Thursday 29 October 2015


Just read 'Willpower' by Roy F.Baumeister and John Tierney, a pop-science self-help book collecting the recent research on willpower and where it comes from.

Long story short, its your blood sugar. Have something to eat.

I can't tell if I hate this book at not. I think I don't hate it but I want to slap it in the face.

Reasons to slap this book;

- Handy celebrity commentary, Oprah! Amanda Palmer! Drew Carey! Eric Clapton! David Blaine!

- Studies say studies say studies say. Studies speak like fucking delphic oracles apparently. These sentences are all from different chapters;

"..researchers in Finland went to a prison to measure the glucose tolerance of prisoners about the be released"
"..the group with the proximal goals outperformed everybody else.."
"Suppose, as a story telling exercise, you finish that story about Joe any way you like."
"Suppose you are a married man who is the Governer of a large state in the American northeast."
"In one experiment, people were invited to choose which, if any, of several items they'd like to buy."
"In an experiment one halloween, some of the trick-or-treaters who visited the home of a psychologist were aske their names, directed to a side room, and told to take one - and only one - piece of candy."
".. as demonstrated in experiments by Ayelet Fishbach of the universty of Chicago."
"To score well you had to ignore the jokes and the laughter, focusing instead on the boring squares"
"In another part of the experiment, however, the men were instructed to answer the questions while they were masturbating and in a state of high arousal."
"The researchers, led by Carlo DiClemente of the University of Maryland, measured a large assortment of psychological variables and then tracked the men intensively for several months to test a variety of hypotheses, many of which didn't work out."
"Before his famous marshmallow experiments with children..."

- Authority

Most or many of the things you can do to test for willpower are also tests for submission to authority.

If you test a child or an undergraduate for willpower you are, to some extent, also testing their willingness to do what they are told by you, an authority figure.

There is almost no way to test someones willpower in a scientific setting without also testing their relationship to authority because even the kinds of people who turn up will be decided by that and once they arrive there has to be a person there to set rules, hand out forms and tell them whats going on.

Even when you use tricky bullshit like 'oh you thought you were being tested for your taste in cheese but in fact it was WILLPOWER, then the subject is still inside a structure set by someone else.

How do you measure anti-authoritarian or just non-authoritarian willpower?

Conversely, how much impulsivity is tied to rejection of power or just wanting something other than what is offered?

We only find out about the good things that come with high willpower. Are any bad things linked to high willpower? If high willpower is closely linked to obedience to authority and a disinterest in questioning social norms, might we find high levels of willpower in societies with hierarchical and conservative institutions?

What if impulsivity correlates strongly with rejection of power structures or hyper-individuality, is it a cause, a consequence or both?

- Creativity and Feeling

Decision fatigue is strongly correlated to both impulsiveness and risk-avoidance. People who are decision tired seem to both make rash immediate-pleasure choices yet also put off hard choices till later, or simply refuse to decide, going with the flow

But decision fatigue also makes you feel more. Both good and bad emotions are more deeply felt,

How does this relate to art? To make art you need to feel. Many of the things I have made have been driven by deep feeling and I was often lead towards them by feeling rather than cold analysis.

But to make art you also need to get stuff done, and for that you need self control, and self control is somehow opposed to deep feeling and perhaps to intuition. Its predictable and seems to mimic or follow the pattern of the world.

I have had a bunch of strange and interesting ideas when I am tired. Sometimes I have had good ideas in the emotional lee after a really unpleasant day at work. Which shouldn't be the case. Being stressed doesn't make me creative, it kills me inside.

But, sometimes if I am stressed, or at least driven without being emotionally dis-stressed, then have a period of calm and not-doing-much, an original idea can kind of flow out of me almost fully formed, as if it was being constructed all along inside my head without me knowing and then just kind of gave birth to itself.

So maybe art requires periods of 'not-art' to work. Or a cycle or circle of self-control to get stuff done and attain known goals, then decision fatigue to feel deeply and be driven by unexpected and unpredictable intuition.

Are people with strong willpower somehow 'less creative'? Did anyone look into anything like this? Are people with high willpower bad at anything? Did anyone think to ask?

- Empathy

People with good willpower are more altruistic, or at least they _do_ things for other people more. Or maybe people who are more altruistic have more willpower?

The most interesting part of the book is about the explorer Henry Stanley and one of the darkest and strangest parts of that is when Stanley leaves behind a rear camp of high status europeans in the jungle who, after he leaves, go total fucking Colonel Kurtz.

But Stanley never seems to;

"I have learnt by actual stress of imminent danger, in the first place, that self-control is more indispensable than gunpowder, and, in the second place, that persistent self-control under the provocation of African travel is impossible without real, heartfelt sympathy for the natives with whom one has to deal.


The writers say that willpower is useful for empathy because it helps you suppress darker urges, they see it as a tool but they don't say much more. Does empathy help you conserve willpower? Does empathy somehow create or sustain willpower or change your moral relation to the people around you?

- Intellectual Mediocrity

I made a brief list of things the guys who wrote this book don't seem to have any meaningful understanding of;

Genuinely believing in anything outside yourself as anything other than a tool.

'-' "Have willpower."

'o'  "To what end?"

'-' "To get a good car and a career and a house and a wife and a nice circle of friends."

'o'  "Ok but why want those."

'-'  "Those are the definitions of happiness and success."

'o'  "But what if they are pointless?"

'-'  "If you think that then you won't get them and you won't be successful!"

Like maybe all self-help books its boostery and kind of closed in around its own furious rationality and staring at the world through a toilet tube. To some useful effect, but still. There's nothing that can't be pulled into the book, held up for an example or a handy epigraph for a paragraph or two, then just as quickly cast aside. The entire history of religion, for instance, was apparently a primitive way of helping to focus and control willpower, and....

and probably there was other stuff to do with religion as well but we don't really go into that, we've got online self-quantifying programmes now that will tell you how many eggs you have had.

I'm talking about this book like I hate it. I don;t hate it, I just want to slap it.

Its one up from a Malcolm Gladwell book at least.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

False Readings - Pre Release Spiel

The tides of inspiration are a mystery to me. When I look back through the records of this blog things seem to move in waves. At times I'm generating new ideas with astonishing fluency and sometimes winters raisure doth erase all.

There is no stability.

It seems currently the False Machine has entered Winter Mode, null-fields have been activated, windows polarised, etched-titanium storm shields are in place, tektite periscope down and gauss machines retracted and stowed in their upright position.

Outside the frozen leaves of nitrogen snow scatter against our eye-embossed iron hull and Moon Apes scratch in futility against the moon-bronze doors.

Presumably the situation will change, it always has before.

The general quality of OSR-DHD* blogs at the moment seems pretty high so you are in safe hands while I am dormant at least.


That was my apology for not blogging but here is my message about a thing that has been made.

I got tired of waiting for numerous other already-written but slow-moving projects to be completed and spoke to Paolo about putting together a book.

(Ages ago Paolo had offered to publish my old 'A False Machine' book of collected blog posts but I ended up gazumping him on that to make money for birthday presents. Since then I have taken down 'A False Machine' as I wasn't very happy with it. Perhaps it will reappear in some form in the future.)

This book is not one of collected blog posts, although some things in here have appeared on the blog before, instead it is a book of fiction and fiction only.

More importantly for the prospective consumer, it is a book in which only HALF of the contents is finished and coherent, the other half is not.

A better title might be "Stories AND FRAGMENTS by Patrick Stuart."

"WHY" I hear you ask, "why would you dump on us Patrick, a book much of which is not complete?"

And the answer is; "Well in case you were into that."

A fuller answer might be; "As long as I tell you what's in it and you know before you buy, I can't see any negative to the consumer. As well as that, most of these things have something interesting about them."

Here is a list of stuff in the book:

The Possessing Verse - Complete story. Experimental second-person tale of a woman with a poetic brainworm in her head, told as a continual conversation between them with one half of that in verse. I'm still pretty sure that no-one has ever done this before.

The Isogyre - Sword and Sorcery story designed to be an exact number of words and therefore rather compact.

Knights of the Snail - Sir Bird Spiralling, Sir Duno Chrime. The Knights of the Sail is intended to be my answer to Mallory (Thomas, not Ortberg), 20 Snail Knight stories linked into a gigantic Saga, illustrated by Matthew Adams. It's true that I have only done 2 so far, as soon as BFR is done (probably in the new year) I will try to do the next three. After that, only 15 till completion! These stories do work on their own however and I consider them artistically complete even when separated from the whole.

A Map to Hell! - Someone asked for the story of how Ghar Zaghoun got the strand to his bow, well here is one fourth of it! Planned to be the first part in a four story sequence, this one nearly broke me. If people really want the rest and show an interest then I will probably try writing the second part but I will definitely be charging you for these as they are a nightmare to write.

I'ts 'Fiddlin' Joe Cooper vs Ghar Zaghoun in the towers of Jukai city with the story being a swapping first-person pov between the both of them.

Thieves in the Empire of Glass -  This was going to be the first part of a SAGA. Well it was too long. Prose takes me ages to write and even this much was a harassment. Still there is some decent writing and imagining and some good prose in here. As well as that you get to find out a bit more about the world and characters of The Possessing Verse and The Isogyre.

Biter - Underworld saga from the point of view of the Monster. Again, some decent writing. Again, unfinished.

I Kill A Man On Every Page - Strange semi-poetic super heroic action series, only a small fragment present but some ok writing.

A Traitor in Time - This is something you might be interested in. It was an experimental play in verse about time travel based on an old game idea by (I think it was) Brian Hollenbeck. This was one of the first game books I ever picked up in my adult life and I became obsessed with writing a play in iambic pentameter based on its premise. It peters out in the first act and you can kind of see the structure go wrong as I write but bits of this are pretty good and original.

On The Borders of Night - An attempt to do a literary multiple choice adventure book in iambic pentameter (or more general verse forms), some decent writing here.

The Death of the King of Ants - This is one of the earliest things I wrote where I didn't hate the writing. Its a classic old-school fantasy series based in... The Warhammer World!!!

A world which, appropriately enough, no-longer exists. Like everything else at the arse end of the book its unfinished and tails off but some of the writing, the description of the monsters in the surf and the attack of the Fire Fish, is pretty Ok I think.


So there you go. If that seems like something that would be interesting for you to own then buy the book.

If you care about finish, appearance and minor details like spelling and punctuation, (if you care about grammar than its already way too late, no editor has been able to impose sane grammar on me) then good news, since it was put together by Paolo, unlike 'A False Machine' it doesn't look like a four fingered child made it in a refugee camp under threat of drone strike.

In fact is looks Quite Nice. Like a real grown-up book you don't have to feel ashamed being seen reading.

The front and rear covers, as by our ancient tradition, are by the wonderful and illimitable Scrap Princess.

*Old School Rennaisance - Doucebag Hipster Division

Thursday 22 October 2015

The Great God Maan

The Great God Maan is the god of there being a god, and also the god of symmetrical bipeds with two arms and one head.

The Church of Maan claims that Maan is the Creator of Man, but also of Mer-men, Bird-men, Jaguar-men, Insect-men, basically everything humanoid. All these creatures were just hanging out being normal animals until Maan made them like him by gifting them the biped shape (or at least as close as they could get to it, sorry Mer-men), the forward-facing face, the big domes skull and the opposable thumbs.

Anything close to this is fine

The fact that so many intelligent species have exactly the same general layout, despite the fact that they have entirely different physical backgrounds and environments, is one of the most persuasive arguments for the existence and power of Maan.

The Church says that Mankind are simply Ape-men, created in the image of Maan in the same way as any other animal-like humanoid species.

The reason Maan created Men is that they might better know that religion, in general, is true.

The details of any particular faith might be wrong but there is definitely something going on up there. Maan is a powerful but very general-purpose deity, essentially he is an anti-materialist god, an almost-pure mystical god. Technically the worship of Maan can be incorporated with any other religion and , in fact, Maan does play a part in the majority of Pantheons worldwide. In multi-god pantheons he is represented as a minor godling, in single-deity religions he is interpreted as an angel or super-powered saint, even the extremely fierce and jealous monotheistic religions often still include a story of an ancient philosopher named 'Maan' who tried to warn mankind away from its godless ways in the bad old days before the correct prophet/deity combination turned up and whose message has been regrettably misinterpreted by more recent adherents.

Because of this, Priests of Maan are, if not welcomed, then at least tolerated almost everywhere (except athiest enclaves).

Things believed by the church of Maan;

- You have a soul.

- There is an afterlife.

- And possibly also reincarnation.

- There is good and evil, or possibly Chaos and Law or maybe Matter and Spirit, it doesn't really matter exactly what sides there are but there are *sides* and you can be on the right side or the wrong side. it matters what side you are on.

- There is/are intelligent, self-aware beings/a being, massively more potent than you and perhaps fundamentally incomprehensible and this being/beings played a part in your creation and actively cares what you do and what side you are on.

- There are rituals and things which might seem a bit crazy or contextually nuts, but this being/beings really does pay attention to them and its opinion of you can be affected by how you do them.

- Bad people are gonna get fucked somehow so don't be bad. (This might take place outside space and time but its still going to happen.)

- There is a fundamental moral context to the existence of the material world. Everything is, or might be, important somehow _this is not all there is_.

- Being a humanoid shape matters (somehow) and is good.

Because Maan is a rather generalist god, his/her church is both powerful and very weak.

It's powerful because its very widely spread, it goes across race, species and culture barriers. it exists in every environment that humanoids exist in. It has a lot of very general worshippers. He/she is the one god that pretty much anyone can say they believe in without sounding like a tit. It's the religion diffident people admit to on dates, its what people write on their application form;

"Religion - Maan."

And no-one can complain if they read it.

Its the Church you can always get a funeral at, even if you died in some supremely fucked-up way, the church you can always get married at, even if you are into you ninth trans-gender polyamorous marriage (so long as they are humanoid).

The sign of Maan is just a little biped with two arms, two legs (indulgences allowed for mer-men) and a round head. Anyone can hold one, anyone can make one.

Conversely, Maans church is weak because you just kind of assume that any humanoid being believes in Maan. I mean it just makes obvious sense. Humans, elves, dwarves, Thri-Kreen, fucking shark men? You'd kind of have to be crazy not to believe in Maan. I mean you think there's just nothing? YOu think all these creatures ended up the same shape by chance? You don't even belive in Maan? Are you fucking nuts?

Maybe you are fucking nuts. Maybe you are an atheist. Or possibly some kind of intelligent slime. In which case you are about a real fucking bad encounter with the church of Maan, because while their doctrine is expansive and their interpretation is loose, the basics are not.

As far as they are concerned Maan is very fucking real (although once you agree to believe in him/her/it you can assume they are pretty much anything you like) and if thou deniest Maan thou denyest the truth. Plus if you are a far-right Mannian hardass, how do you show it?

If you are a non-humanoid intelligence then you are kind of denying the truth just by existing, I mean, that shit ain't right.

For these creatures the church of Maan is a deadly scourge. Sine belief is assumed by most intelligent things the only way the organisation can show its identity is where it meets individuals outside it. Those who refuse to accept even the very-general gospel of Maan, and those who are just some kind of sucked-up shape, are hunted, persecuted and burnt alive.

Monday 19 October 2015

the darkness bear its fruit

"Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly-acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air - to a higher life than we fell asleep from ; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light."


"It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful ; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."

- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday 18 October 2015

embarbascar con caballos

"Fishing eels with nets is very difficult because of the extreme agility with which they dive into the mud, like snakes, We did not want to use barbasco, made with roots of Piscidia erythrinia, Jacquinia armillaris and other species of phylanthus which, chucked into the pond, numbs fish. This would have weakened the eel. The Indians decided to fish with their horses, embarbascar con caballos. It was hard to imagine this way of fishing; but soon we saw our guides returning from the savannah with a troop of wild horses and mules. There were about thirty of them, and the forced them into the water.

The extraordinary noise made by the stamping of the horses made the fish jump out of the mud and attack. these livid, yellow eels, like great water snakes, swam on the water's surface and squeeze under the bellies of the horses and mules. A fight between such different animals is a picturesque scene. With harpoons and long pointed reeds the Indians tightly circled the pond; some climbed trees whose branches hung over the water's surface. Screaming and prodding with their reeds they stopped the horses leaving the pond. The eels, dazed by the noise, defended themselves with their electrical charges. For a while it seemed they might win. Several horses collapsed from the shocks received on their most vital organs, and drowned under the water. Others, panting, their manes erect, their eyes anguished, stood up and tried to escape the storm surprising them in the water. They were pushed back by the Indians, but a few managed to escape to the bank, stumbling at each step, falling on to the sand exhausted and numbed from the electric shocks.

In less that two minutes two horses had drowned. The eel is about 5 feet long and presses all its length along the belly of the horse, giving it electric shocks. They attack the heart, intestines and the _plexus coeliacus_ of the abdominal nerves. It is obvious that the shock felt my the horse is worse than that felt by a man touched on one small part. But the horses were probably not killed, just stunned. They drowned because they could not escape from among the other horses and eels.

We were sure that they fishing would end with the death of all the animals used. But gradually the violence of the unequal combat died down, and the tired eels dispersed. They need a long rest and plenty of food to recuperate  the lost galvanic energy. The mules and horses seemed less frightened; their manes did not stand on end, and their eyes seemed less terrified. The ells timidly approached the shore of the marshy pond where we fished them with harpoons tied to long strings. While the string is dry the indians do not feel any shocks. In a few minutes we had five huge eels, only slightly wounded. Later, more were caught."

- Alexander von Humbolt

Also, remember this fucking thing? I finished it around this date two years ago.

Well I just fucking finished it again, we will see if this one actually launches or just dies on the pad.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Consensus Robs the Strange

There is a reason that strange people or every political stripe, even quite far left, tend towards a strong sense of individuality and somewhat combative politics.

If your thoughts and opinions, more than that, if the nature of yout mind and soul is close to the mean. If when you walk into a room you are more than likely to meet someone like you, then to exist in a consensus-based political system is to be empowered.

Since your thoughts and emotions are already very close to the average of your group, then as a political or social consensus is formed around you, you lose very little of your selfhood, you are not forced to compress, explain, argue for, disavow, hide or surrender many of your views or moral intuitions. Instead you are invisibly empowered by a vast and growing chorus of voices that all seem to echo your own self. Your certainty and confidence grows and your inner self grows more and more like that of the group.

If, however, your selfhood exists outside the mean, if you are unlike other people, then a consensual system is hell. It is like being confronted with a huge and growing alien mass. The connections between you and the rest of society, probably already tenuous, run through intermediate people. Those who are a little like you and a little like the general mass. They exist in a kind of penumbra around a cultures central nodes of being, like lightning conductors, they link the very odd people living at extremes to the cultural core.

As consensus grows, those people start to disappear. A small number will be ejected and spray out into the social oort cloud, but most will be sucked in, make themselves more and more like the general mass and find (somewhat uncomfortable) places in the societal core. As they disappear those of us left spinning in the outer cloud loose our connection to the whole, becoming more alone.

So a consensual system designed to bring people together can, on some people, have exactly the opposite effect, isolating and freezing them in social space. A system made, with the best of intentions, to be warm, welcoming and reassuring, is to those outside it, cold, self-annihilating and frightening.

A highly individualist and combative system, though apparently more aggressive, and possibly containing more emotional or cultural strife in total, can, by comparison, be more pleasant and freeing.

The difficulties and pressures of navigating social difference are already 'built-in' to the outsider perspective since they would have to to that anyway. Since everyone is expected to argue with and explain themselves to everyone else all the time, and crucially, since difference is *assumed*, then the pre-existing difference of the outsider shows up less strongly and offends less when it is encountered.

This is a problem if you judge the moral worth of a society by the level of conflict within it. The horror of physical violence is one of the few things that everybody in a diverse system can agree on as a core value. Because it's something we all agree on, it becomes a moral centerpiece for arguments over right and wrong and a key currency in the trade offs we make between freedom and control. In almost all circumstances 'might-lead-to-violence' = 'bad'.

This becomes very complex when the moral prohibition over violent conflict seeps over into a prohibition over conflict in general. Often for pretty good reasons.

It leads to a strange paradox in which often quite-vulnerable people who have meaningful reason to fear cruelty, violence and alienation, and who generally really do not want to see anyone get hurt at all, can reasonably find themselves defending a rougher, less compassionate, more individualist social matrix, because though it is harsh, its rule ends at the borders of their flesh and will probably allow them to be the strange being they are inside without interference.

Friday 9 October 2015

The Murmuring Wyrm

There is a monster in the cracks and it has many names. The Murmuring Wyrm, the Snake of Ash and, for a few old souls who half recall the words of ancient tales, the æskon drake.

You can hear it sometimes, hissing in the karst crannies, deep down somewhere under the fallen wood that hangs jammed in the ravine. It's faint.

Few have ever seen it and few of those have ever been believed. It comes at sunset, rising out of the dry canyons, a grey-black serpent poised heraldic in the falling light, looming almost to the level of the tallest trees, wrathful, enraged, casting back and forth with its blind eyes, seeking something in oncoming gloom.

It is still when the serpent comes. It is always still inside the zone, strong winds do not survive there long but crawl and die between the boles of the cloudgrave trees and the crackling mazework of branches and debris around their roots. But even in this stillness and this heat, there is a deeper quiet. An almost unnatural pause in the air when even the horrible hook birds seem to be abashed, a quiet so deep you can hear a drop of sweat plink from your chin onto the parched earth, so quiet it seems fearful almost to breathe.

Zone workers know not to move at these times. To remain still, especially if they are within sight of one of the deep karst canyons that network the Zone, especially if the sun is falling from the sky.

First the soft trickling from the karst-cracks rises almost imperceptibly, changing from an indistinguishable white noise to something like a voice whispering in the next room, then sounding like a pile of papers sliding to the floor, then louder and louder and louder.

A flickering, wheeling spattering of black specks moving amidst the shattered cloudgrave branches in the limestone cracks. A silent vortex of blurred shapes collecting and condensing into the figure of a serpent, its head rising far above the earth on a neck like a living cyclone of white noise whose skin is like the whirling leaves flung up into a column by a spiraling wind.

Where its gigantic neck swoops past and through the trunks and branches of the cloudgrave trees, the flesh parts like smoke passing between fingertips, then re-forms. Yet its grey-black coils always dissapear somewhere down inside the darkness of the karst.

As the serpent opens its mouth to scream, the silence deepens. Survivors say their ears pop and noses bleed, that it becomes hard the breathe, that their brain seems to tighten in their skull, forcing them to their knees. Though they cry out, they make no sound. Even someone standing a few hundred yards away, facing the wrong direction, or separated by the cloudgrave maquis, might never know the snake was there at all.

Everyone knows that no-one survives staring directly into the opening maw of the Murmuring Wyrm, and everyone knows that inside can be seen a tornado of birds, coloured like smoke and ash, spiralling to nothing in a tightening gyre, and that the birds are crying out in a language that no-body knows for their lost masters and their dead queen.

How everybody know these things when no-one can have seen them and survived, and even if they did and if they could hear the cries of an ancient unknown language, that no-one could know what it said,  is simply a paradox of peasant-lore. It's clear that everybody knows what cannot be known.

When the Serpent passes and is gone, the branches and broken wood piled like smashed dining ware in the vertical shards of the karst that it emerged from are undisturbed, as if nothing was ever there.

Because of this few figures of authority who have not seen the Snake of Ash believe that it is real. Many think that something has taken place, perhaps an illusion of the Maroons, Tree Dreams or a common madness of the zone. Certainly there is damage, and traces of ash, though there has been no fire, and certainly people do go missing and bodies are found.

But people go missing in the zone all the time, and bodies are always being found. So long as they are counted and accounted for, what does it matter?

(This monster, more than usual, based on ideas by and produced through collaboration with Scrap Princess.)

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Hand i' Cap

What follows is a quote from the Dictionary of Word Origins by Linda and Roger Flavell. I've broken down the paragraph to a point-by-point to make it easier to aprehend the sequence of play.

"Handicap is a contraction of the phrase hand in the cap or hand i' cap. This was a game of chance based on bartering.

One person would challenge another for a particular posession and offer something of his own in exchange. If the challenge was accepted an umpire would be appointed and all three would place forfiet money into a hat, keeping their hands in the cap.

The umpire would then consider the value of the proposed articles and decide what extra payment should be offered by the owner of the inferior item to make the exchange fair.

The two players then withdrew their hands; holding onto one's money indicaated that the deal was off, an empty hand signalled acceptance.

If both players were in agreement, the exchange was made or cancelled accordingly and the umpire took all the forfiet money.

On the other hand, if the players disagreed, no exchange was made but the one who had indicated a willingness to trade took all the forfeit.

The game is an old one. It is described in the Middle English poem 'Piers Plowman'  where a hood is offered for a cloak, the noumpere (umpire) judging that the owner of the hood should also give a cup of ale. In the fourteenth century, however, the game was known as Newe Faire. The name hand in the cap is of later date and is not found in written records until the seventeenth century. In his diary entry for 18 September, 1660, Samuel Pepys calls the game handicap, adding that he has never heard of it before but that he enjoyed playing it immensely."

This game makes me think of a bunch of things.

A storygamy resolution system, it almost sounds like it was designed by Vincent Baker. I'm wondering now if you could create an in-game D&D gambling system with it. But the issue of who would be the umpire might be difficult. You are either playing against a DM character with the DM or a player or PC as the umpire, or possibly playing pvp with the DM as the umpire.

A surprisingly morally-sophisitcated yet ultra-simple decision system for exchanging goods. It reminded me of the Native American potlatch game. I suspect it is very old, probably much older than its first record in Piers Plowman.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Podecast 4 - Bees

Scrap and I try to talk coherently for an hour about Bees, with a debateable level of success.


1.20 Scrap starts rambling about chromosomes
(seriously, think about skipping this part)
4.26 Gives up on that and starts again. Begins a very dark story about Bees.

8.00 King Arthur and Bees

9.55 The Demiplane of British History

13.25 Brief ramble here

13.40 Other Planes, verticality

14.50 Hook Birds

15.25 Dinosauroids -

15.35 The first few issues of Prophet.

(I think these are in fact the same guy.)

16.35 "Bees, have to get this back to bees.."

17.20 Evolution of pollen, and therefore bees.

17.45 Exploiting colony organisms. Pretending to be ants.

20.10 We are colony organisms.

21.20 The nihilism of not cleaning your room.

21.45 Emergency coping mechanisms.

23.09 Sudden change in conversation due to girlfriend interruption. The Death of Avril Lavigne.

24.24 Schizophrenia. The voices are probably real. Believing you are in the matrix.

26.13 "That's kind-of like a hive.."

26.45 In stories no-one can ever be competent.

28.15 Destroying a city with super-speed.

30.15 The delay between conception and creation.

31.00 Cut-Up

31.55 OSR trailer advancement.

32.50 "One day we'll set fire to parts of Dunedin."

33.48 Another cut here - Napoleon liked Bees.

34.42 Playing Cinderella

34.32 "You need skin"

36.00 More Hook Birds. (Free BFR development meeting discussion. Welcome to the idea factory people.)

40.20 Three minutes to survive a nuclear war.

41.30 Segue back to Bees.

41.35 Scraps adventure with a Beehive.

46.40 Bee-Knights vs Ape-Godzilla.

47.30 "Did Godzilla fight anything Ape-like?

49.48 Fighting all your enemies at once.

51.30 What does Matt Damon look like; a Ryan Gosling Chibi.

53.00 Jewel Thieves in 80's films. (I'm pretty sure jewels do play a large part right at the end of The Goonies.)

55.00 The strangeness of murder in civilised fiction.

56.45 Broadchurch.

58.00 The unity of actors across series.

59.20 "You're not in Guatemala now Doctor Ropata."

60.1.30 Bullying in british comics.

60.05.00 Scraps earliest reading memories. 2000 AD,

60.06.50 Feeling 'fucked up inside'.