Who'd 'a' thunk it? The spandex article was a quick dash-off that I hoped no one would consider too ridiculous or annoying... and here I find it seems to be universally liked within IR's hallowed pages! Thanks to all for your kind compliments. ;-)
Also, I am curious as to everyone's reactions to something I tend to do in my zines. I am, I confess, an ego-boo reader -- I scan each newly received IR first for comments regarding me, then go back and re-read just about everything everyone has written. Consequently whenever I put someone's name into my zine, I do so in bold text, so it's easier to scan for. Also, since I often find it confusing to understand precisely what subject someone's comments might be referring to, I tend to put in a small explanation/reference line of bold text for that too. What I'm wondering is what folks think of this. Does it help? Does it hinder? Should I remove this annoyance in my zines, or should I continue as is?
I've not seen the Highlander show you mentioned, where the immortal priest talks with the mortal, and the mortal is not sure whether he'd want immortality. I must admit, though, that I find rather amusing such theoretical discussions as that one. I always get the strong feeling of 'sour grapes' from them, since they almost invariably present immortality as a curse or a great burden or some other negative way. How on earth would we know if immortality would be boring or not? How would we know if it would or would not bring other attendant benefits or problems? Perhaps the mind cannot hold so many memories, and after a millennium or two one goes insane, yes... but equally probably perhaps the mind simply adapts and re-sorts as necessary to accommodate all those memories and knowledge. Heavens knows we certainly don't use all our brains as it is.
All I know is that I certainly wouldn't want to sit around wasting time in pointless angst if I were suddenly granted immortality. Okay, maybe as a vampire I'd have disgusting dietary habits, or as one of the Fey I might lack a soul, but for heavens' sake, what good does sitting around and wailing about it do? I'd much rather go out and fill my life with as much knowledge, learning, interesting experiences, and fascinating people as possible! And I strongly feel one can do this in moderation, and not end up like vampires supposedly do -- alienated, antisocial, and misanthropic -- nothing more than an unfriendly uber-goth. Then again, perhaps the obverse is just as frightening... Eternally-Perky Woman! ;-)
Hm... spandex in costumes. I can't say all of my characters have worn completely practical costumes, or even completely spandex ones -- but I can say that all of them had reasons for what they wore. Let's see, let me ramble pointlessly down memory lane here for a moment... as far as super hero games there was the animal telepath who tended to wear very practical clothing -- sturdy khaki pants with multiple pockets to carry animals in, open jackets that also had multiple pockets for the same reason and that one could hide one's guns and body armor under, a light T-shirt, and hiking boots -- no spandex there! There was the darkness elemental who was so covered in shadow you couldn't tell what she was wearing at all. There was the humanoid tiger woman who wore the teensy spandex bikini because she was told she HAD to wear something, and that was the least fur-ruffling thing she could come up with. There was the were-leopard who wore no clothing whatsoever in her animal form.
In fantasy games most of the time my characters were equally pragmatic. Having fought in the SCA, I was intimately acquainted with the lovely protective qualities of armor, so I naturally loaded all the armor I could onto my fighter characters. The cleric & mage types tended to wear heavy cloaks, nicely made tunics, strong boots, and sturdy breeches whilst questing out in the wilderness. They didn't tend to wear the classic robes, being no fools -- you try hiking (or even sitting astride a horse) in a heavy robe! My thief types usually tried hard to look like everyone else -- no sense in advertising one's profession if it's not socially acceptable. Of course, there was the thief who wore a highly suggestive, tight one-piece that showed a LOT of skin, and it did bring her trouble on occasion. She had a darned good reason to wear that particular outfit though -- it was quite magical. However, if she'd ever met up with the person who designed the silly thing, she'd probably have had some extremely pointed words for them!
In space games my PCs' clothing varied. I had one engineer character in a no-gravity ship that usually wore a thong and a fisherman's vest, so she could either Velcro stuff to herself or stuff it into the pockets. The lack of clothing was due to the ship being old and cranky, and so the engineering sections were always a good 10-to-20-or-so degrees hotter than the rest of the ship. She kept her hair shorn off mostly, both due to the heat and to not wanting it drifting in her eyes, and had rather prehensile toes too. Another character wore clothing that covered all of her body except around her eyes. She was wearing the 'uniform' of a particular space-faring religious sect that hid its face, and the outfit could (with sealing up across the eyes) double as a space-worthy suit in a pinch.
In a punk-future game my character was a solo, so her clothing was reinforced motorcycle leathers... she herself was the weapon. In a ShadowRun game I played an Indian mage, so she tended to wear her shamanic tools and pseudo-Indian clothing, such as decorated fringed leathers with multiple pouches. In a few 'modern day' games my characters wore jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts mostly... that's about it, that I can recall off the top of my head. So... hm, now that I think about it, there's really not much spandex on my characters -- instead it's me that wears it all the time. Horrors. ;-)
LOL at your comments re the computer software! Yep, I want those commands available to me too. Also loved the brand name of Eclipse's pistol. ;-)
Beth, I was so sorry to hear about Huntington's death. The loss of a cherished member of the family is always painful. My sincerest condolences, and good luck in your writing.
Re your thoughts about supporting characters to Cynthia Shettle: your comments started me thinking about how I view NPCs also. I'd have to say that my attitudes towards them differ depending on whether I'm GMing or playing. If I'm the GM, for me to portray them at all well they need to have, in my head, some mental 'template' to run them off of.
For example, if I want to play a dedicated and studious mage type I might remember one of my older cousins who's an MD. She's a kind-hearted, good-natured woman who was always interested in staying abreast of all the new discoveries in her much-beloved field of medical expertise, and who has this core of absolute steel inside her. Say an emergency turns up -- get OUT of her way! She'll be busily taking charge, organizing folks, helping the wounded, even fighting off any attackers if necessary, to make things go back to normal. So my NPC would be portrayed as I remember my cousin -- she'd be a friendly older woman, curious, interested in the travels and discoveries of others, and willing to be adventurous herself... and in an emergency she'd be an absolute paragon of efficiency and helpfulness.
Or if I wanted to play a self-indulgent con person I might think of a particular acquaintance of mine from long ago, and keep him firmly in mind when portraying the NPC. In good times he'd be cheery, harmless, fun-loving, cute... but when things got tough he'd become whiny, demanding, selfish, a real downer -- and in emergencies he'd simply go fetal and expect others to get him out of whatever dangers threatened.
Those are for NPCs that stick around and interact with the PCs fairly regularly. There's another category of NPCs when I'm running that are more like a 'caricature' (in the classic sense) of a job type. Stable boys might be shy, poorly groomed, good with animals, and speak with a heavy 'country' accent. Shopkeepers might be fast-speaking, with quick movements, always with another deal and another piece of merchandise for you to see. However, even with these I try to match them up as best I can to folks I've actually seen and experienced. Needless to say, where my personal experiences fall short (i.e. with street gangs, etc.) my ability to give convincing portrayals worsens also. I try, whenever possible in such situations, to either not have to play such NPCs, or to tie some aspect of their personality to something I am familiar with. For example, the street gang kid offering to be your guide may have the same swift patter as the shopkeeper... when unbeknownst to you, what he really wants is just to knife you in the back later.
But that's if I'm GMing. If I'm playing, NPCs are as much folks in the game as PCs are, at least as far as I'm concerned. I've more than once accidentally startled GMs, by my character seeing something interesting in some NPC, and consequently curiously pursuing that NPC to get to know them better. In one case the GM was quite perplexed, because the NPC was just a cardboard character to him, a 'throw-away,' and he had nothing prepared to give the NPC any depth. In another the GM was rather pleased, since his NPC grew dramatically under the attention of the players, becoming a valued friend to the group and an important part of the game.
Re your comment to Dana Erlandsen in regards to 'no bad gamers': as one of my friends once bluntly put it, when told that SCA fighters were all rude and undersocialized wanna-be jocks, "There are assholes in every group. You just try to avoid them while having fun." ;-)
Yup, that particular quote is one of my favorites too. Thanks for reminding me of it. Here it is for you again, with attribution, as I strongly feel it deserves repetition:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
You're quite right, at least as far as my (admittedly limited) readings go, concerning the commandment translation concerning murder instead of killing. I think it's commendable that folks hear and realize that. All too often I see the bible used as a sort of personal smorgasbord, to pick and choose from, to justify one's own particular agenda... and I sure don't think that's what Jesus meant!
In regards to your comment on my other quote, I found the author and the original quote:
Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
-- William Blake
I'll qualify somewhat, since you have a legitimate point re there being brothels regardless. In this case, I believe Mr. Blake was arguing against the (at that time) extremely restrictive Anglican church, which seemed to be making everyday occurrences into sins in order to have more control over the increasingly guilty-feeling populace. In that respect (when there is a restrictive authority group that wishes more control over the people) I believe Mr. Blake is quite correct.
I'll also point out that in most patriarchal cultures through time the sexually self-determining female (such as might be found in a brothel) is anathema. Whether she wishes or no, she strikes at the very foundation of the culture's beliefs in the societally established dichotomy of active male/passive female. Society naturally reacts powerfully against such an internal threat, using all the tools at its disposal. Religions, run entirely by males of course, label such women harpies, lamia, succubae -- they become the stuff of nightmares, the source of all evil. The (usually also all male) government, of course, supports and abets as best it can, making laws that maintain the established status quo and punish those women that try to break free of their societally established roles as nothing more than wives and mothers. Since women are not allowed any voice in the halls of power, the situation does not change.
I like your idea about using strongly held, preconceived notions within a game, BTW. To me that's part of a good game -- that the characters are asked the difficult questions, that issues of morality need to be addressed.
The above commentary on patriarchy could, for example, be turned around for an interesting exploration of a newly discovered in-game culture. Imagine a group of PCs discovering an empire/democracy/whatever run entirely by women. It would be a strong, internally consistent place, of course, where the populace just knows that men are sweet but rather flighty, and thus can't be trusted to rule themselves... but they make good nurturers and child caretakers as long as you keep an eye on them. They're not smart enough to be able to vote or speak in public, of course. It is only women, naturally, who are strong enough to take the reins of government and control the State, to endure the travails of years of training and education for degrees in magic & religion, to fight for and defend their country.
In my experience most player characters balk at such cultures -- 'how unfair to the poor abused men!' they cry, and 'we must save them from the errors of their ways!' I've noticed they'll go to a lot of effort, in character and out, to 'free' the poor 'enslaved' men. On the other hand, they always get very quiet when it's pointed out to them that the culture they're working so energetically to destroy is precisely the SAME as this one... but with the sexes' societal positions reversed.
Oh, there's a lot of male prostitution around... it's just usually prostitution to other male clients, not for female clients. It is my belief that male prostitution for women would increase dramatically if some societal perceptions changed. It would necessitate people realizing that women like sex as much (if not more) than men do, and it would require the death of the idiotic paradigm "chaste = good woman / sexually self-determining = bad woman." Personally I'd be happy to see garbage like that die... I HATE double standards. They always benefit those in power, and worse, harm those that can't defend themselves against those in power.
I thought it sad but unsurprising that the summer movie "American Pie," which is about young teen boys desperately trying to discover what sex was all about, had no trouble passing the movie ratings board. However another movie from this summer (whose name I unfortunately can't recall), which had young teen girls trying to discover what sex was all about, was so prohibitively rated by the ratings board that the distributors wouldn't touch it.
Personally I see nothing wrong with consensual sex, whether it's a long-term marriage arrangement or a short-term business arrangement. From the readings I've done and the limited life experience I have with 'that' part of society, I'd have to say that legal brothels are far better than illegal, both for those involved and for the society at large. An illegal brothel is considered a disreputable haven for disease, filth, moral turpitude, whatever the current jargon is for the 'dregs of society.' A legal brothel is a business, plain and simple. Businesspersons are respected and contributing members of society.
Strong agreement re quantity not equaling quality, when it comes to gamers! ;-)
Oh dear, I'm out of time and must get this out immediately. More later, if my current school schedule allows!
Last Updated: Thurs Feb 10 2000