November 12th, 2009

It Stinks


"'We don't need no education? We don't need no thought control?' Obviously you can't take that at face value," Brigid said. "It's satire, it's got to be. It's like A Modest Proposal. They're not really advocating an anti-education point of view. They're making fun of it."

"I'm afraid I must disagree," said Alex. "First of all, there's no evidence within the song that it's anything but just exactly what it says. The idea that such an idea is so over-the-top as to be untenable is more a matter of personal bias than anything actually in the text. Furthermore, you have to look at the song within the context of the larger work. 'The Wall' is a rock-opera, a large single work, of which the song is just a smaller part. It's about isolation, it's about a series of abusive relationships that lead to a socially- and emotionally-broken protagonist. The teachers in 'The Wall' are mean, small-minded, vicious — 'just another brick in the wall' that separates the character Pink from the rest of the world. And as a largely-autobiographical work by Roger Waters, there's no reason not to think that it is, in fact, based on his own teachers. Far from making fun of an anti-education point of view, it sounds to me like an anthem devoted to the idea of eliminating schools all together."

"That's ridiculous," said Brigid. "And furthermore, you're a stupid-head."

"Oh I am, am I?" said Alex. "Well let's turn to the expert, here. You're the literary guy, Greg, what do you think? Straightforward rant, or sly satire?"

"Well," said Greg, "I think you're both overlooking a much more important question here: specifically, how can you have your pudding if you don't eat your meat?"

Brigid and Alex both nodded, impressed. "That is a stumper," said Brigid.

-The Gneech

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Obi-Wan Not Good


Luke Skywalker, Kyle Katarn, and three PC Padawans walk into a bar...


So when trouble appears, as it must or there's no adventure, do I nerf the NPC stats or plot-device them out of the way so the PCs can do all the fighting? Tough call.

I've been adamant with this Star Wars campaign that I wanted the story to be right first, and that game mechanics would come after, and so far that's been relatively easy to maintain. But this time, it's a little tricky even from a story point of view. Luke and Kyle are veteran Jedi warriors, they should naturally be tougher than the heroes at this stage, otherwise why are the heroes bothering to be their students, right? At the same time, you can only have "rubble falls, separating you from the NPCs" or similar stuff happen so many times before it starts to become a real obvious plot device. This was actually a big problem whenever a major film character would show up in the Jedi Knight computer games: they'd appear, have a cut scene and maybe fight alongside you for an encounter or two, then disappear again until the end of the level "prepping the ship for takeoff" or "trying to find another entrance" or whatever.

Interestingly enough, DMG 2 for 4E has a whole chapter on mechanics of "nerfing" high-level characters so they can run around with lower-level characters for an adventure or two ... I might adapt those. What makes Luke and Kyle masters isn't just their high BAB and a bucket of hitpoints, but their variety of powers. It's a thought, anyhow.

-The Gneech