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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Raising Straw Men In The Corn Field - The Great Hugo Dust-Up, Part 2

This post won't be nearly as cogent nor as long as the previous one. Those kinds of posts come upon me only once in a great while. It won't be as reasoned or as persuasive either. Reason and persuaion are also occasionally in short supply in the dark recesses of my grey matter. But here goes...

At least as early as Saturday afternoon, almost immediately after the 2015 Hugo nominations was announced, so suspiciously fast, in fact, that one could almost have assumed someone might have advance word of the final nominees list, an individual with power over acceptance of an author's stories for a certain sf/f magazine stated that they believed the only way to counter the Sad Puppies slate was to vote "No AWARD" for everything except for say graphic novels and dramatic presentations.

Quite a few others have been raising this "option" over the last few days. First off, let's review what a "straw man argument" is and then we can talk about why this isn't really a valid defense against Sad Puppies.

From the vaunted source Wikipedia,

"A straw man is a common reference argument and is an informal fallacy based on false representation of an opponent's argument.[1] To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.

The so-called typical "attacking a straw man" argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent's proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., "stand up a straw man") and then to refute or defeat that false argument ("knock down a straw man") instead of the original proposition.[2][3]

This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged emotional issues where a fiery, entertaining "battle" and the defeat of an "enemy" may be more valued than critical thinking or understanding both sides of the issue.
In the United Kingdom the argument is also known as an Aunt Sally, after the pub game of the same name where patrons throw sticks or battens at a model of an old woman's head.[4][5]"

 So, people are saying that, essentially, in order to save the Hugo, the fans have to destroy it by voting "No Award" for everything except what this select group of other fans tells them to vote for and how to vote for it.

How does voting "No Award" destroy the Hugo, you ask? Well, quite frankly, it doesn't. This tactic can only work if the Sad Puppies and all those who support the Sad Puppies are really as stupid as the other side thinks we are.

So, the first leg of the straw man argument is established as someone telling someone that doing this will defeat the Sad Puppies because, essentially, they're all just really, really stupid and evil and we can't let the Hugo fall into their hands.

Of course, this also means that another leg of the straw man is also established - those advocating this stance apparently believe that those who follow this strategy are equally as stupid as they believe the Sad Puppies to be. That their target audience needs to be led, to be told how to vote and who to vote for. This does, naturally, hint at a staggering amount of egocentrism and elitism on the part of those advocating such a move. Those they're talking to are too stupid and naive, to ill-informed, uneducated, and uninformed to be capable of forming their own opinions without one of their betters to lead them.

The first leg of the straw man is more firmly established by the simle fact that there's only one organization that can stop awarding the Hugo and that's WorldCon. No one else has the power of control over the award itself. WorldCon owns the award. Fans vote for the nominees and the final ballot, but they don't actually own the rights to the award itself. Only WorldCon has the power to say, "We will not award the Hugo any more". Thus, saying ths will stop Sad Puppies and deny the Hugo award to a finalist is a logical fallacy in and of itself. WorldCon could, on its own, simply say, "The award goes to..." no matter what the outcome of a vote.

In addition, there appears to be a mindset afoot on the other side that Sad Puppies are simply a crowd of mindless sheep. None of us have their own will, their own opinions, their own power to do more than walk and nod and comment in lockstep with Brad and Larry. In my opinion this comes from a mindset on the other side that we're all good little stormtroopers and do whatever our leaders tell us, but I suspect the truth is a bit more like trying to herd rattlesnakes (rather than cats). The other side's members might move in lockstep with their leaders, but Sad Puppies never will. We're used to having our own opinions and ideas and voicing them, sometimes loudly and repeatedly, over the castle walls at midnight during a lightning storm.

And, as the advocates of the "No Award" option likely already know, the Sad Puppies can't quite be counted on to follow the advice of the other side and also vote "No Award" so the only hope would be to out-vote the Sad Puppies.

From the outcome voting numbers for the final nominees, any fool with a calculator can run the numbers and see who apparently outnumbers who.

So, there's the second leg of the straw man. If the other side votes "No Award" as ordered, while they'll be good little troopers all marching along in lockstep with their leaders, they're not likely to stop Sad Puppies who will most certainly NOT vote "No Award". So, the other side's members will have essentially thrown their vote away and can only hope the "No Award" votes outnumber any single other nominees total votes.

They're counting on Sad Puppies to be unable to corral enough of their members so as to present a solid voting bloc (and this one's really funny since the other side is also railing and wailing against even the idea of voting blocs) that can muster enough numbers to counter their "No Award" bloc(s). Heck, they're even saying that the Sad Puppies voters are so far all over the place nominee-wise that they cannot present an organized count for any single nominee on the slate.

 In the final equation, the idea of voting "No Award" and thus countering Sad Puppies is a logical fallacy and thus a straw man argument. I can basically guarantee you that virtually no Sad Puppy will vote "No Award" and, on top of that, I'd be willing to lay down serious money that a lot of the folks on the other side of things who are advocating this approach, not only know it won't work and is a straw man, that they themselves will not follow through with a "No Award" vote of their own.

Because they know it won't work. They know the Sad Puppies will vote. In fact, they're counting on the use of this argument, this fallacy, to get people to walk away from the voting process entirely.

And there's the real straw man.

Stopping the members of their on side from voting, from participating in the process. Which would give the Sad Puppies and enormous win t which the other side can then point at and say, "See? We told ya' so."

What the other side is saying, in advocating for a "No Award" vote is that no one but themselves is smart enough to be allowed to be part of the process. The rest of us are all just sheep, to be led and trained and told what to think, where to sleep, what to eat, how to live, but not smart enough to participate in the really important things like participating in a process. See, I think a few of the elitists on the other side think they're really, really smart. If one looks at things objectively, most of everyone in fandom is actually a pretty smart individual or they would not be reading sf/f. But some people think they're much, much smarter than the rest of us.

And they think they have a plan.

They think we're stupid enough to be fooled by such statements. They're sure their own followers can be led down the primrose path and told who to vote for and how. And they think that eeryone can be fooled all of the time.

Personally, I'm not raising any straw men out in the cornfeld. But I can see my way toward knocking down a few.




Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Great Hugo Dust-Up & Why I'm Coming In On The Sad Puppies Side

This may be a short post or a long one. I don't quite yet know how it's going to go even in my own mind.

 Of late there's been quite the dust-up in sf/f regarding the Hugo Award, science fiction and fantasy's "most prestigious award" due to the activities of certain groups of people on both sides of the issue. I'm coming down on the side of one group due to the activities and accusations of the other as I will explain in a little bit. A little background first, however...

First off, I'm nobody. Virtually nobody reads this blog and I don't post here very often. I created this page quite awhile back and, thus far, over the course of more than 5 years, it's gotten just north of 5 thousand page views. Most of my posts have been game- or gaming-related, primarily in regard to my science fiction play-by-email (pbem) game Fire On The Suns (www.fire-on-the-suns.com). So, no, I am in no way affiliated with or even know anybody related to whatever the hell the kerfuffle about "GamerGate" was or exactly what it was all about. I write a story here, a story there, and have written 2 novels to-date. I've got over half a million words written in connection with the FOTS Universe, however, and work as a technical writer as my day job. I've been writing and self-publishing (back in my day we used to call it desktop publishing) for over 30 years, primarily in the nonfiction field.

For most of my reading life (I was reading at a college level by the time I was in the 3rd grade) I've been a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I grew up reading HP Lovecraft, August Derleth, Richard Matheson, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Lin Carter, Lester del Ray, A. E van Vogt, Fred Saberhagen, Ted Sturgeon, and a thousand others. I've read Dune. I've read the Foundation trilogy. I've read 2001: A Space Odyssey. I've read The Martian Chronicles and Starship Troopers and At The Mountains Of Madness and Something Wicked This Way Comes and Berserkers and Honor Harrington and Under A Graveyard Sky and Monster Hunters and a thousand other books and probably ten thousand other short stories by too many authors to keep track of over the years. My ebook library numbers well over a thousand ebooks and short stories. So, I consider myself fairly well-read in the sf/f and even the horror genres. For this post we're going to leave horror out of things as they get their own award (the Stoker) and it's not (yet_ part of any controversy that I know of.

 So, of course, I've known about the various awards, primarily the Nebula and the Hugo for a very long time.

What I did not know about, until very recently, was the fact I could, for a very low cost, participate in nominating works for the Hugo.

 I'd always thought of the Hugo as an award given to sf/f authors by other sf/f authors and, while I write a little bit here and there, now and then, I'm just a hack writer who makes his living at non-fiction. My opinions and what I enjoyed reading for entertainment didn't count. Oh, sure, even as a hack, I could dream, but my stuff is mostly dark and a sf/f/horror blend so I knew there was absolutely no chance I'd ever get a Hugo. There is still no chance I'll ever get one and, frankly, I don't care. I'll continue to write my stuff and hope it sells enough copies for beer money now and then (and sometimes it actually does).

But, about 2 or 3 years ago a guy who's a pretty good sf/f author and makes a good living at it started to notice something odd about the way the Hugo was being awarded, something I have to admit in hindsight I'd noticed many years ago - the nominees and finalists were crap.

Pretty much none of the commercially successful authors, the really entertaining folks who wrote great stories and could make a living at it, were being nominated and, even if they were, they weren't the ones getting "the most prestigious award in sf/f". Nope. Instead, what we were getting was a steaming pile of books with overt, or not so overt, "message-tripe". The great works of yesterday, the great stories that made people want to run out and buy the anthology published every year containing all the short story and novella finalists (the novels are/were, I believe published stand-alone) for the Hugo award, just weren't there anymore.

Instead of great stories and novellas, great novels, we were getting stories about alien sexual mores, about bestiality with dinosaurs, about transhumanism, about gender reidentification, about a time when human gender transcended our biological and social barriers and, instead of being sidelined, were trumpeted and encouraged. We weren't getting stories about exploration, adventure, about "going where no one had gone before", we were getting stories about how the human condition was or ought to be according to what the authors seemed to believe. And these authors were already pissing all over any protest regarding questions about where the great stories, where the commercially successful authors, where the entertainment was.

So, this guy, his name was Larry Correia and he's a pretty good storyteller in his own right, decided to do something about it and started the Sad Puppies.

Last year another guy who just happens to write some good stuff of his own (The Chaplain's War) took over for Larry and ran Sad Puppies 3 and this time they managed to get a bunch of great authors who wrote good, entertaining stuff without the "message" slapped all over it or stuffed so deep inside it you couldn't figure out where the story started and the message ended) on the slate of nominees for the Hugo award.

Now, being a kind of overall moderate conservative human being and considering myself reasonably civilized, I'd seen some of the SP argument and the counter-argument coming out on FaceBook (I don't do Twitter or other social networking stuff, just FB and old timey email), I'd tried to pretty much stay out of the fray by reading stuff from both sides of the aisle.

And, let me be especially clear here - there is a clear dividing line between SP and those who oppose them and, to me, it is almost exactly like the lines down between the aisle of any political party. Now, I'm not going to say that either party involved is especially politically-oriented and that's not the point anyway. The point is the analogy between alignments of any type and political parties. When the lines are drawn all those lines start to look a lot alike - like any line drawn in the sand anywhere in the world.

So, being the ignoramus that I am, I started asking questions of both sides and I found myself starting to take a stand. And that's when the fecal matter started hitting the proverbial spinning turbine blades.

The more questions I asked, the more answers, but especially questions I started getting in return. Was I this? Was I that? Where did I stand on this issue or that issue? This was especially frequent from the side opposing the Sad Puppies. I was asking the questions I was asking in an effort to more carefully form my own attitudes and opinions regarding both sides. Now, as a moderate conservative, something I have not always been I freely admit (I've been accused in the past of being to the right of the Tea Party for certain issues), and believing that an informed opinion is always the way to form said opinion, I'm used to being questioned regarding my motivations. This usually comes from the other side which is naturally defensive and protective of their turf most of the time. But I've managed to have rational conversations with, as a Republican, Democrats such as Helen Tauscher and, while we'd never be "friends" we also agreed that we'd never truly be enemies either. My goal has always been to find a basis for having a rational opinion in an argument and to be able to back up that opinion with fact.

Rarely have I ever run into people who were purposely obtuse and inflammatory in defense of their argument. Rarely, in a discussion, have I ever been called names or been slurred. Nobody who knows me would call me a "white supremacist".

However, after the Hugo nominations this last Saturday, there were 3 different people on 3 different occasions who did exactly that. Why? Because I was starting to come down on the side of the Sad Puppies whose campaign to insert their own slate of nominees onto the Hugo ballot I found to be wonderfully inclusive.

They brought in new fans, informed fans, who plunked down their money for a WorldCon membership ($40) and they'd voted, I felt, their consciences and poured money into WorldCon's coffers. Despite quite vitriolic resistance in many cases, perhaps most, by the other side, the Sad Puppies had managed to get a record number of votes for the nominations for the final Hugo award ballot.

I asked if this was not a clear indication of inclusiveness and was gored for it. Because, the 3 individuals whom I was having the discussion with at the time said, of association. If I associated with, in any fashion, Brad Torgerson, or Larry Correia, I was also associating with a gentleman by the name of Vox Day, whom I've never met and whose work I've never read, but whom they said is a rabid "white supremacist".

I asked if they thought that, because I might innocently associate with felons, people who had once been in prison or might currently be, if that made me a felon as well. You can guess their answer, I'm sure.

So, I'm guilty by association.

Yes, I've known people who are felons. I currently know a guy, who I haven't spoken with in 20 years, who's in prison. That makes me a felon, right?

I know Brad Torgerson and Larry Correia. I've even bought their works - paid good money I earned at my day job to do so. But because this guy whom I don't even know called Vox Day is loosely associated with them (and from what I hear it is very loosely) and because he holds what some might call "extreme" opinions which makes him a white supremacist, then I'm a white supremacist too, right?

So, I called "Bullshit!" on these folks. I call bullshit on this entire attitude of guilt by association. This really, truly pisses me off and, when I'm pissed off, I get vulgar so pardon my language. If not, fuck off.

Nobody calls me names. Nobody tells me I am something I clearly am not. That's the easiest way to drive me into the other fellow's camp whether or not I agree with them 100%.

The fact is, I think SP3 is a breath of much-needed fresh air and the antics of the other side have done little except to upset their own apple cart and diminish their argument to complete and utter nonsense.

As I've said elsewhere, I believe the other side has had their way for so long and so often they literally cannot conceive of anyone associated with Sad Puppies as being anything other than evil serfs out to tear down their kingdom and throw shit on their King's Road (ie the Hugo). Their leftist viewpoint is that any work they do not approve of is less than worthless. Their leftist viewpoint is that one is guilty by mere association with anyone they disapprove of.

That's not what the Hugo is all about. The Hugo is the fan's award to their favorite authors. It is supposed to be sf/f's "most prestigious award". Instead, it's become, in the hands of a select clique of individuals, a bitter joke, a fool's goal, and an utterly unappreciated award in the minds of several authors. At least one author I read recently was of the opinion that the only way they would accept the Hugo was "to wipe my ass with it".

That's how low "the most prestigious award" has become in the hands of this clique. That's why they protest so vehemently against the Sad Puppies that they have to print lies and libel against the Sad Puppies. That's why, as a fan of sf/f for more than 40 years, I feel I have to come down on the Sad Puppies side and assist them in toppling this group from their stranglehold on "the most prestigious award" and take it back for the fans.

 People could have been reasonable. They could have said, "Okay, that's the way the rules work and you guys won fair and square." They could have fussed and fumed about it. They could have been dignified and reasoned about their disagreement. They did not have to libel Sad Puppy's organizers in Entertainment Weekly this weekend. They didn's have to issue death threats against the organization's founder. They didn't have to call me a white supremacist. They could have been reasonable and dignified about the loss of 75% of their slate and welcomed fans back to the fold of WorldCon and the Hugo ballot.

But they could not do this because they are not reasonable people. They see the "other" as irredeemably evil, fit only to be stood against the wall and shot or forced into a re-education camp to be taught the error of our ways. You see, they are not reasonable people. And this kind of person cannot be reasoned with. They can only be fought with every reasonable method at a civilized person's disposal. And so, I am with the Sad Puppies and will be going forth and buying a Sasquan non-attendee (supporting) membership ($40) and voting on the final ballot for the Hugo.

For the Hugo.

And for the fans.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

No Post In 5 Months? WTF?

Yeah, my last post to this blog was last November. Nobody reads this thing anyway, or at least very few do, but there have been over 5 thousand page views since I started it so I guess it does okay. The truth is that starting sometime around mid-November I started having issues with gout. In December the issue put me in the hospital for 4 days. In January, it put me in the hospital for 3 weeks and another 2 weeks at a nursing facility. I've had a total of 6 surgeries on my left ankle on the outside as a result of my stupidly not paying attention to my health. I may have 1 o2 2 more surgeries or medical procedures still to come to repair damage/deformation to my right index finger suffered, and not taken proper care of, 4 or 5 years ago and, also possibly, on my left ankle again if the skin graft I received today does not take or does not heal well. So, obviously, I've been a bit busy elsewhere. Not that it matters all that much since, as I said, no one reads this blog anyway which is fine by me. Next up, tomorrow, I'll have a word or three to say about the current kerfuffle with the Hugo Awards and why I'm siding with Sad Puppies in this one. See ya' then. Thanks, Greg

Friday, November 07, 2014

Rising Early & Killing Time

I haven't always been an early riser, but the last few years I've made a habit of rising by at least 5:30am in order to get to work by 7am. Usually I'm awake sometime around 4am though. This gives me several hours to kill until I have to actually work on stuff for my day job. One of the things I've found I really enjoy is doing 3D art. I used to fumble around with a Japanese 3D program called DoGa, and then moved to Moray and POV-Ray. Lately though, I've been using Sketchup 8 (from Google and now Trimble) and learning SolidWorks. Sketchup is an extremely flexible and, in my opinion, powerful program and the extensions and sheer number of models available through the Extensions and 3D Warehouses truly expand the power and flexibility of Sketchup. I've been using it to do 3D models for machine setups at my day job. A 3D model is much more informative than a simple line drawing done in Word (which is how the setups were illustrated for years before now). I do the models in Sketchup and then render them using the POV-Ray plugin. Here's an example,
This is an example of a cylinder body being machined in APSCO's (Air Power Supply Company - my day job) HCN4000 horizontal mill. I also use Sketchup for concept images for my writing and I do 3D modeling as a form of relaxation and meditation (I guess you could say). Here's an image I did for the Fire On The Suns universe and which is my current screen background at work,
And finally here's an image I did using DoGa way back in the day,
The background here was done using a program called Universe. The background for the image just above this one was done using the Galaxy include file for POV-Ray. Universe is handy for doing planet images and backgrounds including planets, but I've found it more useful for lens flares, stars, and explosive effects in images (done using a combination of lens flares and stars - it gives a battle image a really dramatic effect). So, that's one way I kill time and "meditate" in addition to writing. Thanks, Greg

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

More FOTS Grand Tactical

I haven't written anything for the blog in awhile as I've been busy at work (I do tech writing for a manufacturing company in Tulsa, OK) and publishing a new ezine for Fire On The Suns titled "Firepower! The Journal of the Fire On The Suns Universe". Our next issue is going to be over 15 thousand words for just $0.99 and will be available via Smashwords hopefully by Thanksgiving. Anyway, as my last post had to do with FOTS Tactical Command and the grand strategic scale, I thought I'd offer up a little teaser for doing vector-based movement the FOTS way. I know it's not entirely a hundred percent accurate physically, but this map was easily done using Excel.
You could just as easily plot the same thing out on a sheet of graph paper or even a hex map (I really like the old Starfire system hex maps as you can have a really huge playing area). This plot, btw, is the last phase of the ending battle in my novel Fire On The Suns and was a lot of fun to plot out. The nice thing about using Excel is that you can easily copy and paste the current map to another page in the workbook and keep every turn together in the same workbook. The standard number of worksheets allowed in a workbook is 255, but you can continue adding additional sheets until you run out of system resources. That is an awful lot of worksheets potentially (heck, even 255 worksheets, each representing a single turn of a game, is an awful lot of game potential). This means that a GM for a game like Starfire, for example, could pass a workbook back and forth between players, possibly rolling for who has the initiative each turn in an IGO-UGO fashion. And, since the FOTS system scales from light hours down to whatever scale you want it's easy to see how this could work for grand tactical maneuvering right down to close-in combat passes. There will be additional information included in the coming issue of Firepower! as well as upcoming issues as they get published. Have fun playing around with this if you've a mind to. Thanks, Greg

Thursday, April 17, 2014

FOTS Grand Tactical

Reworking the grand tactical scale for my game Fire On The Suns. This one will use a grid system similar to the one used in the strategic system. I've had a hex-based system in place for years using a hex map image superimposed on an Excel spreadsheet, but it always seemed just a bit "off". Both system use vector-based movement (in 2D), but the hex map isn't really user-friendly in Excel. I've got the grid coordinates laid out, the light hour boundaries established (1, 2, and 3), and the grid coordinate and movement system established including a handy movement utility that appears to function. The hex-based system sometimes got clunky and confusing when plotting vectors and calculating when things would be detected at up to 6 light hour ranges (60 hexes or in the new version grid squares of 6 light minutes each). Also, the hex-based system just seemed to take some of the drama out of writing about the battles in the first FOTS novel. I'm hoping something like, "Enemy drive flares detected. Grid Six, bearing zero nine eight. Range three light hours" will be a little more exciting. Of course, just because the enemy might have appeared in grid 6 and 3 light hours away does not, in any case, mean they're still there. Depending on one's position in the system they could be anywhere up to 6 hours movement (about 72 light minutes for most starships - or 12 grid squares) away from that position in any direction when you detect them. Very, very few starships in FOTS can hide from anybody bothering to watch for them (and the ones that can usually use deception or trickery to do so). Those drive flares are very bright and the ships themselves are not exactly "quiet" (glowing hot in the infrared from their environmental systems at the very least). Given the scale it might _just_ be possible to watch every grid square along the 3 light hour boundary where most ships can warp into a system (there'd be 3600 of them (60x60), but that's an awful lot of watch stations to try to build and manage plus by the time you spot them there's a good chance they're already light seconds to light minutes away from where they were when detection occurred. What this will do, however, is establish a fairly easy and comfortably manageable and, I hope, intuitive system for managing combat between fleets at the grand tactical scale. The FOTS Battle Engine can handle all the tactical stuff when fleets actually come to blows.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Trials Of A GM

A friend of mine recently decided to bow out of a game he'd invested a lot of time and effort in because the GM rescinded a decision he'd made. I've been in that position more than once so I understand where he's coming from, and, to be frank, the GM in this case, is in the wrong. A GM runs a game. He plans it. He plots it. He wrangles the players, balances forces, creates the NPCs and sets them loose in the world. He creates the background. He writes the storyline. But once the game is underway the GM cannot, and should not, dictate all possible avenues of game play for every player - especially in a non-video 4X game of the free-form style I'm talking about here. The GM, just like a writer, has to be flexible enough to allow his players and his characters to "go with the flow" of the storyline he has set in place. He (or she so as not to be too sexist here) can set up cut-scenes, scenes which must happen within the game, and has an extraordinary amount of flexibility when it ccmes to creating new scenes that have to happen within a game. But a GM should never, ever, in my not so humble opinion, ever dictate that certain things cannot happen within the context of an open-ended or even closed-ended game. This is a path toward chaos and players quitting because they cannot do what they believe will advance their own agenda in the game. Now, the GM has a certain ability to influence the course of his game - indeed, he has perhaps ultimate power in that regard - but to simply erase a player's ability to do what they want, to backtrack or sidestep the GM's storyline, to deviate from that storyline, is to alienate players in that game and to leave egg on the face of the GM in that regard. Other players are going to reconsider whether or not they want to play in that GM's games again because of such heavy-handedness, plus potential players who are considering juping in may not be enticed in the future into doing so. And that affects all the GMs in a game - not just that one. I've stayed out of the argument thus far, but I can see a thousand ways this particular GM might have been able to wrangle the player's decision(s) in-game to better his storyline. The same, I believe, hold true for writing. When a character simply will not hold true to the plot, it's not generally a good idea to force them to toe the line. In fact, because characters have a habit of going off on their own and ding their own thing if a plot is decent enough, sometimes the story can come out better than the GM/writer ever thought it could. When players make their own decisions about their characters and their worlds and their empires - that's the player thinking for the GM/writer. Give them their head, let them have free rein. But be prepared to throw your own or a different monkey wrnech in their path along their way. Let them live and die on their own. Only that way will your characters become truly human and truly memorable. And maybe, just maybe along the way you'll have more story than you ever thought possible. Thanks, Greg