Monthly Archives: May 2015

Empire 379YE Spring Equinox

My Good, Bad, and Ugly from the the Spring Equinox, 379YE. This was far and away my best Empire event (and my best event as a player of anything, I reckon) and being away from the office for nigh-on a week was something I desperately needed. Having as much fun as I did was just a bonus.

The Ugly

  • Nothing!
  • The Bad
  • Selling half of the salted caramel cream liqueur (that stuff was really really nice)
  • Aching heels from walking around the entire site several times organising rituals
  • Forgetting the names of runes partway through a ritual
  • Rituals could use some flash and pomp
  • Left my make-up at home
  • Blister on my palm from hammering tent pegs – betadine stings!
  • Barely being in Wintermark
  • Barely seeing friends on the field

The Good

    • Fighting Heralds of Arhallogen in the Hall of Worlds
    • Pulling both Pavul and Jessica out of the fighting to Gudrun and realising afterwards that I might have just saved Jessica’s life
    • Running the timers after the civil servant had to run off because of the Empress election
  • Being the lead ritualist in six rituals
  • Becoming known by archmages, the warmage, and grandmasters
  • Making a name for myself in the Shuttered Lantern
  • Making three crowns from my booze
  • Organising scrying rituals for the military council
  • Finding a rhythm for my rituals that meant I was pretty much perfect on timing
  • Lights in the regio stones
  • Enjoying every minute of Conclave (I must be getting weird)
  • James managed to pick up my make-up
  • Arriving on Thursday makes everything else so much more relaxed (being on site 28 hours before time in was weird)
  • Feeling so much better after being away for the weekend
  • Froth lunch at Buddy’s with the Glasgow lot
  • Salted caramel cream liqueur
  • First magical traumatic wound
  • Mhorish
  • Holtoberfest sausages
  • Team Human Centipede!
  • Stab-safe mage staffs are big and clever – I need to make myself one
  • Learning how to make Cesare speechless
  • Witnessing Astrid’s joining the League ceremony
  • Cunts and first kisses in the pub


I have a few IC letters and some reports to write, and I’m resisting the urge to talk in TLAs about everything that happened[1].

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. TRV did ESM and EHP on various locations. Fighting HoA in HoW was awesome.

Vegan Superpowers

Someone proposed using snake-skin in a LARP as a prop (by which I mean shed snake skin, not harvested skin) and some other people from “Team Vegan” piped up and said “not for us thanks” and went on to explain that they didn’t care how it came off of the snake, they want nothing to do with it.

I’m now wondering if they feel the same way about wool. Both snakes and sheep must shed their outer layers for their own comfort on a regular basis. Sheep can’t do it themselves (due to those traits being bred out of them) and need our help to do so. Not helping a sheep shed its wool in the summer is actually crueller than shearing it as it won’t be able to cope with summer heat with the thermal layers of wool. Snakes shed their skin as they grow, squeezing out of the tighter layer being shed to be more comfortable in the new larger scales beneath.

Jeremy is currently in blue at the moment (preparing to shed) which may be part of my reaction to this, but all I can think is that “Team Vegan” is so against any kind of animal product being used that they’re objecting even to the use of naturally discarded bits. I don’t get that. I can understand working against animal cruelty, and modifying your lifestyle to match, but not using natural discards seems overboard to me.

Antlers are discarded by deer every year, scales are shed by snakes regularly, sharks constantly replace their teeth. You can collect all of these things and more without ever harming or even capturing the animals in question – there’s no cruelty involved. It strikes me as being similar to objecting to cutting down forests and refusing to use fallen branches in a fire to keep you warm. It also strikes me that such extreme attitudes will lead to an increase in the use of synthetics, which will pollute the earth faster and cause more damage to animals in the long-term.

I don’t know – I just don’t get the extremism. Unless you really do get Vegan Superpowers from it.

[Requiem] An excerpt from a letter

An excerpt taken from a letter written by Charles Morganti to another kindred.

The advance of technology has been immeasurably useful to my trade. Where once providing a musician for a private affair involved earplugs, blindfolds and other such instruments to disguise the truth of affairs, now technology provides an answer. From the gramophones introduced at the turn of the last century, which enabled music to be played at will at the turn of a crank to the modern electric music devices that transcend such basic principles. In modern nights, I can have a favoured musician play in a private room and their art is conveyed through electrics to a room elsewhere providing the unique experience of a personal musician without the dangers of having a kine musician included in a kindred matter.

You might ask why I don’t simply solve two problems at once and make a favoured musician of mine into a ghoul to provide safety and loyalty. The answers are myriad: I provide discrete services, and even a ghoul being present can break that creed; providing a variety of musical talent in this way would be expensive in vitae; and then there is the foremost reason – the lack of creativity in the ghouled. There is no shame in admitting that the mortal mind adapts better to new situations and creates more readily than the minds of the kindred. Our immortal nature bestows a certain slowness in thought, and the ghouled take on some measure of that. A ghoul is less likely to be original, or to create new works. Even the bond is dangerous as it focuses the kine on yourself rather than the creation of new works. In art and music, you want nothing other than the best unsullied by the nature of vitae.

Of course, the problem with using only kine untouched by the blood is that they all too soon wither and lose their talent. At some point, one must ask oneself whether this treasured artist is at the peak of their abilities and whether you wish to retain them as they are, or whether one lets them continue to create and age as a mortal. This is another solution that technology has overcome to a degree. The ability to store the art of a musician’s craft in electrics such that their beauty can be recounted at any point is itself a marvel and one which I offer freely to my clientèle should they desire musical accompaniment to their activities. As previously described, a personal performance can also be arranged through the use of an insulated music room for the performer or performers which also allows for the composition of original or custom pieces for a particular event.

The scale of technological advancement seems to leap exponentially with every passing decade. There seems to be little now that cannot be accomplished through the power of electrics – the cities quite literally thrum with the energy passing through the aether at times.

Beermat Maths

I’ve been doing some beermat maths regarding the recent UK election. It started with my spreadsheet where I mapped out how many seats each party should have won based on proportional representation compared with how many they got (Tories, Labour, and SNP got too many; Greens and UKIP got too little), and has progressed a little more into a armchair political theorist discussion on the effects of proportional representation on the electorate.

My hypothesis is that proportional representation (PR) would not only give a fairer distribution of parliamentary seats, but also radically change the makeup of those seats. Most of this comes from the aforementioned beermat maths.

The first thing to be aware of is that 46.4 million Britons are currently eligible to vote (only about 30.6 million voted), and that there are 650 parliamentary seats at present. That means that in order to get a seat in a PR system, you should only need 71,424 votes. That number is the magic one that makes all of the rest of this slide into place.

Currently, the candidate with the highest proportion of votes in each constituency gets the seat – regardless of how many votes they actually got. This means that there are many seats where the sitting candidate has less than 40% of the votes from their district – but they’re supposed to represent 100% of the people in it. Somehow, that seems unlikely to me. It is my belief that because of this, many voters vote for parties whose policies they do not support fully out of a “better than the alternatives” mindset. So not only are people not getting the people they want in parliament, they’re settling for who they think can win it and do alright by them.

While proponents of the Green Party[1] are decrying the fact that they only got 1 seat (0.15% of the seats) with 3.8% of the votes, others are supporting the current system for ensuring that UKIP only got one seat despite having 12.6% of the vote. The popular belief here is that PR would be good for both parties, but Britain might suffer under more UKIP representation. I believe that the numbers from the current election do not reflect in any way the numbers we would get under a PR system.

It is my belief that a PR system would open the door to a political system that actually invites people to have the representation they want. If your vote is a national vote rather than a local vote, then it doesn’t matter if you’re the only person in a 100 mile radius to vote for CISTA[2] because as long as there are 71,423 other people across the country that want CISTA to have a representative. Being able to vote for a political platform you believe in without having to settle for a party that might win has to mean that people will vote for the parties they actually believe in.

It is my belief that bringing in PR will massively boost the less mainstream parties, and encourage people to vote for groups that get them what they want without going to the extremes of UKIP. I believe that a PR system will actually reduce the number of UKIP votes, not increase them. I also believe that PR will increase voter turnout as every vote will matter – your vote won’t be washed away by 40% of your constituency voting for a bigger party.

It is my belief that all of the smaller parties will benefit from PR and that the larger mainstream parties will suffer and it is because of this that no right-thinking Conservative will allow anything like a bill changing the vote to a PR system to pass before the next election no matter how much the other parties rally behind it. We may get a concession towards a better voting system in the future, but I can’t think that PR would do anything but hurt the Conservative party, and they’re unlikely to support a system that removes them from power in the next election.

The maths on this election is rather fascinating. 36.9% of the voters voted for the Conservatives but they won 50.9% of the seats. 66.1% of the electorate showed up to vote, which means that 24.4% of the electorate determined 50.9% of the seats. Given how the election maths actually works, any Conservative votes in areas that don’t have a Tory seat should be discounted as they didn’t contribute towards the won seats, and that actually makes it worse. I don’t have those figures, but that means that less than 24% of the eligible voters determined over half of the seats – when those are the numbers you’re looking at, can you really support First Past The Post as a valid method of determining who gets to sit in parliament?

All numbers referenced in this post were drawn from the BBC election results webpage and the derived interpretation is my own.

There are already various efforts to change the electoral system, including this Green Party campaign and the Make Seats Match Votes campaign.

Featured graphic from Morag Hannah, a Green Party candidate standing in the  Holyrood 2016 election. She was corrected on Twitter as it is in fact an Euler diagram but I didn’t feel the need to upload the corrected graphic.

UPDATE: This campaign for fairer representation by a teenager too young to vote has now broached 200,000 signatures and momentum is still gaining. There’s a part of the petition that I like that expresses my feelings quite succinctly:

“I don’t want to vote for a party I disagree with to keep out a party that I disagree with even more. I want to vote for a party that I believe in.”


UPDATE: I have been pointed at Martyn Eggleton’s D’Hondt analysis of the election[3] which splits votes by region and works out proportional representation on that basis. It’s interesting to look at, and the figures are interesting. The Conservatives and Labour have more seats under than my nationally based figures suggest, and UKIP and Green both lose seats comparatively. Local parties like Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein, and the Democratic Unionist Party come out ahead in there areas rather than losing seats.

This analysis doesn’t hugely appeal to me as much as my own does purely from the bias that my vote (for the Green Party) wouldn’t matter as only 39,025 people in Scotland voted for the Green Party this election, and that isn’t enough to score a seat in Scotland.[4] However, I still think that under this system you’d see a better representation of what people wanted from their government and that people would be more likely to vote for the party they believed in.


Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Full disclosure: I am not a member of any of the Green Parties, but I support their political viewpoints and voted for the Scottish Greens
2. The Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol Party
3. Credit to Phil Hyde for the link.
4. Interestingly, UKIP got 47,078 votes in Scotland which is more than I thought they would but not actually that much more than the Green Party.

Meme stories

Tonight, another iteration of a meme started going around my friends. This particular meme invites commenters to relate the story of how they met the poster, but to lie in doing so. Outlandish tales are far more fun.

Tell me how we first met.

I decided to take this a step further, though perhaps not intentionally. I like the constraints of six word stories – how the brevity makes each word more important, and how it can convey more of a story than the six words contain in themselves.

Each reply I have made to tonight’s round of the meme has followed the following three rules (created after the fact rather than before): each is six words exactly, each works independently of the others, and each can be brought together to illustrate a much larger story.

What that story was has been developed on the fly from the origins of the idea of writing a horror story featuring mirrors. The story seems to encompass a war with shadows and reflections, fighting our images who have decided to take over. Of course, winning the war doesn’t seem to be on the cards – merely a harsh survival as I relate how I met each of my (temporary) compatriots in the war.

It’s been an entertaining evening. The little excerpts of this tale are available on those posts I’ve commented on.