Thursday, February 07, 2002

To begin with, my right speaker has mysteriously started working. So far I can't tell if I did anything, unless plugging in my speakers again counts. Well, score one for God's small blessings.

The helmet issue has been resolved. I decided to let the 2.00x damage multiplier express the lack of suspension in ancient helmets for me, rather than compounding all of that by reducing the armor classes fo the helmets, too. Additionally, I have almost finished the selection of shields available to the classical world, and I am quite pleased with how it's turned out. One of the great problems with dice-based roleplaying games such as Phoenix Earth is that certain items of equipment always end up being useless. In AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd ed.) there was literally no reason to use the khopesh or the scimitar (both of those are curved swords, the former short and the latter fairly long). In classical Phoenix Earth I am determined to make each and every last piece of equipment useful. In the case of shields this is exemplified by the inclusion of two large shields, which I call "bowl" and "tower" and are directly modeled on the Greek hoplite aspis (which, contrary to what you might read elsewhere, the Greeks did not call "hoplon") and the Roman scutum, respectively. The tower shield weighs less than the bowl shield, and it provides better coverage for the body. However, because it lacks the radical concavity of the bowl shield, its ability to turn blows is reduced and it makes an inferior ram. One of the things that kind of surprised me about ancient warfare is that people routinely used their shields as weapons, even to the point of using them to literally bowl the enemy over. Of course if I were engaged in a melee I'm sure I too would use everything I could lay hands on as a weapon; it's just that we don't tend to think of ancient soldiers as desperate people. I think it's good to remember that.

I promised a little bit about flirting in this post, and a little bit about the [fantasy] history of the classical period. I'm going to take those in reverse order, since chances are you care more about my thoughts regarding flirting than my thoughts regarding fictional events in 2400 BC. But hey, it's my blog, and I should probably talk about what's important to me. I trust that you're reading this because you're interested in what I think is important, since you probably already know what you think is important.

To begin with, Phoenix Earth does purport to take place on the Earth that you and I live on, in the universe that contains that Earth, and so on and so forth. Which means that God is still God of everything, somewhere between 4 BC and 6 AD Jesus Christ still comes down to redeem mankind, Satan is still Satan, angels are still angels, and demons are still demons. So far as I know nothing in Phoenix Earth contradicts Scripture, although it does add some stuff (this is where the allegory comes in). Chief among those additions is that in Phoenix Earth God created four immortal races, not two: in addition to angels (Phoenix Earth asil) and humans, God also created dragons and elves. The first three of these "Old Races" ("old" because they're immortal, not because they've been around a long time) all fell after their first generation: hence only some of the angels are demons, only some of the dragons became kites, and only four of the twelve elven tribes became kioa (key-oh-a, pl.; singular key-oh). Humans are an exception in that we fell in our first generation, leaving the entire race of man fallen. The other old races are aware of that, and as you might imagine that puts interspecies relations in a difficult place. All the same, God only told the humans to hold dominion over all the Earth. There is of course quite a bit of activity between the angels\\asil and the demons\\uvore as each species attempts to promote its master's own agenda in the physical realm. However, as you might recall from passages such as Daniel 10:13, both asil and uvore are apparently perfectly capable of delaying and perhaps even thwarting one another, at least in the absence of divine intervention. In Phoenix Earth this manifests itself in the fact that asil and uvore can only interact with the physical realm by means of magic (more on Phoenix Earth "magic" in a later post), and the casting of such a spell consumes the caster so completely that it leaves him totally open to attack in the spiritual. That tactical problem accounts for the relative rarity of physical angelic or demonic activity despite the omnipresence of the spiritual conflict. Anyway, by 2400 BC most of the dragons have left Earth for the astral plane (most of the remaining ones keeping to themselves in the deserts of the Middle East) while the remaining eight elven tribes (or elrasha - el-rash-a, take off the a for the singular meaning "elf") are content to stay mostly within the forests of Germany. It is the humans, in all of their sinfulness, who have expanded to cover the inhabited world, and this is where the trouble starts.

If you managed to digest all of that, good for you and thanks for taking the time. Now out of the 25th century BC and back to the 21st century AD.

I had a talk with Blue Rose today which left me somewhat disquieted. As you may or may not know, last year we had a thing for each other, and that was terminated fall quarter. Now, I think that was totally the right decision, and I might even go so far as to say that I'm emotionally over her now. Might. Anyway, the point is that it came out during our conversation that she doesn't find me attractive anymore, in part because I've become more flirtatious. In order to understand why that's significant you should know that in high school I was something of a cold fish when it came to girls - not that I didn't like girls, or that I was rude to girls. In point of fact most people probably would have said that I was extremely nice to girls (I know the Dragon Girls would have; they did, repeatedly), which probably has something to do with the fact that I have a thing for honoring//admiring girls - the causes of which I will perhaps explore later. But I was definitely not flirtatious, whereas up here I have a - how did the Sweatshirt Girl put it? - very direct style of flirting. And I use it often.

Why? Well, I won't deny that it's fun. Unicorn can take credit for teaching me how much sheer fun it can be to flirt when both of you are only interested in flirting. But the real answer to why? is that my flirtatious behavior grows out of the aforementioned impulse to honor girls. To put it another way, I mean flirting like Clanners mean sex: there is a certain amount of intimacy involved in it, to be sure, but at its core the activity is a gift to be shared between friends. I don't give lady Testifiers unsolicited shoulder massages because I'm trying to pick up on them. I'm doing it by way of saying "I love you. I appreciate your friendship. I want to give you a gift, and I think you'll like this." Now of course it's true that, just like in dancing, one should flirt for the other person. If a back massage means "I want to get into a long-term committed romantic relationship with you" to one girl, obviously I shouldn't give her a back massage unless that's what I mean. Did Ranna continue to sleep with Vlad after she heard about Phelan's reaction to it? No, of course not. But I have digressed.

Why did the knowledge that my Blue Rose does not find me attractive anymore disquiet me? Two reasons. One, it's kind of disheartening to know that someone who used to find you attractive doesn't find the person you've become attractive. Two, I still find her attractive. Now of course I don't think we should be together; I think we'd make a fantastically mediocre couple. But I still find her just as beautiful as before, and while I know her too well to call her my Ivory Rose I still find her to be an admirable person. Of course I don't like everything about her, but I still find the package attractive\\likeable. And it's not exactly a nice feeling to think that she doesn't feel the same way.

Of course I should remember that one Blue Rose is hardly the whole of womankind, and by and large girls still seem to think I'm an attractive individual. So as with most things Blue Rose, and in the words of Twilight, I will not let it get me down. If the prognosis for our becoming close again doesn't sound good to you, I agree. But I feel like God still wants me to believe it will happen. So I will, until new orders come down.

Just so I don't end this on a dour note, I should probably relate my latest Viennese Ball escapade. Today I borrowed Dr. Object (you think that's a code name, but the car's license plate proclaims it to be Dr. Object - a little quirky but at the same time way cool) and drove him into Palo Alto to drop off Testimony's malfunctioning minidisk player at the repair shop and pick up a single long-stemmed yellow rose with which to ask a certain young lady to the Viennese Ball, which is Stanford's only all-campus formal dance and goes down on March 1. The Sweatshirt Girl will be performing in the Opening Committee, so I'm excited to see that, and a variety of Testimony folks will be in attendance as well. Plus there will be waltzing. Lots of waltzing. Which as Tom Stoppard said through the mouth of Tomasina is the "gayest, most romantical dance ever!" Or something like that. The point is that I like waltzing. A lot. Granted the girl I asked only learned how to waltz two weeks ago. So what was I doing asking such a girl to an event that's about waltzing? Why, letting her weigh the options herself, of course.

Unfortunately the florist was out of good-looking long-stemmed yellow roses; apparently I had picked up the last nice one three days ago. So I got a peach one instead. That was a breach of personal etiquette, but I decided asking with a peach rose was better than asking with no rose at all. The greenery included in the arrangement was also a little more elaborate than I had envisioned ... actually, I called it a "botanical peacock" to the Pirate Queen. Then I drove myself home and asked her after dinner.

Ooh, Terri Clark's "I've Got Better Things to Do" just came up on my playlist. Few thinks make me as happy as a fun, lyrically clever song that's fun to sing. It's almost 9:00 and time for the Twain Writers' Circle. Perhaps I won't go tonight. It is my sabbath, after all. Good night, ladies and gentlemen. Until next time.

Oh yes ... she said yes. =)

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