Saturday, February 28, 2015

D&D Stats Of The Republican Party - The Fleece Of Reaganhair


Woven in the cursed looms of the Iron City of Dis by unpaid staffers who were then ritually defenestrated so they could never reveal their secrets, the Fleece of Reaganhair is a figure of myth and malign legend. The Archduke of the Second Layer himself commissioned it to give to Mephistopheles as a token of their dark friendship. And Bards tell of how the armies of Baator carried it aloft in their battles at the very beginning of the Blood War before it was "lost" - accidentally or on purpose, no one knows - only to surface somewhere on a studio lot in California where it was claimed by a young actor at the start of his career.

The Fleece has a supra-genius intelligence and a powerful will of its own. When it accepts a wearer (always of lawful evil alignment), it grafts onto their skull replacing their own hair in a hideous and agonizing process that takes six full turns and renders anyone of less than 18 Constitution unconscious. It then grants all the armor class and saving throw bonuses, as well as the magic resistance, of a black Robe of the Archmagi, while also allowing its user to function as if they have just imbibed a Philter of Glibness. But these bonuses do not begin to catalog its real power. Because if someone who is not lawful evil attempts to wear the fleece, it forcibly changes his or her alignment, instantly draining 4 levels and 5d10 hit points permanently. Characters reduced to zero levels or hit points by the Fleece are "absorbed" into it, and all magical powers they possess become its own. No one knows how many Neutral Evil state reps and cable news commentators have stumbled upon this artifact in the back rooms of CPAC, only to find themselves lost forever, their minds devoured, their bodies transformed into nothing more than wisps of smoke, the smell of burnt skin beneath the cloying odor of stale Brylcreem.

Some say the Fleece is the phylactery of a powerful Demilich, who is magically imprisoned amid the gin bottles and hummel figurines in Peggy Noonan's liquor cabinet on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. But others believe the Fleece is much more than an arcane magical item - that its black color and slick, slightly wet texture point to its true origin as the remnant of Ahriman itself, the primal spirit of Law and Evil in the multiverse. According to this tale, the "artifact" allowed itself to be found and worked by the agents of Dispater and then given to the Lord of the Eighth before journeying to Los Angeles, as a way of secretly spreading its influence through the nobility of Baator and the GOP leadership, all while Asmodeus acts as its decoy, drawing attention away from a master plan so convoluted and terrible it defies comprehension.

When one who is worthy holds the Fleece aloft at a national convention and then merges with it in shrieks of pain and triumph, the rumors promise, you will know that plan is nigh complete. And hell shall follow.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

D&D Stats of the 2016 GOP Contenders - Ted Cruz

CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Subterranean
FREQUENCY: Common
ORGANIZATION: Multicellular
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Any
DIET: Scavenger
INTELLIGENCE: Unknown
TREASURE: E
ALIGNMENT: NE
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 8
MOVEMENT: 1
HIT DICE: 2
THAC0: 16
NO. OF ATTACKS: 0
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Nil
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Nil
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Noise
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: M
MORALE: Average (8)
XP VALUE: 100

Ted Cruz is the junior US Senator from Texas. He resembles a mindless ambulatory fungus, and like one type of these creatures, the Shrieker, he emits an ear-splitting wail upon encountering a party. Unlike the Shrieker the senator usually appears in the vicinity of a pack of 2d8 freshman senators (treat as Hobgoblins for stats) along with staffers, media reps, and 1d10 kobolds. In addition his shriek combines with a powerful enchantment that has a 70% chance of attracting every creature within a 10 mile radius and putting them into a violent frenzy as if they have been subjected to a Confusion spell cast by a 4th level Wizard and then rolled a 7-9 on the results table ("Attack nearest creature for one round"). The effect will continue for a full 4d20 turns, so that monsters and raiding parties enter the fray and fight each other as the bloodshed mounts. When it is over it's common for dozens of PCs and NPCs of all alignments and political parties to lie dead around the junior senator, who then scavenges their bodies for sustenance and moves on to a fresh feeding ground.

NOTE: This is part of a series. Check it out at GOP Monster Manual.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

D&D Stats of the 2016 GOP Contenders - Rick Perry

CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Any land
FREQUENCY: Common
ORGANIZATION: Solitary
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Day
DIET: Carnivore
INTELLIGENCE: Animal (1)
TREASURE: H
ALIGNMENT: CN
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 7
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT DICE: 2
THAC0: 10
NO. OF ATTACKS: 3
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d8/1d8/2d6 (punch/punch/headbutt)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: M
MORALE: Fearless (19-20)
XP VALUE: 250

Rick Perry is a former governor of Texas who ran in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, losing and endorsing Mitt Romney after doing poorly in debates. He has a limited understanding of Common.

Combat: Perry is a ferocious fighter with little subtlety or concern for strategy, attacking the biggest, strongest-looking member of a party immediately and delivering a 3-blow combination attack. In the second or third round of a fight he begins to babble almost incoherently, repeating the word "Gumption" at random, which functions as a Confusion Spell cast by a 4th level Wizard. At will, he can cause his pores to seep a pungent liquid which transforms his hide into a tough padded leather, giving him a darker more weathered complexion and a +3 bonus to Armor Class. The effect lasts 1 turn.


NOTE: This is part of a series. Check it out at GOP Monster Manual.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

D&D Stats of the 2016 GOP Contenders - Rick Santorum

CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Any land
FREQUENCY: Common
ORGANIZATION: Pack
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Day
DIET: Omnivore
INTELLIGENCE: Average (8-10)
TREASURE: Lair In Verona, PA (I)
ALIGNMENT: LE
NO. APPEARING: 1 (Plus 2d4 staffers. Treat as Human Pilgrims for stats)
ARMOR CLASS: 10
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT DICE: 1+3
THAC0: 15
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d4/1d6 (nails/teeth)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: M
MORALE: Fanatic (17-18)
XP VALUE: 150

Rick Santorum is a former US Senator from Pennsylvania who ran in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, winning in 11 states and coming in second to Mitt Romney. He speaks Common and has a limited understanding of Orcish.

Combat: Santorum fights aggressively, charging into the fray and delivering wounds with nails and teeth. When cornered he has the natural ability once a day to utter a short prayer that functions as a Cause Light Wounds spell, as if used by a 3rd level Priest. When encountered Santorum often (40% chance) wears a sweater vest that functions as a +2 Cloak Of Protection against attacks from journalists and anyone of Good alignment. It's a cotton/acrylic blend, and it's made by JCPenney.

NOTE: This is part of a series. Check it out at GOP Monster Manual.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Conservatives Are Going To Be Mad If American Sniper Doesn't Win An Oscar

American Sniper earned multiple Oscar nominations, and if it doesn't win anything people across this country are going to be mad. You know what? I understand. I really do. I hate to admit it, but conservatives are right about this issue.

Look, like it or not, this is a center-right nation, and viewers really loved that film. If the Academy refuses to recognize how effectively the movie reached those men and women, they'll feel cheated. They'll feel like their opinions don't count for anything. Like people from some completely alien culture just swept in and stole their voice. Took their autonomy away.

If you're not a red stater, you probably don't get it. You probably think people are wrong to like American Sniper. But that's not the point. It's their movie, it connected with their values, and if someone from a part of the world they've never visited just comes over and tell them those values are wrong... well, no one likes that. Everyone gets angry when that happens.

Ask yourself, "How would I feel?" How would you take it if you and your friends and family - the people in your culture - made a decision about what kind of movie was great? But then these arrogant and rich jerks, folks who claimed they were from an advanced culture, even though you knew they were just entitled pricks... these insufferable people started ordering everyone around and trying to lecture you about right and wrong in your own home? God, just thinking about it ought to make you enraged. Who do they think they are, right?

There isn't a single person who likes it when some - let's admit this - some foreigner barges onto the scene, tears up their world, and starts acting like they own the place. People who do that are universally hated.

That's about the absolute stupidest, most jackass way to behave. Anyone who does it is asking to get hurt. Badly.

No one ought to understand this better than the kind of folks who go in for American Sniper.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Jonah Goldberg Shows The Importance Of Idiots To Modern Conservatism

As you know Scott Walker recently "punted" on a question about whether he believed in evolution. And the reason is, as a Republican and a conservative, he depends on idiots to win elections. The National Review's Jonah Goldberg wrote an article about this, and it's vital to understanding how important the various mouth-respirators and gilled halfwits are to the conservative movement.

Mr. Goldberg is careful to notify his readers that he is not, himself, an imbecile. "I think the evidence shows that all life evolves," he writes. But he wants his reader to know that the sort of person who would blow his digits off with a firework to impress a comely second cousin has important things to say about the nature of humankind:

Beneath the surface, the salience of evolution as a political football is ultimately about the status of man. Are humans moral creatures whose actions are judged by some external or divine standard, or are we simply accidental winners of an utterly random contest of genes? If it’s the latter, does that mean we are only answerable to whatever ethical standards we invent for ourselves? 

This is a common argument made by stupid people. One dismisses it by noting that all revelation is hearsay as Thomas Paine did, which means the claim of moral objectivity is always suspect. One could also point out such claim is not only suspect but a positive indicator that the claimant is about to call for a stoning or a holy war... but either way, one quickly moves the fuck on.

No, Jonah Goldberg has nothing crucial to say about the big questions. Where this gets interesting is where he draws an equivalence between the braying clowns of the right wing and the stunted chuckleheads of the left. He argues that Obamacare has given homeopathy and acupuncture "elevated legitimacy," for example. And that filthy hippies often have stupid beliefs about vaccines.

"Point taken!" I say to him heartily. Yes indeed, filthy hippies are wrong about much. But he goes further, claiming that issues like evolution are not important in themselves - that they are only a way for liberals to attack people of "traditional faith." We on the left, equally anti-science, are merely against "a certain kind of Christian having any say about anything."

And on that last point, I have to say that Jonah Goldberg hits on something. If you're a liberal, or an honest thinking person of any stripe, you absolutely want to make sure that certain kinds of Christians get muzzled each and every election we have in this Republic. Many of those who are with me in this muzzling project are Christians themselves. Yes, Jonah. Certain kinds of Christians - people of "traditional faith," as you call them - have been causing this nation a hell of a lot of trouble.

This is where Goldberg's equivalence breaks down, and it's where his piece becomes truly important about conservatism and its knuckle-scrapers. Because we progressives don't have anything near the extensive and consistent record of empowering idiots that conservatives have. The numb-skulls who love homeopathy? No, there is no parallel between that and the unrelenting fight we've had for a century to actually teach biology in the nation's classrooms. Or the fight to allow women equal rights and control over their own bodies. Or to stop you from treating gay people like criminals. Or to stop all the nimrods on your side who want to set fire to the Middle East, because they are convinced Jesus will beam them up to heaven just in time to watch things get really nasty. The issue has never been whether both sides have idiots. The issue has always been about how much power you give yours.

But of course, the plan is not to give the idiots all the power. No.

It works like this: At the core of the conservative movement are the plateheads, flat-earthers, the neo-Confederates, the web-footed and the web-fingered. Now, surrounding those idiots, cradling them softly like packing peanuts around a delicate porcelain statue of a guy with an ass for a face, are idiot-enablers. They help. That's what Jonah Goldberg does. And surrounding those idiot-enablers, like a plastic wrap to keep them contained and to give them shape, are idiot cultural heroes. Over the whole thing, like a big cardboard box, are the representatives of the idiots. Why a cardboard box? Well, this allows the idiots to be "delivered" into the hands of the people who make use of them. Like business leaders who want to cut your wages and put poison into your groundwater. Or guys who think they can make money getting your kid's arm blown off in a ridiculous military intervention. That kind of thing.

The point is the GOP, the conservative movement, and their backers are working to help jackasses across America get every stupid, pointless thing they want... so they in turn can take everything they have. It's worked so far. Conservatism is a dumb philosophy. But as a scam, it's pretty sharp.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

On The Stupidity Of #Sheepdogs

There are four kinds of people. Wolves, sheep, sheepdogs… and then there are people who know they don’t belong in any of those categories, because that’s just stupid.

You say I’m naïve, of course. I’m a sheep. And sheep don’t believe the wolves exist. We don’t believe any of this applies. That’s what makes us sheep. The entire notion of the sheepdog is to make criticism of force impossible, by portraying any potential critic as naïve. But here’s why it’s wrong: I know that evil exists. Hell, everyone knows evil exists. Are there significant numbers of people walking around arguing that there’s no evil in the world? Is that really a problem? No. The naïvete comes from somewhere else. It’s more common. It’s more insidious.

 We don’t pretend that evil doesn’t exist. We pretend that we can’t do it ourselves.

 Simplistic and comforting parables about animals in the field help us play at this game. And pretending allows us to get away with the wickedness we’d like to do. To say it wasn’t evil, but necessary and noble.

 People do awful things, sometimes just for the sheer joy of committing horror – I understand that. But nothing beats the pleasure of committing atrocities for a good cause. Can any of you deny that? Knowing what you know about our own country’s history and the history of human beings in general? Can anyone say we’re not looking for a fight?

The sheepdog people – not all cops or soldiers, but those who really think they’re a breed apart as they load their assault rifles and strap on body armor, as they breach someone’s door and throw his family, terrified, to the ground… They can blind themselves to what they do. Because what they do is in every movie theater and toy store and in video games played across the country, and don’t you ever say we don’t think it looks fun. People invest billions of dollars in it because it looks fun, and they don’t generally lose.

We don’t prepare for war, because we want peace. We prepare for war, because war is exactly what we want. We don’t use violence because it solves problems. We do it even when it creates more problems than it could ever solve – as the most heavily armed nation in human history, whose population is still under threat from prehistoric imbeciles after 14 years of a global campaign of intervention and targeted killing, you’d think that would finally dawn on us. You’d think we’d finally realize that people like putting on uniforms and shooting each other and incinerating each other’s homes, and it’s because of some flaw in our character, some stupid neurological quirk that might have been useful when we stabbed elephants with sticks and worshipped the sun… but is pretty foolish now that we’re smart enough to hit every major population center with a nuclear warhead in the space of a busy afternoon.

You’d think we would finally understand that yes, you need people willing to use violence to protect civilization from others willing to use violence. Yes, you use killers to stop killers. And that it is a hard job to be a citizen-predator because of the dreadful paradox it embodies, and because of how much human beings, all of us, secretly long for violence and look forward to death. And we should therefore honor those who are willing to kill for us, to try to understand and appreciate what they do. But above all, we need to watch them.

 I’m sure there are plenty of soldiers and cops who understand this. Because they are also citizens. They try to excel at the former as a way of excelling at the latter. But we all know, let’s admit it, that the people who use violence for our state are a mixed bunch. They always have been. Some of them are very good at what they do. Security forces protect a free society. But they also – throughout history – have always been a mortal threat to that freedom as well. They stop the Nazis… and then they stack naked prisoners in little pyramids. Adult citizens of a free republic admit this. They know the job of citizen is mostly about being skeptical. And so we have to investigate every use of deadly force by every cop. And when a sniper tells us he shot 250 people in the chaos of a counterinsurgency war over which our leaders have repeatedly lied and our intelligence has repeatedly failed, and he claims every single one – every single goddamned one – of those kills was righteous… Well, we don’t believe nonsense like that. Grownups don’t believe such claims.

We’re supposed to respect people in uniform. But we’re not supposed to treat them like Batman. It’s childish. It gets in the way of thinking clearly about what they do and why they’re doing it. And therefore it betrays the civic virtues of the country those people are supposedly protecting. That country, and those virtues, are worth defending. Even from our leaders. Even from our heroes.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

UPDATE (2/4/15): I've noticed readers have criticized the use of the term "prehistoric imbeciles" to describe the people who threaten us. I want to make it clear that I'm referring to ISIS and al-Qaeda, two groups whose ideology is nihilistic, backward, and yes, imbecilic. But this post is not - let me be emphatic - some kind of general critique of Arab or Muslim culture. I've read those critiques, because part of my job is to make fun of Fox News. I think Arabs and Muslims have had enough lecturing from Western cultural and political elites. I do not want to add to that. But I do think it's necessary to heap scorn on the people we're fighting. They're out of ideas, and we know it. That's part of how and why they will lose. Those are my thoughts. Gimme some comments. My responses will be in the comments as well.
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