I wasn't particularly a fan (though the action was pretty great, and I liked Zod's hench-woman a lot). The overall thematics and tone seemed a bit inconsistent, and I really disliked some of the character work, especially Pa Kent and Superman's "finishing move" at the end.
But those things have been talked about a lot already, so I'll pass over them. Something else that I really missed in this movie was *Clark Kent.* I felt like we were just seeing Superman the whole time (even when he wasn't in costume), and that's only part of the character.
On action, the movie delivered, but on heart, it was lacking.
Snark aside, I recently gave my PCs a moral choice: I gave them a ring of three wishes, but what they would discover just before they made each wish was that if the wish was granted, the soul of a child would be imprisoned in the Nine Hells. They were always given the option of NOT making the wish once they learned this consequence, of course. As an added twist, I made the "price" for the final wish the soul of one PC's wife.
In short, I gave my players a powerful tool that could make their lives easier, but at a tremendous roleplaying/moral cost. Later on in the adventure, they will be traveling to the Nine Hells, and they will have to literally confront the consequences of their actions (they used all three wishes, but the PCs who used them never revealed the hidden cost to any of the other PCs).
Something like this might feel a little less "railroady," and may even be more fun to roleplay, since succumbing to evil is often a matter of trying to take shortcuts.
Now, the tricky thing about giving paladins moral challenges vs other classes it that you have to work harder to demonstrate the consequences of evil to other classes - NPCs have to treat them poorly, people have to stop trusting them, good temples have to stop providing healing, etc. Paladins have an instant "punishment" button that makes it easier for them to do the calculus.
Though it's worth pointing out that it's easier to get an atonement than a raise dead, so no one should really be complaining about paladins being forced to risk falling unless they also think that forcing other PCs to risk death is unreasonable.
I think the point was that forcing a moral challenge is kinda not nice. Because it will result in dead paladin (perhaps even dead party) or fallen paladin.
Yeah - how *dare* a GM force a paladin to act like a paladin even when it's inconvenient.
Next thing you know, he'll be expecting Lawful Good characters to spare surrendering enemies, and after that, it's just a short skip to total anarchy.
Sorry, RR (I like your handle, btw). I'm in the middle of a semi-flamewar with some other folks on the web who are so seriously lacking in a sense of irony that I'd lost the capacity to detect it myself.
How is going into the bowels of Hell because you refused to compromise on morality a "lose" situation? That's an opportunity for some bad-a$$ heroics right there.
Old and busted: GMs who make it hard to play a paladin
So I'm going to be capping off a pretty lively side-adventure this weekend. The PCs are trying to save a plane that is going to be literally ripped apart (i.e., the plane itself will be shredded and cease to exist) but in order to enact the necessary ritual to stabilize things, they will call the attention of a host of myriad powerful planar creatures (who will be drawn to the magical energies). I was hoping to solicit some suggestions on creatures to throw into the mix that will be a challenge for the following party:
Cleric 17 (lots of luck-based powers providing lots of bonuses/rerolls)
Obviously, they're a bit short in the tank department, but the Rogue and the Bard rock some pretty stellar ACs, so I've been finding it a little difficult to put together a roster that is a sufficient challenge. Any suggestions for extraplanar critters that can put them through the paces?
We had a BBEG fight that probably SHOULD have been a TPK - it ended up being really close, and I suspect the GM fudged a bit for us. It was entirely due to hideously bad tactics by most of the party.
BBEG is performing a ritual during a storm using an artifact that grants massive metamagic powers. The party is attempting to put together an attack plan, but spends a lot of time dithering and arguing about it. My bard/rogue said, "right, I'll go get in position while you guys figure out what you're going to do" and split off to go hide.
The party EVENTUALLY decides to cast silence on themselves to conceal their approach, but they've spent so much time arguing and otherwise failing to be stealthy that they've already caught the attention of the villains. However, they cast silence on themselves before they can hear the BBEG issue orders to his men to "get them" - and they also miss that he is beginning to call upon the artifact to bombard them with empowered flamestrikes. My character, of course, sees/hears all of this happening - but has no way of letting the party know.
So after the group gets nut-punched by several metamagicked spells and mooks showing up on the flanks, I have to send my PC out to try and take out the BBEG all by himself. I have a powerful sleep poison on my dagger, but I suck at combat. I need to roll close to a 20 to hit him, and he (a mid to high level cleric) needs to fail his fort save (only a 1 or 2 would have worked). Miraculously, both happen, and the main enemy spellcaster goes down after that one shot. Then, the party spends the next 6-10 rounds brutally slugging it out with the mooks, and barely surviving.
So yeah, by all accounts, we should have wiped there.
Here's the relevant question that I'm still not sure about:
When/if the party falls into Hell, is that a "Game Over, TPK" scenario, or do you have an epic adventure planned where they have to overcome incredible odds to fight their way back home?
Because if it's literally "Paladin falls or the entire party dies," then yeah, that seems like kind of a dirk move. That said, I don't buy into the Paladin-coddling that I'm seeing a lot of here (I say this as a fan of Paladins). If you want to play a Paladin, that means that you're willing to take the moral high ground even if (and especially when) that means making your life harder... a LOT harder. A Paladin is basically Superman in D&D form - he always does the Right thing, with a capital "r."
Honestly, I think the biggest problems I've encountered playing paladins has to do with the alignment tendencies of other characters. Paladins simply cannot work with some types, and many types of behavior will make working with a Paladin so frustrating as to recommend as re-roll, frankly. So I think an important question to consider here is: Would the REST of the party be likely to take up the BBEG on his offer? Would they be willing to risk getting trapped in Hell in order to protect the life of an innocent? If so, then the question isn't really about whether or not you're screwing the paladin, it's about whether or not you're screwing the party. If, on the other hand, the other PCs would be likely to say, "Sorry kid, we don't have time for this. Say hi to the deities for us," then they probably shouldn't be working with a Paladin in the first place.
Now, I note that your BBEG dialog specifically calls on the Paladin to commit the atrocious act - that's probably a bad call. Make it a choice for the entire party. The Paladin will still oppose it, but it's no longer entirely on him - it becomes less of a "singling out the paladin" situation and more of a "just how righteous is this party" thing. That's much more interesting as an rp situation, and much more likely to create some interesting results.
Maybe it's just me, but I enjoy the "negative" outcomes as much as the "positive" ones. I mean, we say "hurt the party," but that's really kind of a fabrication, isn't it? After all, if everything went perfectly all the time, there would be no conflict, and the game is all about the PCs encountering and overcoming conflict.
And realistically speaking, a group of people isn't always going to keep their traps shut all of the time - sometimes people are going to speak up (for a variety of reasons - lack of social graces, impulsiveness, etc). I recall one adventure where we were investigating the disappearance of local children, and we were trying to stealthily reconnoiter the temple where they had last been seen. The stealthy elven scout (who was from a primitive culture) was sent to check things out back, while my character (the smooth talker) went inside to question/distract the head priest. In the middle of our conversation, the scout shows back up and blurts out,
"I didn't find any kids."
The priest, suddenly defensive and suspicious, asked "Kids? What kids?"
To which my character smoothly replied. "Goats. His people have very specific dietary customs."
Naturally, this didn't convince the priest, but it was a fun bit of roleplaying (and the entire table was laughing at it for a good bit). We ended up fighting the priest and his ghoul minions (my character actually got killed as a result). So this "hurt the party," but it's one of my fondest memories of that game.
I think it helps us a lot as gamers to remember that there really aren't any "bad choices" in-game as long as everyone's having fun. Botching a negotiation can be just as fun as successfully concluding it, if you take the right attitude towards it.
@DM Blake like I said (just now not before) this was PFS the GM's hands were tied to an extent, and yes he got to lvl 11 this is for 2 reasons. 1 a ranger with a decent strength stat is hard to screw up entirely if it has power attack, 2 the rest of the party carried him, it was after all PFS where co-operation and fair play are the order of the day.
Frankly, with a two-handed ranger, I'm not sure what more you can really ask for - if he's using power attack and a big-honkin' sword, he should be pulling a decent amount of weight in the party. It doesn't matter if he's not the primary damage-dealer as long as he's taking heat off of the squishies and delivering some pain in return.
My group has struggled with one player who is, in theory, a really good player. He knows a bit about the math behind game theory and all that, and is pretty good at a number of board games. He is, however, completely clueless about D&D tactics, especially high-level play. He's made an illusionist (prohibited: Evocation AND Conjuration) who almost completely eschews metamagic ("why would I waste a 7th level slot to cast quickened displacement?" he once asked me). At his level, lots of bad guys are immune to his mind-effecting stuff, and since he spends the first 2-3 rounds buffing himself anyway, he rarely gets to contribute much (though he's admittedly gotten better).
It's been frustrating for us, but mostly because he complains about it. He keeps doing the same thing over and over, and then gripes about how he's "useless." Like I said, he's gotten better, but for a long time he resisted our suggestions, and even now he's not really grasping the importance of the action economy. Our party is strong enough that it has been able to handle the AP (we're doing Savage Tide), and we've been having a good time with OUR characters.
I guess the upshot is: if a player's not having fun, that sucks. It sounds like you're not (weren't? I'm not sure if you said you were still playing with this guy) having fun. That's a time to sit and talk to the other player (not character) and say "Hey, this set-up is kind of boring for me - all I do is heal you. I'd like things to go a little differently." And if that doesn't work, then trust me - nothing will. It's all about being direct and honest with people.
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
I just watched this same episode and I enjoyed it. The "let's make Amy/Sheldon do it in character" seemed like exactly what would happen with a few tipsy, first-time roleplayers (i.e. making an IC joke at the expense of other players they were teasing).
What really struck me about the episode was how much fun they made the whole experience seem (not unlike one episode of the IT crowd) - a bunch of people who never roleplayed before got really into the activity. That's a really positive depiction, I think.
The 8th Dwarf wrote:
Regarding the "watch it without the laugh track, it's not funny" claim (which I have seen many times before) - if you watch ANY laugh-tracked/audience laughter sitcom without the laughter, it's going to come off weird, because the dialog and acting is arranged with pauses to allow for the laughter. The shows sound weird without it because there are long, empty pauses where there would normally be laughter.
Bill Kirsch wrote:
I don't know about that - one's "geekiness" is often measured by their level of knowledge/expertise in their particular area of interest. It's not merely a matter of passion (though passion typically leads to "mastery" or "expertise").
And let's not continue to make the flawed assumption that there's some kind of universal intelligence that falls under the umbrella of "smart." I know people who are master programmers, but helpless cooks; erudite humanities scholars who cannot change a tire; etc.
Mark Sweetman wrote:
See, now we're thinking in the same way. This is exactly the line of reasoning I take when I get into these discussions with my friends - we have to know our goal before we can evaluate how well we're achieving it, after all. I think all of those factors play some kind of role in evaluating the quality of a commercial television program, though probably to different degrees.
"People who post on Paizo" is not a statistically significant sample size, nor is it the target demographic for the show.
To move back to discussions of criteria, though, maybe it would help if sideline the conversation about "quality"and focus our debate around the charge that it is "offensive." What criteria could we use to establish whether or not a program is offensive?
Mark Sweetman wrote:
If you want to prove this in a way that will convince others, you will need to link to/cite several specific examples. What stereotypes are presented, and in which scenes/episodes?
You know, on the subject of Stuart (the comic shop owner) his character has actually gone kind of backwards in terms of development. When he first showed up on the show, he was very comfortable around Penny, flirted with her effectively, and confidently asked her out on a date. He got sabotaged by Leonard, of course, but the initial presentation of him was as a nerd who thoroughly embraced his interests but still maintained enough social wherewithal and self-confidence to get a date with a very attractive "party girl."
Mark Sweetman wrote:
Right, you've made some claims (as have others):
1) They don't make complicated jokes,
However, in meaningful debate, you have to cite specific examples to back this up (particularly because many of us disagree with you about #4). You have to do this because otherwise people who disagree with you will basically say, "That's not true!" And you'll say "Is so!" and they'll say "Is not!" on and on ad infinitum.
In earlier posts, I've linked to a pair of specific clips and analyzed the humor, revealing that the jokes are actually a bit more complex than how many people had been "reading" them at first. Naturally, these were ignored completely - no one responded to my analysis of specifics jokes/scenes by explaining how my analysis was flawed, or pointing to a broader pattern that overrode it.
The general response has instead been "Why should we have to watch lots of episodes of a show we don't like and do lots of analysis to prove that we don't like it?" The answer is: you don't... but that's the wrong question, because you're conflating your personal taste with factual claims about the content and quality of the program.
In your specific case, MS, you DID cite a couple of isolated jokes from one episode, but then I explained how, when you look at the arc of the entire episode, the joke about comic books gets turned on its head - the girls end up getting really into the books and start arguing about the sorts of silly trivia that comic book geeks often do. I also cited several pieces of evidence to show that the "comic book enthusiasts have awkward attitude towards women" jokes were not entirely unfounded. Your reply to my substantive analysis and evidence was:
I have nothing more to say if you think that episodes of the Big Bang Theory actually contain a complex narrative. Kudos to you if you think that... I've seen many episodes of the show... and I'm yet to see anything that resembles a 'complex narrative'.
In short, you declined to respond to me with your own evidence and analysis, preferring instead to make a dismissive comment that was unsubstantiated by specific evidence.
It's not enough to make a claim, you have to back it up with something. Watch:
"People who hate the Big Bang Theory love potato chips."
That is a clear, objective claim, but unless I back it up with some kind of specific evidence, it's meaningless.
In other words, the show gives us a pretty full spectrum of the nerd community, instead of the same caricatures over and over?
An excellent, fair point - just because lots of people like something doesn't mean it's of "high quality." If we're going to debate the "quality" of a show, though, we need to agree on a set of criteria for judgement first. So what criteria should we use to evaluate a television sitcom?
GM VICTORY wrote:
All fair, good questions that I will try to answer.
1&2) I think only a handful of episodes are needed to form an opinion of whether or not one LIKES a tv show, but that is not what most people here are discussing. We're discussing whether or not it's a show that primarily derives its humor from making fun of geeks. I'd say one would have to watch a solid season (or a substantial portion of it) to begin to make a reasoned judgement about it... but then we're left with the problem that it's a six-season show (so far). Would it be fair to characterize it as "mean" if it pokes fun at the main characters in season one, but then presents them sympathetically for the next five seasons? You can see the problem here.
In terms of "quality" (which, as Kirth and AD are demonstrating, is a hard thing to pin down in the arts), it's pointless to merely claim "it's a bad show" without establishing specific criteria (e.g. do the characters develop, are the jokes original, etc). However, in order to
To reiterate an earlier point - I myself wouldn't keep watching a show that I didn't enjoy, regardless of the reasons. But if you're going to make a broad claim that a program is offensive to a certain demographic, or of low "quality" you need to do the research to back that up... which requires watching a lot of the episodes. That's just how critical thinking works.
No one's saying that you have to watch an entire series to determine whether or not you like a program; what we're saying is that you cannot make *qualitative judgements* of an entire series unless you've actually watched the entire series. If I stopped reading the Wheel of Time after book 4 and said it was the best series ever, I would be flatly wrong, because there is significant material after that which shows otherwise.
3) In this case, you have to apply some literary/film analysis and make some judgement calls about what the director/producer is emphasizing in terms of plot, characterization, etc. I'd like to think that most of us can recognize the difference between throwaway jokes and jokes that are derived from key elements of characterization. For example, Sheldon acting woozy/crazy from the sleep medication that Wolowitz gives him to shut him up - that behavior isn't a core, recurring element of the character, so all of the jokes centered around him being silly in that sequence are "throw-away" jokes. Jokes about how obnoxious Sheldon is are derived from his obvious lack of social niceties, a defining and recurring character trait.
This is admittedly a bit imprecise, but nobody said analysis of the arts was easy.
4) I'm surprised that you find the idea that people can be both virtuous and sinful/wise and foolish to be so incomprehensible. You have people like Thomas Jefferson, for example, who, despite being wealthy, brilliant, and of high ideals, failed to live within his considerable means, died in massive debt, and took sexual advantages of his slaves. Alexander the Great was a brilliant, courageous leader who thoroughly alienated his once-utterly-loyal soldiers and drank himself into an early grave. Woodrow Wilson was both very progressive and deeply racist at the same time, etc.
It's tempting to conflate intelligence with wisdom; it is also easy to assume that simply because we are capable of identifying good decisions that we will always make good decisions. History (and our own experience, if we are honest) is replete with examples to the contrary.
Did they not teach your the difference between making an evaluative claim and stating an opinion? Here, let me see if I can spell it out for you:
Opinion: something that is not based on any particular criteria, indicating a matter of personal taste. Example: I like/dislike TBBT.
Evaluative Claim: A judgement of quality, based upon specific criteria/evidence. Example: TBBT is a bad/offensive show.
As I said earlier, I have no beef with people who say they hate the show. I take issue with people saying the show is offensive but refuse to provide adequate evidence to support that claim beyond "I watched four episodes and didn't like them."
I give you points for relying on mockery instead of reasoned, evidence-based debate, though. It's a good way to deflect attention from the fact that you can't argue in a rational way.
If you remove the specifics, EVERY sitcom follows the same pattern, because they all follow the same narrative formula - it's the details that make them different and provide the necessary variety.
1) Being a genius in math and science does not make one socially adept - there are many different kinds of intelligence. Furthermore, one can be brilliant and still make poor decisions.
2) I think your description of the plot structure is generally incorrect - not the least of which because there are a number of episodes that are more Penny-centric. I'd ask you to point me to several episodes that support your claim, but I expect that people are going to give the "why would I go back and watch something I hate" excuse.
It's been a little while since I saw that episode, so I don't recall it too clearly, but I think I was a little disappointed in that segment of the episode (the other half, featuring the girls and comics, I enjoyed). I think at the time I found it a little mean-spirited, though - I'll cop to that.
And I think that's completely legitimate. I may not have been clear in some of my earlier posts, but I really don't take issue with someone not finding it funny/not enjoying it. That's all a matter of personal taste, after all. I do object to people saying "it's bad" or "it's offensive" because those are evaluative statements that require specific criteria and evidence to back them up.
I'm going to check out this episode of PnF when I get some time tonight (never seen the show before), but here's what I'm guessing - there's no parts of the episode that force nerds to admit that we might have a few foibles of our own, just like everyone else; instead, it will be a complete affirmation that everything we do is special/wonderful/better than what other people do.
Mark Sweetman wrote:
I didn't say "complex," I said "more complex," as in, "An entire episode presents a more complex idea than a two-line joke."
But frankly, it doesn't seem like you give much thought to your television shows - which is fine, there's several programs that I watch to "switch off" - so it's not surprising that you don't want to have to work to see the more complex stuff going on.
Mark Sweetman wrote:
Please do go on about how hardcore comic book/video game fans have mature, healthy relationships with women. In the meantime, I'll just leave these here:
Mark Sweetman wrote:
That quote comes from an episode where the three female characters take the time to read and discuss comic books, enjoy them to varying degrees, and end up getting into the same silly comic-book arguments that even the nerds do (e.g. "Can Hulk lift Thor's hammer?")... showing how easy it is to get wrapped up in that kind of speculation (and that it's not limited to nerds).
The boys' misadventures in cosplay are not played primarily for comedy - the people who are rude to them come off quite poorly, and the viewers are meant to sympathize with the dispirited characters.
If you pay attention to the context of the entire episode, the picture becomes clearer. Taking individual, isolated jokes and using that to form a judgement of the show is going to overlook how all of the components fit together to create a more complex narrative.
Painful Bugger wrote:
1) The first season of Star Trek: TNG was pretty weak. By your standard, we could watch a dozen season one eps and fairly judge the program as "bad"
2) What, exactly, are your criteria for a good show? You say that plot advancement and character development aren't among them (though MOST people include those as criteria), so what, in your mind, makes a show good? Be specific, so that way we can accurately measure whether or not TBBT measures up.
Mark Sweetman wrote:
Not at all. You'll notice that I pointed to lots of specific evidence to support my contention that the characters have developed significantly - Leonard begins to show a lot more confidence around women (and has several significant relationships with very attractive women); Howard reforms and begins to move away from his horndog ways; Sheldon begins making an effort (with the help of his girlfriend) to understand how interpersonal relationships work, and even though he's still not quite there yet, he's getting better (there's also been a lot of light shed on his background - growing up in a highly religious and dysfunctional family in Texas, he received very little encouragement for his interest in science, possibly contributing to his general sense of alienation from others).
Furthermore, the show has also spent much less time focusing on the geeky boys themselves in order to look at the women in their lives - women who are smart, but by no means stereotypically geeks (Amy Farah Fowler comes close, but she is MUCH more socially aware than Sheldon. Bernadette is brilliant but shows no signs of social ineptitude, and Penny is kind of a jock/popular girl). And in fact, the female lead has undergone great character growth, moving from a hapless, irresponsible party girl to someone interested in a committed relationship with a sweet, caring (but not flashy) guy... and returning to college to earn her degree.
And finally (and this needs to be pointed out): THE MAIN CHARACTERS ALL HAVE ATTRACTIVE GIRLFRIENDS/WIVES WHO LOVE THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE. That, by itself, shows that the show is not concerned with portraying the "geek as loser" stereotype.
I know people are going to respond with contrary opinions, and that's fine, but I'd appreciate it if they'd take the time to cite specific evidence instead of just relying on vague generalities.
Except that playing D&D ISN'T the joke. The joke is "these guys have attractive women who want to spend time with them, but they would rather do something else instead." It's not D&D specific: just look here, for example (warning: arguably NSFW). Heck, there's one episode of The League where a main character has his extremely attractive wife waiting to make love to him in bed... but he neglects her in favor of making a trade for his fantasy football team.
I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to think that a lot of people who find BBT offensive are a bit over-sensitive about their own hobbies/social demographics. And I think another large group of people who find it offensive don't really understand the mechanics of the humor of the show (which is why I've yet to see someone else point to specific episodes and analyze the jokes to support their claim - they're just going on gut reaction, not thoughtful reflection).
4 episodes out of what, 5 seasons? Pretty small sample size you've got there.
The typical argument is that Penny is meant to be the audience stand-in character who allows us to watch these geeks and laugh at their expense, but if you actually pay attention to the program, Penny comes off quite poorly too. She's a college dropout, a failed actress (working as a waitress), a bit of a tart who makes terrible relationship choices (often getting involved with dumb, insensitive men who treat her poorly), a borderline alcoholic, and generally unable to manage her own life (she often has money troubles and demonstrates difficulty controlling her impulses).
The "nerds," by contrast, are (despite their character flaws) responsible, accomplished men - Raj is honored by Time magazine for his research, Sheldon and Leonard are both respected academics, and Wolowitz has participated in a number of important engineering projects (and even got sent into space). Socially awkward they might be (at times), but they are all have their lives together, and enjoy positions of relative prominence and influence.
And on the social front, each of the characters has grown considerably. Wolowitz began as a shallow womanizer, but through his relationship with Bernadette (who later became his wife), he was able to understand what a pig he had been. Leonard begins to develop more confidence with women, and Sheldon not only begins to explore the possibility of a romantic relationship, but with the help of his more socially-adept girlfriend, has been making an effort to treat others with consideration and something approximating empathy. Raj is still a mess, but I personally think he outlived his usefulness once Wolowitz stopped needing a sidekick; the writers probably just don't know what to do with him.
The show takes great pains to show real character development, and presents us with nicely rounded individuals. While they may have begun as relatively flat stereotypes, they've become much more, and that is to the show's credit. Particularly the inclusion of the female characters has made the show a much more interesting program, and belies the claim that the show just wants to show the male nerds as pathetic losers - Leonard has dated three EXTREMELY attractive women, and Wolowitz is married to another. Even Sheldon has a girlfriend. These characters are far from the general "pathetic geek" stereotype, but you actually have to watch the show and pay attention to the details in order to notice that.
Having a sense of humor helps, too, but that's another discussion entirely...
The problem with threads like these is no one ever bothers to link to specific clips and actually identify concrete moments that they find offensive. These arguments are all based on vague, general impressions (from both sides) and there's almost no effort put into making a specific, detail-driven case for either perspective.
So, in the interests of having a *productive* conversation, I'll lead the way with this clip.
So we've got a couple of things going on: early on, there's a joke about Comic-Con goers implying that they lack social skills. A cheap shot, probably, but then again we do have some evidence to suggest that there is at least a noticeable minority of the Comic-Con crowd lacking in certain social niceties. Still, let's call this a point against the program.
Then we move on to Sheldon's "Friendship Algorithm" - an attempt to provide a flowchart guide to how to resolve social problems (e.g. making friends). For the less thoughtful, this might seem like a potshot at nerds: "Ha ha! Those geeks don't know how to make friends." Closer examination shows that it's actually a clever commentary on social conventions. We all follow a large number of rules of social interaction - some of which are pretty weird - and attempts to codify them are hardly new; neither are missives on how to employ social networking to improve your life. This episode cleverly calls attention to these mores (which we are, ironically, less aware of today because we think we've "progressed" past them) by parsing it in terms that modern audiences can easily access.
Here's another clip that hits a little closer to home for these boards, perhaps: the boys arranging a D&D night. Again, at first glance this seems like a joke at the expense of geeks: "Those idiots would rather roll dice than have sex." But this particular trope is actually pretty old, and not restricted to geeks by any stretch of the imagination. The trope of "man ignoring woman for other pursuit" is pretty popular across a number of variations: sports, video games, etc. So what might seem like a shot at nerds is really better characterized as the employment of a popular "battle of the sexes" trope (which the show engages in fairly regularly now that they've added several female characters).
I think that, when we take the time to closely examine the humor of TBBT, it's making fun of the main characters not primarily because they're geeks, but because sitcom convention dictates that the protagonists get mocked - they're a safe source of humor. The cleverness of the humor is debatable, but I certainly don't think it is ridiculing geeks in general.
I'm going to have a bit more time for PC gaming this summer, but I need some recommendations. I've got a hankering for a high-quality rpg and/or a good strategy rpg for the PC (or Wii, I guess). Anyone got any good suggestions of what might suit me? For reference, I have played and enjoyed:
Mass Effect series and Dragon Age series (loved both)
I'd really like a good story to sink my teeth into, especially if there's a good cast of characters (and good voice acting's nice, too - I've gotten spoiled by it). Graphics aren't a major priority. I prefer "Western" style rpgs but if the story's good enough I'm flexible.
So please, o wise paizo boards, help me out!
1) This can not possibly be any worse than The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise.
2) They are probably adding fantasy elements because it's already a highly-mythologized story that has long since passed into legend - much as 300's over-the-top action did a fine job of representing how ridiculously over-built the story of Thermopylae is.
3) I think Reeves played a big role in getting this project started... giving him a role is probably compensation.
4) They're using a lot of Japanese actors for the main roles - that's already kind of risky. Including Keanu is a good "insurance policy" for the studio's investment.
"Man, we sure ravished the %$*#& out of that Beholder."
"It's a good thing, too - the last time we fought one, Jim's character got totally ravished."
Lexically, the above exchange is identical to the following exchange:
"Man, we sure raped the %$*#& out of that Beholder."
"It's a good thing, too - the last time we fought one, Jim's character got totally raped."
Are both conversations unacceptable, or only one? Discuss - and show your work.
"At that sound the bent shape of the king sprang suddenly erect. Tall and proud he seemed again; and rising in his stirrups he cried in a loud foice, more clear than any there had ever heard a mortal man achieve before,
Arise,arise, Riders of Theoden!
With that he seized a great horn from Guthlaf his banner-bearer and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder. And straightway all horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains.
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever before them. Eomer roder there, the white horsetail on his helm floating in his speed, and the front of the first eored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, but Theoden could not be outpaced. Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Orome the Great in the bttle of the Valar when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green abou the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and the sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.
Ah, but he was established in both Norse myth and the comics upon which the film was based, yes?
In Khan's case, the character's ethnicity is well-established. Like I said, it would work with an in-universe explanation (facial surgery and temporarily reconstructing your features is a well-established technology in the TREK universe) but without it it's a bit weird.
The character is literally a product of a eugenics program (which presumably involved some level of high-tech gene manipulation). That, by itself, is sufficient explanation for why he could have any particular look.
The character's ethnicity has never really been a crucial aspect of the character. It was certainly noteworthy that Montalban was originally cast, given the social context of the time, but the crucial aspect of Khan has never been "he's Indian," the crucial aspect of Khan is that he's a monomaniacal genius.
As for colour-blind casting, sure, it's a nice idea if you go that way right from the start, but it's a bit odder when you re-cast someone that way. And where do you draw the line? When they were doing a biopic of Nelson Mandela, should they do colour-blind casting at that stage?
Now you're asking a good question, and I think the answer is: "When it's crucial to the character." You can not make a biopic about Nelson Mandela and have him appear "white," because that would make no sense in a movie about a historical figure who was persecuted for being black.
Furthermore, in terms of biopics - where the actor is attempting to portray a real-life historical person - it's generally considered wise to cast actors that resemble the figure they're playing.
Now let me pose a question of my own: if someone were doing a biopic of Michelle Obama, would it be okay to cast Rashida Jones in the main role?
Having seen McKellen's versatility and range, I'm not convinced he isn't a wizard ;-)
Or maybe the ethnicity of the actor really shouldn't matter, just like it really didn't matter when the producers of Thor decided to cast a black guy as a Norse god.
Because we're talking about acting and imagination, right? Isn't it ironic to insist that characters in television and film be played by people of that exact ethnicity? You might as well take issue with Peter Jackson for casting Ian McKellen, because he's not actually a wizard.
Some friends and I actually had this specific conversation regarding the way Drizzt was statted out back when the FRCS came out, and in his particular case, his build isn't as important as his overall levels, vis-a-vis the kinds of challenges he usually faces. Drizzt isn't an ideal TWF warrior, but most of the time he's fighting orcs, kobolds, the occasional Umber Hulk or Earth elemental... in short, he's got so many levels that he already outclasses his typical enemies.
And that particular observation might be worth applying to a number of other NPCs - given the challenges they face, a great many of them don't really HAVE to be optimized.
My two cents:
I think many in this discussion are making the mistake of assuming that the only two options in the situation are
a) Free the drow to go their merry way, resulting in them doing evil
At least one poster has called taking option a "stupid good," but I tend to think that framing the question in such a limited binary is "stupid alignment." The characters actually have other options which avoid the worst of both the aforementioned choices. For example:
c) Imprison the drow somewhere with powerful, good, supervisors.
This keeps the drow from getting up to mischief, and it also keeps the PCs from committing an act of cold-blooded murder.
Now, the response that I anticipate is "But they have to fight the driders, this will delay/disadvantage them." And that's absolutely true, of course - making the correct moral choice WILL put them at a short-term disadvantage. But that's the thing about good and evil - evil often chooses to do the wrong thing because it's easier for them in that moment - evil is selfish and generally shortsighted, after all. Good characters will do the right thing, even if it makes their life harder in the short (or long) term, because that's what being good is all about - sacrificing and suffering for the sake of what's right.
And, as we see from the way the adventure played out, choosing the evil option came back to bite the theurge (and the party) in the butt - they lost the assistance of some good allies, the theurge was not able to join the special organization, and he is now viewed with distrust and suspicion. So even if we're operating under the notion of "smart good" and "stupid good," choosing evil wasn't smart, because it cost them in the long run.
A lot of players have gotten it into their heads that being ruthless is some kind of advantage, but it isn't. Evil is self-centered, which means at the end of the day, it can't count on friends or allies - evil characters stand alone at the end of the day, but good characters can draw upon the strength of all of their friends, and that's why they win more often than not.
All you really need to know you can get from Star Wars:
Luke: Is the dark side stronger?
Glad you liked my post. To briefly comment on the specific situation in your game, I think one thing that we ought to recognize is that there's a difference between avoiding unnecessary violence and merely seeking to avoid conflict. Your Paladin accidentally violated a taboo, and that has caused some complications (potentially). It's not the Paladin's fault that they violated a taboo, but the consequences are still dangling, and merely covering things up is not going to make things better - in fact, it's likely to make things worse.
Consider: if you accidentally break your friend's prized vase, is it better to lie to conceal that you did it, or to fess up to it and take responsibility for it? Your friend is going to find out that the vase is broken, and there's a chance that they will figure out it's you. The conversation you have with your friend where you accept responsibility is going to be unpleasant (at first) and paying them back for it will take a lot of time/effort/money, but you'll have preserved their trust in you by doing the right thing... even though it's hard (anyone hearing Dumbledore in the back of their heads now?)
If you lie about the vase, it doesn't actually make things better - the vase is still broken. What's worse, there's always a chance that your friend will find out the truth, and then your friendship will be severely damaged. You have to ask yourself: what's more important, preserving your friendship and your friend's trust in you, or the temporary (though significant) unpleasantness of accepting the consequences?
In your situation, your Paladin might still choose to remain with their wife, but that's not really the issue. The issue is whether or not they should lie about it and keep it a secret, and I think the answer is no. I think your Paladin should prove that they are worthy of trust - indeed, that they can be trusted to even reveal the hard truths, including those truths that make their own lives more difficult. People may despise them for their incest, but they will have to respect them for their honor... and their child will never have to feel hurt or betrayed that their parents lied to them and kept secrets from them.
But that's just my two cents, obviously. I'm not as well-versed in the story of your game as you are (and it sounds quite meaty! I'm jealous!) I'm just trying to apply my points here to your situation as I see it.
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
I think ordinary people have every bit as much of a reason to believe that paladins adhere to their code as they do to believe that there are actually people in the world that can hurl fireballs or transform flesh into stone. Sure, commoners don't have access to the spellbook part of the CRB, but wizards (and Paladins) are established, verifiable facts of the world in which they live - actual Paladins have fallen; you could go look it up (or consult your local bard, I guess).
The thing about Paladins is you can *test* them. Not sure if this guy's a Paladin or just a fighter in shiny armor? Have him heal the sick just by touching them, or turn his sword into a blade of fire, or summon a magical steed, etc.
Doubting Paladins is a lot like doubting the existence of deities - it's something that makes sense in our own real world, but not so much in Golarion. Sure, Asmodeus might try and trick people into doubting that Iomedae exists, but it's hard to do that when there's a bunch of her clerics running around casting spells. Same thing with Paladins - hard to doubt their code when you've got lots of them running around smiting the forces of evil (and other falling when they resort to dirty tricks).
Now I don't think you're totally off-base - I'm sure SOME people doubt Paladins. But then again, there are people who doubt global warming... or the existence of the president's birth certificate... or the moon landing... etc. Some people can be fooled, but I think the Paladin code and its importance are part of the generally accepted truths of Golarion.
I'm game, I'll add my two cents to this thing.
The issue here is that many assume that being able to lie (cheat, steal, poison, etc.) is an an advantage. The assumption (and it's an assumption that is the foundation of evil characters and deities) is that following the rules is a disadvantage. Thing is... that's not true.
Remember when Luke asked Yoda about the Dark Side?
"Tell me Master... is the Dark Side stronger?"
"No, not stronger. Quicker, easier... more seductive."
Being evil/dishonorable isn't an advantage, it's a shortcut. More specifically, it's a shortcut that costs you in the long run.
Don't believe me? Consider this: there are a number of nations out there in the world who possess biological and chemical weapons - Syria, for example. Right now, Bashar al-Assad could brutally wipe out the rebel forces causing him so much trouble... but he hasn't. Why not? Because doing so would condemn him to complete and utter diplomatic and economic isolation. In short, when you cross certain lines, no one will be your friend anymore... more than that, no one will TRUST you anymore.
Any Game of Thrones fans out there?
You know what I'm talking about. Tywin Lannister, Roose Bolton, Walder Frey... they're all evil, or close to it, and very definitely dishonorable. And in the short term, it works great for them. It gives them a shortcut to power. But what does it get them? Tywin Lannister's lack of compassion and fatherly affection gets him murdered by his own son. Roose Bolton's cruelty means that he can't rely on any significant allies to come to his aid in times of trouble. And the Freys... well, pretty much EVERYONE hates the Freys.
And the Starks... well, Ned's (and Rob's) honor cost them their heads. And yet... Wyman Manderly is still seeking vengeance on their behalf, and trying to find their lost heirs. Jon Snow, even though he was denied any inheritance, is trying to raise men to save (who he believes to be) his half-sister. Indeed, if a Stark heir is found, the entire North will rally to them, despite their losses, because "The North remembers." The treacherous, duplicitous characters won the short game, but the honorable and just characters will win the long war... because honor and compassion inspire love and loyalty.
A Paladin's greatest power is not his ability to smite evil. It's not his ability to sense the presence of dark forces, or his immunity to diseases. His greatest power is the CODE ITSELF. Paladins, above all characters, should be able to command the loyalty and resources of everyone they encounter... because if a Paladin says that your town is in danger, you know with absolute certainty that he believes that to be true. If a Paladin says that he will do everything in his power to protect your king, you know that he will die before letting the crown come to harm. If a Paladin says that the local Baron is evil and is trying to seize the throne for himself, you know that he's isn't making idle accusations.
Most people don't realize what a big deal that is. Paladins are the ultimate arbiters of conflict. Got a property dispute with your neighbor? Call in a Paladin - you can trust him to render a fair verdict. Need someone to represent a defendant in a trial even though everyone in town hates him? Call in a Paladin - you can rely on him to do his best to give him a good defense. Need someone to fairly divide an unexpected windfall amongst various parties? Call in a Paladin... etc. People don't HAVE to question Paladins, because they can implicitly trust that they... unlike any other adventurer... will always do the Right Thing, with capital letters.
Evil can't compete with that. If an evil warlord and a Paladin both approach a local lord in the hopes of winning him over to their side, all other things being equal, he's going to stick with the Paladin. Why? Because even if the Paladin's offer of reward is small (or nonexistent) he can trust that the Paladin isn't going to betray/sacrifice/neglect him for his own gain. Skullsmasher the Ferocious, on the other hand, has a reputation for doing whatever pleases him, regardless of who gets hurt.
So let's return to this question of a Paladin being held captive and tortured for information. What are the ways this can play out?
1) Paladin says nothing = Demons are hindered and Paladin upholds the code. (2 wins for the Paladin)
What we might realize here is that a) The Paladin saying nothing is ALWAYS the best choice, since it gives the bad guys NOTHING that they want (neither the corruption of the Paladin nor the info they seek) and b) Lying is, generally speaking, no better than telling the truth (since the forces of evil still "win" by corrupting the Paladin).
"But what about his companions?" you might ask. Well, Paladins don't have to be condescending jerks - in fact, I'd assume that REAL Paladins trust their team-mates as being competent professionals - every bit the equal of Paladins. I think that Paladins would trust that their party could successfully escape from demons without the extra little boost from his lies (especially since it's not likely to delay the bad guys that long anyway - how long does it take to teleport to and from locations?) And in fact, the Paladin probably assumes that his friends are going to come spring him anyway (after all, he would do the same for THEM). If he believes that they can successfully storm the prison where he's being held, he should also believe that they can escape on their own. He has every reason to trust in their ability to take care of themselves.
"But what about innocent lives that might be threatened?" Good question. Let's do the math for a scenario where the bad guys say, "Talk, or we start killing people!"
a) Paladin says nothing and people die.
What are the results?
Once again, when you look at all of the possible outcomes, violating his code is not actually a better choice for the Paladin, because even in the "ideal" outcome where he capitulates, the bad guys still get what they wanted, which might actually be far more consequential than the lives of some random hostages (i.e. an artifact that will allow them to wipe out hundreds of villages instead of a handful of villagers).
One other thing that's worth mentioning: we need to stop treating the fall of the Paladin as some kind of world-shattering consequence. Paladins are going to fall every now and then... otherwise, there wouldn't be an atonement spell. And in fact, when we compare Atonement to Raise Dead, we find... well look at that! They are both the same caster level, but an atonement spell can cost anywhere from 1/2 as much as Raise Dead to a whopping 0 gp (depending on how your Gm rules the whole "committed the evil act unwittingly or under some form of compulsion," thing). So Gms who throw the occasional moral quandary at Paladins are no worse (indeed, probably EASIER than) Gms who threaten their PCs with death... the consequences are generally equivalent or lesser.
You completely skipped over the second element in my line of reasoning (labeled "b"). There is a significant difference between saying "this game is a bit sexist," and saying "this game is a bit sexist, and that's bad." A moral judgement is being applied in the second statement, as opposed to a simple observation.
I agree with you here.
The desired goal would be that women should have as much choice in gaming role models as men do. Now you may feel that's already the case, or that the nature if the industry should mean it shouldn't be aiming for equality between the sexes.
Neither of these are points that I made.
I think you've missed my point: because of a failure to be clear and specific, people are inferring things that they can, fairly reasonably, infer. Offense might not be intended, but because the arguments are not put in precise terms, ambiguity is created that can cause people to misinterpret what is actually meant.
In other words, I'm talking about how the message is delivered, not so much the message itself.