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Topics - Cramulus

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Aneristic Illusions / Read Another Book: The Thread
« on: July 20, 2020, 09:13:46 pm »
A whole thread to celebrate people whose political awareness is an outgrowth of fandom.

Apple Talk / Hex The Moon
« on: July 20, 2020, 07:33:37 pm »
1. I haven't bothered to look up many details about this, but from what I gather, a bunch of very young occultists on TikTok are trying to "hex the moon" (I don't know what that means) and a bunch of pagans are all twisted up about this being disrespectful to Artemis or whatever. I really haven't look up many details because it's silly, but it's also a nice distraction from the Real Shit going on right now. Anybody got a good link?

2. I'm in support of kids doing "spells" which have zero tangible effect other than upsetting the Olds.

Apple Talk / Choose your favorite oppressive power structure
« on: July 02, 2020, 06:59:21 pm »
Whatever you vote for gets to control the world forever.

Think about the worst case scenario for each one.

Apple Talk / Randonauts
« on: June 23, 2020, 04:46:12 pm »
Randonauts are a community of people who are exploring the use of random number generators to find Blind-Spots and experiment with Mind-Matter interactions.

RPG Ghetto / D&D and Race
« on: June 17, 2020, 03:18:36 pm »
D&D is slowly rethinking its assumptions about "race" -- which are largely derived from century-old literature and attitudes.

Let's take Orcs -- they're inherently evil and dumb. There's lots of evidence that Tolkein was caricaturizing Mongol warriors, focusing on details that Europeans found distasteful. Like when movie adaptors wanted to give orcs beaks, he was like "no no no, they have squinty eyes and broad, flat noses..." leaning on standard cultural descriptions of eastern invaders. These scary mongolian-adjacent evil-doers are the antagonists to the familar pastoral "shire" filled with quaint and adorable european farmers. Made perfect sense as antagonists in the old world. Today, they're a little harder to relate to.

It's one thing to have monsters like demons and vampires be "inherently evil", but it's another thing to describe humanoid races as having inherent built-in alignment. It doesn't make any sense in the real world, except for actual racists, who do think of "entire races" as inherently evil or dumb.

So, many RPGs are getting away from "race" and instead talking about "ancestry" or "peoples". Maybe you get +1 to bows because elven culture gave you a lot of practice -- not because elves have this in-born talent. Which follows how we're learning to talk about race in the real world. I much prefer the narrative that orcs have free will, and could choose to be good or evil -- but they tend to be evil because of specific factors in their world.

Here's a little snippet of Crawford tweets on this topic:

Apple Talk / Metzger & Rushkoff: "Do They Owe Us A Living?"
« on: June 16, 2020, 08:52:16 pm »
Here's a podcast where two Gen X counterculture veterans (Metzger and Rushkoff -- see also: Disinfo Con) look back at the cultural battlefield and go "did we win? I honestly can't tell"

If you don't know who Metzger and Rushkoff are -- in the "counterculture" family tree, these guys are cousins to us Discordians - they were inspired by Robert Anton Wilson & that universe of writers & ideas.


Aneristic Illusions / Trump the Unifier
« on: June 09, 2020, 01:30:54 pm »
Everybody is tapping their foot and waiting for Trump to say something presidential that will unify the country during this time of violence, polarization, and unrest.

They say Trump is planning to drop an Address this week to try and recover.

I dont think anybody expects anything positive from this speech... this is the thread where we guess at what he'll say about systemic injustice, racism, the quarantine, the protests, and law enforcement.

I'll go first:

There are Racists on Both Sides

Apple Talk / [OPEN ROLEPLAY] The Spinning Skull Inn & Tavern
« on: June 02, 2020, 01:40:31 pm »

Ahh, come in, come in! Welcome to the Spinning Skull Inn & Tavern! I'm surprised you found it, given that it doesn't have a sign, only a pixelated, spinning skull. We're the last friendly house on the road to Blood Gargle Canyon, so you'd better get your comforts while you can.

Pull up a stool. We have Dwine, Ale, Haunted Spirits, and a mead brewed with precious gemstones which we call Dragon Cum. Have a drink and describe your heaving breasts, maybe tell me a bit of your sexy back story. Are you on some adventure right now? *leans in closer* Do you want to be? *wink*

Principia Discussion / Oh baby I like it RAW
« on: May 21, 2020, 03:56:18 pm »
I've been reading Prometheus Rising to my fiance. I am so refreshed by Old Bob's spirit of curiosity and open-mindedness.

He encourages us to experiment with our consciousness -- try out different beliefs, see how they feel. Don't be judgmental. He doesn't tell you how to think at all. He suggests that we try out one reality tunnel for a bit (you found the quarter via "selective attention"). Then, try out another (you found the quarter using "the powers of your mind"). Then, compare the two yourself. Old Bob encourages us to explore reality ourselves, in person, not through other people's accounts.

This first chapter of PR discusses how our part of our mind ("the Thinker") quickly leaps to conclusions (likely based on an emotional state), and then the "Prover" reacts to this by building a scaffolding of logic and reason to support that conclusion.

My man G.I. Gurdjieff warns us about this too - he says that the intellect is slave to the emotions. Emotions are fast, automatic--reason is always struggling to catch up and justify / explain those feelings. Logic is not objective - the reasoning part of your mind can go anywhere; you could reason your way into a "Flat Earth" reality tunnel if you are emotionally invested in it. Awareness of this process gives us the potential to be free from it. For a little while, at least. It's really easy to become attached to our own thoughts, and it happens in subtle ways.

Bob encourages us to observe this process dispassionately in friends and strangers. "Try to figure out what their Thinkers think, and how their Provers methodically set about proving it. SECOND, apply the same exercise to yourself."

Bob's strongest advice is in the exercises - "Avoid coming to any strong conclusions prematurely. At the end of a month, re-read this chapter, think it over again, and still postpone coming to any dogmatic conclusions. Believe it possible that you do not know everything yet, and that you might have something still to learn."

That youthful curiosity, the attitude of approaching life like an explorer, the emphasis on self-skepticism... that's the Robert Anton Wilson spirit.

« on: May 19, 2020, 02:22:22 pm »
It's about time we had a thread about one of science fiction's most bizarre and fascinating authors.

What's your favorite Philip K Dick story, movie, or fact?

Literate Chaotic / A Tiny Haiku
« on: May 12, 2020, 07:14:01 pm »
Amazon Prime logo on a truck at an intersection
I curse the billionaires
as the truck driver yields to a mother and child

comic is a bit crass but makes the broad point:

Not infrequently, I hear some surprising news... I google it, and the top hits are NY Times, Washington Post, and Fox News. The first two articles are behind a paywall, and the Fox news framing is not. And I think this is a bit of a synecdoche.

I see it online all the time too - there's a common attitude that if you don't already get it, you're not gonna get it, so go get fucked. The long-arc consequence being that the right wing perspective is more accessible. And the world is confusing and oversaturated with information, so accessibility is, all by itself, a powerful persuasive force.

To be clear, I'm not talking about the phenomenon where some bad-faith jagoff is "just asking questions" and demands a bunch of answers and citations that they're not going to read anyway.

Also to be clear, I'm not putting myself in this lofty position of judgment, but of self-criticism...  I'm observing this phenomenon in myself via a childhood friend with Bad Opinions who really wants to chat my ear off. I don't want to talk to him, I think he's an asshole. But we're in a special moment right now. If I did the work, I might be able to get through to him. I don't want to though!

Apple Talk / Bargain Basement Bathysphere
« on: May 01, 2020, 01:37:09 pm »

ARE YOU BORED? Here's my find of the day. It's a free print-and-play single-player game called
Bargain Basement Bathysphere.

All you need is a printer, a pen, and a bunch of six siders. You print out the packet (61 pages if you do the whole thing) and go through it page-by-page, like an ongoing campaign.

On most pages, you pilot a Baythysphere, and are trying to explore the depths of the ocean. It's a fun little movement puzzle game. But as you proceed, it introduces new mechanics and mini-games.

I found myself really impressed by how creative this is. And the core movement puzzle is fun! I'm only like 5 levels deep into the game so far. I CHALLENGE THEE, beat my awful scores.

RPG Ghetto / Mechs into Plowshares
« on: April 29, 2020, 02:13:16 pm »
Here's a quick little solo tabletop RPG called Mechs into Plowshares. It costs $5 and takes somewhere between 30 and 90 minutes to play. You could play it yourself (in which case you'll play by answering questions in your head, or writing a little journal or something). Or you could do it as a 2-player "one person asks questions and the other person answers" type game.

The concept is that you are a mech pilot who fought in the war. But there's a ceasefire which may turn into a lasting peace. At great cost, you have leased your mech and moved to a farm near the border. In order to do farm work and pay off your mech, you're going to have to delete its combat subroutines, which in turn also deletes its "personality". But if you delete too much, and the Enemy attacks, your mech might not be able to defend your farm, and you'll die a horrible death.

The game is divided into 10 "weeks". Each week is one page of questions. There is a story and an ending.

There aren't a lot of mechanics, and there's nothing tactical/strategic... this is more like a character-development exercise. The game gives you a bunch of prompts, and you answer them to whatever depth you'd like. They're questions like "Why isn't your family here with you on the farm?", "Who do you miss right now?", and "You wake up from a nightmare.. what were you just dreaming about?" As the game goes on, you'll make some decisions, but the story is explicitly linear.. still very interesting.

If you approach each question creatively and don't rush through them, it can be a very satisfying storytelling experience.

Here's the link:

RPG Ghetto / SCUP: Steadfast
« on: April 26, 2020, 01:55:14 pm »
This thread discusses the tabletop RPG "The Sword, the Crown, and the Unspeakable Power" (see this thread for an overall description). I'm stupidly running two simultaneous groups. This thread is for one of them.

This group group (larp friends) created a wild setting too, which we call Steadfast.

As a funny little symmetry, the first group created a setting where the essential antagonist was necromancers. The second group created a setting where the essential antagonist is life mages.

Here's the myth:

It was a golden age of prosperity and knowledge. An age of machines and energy. An age of comfort and hubris. One of the technologies developed in this time is the art of Lifeshaping, creating new life. Among other things, Lifeshapers were able to let a parent select traits for their child.

In the Lifeshaper’s quest to master the art of creation, a new power emerged in the land. The Lifeshapers created the Verdant, a fungal intelligence which could solve many of humanity’s problems. The Verdant cured disease and extended life spans. After a long time, these entities were used to shape a human monoculture. Reliant on these creatures, humanity became beholden to them. The Verdant spread across the globe, changing all life it touched to fit its alien purposes.

But eventually, the Verdant came to understand its role not just as the protectors of humanity, but the whole planet. When they decided this, they recognized humans not as the favorite children of the planet, but as parasites, depleting the natural resources and upsetting the existing balance. Ultimately, the Verdant determined that the world is only in equilibrium when the human population is below a certain level. And then the blight of humanity began. The world crumbled, as if nature turned against us.

An age of desolation began. Plagues and monsters bit at humanity from all sides. Avalanches, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, plagues, wildfires, plagues--humanity sees all of this as the will of the Verdant.  The Verdant’s presence is everywhere, in the air, and in the water. It desires humanity to return to its animal lifestyle, and it is willing to grant power and information to those that deal with it, in order to gain influence and advance its long-term plans. Many humans are considered infected by the ‘Phage’, which is perhaps a fungal infection that influences behavior, or perhaps it is just sympathy with the Verdant’s cause. Some affected by the phage begin to break down physically, being slowly and painfully reduced to base nutrients.  There was decay and desolation, the once beautiful landscape blighted. The skylines of the ancient cities now lay in ruin. 

Humans needed to keep their footprint small, to use only simple tech, in order to not upset what the Verdant considered the proper balance. People joined together.  People began to gather in new villages, outside of the now desolate cities. But it was not an age of peace. With a population-limit in place, and no way to tell how close we are to triggering the Verdant’s next plague, humans became proactive about keeping their populations low. War and predation was the law again. Feudalism replaced the old ways of democracy and republic.

We must live our lives with constant vigilance. Some people learned how to contact the still functional satellites which still circle the planet, gaining access to the information and technology of ancient times. Calling themselves the First Born, they have become advisors and researchers, secretly using forbidden technology, while withholding and keeping it secret, lest it become widespread. And the Verdant still has agents within human settlements, keeping tabs on them. Both the Firstborn and the Lifeshapers have access to resources that common people consider magic. But both must conceal the origin of their power.

Now insular and isolated, the human settlements only contact each other for war and politics. There are annual moots, festivals where settlements send contingents in order to discuss regional issues and trade populations.

The Verdant threat is ever-present. If the Verdant believes the population has grown too high, or that humans are using technology now considered forbidden, they will lash out against humanity again. And we stand little chance.

Our story begins in the city of Steadfast...

SO BASICALLY, the factions are:

-The Guild - Commoners. Scavengers and scrappers who recover old-world technology and resources from the Ruin Heart, an ancient destroyed city. The PC representing this group is Feather, the Black Hood.

-The Court - Nobles. A collective of people with power and money. Nobles, business owners, etc. They attend the monarch, Hesperia (a PC).

-The First Born are sage/advisor types. They basically have secret tech that allows them to access the ancient-world's Internet... so their secret power is wikipedia. But this tech is forbidden, so they have to pretend they get their knowledge from magical divinations or something. The PC from this group is Valtus, the Bloodletter. He's basically one of the only real doctors in the whole city, and as such, is personally connected to many of the powerful people.

-The Orchid Circle - a new religion which is trying to preach balance with nature, but really, submission to the Verdant. Basically, these guys are ecofascists. And they are controlled by the Verdant - their leaders are all people who have been mentally influenced by the Verdant (think: Cordyceps). They also peddle drugs which make people comfortable with the world-as-it-is. The PC from this group is Will the Speaker, (class: the beloved) a cult leader who has arrived in town and quickly accumulated 15-20 converts.

I'm omitting a lot of details because this post could go on forever, but that's the gist of it!

I think the plot for this one involves the character from the Guild scavenging relics from the Ruin Heart, but what he brings back could destabilize Steadfast. The Orchid Circle and the Firstborn are directly at-odds. In a way, the commoner guild has the most power, because they have a monopoly on access to the Ruin Heart... but can they maintain it? It's dangerous to go alone, but if you bring people with you, they will figure out the route...

Here's a "custom move" I'm writing so that players can take the initiative to get controversial shit from the ruin heart:

If you know the way to the ruin heart, and undertake a perilous journey to get there, roll + Steady. If other people join you on the journey, or have a way of influencing it indirectly, they have the option of making Help/Interfere moves before you roll.

If you roll a 10+, pick 2 from the list
If you roll a 7-9, Pick 1 from the list
If you roll a 6 or lower-, your mission was a disaster, you were routed by monsters (Everyone in the group takes 3 Harm and rolls a "Taking Harm" move)

The list:
-You recovered contraband technology
-You recovered medicine
-You recovered valuable resources
-You avoid a confrontation with the guardians of the Ruin Heart

While creating characters, we also generate relationships, and those are super interesting...

For example, Hesperia has a little sister named Vega, who is the heiress to the throne. Vega has the phage, so she's dying a slow and painful death, but is being kept alive by one of the other characters -- Valtus the Bloodletter (A firstborn).

Here are the social relationships we established:

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