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Jan. 7th, 2019 @ 09:46 pm Online courses
Current Mood: excitedexcited
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I like learning new things: I have broad interests and I enjoy expanding my horizons. And there are enough free online courses and MOOCs that it’s really easy to dip your toes into something new for free and without a lot of up-front commitment.

So the course “Japanese Culture Through Rare Books” is right up my alley, in the intersection of my interest in Japanese culture and history, and books/bookbinding/printing. I’m looking forward to learning all about this!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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hand-eye coordination
Jan. 5th, 2019 @ 02:13 pm Anime of the Year 2018
Current Mood: okayokay
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In 2018, we watched 54 series and ‘specials’ — mostly series though. Looking through the list, I see three series that we awarded a score of 9 out of 10. Two of those were actually aired in 2017, and they are continuation of previous series, so maybe they are disqualified? On the other hand, we only watch series when they are completed, so that means that no series from the Fall season could ever qualify.

There is Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen, a continuation of a previous series, and aired in the Winter season of 2017. It is a delightful conclusion to a very interesting series about how Rakugo, the traditional story-telling, fared into the modern Japan. You do need to have seen all the previous seasons. While I recommend the whole trio of series, it’s not quite the AotY.

There is 3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season, another continuation. Again, a superb conclusion, but again not sufficiently stand-alone.

My anime of the year 2018 is Hataraku Saibou (“Cells at Work”) which is hilarious: it shows cells having every-day ‘jobs’: the red blood cells are dressed like delivery people, carrying boxes of oxygen to other cells. A sneeze is a rocket launch, etcetera. And it’s also quite educational: I learned some things about the human immune system too! Every episode is fun and had us laughing out loud.

Some honourable mentions:

  • Darling in the FranXX: Basically, the second coming of Evangelion. Recommended for mecha-heads who can appreciate a bit of distopian setting;
  • Violet Evergarden: Post-war (equivalent of WW1) drama with a girl who has only known war coming to grips with civilian life.
  • Hakumei to Mikochi: Heart-warming series about a paid of mini-people making their life in a mini-world.
  • Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou: A pair of girls travel through the war-torn ruins of civilisation, probably the last two people to be alive… It’s very slow-moving and philosophical at times.
  • Houseki no Kuni: A world where people made out of gemstones live. They are regularly attacked by ethereal beings that look like Buddhist iconography. Super interesting setting.

What’s the best anime you have seen in 2018?

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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azumanga
Jan. 3rd, 2019 @ 09:43 am (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, borchmadsen!
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eten
Dec. 30th, 2018 @ 11:29 am Dice gachapon
Current Mood: excitedexcited
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So I have a modest dice collection — certainly not on par with some of the people in the Dice Maniacs Club! But one of them had their dice displayed in a capsule toy machine, and I thought that was really cool. I could imagine people coming over to play an RPG, and having to randomly draw a capsule with dice from the machine for the session…

And the wonders of the internet mean that you can easily find those machines for sale, too. Cheapest I could find was EUR 50, the nicest one was EUR 75.

And it’s a fun idea, but not EUR 75 worth of fun. Maybe, some day, but not now.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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D20
Dec. 28th, 2018 @ 11:16 am Vacation planning
Current Mood: excitedexcited
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We’ve started planning our vacation for 2019. At the end of March, we’ll be flying to Tokyo. After a few days there, we’ll rent a car and drive to the coast near Enoshima.

And after that, Hakone and then onwards to the Fuji Five Lakes area. With a bit of luck, we’ll make the most of the cherry blossom season…

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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sakuracoin
Dec. 19th, 2018 @ 09:09 pm Pinball
Current Mood: amusedamused
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I was reading through a set of articles about things that used to be A Thing and are not anymore — stuff like the walkman, VCRs and i-mode. Another one is the pinball machine.

Of course, being the age I am, I played my fair share of pinball. In my teenage years, we preferred the arcade video games, but during my time as a student, there were some bars that we frequented that had pinball machines. In the early 90’s, pinball machines were feeling the crunch from video games. In response, pinball machines were adding more and more digital effects, often using a LED matrix display. Wouldn’t it be fun to play pinball again?

It turns out that there is a Dutch Pinball Association. Their clubhouse, which houses 120 pinball machines, is in Veenendaal, which is only half an hour by car away… And they had a ‘Funhouse Friday’ coming up, just an open house from 15:00 until 23:00, with all the machines on free play. Entrance fee was EUR 10 for non-members, and I sent them an e-mail to ask if one could just go there as a non-member, pay the fee and play.

It was possible, but you’d have to get invited by a member first. And the person in charge of the clubhouse decided that he’d invite me! Such hospitality, I really liked that. But it turned out that there were more people interested in an evening of pinball: Klik wanted to come, as well as a friend of ours. And I didn’t feel like it was proper to take advantage of the hospitality by showing up with three people instead of one.

So we got a membership. And they have a semi-professional kitchen as well, so you could even have dinner there! Which is what we did.

The view from the bar area. There were three ‘corridors’ like this, and there was also a line of pinball machines along the far wall.
There was a good spread of machines: some really early ones, and more “modern” ones, including some that I played a lot in the early 90’s.
Left: Klik playing Black Knight 2000. Right: Friend O. playing Tommy.

Such good fun! We’ll definitely do this more often, perhaps we’ll get good at pinball eventually…

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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display
Dec. 10th, 2018 @ 09:37 pm Meltan quest
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
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Some months ago, there was a new Pokemon introduced in Pokemon GO: the Meltan, a metal type. It was first shown during the Chikorita community day, and turned out to be all Ditto’s. And with the launch of Pokemon Let’s Go on the Switch console, Nintendo introduced a way to transfer Pokemon to the Switch, and the reward is a box that spawns Meltan.

There was a special event that coincided with the launch of the game on the Switch, that allowed you to catch a Meltan without a Switch connection. It was a nine-step special research, and it required quite some special things, like battling in 10 raids. And while the quest would stay once you started it, the event that spawned the pokemon you needed to catch ended some time ago.

I had already resigned myself to not being able to finish in time, but then on the last evening my RPG session was cancelled, so I could walk around and do a few raids (in one case just throwing my raid pass in the raid and walking away). With only one hour left on the event, I finished up all of the required “research” and managed to catch Meltan!

But Klik lagged behind in the number of raids, so she was still working on it. And the going was slow, because the pokemon needed were not spawning regularly! But this Saturday, as we were returning from dumping some old bookcases, I saw a Cubone on the radar — so we turned the car around and drove to the spot indicated. Sure enough, there was a Cubone and she could finish the seventh step!

The eighth step involved catching two Anorith or Lileeps, and two Kabuto or Omanyte. The Anorith are spawning regularly around the gym behind the house, so that was easy. And there was one lucky Omanyte spawn that evening around here too… But that last needed pokemon was elusive! Until tonight, when someone remarked on the local Pokemon GO WhatsApp group that there was an Omanyte near the petting zoo. So we jumped in our shoes and went there without any detours. Sure enough, it was there!

So now we both have our Meltans!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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waaai!
Nov. 27th, 2018 @ 09:24 pm ProductTank
Current Mood: pensivepensive
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Last week, I was in Copenhagen to visit our office in Lyngby. I’m going to take on some of the product management tasks for the product they make there, and my visit was mainly to talk to the product manager there to see where I could contribute.
They had already planned to go to a meet-up of ProductTank, a local chapter of a global (IT) product-focused group, loosely affiliated with two annual product management conferences. As PM, you’re often working in isolation, so it’s always interesting to meet up with peers and talk about our work and learn from each other. So we went to the meetup together, to see what it is about.

At the start, I thought it was a bit intimidating: lots of people who do the same work, but have lots more experience. The person giving a presentation also used phrases like “As we all know…” and I didn’t know. So it felt like I was a newbie who still had so much to learn.
But during the informal discussion, there were quite a few things that some of the other people attending said that told me otherwise. Apparently, some things I find completely obvious were received as interesting suggestions to improve their way of working. Of course, I have the advantage of having a process defined that helps me: it is the result of many years of product experience, so I don’t have to re-invent those wheels myself. But I also understand where those processes come from and can sometimes point out improvements.
So perhaps I shouldn’t be so intimidated after all: I do my work well, and perhaps I have more to bring to the table during such discussions.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Fleeing rabbit
Nov. 12th, 2018 @ 05:38 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, silverthief2!
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eten
Nov. 12th, 2018 @ 05:37 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, anemoona!
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eten
Nov. 10th, 2018 @ 04:32 pm Vacation planning
Current Mood: pensivepensive
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So, every once in a while, I get a question from a colleague or acquaintance about vacationing in Japan. We have been there quite a few times ourselves, and it’s a big country, so people want to know where to go and get some “insider tips”. Often, people have already done some homework, and they can point to some trips prepared by tour operators.
I get that you want to see a lot of different things from the place you are visiting — especially from the Netherlands, Japan is far away, and I guess most people would visit only once. But those trips have a lot of travel — and sitting in the train is interesting the first time, but after three trip in a Shinkansen, you know the drill and I think you would be better served by spending more time seeing the sights. And why would you schedule an excursion to Nara and Fushimi Inari on the same day? Both those places can be enjoyed for a full day by themselves!

I guess that I’d rather spend some time at a place to really be there, instead of hurrying along, take a few pictures and then go to the next place. It makes it hard for me to give advice. Perhaps I should think of a ‘recommended itinerary’ that I can just give to people as inspiration, as a starting point?

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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sakuracoin
Oct. 30th, 2018 @ 07:21 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, kitzune!
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eten
Oct. 28th, 2018 @ 04:52 pm Spiel 2018 trip
Current Mood: tiredtired
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Every year, when the end of October looms, it’s time for Spiel, the largest tabletop gaming exhibition in the world! It’s held in Essen, which is about a 90 minute drive from our home, and we have been attending on a single day for some years now. We prefer going on the first day (when everything (and everyone!) is still relatively fresh), but it wasn’t clear until late whether klik had to work on Thursday evening. But her lesson on Thursday was cancelled because everyone was out, because it’s the fall vacation here — so we could go on Thursday after all.
We set out at 09:00, which would see us arrive at the fair about 30 minutes after opening. When we started going, quite a few years ago, we could always park close to the fairgrounds themselves. Later, it got busier and we had to park in a parking garage a bit of a walk away. We were aiming at that again this year, but everything was full as we arrived. And since every road towards the fair had been jam-packed with cars, it took us a long, long time to get to the off-site parking where we could park and grab a shuttlebus. Next year, we might leave earlier, and we’ll go to the offsite parking straight away — it’s conveniently just off the highway (for future reference: exit 26 of the A52), and the shuttle buses are quite frequent.

So we were off to a bad/late start, but we had an excellent day anyway. We didn’t have enough time to look at everything (ain’t nobody got time for that!) but we managed to hit all the stands I had marked up as being interesting before we joined B&G for afternoon tea, so after that we just wandered the halls. Mainly halls 4, 5 and 6, because they’re not as crowded, and that’s where all the ‘odd’ stuff is: the first three halls are large hard-core boardgaming companies, but the halls with the larger numbers are the smaller publishers, RPG companies, cosplay accessories etcetera. It’s a bit more chaotic, but I find it more interesting.

Read more...Collapse )

It’s always kind of exhausting: lots of walking, lots of simuli, but it’s always a lot of fun. We’re going next year, too.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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UN Spacy
Oct. 28th, 2018 @ 08:33 am Daylight Savings
Current Mood: pensivepensive

So we’ve gone back to winter time (the ‘actual time’ with 12:00 being the time when the sun is highest in the sky. There’s the usual grumbling (“The government is messing with our clocks again!”) but I really like daylight savings time. Our schedules are not set up such that 12:00 is the middle of your day: rather, you spend more time awake in the PM than the AM. So DST really means that you have more daylight in spring and fall after your working day.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Glowing LED
Oct. 26th, 2018 @ 10:44 am Friending frenzy
If you want more LJ friends, you should totally check out this Friending Frenzy! LJ may seem like a 'dead' space, but there's enough of us to make a vibrant community -- you just have to find the right people to connect to.
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ADM3A
Oct. 22nd, 2018 @ 08:46 pm More interview meme
Current Mood: okayokay
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• A meme:
→ Comment with “Come at me, bro”
→ I’ll respond by asking you five questions, so I can get to know you better.
→ Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
→ Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.
I was asked these questions by tabula_rasa. Sorry for not replying sooner!

Share a roleplay campaign you’ve done that would be worthy of a movie or novel adaptation.
The campaigns we had that are based on visual media (such as the Star Wars and Star Trek games) tend to be played very ‘visually’, with us describing scenes and cuts, so those would be easy to translate. And it’s fun to play as if you’re part of the media that the game emulates. But I don’t think those would add something to those franchises, because they’d fit in with what’s already there.
So I think I’ll go with our campaign of The Sprawl, a cyberpunk game with a setting inspired by William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy (of which the first book is the influential Neuromancer). We had a great group of players with a great group of characters, and an excellent GM that gave us enough room to play our characters the way we wanted and yet still challenged us with great missions and complications. A TV series based on that campaign would be super-cool, since the setting allows for moody visuals.
Sadly, the campaign is defunct and we’ll never get to play those characters again. But the sessions were broadcast live on Twitch, and those streams have been preserved as a playlist on YouTube, so you could use that as some sort of audiobook instead.

If you could visit any time past or future (and catching the communicable diseases of the day was no object), when would you visit and why?
Probably 100 years into the future. Imagine if someone from 1918 would visit today? Things are completely different (and, one could argue, much better) today, yet there would be still enough that is familiar to allow them to connect the dots. I am convinced that history trends towards a better life for everyone, and I’d like to see it farther out yet still close enough that I can understand it.

What is the most unexpectedly useful course you have ever taken?
The bookbinding and cartonnage courses I did. It started out as a hobby (and it still is), but we have been repairing books and making a little bit of spending money off our skills too.

What is a place you have been that you would recommend people travel to at some point?
Tokyo, because it has everything. It is super-urban (standing on the 51st floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office and seeing the city stretch out in all directions as far as the eye can see is quite the thing), so it has all the usual urban stuff. But it also has some really great parks and grand vistas over the bay.
Basically, it has something for everybody!

Recommend me a recipe you enjoy! (Preferably gluten-free :P).
I have to admit that I don’t really cook a lot from recipes. And most of the things I cook, I use a ready-made spice mix, because creating a curry paste from raw ingredients is not my style. So I don’t really have a ‘secret recipe’ to share with you.
One of the ‘tricks’ that I do is to dice some sweet potatoes and chuck those in the air-fryer for about 25 minutes. We use that instead of rice to go with our (indian) curry, and it’s glorious!

Thanks for your questions!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Maid dance
Oct. 14th, 2018 @ 06:06 pm Taking stock
Current Mood: tiredtired
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One of the biggest chores in reconstructing our living situation is putting the books in the new bookcase(s). When we brought the books and the old bookcases upstairs, speed was more important than organisation, so they’re just all stacked haphazardly. But of course when the books take their rightful place in the living, we want to have some sort of grouping to have similar books together. (Certainly nothing like Dewey Decimal, but it has to make sense for us.)
So yesterday I spent quite some time pulling out all the books of my RPG collection and putting it in the new bookcase — it is certainly the largest category of books we have, and I am the one who has to organise them. A lot of work, but in the end it turns out I have just over 2 meters of shelf filled with RPG books. And over a quarter of that (56 cm) are classic Iron Crown Enterprises releases: the Middle-Earth Roleplaying boxed set (2nd edition), lots of Rolemaster (multiple editions and lots of sourcebooks) and almost the entire run of SpaceMaster (including two copies of the rules).

These days, I tend to buy PDFs instead of physical books: shipping costs tends to take out all the fun of getting physical books, and there are no local stores that I could visit to buy those books. There are two notable exceptions: one is every book published by Cubicle 7 for The One Ring, the current iteration of a Middle-Earth RPG (and, in my opinion, the first RPG to really capture the feel of the books!). The other is Tales from the Loop, an RPG set in an alternative 80’s by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag — I think those two books are all that’s going to come out, but I recently participated in a Kickstarter for a follow-up and sequel, set in the 90’s…
Both those series are gorgeous books with lots of atmosphere and great illustrations, so they’re worth it. There’s still some room in the bookcase for expansion of the RPG collection!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Glowing LED
Oct. 13th, 2018 @ 08:10 am Interview meme
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Tags:

• A meme:
→ Comment with “Come at me, bro”
→ I’ll respond by asking you five questions, so I can get to know you better.
→ Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
→ Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.

These questions are from ashmedai:
1. If you do grow a garden one day, what would be some must-haves, crops you’d absolutely want to grow yourself?
Carrots. Both the small snack-size ones (because they make good snacks) and the chunky ones that go well in stews and Japanese curry. And every working day, I have diced tomatoes and cucumber with my salad, so it would be good to grow those too.
I’m not sure how hard it would be to grow sweet potatoes, but we use those in the curry too, and it would be good to grow those too.

2. You love RPG and gaming, but I have NO clue about it. What got you into it, and what are some of the things you love about it?
I got introduced to RPGs when I was 14 by a classmate who insisted I would like it. He was going to run a game at his house (at the other end of the city) for some friends (some of which I knew, some of which I didn’t know) and I was invited too. It was about 45 minutes by bicycle to get there, and the first day my mom brought me by car. The rest of the week, I cycled there to play in the game, because he was totally right: I did like RPGs.
We played Rolemaster, and I got to play a Hobbit Thief, because that’s an easy role to fulfil within the party with few special rules. We played through a published scenario, “Adventure at Minas Anghen”, from the module “Haunted Ruins of the Dunlendings”, which is set in Middle-Earth. Fifteen minutes in, I experienced my first character death!
All of the people in that group were a member of the Eindhovense Rollenspel Groep, and I joined that too. I got to play a lot with them.

What I love about RPGs is the unbounded nature of the game. With computer games, you can never step out of the boundaries set for you, but in an RPG, moderated by a human Game Master, you can! Thinking up a character in a particular setting, getting to experience an adventure, making choices about the world and your character that matter (in that world, at least), that’s what I like about it. And the communal story-telling and social aspects (with the right group…) make playing an RPG a very special experience.

3. You list tea – what are your favorite kinds or brands, and what makes them so good?
My go-to tea is the Keemun Congou from Simon Levelt, a Dutch tea and coffee trading company. It’s our “house tea”, and I just never get bored of it. It has a rich, deep taste, but it doesn’t have a lot of tannin nor caffeine, so it’s easy on the stomach and can be drunk throughout the day. It’s just the best.

4. You have beautiful cats. How and where did you meet them?
Our previous cat was a black cat that was deaf, which we got from a shelter when it was around nine. It was really my partner’s cat: it was always hanging out with her, and while it seemed to like me enough, it was her that he loved. All the same, I was pretty heart-broken when we had to let him go: his kidneys were failing and he clearly was done with life like that. Force-feeding him was a traumatic experience for me.
Then only a couple of weeks after, I realised that I missed having a cat around the house. We talked it over, and we reached the conclusion that it would be best to have two cats: back then, we were on the road a lot, so our new cats would have company while we were gone. We also agreed that we would get cats from a shelter: there’s enough cats being found and/or abandoned. We looked at the adoption site of the humane society and found a few sets of cats that belonged together at a shelter that was reasonably close.
We went to visit there, and I didn’t want to bring our cat carrier with us, because I was afraid that we would act on impulse and return home with cats without being really prepared. The first set we visited hung out in a room with a lot of other cats, and there was a volunteer in that room there. She was there to take pictures of the cats to put up on the adoption site, and she pointed out the cats on our list to us. Klik insists that it was because I still had some liverwurst from lunch on my fingers, but I’m not sure — but I easily gained the trust of this first pair, and before long I was giving them both head scritches. When I stopped, they mewed at me to continue — something that hadn’t happened before with these two.
We looked at other pairs on our list, but the decision had already been made. In the car back, I regretted the decision to not bring the carrier with us, but we got the house in order and collected them from the shelter a few days later.

5. I think we all have moments in our lives we’d like to re-live over and over again. What are some of yours?
As cliche as it is, I think I’m going to go with our wedding day. It was a whole day that was totally about us, and everybody had a good time. The weather was fine, the locations were good, we had good food… It was wonderful.

Thanks for the questions!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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D20
Oct. 10th, 2018 @ 09:02 pm Star Trek Adventures
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Tags: ,

Last Sunday, we made characters for a Star Trek Adventures campaign, the current incarnation of a Star Trek RPG. We went through the rule system and it seems pretty cool. I get to play a Betazoid engineer, the lowest-ranked player character…
And yesterday, we had our first session. And after the “opening scenes”, our GM showed us the intro he made for our “series”, made from scratch!
[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUgjpKWaxE[/embedyt]

So cool to see your nickname in the credits like that.
(I go by ‘FubFubFub’ on services that require usernames with more than three characters, like Twitch, which is where I connected with this group.)

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Glowing LED
Oct. 8th, 2018 @ 06:42 pm On dungeons
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
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Fantasy RPGs have two important tropes. The first is dragons, which I won’t discuss here. It’s a trope, but it’s not exclusive to RPGs, so there’s plenty to read about them elsewhere.

The second trope, which you don’t see explored in any detail in other media, are deserted dungeons. Man-made structures, from a forgotten culture, underneath ruins, that adventuring parties explore — either to cleanse the evil inhabitants or to seek treasure. I always wondered how that could be: how could the structures that a previous group of people left behind, just be forgotten? (I will ignore things like natural caves, because those are just there and not constructed. It’s specifically the dungeons with the 5′ corridors leading off into the dark that interest me.)

And then I realised that in real life, we have unexplored dungeons too! Minus the magical monsters, which I think we can all be thankful for… Of course, there are the corridors through the pyramids and the graves of the pharaos: left behind by a previous civilisation, which we know about, and yet when those were discovered, it made a huge splash.
Or take Rome: after it was sacked, the population dropped immensely: without the structures of society, there was no way to support an urban population that large. The people who stayed behind demolished the buildings to use the bricks for their own houses, and cows grazed on the Forum. Could there not be undiscovered halls and corridors underneath, that nobody knew about? Would someone who was going to flee the city before the pillaging hordes, not stash their wealth in a hidden passage underneath their house, as to lighten their load — intending to return for it when things quieted down?

More bizarre is the Shell Grotto in Margate. Such intricate patterns of shells — and yet nobody knows who made it, or what its purpose is.
Or take the underground city of Derinkuyu. These underground structures existed for over a 1000 years, yet when the original inhabitants were forced out, it took less than a generation to completely forget that the town was built on top of this. Only after 30 years did they “discover” the structures when someone knocked down a wall in their cellar. That means that the dungeons were forgotten within living memory!
Or take the region of Bagan, where kings and princes of the distant past build thousands of temples. Those were Buddhist, so they could theoretically be still used for their original purpose, but suppose that they’ve belonged to a now-dead religious system? Suppose all the houses back then had been made of wood, and only the stone temples are now left?

So I learned that having dungeons around is actually not as far-fetched a story-device as I thought it was. This knowledge will certainly inform my future scenario-building.
(Do you want to know more? Check out this video and this video by the excellent Great Big Story channel.)

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Kashira? Kashira? Gozonji Kashira?