World of Horror Supercut

I’ve kind of dropped off posting the videos as they come out in favor of posting these supercuts, which I’m going through for the backlog right now, where I take a bunch of videos and cut it down to just the best stuff. Probably also going to do some more traditional supercuts at some point (Requiem has suggested “Chamomile is incredulous about Freudian theory” as a good subject for one, which will probably happen once we have enough material).

Chamomile Anime Aesthetic

I recently found out about a game where you write “your name + anime + aesthetic.” Instructions were unclear, but I wound up Googling “Chamomile anime aesthetic.” The third result included a character who likes kinda like me. Like, it’s definitely a “tilt your head and squint” sort of resemblance, but given that most of the results were just pictures or drawings of actual chamomile plants, I still thought it was kinda neat.

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EDIT: This was supposed to be scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, but I guess this works, too.

The TTRPG Factory Is Pretty Cool

Full disclosure, I know the guy who runs the TTRPG Factory personally, so I’m not exactly unbiased. It’s a good blog, though, full of weird ideas from a campaign premise like Hydropunk Cthulhu to ideas for a single shop like fantasy spas.

I can never tell how many of my followers are following my blog because of things like my chapter-by-chapter book reviews and writing articles and how many are following me because of my TTRPG work. I post about the former way more often but most of my actual success has come from the latter. If you’re in the latter bucket, the TTRPG Factory is about two months dense with good ideas to mine, and it’s still updating a couple of times a week, which, y’know, is more than I can say right now.

Paizo Art Fails

Broadly, Paizo’s art is pretty good, and it was pretty much best-in-class back in 2009 when it was first distinguishing itself from Wizards of the Coast. The strength of Pathfinder was, before anything else, it’s amazing art direction.

No one’s immune to the odd dud, though, and they seem to have gotten worse over time. Here’s a series of three Paizo art fails, two of which came from near the end of PF1. I haven’t looked at PF2 yet, so I can’t tell you whether this is because they had shifted their best artists over to the new edition or if it’s just because the company’s talent pool was collapsing for some reason. What I can tell you is that PF1’s art slid from “epic adventure” to “hilarious spit-take” towards the end.

We’ll start with a relatively mild fail from early on in the edition, though, my favorite Paizo monster, the Dork Wyvern:

Continue reading “Paizo Art Fails”

Bojack Horseman

I heard Bojack Horseman had its last season recently, so I finally got around to watching it. And it’s really good in its portrayal of a self-destructive, self-absorbed (horse)man who shows just enough promise of getting better that you can still watch him. In season 3 in particular this really dragged, since Bojack wasn’t really in any better a place than he was in season 2, and the show was sustained mainly by having other characters who were really going places while Bojack mainly stayed the same.

That’s an approach that could’ve worked for a while, probably for a full six seasons, with Bojack remaining selfish and short-sighted enough to serve as a constant source of conflict, while real character growth came primarily from the characters in Bojack’s orbit. They’d fall into Bojack’s orbit when they’re in a similar place as him, then they’d bounce back and start to do better, and eventually they’d recognize that Bojack was sabotaging their efforts at doing better because he wants to keep them on his level, so they’d leave him behind, freeing up room in the cast for new characters. You could even do a thing where the show was ultimately built around one, specific relationship from its beginning to its end, with Diane Nguyen dropping into his life in episode 1 and exiting his life in the series finale. We’d see lots of other friendships and coworkerships and significant otherships that were either ongoing when Diane met Bojack or else which ended within the span of one season because the person either wasn’t damaged enough to have that period where they’re comfortable resting where Bojack is or else just wasn’t charmed enough by Bojack to want to stay with him even when their own life was collapsing. Towards the end, Diane would find her happiness, realize Bojack was holding her back from it, cut ties with him, and that would be it. Bojack never really changed, and we see that ultimately he’s going to keep causing drama and chaos until you leave him behind. Maybe all of Bojack’s ongoing relationships wrap themselves up at the same time, or maybe we leave them behind, too, because it turns out Diane was always the series’ stealth main character and once she’s out of Bojack’s life, that’s it.

I say “could” which implies that they didn’t actually do that. This may confuse some people who’ve seen the show, because the series’ final two episodes were almost exactly that. The problem is, the series’ final two episodes came at the end of season six, not season three, and they’re the finale to a show they didn’t end up writing. Because the other place you could go from season two is the place they ended up actually going: Despite season three’s holding pattern, the general trend of the show was for Bojack to become a measurably better person with every new season.

In season one, he’s established as bitter, pathetic, and self-absorbed. He’s damaged and we can see that there’s reasons he’s the way that he is, but also that Todd and Diane and Princess Caroline are better off without him, and that Princess Caroline has been giving him support for over a decade since the end of Horsin’ Around and he still hasn’t improved, so she’d be perfectly justified in cutting ties with him at this point, and Todd and Diane would be justified in following suit just by virtue of seeing how little Princess Caroline’s support made an impact on him.

In season two, his career is revitalized, but he doesn’t make a whole lot of emotional progress, and by the end of the season he’s not only backslid into being flaky and unreliable, he reaches new lows of terrible behavior. Still, he’s back in the saddle and trying to change his situation, even if only for self-absorbed reasons. He is showing some faint signs of improvement, but his friends would still be justified in giving up on him, because at this stage it’s not clear whether that improvement is because he cares about them or just because he’s finally gotten bored with living in stasis.

In season three, there’s the holding pattern I mentioned. Except for season 4, every Bojack season ends with some terrible drug-fueled mistake from Bojack, and this one actually kills someone, but Bojack’s behavior isn’t actually worse. I’m making the assumption here that Bojack, like the audience, assumes that Sarah Lynn is already dead when S3E11 ends (the episode summary on Wikipedia actually claims that Sarah Lynn is already dead at the end of the episode!), which means that the later-season revelation that Bojack waited seventeen minutes to call the paramedics to construct a plausible alibi that she’d called him and he’d come to see her, rather than being directly involved in her death, is a lot less monstrous than if he knew she was still alive, that she was dying not dead, and stopped for seventeen minutes to construct an alibi anyway.

I mentioned before that Bojack doesn’t have any kind of terrible mistake at the end of season 4. Instead, the terrible mistake is made by his mother, partly because she’s senile, although her actions are indefensible even given her understanding of the situation. Season 4 sees Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s marriage falling apart in order to meet its sadness quotas, and then lets Bojack get away mostly unscathed, establishing a healthy new relationship with someone who he’s been a good influence on almost without qualifiers, and who is likewise a good influence on him. We’ve seen Bojack commit to making a real difference in his life, trying to moderate his drinking, and we’ve seen him  make some meaningful improvements in his life and how he treats people because of it.

In season 5, Bojack is mostly in a holding pattern again, but this time it’s a holding pattern where he’s made significant improvement to who he is as a person. Over the course of the season, though, his progress slowly crumbles until he ends up making another horrible mistake in another drug-fueled bender. And if the show had its finale here, it still would’ve made sense. I mean, the specific circumstances of the characters leaving his orbit would’ve been different, and in particular Diane hadn’t really had the moment where she found her happiness so it wouldn’t really be a thing where she realizes she has to get away from Bojack to keep it, but still, Bojack’s backslid, his progress in seasons 4 and 5 was pretty minimal (he’s managed a total of one relationship where the other person didn’t come out worse for knowing him, and even that requires us to call Hollyhock better for knowing Bojack despite the fact that knowing him was the direct, though coincidental, cause of her getting drugged). Like, yeah, we can see him trying to get better, making actual changes in his life rather than just saying he’s sorry and promising to try real extra hard to stop going on benders where he hurts the people around him, and the efforts aren’t completely token, but they are half-measures. If people wanted to leave him at that point, it still wouldn’t be unreasonable.

But then in season 6, he goes to rehab and goes sober for nearly a full year, completely changing his life to get away from who he used to be. There’s moments where he almost slips back into old habits, but he digs his heels in and refuses to let it happen. He makes his new job as a university drama professor work, and when a crisis begins developing and he starts coming up with a very old Bojack sort of vindictive response, his friends are able to talk him out of it pretty quickly. He does have one of his benders and end up relapsing, but that’s to be expected from a recovering addict. The progress he’s made in season six gives everyone in his life, everyone who’s put up with his drama and unreliability and abuse for five or ten or twenty years, it gives them real reason to believe that he is changing and that these crises will be less frequent and less severe going forward. It would make sense if someone who just met Bojack while he was doing well in season six then decided to back away after he broke into his old house while someone else was living there and then tried to kill himself. For people for whom this is just the latest in a long line of massive fuck-ups, though? Why? Why was this the straw that broke every camel’s back, leaving Bojack almost totally alone? Yeah, the finale had all his friends being gentle and kind about leaving him forever, but they still all left (except Mr. Peanutbutter). It’s not even in the immediate aftermath of the big huge bender! The season finale actually takes place a year later, after Bojack’s finally faced real consequences and gone to prison for breaking and entering during his suicide attempt, where he’s happy to be close to breaking his sobriety record and scared of falling off the wagon.

Why did they write a finale where Bojack’s friends, even though they still care about him, decide that he’s toxic and never going to change and cut their ties with him, and then append that to a season where Bojack, after a long, hard journey, finally gave everyone some strong evidence that none of that was true?

Imbolc 2020

Imbolc lies on February 1st, and it’s the New Year according to the pagan calendar that I build my life around, not because I’m actually pagan, but because the holidays are very evenly spaced which means I can use them to measure progress towards goals. Imbolc is February 1st (or 2nd, the internet can’t seem to agree), Ostara is March 22nd, Beltane is May 1st, and so on. February 1st is also close-ish to the date when I first wrote the first post for this blog, clear back in early 2017, so it serves as the new year because hey, that happens to be just about the anniversary of the project that wound up being the umbrella under which all other projects have since been collected.

So February 1st, 2017, to January 31st, 2018, is what I called “the Year of Endless,” because I was doing the CGP Grey yearly theme thing that he just recently released a video about so I can direct people to that instead of telling them to listen to like fifty hours of his Cortex podcast in order to get the idea. That was the year (ish) I posted one blog post per day every day for a full year. Then in 2018 (and change), it was the Year of Burning, which, having built a foundation and some good habits, I spent trying to get some real income off of my creative pursuits, the idea being not so much to be making $X by the end of the year but just to spend the year actively building towards that. Initially I was aiming for novels with YouTube videos as a backup plan, but that was the year my professional GMing really took off, so I did that instead. In 2019 (and change), I decided I was going to try and ride that tabletop RPG star and see how far it would take me, something which I toyed with calling “the Year of Ascension,” but that’s a name I never really liked because it precluded the possibility of failure – which is what actually happened. By the end of April, the answer was obviously “not very far,” and I spent the entire rest of the year trying to extricate myself from the Kickstarter obligations that project – successful enough to require me to deliver, unsuccessful enough to clearly not be the way forward – had saddled me with. And this highlights why “the Year of Ascension” was a bad theme. It wasn’t really under my control how much I ascended. I could try, but whether or not it worked was up to inscrutable fate and deadly destiny, and when it didn’t work, that left me kind of floundering for most of the year.

Side note, the Year of Endless isn’t a great example of a yearly theme because it has a definite failstate and is much more similar to the New Year’s resolutions that CGP Grey wants people to not do, but I found it worked well because the specific thing I was trying to do was to produce things reliably on a schedule. If I were just trying to produce more creative output in general, nailing myself to a schedule would’ve been unwise, but that was never my problem. My problem was wandering away from projects half-finished and playing video games for six weeks until something else caught my eye and I’d go try to do that instead. Even then, the Year of Endless was pretty flexible. A blog can host almost any kind of content, and what I posted varied massively over the course of the year. What started out as a specific project whose daily milestones were posted to a blog transitioned to a general effort to finish all unfinished projects and finally ended up as just me posting whatever, as it came to me, just to maintain an active demesne as a creator.

Back on topic, Heroes of Ramshorn’s Pathfinder conversion is in formatting now, so my end of that obligation has finally been completed, and the Year of Whatever The Hell That Was is basically wrapped up. Professional GMing remains a steady source of income to be used on whatever but it isn’t going to blossom into a fulltime salary for the foreseeable future, so it’s time to start looking into other possibilities. This year I’m going to go back to those things I drifted away from back when my professional GMing started taking off, novels and videos and such, looking for something else that can work. I’ve talked about this before and I’ve made some progress in that direction, but now I’m formally dedicating the next year to it with the same kind of “success or bust” attitude that I had towards tabletop RPGs in 2019, with one major difference: Both success and bust are defined as success, at least for purposes of the theme, because themes shouldn’t be fail-able. My goal here is that by the end of the year (meaning, by January 31st of 2021), I’ll have invested enough effort into new ventures to be reasonably certain that they either are or are not a good use of my time going forward. Maybe I’ll get to the end of the year and find that the quest led to nothing, that all of the ideas I have now are ultimately not a good use of my time, and then I’ll have to figure out what to do next, but either way, I’ll have gained knowledge.

Conan the Indomitable: Twin Wizards

Chapter Eight

Katamay Rey and Chuntha are proving to be almost interchangeable. They’ll probably turn out to have different powers or something once they get more involved in the plot – or at least, I hope they do – but right now they send out their minions at about the same time, make contact with their minions demanding results at the exact same time, and lose patience and take matters into their own hands at the exact same time. That last one is what initiates this chapter, as the cyclops and the worm have both moved beyond the range of their respective masters’ ability to make contact with them. Even though they’re different means of magical communication that work slightly differently, they nevertheless both get out of range at the exact same time leading to both wizards to lose patience within a page of each other. The only real difference is this:

The man – the big, strong, handsome, virile man – might be escaping her cluthces even as she lay upon her bed dreading the very thought.

And also Chuntha is naked, for some reason. So, yeah. That’s the singular difference between Chuntha and Katamay Rey: Chuntha is a hot naked chick who really wants to bang the audience insert character. It’s 80s Conan, so it’s not like this kind of thing is unexpected, but still.

Also, Harskell, having retreated from the cavern with one of the bats, is now interrogating a Blind White. I guess Steve Perry just forgot which kind of creature they’d captured on the way out? I double-checked the end of chapter seven, it was definitely a wounded bat they collected on their way out.

Conan and company are sailing on the Sunless Sea, and Conan muses that anyone who tries to swim after them would likely end up devoured by some massive sea monster like the one whose corpse they converted into a raft. But why don’t the sea monsters come after them? They’re paddling a fresh corpse around! It’s still perfectly edible to sea monsters, and so are the passengers. It’s disturbing the water about as much as a swimming creature would. The raft behaves exactly like a wooden boat, though, including deterring predators from attacking because it magically doesn’t smell like meat.

The cyclops and the worm are starting to grow on one another as they continue to pursue Conan and company, finding some detritus of the raft construction and setting out for the Webspinner Plants’ lair in order to get a web boat to chase them with. At the same time, the two wizards are setting out in pursuit with small armies of their minions, so apparently Conan and Elashi have leveled up and the GM is now deploying higher CR opposition.

Continue reading “Conan the Indomitable: Twin Wizards”

Bizarre Search Terms 2019

As my blog continues to grow, the number of really weird search terms that brings people to my website continues to expand. Here are some of my favorite search terms that brought people to my door in the year of 2019.

amazon

The bizarre trend of my blog getting not one, but several hits from this search continues to baffle me. Who’s scrolling past everything to do with the rainforest, the mythical tribe of warrior women, and the global shipping corporation to find a D-tier blog that occasionally mentions having ordered something via the aforementioned corporation? Are there bots that periodically search for Amazon and then archive the first eight million hits that search gets?

dark heresy 2 shamless

I don’t know if I’d call it completely shamless. Its d100 roll under skill system is a bit of a sham, being that it’s basically just a d20 roll over system wearing a mathematically convoluted hat.

Jokes aside, the weird thing about this typo is not so much that it happened as that it happened three times. Also, it’s probably specifically looking for my specific post on Dark Heresy 2 powergaming. I wrote that on a lark without really even trying that hard to optimize, just applying some basic min-maxing to the different archetypes. Is that really the best optimization advice we have on the system?

why conan of venarium is not conan

Conan of Venarium sucked, but it’s hardly the only bad Conan story. If Conan of Venarium “is not conan” then even some of the Robert E. Howard stories aren’t Conan.

samantha noll by friendship or force

This search got two hits, and no other specific pop culture and philosophy article has gotten even one. Who’s Googling for this article and getting through all the results that are directly about it to get to my blog’s response to it?

island hex crawling

I think I know the guy who searched for this one.

codex alera pokemon is not a bad ide

I’m glad I’m not the only one who realized this.

ffx11 love chaos

This exact same bizarre misspelling showed up last year, too.

should i ignore critics

Yes.

the kartoss gambit listen to now for free

I’m sorry, man. If you’ve gotten to the point where barely related blog posts are coming up in search results for a download, that means the thing you’re looking for doesn’t exist.

what sphere of influence do fires influence

All of them, if you have enough of it.

how to start a pop culture philosophy blog

Have you tried writing words about pop culture philosophy and publishing them to a blog? It’s not like you need special software or anything. Articles are articles.

succubus game awful

I can’t tell if they’re referring to the Agony sequel that hasn’t even been released or the Succubus LitRPG, which, like most bad LitRPG, does indeed take place in a game that wouldn’t be any fun to play. Which isn’t surprising, if you think about it. Why should someone bad at making fun books be any better at making fun games?

trivial pursuit iomedae

This is less accurate than “game show host Iomedae,” but I think this phrasing just rolls off the tongue better.

darkest dungeon save scumming

Kind of defeats the point, doesn’t it? There’s already Radiant Mode for if you want to be able to recover from your failures on a timescale faster than the formation of stars, if you start save scumming on top of that, why not just go play a different game entirely? One that doesn’t revolve around the cloying, oppressive darkness of an unfair and uncaring universe filled with eldritch horrors. It’s kind of like an easy mode for Dark Souls. Why bother? The game’s whole theme is about the universe’s fundamental indifference towards you. If you don’t want a game about that, maybe consider playing a different game? I realize Skyrim’s pretty worn out by now, but Darkest Dungeon came out in 2016, it’s not exactly a spring chicken itself.

how humans influence chamomile

Mostly for the worst, but thanks for your concern.

Adobe Digital Editions

Did you know it’s possible to lend out a .pdf temporarily and then take it back when the lending period is over? Adobe Digital Editions allows for this utterly insane facsimile of a physical library’s limitations in the online world where there is no reason at all for such limitations to exist. Archive.org employs this parody of copyright law when lending scanned versions of books, which is how I got my hands on a digital copy of Conan the Defiant. This saved me the trouble of getting a real physical copy from the University of Utah’s library (the only library which has a copy nearby, according to the internet), but it’s just a scan of the physical pages with no copy/paste ability, so I’m going to be reviewing it without much direct quotation. And also within two weeks, because that’s the lending period on this nutcase lending system.