Saturday, September 14, 2019

Cancel Culture Doesn't Exist


The fear surrounding cancel culture is rooted in the belief of false accusations.

People believe that false accusations can occur at any time, for no reason other than to harm one person, and benefit another.

People believe that "any random person" can make "any claim they want" about you and the world will chew you up and spit you out.

People believe that evidence is needed. That both sides of the story are needed. That the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

These are the core tenants that backlashers against cancel culture hold closest and believe with everything they have.

It's. All. Bullshit.

I won't speak about the fact that cancel culture doesn't exist. There are other articles that do it better.

And I won't speak about the fact that canceling someone was a tool for underprivileged people to call out the people in power for harmful practices. There are other articles that do it better.

But I will say this:

If someone close to you, physically or emotionally, comes forward to other people than yourself, saying that you are abusive, harmful, negligent, predatory, or any other claim they may have...that is evidence.

If a person who does not know you says a thing about you, it only means so much. It cannot "cancel" you. These things happen for various reasons and these are not the things we hear about on twitter or youtube. BUT YET this is the fear.

Someone will come out of nowhere and ruin your life and the world will buy into it.

This does not happen.

What it does, this fear, it clouds the waters.

Now, when someone with a personal connection to someone, comes forward and says that they are harmful...it is met with a "he-said, she-said" discussion. "There are two sides to every story." "Where is the evidence?"

You're looking at it.

I will say this very slowly.

If the people closest to you tell the world that you have a problem, it means two things:

1. You have a problem.
2. They are not comfortable telling you that you have a problem.

The internet at large cannot make unbased claims against an individual that result in anything.

But your colleagues, your friends, you family...your wife...

That is evidence.

You cannot fight those. You cannot tell them they are wrong. These are the people that know you. They interact with you. They've worked with you. They've seen how you react in a natural state.

That is evidence.

And you can throw all the bullshit at the wall and see what sticks if you want. "I need evidence" or "they're just trying to ruin my life" or whatever else.

But that stuff doesn't matter. Again, these are the people who have ACTUALLY interacted with you.

And the reaction of the internet to claims like these are based in that firm understanding. Anything that you say after the fact IS manipulation. We do not live in a court. You do not get to decide WHEN or IF people are harmed by the things you do. Regardless of intention.

When one of these people makes a claim against you, the reaction should NOT be to defend yourself.

The reaction should be to figure out what about yourself are you ignoring? What are you doing that is harming these people? ESPECIALLY if you do not believe that your actions are harmful.

This happens. It happens every day. We do something and someone gets upset and we aren't sure how to react. "I didn't mean to upset them."

Intentions do not matter.

The world is a big, messy placed, filled with people who have history behind everything that they do. It is possible to be harmful and not know it. It is possible to be abusive to the people you love and be unaware. It is possible to neglect people and have no sense of it.

These things are possible and they happen and trying to defend yourself against an accusation of such a thing is manipulative and dodging responsibility.

AS SOON as you defend yourself, the playing field shifts to a court room. And you know it. Most people want it, because these sort of accusation can't be proven explicitly, most of the time. Underlying behaviors of someone that you've grown to know on a personal level are impossible to measure and very difficult to capture in a single moment.

Resentment builds over time.

Hate can be hard to process.

Emotions are complicated.

I will say it again:

An accusation of harm towards you is not up for debate. It is about who makes the accusation first, and what you do in reaction to that.

If your wife tells you that you have abused her, that's final.

If a colleague claims you sexually harassed her, that's final.

If a friend tells you that you are emotionally manipulative...that's final.

You do not get to decide how people react to your actions, and most of the time you are unaware of any harmful traits you have.

LISTEN to the people who have the strength and the courage to come forward.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

SHOW DON'T TELL

DMing can be exhaustive vocally and lyrically. Here are some tips/tricks/tools that you can use to make the most of your words, both when talking actively at the table, and when writing notes/adventures for others (or yourself) to read.

SHOW DON'T TELL

You hear this a lot as a film and literature student. It's the biggest non-advice people want to give you. But it's only non-advice because instead of educating you on their uses, people tend to take a side and say one is bad and the other is good. It's important for an artist to make opinions on tools that they find useful, but it's counterproductive to try to teach in that regard. The English language has many tools for a writer or orator (both of which DMs are) to use to create their art.
Let's not take sides now. Let's learn and practice and share knowledge. This short article is set up as four tools, with an example, and a short description of what it does, or what it tries to do.

TELL

"It was winter."
What’s it do? The onus is now on you to fill in the scene with your winter. Was it cold? Windy? Snow or rain? Are you comfy or out of place? Your brain creates the scene. It’s personal to you and has nothing to do with an image of winter the artist is trying to give you.
"Tim is sad."
"Eric went to the store."
"It’s so cold out."
Most things we say are “telling”. Not because we are audibly communicating, but because we’re telling someone something instead of an alternative; leading them to a conclusion, painting a picture for them, making a comparison.

SHOW

Here are three big ways you can show instead of tell. Simile, Personification, and description.
Simile
"That winter was like a grave."
What’s it do? It creates emotion. Feeling. Vibe. Atmosphere. Again the onus is on you to fill in the look and the details. What is a grave like to you? What does that evoke? If it’s a solid simile it will create a universal image or draw upon tropes that everyone understand.
Personification
"Winter gripped my chest with its icy claws."
What’s it do? More of the above. Emotion. Feeling. It turns the inanimate into living creatures and monsters. It begs you to relate to it, like you would another living creature. Even if that relation is horror, or fear, instead of love or kindness. The relation it creates is entirely based on the relationship between the thing and what it is personified as.
Description
"The snow was shin deep and the pavement dried white. Black trunks of trees held bare branches. No birds were tangled in their limbs."
What’s it do? It’s part mystery, part riddle, part painting. Nowhere do I tell you it’s winter. I show you my winter. The purpose is for the artist to give you their image. The onus is on them to give you what is in their head and for you to see it and experience life in someone else’s mind. The fun for the reader/listener is the discovery of parsing the information together to create a unified image.

To end this article, I have a little tag line that I use to close out my pieces. "Good luck, don't die." But instead I want to ask a question. What's another piece of writing advice or wisdom that you've heard that doesn't make sense or seems contrived?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Desert Wind part 1

Here's what it has:

  • Basic layout, 19 locations and 35 NPCs
  • Nice, kind folk plucked straight from a Ghibli universe, filled with magic and wonder
  • Romance and personal drama to get embroiled in
  • An atmosphere where you're not pressured, it's a place to call home
  • An old, abandoned airfield that needs your help
  • Electricity
  • An aquarium, sushi bar, and bakery to add to the richness of the area
  • Good vibes, man
This is a wholesome place. All the feelings you get when watching your favorite Ghibli film are present and ready to be mined for character and plot points. The cast is diverse and unique. There's no unnecessary conflict. It's all personal and designed to give your PCs a home. A place to care about. People to fall in love with.
Let me know what you think of the village. I kept it simple for this, using just google docs and having this handy pdf for you to download. Along with an NPC chart that should help with the cast.

Here's all the links you could possibley need:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

MUCK session 3

Layout and play-testing continues with MUCK. It is looking beautiful:

That's a dragon!

And the play-testing is going really well. The party is knocking dominoes over. Shaking the foundation. They killed/eliminated one of the witch clans and also led one witch clan to killing the Giant head that likes to play games. 

They haven't left the bottom half of the map yet. They haven't met three of the other factions. And they've already done so much. I'm in love with this adventure location. 

I'm learning more about Muck. The characters there are all very transactional. This for that. Do this and I'll do that. And they all have their secrets. Things they'll do when other things happen. 

For instance - the Ladies of Oolice are all pretty chill and laid back. But when they found out one of the characters had an item that could harm the giant that protected faerie land, they traded as little as they could for it, and went and got some information. 

They didn't tell the party of these plans because, even though they're chill, the party had not done anything for them. The party had the option. They had the head of another witch clan and planned on giving it to the Ladies of Oolice, but instead gave it to another person for a favor. 

So they gained that possible ally, and didn't gain another. 

Everything is transactional. And gaining favor with one might gain enmity from another. 

I'm excited to see where Muck leads and feel that the writing won't be completed until the party leaves. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Snake Train #1

Snake Trains take you from point A to point B. They exist in your world for those time where you party wants to go somewhere and you have no idea what's in between where they are, and this new place. They're big snakes. And trains. Kinda like the catbus from Totoro but moody.

The first issue is a free, 8-page supplement detailing 5 passengers on the train, what the train actually does, and the first stop on this new journey your party is taking.

You can download the free pdf here. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Zak

This post is about Zak. It has nothing to do with DnD.

I'm writing this after reading this and revisiting this by Patrick.

I've read every blogpost Zak ever wrote. I don't remember how I found the blog itself, probably through Goblin Punch. But over the course of the 2016 summer, I read every. single. post. I did it because Zak is a good writer, and he changed me. My ideas of D&D and rpgs were entirely 3.5 based. All forgotten realms lore and monster manual lore. And his blog opened things to me. I had (up until just a few minutes ago) a folder full of 20 or so of my favorite blogposts that I would revisit.

The way he talked intimidated me. He talked with such conviction and unrelenting "rightness". He was never wrong, you just misconstrued what he said. I didn't know what to make of it. I was always reserved and never spoke like that. I lived with a lot of shame and didn't think my opinion was worthy of such devotion.

But I tried to be more like him. I defended myself, and fought, and was stubborn.

I was an asshole.

I am an asshole.

I remember feeling uncomfortable by the way Zak talked to people but "since he was famous" it was okay. I though that was the right way and *I* had been wrong all along.

Then I read Patrick's post, and False Machine was one of my favorite blogs. I still think Patrick is my favorite writer. Just. Period. I read Patrick's post and it was like my thoughts had been given a voice. Everything he said felt right and it made me feel better. "I'm not the only one."

I'm mentioning this because I believe Mandy. I believe Patrick. I believe their opinion more than my own, and more than the many more opinions that will become public soon after this information spreads. This coming from an avid fan of this man. From someone who wanted to be like him, to emulate him. Now I just feel gross and unsure of which parts of me are better because of him and which parts should be thrown away.

I believe Mandy because she was in a relationship with this man for a decade. People will say "there are two sides to every story", and that...is a poor defense. If one person makes a claim against another saying they're a terrible person, and they come back and say "no I'm not", that's not a good argument for a defense. Then if MANY more people say the same things as the original claim, and you still defend with the "no I'm not" defense, then you've lost.

THAT. IS. PROOF.

The testimony of the people who know this man as a friend and lover are more important than those of colleagues (though colleagues should not be discredited) and definitely more important than those he only interacted with online (though those TOO should not be ignored). All testimony is important, but when the people closest to you stand again you...there's a problem.

I'm not here to condemn anyone but myself. I don't know Zak. But I believed him. I was witness to his side of the story for all of these attacks that came against him. And I believed him because of the same things Patrick pointed out in his post. I was duped. I feel manipulated. I feel...gross.

I don't care what Zak has to say to defend himself. Because he'll be really good at it. This is what he's good at. This is why it worked on Mandy. Patrick. Me. And many others. This is what he does. His statements coming out in the next couple of days...they will probably convince many more people that Mandy is lying or something. Or just false. I doubt he will actually attack her.

All I can do is say that your opinion means jack when compared against the opinions and experiences of a person who *lived* this man, and the people who corroborate the story.

Read Patrick's recounting. See the tactics. Learn when you're being manipulated. Don't be like me.