The Sign

Theodora gets upset about petty things.  Like the fact that Abydos was built so large and initially towered over her house — at least it towered over her house until she built a few more floors and a jail on top.

 “Hmmph, what about my house? I live here too,” said Theodora out loud as she stared at the sign, frowning and unhappy.

Impulsively Theodora ran back to her tower and got a brush and some black paint; she then ran back to the sign and began to paint.

“There’s room on the sign, I will just let people know where to find me, so they can ask their questions of Ganesha,” thought Theodora.

The paint and the brush did their job: “Theodora’s House – >”.

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And Theodora did change… Part 1

Theodora remembers that day when she realized that her carefree and pampered life had ended and that she must learn to thrive, alone, in a hostile barren land.

“These spiders aren’t so tough and I don’t have to outrun them anymore”, thought Theodora as she easily killed one with her handaxe.

Her muscles had begun to bulge and her confidence had swelled to great proportions by the time she had killed her 100th spider.  She now killed them on the side of the mountain, as opposed to hiding from them, when she harvested gossamer.

The giant spider though, that is another matter.  Theodora’s equipment is not right for such a great task as killing a giant spider, and besides, “why kill it when it is useful in clearing the Darfari camps…?”

And also by the time Theodora had killed the 100th spider she had become wealthy by providing a steady supply of silk to the Drifter’s Rest community.

Wealth, physical strength, these were new to Theodora and they began to transform her natural lazy idleness into a greedy hunger for “more”.  She knew must stay physically strong because, as she has said so many times, “how else could one live in these exiled lands without it???” Killing spiders is good exercise.

Material wealth though, that is another matter… for maintenance of her wealth is not fully in her control and the markets of the Exiled Lands are not free.

(to be continued)

Some Sociological Observations, 4 Months Later

As a Sociologist, I see a social group on Discord; I see one big social group that is the entirety of Discord, but the extent of my involvement is around 1200 members.

I happily came to this understanding of how big my particular group is, in its full extension, by way of meeting a young lady who is the head of the Engagement Team of the Vornair gaming community–  so for the price of some data entry tasks, I was enlighted, thank you @hinata1711!

To put it into perspective, our Discord server (social group) is relatively small and it is somewhat racially and economically homogeneous (although there is some racial diversity that is worth noting and I will spend a significant of time on the subject of race in the future).

Although I had theorized that this group was homogeneous in this way, I am happy to have had the assistance of the server owners at Ruins of the Storm and Song of Sword and Sorcery to post and advertise a 10 question demographic survey that I put together in order to verify my hypothesis.  At this point, February 24, 2019, I have 18  responses from the survey and the result represent and verify my initial thoughts.

Fortunately, I’ll be able to get some more data soon because the server owner of the new Ruins Unchained server, which is a reboot of the Ruins of the Storm server, has agreed to post the link to my survey in his Discord channel.  If all goes well, I should have between 36 and 40 survey entries by the end of March.   40 entries will give me a better picture of what the community of 1200 looks like, although I will continue to add survey data as it comes in.

And I continue to look at the demographics of the entire group because I think it says something about who we are in our leisure time and what we’re doing on the frontier of an immersive digital, digitized community that is in the adolescent stage of life.

Adolescence is a tricky time of life, but I think that the analogy fits.

One of the many people that I’ve had discourse with pointed out that it is this adolescent age that contributes to a lot of the interpersonal problems that we face as we go about doing community inside the net of digitized imagination play, on Discord and in the games we play.

In other words, digital community is sometimes intolerable.

But not always, and not even often, and that’s why we can return to the gaming over and over again, even as we are dealing with the natural confusion and anxiety associated with experiencing a new way of being in community.

And then there’s what’s happening in the games vs. what’s happening in the Discord.  Those things are intertwined and inextricable no matter how many rules we write to keep them separated from each other.

The content of the role-playing in the game and the content that is appearing in Discord are bound to each other.  In fact the whole operation is structured in such a way that is almost impossible to separate oneself from the taboo, and forbidden “ooc drama”.   “OOC Drama” naturally spills over from the game into rl interactions that are far from real. I point this out not as a critic, but as a biased observer of what is happening in our community.

Emoji are not real expressions of emotions and text is not enough to convey word meaning. So we compensate when we really need to communicate, and we get on voice chat.

But when I voice chat I have a sort of transient, disconnected feeling that I can’t imagine as being unique to only me since we are all trained, from birth, to communicate face-to-face– or least those of us who are 50 and older were. 😉

So another sociological observation is perhaps generational. I can feel the difference between a digital native and a digital immigrant when interacting on Discord.  But until now I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the literature around digital natives versus digital immigrants.  I will be diving into that literature very soon…

Another sociological observation that I make over and over again is how the power structures drive the narrative in our fiction. I was introduced to this concept in a sociological work entitled Shared Fantasy, Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds.  In this volume, Cary Allan Fine describes a consistent phenomenon: player-characters who sit close to the DM enjoy the game more than those who sit further away,  and that is to be expected. Unless of course the Dungeon Master is sophisticated and goes out of their way to look at their own unconscious biases.

And my final observation from for this post is more situated in the media than some my more general observations.  What I observed, over and over again, is that inasmuch as the Discord group has some solidarity and functions as a social group in a supportive way, it does so through the repetition of derivative media imagery.

In other words, support in our community most often comes in the form of conversations about superheroes, movies, videogame and the characters we create– characters who are all kinds of wondrous beautiful people who have wondrous, beautiful powers.  This content sharing ritual is cerebral, optimistic, fun… and we support each other through the use of it.

Thank you for reading this far.  And if you dare, I am available for RP on Song of Sword and Sorcery Conan Exiles, Ruins of the Storm Unchained Conan Exiles and Ruins of the Storm Atlas. 

Best regards,

-Zod

 

 

The Alchemy Shop

When drugged, impulsive, and happy, Theodora can hear the seductive voice of prophecy.  Sometimes the voice allows her to see into the future.  Her vision is a shadowy glimpse to be sure, and it only happens when she is inside those moments of true presence, within the equally transient here and now.

But Theodora’s earthy, superstitious hedonism always sparks to life when she goes to the alchemy shop.  It is not that she needs supplies, although she will buy some incense to clear a spirit of holding on

–she spots just the right resin and remembers that she can use a lump of coal to burn the resin and drive out any unwanted spirits from her little tower.

Theodora sees the shop owner and greets her, “hey”

“Hey Theodora, what are you looking for?” says the shop owner in a tone that begs for a socially misplaced, philosophical reply from Theodora.

“Change, I’m looking for a change” replies Theodora, predictably.

“Then you’ve come the right place Theo, look here”, the shop owner shows Theodora some dark green herbs, “smell this.”

Theodora takes a big whiff and fills her nostrils with the familiar sent of Ganja, “this smells delicious”.

“It is”, replies a grinning clerk.  Theodora doesn’t know her name but it’s Gracey.

Gracey knows Theodora’s name and enjoys seeing her come into the shop.  Gracey knows that it will be easy going with Theodora and that Theodora loves to spend money, and on the silliest things.  Whatever makes Theodora happy, it seems.

“Of course, ‘it is’, I want some Grracey!” And I do know your name!”  Theodora laughs.

“You always forget it when you leave”, replied Gracey.

“You’re right, but no more, I am going to change”, replied Theodora, giggling.

Gracey packs the resin and the ganja into Theodora’s basket, “We’ll see”.

“We’ll see,” says Theodora as she walks out of the shop.20190109_114601 (1)

Gathering Gossamer

Sweating from the heat, Theodora pulled herself up onto a rock in order to avoid the clattering-clack and bite of the spiders who wanted to make a meal of her. And when she was safe, she caught her breath and thought, “climbing onto the top is not too difficult, the spiders are slower than I am”.

She then looked down at her bare feet on the sandstone boulder and began to cry, saying out loud: “I am so far from home” … “what will become of Kumar now that I am not there to take care of him?”, “his wet nose.”

Wiping the tears from her eyes she continued: “I am strong. I am the daughter of Kalidar Rajni Rajna, I have his strength in me, somewhere, if I can find it”. She then looked at the sword in her hand and said: “my lessons have finally come in handy Father”.

Afterwards, Theodora silently climbed down from the big rock and continued toward giant spider’s nest.20190104125109_1

Alone Zod said

“Take me to the apothecary at Darkholme”,
but It had already been arranged.

Zod knew that he would receive comfort in the doting arms of Yekaterina.

But Zod was not comforted,
And left to his own tortured mind,
The waiting for a respite soon turned into a brooding hint that it was gone.

Zod farmed deeper into despair and he planted the first seed of his flowering heart-brokenness inside the chamber his newly acquired heart.

Yes! Zod finally found a heart inside his chest, but it was too late for comfort.

And so longing for the life he had before he met her,
and not being able to turn back time
He left, and left, and left.