Rebooting

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.

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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.

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Salt Lake Comic Con 2016: Harley Quinn

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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.

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Tiny Harleys are consistently adorable.

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Here we have a mostly standard Animated Series Quinn.

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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.

 

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Steampunk Harley Quinn here makes 15 total.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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?

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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.

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A basic Suicide Squad Harley.

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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.

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

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A little Harley with a little Joker.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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).

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

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“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.”

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

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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!

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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.

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

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bridal Quinn.

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

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

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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.

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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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