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Alzrius's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 2,094 posts. 70 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.


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Lemmy wrote:
Man... Re:Zero can get really freaking dark sometimes... I enjoy the series, but the latest episode was... emotionally exhausting. X(

Very much so. When I first started watching the series (mistakenly thinking that it only had one cour), I binged on the first thirteen episodes. In hindsight that was a mistake, because the series puts so much punch into its plot and characterization that it works better if you take it a few episodes at a time to let what happens digest.


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Aranna wrote:
Torturing yourself for credibility? Are you a professional?

Quite so; the name's 13. Golgo 13.


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Lemmy wrote:
Alzrius wrote:
When I finished watching Aethetica of a Rogue Hero - which I did purely because of the two-minute crossover omake it had with Queen's Blade Rebellion - I found myself wanting to know whom to call to demand back the five hours of my life that I'd wasted.
Let's be fair... If after 1~2 hours you still didn't know it was a waste of time, it's your own fault for watching the next 3~4! XD

Oh, I knew. But I do my damnedest to always finish what I start, if for no other reason so that I can assert that I know what I'm talking about when I tear it a new one later.


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Grey Lensman wrote:
The Testament of Sister New Devil shouldn't have been a surprise - it's by the same manga writer as Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, which was another anime with gratuitous fanservice shots. Also featuring a 'daughter of overlord' magical boom powered girl with twin tailed hair.

When I finished watching Aethetica of a Rogue Hero - which I did purely because of the two-minute crossover omake it had with Queen's Blade Rebellion - I found myself wanting to know whom to call to demand back the five hours of my life that I'd wasted.

By contrast, Testament of Sister New Devil was...okay. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "very good" or anything, but it was certainly a not-unenjoyable piece of ero-filled fluff.


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Re: Zero episode 15.

...damn, Subaru can't catch a break!


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On a semi-tangential note, here's a fun thought-activity with regards to population breakdown in a given country/region/area using the 3.X demographics tables.

Basically, what if the percentages given for each type of settlement were taken as the distribution for how the population was spread out throughout a country?

That means that, if we look at table 5-2 on page 137 of the 3.5 DMG (table 4-40 on page 137 of the 3.0 DMG), we can see that on a d% roll, a 1-10 is a thorp, an 11-30 is a hamlet, etc. So under this idea, 10% of a kingdom's population lives in thorps while 20% lives in hamlets, etc.

If we also utilize the population-per-settlement column on that table (that is, we pick a number within that population range that divides evenly into the total population for that settlement type) then we can calculate some quick averages for both how many of a settlements of a given type there are, and how many people live in each one.

For example, the Generic Kingdom has a population of 5 million people:

  • 10% of the population (500,000 people) live in thorps. Presuming about 50 people to a thorp, then the kingdom has 10,000 thorps within its borders.

  • 20% of the population (1,000,000 people) live in hamlets. Presuming about 250 people to a hamlet, then the kingdom has 4,000 hamlets.

  • 20% of the population (1,000,000 people) live in villages. Presuming about 800 people to a village, there are 1,250 villages in the kingdom.

  • 20% of the population (1,000,000 people) live in small towns. Presuming about 1,600 people to a small town, then the kingdom has 625 small towns.

  • 15% of the population (750,000 people) live in large towns. Presuming about 3,500 people to a large town, then there are 250 large towns within the kingdom.

  • 10% of the population (500,000 people) live in small cities. Presuming about 10,000 people to a small city, then the kingdom has 50 small cities.

  • 4% of the population (200,000 people) live in large cities. Presuming about 20,000 people to a large city, then there are 10 large cities within the kingdom.

  • 1% of the population (50,000 people) live in a metropolis. Since there's no upper limit on the population of a metropolis (minimum 25,001 people), it's easiest to say that this will give us a single metropolis of 50,000 people.

Altogether, the Generic Kingdom has 16,186 population centers of various sizes, with an average of just over 300 people per population center.

Of course, this won't work for regions with a total population of 2,500,000 or less, because at that point 1% of your population no longer meets the minimum number of people necessary for a metropolis. In that case, just divide the remainder among the next largest settlements (e.g. if you had a kingdom of 1,000,000 people, the 1% set aside for a metropolis would only be 10,000 people, which isn't enough for a settlement that size. In that case, you'd simply add an additional 10,000 people to the 40,000 that you've already allocated among your large cities).

At that point, you can start plugging in the numbers regarding what classed NPCs of what levels live in a given community as you need to, and voila! You have an easy-to-make kingdom!

(Fun fact: Notwithstanding their organization, the community-generation tables in the 3.0 and 3.5 DMGs are identical. However, most people don't know that the Epic Level Handbook introduced alternate versions of a few of these tables (pg. 113-114), stated to be used to retcon in modifiers to make the game world more epic.

The major changes for these are that they vastly increase the GP limit in communities and inflate community modifiers for each settlement listing (and how many times you roll for the larger communities). They also introduce a new size of settlement above metropolis: the planar metropolis, population 100,000+. It doesn't have a percent listing, despite appearing on the random community table; it's listing is given as "special.")


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Vutava wrote:
Wait, Alzrius? You wouldn't happen to be this Alzrius, would you?

Yep, that's me. :)

Hi Vutava!


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So one of the guys in my weekly group decided that he wanted to run a brief mini-campaign. The hook was that it was for 18th-level characters; naturally, we were all quite excited, as the highest this group has ever gotten has been about 12th level.

Some necessary background here: the GM for this is a fellow who has only run a game twice before, both of which were short campaigns that got mixed reviews from us. He has a good grasp of the rules, but (like most of the group) treats gaming as a pastime rather than a hobby, which meant that he had only passing familiarity with some of the game-breaking shenanigans that can happen at high-level play.

As such, while I was eager to make a level 18 wizard, I was also nervous about the impact such a character would have. This was especially true since he said we could use all first-party materials, buy ability scores with a 25-point buy, could spend our WBL on any item we wanted (including custom items), and had 11 RP to build a custom race if we wanted.

I voiced my concerns, and this prompted a long discussion within our group about what should and shouldn't be allowed. In the end, he chose to ban a few things (e.g. no use of blood money, no adjusting wealth by level if you have item creation feats, etc.), but for the most part said that he was very confident he could handle whatever we came up with.

The major limitation he invoked on my character, and that I was fine with, was that I couldn't use more than one instance of planar binding, though he was fine with my using other spells that brought in outside help. However, he was fine with my taking Leadership and having my cohort be an intelligent magic item, which I made a level 16 psychic. I also decided that I wasn't going to try and exploit every loophole that I possibly could (e.g. no carrying around a 5-foot section of wall with a permanent shrink item on it that was covered in permanent symbol spells).

We spent a few weeks making characters (if that sounds like a long time, it was because a lot of the group only did work on their characters during our weekly get-togethers). In the end our group looked like so:

  • Three players made level 18 antipaladins (this caught me by surprise; apparently it was in partially in protest to the fact that the GM wanted to include a GMPC with our party. He capitulated when he heard about this, but the other players kept their antipaladins anyway). They mentioned all having glabrezu companions, though only one person actually had that on the board.
  • A level 18 cleric with a necromantic focus (he wanted to make full use of animated dead for minions, but by the time we started had only made a single pit fiend bloody skeleton).
  • A sorcerer 8/dragon disciple 10 (built with a focus on getting into melee).
  • My wizard (conjurer) 18...and company.

More specifically, I sat down at the table with my wizard, his intelligent item psychic cohort (my followers from Leadership were back in my private demiplane where I was astral projecting from...and in my other private demiplane tending to my clone), the solar angel that I'd called via greater planar binding (utilizing Augmented Calling and Spell Perfection), a bythos aeon that my cohort had brought via greater planar ally (via the Faith psychic discipline), and a Gargantuan animated object (animated and made permanent by the solar angel). This rose to eight characters when I had my psychic cohort use monster summoning VII to bring in three (I rolled high) celestial triceratops in the first round of our first combat. (I should note that I'd mentioned all of these to the GM before we sat down to play, and he signed off on all of them.)

Our first combat lasted two rounds, and took us an hour to get through. What caught me by surprise was that, at the end of it, the entire group was upset...at me.

I don't just mean that they were a little ticked off; they were pissed, to the point where two guys said that if I sat down with this character next week, they weren't going to bother showing up. When I asked what was going on, they made it clear that they had two complaints:

1) I was taking too much time. Each turn it was taking me about 8-10 minutes to resolve what all of my characters were doing. This wasn't because I was looking stuff up (I knew to do that during everyone else's turns), but simply because it took that long to move minis around, roll attacks, damage, saves, spell penetration, etc. Still, this one struck me as a legitimate complaint, even if there was little that I could do about it.

2) I was overshadowing everyone else. They made it clear that they felt completely superfluous compared to what was essentially my own adventuring party.

It culminated with the GM pulling me aside and telling me that I had to make a new character by next week, because my current one was too disruptive. I tried to point out that he'd given me the okay for everything that I was doing, and he admitted that he hadn't realized just what effect all of that would have. I likewise pointed out that, with only 95 hit points (I'd had some bad Hit Dice rolls) and an AC that was in the mid-20's, that I'd essentially need to redo my entire character, since just getting into direct combat would pretty much be the end of my character.

His reply went something along the lines of, "I feel like I have a worthwhile story to tell, and your character's distracting from that."

Needless to say, the entire thing has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I quite like my character, and want to keep running him, but at the same time I'm quite ticked at having had the gauntlet thrown down. I have no idea what to do before next week's game, and time is running out...


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Because it's the perfect size when your character...is a munchkin.

*puts on sunglasses*

YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!


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MeanMutton wrote:
Pathfinder has done quite a few things to make magic more readily available than it was in D&D 3.5 - all wizards get Scribe Scroll

That was in 3.5.


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thejeff wrote:
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
An excellent follow-up question would be: why are white people called "white"?
Shouldn't that be "Why are pinkskins called 'white'?"

Because we're trying not to appropriate Andorian culture.


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Sundakan wrote:
2.) Naruto retains some very good moments and SPECTACLE in their fights. The sheer scale of the battles is enough to be engaging. But there is quite a lack of strategy in much of the latter half, and the plot meanders a lot. ESPECIALLY the bits with Sasuke and Naruto's obsession with saving him.

With regard to the meandering plot and lack of strategy, this is definitely the case insofar as the filler material goes - that's unsurprising, as filler is handicapped right from the get-go - but I don't think that that's true with regard to the main post-timeskip plot. It might be a little bit slow to ramp up, but once it does it really takes off.

Naruto's obsession with saving Sasuke is somewhat eye-rolling, but... (I'll spoiler this next part just to be safe):

Spoiler:
...it gets better because we see Naruto slowly growing out of this. It's never expressly stated as him giving up on that goal, but we do see him maturing away from it as the series goes on, largely when his repeated attempts to save Sasuke end in failure every time. This culminates in some personal losses for him, and he slowly comes to realize that 1) he can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved, and 2) it's not just about Sasuke, it's about everyone who loses someone they care about.

This eventually turns him into a much more palatable character, although it takes quite some time for him to get there. (Even better is that Sasuke's character arc goes through a number of very believable changes which, rather gratifyingly, have almost nothing to do with Naruto at all.)


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Sundakan wrote:
I agree it was a somewhat jarring shift, but very much to the benefit of the manga.

You and I are really going to need to agree to disagree here. :D

That said, I think you're explaining your points very well; I'm replying mostly because I'm quite enjoying the conversation.

Quote:
Harem shows, on the whole, are obnoxious and generally pointless (none more so than Love Hina).

I'll admit that the harem genre seems to have more than its fair share of sub-par shows, but I attribute this to those shows repeatedly making the mistake of pinning everything on fan-service while ignoring things like characterization and plot-development. Fan-service, in my opinion, works best as a layer of frosting, rather than a foundation upon which a show is built.

Quote:
Crafting a situation where the existence of the harem makes sense (such as they being part of a very large adventuring company) is something more should do.

I would have agreed with this a lot more a few years back. I used to be of the opinion that establishing plausibility for how a situation like that could develop was the most important thing (e.g. buy the premise, buy the bit).

Now, though, while I still think that's important, I see that as being more of an aspect of each individual character than something situational. It's not so much a question of circumstances as it is why the characters involved reacted to their circumstances in the way that they did.

Quote:

It also avoided the main problem that Love Hina had: why is this group of girls so hot for a worthless loser like Keitarou?

Negi at least has many admirable qualities. Bordering on Mary Sue territory sometimes, but you can see why girls fall for even a creepily young person who is intelligent, focused, determined, and powerful.

Also a fair point; the whole idea of a main character who is "ineffectual but kind...and that's enough," is one that I do think is overrated (though going too far in the other direction is just as bad).

That said, I think there's a salient point to be made in that these qualities - that is, being focused and determined, etc. - is only applied to areas of problem-solving, and not to romantic relationships. In Negi's case, this is lampshaded by his being too young to fall in love, but the end result is the same: the center of the harem is entirely passive with regards to the girls around him, and they in turn seem to remain doggedly in love with him despite their feelings being continually unrequited. I find that that grows stale very fast.

(Incidentally, you should check out the Magika no Kenshi light novel series I mentioned a little while ago, as it has both very smart circumstances and a more proactive main character.)

Quote:
I think the source material is pretty solid, at worst par for the course for shonen action shows, and does IMO have one of the best ways of handling the "dangerous forbidden technique" I've seen and quite a few fights involve the protagonist actually OUTSMARTING the opponent instead of overpowering them. It's closer to Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter (though not as good) in the way it handles its fights than Dragonball Z and post-timeskip Naruto.

It's been forever since I read the Negima manga (and I stopped at vol. 30), but I found the tactical aspects of the fights to be less about outsmarting and more along the lines of the story making up new rules mid-fight for the heroes to use to win. While I've only seen a few movies for YYH and nothing of HxH, I think that post-timeskip Naruto did have some very intelligent fights (albeit virtually all of those were ones that didn't involve Naruto himself).

Quote:
The fanservice elements are pretty cringey on the whole, but the same could be said for 90% of fanservice in ANY series, most of which somehow manage to pull it off even worse.

I don't think most of them were worse than Negima. Quite the contrary, Negima seemed to be quite keen on the "quantity, not quality" philosophy in that area, which I feel is exactly the wrong tact to take (though again, that's apparently a common mistake where fan-service is concerned).

Quote:
It would NOT be at all hard to adapt it into a successful anime series, particularly if they skipped or trimmed down chapters 4-~40 and just started with Negi's introduction and went straight to some of the more action-y parts of the early chapters (exploring the insane library, the school trip, etc.), leveling out the curve from "Harem comedy" - "S$@! just got real in .25 seconds flat" to "Light-hearted action series" - "S@#& got real-er". - "Now it's really real for real".

If it got its head on straight about keeping one vision for what it wanted to be, and stuck with that from beginning to end, then that would definitely be an improvement. But I question how much I'd like it even then, because it's very clear how much the series favors its heroes in terms of handing them superior numbers, easily-acquired powers, and moral certitude (or at least a lack of any serious bevy of doubts) all as a package.

Quote:
It's a series that as an action show is IMO at least as good as Naruto or Bleach, and I'd say better than their latter halves. It's kind of weird that it's not more popular even disregarding quality since for a lot of otaku it's two great tastes that taste great together.

There's much to indict Bleach on, but I think that Naruto gets a worse rap than it deserves. If you cut out the filler material, the post-timeskip stuff is actually better than the preceding material, to my mind (certainly the main character becomes more likeable, to my mind).

Quote:
You can't tell me that in a world where shows like High School of the Dead were intensely popular, an adaptation of this series could never make it.

And yet that's the world we're living in.


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Sundakan wrote:
As a tangent, given the overwhelming popularity of both Shonen action and fanservice Harem series', WHY by all that is holy is there not a good adaptation of Negima! Magister Negi Magi?

I agree with Bjorn that the source material isn't very good, but I disagree as to why.

Negima initially portrayed itself as the spiritual successor to Love Hina (and given a few easter eggs, that might have been more than just spiritual). Love Hina itself was less than perfect - to me, its cast became the embodiments of various tropes to such an extent that it inhibited showcasing who they were as characters - but it still managed to become an archetype among harem shows.

Negima initially posited itself as being the same but taken to a whole other level, what with having a harem of over thirty girls. But then something happened...the series underwent a genre shift. It became less and less romantic/sexy hijinks and more and more shonen action/adventure. This, at least to me, was a deal-breaker.

They key here (again, to me) wasn't due to what it started as, nor what it became. I like harem shows, and I like shonen action/adventure shows (for the most part). The problem was that it tried to change its tone; this is something that as a rule is extremely difficult to pull off, because once your audience has bought the initial premise, changing that underlying premise is essentially you pulling the rug out from under them. The show is no longer what they signed on for, and now you have to sell them on why they should stick with you even after you snatched back what you initially sold them.

I've seen shows that have been able to do this. Negima wasn't one of them.

EDIT: I also hated the fact that the series kept portraying the good guys as being the opposite of underdogs; "overdogs," if you will. If you have the heroes being consistently more numerous, more powerful (to be fair, Negima usually split the difference on this one), and receiving more popular support than the villains, then I find it incredibly hard to root for them. Heroes feel heroic when they're struggling against unfavorable odds, and yet Negima just kept giving advantage after advantage after advantage to its ever-expanding cast of good guys. It was boring at best, irritating at worst (since it meant we had to listen to the heroes bemoaning their situation despite having virtually everything in their favor).

Again, some shows can get away with having the protagonist be far and away greater than all of their opposition, but Negima wasn't one of them.


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Freehold DM wrote:
I f&*!ing love koihime musou. But that's because I play the game.

Yeah, the game is undeniably better than the show.


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Adapting a work from one medium to another often entails having to make alterations to the presentation. Sometimes the reasons for these changes are self-evident, and other times they leave you scratching your head in confusion over why they did what they did. In the case of Koihime Musou ("Love Princess Unmatched"), it had elements of both, but leaned quite a bit more towards the latter.

The anime version of the eroge of the same name, Koihime Musou is a thirty-six-episode anime divided into three cours of twelve episodes each. My experience with the original games is limited, but from what I can tell each cour is loosely adapted from the three versions of the game (from what I can tell, the subsequent games in the series are expansions to the original, rather than sequels).

I use the word "loosely" here for a reason; while the anime keeps the setting and characters from the source material, it jettisons almost all of the plot elements, only to find that it has very little with which to fill in the gaps. That's the major reason that I've spent the last few paragraphs harping on how the anime isn't the game; in firmly deciding what not to be, the show struggles to define itself.

The basic outline of the show is that it's the story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms (e.g. set during the turbulent times of China in the late second century), with all of the major characters being presented as beautiful girls. To this end, the show puts most of its emphasis on Kan'u, showing her early travels through the countryside as she tries to figure out how she can make a difference for the better. During these wanderings, she falls in with Chouhi, Koumei, Chouun, and pretty much everyone you'd expect from the "Shoku" faction of the novel, as well as having meetings with almost every other major player from the original Romance story. Later episodes take more latitude in spotlighting other characters.

Unfortunately, this large cast comes at the cost of any actual plot or character development. Kan'u and her sworn-sisters never actually engage in the large-scale fighting that was the subject of the original Chinese novel. The warring that the titular three kingdoms are supposed to be engaged in has been pushed so far into the background that it's only referenced obliquely, with the characters making reference to "these turbulent times" more than once. (Naturally, this completely precludes the game's meta-plot about time-travel and parallel universes.)

So given everything that the show isn't, what is it actually about? Well...not very much. In terms of genre, the show is essentially a low-grade comedy series. The gags are fairly nonstop, and usually of middling quality at best (e.g. the running joke about people saying to Kan'u, "Wait, you're the famous 'Black-Haired Bounty Hunter?' But I thought the rumors said that she was supposed to be a real beauty!") What fight scenes there are make absolutely no attempt to create any kind of dramatic tension, nor visually impress. Instead, we're just supposed to laugh over things like the recurring thugs who get continually launched into the air Team Rocket-style, or Chouun's obsession with menma (pickled bamboo shoots), or Enshou's combination of complete incompetence and unwarranted arrogance, etc.

The show does have one other thing going for it, that being the ecchi factor. The show treats this as largely being yet more fodder for humor, and so is fairly casual in its presentation. In this regard, the series straddles keeping these vaguely-naughty bits in-character (e.g. some of the girls needling each other about the size of their boobs or being lesbians, etc.) and meta-contextual (e.g. the many times we get scenes of the girls bathing). Of course, these latter scenes are censored with pervasive steam-clouds, which further weaken one of the show's few remaining draws.

The end result is a show that has very little going for it. A paper-thin plot combined with a wide cast of one-note characters makes for a show that's lacking in substance. To be fair, the series is eminently aware of this, but rather than taking steps to address it seems to take an attitude of "why try hard?" Ironically, this works in its favor, as it helps to lower expectations.

Overall, Koihime Musou isn't so much a bad anime as a lazy one. If you go into it expecting nothing more, then there are certainly worse shows to kill some time with.


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So I'm not sure how many people have heard about this, but on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court made a 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff.

Up until now, the "exclusionary rule" - the rule that says that evidence which the police gather illegally cannot then be used in a court prosecution - applied to instances where the police stop someone without a "reasonable articulable suspicion."

However, the new ruling says that if the police stop you even without any such suspicion, evidence that they subsequently seize could still be admissible. According to Justice Thomas, writing for the majority, this won't cause police overreach because the threat of civil suits will keep them in line.

There's a good op-ed about this over here.


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One of the characteristics of many harem shows is that they don't feature an actual harem, per se. That is, they typically feature a cast of three or more girls (having only two is a love triangle, rather than a harem) simultaneously competing for the same guy, rather than a featuring a stable polyamorous relationship between one guy and multiple girls.

Magika Swordsman and Summoner (Magika No Kenshi To Shoukan Maou) is one of the latter.

Magika is a light novel series with eleven volumes to date, and is ongoing. While there is a manga adaptation (which is receiving an official English translation), there's no anime that I'm aware of. At least, not yet. That said, the light novels have been translated into English via the fan community.

Set in the near future, Magika features a world where magic has come back, and completely changed everything. Everyone has at least some magic power, which can be used for defensive purposes, which is important because magic pretty much always trumps non-magic, making things like guns useless. Beyond mere physical enhancement, however, is summoning magic - the ability to bond with an astral entity (virtually always a god or spirit from a mythology), that allows for the use of stronger magical abilities. Only a few people have this, all of them women (since women naturally have greater magical affinity than men).

As a result of this, every country has exalted those who contract with its native mythology, becoming theocracies. The sole exception is Japan, where rather than the native mythology, the summoners contract with the spirits of the Lesser Key of Solomon.

It's against this backdrop that we meet Kazuki Hayashizaki, the only male to receive a summoning contract. Moreover, his contracted spirit isn't one that's among the seventy-two spirits that form the Pillars of Solomon.

It's not a spoiler to reveal that Kazuki's contracted spirit, Leme, is actually the incarnation of the Lemegeton (e.g. Lesser Key of Solomon) itself, as this forms the central premise of the series; Leme lets Kazuki use the powers of up to seventy-two other spirits, but his ability to do so is entirely dependent on how the girls contracted to those spirits feel about him. In essence, his power is directly tied to how many girls are in his harem, and how they feel about him.

It's this contextualization that really helps to ground the series, in terms of making everything adhere to the internal logic it presents. Kazuki, for example, is initially extremely leery of being a "harem king" - as Leme terms him - but given that summoners are needed to fight magic beasts (e.g. animals that have gained too much magic power and mutated) and rogue summoners, he quickly comes to realize that he needs to establish himself with multiple girls if he wants to have enough power to do anything.

Moreover, the eleven volumes (and counting) give the series enough room to spread this contextualization to other areas that a tighter focus would be hard-pressed to answer, such as why Japan's summoners don't use the native Japanese mythology, what mythology America's summoners use, or even what really constitutes a "mythology" in the first place and how that relates to these astral entities. There's some well-considered world-building here, even though it's doled out in small bits over the whole of the novels.

While I wouldn't go quite so far as to call the series lighthearted, it's far from being grim. The adventure portions of the series do stray into drama and tension with credible ability, for example. But the series never loses sight of the fact that it's home is in the harem genre. Even leaving aside the illustrations being focused primarily on beautiful girl after beautiful girl, the series placed a great deal of focus on Kazuki meeting new girls and increasing his "positivity level" - a handy numerical ranking that Leme gives him that lets him see what girls like him and how much - with them.

Overall, Magika is not just one of the better harem series around, but can credibly be called one of the best. Its adventure-focus means that it never gets completely lost in the sexy hijinks, while keeping said hijinks at the narrative forefront of the story and developing them as things progress (by the last couple of novels, Kazuki's relationship with the girls with the highest positivity level are very nearly pornographic). If you're a fan of harem stories, this one should definitely go in your reading list.


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Judy Bauer wrote:
Judy Bauer wrote:
I'd be interested to see whether there's been any change in the 19 years since that study was published, given how much more time people now spend reading online content, which is much more "they"-friendly.

Lo! I was just reading Stephen Pinker's The Sense of Style (tl;dr: linguist analyzing writing style advice based on linguistic data and a panel of folks who work on dictionaries), and he says

Quote:
Experiments that measure readers' reading comprehension times to the thousandth of a second have shown that singular they causes little or no delay, but generic he slows them down a lot (Foertsch & Gernsbacher, 1997; M. Liberman, "Prescriptivist Science," Language Log, 2008).

If that's the sum total of what Pinker says about this citation, then he's leaving out quite a bit of context.

The citation here is for a 2008 paper (the M. Liberman citation) that looks at the Foertsch & Gernsbacher 1997 paper and then compares it to a 2007 paper (A. J. Sanford & R. Filik, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(2) 171-178, 2007).

In his paper, Liberman relates that the Foertsch & Gernsbacher paper determined that the singular they didn't impose any extra cognitive load as compared to "stereotype-mismatched pronouns (e.g. "truck driver … she" or "nurse … he")"

Liberman then goes on to compare this to the 2007 Sanford & Filik paper, which looks at "The plural pronouns they and them are used to refer to individuals with unknown gender and when a random allocation of gender is undesirable. Despite this apparently felicitous usage, “singular they/them” should raise processing problems under the theory that pronouns seek gender- and number-matched antecedents."

Liberman notes that Sanford and Filik's data shows the following:

Quote:

For him or her with a singular antecedent, the average was 1380 milliseconds, while for them with a singular antecedent, the average total reading time was 1414 milliseconds — a 34 millisecond difference! This difference was statistically significant, at least when the times were compared segment by segment. But the time for reading all three segments was only about 2.4% slower on average.

In contrast, him or her with a plural antecedent required an average of 1521 msec to read all three segments, while them with a plural antecedent took an average of 1315 msec, or 206 msec faster. That's a difference of about 16%.

In other words, using "they" after having already established the presence of multiple people was faster than using a singular pronoun - whether male or female - after having established the presence of multiple people. Liberman further notes their conclusion:

Quote:

While the use of they as a genderless “singular” referential pronoun in certain contexts certainly occurs and does not seem to cause problems of felicity from the point of view of casual observation, some processing difficulties were nevertheless observed in our eye-tracking study. Earlier researchers (Foertsch & Gernsbacher, 1997) found that with neutral, apparently genderless, antecedents like someone, or a runner subsequent clauses referring to that individual by he or she, or they, revealed no reliable disadvantage in the case of using they. On the surface, this might be taken as compatible with the position that there is indeed no processing disadvantage to using they as a genderless singular. In the present experiment, we increased the sensitivity of the design in two ways. First, we used continuous eye-tracking, enabling more subtle measurement of any possible patterns of disruption. Secondly, we compared the effects of genderless referential plural antecedents with that of genderless singular referential antecedents. On total time for the pronoun region, we observed a strong, conventional, number-mismatch effect, such that plural pronouns created less processing disruption in the context of plural antecedents than in the context of genderless singular antecedents.

This result is compatible with the view that after encountering a plural pronoun (they, them), a search is initiated for a plural antecedent in the mental representation of the discourse and not for one that could be either plural or singular. So where does this leave the singular use of they/them? Since it is in common use, we suggest that although it gives rise to a mismatch, it is rapidly accommodated as an acceptable deviation. This is quite unlike the case with singular pronouns in the context of plural antecedents, because these are not in common use and, we claim, do not make sense without making an inference like “he or she refers to just one of the plurality in the antecedent”.

Most important, however, seems to be Liberman's ultimate conclusion after looking these papers over:

Quote:
But crucially, despite references to questions of usage, these papers are mainly oriented towards a debate among psycholinguists about the nature of pronoun processing, not towards a debate about pronoun usage among providers of writing advice. And as a result, the experiments don't directly address the issue that really matters in most practical cases — how should you refer to a non-referential singular indefinite antecedent ("anyone"; "a student"; etc.) when you need or want to leave sex unspecified? To be relevant to this real usage debate, experiments would need to test they against "he or she" (or "she or he", or "that person", or whatever); and would also need to check systematically for the cognitive load imposed by attempts to use he as a default pronoun.

So the idea that "singular they causes little or no delay, but generic he slows them down a lot," as Pinker notes, is eschewing a very large degree of data, to the point of not accurately representing the results...which don't really speak to the issue of wanting a non-gendered singular pronoun that isn't confusing anyway.


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I've long been of the opinion that the absence of something good in a show doesn't necessarily make it a bad show. There's a difference between an actual instance of failure, in any particular regard, and simply not doing something very well. That's the difference between a series that's genuinely bad versus those that are forgettable in their mediocrity.

This latter category is how I would categorize Linebarrels of Iron (Kurogane no Linebarrel). (I should also note that, in the English title, there really doesn't seem like there should be an "s" in "Linebarrels." That's because not only is there no such sound in the original Japanese, but the actual Linebarrel in the show is unique. But I digress.)

A twenty-four episode series, Linebarrels takes place in the extremely near future. It begins when a perpetually-bullied young man, Kouichi Hayase, is killed when a giant mech falls out of the sky and crushes him. Resurrected by the guilt-stricken (and very beautiful) female pilot, Kouichi finds that his newfound lease on life has not made him into the pilot of that mech - the eponymous Linebarrel - and in doing so dragged him into a war that's just breaking out between KATO-KIKAN (a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world) and a small group fighting against them.

While the initial premise isn't anything to write home about, it's the execution where the series really fails to deliver. I enjoyed the fact that, once Kouichi finds out how much power he's been given, it almost immediately goes to his head, resulting in him lashing out at anyone who opposes him, regardless of the collateral damage, while pontificating about justice. That struck me as more interesting than his instantly becoming an archetypal hero.

Unfortunately, the show never develops that - or really much of anything - to its full potential. Once Kouichi is made to realize the error of his ways, the show largely develops into a situational comedy with periodic action/adventure breaks. Virtually every cliché you can imagine is utilized, such as the villain who self-confidently says that everything is going according to plan no matter what setbacks he suffers, the hero unlocking new powers with his mech when he becomes utterly enraged, several female characters all pining for Kouichi in their own way (the tsundere leading lady, the spitfire female mech pilot, the warm and caring other female pilot, the childhood friend who's good at cooking, etc.), and even a beach episode with a giant octopus monster.

The worst of these is with characters dying (or about to die), only to be revealed to actually have survived/be rescued/be resurrected later on. That particular bait-and-switch is pulled on us several times over the series, to the point where it becomes more unexpected for characters to actually stay dead (which only happens rarely).

The end result is a series that feels not so much bad as simply paint-by-numbers, and so is rightly overshadowed by other series that have done it better. I read on Wikipedia that the anime for this took a large number of creative liberties from the original manga, and while I haven't read the manga, the anime doesn't seem to have benefitted from having gone so far astray from the source material.

Ultimately, Linebarrels of Iron is such a low-impact show that it's not only not very good, but isn't even very bad, either. It's just sorta there, and can be overlooked with absolutely nothing noteworthy being missed for having done so.


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You don't need to worry, the chart you're thinking of using is entirely Open Game Content; that's why it's on that site.

The link you're referring to is slightly antiquated, but still has the 3.5 SRD on it; it's now under the "d20 System Archive" link on that WotC page.

As a note, the page with the defense bonus isn't from the 3.5 SRD anyway, but rather from Unearthed Arcana, which had a lot of its text made Open Gaming Content. As such, you need to include it in your Section 15 of your publication.

To keep it simple, your publication would need to reprint all of the text on this page above the words "END OF LICENSE."


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So I have to say, after last week's episode being so incredibly mediocre, this week's turned out to be one of the best in recent memory.

Spoiler:
The fact that the show openly acknowledged that Chuck was God wasn't exactly a revelation, and the episode smartly didn't treat it like one. Instead, it wisely gave us an expose on God's character - brilliantly self-referential by having God want Metatron to edit his autobiography - and it really did a fantastic job.

The show has established for a while now that God no longer cares about his creations, and they played that one up here for all it was worth. The idea of God being sick of everything, not even in an angry way but simply so thoroughly uncaring, is such a great angle. It's not one that I've really seen before in most productions that portray God. The part where Metatron breaks down and tearfully asks God why he left them all, only for God to flatly reply, "because you disappointed me. You all disappointed me," was pure gold.

This also showed us that the character of Metatron still has a lot of depth to him. This episode made reference to him in every aspect we've seen, from his being a lover of stories to an evil God-wannabe to a pathetic human, and even showed that at his core he still cared about humanity. It was great.

This episode showed very well why I'm still excited for the show so long after people say that it's "peaked," and why I'm looking forward to future seasons.


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So it's been confirmed that Supernatural will not only have a season 12, but a season 13 as well, with Jared and Jensen both signing on for both upcoming seasons. Moreover, "The CW president even admitted that he is an avid fan of the show and will continue to renew the series as long as the lead actors will reprise their roles."

Looking forward to it! (Even if this last week's episode was utterly forgettable.)


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Aaron Whitley wrote:
Saldiven wrote:
Aaron Bitman wrote:
Um... I'll give you the sword, but the phoenix didn't fight the basilisk directly. He brought Harry the sword, and when Harry got injured and poisoned in the battle, the phoenix played cleric by saving him. But only Harry did the actual fighting, IIRC.
Fawkes blinded the Basilisk by pecking out its eyes.
Which had the added benefit of removing its ability to turn someone to stone. So at that point the basilisk is essentially a giant venomous snake.

And even then, it was still able to take Harry out (even if it was taken out in the process); he was dying before Fawkes cried on his wound. That's further grist for the "low-level characters" mill.


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And so it begins...

EPIC POETRY BATTLES OF PATHFINDER!


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On the issue of gaming in the Potterverse, a blog that I like wrote up a two-part series of articles about this. The first deals with the setting's basic assumptions about the magic-using population, while the second deals with how magic works in that setting.


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Orfamay Quest summed it up pretty well. I'd also add that class-level based systems tend to be bad for character conversions anyway, because the segregation of various powers among certain classes at certain levels can wreak havoc on attempting to build a reasonable facsimile of a character that wasn't originally made with those class levels in mind. You'll usually end up with some powers being missing, while other powers that don't reflect the source material end up being part of the build anyway.

The result usually ends up as a character conversion that's only somewhat recognizable, and quite often is sub-par compared to a character of similar level that was made by working with the system, rather than having to fight it to get what you want.


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I quite enjoyed this poem, and this thread reminds me of the quote from Wayne Gerard Trotman, “It is impossible to be truly artistic without the risk of offending someone somewhere.”

EDIT: I also think that this poem is actually satirizing Seoni as a character, rather than making a comment about women. There's a reason why the "saucy sorceress" in this poem never once casts a spell. (That and, you know, the entire last stanza.)


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Adjule wrote:
And while I thank you for the link to the 3.0 SRD, Alzrius, that has to be the most atrocious thing I have ever seen. But thank you nonetheless. But if you are looking for a more readable one, this one looks better.

It does indeed. Thanks for finding that, I was pretty sick of relying on those cumbersome .rtf files. They're good for personal archiving, but not so much for quick reference.


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Adjule wrote:
Is there a 3.0 SRD out there somewhere?

Yes, there is.


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Another winner! You really have a talent for these!


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rabindranath72 wrote:

You have a good point about the shifting of policy from adventures to rules. I say "shifting" because I recall the main motivation which convinced my group to move to 3e, was Peter Adkison stating that "there won't be any additional rules beyond the three core books, but only setting and adventures"; his idea was essentially to return to the early 1e days. We know that the late 1e stuff was published essentially to save TSR's bacon; and similarly, although the introduction of 3.5, (as stated by Monte Cook) was planned from the start only to fix errata, it actually became a big overhaul (and with all the subtle changes, it's difficult NOT to think they did it to get people to buy the books all over again.)

When Adkison left WotC, apparently the people who took the reins didn't quite agree with his view.

They didn't, but Adkison and co. honestly thought that they would, as said by someone who was there at the time.


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rabindranath72 wrote:
The unbeatable encounter in the module drives home the point that not every monster encounter should be solved with violence, and that fleeing IS an option. Looking at the encounter distribution table in the DMG we also learn that most of the encounters should be challenging, not cakewalks; so the idea of "balance", meaning that all encounters should be beatable, is NOT really part of the game.

There's a great article about encounter design in Third Edition that talks about this - including noting this very encounter - over at The Alexandrian.


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Hubba Hubba Zoot Zoot!


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Dragon78 wrote:
I would like to see a Rarity episode that has nothing to do with her store, fashion, crushes, or social climbing.

Wasn't that what we got in Rarity Investigates! (and for that matter, her role in Gift of the Maud Pie)?


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WOOT! Amazon Japan has just put the tenth volume of Overlord up for pre-order! The book finally releases as of May 30th!


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TaliaKirana wrote:

Talk about things I thought would never happen.

Official MLP tabletop RPG announced.

Okay, so I watched the video in the link that Talia posted up above - or rather, I watched the part that was about the MLP RPG (starting at about 42:00 in the video, and going for about a half-hour) - and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how much the designers seemed to know about the series, and by some of what they let slip about how the game will be made. It was enough to turn me from being nervous about this to being excited for it.

Some highlights from that interview are as follows:

  • The RPG will be called "Tails of Equestria."
  • It will be released as a hardcover book, not a boxed set.
  • It will not make use of miniatures (that is, this won't require miniatures to play).
  • The character sheets will be for earth ponies, unicorns, pegasi, and "draw your own." Each character sheet will have a space to draw a picture of your character (the three pony races will have a basic image to embellish, and the "draw your own" will have a blank space), as well as a second space to draw your cutie mark.
  • Characters will have the option of starting as a pony that's already obtained their cutie mark, or as a blank flank and discovering their cutie mark during the course of the game.
  • "Nobody can start as an alicorn."
  • Characters will have three stats: Body, Mind, and Charm.
  • As part of character creation, you have a d4 and a d6; you pick which of these are associated with your Body and Mind stats (they didn't say what determines Charm).
  • There's no "class" for characters; what you are is determined by your race and your special talent.
  • Your level of talent is determined by the size of the die you roll. An ordinary unicorn has a d6 for Telekinesis; Twilight Sparkle is described as having "a d12 or d20."
  • Similarly, pegasi automatically receive a d6 in the Fly talent, while earth ponies automatically have their Body die increased to the next die size.
  • Each character chooses a personal talent, as well as a personal flaw.
  • Your Body stat will determine your Stamina points, which are the game's version of hit points.
  • Making an action that's opposed by another creature (e.g. hoof-wrestling) is determined by opposed rolls. Trying to accomplish a task against a situation (e.g. kick down a door) is made by rolling to equal or exceed a target number.
  • The game uses an "exploding dice" mechanic. More specifically, if you roll the maximum value on a die, you may then roll the next larger die, and keep whichever result is better. This can happen cumulatively, so if you roll a 4 on a d4, and then roll a 6 on a d6, you can go ahead and roll a d8, keeping that value if it's higher than your 6 from the d6.
  • The game will include stats for personalities from the show, including the Mane Six, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna.
  • The game will include an introductory adventure; adventuring will include being sent on missions by the Cutie Map.
  • Supplementary materials will include things such as character sheets and a GM screen.
  • The designers mention that they're willing to receive proposals from RPG writers who want to submit other supplements for publication.

I think this sounds like a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see the finished product!


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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:

How does that saying go again?

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

-Eldridge Cleaver (thank you Google!)

"If you're not with us, you're against us" goes back much further than that, and has been said in many forms by many people.

"Each man must choose between joining our side or the other side. Any attempt to avoid taking sides in this issue must end in fiasco."

-Vladimir Lenin


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Also ported from that thread:

thejeff wrote:
Except that of course in most of the described cases there is no "accused". There is no named individual. There is no accused asserting the accuser is a liar. These are not in any meaningful sense "particular accusations". There is no person being punished with social opprobrium. How do we punish the "balding, middle-aged man behind the counter", when that's all we know?

Presuming that we're still discussing that particular Tumblr blog, there is indeed an accused; however, they're kept anonymous so as to accuse the larger sub-section of a particular community as a whole. It's not that "there are the occasional jerk in gaming (just like everywhere else)" it's that "gaming has a white male terrorism problem."

This simply moves the accused from an individual to an entire community, which is indeed then held accountable with social opprobrium. There are reasons why people still think poorly of gamers.

Quote:
They are stories of things that have happened to various women. The only accusation is that this is common enough in the gaming community to be a real problem.

Which indicts the whole for the actions of less than the whole. This is worse than accusing a particular individual, since it maintains that everyone is a particular demographic is part of the problem unless they can put forth that they're somehow exempt from this (which usually invites contempt, as Rysky's post shows).


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Chris Lambertz wrote:
Removed a series of folks.

The excised content...IS PEOPLE!


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So I started watching Erased ("Boku Dake ga Inai Machi") last night. I only planned on watching one or two episodes, but the series hooked me so hard that I ended up watching the entire thing in one sitting. It was just that good.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Klaus van der Kroft wrote:
as a business owner myself I cannot in good conscience celebrate another being brought down due to legal costs (there's always people, families, years of work and sweat, and dreams involved),
I dunno; in my opinion, it would depend on the business. If your business model hinges on unjustifiably destroying other people's health, happiness, and well-being, then I don't particularly care about your work, sweat, and dreams.

"Any contractor working on that Death Star knew the risks involved."


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So the jury has just handed down the punitive damages in this case, bringing the total amount that Gawker has to pay to $140.1 million.


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Aranna wrote:
I feel the need to express my disappointment in a couple things in Gundam Iron Blodded Orphans. First was their unnecessary advertisement for polygamy.

I'm going to break my own rule about not commenting on shows that I haven't watched, but I sincerely doubt that the series was "advertising" polygamy. That operates under the presumption that the show is making a deliberate effort to influence the attitudes and opinions of its viewers, which I sincerely doubt that it is.

Quote:
This isn't something that should be painted as wonderful.

It's real-world domestic abuse, be it physical, sexual, emotional, or in any other regard, that should never be "painted as wonderful." While polygamy can be used as a fig leaf for that, the two are not inherently related, and it's irresponsible to conflate them as being intrinsically linked, which I believe is what you're implying here.

People who are in healthy, fulfilling relationships with more than one partner already face enough discrimination for living in an alternative lifestyle, to say nothing of facing continual denial of legal coverage for having multiple simultaneous marriages. Openly espousing opposition to how they're living their lives only serves to pour more acrimony on people who are already marginalized.

Moreover, it's worth reiterating (once again) the difference between heinous acts in the real world and what happens in a work of self-evident fiction. Insofar as crafting such a work goes, any topic is ripe for use in any manner that the creator(s) see fit, since self-evident fiction is not an "advertisement" for anything.

Quote:
Also while I know horrors of war is a bit of a Gundam theme it seems like they are going out of their way to make child warriors seem heroic not tragic... It should stay tragic when used, these kids will never know the joys of childhood.

Again, I haven't seen the series, but I don't think that they're presenting this in terms of "child soldiers are/can be heroes." Rather, I think that this is simply an issue of a series wanting to have protagonists in an action/adventure series that just happen to be young. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, since there's no moral duty that self-evident fiction maintain fidelity to reality, nor try to advance the public morals.


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As someone with strong opinions on both free speech and privacy, I think that this case came to the just conclusion. Gawker has long been the cancer of the internet.

I haven't heard anything about Gawker "expecting" to lose the initial case, but insofar as their appeal goes, Gawker is noting that "the jury was unable to see key evidence and hear testimony from the most important witness." However, this has some complications to it:

Quote:

That was an apparent reference to Mr. Clem. According to documents unsealed on Friday, the radio host initially told federal investigators that Mr. Bollea was aware that his tryst with Mrs. Clem was being recorded. But he later changed that account after Mr. Bollea sued him, saying the former wrestler did not know a camera was present.

Apparently fearing that if he testified in the trial he could be subject to prosecution for giving differing accounts of the events, Mr. Clem invoked his right to not incriminate himself and was not called as a witness.

The plaintiff’s legal team issued its own statement, saying that during the three and a half years since the lawsuit was filed, Mr. Clem had testified only once under oath and had “confirmed that Terry Bollea had no knowledge of being filmed or anything to do with it.”

If that's the central argument that Gawker is using to appeal, I have to wonder how successful they'll be. As a (very general) rule, getting a ruling overturned is more difficult than avoiding the initial conviction, because now you have to demonstrate why another court case was incorrect in how it turned out.


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So back in late 2013, Sony was apparently looking into meeting with "aggressive" litigation counsel to "evaluate [their] alternatives and strategize" if Bill Murray "again declines to engage on “Ghostbusters”."

Now, I have no idea if they actually went ahead and threatened him with litigation or not, but this certainly puts his cameo in the current film in a whole new light.


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I am absolutely banging my head against a wall after the last episode of Utawarerumono: The False Faces.

Except for one notable scene...

Spoiler:
where we see a glimpse of Kuon's previously-hinted true power

...this entire episode could have had the Benny Hill chase music played over it. This was the literal depiction of the narrative rut that the series has so often found itself stuck in: things went round and round, and nothing was resolved.

And of course, the characters were once again completely stupid for no reason whatsoever, such as with Rurutie's nonsensical conflict with what everyone was doing, or Haku's eventually coming up with a plan for evading capture...not to mention the criminal underuse of the twin priestesses that he has at his disposal (whom we know have enough power to defend against a transformed, rampaging Vurai).

I swear, this series is amazing in its capacity to keep being a disappointment.


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Lemmy wrote:
Watch Utawarerumono - Itsuwari no Kamen... You could literally skip episodes 3~12 and not miss a thing!

And there'd still be problems with the pacing.


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No way, that scary clown can go hug himself!

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