since the adventure zone finale is tomorrow i thought i’d post all my doodles so far. most of these are me trying to figure out my headcanons (ive drawn so many fucking taakos adfghsg) i love them all so much tho
I’ve gotten quite a few asks recently wanting to know what my issue with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is. You’ve probably seen my grumbling about edition-warring a time or three, so I want to clarify that that isn’t where this post is going. I think 5E has a lot of fantastic ideas, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to new players. The problem I have with it isn’t that I don’t like what it’s doing; it’s that I see a lot of great game design ideas lumbered by a conscious refusal to take them to their logical conclusion - or, in other words, it’s not that I think 5E goes too far, it’s that I think it doesn’t go far enough.
(Fair warning: a lot of this is going to be really jargon-heavy game design stuff that normal people probably don’t care about. That’s your cue to check out if tabletop RPG meta isn’t your cup of tea!)
To start off, there’s a concept in game design - applicable to both video games and tabletop games - called “mechanical engagement”. Basically, it’s what it sounds like: how and when the player is called upon to make rules-based decisions. Some games have high mechanical engagement, in the sense that players are given lots of rules-based “toys” to play with and expected to interact with them frequently; other games have low mechanical engagement, meaning that there are fewer rules-based “toys”, and fewer player-facing decisions about how to deploy them.
Moreover, in games that have roles or classes, different roles within the same game can offer different levels of mechanical engagement. It’s tempting to think of this in terms of low mechanical engagement = basic and low-powered, high mechanical engagement = advanced and high-powered, but this ain’t necessarily the case; you can see this phenomenon in action in the sphere of video games in, say, 2D fighters, or multiplayer online shooters. You have characters/roles with complicated and demanding execution, and characters/roles with simple and straightforward execution, and the former aren’t necessarily more powerful in practice, in spite of being more demanding to play.
The reason this happens is because a player’s preferred level of mechanical engagement is totally independent of any other axis of play (e.g., preferred role, preferred aesthetics, etc.) Some players like having lots of rules-based knobs and levers to play with, and they’ll gravitate to roles that will give them that even if there’s no actual benefit - i.e., even if it obliges them to work harder just to get to the same level as players in roles with lower mechanical engagement. Similarly, some players just want to press buttons and watch stuff explode - they prefer low mechanical engagement.
There’s nothing wrong with either preference, and one of the major perks of playing a tabletop RPG with class/role-based character creation is that it allows you to accommodate different preferences in terms of mechanical engagement within the same party. You can have players who want to juggle lists of special abilities as long as their arm, and players who just want to hit things with swords, and they can play at the same table - everybody wins. Again, remember that this is totally separate from wanting to play a “low powered” or “high powered” character; the level of mechanical engagement that a role demands is a different axis from how big its numbers are.
Now, one of the perennial issues of fantasy tabletop RPGs in general and D&D in particular is tying particular levels of mechanical engagement to particular role aesthetics. In many iterations of the game, if you want to play a role with high mechanical engagement, you have to chuck fireballs, and if you want to play a role with low mechanical engagement, you have to be a sword-slinging meat shield. A player who wants high mechanical engagement but also likes swords is liable to be told, both by the game’s text and by other players, that she’s Doing It Wrong - and so, for that matter, is a player who wants low mechanical engagement, but also wants to set stuff on fire with her brain.
(Incidentally, this is one of several areas where core-book 4E solves a real and recognised problem in the most hilariously unsubtle manner imaginable, by bashing every role into exactly the same level of mechanical engagement. Which is fantastic if that just happens to be your preferred keel, because now you can play and enjoy every role - and terrible if your ideal toybox is too much larger or smaller, because now every role is an equally bad fit for you.)
5E brings a couple of great ideas for solving this problem to the table:
1. It introduces a series of “tutorial levels”, where each class‘s abilities are introduced gradually over the levels 1-3, reducing entry barriers, leveling out the learning curve, and allowing folks to “try on” different levels of mechanical engagement more easily; and
2. It introduces system of templated archetypes whereby particular classes/roles can be “tuned” to different levels of mechanical engagement, making the same basic set of roles accessible to players with a broader range of preferences in terms of mechanical engagement - and, critically, the choice of template doesn’t have to be made until after the previously mentioned “tutorial levels” are complete.
Sounds great, right?
The problem is, it only applies to fighters and rogues and related classes. Clerics and wizards - i.e., the full-featured spellcasters - don’t get any “tutorial levels”, are obliged to choose their archetypes at first level, and all of their archetypes are about equally complicated - to the point that, for example, the lowest mechanical engagement cleric you can build has more rules-based toys you’re obliged to wrangle at any given level than the highest mechanical engagement fighter.
In other words, the game turns around and goes some distance out of its way to reinforce the very problem that this design pattern is meant to solve!
This pattern is repeated in several other places. For example, one of the long-standing disagreements among the fandom is whether D&D should primarily support epic, globe-trotting “high fantasy” or gritty, street-level “low fantasy” as its default tone. It’s as much a question of rules as it is of flavour text, so it’s hard to do both - but 5E gives it the old college try, which is a frankly fascinating decision. How does that play out?
Unconventionally, 5E does it based on character classes: you literally have some classes that are built out of high fantasy tropes, and some classes that are built out of low fantasy tropes, with the result that you can have characters who basically hail from totally different genres of fantasy fiction running around in the same party. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea; there are lots of inspirational sources that setup could describe - I mean, just look at The Lord of the Rings. If that’s not a prototypical case of high fantasy characters and low fantasy characters partying up, I’ll eat my hat.
This’d be another great opportunity for the archetype system to shine - but again, we see this obnoxious wall slamming down between “martial” and “magic” classes. This time it goes the other way: fighters and rogues default to low fantasy genre assumptions, and have access to archetype templates that can dial them up to high fantasy - but clerics and wizards default to high fantasy and don’t get anything to adjust that.
Tellingly, the high fantasy archetypes for fighters and rogues basically operate by bolting half a wizard to the side of their respective classes. You end up with a strange dynamic where some characters from a given piece of genre source material are valid inspirations, but not others - e.g., you can be Merlin, but not Lancelot; Gandalf, but not Legolas; Medea, but not Achilles. Again, we see this reactionary notion that only spellcasters are allowed to play in the big-kid sandbox; the game’s text openly acknowledges as much by flat-out stating that only full-progression spellcasters are relevant when determining which tiers of play a party can engage with. And again, the tools to fix that are right there; the game just doesn’t deign to pick them up and use them.
I could keep going, but I suspect I’ve harped on long enough that y’all get exactly where I’m coming from here. It’s like… these are not new problems. Maybe not all players care about them, but it’s nearly universally acknowledged that they exist, and it would have taken so little effort to address them - the game literally developed the perfect tools to do so, then didn’t use them. It drives me crazy to see a game come so close to what could have been a legitimately revolutionary take on the genre, then deliberately stop juuuuust short of the goal line.
flappergirl6 said:I have seen somewhere on Tumblr that you were having Sebastian come back in some way. First I would like to know if you are considering that and second if he would come back as Jonathan Christopher with green eyes and an untarnished soul. I really love Sebastian and it would be interesting to see who he would turn out as if he had been born untainted with Lilith’s influence. Thanks I LOVE your work!
Mmm, don’t believe everything you read on Tumblr. I did say people hadn’t seen the last of him, but that could mean anything – flashbacks, short stories …
catarinalosss said:do you think that tavvy, rafe, and max’s friendship will get any closer? i was interested in the concept of tav and rafe becoming parabatai, and if they’ll get some page time in TWP. thank you!!!
I think that they’re so young in the Wicked Powers that while the idea of them being parabatai some day is a cute one, it wouldn’t be relevant. Rafe will be eight. Max will be six. Tavvy will be ten. Only Tavvy will even have started training and people can’t choose parabatai until they’re both twelve, anyway. And I tend to be hesitant about deploying a lot of small children in YA books as they tend to derail things as everyone runs around trying to make sure they don’t get killed. So, you know, some page time but not a lot, most likely! Unless there’s some kind of epilogue that takes place twenty years in the future and Jace is bald.
stasi502 said: Hello, Cassie. A few days ago I read Lord of Shadows and I would like to say that it was brilliant. I really loved it, but I am also sad for the deaths of [redacted for spoilers]. My question is: How many other people would die in QoAD? Would hurt just like in LoS?
*pat* I don’t kill characters to hurt y’all, even if it might feel like it. I have decided that for QuAD, I’m not going to say how many characters die beforehand. I think after the ending of LoS, it’s probably better not to make it into a guessing game because people’s nerves and feelings are still pretty raw. And while people ask me all the time how painful something will be, I often don’t know. It’s really readers who determine how sad something is, how much they’re moved by it, etc. I can always aim for certain effects, but only my readers can tell me if I was successful.
Sometimes I wonder if people can see how well done Cullen’s story is. Addiction is an ugly, ugly thing, and somewhere in between all of the withdrawal angst and comfort and meta analysis and stuff… I just kind of think of how *important* what he is trying to do is.
The funny thing about addiction is that you have to really want to beat it. You have to make yourself push past the days where it is just too hard, when your own body is actively fighting against you. Not only does Cullen do that, but he does it when surrounded by his own fears (out of control magic, demons, abominations, plus the lyrium that must be all over skyhold for the Inquisition’s Templars) and while leading an entire fucking army.
So it’s not just fodder for the angst canon, it’s not just a difficult thing to do. You are literally at war with your own mind and body, and I sometimes get a little distressed when I hear that the Cullen romance is “boring” or “vanilla” or “cliche.” Aside from the fact that not everything has to be melodrama and kink and ~unusual,~ being involved and caring for a recovering addict (because they are always recovering, the temptation is always there) is never “boring,” and shouldn’t be reduced to a “cliche” just because the character isn’t an overtly special snowflake.
Do you have recommendations for a Klance slowburn fic? (Doesn't really matter if it's an AU)
Friend f r i e n d it’s been ages since I actually got to sit down and read a fic but I’ve read lots of them in the past so you definitely came to the right person :P (I actually wrote one of my own; it’s called Magic Me Some Love and is about Galra!Keith/Magician!Lance in a medieval fantasy setting, if you’re into that.)
Now. Slow burn klance fics that aren’t on pretty much every fic rec list out there already with a minimum of either 60k words or that are unfinished still:
Keith is texted by accident by some idiot one day, and honestly he’s not even sure why he responds. Or why he keeps responding. Yet somehow he finds himself drawn in, and okay, so maybe this fool is mildly entertaining after all. Who would’ve thought.
>>wrong number AU with an extra dash of angst. But if you’ve read any of the other fics this author has written you’ll know that they specialize in fluff and that absolutely shines through in the fic^^
20 years after the legendary sword Voltron was drawn from its stone by Queen Allura, it is stolen and eventually lost in the dangerous Balmeran Forest. To prevent the rogue knight Zarkon, his witch companion Haggar and their army of Galra warriors from claiming the sword and conquering all of Altea, it falls to Lance, with the help of a dark-haired hermit, to embark on the treacherous journey, save his kingdom and reunite his broken family.
>>if you don’t mind OCs that you get to know throughout the fic taking on a more important role, you should totally check out this fic. It’s plot heavy and reads like a published novel :D
Lance has been dreaming of travelling since the first time he heard stories from his family as a child. Now, having finally the time and money to do it, he goes on a trip to Europe to see some of the most culturally rich cities on the continent. Except he keeps bumping into the same guy over and over again, in random cities, doing stupid shit, and ultimately dragging Lance into his trouble, too.
>>it’s one of the few fics that I haven’t read personally yet and still won’t hesitate to recommend. lots of my friends have read and praised it, apparently it’s fluffy and fun. it’s absolutely on my to read list :D
When Keith crashed his Lion into a Galra warship in order to stop it from destroying a solar system, and more importantly, his friends, he was fully prepared to die for it. What he didn’t prepare for was to wake up in an alternate universe where he and Lance were dating.
>>this one. if you haven’t read it yet, go read it. it was my fav voltron fic for a long long time!!!! it’s got it all, plot, romance, character development, realistic amounts of angst- it’s very very good.
The Castle of Lions is the venue for the city’s most dangerous illegal street races where drivers come to test the cut of their tires. Lance has long defended his title as champion, but when a newcomer shows up and threatens his position things take an interesting turn.
>>not into cars and street racing AUs? neither am i, my friend, and yet this is one of the best voltron fics i’ve read. trust me when i tell you that you want to read everything written by this author.
When Lance is thrown through time, his future self from one year ahead is transported to the past in his place. - When Lance is thrown through time, he finds himself one year in the future, in place of the Lance that should be here.
>>WHEN I SAW THAT THESE TWO WRITERS WOULD COLLAB ON A FIC I NEARLY DIED BRUH THESE MIRROR FICS ARE AMAZE JUST LIKE THEIR OTHER FICS
In a world where monstrous dragons terrorize humanity daily, the Garrison trains valiant Knights to slay the evil beasts and defend Earth. But when Knight cadet Lance Espinosa is kidnapped by a strange red dragon who kills its own kind, certain truths are revealed…and so are the true monsters.
>>dragon au i repeat dragon au this is not a drill everyone - this fic!!! is freaking!!!! amazing!!!!!!! it’s in my top 5 minimum go try it out :D
Go back to school they said. It’ll be fun they said. Yeah, sure. It’s tons of fun scaling lava walls, accidentally setting things on fire, and being babysat by the school’s flirt. When Lance signed up (*cough* bribed *cough*) to show the new firebug around the school he thought it would be a piece of cake. He did not anticipate the sour attitude, spontaneous explosions, intimate moments in elevators…
>>the sky high au you always knew you needed :D it’s still in the very early stages but the fic is really fun so far!!
Lance has too much time on his hands, Keith doesn’t have enough. Lance leans more towards being outgoing and sociable, while Keith keeps to himself and can be mostly unpleasant. Neither think they have anything in common. What they don’t realize, however, is that there happens to be a very popular graphic novel that connects them together. Lance happens to be an avid reader and Keith just happens to secretly be the author.
>>another fic i’m super pumped for oh my god. each new chapter mail has me grinning like a maniac. the waiting between updates is suffering but all worth it in the end. it’s fun and interesting and i love it!
Keith commits the ultimate taboo as a grim reaper: he saves a life. More specifically, he saves Lance’s life. Now they are forever linked, unable to survive without the other. Keith must protect Lance from the forces that are trying to right Keith’s wrong and kill Lance.
>>skdfghjksfhgdksjfhgjfjd i cannot describe it. the plot is really amazing and keith and lance are so attracted to each other but they can’t kiss because that would literally kill lance. it belongs to the top most interesting voltron fics out there :D
Keith is a superhero who’s been pining after the cute boy who works at the music shop across the street from HQ. He also doesn’t know that the cute boy is the same vigilante he wants to bring to justice.
>>!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! all the chapters are insanely long but they’re all worth it. the plot develops rather slowly but it’s perfect as it is :P the slowest of burns. despite that it never made me lose interest in it so definitely go check it out if you have multiple hours of nothing to do!! :D
I’m gonna stop here because this list is already insanely long but it is faaaaaar from finished, believe me. This fandom produces so many good fics I can’t keep up with it ; - ;
MCU ANTI-FREEZE: Why Bucky didn’t shoot the camera before killing the Starks
(the Anti-Freeze section is where I take points from canon that make no sense, are inconsistent with the rest of the narration, are literally plot holes, case of fridge logic-or horror and try desperately to make sense of them using every scrap I can from the source material. Basically it’s me frantically patching canon up trying to hide the ugly parts and finding more or less-it’s less- plausible explanations for them. Or you can say it’s me closing my eyes and singing loudly over logic in order to deny all idea of mistake in my canon and being blindly faithful to the writers for having probably -never- thought of that)
The Winter Soldier is a master assassin so good at his job that most people didn’t even believe in his existence. He is a legend, a ghost of the intelligence community and not a whisper of his existence leaves others indifferent.
This is especially difficult to believe as he spends most of his introductory movie shooting up people in broad daylight in the middle of crowded boulevards of big metropoles. But since this is linked to Hydra’s out of the shadows scheme we can handwave it away by saying he was simply following the out of shadows directive as the fist of HYDRA.
Now the issue comes with his second apparition where he executes Howard and Maria Stark in plain view of a security camera, which he is obviously aware of as he breaks it the moment he is done with the deed. This makes the whole master assassin who’s so good most people don’t even know he exist schtick difficult to swallow. This looks amateurish at best and seems like a contrived plot point to create the Siberia situation.
But what if this was actually a case of fridge brilliance from the writers?
From what we know of the Winter Soldier from Captain America 2, he needs to be kept in ice in between mission as he can’t be out too long without having some “malfunctions”. Also he has some recollections of his life before being a weapon and all points to the fact his reaction toward recognizing Steve is not the first time he had some sort of revelation. That’s why they need to wipe him often to erase his memories.
In Civil War we sees that under the Soviet control while he is controlled by triggers which we don’t know if they were used (though I’d argue not) in the Winter Soldier ; the chair zapping his brain and the sleeping in ice in between assignments was still in use as in shown in the opening sequence. Which means that he still can’t be trusted on his own for too long and needs his memory wiped often in order to make the triggers more efficient.
During the Berlin incident, it is shown that the triggers only allow for simple directives and the state they induce is broken after a while on its own or between bouts of consciousness. This all seem to be an effect of the super soldier serum that heals his brain and thus weaken the mind control while making him stronger.
According to Black Widow, the Winter Soldier has not been very active despite his reputation as he is credited with something like 25 kills over 50 years, which means at best 1 kill every two years. Of course some of his assassination were hidden (the Starks for example) but it seems that Bucky was used only for high target assassinations. Also the fact that his activity is only of half a century as of 2014 when Cap 2 takes place shows that Bucky took time to be molded as the perfect weapon, Hydra had him for almost 20 years before sending him out. All of this shows that he is a valuable almost irreplaceable asset and that his handlers take great care of not breaking the hold they have over him, which they know is fragile in the best of case.
That’s why the Starks were such high targets, and that’s why they wanted nobody to look closer into the accident for nobody should discover the big discovery behind their murder. Indeed, Howard Stark with his bastard super serum offered Hydra the possibility to have 5 more super soldiers without all the hassle Bucky presented.
So Bucky was sent and he executed the mission, taking the serum and leaving no witness alive. Except for the camera.
BUT there is something else we need to take into consideration, Cap 2 heavily implies that Howard had suspicions about SHIELD and the US government being infiltrated by some force and that’s probably why nobody knew of the package he had with him since he wouldn’t want to advertise this when he didn’t know who to trust. So his murder was also necessary as a way to cut off this line of inquiry. Just taking the serum and leaving them alive would have been too big of a risk.
And this is where the camera comes in. The video is found by Zemo in a Hydra base after he spent the better part of a year to try and find this solid evidence. So I think part of Bucky’s instructions was to disable the cameraafter the kill and then bringing back the serum.
Why? Because Howard was not any target, it was one Bucky knew personally. Moreover the need to make it look like an accident required a face to face approach for the assassin. And since they knew the Winter Soldier program was glitchy they didn’t know how he would react with having to kill someone he knew. So this was a test for Bucky, the camera was there to monitor him and be sure he didn’t break his conditioning at any moment. Since if he did he could have lied during his report.
They needed the footage to be sure the Starks were dead for one, and to observe Bucky’s behavior during the hit to see if he hesitated or remembered. I think during this mission, a lot of HYDRA operatives were around in case things went south and they had to finish the job themselves and get back the stray Asset. And though some might argue that he recognized Howard as he allegedly momentarily stilled his hand before finishing him (I’m still not sure of that after having seen the footage hundred of times) he still completed the mission without any issue.
And I think this mission was the reason why they sent him after Steve during Cap 2. Because they already had tested him against people he knew succesfully and thus were confident he would see things through and kill Captain America even if he used to be his best friend.
…So Convinced? Is this theory acceptable? Let me know what you think!
ha ha ha this is by far my most popular post and it originally contained multiple embarrassing errors
because @bisexualslycooper idly wondered what the breakdown was and I have nothing better to do with my time!
Sly 1: Roxana Ortega
Is she actually Hispanic? imdb says her mother was Peruvian and her dad was Mexican-American, so heck yeah! Other notable roles: apparently she was in g-force
Sly 2: Alesia Glidewell
Is she actually Hispanic?Technically, no! According to Wikipedia her dad was Brazilian-American (and her mother Japanese). This makes her Latina, but not Hispanic - ie, from a Spanish-speaking country. As @slycooperandcarlosfox informs me, she is fluent in Spanish, along with Portuguese and Italian. And, y’know. English. Other notable roles: Lots! She has voiced both Samus Aran and Krystal, provided the creepy motion capture for F.E.A.R.’s Alma, and - most famously, I imagine - was the face and body model for Chell from Portal. Not only that, but her imdb page has stuff in basically every category, from “Producer” and “Director” down to “Camera and Electrical Department”. What an accomplished woman!
Sly 3: Ruth Livier
Is she actually Hispanic? Given how she has “received special recognition by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts”, I kinda hope so, yeah! (@whoisthemasterthief informs me she is Mexican-American, specifically.) Other notable roles: apparently she was in drag to me hell (and GTA:SA, as one of the pedestrian VAs)
Sly 4: Grey Delisle Griffin
Is she actually Hispanic?Yes! She was raised by her maternal grandmother, who is Mexican, and often credits said grandmother as having a huge influence on her. Other notable roles: Man, where to start? A ton of versions of Daphne (Scooby Doo), Mandy (ie, Billy and), Kimiko (Xiaolin Showdown), Frankie (Foster’s Home), Sam (Danny Phantom), Vicky (Fairly Oddparents), and of course, her personal favorite role [mine too!], Princess Azula from Avatar the Last Airbender.
…it’s really all or nothing when it comes to other roles, isn’t it?
My sincere thanks to @whoisthemasterthief and @miatheladygamer for correcting me about the semantic difference between “Hispanic” and “Latinx” and DeLisle’s grandmother, respectively!