tap tap tap

This thing on?

Hey, internet.

If you find this recording, don’t feel bad about this. Part of the journey is the end.

Just for the record, being adrift in cyberspace with zero promise of rescue is more fun than it sounds.

Free time ran out five years ago. Partner started his own thing two years ago. Sparkling cider’ll run out tomorrow morning. That’ll be it.

When I drift off. I will dream about you. It’s always you.

Hours later…

Stubbazubba lies in a half-conscious state, staring at the porthole into the various webpages projected across the horizon beyond his dying ship…

His eyes close, and his lips mouth the word “Rosebu–“


He startles back to consciousness. Outside the ship he sees Spider-Man (Peter B. Parker), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, the SP//dr suit piloted by Peni Parker, and Spider-Ham all looking through the porthole at him.

“Man, he looks terrible,” says Miles.

“I know terrible,” adds Peter B. Parker, “this is just pathetic. Did he really just rickroll his entire follower-base for his first post in almost five years?”

“We should leave the poltroon here in his ice box,” sneers Spider-Man Noir.

“I don’t know what that means,” says Spider-Ham, “but I agree with it.”

“Whu–where did you all come from?” Stubbazubba asks, disoriented. “Did, did Film Crit Hulk send you?”

“Um, no,” says Spider-Gwen, arms crossed. “Pretty sure he has bigger things to worry about.”

“I picked up your distress signal,” Peni says with a smile.

“And I convinced them there would be something worth saving here,” says Miles.

“Yeah, I think I won that bet, you owe me $20,” says Peter.

“Not so fast,” Miles replies. “Look, we’ve all been pinned down at the bottom of a hulking rubble pile that no one–even you–thinks you’ll ever get out of. Ending up there doesn’t make any of us, or anyone else, a failure.”

Gwen cracks a smile at Miles. Peter rolls his eyes and looks away.

“Languishing for five years without a post?” says Noir, “That’s not a mountain of rubble from a confrontation with evil, that’s just a milksop giving up the fight.”

“Well, which is it?” Gwen asks. “You’re down, you’re on the verge of giving up. But can you get back up again?”

“No matter how embarrassing showing your face around here might be?” Spider-Ham adds, wiggling his snout.

“I… I don’t know that I have what it takes to keep this up. I mean, this space–superhero movies, Dungeons & Dragons, a nerd podcast–it’s all so saturated these days. I’m not Matt Colville, Hello Future Me, or Lindsay Ellis. I’m not even Dael Kingsmill. There’s a whole subreddit for amateur movie rewrites. I don’t have a gimmick, a niche, or an insider perspective. How could I possibly be interesting? I’m just…some random guy.”

“No, you’re not him, either,” says Peter.

Miles shoots Peter a glance, then turns back to Stubbazubba. “If you think you need to be special to belong here, to have a voice, you haven’t noticed who you’re talking to yet.”

Peter raises an eyebrow. “A bunch of closet geniuses who are also radioactive spider people gifted with superhuman strength, agility, the ability to climb walls, and PTSD that manifests as a guilt complex?”

Spider-Ham puts his hands on his hips, “And one genius, radioactive, gifted, traumatized spider pig, thank you very much!”

“No, no,” Miles shakes his head, “I mean them,” he gestures to the audience out in cyberspace, “the readers. They’re hungry for quality, not gimmicks. You have that inside you. It’s a little unpolished, but you’ve got…a spark. Y’know what I’m saying?”

“I…I think I do.”

“All those people, and much bigger personalities–I’m talking Matthew Mercer, Marques Brownlee, Hank Green, you name it–started out as just another nobody having fun and sharing it with the world. Anyone can do that. And if you stay in it long enough, be consistent, take the good feedback, roll with the punches, and keep quipping, you can be a friendly, neighborhood internet personality, too.”

Stubbazubba stands and locks eyes with Miles. “You’re right. I can do this. I have everything I need, even without a gimmick or a following. I’m gonna get there, one step at a time. No matter what’s come before. Thanks, Spider-Man.”

“Don’t mention it, man.” He pulls his mask over his face, and the others follow suit. “See you in the feeds!” He shoots a web into the distance and leaps away with a wave goodbye.

Gwen eyes Stubbazubba. “You’re his project, now. Don’t you disappoint him.” She turns and shoots a web, then turns back. “Good luck,” and she leaps after Miles.

Peter grasps Stubbazubba’s shoulder. “You’re right about one thing: just ’cause you messed stuff up before is no reason to put off doing the right thing now. Remember that.” He turns and follows the other two. “Hey, Miles, you know I was joking about that bet, right? Miles?”

Spider-Ham extends a hand, which Stubbazubba shakes. “Hey, I’m trying out a new tagline, tell me what you think: Excelsior!” he exclaims as he swings away. “Pretty great, huh?”

“One of the best!”

Spider-Man Noir looks to the left and right, then back at Stubbazubba. He whispers, “I thought, y’know, the thing? It was hilarious.” He turns and leaps after the others, humming to Rick Astley.

Alone, Stubbazubba smiles. Then he realizes something. “Uh, guys? I’m still stran–“

“Power’s back!” Peni and SP//dr pop out from around the other side of the craft. “Pretty easy fix, really.” The craft hums back to life.

“Um, wow. Didn’t see that coming. Thanks!”

“Ha ha, it was nothing! Gambaru!” Peni and the bot swing away, as well.

Stubbazubba closes his eyes and focuses for a moment. He opens them and walks back to the center of the craft, sits at a roll-y chair in front of a large computer screen, and taps the keyboard, bringing the monitor to life.

Let’s try this again.

Hey, internet.

Enough navel gazing: long time no see. Ready to pick it up again?

I’m finally in a place where I can devote a bit of time to writing again, and boy, have I got stuff to write. More movie fixes, D&D house rules, musing on game design, and a campaign diary that follows the exploits of a small-time adventuring party trying to make it in a big city DM’ed by yours truly. Besides that, I’ll be walking you through the D&D world that Cham and I have made for…well, it turns out for like a decade at this point. There’s a lot going on there, and we’re both quite proud of it. Last, but not least, I will be posting some fiction that takes place in that world or others.

All that being said, I don’t want to set expectations overly high, and I don’t want to burn myself out. So the schedule will be, at least for now: monthly posts, aiming for the last weekend in a given month. We’ll see how that goes for a quarter, and then see about going biweekly. Hopefully, as I get better at it and have multiple projects/series to work on (so I’m not just waiting for random inspiration), post volume will increase. As we roll into Q3/Q4 I might even start looking at making videos (one obvious difference between myself and most of my influences linked above).

I hope you enjoyed this little interlude. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is excellent, by the way. Not perfect, mind you, but certainly on par with many of the best super hero movies of the last several years. No spoilers for now, but that one’s going in the queue.

For those of you subscribed, I hope you’ll stick around for the new content starting in a couple weeks. For those of you just finding this, there’s a backlog of stuff I wouldn’t entirely disown even though it’s at least five years old. Both more of that and new things are coming, so go ahead and subscribe if you’d be interested in seeing it when it arrives. Or don’t, you’re pretty sharp, you don’t need anyone to tell you how this works.

Now I need a tagline. JARVIS, put that in the queue, too.

Now, how do I turn this thing–ah, here it is.

Uh, toodles?

Power down sound.


It’s the first Monday of December, which means my November break is officially over. I’m going to cheat for today and count a post announcing the end of my inactivity as today’s post. I’ve also got some Anime Banzai photos that I never wound up sharing, and I have quite a few D&D sessions which I’ll probably just summarize. They’re mostly filler, anyway, and they’d probably make for better filler if they were original campaigns. I have campaign summaries for my Star Wars campaign ready to go, maybe I should post those sometime. I’m also hoping to wrap up Dinosaur Riding Barbarians’ alpha draft soon, so that’s exciting.

In any case, I’m back, stuff will be happening, not entirely sure what it will be. We’ll see when we get there.

Game of Thrones: Only Power And Those Too Weak To Seek It

Game of Thrones is the new hotness in fantasy, the major paradigm of fantasy writing that people most commonly tend to riff on (when they aren’t going back to older wells). I see a lot of people misunderstand what Game of Thrones is about, though. Being unfinished, it’s not actually completely clear what the ultimate point of the series is supposed to be, but I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not about how the bad guys win a lot. I’ve written before about how Dragonlance did that a lot in its waning years, and it has not made Dragonlance into Game of Thrones.

What Game of Thrones is about (in part, anyway) is the moral indifference of the universe. That is to say, Game of Thrones is a setting that makes absolutely no distinctions between good guys and bad guys at all. Characters in that setting sometimes make distinctions and you get things like Jaime Lannister’s arc where he becomes a better person in the eyes of certain other people. This also makes him a worse person in the eyes of some other characters. The people who like him better in the end are the ones the narrative follows, so we call that a redemption arc, but the setting as a whole doesn’t care one whit about whether or not Jaime Lannister is good or evil. He’s good at murdering people but he lost his hand, so he’s significantly less good now than he was before, and that there is the sum total of what the setting of Game of Thrones cares about concerning Jaime Lannister. What he wants to do with what power he has makes precisely zero impact on how much power he has and how good he is at using it to accomplish things.

What makes something Game of Thrones-esque isn’t bad guys triumphing. It’s having an attitude of indifference to whether or not someone is a bad guy in the first place.

Threaded Comments Were A Mistake

Reddit (and some other sites, including, I think, this one) uses threaded comments, meaning that each new reply starts a new thread. Not only that, but threads which are unpopular get pushed below threads that are more popular, and in order to fit everything on the screen, threads are cut off automatically after about a half-dozen replies, with a “display more” option. This is pretty necessary to how Reddit’s whole karma system works. The order of comments changes based on upvotes and age, so a popular reply to an unpopular argument will get upvoted above the comment it’s responding to, turning the discussion into a muddled mess.

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Hexographer Is A Thing

I am intermittently reminded that there are people in this hobby who still don’t know that Hexographer is a thing. This is baffling to me, because it’s been around since 2009. This isn’t a lucky ten thousand thing either, because when people ask for help in making world maps I am very often the only one recommending Hexographer. It’s just, for some baffling reason, obscure. And that’s weird, because Hexographer is awesome.

Hexographer is a world map design program that allows you to make hex maps. There’s about four or five dozen different terrain hexes you can paint onto a map of virtually any size, you can add on rivers, borders, text, you can any of dozens of icons for cities, castles, or armies onto the map. I’ve made a dozen maps with Hexographer and there’s not yet one thing I’ve ever found myself wanting to do that I couldn’t, except to have more different types of city icons so that I could represent different nations or cultures at a glance. As it happens, that’s one of the promised features in Hexographer 2 which is slated to come out sometime in February, so that’s neat.  I probably should’ve posted this like two weeks ago when their Kickstarter for Hexographer 2 was still ongoing. Oh, well.

Here’s an example of a small hexmap I made for a hexcrawl based on Thar to show you what this thing can do.


Salt Lake Comic Con 2016: Harley Quinn


Let’s go ahead and dive right in with our first Harley Quinn, who is a pretty standard Animated Series Quinn except in that she is accompanied by some kind of spec ops Joker. Baseless speculation: Maybe this couples costume was a compromise between the guy who wanted spec ops and the girl who wanted a Harley/Joker combo.


Tiny Harleys are consistently adorable.


Here we have a mostly standard Animated Series Quinn.


This is a Suicide Squad Quinn with a half-baked Joker. Get ready for lots of Suicide Squad Quinns, especially in couples costumes. I won’t fault couple cosplays for taking the Quinn/Joker route. Those two were spectacular in Suicide Squad.




Doctor Quinn is a consistently popular theme. That’s how densely Harley Quinn has blanketed the cosplay world. Specific niche interpretations of the character can be more common than entire other characters. Doctor Quinn makes a poor showing this year, ordinarily we’ve got more Doctor Quinns than Scarecrows and Riddlers put together (which is usually, like, three, but still).


Family cosplay looks nice and all, but particularly for the kids I always feel kind of bad because someone was probably pushed into a costume they didn’t want. I appreciate that this family all just showed up as whatever.


Arkham City Quinn has red and black hair dye, but we can see here that Suicide Squad’s red and blue has migrated into other Harley types.


I’m honestly not sure who that person on the right is cosplayed as, but they look pretty awesome.


We’re going to see a lot of Suicide Squad Harleys. So many that it’s going to take some examination to make sure we don’t have any repeats. We’re on Quinn #10 so far.


I like how this one’s playing with the form. You’ve got a Suicide Squad jacket over a costume that’s a bit of a cross between Arkham City and Arkham Asylum.


This two-for-one gets us up to 13.


Much like Quinn #11, this one is playing with the form a bit. In fact, she’s got a very similar corset and skirt, though she’s missing the Suicide Squad jacket. It makes me wonder if there’s a new Quinn sub-genre forming based on something I’m not familiar with.


Steampunk Harley Quinn here makes 15 total.


Spear Harley and distaff Joker. A few years ago even a distaff Joker was unheard of, but this isn’t even the first spear Harley I’ve seen (the other one was at a previous con, so won’t be part of this post). We’re counting up Harley Quinns here, so spear Quinns do count, but distaff Jokers do not.


This Suicide Squad Harley is mostly by the numbers, but there’s a different haircut at least.


Here we see Arkham City’s hair dye migrating to the Suicide Squad costume.


Here’s our second spear Quinn in one convention! Spear Quinns are never parodies, either. It’s never a guy in a corset doing British crossdress humor (there was a spear Slave Leia at this year’s con doing just that, by way of comparison). Instead it’s a recognizable but unironically male version of the costume. Not sure what to make of that.


This Harley, part of a femme fatale set, brings us up to 20.


This rote but well executed Animated Series Harley gets us to our halfway mark of 21. We’re not nearly halfway through my Comic Con 2016 photo folder, but the Harleys are usually more dense towards the beginning. As the con wears on, I tend to mostly get repeats. Will this year be a record breaker?


Once again we have someone playing with the form while still being a clearly recognizable Harley. In this case, it’s hard to even say which specific Harley she has most in common with. That top is pretty Animated Series in pattern but not in how much it’s covering, the collar is a bit Suicide Squad but not exactly, waist down is completely distinct, relying on the top to signal the character.


A basic Suicide Squad Harley.


Once again we’re looking at a fairly distinct Harley, though she seems to fall into the vaguely Asylum-esque skirt-and-corset look that’s going around.


This looks *very* similar to Harley #20, but her black-handled hammer is clearly distinct. This brings us up to 25.


A little Harley with a little Joker.


Are you finding yourself double-checking against previous Harleys to make sure this one’s distinct? I am. The tied off t-shirt is new, but it’s also something that can be added to a costume at any time, so I had to double check.


The corset look again. Okay, “Arkham Asylum Quinn but with black/red instead of red/blue” is not so groundbreaking an idea that multiple people can’t have come to it by themselves, but I’m starting to wonder if there’s a specific precursor I’m missing here.


Paired off with Poison Ivy, this is clearly a steampunk Harley. I wouldn’t have recognized her on her own, though.


This one’s a statue, and thus not actually Harley Quinn #30. I thought I’d include it in the parade anyway.


The real Harley #30 is a standard Suicide Squad Harley.


Another corset Harley. This one has very light dye on her hair that was probably Suicide Squad colors at some point, although the blue in particular is hardly there anymore.


Harley #32, our three-quarters mark, is original enough as to defy sub-genre classification. This makes counting her easier, so thank you for that, Harley #32.


Some of you probably didn’t believe me when I said the standing record for Harley Quinns was 42. This is the world we live in.


I can’t tell if this cosplayer is intentionally mixing Doctor Quinn with Animated Series Quinn or if she just happens to have glasses. Either way, it works.


Biker Harley Quinn here is our #35. Props for bringing some originality to the character.


Another corset Quinn. The corset Quinns have much less uniformity amongst them than Suicide Squad, Arkham City, and Animated Series Quinns, so I’m more and more certain that they aren’t based on any particular Harley Quinn from media (even though Arkham Asylum Quinn also has a corset, very few corset Quinns have the red and blue color scheme).


Sleeveless Animated Series Quinn. We’re five away from a record breaker.


“Okay, her hair’s not as light as most of the others, and she has makeup. I think? Or else pretty pale skin. She looks kinda like that one, but that one has a hammer and not a bat and anyway the skin doesn’t match. This would be much easier if she weren’t making a face.”


I’m running out of things to say for Suicide Squad Quinns.


Harley Quinn #40 is an Animated Series-esque Quinn, but with largely original make-up and a dress rather than a onesie. Once again: Thank you for not making me crawl through all my Suicide Squad Quinns and compare them one by one to make sure you’re not a repeat. We’re only three Quinns away from breaking a record now!


So, for purposes of the record it’s total number of Quinns at the convention I’m looking for, not total number of photographed Quinns. Photographing them is just how I record them. There was an Arkham City Quinn who turned me down for a photo on Friday night (first time any cosplayer has ever turned me down for a photograph without being clearly in a hurry). She looked kinda like this one, found on Saturday, and much earlier in the day. Is this the same one? Maybe the one who turned me down was feeling fatigued and was more open to it the next day? As I have no record of the Quinn who turned me down, I can’t tell for sure.


Quinn #42. Comic Con 2016 is officially tied up with FanX for the record.


Congratulations, tiny Harley. You’re a record breaker.


Suicide Squad Harley is a very adult character, so it’s surprising how perfectly acceptable the costume can look on a ten-year old just by throwing some pants on (pants not visible in this photo, but yes, she had pants).


Harley #45 is changing up the hair dye a little bit. The boom in Harley costumes (which were extremely popular in the first place) is probably at least in part due to how you can now have a recognizable Harley costume just by buying a new shirt. Everything else can probably be assembled from what you have lying around the house. This cosplayer in particular also dyed her hair, and her costume is better for it, but it would’ve counted as a Quinn even if she hadn’t.


Posing would also be a good way to differentiate Quinns. I should ask them to pose more often. This one didn’t need it, since her tweaked Arkham City costume is distinct on its own.


This corset Quinn is *very* similar to Quinn #24. She’s definitely a different Quinn, but their costumes are near identical. I’ve gotta be missing some precursor Quinn here.


Bridal Quinn.


Oh God another Suicide Squad Quinn. Time to dig through all the others for matches. At least that tattoo will make verification straightforward.


Our third spear Quinn of the convention is also Quinn #50.


The final Harley Quinn of the year is, if I recall correctly, someone I’m supposed to tag (along with her Wonder Woman buddy) as #AllredGirls. I hope I remembered that correctly. A twitter search for that reveals only one photo from like eight months ago, but I think it’s the same people.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016

A week or two after I pre-ordered my ticket for Salt Lake Comic Con 2016, I got a message on my facebook (maintained almost solely for communication with the Adventurer’s League) that they needed volunteers to DM at the con. If you volunteered for enough hours, you could get a free convention ticket. Since the Friday and Saturday schedules, normally jam-packed with interesting content, were actually kind of sparse this year (and conversely, the Thursday schedule was pretty awesome despite being the least busy day), I ended up volunteering for quite a few hours despite already having a wrist band in the mail. I wound up with a spare wrist band that I never wound up finding a recipient for. Everyone was either busy, had already bought a wrist band, or had moved to North Carolina. Oh, well.


As before, I’ll be packing this post with mostly-unrelated pictures that are probably more interesting than the text they’re breaking up.

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Salt Lake Comic Con: 2013-2015

I have been to every Salt Lake Comic-Con there has been so far, and I hope to continue doing so for so long as both I and the Salt Lake Comic-Con exist. Since my brother and I play D&D on weekends, which is also when conventions occur, we are going to spend the week talking about the convention, since no Hoard of the Dragon Queen happened. I’m going to pepper my discussion of the con with random and largely unrelated pictures of cool cosplays and the odd crowd shot, because hey, I’ve got pics, why not use ’em.

Going by her rank matrix she is a grand moff, so I assume she has like a billion stormtroopers hanging out in the parking lot waiting to back her up if someone starts trouble.

This young woman, for example, has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, but is nevertheless a comforting reminder that the Empire’s finest are here to keep Rebel riff-raff away from the convention.

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Older Cousining

From July 25th clear to August 8th, my little brother is at summer camp. This makes it rather difficult to keep up the posting rate I’ve managed lately, since I actually have to generate new content instead of just reporting what happened when I took other people’s work and then did some improv acting with it.

In an effort to fill the gap, let’s talk about older cousining, since that’s gonna come up in the one article I’ve still got coming. Much like the campaign itself, the bulk of the work of explaining has already been done by some other guy, but Angry DM’s writing style is an acquired taste like coffee is, bitterly unpleasant but comes part and parcel with a very valuable jolt of energy. So let’s add a bunch of cream and sugar and turn this into the kind of drink that people say they can’t stand but in practice drink nothing else but.

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Announcing the Critical Insignificance Podcast!

Podcasts seem to complete blogs. Sometimes, there are interactions that you can’t really capture in an essay or article. Sometimes people don’t have the time to sit down and focus on words, and would much rather listen to a discussion while they do something else. As of today, Chamomile and I are proud to announce that Matters of Critical Insignificance will now cater to both sides of the information-consumer coin. It is my privilege to unveil the Critical Insignificance Podcast, a biweekly (that’s once every two weeks) romp between Chamomile and myself discussing, creating, and critiquing movies, games, and any other critically insignificant topic.

Our first episode, below, probably sounds like a first episode. Bear with us, we are fast learners and it will get better. That said, our first episode explores the line between evocation and conjuration and “telling” in both computer and table-top role-playing games. We take the film and fiction adage “show, don’t tell” one step further for interactive media: “evoke, don’t tell.” Whether that’s in creating a character in a video game or in creating an adventure for a Dungeon Master to run, designers/writers need to stop writing where the interactive player can pick it up on their own and run. Or do they? There’s also a side order of Cham channeling his inner Poe in more-than-a-decade-old The Sims. Yeah, we’re that kind of premium.

Without further, ado, then, and for your listening pleasure, I give you: the Critical Insignificance Podcast!

…Or Download Here

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Critical Insignificance Podcast by Matters of Critical Insignificance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/6zhz1wuby1/Episode_0001_-_Evocation.mp3.