A Lazy Sequence

Advice to a new DM

Matthew Colville:

A new edition of D&D came out last year and it seems like a lot of people are discovering the game for the first time. Possibly because of great shows like Critical Role showing everyone how much fun it is.

It is a lot of fun! But for a new Dungeon Master, it can seem daunting. Relax. I started when I was 15 and had no idea what I was doing. I sucked at it, but my players were also 15, so none of us had any frame of reference. We all sucked together!

Here’s some straightforward advice to make the process a little less intimidating. Take what you like from here, it’s not an assignment.

squaremans.com

05 July 2015

Dune, 50 years on: how a science fiction novel changed the world

Hari Kunzru for The Guardian

It has sold millions of copies, is perhaps the greatest novel in the science-fiction canon and Star Wars wouldn’t have existed without it. Frank Herbert’s Dune should endure as a politically relevant fantasy from the Age of Aquarius

www.theguardian.com

04 July 2015

Redundancy vs dependencies: which is worse?

Yossi Kreinin:

Redundancy sucks. Redundancy always means duplicated efforts, and sometimes interoperability problems. But dependencies are worse. The only reasonable thing to depend on is a full-fledged, real module, not an amorphous bunch of code. You can usually look at a problem and guess quite well if its solution has good chances to become a real module, with a real owner, with a stable interface making all its users happy enough. If these chances are low, pick redundancy. And estimate those chances conservatively, too. Redundancy is bad, but dependencies can actually paralyze you. I say – kill dependencies first.

yosefk.com

26 June 2015

I Made A Linguistics Professor Listen To A Blink-182 Song And Analyze The Accent

Dan Nosowitz:

The Bay Area community was goofier, sillier, more suburban, and more inclined to make happy, poppy music than any punk community that came before it. As an ode to the Clash, a lot of their singers adopted a sort of faux-British accent. “I'm an American guy faking an English accent faking an American accent,” Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong told Rolling Stone in 1994. Tim Armstrong, the (unrelated) lead singer of fellow Bay Area band Rancid, sings with an accent that varies song by song; sometimes it’s nearly featureless, other times it’s a Strummer-esque Brit inflection, other times it sounds nearly New York.

www.atlasobscura.com

26 June 2015

A case against subwoofer

Damon Krukowski for Pitchfork:

Which is why it might surprise you that even a master of the low frequency universe like O’Malley [of Sunn O)))] doesn’t use subwoofers for his own listening. “Not in my home,” he says. “A properly set up hi-fi doesn’t need a separate sub. If you have well-designed speaker stacks and adequate headroom on the amplifier, it should cover everything. Usually this culture of bass boosting is at the cost of clarity in the rest of the spectrum.”

To my ears, the bass boosting of Beats and of home theater systems designed to mimic reality for movies and games doesn’t translate to a “real” experience of music. But my idea of real is based on the experience of physical instruments, acoustic and electric. And perhaps the reality of music itself has undergone a change.

pitchfork.com

26 June 2015

All Dwarves are Scottish

Wikipedia argues that the modern version of the ‘Scottish Dwarf’ originates from the book Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson (published in 1961, but originally a novella from 1953 ) which featured a Dwarf named Hugi with a Scottish accent and a man transported from WWII to a parallel world under attack by Faerie. The book was a major influence on Dungeons & Dragons, which introduced Dwarves as playable race in 1974 and helped disseminate a “standard” idea of what Dwarves were like.

Via Charles Miller.