▞▓▚▛.

As the commander of the team, Maxima should probably be a little more stoic, and not wandering around the base at 3:00 am in her pajamas. She’s obviously taken a sort of motherly shine to Sydney, and is frustrated she can’t punch this problem in the face to fix it.


Double res version will be posted over at Patreon. $1 and up, but feel free to contribute as much as you like.

11 Sep 00:27

Symphonic translations.

by Jessica Hagy

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The post Symphonic translations. appeared first on Indexed.

10 Sep 00:10

The Square-Cube law For years, I’ve wondered at how as a...



The Square-Cube law

For years, I’ve wondered at how as a kid I found the monkey bars in a playground (often a jungle gym in the US) so much easier to swing on than I do as an adult. And I see our kids swinging around easily on them, while now it’s hard for me just to hang off them. The reason why is partly to do with the square-cube law.

The square-cube law is the deceptively simple observation that as you scale up dimensions — say, as you get taller — then area of the object increases proportional to the square of the length, while volume increases proportional to the cube of length. This fundamental relationship has enormous significance in the sizes and shapes of animals and the limits of how big trees can get and how big we can build our bridges and buildings.

Because the strength of our bones, muscles or wooden beams is proportional to their cross-sectional area, this means that while the strength of a larger object, assuming the same proportions as the smaller one, increases according to the square of a length, the weight (from the volume it takes up) increases according to the cube of a length. So, relative strength decreases as size increases.

Some corollaries are therefore that children’s small size relative to the area of their muscles and bones makes them relatively stronger than adults and so they can more easily support their weight as they swing on the monkey bars. In the same way, press ups are harder for bigger people than they are for smaller. And while an ant has tiny spindly legs, those legs could easily support 50 other ants of its size, whereas for an elephant to support its own weight it needs chunky legs — not spindly ones — and there’s no chance it could get close to carrying 50 other elephants on its back.

It’s also part of the reason short trees can be spindly, but big sequoias have relatively chunkier trunks, and we need increasingly strong materials to build bigger and bigger skyscrapers compared to the shed in your garden.

Galileo discussed this back in 1638 and it still requires some getting your head around today.

For this and other fascinating insights of scaling check out Scale, by Geoffrey West.

More ‘law’ sketchplanations.

08 Sep 20:27

Some thoughts about a trailer for the short film The Betrothed

by TeraS

The Betrothed Film PosterI found a trailer for a short film called The Betrothed on Vimeo while searched for succubus themed videos there. Having done a little googling,

The work appears on IMDb and otherwise there’s really not that much else to be found about it, which is, I admit, rather disappointing. It is an American film, it’s about 22 minutes long and is categorized as being “fantasy/horror”.

Those that know me will be well aware that at this point I’m expecting the work to be more horror than erotic and, generally, portray the succubus, if there is one, as somewhat stereotypical overall.

The plot of the work is really not what one might expect and in being so, I’d hope that there was some effort put into making the “evil” be more than “just evil” as a whole.

IMDb summarizes the film as:

An advertising executive, engaged to be married, is convinced he’s being stalked by a succubus, but is afraid to tell his fiancée for fear of being labeled insane. But are his experiences real or just wild dreams stemming from the prescription drugs he’s pushing?

Based on that short outline, and the trailer which is below, it’s difficult to say if this really is a succubus themed film or something else. What makes it harder to short out is that this film was completed in April 2018, but I cannot seem to locate it.

If anyone has an inkling as to where I could find a copy, it would really be appreciated. Regardless, here’s the trailer and my thoughts about it.

If you can’t see this trailer on the Tale, please try this link.

This could be interesting as a psychological horror slash thriller. there seems to be aspects of that, but it’s so difficult to tell from just a trailer.

So, again, if anyone has an idea where to find this, please let me know and I’ll give this a proper review.

 

Tera

06 Sep 16:03

Tales: The Pitching Hour

Sometimes you are awed by a player or NPC who can do unconventional things with ease. In this case it was a Hag.

I was DMing a 5e game for friends. The party consisted of a Human Fighter who only used Crossbows, a Dragonborn Paladin, a Kenku Rogue, a Human Warlock, and a Sun Elf Cleric. I e…

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06 Sep 14:49

Succubus by jasperaventAs found...



Succubus by jasperavent

As found at:

http://jasperavent.deviantart.com/art/Succubus-559430079

Just a touch of evil…

06 Sep 14:42

235 Extra-Extra  Originally had the term Fracted instead of...





235 Extra-Extra  Originally had the term Fracted instead of Bevilled, but it’s not far wrong.
Two ordinaries on the same device - okay. Four is right out! Too many Layers as well.

236 Anti-Heraldry  Or, semy of ants sable. OR, Or, emmety sable, also (emmet = ant)  Ants, and other insects, while rare, can be used in heraldry.

The coat of arms of Majur is Or an Ant Sable. The ant is siad to represent “diligence, building and persistence of the inhabitants though long and turbulent history”. 

 http://zeljko-heimer-fame.from.hr/descr/hr-sk2.html#hr-sk-mj

06 Sep 14:39

231 Squirrel!  Animated  Vair is an heraldic representation of...





231 Squirrel!  Animated  Vair is an heraldic representation of Squirrel fur pelts.  You judge whether this would be cruel to have a Talbot Vair.

232 Angel  Happy Holidays!

30 Aug 16:21

The Lunatic Fringe

by Ross


This cover comes about as the result of a concept from Reg Aubry and others in a recent comment section of this blog. I liked the idea of an entire team filled with heroes of questionable sanity.  It only makes sense that these off-kilter champions would join together, as many have had adventures with one another in previous issues -

The Badger met Moon Knight in STF #832...

Moon Knight met The Creeper in STF #1022...

The Creeper met The Tick in STF #2309...

The Tick met Ambush Bug in STF #480...

... and I guess they all get together and meet Crazy Jane in this issue!

Thanks, Reg and the rest for a fun team idea!


29 Aug 17:05

Tales: Caught in a Lie

Our party consists out of a Wizard, Cleric, Fighter, Bard, and Rogue—all human, and one Duskscale Lizardfolk Shadowsage. While we can seriously kick the behind of everything that walks, crawls, or slithers, we are seriously deficient in the ranged attacks department. My middle-aged Bard has …

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29 Aug 15:24

Superman and Doc Savage

by Ross


I remember being let down by Superman III when I was a kid.  The inclusion of Richard Pryor was a head scratcher, and his scenes seem to belong in a completely different movie.  I wondered why they didn't use Brainiac if they were going with a computerized villain.  The real disappointment was the special effects, which looked pretty cheap compared to the first two films - it didn't help that I had just seen Return of the Jedi the same weekend.  Still, the movie is not a complete loss.  I quite like Annette O'Toole's turn as Lana Lang and the rekindled romance with Clark.  The Superman goes evil segment was well done too, especially the great Superman/Clark battle in the scrap yard. Better effects, Less Gus Gorman and Brainiac for the villain could have made this a third big success for the franchise.
28 Aug 03:14

If you’re alive, thank a nurse.

by Jessica Hagy

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The post If you’re alive, thank a nurse. appeared first on Indexed.

20 Aug 21:24

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Unconscious

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Anyway, I have to get home so I can get my nightly 8 hours of vivid hallucinations.


Today's News:
20 Aug 04:07

219 Rotated Sometimes you should look at your arms from other...





219 Rotated Sometimes you should look at your arms from other points of view - fighters- your shield isn’t always vertical while in use…

220 Clownfish  To make a monster or animal a ‘Sea-beast", one generally takes a beast in the rampant position, and change from the waist down to a fish-tail. Other positions can be described.
A “Clownfish” would look like “Little Nemo”.

17 Aug 23:22

To make an omelette...

To make an omelette...
16 Aug 17:03

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Hominids

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
I promise to never again attempt to draw early hominids.


Today's News:
14 Aug 23:24

08/14/2018

by aaron
13 Aug 15:18

Magneto Vs. Plastic Man

by Ross

This I think could be a pretty interesting battle.  Usually Magneto has the upper hand when fighting a hero due to his incredibly powerful skill set, but Plastic Man's unique composition would not lend itself to outside manipulation.  Then you have their disparate personalities to consider, action with a smile versus dead serious extreme activism - it would definitely be a fun match up to watch play out.
12 Aug 16:02

Forest bathing I love this term. From the Japanese...



Forest bathing

I love this term. From the Japanese shinrin-yoku, it means to soak in the atmosphere of a forest. And I think it’s not too far of an overstatement to say that a walk in Nature is about the closest to a miracle cure we have. There appear to be myriad benefits from simply spending time in Nature. As my sister put it, if it was a drug we’d be prescribing it.

Though we didn’t call it forest bathing at the time it’s definitely some of my happiest memories, like here, here, here, here, and here.