Friday, June 27, 2014

How to care for introverts -- or is that everyone?

Sometimes I see things that I want to agree with, and then I realize it's not that simple. For example, an image called "How To Care For Introverts" that I spotted on Facebook. It's supposed to be a list of things that teach to, well, care for introverts. But as I read through it, my most prominent thought was "shouldn't you just treat everyone that way?"

For example, the very first item on the list is "Respect their need for privacy." How is that specific to introverts? Shouldn't everyone, even extroverts, have their need for privacy respected?

"Never embarrass them in public." That really should be a general rule, followed whenever possible. Introverts (and yes, I am one) are not special in this respect.

And it goes on like that. Rules or guidelines that just seem like they should apply to people, rather than only introverts. The only thing on the list that is close to specific to introverts is the last item, "Respect their introversion. Don't try to remake them into extraverts." Even that just needs a swap of terms to apply to damn near everyone, in a wide variety of situations.

Introverts and extroverts do have their differences, but this list is not helpful at all in capturing any of those differences.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Some background for Caladrel, a drow noble ronin sword saint

A character I came up with using the Random Character Generator from Ultimate Campaign for Pathfinder. Some details are left deliberately vague, and not all of his gold from the Wealth by Level table has been spent, leaving him with 4,350 gold pieces. If anyone wants to use him, feel free, but I suggest spending some of that gold to round out his gear. He could use a bow, for example.

It's unknown why Caladrel was with the drow raiding party. He no longer remembers why. Certainly it wasn't to fight, as he was just a child. But there he was.

A drow raiding party attacked an elven village when Caladrel was young. They were beaten back, and when the elves assessed the damage, they found the young child hiding in some bushes, terrified, yet defiant. Somehow, in the confusion, he failed to follow the raiding party's retreat. He was deemed too young to be complicit in the attack, and was adopted by the weapon and armor smiths for the local militia, a young couple with no other children. Though the exact relationship wasn't determined (uncle? brother?), one of the drow men killed in the attack was clearly related to young Caladrel, and clearly was important to Caladrel. Though he remembers little of his time before the surface elves, that death still haunts him.

While growing up, he received training with the militia, and came to worship the god Gorum, god of war, when a wanderer, and cleric of Gorum, briefly joined the militia. This cleric had been exiled from his previous home for reasons unclear, but nearly everyone was suspicious of him. Everyone but Caladrel. Caladrel befriended him, and listened to him, and over the brief time the cleric was around, became a fanatical follower of Gorum.

A misunderstanding between the cleric and a local family became exacerbated by Caladrel's fury when his newfound beliefs were questioned, causing Caladrel to murder the entire family, including their child, in a fit of rage. Only the cleric knew, and helped him cover his crime up. The cleric left immediately after, leading many to suspect he was the killer. Caladrel stayed on for a full year before finally leaving. He truly regrets the murder of innocents, but nonetheless keeps it a secret.

A samurai sword saint, specializing in the katana, he became ronin when he left his home to travel. He became a mercenary and adventurer, and is known for never betraying an employer, or his comrades. He remains ever zealous in his devotion to Gorum, and some companions have remarked that it's a wonder he isn't a cleric himself.

In battle, Caladrel singles out an opponent, and seeks to eliminate that opponent as quickly and efficiently as he can, before moving on to the next. It is rare that he willingly backs down from any fight, a trait that has nearly caused his death more than once. His weapons and armor have been crafted by himself, though enchanted by others, and he cares for them as his most precious possessions, only replacing them when he feels his crafting skills have progressed enough to create even better gear (and when he has the coin to afford new enchantments).

Currently he resides in Telazar, taking on whatever jobs come his way that allow him to ply his skills of war and violence, for only in the midst of battle does he truly feel alive.

Calendrel, CR 14
Drow Noble samurai (sword saint) 13
CN Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +9; Senses: Darkvision 120'; Perception +6
AC: 27 (+8 armor, +5 Dex, +2 Natural, +2 Deflection)
HP:118 (13d10 + 26)
Fort +10  Ref +9 Will +8, +2 vs enchantment
Immune: sleep; SR 24
Weaknesses: Light Blindness
Speed: 40' (30' base, 10' enhancement)
Melee: +2 keen flaming burst adamantine katana +22/+17/+12 (1d8+11, +1d10 on crit, 15-20x20), or +2 keen flaming burst adamantine katana +22 (1d8 +13 +2d8, +1d10 on crit, 15-20/x20)                              
Special Attacks: Challenge 5/day, Iaijutsu Strike, Brutal Slash, Terrifying Iaijutsu, Weapon Expertise
Spell-like Abilities:
     Constant—detect magic
     At will—dancing lights, deeper darkness, faerie fire, feather fall, levitate
     1/day—divine favor, dispel magic, suggestion (DC 15)
Caladrel will pick the most dangerous looking warrior and declare his Challenge, then try and move into position for an Iaijutsu Strike, adding his Improved Vital Strike damage. If the opponent still lives after that initial attack, he'll go into a full attack routine. If he's in a situation where he can only make one attack, he'll hold his katana in two hands and use his Improved Vital Strike feat. Once his opponent is finished, he'll move onto the next, again seeking to use Iaijutsu Strike, unless circumstances would prevent that or make it unwise. He always tries to concentrate on eliminating one opponent at a time, using Power Attack only if their AC appears low.

Str 20 Dex 20 Con 14 Int 16 Wis 18 Cha 15
Base Attack +13; CMB +18; CMD 33
Feats: Improved Initiative, Weapon focus (katana), Weapon Specialization (katana), Vital Strike, Power Attack, Greater Weapon Focus (katana), Improved Vital Strike, Greater Weapon Specialization (katana), Penetrating Strike
Skills: Bluff +18, Craft (weapons) +19, Craft (armor) +19, Diplomacy +18, Knowledge +19, Sense Motive +20, Survival +20
Languages: Elven, Undercommon, Common, Draconic, Goblin
Special Qualities: Self Reliant, Without Master, Resolve, Greater Resolve, Honorable Stand, Greater Challenge, Ronin's Challenge (+3)
Combat Gear:
Other Gear: +2 keen flaming burst adamantine katana, +2 mithril breastplate of moderate fortification, Ring of Protection +2, Amulet of Natural Armor +2, Belt of Physical Might +2 (Str and Con), Boots of Striding and Springing, Lenses of Darkness, Bag of Holding Type III

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A magus prepares his spells

Just a wee bit of fiction based on the RPG Pathfinder, written as an exercise in imagining spell preparation from the perspective of a magus or wizard using a spell book. More exercises in imagining game mechanics through the eyes of a character may or may not be coming. Critique is welcome.

Tizen settled down cross legged, his back against a tree. It was just after dawn, and a glance around the camp showed that the others were engaging in their morning routines to get ready for the day. Sarlan, the cleric, was facing the rising sun, holy symbol held before him as he prayed to his god, requesting his spells for the day. Shawna, a powerful psychic warrior, knelt in front of the dying embers of last night's campfire, meditating to replenish her psionic energy. Once she was done, she would begin her stretches and excercises for the more physical side of her art. And Speckle was up in the trees, watching everything, and keeping an eye out for trouble.

Tizen turned his attention to his spellbook, and opened it up in his lap. He took a deep breath, and let his vision go unfocused as he looked at the spellbook, clearing his mind as he began his own meditation to prepare his spells. The world fell away as he mentally wiped away the lingering dreams from his sleep, and prepared his mind to ready his spells. Though it seemed but a few moments to him, it was fifteen minutes later before he let his vision refocus on his spellbook. Now it was time to select his spells. First, Corrosive Touch. This would allow him to charge his hand with magical acid, that could then be delivered to an opponent with a touch, eating away at flesh and bone. He traced the runes of the spell with his finger, whispering the words that would lay the spell in his mind. The formula was complex, but then, even the simplest of spells had a complex formula, requiring great effort if one wished to truly memorize the spell and eliminate the need for a spellbook to reference each day.

He reached the end of the spell, or rather the end of preparing it. It was now mostly cast, thrumming in his mind, ready to be released. That release would come with the proper gestures and words used to finish the casting, most likely in the heat of battle, though perhaps also to dissolve a lock on some chest in a dungeon. It remained to be seen. Tizen continued selecting his spells that he would have for the day, preparing each in the same manner, taking just under an hour to finish them all. He left room in his mind for a couple more spells to be prepared, in case he came across a situation that could benefit from a specific spell he hadn't prepared (and assuming he would have at least 15 minutes to prepare such a spell).

He looked up at the camp, blinking away his concentration. The world tended to disappear for him when he prepared his spells. As usual, he was the last to finish his morning routine, and the others were quietly chatting.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A modesty meme

I saw this on Facebook recently:

It says, for those who can't see the image:
Dear Girls,
Dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure. Yes you'll get attention, but mostly from pigs.
Sincerely, Real Men
It made me a little angry. "Dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure." So, according to this meme, if you dress "immodestly," you're dirty, and may as well be covered in feces. Gee, isn't that just the most respectful thing you've ever heard?? Don't show too much ankle, or by golly, you may as well be covered in stinky cow poop.

All right, let's see if I can do this without more sarcasm. First off, who decides what's modest, and what's immodest? Western culture really did consider showing too much ankle to be indecent (read: immodest) at one time. Even a knee length skirt would've been considered scandalous. And right now, some Muslims believe that a woman must wear a burka in public, or it's considered immodest.  So, what standard are these so-called "Real Men" using to determine who's dressing immodestly?

But that's not the worst of it. What this meme asks us to do is place a value on women (or "Girls"; just what age bracket were they aiming for with that salutation?) based on what they are wearing, and to consider those that are dressed immodestly as less valuable. Yet the value of a woman (or anyone, for that matter) is not, or should not, be based on what they're wearing. When you devalue someone, whether based on clothes or not, you encourage feelings of disrespect for that person, which in turn makes some people think that the devalued person deserves whatever they get. That is the real "manure" behind modesty.

Respect for self (and some modesty advocates claim that modesty is about self-respect) shouldn't be based on one's wardrobe choices and completely arbitrary standards of modesty. Instead, let us base it on our character and actions. How do we treat others? Are we seeking ways to empower each other to our fullest potential? Do we strive for appropriate fairness in the way that we treat each other? And so on.

As far as clothing, just wear what makes you feel comfortable, or happy. If you want to dress in a way that makes you feel sexy, go for it. If you want to dress in a way that makes you feel powerful, go for it. You can, if you want, treat your clothing choices as an art form, as self-expression. Or you can treat them as a simple utility. Whatever it is that you think is going to be most comfortable, and help you flourish the most.

But for goodness sake, stop thinking that your respect is based on how modestly you do or don't dress.

For more on the manure of modesty (because there is more that can be said), I recommend reading Love, Joy, Feminism by Libby Anne. She's written a lot on the subject.