Cartoon II

Real Life Fiction.

    From Dialog Writing Tips at DailyWritingTips.com:
    Try taping two or more people talking, or reading a verbatim transcript of a live show. You’ll find that the result is almost unintelligible. You don’t want your dialogue to be this true to life.



    Dialog test 01; October 15 2008; Fabricville, Prospect Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick:
    ME: Hi. Could you point me towards the section where you would have---ah---waterproof or canvas-y fabrics?
    CLERK: We don't have waterproof. We have water-resistant.
    ME: Water-resistant. Ok.
    We don't carry a whole lot.
    ME: Right.
    At this time of year -- more in the summer time -- and they're making summer jackets -- right here in this shelf right here.
    ME: Ok, and then you would, you would normally wanna use a... some sort of a coating thing to make sure the stitching stays water-resistant as well?
    Aaaaa... yes, you would have to find something to do that.
    ME: Ok, thank you.
    I don't know where -- maybe on the internet.
    ME: Right.
    Like if you're looking for stuff---like if you're looking for stuff like they use in the sports and that you'll have to actually order that off the internet.
    ME: Right, well I---I figure maybe at Walmart they might have like tent fabric coating stuff which would work pretty good too.
    Right.
    ME: Umm.
    ...Or there's Advanced Fabrics out in New Maryland who actually makes tents.
    ME: Oh wow. Ok.
    Yup.
    ME: Aaa... and, just when I'm done here---
    What are you making?
    ME: I'm thinking about making---ah---like an outterwear jacket that really works for camping.
    Right.
    ME: So, not raincoat material, but---
    Um hm.
    ME: ---hopefully it would stand up in the winter to that kind water you---
    Right.
    ME: ---would get on it.
    Right. I don't know what kind of fabrics they have or anything if they do sell it...
    ME: Right.
    But that would be a good place to start because their's is made waterproof.
    ME: Ok.
    Yup.
    ME: And---uh---just when I'm done here, can you point me to the section where you'd have like---uh---really, really cheap fabric that so I could do like a like a test---
    Sure.
    ME: ---stitching?
    Yup. All these things back here -- you go by the label colour -- the the purple would be three; the pink would be four...
    ME: Ok, are those---are---those are your sale cloths basically?
    Yup. No. They're---they're cheap fabrics.
    ME: Ok.
    They're on sale.
    ME: Ok.
    And they're on buy one and get two free.
    ME: Oh, thank you.
    And they're really reduced prices.
    ME: Thank you.
Cartoon II

Quality Quiz.

    Know Thyself Quiz written by my old roommate and stolen from his Facebook.

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    Steal it and use it as you will.
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Cartoon II

CouchSurfing.com

    It has been a long time since my last entry. Since then, I've MCed at my brother's wedding, gone to Gen Con and Toronto, spent a weekend at a friend's camp, started my 5th year at UNB, and had a birthday. Normally pictures would be forthcoming as they're the easiest way to close a gap in time, but I'm not feeling a pictures post so much right now. Instead, let me tell you about couch surfing.

    Couchsurfing.com is the one website on the internet that has had the largest effect on my real, non-electronic life. It works like this: when you travel, you can find a stranger to lend you his couch and show you around his city; when you're not traveling, you can elect to host travelers on your couch and show them around your city; and it's free. Couchsurfing.com is essentially a social networking site that sets up these connections for you so you can travel more cheaply and more authentically.

    When I was in the Dominican Republic, we stayed on a Couchsurfer's couch for a night rather than paying for a resort, and she showed us around Santo Domingo. Both times I've attended Gen Con in Indianapolis, I stayed with a girl I found on the site who was also attending the convention, so we hung out together for the entire four days, and she saved me the cost of a hotel room. When I went traveling around the east coast as described in my last post, it was because a surfer from Alberta who I was hosting invited me to go along with her, and we surfed on members' couches in both Saint John and Charlottetown. Since signing up to the site in April of last year, I have hosted over 40 different CSers and their various travel partners on my couches in Fredericton. Some have returned to stay again; some only crashed for a night on their way through; some planned on only staying a night and ended up staying a week because they had so much fun with us. I've even hosted two CS potlucks at my place this year for the other hosts in Fredericton. Right now, a CSer from France who had surfed with us for nearly a month has decided to move into our empty room for the winter and share rent with us.

    Couchsurfing is just about the coolest thing you could do on the internet. That website is the definition of a global community. It's satisfying to share your empty couch with an interesting traveler, and it is awesome to find strangers who become instant friends because they let you stay on their couches for free while traveling.

    To those of you who are worry-warts, the site has in place a reference, verification, and vouching system that ensure the integrity of a member whose profile you're viewing, and you can always choose not to host a traveler who sends a request to you. From my own experiences, every single CSer I have met has been awesome -- while the track-record of friends of friends who have stayed with us through real-life connections has been a lot less than stellar. This site has positively changed my life.

    If you decide to sign up, add my profile as a friend on the site. The more connected you are on Couchsurfing, the more other members know they can trust you. To view my profile, which has a record of the references other members have left me after our surfing adventures, go here.


Cheers,
Benjamin
Cartoon II

Traveling.

    I've been away recently, and desalete took the liberty of posting some of my trip photos. Enjoy them here.

    I've now left Fredericton again for my brother's wedding in Nova Scotia, which will take place on the 9th. After that, I return to Fredericton to depart for Gen Con. No doubt more trip photos will be my next post as well.
Cartoon II

Photo Post!

    I got a new camera on Friday. This one. I'm not sure if I'll keep it, but I've been testing it out, and I can say for certain that I like having one again. It's smoooo-oooth. So I present...






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Cartoon II

4th Edition

    I've DMed two parties to second level and one to third level so far, and I have to admit that 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons isn't exactly like I expected. I was expecting change to be bad. The first thing I had to realize was that the rules no longer try to simulate realistic fantasy. Instead, 4th edition tries to emulate a fantasy film.

    One broad comment: The rules are very smart from a gameist perspective. The system was reengineered to be fun around the table. In order to do that, the rules had to change, but to be honest, I can think of very few highlights of play from previous editions that you can't experience in 4e. It does lean to a different style of play: miniatures and a grid are heavily suggested by the system, for instance, and the gritty aspects of low-level resource management are reduced -- but from a player's perspective, the system will create imaginative adventures, scenarios, and characters no different from previous editions. Only there will be fewer frustrations in achieving them. From a Dungeon Master's perspective, where more work is done in the gears of the system, I have to say that it is sharply done and runs very smoothly.

    On to the specifics. One. I like healing surges. Finally you can finish a dungeon in a day; you don't have to worry about how the continuity can get disrupted when the plot must pause for 24 hours. One the other hand, the surges are still limited. If the DM wants to deplete your resources, he can still force the party to hold up in a secure spot to rest.

    Two. The books are really well written. The Player's Handbook cover-to-cover is great for new players, and the Dungeon Master's Guide gives great advice to DMs new and experienced alike.

    Three. The Monster Manual has cut 80% of its flavour text compared to previous editions. This makes it cleanly-cut when running a foe right out of the book, but leaves a lot to be desired in the entries of unfamiliar monsters.

    Four. The art direction is so-so. The covers are great, as are the full-page illustrations and two-page spreads within, but the overall look is that of a textbook. 3rd edition really won the award in my opinion for overall art style, and all of that charm is lacking in the 4th edition manuals. In addition, the Monster Manual reuses some of the artwork from 3e. That gets a thumbs down.

    Five. The rules really seem to cater to every little grievance with 3rd edition without any tough love. Grappling too complicated? Fixed. Hate how making magic items costs XP? Fixed. Dislike racial stat penalties? Fixed. In the majority of instances, it is great that the designers have responded to how people actually want to play the game. On the other hand, it makes me think, "back in my day..." Perhaps having the drawbacks made the benefits seem more prestigious. One has to remember, however, that it's emulating movie fantasy not historic fantasy. Looking at racial ability score modifiers, for instance, there are races that are dumber or weaker than humans (the default), but none of the traits of those races include a penalty to Intelligence or Strength because your story's protagonist should only have a low stat if you want him to.

    Six. True low-level play is gone. There is no longer a chance, for instance, that your heroes will lose a bar fight with locals -- unless the PCs happen to be in a gang bar where the patrons pose an actual threat. This change was made to the level system to respond to the scenario where your low-level hero misses on two-thirds of his attacks -- "no fun" -- and can get knocked out by one attack -- again, "no fun." I personally had a preference for that level of play -- before the characters become true heroes. I foresee having to house rule a level 0 in order to accommodate that kind of scenario. Losing the pre-heroic tier of play is my main grievance with the 4th edition rule changes. That is something that 3rd edition did better and 2nd edition did even better, but only a minority of people will miss it. For Instance, what percentage of campaigns were house-ruled to start at 2nd or 3rd level in the previous edition?

    Overall, the rules have changed to please the majority, and I think the majority will be pleased, myself included. Very few, however, will agree with absolutely every change.

    Edit: Skill Challenges -- I love 'em. They're the exact meta frame I needed to get my new gameist players doing the same things my experienced narrativist players used to do all along.
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Cartoon II

From my Afternoon Class:

The pen that writes is grasped in hand.
The hand that grasps turns round the wrist.
The wrist that turns is moved by mus'le.
The mus'le is moved by my command.

Demand of mine commands the pen
to write, to turn, to move and draw.
The pen will follow my command
and write the verse that I demand.
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Cartoon II

The Forbidden Kingdom.

    From my comments on codrus's LJ post about the film:
    Hard to call this a good movie? I disagree. This was an excellent movie, but by that, I mean certain things. Is it a V for Vendetta, Hero, or No Country for Old Men excellent kind of movie? -- no -- but it is a champion of the Kung-Fu genre. The white-haired witch raised by wolves, the deadly girl with the pipa (stringed-instrument), the fight in the tea house, the Drunken Boxing, the battle over the staff by two kung-fu legends, the defeating hordes of soldiers, the relatively accurate Chinese mythology, the kung-fu training -- especially under the waterfall -- and the flying warriors all come right out of a legacy of film that has established them as conventions. This isn't a tired film that brings nothing to the genre, however; it explores them all in beautifully done new ways. The plot, as you mention, with the kid from Boston getting thrown into the mix is more campy than the kung-fu, but that sets up the entire film. All the fantasy in the film is from a dream about kung-fu movies. One of the things the kid does right in the beginning is tell us that this movie is made by people who know kung-fu movies. That sort of narrative framing makes me wet, and at this point it goes without saying that I am a fan of kung-fu movies. All in all, for me, this is a go-back-to-the-theatre, can't-wait-to-buy-the-DVD kind of excellent movie.
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Cartoon II

Interesting.

    A D&D 4e power for a first level Warlord from Wizards.com (login required, which is free):
White Raven Onslaught Warlord Attack 1
You lead the way with a powerful attack, using your success to create an opportunity for one of your allies. Each of your comrades in turn seizes on your example and begins to display true teamwork.
Daily
Martial, Weapon
Standard Action
Melee
weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 3[W] + Strength modifier damage, and you slide an adjacent ally 1 square. Until the end of the encounter, whenever you or an ally within 10 squares of you makes a successful attack, the attacker slides an adjacent ally 1 square.
Miss: Choose one ally within 10 squares. Until the end of the encounter, the ally slides an adjacent ally 1 square after making a successful attack.
    Where have you seen this action in a movie or read about it in a book? Tell me, seriously; I want to know.
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