Rannm Thawts Leven

Random thoughts. 'Lot of 'em are about anime this time, and a couple of cultural or scientific issues, with only a few about RPGs.
  • Decided to go back to a twelve-month year, in my Pathfinder setting, but I really don't like the Julio-Gregorian calendar starting on January 1st. Or February having 28 or 29 days. I decided to go with New Year being on February 4th, around Imbolc/Candlemas, and the beginning of the Chinese solar term "spring begins", because starting your year anywhere other than when a season starts—like, say, ten days after the winter solstice, which by the way is midwinter not the first day of winter—is stupid. I have seven 30-day months and five 31-day ones; I even put leap-years back, by having every fourth year have its last month (the only 30-day one that follows another 30-day one) have 31 days. Except not when the year is divisible by 100, unless it's also divisible by 400, but not by 4,000. (If you add that last one to the Gregorian calendar it only loses one day every 19,500 years—which seems like too long to bother about for us, but we don't know any elves who live over a millennium.)

    The moons now, thus, have a c. 30.5 day period, and synch up with the solar calendar. Not 30.5 exactly, since they actually synch up with the leap-years too. Also decided to give the months the names of the creature-types other than fey (which don't exist in my setting); having a month for "undead" is no weirder than Golarion having a month for Zon-Kuthon the god of torture and subjugation. Think I'll also have the humans give each day of the month the names of the cleric domains, since there are 31 of them if you leave out Death and Evil, and go back to having them use their own or their parents' wedding anniversary as a surname, and the date of their accession to a title or initiation into a society as a middle name. The days leave out the scary domains, while the months don't leave out scary types, because the humans adopted clerical worship later, and they aren't the ones who named the months. I'm not sure who did; I'm leaning toward maybe the snake people.

    I guess an "improved" Gregorian year of 365.24225 days, divided by twelve, gives a month for the two moons of 30 days, 10 hours, 29 minutes, 4.2 seconds—i.e. 30.4368542 days.
  • Despite what the more-environmentalist-than-thou still seem to believe, bees aren't going extinct. They're not even endangered. Not the Afro-European honeybee, anyway. Some bees in the New World are endangered, though…and it's mostly the imported honeybee's fault. They're an invasive species, which drives indigenous bees out of their foraging territories; they also exacerbate the problem of invasive plant species, because most New World bees won't pollinate them, but imported honeybees will. (Also when the African strain is in play they kill people and domestic animals. And probably endangered wild animals.)
  • I initially passed over The Good-for-nothing Magic Instructor and the Akashic Record, to accurately translate the Japanese title, because the stupid fanservice-y uniforms the girls wear. But oddly, the rest of the show hasn't got all that much fanservice, and is actually a pretty solid fantasy-action show. If anything it could actually stand to go into the "romance" angle more, which is normally the reverse of the case for light-novel series. Glenn also isn't the usual generic LN protagonist, albeit mostly because he usually acts like a complete tool (but, like, in a funny way; fiction is full of people who are amusing to watch but who you'd murder if you knew them).

    Even if it wasn't pretty decent all by itself, it gets bonus one bajillion points just for not being isekai.

    Also watched 2014's Seikoku no Dragonar/Dragonar Academy—I've been scouring Crunchyroll and the Funimation streaming-service for all their remotely tolerable fantasy series (and I'm pretty much done, though I should probably go back over the list just to be sure). While Dragonar is by no means actually good—it has far too much utterly unmotivated fanservice to graduate beyond "so-so"—the depth of its worldbuilding absolutely crushes most shows from a half-decade later. It's mostly just an ecchi quasi-harem series, but there's so much more work put into its setting than in almost everything more recent, that it feels like a much higher-quality show than it actually is.
  • Another show from 2014 that I skipped at the time, I think because I had read part of the manga adaptation and wasn't impressed, was Madan no Ô to Vanadiis (the English title of which, Lord Marksman and Vanadis, seems to be somewhat more accurate, since he uses arrows not bullets and isn't a king, though it seems he eventually becomes one—on the other hand Senki, written 戦姫, means "war/battle princess", not "war maiden").

    Watched it just recently (turns out I wasn't quite done with the streaming-services' list of fantasy anime), and, again, it's amazing how much better it is than more recent stuff. The obvious comparison is to Grancrest War, but it's like comparing a Chik-Fil-A chicken sandwich to a McDonald's one. They are recognizably the same kind of thing, and neither is bad, but only one of them (Madan no Ô) is really, genuinely good.

    One of these works, among other things, is by someone who clearly likes military history. And the worldbuilding just blows most later works clean out of the water. About the only problem with it is its ending is incredibly rushed. Meanwhile how many damn seasons has Sword Art Online gotten? "We are being digested by an amoral universe."
  • Not available on a streaming-service I have access to (Hulu doesn't seem worth it), but Chivalry of a Failed Knight is actually pretty good (I was really curious so I watched it on YouTube). As at least one YouTuber points out, it has the protagonist and main girl become a couple only four episodes in, which is a miracle for something based on a light novel—usually they prefer "will they or won't they?" jerking around till the audience has whiplash.

    Another one that isn't awful, is Weakest Undefeated Bahamut (I don't care to look up the official English title). I haven't actually been able to watch the anime but I've read the light novel. It's not quite as good as RakuKishi plot-wise, I think, but it has better worldbuilding (though nowhere near Vanadis or even Dragonar). So, if you have Hulu, there are two other recent fantasy anime that aren't arguments in the Problem of Evil. With that, though, I've pretty much exhausted the possibilities.
  • Much is made of "vocal fry"; many people either hate when young women use it, or denounce those who hate when young women use it for supposedly being sexist, and "attacking women's speech".

    Here's the thing, though: "vocal fry" is the opposite of falsetto. That's the main reason women's use of it attracts comment; it's much less noticeable when men use vocal fry, just as falsetto makes much less of a change in most women's voices (to the point many denied that women could do falsetto till ridiculously recently—decades after Julia Child went on the air, for one thing—and Italians apparently still do).

    Do you think if many young men suddenly started talking like Monty Python pepperpots people wouldn't find it irritating? Not even the most deranged MRAs would defend that or accuse anyone of "attacking men's speech", get over yourselves.
  • Realized I hadn't come up with weapon familiarities for the ancient "evil Atlantean" humans of my setting. Decided to give them trident and spiked shield, those being good weapons for an ancient maritime empire, and have bola and net be martial weapons for them, since they're slavers.

    Decided the lizardfolk ("scaled people") use stone javelins, atlatls, halberds, and axes, while troglodytes ("cave things") use stone heavy and light picks, atlatls, and bows; kobolds (also "cave things") use heavy and light picks made of metal, plus light and heavy crossbows (scaled for Small creatures they do the same damage as Medium creatures' longbows).

    Sahuagin ("tide things") are all proficient with tridents and treat harpoons and nets as martial weapons. (They only get three because their other major weapon is underwater crossbows, which are simple not martial.)
  • Shouldn't the two heads of something like an ettin—in my setting just a two-headed hill-giant variant, as cyclopes are, though I had had ettins as two-headed ogres—be considered two separate entities? And an ettin be "they" unless you're only talking about one of its heads? They're basically conjoined twins, after all, and those are "them", not a singular. You could do something pretty cool with having each of the heads have separate mental ability scores, and maybe they belong to two separate classes—give one the spellcasting of an adept, say, and the other that of a bard.