Poetry: A Nightmare Born of the Flesh

Welcome to
the land of dread
This is where
our fate has led
The sunlight comes
and I am scared
Of what they do to you
To you

Screams of fear
and streams of blood
They flow now
like a flood
I find you and
I’m not prepared
For what’s inflicted unto you
Unto you

But I remain
in this world
A nightmare
Born of the flesh
Equal suffering
I’ll accept no less
Control and plans
Are both unfurled

I can’t say
This is what you want
But I can’t rest
with that thought
I’m hunting now
Teeth all bared
I’m seeking vengeance for you
For you.

Ideological Literature.

I’ve been reading a lot of what might be called “ideological literature” lately. Not as research for a project or to be an informed citizen, I just happen to find it interesting. When I say “ideological literature,” I am referring to things members of a political party, or an ideological movement, write to explain how and why their preferred policies are logical necessities of their core principles. This results in articles and essays explaining why deeply held beliefs are also well-reasoned beliefs, and all of that reasoning is motivated.

This isn’t really a shot at the genre. It’s simply an acknowledgement that it has a particular purpose. Getting people to accept your views is the first part of working with people, and in a democracy, getting people fired up is a necessary part of getting them engaged. I question if this kind of work should be the main kind of political writing, but I do realize that it should be a part of the system.

Also, they need to stop saying ‘identity’ so much.

Poetry: The Day I Fell

Let me tell you of the day I fell
When I felt myself become quite ill
I had trapped me in a box like hell
By nothing more than lack of will
Locked up for eight hours and told to sell
Stand here and work the till
I stood still, not feeling well
Like I was living on nothing but swill
Something rang in my head, a death knell
And then I could no longer stand up still
Let me tell you of the day I fell
When I felt myself become quite ill.

Rituals and Nomis

Ritual monsters are the extra deck monsters that aren’t extra deck monsters. They have every attribute of an extra deck monster: the named summoning type, the special border color, they can even send multiple monsters to the graveyard as a cost for summoning them. However, as they originated in the very earliest days of the game, when the extra deck was still the fusion deck, both the monster and the spell needed to summon it go into the main deck, and need to be drawn.

In the pre-archetype days, when ritual spells did nothing but ritual summon, this meant that you need both in your hand to do anything with either. They were also expensive, with a ritual summon needing at least two, usually three or even four cards, being sent to the graveyard as a cost. (The ritual spell being used up when cast, and then the monsters being used as tributes. The levels of the monsters had to add up to equal or greater than the ritual monsters level.) The only saving grace was that the tributes could be from either the hand or the field.

As the game evolved and the designers developed archetypes based around rituals, the fact that the monsters went in the main deck resulted in one copy of a monster being discarded as tribute to summon another monster, which is kind of unintuitive. The obvious solution is having the ritual monsters be in the extra deck, or have them pop into existence when the spell is cast, in the clone’s case.

However, that doesn’t have much of a ritual flavor. Summoning monsters by sacrificing other monsters is the the most basic way of summoning a boss monster. One solution that’s popular in the fanbase is for the ritual spells to be continuous spells that encourage and aid the player for doing particular actions – that is, to perform a ritual – and for this spell to be sacrificed when the ritual monster is summoned. My fear about this system is that it could step on the design space of nomis.

Nomis are monsters that cannot be normal summoned or set, and can only be summoned by means of the method written out in their card text. Semi-nomis are largely the same, but they can be summoned by means other than their own effect, as long as they are summoned that way first. Frequently, both of these kinds of monsters can be summoned directly from the main deck. I think how giving ritual monsters idiosyncratic summoning methods would overlap with these classes of monster should be clear.

I have to admit that the main reason both rituals and nomis exist is the lack of a resource system in YGO. In particular, if you look at how ritual summoning was introduced near the end of the Duelist Kingdom arc in the comic, it’s clear that the author wanted a way to signal that the players were getting out the big guns. Nomis, on the other hand, exist because the designers wanted a more exact level of difficulty than just tributing two monsters. So, to really understand why to even have ritual summoning, or any special summoning type, I will have to consider what resource system my game would have.

Art: Woolly Fox

This one was based on a dream I had. I had adopted a woolly fox, lighter in color than this one, as a type of pet. My dream ended after the fox’s bodily functions left a mess on the floor.

It’s wonderful what ink can imply. I know that I intended the orbs above the fox to be snowflakes and the moon, but what did you see? What are the things rising in the background, and what are those lines in the foreground? Not even I’m sure of the answer. But the biggest question I have is if you noticed that I forgot to draw the fox’s left legs.

A Plane Misnamed

I feel as though that the Material Plane from Dungeons & Dragons is misnamed.

Allow me to explain. In traditional DnD cosmology, there are four types of planes: the Material Plane, the sphere of mundane reality, the Transitive Planes, which must be traveled through to get from on plane to another, the Inner Planes, consisting of the Elemental Planes of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, and the Negative and Positive Energy Planes, and the various combinations of them, and the Outer Planes, consisting of Heaven, Hell, and every afterlife in between.

First, I’ll describe the Transitive Planes, consisting of the Astral Plane and the Ethereal Plane. The Astral connects the Outer Planes both to each other, and to the Material Plane. It is a world wear time does not pass, and the where the corpses of dead gods float between the world. The astral plane is a concept from real life esotericism, incidentally. More on that later.

The Ethereal Plane connects the Inner Planes to the Material. It is divided between the Border Ethereal, where the traveler can see into another world, Material or Elemental or otherwise, as if through grey mist, and the Deep Ethereal, where the traveler can reach one Border Ethereal from another, and where the demiplanes – worlds to small to be planes themselves – exist. Ghosts exist in the Border Ethereal of the Material Plane. In the same way that travelers do, they can see the mortal realm, and sometimes, whether through great effort or simply being in the right place, reach out and touch it.

I suppose I should also mention the Plane of Shadow. It doesn’t have much to do with either the Inner or Outer Planes, it just happens to connect to every point on the Material Plane. This means that it can be used to get from one part of that world to another, and as such, is also called a transitive plane. The Plane of Shadow is dark and formless, as the name suggests.

The Inner Planes consist of worlds based on the four elements – fire, water, earth, and air – and the two energy planes, based off of Positive Energy (which makes living things move) and Negative Energy (which makes dead things move). The Inner Planes also include worlds based on various combinations of the first six planes, for example, the Lightning Plane is based on the combination of fire and positivity. Later editions collapsed the combinations into a type of meta-plane called the Elemental Chaos, where the elements are all mixed up, and you can simply walk from the water part to the fire part. It seems the fifth edition also kept the distinct planes for the four elements, however.

The Outer Planes are the various afterlives a person can go to after death, and in the Great Wheel cosmology, are dominated by the concepts of Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos. The general idea of the outer planes is that they are to be dominated by abstract concepts. They are the worlds of gods and spirits, angels and demons. These are the worlds that mortals are reborn into after a lifetime of deeds and beliefs, where their morality and ethics determine if they spend eternity in bliss or suffering.

The Material Plane is the world most like our own, except for the elves and wizards running around. This is the world where people are born, live, and die. In short, it is the plane ‘closest to earth,’ so to speak. The reason I don’t like the name ‘Material Plane’ has to do with the ghosts.

Ghosts, as I said, exist in the Ethereal Plane, specifically, in the Border Ethereal. From there, the spirits of the dead can see the world of the living, even as they pass through the solid objects of that world. However, they still cannot pass through solid objects on the Ethereal Plane. Furthermore, any traveler to the Ethereal can pass through Material objects in the same way that ghosts can.

Those of you that remember my piece Subtle Matter will know that I noted that this idea of ghosts getting their ability to mass through solid matter from the plane they’re on is unusual. As if being a spirit doesn’t arise from being fundamentally different from matter, but from simply being ‘over there,’ in a sense.

This is why I don’t like the Material Plane being called the Material Plane – every plane is material. The material of the Ethereal Plane is ethereal matter, the material of Hell is hellish matter, and the four elemental planes are made out of one particular kind of elemental matter. Perhaps a better name for this place would be the Terrestrial Plane, to emphasis that it’s the plane ‘closest to earth,’ or the Temporal or Mortal Plane, if the important thing about it is that it is where beings live and die. However, terrestrial would surely describe the Elemental Plane of Earth better, and even in the Outer Planes, time passes and things die, if only so that it’s possible to adventure there.

But in older editions, the Material Plane had a different name: the Prime Material Plane. This name change has interesting implications, now that I think about it. In the switch to fourth edition, when the world ‘Prime’ was lost from the name, it seems to have been because the designers didn’t think the word was important. After all, in real life esotericism, there is no such thing as a prime material plane, just a material or physical world.

Prime, then, would simply look like a way of emphasizing the importance of the plane. The Material, as the place where mortals live, is where the ultimate conflict for the fate of the multiverse is played out, rather than some afterlife between heaven and hell. But this does not explain how there can be multiple Prime Material Planes, as there were in certain early publications.

The answer is in this concept of ethereal matter. The planes of the esoterics, after all, are not simply ‘over there,’ they are completely different states of being. People and objects could not be said to be made of any kind of matter. The original designers quickly realized that such a world would be difficult to play in, however, and to simplify things, they decided that the other planes would also be made of their own kinds of matter. This is why the plane that was inspired by what the writings called the material plane gained the word ‘prime’ to it’s name. It’s not a material plane that is prime, but a plane made of prime material.