Dec 3, 2009

Time Flies Like A Banana

I'm currently trawling the archives of James Maliszwicz's Grognardia, and came upon this:

"You Know You're Old When...

...other gamers unironically talk about the release of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia in 1991 as "back in the day."
That's the entiretey of the post, by the way, though the comments are also interesting.

What struck me is, not only was I at the tender age of 3 at the time, the Soviet Union fell that very year. This, to me, isn't just "back in the day" - it's history on par with WW2, just as "old" and far-gone, though the objective distance is far shorter.

In that time, I practically left my diapers behind and started blogging and paying bills. Well, I probably wasn't wearing diapers still, but you get the picture.

Time sure flies, eh? And it seems to go faster and faster. Feels like December 2008 and my original introduction to the wonderful world of RPGs, via the World of Darkness, is just a couple of months ago.

[If you're wondering why I'm apparently suffering from some form of writing-diarrhea today, it's because I just finished my exams and am bored.]

Player Handouts - How To Make Them Look At home

Michael Curtis over at the Society of Torch, Pole and Rope recently posted on a nifty little program that can turn your own handwriting into a usable font for your computer, making those little kustom details on your handouts that much easier to tweak to satisfaction.

In that regard, I'd like to share a dirty little secret: I've never used custom fonts for my handouts. Or, indeed, much of anything. As a rather fresh GM, I have primarily run Dark Heresy, a system built on the old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rules but set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000. In that setting, I've personally gotten very good results simply typing up my documents in Notepad, which gives a very retro-technological, bureaucratic, somewhat clunky feel to the text. I started using it as much out of convenience and lack of a proper word processor on my computer as anything else, but later I started receiving compliments from my players on the quality of the handouts, specifically the font.

So, there you have my dirty, little secret: Notepad. It makes a pretty fine Imperial font - simple, free, and preinstalled. Just watch the spacing; line wrap-arounds aren't pretty.

Why Learn a Second Language? - part 1

Some of my enormous and devoted horde of readers (disclaimer: Since human beings consist of multiple organisms, and several partake in the undertaking of reading, it has been scientifically determined that a single human reader constitutes a "horde") may wonder why one should go to the effort of attaining a second language. Først og fremst fordi hvis ingen gjorde dette, ville denne bloggen se slik ut, and secondly, because it is a mind-expanding experience.

How so?

Well, any new language you learn is likely to include a vast amount of words for concepts that do not even exist in your mind yet. As you're reading this, you are already familiar with English, one of the languages with the largest vocabularies in the world, but this doesn't mean that there exists such a thing as a language without new concepts to explore.

Below followeth a partial list of a few examples, which I will update as I recall new ones. Keep in mind that the bdelow are only very rough translations:

overimorgen - the day after tomorrow
forigårs - the day before yesterday
døgn - 24-hour period, on Earth, or the local equivalent cycle
stusselig - this is to a situation what a "loser" is to an individual. That's a very rough summary, so I'll give you two examples: "Stusselig" is celebrating Christmas without your family, or being 87 while your wife/husband died at 60
hyggelig - part of a subset of Norwegian terms which translate as "nice". This particular one means "nice in a socially inviting way". "Koselig" means "nice, as in lacking hostile qualities", or as in "cute and fuzzy in a metaphorical way". "Trivelig" means "nice in a manner which fosters mental well-being".
kassere - quite simply to throw something away as garbage
orke - nope, nothing to do with orcs. "Orke" means "can be bothered to, has the energy to, or feels up the the task of".
fag - subject or area of specializations, used both vocationally and for subjects at school
skare - a layer of ice on top of snow, which can be of any thickness or strength as long as it still looks like snow. (One of my father's favorite sayings: "When the skare carries a man at St. John's Eve, the spring will be late".)
lumsk - insidiously creepy and malevolently sneaky

In return, Norwegian e.g. has no word for "cookie", having to make do "biscuit" or "small cake", or just borrowing the word "cookie".

D&D Oddity - Water Pool

In the D&D 3.5 Monster Manual 2, there's a type of monster called an "Elemental Weird". These come in ye standarde four elemental flavours, each type keeping residence in a separate type of elemental pool. These are described in meticulous detail. Here's an excerpt from the text on the Water Weird's pool:

Water Pool: This pool is filled with bubbling, swirling water. Any creature within it that cannot breathe water immediately begins to drown (see The Drowning Rules in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master's Guide). Any creature without the ability to swim cannot move through water, except by falling. A water weird's pool may be affixed only to a horizontal surface, and it may appear only in a right side up position (such as on the floor of a cavern).
I kid you not. In describing an elemental creature, they found it necessary to describe the completely ordinary pool of water in which it lives, complete with the basic properties of normal water. Why is this unnecessary? 10 points to the first person to come up with the right answer...

(Hint: Humans consist mostly of water, and interact with it on a daily basis.)

Language Changes - The Amusing Part

Ok, so we all know that "gay" had... slightly different connotations back in antiquity, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and "computer games" meant acting like one. But more than just that changed:

Now, that is one confounding mistake. I mean, anybody, anybody a-tall, would immediately realize that that's not a red costume. What happened? Didn't they proofread? Did the colours get screwed up in printing?

Well, no. Language changed, that's what happened. See, in the merry Old Time(tm), that colour was red. Pink only became a recognized primary colour later in the 20th century - my guess would be the late 70's or early 80's. Sure, somebody from that time might describe the costume as "pink", but they'd likely be doing so in the same manner that we nowadays might describe the green one as "emerald". Pink was a flower, which gave its name to a particular shade of red, which then became recognized as a primary colour.

This leads me to the following conclusion: Don't be hatin' on the pink. It, too, fought long and hard for its rights, and only won them in the late 20th century. It's still discriminated against.

(Note: I'm not pink, just supportive. Well, my skin is kinda pink-ish, but no conclusions can be drawn from that. Not that I'm colourist - some of my best friends are pink. I just wouldn't want my non-existent hypothetical daughter to marry the colour.)

[Picture from]

Dec 2, 2009

Order of the Stick: Book 4 announced

The fourth/sixth installment of my very favourite comic, titled Don't Split The Party is available for preorder. Finally. Now, to save up some money...

And don't spoil me! I'm one of those weirdoes who wait for the print version.

Only one question remains: Why pink?