October November Goal Review

A safe and spooky Halloween to you ๐Ÿ‘ป๐ŸŽƒ October has been a long month, but now it has come to a close.

Time just flies!!!

Let us see how I have made use of mine:

October Goal Review

    1. Not a BIT, of Specialty
      1. Won. Gunslinger was my test game and it has been written ๐Ÿ˜Ž Feel good about this one – expect a blog post talking about only using Specialty from the BITS roleplaying system in games!
    2. Play a TTRPG
      1. Won. (Or will.) Have a session planned on this coming weekend, which happens to still be in October! I’ll be the moderator and the characters will delve under piles of ashes to rescue a king’s son from a foul pit ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿค˜
    3. Outings
      1. Won. Kind of. The cooking classes fell through, but learning to handle firearms was excellent fun! That, plus a couple of movies made for a grand October. (I’m writing this before Halloween, so perhaps there is even more fun being had!)
    4. Self-Improvement, Self-Care
      1. Won. Had some events this month that required great bedrest. However, I prepared for this timeout by working my body in luxurious ways with exercise and pushing its boundaries.
    5. Crypto (Bonus!)
      1. Won. Shortly after writing last month’s blurb, I got it into my head that it was about time I learned about crypto currencies and coins and such. I did, and now have diversified my investment portfolio – let’s see if it’ll take me to the moon!

November Goal Proposal

    1. Give Thanks
      1. Perfect for Thanksgiving, no? Going to start my EOY letter, summarize my adventures from the past year, collect notes, etc.
    2. Future of BITS
      1. I ought to actually figure out what I’m doing with this game system I’ve been working on for a few years. Where will it go? How does one get there? Who might need to be involved? Time to get that down ๐Ÿ™‚
    3. Outings
      1. A copy of #3 from last month. At least once a week, go out for some special treat ๐Ÿ™‚
    4. 5 km, 100 Pushes, 1 Pull
      1. Taking a note from self-care in October, I’m getting back into shape after weeks of bedrest. Aim here is to, all in a day, run 5 km, do 100 push-ups, and get my first pull-up in months.

Bam! Goals are met 125% and goals are set!

How have your goals been coming along? November looking to be ambitious or will it be a recovery period?

Whatever you get after, here’s to it ๐Ÿ‘

In the meanwhile, happy and safe Hallows’ Eve to you and yours! Catch you back here next week! Cheers ~

RPG Action

Action is how things happen.

Since there are opposite reactions, conflict arises and story develops.

This is especially true for tabletop roleplaying games. What a player has their character do (and the mechanical resolution to opposing reactions) is the core of these kinds of games.

I’ve been wrestling with actions in the BITS TTRPG system for awhile. I think I have it, but what do you think? Here’s my analysis:

First Things First

I’m going to avoid talking in depth about who goes when or in what order things happen (aka initiative). No rolling, no going clockwise, no group or simultaneous happenings.

Today’s focus is all about the action!

Twofer

A person cannot discuss TTRPGs without invoking the name of Dungeons & Dragons.

D&D uses a two-action system that really comes down to this: You can move, and you can do anything else (attack, prepare, prepare, move again, etc.).

The two-action economy is classic, in use all over the gaming landscape. You move, you act (and perhaps you get a free action of speaking or dropping whatever’s in your hand).

In all honesty, that sounds like one-action, with movement as a passive condition every character has regardless of any other action.

The only explicit limitation D&D places on action is that a character can only attack once without other special rules affecting that. To paraphrase D&D‘s terms, “you can always move but you may only attack once.”

Got it.

Free-Automatic-Focused

BITS can reimagine the “twofer” as Free, Automatic, and Focused actions.

Free actions are like those in D&D – letting go and shouting. Can be used anytime!

Automatic actions are muscle memory – moving, drawing, reloading, speaking, etc.

Focused actions require just that: focus. Anything requiring attention or caution, such as attacking, giving detailed information, doing something delicate like sneaking, etc.

Take two actions a turn, with exceptions: one and only one free action doesn’t count, and one and only one focused action at most per turn.

Free-Automatic-Focused is nice. It liberates the options of a player with distinct language and increase flexibility over D&D.

But what can a player do? There are examples above, examples that don’t do justice to actual expectations in gameplay.

Always Action

Whether swooning lovers, bartering goods, or stabbing robbers, BITS seeks to bring action to everything that can fail a player’s intention.

BITS divides conflicts into Environmental (passive bodily danger), Combative (active bodily danger), and Social (“sticks and stones” but words always can hurt). The same mechanics for action and resolution apply to each.

We’re not talking about conflict types here, but keep in mind how actions can apply to any of the conflicts above.

Kinds of Actions

Other than Free actions (which almost exclusively are shouting and dropping), I have found four kinds of action that fits any action a player could take: Move, Attack, Defend, Prepare. MADP.

Move actions see a player character walking, running (might need to take some caution), sneaking (definitely needs caution), jumping, crawling, swimming, or getting up. A social action would “move” the conversation on to another topic or point.

Attack actions slash, smash, stab, throw, cast spells, grapple, or commit other acts of aggression and violence. Social intimidation, charm, and deception apply.

Defend actions help others, escape from another, prevent others from passing, or stop the consequences of personal or potential violence. Social defense proves a point or deflects blame and provides excuses.

Prepare actions increase the probability a future action is successful, pick up or get out equipment, operate machinery, build up, tear down, search, or ready a future response. Social preparedness means keeping silent only to improve the next action taken in conversation.

Wow! That’s a lot!

But its utility is limited – MADP only applies when a ruleset takes it into effect.

What could use this method?

No Two of a Kind

Instead of Free-Automatic-Focused actions, up to two actions of any kind (Move-Attack-Defend-Prepare) can happen in a player’s turn.

Attack-then-Move, Move-then-Attack, Defend-then-Prepare, Prepare-only, Attack-and-Attack, etc. Whatever happens, the player must declare what they intend to do in their turn before they do it.

However, if the second action is the same as the first, both actions have disadvantage in their rolls.

If there is only one action taken (not two of the same kind), that single action has advantage.

MADP adds a little more realism to the actions of play. As a reflection of Free-Automatic-Focused, actions that get the complete focus of the player character get a boon while dividing attention or being speedy-but-reckless give progressively worse boons.

Does a fighter focus all effort into one strong attack, duel with an opponent while defending against future attacks, or flail strikes with multiple attacks at once?

A curated and concise set of choices are offered to the player, enabling them to weigh pros and cons to make their own decision. If working with a two-action economy, this seems to be the best bet!

Multiple Actions?

We’re back at the start: have two or kinda-two actions in a turn.

Whatever the case, having multiple actions in a turn – even if in name only – slows play down.

Heck, in BITS critical success rolls, an extra action comes as a reward, exacerbating the problem. And it is a system meant to be quick!

So what can be done?

Call of Cthulhu

The most popular tabletop roleplaying game in Japan, Call of Cthulhu gives a character five possible kinds of actions on their turn (I paraphrase): Attack (harm another), Maneuver (attack without harming), Flee (run away!), Other (healing, investigating), and Spell (use Eldritch terribleness).

A character can only do one of these on their turn. Any movement is implied in the action being taken within the area of engagement.

While having a concise list of actions, removing the tactical tediousness of movment and exact positioning, and limiting the number of actions-per-turn to one, CoC does well to speed up play.

Where CoC stumbles is how many times the dice need to be rolled for any action. Further, the action list may be too concise – it tends to rob creativity as any in-game act must be shoehorned into one of the five kinds specified, regardless of context.

Another game though takes the metacontext into consideration:

PBtA Moves

Powered By the Apocalypse is a game system lauded for its ease of play. A major mechanic contributing to that are the “Moves” it uses.

Every player has a common set of Moves they can use on their turn, along with Moves unique to the kind of character they chose. Every Move is meant to feed back into whatever “vibe” or “feel” the game means to convey.

During a turn, a player can pick a Move and do it (rolling dice dependent on context). One turn, one action, fast play.

While PBtA has streamlined action, it has also railroaded what players can do. Moves are extremely specific to the context of the game being played, further niched to the character role a player has.

Yes, PBtA characters can adopt the Move talents of other characters as they advance in skill. Yes, PBtA players can work with each other to “hack” or introduce new Moves or do something outside the guardrails of the game.

Yet, this does not address allowing players freedom to act in the ways they see fit depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Can it be better?

Freedom to Act

I think it can be better.

BITS adopts the one-action turn of PBtA but opens up the possible actions of a player to whatever they can and want to do.

Shoot a bow or gun? Throw a rock? Climb a tree? Balance on a wall? Socialize with the bartender? BITS handles that with a unified resolution system.

However, exact positioning is not required with the BITS system. If needing to attack someone but a few steps would be needed to get there, that attack happens. If a potion needs to be unloaded from a bag, do it and be ready to act again on the next turn.

Games like D&D act as “simulations-as-games” and would care about the exact distances and contexts of the simulation in progress. With BITS one-action, so long as a declared action doesn’t blend together seemingly different actions too much, BITS cares more about the consequences of intention rather than the consequences of inches.

This rewards players with carrying out their intention for their turn, keeps turns flowing quickly because beans need not be counted, and offers extra actions as a prize (i.e. critical successes in rolls).

Conclusions About Actions

There are improvements available for the current two-action system in use by the most popular roleplaying games.

Despite those improvements, the more actions a player takes, the slower the game goes.

The more actions are tied to the meta-narrative of the game and not the context of the player’s current situation, the more agency is taken away from the player. Game context should provide actions and other verbs as inspiration to what might be done, but cannot dictate what a player may or may not do.

Like Captain Barbossa put it in Pirates of the Caribbean:

The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.

Therefore, to increase agency and reduce time taken on a turn, a single action-per-player-per-turn that focuses more on intention than precision is the best gameplay option for rules about actions.

Phew – this was a long one. I wanted to bring forward multiple analyses for popular game systems’ action-economies.

Though I’ve clearly looked over games like Lasers & Feelings or any of the Blades games, the principles remain the same: more actions taken slows the game, but reducing the actions ever able to be taken (i.e. PBtA) comes with its own consequences.

Therefore, for BITS, one-action is the way to go. Further, one-action breeds an economic scarcity, forcing players to think critically of what’s possible to get them closer to their goals.

And adding an extra action for a critical success is something I’ve not come across in my studies – what I feel is a sharp improvement as “critical success” has been so far relegated to either extra damage (not always applicable) or an allowance for narrative dictation by a player for just that moment. I’m not much a fan of keeping player participation in the narrative sequestered away as a reward for play ๐Ÿ™‚

OK – enough about actions for now! If you think a one-action economy is not the optimal, why? I must know! Cheers to when we get to talk it out.

September October Goal Review

Do you read these intros? I’m not sure if they’re worth it. Let me know. In the meantime, business:

September Goal Review

    1. Update All BITS Guides
      1. Won. All guides are updated. BITS is a better roleplaying system than it has been before. Can I get some players? Maybe I just need to write more BITS games ๐Ÿ™‚
    2. 1-4 Page RPG
      1. Won. I made a game!! It is 10 pages of abbreviated action. However, writing the “Turn Example” to show what gameplay could be like, the game was not fun ๐Ÿ™ƒ But that’s still great!! That’s a first draft, right? Near complete trash?? ๐Ÿ”ฅ Anyway, I ought also trim the sucker down to the 1-4 page-count promised, but that’s for another time.
    3. Move (Again)
      1. Won. I’ve a new destination in Vegas with pool, privacy, and a lovely location, not to mention some fantastic friends.
    4. Private
      1. Won. I can’t overstate how… happy I am. Things are turning out and pretty cool right now ~

October Goal Proposal

    1. Not a BIT, of Specialty
      1. The role-play ruleset BITS is “Body Interaction Thought Specialty.” Got to thinking in September, “can I make a game of only having advantage in things?” So I’ll write what I’m calling “Gunslinger,” a wild-west TTRPG where a player “levels-up” by gaining new specialties, thereby defining their trade.
    2. Play a TTRPG
      1. This one is a finky one – how do I gather people recreationally around a table during a pandemic? What RPG should be played, and for which adventure?? Am I the dungeon master / game moderator / guide, or a regular player??? Guess that’s part of the challenge of the goal (lucky I’m half-way decent problem-solver) ๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŽฒ
    3. Outings
      1. It’s been years since I’ve used a firearm, so a refresher on safety and handling is in store. Also looking to schedule a cooking class, because that never hurts. Oh, and Halloween? Time to be spooky, methinks ๐Ÿ‘ป๐ŸŽƒ
    4. Self-Improvement, Self-Care
      1. October is going to be a month of improving my conditioning and getting some needed appointments taken care of. Though I need to be scaling back on my physicality for some events upcoming in January, I can keep myself lean and mean, so I’m prioritizing doing what I can ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ˜Ž

September was golden (even if not everything turned out 120%), and October looks to be a lot of fun. I like the idea of writing treatments for games and stories, so let’s see if September’s #2 and October’s #1 can happen more often.

For the last month of summer, what did you do? How are you spending your first month of autumn? Give me your inspiration, and we’ll meet back here in a month!

(Or sooner – let me know if you’d be interested in playing a table-top roleplaying game, something fantasy, sci-fi, or even horror.)

Lots to do! Cheers to you ~

BITS – Ships

BITS – the roleplaying game system – is all about themes. Carrying off of last week’s theme of groups in BITS, I’ve been able to think awhile on how different kinds of actors in BITS work together.

So today: How ship-sized vehicles in space and on the water interact with each other.

How Ships Work

Ships have a threat tier that indicates their size:

0 – Fighters, boats.
1 – Corvettes, frigates.
2 – Destroyers, cruisers.
3 – Battleships, carriers.
4 – Dreadnoughts, city-ships.

When acting as a ship, add the ship’s tier to a 2D6 roll (or appropriate BITS value, if so inclined!). When acting against a ship, roll higher than that ship’s threat tier. For example, a tier 3 battleship acting against a tier 2 destroyer must roll 9 or more (threat tier 2) with 2D6 and may add 3 to the roll.

Tiers also show how many extra smaller actions the ship may take. These smaller actions may be either defensive or of more minor consequence. (I’m still ironing out the value of different kinds of actions.)

A ship may hold inside it smaller ships that are 2 threat tiers below it, and/or multiple groups of ships 3 or more tiers below. For example, a tier 3 carrier may hold 1 tier 1 corvette and/or multiple groups of tier 0 fighters.

A ship otherwise behaves as any other fictional Being in BITS. (This includes the use of Body as a hull and engine, Interaction as a sensory and communications capability, Thought as targeting and computation, and Specialty for whatever role the ship is fitted out to do!)

Tier Examples

Tier 0 fighters and boats exist only as groups when interacting with higher-tier ships. Tier 0 can be subdivided into interceptors, bombers, dropships, and others. Subdivisions of tier 0 ships are differentiated with simple rules.

For example, a Star Wars X-Wing would be a heavy fighter with critical roles against single ships automatically destroys the other ship (representing a proton torpedo exploding). A Gundam Ball is incredibly cheap, but cannot travel without a carrier though is useful for ship repair. A Chinook helicopter serving with the United States Navy is slow, but can carry supplies, a platoon of troops, or gunship weapons.

Tier 1 ships include dedicated troop carriers, freighters, and smaller warships. Individual capabilities are defined per ship, such as being able to travel between worlds or systems.

For example, the Star Wars Millennium Falcon is a very fast cargo freighter. Expanse‘s Rocinante packs freight, troops, and torpedoes with high maneuverability (and fits into the Donnager tier 3 battleship!).

Tier 2 destroyers and cruisers can carry a boat or small fighter group to support operations. Ships called “cruisers” (Star Trek Romulan D’deridex) and “destroyers” (Star Wars Star Destroyer) are often tier 3 battleships and carriers in their abilities.

For example, a USN destroyer may have a vulcan cannon to have advantage defending against missiles and fighters while having a mine-laying helicopter. Star Trek Galor cruisers have a large forward cannon, multiple weapon arrays, and high speed, but can be taken out by swarms of fighters or beefier battleships.

Tier 3 represents the battleships, carriers, and hybrids that bring the largest hurt and the largest number of forces to play.

For example, the Imperial Japan Yamamoto battleship had defensive and offensive advantage against any other ship on the water. The Star Wars Star Destroyer could field squadrons of tier 0 TIE fighters, capture a tier 1 Tantive IV blockade runner, land an army of troops and supplies, and bring massive guns to bare. Many Star Trek variants of the Enterprise flagship were on-par with battleships, fielding multiple torpedo launchers, heavy shields and armor, and even fighters and personnel shuttles.

Tier 4 ships are awe-inspiring, all-commanding giants. For the most part unassailable, tier 4 ships get to do what they want to do until a lucky action halts their progress.

For example, Star Wars has the Executor dreadnought that only by a lucky suicide and very poor design was brought down. The Expanse has the literal Behemoth city-/generation-/flag-ship capable of holding a fleet inside it. Star Trek brings to mind Borg Cubes that single-handedly can wipe out armadas. Even the universe of Frank Herbert’s Dune has Heighliners as the only mega-vehicles capable of interstellar travel, taking entire planetary populations from place to place.

Bonus Topic: Stations

Space stations or naval dockyards work the same way as the ships they house. Stations use similar groupings:

0 – Buoy, small communications satellite, mine, sounding station.
1 – A station with limited docking and housing capabilities. The International Space Station.
2 – A regional yard or asteroid base. Halo‘s orbital defense platforms can handle cruiser-sized craft but none larger.
3 – A strategic hub of resupply and production of battleship-tier craft. Deep Space 9 from Star Trek caters to multiple battleships and support vessels. Stargate Atlantis has Atlantis, which may count as a tier 4 station (there’s some techno-magic that makes classification fuzzy).
4 – A massive complex meant to be bringing forth armadas and entire fleets. Star Trek‘s Spacedock 1, Halo‘s High Charity, USN Norfolk Base.

A station may hold ships that have the same threat tier or below whether constructing or docking the ship. The station may or may not have defensive or offensive means. If so, the station uses its threat tier for resolutions.

For example, a tier 0 listening post may detect ships approaching a tier 1 science station orbiting a moon. Tier 2 defense platforms may open fire and release a compliment of fighters so that a tier 3 space dock can muster battleships and carriers to fight. When all else fails, a distress signal summons reinforcements from the fleet HQ, a tier 4 mega-station.

Thought Behind Design

Inspired by shows like The Expanse and of course movies like Star Wars, I began to see patterns in how the large vehicles known as “ship” were treated in fiction (a class their own; another post later about vehicles later).

After experimenting with carriers (ships carrying smaller ships) and threat tiers, I am struck by how tightly the BITS treatment of ships above fits into naval considerations. From the real-world United States Navy, to modern space flight, to hard sci-fi in The Expanse, to the fantasies of Star Trek and Star Wars, a 0 to 4 threat tier system where some ships carry other ships seems to work really, really well!

So that’s the thought behind: Keep with the mechanics found throughout BITS, allow for all the classic naval designations, and thematically represent ships regardless of “universe” or IP they exist in.

Ready to play some BITS? I know I am ๐Ÿ˜

Now to get these manuals taken care of and updated to 2021 standards!

What do you suggest for putting rulebooks together? What holes are there to sink this handling of ships? Let me know! Cheers to your gameplay ~

June July Goal Review

Not much to show, and a little to say:

June Review

    1. Family
      1. Won! Easy in theory, I write this being socially exhausted (my introverted side coming out). Will be on me to keep the spark alive of staying engaged and responsive while balancing my own needs.
    2. Playtest BITS
      1. Failed. I’ve come up with more for the system (posts coming in July), but travelling about, I’ve not focused on gathering folks to play. Until that happens, the system is just an idea of a ruleset vs. something tried and fired.
    3. Write, Record, Publish Voice Reel
      1. Failed. Didn’t approach this at all other than thinking I’m not getting to it fast enough. And now there’s no more time, so here we are ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit Again!
      1. Failed. A change in sleep schedule blew out the letter-of-the-law for this goal, but travel and inconsistent night writing (like now) didn’t cut it in June. For shame! 

July Proposal

    1. Rest
    2. Re-Evaluate
    3. Reflect
    4. Ready-Up
      1. I can’t remember the last time I failed as hard as I did in June (75% failure!!). In response, I’m taking July on without requirement other than to being aware of my day-to-day.

        Once done, I ought to be properly equipped for charging into August with solid goals and projects to share.

As the proposal says, I failed. Hard.

Might be time to go a little softer. I jumped out of airplanes and visited with family and played games and made game designs… but I feel… Not much?

Maybe it’s because I noticed so few bugs on my windshield on a cross-country trip.

Hope you’ve had a better time of it. Enjoy what you may of your summer, K? Cheers.

It Is OK to Fail

Really, it is.

But failure snowballs into complete and utter debasement! Failing is a slippery slope to irrelevance.

Certainly don’t make a habit of easy failure. If failure must happen, make it hard-fought to get the most out of the slip.

If the failures are spectacular enough, the failure will be quite relevant! Regardless, the failure should be relevant at least to you to show what to do or not, in addition to being an example to other folks.

But failure is a sign of weakness! If I fail, I won’t be wanted, I’ll be scorned, and I’ll carry a Scarlet Letter forever.

While some folks may not want you over particular failures. And some truly severe Scarlet Letters are deserved so that others can be protected.

Yet you live only with yourself. Only you know the severity of guilt and the just penance. An so long as you are acting out the penance (even if it is only to not fail the same way twice), you are doing what is owed to the failure.

But failure can be tragic! It can scar and rend and kill and all horrible things.

That’s a fine point! Failure certainly can be immense in its consequences. But what are consequences worthy of worry?

As the saying goes, “any landing you can walk away from is a good one,” so the same applies to failure. Loss of money or time or knickknacks can be made up and should come with an adequate exchange of experience. Bruises heal and hurt feelings amended.

What can’t be put back together are the three serious scars that can remove opportunities for action or attraction:

    1. Mind – Being unable to think straight, fully, or at all is a terrible, terrible thing. Brain damage, addiction, and dogma make up this scar where healing is miraculous (but we can’t depend on miracles).
    2. Body – Being maimed, crippled, or made twisted changes the whole world. (Trust me, I know.) Losing limbs, suffering catastrophic nerve injuries, and physical scarring such as tattoos of hate signs make this scar horrific to live with.
    3. Society – Being vile, abhorrent, or too dangerous to others or the culture is the quickest way to be identified with this scar. Outward physical violence, harm towards children and other helpless, and upending public expectations will slam you with a modern, contextual Scarlet Letter.

So long as these three scars are avoided, your failures won’t stop you!

But failure isn’t stopping me! It’s my fear of failing anew…

And that’s where coming to peace with failure comes it. It is OK to fail.

One of the biggest obstacles to what we intend and our lives being lived is us, you and I. Our thoughts dwell on the ‘what if.’ Prior experience and imagination can be a real bane in this regard.

That is why forgiving ourselves is the first step to making failure OK.

We are the ones that can stop habitual failure.

We are the ones who are already suffering under guilt.

We are the ones who can avoid the three disastrous scars.

We are the ones who must forgive ourselves.

Simply put, forgive yourself. It is OK to fail.

Why I Wrote This

The fear of failure lies strong on my mind and always has. I’ve developed rules for myself so as to fail less:

Failures still happen despite it all. Like this month’s goals I’ll be reporting on in a week. (It’ll be bad.)

And that’s OK.

Now this may sound like I’m giving myself a pass on a failure by using flowery words – it’s not (sans the flowery words part).

I know I’ve lived my life. What’s left is my duty to ensure my future self can live without the baggage of guilt or regret going forward. Casting off such suffering seems like a decent goal.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Really looking forward to your feedback here.

Where have your failures been? How have you recovered? What are you still carrying around all this time since?

Here to talk to hear about what’s going on – drop me a line and we’ll get the convo going!

Until next week, go out to happen to the world knowing the failures you make along the way are OK. Cheers ~

May June Goal Review

I kept some appointments and lost some last chances (not really, but still…).

In non-goal news, I’m exploring what life might be like as a digital nomad right now and through next month. May share with you some stats later! On to the reviews:

May Goal Review

    1. Appointments
      1. Won! As much as a person can win keeping up with their health and social engagements can ๐Ÿ˜… Will aim to not include mundane tasks here in the ol’ goal post in the future.
    2. Last Chances
      1. Failed. Not going to give this to myself in the least. Some “wouldn’t this be cool” things are still on the backburner (looking at you, Jiu Jitsu), while others got delayed (like skydiving) or are MIA. Say it with me: “we’ll be dead soon!” I have to show some eagerness about this ego’s existence!
    3. Half-Hour Happy Habit
      1. Won! This was certainly aided by spending quality time with family over shared passions like games. I also enjoyed time reading and am picking back up some new Netflix series seasons!
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit
      1. Won! I have discovered 8 AM isย good. I sometimes start at 7, losing time until it’s suddenly 8! I tend to write now at night too, like this here line ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m too afraid I’ll lose this if I don’t include it as a goal next month, so…

June Goal Proposal

    1. Family
      1. Heading out (vaxxed) to see my immediate family (also vaxxed)! Travelling overland, socially distanced, and working out of an Air BnB because why not leverage the benefits of remote thought work? Achievement here is to say “yes” to family gatherings and to party a bit as well as a socially isolated, responsibility-minded small group can ๐Ÿ˜‰
    2. Playtest BITS
      1. Remember BITS? It had some troubles, which made it easy for me to put it down for half a year. Now I have inspiration to fix the problem left in the system. With my daily writing habit, it’s about time I gain the courage to give the system a quality roll.
    3. Write, Record, Publish Voice Reel
      1. I used to do these posts vocally. I had a voice-acting goal a long time ago too. Not a week (OK, 2-3 since I’m hardly out!) goes by where some stranger doesn’t comment on my vocals. And 2021 had something to look forward to with getting my abilities out there. Now is the time to fear less and do more. Where’s it going to go? IDK yet, but I aim to share with you a link to listen to in a month!
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit Again!
      1. So good, I propose it twice ๐Ÿ˜ I’ve written a bunch of blog posts with this and started on BITS again. Here’s to the second time bringing the same charm!

May was kinda lame getting to do what I felt ought to be done, so June aims to make up for the lapse. It’s going to be an aggressive next few weeks, so it’ll be up to me to stim and focus on the things that’ll make the biggest impacts!

Cheers, folks. Go conquer your intentions!

Truth: Suffering

Suffering is inevitable.

Truth can be debated endlessly. Look no further than the blind men and the elephant. Simply put, a singular Truth cannot be known ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

What can be understood are the collection of truisms close to Truth. Things that are agnostic to time, space, culture, and context are more true than dichotomies or idioms. Something that, once known, is of terrible power for its ability to inflict or relieve suffering in one and another. Yet, not knowing can lead to a suffering through ignorance!

So what is truthful?

All life seems to agree on this: Suffering is the only guaranteed experience.

Before you go, hear me out. Suffering is a cornerstone of existence if not the foundation of what it means to be alive.

It all starts at where all things do: at the beginning. First there is the suffering caused to mothers during pregnancy and labor. Second, babes wail at the shockingly cold, shockingly bright loss of everything they have ever known. Communities then suffer the child’s cries and inadequacies while their parents sweat and toil to keep the new human alive – and often that is beyond their abilities!

The baby born, that child will become self conscious. With that knowledge, the young person begins to doubt their own value. Their body morphs through puberty in unknowable, painful ways. Their minds become aware of themselves and other people, namely the failures of themselves and their society. A child is considered ‘mature’ when they lose the shield that was naivetรฉ. In a complete upending of the child’s reality, they come to understand they are betrayed by family, friends, society, and their own body.

That babe-turned-adult suffers once again as the incessant march of time grinds down thought and bones alike. If not outright crippled in mind and body, the ‘edge’ of peak performance experienced in late adolescence is dulled. A second revelation comes where the elder recognizes how much of their short life has been spent with little return. Existential nihilism or a living lie of denial sets in, killing the elder long before they are dead and buried. This is the elder’s only inheritance left to their next of kin, who in turn do not understand the trauma they’ve received. Thus the cycle of suffering, from birth to death, continues on into the next generation.

Matter – atoms and the like – too suffers in its creation, as understood through an empathetic anthropomorphism. All particles exploded into an inferno during the universe’s birth. All suns only formed after eons of atoms floating alone before being crushed and incinerated under their own weight. The universe itself may be convulsing in a cyclic version of Western Hell and has so done since the beginning of time.

Suffering is inherent in creation. Yet does it last?

Absolutely.

We see in the life of a person or a galaxy, suffering is the ever-constant companion throughout a singular existence. From start to finish, suffering is present and repeats its pattern infinitely.

Suffering persists. But what of the Good?

While there are absolutely may be moments of pleasure in one’s life, no two persons can agree on the specifics of such pleasures, or if the pleasure itself is a Good thing! (What is Good has been mentioned before, but a further exploration is later in this post.)

What used to be the common ground of Good was religion. But which religion? Which denomination of that religion? Can a history of stoning neighbors, burning knowledge, and the excruciation of the masses, justified in the many names of God, be considered Good? (Rhetorical questions all.)

When consuming certain mushrooms across the world, shamans and laypersons alike gain the satisfaction of meeting their own God without the need of religion. Perhaps this is a contributor as to why claims to be religious are becoming a minority. Regardless, religion seems to be unable to define a Good in the universe.

Hedonism gives many moments of pleasure. Eating, drinking, sex, and drugs all stimulate dopamine and other feel-good chemicals, these chemicals the only objective cause of pleasure in a person’s body. If pure pleasure is what Good is, the only Good activity in life is the pursuit of opiates until death arrives, the dead no longer suffering.

Sensual pleasure works as well as it does because of the erasure of self it causes. There is no person, there is only bliss. Should a person retain any amount of self-conscious ego, this pleasure is often found to be meaningless. (Not to mention that the individual hardly survives for long, which is not Good.)

The idea of ‘the nation‘ aims to give meaning with shared common purpose, that which the nation claims to be Good. Further, nations promise to carry the ideas and works and wishes of the citizen into the future, a survival-by-proxy. So which nation is Good? When? For whom? What consistently has been considered Good? Perhaps during the disenfranchisement of its women? The crucifixion of its minorities? The genocide of its enemies? The enslavement of the destitute?

The nation has many ideas of what Good is. No idea remains consistent, thereby a changing definition of what is Good. In the book The Rape of Nanking, it is come to be understood that nations will justify its actions without remorse, even glee, passing this ‘goodness’ into its citizens and collective actions. It is clear ‘the nation,’ despite giving meaning and surviving, cannot be Good.

If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

George Orwell, 1984

In these ways, the Good is entirely subjective. What is Good for one cannot be guaranteed for another. The Confucian Golden Rule of “do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” usurps its Western opposite of “do unto others what you would have them do to you.”

But Good may yet have something true about it. If suffering is the omnipresent woe, minimizing suffering may be a common agreed-upon Good. But remember that many things done with ‘Good’ intention (Western Golden Rule) cause suffering. Therefore, Goodness with the intent to reduce suffering seemingly is to act less on perceived suffering (the context others appear to be in) and more on actual suffering (the context a person finds themselves in, the only guarantee suffering is indeed occurring).

As Goodness with the minimal definition is an eternal endeavor since suffering persists, Good would need to accommodate failure and continue (i.e. survive). That still does not negate this narrow definition of Good as being subjective, only one in a crowd of other definitions that claim to be correct.

Simply put, a definition of Good may be “reduce net suffering to survive and survive to reduce net suffering.” This does not violate the subjectivity of Good, merely prescribes what the abstract concept is.

Good is subjective. So what is objective?

If any claim to objectivity is made, it seems to be made of suffering and surviving. A person cannot do a guaranteed Good. By the act of existing only, a person can participate in suffering.

You and I will experience suffering, will cause it. Much of it will happen and we wonโ€™t be aware of it. In our darkest times, we will seek it out.

Therein lies an objective truth: Suffering is inevitable. With that knowledge, preparing to suffer can be committed to and actions readied to reduce it. How suffering is perceived is variable, but thoughts about suffering tend to trend in two ways: Those that have the means to hypothetically bear great suffering are better; those that endure actual suffering not of their choosing are considered lesser.

Whether suffering is accepted or railed against, if a person finds that they are suffering, it may be a comfort to know suffering is natural and it too can pass. How to address suffering is another topic entirely, an important one to have when suffering is known to exist, persist, and permeate throughout the universe.

In these ways suffering conforms to a universal truth, a first-tier fact that better reveals Truth and hones other truths in their meaning and purpose.

Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.

George Orwell, 1984

Something I’ve pondered on and worth continuing to ponder. Cheers.

April May Goal Review

It’s already May!?

April has been a doozy – certain finance projects have kicked off (lacking from last month’s proposal) and certain personal affairs have required my strictest attention. Needless to say, my time has been ravished.

The damages:

April Goal Review

    1. Summer Plans
      1. Won! I am now set for certain housing needs while on long trips. Meeting individuals and couples who will also be vaccinated are set. And in the face of new information, I’ll be “on my toes” for
    2. Ditch Property
      1. Failed. I donated loads of clothes and dishes and such, but really dropped the ball in pushing the commercial aspect of property dispersal. Hate to say it: I suck at spontaneous entrepreneurship ๐Ÿ’€
    3. 1 Hour Writing Habit
      1. Failed. Over 60% of this target was hit, but that’s still a lot of failure, so I did not remain consistent like I’d hoped. Wrote a lot of blogs at least, this included ๐Ÿ™ƒ
    4. 1 Hour Chill-out Habit
      1. Won! Playing games and watching shows – I found that this is a highly useful scheduling item. A ‘chill’ hour (which at times seemed a tad long) gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day, resetting me for writing! Will include ‘chill hour’ into the future ๐ŸŽฎ

May Goal Proposal

    1. Appointments
      1. There are dates to make and keep, both personal and social. I’ll be hanging out in temporary housing before my summer drive so I can celebrate the birthday of a very good friend. In addition, there’s some health stuff to knock off the TO-DO list, especially in time for me running around in the summer sun ~
    2. Last Chances
      1. OK, time to be vague: There are certain things that I very likely won’t be able to do later this year or, heck, for the rest of my life. This goal is to leave open to myself time for those experiences. (Don’t worry, I’m cool – just a new paradigm to look forward to.)
    3. Half-Hour Happy Habit
      1. Coming off of the “Hour Chill-out Habit” from April, I’ll force myself to spend at least half-an-hour a day doing games, shows, walks, and reading for nothing but the sake of the activity. I needed little prompt most times during April, but sometimes had to yell at myself to “play the dang game” ๐Ÿ˜…
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit
      1. Trying again, round two. Maybe if I can specify a time to start the habit, it’ll blossom into better consistency. I’ll be forced to keep the rest of my later afternoon and early evening on schedule. Small steps! (Hoping for big gains!)

The best news is that by the time you read this, I’ll have received shot #2!

Come mid-May, I’ll be fully vaccinated, having played my part since March 2020 and will continue until the United States has gotten something of an act together.

When are you getting your vax? What are your plans for rejoining society at large? Have a special place for your favorite mask?? Do tell! Hope to see you outside in a few more weeks ๐Ÿ˜ Cheers!

Truth: Knowledge

Knowledge is a terrible thing.

Truth is something we cannot know. However, Truth is a legion of many faces, each aspect of Truth being a testament to the universe. Through these aspects Truth may be known. Yet, the knowledge itself is a terrible thing.

Terrible, really?

Quite so. Once something is known, it cannot be unknown. The knowledge itself gains a consciousness in its perception. The knower gives the information their own life by spending time and calories thinking on the knowledge.

A terrible part of knowledge is when it allows the knower to become self-conscious. A belief held in ignorance contradictory to newfound information provides a stark contrast to what may have been a life in the ‘wrong’ or ‘false.’ Not many are ready to recognize their failings in this way, that their reality was a lie up to the knowledge gain. Thereby it is born a perfect situation to allow a knowledgeable person to suffer not only the pain of finding in themselves a false-self, but doubly the suffering of perpetuating the now insincere lie of their false belief.

But to live in the dark? To forego the possible suffering of exploring the unknown? Enjoying the bliss of ignorance makes sense if the benefit of knowledge could not outweigh its horrors.

Common nay-sayers to the progress of knowledge cite many of the troublesome topics of modern times:

Gunpowder, biological weapons, social stigmas, dogma, racism, factory farming, sweat shops, nuclear arms, weaponized pathogens, fuel waste, more addictive substances, inhumane architecture, spam email.

Yet, humans continue to push the boundaries of knowledge, to explore, to discover. Ill-content with the state of things, people have gained knowledge of, well, everything a mind can perceive and more.

Language, sparking fire, paper, printing, the raising of crops and livestock, penicillin, engines, mathematics, rocketry, clothing, environment control, the internet, vaccines, subatomic physics.

All-in-all, knowledge has proven terrible in its power for the Good reduction of suffering, and the contrary application of incredible suffering for meager gain. “Terribleness” cannot be said to be in-and-of itself a ‘bad’ thing. By any objective measure – poverty, life expectancy, opportunity, access to resource – knowledge has on the balance been a Good thing, making now the best time to be alive ever.

If the concept of knowledge were visual, knowing would be feeling around into the darkness of the world’s unknown. Some finds would be sweet and soft, treasures to make the journey worth the while; others sharp and deadly, tragedies there in the dark. Sometimes a truly terrible tool is found, a thing with the capacity for great reductions and increases in suffering, depending on its use.

Taking the ‘darkness’ example further, sharing knowledge might be visualized as a light cast on a place – a piece of knowledge. However, that light comes from one direction – the sharer of the knowledge. What may appear true and whole on one side may seem completely false on the other – a shadow cast. Therefore, partial light may play tricks and deceive for a time. Until further insights and investigations cast more light on the subject, knowledge and its sharing suffers from the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant.

Light too, when shown to unprepared eyes, can be blinding. In this way, the illumination and knowledge can send a person reeling from the moment’s bright suffering.

So the distribution of knowledge may cause suffering, at least for a time. To pursue knowledge is one choice; to reveal information is another. Sometimes it’s best to not reveal true knowledge, as in the case of white lies, especially to the unexpecting. Sometimes knowledge will be shared with the express intent to cause suffering, e.g. black truths.

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

William Blake

Therein lies the terrible essence of knowledge. It gives and takes suffering from the world when gained by a person.

This has always been the case. Two-and-a-half millennia ago in East Asia, renown warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu based much of his The Art of War on knowing and keeping others from knowing. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a half-millennia ago in the heart of Europe that success in life lay in knowing what to do with the power one had. Shortly after, Sir Francis Bacon put it bluntly: “knowledge itself is power.” Or as Susan Orlean puts it for today, “Knowledge is a beautiful thing, but there are a few things I wish I didn’t know.”

So pay respect to knowledge and its lack alike. Context plays a part in guessing whether knowledge gives or takes suffering away, but across time and culture, this remains true: Knowledge is a terrible tool to have and to wield.

What lights do you live your life by?

Cheers.