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Gaming Thursday: Shore Leave

September 13, 2018

Last game session, our GM was away.  Rather than do a ‘traditional’ one shot, I loosely penned up an experiment and gave it a whirl.

A bit of backstory:  When we were creating the secondary/additional crewmembers for our ship, I gave our pilot a focus (which, in Star Trek Adventures game terms, is best thought as “Areas of Expertise”) of “Shore Leave”.  This proved to be an amazing RP boon, for it has given incredible personality to the character, and we’ve derived a huge amount of background info and lore from it. For example, we have a converted cargo bay that serves as our unofficial ship’s lounge, created by said pilot and named after him: “Gavin’s Quarters.”

And so, for this experimental one shot, I envisioned, in the best mid-season “fluff-episode” TV series tradition, taking the crew in for some starbase R&R.  My plan was to hew to the meta pretty strong, and fully embrace the episodic nature of the episode with a ‘forced’ split of the party into three groups (of both primary PCs and the secondary/additional crewmbers) between which we would rotate with the full intention they would each get into hijinks that, inevitably, would combine in unexpected ways.  All the while, Gavin would flit in and out of the scenes, elevating the humour and excitement in all his masterful shore leave ways.

I wrote down and solicited from the greater interwebs a list of potential events, mischiefs, and troubles that I could spring on the players.  But I didn’t want this to follow the traditional format with the GM laying out scenarios and guiding things – I wanted the players to be as involved as possible as well so that the story we wove together would be remembered for (game) years to come.

To that end, I set up two things.  First, I explicitly mentioned to them at the start of the session the intent of the episode and its 3 narrative structure, and, more importantly, mentioned that there was no losing or danger here.  Like all fluff episodes the lasting recourses would be nil.  Secondly, I invoked the spirit of Mouse Guard-style play, both in the idea of “Player Turn” in having the players inject as much into the narrative as the GM, and secondly in terms of the more overall-story-thinking method of play rather than immediacy and first-person play.  In other words, more “what would make for a great story, let’s write it out” and less direct-RP (though we still had plenty of that).

Experiment success!

It went splendidly.  I began the session with a set of scripted scenes to set the stage of a crew reaching the ends of their ropes in various ways (and with each scene ending with a character saying “I need a break/vacation/downtime/drink”) followed by the Captain announcing the upcoming resupply at the starbase.  Then the players each chose a character from the pool of main/secondary characters, and we started the first thread.  I let them take the scene for a bit and then injected one of the hijinks.  Let that run a bit more, then switch to the second thread, with three more main/secondary characters, and so on.  Accidentally entering a bat’leth tournament, dealing with a propelled surf board stuck on full throttle, high-stakes poker games leading to forced karaoke, finding strange alien devices left on their restaurant table, mistaken celebrity identity… just some of the all sorts of hilariousness that ensued.  All the while, Gavin would dance through the scenes at poignant points, tying everything together until the very end when he managed to turn the entire concourse into a giant music party complete with fireworks.

A completely great night of gaming.  We didn’t touch the dice once;  everyone was generating and adding to the storylines and having a good laugh while also developing deeper understanding of the characters, both their own and the secondary crewmembers.  Lots of creative fun.  As a single-shot fluff episode it worked perfectly, a nice break before we get back to the serious business of being Starfleet officers.

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Wonder Wednesday

September 12, 2018

“Tranquil” by edwardch93

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 11, 2018

I blame Descartes.

Natch, in actuality it likely involved way more dimensions and people that just Descartes, pulling on various conversations and directions of thought that had been already developing, the general thrust of the renaissance, and, given the hundreds of years its been since his death, many more people have continued it and even reinforced it… so really it’s a much more involved thing than just one person.  That statement is not entirely fair.

But it’s more fun and attention getting* to just say, “I blame Descartes.”

For what?  For “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am”… for the idea and elevation of “rational thought” as the pinnacle, in western philosophies, of what makes a person a person.  Thought is truth.  Reason is truth.  Emotions are suspect.  Feelings are bad.  To be a great human is to be a being of pure detached thought.**

And wow, I assert, did society ever take that and run with it.

In many ways, we are taught to be Vulcans.  Since emotions aren’t “real” and can’t be “tested in the physical world” and can “lead us astray”****, we’re told to ignore them or, even more so, resist them.

Now, in no way will I be saying that rational thought is itself bad, or useless, or even that we shouldn’t engage it.  Far from it, thinking is great.

But the thing is, there’s a huge deleterious effect to all this shaming and vilification of our rich, emotional life. *****

We aren’t robots, and our emotions do influence us.  They do.  And the more we ignore our emotions, the more we discount them, the more we do not develop our emotional intelligence/health/awareness, then the more at their effect we are.

In other words, the less we integrate ourselves as a whole being of emotions, feelings, and thought, the more we’re actually controlled by our emotions, without realizing it.

We are great rationalizing (not necessarily rational) creatures – we can get pushed down a path by that invisible internal world and our “perfect” logical and thoughtful minds will come up with darn good reasons and evidence and justifications for this path we’re barreling down.

We think we’re so smart.  And that’s the problem as well as the punchline… our hubris blinds us and robs us of the very agency we’re trying to attain.

Like many things, there’s a middle path here that has gotten missed.  A wholistic embracement of all of the amazing things that constitute who we are as human beings.  It isn’t a matter of being emotional or rational, of being governed by every feeling that arises or to be the perfect android, it’s a matter of listening to all of the above:  emotions, feelings, thinking, imagination, logic, moods, deductions, and so on.

Emotions and feelings can be great indicators.  They are a signal.  And when we embrace them, we get to use those signals rather than be thrown by them or have them sneakily dictate our actions.  The signals become just that, signals, that we can merge with our active mindfulness to give us presence from which we can then choose.  Agency becomes ours and, as a bonus, we get to enjoy the glorious experience(s) of being alive and the vast catalogue of feelings and emotions.

We end up making the better choices we’re aiming for.  We gain freedom and we love our life more.

Sorry Descartes.  We think therefore we are, but we also feel, and together we do more than just exist, we blossom with relish.

 

* and truth be told in many ways it is completely irrelevant to the true exploration of this post…

** This, of course, is why women were relegated as lesser people, for they are more emotional, “governed” by their feelings, and prone to hysteria… true great humans are all men, and men are the thoughtful, reasoning type.***

*** Which, doubly of course, is all absolute caca.****

**** It gets extra silly and super double standard-y when you realize the accolades and admiration that are lauded onto a guy who “follows his gut” as some sort of honest strong paragon when, well, what is “following your gut” other than being guided by your emotions/feelings?

*****  Which come on here everyone, we’re all seeking love and pleasure and happiness and excitement and aren’t those all emotions and feelings?  Further, why are we being taught to suppress our emotions, yet love is supposed to be a first-sight-head-over-heels type thing and that we should blindly follow our emotion in that instance?

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Architecture Monday

September 10, 2018

There’s a beautiful simplicity here, with inspiration from that of a large tent, open to all sides and to all visitors, casting its gaze out onto the grand vista that surrounds it while at the same time crafting an intimate experience.

The experience begins along the approach, the area being delineated by a fence of unconnected posts.  From there, the nicely sculpted wedge opens upward and outward, framing the landscape and, in a similar vein to Tadao Ando’s Church on the Water, towards the single cross that juts up from beyond.  It is both simple and powerfully elegant, rendered even more so in the dawn and dusk hours.  At night, a single bulb suspended over the altar hovers like a star.  A channel of water runs down the middle, connecting both entrances.

The inky black zinc that covers the roof separates the building without overpowering its surroundings.  All else is made of natural wood or stone.  There is high drama here, but it is rooted in and of its place.

Very well done, a small intervention with a big impact.  A locus of tranquility for introspection without losing sight of the world that forever surrounds us.

Nossa Senhora de Fátima Chapel by Plano Humano Arquitectos

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QotD

September 7, 2018

“Don’t you guys get it?

It’s just personality!”

A nine year old,

speaking with the directness

and clarity

that sometimes only children can,

when asked the question,

(by a researcher)

“Is liking trucks a boy thing/does it make you a boy?”

 

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Wonder Wednesday

September 5, 2018

These are deliriously amazingly detailed drawings…

Crazy sweet work by paperblue!

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 4, 2018

By three methods may we learn wisdom:

First, by reflection,

which is noblest;

Second, by imitation,

which is the shallowest;

and third by experience,

which is the bitterest.