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The Thunder Tyrant

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About The Thunder Tyrant

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  • Birthday 11/19/1989

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  1. The Thunder Tyrant

    Books on the mind

    My completed reading list from 2018. Stand-outs from the year: -Tracking Bodhidharma -- A sort of guided tour through the potential life and travels of the First Patriarch of Chan/Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma. The writer visits several temples associated with Bodhidharma, his contemporaries, and his students, in an effort to construct a potential timeline and trail for his travels. -Nova -- Kind of a Moby Dick in space, one of the early-middle-career works from Samuel Delany. Sort of hits the point between his earlier, more traditional storytelling and his more literary, experimental stuff that came later. -Book of the New Sun & Urth of the New Sun -- BtNS is probably my favorite piece of speculative fiction, and Urth of the New Sun is a fairly good capstone for the story, albeit not as well-written as BotNS. -Hardwired -- Super 80s inflected cyberpunk with a lot more high soaring prose than I anticipated. Kind of a Neuromancer by way of Damnation Alley. -The Stars My Destination -- Probably one of the most underrated SF works from the Golden Age or immediately thereafter. Presages a lot of ideas found in later genres like cyberpunk, and has one of the most evocative ending sequences I've read in any piece of fiction. It's been influential on a huge swathe of writers, from New Wave SF writers like Delany (who read it five or more times) to Neil Gaiman (who wrote the foreword for the Kindle edition). -Dune & Dune Messiah -- Although I read the entire series, I think the first two stand out the most. They have the most stylistic issues because Herbert was finding his footing, but the storytelling is strongest in the first two works, as are the Zen influences. -Lord of Light -- I don't think anyone would claim that Zelazny had an especially deft grasp of Hinduism or Buddhism, but he manages to translate the historical struggle and continuity of Hinduism and early Buddhism into an excellent science-fantasy piece. Hyperion -- The entire series is excellent, but the first is far and away the best. It's essentially Canterbury Tales by way of space opera in the best way possible. Rendezvous with Rama -- Probably my favorite book from the trio of Golden Age giants (Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein). It's not especially long or complex, but there's so much in the book that colors subsequent science fiction. The Dying Earth -- While Vance's prose borders on the unwieldy throughout the quartet of collected Dying Earth stories, he's hard to beat as far as the interstitial space between science fiction and fantasy goes. Vance is also a direct influence on Gene Wolfe, whose BotNS is essentially Wolfe's take on the Dying Earth setting. All of the books on the list are reasonably good reads. There's two exceptions and one worth noting for reasons beside quality: Black God's Kiss -- In theory, I should have loved this. It's weird sword and sorcery with a gunslinger, and I really enjoyed Tidhar's Central Station. A recurring issue with his fiction, I've found, is that it doesn't go anywhere and it does it at a leisurely pace. In Central Station it was fine because that was centered around the interplay of family and migration and cities-as-communities. The same pace and lack of narrative momentum completely cripples BGK though. The novella preceding it, Gorel and the Pot Bellied God might be better because BGK is a collection of loosely-sequential short-fiction. Scar Night -- Kind of a Perdido Street Station before China wrote it, except not as good. Despite being written before PSS, it feels like a poor man's imitation. It's kind of weird, sure, and it's kind of steam-punk-magicka, but it's also very thin on characterization and the pacing felt chunky and uneven. I wanted to like it, and there were definitely parts that stood out -- nearer the end -- but it's a strange amalgam of steampunk, horror, and the occasional dose of YA angst that just fail to cohere into anything. Zen's Chinese Heritage -- I bring up this book not because it was bad, but because it's probably not going to be everyone's cup of tea. It's a list of koans, stories, and assorted bits and pieces of information about the Patriarchs of Chan/Zen Buddhism. I enjoyed it, but it took me quite a bit of time to work through it because a) it's organized by chronology and b) I don't have all of the necessary cultural contexts to grasp all of the stories. If you haven't read any other Zen/Chan work, then you really don't have a context for this work and it won't appeal to you. If you have read Zen stuff (especially Blue Cliff Record or The Gateless Gate and the Platform Sutra from Huineng) then you'll get more out of it. It's essentially a niche scholarly work, so if it's not in your field of interests then give it a pass.
  2. The Thunder Tyrant

    A brief thought on the future of T1

    I return momentarily, like the Ghost of Christmas Past. I'll touch on a few points in the initial post where relevant, but otherwise talk in broad sweeps because rambling is preferable to trying to pare down my ideas into some sort of essay. First and foremost, I think it's important to recognize, as brought up by several people, that T1 isn't strictly a competitive hobby. The phrase I've found myself using in recent years to describe it is "cooperative-competitive." There are competitive elements, you're matching against another person, but it's based on a foundation of cooperation; unlike purely competitive pursuits, T1 requires both parties to acknowledge what occurs in order for the game to be played. To build off of what @desolate said, T1 doesn't have an independent operator as means of conflict resolution, conflict is resolved in agreement with the competing parties. Contrast this to combat sports: you can't simply refuse to acknowledge a punch. If someone picks my ankle and puts me in a heel hook, I can't simply ignore that. Either I get out or I don't. In tabletop gaming, we roll dice: the dice roll in your favor or they don't, either way it resolves the conflict. So, with that dependent operator (for lack of a better term), part of T1 being successful as a hobby is an acknowledgment that the two players are working together on some fundamental level, or will endeavor to do so, at any rate. That requires a shift in attitude away from the purely competitive and toward something more well-rounded, and that means doing away with a lot of the more toxic and less sportsmanlike behaviors. It goes without saying that I'm biased, but I've had a particular approach to T1 for years that has worked well in this regard. I've won nearly all of my matches, but more important are the other two results of this attitude: first, I've only had one breakdown of communication/significant argument in a match over the course of 11-12 years; second, everyone I've fought seems to genuinely enjoy playing against me and a lot of my opponents are happy to rematch with me. The wins are nice, but I consider the latter two consequences to be far more important and indicative of my position as a roleplayer. When I T1, I: -Never obfuscate/withhold information or write prose that is intentionally vague, unclear, or otherwise used to cloak information that ought to be readily discernible. -Never accept an OOC mistake as an IC mistake -- that is, a phrasing error or a misinterpretation in my favor won't be used; I'll inform my opponent and allow them to edit. -Make myself available OOC to discuss and resolve issues, and make an effort to be flexible in the resolution thereof. -Avoid winning by OOC fiat -- judge calls, time-outs, etc -- unless absolutely necessary. One of the key things is that this is a thought game, in effect. It's similar to playing speed chess in order to test opening strategies, or sparring to try and find the rhythm for a lead hook: sure, you want to do it competitively, but it's more of an exercise in thought and concept than it is a hard and fast, winner-take-all competition. My ideal outcome in T1, as a competitor, is that I want three things to happen: I want my opponent and I to be suitably challenged by the match-up; if I win, I want it to be at the amenable concession of my opponent, and I want my opponent to come away from the match thinking "I want to play against/with them again." As a purely competitive hobby, T1 has a future, but only by virtue of its adherents' misunderstanding of the game. So long as people freeform roleplay, there's going to be character conflict and people are going to find enjoyment in the thought game of "What happens when my character and your character cross swords?" I haven't found T1 to be phased out at all -- rather, I've found more turnbased fighters in the past year or so than I have in a long stretch of time. There's newer generations of players cropping up, and they're predominantly doing it via mobile apps. Apparently, there's been several years worth of T1 happening on apps like Kik, and in no small numbers, either. Discord is a platform that's growing in popularity too, I'm in a couple of roleplay Discords and all of them have "arena" or "fighting" channels that are varying degrees of active. I don't think T1 needs to be more competitive, and I think it does have a future. If I had more time, the question I'd devote my efforts to would be: how do I align people with the idea of this hobby as cooperative-competitive in a way that generates more interest without bringing in the unwanted baggage of hyper-competitive behavior? There's more than a few ways to skin that cat, and I suspect it requires a bit of a Swiss army knife. The obvious one is behavior moderation by enforcing a code of conduct on player. The other is reducing ambiguity wherever possible: as desolate mentioned, and as I've touched on in previous discussions, there's a lot of murky water in T1 when it comes to things like terminology. One of the key points for reducing ambiguity is to be as undogmatic as possible: in whatever community or group you play in, lay out your boundaries and your terminology, and then recognize that someone else is likely going to have different phrases or different definitions. Try to work towards mutual intelligibility wherever possible. Setting boundaries is key because it lets people hone in on what you're trying to accomplish, which is why I have to quote this phrase-- --because I disagree with the latter portion emphatically and completely in regards to creativity. Not only do rules and limitations not reduce creativity, limits and rules are intrinsic to being creative. Every word or phrase used to describe a character in a profile, and every word or phrase not used, is creating a limitation on that character. Specifically, a limitation in the form of contours, in the form of the very shape of that character. Any story is limited by what it tells, with everything it doesn't tell laying outside its boundaries. Every game is defined by its rules. To quote Alan Watts (and numerous Zen teachers), being creative without rules and limitations is like "trying to bite your own teeth" or "hear your own ears." You can't think outside the box without first having a box to delineate between the inside and outside. Freedom and creativity are only limited in the most abstract sense by rules and limitations, and that sense of limitation isn't really meaningful because the trade off is that you give up "absolute" creative choice for nuance, depth, and an increasingly granular expression of creativity within the limits of those rules. Rules and limitations, as described above, are shaping tools, and a shape contributes a great deal more to the creative process than a tabula rasa. By defining and limiting, we make a shape and we can explore that shape to the upmost that its limits allow, meaning that we've exchanged breadth (no rules) for depth (rules). In my experience, the latter tends to be considerably more satisfying as a creative. The abstract "loss of freedom" honestly doesn't matter, I think, and in my experience with pitching ideas for tournaments, settings, games, etc to people, I've found that freedom interests people a great deal less than concrete, clearly expressed ideas. An example of this is the creation of, and contribution to, lore here on Valucre. That's a limitation in the form of laying out the boundaries of the setting (X number of continents, Y approximate themes, so on and so forth) and then filling in the gaps within those boundaries (Z number of cities on X number of continents, umpteen player organizations, etc). There's also the fact that roleplaying in established canons with lots of rules and limitations -- Star Wars, for example -- is enormously popular, and not seemingly lacking in creativity. They're limited in the sense that, sure, they can't play characters from other canon settings, but that limitation isn't meaningful because they're allowed to be more nuanced and detailed in what they play within their own chosen context. Absolute freedom of choice in regards to being creative is overrated at best, and illusory at worst. Rules and limitations don't reduce creativity, but competition does: the higher you go in quality of competition, the fewer and fewer people you find who can execute strategies effectively. That's not really a concern for T1 because it's not purely competitive. The narrowing that occurs in T1 is generally based on communal preferences: most communities become dogmatic as a matter of course, and a key component of being dogmatic is becoming exclusive in approach. This is a problem that I think every single community has, when it comes to T1. To this day I've never seen one that didn't develop some degree of dogmatism. We absolutely need rules and limitations because these are necessary components of communicating how to play the game and of reducing ambiguity. The more times we can say "X means. . .", the more times we can reasonably reduce the chances of something being grossly misinterpreted. The more clearly we can set boundaries, the more readily we can expect people to operate within them. On the other hand, whatever approach we take to setting boundaries, we have to be aware that these are by and large preferential. There has to be some permissiveness, some permeability. Being inflexible on this element of the hobby is only going to reduce the number of potential players (and player communities) that can be interacted with. There has to be a definite sense of self-awareness. There's core rules to T1 that every community agrees on, I think, and I've tried to write those up a few months ago, but beyond that? I think it's purely community preference, and all that can be done there is working to maintain mutual intelligibility between different groups. To that end, the future of T1 is probably going to be largely what it's been for the past 15+ years. That being said, I think there is a possibility for T1 to be played in a way that promotes growth, and I think that requires rules, limits, and an acknowledgment that our competitive thought-game is based on cooperation. I doubt it'll be the whole future for T1, but I'd like to think that, at some point, it'll be part of the hobby's future.
  3. The Thunder Tyrant

    Hell's Gate [civil war]

    Whoops. Gotcha.
  4. The Thunder Tyrant

    I, Henrietta

    Henrietta's words might well have passed in one ear and out the other, for all of Tancred's technical knowledge. Context worked wonders for the ronin however, and he figured what she wanted him to shoot based on the description. The only question left was making the shot from a moving vehicle at another moving vehicle. Thankfully, the airship couldn't very well taxi off on any sharp turns, which meant that the van wouldn't be veering wildly any time soon, either. It wasn't exactly a small target, either. Tancred, for his part, didn't put much thought into the how and why of his current situation. Welandi, especially those in the warrior clans, generally stuck to the here-and-now issues; the more abstract questions could wait later. Once you drew the sword, you struck -- if you thought about why you drew it, or how you intended to use it, you were already too late. Tancred could mull the situation over later, when there weren't more immediate concerns. He pocketed his communication device and rolled down the van's window. He half-climbed out of the vehicle, leaning most of his upper body out and using the window's frame to steady himself while he drew his pistol up with both hands. The thunder-crack of Tancred's pistol was muted beneath the roar of the airship, a sharper clap amidst the dull roar of the turbines. A shower of sparks burst to life across the port where the bullet tore through the metal. A second shot soon followed, just to ensure that the job was done. Tancred ducked back into the van and popped open his pistol, jettisoning the spent rounds before slotting in two fresh ones. He expected to use several more before everything was said and done. Unfortunately, his moment of calm before the storm was rudely interrupted by the screeching of over-worked brakes as Sabiya slewed the vehicle to a halt. The ronin rebounded off of the front seat with a muted grunt as the breath was driven from his lungs. He bounced back against his seat, held in check by his seat belt. He shook himself out of the momentary daze and ran a hand across his face. Blood slicked his lips and chin and smeared across his cheek where he wiped his face. His nose wasn't broken, but it stung painfully. The Welander considered himself lucky that his pistol hadn't discharged during the abrupt stop -- a slip of his finger could have put a fist-sized hole in any one of his companions. Tancred saw the stilled plane ahead of them and threw open the van's door. He leaped out, drawing his shield and crouching down so that it, alongside the door, helped shield his body from any incoming fire. Crouched down behind the cover of his shield, Tancred rounded the door and began to advance, firearm at the ready. His chest ached dully from being smashed against the van's interior, but adrenaline buried the pain far below his other sensations -- the thud of his heart and the sights and sounds that laid before him.
  5. The Thunder Tyrant

    I, Henrietta

    A small twitch of Tancred's features -- a flaring of nostrils, a quirk of his brow -- was the only sign of what he thought about Henrietta's situational analysis. Tancred was less of a tech-user and more of a tech-receiver; ever since he came to Hell's Gate a month prior, he had been the recipient of several bits and baubles of magitech. None of which he truly understood the inner workings of. The pistol he carried was something he understood, but that was largely mechanical and a far cry from the intricacies of thaumaturgy, computational or otherwise. Certainly anything Henrietta did was far beyond his grasp, so far beyond it that he couldn't rightly grasp its value or weight. A more vocal man might have made such points known, but Tancred saw no point. The situation was a little far gone to have considerations like that, at any rate. If Henrietta didn't trust any one in the van, then she ought to have left them in the garage. Meanwhile, Tancred continued tapping away at his comms, gaze flicking up occasionally to check their progress. Young, 10-16? Related to Henrietta. 6+ attackers. Armed, weapons + magic. Occurred within last hour. Reinforcements likely needed. Track this device, Henrietta tracking/following assailants. Over. Tancred bounced in his seat when they plowed through the chainlink fence and looked up to find them careening across an airfield towards a plane. Found assailants. Track device. Kidnappers trying to get airborne. Tancred pocketed the comms device and prepared himself for whatever Henrietta had planned.
  6. The Thunder Tyrant

    I, Henrietta

    Tancred left the others to deal with whatever occupied the dead man's mortal coil. He turned 'round when he heard Henrietta approach. He hadn't expected her to come -- or, rather, he hadn't expected her to come alone. He supposed the security for the facility were busy rooting out any potential leads left behind, but he still expect at least a small coterie to accompany the woman. He listened to her explanation of what went wrong (most of it went over his head for lack of expertise) and to her plan. When she got into the van, the ronin followed wordlessly and took a seat that gave him access to a window, shouldering his shield over his back once more. If worst came to worst, he wanted to be able to draw a bead on someone with the hand-cannon that sat in his lap. He had never tested the upper limit of the pistol's destructiveness, but he expected that the weapon could put a dinner-plate-sized hole through the side of a motor vehicle without much issue. Once seated in the van, he drew out the communications device Miles gave him when he first came to Hell's Gate. He flicked his thumb across the crystal disc and began tapping out a message to the Contractor Liaison for Hell's Gate militia. Kidnapping at Monroe Foundation. Kidnappers in black van, headed to airship dock, possibly private. Took little girl. Pass message on to Guard, possibly preempt escape? The screen flashed after Tancred sent the message. He kept his pistol in his left hand and the magitech device in his right, waiting for a response from Miles.
  7. The Thunder Tyrant

    Hell's Gate [civil war]

    I'll have a post up some time today. Sorry for the wait.
  8. The Thunder Tyrant

    Hell's Gate [civil war]

    Sorry about the late post -- skip me this round; work is getting dumb with low staffing at the moment.
  9. The Thunder Tyrant

    I, Henrietta

    Tancred didn't flinch at the sickening crunch of metal impacting bone, or at the sight of Andes being struck with enough force to cast him aside like a rag-doll. His run slowed until he came up a few meters from where Andes laid. The man's breaths came in short, quick gasps -- broken ribs, probably a punctured lung. It might have taken some amount of medical expertise to determine exactly what was killing Andes, but it only took a pair of eyes and ears to know the man was dying and dying in a bad, ugly way. Admittedly, Tancred's second shot wouldn't have done the man any favors, but a couple of tourniquets would have kept him alive. A small application of healing magic would have even left him in a state fit to be interrogated. As it was, the kidnapper wouldn't be answering questions any time soon. "Assuming he lives for more than a few minutes," Tancred murmured. He drew back when he felt the faint touch of magic, as though he had brushed the sympathetic strand of arcana that Noel was anchoring inside of Andes. Even aside from the verbal and visual elements of Noel's summoning, Tancred sensed the expenditure of mana, albeit dimly. He stepped away from the bloodied man when the spirit took over -- another event he felt at a remove. A hint of a breeze unfelt by flesh as something swept aside Andes's consciousness, blotting it out of existence. Not that Tancred understood exactly what Noel had done; he was only aware that something had happened, and that the results of that action were being played out in front of him. Unfortunately for Andes, or whatever it was that now inhabited Andes's corporeal form, Tancred had no answers, nothing to offer that might extend its life. That laid beyond his abilities. Assuming that Noel had some means to question whatever housed itself in Andes's mortal coil, Tancred turned his attention to the area surrounding them. He broken open his pistol and thumbed in another round before snapping it shut. He surveyed the area around them for any sign of something amiss while listening to whatever conversation Noel might have had with "Andes."
  10. The Thunder Tyrant

    Hell's Gate [civil war]

    Sorry that took so long. Car broke, then glasses broke.
  11. The Thunder Tyrant

    I, Henrietta

    Tancred didn't have time to be take a second shot. He intended to level his pistol at the fleeing foe, aiming to shear off a calf and foot in the same way that he had mangled the man's arm. The errant wand clattered against the floor and a torrent of thorny vines exploded forth from the tip of the arcane focus. Tancred darted aside and out of reach of the sprawling brambles, his booted feet tattooing out a sharp rhythm against the floor. He turned as he escaped their range and tried to bring his weapon to bear on Andes, only to find a flash of silver materialized in the form of roaring pistons and screeching wheels as Sabiya manifested some sort of motorcycle beneath her in pursuit of the kidnapper. Unable to get another clear shot, Tancred followed after the woman, hoping that she didn't intend to kill their quarry. Barring a necromancer or spirit medium, they weren't likely to get any information from a dead man.
  12. The Thunder Tyrant

    I, Henrietta

    Sabiya wouldn't have time to find out whether or not her thespian performance worked its wonders on the lone man serving as the kidnappers' rear guard. Close on her heels came Tancred, and unlike the wand-wielder, he was ready. He saw one of the escaping men point and shout from the mouth of the hall and brought his weapon to bear. The man's wand rose, and so too did Tancred's howdah pistol. Originally a double-barreled rifle, a Welandi weaponsmith had tooled the weapon into something more portable, carving off much of barrels and replacing the stock with something approximating a pistol grip. It didn't suit Tancred's quiet, taciturn nature, but it did suit his occasional need to punch a hole through any foe unlucky enough to step in his way. The wandbearer wasn't so unlucky as that. He was unlucky enough, however, to lose a hand if Tancred's aim proved true. Before the man spoke, Tancred's index finger brushed the trigger of his pistol, intending to catch the other man before he really brought his weapon to bear. Tancred's aim was level, across open ground, and he was a fair shot with the pistol. He fared poorly with nearly any other firearm, magical or otherwise, but he'd had enough practice with the howdah pistol to be accurate, even at a distance. The weapon's discharge cracked like a thunderclap -- a single, resounding boom as he fired one barrel. The round, if it struck true, carried enough force to obliterate the man's wand and the hand that bore it. If his aim was off, then the round might only smash the wand itself, or miss the man's hand entirely -- fortunately, Tancred was proficient enough to ensure that he wouldn't kill the man. After all, he only wanted to maim him. Tancred never enjoyed cruelty or causing undue pain, but he made a snap decision, two-fold: one, to suppress an immediate threat and two, that the man would be easier to investigate after doing him some kind of harm. Loathe as Tancred was to resort to such tools, he had to admit: nothing made someone talk like the possibility of imminent death or dismemberment.
  13. The Thunder Tyrant

    Hell's Gate [civil war]

    Who're we waiting on, now? I posted just before @desolate so I assume it's someone else's turn.
  14. The Thunder Tyrant

    I, Henrietta

    Tancred felt the whump of explosive force in his bones, turning his steady jog into a lurching stumble away from the flash of sudden, bright illumination. He brought up his shield instinctively, eyes searing and ears ringing. No attack came though, no more darts thumping home in the wood of the parma. Tancred squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. The room was dark enough that he only knew his vision returned because the spots and splotches of color against the inside of his eyelids finally faded and his eyes didn't burn whenever he opened them. He didn't know what caused the concussive burst -- by the time he could see once more, the runes were gone, having expended their magical energies after being tripped. The woman ahead of him had taken most of the traps' runic fury, however. Chances were that no matter how hurt she was, Tancred could do little for Sabiya. He possessed a basic familiarity with battlefield medicine, he knew how to suture a wound or to stymie the blood flow from a wound, and he knew what a killing blow looked like. He wasn't much use beyond that, though, and he certainly lacked any expertise when it came to dealing with thaumaturgically-induced injuries. Even the simplest sorceries often complicated things. He moved to take point to keep watch while the others helped Sabiya -- when/if they did, and when/if she needed help at all. Once the group was ready to go again, Tancred continued ahead with the others. He didn't hold to the lead once they started moving: his lack of supernatural senses made him a poor fit and he was wise enough to acknowledge it. He was, however, content to move in behind the point-lead. [Short and shitty. Just wanted to snap something off before I got on the road.]
  15. The Thunder Tyrant

    Hell's Gate [civil war]

    I'll see if I can get something knocked out tonight at work and post it up tomorrow morning.
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