Thursday, February 07, 2002

Well, this is it gentlemen. This is the moment you officially become ... blogged. If you know the real version of that quote you either live in the Valley or are extremely cool.

As I post this Natalie Maines just said "Bring it up, Martie!" whereupon the redoubtable Ms. Seidel cut loose with one of her famous fiddle solos. I'd call that an auspicious beginning for a venture I'm not entirely comfortable with. Not that I have a problem with blogs in general - as you may or may not know, I'm addicted to several. Then too, I have often wished that humans were telepathic (what sci-fi/fantasy geek hasn't?), and this is the next best thing. I guess I'm just a little wary about what I'll end up posting here. I don't particularly want to do this if I'm not going to be frank, and I'm not entirely sure that being frank is an acceptable mode of behavior for me. Nevertheless here I am, giving it a shot, in hopes that ... well, in hopes of what?

That last paragraph brought up two points which I should probably elaborate on. First is why this blog is entitled "Speaking Natalie." If you already know where that quote comes from, then you're either Tina or extremely cool. And that's probably the last time I'll use a proper name here, though I imagine that you will figure out my codewords soon enough if not immediately. In any case, "Natalie" is what I call my dialect of English. It comes from Charlie's Angels (the recent one); the expression "to speak Natalie" means quite literally "to speak your language," where "your" in this case refers to "me."

Which brings me to the second point: why am I doing this? One of the things Crossing the Line brought up last night was that I don't really feel like anybody at Stanford really knows me. Now that's not to say that nobody at Stanford knows a lot about me; several people do. If you're one of the first people to read this, odds are you're one of them. What I don't feel - and this is partially the geek in me speaking, admittedly - is that anybody really knows me in the sense of understanding//processing//consuming what makes me tick. My Blue Rose might have, last year, but ... well, I guess I just don't feel like that's true anymore. But I'm not going to start this thing off with a big whining session about that, especially since I've gotten through several paragraphs without whining. That's not a bad start. If you haven't seen anybody write in Cybrid yet then you must not have played Starsiege (don't, it's not worth it): the basic idea is that // and \\ form Venn diagrams. So understanding//processing//consuming represents that verb located at the point where all three of those verbs overlap. Forward slashes are used for verbs and adverbs; backslashes are used for nouns and adjectives.

So now that that's out of the way, where shall I begin? Let's leave aside the deep issues and begin with something that you probably don't care about but I hope you will come to: Phoenix Earth (if you already do, again, you're either from the Valley or extremely cool). In a nutshell, Phoenix Earth is my epic semi-allegorical alternate and future history. Hopefully one of the things this blog will do is let you understand why Phoenix Earth (I never abbreviate that, just because PE looks so stupid to me) is so important to me: and in understanding that you will hopefully come to understand more about me. At the moment I am engaging in the Great Phoenix Earth Rules Unification, which will produce the rules for a roleplaying game which can be applied equally to the classical (fantasy alternate history) or future (sci-fi future history) periods of the epic. I'll explain roleplaying at a later date for those of you who don't know what I mean by the term.

At the moment what is occupying my attention is helmets. Classical Phoenix Earth, circa 2400 BC, is more or less stuck in the Bronze Age - or anyway humans are. Less urban cultures such as certain human tribes, ogres, orcs, and dwarves are very much in the iron age, since bronze is difficult to get without a fairly well-developed international trade network. Anyway, the point is that most armor in Phoenix Earth is made of bronze, with iron a distant second and steel an extreme rarity. Now obviously there's a clear hierarchy of protective properties there: steel is better than iron is better than bronze. But what I've come to realize in my reading on ancient warfare is that a large part of a helmet's protective qualities is in its suspension: you can have your head encased in ten pounds of steel, but if the helmet is resting on your head (as most ancient and medieval helmets did) it's still pretty easy to give you a concussion through the steel. So how do I represent that in the rules? Just increase the armor class of the helmets? Or let the damage multiplier for head-shots take care of it? Fortunately I have a built-in playtesting group for the game. If you picked up that the point of this paragraph was to let you know that Phoenix Earth subscribes to the post-Heinlein sci-fi convention of plausible implausibility (i.e., everyone knows dinosaur cloning won't work, but Crichton can sure make it sound like it would), good for you. If you further picked up that the deeper point of this paragraph was to let you know that I have a complex about not appearing ignorant, ten bonus points.

I think it's time for me to get back to my rules-writing. Next post I think I'll talk about flirting, and hopefully give some more history about the classical period.

No comments: