The Seemingly Sudden And Impressive Presence of Actually Queer Anime Circa Right Now
Hey, do you know what I mean by ‘this user can say it?’
I want to say it’s a cohost meme but the idea is that there are some words that get treated as cursed or slurs or dangerous magical words that are reclaimed slurs, in the mouths of people who can reclaim them. Simply put, if I, a bi dude, want to make a joke where I use the word faggot, fuck off telling me I shouldn’t. And this led to the joke that ‘This User Can Say It’ was a flag that signalled that whether or not an individual wanted to out themselves in any specific way, they had the rights to use particular terms.
But I’m not here to talk about slurs I’m here to talk about anime. It should be no surprise to anyone who pays attention to the trends on this blog (so, Tab, gotyaoi, me) that there’s a low key anxiety about doing too much on this blog about too many anime. It wasn’t intentional but I’ve just been watching more this year and that means more of this year has been talking about anime.
Here then is a list of anime that won’t show up in the Story Pile, but absolutely Can Say It.Continue Reading →
The Privilege of Acceptable Voices
Wreck It Ralph Is About Trans Women In Sport
Hey, did you already listen to the Wreck It Ralph episode of The Disney Animated Canonball, a podcast where I, Talen Lee (he him) and not-appearing-in-this-post Fox Lee (she her), watched all of the Disney Animated Canon movies? If no, then keep going and you should maybe check it out later because it was a big project, watching and podcasting about 54 movies, of which upwards of five were movies I think are any good, and that there, that’s Disney magic, baybee, but if you have then this is going to sound like a rerun.
In case you don’t remember, Wreck It Ralph is an awful film.Continue Reading →
Story Pile: Harrow The Ninth
Harrow The Ninth is the second book in the four-and-a-half-book-so-far Locked Tomb trilogy by Tamsyn Muir, a New Zealand author, and to get the box blurb copy out of the way early, it’s as intricate as wristbones, multi-layered, wrought out of several kinds of deliberate excellence and also extremely bloody funny. It commands its venaculars and surgical terminology alongside one another to construct a narrative puzzlebox of regrets and rage and guilt and violence and queer shit and I loved it.
There are these healing moments of emotionally satisfying contact between people who you can maybe let your guard down and like because they don’t have to suck just because this situation sucks and maybe that’s the important thing, maybe it’s the friends we made along the way. Or maybe it’s really, really not. You’d have to get to the end of the book to start to find out what you think. I know what I think.
Now, it is a slight problem that Harrow The Ninth is a book that builds directly on the previous book, which is a book with a very distinct conclusion that leaves you wondering ‘okay, now how does this proceed,’ and Harrow The Ninth doesn’t actually give you easy answers. As a matter of simple necessity, then, and in order to discuss ideas in this book and why I love it, I am going to talk – even a bit obliquely – about the stuff in the book. Therefore, if you’re the kind of person who wants them, I put here, a SPOILER WARNING.
And you may think ‘oh come on, it’s a book with a twist, you can talk about stuff around that,’ and like kinda no not really, it’s way more complex than that, and even just telling you that is enough to make the wrong kind of mind leap at shadows thinking every single thing you deal with in the book is The Twist. Good news, though, because in this situation, oh natively paranoid, must-not-be-surprised, solve-it-first readers, you’re right!
Everything in this book is The Twist.Continue Reading →
Bloodwork: Systems And Entanglement
Blah blah blah here’s the banner!Continue Reading →
USP-05: May’s Custom Cards
Where life and death no longer hold permanent sway, the question that follows is what matters what you do with your days? The Vampires believe this is why they’re justified to commit genocides; with their overall lifespans so long, any threat to their existence represents a more catastrophic loss of life compared to other cultures. For everyone else, that’s a load of bollocks. Whether cries for revolution, selfish demands for destruction, or a bellow fit to demand the rise of the dead, it ultimately comes down to what you choose to do with the time you have presented in front of you.
Warning: Wizards employees, this post contains unsolicited designs of custom magic cards.Continue Reading →
Game Pile: I Was A Teenage Exocolonist
Script and Thumbnail below the fold!Continue Reading →
Pride Month 2023
In the major English-speaking parts of the worlds I’m familiar with (which weirdly, is not Nigeria, despite it having four times as many English speakers as my home country and Canada combined), June is Pride Month. This is because a number of inter-linked corporate interests have been able to maximise sharing economic value by treating England, Australia, Canada and America as if we all operate on roughly comparable time scales and interests. For this reason, June is the month where America celebrates Pride, in the ways America does, and the rest of us are already buying your t-shirts, so your rainbows show up on all our soda cans anyway. Happy Pride! Buy something.
The obligatory response is of course, ‘well, why?’ and not just why do we do Pride in June, but rather, why do we need Pride at all? After all, isn’t homophobia solved and fixed and now we’re just kind of tidying up around the edges? Of course not, and if you’re reading this you know that’s not true, because I am not some general access explainer, I’m the blog of a weirdo who likes board games and anime and has somehow captured an audience just barely larger than a really suspect church congregation. But why not talk about it anyway, in the specific vein of Hey I’ve been thinking about this a lot.Continue Reading →
May 2023 Wrapup
May’s over! We got there, everybody. That’s one more May in the books that won’t be hurting anybody any more. Just eleven more months before you see millenials busting out the Justin Timberlake memes again. It did bring an annual tradition of finding time to make at least one article making fun of Star Wars to run on May the 4th.Continue Reading →
Thousand Word Chunks
Story Pile: 15 Minutes
Way back when I wrote about The Beginner’s Guide, I wound up talking about a movie called S1M0N3. The basics of that article are that some gamers seemed to be fooled into believing the fictional story of a developer stealing work and putting it up on the internet for sale was a real thing, just as in the movie S1M0N3 people believed that a movie about a fake fictional digital actress was made with a real fictional digital actress. It still stands out to me as an example of the way that modern, immediate anxieties about our relationship to technology are not, in fact, new at all.
In 2001, another movie came out that had a similar vibe to it, a movie about a fear of the changing culture of the now in the light of emergent technology. The fear was about what people would do in a world where everyone had access to a camera, about what a culture of news of spectacle would do, and the assumptions we make about people’s ability to control and express themselves. The movie was called 15 Minutes.Continue Reading →
Bloodwork — Abstraction
Hey, we’re talking more about Bloodwork, the card game about building a network of vampires in the context of a 90s aesthetic representing new and interesting ways the society we live in is parasitic and we’re going whoosh okay.Continue Reading →
The Cow People
Who you are is often as much about who knows you. It’s possible, in Cobrin’Seil, for you to grow up on an archipelago of connected island city-states, with diverse food and music cultures, in a state that respects art for its own good, and ensures the widespread development of parks and proper protection of the seas, which creates great public artworks, and which even has the largest bridge in the King’s Highway running through it, and for you to live your whole life thinking that people must surely know your homeland as the place of elemental magic, physical duels that test the body against the body, and a theatre culture with explicitly fictional gods. What you wouldn’t necessarily expect is for your first dealings with outsiders to end with ‘Oh, the cow people.’
Such is the lot of the people of the sprawling island nations of Kyranou (pronounced kai-ran-ow).Continue Reading →
Game Pile: Scourge, the Magic Set
Magic: The Gathering has some really interesting things recently coming into my space. In the past literal full year at this point, Wizards of the Coast have released products that do nothing but personally irritate me, and the horizon shows no abatement on that score. I hate Urza, I hate Mishra, I hate the Phyrexians and the only reason I don’t flat-out hate Dominaria is Kelly Digges’ work on worldbuilding that space being absolutely breathtaking to consider as a form of craft. These are spaces for which I have literally no actual emotional attachment, stories that I want over and gone as soon as possible so that Wizards can maybe pursue the dream of twenty years ago presented by Mirrodin of maybe not just continuing to write the same story in the same generic fantasy plane over and over, badly. But then they went and hired the Pinkertons.
I didn’t want to talk about this article this way. I wanted to reflect on the twenty years I’ve been playing this game and the twenty years I’ve been designing custom cards for it. I wanted to reflect on the importance of a game that maybe, part of me wonders, could have been my life, and which could have connected me even closer to some people who I think of as incredible and amazing and beautiful, but talking about that, and reflecting on that, feels deeply irresponsible because wizards went and hired the Pinkertons.Continue Reading →
Shirt 23.05 — Haru-Ni ’06
Anime in my mind comes in strata. Different ages, different things that made significant changes to the landscape of anime. Things that feel contemporary weren’t, because I got to watch them at the same time. Things that were contemporary didn’t seem to be to me because I missed one. And in 2006, there were two different anime that shook my world launched – and I didn’t enjoy either of them until they were years old, unaware that the impact they had was nearly simultaneous.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a really great series that I should write about sometime, and Ouran High School Host Club, an equally excellent anime that made a lot of millenials grapple with being gay or girls or gay girls, both hit in April 2006. They were important in ways it was hard to explain, and even now they’re both handy touchstones where you can point to them to just open conversations about anime of that time. They, in a way, ruled the world.
And they both had main characters named Haruhi.
Here, then, I present stickers for you to show which you support in their quest to take over the world of anime as of 2006. If you’d like them, you can get them, with Haruhi Suzumiya as the Presidential runner, or with Haruhi Fujioka as the Presidential runner.
3e: Finally Talking About Grappling
Alright, sure, let’s finally tear off this bandaid.
When I bring up the rules for 3e D&D, there are some rules I bring up that the rules were bad at, to, you know, bully them. The challenge rating system was pants, for example, and I will never not mention that. There’s also the imbalance of the wizard, the numerous busted prestige classes, all of that stuff — it doesn’t work, it’s build on bad assumptions, it relies on players to create their own balance matrix. Lots of great fun reasons to make fun of things.
One area of the rules I make fun of a lot is the grapple rules.Continue Reading →
How To Be: Amity Blight (In 4e D&D)
In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:
- This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
- This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
- While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
- The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic
When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.
Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.
Hey, you know The Owl House? That’s a recent animated television program that has all sorts of conversations around it about the way queer representation gets handled and creators get treated and yes, did you know, did you know that Disney are a bad company? It’s the first I heard of it too! Anyway, The Owl House kicks ass so I want to do a How To Be about a character from it and…
And how hard could this be if … oh jeeze, I see the word count.
Okay!Continue Reading →
Story Pile: My Hero Academia, Season 5
Here we are, five years of watching into the story that is My Hero Academia, a story that took two seasons to get up to gear and then ran face-first into a pandemic making every part of its production slow and awkward and worse but don’t worry, they had a whole manga to build off. Which means that while the execution may suffer, there was at least a solid, robust spine of storytelling to build off.
Spoilers ahoy!Continue Reading →
There’s this anime, Love After World Domination that, once again, was an anime from the 2022 season of absolute banger anime, and it was funny and it looked nice and it delved into a familiar trope space and it had a good comic timing and its protagonist, Desumi Loveafterworlddomination was extremely cute and gifed up well and also dressed like what I can only describe as a horny skeleton bunny girl dominatrix, so in the context of is it a good show to watch it pretty easily sat above things that looked bad and weren’t funny. It was described as a romantic comedy, and occasionally, you’d see people talk about it in the context of having a good pair of romantic leads and how it had two protagonists and how they had good chemistry and this is a lie. There are no leads, there are no protagonists, plural. There’s Desumi, and it is a show about Desumi, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because Desumi is extremely cute and sweet and funny and hot and I bet you could catch genders off her.
The beef I have with this series, and why I never bothered to do anything Story Pile about it, is because half of the core of the show isn’t there.Continue Reading →
4e: Alternate Rewards
Game Pile: Tide Breaker
Thumbnail below the fold!Continue Reading →
Magic Words, Magic cards
The evangelical christian mindset is, despite all of its protests to the contrary, deeply magical. Mystical and fantasist, it’s a worldview that requires a constant concept of the magical, both as a power god extends to you and an ever-present foe. Every day you are surrounded with the never-ending intercession of God into your reality, with some perspectives believing that God is literally the force of the laws of physics themselves, and that every lapse of judgment or timing or memory is a byproduct of god interceding in reality on your behalf. No evidence is too thin, no result too minor, for the Evangelical Christian to not think, in the social pressure cooker of trying to find a miracle to talk about, that hey, this’ll do.
This is why Evangelical Christians can seem so unreasonable. You can’t convince people of things if their actual literal world view of things that really exist includes fucking mind-reading magic. Today as I read this, a major Evangelical Christian voice with political power and authority argued that the church itself was corrupted, because people in that church were too nice to immigrants. What other people said they were doing, and the reasons they said they were doing them, isn’t important, because what they really mean is…Continue Reading →
Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose. This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.
Day job? Youtuber. His name’s Acre, even. The channel’s pretty popular, in the low thousands, where his channel is guides on history, as told by examining historically interesting weapons and swords.
Thanks to this, he did one day get his hand on a cursed, haunted axe, which complicated his life quite a bit. Now, when he picks that weapon, the spirit of the Minotaur flows through him, which – well, he wrecked his studio recording the video unboxing it.
But a secret identity is too useful to pass up, and Acre is out on the streets, doing what he can to take advantage of this power.Continue Reading →
Midmonth Bloodwork Work — Stuffness
Alright, Bloodwork, it’s a vampire game, it’s a builder game, it’s like Machi Koro but instead of an idyllic seaside town you’re making edgy vampire associations that look like Multi-Level Marketing pyramid scheme.
I’m thinking about this game a lot today, and part of what I’m thinking about is the game’s relationship to stuff. Specifically, the kind of material boundaries I have to deal with in the creation of a game which relies on a pyramidal card structure, modelled on the classic 52-card card game pyramid.Continue Reading →
Story Pile: The Johnny Series
I reread the Johnny Maxwell books by Terry Pratchett, from the early 90s, and this time I had Fox along to help. Then, we talked about it and brought along a microphone so you can listen to us talking about these books.
Magic, Eugenics, And How To Do Not That
Do you have magic in your setting?
Does that magic have a genetic component?
Okay, bad news, you’ve justified eugenics.Continue Reading →
The Magic of Goo
You know that book I wrote (that I’m willing to admit)? One Stone? The story set in an alt-history British Empire at some mangled point in history where they have guns and trench warfare in the middle east, but also farmers unions are recruiting to mass-harvest food and oh yeah, there are dinosaurs. It’s an ahistorical setting that’s about how stories about fantasy kingdoms that are clearly England feel to me, as an author raised on those stories from the wing of the empire.
I mentioned, offhandedly, to someone recently that the magic system of One Stone is – and they interrupted, asking hang on, what magic system?Continue Reading →
Game Pile: Flamecraft
The Szudetken Empires, Part III
This is a continuation of the previous post describing the Szudetken Empires peninsula in Cobrin’Seil.
The Bernean Lodges
Where the forests weave in tight against people and farmland is hard-fought from its ownership, there are the night-time howling stands of the Bernean Lodges. Tall, narrow houses, with tightly angled roofs to slough off the snow and rain, the people of the Bernean Lodges isolate themselves from other communities, because they are keenly aware of the way that Szudetken is full of monsters that look like humans. In response to the threat of werewolves, ghosts, changelings, cultists and other horrors, the Bernean people opt to threaten and endanger almost everyone who moves around in their spaces,Continue Reading →
The Szudetken Empires, Part II
This is a continuation of the previous post describing the Szudetken Empires peninsula in Cobrin’Seil.
Voolfardisworth, The Glimmering Net
Where the land becomes mountainous, the castles of Voolfardisworth start to jut up on various cliffs and high peaks, overseeing inevitably, valleys of small communities beneath them. Sometimes known as the Fard, the Fooly or the Fanged States, Voolfardisworth is an aristocratic nation composed of many different, widely distributed noble houses that would rather you not admit they’re vampires (and may even do something to make it so you can’t).Continue Reading →
The Szudetken Empires, Part I
The largest single nation on the Cobrin’Seil continent of Bidestra is Dal Raeda. That is, at least, for those who measure around the edges of the nation, following its perimeter along each distinct shape, and measuring out the distance there. Of course, this does not accommodate for a measurement where an observer takes the furthest points of the nation, at all of its edges, and maps the space that contains; if one measures by that means, then obviously the largest nation on the continent of Bidestra is the Eresh Protectorates, a set of city-states strung out like beads on a string across the King’s Highway. A box, drawn to contain all of those cities, thanks to their distance between one another, could almost contain the entirety of the continent. A third method of measuring exists, where one looks for the area dictacted within the boundaries of the land mass, and composites together that space, such that deep canyons and tall mountains can exert influence on the scale of the nation.
By this metric, as uncertain a measurement as it can be, then the largest single nation on Bidestra is easily one of the six empires that occupied the peninsula known as Szudetken (pronounced schoo-det-ken).Continue Reading →