Sunday, October 4, 2015

Point form adventure update!

To quickly update (so as to ensure doing so!)

  • They fought a flameskull - well, the barbarian picked a fight with it, then it flew away and he didn't do so well.
  • They survived and finished phandelver!
  • They returned to Red Larch and took up the notes of the previous party - who'd left none so I made it up some had left notes. Pliskin is after the mud sorcerer and Lucian the (now) barbarian has bad dreams so he want to smash elemental things.
  • They partied at feathergale spire. Then when the knights tried to have a slumber party with them (maybe!), the party butchered the knights and escaped on giant vulture (nat twenty animal handling) or spider climbed down the side of the tower to the valley below.
  • In the valley they stood around in the open (well, half did) and then were found by knights on vultures who refused to come down to the ground to be murdered by the barbarian and whatever Pliskin is. 
  • So the party got hammered by javalins and Lucian the barbarian almost died trying to distract the knights from the almost dead Muriden the noble dwarf, as he tried to get away with his vulture.
  • Muriden didn't say thanks. Nobles.
  • They hid and rested but at the eigtth hour gnolls, one a pack lord, find the less hidden of them.
  • Pliskin spares the packlord, insisting he is the gnolls leader now.
  • They find the gully they spotted through a telescope on feathergale spire, find some magic monks who try to beat up the party but get beat up!
  • They interrogate a final one and find the cult the monks are from hates the mud sorcerer! Plot twist!

And that was the short version!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Baksplaining : Akrasis (alternative title: 'Breaking Bard')

I liked a recent story at Scott Bakker's three pound brain blog, so I thought either A: I'd explain it here (as best I can) if it's confusing for anyone or B: If everyone gets it already, then I just get to talk about what I like on my blog ( lol! ) and also C: Spreading out the talk from TPB to other places to some small degree.


Quick to exploit the discoveries arising out of cognitive science, market economies spontaneously retooled to ever more effectively cue and service consumer demand, eventually reconfiguring the relation between buyer and seller into subpersonal circuits (triggering the notorious shift to ‘whim marketing,’ the data tracking of ‘desires’ independent of the individuals hosting them).

Okay, so here is a compacted bit and so compacted it's hard to understand. What is cue in 'cue and service'? It means an attempt to trigger an urge - see that advert with the mouth watering hamburgers (which in actual fact the ones in the commercial are plastic and not even Representative of the product)? That's trying to cue you - no, they aren't offering a service that you might take up - that's last centuries method! Here it's to trigger you - there's a reason a lot of junk food adverts come up around dinner time! To cue the urge. Then service the urge.

The extra trick that is compacted into this is rather like how if you stood behind bulletproof glass and someone on the other side swung a punch at you, you'd blink. It's a reflex - or it could be described as an urge. But ultimately it happens without you?

So what if A: There are other urge types that go on without you and B: Advertisers start mapping out these urges to trigger them?

It's outlining (in compact form) and referring to the outlined idea of A and B. But presumably more sophisticated than the current form of B.

The human dependency on proximal information to cue what amount to ancestral guesses regarding the nature of their social and natural environments provided sellers with countless ways to game human decision making.
So what's this mean? Well let's go back to the plastic burger. That 'burger' is easier to work with and construct into something that triggers the ways one finds such a food desirable. How do they find out the ways one finds a food desirable or if one even does? Market surveys, focus groups and...coming up more recently, scanning subjects brains while the subject observes the food. But market surveys, focus groups...these are clearly things that everyone agrees they do occur.

But it's a plastic burger! It's awful and nothing like what you actually want.

But it appears delicious.

But you know it's plastic.

You can see how knowledge and urge start to split apart here - which ties into the title.

The global economy was gradually reorganized to optimize what amounted to human cognitive shortcomings.
Burgers but bigger!

the simulation of meaning became the measure of meaning.

Burgers should look like that burger on the advert or they are awful and wrong and possibly a little criminal!

For billions, the only obvious direction of success—the direction of ‘cognitive comfort’—lay away from the world and into technology. So they defected in their billions, embracing signals, environments, manufactured entirely from predatory code.

Diablo, with all it's 'success' feedbacks ("Oh, I found a new, more powerful weapon! I feel great!"), but bigger (and more diverse). The 'world' begins to be gamified. Thousands of success indicators are added to lives, your lives, that have nothing to do with your actual contined heartbeat.

By 2050, we had become an advanced akratic civilization, a species whose ancestral modes of meaning-making had been utterly compromised. Art was an early casualty, though decades would be required to recognize as much. Fantasy, after all, was encouraged in all forms, especially those, like art or religion, laying claim to obsolete authority gradients. To believe in art was to display market vulnerabilities, or to be so poor as to be insignificant.
Not sure I entirely agree with this bit - I think to believe in art would be to be believing in something that could be targeted by attacks. Whether the rich (who would be behind such attacks) would target their own believed in art, I doubt.

However, if it's just suggesting art ceases to be inpenetrable/as invulnerable as a god, then fair enough.

Social akrasis is now generally regarded as a thermodynamic process intrinsic to life, the mechanical outcome of biology falling within the behavioural purview of biology.
Somewhat like how all life on the planet (probably) came from the one life creation event, but then clearly life has gone on to mutate into forms that eat other life (life eating life), here the one species starts to predate upon itself (unlike the animals, who have the decency to be a different species from the one they eat (yes, for those in the back row, it's not literally eating in the case of Akrasis. But go ahead and enjoy confusing literalism for wit)).

I'm not sure I totally agree with 'intrinsic', but as much as a fighter pilot can see a blip and press a launc button without really feeling he's killing a human being (or a drone pilot for that matter), with distance comes the sense you're a seperate species preying on another species.

Numerous simulations have demonstrated that ‘outcome convergent’ or ‘optimizing’ systems, once provided the base capacity required to extract excess capacity from their environments, will simply bootstrap until they reach a point where the system detaches from its environment altogether, begins converging upon the signal of some environmental outcome, rather than any actual environmental outcome.

I'm not sure I agree with the wording here - I'd say it's hardly the system that's detaching. More so it's likely there are many incentives toward the system providing pursuit signals (carrot on a stick) to members of that system that are unrelated to environmental outcomes (survival), but benefit that systems prefered enviromental outcomes. In such a case I'd hardly say the system is detaching from the environment! Unless perhaps one sees system as there for people (rather than the other way around) and so when people are detached from environment outcomes, it seems system would of course go with it.

But perhaps rather like the cells of our own bodies are co-opted individuals who now serve an environment which doesn't tie directly to their survival, what you have is a system where people are becoming the cells of it and are serving success signals which don't tie to their own survival but instead the systems survival.

Hopefully I've explained rather than adding another confusing idea there!

Anyway, to sum up I like the story - they just establish themselves, rather than having to try and convince and use all the academics prefered genre of words (half of which I have to look up!).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Phandelver. part 6ish, 7ish and 8!

Oh, how the time flies!

They somehow managed to con the hobgoblins into them going inside to check on the king, while the PC's walked calmly, then jogged, then ran like mad away!

They managed to get the dwarf, Rockseeker (IIRC) back to town, where after resting overnight he immediately started insisting they get to wave echo cave.

The PC's did indeed make their way there - and apart from anti climactic stirge encounters (nothing like encountering them in pathfinder!), they opened a door with an illusion across it of the rest of the trick a wight inside that no one had opened the door - after discovering the rooms occupant, they quickly moved speak to a spectator and tried to convince him out of something that magic forces him to do (guard a location) and...the warlock seemed to ignore that you could bypass him if you simply twisted the words of his contract.

From that powerful foe they...then ran into a flaming skull, who'd been set to oversee the area. And managed to convince it that the dwarf noble amongst them was one of the owners of the ancient dwarven mining complex - DESPITE the nobles best efforts to screw this up by saying count comments!

They kicked open the barred doors of bugbears - then ran away, thinking the bugbears would chase them right into the flaming skull. The bugbears promptly boarded up their door again - having boarded it incase the flame skull had come their way - they knew about it, all right! Fair plan, otherwise!

Then an excellent ghoul encounter occured, where the party went and split itself most wonderfully! Lucian the warlock walks in to examine some tables, then the rest of the party in the corridor see him look to his right, look shocked and run left! Malcer the ranger (newer player, so fair enough!) runs after him...but then the fairly beaten up fighter Murden (bugbears did it!) decides not to draw the attention of six ghouls by running in front of them all! Ander instead shoots his short bow at one, drawing the attention of two!

After some zanyness and readied actions which confused initiative order for me! Players are like 'hey, didn't the fighter just have a go?' and because I'm tired and just did all the monsters moves, I say yeah - but actually it's because he readied his action to attack as a ghoul approached. So he goes just before them, and perchance of initiative rolls, he went right after them as well!

Anyway, they thought they were doomed, but with some nat 20's from Malcer and some sensible fighting, they did alright!

The final battle was while exploring a new room with just a handful of ghouls in it - a mere three this time! But Lucian decides to fall back while fighting - and this is the ideal time for the ochre jelly, that had seen them in their previous exploration and was following them, to attack! And it got in one good slap of it's pseudopod too - eventually Lucian retreated back to the party who had finished the ghouls. They all braced for the jelly to come at them...braced and...nothing happened. As far as the module informed me, the jelly picks it's fights - it doesn't come at superior numbers. Making the jelly smarter than some PC's, at times!

And so having beaten the ghouls and feeling hurt, they decide to rest in the room with the ghouls - using their bodies as blocks against the doors as best they can.

Whether they will short rest for an hour or attempt a long rest here, who knows?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Phandelver ( Part 5 and some 6 )

Castle Cragmore was kind of quick in the end - the party burst in on a group of hobgoblins, one of which dashed away while the others faught. However, party members chased after and slayed him before he could open the door to...well, what was the door to that the hobgoblin so needed to open?

Well, they burst in and find a bugbear and a drow talking at a table, with an unconcious dwarf in the corner. Heh - I stuffed up here - because I kept looking at the stats of the 'drow' who was actually a doppleganger, I gave away what it was by accident! Saying 'The doppleganger attacks!'. I'm not even sure why it was a doppleganger to begin with - but anyway! Also I forgot the wolf that aught to be present - but the party got a little hammered by blows before taking the bugbear, king Grol, down as well as the doppler!

Great! So they revive the dwarf, find the map and that was the end of one session.

Next they explored a bit, with a new player in tow playing an archer - as usual a player turns up and no real question of that was made (since it happens so often), so ended up making a reason for it latter on that they found him as a prisoner alongside the Gundren the dwarf. Ah, the things I do out of sequence!

So they explore a bit - lifted the bar on a door, heard a giant monster inside roar and...though they won initiative, nobody put the bar back! The owlbear clawed up the fighter a bit (like, to 1 HP!), but they toughed it out and won.

The thing is when they go outside, they ran into a group of hobgoblins coming back.

The warlock starts his smooth talker routine to try and talk them down (mostly because the fighter was down and we only had four PC's this session), essentially saying 'all those dead bodies - it was like that when we got here!'

Then someone else says something that ruins his speel a bit and he tries to give up and sneak away (fails!).

I'm thinking of a new house rule in future of basically individual diplomacy rather than group. How it works is if one PC says something to offend the NPC, the NPC's don't automatically target all PC's. The other PC's can step back if they want (or join in the defence of that PC, if they want). But they aren't dragged into the battle because of someone saying the wrong thing.

I'm considering that, because in combat one PC doing something inept doesn't doom the whole party. So I think for talking it would do well to be the same.

Anyway, did they get out of it? Mr TORGUE knows the answer to that! MAYBE!!!!1!

Friday, August 7, 2015

D&D Bonus Story #3

Jibso Flagons poked around in the Tresendar manor ruins, entering its basement. After a tunnel or two he found a room with sarcophagi and shattered skeletons laying around - and amongst these, a ring!

Which he immediately took back to town to pawn!

However, you see where he came from and declare that you put the better part of the work into that. After fondling his dagger thoughtfully for awhile while contemplating this, Jibso decides to split some of the earnings with you!

For players of my D&D game, this can be claimed up to 6 times (which conveniently is the maximum number of players), once per player.

You gain 6 gold!