14 July, 2021
04 May, 2021
|by Andrew Domachowski|
A few years ago, on Martin Luther King Day, I wrote a short piece about an episode of the original series of Star Trek, The Ultimate Computer, episode 24 of season 2, from 1968. I think it goes a little way toward explaining what I mean by that, and I've reprinted it below.
I watched this episode again today. I watched it specifically because it was today. Mainly, this story is about limiting the extent of computer automation, and how taking risks to achieve things is a vital part of humanity. But beyond that, this episode has something perhaps less obvious to say.
At no point, during the entire episode, is any mention or reference made to the fact that Doctor Daystrom is a black man. He is the most brilliant computer scientist of his time, an unparalleled genius. He is also deeply troubled by his own legacy. He is eventually driven past his breaking point by the events of the story. But all these things are the triumphs and failures, the accolades and problems, of a scientific genius, not of 'a black man'. This character could have been played by any actor. He was played, wonderfully and passionately, by William Marshal. But the colour of his skin made no difference, in any way. He was a scientist. He was a person.
I give great credit to my parents, and to the other family surrounding me in my childhood, that I saw nothing out of the ordinary about this fact. To me, all people looked different. All individuals were unique, and yet all people were the same. We are all people. Differences in culture, language, appearance; all these were fascinating things to be learned about and appreciated. Only later, as I learned about history, and saw in the news the strange and unreasonable ways in which some people regarded such things as skin colour, did I realise how powerful the subtext of this episode was.
30 November, 2019
I tried watching the Dark Crystal tv series. I made it about 25% through the 1st ep. and shut it off. I was surprised to then see huge amounts of critical praise for it .
- The whole background of the world is changed. I suppose it's possible that some kind of 'reveal' would have the tv show background turn out to be some kind of ruse by the skeksis, but I doubt it. The revised history of who the skeksis are is not nearly as interesting, and is just dumb, right off the top. "They're from space!" takes a high concept and turns it into a cheap low-ball.
- The population of the gelflings is segregated into a cheesy 'X number of cities, each with it's own bluntly simplistic character' system, like a video game or a 2000s YA novel. Another hack device.
- One of the last scenes I watched was a fly-through shot of some kind of library or scriptorium. A great deal of screen time was lavished on this space that felt like the set decorators got started on it, but didn't have time to finish. Comparing it with similar classic Henson spaces, it feels positively empty. There was also no point to the very long fly-through, except showing off the created space. This felt very unlike classic Henson and the Dark Crystal, where the awesome environments were there in support of what was going on, rather than being the point in themselves.
- The very last scene I watched was this same sort of thing again. Scene of characters talking about leaving one location and why they were going to a different location. Extended shot of them leaving, showing off creature movement, but nothing else going on. Same, from another angle. Same, from another angle. Same, from another angle. I get you worked really hard on these things, but that does not mean you give them screen time compared to how much time you spent making them. You give them screen time appropriate to the story and what you're getting across. A fail.
17 June, 2019
Find it here: Gellarde Barrow at DriveThruRPG
24 April, 2019
[I specify "to me", because I am not you, so I don't know how it feels to you. It clearly feels pretty good to quite a few people. If it feels great to you, that's awesome. I'm not attacking you, or trying to change your mind.]
[Also, below, "5e" is not in any way a DM. It is the rules system, nothing else. "Me" is myself as a player or DM, either one.]
I need to go through a door into a room where I need to solve a problem. There is a box outside the door with 68 specialised tools all jumbled together. I can take one into the room with me. I rummage through the box and pick a screwdriver, thinking "this seems versatile".
5e: "That's not 'versatile'. That tool is for driving quarter inch flathead screws, little mister, and that's all!"
Me: "Uh.. ok?"
I go in the room, and there are two boards partially nailed together. I need to either finish nailing them together, or separate them. I flip the screwdriver around and start hammering the nail with the handle.
5e: "Whoa down there, tiger! As stated earlier, that's a screwdriver, not a hammer. You need to turn that back around and hold it by the handle."
I turn the screwdriver back around, and start using it to pry the two boards apart.
5e: "Hey now! No can do, MacGuyver. That screwdriver is for driving screws. I mean, it's right there in the name, see? You had plenty of opportunity on the other side of the door to pick a hammer or a crowbar, but you chose the screwdriver."
I try to put the screwdriver through my head. It does not work, because my head is not a screw.
Me: "Screw you, 5e."
26 October, 2018
This one is a perfect example of somewhere your DnD character does NOT want to take their horse. Not just riding, but you don't want to try to walk it through there either. All those holes and shadows that look like holes will all look like holes to your horse, and even if your horse is trained so they won't freak out in a forest (they freak out in forests because, basically, they have one eye on each side of their head) they might baulk at going anywhere near them. The other possibility (the worse one) is that they try to jump over them onto what they think is solid ground, but almost certainly isn't, at which point they will almost assuredly break either their ankle or their leg.
|"That doesn't look so bad" - someone who doesn't ride horses|
If your character is looking at this, and they have a horse, they'll have to either find a way around or take their horse back and leave it somewhere. Unless neither the player nor the character have any experience with horses (this is pretty basic), in which case they can try to make their horse (not them) roll a wisdom save (determination) to go through it, and then a dexterity save to not break at least one leg (based on how badly they failed the save). The horse is going to have to keep making that dex save. How often depends on the ground, but potentially as often as every 5 minutes.