Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's a work in progress.

Several days after the sinking of Venice during the conclusion of the most recent grail war, an evacuated cabin is found in an outlying village, known to be in the care of one Isaac Morganstern.  A heavy manuscript is found on Isaac's desk, inside an envelope labeled "WORK IN PROGRESS: DO NOT READ."  There have been several titles written and scribbled out; the latest appears to read "PHASERS: THE MUSICAL."  Unfortunately, only one page is still readable, the rest having been rendered illegible by water damage.  This... is that page.

CAPTAIN JOHANN lays bleeding on the deck of the STARSHIP BELLOWSMITH. The CREW appears panicked. A gaping wound in the hull reveals the cold and unforgiving vacuum of space.

(Trombone intro)
Captain Johann: I’ve been shot by a phaser!
Crew: (He’s been shot by a phaser!)
Captain Johann: Not any normal taser, nor a military laser
but a full-blown, automated science fiction phaser!
The glowing should have warned me,
‘bout the cruiser gunning for me—
A futuristic omen of my hull blasted wide open!
Crew: But sir, sir, how did this happen!
Weren’t you in the mast, watching for piratical captains!
Captain (to himself): I suppose my constant drinking
Harbinge’d a ship soon to be sinking….
Crew (in reprise): (We supposed his constant drinking
Meant our ship would soon be sinking!)
(Band crescendos)
Captain Johann:
A red sky in the morning, is a quite ob-vi-ous warning
But I feeeeeeeeear it haaaas no plaaaace
To a shiiiiiiip that’s allllllll aaaaaaaaaaaaa-spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!
(Captain Johann dies.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I should write in old-timey style more often.

I have heard innumerable times, for innumerable competitive games, the statement that a given change will be bad, not because it will make encourage some strategies and discourage others, or even because it will make the game less fun, but rather because

"It will remove the element of skill from the game."

This is a highly questionable assertion for any game that is fundamentally player versus player, simply because skill can be defined as "the ability to win", and in any given PvP game 50% of players will always lose the match. The skills required may change, and any given subskill may be rendered unimportant by a change, but the level of required skill as such will be unvarying.

I believe I shall start referring to this rather bizarre variety of statement as a "Morgensternism," after its fictional 18th-century inventor, Polonius Morgenstern. An account of this idea's creation may be found in his autobiography:

"One day, after I had beaten my elder brother in a Chess-Match, he declared that he was nevertheless the more Skillful player due to the myriad ways he had maneuvered his Queen into a variety of advantageous locations (and indeed, they were Most Advantageous). As a lightning-bolt, it Entered into my mind that, in positing Superiority over another man in any Sport or other Recreation, it is not necessary to demonstrate facility in Winning; rather, one may fixate on some Point or Sub-Skill involved in said Sport or Recreation, and declare it to be the only Relevant, or Noble Point on which all should hang. A man is thus rendered Flexible in means of finding himself more brilliant than his Fellows, whereas a man fixated on Winning may on such occasions be rendered quite Sterile and open to ridicule."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, I love characters like this.

An excerpt from the book Mistborn, on the subject of the Morality of Mind Control:

"Well," Breeze said, "let us begin, then. First, you must understand that Soothing is about more than just Allomancy. It's about the delicate and noble art of manipulation."
"Noble indeed," Vin said.
"Ah, you sound like one of them," Breeze said.
"Them who?"
"Them everyone else," Breeze said. "You saw how that skaa gentleman treated me? People don't like us, my dear. The idea of someone who can play with their emotions, who can 'mystically' get them to do certain things, makes them uncomfortable. What they do not realize—and what you must realize—is that manipulating others is something that all people do. In fact, manipulation is at the core of our social interaction."
He settled back, raising his dueling cane and gesturing with it slightly as he spoke. "Think about it. What is a man doing when he seeks the affection of a young lady? Why, he is trying to manipulate her to regard him favorably. What happens when old two friends sit down for a drink? They tell stories, trying to impress each other. Life as a human being is about posturing and influence. This isn't a bad thing—in fact, we depend upon it. These interactions teach us how to respond to others."
He paused, pointing at Vin with the cane. "The difference between Soothers and regular people is that we are aware of what we're doing. We also have a slight . . . advantage. But, is it really that much more 'powerful' than having a charismatic personality or a fine set of teeth? I think not."