In Regards to Disrespecting Veterans

Image result for Take a knee

James Brown

Died in custody while serving a two-day sentence for DUI. Left naked on the floor of his cell for hours after complaining of trouble breathing. Video shows him begging for medical attention prior to his death.

Veteran
PoC

Say his name

I am thoroughly tired of the drama around the NFL and #takeaknee. The sanctimony and self-righteousness spewed by those against the protest against police violence towards people of color have reached the point where they make me heartbroken. Opponents continue to wrap themselves in the flag in rather the same way that Kid Rock did when he cut a hole in one and used it for a poncho – they wear it like a magical cloak to disguise themselves while at the same time committing acts of fundamental disrespect to it and what it stands for,.

Parminder Singh Shergill

Shot 14 times and killed by police, after they were summoned to assist with transporting Shergill to a VA hospital. Police claim that he lunged at them with a knife. Family claims he had his hands in the air and shouted “Don’t shoot!”

Veteran
PoC
Diagnosed with PTSD

Say his name.

“Disrespect for the flag” and “disrespect for veterans” are two of the fundamental arguments that opponents use to discredit the movement. Athletes, they claim, are showing disrespect for the flag by not standing for the National Anthem, and are by extension showing disrespect for to all those who served their country by disrespecting that flag,

but there is something that these Sunday morning patriots are forgetting when those athletes take a knee against police violence: there are two groups that are disproportionately targeted by police when using lethal force – people of color, and individuals with mental illness.

Veterans are prominent in both of these groups. As of 2015 Blacks and Hispanics made up approximately 29% of active military personnel. Blacks in particular serve in the military in higher numbers than their representation in the general population.

And veterans are much more likely to suffer PTSD or major depression than the general population. It is estimated that 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depression – that’s 20% of Iraq/Afghanistan vets, twice the rate of PTSD and major depression in the general population of the US.

Stanley Gibson

Shot and killed by police while sitting in his car. He was unarmed.

Veteran
PoC
Diagnosed with PTSD

Say his name.

Veterans of color exist in the cross-hairs of two groups that police target for violence more than any other – people of color and people with mental illness. Unarmed PoC are shot and killed by police 5x more often than white people relative to population. This is a huge disparity. One quarter of ALL victims of police violence are mentally ill.

Jose Guerena

Shot 71 times by police who entered his home on a highly questionable warrant. Guerena, who was asleep at the time of the raid, believed that his home was being broken into and armed himself, but never fired his weapon. Later analysis showed that the safety was still on.

Veteran
PoC

Say his name.

NFL athletes have attempted to bring the disproportionate police violence against PoC to the attention of the wider US populous through their protests at the beginning of games. You don’t have to agree with their methods to understand that the problem is real, and that it’s a vital issue, both for those who are concerned with social justice generally, and those who are concerned about veterans issues. People are literally being shot down in the streets or killed through police misconduct or neglect, and many of those targeted are, in fact, veterans.

Those who purport to be angered by these protests because they are not respectful miss the larger issue. Which is more disrespectful – to shoot unarmed people down in the street with little or no consequence, or to take a knee at a football game? Which do veterans need more – better mental health treatment and a system that won’t kill them for the scars they suffered in service, or forcing some guys to stand up at a sports game?

So I am done listening to arguments by these so-called patriots who bitch and moan about disrespect for the flag or for veterans. Our flag symbolizes freedom and equality, and it is not disrespectful to bring attention to institutional failures to live up to these ideals. Our veterans, particularly those who are people of color, are themselves victims of this institutional failure. They are literally dying because of it. Those who are kneeling are kneeling in part FOR veterans. They kneel to bring awareness and justice to those who have been killed, and hopefully to save future veterans from the same fate by changing the institutions that are killing them.

Johnathon Montano

Killed by police. After waiting for four hours for dialysis at a VA hospital, Montano announced his intention to travel to a different facility, with a shunt still in his arm. Nurses called VA police who tackled Montano, beat his head against the floor, and stomped on his neck, causing a stroke which killed him.

Veteran
PoC

Say his name.

You self-styled patriots are doing no more than deluding yourselves and wallowing in your own sense of self-importance if you think that kneeling at a sports event is disrespectful to veterans. It may seem disrespectful to you personally, but not to the families of James Brown, Parminder Singh Shergill, Stanley Gibson, Jose Guenera, and Johnathon Montano. Not to the literally hundreds of thousands of mentally ill vets who live every day with an increased risk of police violence. To them it is you who are disrespectful, because you have forgotten them, you have left them behind. But the athletes of the NFL remember them, and those who kneel are doing so to make the United States safer for them.

So feel free to sit and watch your NFL games (or boycott them – whatever), to sit in the stands and munch your hotdogs and beer, to sit on your couches and snack on chips. And when the athletes kneel, feel free to express yourselves (because we all know that while kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful, screaming “BOO!” until your face turns purple during the National Anthem is perfectly OK, right?) But once the anthem is over and the game starts and you settle into your seats or lounge chairs…

…say their names.

Advertisements

Fate Accelerated Ehdrigohr

Image result for EhdrigohrImage result for Fate Accelerated

After running a test game and getting feedback from the players, I decided that converting Ehdrigohr to Fate Core was a bit too complex and confusing, so I took a look at the simpler and easier to teach Fate Accelerated.  That seems to have worked well, though I have yet to playtest it.  I modified the Fate Accelerated system somewhat to make it better fit with my vision of Ehdrigohr:

  1. Increased base Refresh to 4
  2. Added one “2” stress box to all characters
  3. Developed a magic system to fit the setting

#3 was the most time consuming, and I confess that I didn’t make a comprehensive attempt, but only got some generalized ideas and worked out the mechanics for each character individually.  In Ehdrigohr magic is highly differentiated based on the Mysteries (Elements, Essences, Natures, Principles), each of which is subdivided into four “Ways”.  Finally there are traditions of magic that personalize the way a given character performs magic.  All in all it is a very colorful system with a great deal of variability even for casters within the same Mysterious Way.  But it did require a bit of modification to fit in with the streamlining design theory of Fate Accelerated.  Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head.

  • The various Mysterious Ways are generally taught only to a relative few (though of course among PCs it’s pretty common).  It requires a Stunt dedicated to learning to do any sort of magic.  This is usually combined with membership in one of the many Societies of Ehdrigohr (like Crow, Dove, Jay, Owl, etc.) but doesn’t have to be.
  • Each of the Ways is a specific form of magic, and is based on one of the character’s Approaches.  If I was going to expand on this I would list the Approach needed for each Way, but for this I just picked one that seemed appropriate for the character and their magic.
  • The Mysteries determine which characters can Help others in casting magic.  Any character who knows one of the Ways of a given Mystery can Help another character in casting their spells.
  • Characters who know magic get one use of their magic for free each episode.  Paying one Fate Point allows a character to use their magic for the remainder of the scene.  (I’m not sure about this one – it’s something I really want to playtest to make sure that the spellcasters have enough juice.)
  • Failing a Magic roll costs Stress equal to the difference between the Difficulty number and what was rolled.
  • The various traditions modify how an individual casts magic in some way (reducing stress, specifying who the character can and cannot Help with their magic, etc.)

Overall I think that despite being a lot simpler than the Fate Core version the Fate Accelerated version will work quite well.

RPG-a-Day: Day 30

What is an RPG genre mashup you would most like to see?

Image result for Spirit Warrior Empire

This was originally a setting for a minis game.  The genre mash was “Aztec Empire” and “Mecha”.  It was a wonderful idea.  I’m sorry that it didn’t make it.

The premise was that there was a big proxy war going on between advanced star empires.  Every so often they would utilize some primitive culture to fight in this war.  One such culture captured a bunch of Aztecs, took them off into space, gave them big-ass mech suits (that they could not understand or repair) and sent them off to fight.  It was a really great setting.

RPG-a-Day: Day 29

What is the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I haven’t actually backed that many RPG Kickstarters, and I don’t have a good understanding of how Kickstarters work so it is hard for me to judge between “well-run” and “successful” (which are related, but not the same) but this one sure made a lot of money.

RPG-a-Day: Day 27

What are your essential tools for good gaming?

Image result for writingI’m thinking of this in that “You are on a desert island and you only have essential tools” sort of way.

It would have to be writing materials of some kind.  I think that would be even more important than things like randomizers.  Randomizers you can make out of coconuts or fish bones or something, but stuff to keep records with is far harder to produce (although, take just a moment and imagine the Lascaux cave paintings as a chronicle of some group’s RPG campaign – it’s pretty awesome!)

“Crit. for 27 pts. damage!  You’re dead Bob, and for God’s sake wear pants next time!”

I’m not really a big fan of bells and whistles.  Since I run mostly a) online where physical tools are not all that useful, or b) at conventions where any tools I decide to bring I have to lug around all weekend, I really prefer to go minimal whenever possible.  I am partial to good quality character sheets though – particularly when I can get the players to actually fill them out and update them…  wait, that never happens*.  I think mostly it is a holdout from the old days of complex character sheets when there was so much technical information about the character that as GM I needed a standardized place to look for the information.

Image result for GM screen

After character sheets I love a good GM screen.  Again I think its largely a throwback to the days when there were a million zillion charts to keep track of and it was nice to have them all in front of me.  These days I like the GM screens that you can slide charts and tables into.  I honestly find the layout of a lot of GM screens to be baffling – they frequetly have charts and tables that I never use featured prominently, and charts and tables that I DO use crunched down in a corner on the lower right side.  They also waste up to 50% of their available space putting a big illustration on one side announcing the name of the game system – which totally makes for an awesome photograph of me as GM with my head poking above the illustration at conventions, but is USELESS for anything other than my ego.

While I am on the subject, let me just give some Kudos to Green Ronin, which actually supplies some extra double-sided, laminated charts for Mutants and Masterminds that are suitable for putting into those plastic table sign standie things.  This was an act of sheer genius that I am surprised hasn’t been widely copied.  Even if you don’t want to invest in plastic table sign standie things, most conventions now have them sitting around holding table signs, and you can easily procure a couple for your convention game.  I invested in some, and one of the big reasons that I am running “League of Extraordinary Felines” at Big Bad Con this year in the Mutants and Masterminds 5th system is that I can plunk those charts on the players side of the GM screen and everyone at the table can have access to them without having to flip through books or squint at the screen.  Damn that was a fine idea.

_______

*My beloved wife is a notable exception to this.  As a player, I confess that I am not.