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Why it's like 6 years was only yesterday
On the scrying-glass of your stripy Flash Gordon rocketship you see...

richardgrenvil at PASHpost.com
richardgrenville#1863 on discord.com
and as ever:

Apparently I'm back. Nothing really substitutes for google+ and the community that existed there is scattered now across the flapping edges of the social media adscrape. So most of these accounts are probably bad ideas and I'll be shaking them out over the next couple of months. But for now, I am distributed and distracted across half a dozen networks, looking for a home. How've you been?

Richard's other dystopian pokeverse
So all these recent DDoS attacks have convinced me that I should set up a second site just for the roleplaying stuff. I'll be posting it in both places for the foreseeable future. Some recent posts have made it over there but they lost their marching order on the way.

underwater kites, GURPS high tech fodder AND crowdsourced hexcrawls
Time's 50 Best Inventions of 2010

yes, I know it's not exactly timely. But seriously the underwater kites for generating electric power are pretty cool. Especially now the fishing industry's done.

Most transhumanist entry: organ printing.

ALSO: it ain't easy being frondy.

Zak Smith had a pretty good idea over on google+: crowdbuilding hexcrawls. The first is called Hexenbracken because it's a creepy forest full of mean-spirited monkeys and witches. The second is a frozen waste with a preponderance of white elves, ice goblins and mammoths - it's called The Kraal (G+ link).

Here are 2 bonus drop-in encounters for either:

Asshole Forest: the trees in this hex have long, gnarled twigs and tendrils, which reach out surreptitiously and swipe the stuff right out of your packs and saddlebags. And they shake with rustling, creaky laughter the whole time. They're also really good at teaming up - tripping the cleric and pickpocketing the fighter while she's bending to catch him. No doubt all the ill-gotten gains wind up _somewhere_ deep in the hex. The trees are also pretty handy with a bucket chain and whipping roots if the players get the bright idea of setting them on fire.

Asshole moles everywhere. Some as big as a wolf. Timid except at night or if you fall in their burrows. 25% chance every hour you're in the hex that a pack animal will be lamed, 15% chance that a character will be, 5% chance of caving in a Mole Parliament and winding up in a maze of twisty tunnels, full of angry dirtgrubbers. Bring your terrier.

Also also, psycho kayakers provide handy advice for crossing hot lava: use a 10' pole.

A bunch of interesting things emerged through this crowdbuilding exercise, not least of which is that because the hexes got keyed in a particular order, people mostly respond to the hex immediately before theirs in the list (and making references to future hexes is risky to say the least). So almost all relationships were north-south, extending roughly 6 miles. Some things pointed west, almost nothing pointed east. Which indicates a curious sort of "nap" in the weave of reality.

Also, with multiple people bashing away on this, stuff got bumped left and right (actually down and right) - if you wanted to create an east-facing dependency you had to watch the line of comments that provided hex keys like an auction, waiting for your target hex to come up. I tried to do a couple of wide-spanning connections but when they didn't come together as planned I had to improvise around them. And thus, the sad story of the Mi-go of hex 1114: they wound up crashing into a wizard's tower at hex 1116. They were supposed to be mining True Mercury at 0914 or 1012 but they got bumped from there, and anyway their friends at 1007 had already been bumped by a bunch of pumas, so they were instead going to nestle in the hills at 1111, surrounded on 4 sides by mountains, until they could re-establish contact with their mothership. But there were already 3 entries for 1111 so they got displaced again, and wound up in a lifeboat at 1114, sheltering from the irate fire wizard whose home they'd wrecked during their wobbly crashlanding.

Don't read the Supreme Court deliberations on gay marriage...
...read this truncated transcript instead. I am told it's disturbingly accurate.

BREYER: I’m going to ask you an extremely long question riddled with nonspecific nouns, and you’re going to have to guess what I mean by it.

COOPER: I’m pretty sure the answer is no? But let’s stop talking about whether I should be allowed to talk, and get on to what I’m going to be talking about. Which is: nostalgia. Nostalgia for the good old days of traditional, bedrock values. Man, back in 1971, this Court said there was no federal question as to same-sex marriage. Those were the fucking days.

How secret was Freddie Mercury's tomb?
so secret that I didn't even know it was secret. Anyway apparently it's been found 21 years after his death. Ahem. Via unimpeachable news source, Oui FM.

All I have to say is damn that man had style. A secret tomb? Now I want one.

But I know I could never pull it off like Freddie.

Atlas Obscura, The Null Device and other repositories of things I don't want to forget
Atlas Obscura - odd places around the world. Has previously contained such high-octane weirdness as the Georgia Pyramid compound of Tama-Re.

Gamma World War (sample page: Japanese secret pyramid base)

I don't know much about Velvet Revolution yet except it lead me to the Prague Museum of Communism (relevant to my post-Soviet post-apocalyptic interests)

The Null Device, documenting interesting street art, Japanese War Tubas and similar sorts of things

Englishrussia is a gold mine of stupidweird. Here, "chechen" home-made firearms, also directly swipable for Tartary. Also some random nudity.

Space 1889 resurrected auf Deutsch
possibly of interest to st_rev and others: Space 1889 being remade with new rules. In German.
...are these Space 1889 novels? Mmmmnot for me, thanks, but maybe of interest to others.

And while I'm here: all the Dragon Magazines on Internet Archive. Not sure if that's OK or not, but there they are.
Handy index of articles by author, system and... really long list of topics.
Empire of the Petal Throne in print. Plus pdf of the original manuscript (?!?!)

Bloke who talks a lot about old weapons and lack of realism in pseudo-medieval fantasy games, movies and the like. I felt like watching a bunch of them and then felt a bit nauseous.

Stupid,* very very childish and NSFW
Imma just leave this here.

* also gratuitously and inexplicably homophobic for about 3 words halfway through, which almost soured me on the whole thing, but I rallied. Just in case that will get you down and/or you don't take the warning at the top there seriously.

The Hobbit
only 2 months after everyone else, I finally saw The Hobbit part 1 with my eldest on Sunday. He has not yet read any Tolkien.
He liked the film but said it lacked the humour of Lord of the Rings.

. . . . . . it's taken me until now to process that assessment.

It's an entertaining movie. My question "how are they going to turn this slim book into 9+ hours of movie" is now answered, and not in the way I feared most. Alas in French I didn't really benefit from Barry Humphries' performance, which I'm sure must've been one of the high points. And French Gollum was perfectly good, but Andy Serkis is irreplaceable.

But I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing how Bilbo will complete his transformation into a superhero, and the
inevitable love interest with Azog, the avenging orc-ogre-thing, from whom I think I saw some wistful moments out there under the burning trees.

On IMDB I see that under Azog it says "this character biography is empty." Happily people who care more than I do have rectified that lacuna from the Divine Dustbins of Footnotes. And so it is finally revealed (to people who never played MERP) why JRRT was such an obsessive-compulsive world builder - what his secret project (secret even to himself) really was: he wasn't just telling a story, obviously.
He was making a toolkit out of which you could tell all sorts of stories. Jackson, Boyens and Walsh have taken him up on that offer with enthusiasm and drive. And maybe one day the Baggins dynasty will rival the Skywalkers, Bond and Godzilla in their filmography.

What other stories would you like to see, once Disney buy the property and pledge to make a new Tolkien film every 2 years? Right now I'm envisioning a long line of bad lieutenant films starting with Al Pacino as Morgoth, who is gradually usurped by Ed Norton as Sauron, who takes on a brutish but cunning thug as his Witch King enforcer - Vinny Jones, perhaps. Or maybe the story of how Elrond gave up trying to keep all Middle Earth safe and instead just worked on keeping his valley on track, or how Arnor fell and how Gondor's really to blame.
No, I know: why do the eagles always help Gandalf? What do they owe him?

I've just realised what I want from the DVD super DJ extended mix:

so you know how Gandalf keeps going away and the dwarves all migrate straight to the cooking pot and he has to rescue them, like, 3 times?
He's so obviously testing or training them. I want to see what Gandalf's doing while that's going on. I want to see his facepalms when they charge the trolls and challenge the horde of goblins. His DM moments.
...if I were Peter Jackson, working with that budget, I would so film those scenes on the side. With no clear intention of how I was going to use them later. I kinda suspected that the footage of Bilbo and Frodo in the Shire might've been done like that during the filming of LotR, actually (no of course they weren't: instead they spent ANOTHER shit ton of money recreating everything for those shots, but I like to dream).

assorted ramblings

So remember when record producing jumped off a cliff, propelled by Daniel Lanois?
I admit it didn't seem like that to me at the time, but listening back now nothing sounds so hopelessly artificial and devoid of ideas as thos ethereal soundscapes of wonder that every old folkie from Richard Thompson to the Neville Brothers indulged in during the decade around 1990.
Well, Christy Moore managed to remain aloof from its excesses. Mostly - there are some moments on Ride On and The Voyage where the gated drum and echoey bells and undead misty rasping come out, but it seemed to me that he usually stuck with the old band and the simpler way of doing things and it shows to advantage now.

Except for Traveller (1999) which I am currently consoling myself he named ironically after the RPG. Oh god it's all here: blip-hop stylings on songs about the soullessness of digital culture, and an "updating" of trad standby Raggle Taggle Gypsy that I can only assume is a joke, but one played rather cruelly on the purchaser. Here: this is how he does it when he means it. On stage he's likely to cut down to solo voice and bodhran, like he does for Well Below the Valley (and that's how it should be). And this is how it shows up on Traveller.

You'd think I'd like this but it's too obvious. OTOH I'm currently in a game that's all about this and I kinda love it. It's all about the DM, natch.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
watching The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, it's remarkable how Jude Law looks like Rik Mayall.
Tom Waits devil: "I've never been into all that black magic stuff I just couldn't get the hang of it"

..........it's everything I kinda feared it would be. Part of the success of Gilliam's films is the uncertain way they wobble through their stories: you're not quite sure where they're going or if they're going to get there. And then somehow - after Gilliam's challenged you to buy in with your suspension of disbelief and after he's destroyed the set and left the actors hanging in a stage space and reminded you that he's telling a story here - they do and you applaud the conjuring trick and later wonder what it was you actually saw (and eventually what it might have meant).

They work because they really might not.
And then there's Munchhausen (which delivers in spades but the story of the film-making - of its almost-not-being - is visible on the screen). And Lost in La Mancha that made me realise how Gilliam (and other film-makers? I dunno) really does work without any kind of safety net.

So here's this film where Heath Ledger plays the Hanged Man who has a trick to avoid dying. Again, it's a film made without a safety net, and in fact completed because a safety net was miraculously provided by onlookers. And it wobbles so violently that you're not quite sure what dance it's actually trying to do. And after it's fallen off the tightrope for the fourth time it's gone past brave and defiant and plucky, and it's bleeding all over the stage.

Is it good? Worth watching? Sure, in parts. The visuals are as brilliantly Gilliam as anything he's ever done. Its incoherence is more about pacing and how it sells its story than about any "mistakes" in the script or direction.
It offers a surfeit of whimsy. It makes the best of salvaged goods. But part of that best is the visible evidence of people desperately, physically holding the stage up, for a performance that might not be worth the effort. Which is also what the story's about. So maybe it's the best film it possibly could be.

Yesterday I finally watched Micmacs.

It's smart, self-assured, a little too in love with Jeunet's previous work and Gilbert Peyre's genius for stringpunk machining.

It does its job extremely well but... for a film all about salvaged goods it's awfully polished. It lacks the element of chance.
That I was just complaining about in Gilliam's film.

the defining feature of flailsnails* characters
is their propensity to turn into characters out of Tom Waits songs.

Actual Play report: http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/tom_waits/16_shells_from_a_thirty-ought-six.html (system: Call of Cthulhu: the PCs go off the res after last week's near-TPK encounter with Byakhee)

(...this brought on by me realising that 2nd level Eusyram the Hapless is more fun to play in more games than 5th level Skeree the Competent. Eusyram lost his money, his armour, his horse and his self respect at the jousts, then he took a low-paying slum clearance job in hell and got nearly killed twice - such close calls in fact that his skeleton woke up: any time he rolls a 1 or a 20 on a to-hit roll, a second attack is rolled by his skeleton using the same to-hit and damage, with a 50% chance of hitting Eusyram, 50% chance of hitting the nearest target within arms reach. If he reaches 0 hit points, the skeleton will attempt to abscond with his skin and build itself a new ablife with his carcass per Ian Johnson, Bleaklands DM)

* flailsnails, for those that don't know, is a convention among players of early-edition DnD and other games that characters from whatever game are welcome in their worlds. It's been going strong on g+ for a year now and a couple of interesting behaviours have emerged, including semi-formal conventions on whether to accept all magic items or not, rules of politeness about which systems play nice together... My own Tartary game is flailsnails, though not dnd. It currently has one non-native PC, 4 native PCs and I think there's half a dozen Tartars running around out there in fsdnd land getting into trouble. Also one submarine/spaceship and a couple of troublesome magic belts.

what I've been doing when I should've been working
This is a really good question from xkcd. I was pretty smug about knowing what Rayleigh scattering was. Damn.

This, on the other hand, is pretty much exactly what I think of the balls-on-a-rubber-sheet model. (also this)

This bit on the pools of water for cooling off old nuclear reactor fuel rods might be directly relevant to my game! Especially if my players go to places like these.

But the real point of this post is this here: a google map of some locations in my Tartary game. As I see it there are 2 great disadvantages to using real-world locations for your game and fantasying them up:
(1) people who can't tell fantasy from reality might get upset about what you're saying about their home (especially if you say it's a great place for radioactive horror);
(2) people who can't wrap their head around the fact that you're presenting them with fiction might demand you do more research and get it right. To show respect or some such.

I reckon these quibbles are totally blown out of the water by the fact that now I don't have to draw a map. And players can point to places in between my Interesting Points and ask me "what's there and why shouldn't we use it as our base of operations?"

anti-advertising: the cocktail edition
Strange self-realization. On one hand, I am a cocktail enthusiast with a particular interest in (although precious little knowledge about) the history of cocktails. So if you were to pitch me a book or blog or evening out sampling cocktails from various previous decades, I would be a very easy sell indeed.

On the other hand, this right here is exactly how to turn me off that topic: what cocktails might presidents of the US have drunk?

I actively don't want to know. Odd.

the strange alchemy of Wampus Country
Erik Jensen's Wampus Country somehow manages to make homespun American kids' storybook DnD wonderful rather than lame. I can say with confidence that it's not nostalgia for me personally - I was brought up on Russian constructivist poster graphics, Struwwelpeter and bowdlerized Greek myths. Maybe it's because he name-checks Borges, Melville and Poe alongside his Usonian folk-tales. Maybe it's because he really thinks through the implications of each decidedly silly premise. Maybe it's the dog-faced washerwomen and animate Dutch ovens.

I'm playing a frog patent-medicine hawker and his poetically-inclined guard hog in his play-by-post Lewis & Clark hexcrawl right now and having a blast - a wilderness encounter with a mimic was hilarious and disturbing in equal measure. Which I suspect is exactly what Dave Hargrave was reaching for all those years ago.

In similar vein, here's Reynaldo Madrinan's Spectacular Steeds.

Mecha but not Bolly: a simplified giant fighting robots game suitable for my 10 year old

First, HSBC are poopyheads, do not bank with them. I wish I didn't.
OK, now that's done -

You will need
: Hex map (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), mecha counters
showing facing, 1d6. Either paper for each player to record mecha info
or, if you want to get fancy, cards to deal out for the Weapons and

Build your mecha

Draw from a deck of cards or roll dice to select a weapon and a
special feature to deck out your giant robot chassis. By default all
mecha have 6 HP.

1. Rocket fists: max range 3 hexes, Damage D2 and spin target around 180 degrees
2. Cannon: range 6, damage d2
3. Blunderbuss: range 3, dam. D6, then take a turn to reload
4. Missiles: Minimum range 4, max 6. Damage D6
5. Hatchet: range 1, damage d6
6. Harpoon: range 4, damage d3, drags opponent closer by 1 hex each turn unless opponent breaks the cable by rolling a 6.

Apart from weapons listed above all mecha can punch (range 1, damage 1).

1. stickymines (2 of em): Range 1, autokill in 2 rounds unless the opponent rolls a 6
2. more engine: +1 move point
3. jump jets: move 2 hexes in any direction, end with any facing
4. Armour: +4 HP
5. Can opener: range 1, if you roll a 6 you can steal opponent mecha* and your mecha becomes inactive.
6. Super dodge (2 of em): declare before anyone rolls to hit: attack automatically fails.

I say mecha but with a light reskin this could work for Pokemon, Barbie, Lego Friends... you know, with hugs instead of missiles.

I say giant robots but you could reskin this any way you wanted – and who wouldn’t love a version where adorable candystripe ponies blow kisses and give hugs – or maul each other with missiles and hammers?

Turn Order

Roll for initiative to see who moves first. If players have multiple
mecha then everyone moves one mecha in initiative order, then everyone’s
second mecha etc. After everyone’s moved, everyone gets a chance to
turn one hex-side (60°) to react to the new situation.
Then everyone fights: physical attacks first, then shooting. Roll saves/whatever to react to that, take damage.


Mecha can only move straight forward and turn. Each mecha gets 4
movement points every turn to spend on moving forward (1 hex = 1 point)
and turning (one hex-side = 1 point).


Range in hexes = your difficulty to hit on 1d6 – so maximum range is 6
hexes. You can shoot/fight into the front 3 hexes only. Physical
attacks go first. resolve all damage/death at end of turn.

Ways you can complicate this

All mecha can also Charge (range 1 –into hex directly ahead only, damage = the number of hexes you moved
this turn, and the charging mech takes 1 recoil damage)
Terrain: 1 move point to go up or down 1 level (marked on some maps). You cannot cross a boundary of more than 1 level. Roll 3+ to avoid losing 2 move points when entering/crossing water. Roll 4+ to exit a mud/sand hex. To cross a gorge either use jump jets or run 3 hexes in a straight line that turn (to do a running jump).
Each side has multiple mecha, but only one pilot – the rest are remote controlled. Kill the pilot and the whole side goes down.
pilots can run around outside mecha, try to break into mecha: move 1 hex a turn in any direction, roll 5+ to grab onto a mecha and start climbing. Reach cockpit one turn after climbing, roll 6 to get inside. Pilots have 1 HP.

* is mecha singular, plural or both? Even Wiktionary is no use. I’mma go with both.


Wampus reskin

Tartary is Bollymecha, part 1: the Bolly, or Dance Rules for Techno-Tyrants

Tartary is slums and pomo Orientalism and post-Soviet social commentary and Roadside Picnic getting-melted-by-your-treasure, and constant war and endless treachery and uncaring thaumatocrats and incomprehensible honour systems and tyrants replacing each other on the banks of the Oxus.


Yes, thisYes, this plus this.

Because every town worth a damn has at least one mecha fighting arena, and every kid goes through at least one summer where they dream of being a big star pilot like Prince Harbir of Amritsar or that magnificent bastard Nizam The Suzerain, Pit Boss of Komtor.

And what separates those great TV heroes and heels from the local toughs, duking it out in the local dive with their grease-powered MadMaxoskeletons?

Well, unimaginable riches, obviously. And mighty hordes of followers and the splendours of a kingdom behind them.

But all those things stem from KEEN DANCE MOVES.

For which, I humbly herewith present some rules, in the hopes of encouraging frugging, as well as the more usual fighting, for justice, glory and base gratification.


Because dance is ritual magic (it’s actually a whole magic system, but that’s another post). It’s the path to power and fortune. And it’s the one way to really, truly, definitively win disputes.

The basic coin of social power in Tartary is Reputation; it’s a measure of how important you are. And it’s a stat on your
character sheet: REP. Incoming DnD flailsnailers get their level as their starting REP, because their greatest deeds are shown on Tartary’s ubiquitous TV networks – late night or prime-time, depending on how great they are.

REP can be increased by accomplishing mighty and important stuff and by beating folks in the arenas. You do not get REP –
or respect or followers or groupies – by shanking your enemies quietly in the night. You get it by dominating and humiliating them in the public eye.

And you can attract that eye by invoking the ritual of Breaking into Song and Dance.

When you begin a dance you change the rules of conflict; a shouted challenge to a barroom fistfight can be brushed or laughed off, but a formal challenge by dance-off is serious business - it means the world is watching - and it must be met in kind. To refuse a dance-off is to admit defeat and agree to whatever settlement the victor demands. It’s not good for your reputation, but like losing a duel, it’s still within the bounds of honour.

But if you then protest, or go back on the deal, or try to get back what you legitimately lost by treachery, why then you lose ALL respect and REP – effectively setting you back to level 0 (if the TV catches you...).


1. The Challenge

When someone starts dancing a Challenge is issued and Stakes are set.

The challenger rolls a d6 to set a target for the challengee to beat. They can add mods to this roll by Staking resources and by bringing in situational modifiers.

anything you stake may be lost if you lose the dance-off.
The first thing that can be Staked is Reputation – every point of REP staked is a +1 on the roll. You can also stake your life for a further +1. If you lose that... well in theory the victor could then legally kill you without reprisals, but that’s frowned on. Instead you’re commonly bound to do some service for the victor – either a specific task or a year of limited slavery.

If you have supporters, they can also stake their lives and join you in your dance for +1 each (they could stake their Reputations but Rep cannot be pooled – only the single highest Rep counts).

Situational Modifiers:

Anything you can bring in to hype the dance can provide a mod. Creativity is rewarded and appreciated by audiences.
Classic moves include:

involve the crowd: make a d10 roll + CHA + REP + applicable skills to get the audience dancing on your side (vs the
audience’s current disposition to the challenger). This can add +1 on an ordinary success, +2 on an exceptional success or -1 on a botch. If nobody brought their own band, musicians might also be called out of a crowd for an extra +1

stage effects: if you have an engineer on your side they can provide lighting or stage props, a choreomancer can tighten up your choreography, a great singer or musician can solo in praise of your majestic vertu, panache or malandragem. In each case a successful skill roll can add +1 (and a botch is -1)

2. The Response

The person challenged can Raise the stakes, Concede (or Fold), or Accept the challenge (Call).

If they Raise then they must beat whatever the Challenger got on their d6+mods, which will probably mean that they also have to Stake stuff and try to win situational modifiers – essentially they have to out-do the previous dance, make fun of the opponent’s claims and demonstrate their superior badassery and flair. They can entice the audience and musicians away (beating the previous skill roll to do so) and whatever else they can think of. If they beat the challenger, then the challenge is passed back to the original challenger who must Raise, Concede or Accept.

Each time a challenge or raise is issued, demands can be added to the dispute.

If a Raise is unsuccessful or if the person being challenged Concedes then (a) the challenger wins the dispute and any demands issued (argument, daughter’s hand in marriage, deeds to the mine, leadership of the pirate gang, rocket parts, whatever); (b) the conceding party loses whatever they Staked and 1 point of REP.

If a challenge is Accepted (Called) then the dancing turns to ritual combat (probably involving Mecha, discussed in Part 2), but not on a level playing field:
(a) the Accepter’s opponent (ie the last person to Challenge or Raise) gets initiative in the first round
(b) they also get the margin of their challenge’s success as a modifier to use at some point during that combat, either to modify one roll or to split up over multiple rolls as they see fit.


OK, example: Hakim challenges Waled for leadership of the tribe. Hakim has REP 4 and 2 supporters: a grease monkey and a trumpeter. Hakim stakes his REP and life, for a total of +5, his supporters stake their lives too (+2), the grease monkey adds spotlights and the trumpeter provides honking accompaniment for +1 each, for a total mod of +9. Hakim rolls a 3 +9 for stakes and mods = 12.

If Waled were to Accept this challenge then Hakim would get a total of +12 to use in the ensuing combat, which could be +12 on a single roll or +5 on one roll and +7 on another or any split Hakim chose.

Instead Waled Raises. He has REP 2 and 3 friends – a singer, a judge/orator and a high-CHA pilot with a magnificent moustache.  He stakes his REP (+2) and all stake their lives (+4). Waled borrows an extraordinary hat to augment his performance (+1), the singer solos (+1), and both the orator and the pilot try to involve the crowd. This is a judgment call for the DM – can you involve the crowd more than once for multiple mods? After furious pleading the DM is persuaded by the players’ argument that oratory appeals to the crowd’s religious fervour while moustache-envy appeals to lower urges,
and so both are allowed (+2). The total mod is +10, Waled rolls a 5 and beats Hakim by 3.

Hakim doubts he can win the crowd back so he Accepts the challenge, knowing that Waled will have +3 in mods (the
margin of his Raise) to use as he wishes in the upcoming combat.


In accordance with anthropological theory, there is a moment in this exchange where power passes from challenger to responder: when a Raise is successfully executed, the Raiser gets a choice: they can force a fight or concession, or they can take the loftier path and call for peace and reconciliation.

If they choose not to fight then the status quo is restored and everyone stands down. The challenger may only
challenge again if they can present a new and compelling reason to do so. This rule was enacted because of the death through exhaustion of one Garwan the Grandiloquent, a remarkable and highly popular showman-emir
who was subjected to a campaign of continuous challenges for trade concessions over 13 days by representatives of the Consortium of New Julfa Coffee Shippers.

Well duh. You think getting your Bollymech to dance isn't going to be worth some Situational Modifier (as well as being risky)?

First, RAGE.
The Netherlands has really awesome public transport - it's a complex system including trains and trams and boats and buses, and it works (although at every stage it could have better signage for the newcomer to understand what the hell's going on).
And over the past few years they've added a truly amazing ticketing system to it, where you can get a smartcard, load it with money, and then use it on EVERY BIT OF THE SYSTEM NATIONWIDE. One card could take you by bus to a ferry to cross the river to the train station, to take a train to a different city, to a tram at the other end - all little municipal systems unified! 
EXCEPT after trying it for 2 days I've concluded cash is better in every regard (for me the user).

Because the tickets cost the same either way, but with the card you have to pay in advance and may never use all your prepayment. And it's inconvenient and tricky to track what you're spending, and when the card runs out you're illegal. And you have to check in AND out of every vehicle, and if for some reason the check out doesn't register, you'll be paying for time you're not there, which is like someone left the plug out of your account until all the money's gone. So that's a risk. And sometimes the check-in is on the platform, not the vehicle, so if you check in on the platform and then change your mind (wrong platform/wrong way; see tram disappear around corner, don't want to wait etc) you might be haemorrhaging money and not know it, and not be able to do anything about it because the system says "yes, you've already checked in - now get on your tram" instead of "OK, I can check you out again, no charge."

In short, it's prone to user error, stressful, more costly on aggregate and more prone to system failure. So even though I've paid 7 euros for a card, I won't be chasing that bad investment with more money. The card will just stay in my wallet with one emergency fare left on it, while I pay cash again.

I had some time off. Now I'm back in the archives. It's a weird sort of masochistic pleasure. The minute I find something I could happily lose myself in for a few days I have to back up for air and ask "should I really be wasting hours doing this mechanical data entry stuff? Why do I really want/need this information?"
And then it's refocus the project, and then go again. I was convinced for a month that I urgently needed to do a big quantitative task, but I had no idea where the data were. So ANXIETY: maybe they don't exist. Now I've found them it's ANXIETY: I probably didn't really need them anyway. MONTH WASTED. Or not. Who knows, really? ANXIETY what should I be doing? The shortest path is one I've sneered at a bit when others have done it. Who actually needs historical research anyway? QUESTIONING THE VALUE OF IT ALL.

OK, done whining. 

Inachus houseboat
I have barges going past my window all day - mostly bulk freight, a few retirees who've decided they like a mobile lifestyle and that the upkeep on a steel hull won't cripple them financially. This is the natural next step on the latter approach, and looks like it's calculated nicely to just go through a lock... assuming it is actually mobile and not just a land-rent dodge.

Inachus houseboat in London.

Also, She Gods of Shark Reef.