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Malcolm Sheppard

⚜WhiteWolf Freelancer
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About Malcolm Sheppard

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  1. Fighting Style: Tai Chi

    I have about 3 years of casual study in Yang style, myself -- but my knees aren't great, so I switched to non-form focused work (I concentrate on Muay Thai now.) I would probably use Armory Reloaded's Qinna as a base, since I designed it to simulate standing wrestling. Remember that any full transmission would be a Compound Style using those rules.
  2. Crossover == Fail?

    My Mage/Vampire game has gone pretty well.
  3. Prehistory

    The mythology of the games is not necessarily prehistory, even if they are true.
  4. Richard Dawkins

    Well no, it is not in fact true. There is one group of people on earth that only count to one, two and many: the Piraha. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirah%C3%A3_people . The fact that we can derive consistent models from numbers does not make the numbers real. Testing has shown that the Piraha do not in fact even *perceive* numbers of objects in the same way as other people. Without reference to objects, mathematics is essentially meaningless. Since there is no essential definition of a single object, mathematics cannot be applied to phenomena consistently without some social conventions about the relationship between math and objects. These conventions are extraordinarily useful, but they are not "transcendental," nor are they "discovered" in the fashion of someone finding an uncharted island. If Dennett's beliefs were self-consistent, then his own words can only be read as religious. He is claiming that math is an entity external to human experience, which is unproven and quite probably false. Ironically, this is a direct inheritane of the Platonic baggage promulgated by the medieval church, so it is actually religious in origin, too. Memetics is not like evolution, however. We can make empirical observations about evolution. We can't make them about memetics. That's why memetics is like religion and evolution isn't. No, it's pretty much exactly the same thing in the sense that it is an appeal to some transcendent entity for which no proof exists. You have appealed to mathematics' utility (what is called indispensiblism in the philosophy of math), but there's really no need for a relationship between utility and truth. Many false things have plenty of utility, so this cannot be counted as a claim to truth. If one chooses to hold on to these beliefs, it is not consistent to critique a set of beliefs with the same characteristics for being untrue because of those characteristics. The "invisible slide rule" is not really the laws of nature. It's a set of useful models that interpret natural phenomena that fit certain utilitarian and aesthetic criteria, many of which (like Occam's Razor) are not actually provable. The unfortunate thing is that atheist activists *have* to make a ludicrous claim to truth, because they have to set their arbitrary beliefs above theist arbitrary beliefs to argue that people ought not to believe in God. The alternative is to make a utilitarian argument, but those are weak; when atheists make them they generally look pretty foolish, because there are plenty of secular counterexamples to pretty much any horrible, religiously motivated crime you can think of (examples: suicide bombing was invented by secular Tamils and the greatest massacres in human history were caused by the Mongols, who were an secular culture). Where I find doctrinaire atheists and theists truly fail is in competing for some notion of the transcendental. Neither perspective is particularly convincing without the proper cultural indoctrination. It's still possible to do science and develop codes of moral/cultural customs without making these claims, so it's not as if it's a useful way to defend science or religion. It's just a waste of time: a sideshow of eminently privileged people grasping for supremacy in a meaningless realm.
  5. Is it just me, or does NWoD not Generate Discussion ?

    It's fairly obvious. When somebody on this board talks about the pros and cons of allowing this or that PC at his or her table (as is happening in this thread, up above) that's an actual game issue. The Masquerade vs. Requiem thread on RPGNet is an abstract bull session between intellectual property fans. That's where a zillion "sell me" thread come from, and why they're habitually patrolled by people who want to actively discourage folks from playing a game -- I somehow doubt those guys are running WoD games on the sly while telling everyone else how much they think it sucks. Really, Dave Brookshaw and co. are definite exceptions. That said, there's something to be said for abstract discussions about the WoD as an IP. Sometimes, I think this board isn't "meta" enough in its conversations. Since people here are playing, they're looking at, say, the Silver Ladder from the inside, instead of coming from the outside and talking about the purpose it serves in a general context. Comparing it to the old World of Darkness, I'd say that discussion on RPGNet has had pretty much the same quality throughout, while the current WoD sparks much more play oriented discussion here and on the WW boards than it used to, because folks on those boards are coming in with comments fresh from games they're running. On the WW Mage board right now there's a guy worried about dealing with one player's combat-optimized Perfected Adept, a player who wants advice on playing a GoV in a game he's just starting in (with feedback based on play) an account of pre-campaign discussion and a thread on game planning. Using examples, here, I'm talking about stuff like this: http://www.shadownessence.com/forum/index....showtopic=30464 http://www.shadownessence.com/forum/index....showtopic=30759 http://www.shadownessence.com/forum/index....showtopic=30898 These are conversations about really playing the game, and that's virtually nonexistent on RPGNet beyond dedicated AP threads. I think the WW boards have made SNE something of a secondary resource, since folks who are here are also often there getting involved in practical discussion. I think *this* board could make a niche for itself with more original material, and maybe a connection to at least one chat game.
  6. Is it just me, or does NWoD not Generate Discussion ?

    More people on this board are burdened by the concerns of actually running a game.
  7. Richard Dawkins

    Certainly: * Nick Borstrom doesn't believe in God, but believes we live in a magic computer simulation. Really. * Dennett (http://cercamon.wordpress.com/2007/12/15/daniel-dennett-sentretient-avec-robert-wright/): "One of the things that we have evolved to discover on this planet is arithmetic. We didn’t invent it, we didn’t make it. We found it. It is eternal. A priori. True. It’s this great stuff and it’s true everywhere in the universe. It’s true anywhere in any universe. There’s only one arithmetic. Is that transcendent, I would say yes." That's dumb. No, that's not the way the valid confirmation of ideas works. The onus is on *you* to prove the memetics is valid, not for me to prove that they aren't, just as the onus is in the Theist to prove that God exists, and not on you to prove that He doesn't. The stopping point in cultural atheism - this desire to reject God but still grab something equally arbitrary, while at the same time clinging to some notion of a superior intellectual position - is why I have little empathy for it. Without intellectual rigour, it's just a cultural affectation, no more rational than religiosity. It *is* religiosity, and I say this not in the sense of some lame, "Enh, A is just as good/bad as B!" I'm saying that this form of atheism and religion are in fact identical in terms of the basic thinking processes at work. They are both attempts to grasp at the transcendental that fail to prove the existence of the transcendental in the first place. I really don't care for the Invisible Slide Rule any more than the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
  8. Richard Dawkins

    The culture of atheism that Richard Dawkins belongs to is insufficiently skeptical, somewhat gullible and largely committed to dogmatic faith, rather than evidence. Memetics is an example of this in action. This is essentially a kind of degenerate form of Platonism (in the sense that it is extensible from a physical metaphor instead of pure mathematics), which isn't surprising; Dennett is also a closet Platonist. I don't believe in God; the Platonic ensemble is really just as stupid.
  9. Is it just me, or does NWoD not Generate Discussion ?

    The RPG industry is in fact shrinking, but it has been shrinking since the 90s. There was a D20 bubble, but this didn't translate into tons of consumer sales -- just sales to hobby stores who couldn't move the stuff and subsequently went under. There are many reasons for this. Part of it is that the niche served by RPGs has far more competitors for time. Part of it is that the fanbase is aging, and doesn't recruit new players as vigorously. These are pretty well known within the industry. Now in my personal opinion, I think the community has sort of allowed itself to be fragmented into a bunch of insular micro-hobbies that are pretty much devoted to serving fans according to their stated expectations . . . which believe it or not, is probably a mistake. As I've said elsewhere, reproducing what fans say they want manages to exclude new ideas and not even really serve the fans, because when fans say they want X, they can usually produce X themselves -- that's the way RPGs work. People talk a lot about some trick or game design principle that will grab everybody's attention and great another mini-burst of activity, but the fact is that we now know that even *giving it away for free* (a la D20) doesn't really do it, and design fads sell books at conventions, then a trickle, without creating a stable play community or a culture of excited folks. I think there's a tendency to regard each fad as the big thing that will save us, and give Internet feedback too much authority. So while I think things could stand to change, it's not like changing *back* would help. These issues I'm citing are mostly reactions to situations that have shrunk sales for reasons largely divorced from the content of RPGs. I can think of some solutions, but they would be very, very expensive for the kind of budgets that RPG designs work with. But if any of you are willing to drop mid-to-high five figures, let me know.
  10. The Precusor of Mage: The Awakening

    Ascension's rules needed work. Many, many people liked shooting the breeze about Ascension, but I saw precious few sustained games. Personally, I think Awakening could do to be a bit less complicated, since people tend to overly fixate on individual spells now, over the back end of the magic system. Nevertheless, it's playable and the math actually works -- Ascension's math doesn't work, but unfortunately that couldn't be changed for legacy reasons. What I have noticed with Awakening is people talking about the games they *are* running, not the games they fantasize about running, or the setting outside the context of play. Sometimes I think I'd like a kick at the can of a "4e" Ascension, but the end result wouldn't look like anything people who like any edition of Ascension would be interested in. For the most part I'm done with it. I designed and ran Judgment (well I ran it, then redesigned it for a mass audience) and pretty much finished up, and can't wait to get back to my Awakening game (after I finish the next SWRPG miniseries for my group).
  11. Somthing extra for Silver Ladder?

    Have you taken the time to examine how the Cryptopoly works in game terms?
  12. Silver Ladder

    Proximi rules took some room.
  13. Silver Ladder

    Chapter Two. I've written the second chapter of all the order books except Free Council.
  14. Lords of Summer

    That was the joke I told my wife when I was writing it up. The court was my stuff, too. Glad you liked it!
  15. Silver Ladder

    I got my comps about a week ago. It came out pretty well.