Gaming Thursday: Aurora Results

Alright!  With a gaggle of sessions under our proverbial belts, our Star Wars game and my new ruleset that powers it have been going great.  Thus far, things have run very smoothly and has already fueled a lot of great moments.  There’s still some rules gaps and wrangling to do, but the base document is pretty much complete (if written completely in point form language).  I’m not quite ready to share it yet, but I will try to get back to writing its big gestures and intents.  Until then, here several cool things that have emerged thus far, specifically around core Aurora Engine elements: Continue reading

Wonder Wednesday

An amazing video of the sun that spans a decade!  Every frame encompasses about an hour, capturing our local star and all of its changing glory.

The video description has some links to some really cool moments, including the transits of Venus and Mercury, sunspot clusters, as well as some very prominent flares.  Mesmerizing.

Philosophy Tuesday

While our group classes and gatherings have been completely kaiboshed during these unusual times, I’ve continued to Kung Fu it up in my backyard (including weapons and all).  It has been a pleasantly productive time, with growth and new avenues opening to explore and with a wonderful handful of delicious insights.

But there’s an interesting thing about insights:

You never know when they will show up.

You can’t plan for them.  You can’t predict them.  And you can’t force them.  All you can do is go out, practice, practice, and practice some more.

And, of course, that means to practice with intent.  Be the force that is pulling for it.  Create the conditions for it to show up.  Lay the foundation and do the digging and look inside and be mindful and keep looking for what’s missing, what’s next, make the adjustment… and then put it into practice, practice, and practice some more.

Until, without any preamble, there it is.  Something new arises!  An insight, an epiphany, a shift, a transformation.  It might be accompanied with an “Ohhhh,” or a “That’s interesting, what’s that?” or maybe it’s so grand the skies part and the angels sing.  Whether it’s low key or a glorious emergence, it’s nevertheless unmistakable.

And it’s yours forever, to move forward into the world with that new understanding, new vision, and new ability, and to enjoy all that comes and flows freely from it.  All the while, being ready to lay the groundwork and to continue practicing, practicing, and practicing some more towards the next one.

This is the veracity of Kung Fu, as it is the veracity of any art or skill or ability, including the realms of philosophical transformation and even that of societal shifts.

It is also a counter to resignation and capitulation, taking solace in that uncertainty.  It rarely looks like somethings progressing until it moves.  And then it does.  And it’s glorious and totally worth it for the great days ahead.

Architecture Monday

Take one part sculpture, one part landscape, and one part building, put together, stir gently, and pour out onto an urban plaza, Voila!  You’ve got yourself a remarkably bold space for contemplation.

Rising out from a reflecting pool, there’s no missing these sloping and gem-like forms.  From afar they act as a hill or abstract rock, face, edging one side of the urban square.  Closer in, they are more like sculptural elements, with the building itself being split to fit within many of the forms, all connected via glass walkways that allow the water to flow freely.

Inside the geologic forms continue, both rising from the floor or pushing down from overhead to create a nice complex interior geometry.  It’s a balancing act, but it remains mostly in the realm of “visually engaging” without devolving into “cacophony of random stuff.”  Little bits of light and water play out continually as you travel, in a ritual fashion, from space to space.

I dig it (pun semi intended).  Something inventive and playful married with old tradition.  Very nifty.

Al Musallah Prayer Hall by CEBRA

(Who also did the Iceberg apartments in Aarhus!  See them mid-way in this post here…)

Gaming Thursday

I am very much excited about WotC’s announcement that they’ll be shifting how they portray (and thus limit) ‘inherently evil races’ to open up much greater latitudes in alignment, abilities, societies, and etc.  For one, the term race is confusing, since these are really whole different species.  For two, just as our species (humans) are vast and varied, so too should be and can be members of other species (whether elves, or dwarves, or kobolds, or orcs).  For three, it’s far more interesting!  Automatic evil is easy (and still available, be it through fiends or monstrosities or undead) but allowing for greater agency by the antagonists is more juicy, and the meatiest stories often deal with the ‘evil within’ (both individual character but fellow humans/etc acting in very bad ways) vs an external and ‘black box’ kind of auto-evility machine.  For four, as someone who finds attribute bonuses the least interesting way to differentiate different species, I hope this pushes more games (even if D&D itself likely won’t adopt this unless they ever do make a new edition or come out with an optional ruleset) towards more nifty species talents/stunts/feats (such as the Dwarf’s resistance to poison, or the Dragonborn’s breath weapon) that create far more interesting options, capabilities, and side uses for players.

For five, and of great importance, is this:  who we know ourselves as a person and as a collective people is/are thoroughly governed by story – the story we know about ourselves, the stories we tell about our community, the stories we speak of about the world. As such, the stories we make up and tell each other for entertainment absolutely has an impact on how we view, interact with, and treat the real world and others within it. They are not separate.  Thus to say ‘this race is all bad’ or ‘this race is always big and scary’ or ‘this race is really only good at this’ creates mental traps for us as we relate to and deal with others in our actual and lived lives.

So yeah.  Doing away with the more rigid stereotypes and tropes and that present a gameworld view that one’s place, role, competencies, and expected outcomes in the world are governed primarily (and almost entirely) by factors of their species and instead moving towards the item(s) that often draws us to our favourite fiction: culture, style, worldview, way of life, way of building things, and ways of dealing with things. In short: towards character.

Because character and characters are what an RPG is all about.

Philosophy Tuesday

There are a lot of important conversations to be held right now.*  And you, we, may find ourselves getting into a lot of them, which is great!  With this question to keep in mind:  Is this indeed a conversation, a discussion, or even an argument?  Or, instead, is it a debate?

For there is a distinction here.

A debate is a particular and specific thing.  It is something that occurs between a few people (often two), on a stage (or otherwise in front of an audience) with the intent of making a case that then persuades an audience.

And that there is the big thing about a debate:  it’s a performance.  It’s an act designed to play to and then convince those watching.  In many ways, it could even be said that debate is theater.

Which is fine!  _IF_ that’s what our intent is in engaging with someone about a topic.  And if we have an audience.  Because without that audience, a debate is pretty much futile and a waste of time.

A debate is all about the outside.  About that outward play.  There’s no engagement.  No communication happening between those involved.  It’s not about consideration or growth or challenging or imagination or learning or refining or exploring or deepening or anything of the sort.  It’s not contemplative at all.  At best, it’s only about how do you destroy the other person’s argument.  At worst (and maybe common), it’s about how do you destroy the other person. So out come all the rhetorical devices.  Out come fallacies by the truck load.  Out come traps and gotyas and buckets of dismissiveness.  Ad hominems are deployed en masse.

Debates are something that are waged.

And for those participating in the debate, there’s no change.  It’s a statis.  The very thing to do in a debate, the very premise, is to reject, immediately and categorically, everything but your own view.  Hunker down, put up sandbags, and deploy all weapons at anything and anyone that approaches.

Which is why getting into a debate with someone when there is no audience (and when the intent isn’t to play for the audience**) is such a worthless endeavour.  We can lance at each other all night and it will be all for naught.

To truly affect the other, to bring forward contemplation and possibilities, to open up empathy and humanity, to bring clarity and awareness, to move the needle forward in so many areas needs great conversation and discussion.  Even heated discussion!  But discussion grounded in exchange, with a willingness for examination and consideration and reflection and thinking.

And when things veer towards debate, all that goes out the window.  At that point, continuing – or even starting – is folly.  Either work to bring things back towards discussion, or step away.

The same applies whether in person, over the phone, online, social media, whatever.  If our authentic intent is to engage, then remaining watchful for thing sliding towards a debate (whether instigated by them or by ourselves) is important.

And if there’s no willingness to remain within the realm of contemplation, then we can save everyone’s time, energy, and passion by ignoring or walking away, and giving our time, energy, and passion to those who are willing and whom we can reach.

 

* And a lot of important listening

** This is important to remember on a social media platform.  We may think “haha, I’m debating this person for the masses!” but are we, really?  Is this really an effective debate venue?  Are those watching more apt to become part of the debate (and thus bunker down) rather than contemplate and engage?

Architecture Monday

Another wonderful schoolhouse and mini-library tonight, harnessing design to create something vital and beautiful!

Designed in the aftermath of, and thus to withstand, a cyclone, it’s no bunker of a design.  Full of air and light, built by community hands, and using the robust structure to its fullest to create a great and interesting space within.

The bit about the library is doubly interesting, for this school is in Vanuatu, an island country where humidity levels are often around 99%.  And so the library is nestled up a ladder under the ridge of a black roof, using the sun to heat the air, thus increasing its moisture capacity while also causing convection which is used to continually pull the moisture out of the building.  It’s a small thing, but it helps the books last longer, while also creating a great reading nook.

Great design is never out of place, and should never be considered, nor need to be, a luxury.  Sweet work here.

Ranwas School by CAUKIN Studio