Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A confession...

I write this as I wait for Mass Effect 2 to install. I won't apologize and you can't make me. I'm sure some of my readers (it kills me just typing those two words) aren't familiar with Mass Effect, but just take my word for it when I tell you that this is something I cannot resist. Cannot. They just don't make a lot of grand Sci Fi epics any more (not sure "they" ever made a lot to begin with) and to have it done by BioWare...just think a longer, fully interactive "Avatar" with galactic space-opera scale. Also, they didn't have to cut 45 minutes of dialogue and character development out of Mass Effect for length. Just sayin'.

I won't go too much into it because EA/Bioware expends quite enough effort promoting themselves as it is. Just believe me when I say I didn't just want this game. I needed it. And when you need something, that's a responsibility.


I saw this today, and such a thing can't go without comment. Whether or not convicts have a right to play D&D isn't a question that interests me, because part of being in jail is being in jail. They don't let you do whatever you want. That's kind of the point. What does interest me is the sorts of guys who'd get into prison D&D.

Are these good-hearted nerds gone wrong? Despite my Hobbesian view of human nature, I'm pretty Locke when it comes to nerds. I just have a hard time believing that nerds can be intrinsically evil, so I like to imagine these guys as poor dorks who stole somebody else's World of Warcraft account. Or maybe murdered their roommates with a katana because somebody macked on somebody else's e-girlfriend, who they met in World of Warcraft. And who is probably an actual female, but one who's trying to get you to move to Washington State so you can settle down, get a job and help her pay for her gastric bypass surgery. That last part is a true story.

The following is roughly how I imagine prison D&D games are played:
Game Master: You and your party enter the shower room. Row upon row of gleaming steel shower heads spray hot water and fill the room with steam. Your visibility is obstructed, and you suffer...(consults a table in his Sourcebook) minus-two to your perception saving rolls.
Player 1: Fuck negative modifiers!
Player 2: Fuck 'em in the ass!
Game Master: What do you do?
Player 1: We move further into the shower room. Shivs drawn.
Game Master: Okay, shivs are out. As you make your way through the cleansing mist, you see three Orcs cleaning themselves in the showers. What do you do?
Player 2: Fuck 'em in the ass!
Player 1: That sounds pretty good.
Game Master: You have to put your shivs away first. You can't attempt a Rape Initiative roll unless both hands are free.
Player 2: Obviously.
Game Master: You have to say it.
Player 1: Fine, we put our shivs away!
Game Master: (rummages through piles of paper) Oookay, here we are. "Rape Initiative Roll Table." It's a 2d8 roll, need 12 or higher for success. Modifier of +1 per point of Strength and Agility over 10. Let's roll away, gentlemen!

You can see pretty easily how this would lead to gang activity. Dorkery is indeed a slippery slope.


Remember the kerfuffle a few months back where a pair of conservative activists posed as a hooker/pimp combo and tried to secure advice and money from ACORN? It was pretty funny and (I thought) a nice little bit of subversive activity. I don't subscribe to the idea that ACORN is some sinister outfit trying to undermine American civilization. If that were the case, they'd have picked a better name. I'm sorry, you're just not going to sell me on the idea of an evil organization called "ACORN." SPECTRE; that works. Furthermore, there's an entire line in Willow where Val Kilmer sarcastically yells "HELP! HELP! THERE'S A PECK HERE WITH AN ACORN POINTED AT ME!" See? Not intimidating. Incidentally, "peck" is probably the greatest racial slur ever invented. Just say it out loud; now there's some teeth. And Italian organizations get worked up over "guido?" Peck, please.

Okay, so we found a shortcoming. They can't all be gems.

Anyway, the kid is back at it. Only this time, he's not using a hidden camera to record demi-criminal jackasses at a charity. He's bugging the offices of Congresspeople! Specifically, Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu. It turns out that this is actually a pretty serious crime. Who knew? This guy and a crew of his fellow 20-something conservative cronies lied to get into the office, then admitted their deception when caught. They're being charged with Federal felonies.

The first thing that should have tipped everyone off that this guy was an asshole? He's a "conservative activist" in his 20s. Nobody is a serious conservative in their 20s. It goes against your emotional state, your self-interest...honestly, any serious "conservative" in his 20s is just an asshole who wants an excuse. Conservatism these days is, fundamentally, about being an asshole. When's the last time you met a hippie asshole? You haven't. These guys want to tell gay people they can't get married, while doing crystal meth with male prostitutes. His name is Ted Haggard; look it up.

The thing that really kills me is the line from one of Mr. Illegally-Wiretap-Congress blog posts: "It is time to create chaos for glory." That sounds like a really authentically conservative point of view, young man, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter! Creating chaos: conservative. Doing things for the sake of "glory:" also totally a conservative value. Just like how denying gay people Constitutional rights is conservative. And torturing people is conservative. And raping the wilderness for short-term gains is conservative. That is a hell of an intellectual movement you've built there. I bet you'll go far.

HA! I'm just kidding. He'll be out of the can in a few years, provided he doesn't get caught up in all that D&D-related gang activity. It's a real concern, in case you hadn't heard.

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